Random Factoid #454

25 10 2010

A few months ago, I wrote a factoid based on Kai’s movie items he wished he had.  I jumped the gun and quickly said I wanted the basketball from “Space Jam” with the talent of the New York Knicks.  This was impulsive and wrong – and my readers didn’t hesitate to remind me of it.  I took some time to examine what I really want, and now I think I know.

If I could have an item from a movie, I would want …

Juno’s hamburger phone.  Because it’s the most awesome invention ever.  I want to find the man who invented the hamburger phone, shake his hand, and give him a pat on the back.  Although given Juno’s frustration with it, I hope that by 2010 there’s a hamburger phone 3G.

“Hey, yeah, uh, I’m just calling to procure a hasty abortion. What? – Can you just hold on for a second, I’m on my hamburger phone.”  She’s calling Women Now … because they help women now.

Random Factoid #449

20 10 2010

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

I’m back again (along with everyone else in the world) to bash an article with incredibly poor logic and taste, this one surprisingly coming from the prestigious New York Times.  Michael Cieply published an article entitled “Longing for the Lines That Had Us at Hello,” lamenting what he called the “lost art” of the one-liner.  Such a statement is just begging to be refuted.

Clearly Cieply has been living under a rock for the past decade.  Perhaps he missed when “Juno” started a revolution in vocabulary and shook up the jargon like no movie had ever done before?  I probably quote that movie in some form or fashion EVERY DAY, be it through the use of one word or rattling off an entire line.

Comedy over the past decade has churned out many a great one-liner; two particular favorites of mine are “Role Models” and “Knocked Up,” both of which hit you with quotable line after quotable line.

But even if comedy is too “low-brow” for Mr. Cieply, plenty of dramas over the past ten years have quotable lines.  I’ll run you through one for each year among the Best Picture nominees.

  • 2000: “What we do in this life echoes in eternity!” (Gladiator)
  • 2001: “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” (LOTR)
  • 2002: “My precious!” (LOTR)
  • 2003: “We wash our sins, we bury them clean.” (Mystic River)
  • 2004: “Anyone can lose one fight.” (Million Dollar Baby)
  • 2005: “I wish I could quit you.” (Brokeback Mountain)
  • 2006: “Maybe.  Maybe not.  Maybe go f*** yourself.” (The Departed)
  • 2007: “Call it, friendo.” (No Country for Old Men)/”I drink your milkshake!” (There Will Be Blood)
  • 2008: “Jamal! Latika!” (Slumdog Millionaire)
  • 2009: “That’s a bingo!” (Inglourious Basterds)

So needless to say, there ARE great lines in non-comedies nowadays.  And it’s not like this problem has escalated this year; as Vulture points out, we have an outstanding quotable movie in “The Social Network.”  Here are the ten lines they pull out of Aaron Sorkin’s phenomenal script that they think we will be quoting soon enough.

1. “If you guys were the inventors of Facebook, you would have invented Facebook.”
2. “I’m six-foot-five, 220 pounds, and there’s two of me.” Great for bar fights!
3. “A million dollars isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? A billion dollars.”
4. “You better lawyer up, asshole.”
5. “Like my brother and I are dressed in skeleton costumes chasing the karate kid around a high-school gym.”
6. “Because we’re gentlemen of Harvard.”
7. “I like standing next to you, [insert name]. It makes me look tough in comparison.”
8. Using “The Winklevi” in a sentence. When being dismissive, generally.
9. “If your clients want to sit on my shoulders and call themselves tall, they have the right to give it a try.”
10. “I believe I deserve some sort of recognition from this Ad Board.”

So, Mr. Cieply, here’s my proof that you are indeed very, very wrong.  I’ll keep quoting movies all day long, and you can continue living on your cloud of ignorance if you so desire.

(P.S. – Is it something in the New York water?  See Random Factoid #376 for a similarly styled refutation of a detestable article published in New York Magazine a few months ago.)

Random Factoid #378

10 08 2010

Have you seen the trailer for “The Switch?”  Looks kind of ehh, right?  Typical late summer fare that will have to pass for entertainment (at least for those of us not fortunate enough to have an independent theater).  Just so we are all on the same page for the rest of the post, I’ll embed the trailer below.

The poster to the left doesn’t really make you want to see it much either.  The gasp on Jennifer Aniston’s face and the pretentious-looking sniffle that Jason Bateman is doing sure doesn’t tell you much about the movie.  But look closer…

Did you notice the pedigree of the movie?  It’s from the people who brought us “Juno” and “Little Miss Sunshine.”  Does that add to your anticipation at all?  It shouldn’t, given the murky relationship between “The Switch” and the two Best Picture nominees.  I probably wouldn’t have thought twice about the reference given that Jason Bateman was in “Juno,” but The Los Angeles Times did some investigating:

The studio’s marketing wizards are plugging “The Switch” as being the movie “From the people who brought you ‘Juno’ and ‘Little Miss Sunshine.’ ” But who are these “people”? The film’s directors, Josh Gordon and Will Speck, had nothing to do with either of those films. Nor did the film’s screenwriter, Allan Loeb. The film’s producers, Ron Yerxa and Albert Berger, were producers of “Little Miss Sunshine” but had no involvement at all with “Juno.”

It turns out that those “people” are the people at Mandate Pictures, the production company that was involved with both “Juno” and “Little Miss Sunshine,” as well as such films as “Whip It,” “Drag Me to Hell” and the “Harold and Kumar” series. I’m sure all the folks at Mandate are really nice people, but it feels like a big stretch to use such a tenuous connection to lure us into the theater to see a film whose writers and filmmakers had nothing to do with “Juno” or “Little Miss Sunshine.”

Do you feel cheated at all?  If you were really going to spend $10 to see this movie because you could mention it in the same sentence with “Little Miss Sunshine,” you ought to up your cinema smarts.  I don’t ever use poster connections to tell me what movies to see, largely because I will have figured out what movies my favorite filmmakers have chosen to involve themselves in.  I especially could care less for romantic comedies and mindless action movies, both of which are genres whose success is driven mainly be stars, not directors.  Sorry, David Frankel, I saw “Marley & Me” because I love dogs and Owen Wilson, NOT because you directed “The Devil Wears Prada.”  Meryl Streep is the reason that movie is good.

Fun little closing note: there is one movie that could have used “from the man who brought you ‘Little Miss Sunshine'” on its poster.  That movie?  “Toy Story 3.”  Clearly it didn’t need to tout that name to make any money.

Random Factoid #360

23 07 2010

As I said recently in Random Factoid #351, I have become obsessed with listening to segments of NPR on my iPhone.  I heard a fantastic one yesterday called “The Lost Art of Credit Sequences.” Either click on the bolded link or on the picture to go to NPR’s site to listen to the segment.

If you listen, and I hope you do, you’ll hear Bob Mondello wonder why directors have moved away from really utilizing an opening credit sequence.  The two highest grossing movies of the last decade, “Avatar” and “The Dark Knight,” gave us virtually nothing – a helicopter shot of Pandora and a bat symbol emerging from blue flames.  So why is it that we just have to jump straight into the movie now?  The credits sequences are fun, and I always enjoy seeing a good one.

Really, the only director I can think of that still utilizes them well is Jason Reitman.  All three of his movies have done a great job setting the mood for what is to come, particularly the lovable “Juno.”  I can’t find a full YouTube link, but here’s the animation and the song.

I also really love the credits for “The Kingdom,” but here’s my all-time favorite: “Monsters, Inc.”

So what’s your favorite?  And why are they dying?

What To Look Forward To: “Up in the Air”

10 09 2009

I’m sorry, but I couldn’t resist posting this before my November preview (coming soon to a blog near you).  I am eagerly anticipating “Up in the Air,” the latest film from Jason Reitman, director of “Juno” and “Thank You for Smoking.”  (Does the last name sound familiar?  He is the son of Ivan Reitman, director of “Stripes” and “Ghostbusters.”)  “Up in the Air” looks to be more like the latter.  It premiered this week at the Telluride Film Festival and has garnered heaps of praise, most of it centered around Reitman and its star, George Clooney.  The Oscar-winning actor plays Ryan Bingham, a man who flies around the country firing people for a living.

But you know what’s great?  I didn’t know any of that from watching the trailer but rather from my excessive blog reading.  The trailer is impeccable, giving a taste of what to expect but never unveiling any significant plot details.  As the talk has increased about “Up in the Air,” I have slowly become more and more excited to see it.  But with the release of the trailer, I can hardly contain myself.  If it does not open in Houston on November 13, the opening day in limited release, I might scream.  It is schedule to open nationwide November 25, making for a good Thanksgiving one-two punch of this and “Nine.”

UPDATE: I just got some awful news.  “Up in the Air” will not be making its nationwide debut until Christmas Day.  It will open December 4 in limited release and expand some on December 11.  It has to open on December 4th in Houston.  It has to.

REVIEW: Away We Go

12 08 2009

At the request of a dedicated reader, I decided to bump up my review of “Away We Go.”  I drove 45 minutes away to a remote suburb of Houston back in April to be one of the first people to see the movie, and I was not disappointed.  Two months later, I was there to see it again on its first weekend playing at an art house theater in Houston.  So needless to say, I really enjoyed the movie.  It is well-acted, featuring star turns from John Krasinski (Jim from TV’s “The Office”) and Maya Rudolph (TV’s “Saturday Night Live”), but it is really buoyed by its phenomenal supporting cast.  The film features a very heartfelt screenplay from Dave Eggers (author of “What is the What”) and his wife Vendela Vida.

Burt (Krasinski) and Verona (Rudolph) are a gentle, loving couple expecting a baby.  As all good parents do, they want their child to have a better life than they did.  So the two of them set out on a journey to find what they never really could: a home.  They visit old friends and family members, seeing broken relationships, marital tension, and lives that they don’t want to lead.  They discover that all they can do is love each other and hope that everything else works out. Read the rest of this entry »