VIDEO: MOVIES: REVIEW: Gridlock’d (1997)

Clint: 3/5 stars, 6/10.
Carolyn: 3/5 stars, 7/10.
Native ratings: 3.7/5 stars Netflix, /10 IMDB.

So…. first movie we watch this year opens with a New Year’s Eve countdown… What are the odds of that? Compute them for me, please.

Carolyn’s thoughts:  I thought this was going to be more of a caper, but it turned out to not be as funny as I was hoping.  It was more a commentary about how messed up the system is for drug addicts who want to get help to kick the habit.  It was pretty interesting, and it was lighthearted enough to not bring us down too much.

Clint: I can still see why this has “comedy” listed as one of its IMDB genres, but I should have noticed “Comedy | Crime | Drama” having “drama” right there at the end.  If the only thing between drama and comedy is crime, then it verges on dramedy territory. I hate expecting humor and getting little. But this still had comedic elements all the way through to the end. It was kind of a black comedy. Depressing yet unexpectedly funny at the same time.  I don’t know that I’d recommend it, but it had its interesting moments.

Written & directed by Vondie Curtis-Hall (directed 1 ep of Firefly).

Starring Tupac Shakur as Ezekiel ‘Spoon’ Whitmore. One of the last 2 movies he appeared in.
Tim Roth (Mr. Orange in Reservoir Dogs, The Incredible Hulk (2008), Funny Games, The Cook The Thief His Wife & Her Lover) as Alexander ‘Stretch’ Rawland.
Thandie Newton (2012, Run Fatboy Run, The Chronicles Of Riddick, Interview With The Vampire, Mission Impossible 2, 1 ep of American Dad) as Barbara ‘Cookie’ Cook.
Lucy Liu as Cee-Cee. (Why the hell didn’t I recognize her?)
Charles Fleischer (Roger Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Dick Tracy, Gross Anatomy, 1 ep of Men In Black:TAS, 1 ep of God The Devil And Bob, 1 ep of Weird Science, 1 ep of Lois & Clark) as Mr. Woodson.
Howard Hesseman (Halloween 2 (2009), WKRP In Cincinnati, 7 eps of Soap, 3 eps of That 70’s Show) as Blind Man.
James Pickens Jr. (19 eps of The X-Files, 19 eps of Roseanne, 2 eps of Curb Your Enthusiasm, 2 eps of Six Feet Under) as Supervisor.
Tom Towles (Rob Zombie’s Halloween, Grindhouse, The Devil’s Rejects, Night Of The Living Dead, 1 ep of Firefly, 1 ep of Malcolm In The Middle) as D-Reper’s Henchman.
Tom Wright (The Onion Movie, Live!, 2 eps of 24, 1 ep of Nip/Tuck) as Koolaid.
Richmond Arquette (A Midsummer’s Night Rave, Rob Zombie’s Halloween, Smashed, Scream 3, Fight Club, Se7en, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button) as Resident Doctor.
Vondie Curtis-Hall (Die Hard 2, 1 ep of The Sopranos, and the director of this movie) as D-Reper.


VIDEO: MOVIES: REVIEW: Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010) [Finland]

 A Finnish film subverting the Christmas legend with a twist.  Entertaining, though somewhat slow in parts.  The execution could have been better, but hey, it’s not a blockbuster-funded endeavor. It’s Finland. Still fun to see Santa Claus depicted as an evil demon. The ending was downright funny.

Written & directed by Jalmari Helander.

Starring a bunch of Finnish actors:
Onni Tommila as Pietari Kontio.
Jorma Tommila as Rauno Kontio, his father.
Tommi Korpela as Aimo.
Rauno Juvonen as Piiparinen.
Per Christian Ellefsen as Riley.
Ilmari Järvenpää as Juuso, Pietari’s naughty friend.
Peeter Jakobi as Pietari’s Elf.


VIDEO: MOVIES: REVIEW: The Da Vinci Code 2 – Angels & Demons (2009)

Clint: 3/5 stars, 8/10. (Compared to 3/5, 6/10 for Da Vinci Code.)
Carolyn: 4.4/5 stars, 8.6/10.  (Compared to 5/5 stars for Da Vinci Code.)
Native ratings: 3.7/5 stars Netflix, 6.6/10 IMDB. (Compared to 3.6/5 stars, 6.4/10 for Da Vinci Code.)

Pink Panther minus comedy plus religion.”
National Treasure minus comedy minus patriotism plus religion.”
“24 minus America plus The Vatican.”
Da Vinci Code 1 minus Leonardo Da Vinci plus Illuminati.”

It seems like everyone — Clint, Carolyn, Netflix people, IMDB people — all liked this better than first movie of the trilogy, The Da Vinci Code. Ignore the fact that Carolyn gave this one 4 stars and the last one 5 stars — she, too, agreed this one was better. (It’s hard to rate consistently, people!)

This was done very well… And was interesting. But I am quite turned off by religion, so I wasn’t super-thrilled with the entertainment, despite recognizing its quality. Religious stuff just doesn’t resonate with me.

Still better than the first, though. This one wasn’t a disappointment like the first one.


VIDEO: MOVIES: CARTOONS: REVIEW: Frankenweenie (2012)

Clint: 4.6/5 stars, 8.4/10.
Carolyn: 5/5 stars, 9/10.
Native rating: 4/5 stars Netflix, 7.2/10 IMDB.

All Tim Burton is good (except for his Planet Of The Apes sequel), but some Tim Burton is better than other Tim Burton. For example, Nightmare Before Christmas is better than Corpse Bride.  This one was good, but not his top-notch work. It was good to finally see his 1984 short developed into a full length Frankestein homage feature.

I’m not sure if I’ve seen 1080p black-and-white stop-motion-animation before, it was certainly an interesting look, though I will always prefer the world of color to the world of black-and-white. It did help make the Frankenstein homage more accurate.

Carolyn: Yeah, I thought it would have been better in color, but I guess the black and white was a throwback to black and white horror movies…  I thought this was better than Corpse Bride, but not as good as Nightmare Before Christmas.  I was sad they didn’t find a way to save Mr. Whiskers.  Poor Mr. Whiskers.




VIDEO: MOVIES: REVIEW: Bad Teacher (2011)

Clint: 3.4/5 stars, 7.2/10.
Carolyn: 3/5 stars, 7/10.
Native rating: 3.3/5 stars Netflix, 5.7/10 IMDB.

Basically, what if Cameron Diaz was an awful, awful person… And a school teacher. This is basically Bad Santa meets Lower Learning. If you’ve seen those 2 movies: Combine them in your head, and it’s this movie.

This is a dark comedy, and, like with Lower Learning, it’s involvement of children being exploited has the typical effect: Bring children into the equation, and everyone goes all cray-cray. Suddenly things that are funny–aren’t… Because? Because children! So the IMDB rating is artificially deflated in my book.

And oh: Lucy Punch with red hair is way way way fucking hotter than Lucy Punch has ever been (not that she isn’t hot mind you), and she should keep her hair red like that. I prefer blondes and I don’t like her as much as a blonde or as much as Cameraon Diaz in the movie. Plus she has more boobs. Which is actually a relavant plot point of the movie.

Also, so nice to see Phyllis from The Office in a movie… Playing someone with a different personality. Did you know she was a pro cheerleader back in the day?

Jason Segel and even Justin Timberlake provide more familiar faces.

Jason Segel and even Justin Timberlake provide more familiar faces.


VIDEO: MOVIES: REVIEW: A Fantastic Fear Of Everything (2012)

Clint: 4.4/5 stars, 8.4/10.
Carolyn: 5/5 stars, 9/10.
Native rating: 5.3/10 (not available on Netflix).

This movie would be a psychological thriller/horror, if it wasn’t for the fact that they deliberately make it out to be a comedy.

A paranoid writer starts to slip down a slope towards insanity.  But this paranoid writer is Simon Pegg. In fact, Simon Pegg probably accounts for 90% of all screentime in the movie.

A lot of people didn’t like this, and we were almost dissuaded from watching it. Almost. The 5.3 IMDB rating is pretty indicitive of that — But then it turned out to be pretty funny. It just turns out that watching Simon Pegg freak the FUCK out is not everyone’s cup of tea.

If you watched the Spaced (UK) sitcom series [which we own an autographed copy of], you are probably a big enough Simon Pegg fan to watch this. But be warned: No Nick Frost.


VIDEO: MOVIES: REVIEW: Leon: The Professional (1994)

Clint: 3.6/5 stars.
Carolyn: 4/5 stars.
8/10 from both of us.
Native rating: 4.2/5 stars, 8.6/10.

I’d heard “The Professional” recommended so many times. After all, it’s the 31st highest-rated movie in IMDB. Natalie Portman’s 2nd movie, and she’s only about 12 or 13 years old. Starring Jean Reno, who we really only have seen as Ponton in the Pink Panther remake movies, but who is quite good. And Gary Oldman.

I’m not a big fan of the crime genre, but the actors in this were good. The story was kind of generic, but the characters were not. The sexual tension between Natalie Portman and Jean Reno was so completely awkward and cringe-inducing and unique.

The over-the-top mega-acting of Gary Oldman was pretty intense, and at times hilariously cheesy. Yet the movie itself doesn’t come off as cheesy at all. The ending could be better — it felt slightly cliched to me (but I’m a cynic) — but all in all this movie held my interest more than I expected.