Random Factoid #326

19 06 2010

I don’t watch much late night TV, not even the talk shows.

How does this tie in with the movies, which I tie everything into?  Well, I watch Letterman, Leno, Jimmy Fallon, and Jimmy Kimmel whenever there is a big comedic movie coming out with a whole lot of stars doing the promotional parade.  The campaign has to take them to late night, so I buy in and watch them talk.  It’s pretty entertaining stuff.

The last time I made a concerted effort to watch a lot of guests was at the release of “Funny People” last summer when Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann, Jonah Hill, and more were doing the rounds.  This summer, I’ll be watching around the release of “Grown Ups” with its five stars that will most likely be lighting up the late night circuit.  It kicked off last night with David Spade on Leno, and I’m sure it will be in full force next week.

But let me share the three top moments of the “Funny People” cast’s appearances from last summer.

3. Seth Rogen gets rejected by Megan Fox

2. Jonah Hill and his fake Twitter account

1. Leslie Mann likes to Google herself





Random Factoid #298

22 05 2010

I’ve got a lot of soundtracks in my iTunes library, and I won’t try to hide it.  What I haven’t revealed yet is that I buy a whole lot of songs because I hear them in the trailer of a movie.  I’ll hear a tune and Google it to find out what the song is called.  Click, click, it’s in my library.

Here are some of the songs that are now proudly stored in Marshall’s iTunes library thanks to movie trailers.

“Help Yourself” by Sad Brad Smith, trailer for “Up in the Air”

“You’ve Got Me Wrapped Around Your Little Finger” by Beth Rowley, trailer for “An Education”

“Photograph” by Ringo Starr, trailer for “Funny People”

“The Beginning is the End is the Beginning” by Smashing Pumpkins, trailer for “Watchmen”

“Wild is the Wind” by Nina Simone, trailer for “Revolutionary Road”

“Rock Me Sexy Jesus” by The Ralph Sall Experience, trailer for “Hamlet 2”

“Paper Planes” by M.I.A., trailer for “Pineapple Express”

“Iron Man” by Black Sabbath, trailer for “Iron Man”

“Heart of the City (Ain’t No Love)” by Jay-Z, trailer for “American Gangster”

And probably countless others than I can’t remember.





Random Factoid #288

12 05 2010

“Funny People” ruined “The Great Gatsby” for me.

We’ve been reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s timeless novel that criticizes all things wealthy and eastern in my English class these past few weeks.  When we started reading, I happened to recall a friend’s conversation I overheard a few weeks after the movie’s release talking about a few very striking parallels.  The only part of the discussion I specifically remembered was that they thought it was clever that Judd Apatow named a character in the movie Daisy after the love interest in Fitzgerald’s book.

So, while reading “The Great Gatsby,” I kept thinking in my mind that this book would be like “Funny People” just set eight decades earlier.  While there are a great deal of similarities between the two, they exist mainly in the first part of the novel.  The second half takes its own course.

But since this conversation was in my mind, I had a sort of preconceived notion that it would end like “Funny People” ended.  A part of my mind had trouble wrapping around the ending of “Gatsby” because of that.

I guess thanks to Fitzgerald for writing a novel so great that Judd Apatow would want to incorporate it into one of his movies.  But I can’t really blame Apatow for taking his own creative license with the movie.





LISTFUL THINKING: Ten Under – Best of 2009

1 01 2010

It is hard to nail all the great movies of a year in ten slots.  So, in order to fully honor 2009 in movies, I have also concocted a list that would be the equivalent of my #11-20.  I call it “Ten Under.”  When you someone is ten under in golf, it’s a great thing.  So rather than focusing on the fact that these movies are not in the top 10, I want to celebrate their merit in a positive way.

Note that rather than ranking them, I will present them in alphabetical order.

“ADAM”

Tender but never maudlin, “Adam” is unparalleled in the number of “aww”s elicited.  Hugh Dancy’s affectionate performance as the titular character with Asperger’s syndrome is the crucial element to the movie’s success, and you can feel the care put into every twitch and line.  It is sure to warm your heart, if not melt it entirely.

“AVATAR”

James Cameron’s “Avatar” will be remembered not just as a movie but as a watershed in the history of cinema.  The movie’s astounding effects are enough to make you forget some of the flaws in the script, and they really do have the power to create a new world.  Cameron goes all out to make sure Pandora is not just brought to life, but also flourishes.  How quickly can he get to work on the sequel?

“THE COVE”

“The Cove” is a powerful documentary that alerts us to a crisis we need to correct – and it is completely void of Al Gore lecturing.  While systematically running down everything wrong with the slaughter of dolphins in Japan, the filmmakers show us how they verified the massacre.  This never feels like a documentary because they wisely set it up like a crime/heist film, and the excitement builds up until it breaks and we feel nothing but a fervent urge to aid their cause.

“DISTRICT 9”

Thank heavens for viral marketing because without it, I would never have seen “District 9,” which appeals and amazes on all fronts.  Smarts?  An elaborate Apartheid metaphor and undertones of racism, check.  Acting?  An incredibly physically and emotionally committed performance by South African actor Sharlto Copley, check.  Visuals?  Aliens that make James Cameron’s output look like the Smurfs putting on a production of “Cats,” check.  There is no doubt about it, “District 9” has the goods and delivers.

“DRAG ME TO HELL”

For me, “Drag Me to Hell” was the year’s biggest surprise.  I’m not usually the horror movie type, and I generally consider mixing horror and comedy about as toxic as drinking and driving.  But Sam Raimi’s movie made me reexamine my policy.  “Drag Me to Hell” is scary good, frightening and hilarious often at the same time.  Featuring electrifying action scenes and some purposefully atrocious one-liners, it’s a movie that keeps getting better the more I think about it.

“FANTASTIC MR. FOX”

Who would have thought that Wes Anderson’s humor would transfer like carbon paper to animation?  Anyone who instantly recognized that “Fantastic Mr. Fox” contained the same spirit as previous projects surely did.  It’s the same undeniable, albeit a little peculiar, fun that Anderson has sharpened with each movie.  There’s never a dull moment here, and whether it’s filled with clever wordplay or amusing animation tricks, this stop-motion joy delights at soaring levels.

“FUNNY PEOPLE”

I’ll admit to not being entirely won over by Judd Apatow’s “Funny People” at first sight.  But I think “Up in the Air” shed some light on the director’s aim with the movie.  I have concluded that it fell victim to my incredibly high-expectations after “Knocked Up” rocked my world.  “Funny People” tones down the laughs and amps up the deep thoughts.  Adam Sandler’s comedian George Simmons is absolutely miserable in his isolation, and the news that his life will end soon only makes him realize how alone he actually is.  Over the course of the movie, which never feels as long as it actually is, Simmons tries to forge a meaningful relationship with a green comic played by Seth Rogen.  It doesn’t quite have Jason Reitman’s insight, but “Funny People” is an impressive rumination on similar themes.

“I LOVE YOU, MAN”

If a bromantic comedy genre ever catches on, “I Love You, Man” will be its “The Great Train Robbery.”  The movie follows the relationship between Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd) and Sidney Fife (Jason Segel) that forms after the former’s wife worries about him not having any guy friends.  Their adventures are dastardly hilarious, but the movie’s unforeseen strength is its brain.  “I Love You, Man” is a brilliant satire of how we see relationships, executed by the juxtaposition of a romantic partnership and a casual friendship.  Slowly but surely, the functions of both of Peter’s relationships begin to switch.  If we weren’t aware of the context of Sidney and Peter’s male camaraderie, would we see them as lovers?  Would the casual observer?  Look deeper into “I Love You, Man” because it is the most understatedly brilliant movie of the year.  Slappin da bass?

“THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG”

The hand-drawn animation glory days are revived with great verve through “The Princess and the Frog.”  There is plenty to evoke these classics of my childhood, but even more is new – and no, I’m not talking about the race of the princess.  The movie is as lively as its New Orleans setting, with some larger-than-life characters that amuse and enchant.  Randy Newman’s jazzy score is a vivacious addition to a vibrant movie, and the songs aren’t too shabby either.  With Anika Noni Rose’s silky smooth voice behind the tunes, “The Princess and the Frog” is a high-spirited time as only Disney can give us.

“WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE”

Spike Jonze’s adaptation of the classic children’s book “Where the Wild Things Are” earned plenty of enemies for its rather despondent outlook while aiming to entertain the youngsters.  It packs plenty of rollicking fun for that demographic, but the movie definitely means more to those who can look back on childhood for what it really is.  While there is plenty of bliss in this time, our youthful years are also filled with questioning and struggles.  Jonze gets the big picture, and his movie provides one of the few honest portrayals of childhood in cinema.  Stark and grim as it may be, we can’t argue with it.





Random Factoid #154

29 12 2009

Ever since I have had a laptop, the desktop wallpaper has been predominately movies.

Now, it is adorned by “Up in the Air.”

On my current laptop, the wall has been owned by “Funny People,” “The Hangover,” and “Star Trek.”

My previous laptop featured “The Kingdom,” “The Dark Knight,” and “Pineapple Express.”





Random Factoid #48

14 09 2009

A few years ago, after having seen several movies that were ruined by their trailers, I went through a stretch where I would walk out of the theater or bury my head in my seat to avoid seeing anything about the movie.  Call me strange, but for anyone who saw the movie “Funny People,” doesn’t this trailer basically tell you the whole movie? (Sorry, no one on YouTube was kind enough to lend me an embeddable and unadulterated trailer.)

Because I’m really tired, you were spared my tirade on overly revealing trailers.  Lucky you.  But check out my other posts in which I am more than happy to feature trailers that are the polar opposite of that.





Random Factoid #32

29 08 2009

My moviegoing pet peeve is crying babies.  Most people know by now that talking on your cell phone during a movie is like urinating in your front lawn – that is, something that you just know not to do.  With the dawn of the iPhone and other touch screen cell phones, the annoying clicking of texters has been significantly minimized.  And I talk a lot during movies, so for me to say that is my pet peeve would be extremely hypocritical.

But whenever some couple brings their infant to the movie with them because they were too lazy to get a babysitter, I want to go punch a wall.  The majority of the time, they start whining and crying.  Unfortunately, most parents are too busy serving their selfish desire to watch a movie to take their disruptive child into the lobby, thus ruining the movie for the rest of the audience who has paid good money to see the movie.

I do have a specific worst crying baby moment.  I was at “Funny People,” and I was jammed next to a woman and her baby.  I knew that it would be bad news before the movie started when her daughter wouldn’t stop whining during the pre-show entertainment.  She managed to keep it together for the beginning of the movie, but I knew she was a ticking time bomb.  During a poignant and emotional scene between Adam Sandler and Leslie Mann, the baby starts screaming at a level so loud that it blocked out the sound from the movie.  And if the audience was staring bullets at her mother, she must have been wearing a Kevlar body suit.  She let her daughter scream and cry for over 2 minutes before taking her out, just in time to ruin the scene for the entire theater.