Random Factoid #542

21 01 2011

No “Round-Up” today as final predictions are coming on Sunday/Monday.

I have a strange habit.  Well, I’ll let everyone judge how strange it actually is for themselves.  When I watch movies or trailers, I like to look at the movie advertisements plastering the city to get a sense of when the movie was shot.

This is easy in any movie filmed in Times Square, which is so saturated with ads that it’s impossible to film without catching at least one of them; examples of these include “Date Night” and “Enchanted.”  But sometimes they are more subtle, and I catch them out of the corner of my eye on a bus shelter or on a taxi.

I came up with this factoid through watching the trailer for “The Adjustment Bureau,” which upon rewatching actually had no ads.  Oops.

Random Factoid #408

9 09 2010

Marriage – there’s one in basically every movie.  And like we’ve been taught since middle school, in order for there to be a plot, there has to be conflict.  Marriages don’t get an exemption. 95% of all movie marriages are, in my estimation, either falling apart or struggling to maintain the façade that they are perfectly happy.

I’ve been lucky enough to have two parents that have been happily married for 19 years, so the only time I get to witness such great marital strife is on the big screen.  It’s there that I get the idea that divorce is this hunky-dory thing that happens to two people when they just can’t get along, and that adultery is perfectly acceptable when marriage isn’t working out.  Just look at us glorifying Brad and Angelina as the perfect couple; he cheated on Jennifer Aniston to be with her, and Hollywood thinks its perfectly OK.

Apparently, I’m not the only person noticing this.  I got this idea (which has now turned into a rant) from Cinematical, who observes this:

I do know about ‘movie marriage’, and I’ve come to the sad conclusion that most movie marriages — for the lack of a better word — suck. This epiphany came to me when I was watching the Tina Fey and Steve Carell comedy, “Date Night,” and I noticed that every time the movie would start to find its rhythm, the fun would grind to a halt as our two lead characters would have a heart-to-heart about their marital troubles (talk about a buzz kill).

I know what you’re going to say: “But there has to be conflict!” Sure, but in the case of “Date Night” we already had a big fat conflict — our lovable duo have been mistaken for a criminal couple and were plopped into the middle of a mob shakedown. Watching masters of wacky like Carell and Fey slow their roll for cliched exposition about how hard it is to keep the love alive was a disappointment to say the least, and I had to ask myself: Whatever happened to the ‘Madcap Marrieds’?

I feel like Hollywood has turned movies of marriage into cautionary tales.  Maybe by showing us enough people who disrespect the covenant of marriage, we will in turn be inspired to choose our spouses wisely.  Heaven knows, I don’t want to end up like Frank and April from “Revolutionary Road.”  The couples that are so bad it’s scary are the only ones I remember; I can’t pull a paradigm of happy marriage from a movie off the top of my head.

So what’s the message you are getting from Hollywood marriages?

Random Factoid #386

18 08 2010

Last night, for my last movie of summer, I watched “Date Night.”  But not just “Date Night” – I watched the extended version.  This is a pretty big deal for me because I normally hate watching unrated and extended versions.

Way before I had a readership, I wrote this in Random Factoid #11:

I hate watching unrated cuts of movies.  I always want to see the theatrical cut because after seeing “Bruno,” I found out that anything can get an R-rating.  The director could include practically whatever he wanted, but there is a reason that he did not include it in the version that the masses go see.  So I figure that the rated version, while tamer, is probably what the director wanted you to see.

I have a feeling that the word “3D” is headed the way of the word “unrated.”  About a decade ago, “unrated” was something fairly unique.  Now it has become a marketing gimmick to make a little extra profit off some unsuspecting consumers.  See the correlation?

Why did I decided to give this extended edition, basically a tamer way of saying unrated, a whirl?  The theatrical cut of “Date Night” was so short that I wanted to see more.  And more I got.  Not sure if it was worth the 13 minutes of my sleep, but I still enjoyed some of the extra bits.

Random Factoid #272

26 04 2010

I said way back in Random Factoid #10 that I have a … distinct laugh.  When I think something is funny, I don’t hesitate to laugh.  Sometimes, I get a little loud.  To a certain irritable person, they might also add the adjective obnoxious.

I don’t mind glares or being shushed, largely because I dish them out quite often.  But I do it whenever it is a direct violation of standard movie decorum – talking on the phone, loudly talking, and such things that any sane person would never do.

Yesterday, however, at “Date Night,” I received my first sign of outward aggression to my laughter.  The couple sitting directly in front of my friend and I seemed to be annoyed by our constant laughter, particularly my deep chuckles.  It was a funny movie, what was I supposed to do?  I would see them whispering after I let out a laugh with particularly high volume.

But suddenly, halfway through the movie, the couple got up and moved to the end of the row – as far away from me as comfortably possible.  Of course I knew it was because of me.  But with their empty seats, I got a footrest.

Winner: Marshall.

REVIEW: Date Night

26 04 2010

The stars in comedy heaven lined up and brought together the two of the funniest people in the sitcom galaxy, Steve Carell and Tina Fey, for an on-screen outing in “Date Night.”  It feels strangely like watching an episode of “Saturday Night Live” nowadays: incredibly potent actors trudging through material that doesn’t deserve their comedic talents.

But once you can put that issue to rest, what you are left with is a reminder of the power of the actor.  It takes extraordinary expertise to entertain an audience with poor writing, and Carell and Fey emerge from the ashes looking like heroes.  Honestly, these two could read off the entire health care bill and have one of the highest grossing movies at the box office.

It’s amazing to watch these two comedians play off of each other.  Together, they put their own unique spin on some dry lines and injecting some much-need humor into them while managing to turn lackluster repeated gags into hilarity.  “Date Night” is all about them; the movie’s best moments are when it turns off the roaring plot engine and lets them take the wheel.

For those of you who nitpick at actors playing the same role over and over again, you could potentially scoff at the stars.  There are plenty of moments where we catch glimpses of Michael Scott and Liz Lemon.  But as a fan of both “The Office” and “30 Rock,” I see absolutely no problem with that.  There’s a reason why these are two of the highest profile characters on television, and it’s not a bad thing to see these two actors incorporating a little bit of what they do best.  “Date Night” is no day at Dunder-Mifflin or TGS; it’s two average people like Michael and Liz thrown into outrageous circumstances beyond their control.  As much as we might not want to admit it, there’s a little bit of each of those characters in all of us, and Carell and Fey have to channel a little bit of their small screen personas to make us care what happens to the Fosters on the big screen.

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What To Look Forward To in … April 2010

24 03 2010

I completely forgot that I needed to do this post, so for any of you who happened to be waiting all month for this, my apologies.  But maybe having the April preview post closer to the month itself will increase voting in the polls (wishful thinking) or increase excitement for the month’s releases.

April is usually that awkward month before Hollywood comes out all cylinders firing for summer, but I think this year boasts one of the month’s finest lineups in a long time.

April 2

The first truly BIG action movie of 2010 finally arrives!  “Clash of the Titans” is that taste of high-octane blockbuster that will serve as the perfect tease for summer.  After seeing the success of “Avatar,” Warner Bros. saw that they had the capability to create a 3-D version of “Clash of the Titans.”  So, now the movie arrives in both the second and third dimension.  This is the first time in my memory that three huge 3-D movies have come out within a month of each other, and I think it is only a preview of what is to come (just pray that your theater can accommodate the demand.)  Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think this is the first big live-action movie to come out in 3-D.  I’m excited.

Tyler Perry is at it again with “Why Did I Get Married Too.”  The first one did pretty well, but if Perry can expand beyond his normal audience is still a question.  Oh, and I forgot to mention it in the March preview, but the latest Nicholas Sparks sob-fest, “The Last Song,” comes out on Wednesday, March 31.  It stars Greg Kinnear and some unknown actress named Miley Cyrus.

April 9
The comedy gods smile upon us at last! Tina Fey and Steve Carell together in “Date Night” seems long overdue. Let’s just hope that the writing of this movie deserves their talents.

And for those of you who liked Christian entertainment like “Fireproof” and “Facing the Giants,” then “Letters to God” will surely excite you.

The Runaways” opens wide this weekend, but I don’t think this will be any big event given its lackluster performance in 244 theaters in this past weekend (strangely, not a one of them was in Houston, the fourth largest city in the county).

April 16

There seems to be a large cult fan base gathering around “Kick-Ass.”  Sometimes that can be bad (“Snakes on a Plane”), and sometimes it works (“Cloverfield”).  This seems to be a pretty entertaining premise: basically a send-up of “Watchmen” and ordinary people becoming superheroes.  I think I’ll wait to get the audience’s take before I slap down some cash for this.

Please do yourself a tremendous favor.  Before you go see Chris Rock’s urbanized version of “Death at a Funeral,” be sure to rent the original British version.  Even if this latest spin fails, you will have seen one absolutely hysterical movie.

April 23

Disney Nature rolls out its annual Earth Day “nature porn” documentary, “Oceans,” shot in sweeping views that could make your heart turn green.  Meanwhile, CBS Films (?) gives us Jennifer Lopez in “The Back-Up Plan” as a woman who bypasses the normal steps and gets pregnant.  But in typical coincidental rom-com fashion, this all happens on the day she meets the perfect man.

The best of the worst this weekend appears to be “The Losers,” starring Neytiri (Zoe Saldana).  The movie follows a group of CIA agents who seek out the group that tried to assassinate them.  Who knows, maybe this will make a good rental.

April 30

“The Nightmare on Elm Street” looks legit.  I’m scared.  Plus it has Jackie Earle Haley, the man who made “Little Children” crazy good. (For a different kind of nightmare, see Brendan Fraser in “Furry Vengeance.”)

As for the indie scene, which doesn’t seem to be too big in April, the best offering seems to be “Please Give.”  A hit at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, the movie follows a married couple (Catherine Keener and Oliver Platt) who have to wait for their elderly neighbor to die so they can expand their apartment.  It seems to be that nice blend of comedy and drama which really has the ability to hit home.

“I Love You Phillip Morris” was slated for release back in February, but it’s here now for unexplained reasons. The movie premiered at Cannes last year and after some issues finding a distributor is finally finding a way into a theater near you – or will it? Rumor is that the movie had to be tamed down to find distribution due to its strong homosexual content. The two lovers here are Jim Carrey and Ewan MacGregor, a pair that discovers their love in prison. Before heading to the slammer, Carrey’s character was a straight Christian policeman from Texas. Now, he finds himself determined to bust out to be reunited with his lover. I’m curious to see if Freestyle Releasing can get it in front of a large audience … this is the third month that I have published this same blurb. Will they ever settle on a release date?

Thoughts, anyone?  What are YOU looking forward to in April?