Warner Bros put up the latest Man of Steel trailer, and it looks like they’re pulling out all the stops for the mistreated franchise.
Lots of death and destruction, and lots of mass murder at the hands of General Zod, who is going to be Superman‘s primary antagonist this time around.
Following in the footsteps of the Dark Knight Trilogy, Man of Steel looks to be taking on a decidedly darker tone. Fucking finally, right? Since the character’s inception, no one (in film) has done enough to dispel this hokey, super-clean cut, hero-in-our-darkest-hour-but-usually-just-a-nerdy-journalist persona that keeps getting recycled. Give me a tortured, alienated, not-of-this-earth Superman rife with believable inner conflict, already.
Man of Steel hits theaters June 14 for U.S. peeps.
Guillermo Del Toro, has made a movie about giant robots fighting giant monsters. Your either in one of two camps right now, you either got a lil bit of a chub reading that last sentence or your dead inside. There’s really no sell to be made with a movie like this, no justifications, or explanations. This is battles you had with monster toys and Voltron/Power Rangers, played out photo-realistically. If there’s a faint whiff of a plot in this movie, they’re doing too much.
For shits and giggles Stringer Bell Idris elba, Charlie from Always Sunny, and Ron Perleman are in the movie, because there need to be a few scenes where humans talk about human things, so fanboys don’t suffer mid movie heart attacks. If anything is right in the world, this will be the biggest movie to ever be imported to Japan. If anything is wrong in the world, some dude will subject a first date to watching this in 3D.
Pacific Rim will be released on July 11th to the excitement of otaku everywhere.
Rejoice, a new entry in Vin Deisel’s Pitch Black series is upon us. In this latest outing Vin Deisel’s Riddick, is chased around by bounty hunters on an alien desert world, full of monsters. This is subtly different than Pitch Black, where Riddick was an escaped convict being chased around by the law, on an alien desert planet.
Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica) and Karl Urban (Star Trek) show up in this movie, despite the fact that both of them should know better. We’ll assume their presence in the flick is an indication that Vin Deisel is the nicest dude in the world, because there’s really no other reason anyone of note should be in this flick. That said, I will probably watch this repeatedly on Showtime.
while I am alone or with friends or with family I have been spending a lot of my time watching videos and movies. at first they were lots of different kinds but over time I have honed my selections down and only make perfect ones and because of that this installment’s theme is:
mr. jackie chan and the pursuit of greatness
how when I was a small child I was on a soccer team and a mouse in the play Cinderella and jackie chan was a Chinese Opera star learning how to do backflips and headstand push ups and already walking on the road to becoming the perfect entertainer: very different paths, easy to tell why one of us is a superstar and the other one is me. when I am raising a child I will adjust accordingly.
the very excellent movie drunken master: !
how in drunken master after there’s the part where jackie chan makes fun of his teacher then beats him up and steals his hat, this girl’s mom beats him up: an important reminder of the power of moms and how you have to treat girls good because who knows what kind of mom they’ve got
how the guy who voiced over jackie’s part feels when he watches drunken master over and over again alone by himself in his empty house:ashamed and impotent and full of sorrow. he is probably an okay guy, but for a second he was the voice of a legend, and a normal life is less than nothing after that. I feel for him and wish for his own sad sake he had never been born.
the part in drunken master where his dad makes him squat with bowls of water balanced on him with weights on his arms over a red hot poker that will go up his butt if he messes up: that sucks and I am glad that wasn’t my dad, but maybe if that was my dad I would also be able to do backflips and defend the defenseless, so maybe I actually do wish that that was my dad.
the t shirt that all of the football players at my school had that said pain is weakness leaving your body: they were mostly shlubs, but maybe it is the truth anyway. i have lived a very gentle life and it is true that i am soft.
the man jackie chan: the perfect entertainer and human
the movie police story: ! the movie police story 2: !! the movie supercop (police story 3): !!!
rumble in the bronx: a psychedelic childhood nightmare fantasy about what foreigner children might think gangs and New York are like. also, perfect and a triumph.
how rumble in the Bronx is not a video game: an international failure.
the video game in my brain called Jackie Chan! Where you are not a character, you are the actual Jackie Chan and you wander through the streets fixing problems and making everything exciting: the world is not ready because how could you walk back out onto the street after you have felt like jackie? the answer is you could not and my beautiful dream will never be real for the sanity of us all.
the blooper reel of rumble in the bronx: the best that modern action cinema has to offer.
how in the blooper reel of rumble in the Bronx after he jumps off of the parking garage and lands on the fire escape he wiggles around and raises his arms because he’s really actually proud and happy because jumping from a building to a different building is a thing that makes him full of joy: !!!
the song kung fu by ash which is in this blooper reel and also the movie angus: if you have never heard it, then later you do hear it, it probably brings the same feelings into your brain and heart as the ones you had when you first figured out how to read or won a baseball game or figured out long division because it is the soundtrack of aspiration and realizing achievement.
rush hour: very good, very funny.
rush hour 2: !!!!!!!!!!!! transcendent! A beautiful merging of cultures that I don’t know if our global artists have been (or will be ever????) able to top.
the title of the movie Dragons Forever: the words for the feeling that I have while I am watching the master jump off of things and wishing it for myself for ever in the next realm.
my list of greatest pop culture icons in the history of ever that I thought a lot about this week:
George Washington/Abraham Lincoln
Review of list: very honest list. sometimes it is hard to admit that you have an addiction, but after you have done that it is time to embrace it and let it make you stronger, then transcend and maybe be an icon yourself? maybe this boy and jackie chan can one day be mentioned by all of the young and beautiful awestruck people in the same sentence as boys who believed enough in themselves and the power of kung fu to make this universe a better and more perfect universe.
Ender’s Game is a classic science fiction novel about the cruelty of children, psychological manipulation, the futility of war, and philosophical malleability. It also features aliens, zero gravity fighting, and spaceships. Judging by the new trailer for the adaptation, the movie will hinge heavily on the shit that looks cool. While the book was often regarded as unfilmable because it revolves around six year old being vicious dicks, it looks like the producers of the movie aged up the characters so the whole thing will play out as Hunger Games meets Harry Potter in space.
If you’re not familiar with the book, this probably looks pretty cool in a Halo way. Ben Kingsley shows up in the trailer half way through with the full Mike Tyson face tattoo, and Harrison Ford teaches kids how to blow shit up because he’s got PTSD from the whole Star Wars shit. Good times. Having read the book though, I’ll cautiously put this one in the “I dunno, b” category. The whole shit looks way too shiny to me. All that said, I’ll more than likely sneak into this shit because stealing is fun and Orson Scott Card (the author of Ender’s Game) is a homophobe.
Here’s a new clip from the upcoming X-Men spinoff The Wolverine, where Wolverine flips out and stabs a bunch of Japanese dudes, while looking appropriately pensive. Dude also takes off his shirt a lot and stands in the rain, because they’ll need to hold the attention of bored girlfriends somehow. There’s little to no dialogue, just lots of shots of Yakuza dudes, Wolverine fighting ninjas, and huge explosions. Silver Samurai shows up. I repeat Wolverine fights ninjas. This is several decades of fanboy wet dreams made real.
This won’t win an Oscar, or a Golden Globe, but for about 90 minutes in the middle of summer it’s gonna make a lot of 14 year olds (read 30 year olds) real happy. That’s really all you can ask for from a Wolverine solo movie; that and no appearances from a shitty bootleg Deadpool.
“You call an ex-lover, knowing you might stir something up, then you call a friend who is struggling, to offer whatever help you can. You go to a play, spend hours in your car, wander a saltmarsh, erase emails whatever – when you sit down to write it all swirls around inside your head.”
Nick Flynn is one of my favorite authors. A poet, a playwright, and a memoirist who has released three collections of poetry, two plays, and three memoirs. I recently read his most recent book, a memoir called The Reenactments.
His most famous book is Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, a memoir about working at a homeless shelter and seeing his estranged father walk into the lobby, asking for a bed. The book deals with drug abuse, his mother’s suicide, odd jobs, and searching the bottom of a bottle for a direction in life. Not necessarily a heart warmer, but a beautiful tale of spinning out of control and landing on your feet. One of my favorite books, one I’ve highlighted entirely and dog-eared to death.
Following the success of Suck City, the book was picked up to be adapted into a film. After years of pre-development hell and production company confusion, it was finally made into a movie in 2012: Being Flynn, starring Robert Deniro (Flynn’s father), Julianne Moore (Flynn’s mother), and Paul Dano (Flynn). It wasn’t my favorite movie, the pacing seemed off, but it wasn’t bad, and it was still great to see a favorite book transformed visually.
Because Nick Flynn is a writer, one who over-analyzes his life and takes his reader down philosophical journeys they might not grasp at first, he decided to write his third memoir all about watching his life made into a movie. “Coffee and bagels, we shake hands all around, each will pretend to be someone I once knew.” The Reenactments is a 250 page mind fuck.
Flynn begins with excitement about the movie, then uncertainty, wondering if it will toy with his brain to see such traumatic personal incidents dramatized. He writes: “I get to the edge of knowing, then teeter back and forth…It is all we can do, all I’ve ever done – stand before what I know, and pulse into the unknown.”
Flynn watched Julianne Moore pretend to be his mother. He watched her write the suicide note while the cameras roll. He watched Robert Deniro pretend to be his alcoholic father, full of racial slurs and cold nights on the street. He analyzed all of these events psychologically, discussing the whole concept of a movie within a movie within a movie. Less Inception, more Being John Malkovich. “Does this mean that inside us is a film, vague and blurry, of everything we have ever seen? Does this mean that in thirty years we will be able to project our dreams onto the ceiling as we sleep? What does this say about the stories we tell ourselves to keep ourselves afloat?”
The entire experience proves to be therapeutic for Flynn. He reflects heavily and researches the meanings behind his emotions. By seeing Julianne Moore pretend to be his mother, pretend to kill herself, he finds relief in the reenactment. “She went away one day, carved a door in the air, but it was written in the book that she would come back, that the hole would heal, that the door would close.”
Read everything by Nick Flynn. He never disappoints, and his newest only continues his legacy as one of the most poetic memoirists in the game.
Go on an adventure. Follow six Scandinavian dudes with washboard abs across the Pacific.
In the 1940s, Thor Heyerdahl researched and proposed that early South American groups settled in Polynesia, arriving on drifting balsa wood rafts, using the ocean not as a barrier, but as a means of transportation and communication.
Because no one believed Heyerdahl’s theory, he decided to gather a crew of blonde risk takers and create a balsa wood raft in Peru with plans of drifting all the way to Tahiti in 1947. 5,000 miles of the Pacific Ocean. Further than Chicago to Moscow.
Kon Tiki, the beautiful movie that was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film in the most recent Academy Awards, shows sunburned patience and frustration on the open waters. Shark attacks, massive waves, and grisly beards are a few of the excitements. Full of frostbitten flashbacks and island love, attempts at grant money and a sea of doubters.
Based on true events from both the book (Kon-Tiki Expedition: By Raft Across the South Seas by Thor Heyerdahl) and the Academy Award-winning documentary film from 1950 (Kon-Tiki), this movie is a visually stunning masterpiece that will make you want to get off of your mother’s couch and run for mayor. Pack your bags and head to Iceland. Buy a bike and work for calf muscles.
Sail the seas with Thor Heyerdahl and chase your dreams just like he did. This might be my favorite film from 2012.
Pain & Gain is the first Michael Bay film in nearly a decade that doesn’t star giant CGI robots. Over the years he’s become the butt of a lot of jokes concerning mindless pyrotechnics and gratuitous bikini montages. With this film, he embellishes that reputation, puts it in a headlock, then forces it to dance in a thong. All of the aspects people love him or hate him for are present in this one, particularly his relentless energy. This kineticism combined with solid, madcap performances make Pain & Gain one rowdy, entertaining black comedy that feels totally unique.
Mark Wahlberg (Fear) stars as Danny Lugo, a wide-eyed, struggling personal trainer with a skewed vision of the American dream. He seems to speak exclusively in bullshit he memorized from motivational tapes and is absolutely consumed by his body image. Despite saving a Miami gym from bankruptcy with his aggressive approach to roping in youngsters, he’s still living hand to mouth (or, in this case, hand to protein shake). When Jewish deli and oil kingpin Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub) becomes Danny’s new client, the criminal gears start grinding in his mind and he decides to rob the Jewish showboater of his riches.
His partners in crime are Adrian (Anthony Mackie), a fellow down-on-his-luck bodybuilder, and Paul (Dwayne Johnson), a born again Christian bodybuilder. These three gorillas turned wannabe criminals kidnap, extort, and torture Kershaw until he signs over his wealth. That’s the meat of the story, which is based on actual events that went down in Miami in the mid-90s. Nothing goes as planned, of course, and the three hulks engage in a series of farcical scenarios that owe more to the screwball comedies of the ’40s than the cynical action-comedies of today.
Each blunder sees the mens’ masculinity being challenged and their only retaliation is to do a quick set of curls to reassure themselves that they’re still enormous. Pretty much every scene features the three men in some kind of desperate situation and, honestly, I laughed my ass off throughout. Wahlberg subscribes to the “everything is funnier if you’re yelling” school of comedy and he’s damn good at it. He’s got one of the funniest faces in Hollywood, especially when he’s all bug-eyed and screaming, which is 90 percent of this movie.
This is probably Anothony Mackie’s (Tupac in Notorious) finest performance. His best scenes are shared with Rebel Wilson, who I guess is the new Will Ferrel. She’s fucking everywhere nowadays. She does her usual dry schtick. Dwayne Johnson delivers his best performance, hands-down. He’s hilarious as the born again, sober one of the group, then once he relapses and starts snorting piles of coke, he takes it to a whole other level of insanity.
His contract must say that he has to be dripping sweat all of the time. He was constantly soggy in GI Joe: Retaliation, Fast Five, and now Pain & Gain. Maybe his body doesn’t regulate temperature properly and it’s too expensive for the makeup department to cover-up the waterworks. Or maybe it’s just how he feels comfortable after years of pro wrestling. Either way, if there’s anyone who looks good as a sweathog, it’s The Rock.
As hysterical as the movie is, Bay missed a huge opportunity for the perfect visual gag. In a few of his early scenes, Paul is carrying around an old school Bones Brigade skateboard with neon green wheels. At one point he even kicks the tail and catches it. We never see him riding it though, which would have absolutely destroyed me. Imagine the 6′ 4″, 265lb Dwayne Johnson awkwardly skateboarding down the street…C’MON! My sides would have literally split open.
The ensemble cast is rounded out by Ed Harris (who previously worked with Bay in The Rock) as a private eye named Ed. He’s the stable anchor of the cast – the only one not completely out of his mind. Even the camera, which never stops anxiously moving throughout the film, seems to rest when Harris is onscreen. About an hour in, I my eyes felt exhausted from the merciless camera movement, so I was relieved when it started to cool off during Ed’s scenes.
The whole film has a dark, amoral sensibility to it. Besides Ed, there are really no characters to sympathize with. Even Victor, who’s tortured and tied up for weeks, is portrayed as a venomous scumbag. Bay gracelessly reminds us near the end that this is a true story and these bulky dudes, as lovable as they are, committed some seriously brutal acts. I’m not sure if this reality check is supposed to make the audience feel guilty for laughing or to further highlight how shocking the violence is, either way it confuses whatever the hell the film’s message is supposed to be.
Despite that small fumble, Pain & Gain is a comedic triumph for Mr. Bay, although I doubt it’ll win over any of his haters. Talk shit about him all you want, there’s no denying he’s got a distinct style and a gleeful, childlike approach to filmmaking. Sure, he won’t win any feminism awards in the near future (every woman in the film is a dumb stripper or Rebel Wilson), but at least he’s not bowing to any negative criticism. You do you, Bay. Nice to see you can still direct humans.
For better or worse, the word “pimp” has successfully permeated our cultural lexicon. Grips of rappers refer to themselves in various chart-toppers as “pimps”, that slob the Situation calls himself one, and Three 6 Mafia’s “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” even won an Academy Award (and deservedly so). The word’s been altered and twisted to the point where it now means basically nothing. But what all these variations of the word fail to encompass is the dark side of the pimp game – the betrayals, the brutality, and the overall foreboding sense that at any moment, a prostitute or another player can stab you in the back.
The world of the pimp became accessible to the general public through the groundbreaking 1969 book “Pimp: The Story of My Life.” The autobiography was written by Robert Beck, who would go on to become world famous under his pimping pseudonym, Iceberg Slim. It’s honestly tough to put into words the impact the book had on human history. Many artists revere it with a bible-like status and it’s a must-read for anyone interested in seedy underworlds and the juicy culture of the streets. Each page is bursting with razor-sharp slang and colorful prose as Iceberg recounts the ups and downs of his life as a pimp. This man, who went from being one of Chicago’s top pimps in the ’30s and ’40s to a highly successful author, is the subject of Jorge Hinojosa’s documentary Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp.
The film is fluidly weaved together using archival interviews (Iceberg passed away in 1992), animations, and discussions with family members, artists, and literature professors. Lots of rappers and actors gleefully talk about the major influence Slim had on their own work. Ice-T (who took his name from Slim and also produced this film), Chris Rock, Snoop Whatever, and Bill Duke (Predator) all practically canonize the man, while professors analyze the various complexities present in Slim’s oeuvre. At first it feels like a novelty to see grey-bearded scholars refer to passages about “bitches” and “turning tricks,” but it’s clear these folks honestly believe in the historical and cultural significance of Slim’s work. The omnipresent Henry Rollins even shows up to put in his two cents.
The real insight about the man comes from his first wife, Betty, and the four children they had together. Betty is the one who convinced Slim to write down all of his crazy stories in the first place and try to sell them. It’s apparent that she really loved Slim (she gets choked up quite often), although there is some resentment over how he spent very little time with the kids. As Slim humorously puts it, all the women he ever dealt with his entire life were prostitutes, so having three daughters was like a curse. He simply didn’t know what to do with them.
Slim was as articulate in real life as he was on the page. The archival interviews utilized in the film present a highly intelligent man who sincerely regrets the criminal path his life went down. His aim was never to glamorize the pimp world through his books. Like his name suggests, the man was just plain cool. Even as an elderly man he was dressed to the nines with collars so starched they could take your head off. He effortlessly exuded hipness – the type of attitude that most rappers probably spend hours practicing in front of the mirror. Case in point: he got the name Iceberg Slim after a bar fight in which a stray bullet fired right through his hat. He was so hopped up on blow that he didn’t even flinch.
There is one element left out of the film that Slim detailed in his books: the horrible, abusive treatment of the prostitutes. To keep his “stable” of women in line, Slim would often beat them with coat hangers or his fists. If it was raining outside and a girl wanted some shelter, Slim would tell her to “walk between the raindrops.” Slim acknowledges in “Pimp” how awful and wrong his actions were yet the film makes no mention of these acts. So there is that conflict in admiration. On one hand he’s a significant author who gave a voice to the streets, on the other he regularly beat the shit out of women. By the time he retired from the game he certainly felt deep remorse over his cruelty and later looked back on the stupidity of his ways with regret.
A wealth of insight is also provided about the early days of the black pulp literature scene and how the publishers financially screwed pretty much all of these early African American authors. Slim’s books would go on to sell millions of copies and be translated into six languages, but in the beginning he barely made a living in his post-pimping career. His children even speculate in the film whether he continued to pimp in between royalty checks.
Viewers will definitely want to check out Slim’s books (especially “Pimp”) to get the whole picture, but this documentary is a terrific and appropriately hip introduction to the man. Even though at times it can feel a little cheap and like an advertisement for his books, the enthusiasm the filmmakers and participants have for the subject matter seeps into the frames, resulting in a spirited, highly entertaining movie. The instrumental music of DJ Shadow is nicely used to move the film along between interviews and animations, but it’s the use of James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” that hits right on target. The song plays over the end credits and is a perfect reflection of Slim’s life. Whether they were selling their bodies or encouraging him to write, without the women in his life he would’ve been nothing.
Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp recently played the Florida Film Festival. No word on an official release yet.