Thursday, December 30, 2010

Top 10 Flicks of 2010

Because I like lists, and despite my work schedule (which turned hellish, in mid-July), I managed to catcha goodly number of movies this year. It runs about half & half theater to home-viewing.

Thinking back, there are a couple of days, one in March, one in October, where I had no other obligations, and declared "Movie Day!" Spent those days helping the local economies by catching as many flicks as I could in the theater. Done largely with the help of matinee pricing and a trip each day to the Two Dollah Theatah, and laying off the $9 bag of popcorn, it really wasn't as expensive a day out as I might have thought.

That said, I did manage to drop an Alexander Hamilton on Black Swan last night, and nearly that much for True Grit two nights before. I find that there is a proportional desire to see a movie perform given how much I pay to see it. Conversely, it is easier to be disappointed given that same amount. Funny how the difference of $4 will do that to a man.

Anyway, looking back at 2010, these are what I consider the top 10 flicks. I say this with a qualifying statement: I have not found time to see a few flicks I might have wanted to. These include The Social Network, The King's Speech, The Fighter, and 127 Hours. I'll see them eventually.

1. Winter's Bone

I'm a tremendously big fan of this movie. It's a bleak, bleak flick. And it's Southern without mocking. Though it's not a difficult thing to do, even Indie flicks seem to have a little trouble with that one.

2. Let Me In

One of the best creepy flicks to come down the pike in a long, long time. Very pretty movie, too. And, as good as it is, it's not as good as its basis, Let the Right One In...

3. True Grit

I liked this one even more than I'd have thought. I found myself confronted with my dislike of movies/shows where the children are more of an adult than the adults. But, in the end, my love of movies of retribution washed that little bit away....

4. Toy Story 3

Stupid cartoon movies that make me cry.

5. Jackass 3

I went back and forth on this one, but finally decided that this was pretty much the only movie to make me absolutely horse laugh in the middle of a movie theater. Two favorite moments: Steve-O's horrified anticipation of being hit in the nuts, and the idea of taking a tuba into a pen with a pissed off Ram....

6. The Town

Watch out. Ben Affleck might end up being one of the best directors of his generation. This was a tremendous flick, and the dialog was probably some of my favorite any movie I've seen this year.

"I need your help. I can't tell you what it is, you can never ask me about it later, and we're gonna hurt some people."

The reply: "Whose car we takin'?"

7. The Expendables.

You know, I realized that it's a good movie when I stopped thinking of it as an All-Star Jam with Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li, Jason Statham & company. This movie did everything it was supposed to do. I know it's not breaking any new ground, but I probably had as much fun at this flick as any movie in 2010.

8. Inception

For all the talk before this flick came out, it just seems like it fell off the Radar. I dug it a lot. It's a well put together flick...

9. Buried

This one was a surprise. Shyam and I went to try to catch a showing of Warrior's Way (which looks very pretty), and couldn't get to an early enough showing. We opted for Buried, at the Two Dollah Theatah, despite of a tremendous dislike of Ryan Reynolds. Still, the flick sets an odd table for itself, but finishes nicely.

10. Black Swan

I'm still thinking on this one--it was just 12 hours ago that I saw it. It could move up the list. Aronofsky's past couple of flicks especially seem to deal in the dangers of the things that drive us. Barbary Hershey's mother character was one of the most dislikeable characters in all of movies this year (and I say that in as much a complimentary way as possible). All in all, it's a well-made horror flick...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Professor Farnsworth's Movie Quiz

Via Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule....

1) Best Movie of 2010

Bearing in mind it's on my agenda this week to see both True Grit and Black Swan, the best movie for my money was Winter's Bone, which was bleak, Southern without being mocking, and inspirational without pandering. Movies (and the world) needs more people like Ree Dolly. (BTW, John Hawkes probably slithered his way to becoming my favorite character actor, in this little flick)

2) Second-favorite Roman Polanski Movie

Rosemary's Baby, though outside of this and Chinatown, I've never really dug his movies.

3) Jason Statham or Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

I'm gonna say Jason Statham, even though I've never really cared for him. I'll tell you why: Because he's never needed to wander too far from the action genre. The Rock's wandered near Eddie Murphy territory, where he makes far too many inoffensive movies designed to make children laugh. These have their place, mind you, and I'd never fault an actor for looking to grow. But I can't call The Tooth Fairy growth, and all I really look for in The Rock is a bad who can whoop ass like I wish I could. I'll reserve some judgment until Faster wanders its way to Netflix. He actually looks like a badass in that one...

4) Favorite movie that could be classified as a genre hybrid

First thing that pops to mind is Ghostbusters, simply for being the big budget comedy-sci-fi masterpiece that it is.

5) How important is foreknowledge of a film’s production history? Should it factor into one’s reaction to a film?

I'd say little to none. It's rare that I consider any knowledge of a flick's path to the screen need-to-know. In fact, I'd say I'd rather not know, if only to preserve all the surprise. Still, there have been instances where knowing the drama that preceded a flick have made me want to see the movie more. I'd never actually seen Easy Rider before reading some of the drama surrounding Dennis Hopper and its making....

6) William Powell & Myrna Loy or Cary Grant & Irene Dunne

Cary Grant's and Irene Dunne's comic timing together was so much better.

7) Best Actor of 2010

Going with my first instinct, I liked Kodi Smit-McPhee in Let Me In.

8) Most important lesson learned from the past decade of watching movies

Fourteen dollars is a little much to watch soulless movies through plastic glasses that give me a headache.

9) Last movie seen (DVD/Blu-ray/theater)

At home, I watched Toy Story 3, which was truly excellent, and one of the best movies of the year. I don't know how those folks at Pixar keep making tremendous movies. It almost makes me wish I'd seen it in 3-D

At the theater, an excursion to the 2-Dollar-Theatah saw us seeing Buried, which is actually not a bad flick. I'd count it as one of my favorites of this year.

11) Best under-the-radar movie almost no one else has had the chance to see

I'm telling everybody I know to see Winter's Bone, if that counts as Under the Radar.

12) Sheree North or Angie Dickinson

Angie Dickinson.

13) Favorite nakedly autobiographical movie


14) Movie which best evokes a specific real-life place

You know, I realized that the reason I like Bull Durham so much is that it makes me want to go to a baseball game....

15) Best Director of 2010

Debra Granik, for Winter's Bone. (Bearing in mind again, True Grit and Black Swan are this week, and I've not seen Social Network...)

16) Second-favorite Farrelly Brothers Movie

Me, Myself & Irene. That split-pee scene gets me every time. "Why am I peeing like I've been up all night have sex?" That, and the "Spartacus lookin' Motherfucker line."

17) Favorite holiday movie

Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Most tragically, I've lost my DVD copy. I think I lent it out at my old jobplace, and forgot to retrieve it from the body I loaned it to. I missed my annual Thanksgiving viewing this year. It will make next year's all the sweeter, I think.

18) Best Actress of 2010

Jennifer Lawrence, in Winter's Bone. (Go fucking see this movie, peoples...)

19) Joe Don Baker or Bo Svenson

Joe Don Baker. I admit that I had to look up Bo Svenson, and I can truly say that I appreciate this question very much.

20) Of those notable figures in the world of the movies who died in 2010, name the one you’ll miss the most

The film geek in me wants to say Dennis Hopper, but the more honest answer would be Gary Coleman.

But: You Guys! Holy Shit! Merlin Olsen died this year?

21) Think of a movie with a notable musical score and describe what it might feel like without that accompaniment.

Richard Donner's first Superman movie is a long, long flick on par with Star Trek: the Motion Picture for geekish slobber shots. John Williams score kinda greases that slide quite a bit.

22) Best Screenplay of 2010

I'm kinda gonna wander off the Winter's Bone track and say Toy Story 3

23) Movie You Feel Most Evangelistic About Right Now

Winter's Bone? What's this? Five answers?

24) Worst/funniest movie accent ever

It may seem like an odd answer, but Burt Reynolds makes me smile any time he talks in Striptease. It's a smarmy southern that's just slathered on. It's kinda the point. And well done.

25) Best Cinematography of 2010

Inception was very, very pretty.

26) Olivia Wilde or Gemma Arterton

Gemma Arterton

27) Name the three best movies you saw for the first time in 2010 (Thanks, Larry!)

Winter's Bone, Let Me In, and Let the Right One In, which isn't a 2010 flick, but I saw for the first time this year. As good as Let Me In is, Let the Right One In is a beautiful flick. I also wrote down the Joan Rivers documentary, before thinking about the question.

28) Best romantic movie couple of 2010

I have no answer.

29) Favorite shock/surprise ending

Well shit. How can I say without it being a spoiler? I've come to enjoy the end to Frank Darabont's version of The Mist, partly because it diverged so much from the story, and partly because it has such a nice "Go Screw" vibe to it.

I also kinda like Drag Me to Hell's....

30) Best cinematic reason to have stayed home and read a book in 2010

Tim Burton, once whimsical and fun, now makes formulaic "Chosen One" flicks with no soul.

31) Movies in 2011 could make me much happier if they’d only _______________

Show More Titty Get past this 3-D fad, and move on to the next thing I'll be tired of.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Christmas Re-Run

Good Evening. Just wanted to drop by the blogamathing and wish you and yours a Merry Christmas. I've just spent December working like a Botard. And though I've come to expect this of December, it was not without surprises. This year's fun included customers taking offense to our having "Happy Kwanzaa" printed on our ads. The words "War on Christmas" were uttered by one customer in particular. I'll just say that from my end, what you percieve as a "War on Christmas," I percieve as a persecution complex with a heavy side of racism.

Anyway. Just wanted to tell you folks Merry Christmas, and reprint this:

It's 9:30 on Christmas Eve, and right now, NORAD's Santa Claus radar has the jolly old elf somewhere over South America...

I'm going to bed soon. I think I'm going to drink some of the spiked egg nog, and chase it with a Benadryl or two. I don't want that fat man to catch me anywhere near awake.

See, I caught Santa one year. I used my mental powers, and my ninja training. I set a trap for him. You know the a better Santa trap and the world will beat your ass to the door. Or something like that.

The trap? It was fly (I learned that word on TV). It was diesel-powered, and it ran on 1.21 gigawatts of electrosol, or something. I can't explain it well, because I'm inept in my ability to explain things technical. Suffice it to say this: think of a cross between one of those glue-based mouse traps, a helicopter, and Eskimo Ingenuity, and you're almost there.

Santa fell into my trap. At 12:14 on Christmas morning, in 1992. Santa has a weakness for Swiss Cake Rolls. I caught him. He was screaming in some language I didn't know. Considering the jaunty sneer and the swaggering swivel of his hips, I assumed that it was Elvish

I could only wonder at my achievement. How many millions of people had tried and failed to catch St. Nicholas? I stared at the man in red, and could barely begin to think of the acclaim, the public adoration.

Sadly, I could barely begin to think of the money. The Knoxville Zoo told me they'd pay me $20 if I could deliver the jolly old elf. I know that, because I called and asked how much a jolly old elf would bring me...they answered with a snort (which, at the time I took for excitement, but realize now was something more mocking) "twenty dollars."

But I was counting my chickens before they hatched (which, coincidentally, was plan B, to put Santa under a heat lamp and see what emerges). I managed to hold St. Nick for all of 28 minutes. He's a wily old elf. He knows how to think his way around a corner (or outside the box, as it were). In the future, I'll know that Santa's got a helluva bunch of good stuff in his Batman-style utility belt. I think it was the acid that freed him, though I'll never be sure. I was momentarily knocked silly by one one of his deadly accurate Santarangs.

I gained my senses enough to try once again to subdue St. Nick. I've watched my share of pro wrestling in my life (and probably your share, too). But don't let anybody fool you. Thousands of hours spent studying the career of Bret "the Hitman" Hart is no match for Santa's rolling snowball Kung Fu. And let me say, Santa Claus knows his way around a choke hold.

When he was done beating me senseless, he tied me to the hearth with the stockings, which hadn't been hung by the chimney with enough care for Santa. I was left for Commissioner Gordon and the rest of the Gotham City police to find in the morning.

Most damning? Santa has connections. He told me, as he laid a finger inside his nose (Clement Moore had that one wrong), but before up the chimney he arose: "Young Thomas: because of you transgression against me, you will never be able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven!" That, in a word, sucks.

I've done my best in the decade since to atone. I've twice made a pilgrimage to the North Pole to offer thanks for my life, and to do whatever Santa wants me to do, so as to make up. (FYI: The North Pole thing is bunk, a story made up to throw off Santa's enemies....Santa's workshop is actually in Iceland, inside a volcano, where he and his elves and reindeer are protected by Magma Monsters and Lava Loons.)

I feel like I'm making progress. I am cautiously optimistic that, over time, he'll forgive me. I hope, anyway. The problem is that an immortal elf like Santa shouldn't have any problems holding a grudge for a long, long time.

But mostly, he tells me in no uncertain terms to go away, and to leave him be.

So, I'm doing all I can to make him happy, in that respect. Which means I'll have been asleep for several hours by the time Santa makes his pass by my house.....

And let me pass a word of warning on to you, as well: You'd do well to do the same. Don't do anything to draw his wrath. As if eternal damnation of the soul to Alabama (it's where Hell is, just south of Tuscaloosa) isn't enough, he's got heat vision and no problem with using it to burn off and instantly cauterize fingers. Also, I've got a permanent crick in my neck and an intense aversion to pointy hats that I'll carry with me forever, for my troubles.

You do the same, and you too, can have a Very Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Brief thoughts on a minor league hockey game....

Wandered up to Knoxville to take in an Ice Bears game last evening. It's one of those things I've wanted to do for a couple of years, but just never made the time to do so.

In a short word, I dug it. Nice venue. Pretty intimate. Nice crowd, announced at 4200 and change, on a cancer-awareness night billed as "Guaranteed Fight Night." There weren't many empty seats in the Knoxville last night, as they beat Louisiana 3-2 in overtime. And yes, there were fight. All the better.

Plus? I'd gone to roughly 400 baseball games (Major, Minor and College) in my life before I got even close a foul ball, when I finally caught one off knuckleballer Jared Fernandez at relatively lovely Greer Stadium in Nashville.

I dig hockey, but I've been to probably a dozen games, and this was my first minor league game. During warmups, a puck pinged off the goal, and flew into the stands. I got a hand out, and it nicked my middle finger before falling at the feet of the child in front of me. Dammit.

Anyway, good time. Gonna have to head up again. Already thinking birthday trip for February, with a couple other trips in between. Dig it....

Saturday, December 18, 2010


This morning brings this small tidbit that they're developing a TV series based on the Marvel comic series Alias.

I've been off reading monthly comics for a while now. Can't say how long, for sure. Three or four years. I completely left somewhere around the same time as the Batman R.I.P. storyline. Even at that time, I'd been experiencing severely diminishing returns on what I'd been reading. For a year or two prior to that, I'd been whittling down what I was reading. I think when I left, I had 3 books that I was picking up on a monthly basis: Batman and Detective Comics, which I'd been reading since the fourth grade, and The Walking Dead, which had only recently (at the time) been brought to my attention.

The cost had something to do with it. The cost of a monthly comic was creeping up into the 2 or 3 dollar range for your average Batman or Walking Dead title. It just wasn't worth that for something I was reading once, or maybe twice, and taking five minutes to do so. There was a time when I was spending 60 bucks a month, pretty easily, on what was essentially the literature I'd reserved for bathroom breaks. There got to be an ecomonomic wall. 15 bucks a week for something I was spending 15 minutes a week on just didn't seem economically sound.

On top of that, it was contributing to the stack of long boxes I currently keep in the second bedroom closet. That stack, which represents 20 years of fandom, I currently think of as a half-ton of fire hazard.

So, long story short, I stopped reading. Just wasn't getting much out of it. There was good stuff, but I just wasn't interested anymore. If there was something particularly good, I could find the trade paperback or hardback collection on Amazon or at the brick and mortar bookstore for cheaper than it would have costed for me to buy it in serial for anyway.

I say all that to say this: Alias was one of the last books I read regularly that I remember with real fondness. The writer of the linked article hit the nail on the head. The first 15-18 issues are truly fun stuff. Excellent writing. Interesting premise. Used the Marvel mythology as a means of telling the story, and not the story itself.

The last several issues did not do that, in retrospect. The tone in the final issues was so different that it made me pretty sure that Brian Michael Bendis wrote those first several issues in one spurt, in one creative session, where an idea or feeling or sense of mission were all fresh in his head. The last issues were so drastically different in feel that it made me think they may have been well after those first story arcs. Jessica Jones wasn't nearly as interesting as a character, and there were far too many superhero characters showing up in the story. It was almost a Brave and the Bold type of deal. Who's Jessica Jones teaming up with this month?

Anyway. A TV series might be good. It's something I'd pay attention to.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Failed Pop Tarts

Mustard and Onion
Frosted Trout
Stuffed Pepper
Ham and Muenster
Hubba Bubba and Walnuts
Birthday Guacamole
Cinnamon Asparagus
Dill Pickle and Sour Cream
Pepperoni Lovers
Pepperoni's Lover
El Pollo Diablo
General Tso's Chicken
Curried Goat
Curried Goat with Marshmallows
Tripe and Taters
A-1 Steak Sauce
Sweet and Salty Salmon
Extreme Gefilte Fish
Marlboro Light
Marlboro Light Menthol

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

7-Year Re-Run

I've had this booger up 8 years and 1 month. Which means I have 8 years and 1 month worth of stuff I can repost, if I want to be a lazy and/or overworked son of a gun.

7 years ago. I was likely still reeling from the bullshit surrounding the Cubs losing that playoff series to the Marlins. I don't know if I've ever adequately thanked Dusty Baker for that, by the way. I'd just started working for current employer, after an autumn unencumbered by employment. In 2003, I was 27, and I had more hair than I do now.

And, I posted this:

Return of the King

I asked yesterday what all the hubbub about this Return of the King movie is....I hadn't heard anything about it....

I looked over on the Internet Movie Database.

I have no interest in any movie that calls itself Return of the King, yet has no mention of Richard Petty in its credits. I mean, I just assumed Return of the King meant a story about The King coming back to drive #43 one more time. Perhaps to fight vampires.

Seems like false advertising to me.

Short. Sweet. To the point.

I hope, like me, you had a good laugh.

I hope, unlike me, you didn't pee yourself in the process.

At least, I hope that's pee.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Better Than Favre

I work an average of 265 days a year.

I have not missed a shift in at least 7 years.

Doing the math, that's 1855 consecutive. Give or take. When Brett Favre does what he does, for 11 hours a day, 265 days a year? Gimme a call.

Anybody else wanna tell Mr. Favre to go screw, with his 290-something game streak ending today?

Maybe I'm just a grouchy asshole this evening, who works a bit too much, but I'm a little worn out with professional athletes, of late.

That's not to say I don't like sports. Lord knows I do. But we spend too much time with this jazz, and we pay these people entirely too much. And we treat something like news that absolutely is not. I go to work every day. EVERY day. I don't get a medal. Don't want one. Don't need one.

Look, I'm cognizant that it doesn't happen often that I get chased around my job by 300 pound men in football pads, and I might come to work a little less regularly were that the case. At least at my current pay grade. But tonight, there's something that bugs me about somebody playing a game for a living, making more in a year to do it than me, my immediate family and any 10 of my closest friends will make in the next 4 years combined, making the news because he shows up to do that every day.

I dunno. I get this way during every baseball off season, more than anything. Hearing numbers thrown out like 19 million a year kinda gets in my craw.

I get over it on Sundays, and when TeeVee deems it cool enough to show me a Predators game, I guess.

But still, to see my Twitter feed BLOW UP because Brett Favre won't be playing for the first time since Satan planted dinosaur bones to fool us? Yeah. Forget that. If only because you go to work, especially if you get to work a dream job like NFL Quarterback. You just go to work.

If people wanted to pay me WHAT I MAKE NOW to play any game, be it football, baseball, bowling or stickfighting, I'd be game, and I'd likely do it with a sprained shoulder, lacerated chin, cancer of the lips and cirrhosis of the liver.

But only if I got to have an offseason.

Yeah, and offseason would be really cool.

Even a hockey offseason.