November 25, 2011

Trailer Friday for November 25, 2011

An all new set of trailers and our hearty commentary. Enjoy.

The Sitter (December 9)

"Adventures in Babysitting meets Superbad with a smattering of Sex Drive."

"Adventures in Babysitting is right. The movie's already drawing tons of criticism around the internet for copycatting. And deservedly so -- it's the exact same movie, only with tons of f-bombs!"

"It really is disgraceful how much they stole from that movie -- reluctant babysitter, same number of kids (3), taking them into the city to an all-black nightclub, criminals chasing them... The list goes on and on."

"This seems really raunchy. What kind of parent would let their child act in a movie like this? Still, I did laugh when he whispered, 'I f**king hate you too. I'll destroy you,' to the little girl."

(Now playing)

"Melancholia is the perfect title for this film. I wanted to like that trailer but it was really depressing."

"In fairness, it's a movie about a shaky marriage set against the backdrop of a rogue planet crashing into the earth. So tell me, in that scenario, what's there to be happy about?"

"I think an intriguing thing about this film is the fact that Kirsten Dunst's performance earned her Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival."

"That's also where the director (Lars von Trier) sabotaged himself by making jokes about and sympathizing with Nazis during a press conference. Check it out on YouTube here. It's painful to watch."

"Nazi jokes to a roomful of Frenchmen?... Dude, know your audience!"

New Year's Eve (December 9)

"Ensemble pieces like this, Valentine's Day, He's Just Not That Into You, that have the multiple storylines going on at the same time, always seem really gimmicky to me."

"Box office poison Ashton Kutcher in the same movie with box office poison Katherine Heigl... Why didn't they throw in Nicholas Cage too?... This film has no chance."

"Zac Effron, Jon Bon Jovi, Carson Daly, Seth Myers... I can't imagine any heterosexual men would want to see this."

"Okay my focus will be on the women. Halle Berry still looks amazing on screen; Jessica Biel looks great too; this movie proves that Sarah Jessica Parker and Hilary Swank are NOT, in fact, the same person; and someone needs to tell Sofia Vergara that her spicy Latina schtick is wearing thin."

"I guarantee you, Robert DeNiro will only be in that one scene you saw at the very end."

The Hunger Games (March 23)

"I know this movie's based on a popular novel but there's not a lot of originality here. I see elements of Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, Shirley Jackson's short story "The Lottery", "The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell, Stephen King's "The Long Walk", and the movie The Running Man with Arnold Schwartzeneggar."

"It's also very similar to the 2007 movie The Condemned, which maybe not so coincidentally was distributed by the same studio -- Lionsgate."

"The release date is what concerns me. March and April are typically the months where studios clear the decks for summer releases they think are going to make a lot of money. Scheduling this for March 23rd makes me think studio execs in the know don't believe this movie's any good."

"Stunt casting Lenny Kravitz and featuring him so prominently in the trailer should also be a warning sign."

My Week With Marilyn (Now playing)

"I'm planning on seeing this. Michelle Williams is the new Jennifer Jason Leigh. Young actress who started off doing light, teen-oriented stuff. You didn't think much of her at first but she turned out to be super-talented."

"Absolutely. The Station Agent, Shutter Island, Blue Valentine... She always chooses interesting roles and she's always really good."

"This is based on a (disputed) real-life incident that took place when Marilyn was filming The Prince and the Showgirl. True or not, it looks like an interesting story."

November 22, 2011

USC-UCLA "I Love L.A." Music Video

With college football season starting to wind down, this weekend features a full slate of games between the sports' biggest rivals -- Alabama/Auburn, Pittsburgh/West Virgina, Georgia/Georgia Tech, Ohio State/Michigan, Florida/Florida St., and one my personal favorites, USC/UCLA.

In honor of the occasion, I dug into the Pop Culture Fiend Archives and tried to find something relevant. What'd I come up with?...

Two things. An old "Beat UCLA" button I got at the USC bookstore, and this VERY old video clip of an ABC-TV produced music video promoting the game.

There was no date on the tape I culled this from, but I'm pretty sure it's circa 1989. I was able to deduce this based on clues in the video -- shots of Larry Smith (USC head coach from 1987 to 1992), USC 1989 All-American defensive back Mark Carrier (#7 in the group of players you see at the very beginning), and a cameo from Richard Lewis and Jamie Lee Curtis from the ABC comedy Anything But Love, which premiered in 1989.

I have to say, no matter who you root for in this rivalry, you gotta love this video's highly apropos use of Randy Newman's "I Love L.A." Also, the blonde majorette grooving in front of the UCLA band is pretty darn cute. (Of course, now that I think of it, she'd be in her mid-40s by now... Oh well.)

Oh, and in case you're wondering, this game ended in a 10-10 tie -- the seventh and last tie in this 82 year old rivalry.

November 11, 2011

Trailer Friday for November 11th, 2011

Hi folks. Well, it's Trailer Friday again. Check out our in-the-moment commentary on an all new crop of movies.

Immortals (November 11)

"I missed Clash of the Titans and was kind of disappointed by Troy but still enjoyed it. This looks way better than both."

"Not enough audience for this movie. It's probably gonna do poorly at the box office. Too bad --I'm a sucker for films based on Greek mythology."

"I'm wary. The last big picture [director] Tarsem Singh did was that J. Lo movie The Cell, which had great visuals but was one of the worst movies I saw that year."

Snow White and the Huntsman (Summer 2012)

"This film has a lot to live up to. The writer got an unfathomable $3 million dollars for what was essentially a spec script. That being said, the trailer looks awesome! Of the two, this is definitely gonna be the Snow White movie you want to see."

"Are we supposed to believe that skinny, pasty, Kristen Stewart is "fairer" than the gorgeous Charlize Theron? Also, it's hard to buy Stewart as an ass-kicking action hero."

"Agreed. Seriously bad casting for that lead role. Stewart always looks so mopey and bored. Like she's constantly thinking, 'Yeah, being a movie star sucks.'"

Project X (March 2)

"Can't Hardly Wait meets Risky Business with a smattering of The Blair Witch Project."

"First of all, they need a more original title. Project X is the name of an 80s movie about astronaut monkeys. (No bullshit, Matthew Broderick was in it.")

"Sex-starved teens have a wild party and wreck the house while their parents are away -- how original!"

"Here's a red flag for you -- Todd Phillips (Old School, The Hangover) is listed as producer but didn't write or direct."

Justice (November 18)

"Why, oh why, do they keep giving Nicholas Cage starring roles?"

"I say the exact same thing about Ashton Kutcher, Katherine Heigl, and Anna Faris. But seriously, this could be good. (Director) Roger Donaldson (No Way Out, Thirteen Days, The Bank Job ) knows his way around a thriller."

"Seems very predictable. Did anyone NOT think the favor the vigilante guy was gonna ask for was for Cage to kill someone?"

A Thousand Words (Coming soon)

"Broad, high-concept comedies like this are Hollywood gold. Wish I'd thought of that premise."

"High-concept... or gimmicky? It worked for Liar, Liar, not so much for Yes Man. It's all in the execution."

"I agree it's a great premise but judging from that trailer, they're not doing enough with it. I was expecting to laugh out loud while watching that preview and it just didn't happen."

"This movie would probably work better with a stronger supporting cast. Someone like Chris Tucker as the best friend and Halle Berry instead of Kerry Washington as the girlfriend."

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November 10, 2011

Who Slept With Who On Gilligan's Island?

Over the course of human history, there have been many questions that have plagued mankind... What's the meaning of life?... Are we alone in the universe?... How could teenage girls possibly think Robert Pattinson is good looking?... And do we really need TWO Snow White movies?

But none of these questions compares to the one eternal mystery that every man, woman and child inevitably comes to ponder...

"Who had sex with who on Gilligan's Island?"

After considerable research in which I examined the series, the subtext of the individual episodes, and the psychology of the characters, I was finally able to definitively deduce who each of the castaways slept with during their many years on that damn island.

When you examine the Seven Deadly Sins of Gilligan's Island, you'll see that Ginger represents lust. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that it's Ginger who is at the epicenter of all sexual activity among the castaways. So first off, Ginger did the Professor. You figure, the Professor is very studious, right?... He’s only interested in his experiments and he doesn’t pay Ginger any attention. That turns her on. (You know how chicks are always attracted to guys that ignore them.)

After that, Ginger did it with Mr. Howell. Why?.. One word, money. He probably promised to buy her a house, or jewelry or a movie studio or something after they got rescued. You see, people think that Ginger was this big famous movie star that was probably super-wealthy in her own right. The truth is Ginger was a "B"-movie actress who starred in a lot of low-budget films. Check this list of movies she mentions having starred in prior to being marooned on the island -- The Hula Girl and the Fullback, Mohawk Over the Moon, Belly Dancers of Bali-Bali, and Rain Dancers of Rango-Rango.

See what I mean? We're not exactly talking Schindler's List here, are we?

If Ginger Grant were an actress today, she'd be a lot closer to Carmen Electra than Meryl Streep. So you figure, when it came to her Hollywood career, Ginger was looking to get TO the top, by letting Mr. Howell get ON top... of her.

Okay next, Mary Ann had sex with Ginger. How do I figure?... You have to study the backstory of the characters. Mary Ann is a sweet, innocent, naïve little farmgirl from the midwest --probably still a virgin. Meanwhile, Ginger is this big Hollywood celebrity. You know, with that whole sixties, swinging lifestyle -- free love and what not. She was probably into all kinds of kinky stuff.

So one night, Ginger and Mary Ann go for a moonlight swim in the lagoon... Skinnydipping...They get back to their hut; they have a little champagne... (In case you're wondering where they got the champagne, Mr. Howell opened a case to celebrate after they escaped from the headhunters the day before.) So anyway, they’re in their hut, toweling each other off, sipping champagne... one thing leads to another... Next thing you know it turns into a late night 1990s Cinemax movie starring Shannon Tweed.

Alright, later on -- not right away, but later -- after a couple of years on the island, Mary Ann and Gilligan hooked up. And that made Ginger jealous, so she seduced Gilligan and they had sex. Now I know what you’re saying -- "Ginger was just a huge freakin’ slut!"... You are correct.

That leaves the Skipper. So who was banging him?... Nobody. Maybe Ginger threw him a bone one day and made out with him, or let him feel her up or something, but that's it. No pity sex or coitus of any kind.

And finally, who was doing Mrs. Howell?... No one. Think about it. If you were on a deserted island and needed sexual gratification -- Mrs. Howell, or a hallowed out coconut?...

Nuff said.

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November 3, 2011

The 20 Most Must-See Movies of the 90s: Part 3

The countdown continues with numbers 10 through 6 Also, be sure to check out The 20 Most Must-See Movies of the 90s, Part 1 and Part 2

10. The Silence of the Lambs

Directed by Jonathan Demme
Written by Thomas Harris, Ted Tally (Based on the novel by Thomas Harris)
Starring: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glen

A more chilling film, you will not find. A sexually ambiguous serial killer named Buffalo Bob lives in a dank, isolated backwoods home, keeps his female victims in a dungeon, fattens them up, and then skins them so he can wear their flesh as a woman suit... Oh, and this guy's not even the main villain! It's actually Dr. Hannibal Lechter, a brilliant but insane psychiatrist who, when he isn’t murdering and eating the livers of his colleagues, enjoys playing head games with his fellow asylum inmates and coercing them into suicide. Thrust into all of this is Jodie Foster as rookie FBI agent Clarice Starling, working against the clock to track down Buffalo Bob and his latest victim, the daughter of a US Senator, before it’s too late.

Foster and Hopkins give riveting performances as Clarice has to let Lechter inside her head in exchange for his assistance in finding the killer. Taught with suspense and utterly creepy, this film paved the way for a slew of similar psychological thrillers including Final Analysis, Seven, The Bone Collector, Kiss the Girls, and Taking Lives.

Killer Sequence: Lechter breaks Clarice down and forces her to recall haunting childhood memories of what happened on her uncle’s farm.

9. The Rock
Directed by Michael Bay
Written by David Weisberg and Douglas Cook & Mark Rosner
Starring Nicholas Cage, Sean Connery, Ed Harris

Despite two unlikely heroes -- quirky Nicholas Cage and a pushing seventy Sean Connery -- this picture serves as the measuring stick for 1990s action movies. Screenwriters Weisberg, Cook and Rosner flipped the tables by having the two protagonists break in to Alcatraz prison to stop a rogue general (Ed Harris) from wiping out San Francisco with a stolen cache of chemical weapons. Since this film’s release, Hollywood has sought to duplicate director Michael Bay’s heart racing “can-you-top-this” action sequences, but the two films that come closest may very well be Bay's own Armageddon and his latest effort, Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

Killer Sequence: General Hummel makes his demands, and sets off nearly two solid hours of edge of your seat action and suspense.

8. American History X
Directed by Tony Kaye
Written by David McKenna
Starring Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, Avery Brooks

Ed Norton, who holds the edge over Johnny Depp as the best young actor to emerge during the 1990s, gives a commanding performance as Derek, an intelligent, but disillusioned Venice, California youth who rises to a prominent position in a neo-Nazi skinhead organization. After serving time in prison, Derek reforms, but upon his release finds that his younger brother is making the same mistakes he did. The film shifts back and forth in time, showing us how Derek was initially drawn into the group, his rise to power, and his eventual rehabilitation and release from prison. The film offers a frighteningly authentic depiction of exactly how hate groups recruit and convert their members and infuse them with their doctrines of prejudice and intolerance.

Killer Sequence: A flashback where Derek murders a black car thief, and a family
confrontation where he fully reveals his philosophies of white supremacy to his mother and her Jewish boyfriend are both powerfully disturbing.

Warning: Explicit Language

7. The Shawshank Redemption
Directed by Tim Robbins
Written by Stephen King, Frank Darabont (Based on the short story Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King)
Starring: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman

This tremendously moving film, based on one of Stephen King’s lesser known short stories, stars Tim Robbins as Andy Dufresne, justafiably imprisoned for the murder of his adulterous wife, and traces his experiences through the 30 years he spends in a New England prison. Fine supporting performances by Bob Gunton as the prison warden and the always reliable Morgan Freeman as Andy’s best friend Red, help make this film an engrossing testament to the indominitability of the human spirit. Had it not been released the same year as Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction, this film would have walked away with Best Picture and Best Director Oscars.

Killer Sequence: Andy fulfills the film's credo, "Get busy living, or get busy dying", by carrying out a long-planned, daring and ingenius escape.

6. There’s Something About Mary
Directed by Bobby and Peter Farrelly
Written by Ed Decter and John J. Strauss & Bobby and Peter Farrelly
Starring: Ben Stiller, Cameron Diaz, Matt Dillon

The Farrelly Brothers had given us a couple of films that featured good old fashioned, gross-out humor (Dumb and Dumber and the underrated Kingpin) but they scored a box office smash with TSAM, which sprinkled in healthy doses of sentimental romance and hilarious slapstick alongside its’ over-the-top bathroom humor.

Stiller plays straight man through most of the film (whether it’s to Mary’s mentally challenged brother, Warren; Dillon’s sleazy private dick; a homicidal hitchhiker; or Puffy, the border terrier on speed) as he seeks to track down his one and only true love from high school.

Though some found it's scatalogical humor a bit much, TSAM features BIG laughs from start to finish and the film's success kicked off a trend among contemporary American comedies to see how far they could push the raunchiness envelope (see American Pie, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Superbad, Borat, etc.)

Killer Sequence: The “hair gel” scene gave the 90s the same thing the diner scene from When Harry Met Sally gave the 80s -- the single funniest screen moment of the decade.

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