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 #375

7 08 2010

As if a divinely sent sign after a melancholy morning, I discovered I was tagged in the “Happy 101” meme sweeping the blogosphere by fellow teen blogger Dan the Man.  Thanks, homes.

I have a bunch of time today to watch movies (although I will be finishing up summer reading and doing college application work too), and I was planning on watching some heavier stuff.  But after this morning, I needed a cheer-up movie or, at the very least, something that wasn’t going to be a huge downer.  So as I’m writing, I am watching “Almost Famous” for only the second time, a movie that I love and is raising my spirits some.

But in the spirit of the meme, here are ten movies that I’ve watched on TV recently fora good smile:

  1. Father of the Bride
  2. Mrs. Doubtfire
  3. The Little Rascals
  4. Amelie
  5. My Big Fat Greek Wedding
  6. Shrek 2
  7. Knocked Up
  8. Baby Mama
  9. Wanted
  10. Role Models

Sorry, but I’ll pass on tagging because everyone I read has pretty much been taken care of – and it’s really late.  My mind is tired after a third viewing of “Inception.”

Oh, and here’s the nifty little graphic thing that I should probably include.

Random Factoid #348

11 07 2010

I’ve developed a new way of working out that makes it more fun, worthwhile, and quick.

Thankfully, I work out at a gym that had stays very up to date with technology. On most of the card machines, they have an iPod cord that allows you to play a video on the TV in front of the machine that’s stored on your iPod. I hadn’t utilized this capability until recently.

In the past few weeks, I’ve begun bringing up my surprisingly durable iPod from 2006 and watching some of the nearly 30 movies I have on it. So far, I’ve chosen three very different movies to watch: “Knocked Up,” “Crash,” and “Inglourious Basterds.” The latter took three visits to finish; the others took two. It really makes my work out a lot better because it adds an aspect that I enjoy to something I generally don’t really like to do.

So I guess the next step is to put a treadmill in front of my TV at home…

UPDATE: Thanks to my dad for telling me that I had a typo in this post before he told me “good morning” when I woke up today.

Random Factoid #331

24 06 2010

After 17 months, my wait is over.  Back in February 2009, I cracked my four-month-old iPhone.  I’ve been living with my flawed screen ever since, waiting for a model worthy of my money to be released.  A few weeks ago, that phone was announced.

I waited two hours in line today outside the Apple Store in the Houston Galleria this morning to get my hands on the iPhone 4.

What’s the first thing I did – that is, after I slapped the only available case on it?  Added 4 movies to it – “Knocked Up,” “The Hangover,” “Superbad,” and “Inglourious Basterds.”   Finally, I will be able to watch movies on my phone again!

In case you were curious, here’s what my old phone looked like.  I can almost guarantee you’ll be as shocked at the Geniuses at the Apple Store.

Like my crack?

FEATURE: Mindless Moviegoing?

11 08 2009

I’ve heard a fair few jokes that start with “There are only two kinds of people in this world.” Many people think there are two kinds of moviegoers in the world: those who rush to go see the latest blockbuster just because of its stars or because it has stuff blowing up, and those who prefer what they perceive to be more substantive and tasteful filmmaking, usually independent or art house films. I say, why can’t you be both? I most certainly am. I love little indies like “The Hurt Locker” and “(500) Days of Summer,” but I also enjoy movies like “The Hangover” and “Star Trek.” I live for November and December when the majority of the movies nominated at the Oscars are released, but I also get excited for May and June when the summer puts forth movies for all tastes.

But, alas, I am one of very few people my age that can make such a claim. I can guarantee you most of my friends haven’t even heard of “The Hurt Locker;” heck, some of you all reading this probably haven’t. And that’s alright, but we won’t be seeing any movies like it in the future if Americans consciously choose senseless entertainment like “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” over higher-brow movies. On occasion, the two have been able to blend successfully, in movies like “The Dark Knight.” Yet few will dispute that movies with such a plot might not have been so commercially viable if they had not worn the front of your typical blockbuster.

The legendary movie critic Roger Ebert has some harsh words for my generation, saying that we may be headed for a “Dark Age” in cinema, mainly due in part to teens who throw their money mindlessly at the big-budget studio movies. He thinks that because we don’t read reviews from critics regularly, we are more prone to drink the blockbuster Kool-Aid. He even goes as far as to suggest that we don’t even care about reviews and that we don’t even have the brainpower to go see the movie that isn’t showing on the most screens at the multiplex. The root of this mindset is “the dumbing-down of America” that has sprung from our worthless education, failing to provide us any sort of curiosity in anything beyond what we see constantly advertised.

Ebert does bring up some good points. It is the teens who swarm the theater every weekend and never fail to go see the hit movie of the week. It is the teens who demand more action, more star power, and bigger explosions. It is the teens who line the pockets of Michael Bay and the studios that let him put such garbage on the screen.

But I don’t think he is entirely right. There is hope for this generation, and I have seen it. Back in December, I was among the first to see “Slumdog Millionaire.” Before it was the sensation that it became, I couldn’t get anyone to go see it. I had a friend who ridiculed me for seeing it instead of “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” That same friend is now one of the movie’s biggest fans. I also convinced him to go see movies like “Frost/Nixon” and “The Reader” before they were nominated for Best Picture over movies like “The Unborn” and “Paul Blart: Mall Cop.” I spread the word about these movies and I got my friends to see them, and I think they were pleasantly surprise when they not only knew, but had seen many of the nominated films at the Oscars.

That hope is extending past Oscar season, when it is easy to support indies. Many of my friends are discovering “(500) Days of Summer” and “The Hurt Locker” without a huge media push (or even my own push). These are the same people who saw movies like “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” and demanded more for their money and their time. I think what Ebert fails to comprehend is that although many of us go see these movies, that doesn’t mean we love every one we see. We are a curious bunch: curious to find the next “The Dark Knight” in a heap of blockbusters and curious to find the next “Slumdog Millionaire” in a mass of indies. Critics and parents often have different tastes from ours, and how will we know unless we take a look for ourselves? One man’s “G.I. Joe” may be another man’s “Citizen Kane.”

It is easy to look at all the terrible movies that have been released recently and think that American cinema is in a bad state. And yes, my generation has been the driving force behind the spawning of so many of them. But give us a break. We want to be enthralled by movies just as much as any adult. We seek out good entertainment too, but blockbusters are usually the first place we look. We teens are the target audience of comic-book movies, and that has produced beloved critical darlings like “The Dark Knight” and “Star Trek.” We love raunchy comedies, and that genre brought “Knocked Up” and “The Hangover,” both of which were lauded more than Best Picture nominee “The Reader” (according to Metacritic). We are not the root of the problematic dearth of great entertainment at the movies, but we are the easiest to blame. Even if you were to eliminate the types of movies that give critics such a headache, such as comic book adaptations and frenetic action movies, there would still be bad movies. But whether you prefer blockbusters or indies, we can all do our share to demand better quality from the movies that we watch.

Until the next reel,

REVIEW: Funny People

31 07 2009

Funny People” is a solid effort by director/screenwriter Judd Apatow, but it falls just short of what it hopes to accomplish: a perfect blend of comedy and human drama that is both touching and amusing.  I walked out of the theater just thinking about all the potential it had, and I nailed the main factor as to why it paled in comparison to Apatow’s previous features, “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and the uproarious “Knocked Up.”  It loses the sense of realism and relatability that Apatow nails so brilliantly.  The story concerns itself with comedians, one a superstar, one at the cusp of stardom, and several right underneath that cusp.  These people have a funny exterior, but when you peel back the layers, they are vulnerable, troubled, and quite dark.  It is harder to identify with these people because their problems are so detached from our own, as supposed to previous Apatow characters like the slacker, the virgin, the control freak, and many other “normal people.”

If you saw the first trailer for the movie, you know just about all there is to know about the plot.  George Simmons (Adam Sandler) is a lonely comedian diagnosed with a terrible disease and prepares himself for death, mainly by trying to form a true human relationship with another comedian, Ira Wright (Seth Rogen).  But when he appears to be cured, he tries to reclaim what he has lost in his life, mainly Laura (Leslie Mann), an old girlfriend who he let slip away.  Sprinkle in a ripped Australian husband for Laura (Eric Bana), a few of Ira’s friends trying to make it big (Jonah Hill, Jason Schwartzman), a quirky love interest for Ira (Aubrey Plaza), and a few celebrity cameos, and you have “Funny People” in essence. Read the rest of this entry »