Friday, May 26, 2006

Obscure Movies I Love, pt. 1: Diggstown

Erik has his features "Overrated Films" and "Bad Movies I Love" and he has suggested I do my own Overrated Films thing, but I don't want to copy the man outright. So instead, I'm going to do my own, Obscure Movies I Love. This is the first in said series. The great movie, Diggstown:

Diggstown is a classic con-man movie. It features some fantastic actors: James Woods, Bruce Dern, Oliver Platt, and Louis Gossett Jr.
The movie focuses on con-man Gabriel Caine (Woods), just out of prison, who sets up a complicated con involving a small town addicted to boxing, and his old boxer friend "Honey" Roy Palmer (Gossett).

So I will get my main criticism of the movie out of the way first: it is hard to believe Gossett, at his age, could fight and win against some of the boxers he goes up against. The movie stretches the bounds of Suspension of Disbelief here and there.

Other than that, it's a great flick. The writing is funny. The pace is slow enough to tell the story, but quick enough to keep you interested. Woods, Platt, Gossett, and Dern play off each other expertly. While the Woods/Gossett scenes are good, the best ones are between rivals Woods and Dern. Both are amazing character actors, and yet both can ham it up...these are both traits this script called for, and these two acquit themselves well.

So why am I calling this movie "obscure"? After production was all done, the studio decided to undersell it. No hype, no promotional tours, no talk shows. The trailers came out about two weeks before the movie. As a result, when the movie released, hardly anyone had heard of it and it bombed at the box office. With poor ticket sales, it only lasted a few weeks in the theaters. A shame in my opinion.

Speaking of trailers, there was a line in the trailer that got cut from the movie that frankly I thought was quite funny. When "Hammerhead Hagan" comes out Gossett looks at Woods and asks, "Did you tell him he's black, too?"
If you haven't seen the movie it makes no sense. But if you've seen it, or if you go watch it now that I've told you about it, you'll know why that's funny.

If you haven't seen this one, rent it, Netflix it, whatever. If you have seen it, feel free to share your opinions here.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Would you say I have a plethora of posts?

So, I haven't posted on here in awhile (three weeks?). I've been busy, and stuff. So for your reading (dis)pleasure, below are a few posts made all-in-a-row. Enjoy.

That is the most flexible woman I've seen in my life!

...Now that I have your attention...

What I am referring to is Cirque du Soleil (henceforth, CdS). They are in town doing their show Varekai. Back on Valentine's Day, I got tickets to this for my loved one. And a teddy bear holding a heart. Musn't forget the teddy bear holding the heart. Ok, inside joke, sorry. Moving on...

I like CdS. But Jen loves CdS. When she discovered that Netflix carried their DVDs, she put them in our movie queue. All of them. In one solid block. I had to move the queue around so some actual movies would arrive in between CdS DVDs. She was happy when I gave her the tickets; she was nearly ecstatic when the day finally arrived for the show, this past Saturday.

Our son also likes CdS. He would sit and watch their TV show or the DVDs all the way through, even at 3. But all day Saturday it was "I don't want to go!" or "We're not going!" or "I don't like Cirque du Soleil!"
When he says it, it kind of comes out "serkda solay".
He was a demon all day. He was a brat on the car ride there. He calmed down a little when he saw their big, colorful tents. Then we went inside.

From the moment we entered, he was enthralled. He sat through the first half only moving or speaking to ask for a drink of water. He watched the act and applauded with enthusiasm when the adults appluaded. He was an angel.

Intermission came and he needed to go to the bathroom, for which there were long lines. While in line, he impressed the adults with his trick - I hold his hands, and he half-jumps-half-get-pulled up and plants his feet on my chest, then flips over backwards and lands. He is still so flexible it doesn't bother him that his arms are jacked around the complete wrong way when he lands. We really ought to get him into gymnastics now. I always ask him if he wants to be in CdS when he grows up, but he always says no. When we went back in, he continued his enthralled, but completely good, behavior.

Anyway, enough about the kid. The adults loved it too. I've seen them on TV, on DVD, and yes it is amazing to watch that way. But live, it just takes on a whole 'nother level. If you haven't seen them at all, rent a DVD or two. If you've seen the DVD, but not the live act...oh, you're missing out. A woman in line for the bathroom insisted (really, insisted, like in a scary-crazy way) that you absolutely must see them in Vegas, that it is even better there. Going to have to do that one of these days.

I leave you with this:

Yummy Xbox 360 goodness....

Yes, Jen spoiled me and bought me an Xbox 360 as a slightly early birthday present. I am enjoying it greatly. It came with Project Gotham Racing 3, and I went out and bought Battlefield 2 and Burnout Revenge.

So yeah. Now I have an Xbox 360 hooked up to a widescreen HDTV and surround sound. I am one spoiled bastard.

Eat it. :)

The Body Nazis

As some of you have heard from me already, my lovely wife decided we needed a personal trainer. Apparently, I'm overweight or something.

She heard about this place called Temple of Health. It's run by a couple, both bodybuilders (yes, male-female couple). They have this little private gym where you go train with them one-on-one or as a couple (as Jen and I do). So with two of them, there is generally a max of four people working out in the gym, and often it is just us with our trainer. So we started going there twice a week, and we train with the woman, Charma (pronounced Sharma).

Who am I kidding? We go there twice a week and she tries to kill me. We got back from there about an hour and a half ago, and I feel like I've been run over. By a tank. With a disco happening on top of it.


I refer to our them as the Body Nazis - lovingly, of course. And never, ever to their faces. He is Czech and she is not white and from a jewish upbringing, so they may not see the humor with which I am using the term. I mean, would you call this woman anything but "ma'am" to her face?:

She's not quite that buff anymore. She doesn't do shows or really bodybuild anymore, but she is still fit enough to kick the crap out of this fat man.

They put us on a really horrendous diet, which we are going to start tomorrow. Supposedly. Jen hasn't cooked anything for tomorrow yet, and I sure as hell am not about to right now. I can barely stand right now.

We will see how it goes. Hopefully it will stave off the heart attack I am sure I have coming. In the meantime, I feel like such a fucking yuppie. I own a home in the Duvall area, quickly becoming the place for Microsoftie yuppies (yes, I know, I know). I have a doctor, whom I refer to as "my doctor". I have a lawyer. Now I have a personal trainer. Next I'll have an accountant.

Lord, please take me now, before I start shopping at Nordstroms.

The Ego-Breaker

So probably none of you have noticed the little button at the bottom of my blog. You can see the same little button at the bottom of, say, My meme can beat up your meme. It leads to my Site Meter page. This is a handy little service that lets you see who's been visiting your shows their ISP, IP address, approximate geographic location, when they checked it, how long they were there, where they came in from, what they clicked on to leave, etc.

Mostly, it is as I refer to it the Ego-Breaker. What Site Meter tells me is, my little bloggy doesn't get a lot of hits, 75% of those hits are me checking for comments (I hate having them e-mailed to me) or updating or what-have-you. And then there's all, say, four of you that actually read it.

And people searching Yahoo for "spankings in a doctor's office."

That's where the amusement is for even a little blog like mine. You can see search terms. Because I posted about going to the doctor (for the Bell's Palsy) and spankings (Loxie's 30th) in a short amount of time, someone from Seneca Falls searching Yahoo for the above phrase wound up on my page. Said person staid for 0 seconds - he clicked in and out. Technorati, a site that lets you search blogs, had me on the first page for both birthday spankings and Vandenbrink Carver for quite some time, so I got some hits (however brief) for those.

Spankings! Spankings! Spank spank spank spank!
There, that ought to about double my hits for the next week. Probably get a 0 second visit from somebody searching for "spanking Spike Lee" or something.

Anyway, fun stuff. Good way to show you what a little slice of the internet you have compared to, say, a waiter in New York.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Movie Review time: The Inside Man

Last weekend, got to cut loose and go see a movie in the theater. While the movie in my feature "What I'm looking forward to seeing" is out ("Thank you for Smoking"), I just was not in the mood for that really. Instead, we went to "Inside Man".

For those of you who accuse me of hating everything, you're not going to like this review. "Inside Man" is directed by and stars a couple of people whose works I could definitely say I hated - until recently. Opinions change, and this movie has helped change my opinion of both of them.

Inside Man was directed by Spike Lee. I've never liked Lee's movies. His films have historically been ethnocentric, which is fine, but his carried it to a bit of an extreme. Most of his movies might as well have been called "White people won't get this", "How white people keep my people down", or perhaps just "Kill Whitey". Recently, though, he seems to be breaking out of that. "25th Hour", one of his more recent films, was a definite departure for Lee and was actually pretty interesting. I don't know if I'd call it good, but it was interesting. Inside Man is a big departure, and Lee acquits himself well with this film.

One of Lee's favorite actors to cast is Denzel Washington. Until recently, Denzel would probably have gotten my vote for Most Overrated Actor. The guy plays the same character no matter what the movie. No range, no variation, maybe just 4 or 5 facial expressions. But he gets constant praise. I never could understand why, other than a crapload of women swoon at the mere mention of "Denzel" - which in of itself I don't really get. However, my opinion of Denzel has been changing already due to some films he has been in that I genuinely enjoyed - particularly "Man on Fire" and "The Manchurian Candidate". Both remakes, but well done ones.
Anyhow, on to Inside Man: The movie was excellent. As I've said, Spike Lee and Denzel both manage to overcome my dislike of them by putting in good work. Denzel manages to actually create a fairly believable and likeable character. Lee creates a movie that doesn't entirely revolve around race, and in fact brings up some ethical questions - albeit fairly easy ones. Clive Owen plays his usual kind of snearing character bad-guy-who's-not-so-bad. I actually rather like Clive Owen, although I recognize he isn't the greatest thespian around. Jodie Foster gets a key role that is practically custom-tailored to her talents, and gets some of the best lines aside from Denzel - especially near the end. Christopher Plummer and Willem Dafoe, perhaps the two most talented actors in this thing, turn in excellent supporting performances.

The movie is a bit long, at just over two hours, and there are some spots where it drags a little, but overall it keeps the interest going and has a good plot and good writing. There were two things that really ticked me off, though. One is a plot point involving a racist cop that doesn't fit at all and is just designed to move along the fairly long movie. The other follows immediately after, and it is a stereotype I really hate in movies - The Hothead SWAT Captain. You see, whenever SWAT gets portrayed in movies, there's always the Hothead SWAT Captain whose solution to the whole thing is use his snipers to take out the targets they can see and send "my boys" in guns a-blazing to take down the baddies, and there's always Levelheaded Detective/Negotiator there to keep him in check. I've known some SWAT guys, and nothing could be further from the truth. If SWAT is there, it's because the situation is dangerous and probably lethal. The last thing they want is shots fired, by either side. What's most annoying in this movie about Hothead Captain is that he suddenly gets this way an hour and a half into the movie. WTF?

So yeah, in a nutshell: couple minor plotpoints that sucked, but overall a very good movie that helped raise my opinion of an actor and a director I have long hated.

Mattbear out.