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Documentary

Movies - by - July 5, 2011 - 22:08 UTC - Be first to Comment!

Well, I’ve been keeping this on the DL for the past few months, but I finally decided to let my dedicated readers (all two of you) know that I am currently shooting an untitled documentary about the history of arcades and the influence of “Street Fighter” on competitive gaming.

Let me tell you something about creating a film: This is some scary shit.

The entire process is difficult: approaching subjects about your project while trying not to sound bat-shit insane, trying to raise money for travel and equipment, finding the time to film, actually committing to a project, getting people to believe in a vision that they might not understand…its all scary as, excuse my French, fuck.

Trying to organize everything, in order to create a unique story experience, is as difficult as it is daunting. I have written a general outline of how I would like my documentary to go, but there are so many elements out of my control that I can only take a deep breath, keep my batteries full, and pray for good footage.

We’ve done two sit down interviews, so far, and captured some nice footage at Starbase Arcade, in San Rafael, CA.

Currently, we will be following Ryan “Filipino Champ” Ramirez and Abraham “Neo” Sotelo. This should be one heck of a year. Busy as hell, but a lot of fun, also.

I’ve met some really cool people and I’m excited to see where this project goes. I guess I’ll be dropping updates, here on Los Livingston Brothers, in regards to the progress of the documentary.

Here are a few screenshots of the documentary thus far!

B-footage from Starbase Arcade.

Interview with Bob and Art at Starbase Arcade in San Rafael, CA.

Sirlin

Interview with David Sirlin.

More to come! Evo is just around the corner.

Los Livingston Brothers Interview Taylor Segrest

Movies, Radio Show - by - April 13, 2011 - 13:58 UTC - Be first to Comment!

On this past Sunday’s Los Livingston Brothers radio show on Sonoma Sun FM, we interviewed Taylor Segrest, the co-producer and writer of “Darwin”, which was named Festival Favorite at this year’s Sonoma International Film Festival. The award is the highest honor given by audience members in the festival. Segrest’s memorable interview included the best rendition of “The Legend of Round Valley” that we’ve heard yet, his talk about the interviews he did in the process of making “Darwin” and a call from my friend Scotty Badfish of the Tampa Tribune, who called in on his editorial shift out in Florida to talk about the show, and even got into the lack of arthouse theaters in the Tampa area. All in all, it’s the best 35 mintues we’ve done on the radio so far, and we hope you enjoy it as much as we have. It is presented below in 4 parts.

Taylor Segrest Interview Part 1
Taylor Segrest Interview Part 2
Taylor Segrest Interview Part 3
Taylor Segrest Interview Part 4

Munchies 4:20 Cafe, Outlet Malls, Baseball, Slurpees, “Enter The Dragon” and FLEA MARKETS~!

Movies, Sports, Television - by - July 24, 2010 - 13:49 UTC - 1 Comment

Very impressive 24 hour period, beginning with me getting out of work on Friday on a rainy day, the residual of Tropical Storm Bonnie:

-For those of you who have watched the best show on the Travel Channel, “Man Vs. Food”, you might remember when Adam went to Sarasota to check out a couple of their eclectic restaurants. But none was more eclectic than the most famous hole in the wall in town. “Munchies 4:20 Cafe” is a two-room restaurant that hosts some of the greatest junk food possibilities you could think of. While most will remember their “Fire in the Hole” challenge, where customers must eat 10 of their hottest wings doused in ghost chili extract sauce in 20 minutes, the big winner for myself, Andrew, Josh and Becca were the Fat Sandwiches.

The Fat Sandwiches are creations unlike any other: On a foot-long hoagie roll, these sandwiches are filled to the brim with some of the most tasty, yet unhealthy ingredients around. While Becca partook in their awesome BBQ cheeseburger, Josh went after the “Fat Josh”, I went after the “Fat Sandy” and Andrew went for the who shootin’ match with the Fat Daddy. The ingredients are as follows and can be found at their official website, www.munchies420cafe.com:

Fat Josh: two cheeseburgers, fries, bacon, cheddar cheese sauce, lettuce, tomato and mayo.

Fat Sandy: two cheeseburgers, fries, chicken fingers, onion rings, mozzarella sticks and macaroni and cheese.

Fat Daddy: cheeseburger, philly cheesesteak, chicken fingers, fries, mozzarella sticks, lettuce, tomato, mayo & ketchup.

And now, a photo of me devouring the Fat Sandy:

It was the most delicious thing ever. I’m on a diet, have lost 35 pounds, and are on my way to getting myself into the best shape ever, but man, oh man. That sandwich was the epitome of “Junk food.” I also bought a shirt and a sticker that now sits on the back of the Focus, right across from my “Sonoma Old School” sticker. Also, its hours of service? 4:20 p.m. until 4:20 a.m. The main reason is because the owners figured that since people go out to all the bars that are in the area of their restaurant that they would have place open to get food when they get those “drunk munchies.” Or, you know…the regular munchies.

-We were supposed to go to the Dunedin/Bradenton game that night, but rain fell a bit too hard and the game got washed out. Luckily, I recognized that the Ellenton Outlet Mall was on the way back from Sarasota, meaning we had a place to go to walk off all the junk we ate. Outlet malls are awesome, by design. It’s where you get the name-brand stuff at below market value, and the best sales of all are outlet mall sales. I bought a swank Oakley Totem Pole zip-up hoodie for $20. I’m not crazy enough to model it in the Florida heat, though. The Nike store was awesome, as were some other really odd stores that had a bunch of knickknacks you wouldn’t find anywhere else. Interesting stuff to say the least. Night ended with un “Coke de Mexico”, so that alone is worth it.

-Went up to New Port Richey to play a little pick up baseball with Andrew, Tony, Josh, Brice and some others. They took those fake wood wiffle bats you can buy and filled them up with newspaper to give them a bit of weight, and then we used tennis balls while playing on a Little League field. My swing was a bit out of whack (mainly because I can’t figure out my stance, if I want to kill the ball, line drives…you know, everything that goes in a baseball swing) but I did okay. Only struck out twice and made a good play or two (along with a bad play or two). The main problem with it all: It was approximately 354 degrees outside. We somehow played 16 innings, but all in all, it was nice to get out and play a little baseball. I think I did strain my left bicep, however.

-7-Eleven Slurpees are great. I guess it needed to be noted. I got the new WWE Summerslam cup for them. I’m hoping they’re reusable. We shall see. It has The Undertaker on it, the only one of the four I would want if I had to choose. Also, 7-Eleven is still promoting the FarmVille/Mafia Wars line of Facebook-based games. Needless to say, I stayed away from those cups. Oh, and it was cherry/orange float for the Slurpee combo. It was outstanding.

-After the trip to 7-Eleven, Andrew and I headed over to the Oldsmar Flea Market. If you have never been, you need to go to one. The Oldsmar one is monstrous. It’s basically 10 rows of storage space that people have turned into stores, offering basically anything you can ever want. There are stores devoted to cookware, fishing, golfing, art, smoking, wine, food, movies, video games…you name it, it’s there. However, there’s also zero air conditioning, and even though the fans cooled down the 354 degree temperatures somewhat, it’s still an outdoor adventure best done for a cool day.

But we did go for a purpose: I needed to buy me a cowboy hat! With basically the entire Blue Jays crew heading for The Round-Up in Oldsmar later that Saturday night, I figured I’d grab me a cowboy hat considering I’ve wanted one for the better part of two years. While I dug the felt ones I saw, I stuck with the straw hat. Fits perfectly, simple style, cheap…had to do it. There will be pictures later, for sure.

-After getting back to the house, I floated through the channels looking for something to occupy my time before “Enter the Dragon” came on. Now, I hadn’t watched this in a while, years even. It was the perfect timing for this movie to come on: A movie I hadn’t seen in a while that also was something I had been wanting to see, and since the only thing I was doing was writing this blog post and resting up for tonight, it made the movie that much better to me. It’s the best martial arts movie I’ve ever seen, and Bruce Lee is as badass as they come in movies. He mows down everyone in his path regardless of marital arts style and does it with EASE. The only thing that got him was Han and that damn room of mirrors, which is still the coolest setting for a fight in cinematic history. Also, BOLO YUENG was in the movie, his first major starring role before he became a cult icon in “Bloodsport” over a decade later. Gotta love Bolo.

I hope you guys are enjoying what we’ve been doing with the site. The podcasts have been going really well, and Pete and I are now set up for the long run with all the great stuff we can bring to “Los Livingston Brothers.” Remember, tell your friends, give us feedback on how to make the site better, and we will do all we can to make sure it’s the best entertainment venue possible!

Another one bites the dust

Movies - by - May 7, 2010 - 05:09 UTC - Be first to Comment!

I was shut down again. They were looking for something high-concept. For those of you who don’t know what a “high-concept” film is:

A high-concept film has fairly simple characters and a predictable plot that follows usual tendencies within it’s genre. Or, as Stephen V. Duncan put it in his Genre Screenwriting book , “Basically, in a high-concept premise, the situation in the premise is more important than the characters in the story.” A high concept film, typically, is a film that reaches multiple audiences instead of a target audience.

You could look at a film like Iron Man for an example of high-concept. It’s a simple story, simple characters, you don’t need to dive into character study to understand Tony Stark. Its your average super-hero story with that twist to make it unique and kids, young adults, adults, men, and women can all relate and like the movie.

Am I saying these movies are bad? No way! I think it depends who you talk to. You have film snobs, the average run of the mill movie watcher, and everything in between. Everybody has their own taste.

I also got shut down for a story board internship opportunity at Pixar. That sucked really bad. I wanted that one. But after a good talk with my dad I moved on. “Up” sucked anyway; except for Doug, he was the best. Ok, “Up” didn’t suck, it was a good movie, I’m just bitter.

So with my most recent denials my counter kinda looks like this (give or take):

SCAM: 1 (I wouldn’t mind getting a few more of these. At least they make you feel good.)
NO. YOUR IDEAS MAKE ME VOMIT: 4
GET BACK TO ME IN A FEW MONTHS: 2
ALMOST: 1

Throw Pixar into the list and I got a good resume of “no” thus far. If Pixar weren’t such good people I’d really tell them to go fuck themselves. But I’m not. Well, maybe not on this blog, anyway.

We’re still looking for somebody to make a banner for our site. So if you’re out there, get in contact with me.

You can join our site on facebook here. Don’t be shy. Spread the word.

DENIED! But All Is Not Lost…

Movies - by - April 29, 2010 - 04:49 UTC - Be first to Comment!

The guys at Circle of Confusion said no.

Ouch.

The script didn’t make it through the final test. Does this suck? Yes. Are my balls blue with visions of grandeur? Uh, yes. It just wasn’t meant to be, I guess.
Although they were very nice about denying me, for me to say that it didn’t sting would be a bold faced lie. It was still an interesting learning experience and I’m thankful for it. I feel like I’m close to something. Something is bound to happen. Back to the grind stone!

I also got a few leads on a Pixar story grad internship and some type of an internship at Disney Animation! I’ll keep you posted on those as well. I would trade away my brand new 1993 Honda Accord LX for one of those two. For those of you who have not seen the Honda, I may have to post pictures of Frachesco/Franchesca. It depends on how I’m feeling that day if it’s a guy or a girl.

My girlfriend made some comment about my sexuality after hearing about my trans-gender vehicle.

On a more positive note…

Bought Super Street Fighter IV. I’m hooked. I spent quite a bit of time messing around with it. I love Cody. He’s my main man.

Now I know what some of you are thinking:

“Oh my God! He just said that CODY is his “main man”! This coming just after the trans-gender car and his girlfriend questioning his sexuality! He’s a gay.”

No I did not mean that in a gay way. I’m talking a totally platonic relationship…with a virtual character…does that even make sense to have a platonic relationship with a virtual character?

At this point in time there might not seem to be a lot going on with him, but the game has only been out for two days. We’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg. I’m very impressed and can’t wait to figure more things out.

Oh and for those of you who have been paying attention: THE CELTICS ARE LOOKING GOOD. Can you say 2010 NBA Champions? I know I can.

Just the thought of Brian Scalabrine having two rings is enough to make my head explode.

The Script Has Been Received

Movies - by - April 20, 2010 - 01:24 UTC - Be first to Comment!

And I’m so excited/nervous! Just got a confirmation E-Mail from the management group Circle of Confusion and I feel like my stomach may quite possibly be puked out onto my keyboard.

PRAY WITH ME! If you aren’t a praying person, then offer sexual favors to the Film Gods for my sake.

Let’s do this!

Light At The End Of The Tunnel?

Movies - by - April 17, 2010 - 08:11 UTC - Be first to Comment!

Well I got my first positive response from a management/production company! Circle of Confusion is interested in my script, Knuckleheads. Actually, it’s my second positive response. The other was from this literary agency who asked me to send $400 for them to look at my script. In my own polite way I told them that I’ll keep my $400, and they can kiss the whitest part of my very white ass. If that doesn’t sound like the worlds worst scam, then what does?

Anyway, I’m sending them my submission release form and my script. I’ll let you guys know how it works out.

Here is a little counter to show the responses that I have gotten from agencies and managers after sending out my query letters:

SCAMS: 1
TRY BACK IN A FEW MONTHS: 2
NO, GO FUCK YOURSELF: 1
YES: 1

Of course the one guy didn’t say “Go fuck yourself”, he was very nice. He just said “Eat my ass”. Actually he just said “Not interested at this time. Good luck with it though”. If that was his way of softening the blow, he did a good job. Myself on the other hand, if I were an agent, I would have opted for the “Go fuck yourself”.

It seems to be the Hollywood thing to do.

I’ll keep you posted on their response. This could be something really cool. Keep spreading the word about Los Livingston Brothers!

Pete

Movies I’ve Watched Recently 3/9/10

Movies - by - March 9, 2010 - 15:11 UTC - Be first to Comment!

The Motorcycle Diaries

At some point, and I’m not sure when that was, I became really interested in Latin America cinema. Probably not coincidentally, some of the movies I have enjoyed watching from Latin America this past decade (This movie, Y Tu Mama Tambien and Amores Perros) have starred Gael Garcia Bernal, the best young actor in the Spanish-Speaking world. He’s been a part of some really incredible roles, but it’s his role as young Che Guevara that always stands out in my mind.

I love the movie’s suddenness. It’s a story about a 7,000 mile trip, and with it, you think you’re in for a long run, but then you see them run off the road and into a roadside ditch with their motorcycle. Or flee from a party in Chile when Che tries to go home with his mechanic’s wife. The most moving suddenness, however, is when Che starts meeting the migrant members of “Suramerica” in northern Chile and into Peru. It’s certain to think that before he took the trip that he would find out new things about the world, but when he realizes what those new things are, and how they warp the perception of the reality that has been presented to him on his continent, you see him change his demeanor the further on they go. He grows in confidence, grows in honesty, grows in enlightening his world view. While he had been handcuffed, so to speak, in Buenos Aires, the trip he had been planning for a decade had opened his eyes to a world much bigger than any one he was a part of back home.

His birthday night at the leper colony in the Peruvian Amazon brings it all together, obviously, with a speech that brings up applause amongst his fellow doctors (Che was a semester away from finishing medical school before leaving) but even with that, he swims the south bank to spend the rest of the evening with the lepers who had been segregated, as he says, from the doctors on the north bank, even though they aren’t contagious. There’s a part earlier where they were taking the first trip over, and he is offered gloves. He declines them simply because he wants to show them that even though he is a doctor, that he is human just like them and wants to improve their way of life in more ways than just medicine.

Of course, the legacy of Che after this trip is something that has turned into the lore of revolutionary minds across the world, although his philosophy as he progressed in life became an argument that has been made over and over again since his death in 1967. I do want to point out that at the end of the film, while recounting what happened in the lives of both men after they got to Caracas, Venezuela, their final destination, it is explicitly stated that Che was not killed by CIA operatives, but murdered, an interesting piece of commentary to say the least, as it is widely known that Che was executed in a schoolyard.

While Che’s legacy after he became a noted revolutionary might be cause for argument, I don’t think there’s anyone who would disagree at the motives he showed after his interactions with those less fortunate in his home land on his journey across South America. His idea of bringing compassion and equal rights to those who have been basically forgotten amongst his people is something that I don’t think should be argued at all, and for a bunch of “communist” ideas, sounds pretty democratic to me.

Old School

I wrote about this in Part 1 of my favorite movies of the decade, but it’s still great and will continue to be great for a long time. Even edited on cable, it’s worth a look.

Tin Cup

I know Costner gets a bad rap for all of his works, but good lord, he has been a part of some of the better sports movies ever. “Bull Durham” and “Field of Dreams” are classic sports movies, and “For Love of the Game” is absolutely underrated, even if I can’t stand Kelly Preston in it. This movie is right up there. The part in the movie where he wins his clubs back playing with a bunch of yard items and a “pink lady” is great, and includes the great lost line of the movie after the dude he’s playing hits a good shot: “You hear that Romeo? Boone was being profound!” I still turn it on if there’s nothing good on TV, and I’ll be damned if it doesn’t entertain me every time I watch it.

Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut

I had to set aside about 200 minutes of my life (215 to be exact) to sit through this incarnation of the much argued movie that was adapted from arguably the greatest graphic novel written in the English language. Compared to the theatrical version, this is so much more in line with the book (although the end, as it was in all the movie versions, is different from the end of the book, and in my opinion, much better, although giant squids still scare the crap out of me) and is really about as full an experience as you’ll see.

I hadn’t seen it in full in almost a year, but there were some great parts in there that I remember. The majority of Rorshach’s parts, especially when he was in jail (where they said he couldn’t be left for fear of his safety due to all the people he put IN that jail) were outstanding. Dr. Manhattan’s plight is always a great one to watch; having attained his god-like powers and his vision of time in all its relevancy, he loses his grip on humanity due to his vision the size of our universe, only to re-emerge as someone who understands the plight of humanity as not just a speck in the universe, but as part of that universe nonetheless.

It’s well acted, it hardly strays from the book (although it does show Zach Snyder’s tendencies for copious amounts of grisly violence; you WILL see broken bones in spectacular fashion, among other things) and the animated “Curse of the Black Freighter” scenes that were taken from the comic book inside the comic book were interspersed very well.

Perhaps the biggest thing for fans of the book is the divide it caused between the book’s author, Alan Moore and it’s artist, Dave Gibbons. Gibbons enthusiastically helped piece together Snyder’s vision and was instrumental in many of the scenes that were taken directly from his cells, but Moore vehemently wanted nothing to do with a film project of his work, with him saying “I’m never going to watch this fucking thing.”

Personally, as I understand Moore wanting to keep his original work intact as the only incarantion of his vision, I doubt he’d be disappointed if he ever turns around and watches it one of these days. While not perfect, I think it’s about the best adaptation of his novel that anybody will ever make.

My Favorite 25 Movies of the 2000s – Part 1

Movies - by - February 1, 2010 - 22:32 UTC - Be first to Comment!

Of all the lists, this is probably the one that is hardest for me, as I had a good idea of what the sports moments and video games would be, but for movies, where I started really becoming an avid watcher in college, it was pretty tough to pare down my list of finalists. In fact, after going through the movie lists from all 10 years in the decade, I had 82 movies that I picked out and had to get down to 25. The list I had at the end was about right for me. Mostly comedies (and well-known and accepted ones at that), but at the same time, I was happy with how the list turned out. I know that there are plenty of avid movie watchers who have fringe films or indie films or are horror buffs or what have you, but I’m someone who just wants a movie that when I look back on it, I said, “I enjoyed it.” I enjoyed all the movies on this list for entirely different reasons. I don’t have anything you’d probably see at Sundance or Cannes, but I liked them all the same. Actually, I take that back. I have one or two.

For the record, the final movie cut off the list was “Howl’s Moving Castle,” which is extra tough because I watched it again yesterday and it’s an awesome movie. Roger Ebert calling it one of Miyazaki’s “worst” is pretty pretentious on his part, I believe. I understand people have a high standard for Miyazaki films and the movie he did before that, “Spirited Away,” (which I have unfortunately not seen yet; it’s never on any movie channel, yet you’ll see “Yes, Man” 50 times a month) is considered his greatest achievement, but I thought it was an awesome movie with a really neat story. It also is the first movie with what I delightfully call the “Christian Bale” voice, where he goes all deep and gruff when he feels cornered. This would be the inspiration for his voice for Batman. And yes, I laughed out loud when I heard it. One of my favorite animated features from the decade, but not high enough that it got into my favorite 25. So without further ado, here we go:

25. High Fidelity – 2000

We start off the list with one of my favorite movies from my time between the end of high school and college, which is about right considering that I just started getting more into music and also just started branching out into different genres of movies outside of your normal slapstick comedies, Disney movies and Pixar movies. Looking back at it, this actually became the template for John Cusack’s movies later on in the decade, as he really didn’t play a role outside of this one (then again, one could say that he’s had basically the same role since “Say Anything,” but I digress) but I liked this movie mainly because as far as your typical coming-of-age stories, this one is believable in the sense that I end up giving a damn about his character at the end of the movie.

I also like Jack Black more than others and he was really good in this. He was annoying, but it fit the character, as opposed to him being annoying just for the sake of being annoying. I’m also a sucker for lists (duh) and I liked a lot of the lists they came up with (and the arguments spawned from them). There’s also something about Tim Robbins playing a seedy character in the movie (like he does in “Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny”, which also JUST missed the list) and the scene where they discuss how he’d be dealt with upon entering the store is a favorite of mine. It’s also a really good ending, and the song that plays over the credits is probably my favorite Stevie Wonder song: “I Believe When I Fall In Love With You (It Will Be Forever)”.

This gets on the list mainly because it was one of the first movies that kinda molded how I got into movies as I got through the decade. I bought this and the TV Series “Undeclared” at the same time (with the latter being on a complete recommendation without even seeing it and ended up being one of the best purchases I ever made) and quickly became a favorite. It’s also one of the better “romantic comedies” for guys, but at the same time, there’s some pretty awesome dialogue, music and some really good performances. In my opinion, not the worst start to the list.

24. Best In Show – 2001

“This Is Spinal Tap” is probably the greatest mockumentary of all time, and is the movie that turned Christopher Guest into a household name in comedy. It’s amazing to think that almost 20 years after the fact, that he would come out with a movie that is incredible in the same vein to my generation that didn’t grow up with “the curse of the drummer”, “Mini-Stonehenge” and “Turn it up to 11!”

Everything is tongue in cheek, everything is done in a meticulous manner that makes you pay attention to the dialogue and what it all boils down to is that every part is pitch perfect. You have the unassuming good old boy, the gay couple, the ditzy woman with a butch dog trainer that eventually become a couple, the uptight owners who are way too into it and, of course, the couple that’s just happy to be there: a guy with ridiculous teeth that might be more unassuming than Guest’s character, and her wife, who before she was married, slept with basically every male character in the movie.

But the winner of the great characters in the movie is, without a doubt, the color commentator by the name of Buck Laughlin played by Fred Willard, who steals the show with irreverence and frankness that is absolutely some of the greatest comedic dialogue I have ever heard spoken in a movie. His shtick about comparing the dog show to a baseball game and the hilarious anecdotes…they absolutely get me rolling every time I see the movie. It’s really an incredible role and it was nailed beautifully. Guest would make a couple more movies of this ilk in the decade, but they didn’t come close to this, his finest since “Spinal Tap.”

23. Meet the Parents – 2001

The best movie that DeNiro had been in since “Casino” and it’s tough for me to choose between Stiller’s role in this, “Zoolander” (Which barely misses this list, as well) and “There’s Something About Mary.” The story of Gaylord “Greg” Focker as he goes to his girlfriend’s parents’ house for the first time hits all the right notes in the nightmares that come from trying to impress who you hope will be your future in-laws.

There are plenty of memorable scenes, but the one that always makes the movie for me every time I see it is the dinner scene. I’m pretty sure it was the scene that everybody in the movie saw and made them want to take part in it. From Jack’s poem to his deceased mom, to Greg saying Jewish grace and finally ending it with him popping the cork, breaking the urn and Jinxy pissing in the ashes…it’s incredible. I remember hearing my dad laughing at that so hard he was coughing a minute later.

It was a movie that just came out of nowhere. It was kind of like “40-Year-Old Virgin,” where you saw the previews, thought “This could be funny,” and then were blown away by just how funny it was. It also showed that DeNiro was more than someone who could play a gangster in Martin Scorsese movies. He really nailed the role of Jack, and stole every scene he was in. “The Circle of Trust,” his take on “Puff the Magic Dragon,” making Jinxy the ring bearer, all of it was gravy. It’s another movie that benefits from a recent re-watch, but some movies you just don’t forget about, and this is definitely one of those movies.

22. Wedding Crashers – 2005

Pretty much from beginning to end, a movie that brings the laughs and doesn’t stop. Beyond the basic premise, the movie that touches on everything from love at first sight, to proper etiquette at the dinner table, to learning from the best that every played the game, it’s a tour de force of comedy. Vince Vaughn is at his asshole best who falls in love thanks to the incredible tenacity of the woman he selects as his prey and Owen Wilson plays the plucky underdog who
finds love unexpectedly and will stop at nothing to keep him from marrying the devious Sack, played by Bradley Cooper.

The jokes have been recounted over and over again, and I don’t think I can list them all here without it taking me all night, but between the Rules of Crashing, the phenomenal opening montage, Christopher Walken, “That’s what Maryland does, baby! Crab cakes and football!”, the gay painter, the alcoholic priest, one of the best cameos ever…it goes on and on.

I think what keeps it from being higher is that compared to other movies on the list, it kinda dies a bit in the middle, but it shouldn’t take away from the entirety of it, a movie that truly hits so many good notes that you could write a song about it.

21. The Hangover – 2009

A cast of virtual no-names to the mainstream movie world (although the three main characters were all great stand-up comedians who had their moments in other movies and TV shows) but like most great films, it’s not so much the star as it is the ensemble, and this ensemble had some absolutely incredible moments in a movie directed by the same guy who helped make “Old School” so memorable.

It’s a gimmick movie of sorts, but the gimmick works very well. Awesome characters (Zach Galifinakis made himself a career out of his role) and some truly wacky stuff, but what I loved about it all is that while some of the stuff is truly incredible, a lot of it isn’t THAT out of the ordinary, although they do hit on a lot of the cliches you’d have in Las Vegas if you blackout.

It gets on this list thanks to a true standby from yours truly: Seeing it in the theater more than once. It’s also a movie that has a great ebb and flow, and has some truly incredible scenes, most notably the rooftop speech, everything in the morning, the meeting in the desert, and everything involving Mike Tyson. It’s not the first comedy of its kind, but it’s definitely one of the best.

20. Up – 2009

Pixar could have each movie it made in the 2000s on this list if I really wanted to (it has three of them) but we’ll start here with its most recent, a movie that, like most Pixar movies, hits all the right notes in the scope of human emotions. The first 10 minutes of this movie is one of the best montages I’ve ever seen, and if you weren’t at least misty eyed by the end of it, I don’t know if you have a heart, honestly.

The movie in its entirety tells one of the coolest and most original stories that Pixar ever came up with, and has some of their best characters. The best in this movie for me is Dug: a golden retriever that reminds me of my very own, Rudy. Plus, where else are you going to get a battle between two geriatrics like you do at the end of this one?

It’s rewarding, it’s memorable, it’s moving and probably most of all, it’s engaging. You feel for the characters and you want to see them all succeed with their various problems. I once again tip my hat to Pixar for taking such an incredible premise and once again turning it into magic. I went through the Walt Disney Museum in December and saw all these movies that Walt helped create when he first started out, and thought about how lucky I am to be in a time where Pixar, much like Walt Disney did over 60 years ago, is making movies that will live with people in this generation to be passed on to the generations to come. John Lassiter, much like his hero, is turning out to be one of the greatest creative minds of all time.

19. Cidade de Deus (City of God)- 2002

One of the most breathtakingly emotional movies I’ve ever seen, the story of a young boy named “Rocket” growing up in one of the most dangerous places in the world, the slums of Rio de Janerio, Brazil and telling the unbelievable truths that wouldn’t be believed otherwise. It’s filled with shocking moments from beginning to end. It can be hard to watch at some points, and thanks to those emotional moments, it tells a story that sticks with you for a long time to come.

It was a cast of unknowns, with almost everyone having never acted in a movie before, but that didn’t stop them from playing some unbelievable roles. Little Ze, the leader of the main gang in the movie, plays a ruthless boss, someone who isn’t even 18 yet, but holds control over nearly the entire “City of God” region. He kills and rapes without a conscious thought at all, and is quick to turn others against themselves to get what he wants.

The first time I watched it, I prepared myself for a movie that I knew was going to be uncomfortable to watch and emotionally draining, but after watching it, the only thing I could think about was how much the entirety of the movie sticks with you. I didn’t think of the good parts or the bad parts, but how the movie took me on a ride like few others have. I don’t think I’ve seen a movie, regardless of language, that stayed with me like this one did, and that alone should tell you just how highly this movie is held in regard. It’s almost beyond description at points.

18. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazahkstan – 2006

Of all the movies on the list, this is probably the one movie that upon first viewing, you come out of saying, “Well, I never expected that.” I knew about Sasha Baron Cohen with “Da Ali G Show” and while the goofiness of his Kazahk newscaster was apparent, I had no idea he would take it as far as he did. And as he did it, it became a phenomenal coagulation of comedic genius, an opportunistic view on the American lifestyle, and a performance that couldn’t be duplicated (even though he tried to with “Bruno.”). How good was it? While it was #1 in box office its first weekend, it actually GAINED money in its second weekend, a rare feat in this day of age for Hollywood.

From the beginning, you saw that all bets were off. In five minutes, he wore shorts that were way too short for his hairiness, a man thong that was beyond the boundaries of good taste, he made out with his sister, and then rode off in a car that was being pulled by a mule with a teenager behind the wheel smoking a cigarette. And he was just getting started.

What followed was a movie that toed the line between farce and a twisted reality show. Borat’s interactions with everyday Americans were incredible. While he mainly made fun of people from the south, its pretty apparent that the message he was trying to get across, that prejudice is still very much alive in the United States, is only an underlying message to his antics. Nevertheless, it’s one of the great modern sociological experiments, and Cohen’s performance, which I think has been taken for granted even if it isn’t necessarily an “award-winning performance”, is one of the better single performances of the decade.

17. Step Brothers – 2008

Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly are an incredible comedic duo. Their performance in “Talladega Nights” is more widely recognized, but to overlook this movie is just stupid. Playing a couple of overgrown 40-year-olds who haven’t moved out of their respective parents’ houses, the two suddenly become stepbrothers when their parents get married, and must learn to live with each other. Shenanigans ensue.

The beauty of this movie, for me, is that both Ferrell and Reilly just destroy every scene they are in together. It’s weird to think that the movie gets better and better as it goes on, but good lord, I don’t think the movie ever comes down from that initial high of their first fight (complete with Ferrell’s nuts on Reilly’s drum set). That fight, the job hunt, the dinner scene with Ferrell’s brother, PRESTIGE INTERNATIONAL (Boats ‘N Hos will probably be one of my fantasy baseball team names), the sad break up, and, of course, an ending that can only be explained in four words: The Catalina Wine Mixer.< br />
It’s sophomoric, it’s low-brow at points, but it’s a movie that I enjoyed from beginning to end, and for this list, it’s all I really need.

16. Good Night, and Good Luck – 2006

The story of Edward R. Murrow’s attack on the McCarthy era reign of terror is one of the best introspective pieces of historical cinema that I’ve ever seen. Besides the pitch-perfect performance of David Straitham as Murrow, it was a well-structured movie that brought forth a lot of important issues in journalism that have been, for the most part, deemed archaic by today’s journalistic world.

As a broadcaster, I’m sure I won’t touch the excellence of Murrow in his heyday, where he became, along with Walter Kronkite, a pillar of journalistic excellence, but at the same time, watching a movie like this makes you realize the importance that the media plays in society. While the role has changed a great deal since Murrow’s day, the movie shows that just as McCarthy got people riled up with his “Red List” of Communist sympathizers, Murrow was able to shoot down the blanket accusations with a fervent stare into the camera. The movie being shown in black and white only amplifies a simpler time in our country’s society.

My favorite piece of trivia about the movie is that audience feedback from advanced screenings said that the actor that played McCarthy was far too over the top and was unbelievable. This was, of course, before they found out that the footage of McCarthy was REAL. If anything, the way it was shot, the tone, the direction, the movie brings you in to one of the most remarkable times in U.S. history and makes you believe you’re a part of the time period. It’s hidden amongst some of the more well-received movies in the past decade, but it stands out to me as one of the best movies about journalism ever produced.

15. Hustle & Flow – 2005

Like most people, I was drawn to this movie because I was a young black man from Memphis who was hustling and pimping just to get by, and found a love for rapping that I hope would give me my big break.

Yeah, I can’t keep that joke up at all. This is a top flight performance from Terrence Howard as D-Jay, and a really well crafted movie to show the growth of his character. It’s not so much that he grows up and goes straight, but that he realizes that he needs to take care of himself and stop cutting corners. When he stands up to Ludacris at the end for pissing all over his demo, his place in society turns out to be what it always had been, but that by doing things his way, he figured out exactly how to succeed in a world where he had to take everything that was given to him, regardless of how petty it was.

I was really happy to see the movie as critically acclaimed as it was, mainly because it’s a movie that doesn’t really have a big draw. Anthony Anderson was the biggest name in the movie, and he didn’t exactly have a big role under his belt. It’s not necessarily a one man show (Anderson and DJ Qualls are awesome in their roles, as are D-Jay’s girls) but at the same time, Howard took a role that turned him into a big-time actor in Hollywood. He would help make “Crash” an Oscar winner and took a top role in “Iron Man,” but it was this role that got him much well deserved notoriety.

14. Old School – 2003

It was the movie that started it all. There had been movies before with big-time comedic actors in years previous, but this movie ushered in the era of “The Frat Pack.” Luke Wilson, Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell brought a new brand of comedy to the fold, one that would serve as template for movies like “Wedding Crashers,” “Anchorman” and “Step Brothers.” An irreverent premise if there ever was one, three guys facing a mid-life crisis decide to form a fraternity for the every man. Like many other movies on this list, shenanigans ensue.

The moments are numerous. The corralling of the pledges in a black van set to “Master of Puppets,” the first ritual of trust, Mitch-A-Palooza, Frank the Tank, Frank streaking, the trip to the psychologist, Mitch hooking up with his boss’ daughter (who happens to be in high school), the establishment of the fraternity, the birthday parties, Craig Kilborn playing a complete asshole of a boyfriend in his final movie role, Frank singing “Dust in the Wind,” Cheeeeeeeeeeeeese, the fraternity decathlon, and, of course, the coronation of the frat at the end of the movie.

For a 19-year-old kid coming into his college years, this was my “Animal House.” It’s the movie that will stick with me until my kids get into college, and is almost like a rite of passage for movie watching in my generation. Hell, this was the first movie that I thoroughly enjoyed that I sat down with my dad and watched. That’s how important this movie was to me.

13. The Incredibles – 2004

The second Pixar movie on my list, this was the best movie I had seen Pixar make yet when I first saw it. It was almost like a comic book from the 50s. Espionage, adventure, action, excitement, a phenomenal blend of James Bond and Superman, mixed in with the Fantastic Four and, of all things, early sitcoms.

While not as emotional or heartwarming as the other Pixar movies, this movie accomplishes that “cool” factor that many people believed Pixar hadn’t achieved. People enjoyed the fun fares of their previous films, and understood that they were all striking to make movies that both children and adults could enjoy and relate to, but this was something that really hadn’t been done under the Disney/Pixar banner. DreamWorks and other animation studios were trying to get in on the animated action genre, but it only took ONE Pixar movie for them to perfect it.

If anything, this showed that in the vast imagination at the studios in Emeryville, that even with the stories of family woe, childhood longing and a search for guidance in their lives, that they had a story full of wonder and amazement that took you on a ride like few other live-action movies could. Not only is it one of the best animated movies of the decade, but it’s one of the best action movies of the decade as well, and stands out amongst Pixar’s greatest achievements.

12. Tropic Thunder – 2008

The Robert Downey, Jr. Show. He had been nominated in “Chaplin” and had been one of the best American actors of his generation before drugs took him down, but his comeback in 2007 was nothing short of incredible. He became the center of attention for one of the best comic book origin stories ever made (more on that in Part 2) but it was this role, where he played a blonde haired, blue eyed Australian who goes blackface to play a role in a war epic, that absolutely floored me.

People talked about the Tom Cruise cameo (and rightfully so), but damn it all if Downey didn’t make the movie for me. My first time through, I enjoyed it, but I didn’t enjoy it so much that I would call it a great movie. It took my Uncle Jim and a second viewing to truly understand the movie’s greatness. We marveled at Downey’s performance, and loved the bit roles (Brandon Jackson, Danny McBride and Jay Duchamel were awesome, along with a surprisingly good Chris Farley impersonation from Jack Black and Ben Stiller playing the straight man to the goofiness around him), as this movie suddenly became a tour de force of comedic moments that just wouldn’t stop.

Unlike some of the other movies on my list where there memorable scenes that stand out, this movie is all about the dialogue. All of the roles are basically parodies of the actors who play them, and it’s what they say and how they say that draws you in. In fact, there’s so many things parodied that you really need to stop and think about all the thought that goes into each scene. It’s without a doubt a great piece of comedy, and Downey’s performance is one of
a kind.

11. The Departed – 2006

It’s not Scorsese’s best, not by a long shot. But that’s saying a lot considering that for the fact that it’s a remake of a Hong Kong classic (one of the rare times that Scorsese goes in that direction) it turns out to be a pretty great movie on its own. It’s DiCaprio’s movie to mold, and he’s pretty awesome in it, but the scene stealer is not Jack Nicholson. It’s instead Mark Wahlberg, who owns his role as the only straight cop in the movie.

It’s got all the usual Scorsese quirks. It’s got the quick cut cinematography (You gotta think Michael Bay was a Scorsese fan). It has the classic rock soundtrack. It has the crazy amounts of violence, masochistic behavior, inordinate amounts of cussing, sexual debauchery, a return to a public adult movie theater for the first time since Taxi Driver…but at the same time, it’s such a well crafted movie that you can’t help but notice that for all the usual Scorsese quirks, that those quirks have made some of the best movies in American history.

It’s a great mix of everything that Scorsese does best, and features an all-star cast the likes of which hadn’t been seen in a very long time: a great mix of the old guard of Hollywood (Nicholson, Sheen, Baldwin) and the new guard (DiCaprio, Damon, Wahlberg). It shouldn’t have been the movie that netted Scorsese his first Oscar ever, but it’s still a great movie nonetheless.

Wednesday Night at 8 p.m. becomes…Must See TV?

Movies, Television - by - February 5, 2009 - 01:12 UTC - Be first to Comment!

So in my time here at the lovely Amberlee Motel in Downtown Dunedin, the only source of entertainment I’ve been able to have is via phone, whatever Internet connection I can find in one of two spots in my room (either in bed or in one of the reclining chairs by the door) and basic cable TV. With the addition of numerous other things to my computer, and a smidgen of DVDs at my disposal, I can find other means of entertainment, but suffice to say, the TV is what I go to as something that can keep me going.

Normally, Wednesday nights are slow for TV for me. Mondays, I have a great four hour block to choose from if I decide to stay in. Two hours of How I Met Your Mother reruns, a Big Bang Theory episode, and then another How I Met Your Mother. Then, Monday Night RAW until 11, which then begins an hour of Family Guy, whereas I can go between that and Letterman. Tuesdays, I can kinda go for a little while with reruns and/or sports, and then from there, ECW at 9, Nip/Tuck at 10, and then Family Guy/Letterman. Thursdays has the NBC Lineup, with TNA Impact! (If I decide to partake in a little bit of self-damaging behavior) and then Friday’s has SmackDown!…or, I go out and do something, if I have the money.

Wednesdays are usually bereft of ANYTHING worthwhile. It’s basically a night where you’re spinning the wheel and you hope you find something good. Well, what happens if you spin that wheel and you come upon not one, not two…but FIVE things that just say to you, “Watch this, already. Trust me. It’s worth it.” It’s even better when those five things are varied and awesome in their own ways. SO…without further ado, here’s what those five choices are! They will be ordered from low cable channel to high, and the final choices have been made and will be revealed at the end. Feel free to play along at home and try to figure out which one I picked!

1. Heat – Ion Network (Local Cable Channel 17)

Oh, boy. Heat, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Let’s forget about how long it takes Val Kilmer to get from the shootout to the getaway car for a second, and why DeNiro decides to go get Serrano at a Waffle House or something at 3 in the morning. (Did everyone get the Major League reference that’s going to get it? Good. I guess I can also accept “The First President from 24” as well) Let’s remember that this might be one of the greatest ensembles casts ever. That the sound effects in this movie are absolutely amazing, which stems from the fantastic shootout scene that is the best in movie history, perhaps save “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” and its three-way shootout. Oh, did I mention it was the first time that Pacino and DeNiro are in the same scene for the first time ever, and that the meeting is so tense and awesome that it basically makes the movie? It’s major drawback on a night like tonight is that it’s 4 hours on TV, meaning you have to invest a while, but boy, if you take on the investment, it’s worth it.

2. Animal Planet – Colossal Squids (Cable Channel 35)

This is probably the one where people kinda think to themselves, “Really? Colossal squids?” Okay, first off, look at the picture above. Those things are literally 25 feet long from the bottom of their largest tentacle to the top of their heads. They have been known to eat WHALES as food. They are found off the coast of Japan, and the first time it was ever captured on film, it nearly ate the camera. This isn’t your giant squid from “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea” or anything, either. They are truly out there, and when it was found last year as opposed to just being documented, it suddenly became one of the biggest things in the history of the study of animals from the sea. Seriously, it’s fascinating stuff, but the other thing is that a show like that isn’t exactly entertaining. Informative, sure, but entertaining, maybe not. Still, GIANT SQUIDS!

3. Aladdin – Disney Channel (Local Cable Channel 40)

My favorite Disney movie of all time. I love Lilo and Stitch (Which is my 2nd favorite Disney movie of all time) but this movie is about as perfect a Disney movie you could find, as it somehow managed to follow up “Beauty and the Beast” and become this absolutely phenomenal movie that spawned two sequels, and two sequels that DIDN’T COMPLETELY SUCK. That’s rare when there are sequels out there like “Pocahontas II” and that “Beauty and the Beast” Christmas movie. Seriously, what’s that all about, Disney? You didn’t squeeze enough out of the last animated movie to get nominated for a Best Picture Oscar? C’mon, Disney. Really, c’mon.

It’s got great comedy (probably the one time other than his Broadway show where Robin Williams going crazy actually had its perks) a nice love story, great songs, and one of the best villains ever in Jafar. He was simply perfect for this role, as both he and Scar in “The Lion King” are very similar in their motives, but Jafar has this greasiness to him that just resonates with me a little bit better. Add in Jasmine’s unbelievable hotness for a hand-drawn cartoon character (seriously, you have to give me that one, at least) and you got a great Disney movie. The downside with this one is that with it being on Disney channel, you’re subjected to all those damn Disney commercials. None of us want that…

4. The Karate Kid – ABC Family (Local Cable Channel 52)

The definitive 80’s movie, and the movie on this list that made me realize I was basically almost writing a Bill Simmons article with this blog post. Seriously, do I have to describe this movie to you at this point? It’s a movie I’ve seen at least 50 times and even now, with it being ingrained in my head for so long, I still love so many scenes: The Halloween Dance, The “moment of realization” in Mr. Miyagi’s backyard, the tournament finals. It’s a movie that deserves the full attention of a viewer, but on this night, maybe it’s not for me. I don’t know…

5. First Blood – AMC (Local Cable Channel 64)

Stallone had made “Rocky” and “Rocky II” at this point, and now he was in a movie that was along the lines of the macho image that he had made for himself at this point. Remember this about the movie: Rambo never kills anybody on purpose. He merely tries to avoid the kill, and would rather incapacitate his enemies. It’s an extreme case about what war vets go through when they return home to the life of a civilian, but it’s still a great movie, no doubt about it. The movies get gorier and and more violent when you get to parts II and III, but this was the movie with the best story and had Brian Dennehy as
the small town cop who believed Rambo’s nature wasn’t welcome in his town. It’s probably the definitive macho movie. I’m a big fan.

So, what was the decision? Well, I decided to go with the approach of what I had available to me, and what I didn’t. Heat, Aladdin, and The Karate Kid, I all had on DVD. Giant squids…well, the entertainment value just wasn’t there, so, it went to First Blood, with commercial breaks being used up by flipping between The Karate Kid and Heat. This led to being able to see the realization scene in “Kid” and the Pacino/DeNiro stare down in Heat before the big heist. Phenomenal stuff on a Wednesday night, especially when you weren’t expecting much in the first place.