Thursday, May 26, 2011

Check it out! First ever [f.g.i.] Fan Art

I absolutely love it! Thank you so much to my biggest fan, you know who you are! I want to hire someone to make this outfit for me - goddamn, I look so baddass!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Looking Ahead/15 Questions Meme

Hey everyone! I know it's been a while since I've been on here. I've found myself a bit busy with other ventures, not to mention that lately I've been having a serious case of writer's block *DUN-DUN-DUNNNNN*

Anyway, Stevee over @ Cinematic Paradox is participating in a new meme/blogathon called "15 Questions" (courtesy of Anna @ Defiant Success). Since I seem to have trouble mustering up the energy to do a standard review or write-up, I've decided to take the easy way out and just answer some questions. Before I do, here's a list of movies I'm planning on writing about once I get back to writing about movies:

Black Death
Pan's Labyrinth
Diary Of The Dead
Never Let Me Go
I Saw The Devil

...And now, for Anna's 15 Questions!

1. Movie you love with a passion:

2. Movie you vow never to watch:

3. Movie that literally left you speechless:

4. Movie you always recommend:

5. Actor/actress you always watch, no matter how crappy the movie:

6. Actor/actress you don't get the appeal for:

7. Actor/actress, living or dead, you'd love to meet:

8. Sexiest actor/actress you've seen:

9. Your dream cast:

10. Your favorite actor/actress pairing:

11. Your favorite movie setting:

12. Favorite decade for movies:

13. Chick flick or action movie:

14. Hero, villian, or anti-hero:

15. Black & white or color:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

[f.g.i] Presents: 5 Things I Will Never Do (Thanks To The Movies)

...Get on a public bus in Los Angeles
The movie that did it: "Speed"
What? You think I'm crazy? The Los Angeles that you see in movies isn't too far off from the truth, you know. I recently took a trip to L.A. and let me tell you, it's not that pretty - and the people can be scary as hell.

...Take a roadtrip through New Mexico
The movie that did it: "The Hills Have Eyes"
There's no doubt that roadtrips can be a fun experience. A couple years ago, I took a trip up the California coast and it was one of the best vacations ever. But travelling through the eerie deserts of New Mexico is not on my bucket list. "The Hills Have Eyes" convinced me that the safest bet is to fly over the damn thing. This movie really disturbed me, and I have images of those nasty bastards burned in my brain.

...Throw food out of the window while driving
The movie that did it: "Anchorman"
It's one of the funniest scenes in the movie, when Burgundy throws his half-eaten burrito out of his window and hits motorcycle enthusiast Jack Black in the face. I would never think of doing it, unless I saw that there was nobody around. But Black's reaction was enough to convince me that road rage is a real thing, and unless I want something precious of mine kicked over the side of the Coronado bridge, I should probably have some sort of trash bag in the car.

...Give up in a fight
The movie that did it: "True Romance"
You want to talk about girl power? Screw the Spice Girls, watch the fight between Alabama and Virgil in "True Romance." I really thought this chick was done for - how much can a woman take, right? Well, Patricia Arquette proved to me that staying strong and using your surroundings could work to your advantage. Wine bottle opener? Check. Shower gel? Check? Hairspray and lighter? Check. Toilet cover? You bet your sweet ass.

...Trust the government
The movie that did it: "Collapse"
I try not to think about the practices and policies of our government. I'm a sort of conpiracy-theory enthusiast, and I think politicians are full of crap. The 2009 documentary "Collapse" pretty much convinced me that my lack of faith has some ample ground to stand on.

Monday, May 16, 2011

"Bridesmaids" hits it out of the park, best comedy I've seen in recent years: A

Contrary to popular opinion, "Bridesmaids" is not The-Hangover-for-chicks. It's not Old-School-for-chicks, and it's not Wedding-Crashers-for-chicks. In actuality, Paul Feig's "Bridesmaids" is not a 'for-chicks' movie at all. It's been a long while since I've seen a comedy with balls of steel and a heart of gold. I think the last one I can easily recall is "There's Something About Mary." With comedy, it's diffcult to mix dick jokes and irreverent references to wolfpacks with a touching story and a life lesson to be learned without coming off as pretentious (e.g. Sandler's "Click"). "Bridesmaids" pulls of this near-impossible hybrid with flying colors, thanks to the comedic genius of Kristen Wiig and an equally hilarious supporting cast.

Annie's (Kristen Wiig) life is falling apart - her cake shop has gone out of business, she drives a crappy car, her roommates want her out of the apartment, her f*ck buddy Ted (Jon Hamm) is a complete douchebag who treats her like dirt, and her job as a salesperson at a jewelery store is in serious jeopardy. Meanwhile, her childhood friend, Lillian (Maya Rudolph) is engaged and on the way to living a fairy tale life. When Lillian asks Annie to be her maid of honor, Annie faces the challenge of taking on more responsibility than she's used to. Not only does Annie have to come up with ideas for the bachelorette party and the wedding shower, but she also has to deal with Lillian's quirky ensemble of bridesmaids: the rich and prissy Helen (Rose Byrne), desperate housewife Rita ("Reno 9111" actress Wendi McLendon-Covey), the immature and Disney-obssessed Becca (Ellie Kemper), and the stout sister-of-the-groom Megan (Melissa McCarthy). Together, the group endures Annie's awful plans - such as hitting up a ghetto Brazilian restaurant prior to a dress fitting. Annie's biggest challenge is to maintain her best friend status with Lillian, as the snobby Helen attempts to outshine Annie in almost every way imaginable. There's a particularly hilarious scene in which Annie and Helen compete in a best-congratulations-speech at the engagement party. Like a classic Kristen Wiig SNL skit, the joke goes on for too long - until it just becomes wickedly funny all over again.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of the wedding, Annie meets state patrol officer Nathan Rhodes (played by "The IT Crowd" actor Chris O'Dowd) as she gets pulled over for her broken taillights. When officer Rhodes learns that Annie was in fact the owner of Cake Baby, he lets her off the hook. There's strong chemistry between Annie and Rhodes, and their whole side-story gives the movie a sweeter tone that manages to remain humorous. In particular, Chris O'Dowd is the perfect match for Kristen Wiig - in a comedic sense. His Irish-laden awkwardness goes perfectly with Wiig's offbeat behavior, and as an on-screen couple, Annie and Nathan are perhaps one of the sweetest I've seen.

"Cha-ching, boo boo!"

Kristen Wiig is definitely the stand-out performer in the movie. I've been a fan of hers ever since I saw her Judy Grimes skit on SNL. I don't know what she smokes, but Kristen Wiig is unbelievably funny. Did anyone else see "Macgruber?" Oh my god, she killed me! And she was actually pretty funny in "Paul" too. It seems so rare these days for a funny woman to headline a comedy film - I think the last one I can remember is "Baby Mama," which I enjoyed thanks to Amy Poehler (not-so-much-thanks to Tina Fey). I know that Wiig has been around for a long time, but I really hope that she'll be getting more lead roles.

On a smaller note, I know that many people will be talking about Melissa McCarthy after seeing this movie. Her character, Megan, reminded me of Allen (Zach Galifianakis) in "The Hangover." She was unnecesarily aggressive, both physically and sexually, and I don't know how McCarthy managed to get through some of her outlandish lines with such a straight face. She'll probably land more roles, as did Galifianakis, but hopefully her brand of humor won't burn out as quickly.

I was afraid that "Bridesmaids" was going to be another case of all-the-funny-stuff-was-in-the-trailer (*ahem* "Your Highness," I'm referring to your lame ass). But instead, "Bridesmaids" was an unexpectedly hilarious lesson in getting your life back together. I laughed all the way through, and I even got a bit misty-eyed during some scenes, too. When you watch movies like "The Hangover" and "Old School," you're expecting to laugh your ass off, which they succeed in doing, making them memorable comedies. But "Bridesmaids" goes beyond the standard comedy, and delivers a sweet message that will engage your emotions - without letting you forget how f*cking funny the movie is. It's a heavenly combination that few comedies ever get completely right.

P.S. - I can't wait to see the gag reel on the dvd when it hits!!!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Vault: "The Way Of The Gun"

This movie came highly recommended to me - and I can't believe I had never heard of it! I mean, come on - it's called "The Way Of The Gun" - the title alone was enough to peak my interest! And so,thanks to the power of Netflix, I got around to watching it for the first time this past weekend.

The story focuses on two low-life criminals. For the sake of anonymity, the men go by Parker (Ryan Phillippe) and Longbaugh (Benicio Del Toro). Eeking their way through life, Parker and Longbaugh plot and scheme to make money. They wind up at a sperm donation center, where they overhear the doctor on the phone discussing a woman who is being paid $1 million to be a surrogate mother. Without saying a word, Parker and Longbaugh look at each in a sort of acknowledgment of their next move: find this woman, kidnap her, and hold her for ransom.

The surrogate mother is Robin (Juliette Lewis), who has been hired by a wealthy man named Hale Chidduck (Scott Wilson), who is obviously too old to impreganate his much-younger wife, Francesca. Parker and Longbaugh learn that Robin's doctor is named Allen Painter (Dylan Kussman) - so the plan is to snatch Robin as she's leaving the doctor's office. However, things prove difficult when Robin's bodyguards are around. Jeffers (Taye Diggs) and Obecks (Nicky Katt) are held at gunpoint in the lobby as Parker and Longbaugh make their move. The two men are met with a handful of Chidduck's bodyguards outside of the building, and as the entryway doors close behind them, we hear a loud burst of gunshots and screams. Jeffers tells Robin to take the elevator to the upper floors to get out of harm's way, but Robin instead waddles her way to the entryway. Parker and Longbaugh are the only ones left standing, and with Robin willingly leaving the safety of her bodyguards, they have their prize. Jeffers and Obecks follow them in their car in a very tense chase scene that only ends with Parker, Longbaugh, and Robin narrowly escaping.

The story gets even more complicated at this point. Back at the Chidduck residence, we learn that Mr. Chidduck borrowed the $1 million from his "employers" without them knowing it. He reveals this information to Dr. Allen Painter, who is actually Mr. Chidduck's son. It is also revealed that Jeffers is having an affair with Francesca - as she's on the couch eating a shrimp cocktail (just like a rich bitch would), Jeffers approaches her and they share a provocative kiss. At this point in the film, we are also introduced to Joe Sarno (played brilliantly by James Caan), the "bagman" who works on behalf of Mr. Chidduck. Joe gets on the phone with Parker to work out the details of the drop: $15 million, brought by Dr. Painter, to the Nacio Madre Motel in Mexico. But things don't go as planned, as Robin holes up in the hotel room with a shotgun and calls the police. Soon, the entire motel parking lot turns into a good old fashioned shootout. Jeffers and Obecks arrive, along with Joe Sarno's fellow bagman buddy Abner, and two Mexican police officers. The point is, Parker and Longbaugh escape - again! - with Robin in tow.

Now, the last 45 minutes of the movie is what really makes it memorable. Basically, Joe Sarno gets a group of 8 to 10 of his senior bagman friends to hunt down Parker and Longbaugh. They're hiding out in a Mexican whorehouse, along with Dr. Painter, who they brought along to perform the delivery. Due to the intense action she's endured, Robin is unable to give birth the old fashioned way, so Dr. Painter is forced give her a friggin' C-section! There's a group of trained hitmen outside with loads and loads of bullets, and Jeffers is en route to finish off Parker and Longbaugh. It's one of the best "last stands" I've ever seen! It seems like it goes on forever, and I was just on the edge of my seat the entire time! I don't want to give away the ending, in case anyone reading this hasn't watched it, but beneath the shootouts and the blood and the bags of money, is a really poignant lesson about the value of family. In addition, the relationship between Parker and Longbaugh is amusing in that up until the whorehouse, they never talk to each other. I wasn't surprised when I found out that writer/director Christopher McQuarrie was also the genius behind "The Usual Suspects." It's no wonder why "The Way Of The Gun" was so enjoyable and thought-provoking.

Monday, May 9, 2011

"Thor" is an underwhelming kick-off for the summer season: C+

So, the summer season officially kicked off this weekend with the release of "Thor." I try to keep an open mind whenever I venture into the theater, especially when it comes to these Marvel-inspired productions. I didn't read too much about the movie, nor did I spend too much time watching the trailers. So hopefully my review will prove to be honest and un-biased. **SPOILERS AHEAD**

The movie opens with astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and her team watching the New Mexico sky in hopes of recording a unique cloud formation. In a hurried storm-chaser-esque bout of excitement, the three of them charge into the formation with their vehicle, only to crash into a shadowy figure of a man. The man is Thor (Chris Hemsworth), whose backstory is immediately cut to after the crash scene. Somewhere far off in the cosmos is a realm called Asgard, a golden city of opulence where super-beings exist. Thor is the son of Odin (Anthony Hopkins), an aging warrior and king of Asgard. On the day of his coronation, Thor prepares himself to be named the next king. Before Odin has a chance to make his son the new king, a group of Frost Giants break into the armory where their magical relic permanently resides. You see, back in the day, Odin conquered the Frost Giants and took with him their relic, which was their greatest source of power. No worries though, because the invading Frost Giants don't make it out of the armory alive.

In a fit of arrogant rage, Thor decides to take a trip to Jotunheim - the cold and desolate planet where the Frost Giants live. With his four best warriors at his side, Thor attempts to wreck havoc on the Frost Giants for interrupting the coronation ceremony. Once the dust settles from the battle, Odin arrives to take Thor and his comapny back to Asgard. Papa is not happy. He criticizes Thor for being a warmongerer, and becomes angry with him for jeopardizing the peace treaty that has been forged between Asgard and Jotunheim. Thor opens his big fat mouth and - basically - calls his dad out for being a pussy. Wrong move, Thor. Odin then strips Thor of his powers and his Hammer, and casts him out of Asgard. The Hammer soon follows, but not before Odin casts a spell upon it to ensure that only someone worthy could ever use its powers.

"Wait, your lips are vegan-safe AND Kosher right?"

So now, we're back to Earth where Jane crashes into Thor in the New Mexico desert. Now a human, Thor must first get used to life on Earth. There are a couple of funny moments, like when Thor smashes his coffee cup onto the diner floor in super-manly approval. Thor is obviously out of place in the small New Mexico town. Thor's Hammer crash lands too, drawing attention from the locals who try to move it from it's resting place - it's a sword-in-the-stone kind of thing. The Hammer also draws the attention of the notorious Marvel organization S.H.I.E.L.D., and they show up to quarantine the Hammer and to steal all of Jane's research. To be quite honest, the appearance of S.H.I.E.L.D. took me out of the movie for a bit. I had a feeling that this was going to happen, especially with Marvel's hostile summer box office takeover. Anyway, Thor has to fight his way through several S.H.I.E.L.D. agents (including Jeremy Renner with his first Hawkeye cameo) to get to his beloved Hammer, which he cannot remove anyway since Odin deemed that only the worthy can wield it.

Wow, I'm going on and on here. I'll try to wrap it up soon.

Back in Asgard, Odin has fallen into a deep sleep. Unable to rule the kingdom of Asgard, Thor's younger brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) appoints himself king. Before Odin falls into his deep sleep, he reveals to Loki that he is not in fact his paternal son. Loki was an abandoned Frost Giant baby back in days of war, and Odin brought him back to Asgard to raise him as his own. In a fit of rage, Loki plots to destroy the entire Frost Giant population. But first, Loki must destroy Thor. He sends his great machine, The Destroyer (original, I know) to Earth in hopes of preventing Thor from ever making his return. Of course, Thor learns the error of his ways and the Hammer comes to his rescue.

Overall, "Thor" was mildly entertaining. All of the scenes in Asgard were pretty cool, with all the bright colors and the gilded costumes. I wish the movie had stayed in Asgard. The scenes with Thor in New Mexico, falling in love with Jane, fighting off S.H.I.E.L.D., and making a total ass of himself distracted me from the cool-factor that this movie really had going for it. Chris Hemsworth was an appropriate choice, and I also enjoyed the inclusions of Idris Elba (Asgardian gatekeeper Heimdall) and Ray Stevenson (Thor's warrior buddy Volstagg). However, I didn't care for the appearance of Jeremy Renner and Rene Russo. Some of the special effects looked a bit cheap, and some of the action scenes were really choppy. As I mentioned before, the scenes that took place in Asgard and Jotunheim were impressive in terms of visuals, and I wish the movie had not focused so much on Thor's experience on Earth. All in all, "Thor" was a decent superhero flick with all the standard superhero elements. It's not original, and it's not mind-blowing - it's decent.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

[f.g.i] Presents: My Top 10 Adventure Movies

ad·ven·ture [ad-ven-cher]  (1) An exciting or unusual experience. (2) A risky undertaking; hazardous action of uncertain outcome. (3) The encountering of risks. (4) Something that is most likely a very, very bad idea.

#10 "Stand By Me"

Gordie, Teddy, Chris, and Vern decide to go on a quest to find the body of a missing boy. I don't know about you, but I don't think I would have had the balls to do this - no way.

#9 "Hook"

In my opinion, this is the best version of the whole Peter Pan story. Dustin Hoffman and Bob Hoskins are hilarious, especially during that pirate baseball game.

#8 "The Neverending Story"

Bookworm Sebastian reads the story of young warrior Atreyu as he tries save the world of Fantasia. I wanted a friggin' Luck Dragon for Christmas thanks to this movie.

#7 "Willow"

I know I already did a feature on this movie, but it's absolutely necessary to include it on this list! You ever wonder what LOTR would be like with real hobbits? Yeah.

#6 "The Dark Crystal"

The world is split into two dominant races - the Skeksis and the Mystics. Jen and Kira are the lone Gelflings who must bring peace to the realm by finding the crystal shard.

#5 "Jurassic Park"

What happens when John Hammond decides to play God and recreate living dinosaurs? Well, all hell breaks loose of course. How long do you think you'd survive on that island?

#4 "The Goonies"

What kid doesn't want to go on an adventure like this? Mikey and the gang go on a mission to find the treasure of One-Eyed Willy, with the sinister Fratellis on their tail.

#3 "The Wizard Of Oz"

Call me childish, but I friggin' love this movie. It's a classic adventure story that still holds up today. You can't deny its epic nature, despite how much you hate the singing.

#2 "LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring"

When I read the first book, I knew that first movie was going be awesome. Nothing even compares to the theater experience I had when I saw this. I want to get my quest on, too.

#1 "Indiana Jones & the Raiders of the Lost Ark"

Duh, winning. Indiana Jones really solidified himself as the ultimate adventurer. The first installment is by far my favorite, and dare I say it - one of the best movies of all time.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Weekend Roundup: The Station Agent, I Love You Phillip Morris, Fast Five

This is a new feature I'm going to try out. Over the weekends, I tend to watch at least 3 movies - some are new theatrical releases, some are old yet undiscovered, and some are fresh Netflix arrivals! I'm going to do my best in writing up mini-reviews for these movies. For most theatrical releases, I'll do an individual article - depending on how deserving the movie was. Without further ado, here's my first Weekend Roundup! Enjoy!

"The Station Agent"
Grade: B+

"The Station Agent" is a wonderfully heart-warming indie film, with real-to-life dialogue and a simple premise. Peter Dinklage has caught my attention thanks to HBO's "Game of Thrones," and I totally respect him as an actor. He has a sort of loveable misanthrope vibe about him, which is both humorous and tragic. The movie ended abruptly, which left me wanting more. Overall, "The Station Agent" was a touching movie that I would recommend to anyone with an appreciation for subtlety.

"I Love You Phillip Morris"
Grade: A-

This is romantic comedy done right. Jim Carrey's performance is both hilarious and heartbreaking, and he proves again that he's more than a melange of funny faces. Ewan MacGregor is so flexible, and each role he takes on has the signature MacGregor charm. "I Love You Phillip Morris" is fueled by a touching yet twisted romance, along with an excellent supporting cast. The movie slows down a bit, but only before surprising you with an unforgettable ending. This movie has the right amount of laughter and tears, and Carrey's preformance is unforgettable.

"Fast Five"
Grade: C-

It's not a huge surprise that the only thing "Fast Five" has going for it is the cars. The movie is full of cheesy moments, stupid quotes ("Mission-infrickin'-sanity!"), and a ridiculous plot. Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, and Dwayne Johnson are unbelievably awful actors - but we all knew that already. The car chases were pretty impressive, but not as exciting as previous scenes in previous installments. Stick around after credits for a "twist" that obviously hints to yet another installment. Really?!
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