myspace layouts, myspace codes, glitter graphics Totally Biased Book and Movie Review: 02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007

Monday, February 19, 2007

Ghost Rider Movie Review

Ghost Rider


Starring: Nicholas Cage, Peter Fonda, Eva Mendes, Sam Elliott

Directed by: Mark Steven Johnson

Rated: PG-13 for horror violence and disturbing images.

114 min

Suspend all reality. Remind yourself every five point three minutes that this is a comic book. Don’t despise Nicholas Cage’s overacting. Like fire, and lots of it. Enjoy melodramatic statements booming from theater speakers so loudly that they actually echo faintly. Be a twelve year old boy.

There. That should ensure that you will enjoy Ghost Rider.

I like Nicholas Cage, and I even enjoy his overacting when it is a in a seriously moody and/or quirky movie script. I like him in things like well… Raising Arizona, for instance. But I honestly could not (and I tried) watch him mutter things like, “he may have my soul…. but he doesn’t have my spirit” (Him being the devil) or “I will use this curse to fight against you!”…while pointing one long, bony finger (There was a lot of finger-pointing in Ghost Rider) without laughing.

I laughed quite frequently during GR but I don’t think I was laughing in the parts where I was supposed to. I left that up to the rest of the audience. It has been so long since I have gone, during matinee times, to see a big release movie that I honestly forgot what it was like. Pan’s Labyrinth didn’t have a row of fourteen year olds sitting in front of me, text messaging each other and shhing one another loudly, in that way only teenagers have. (Look at us! Is everyone looking at us?! We are so important and young and lovely and are you sure everyone is looking at us? Not that we care. We care about nothing. We are too cool to care, but are you watching us?! Hey old people, we don’t care if you do, but LOOK at US!) It’s been awhile since I was packed into a theater along with other folks, so closely that a stranger could have conceivably touched me at any time during that one hour and fifty three minutes. No, no one did, but they could have, and the possibility kept me from becoming comfortable. Plus, I could smell everyone’s skin. Warm, slightly sweating, elbow-to-elbow people…they give off a smell. A skin smell. And what the HELL are they selling in the lobby that reeks of garlic? I don’t know, but something someone was eating very near me smelled strongly of garlic and it was not pleasant.

All of that could have distracted me a little from the movie, true. I wasn’t prepared for the laugh set-ups that filmmakers do… and how sweetly the audience falls into place. Scene: Ghost Rider grabs girl, who is talking, and cuts her off with a passionate kiss. Pan to a cow standing nearby. Cow moos loudly. Pause for laughter.

And they did. Laugh I mean. So I think maybe this movie was enjoyed. Just not by me.

The story in a nutshell.... Johnny Blaze sold his soul to the devil to save his father, who died anyway. Now it’s twenty (or thirty) some odd years later and he has survived countless things that should have killed him in his rise to fame as a stunt motorcycle driver. The Evel Knievel of our generation, I guess you could say. The devil has been keeping him alive until the day he needs him to become the Ghost Rider.

Now this is where it confused me a little. The dude becomes the Ghost Rider in the presence of evil. He has the flaming skull going on, rides a kick-ass chopper and swings around a fiery chain. He has this thing called the Penance Stare where he can look into bad guys’ eyes and make them see all of their sins, basically burning the life right out of them with horror at experiencing their own evil…. Does this sound like something the DEVIL would give to someone? Ghost Rider is supposedly the Devil’s Bounty Hunter… but I never did get who/where/why he would be sent after someone, to bring them back to hell where they belong…and even if he was sent, why would he then burn them to a cinder with “penance” for their sins? Doesn’t that kind of make hell…. pointless? But forget my nitpicking. On with it…the devil’s son, whose name is the very imaginative “Black Heart”, has come to sort of challenge his daddy to for the title of super devil. I guess. Ghost Rider has to defeat Black Heart. And all his friends. Not only to protect the devil (that is his boss, remember, the devil. But he’s still a good guy) but also because he has been promised his soul back once he does it (and why he thinks the devil will keep his end of the bargain I don’t know…. Maybe along with the Stare of Penance they receive the Naiveté of the Very Young). Into this fine little mess comes his girlfriend from twenty (or thirty) years ago, a smart-talking, curvy reporter who is alternately mad at Johnny, or groping him. And she is kind of rude. And impatient. And snappish. I guess a big round butt makes up for a lot of character deficiencies because Johnny Blaze is still in love with her, although he hasn’t even seen her for twenty or thirty years.

If my boyfriend from when I was seventeen showed up and the devil was like, trying to use him as a hostage against me, and I could choose… My old boyfriend would die unless I gave the devil this thing that he wanted that would help him destroy the rest of the world… I’d be all, “Hey dude, we had some good times, didn’t we? It was cool knowing you, You look great! Take care now, Buh-bye.” But in movies where cows moo at kissing, people stay in love with their highschool sweethearts forever. It is totally natural that Johnny Blaze’s best friend’s dead body doesn’t get more than a pause from him, but the rude bitch he used to date is in danger? He is going to KICK ASS NOW!

The plot is simple, sprinkled with jokey gag scenes like Cage grimacing in the mirror at himself and eating jellybeans out of a glass. Elliot basically brings back his character from Road House, tough old dog teaching new dog tricks while scratching the stubble on his cheek (and let me tell you, that is fricking gross. The hair on his face grows straight up to his eyeballs, I’m not kidding). Actually, maybe that is just the only character he ever plays. Hmmm.

Nothing surprising here, not even the “plot twists”. There was some good special effecting going on but even that tweren’t enough to keep me awake through the whole thing. Yes, I did fall asleep, during the above mentioned mirror scene. Cage’s goofy fricking face wasn’t enough to keep my eyelids from shutting when the sound was less than a booming roar in my ears.

Go back to the first few lines. Read them. Can you do those things? Then you might like this movie.

I give it 2 &s….

& the special effects were purty nice. I like a good flaming horse every now and then.

& the storyline was easily followed, so much that I could nap and know exactly what was happening when I woke

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Review of Carlos Mencia Thievery

Ok, this may be more of a rant than a review, but whatthehell. It also is apparently very old news, but it’s new to me, so bear with me. I considered whether or not to even write about this, but you know, the internet has stretched and shaped lives, and news, pretty consistently in the last few years. Ten years ago, if something like this went down, it could have been covered up, ignored, and blown over. Today, however, with blogs like this one and a million messages flying through interspace, you just can’t keep a lid on things the way you used to be able to. This is good. This is free speech. This is the (however undignified and petty) American Way. So I’m doing my little bit here in the blogosphere to try to overthrow The Man in Media. Hehehe. Plus, it really pisses me off.

Besides, it was this or me doing a write-up on Anna Nicole’s life. You don’t want me to do that, do you? HMMM? DO YOU? I didn’t think so.

Carlos Mencia. I used to think he was funny. I would have considered myself a fan just yesterday. Am I fickle? Well, yes, but that is not the reason I am a non-fan today. Not entirely, anyway. Although I was often slightly embarrassed by his ruder, cruder performances. I would simply remind myself that it was OK…that is what comedy is supposed to do, make you laugh and make you uncomfortable. And of course there was the wide-spread understanding that it is ok for Mencia to make racial jokes because he is a self-described “Beaner”. He makes as much fun of his own peeps as any of the rest of us, ala Dave Chapalle (may he never rest in peace but come back to amuse us damn it). True, no white man could get away with it, but that’s just the Way Things Are… giggle and move on…. But.

Last night I heard the rumor that he was confronted about his joke-stealing last weekend. I just worked Valentine’s Week so gimme a break if this is Old News to everyone else on the planet. Ok, so…Mencia’s thievery of jokes. Apparently this is a well-known and hideously accepted fact in the comedy circles. They actually refer to him as “Carlos Menstealia”. He has Hollywood Clout that he can beat people up with, and this makes them keep their mouths shut. I was still doubtful… I mean, could the guy really get so famous if he was a joke-stealing asswipe? Apparently it happens all the time.

I then learned the sad fact that, maybe again, everyone in the world knew for a fact but me… that Carlos Mencia is not even Mexican! He is half-Honduran (shut up, you idiotic ‘that’s the same thing’ people…Honduras is not the same country as Mexico. Different countries, different cultures, different people. It’s like saying Americans and Canadians are the same thing.) and half German, and his name was Ned Holness until he changed it to sound more Mexican.

THEN I went and found the video clip of Joe Rogan confronting the fake Mexican Mencia. I would direct you to watch the video clip for yourself, but OHMY..guess what? When you go to watch it on YouTube this morning, there is a little blurb that says

This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Carlos Mencia”.

What a CHICKENSHIT. He knows that his guilt is obvious to those who watch it. It was a very long video and as pointed out at The Superficial where I watched it, (and you can too, until it gets taken down) the sound is bad, but it was definitely interesting to watch. Mencia-Holness squirms like a guilty little piggy by the end of the clip, where he started out with his normal blustery bravado. You can practically smell the sweat oozing from his pores. Even one of Mencia’s friends talks about his thievery… until he realizes he is being filmed, wonders out loud, “What are you going to do with that film?” And walks off, muttering, “Nice to have seen you.” It is also still up on google- thanks google, you rock!

It really makes me tweaked that he is trying to stop the video clip from being seen. This is not a sex tape, ok? This is him getting called out, on stage, about his practice of taking others’ material and using it as his own (a.k.a. Plagiarism) and ending up looking pretty damn bad. If he had “won” the little showdown, do we think he would be trying to stop this from being seen? Nuh-uh.

It gets worse. Rogan, a talented comedian himself, although I realize that is debatable… yes everything in the fricking world IS…. got kicked out of the Comedy Store for this video clip. Why? Because Mencia can pull in a bigger number of customers, of course, and he wanted him out. Next, Rogan’s agent, who belongs to the agency (Gersh) that also handles Mencia, dropped Rogan. How coincidental. You can read about that one here. Aw….Carlos feels “physically threatened” by Mr. Rogan, and so he should, Joe Rogan is pretty ripped and could probably kick Mencia’s large-ish behind with both feet and one hand tied behind his back…. But still. Is it the gross fingers of “power” we see scuttling around Rogan’s neck, trying to choke the breath out of him for… telling it like it is?

YECK. This is a slimy feeling thing.

The more I read, the more I realize, that this is old shit, that Mencia has been doing crap like this for a long time, that people are (apparently rightly) scared to confront him because they will get banned from clubs and lose their agents and the battle is young, and let’s see what else happens. The only one with the balls to bring it on is Rogan. I don’t give a shit what anyone thinks of him personally, or as a comedian. Some are saying this is a hissy fit of jealousy on Rogan’s part over Mencia’s success. I don’t think so. Watch the clip, read up on it, judge for yourself. And then, if you’re pissed, do something about it. Stop supporting Mencia. Spread the word on your own blog. Sign the petition. Whatever. This is where the internet can make a difference.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Children Of Men Movie Review

Children of Men, 2006

Starring: Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine, Claire-Hope Ashitey

Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón

Rated: R for strong violence, language, some drug use and brief nudity

109 min

Sometimes you just luck out…. You might not check the reviews of a movie you have never even heard of. You might just go, on the spur of the moment. You might not have a frickin’ clue what the flick is about, but something in your gut says “Go to this one”… and then, it’s rare, but sometimes, just sometimes… you end up watching a thunderously excellent film. I guess this was a book… don’t ask me how I haven’t read it… there are like three, or maybe even seven more books that I have yet to read.

That was my lucky experience with Children of Men. Now, of course, I have looked at the other, less-biased reviews, and it’s pretty much agreed on. This was a dang good movie. (Agreed upon with the exception of all the people who are to busy trying to sound extreeeemly cool by not agreeing with everyone else…one can always count on these folks to deny the excellence of any movie that others seem to like. To them I say SNORE… with emphasis on the “snore” part.)

Note that I did not claim this was a “happy” movie, or even one that has a “happy ending”…and I usually like those. A lot. In this case, the ending wasn’t good or bad, just way too soon. I could have watched an hour more.

The movie takes place in the not-too-distant future, in England. The world has been torn apart by wars. Illegal immigrants, known as “Fugees” are hunted down and treated with less kindness than stray dogs. The gaps between rich and poor have widened to impossible gulfs. And there are no children.

I might have missed it, but I don’t believe it is ever explained exactly why there are no more children. It just happened, twenty some odd years before, that woman stopped getting pregnant. Those that were already pregnant miscarried. Now, a generation later, the youngest of the population are revered as much as any superstar and still referred to as “babies”. In the beginning of the movie, the world is grief stricken when the youngest human alive, Baby Damian I think was his name, is murdered. The world is a very bleak place.

Our hero Theo (Clive Owens and isn't he brilliant) is one more rat shuffling along the grimy hallways of the present, without hope of ever finding cheese around any corner. When his help is solicited by his ex-wife (Moore), the leader of a band of political rebels, she tells him he is the only person she can trust. Although he isn’t too excited about it, in fact the viewer gets the feeling that he isn’t excited about much of anything nowadays, he gets drawn into her plot. Initially drawn by his empty pockets, he soon become entangled by his guts.

Turns out a girl, a young, tough-talking “fugee” girl named Kee, is miraculously pregnant. Now Theo, as the only person young Kee will trust, must decide who he can trust in turn. Gripping, frightening, and even at times humorous (Theo asks who the father of the baby is and Kee says: “There's no father. I'm a virgin …..Nah! Be great, though, wouldn't it?” LOL), it didn’t let me go for a second.

Me the viewer was drug right smack dab into the world on screen. I was wincing, I was ducking, I was nodding and gulping along with the characters. I was, I admit, mesmerized, pretty much from start to finish. I didn't even consider how much of my life I was spending watching the movie, let alone considering it wasted time.... and you know how rare that is.

It’s up to you to decide if this movie has a good or bad ending. I’m not going to write spoilers, for once, because I am so interested in hearing what people think of this fresh and brand new when they see it, walking in blind, as I did.

Never enjoyed a blind date so much.

I give it 5 &s

& it was harsh

& it was jarring

& the acting was grand

& I didn’t have to see Julianna Moore “almost cry” with her pink rabbit eyes watering on the screen for interminable minutes

& I love dark movies with a thread of hope and that is exactly what this was

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby Movie Review

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

Starring: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Jane Lynch, Gary Cole,

Directed by: Adam McKay

Rated: PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, language, drug references and brief comic violence.

108 Minutes

I’ve got a love-hate relationship with Mr. Will Ferrell. Many years ago I fell in love with his characters on Saturday Night Live. A Night At The Roxbury is one of my top ten favorite comedy movies. (Consider how many movies I have watched in my shiftless life and you will be amazed at this statement.) If you ever ask me if “we are brothers”, I will respond, no doubt even on the edge of death, with, “No??...... YESSSS!!!!!” and cackle madly without any restraint whatsoever.

But then, a couple of years ago, I was taken to Kicking and Screaming, on my birthday. Friends and family thought that would be a good flick to take picky Kaat to, one guaranteed to make her laugh, one which she would not declare a waste of, not only her life, but her birth DAY. Alas, they were unsuccessful. Now, it could be argued that since it was my birthday I had higher expectations than I normally do and therefore, you couldn’t judge K&S to be a bad movie based on my vomiting-sounds… but, that argument would be wrong. Wrong on so many levels. My vomiting sounds are just and good, I assure you.

It sucked, and it made me look at Mr. Ferrell with a skeptical eye. Kind of the same thing that happened between me and Adam Sandler after Little Nicky came out. There were too many roles like Buddy and not enough like Federal Wildlife Marshal Willenholly.

But was he not one of the Butabis? Will he not always be a Butabi? No…..???..... YESSSS!!!!!!!

Hahahahahahahahaha…. See? Sorry, but I told you.

Anyway, I have since given Will a chance, but without expectation, in each movie or role he brings forth… with no less pain and screaming than in childbirth, I’m sure.... if I happen to be around when it comes on. There was nothing, however, short of a Voice speaking from the clouds, that would have made me add Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby to my Netflix queue… except perhaps a request from Bitty.

Since I would probably do anything for Bitty, including but not limited to: dancing naked on her landlord’s doorstep to reduce her rent, walk barefoot on really kind of sharp-ended and annoyingly unstable rocks for like, thirty or even thirty-five feet, and/or eating a sandwich with mayonnaise on it (hurl)… it was with enthusiasm, but no true expectation, that I put Ricky Bobby into the DVD player and sat back to watch.

I have to say, it was a pleasant surprise.

We know (or those of you who have read these posts for a time) that I am always in search of the Elusive And Actual LOL. I found it, watching Old Ricky. Ferrell’s character is a parody of rednecked American manhood, a race car driver without equal. He drives to win, and win he does….there are quite a few little threads through the story, including that Ricky drives “for” his father, a shiftless wonder who abandoned the kid when he was 10, with a few words of wisdom to live by, such as “If you aint first, you’re last!” R.B. spends most of the time joined with his sidekick, Cal, another driver, who sweetly stands aside so his buddy can have the spotlight to himself. The dialogue between those two, Ferrell and Reilly, is pee-pee inducing, I tell you. They have great chemistry and play off one another like a set of perfectly tuned piano keys.

Ricky is married to a gorgeous, ambitious, barracuda-woman who is driven to passion by his winning (and his money), and they have spawned two hellishly bratty kids. I know that the rest of my family really enjoyed watching the children behave like monsters, cursing at their grandfather and behaving hideously enough to invite a beating with a belt, and even though I generally hate watching kids do this, I wasn’t turned off, because it was simply more ridiculousness piled on top of the rest of the ridiculousness of the movie.

There are the (almost too) long gags such as Ricky’s prayers at the dinner table… he insists upon praying to the Infant Jesus, refusing to imagine Him as a grown man, and his descriptions of the swaddled savior are genuinely chuckle-worthy. There is the movie-long laugh of Jean Girard, the French, flamboyantly gay, race car driver who is Ricky Bobby’s arch enemy. (He speaks in such a horrible, over-the-top French accent you can’t help but laugh when R.B tells him “you sound like a dog with peanut butter on the roof of your mouth”).Then there are the blink and you’ll miss them laughs too, such as the Crystal Gale t-shirt R.B. wears (yeah the chick with the hair…have I ever actually seen a Crystal Gale t-shirt since 1984? No, I have not.) and the fact that the French pit crew kiss each other on each cheek before the race begins while the Americans, you, know, shake hands and pound each others’ shoulders.

Talladega Nights follows the basic formula for success with American comedies. Big winner has some traumatic occurrence which knocks him sprawling from his pedestal while his evil nemesis laughs at his shame… tapping into the greater American psyche with that one. Hero must then fight to regain his position of glory, in the process triumph over evil nemesis and learn valuable lessons about life, truth, and the American way. And somewhere in there, it is required that a mousy, unnoticeable female character have a major transformation, becoming the Hottie So Naughty by the end of the show.

T.N. hits all the right notes for the formula, which would have bored the piss out of me normally, but this time, it was the odd and odder moments sprinkled throughout that kept me watching… and laughing.

I give it 3 &s

&…. The return to ridiculous humor makes me smile at Will Ferrell again

&…. The storyline itself was fairly cohesive and easy to follow

&…. Lines like this deserve an &… “Diablo is Spanish for, like… a fighting chicken.”

Please note, if you made it all the way down here, you're probably a faithful reader. In my last post to Kaat Litter I said I was making the blog private and to send your email address if you wanted to keep reading. I did NOT mean this blog. I have had a couple of emails about it. The Biased Book and Movie Review will remain public. :)

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