Apr 1 2014

Quotable: Denny Burk on Noah

“As far as midrash is concerned, Noah is the midrashiest midrash that ever was midrashed.”

–Denny Burk from his review of Russell Crowe’s Noah, via Challies.com

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Apr 16 2012

Review: Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves


You know how you have fond memories of a TV show or movie from when you were young, and when you finally get to see it again as an adult (or in this case, older adult), it isn’t quite how you remembered it? Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s amazing, but some other times, well, not that good. Or awful.

One of the first non-animated movies we got for the girls when they were little was The Goonies; Heather and I both loved that movie. When we sat down to watch it, it was every bit as awesome as we remember (well, maybe not every bit–back then I still held out hope of finding underground passages, booby traps, waterslides, and hidden pirate ships). But there was something neither of us remembered: profanity–and a whole $@#&! lot of it.

Some other memories haven’t fared so well, either. A couple years ago I found Bravestarr on Hulu. If you haven’t seen it, it was a cartoon that was basically a sci-fi western. It was awesome when I was 14. When I watched it recently, the animation and draftsmanship were still amazing, but what else would you expect from Filmation? Everything else, though, was absolutely awful. For so long Heather wanted Greatest American Hero on DVD. We never got it for her, getting her Dukes of Hazzard and MacGyver instead, but she finally found GAH on Netflix. She didn’t even make it through the first episode.

Glory Days

Back on topic. The year was 1991. I was in summer classes at CMSU (now UCM), taking Dr. Sample’s Drawing II (three hours a day, three days a week) and Dr. Leuhrman’s Watercolor I (four hours a day, five days a week). I absolutely loved my watercolor class. It was one of the few classes where I actually tried hard to learn, tried to please my instructor, and begged for honest critiques (unlike pretty much every other art class). I only remember a few people from class: Dr. Leuhrman, the instructor, who always wore whites and pastels, and never got a drop of paint on him; some big guy, whose name I can’t remember, but who had a giant mane of jet black hair, a jawline beard, and was one of the few people in art school that made me insanely jealous of his ability; a girl named Ashley; and a cheery young woman named Elsa, whom I would later name my firstborn after. The big hits that summer were Wind of Change by the Scorpions, and Bryan Adams’s Everything I Do, from the summer blockbuster Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

I think it was Wilxn , or maybe Wayne, who was with me when I saw the trailer for RHPOT (at the AMC theater inside Bannister Mall…remember Bannister Mall? Back before it went all skeevy and they tore it down?). Wilxn and I went to see it in the theater that summer. It was amazing. I think that was the day we went to the Swap Shop, saw two movies (the other one, I believe, was Mel Gibson’s Hamlet), and probably went just looking around for stuff. We got home late (when didn’t we?), and that was when we realized it really was possible to do too much stuff in one day.

Back to the movie–easily my favorite movie of the whole summer.

Back to the Present

Later I saw it a couple of times on VHS. I know I saw it once with Noodles, whose favorite line was at almost the end of the movie: “Reckanize this?”

A couple weeks ago I picked up a copy of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves on DVD. I have had Michael Kamen’s amazing soundtrack for years, but I hadn’t seen the movie in at least 17 years. Last night while I was working on a case for my new Bible I popped the movie in.

It was terrible.

The movie is so hammy, so goofy, and what I believe to be unintentionally campy it’s hard to believe I enjoyed it as a serious adventure flick. I’m not going to say anything about the movie’s most frequent complaint–Kevin Costner’s accent–because it didn’t bother me then and it didn’t bother me now.

Alan Rickman, who is awesome, chews scenery with the power of a thousand suns. His inflections in so many scenes are so funny, it almost seems like Kevin Reynolds (the director) told him, ‘Hey Alan, can you play the Sheriff of Nottingham kind of like Peter Ustinov played Prince John in Disney’s Robin Hood? That’d be great.’ Rickman’s Sheriff doesn’t just say ‘spoon,’ he says ‘speeooon!’

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, whom I remember being very pretty, um, I did not now think was very pretty (of course, all women are less pretty after being married to Heather).

Morgan Freeman was awesome as Azeem. One of my favorite parts of the movie, both as a young buck and now, was the part where Mortiana the witch busts in and and tries to impale Robin, and then Azeem busts in and throws that gigantic scimitar across the entire screen. I remember it caught Wilxn and me so off-guard I think we literally yelled in the theater. I guess we’re the kind of guys that Shakespeare had to make comedy relief for, for fear we’d jump up and stab an actor. Whatever. Lincoln would back me up on this.

Everyone else was fine, whatever. The movie’s real weakness is the goofy script and hammy directing.

Best part of the entire movie, then and now: the late Michael Kamen’s amazing score (he also did the incredible score for Hudson Hawk). For those of you who don’t think you could pick out anything from the soundtrack aside from Bryan Adams’s Everything I Do, I guarantee you have heard it, usually when you hear  that amazing fanfare accompanying the Magic Kingdom logo at the beginnings of a number of Disney movies.

The DVD Itself

The RHPOT DVD itself, well, is amazingly bad. You actually have to flip the disc over in the middle of the movie. This isn’t like Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, where the movie is so amazingly long that it literally won’t fit on a single disc, but the producers of the DVD realized this and made an elegant transition for you to get some more popcorn, go to the bathroom, come back and pop in the second disc. With Robin Hood, the disc-flip happens mid-scene.

For those of you out there who want to get into DVD production but you think your low IQ or lack of skill might keep you from realizing your dream, there is hope.

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Feb 23 2012

Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D

So I was doing some research for another post and I stumbled across this:












You can read about it here.

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Aug 12 2010

Review: The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus

It was Heath Ledger’s last film (he died during filming), and it was directed by Terry Gilliam (Monty Python’s Flying Circus, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, The Brothers Grimm). It also stars Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Colin Farrell and Christopher Plummer.

I realized going in that Terry Gilliam films are guaranteed to be weird, that the storytelling is kind of a crapshoot, and that my favorite, Munchausen, is probably low-proof Gilliam. Still, the movie was so many kinds of weird, and most of it for no real reason other than the sake of being weird. The plot was hard to follow, and it was hard to figure out who the movie was about. So much of the weirdness detracted rather than enhanced the plot.

I really wanted to like Imaginarium. The overall visual look of the film is beautiful. Besides singing sad songs like Cookie Monster wearing a blood-stained shirt stained with whiskey, Tom Waits was born to play the Devil (complete with Waits’s trademark bowler hat). The funniest moment was probably when Verne Troyer (Mini-Me) was describing midgets.

Unfortunately you find out virtually nothing about the characters, and you don’t care about them. You don’t really want to root for anyone, don’t want to see any of the characters really succeed.

It just isn’t good storytelling. Also, if you’re already sick of CGI overuse, you’re in for a bad time.

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Jul 29 2010

So I Watched a Boring Movie

Before my wife met me she had gone on a date with some dude, no doubt neither as smart or handsome as me, and they went to see Mike Myers’s So I Married an Axe Murderer. She said it was so boring that she fell asleep.

Years later when I started my current job, Jimmy talked incessantly about how hilarious this movie was. I never could find it to rent it, and was so close to buying it a couple of times. Anyway, now that we have Netflix, we watched it. More accurately, we watched the first 20 minutes and then decided to watch something else.

Now I can see why Heather fell asleep the first time she saw it.

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Mar 26 2010

Review: Ladyhawke

Heather and I both remember loving this movie, and we rented so we could watch it with the girls.

It was not the best around. The movie was directed by Richard Donner (Superman, The Goonies), so I was expecting better. Matthew Broderick is the only great part about the movie: he is totally natural and believable as a medieval smart-aleck. Michelle Pfeiffer is fine. However, the Rutger Hauer puppet is rather wooden and unconvincing as a real person. Wait, that actually was Rutger Hauer.

The swords, fighting, and special effects are all kind of lame; not the worst ever, but certainly not great.

But the one thing that absolutely ruined the movie was the soundtrack: while some parts of it were orchestral, all of the action sequences and the main title were done by Alan Parsons. His cheezy 80’s synthesizer bits 1) totally date the movie, 2) are incongruous with the tone of the movie, and 3) completely un-immerse you from the movie.

Overall, worth watching again, but I’m glad I didn’t buy it.

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Mar 17 2010

Review: Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (movie)

I saw this movie before I had read the book. In fact, I had barely even heard of the book. So I had no expectations going into it, either good or bad.

It wasn’t very good. The very first conversation in the movie already seems out of place–stating a situation that already seems to defy any explanation. The rest of the movie isn’t much better. The plot is pretty lame, and the surprise villain couldn’t have been more obvious if he had one of those Snidely Whiplash mustaches. The plot seems kind of cheezy.

None of the characters are interesting or likable, and I actually kind of disliked Percy. Also, none of the obstacles he faced were really that challenging for him; everything, including facing a Gorgon, is just mildly inconvenient.


Since then I have read the book (I’m actually on the third of the five books). The book, unlike the movie,  is well-written and interesting; I was hooked by the fourth page. Having read the book, you realize that the movie is not just ‘not very good,’ but actively terrible, and a really crummy interpretation of the book. For the sake of comparison, imagine if they had made a movie of The Hobbit that left out Smaug. And Gollum. And Gandalf. And the plot wasn’t about the dwarves going to reclaim their treasure. And Bilbo was already a seasoned fighter. The movie is that untrue to the book.

It’s a real shame, too. The book is tailor-made for a brilliant film franchise, but they would really have to reboot it already.

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Mar 16 2010

Review: Alice in Wonderland (movie)

The new Alice in Wonderland movie is not terrible, but it is not that great either. The basic premise is that 13 years after her original adventures, as recorded by Lewis Carroll, Alice falls down a rabbit hole and returns to Wonderland, finding it a much darker place, and must fight to save it from the clutches of the Red Queen. Somehow this became a boring movie.

All of the characters except one are rather flat and uninteresting, and you don’t care about any of them. The sole exception is Helena Bonham Carter’s Red Queen, who is the only character that seems to have any depth and is interesting to watch.

Overall, the movie is just more Tim Burton (everything kind of goofy-creepy and corpsey) and more Danny Elfman (oopa-OOPA-oopa-OOPA).

And yes, in case you heard, there is a pretty dumb breakdancing scene at the end.

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Feb 2 2010

Review: Did You Hear About the Morgans?

Unfortunately, yes.

Heather and I went out on a date Saturday afternoon and saw the aforementioned romcom.

It was not that great.

The premise is that native New Yorkers Paul and Meryl Morgan (Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker) are a couple that have been separated for three months. Paul is trying to make up for the act of infidelity that caused the separation. After they finally go to dinner together, they witness a murder and have to be put into the witness protection program, and are sent to live with Clay and Emma Wheeler (Sam Elliott and Mary Steenburgen) in the tiny town of Ray, Wyoming. Hilarity does not ensue, spoilers follow.

The movie doesn’t stink, but it doesn’t rock, either. It’s just kind of boring, really. Sarah Jessica Parker and Hugh Grant don’t seem to have much chemistry together. The distance between them seems to put a distance between them and the audience, and it’s hard to connect with either character. She is unforgiving, and he spends about the first third of the movie groveling. The only healthy marriage you see in the movie is Clay and Emma. Side note, Mary Steenburgen is 57 and seems to have aged very gracefully. And no, I do not still have a crush on her from Back to the Future III.

The only common theme I could find among the couple was that the men in the three male/female relationships you saw in the movie all showed their devotion to their partners by groveling, buying them things, and being obedient, and you didn’t see any kind of reciprocity from the women. On that note, Paul spends three months trying to get forgiveness for his unfaithfulness, while Meryl is upset that Paul doesn’t immediately forgive her the same day she reveals her own infidelity.

My advice: skip it, and don’t wait for it to hit DVD.

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Aug 8 2009

Tennis, anyone?

When my wife and I were dating, she was still playing tennis. She said she had an 85 mile-an hour-backhand. I don’t know jack about sports, so I just filed the factoid away. Anyway, we were out on the court, and I was throwing tennis balls across the fence so she could hit them.

You ever watch America’s Funniest Home Videos? You know what kind of clip includes a ding! sound?

I threw a ball, and Heather backhanded it my direction. I would have stepped aside, but it was too fast. Ding!

I dropped to the court, writhing in pain. It was ten minutes before I could get off the court. 

Heather laughed so hard she almost collapsed.

And it was still better than G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

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