Friday, October 28, 2011

Tower Heist, A Rambling Review

Once again came through with tickets, this time they were to see Tower Heist.

I have to admit this review would be a lot easier if I hated this movie. It is always easier to write the movie review for a movie that nobody should see then it is for a movie that rocks. The biggest issue is not giving people too much info or over hyping it. Having said that, I was excited from the moment I saw the commercial for this movie, the industry folks like to call them trailers (but I write this for the non-industry types, sorry Ben Stiller). When I am excited about a movie it falls into 2 categories: I hope this movie is as good as it looks or this movie looks stupidly funny and I hope it is. This movie, with it's overabundance of star power, fell into the former category. This movie is/was poised to be either terribly disappointing or astoundingly entertaining. I am happy to report that it was the latter in this case. I was amused, the free movie crew I roll with were amused, and the rest of the cheap-skate movie viewers were entertained as well. There are lots of laughs and Eddie Murphy's character was a character you really enjoy seeing him play: an angry, rude, chip on the soldier black man. A character he used to rock in SNL skits. It was the best movie with Eddie Murphy in the cast since the days of Beverly Hills Cop. I do not want to ruin the movie so I will give you a synopsis that you can easily get from watching the preview. An evil business man screws hundreds of people out of money by fraudulent investments including the people who work at the hotel he lives at. Ben Stiller, someone who admires the guy up until that point, creates a plan to rob the money back. He collects his crew of misfits and adds one inept criminal to the mix and gets to work. Unless you are a rich guy who got rich from stealing people's pensions, you will probably like the underdogs' tale in this flick. It makes you cheer and laugh right along with all the craziness. One of my favorite scenes was when Eddie checks the guys stealing metal by daring them to shoplift at the mall. That scene had me laughing so hard that I would almost miss the next hilarious scene.
I enjoyed this flick but oddly enough as I walked out I heard two large ladies (and when I say large I mean defensive line in the NFL type of weight on a smaller less fit individual) complaining about some inconsistency in the story. I had a similar thought about a weird plot thing that bugged me a bit but I thought "Hey this is a comedy.... who cares!" and got over it. The ladies, who could block for Phillip Rivers (QB for San Diego), were actually complaining about something that happened that I am still not sure about, what I mean is they were talking about a detail that I do not even remember occurring. Their whiny natures made me want to revoke their abilities to see a free movie. It was not like the studio execs were going to rework scenes a week before the dang thing is coming out! So why bother the poor worker with all your stupid plotholes? The only real answer, of course, is that you are stupid. Speaking of stupid, all these people that I was around as I walked out of the movie were whining that it was taking 5 seconds longer to leave the theater because people are expected to give an opinion about the free movie they just saw. One lady was like "I can't understand why we are not exiting the theater!" Her friend agreed with some words that sounded just as stupid. I said, "It's because they are collecting comments as we exit." Some other idiot said, "It seems like they could move out into the lobby a little more so we could get out." "My first reaction was to look at him sympathetically, like you would if some mentally handicapped dog was humping your leg After I pushed the guy off my leg, I said, "Well, I think a few seconds longer to leave while being asked to give an opinion is a pretty good deal for a movie. If they were to move it back a little bit you might not get a chance to put in your 2 cents. Not that your 2 cents would be worth much...." At this point people stopped talking out loud around me, I am not sure why. Anyway go see this movie! Also go to and then join my free movie crew at the next flick. Just make sure to whine about the exit time later or I will mock you as we leave. (BTW whining about a crappy movie is fine, I did that at the stupid bird movie)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Texas Killing Fields; A Rambling Review

My free movie trend was slower then usual this week. I only had a free pass from the Facebook version of, Buzzbo Phoenix. It was for the Texas Killing Fields and I was not sure I would make it in time to get a free flick considering they just posted it for anyone on Facebook to download and print off. I arrived later then normal but I had plenty of seats to choose from, not many people came. I think it might have something to do with the title being Texas Killing Fields. Every one hears that title and immediately assumes it is some trashy horror flick but it is a cop story. Combine the misled belief, that it is a horror flick, with the fact that this is the month of October and people did not pay much attention. Which was good for my late arrival but probably not good for their sales numbers. This review is going to sound bad and I feel bad about that but it is mainly because it is kind of bad. I want to let you know that through out the whole thing I could not help but be curious about these characters which is a positive. It was a very good base to build upon but it needs the details filled in. Without the details for the other story lines, that it drops everywhere, we are left with a very simple story that we already know the outcome of. I wanted to like this movie but I kept finding myself thinking that the movie was never going to end, which is not a good thing when it is only about an hour and 45 minutes long. So I have mixed emotions, I want to like it but I keep discovering holes in the story and plot as I keep thinking about it. So I guess I have to say that I did not like it and wish that they had shown it to me earlier so I could have suggested some changes be made. Unfortunately that is not going to happen, but here is a review of Texas Killing Fields.

The movie is set in and around Texas City, TX and is based on a real story. Actually, the movie states that it was inspired by a true story, which leads me to believe it is not as "true story" as they want you to believe. I may be wrong...

The story opens up with a shot of a swampy, marsh area and an abandoned car with the doors thrown wide. Then we get introduced to our 3 main players, two of which are cops. One is named Mike and the other's name escapes me, funny that I remember the character with my name. I just looked it up and discovered the other cop's name is Brian. The third character is a 14-ish girl named Anne. This girl played a vampire in Let Me In which was the American remake of Let the Right One In, which are both good movies although my preferred version is the original one. The girl is alone at a gas station and seems to have nothing to do and the 2 cops are at a homicide crime scene. Later on, after they have left the dead body behind, the cops stop and talk to her as she wanders the street and we find out this girl is on probation (which never gets explained and this lack of information is still bothering me) and has a drug addicted and a prostitute for a mom. They drive the girl, who they know from prior experiences (that are never explained either), to her home where we meet a group of guys and the mom. We find out later that one of the guys that files out is this girl's brother but it was not clear to me during the scene. My focus was on Mike, who is in the process of staring down some smarmy guy. The creepy guy seems to accept the proffered challenge but no fists fly and not a whole lot of words are exchanged. They leave the home and those at the home are now a bit more tense and you are now twice as worried about this poor girl. When they are driving away we get introduced to a 4th character who I would dub lead supporting character. She is another police officer from a neighboring district, named Pam, and she is calling for Brian and during the conversation we learn she is the ex of Mike (once again a piece of interesting information that never gets explored). She has found the car we saw in the opening scene and she wants help form Brian but Mike is adamant that he shouldn't help her. He follows his partner's advice (kind of) and says when she finds the body to call him. What was weird was that after this conversation she gets to the car and starts hollering at people. Why would she call for help on a case before their really is a case? Why would she call that quickly anyway? Is she the only cop in her district? It certainly doesn't look like that when we see her station the next day. We get treated to a scene where she is beating up some guy and asking him about his visits with women. We do not ever see this guy again and she never gets called on assaulting him. We do get treated to Mike showing up and telling her that her request for Brian ended up with her working with him instead. Except she hasn't found a body so why did she make the call? As I write this I realize that I am just getting more and more dissatisfied, this was not a good movie. Meanwhile, the other case has some starring candidates for the first murder. There seems to be a pimp involved with the dead girl and he has a crazy Nazi tattooed friend. This was a weird pairing because the pimp was a big, giant black guy and he was hanging with the creepy, also giant, Nazi tattoo guy. Anyway they are guilty of something if not all. The movie contains more verbal exchanges, another cop assault (Brian hits a guy), a car chase, a shootout and a stabbing. The one thing I have to question is the one near rape of a lady who is home with her daughter, it seems like a stupid scene and we never see her again after the scene ends. So we are treated to a traumatic scene for no clear reason. I have no idea why it was in there, it was not needed and only helped muddy the water.  There are a few scenes that aren't explained as well as a few random characters (including Brian's wife and family). A lot of the movie's characters were not explained and their issues were not explored and I found that had this been done that this would be a good movie. With it not done it is basically a slightly boring movie with good actors in it.

As far as the direction of the movie, I found a lot of the shots looked crappy and kind of low budget. There are several points where their are black screens while the scene changes. There are often weird edits and cuts that make you think someone was showing off recently learned editing skills. A lot of these things occurred to me as  I watched the movie and I do not claim to be an expert in the art of movie directing. If these things caught my eye, being a film making novice, then it makes me wonder what a more tenured film professional saw. The worst part was all the fancy editing actually only seemed to make me aware of time passing. It made me come out of the movie completely and wonder when it was all going to end. The worst part was that it's weird slapped together and disorganized feel made me think that it was a very early version of the film and that edits will be made. Which would be fine except that the movie came out in some theaters last week and I am assuming that it is due out in more theaters soon. If you have to see this movie make sure you rent it and that you don't pay more then a buck or a netflix monthly subscription to do so.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bear with me: the interview

She got a concerned look on her face as she looked at her mobile phone and said to me, "Bear with me for a moment."

That was not the first time I had heard this from her and I had only met her 5 minutes ago. I felt annoyed by this phrase more so then the fact that we kept getting interrupted. I was dressed in a 3 piece suit and interviewing for a job that I secretly hoped I didn't get but that I desperately needed. It was not a big deal that it was not going well or that I wasn't holding her attention. It was mainly the idea that she kept seeming so falsely apologetic. It is not like you can ever say "Forget that ya repulsive beast! I am not bearing with you, you either focus on my needs or I go home!" I am not the person in power, we are not meeting during my busy day, and I definitely didn't have something she needed so that she could pay the rent. She was the person in power, who made time during a busy day (sort of, since she was constantly dealing with other issues) and had a job available that could prevent me from eating paste and living in a refrigerator box behind the local Best Buy. The thing is that it wasn't even the fact that the phrase relies on a false belief that I am really bearing with you and that we are in some rough patch together. The phrase reminds me of that awful cat picture that has a cat dangling by one claw and above it are the words "Hang in there!" The cat is already doing that! Why doesn't that jerk of a photographer put the stupid camera down and help that cat out!? What you don't see in that picture is the huge vat of acid the photographer put under the cat. Stupid evil photographer! No one really likes that poster except for simpletons and soon to be crazy cat ladies. In fact one store had a promotion once where if you made a purchase they gave you that poster and the building was set on fire and the owner was run out on a rail. I am sure that last bit is completely true and in no way just popped into my head. Why am I talking to myself? Will this fricking lady get off the phone?!? Crap she is doing the sympathetic frown/smile thing, that shows she really values me but has to deal with the phone issue. Which brings me back to the original thought, why does "bear with me" get stuck in my craw? (BTW I hate that phrase too, who has a craw these days? Crabs with speech impediments?). The phrase, bear with me, bothers me because it is spelled like the animal and yet if I clawed her desk or pooped in her minifridge I would be in trouble. So somehow I am expected to "bear" with her without doing bear-like things. I should probably google the phrase.... It probably has nothing to do with bears.

"Sorry about that, busy day around here." She says as she puts the phone down. "Where were we?"

You had just asked the ever sucktacular question about what my weaknesses are and I was trying not to bear with you (meaning, of course, that I was resisting the urge to poop in your minifridge). "I am not sure exactly, I think I had just talked about some challenges I had faced that I had been able to find solutions for." When in doubt, change the subject.

"Oh.... ok... yes, I see that here... so why don't you restate that to me so that I make sure I got it all."

Wow, who is not paying attention to me at all? You aren't! Where should I start? I could tell her about the crazy guy that I made so happy he broke into dance. I made him happy by putting enough mayo on his sandwich and apparently I was the first to ever get it right. That probably isn't good enough..... what is believable but better then all my actual experiences? How about if that crazy guy wasn't crazy but he was someone who had a conference that I was able to negotiate a great price for food and beverages and he started doing business with us on a regular basis? Too far fetched? I got it I will just have him send a thank you note to the store thanking me for my tremendous effort and attention to details. Done. I think she liked it.... and now some witty banter from her. When will this end? I feel kind of hungry. Did she just offer me a job? Did I just say yes? People love sandwiches! I want a sandwich! I wonder if yelling random facts about bears would be ok at this juncture. I wonder if she likes sandwiches.

"I'll go get the paper work from HR and if you will just bear with me we can get you stated tomorrow."

That does it! I am at least going to urinate on her plastic plant.....

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Great Satellite Caper

It was late September and the news media was alive with the tale of the crashing satellite. I had talked about it with my class at school that very day and we had discussed where it would land and where it was coming from. It tied directly in with the subject we were discussing, the layers of the atmosphere. My students left school knowing the satellite would not fall in their backyards but eager to see where it did fall. I arrived at my mom's house for a nice dinner and somewhere along the way we began discussing the satellite. That was when she dropped this bombshell, "Today when I picked up Becky I saw a piece of the satelliteon the road near her work." I laughed at her and figured she was kidding but she wasn't and she was determined to be heard. She insisted she saw it and that she had shown it to Becky. So I ask, "How do you know it was a satellite piece?" Her responsewas "It was sitting in the middle of the road, what else could it be?" I had several arguments to dispute that but I decided to take a different route. "Did you get out and look at it?" She had not of course. "Mom, I am still not understanding why you think this was part of the satellite, were other people noticing it? Were the cops around?" No one else seemed interested and no cops were involved. "So.... you saw what looked like a piece of the satellite and you did not immediately stop and scoop it up?" That had not occurred to her but what had was "I was just relieved that the satellite had fallen and that we no longer needed to worry about it." I continued asking questions. "were ther any craters in the ground? Had it even left an impact on the concrete? It hadn't of course and my only real question was why she thought it was a part of the satellite. I could not discern any facts or reasons that she thought it was the satellite. As far as I could tell she figured it was a satellite because it was in the middle of the road and it was metal. I started asking about why Becky had not insisted on stopping and getting a good look. She was not sure but thought maybe Becky was just relieved like she was. I realized I was getting nowhere and all of a sudden I wanted this piece of the satellite. She offered to get the satellite the next day but I was nervous that it might actually be the real satellite and that I might miss my chance. I was playing the odds you see. I figured it was a win win. Either I would find a piece of the satellite inexplicably in the middle of the road in a business zoned area of Phoenix or I would find some random piece of metal that I could write a blog about. So we hopped in my truck and she showed me the way. It was not where it had been and it was not until we were leaving that she saw that some one had moved it out of the road. We stopped the car and we grapped it and gently put it in the truck and now I want you to tell me.... do you think this is part of the satellite? Should I call NASA?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Two More....

I saw two more movies this week. One was free thanks to and the Arizona Republic. Here are the reviews...

The Way

I was the motivating factor for my free movie watching crew to see this movie. Last weekend we saw the code for two movies in the paper. One was the terribly boring flick, The Big Year, and the other was for this movie. The crew had decided that this particular theater was outside of their travel boundaries. I drive a lot for my job and that has changed what seems far and what doesn't for me. I pushed and they came along. Which of course meant that this movie that I had never heard of had to be god or else I would have whiny companions. They might have rioted. You know how angry older (then me) people get. I have seen shows about the 60's they like protesting! The good news is that riots and protests were not ever staged because the flick came through. The movie is about a man and his estranged son. Of course it is really about the man because his estranged son dies in France on his first day of a pilgrimage that apparently lots of people participate in. The father goes to collect his son's body and his things and spontaneously decides to do the pilgrimage for him. As he walks he ends up collecting some unwanted tag-alongs that make the journey interesting and finally help him confront his son's death. It is really well acted, the cinematography is amazing, and the story is pretty lighthearted despite some very serious issues that the people involved are dealing with. It stars Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez (also the director, I believe) and some other people.... ;)

Dream House

If you caught the preview then you have seen this movie. If you have not seen the preview then you have a chance of enjoying it. If you have not seen the preview, and/or want to see the movie, stop reading, this is your last warning. James Bond (who cares about his real name) is a retiring editor who is very successful and well liked. He has a hot wife and two adorable girls that he is leaving his job to spend more time with and to write that ever elusive great novel. The first issue I had with the movie was here. I got the feeling this was the '40's or something until I got a good look at the city and saw graffiti as he rode the train. The next thing that bothered me was that Elias Koteas was on that train being creepy. Elias Koteas has starred in a lot of movies and you will recognize him right away. When I see him I always figure he is a bad guy because I think I have seen him be a bad guy in a lot of movies. He was a crazy serial killer in Fallen and I will always recognize him and associate him with that movie. Anyway when he gets to his new town, a lady who sold him the house picks him up but he doesn't remember her. Then all of his neighbors, cops and towns people seem to hate this guy. He seems like a nice guy and it seems weird. Of course right about here I remembered why, that stupid trailer!!! He isn't a retiring editor. He is a dude who is crazy and just got out of a psych ward and everyone thinks he killed his family. What is weird is in the movie he starts looking greasy and dirty before the reveal that he is the crazy suspected killer.So you keep thinking why hasn't he put on new clothes? Because he is imagining a nice home and a nice family but he is living in his condemned home where his family died. So after the reveal they kind of have us straddle two worlds with him and it seems to be going nowhere. Apparently the director thought so too because suddenly it is dangerous for him to live in his house (according to his hot neighbor). That is when we discover what really happened that night. The ending seemed slapped on and it just kind of felt unsatisfying. Was it terrible? No. Was it worth seeing for 7 to 13 bucks at the theater? no. If you really must see this flick, rent it for a buck or wait for it to stream on Netflix. The movie starts off so well and interesting that I still can't fathom how the second half came about. It seemed like a good premise but not real well thought out. I saw this movie with my nephew and he has his own take on it, you can read about it here:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Free Movies!

The last couple of weeks I have seen 4 movies for free thanks to
I figure I owe it to you, my reading public, to review the movies I have seen.

This movie is about a guy who gets diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that has a survival rate of 50/50. Hence the name of the movie. It is a movie that deals with his journey from being diagnosed and through his treatment. It is pretty darn good and I laughed quite frequently. I was with some people who are older then I am and they enjoyed the movie despite Seth Rogan's supportive friend character being obsessed with having sex and for his cancer ridden buddy to participate in the sexing of willing females. It was a good movie and there are a lot of laughs despite such a heavy topic. I would recommend that you check it out.

Ides of March

This is a political thriller that was super depressing (and not really very thrilling). I hated this movie. I am not sure exactly why..... well that is not true. I went in with a different expectation of what the movie was about. I guess the name implied to me a more Caeser type story, where the powerful politician ends up dead. This might be a spoiler but he doesn't. The other thing that was going on is that it paints such a hopeless and bleak picture of the political landscape that leaves you cold and defeated.


I loved the first version of this movie, especially the overly dramatic dance punching sequence (which the movie Hot Rod expertly lampooned). I had mixed feelings when I heard it was being remade but considering how dated the original is I though that it could be a good thing. I am happy to confirm that this was a great movie. I am not the only one who thought so, the crowd watching it with me cheered at the end of this film. It has a very similar story line and utilizes some of the original music. They did change the story and the storytelling a little bit, which was a very good thing. If you do not know Footloose from the original you may want to skip ahead. It starts with the preacher's son losing his life and advocating for the new set of laws. I have to say it was nice to see it before it is randomly explained. It gives you a little more of a connection to the town. Then Ren comes to town, a few years later, on a bus. He is alone and we find out his mother passed away after a long sickness. I liked this differing version a lot because it set up a better connection between Ren and his aunt, uncle and cousins. The best change was that the uncle was not a jerk like he was in the original. I hated the original uncle! So lame! The other major change was that the speach he gives to the council is actually a good one. He starts off nervous but soon is passionately talking about the dancing laws. It seemed more authentic then Kevin Bacon's super awkward speech. There are a few other changes but discover them on your own. As far as the music we have a lot of the originals including Footloose and Let's Hear it for the Boy. The latter is still used as the song that the awkward non-dancing friend learns to dance with. Go see this movie it is awesome!

The Big Year

This movie has a lot of outstanding people in it. That would lead you to believe that it should be awesome. Unfortunately it is a weak concept, three bird dorks are trying to see the most birds they can in a year to be named number one birder..... I am not making it up. That is the entire concept. The laughs are few and far between and the people are only moderately interesting. It was not a bad movie as much as it is a boring movie. I have no more words for this dreck!