Thursday, May 28, 2009

Herzog's "Bad Lieutenant"!

The trailer for Werner Herzog's Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans starring Nicholas Cage! Yes! I haven't seen the original "Bad Lieutenant", and apparently Herzog hasn't either and I like that fact. It looks out of place for Herzog, which isn't a bad thing at all in his hands! I love that Herzog isn't afraid to try something new. I think it's gonna be a great ride and a unique follow-up to last year's Oscar nominated "Encounters at the End of the World." -djg

PS: Recently Werner Herzog was chosen as one of Time Magazine's "100 Most Influential People"!!! Roger Ebert honors the film legend with a great writing.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

DJG's Extended Weekend Watcher

Role Models * * * 1/2
Directed by: David Wain / 2008

...Energy drink sealed with a KISS!!!

You Don't Mess With the Zohan * * * * 1/2
Directed by: Dennis Dugan / 2008

...Terrorism, Hairstyling & Disco!

The Beach * * * *
Directed by: Danny Boyle / 2000

...Almost paradise.

Jules and Jim * * * *
Directed by: Francois Truffaut / 1962

...Poetic French New Wave 3-Way

DJG's 2009 Memorial Military Movies

The Steel Helmet * * * * *
Directed by: Samuel Fuller / 1951

Paths of Glory * * * * 1/2
Directed by: Stanley Kubrick / 1957

Full Metal Jacket * * * * *
Directed by: Stanley Kubrick / 1987

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

DJG / Fanboys

Fanboys * * * ½
Directed by: Kyle Newman / 2009

What “Fanboys” lacks in originality and plot, it makes up for in heart. We’ve all seen a road movie that follows the road movie formula before. You know the like: bad directions and detours, car trouble, wacky characters, ridiculous scenarios, crude humor, getting chased or beat-up, self-discovery, best friends bickering and breaking apart and then reuniting for the better (among others). Very few road movies really “work” for me and I’ve rolled my eyes at several in recent months, but “Fanboys” is a treat as it hits my “Star Wars” sweet spot and tosses some coins in the coming of age fountain. It trades in Harold and Kumar’s White Castle munchies search for that of George Lucas’s “Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace”. Set way back in the good ol’ days of 1998 (has it REALLY been eleven years?!), a group of way-more-devoted-than-thou fanatics in their 20s decide to engage their 5th grade pact of making a cross-country trek (ha, trek…see it and you’ll get my joke) from Ohio to Skywalker Ranch in California. Their mission: to steal an early print of “The Phanton Menace”, the long-awaited first prequel to the original “Star Wars” franchise that molded their childhood. More important, one of them is dying from terminal cancer and his friends wish to give him one heck of a send-off and a chance to see the film months in advance. "Fanboys" is filled with the aforementioned road trip menu, though it's highly entertaining and was a fine tribute to "Star Wars", most importantly it's fans and made me wish I could still stay up all night to marathon the original trilogy. The film features delightful cameos and even George Lucas’s approval and blessing to use original "Star Wars" sound effects! When the fanboys (and girl) finally get to see what they’ve waited years for, the movie ends in a question: “What if the movie sucks?” Well, those of us who waited patiently for our midnight screening of “The Phantom Menace” know the answer, and just like with “Fanboys” the movie might not be the best, but is still very sweet from the journey. –djg

*Side Note:
I am reminded of another recent “Star Wars” fan related movie originally titled “5-25-77” but, now simplified to “’77”. Patrick Read Johnson’s film based on his own life and love of “Star Wars” was completed in 2007, but has yet to find proper distribution or something legal or financial is hanging it up. It’s not even a straight to DVD release. I really want to see it and have been curious about it for several years now. It’s stars John Francis Daley (Sam Weir from the beloved “Freaks & Geeks”!) whose life is changed forever on the day “Star Wars” came out on May 25, 1977.

Monday, May 18, 2009

DJG's Movie Morning Monday

The Man Who Fell to Earth * * * ½
Directed by: Nicolas Roeg / 1976

Out of Control for Major Tom…
At times a bit too indulgent and arty “The Man Who Fell to Earth” is a movie I’m sure has challenged many viewers, even those celebrating in a too-quick-to-call-it cult masterpiece kind of way. Without a doubt interesting, epic and obtuse in its sci-fi realm, I do find it being quite dull even though there is rarely a dull moment. I think it boils down to appreciation more than actually liking it. Personally, I do think this one would have been something to group watch five-to-eight years ago, for its eccentricity, surreal visuals and of course Mr. David Bowie in a very game-on acting debut. In fact, I don’t see this movie working without The (very) Thin White Duke as alien Thomas Jerome Newton on a water retrieval mission to Earth. Maybe the original American cut would suit me better as it shortens his visit by twenty minutes and perhaps both Bowie and Rip Torn (even the ladies) keep their trousers on longer and the film's departure would get to me sooner. Of course a remake of “The Man Who Fell to Earth” is slated for release in 2009, but more than likely I’ll just stick with the original even if I don’t really plan on revisiting it. -djg

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Thunderbolt and Lightfoot * * * * *
Directed by: Michael Cimino / 1974

The name might throw some people off into the "Cowboys and Indians" department. So might trying to label it into a specific genre. It’s an action movie…no wait, it’s a buddy movie…no wait, it’s a road movie…no wait, it’s a muscle car movie…no wait, it’s an outrageous comedy…no wait, it’s a gangster movie… no wait, there is a giant military gun…no wait, it’s a heist movie …no wait, it’s a fantastic movie and it’s a shame that filmmaker Michael Cimino has all but been banished from Hollywood since “Heaven’s Gate”! Cimino is under appreciated (well, except for “The Deer Hunter”, which is my least favorite of his three I’ve seen) and so is his “Thunderbolt and Lightfoot” as it’s another mini-masterpiece film gem of the 1970s. In all honestly, the movie shouldn’t have worked and I should have been groaning, but I had a grin on my face from start to finish. I was thoroughly engrossed in this wild ride starring a very-very cool Clint Eastwood and a very-very young and pre“ Dude” Jeff Bridges, who was nominated for an Oscar in a supporting role. In many ways I can see it as a touchstone for the Coen Brothers’ obtuse comedies as “Thunderbolt and Lightfoot” is really hard to pin, other than it’s a fantastic movie from a director who should be a major-major player now if Hollywood would come to their senses with “Heaven’s Gate”. -djg

DJG's Movie Morning Monday

JCVD * * * *
Directed by: Mabrouk El Mechri / 2008

Mickey Rourke made a comeback last year with a fantastic performance hitting close to home in “The Wrestler”. Though, not as great of a performance or movie as Rourke’s, Jean-Claude Van Damme in the movie aptly titled “JCVD”, is a close to home comeback for him in some regard. “The Muscles from Brussels” plays himself, even opening up some real life wounds, in this oddly touching and decently tailored heist movie with unique narrative. But, it’s more than a heist movie. Watching Van Damme in “JCVD” reminded me of the enjoyment I received from his action flicks of my youth. I think I need to revisit them soon and revisit this one some more. -djg

Monday, May 11, 2009

DJG's Weekend Watcher

Star Trek * * * * *
Directed by: J.J. Abrams / 2009

Modern day father of sci-fi geeks, J.J. Abrams (he’s behind T.V.’s “Lost” and “Fringe” / 2008’s “Cloverfield”) was given the blue prints to a sci-fi kingdom, serving up a plate of classic with a fresh twist. How in the world did Abrams pull off to perfection something like this? His “Star Trek” is a genius work of sci-fi art and the best picture so far of 2009. Admittedly, I grew up a product of “Star Wars” as “Star Trek” always seemed outdated, un-cool and put-me-to-sleep paced. Not until getting married to a fan of the franchise did I see an original series episode in its entirety. Honestly, it still has the ability to put me to sleep, but I really find it quite fascinating and fun. Furthermore, I’m fascinated by the legacy it has impressed on many a mind and other-worldly sci-fi tale. With this explosive and seamless update, Abrams has me wanting to dive deeper into space with the Starship Enterprise. Oh, and I really want George Lucas to hand over the portal to his “Star Wars” galaxy so a fan boy like Abrams can properly restore Episodes 1, 2 and 3.

Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid * * * 1/2
Directed by: Sam Peckinpah / 1973

Though I’m a fan of director Sam Pekinpah, I’ve only see a handful of his work. His skilled balance of dynamics with drama, adventure, slight humor, unusual and memorable dialog, swift location and story shifts and underline graphic violence is masterfully executed, even if it feels at times dangling by a thread. But, that’s where I think Peckinpah found his comfort. Not only can his films get a bit uncomfortable but they always offer something unique and bold-plated to come back to, or to chew on you in the night. To me, that feels the work of a master film maker experimenting instead of meticulously pre-crafting a masterpiece and I like that. Now, I’m not well-versed in the art of Peckinpah’s process and I don’t think he took on projects on the fly, nor shot from the hips. I just see him as a nitty-gritty, likable film outlaw who left quite a mark in the dust. “Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid” isn’t up there with his best, though it has all of the Peckinpah approved pieces that are expressed even more in films like “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia”, “The Wild Bunch” and “Straw Dogs”. His movies can be hard to watch repeatedly, but it’s those awkward and loose moments, even little snips of words or an obtuse camera angle and a lingering moment, that I feel shine brighter than the whole of most big pictures.

Grandma’s Boy * * *
Directed by: Nicholaus Goossen / 2006

I think Adam Sandler’s production company Happy Madison (I wonder where they got their name?) could only put out a film like “Grandma’s Boy”. However, I don’t aim to cut the movie or its creators so short by saying such a thing. I didn’t love it as much as films like “Smiley Face”, “Office Space”, “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” or “Pineapple Express”, but I liked it a lot. In fact, “Grandma’s Boy” is kind of a cheaper combo meal of the aforementioned smart stoner comedies. Not exactly, but kind of…I think they all share similar genes in the cesspool of stupid-awesome. What am I getting at here? I don’t know, I just enjoy some great stupid-awesome comedies and this one is an overlooked decent, little nugget in a sand box of some pretty solid ones in recent years. I can't always relate to their immaturity on their sleeves, but in ways I can and always end up having a coma of good time. Keep 'em coming. -djg

Thursday, May 7, 2009

DJG / Three Random Films

Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer * * * 1/2
Directed by: Jon Knautz / 2008

Following in the footsteps of campy horror classics, I place “Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer” right below a couple of other recent higher budget, big name genre hits in “Bubba Ho-Tep” and “Slither”. The film has just enough development, mayhem, monsters, carnage and a lot of silly fun. Oh, and Robert “Freddy Krueger” Englund in an awesome role!

Help! * * * *
Directed by: Richard Lester / 1965

The Beatles’ follow-up to “A Hard Day’s Night” isn’t nearly as great, but “Help!” is still oddball, fantastic fun and surprisingly fresh to me.

Predator * * * *
Directed by: John McTiernan / 1987

I love me some classic ‘80s action. I love me some “Predator”: Arnold, Carl Weathers, Jesse Ventura, amazing screenplay, bad acting, muscles, blood, fire power, memorable lines, and an unexplained alien monster in the jungle! This past week I heard that filmmaker Robert Rodriguez is finally getting to make a “Predator” movie. Re-watching the original just made me even more excited for another one, and especially at the hands of somebody like Rodriguez who will more than likely jump-start the series. –djg

Monday, May 4, 2009

DJG's Weekend Watcher

Bram Stoker's Dracula * * * *
Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola / 1992

Francis Ford Coppola’s “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” is flawed…is clumsy…is extremely awkward at times…is bloated…obsessively wears style on its sleeve…is almost entirely poorly acted…and I absolutely love it and appreciate it greatly! For those interested in a cheap Collector's Edition DVD, I found my two-discer recently at Target for only $5!

X-Men Origins: Wolverine * * * *
Directed by: Gavin Hood / 2009

I have a new favorite “X-Men” movie! I enjoyed the triple-pack of the first movies, but was left feeling overwhelmed with the amount of information and characters and not enough time spent in development and proper execution. They did contain plenty of fun and stuff blowing up though, so credit dished out there for sure. “Wolverine” is both awesome and entertaining, packing major punch too. It’s not perfect, but it doesn’t have to be, even when “Wolverine’s” claws got a bit too “Roger Rabbit” at times. Regardless “Wolverine” is the spectacle to open the summer blockbuster season and didn’t skip a beat. I wonder what origin is next?! Honestly, I could easily watch two more movies with Hugh Jackman’s “Wolverine” as the anchor.

Special * * *
Directed by: Hal Haberman & Jeremy Passmore/ 2006

It had some moments, but I think that “Special” had more potential to really be something special, than what was actually presented. The story is there, as a man signs up for a trial drug to boost self-confidence and ends up believing that he has super powers, but the movie came up short for me. However, one of the definite highlights is seeing actor Michael Rapaport in a movie like this. I don’t think he gets enough credit, and/or quality roles, so hopefully this one will open up some special doors for him.

CJ7 * * * * *
Directed by: Stephen Chow / 2008

I took a second spin with Stephen Chow’s wonderfully sweet “CJ7” and still think it’s his best work to date! Chow has been cranking out fantastic work for a while now, and I just really hope his work can get a much wider audience, because this creative genius storyteller deserves it!

Kill Bill Vol. 1 * * * * *
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino / 2003

I’m super stoked to see another official Quentin Tarantino release in the theaters this summer with “Inglourious Basterds”. It’s always a treat to see his work on a big screen, multiple times. “Kill Bill Vol. 1” was an incredible big screen experience for me and even still is on my smaller screen at home. And I saw “Kill Bill Vol. 2” for the first time at the drive-in, so that was even better! I hope to watch “Vol. 2” again this weekend as I slowly work through Tarantino’s catalog again and again before his epic-obtuse WWII film comes out in August. If you’ve yet to be convinced by the man’s talent(s), I feel sorry that you’re missing out on some incredible film flavors and fun! He just can’t make movies fast enough for me though! -djg

DJG / Fantastic "Julie & Julia" Poster

Check out the trailer...this one looks fantastic. -djg