Thursday, December 10, 2009

R.I.P Gene Barry

The Original Martian Repellent

When a huge celebrity of the hour overdoses on his toilet or crashes his SUV (...) every single media outlet on the planet makes a huge dish out of it and serves leftovers for weeks. But when a great of the past expires away quietly at an advanced age, nobody seems to care. Or does so much too late and improperly. Hence my writing about the passing today of a little-remembered but once-beloved actor, Eugene Klass aka Gene Barry, who died this Thursday December 10th of unknown circumstances. He was 80 years old.

Barry started out on his talent and scholarship as a local singing sensation, taking the radio and stage scene by storm in the 1940s until finally getting noticed by Hollywood in the early 1950s. A handful of small movie roles did little to elevate him nor make use of his vocal talent, save for a couple that fared poorly. One part however did secure a place for him in stardom: 1953's War of the Worlds, which he headlined as dr. Clayton Forrester.The part had originally been offered to Lee Marvin who declined; No offence to Marvin, but sci-fi fans are grateful...

His screen career on the rise, the actor is offered more TV work than he wished for, and reluctantly did he look at such offers until a proposal to portray real-life wild west lawman Bat Masterson, gentleman who relied on his wit and gold-adorned cane rather than guns to take criminals down. The show lasted only 3 season but reached cult status almost immediately, ensuring Barry a typecast yet long career on the tube.

In 1963 came his second TV hit, just a s short as the previous but equally beloved: Burke's Law saw Barry as a chief of detectives who also happens to be a wealthy playboy. The series' cult following inspired ABC to revive it in 1994, for an appreciated but unsuccessful single season. A third show followed, this one offering a much different and original format: The Name of the Game, where three series star would each in turn start in their own individual episode. Barry played newspaper owner Glenn Howard, with Robert Stack and Anthony Franciosa playing his star reporters. Again only 3 seasons, again beloved but little remembered.

14 years of playing the elegant justice-maker on the tube made it nearly impossible for him to break out on the big screen any longer nor to explore further series of his own on TV, and thus Gene spent the remaining of his career either guest-starring on shows or returning to his first true love, Broadway musicals, where he met with great success and recognition. By the end of the 1980s he all but retired, appearing only occasionally in TV shows when specially requested to do so. His last appearance was for Steven Spielberg's own adaptation of War of the Worlds in 2005, for a cameo that confirmed his status as the star to a sci-fi cult classic of Hollywood's Golden Era.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Who's Yoda-dee?

An oldie, but a goodie!

The waitress, Jodee Berry, filed her lawsuit in October 2001. Settlement was reached in April 2002 and Berry was allowed to pick the Toyota of her choice. Representatives for her former employers claimed the contest was simply an April's Fool joke.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Disney's Horrific Princesses...

I can't really say why it's such an attraction to see someone take cute and cuddly icons of our childhood and make them dark and deranged, but it just is. I go with the flow. Although sometimes it's just not right - like Todd McFarlane's line of Oz toys - a half-nude Dorothy in S&M bondage is just a damaging sight...

Graphic artist Jeffrey Thomas is one of those who can get the "cool" out of such concepts though, even if it means turning Snow White into a much -MUCH- scarier vampire than Edward Cullen, or give Cinderella more than she bargained for once the chariot turns back to a pumpkin...

Here are a few of Jeff's creepy designs for Disney Princesses, with the rest OVER HERE.



Walt Disney thought suicide was funny!

It takes a special kind of humor to read Alix Strauss' recent book  Death Becomes Them: Unearthing the Suicides of the Brilliant, the Famous, and the Notorious, but probably not as much as it took to write it - the author offers enthusiastic accounts and analysis of suicides by celebrities of all artistic trade who took the self-imposed way out. So much that sometimes it almost feels like a DIY guide to emulating your idols... But as creepy as that sounds, there's even worse: the book tells of a period when Walt Disney thought it funny to make Mickey Mouse suicidal!

In the 1930s Mickey ran in newspapers alongside other comic strips, as written and drawn by Floyd Gottfredson and Hardie Gramatky. From October 8th through the 29th in 1930, the strip's storyline had Minnie dump Mickey for a douche named Mr. Slicker, leaving the poor mouse deeply depressed and trying different ways to off himself. And why did they run that strip? “I think it will be funny,” was what Gottfredson remembered being told by Uncle Walt himself who came up with the concept and pushed it.

Here are a few of those little "gems", if only to henceforth view Disney animated features in a different light...(click on each strip to see it full and large)


Friday, December 04, 2009

REVIEW: Across The Hall (2009)

2009 Thriller
StarringMike Vogel, Danny Pino, Brittany Murphy, Brad Greenquist
Written by Alex Merkin, Jesse Mittelstadt, Julien Schwab
Directed by Alex Merkin

If those who can't do teach, for the movie industry they simply bitch; many hopefuls and never-was will say of Alex merkin that he reeks of film school and threw into his movie every trick he learned to try and make a lame product look good. One thing though - it is a good movie and everything he threw in is refreshing in its capacity to keep you on the edge of your seat the whole 90 minutes. Why don't guys like him get entrusted with LXG and other big budget misfires? Oh, I know! because an independent movie allows the director to make it good without studio interference...

In a seedy hotel where one porter tries to maintain the illusion of sophistication, Terry is holed up in a room where he followed his fiancee, whom he suspects of infidelity. Blood is on the floor, a man is tied up in a chair, Terry is psychotic and Julian rushes in to help his best friend Terry but finds himself in a situation nothing good can come out of. What follows is a back and forth through a story where nothing is at it seems and appearances can lead anywhere we allow them to.

Merkin probably did learn one about films that he indeed applied to the letter, and quite beautifully: if your movie is little and you want big, make it feel big. From an incredibly well paced opening scene that sets the tone for wanting more to sharp editing and inspired camera angles, the film feels like a $30M studio offering, complete with a fantastic orchestral score that sets the viewer up for one hell of a ride.

As for the narrative drive, which jumps to multiple points of the story from start to finish, is avoids the usual linear feel of such devices to instead keep the suspense elevated and drop bombs more than once, best of
which the final twist that I can't help feel I should've seen coming but did absolutely not. Great performances by little known actors Mike Vogel (of CLOVERFIELD), Danny Pino (of TV's "Cold Case") and especially Brad Greenquist as the unsuspecting witness to the events only intensify the credibility of the director's tone and editing choices. And it's nice to see Brittany Murphy trying out her chops a bit, now that she's been kinda demoted off the A list...

Independent films often rhyme with long, brooding and somewhat boring, and especially with not visually appealing. Alex Merkin shows enormous gusto in overstepping these preconceptions and offers a thriller that puts to shame boatloads of the mainstream ones we've been getting from Hollywood for a long while. Highly entertaining, and just as recommended. Alex Merkin definitely makes my watch list.


Thursday, December 03, 2009

What Films Inspired Filmmakers

I've been trying to avoid looking behind the scenes of many movies these recent years 'cause the more you know about the process the less magical and inspiring it seems and feels; a demystification that prevents appreciation. Like CAST AWAY, which I was in complete awe over until I saw that large portions of it were filmed in a parking lot, and that about 85% if the island was CG. Kubrick would've tried, man...

Hot off the press, as in published just last week, is a book by Geoffrey MacNab that brings redemption to the process and magic back into the fold: Film directors who inspired immensely, remembering how they experienced awe and inspiration of their own from movies they fell in love with. The book called Screen Epiphanies: Filmmakers on the Films that Inspired Them lets a plethora of renowned directors from around the globe reminisce and share with us the moment (s) they knew this is what they had to do for a living.

On of my personal favourites comes from Scotsman Danny Boyle who remembers discovering APOCALYPSE NOW:

"When I came to London for a job in the theatre, I was living in a place in Fulham with some mates. They gave me a bedroom to stay in. I was an assistant stage manager, driving the truck, sweeping up and setting up the stages. They were an amazing company called Joint Stock Theatre Company. Outside the flat in Fulham, there was this huge billboard. 

One day, this black poster went up with Apocalypse Now on it. I am sure I must have known something about it from Time Out or whatever. Anyway, I went to see it. That was the moment when everything suddenly made sense. 

I guess what it does it that it collides some of the elements of American mainstream cinema from the time and art. That was what Coppola had done in a way. What was interesting about it for me was that I was so transformed by it. 

There is something that haunts most directors, which is that we don't really do anything useful although we're thought of as being useful. He [my dad] fought in the war and contributed something and yet all I wanted him to do was watch Francis Ford Coppola's version of the war. It didn't undermine the film for me but it categorises film for me in a way. Film often runs in parallel with life and it feeds off it but I don't think it necessarily nurtures it. I don't think it necessarily contributes in the way we think it does. We, in our world, in our bubble that we work in, imagine that it does but I am not sure that it does."

Ask Santa  for it this year and share your favorite director's own moment of clarity from a movie....

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

5 Films that Should be Remade

Granted I'm the very uppity and angry first to lash out and bestow nasty names to any producer, director and/or studio who dares remake a film I hold high in respect or affection, but even dear ol' moi has a few ideas about some movies that do indeed very much deserve (for some reason or other) to be remade, and whom should be onboard to do it. To be honest, it all started after seeing Zach Snyder's kick-ass take on DAWN OF THE DEAD - so entertaining, well made yet absolutely respectful of the original, it begs the question what else would benefit such a revisiting. At the risk of finding myself dealing with the business end of someone else's nasty name-calling, here's the 5 movies I wish most to see re-hauled, with suggestions as to cast and crew.

1) The Ghost and Mrs Muir

If it wasn't for the 1960 TV show, very few would remember Rex Harrison's fantastic turn as Captain GregG. It is still indeed an entertaining, beautiful and engrossing movie, but one filmed in the 1940s and set even earlier; values have changed so drastically that much of its drama would be easier to miss for current generations of movie watchers than a good TV show on Fox ('cause, you know, those get cancelled in a heartbeat...). An update would be quite the mirror to today's technology: falling in love with a ghost, someone who can only offer nice words and dreams of bliss but nothing of actual substance. Now THAT is a nice metaphor toward online romance.

A remake had been looked at by studio execs from the late 80s to early 00s, more often than not with Sean Connery as Gregg - which would've been glove to hand back then, but Bond Prime is out of the game and quite old to play romantic lead without appearing downright creepy.If it was announced tomorrow, I'd like no one more than Patricia Clarkson to be the haunted widow (even at her age, my God what a beautiful woman) while as foul-tempered Captain Gregg I see the great Ed Harris.

2) The Shadow

Almost 10 years before the Dark Knight himself started stalking criminals of Gotham, a voice appeared on the radio simply as a narrator to other shows' characters: The Shadow, with his haunting laugh grew to become an icon of pulp crime crusader, until the dreadful Alec Baldwin vehicle of the early 90s. If Chris Nolan proved anything, it's that you can indeed take a classic character ruined by cheezy outings and make him the most compelling badass out there. Lamont Cranston deserves much more than where Hollywood has left him off for dead.

What you need here is to avoid the obvious Rich Playboy by Day/Dark Crime Fighter by Night gist; Bruce Wayne ruined it for the rest of 'em. Let's go back to the source and make him just the elusive man who knows what evil lurks, but not quite "V" either; let his identity be revealed little by little as a potential franchise goes along. Perfect eyes for the man with a scarf: Rufus Sewell. He's still got a few good years of leading man in him.

3) Logan's Run
Fantastic source novel, and although the Michael York healdiner of the 70s has its fans - shitty film, made even more atrocious by the spun-off TV show complete with a middle-aged looking robot. Bryan Singer had his eye on this one for the longest time, but I really can't get over how much I hated SUPERMAN RETURNS. Was he about to do the same 30 years too late hommage?
Let someone with a fresh vision do this one (and actually read the book first...). I say Kurt Wimmer - say what you will of ULTRAVIOLET, he's still the dude who made EQUILIBRIUM, which kicked all sorts of ass from here till Sunday. And let's finally give Ryan Gossling a good sci-fi role. Still peed off the guy wasn't retained for GREEN LANTERN.

4) The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

What the HELL were they thinking??? The guy who did BLADE in charge of an Alan Moore adaptation??? Why not Joel Schumacher? Or Brett Stinking Ratner? or Uwe Goddam Boll?!?!? Say what you will about Zach Snyder's WATCHMEN, the guy followed the story and spirit of the source material. Stephen Norrington turned the incredibly rich and dark comic books into a Fox Network failed pilot - failed upward and went to theatres...

I'm not saying do a frame-for-shot adaptation as Snyder did, but at least follow the gosh darn story elements that made the books so good in the first place. First of all, Alan Quartermain is a bottomed out Junkie, not a hero. And Mina Harker is the leader, not a fanged pom-pom girl. Tom Sawyer? please... Let's have Lance Henriksen as the sickening-slim Quartermain,  and underrated beauty Caroline Dhavernas as Mina. For starters.


 5) Oh God
 Fitting title isn't it? All the more so since it stars John Denver. No disrespect to his memory, I just really never had it for the guy. And George Burns as God - cute, but, you know... Now, granted some may view BRUCE ALMIGHTY as an unofficial remake, but I beg to differ. OH GOD was a dramedy with a sense of philosophical journey to it, while BRUCE was Jim Carrey and splapstick. Isn't that an oxymoron?
A remake should follow the tone of the original with maybe some dark sarcastic humor, and much less Denver. I'd see someone like Shane Black directing it with, say, Alan Tudyk as the Denver character and as God...hmm... Bob Hoskins. Love that dude. Extremely versatile for someone his size and shape, plus he's a Brit so you got that posh accent for the character.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Raimi wants his own DISTRICT 9 with PANIC ATTACK

Looks like Sam Da Man Raimi, a director I like so much I'm even willing to look forward to SPIDER-MAN 4, won't let hand-held cam documentary-style sci-fi films go out of style. And with the immense recent success of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY and DISCTRICT 9, the former of which I have to be perfectly honest I have no interest in whatsoever, all he needs is a fresh-minded director with a vision. Check.

Raimi's Ghost House Pictures has snagged upcoming Latino filmmaker Frederico Alvarez for an unspecified sci-film, unspecified meaning they want him to expand on his kick-ass looking 4-minute short ATAQUE DE PANICO (Panick Attack). Like Peter Jackson asked Neil Blomkamp for his short ALIVE IN JOBURG (that became this year's sleeper hit DISTRICT 9). I absolutely love the short but there is one problem: it's actually a set piece or sequence, no story to speak of found in there. So Alvarez would have to flesh out an entire narrative around his concept, hopefully without being too cliché and rehashed.

Here's the original short film, for y'all to make up your mind. I'm putting myself on the interested side of this; I like the retro IRON GIANT-like look of the robots. Unlike ones with giant...ya know, dangling...

(The folks from Twitch have the original report)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Frogcast #2

I was hoping to have a few guests this week but all of them bailed out, so it’s just you and I for this Thanksgiving Weekend edition of the Frogcast, where:

-I rant on legality when it comes to streaming movies

-Review a yet-unreleased little gem I was priviledged to watch recently called VERONICA DECIDES TO DIE

-Check out the new movie releases for this week

-And add bits and pieces of hilarious audio clips.

Any comments, questions, suggestions or subpoenas can be addressed to
Follow me on Twitter as well as my new gig on Swan Diary.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Love Whispers of Twilight

Isn't there anything more thrilling than the sweet moments shared with a new love? Like those cuddly little love whispers lovers tell each other thinking nobody hears of notices them?

The completely insane folks of Liquid Generation were nearby when Bella and Edward were having those moments, before Eddie bailed so that Bella could get her rocks off with a six-packed werewolf. And here's what they witnessed of those sweet little nothing whispered between the sun-crossed lovers.

The Shining 2: Electric Boogaloo?

Danny Torrance is alive and well and living on horse races. Or so it he could, if Stephen King gets through with his latest revelations.

The be-spectacled and probably stinkin' rich writer spent a night in Toronto where he treated audiences of the evil city's (evil for Montreal Habs fans...) Canon Theatre to a 15-minutes read of his new novel "Under the Dome". Which many say is a rip-off from the Simpsons movie. Hey - it's Stephen friggin King, he could rip off Jesus if he wants, a'ight??? Anyhoo, a Q&A after the event had him reveal he'd been thinking about the young hero of his fluvial thriller "The Shining" and has already been scribbling down some ideas of what he could be up to. King said he was simply musing for now, but you bet your sweet blog readin' ass some asshole Studio Exec will be paying him a visit very soon. Lots of them, actually.

King's plan for Danny would have him in his 40s, working as an orderly who secretly helps on death's door cross over more easily thanks to his power. As The Torontoist observes, the original novel's "happy" ending doesn't preclude that the character walked off the ordeal with deep and haunting scars. What ever the kid made of that trauma and how he deals with it would make a kick-ass sequel, the author feels.

His potential title, should it all come to fruition? "Doctor Sleep". Come on King - long live and all, but just do it!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Once were Toys, soon to be Movies

You've heard all the crazy stories -toys and board games being turned into movies, and by serious directors- and understandably some if not most of them might feel like out-of-control rumors or really bad jokes. On the other hand, that's what everybody -including and especially me- said of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEANS. To help keep track and confirm what you might've simply been suspecting, here's a list of toys & games on their way to Hollywood.


I wondered what Peter Berg was still doing on the other side of the camera after the irresponsibly painful mess that was VERY BAD THINGS, but then he made FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS and the unfairly mistreated HANCOCK, so I figured he might be able to pull some kind of RED OCTOBER out of his sleeves, which would sound absolutely cool. Not the case... Berg's film for Universal will inolve...dare I say it??? Oh what the heck! ALIENS!!!! What the F do aliens have to do with the board game? Why use the game's name at all??? Well... your guess is as good as mine.


One of the greatest collective WTF was heard rumbling throughout the movie appreciators community when Ridley Scott announced his intention of making a film out of the grandfather of all boardgames. Since, contrary to BATTLESHIP, this one exposes itself to being ridiculous. But Ridely??? But then he revealed plot details, and ya know, it actually sounds cool...

Set up (again) at Universal, the film will follow a (probably lovable) loser who tries to become famous by breaking the record for time spent playing Monopoly, his only real talent. The ordeal leaves him in a state where reality blurs itself with the game as he finds himself in Monopoly City, fighting against the evil Parker Brothers who have nefarious plans for the denizens. I still say Scott's name sounds weird in all of this - more like a project for, say Terry Gilliam or Tim Burton. No, Gilliam. Burton would make this so creepy I'd need months of therapy to regain my childhood memories...


This one actually makes sense. A little. Kinda. I mean it's a game aimed at toddlers who don't really get the intricacies of dealing with money (neither does my 39-year old brother however...) and it's filled with, you know, candy and stuff.

The film will be handled by Kevin Lima, which again makes sense. The guy gave Disney a family-oriented hit with ENCHANTED, which sent cute-as-a-button Amy Adams singing at the Oscars. Guess what studio is doing it??? I can understand Universal's position - they just made a ludicrous bundle with those TRANSFORMERS movies nobody liked. Imagine if they pull a good film out of a game?...


This one is a convergence of inevitability: a game adaptation AND a remake! How could Hollywood pass up that opportunity?!? Correction - how could Universal pass it up... I have to say the original 1985 comedy is a guilty pleasure of mine. The premise was quirky and fun, it had an absolutely superb cast including Howard Hessman, Tim Curry and Chris Lloyd, and it was written by John Landis when at the peak of his creativity.

To be fair with the remake, Gore Verbinsky will be directing. And I use fair in a loose way - I liked his MOUSE HUNT but any if not all credit for PIRATES' success goes to Johnny Depp's out of this world performance. Oh, and it won't be a comedy but an international thriller... yup. The Clue Identity.


I remember reading about an upcoming Stretch movie back when I was in high school - to give you an idea, that was about the time Marty McFly hit 88 miles an hour. Then in the mid 90s Disney tried to do it with Jackie Chan as stretch and Danny DeVito as his nemesis sibbling Evil X-Ray Wretch Armstrong. I'm not even making this up. Wonder why it got tossed with such a loud thud down the dumpster...

Hasbro, Universal's new BFF, bought the toy's rights from Kenner and wants to bring it back on the shelves, and movies being the best commercials money can buy, well here we go again. Mindbendingly, Ron Howard's usual partner in crime Brian Gazer is producing. Not so mindbendingly, Grazer chose Steve Odenkerk as a director. I like Steve's work in a cult-classic kinda way - KUNG POW is damn funny with a heavy brewsky- but the guy is anything but mainstream material; whenever he tries to be , he just ain't funny. Being an over-idiotic movie idea to begin with, I really can't see how or when this will ever get made.


Dearest Micheal Bay,
You're just a stoopid hack.
Although I have to say
I do love Megan's crack.

That film in a nutshell, which it probably will be - Michael Bay, board game, spirits being called upon, hot chicks, fast cars and loud 'splosions. Add a Brett Ratner cameo and you got a reason for the Nobel organization to create a movie prize as well - to make sure no one ever feels like looking up to those two.


The title for this should be something like "Friggin Obvious". Hollywood has been demoralizing tweens, teens and drama queens for decades with the image of the sparkly slim and tall blond with generous boobs and perfect looks. I can think of 2 or 3 dozen current young actresses who could fit that mold. It was just a matter of time before someone figured "hey! let's make a film about the original!"

There's also the fact that Mattel's been banking like crazy on those costless CG DTV Barbie films for a few years now, hence little doubt there's big bucks to make with her. Having producer Laurence Marks on board continues the guy's weird streak; he's had some strong stuff like AS GOOD AS IT GETS and FINDING FORRESTER mixed with stink bombs like ROMY AND MICHELLE or CUTTHROAT ISLAND. Strangely, I would've seen Mike Bay behind this one as well...


I remember watching the 1987 Dolph Lundgren wet firecracker and actually enjoying the cheesy quality of it. Frank Langella was da bomb as Skeletor! But I've never really considered this property in any way capable of reaching serious audiences. I mean come on - He-Man? Eternia? Skeletor?

Warner's been trying to do it for a while but those oh so pesky creative differences with Mattel put the kibosh on that one and forced procuder Joel Silver out. Columbia picked it right up (before Universal could get a chance to...) and kept KUNG FU PANDA director John Stevenson attached. Yup, sounds serious like hell...


Now THAT is the mother of all WTFs, right? A whole movie based on a toy where all you do is look at pictures of old cartoon shows through daylight. Here's the bigger kicker ('cause there's one...) - the film will be produced by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, the same two who wrote the robotic scrotum into TRANFORMERS 2. And don't you dare drop STAR TREK on me - JJ Abrams deserves all the credit on that one!

Strangely, Universal is nowhere near this one; it's actually being made by Spielberg's house of Dreamworks. Stevie, you're getting senile with old age. Before, it was cute. Now it's just senile. You're nuking the fridge more and more, dude...


Something prime for a feature film if there ever was, especially with how advanced CG is nowadays - even independent filmmakers can make uber-cool stuff now (just look at Rob Rodriguez' graphic work on SIN CITY or those SPY KIDS films) and that's exactly where this one is headed. No studio interference, just  a writer who knows this material backwards (Dan Abnett whose written a dozen W40K inspired books) and a rookie director not bound by conventions.

The game is one of those tabletop  Risk-like things where you could assemble and paint the figurines. it then became an online RPG along with books to create a rich universe of stories, and now you can even spot costumed-fans of it at conventions. If done well, this could be the next MATRIX.


I've never owned any of the WWR collectibles, but I thought the concept of it was fascinating. Sentient machines and their human allies at war against other machines all over the planet and beyond. Started off as just a series of very cool-looking figurines all expanded form the initial concept of a robotic world war, and that too evolved into books and RPGs. And a rich concept it is - the background story created for them has the robots fighting all the way to Mars.

Jerry Bruckheimer is behind that one, so expect the very best in action sequences. Or at least the most entertaining. Could be quite to dud if done too quickly, so Jer, take your time to find the right writer and director. Make this one count!

Got anymore upcoming toy flicks I forgot about? Drop a line in the comments section and let us all enjoy!

New Moon's dimissed auditions reel

I'm still wiping tears of laughter... sorry... can't write this up.
Just watch. Thanks to the folks of

Superhelden: Real-life Robin Hoods in Superhero Costumes

Don't you just love wacky documentaries that make you realize your world is not as crazy as you thought - it's barking mad! This one is among them...

I know about the real-life "Superhero" stupidity phenomenon in the US where common people dress up in quasi-elaborate costumes and pretend to fight crime while mostly posing for youtubers and novelty seekers. But Janerk Romero's documentary SUPERHELDEN (Superhero) puts the spotlight on a group of people who don't practice the American passive-idealism of their counterparts- they push the boundaries of lunacy and legality under the guise of "social change". Like raiding stores and delis and "stealing" whatever they want apparently to give back to the needy, and organizing "costumed" protests with thought-bubbles instead of signs.

At the same time the filmmaker follows one of those needys, a working mother who has to resort to the unthinkable to put food on the table. The result is not only an interesting look at how one country translates a growing phenomenon, but raises tons of questions toward social equality and the limits of do-gooders morality.

Here's the original trailer, and YES I know it's in German. Soon as I can find a translation I'll put it up here, promised. (Thanks to Quiet Earth for the find)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Slap Bet: The Game

Barney Stinson has spent the last 2 years slap-free, with 3 of the 5 slaps he lost to Marshall already administered. This November 23rd, the 4th slap was consecrated. And to mark the event, the producers of HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER want all of us to join the fun! Here's Slap Bet: The Game!

(Notice the song, same that Marshall composed for Barney 2 years ago?...)

Check out The Nukies

Just in case someone out there doesn't know the expression, as was discussed with my gal-pal Super Marcey during my last FrogCast, there was this scene in the 4th Indiana Jones movie where Indy escapes nuclear havoc by taking refuge in a fridge - which gets propelled clear out of danger. Die-hard fans hated that scene so much it quickly became a thing, a reference to designate the moment when a once-great franchise veered straight into mediocrity.

A couple of guys decided the hype was too good to overlook and started their own website dedicate to that phenomenon,, where last year they held an Awards ceremony of sorts to "celebrate" such moments throughout the year where a movie or career got completely engulfed by a moment of lameness. Seems like it resonated with lots of movie fans since this year they're not only repeating but evolving with that ceremony.

Says Jason Nicholl, co-founder of the site, "Yes we will do the Nukies this year.  We will even expand the categories.  There are many entries this year, this was a horrible year for movies". The awards, like last year, are planned to be held on the same day as the Oscars, while the Razzies are held the night before.

To give an idea, here's a look at last year's "winners":

The Film that Most Nuked the Fridge
Winner: “Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”
Runner-up: “Transporter 3”

Actor or Actress to Most Nuke the Fridge: Pierce Brosnan.  Mr. Brosnan is an outstanding actor, and one can make the argument that he is the great James Bond of them all.  But the man can not sing.  So what was he thinking starring in the musical “Mamma Mia!”?  This was such a cringe inducing performance it left us all scratching our heads and wondering “what the?”

Nuke the Fridge Career Achievement Award: Mike Myers.  Mr. Myers was once funny.  But somewhere between driving the Austin Powers and Shrek films into the ground and the release of his latest film, the god-awful “Love Guru,” he became seriously unfunny.  Not since Eddie Murphy has a comedian so lost his touch.  “The Love Guru” was so unfunny, that his entire career seems to have nuked the fridge.   Can Mike Myers ever get back on track?  Only time will tell.

So what and who should be nominated THIS year??? I vote TF2's Robotic Scrotum!

Of Sparkly Vampires and 6-Packed Werewolves...

Everybody and their great aunt Edna has written reviews or op eds on NEW MOON and its predecessor TWILIGHT, so I'll spare myself the duty of reviewing it. BUT I did see it, for curiosity's sake -didn't pay for it, nor did I do anything illegal don't worry- and I feel I should bring some objectivity to it, with the following 3 thoughts.

On the Appeal and Quality
I tried to read the novels (again out of curiosity) and I have to say I understand the appeal for tweens; they are NOT well written at all, but then again if the vocabulary and turn of phrases require too much it won't be interesting for the "Instant Gratification" generation - said not as a poke but as a perfectly viable observation. But still, they are badly written, and thus the movies do not deserve the hysterical hype. The first one was a low-budget (low for a Hollywood studio, not for an indie) fare that should've generated between 20 and 30 millions in domestic take. The second one cost around $50M and looks it, but it's still a unoriginal and quite boring story that doesn't deserve to rank alongside THE DARK KNIGHT for opening week-end biggest takes.

On the Cast and crew
Kristen Stewart comes out very much as the chick who called the first movie's fans "retards" shortly after its release; she looks bored and not at all intent on doing something strictly for the people who adulate those movies and made her a star who can choose whatever project she likes next. Same for Rob Pattinson who makes SPACEBALLS' Prince Vallium look like a walking percolator. Big props however to Taylor Lautner who definitely pulled out all the stops to deserve the fan's dedication and looks to be having the time of his life. Ditto to Billy Burke who, although holding a small role in daddy Charlie, knows this could be his only shot at the big time and makes the most of it. Micheal Sheen knows how to enjoy himself with a paychek part, Dakota fanning makes you wonder why she isn't the one with the lead role, Cameron Bright is barely recognizable or seen and never says a damn word, and they kill Graham Friggin Greene midway through the movie! You can't kill Kicking Bird you lousy pagans!!!

To summarize: Lautner and Burke save the film, Stewart deserves a lifetime Razzie membership, Pattinson is on his way to pulling a Joaquin, and Sheen is a hell of a classy actor.

As for the director, I completely disagree with people who say Catherine Hardwicke is barely fit to handle a viewmaster let alone a camera; she knows how to use very little in framing and lensing to maximize the actor's play and the story's depth. She makes her movies small-scale by choice, and the narrative benefits greatly form it. Chris Weitz is brilliant with his brother Paul, but here repeats the unlearned-from mistakes of solo efforts like GOLDEN COMPASS: all visual, no heart. Dude says he might not make another movie for a long time, and dare I say please keep to your word.

On the subject or creatures
I'll refrain from saying Vampire should burn and not shine since everybody else did from here to eternity, and instead will focus on the other kind of classic creature revisited. Or I should say "used"; author Stephenie Meyers didn't try to re-invent or explore those mythos, just make them fit  her narrative (if that's what she calls it...). Anyhoo, werewolves are often a huge let down for either being too anthropomorphic or for not even trying to look like nothing else than a garden variety wolves; here, they're enormous, impressive, scary and still extremely dog-like in their behavior. rarely have I been that incensed by lycnathropes. But, again, all visual, no heart. The reasons for Bora and Edtard's infatuation is never explained nor, and it should be since we just don't see it. On the other hand, Jacob's hots for Bella need not be detailed - we do very much sense it, again thanks to Lautner taking his job much more seriously than everybody else.

If absolutely have to rate the film, I'll give it a generous 6/10; a very clichéd and lazy story, with a pair of un-interested leads, but some much invested co-stars and a great team behind the visuals.

"Defying Gravity": What we won't get to see

I've been a huge fan of the international collaboration show DEFYING GRAVITY since its very first (of 13...) episodes, and I really didn't mind people calling it "Grey's Anatomy in space" - it was character driver science-fiction, or soft-core sci-fi as I like to call it, as opposed to heavier genre shows like "Stargate". Plus it had a warm and charismatic cast, but above all I got the sense that the show's creator James D. Parriott knew where it was all going, as opposed to "Lost" where one of the exec producers admitted after season one they were no farther then 4 episodes ahead - which means they had no clear plan and made it up as they went...

Problem with the show wasn't quality -which it had in spades- but marketing; ABC bought the show from its producers a mere 3 weeks before airing it, thus leaving no time or space to promote it on their network, and no favourable time slot either, so unnoticed it went to the Friday night "death slot". Fast forward to about 8 episodes later, ABC yanks it off, and the producers just lost their major market. Show's dead and never got a chance to conclude in any way. Here in Canada we did get to see the final 5 episodes, but no clear answers were provided to the legions of questions planted throughout.

In late October, shortly after ABC's pulling of it, Parriott had a sit down with the folks of Clique Clack TV where he graciously revealed what he had worked out for at least 3 full seasons of the show. The interview can be found HERE, but for clicklessness' sake here's a brief breakdown of his revelations.

Nadia - As many had guessed with her hallucinations of a man who strangely resembled her, Nadia was born a hermaphrodite who's parents had made the gender choice for her age 11. The visions were of what she could've been had she chosen for herself. All those DNA changes Beta brings on the crew? They would've slowly reverted Nadia back to a more male-like state, and have her revisit the choice made for her by others in order to make it herself.

Donner and Zoe –  Donner’s reversed vasectomy was also part of the DNA change brought upon by Beta. Eventually, toward the very end of the series, the true reason for that happening would be revealed, when Zoe becomes pregnant again on the trip. So yes, even Zoe’s hysterectomy would be “reversed” in order for that to happen. The idea, for all of them, is to have Beta confront them with choices they made that changed their lives forever, and have them decide if they,d make the same choice again.

Wass — Wass was going to have something like Pervasive Developmental Disorder [like Autism] and have a great fear of people touching him and having contact with other people. He was going to become a weirder guy. He didn't have hallucinations simply because none could be worked out properly for him. He would've had them eventually, though.

Arnel Poe —People guessed pretty early on that it’s Arnel’s leg loss that gets Zoe back into the program. At the beginning of the second season, she was going to be at home, with a job teaching college,  have another romance. She's washed her hands of the whole thing which drives Donner nuts. Then Arnel would lose his leg during survival training, and Zoe would be called back.”

Jen — Jen's "challenge" from Beta is to face her fear of abandonment, as hinted with the isolation tank episode. Season two would have her driven farther apart form the others, and brought on the brink when the rabbit she "created" wreaks havoc on the ship and has to be put down. 

Eve — Eve would discover that her flashback of Ted on Mars is a flashforward - Ted has the word Antares on his helmet. By season 3 the crew would be back and preparing for the final pick-up, Mars, and Eve would have to go along.

Rollie — Rollie violates the gag order and goes to jail for running over the cyclist. He'd be released to prepare a resupply mission on Mars with Eve.

Goss — Goss would not be the bad guy in the end. Goss would find out that he’s been being duped a little bit, and that it’s bigger than all of them.

Beta and the other “fractal objects” —Their true nature was never going to be revealed, but left for the audience to debate and decide.

Other reveals:
  • They would eventually get all of the fractal objects during the course of the show.
  • Arnel, Trevor, Ajay and Claire would have been behind the “true” mission being revealed to the world, eventually. The three would be forced to work with Trevor in a sort-of underground initiative and ally with him when they see that he’s right in that something larger is being hidden. We would find out that Goss is hiding a larger agenda, and then there’s an even larger agenda that even Goss is unaware of.
  • The state of the world — the planet Earth itself — would have been revealed. Budget was insufficient to do it initially, with most of it going to the ship, but by season three we'd get a glance a future-earth, and in Parriott's own word, "it's a fucked-up place".
  • There was discussions of having the crew find Sharon and Walker alive on Mars, having managed to survive on the base-shelter built for the original mission.
(Thanks to jjadziadax for the heads-up)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

How TWILIGHT Should've Ended!!!

I abso-friggin-lutely love Daniel Baxter's How It Should Have Ended website where he regularly creates short cartoons that parody how silly Hollywod can be. And just in time for the release of NEW MOON, Dan's created a hilarious send-off on the first film's questionable climax.

Enjoy, I know I did!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

FrogCast #1

My (hopefully) triumphant return to podcasting after a 6-mont stint writing movie news on a daily basis and wanted to hang myself with all the New Moon crap I had to cover…
I this week’s edition:
  • *A quick look at the interesting pieces of movie news from the last week
  • *A chat with my friend Super Marcey of the world-famous SuperPodcast who needs to rants about kitchen appliances vs nuclear weapons…
  • *Movies being released this week in theaters - guess what? NEW gosh-darn MOON!

Send your thoughts, questions and requests for my cabbage rolls recipe at and be sure to check out Super Marcey’s SuperPodcast!

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

MOVIE REVIEW: The Hangover

2009 Comedy
STARRING Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha
WRITTEN BY Jon Lucas & Scott Moore
DIRECTED BY Todd Phillips
The Hangover doesn't really re-invent the wheel, but it spins it to tremendous effect. With no name star on the poster and a budget less than 1/4 the usual summer fare, it manages something few movies have yet this summer: be fun, fresh, surprising and very entertaining.
Setting out to Vegas for a bachelor party, 3 groomsmen wake up in a renovation-bound hotel suite with a tiger, a baby, no groom and no memory of what happened during their night on the town. The further they go in retracing their steps to locate the groom, the less it seems they'll ever be able to forget a night they just can't remember.
Right off the bat, from one of the film's first scenes, is a reference to a similar-themed dark comedy from the mid-90s, the very horrid and questionable Very Bad Things. And upon complete viewing, said reference feels like both a reassurance to the viewer and statement to writer/director Peter Berg: THIS is how you pull-off a Bachelor Party Gone Wrong movie. I can't say I'm a fan of Todd Phillips' previous films (Old School, Road Trip) but the grossness factor and irreverance of this one becomes inoffensive due to the setting and cast, and extracted more thana few laughs out of me.
The whole thing might've felt stale and forced if populated by better-known actors or a cast usual to this type of comedy. But the trio of unknown-yet-experienced leads attack the material with extreme confidence and a fresh dose of reserve that allows for the MAYBE improbable succession of events to sweep them along and make the film work. Even a risky Rain Man reference turns out a refreshing moment of pure gold. Lots have been said of blue-eyed hunk Bradley Cooper and outrageous funny-man Zach Galifianakis, it seems to me though that Ed Helms is actually the anchor who brings this unlikely ensemble together; his take on the straight man who's in way over his head brings nothing new, yet it feels unique and tons of fun.
Talk around the water cooler has Lindsay Lohan-Ronson refusing the part played in the film by the still uber-hot Heather Graham, feeling the script beneath her and bound for failure. The Hangover raked in 8 times its budget to become one of the year's top money makers. Lindsay's last film was so bad it went straight to video. In Hollywood, you fail upward and succeed downward, it seems...
8.5* out of 10


2009 Dark Comedy/Horror

STARRING Jason Mewes, Richard Fitzpatrick, Erica Cox.
WRITTEN BY Tim McGregor and Tyler Levine
DIRECTED BY Harvey Glazer
It's quite unfortunate that such an original deconstruction of the genre comes smack-dab in the middle of the Twilight/True Blood vampire renaissance - seems that every week a new vampire project is announced to cash in on the attention given to the afforementioned. Had the film been given stronger legs it would've walked tall besides those, but the circumstances simply highlight its flaws which makes the actual strenghts forgettable.
The set-up, reminiscent in tone and style to Scorcese's Bringing Out the Dead (though nowhere as powerful) sees generically-named "Jack" the paramedic overcome heartbreak and depression when finding a too-cute-to-be-real woman unconscious and gravely injured on his doorstep. The romantic fantasy of nursing the lovely Danika back to health soon becomes nightmare when it turns out her predicament was caused by a vampire's bite. Jack's feelings for his new love are stretched to no end when her hunger forces him towards the unthinkable.
Fortunately for the film, there's no like-diamonds-in-the-sun aspect to its bloodsucker (GOD I hate Twilight...), instead presenting a classic kind of vampire but as she deals with discovering for herself what she is. The soundtrack to back up the black humor of it all is of a quality too rarely seen in such films, and one I'll make a point to track down and buy.
UNfortunately, the brilliant pieces of dark comedy nontwithstanding, it just doesn't work. The smallish budget has nothing to do with it, on the contrary the simplicity of the setting and location is one of its strenghts. Nor does the dialogues, infused with an improvisational urban feel that makes the interactions feel much more realistic than most doomed-romance stories. And before naysayers jump the gun, it ain't Jason Mewes either; the dude shows he's come a long way since his days as an addict and walking Hollywood joke, and shows he can handle himself in front of a camera. But as sympathetic as Mewes is, he still needs a strong hand to guide him, and he quite visibly doesn't get it.
Director Harvey Glazer does show skill at making something disturbing look funny, but he also clearly seems much more interested in exteriorizing his romantic frustrations (Women always want more even if it kills you is the none-too-subtle main theme) and obligeing in blatant voyeurism towards the painfully gorgeous Erica Cox (who spends the entire film barely clothed, if at all) than firmly steering his boat through a delicate balance of chills and laughs. The actors are left to themselves in crucial moments when a much more experienced filmmaker would've made them dish out career-defining performances -the potential is that high with the given material. Only Canadian screen vet Richard Fitzpatrick, playing Jack's mentor and confidant, manages to look good by himself and bring an A-game to the table. But since the film rests on the shoulders of less experienced Cox and Mewes, the intensity gets completely lost, and the potentially powerful ending comes out as a wet firecracker.
The film's short running time (barely 80 minutes) and ability to not take itself too seriously allow a still enjoyable watch for what many will consider a complete stinker. It's far from Uwe-Boll crapness, but also unfortunately not close to what it could've been under the guise of a Brad Anderson or Shane Carruth.
6* out of 10