Box Office Preview

Since I’m stuck in the library instead of the movie theater, I once again resort to stealing Blog
box office preview schtick. I blame the $50 New York ticket prices and my inability to grasp simple algebra.

1. Saw IV
I will not watch Saw IV because I never watch horror movies in the theater if I can help it. When I was a young whippersnapper I saw The Exorcist on television and I actually laughed at Linda Blair’s spinning head as my mommy fed me sandwiches and candy. Later in college I saw The Exorcist in a large, near empty theater on Halloween and I didn’t sleep right for a week. Even the Blair Witch Project screwed me up, but my excuse is that my friends convinced me everything about that movie was real. I know Saw IV isn’t real but I also like to sleep so no way in hell am I going to see this one.

Judging by her orthodontia, Linda Blaire's inner demon is British

2. Dan in Real Life
Steve Carell has branded himself as a goofy, loveable loser but with Dan in Real Life it looks like he’s approaching a saccharine saturation point that his career might never recover from. I’m a devoted fan of The Office and I wish Steve would make full use of his comedic talents and leave the romantic comedies to Hugh Grant.

3. 30 Days of Night
I’ve wanted to see this movie for a while, and I still might if I ever find a dollar theater in New York. I certainly don’t expect anything very deep from 30 Days although Josh Hartnett is an adequately charismatic lead actor. Somehow the guy’s only 28 yet it feels like he’s been a young hunk type of actor for at least ten years. (Oh wait, I’m right. Hartnett was in The Faculty back in ’98.)

The Rock and SWS are magic together. Dirty, sweaty magic.

4. The Game Plan
I’m not mad at The Rock for selling out with this Disney kiddie flick. I’m mad at The Rock for making this movie instead of a sequel to The Rundown. Mock me all you want but Sean William Scott and The Rock are magic together.

I'm not ashamed to say I watched Highlander. Best television theme song ever.

5. Why Did I Get Married?
I get the impression that Tyler Perry wants to be the male Oprah. He should know there can be only one… Oprah.

6. Michael Clayton
Have you ever seen George Clooney play a stupid, ineffective character? Me neither. Clayton is on my “To Watch” list.

7. Gone Baby Gone
It’s easy to forget that Ben Affleck was a talented writer (Good Will Hunting) before he became an overexposed, mediocre actor. By all accounts he’s also a talented director and his little brother Casey is equally good in Gone Baby Gone’s lead role. Add this one to my “To Watch” list.

8. The Nightmare Before Christmas
I saw Nightmare when it first came out in 1993, but it didn’t leave a strong impression on me. One viewing was enough, thank you.

9. We Own the Night
Gross earnings of 25 million are pretty awful for a film with heavy hitters like Joaquin Phoenix, Eva Mendes, Mark Wahlberg and Robert Duvall. That still isn’t going to make me watch it though. I’ll wait for the DVD.

10. The Comebacks
I’ve been dreading this movie since I saw its first preview. It’s basically taking the parody formula of Scary Movie and Not Another Teen Movie and then crapping on it. Those two films (at least the first installment in the Scary Movie franchise) put some creative spins on some tired genre clichés, but from what I’ve seen and heard, The Comebacks sinks to the lowest common denominator and fails to bring anything new to the parody genre. That being said, the movie could be awesome and the 2.3 IMDB rating is just a fluke. But I doubt it.

What are you guys looking forward to watching?


My Mom's Review of Michael Clayton

My mom says, "I liked it and George Clooney did a good job."

He did a good job.

She isn't my mom for nothing, folks.


Quick Movie Review: No Way Out

I'd like to see this movie remade with the cast of The Naked Gun and O.J. in Kevin Costner's role. It'd be hilaaaarious.

I took a moment out of my busy schedule of getting stood up for apartments to catch Kevin Costner in No Way Out. This little film of deceit, murder, and scandal has immediately won a place on my list of "must-watch television movies."

Kevin Costner is Lieutenant Commander Tom Farrall, a rising officer in the US Navy. He returns home after a mission to see his on-again-off-again girlfriend (Sean Young before the Catwoman debacle) and discovers that she's been "entertaining" the Secretary of Defense (played by Gene Hackman). Naturally Farrall isn't too happy with the arrangement, but since he loves his girlfriend he puts up with her infidelities.

When Sean Young turns up dead, Farrall is all but certain the Secretary is behind it. An investigation begins into Sean Young's death and it quickly balloons into an elaborate charade of misdirection and cold war boogeymen. Farrall is ordered to head the investigation but it's soon obvious that all the evidence points to him because of his secret relationship with Sean Young. The steady pace picks up during the final hour and a half and culminates in a dramatic flourish that is equally surprising and satisfying.

I've said in the past that any movie with Gene Hackman is going to be pretty good and No Way Out is in no way an exception. You could also say that nobody plays Kevin Costner better than Kevin Costner and in this movie that actually works ok. Will Patton (The Postman) is Gene Hackman's assistant and his performance is a testament to his unparalleled ability to play deranged men of authority.


Mmm, write Reviews for Money?

No, I haven't forgotten about you guys. I've been a little busy with work, apartment hunting, avoiding bum smells and what have you, but now I need your advice.

Chicks dig Pulitzers. And scars.

You see, I've got a few servings of hot, steamy busy-ness on my plate already, but I recently saw an ad on craigslist for movie reviewers for a very small weekly publication. They're hiring people to review new releases and offering to reimburse movie fees as compensation. So basically the work is for free, but I would get my name on something homeless people live in so in a way I'd be contributing to New York's civil infrastructure. Also, I think I might do it just to say I'm a professional and not be talking about male prostitution.

What do you guys think?


Good News, Bad News

Good News: I saw Across the Universe and The Darjeeling Limited.

Bad News: I've been too busy (ie: fun NY drama) to write about them. I will say this: surprisingly, I may have enjoyed Across the Universe more than Darjeeling Limited and I never would have guessed that.

Did you know Salma Hayek is in Across the Universe? Now you do.


My Mom's Review of Good Luck Chuck

I'd like to introduce a new segment called "My Mom's Review of..." In this segment my mom will review an entire movie in ten words or less.

This isn't my mom, but she's a big fan of Salma's work

Her first review is for Good Luck Chuck.

My mom says,
It was funny and I liked it. Don't take family.

Excellent work, mom.


My New York Site has Moved

Will blog for food

Just like me, my personal New York blog is an itinerant indigent.


Box Office Roundup 10/12/07

Oh how the mighty have fallen. Just last week I could see any new release I wanted but now that I'm in New York I honestly wonder if I'll ever visit a theater again. Movies just aren't ironic enough to be "cool" here in the Big Apple. Not being cool never stopped me from scratching myself in public but it might make it difficult for me to find fellow movie-goers because if there's anything I need more than peanut M&Ms at a theater it's somebody to witness my totally accurate predictions of who the killer is after only watching the first fifteen minutes.

Who knows when I'll walk these wonderful, filthy aisles again

Since I don't know the next time I'll make it out to a theater, I'm going to steal some inspiration from Fletch at The Blog Cabins and give my impressions of the current Top Ten. Keep in mind that, like everything else on The Spoon, these impressions are wildly biased and highly dependent upon my current mood (gaseous).

1) Why Did I Get Married?
Apparently Tyler Perry has carved a niche out of portraying genuine characters caught up in real life drama, all while dressed as a large black woman. Why Did I Get Married scraps the fat suit but keeps the drama. I have absolutely no interest in this film.

2) The Game Plan
If The Rock is going to make a "comedy" why can't it be more like The Rundown? The guy is charismatic, dynamic, and actually funny and yet he insists on wasting his talent on bland kiddie flicks. Isn't that Vin Diesel's job?

3) We Own the Night
I'm automatically interested in any moving starring Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Wahlburg is quickly becoming a distinguished actor. But I'd rather watch The Departed before I get to We Own the Night.

4) Michael Clayton
I foolishly read a spoiler about this movie before I could stop myself. Even knowing crucial plot points I'm going to try and see Michael Clayton anyway. George Clooney is probably the most watchable actor in movies today.

5) The Heartbreak Kid

6) Elizabeth: The Golden Age
My knowledge of history is just good enough to spoil the plot for me. I blame my senior history teacher but I can't even remember her name. How sad is that?

7) The Kingdom
Wham, bam, thank you Islam. High energy and heavy weaponry stand out in this tense clash of cultures. It's plays more for the mood than for any kind of revelation but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Not for the squeamish.

8) Across the Universe
I've heard mixed things about Across. On the one hand, it's been called superficial, heavy handed, and obvious. On the other hand, if you don't like The Beatles than the terrorists have already won.

9) Resident Evil: Extinction
Pure popcorn fun. Read my quick review here.

10) The Seeker: The Dark is Rising
I've found the Harry Potter movies adequately entertaining. This movie looks like it wants to be Harry Potter but on a $20 budget. Seriously, the special effects look terrible and the acting looks even worse. If I want to see a magical children's tale that's cool enough for me to watch, I'll wait for The Golden Compass, thank you.

Since I can't go see the movies, I charge you all to watch them for me. Report back as soon as you can.


Fun Videos

Sometimes when you're feeling a little sick and a little run down all you need is a good video about simulated masturbation at the office. Not exactly kid appropriate.

And just for kicks here's another fun recreation of Ok Go's music video for a high school talent show. This video came out a while back but it's new to me.


My New York Site is Up and Running

I hereby present My New York Times.

Thanks for everyone's name suggestions but I decided to just go with whatever came out of my gut. I also decided to try something new with my New York Diary, or "man-diary" as I call it, by hosting it on Tumblr.

I'm still learning how to work with Tumblr but it looks like it won't allow comments. That might be just as well for now, though if you really want to say something you can comment here or email me because I love getting email that doesn't promise to increase the size of my wallet with get-rich-quick schemes. I bet you thought I was going to say penis there, you horny bastards.

I wish I could say that I'll keep up my daily movie related postings here at The Spoon, but I'll probably have to slow down as I deal with my other priorities. Now you're wondering what my priorities are but you'll have to wander over to My New York Times to find out.


New York City Welcomes The Spoon

Twenty four hours have passed since I lurched off the airplane and simultaneously hugged and kissed the ground (my flight wasn't very bumpy; I just love the ground). In that time I've already witnessed some remarkable events and most of them have made me very happy to call New York City my new home.

Here are some highlights:

-Heard five different languages during a five minute subway ride: English, Spanish, Hebrew, Japanese, Ebonics

-Scraggly homeless man asked ME for weed (I felt so honored)

-Got sick (not that great but impossible to ignore)

-Witnessed bagpipe player serenading subway commuters

-Got pissed on by nature (no doubt one of the contributing factors to my sickness)

-Saw a large number of very attractive girls that I can begin relationships with in my mind

If anybody is worried that I've veered off from my movie focus, I can assure you (them? my head hurts, cut me some slack) that my new New York blog will be up and running soon to contain all my NY stories, opinions, etc. (once I finish some interviews tomorrow and feel better).

Any good ideas for the name of my New York blog? Anybody? Anybody? Bueller? Beuller? Beuller?

Mission Accomplished!

The Eagle has landed. I desperately hope the Eagle is not getting a cold.


Moving Update

The Spoon might be a little quiet over the next few days so I'd like to take this moment to prepare you for my temporary absence, as I finish getting my crap together for my upcoming move to New York. The reality of my move is starting to hit me, as is my growing need to pack. All of this means I'll be a little preoccupied over the next few days and likely won't have any new posts until the end of the week. Although if everything goes according to plan, I'll be relaxing in Brooklyn come Wednesday evening.

Thanks again to everyone who's offered support or anyone who's thought about offering support but is too much of a lurker to actually say anything. You guys have been instrumental in helping me get my butt in gear and onto the next phase of my career and life.

Speaking of which, my career path just became a little bit clearer in the last couple of days. I had already decided to seek out internships at magazines and online publications to better spread my opinions into the unsuspecting public but yesterday I had an epiphany: Wouldn't I be better prepared to spread my opinions if I actually got educated first? I figure the answer is yes. So I'll be applying for journalism graduate programs in addition to writing internships.

Let me tell you, I'm pretty thick in the head for not seeing this sooner. Journalism isn't just about reporting labor strikes and stock prices anymore and several programs, including NYU's Journalism department, focus on "arts, fashion, leisure, sports, entertainment, ideas, and literature..." Boy oh boy is that right up my alley. And with contacts from NYU (or another program) I'll have all the necessary tools to share my crap far and wide.

In summary, my new plan of attack is to get to New York, find a new place for myself, my brother, and our roommate, get a magazine internship, take the GREs, complete the necessary journalism graduate school applications (before the December/January deadlines), and then get into as many of them as I can. Easy as pie.

I'm also considering starting yet another blog (yes, I know you're already sick of me but I might do it anyway) about my new experiences in New York. I'm hoping the posts on this hypothetical blog won't be about my first mugging or how I got felt up by a homeless man on the subway, but only time will tell.

Take care everyone and I'll see you all on the other side.


Movie Reaction: In the Shadow of the Moon

It’s been almost forty years since Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon and into history. During that time, NASA’s achievements have become the stuff of legends, and, now, they are in danger of being forgotten. Young boys and girls still learn names like Buzz Aldrin and dates like July 21, 1969, but America’s space program has become an old man; a grandfather who is loved and revered but rarely listened to. The documentary In the Shadow of the Moon attempts to bring the stories, achievements, and, most importantly, the lessons of the Apollo space program back into the national discussion. I strongly suggest everybody listen.

Mainly told through a collection of astronaut interviews and original NASA video footage, the message of In the Shadow is simple at its heart but universal in its meaning: through total commitment and sacrifice our nation achieved the impossible and all of mankind was united for one fleeting moment in history.

Astronauts like Mike Collins, Alan Bean, and Gus Grissom sacrificed everything, and in some cases even their lives, to touch the heavens. They did this knowing full well the risks they faced and in return their success was rewarded with a near mythic status. In the Shadow pulls back the protective helmets to reveal just how human these astronauts really were and what their extraordinary achievements actually meant to them.

The astronauts’ words are sometimes humorous, sometimes sad, and almost always touching, but all of them are infused with the wisdom of a lifetime’s worth of reflection and every one of their stories recalls moments of clarity and comprehension. Each man, after experiencing the vastness of space firsthand, came to see Earth as a wellspring of hope and opportunity, a Garden of Eden. If mankind could put somebody on the moon, can’t anything be accomplished with enough commitment and sacrifice?

Times have changed since 1969 but the lessons of the Apollo space program are as relevant today as they were when Neil Armstrong first smudged the moon’s surface. The Space Race was a symbolic competition between nations but its end result crystallized the bonds between all mankind. Once it’s possible to see that the heroes of NASA are as human as anybody else, then it’s possible to see that their unifying achievements are just as reachable today as they were nearly forty years ago.

Maybe I’m being an idealist but that is a message I’ll never tire of hearing.


Pushing Daisies Pie-lette Review

I have a confession to make: Pushing Daisies has put me in a foul mood. It’s not because Pushing Daisies is a depressing show -- far from it actually. The first episode of ABC’s newest dramedy (that’s a comedy slash drama but the emphasis in this case is on the comedy) is so buoyant, fresh, and pitch-perfect that I’m afraid creator/writer Bryan Fuller (Dead Like Me) and his amazing cast have set the bar higher than any subsequent episode can ever hope to match. Ergo, I’m a little bummed that I won’t get to see Pushing Daisies again for the first time. Yes, it really is that good.

I know what you're thinking and the answer is no; Pushing Daisies is not about drug trafficking

From the sweeping camera pans to the brilliant settings (daisies galore!) to the playful, energetic performances by the cast, Pushing Daisies sparkles in every nook and cranny – and it depresses me to hell. Watching this show do so many things right is like pitching a no-hitter or winning the Tour de France (sans steroids); once the glow of achievement fades, you’re left with the nagging feeling that it’s all downhill from here.

The stylish camera work and exaggerated, almost cartoonish set designs are energetic and bursting with so much life that Tim Burton might get a little upset when he sees how perfectly director Barry Sonnenfeld captured the creative whimsy of Big Fish and Edward Scissorhands. Some of Sonnenfeld’s past projects, like Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, appear to be in the same visual vein as Pushing Daisies so I can’t get too far down on the director, especially when the result is so deliciously off-beat.

Comparing Pushing Daisies to a Tim Burton film is an appropriate comparison for another reason; this show looks, feels, and sounds like a big budget movie. If I had licked my television screen I wouldn’t have been surprised if it also tasted like a movie (minty, fyi). I suppose I should have expected high quality production values since most of the creative forces behind the show have extensive movie and television backgrounds and even the music composer, James Dooley, has been involved in like fifty different projects in the last few years alone.

They're so cute together it's making me bitter

The cast members are relative unknowns compared to the folks behind the scenes but you couldn’t tell by their relaxed deliveries that keep perfectly in tune with the show’s light hearted… ugh… tone. Lee Pace is Ned the pie baker, a sensitive young man who reminds me once again of Edward Scissorhands not because of any physical deformity but because they both share a peculiar condition that prevents them from forming close relationships. Eddie Scissorhands had kitchen utensil appendages but Ned has the gift (or curse) of raising the dead. Ned’s gift makes the dead come alive as they once were but with a few complicating limitations (are there any other kind?).

At a young age Ned realized his ability had rules and these rules set up some major story arcs for the series.

Rule number 1: Touching a dead person or animal will bring them back to life (Ned learned this rule by reviving his dead dog).

Rule number 2: If the re-animated person (or animal) stays alive for 60 seconds then somebody nearby will die in their place (Ned learned this rule by reviving his dead mother, and then killing his neighbor’s father).

Rule number 3: Once re-animated, a person or other life form will remain alive until Ned touches him, her, or it again – and this time it’s dead for good (unfortunately Ned learned this rule by giving his re-animated mother a kiss goodnight).

With that kind painful education it’s no wonder Ned grew up to be a little distant.

Ned’s character very easily could have come across as a complete wimp or even a lovesick puppy (I’ll explain) but Lee Pace manages to avoid both possibilities with a reserved masculine strength and wry humor that is self-deprecating without being pathetic. It also helps that he has some snappy lines to work with. When somebody tells him he can’t just bring people to back life and then refuse to help them he replies, “Yes I can. That’s how I roll.” And since he can’t touch his dog again without killing him (rule number 3 in effect), Ned pets his poocher with a synthetic hand made entirely from wood. Ned is just far enough offbeat that he’s different and quirky but not a total geek.

Ned is also a pie maker so naturally he runs a diner (aptly named the Pie Hole). However business is bad so he reluctantly begins a side job with a private eye, played by Chi McBride. When private investigator Emerson Cod (I love these names) accidentally witnesses Ned’s powers in action, they strike a business deal: Cod finds reward cases, Ned brings victims back to life and they very quickly find out whatever they need to know to collect the reward. It’s a natural arrangement drawn from unnatural conditions, and it works because Chi McBride oozes an aw shucks affability that neatly plays off of Pace’s reserved dry wit.

Zooey isn't in this show but she's always in my thoughts. My secret, naughty thoughts

Things become complicated when the duo investigates the death of Ned’s childhood neighbor and first and only sweetheart, Charlotte “Chuck” Charles.” I kid you not, but it took me months to realize that Chuck was not played by Zooey Deschanel. It’s an easy mistake to make since Anna Friel and Zooey both have the same big eyed pixie charm and though I would have loved to see Zooey in Pushing Daisies, Anna Friel does a perfectly good job. It turns out that Anna Friel’s pixie charm is actually quite potent and used to great effect as Ned’s main love interest.

Technically this is a spoiler, but nobody should be surprised to find out that Ned can’t quite leave Chuck dead and the duo of Ned and Cod becomes a threesome. Errrr.

I’ll leave the rest of the plot for your viewing pleasure but by now you can tell why I’m so miserable. The pilot for Pushing Daisies is so exquisitely tuned in pacing, direction and acting that the series can’t possibly get any better. I guess the only cure for my particular brand of depression is to watch another episode of Pushing Daisies and hope for the best. Watch the Pie-lette and you’ll be just as bummed, and eager for the next episode, as I am.


Saving the World one Link at a time

Occasionally I like to use my V-list celebrity status to make a difference in people’s lives. Africa is played out thanks to Madonna and Angelina so I’ve decided to concentrate my efforts right here in the good ole US of A. Specifically, I’d like to give a shout out to a couple deserving movie and entertainment blogs, because there’s more to life than starving children in third world countries.

Celluloid Heroes
Paul McElligot is the creative force behind Celluloid Heroes, which is the kind of movie review website I’d put up myself if I weren’t so busy being sexy all the time. His reviews are clear, insightful, and a tasteful alternative to my frequent reflections on bowel movements. You might want to get started with some reviews of The 40 Year Old Virgin or one of my all time favorite movies, North by Northwest.

I smell varmint poontang
The Critical Lass
Whenever I see the word "lass" my mind conjures images of a sassy Irish woman who is much hotter than that chick in Caddyshack. I think that image is pretty appropriate for The Critical Lass, not because of any hot Irish women (unfortunately), but because Lass author Kristen has a sassy way about her. Head over to her blog and pay attention as Kristen sets her saucy sights on all the necessary pop culture mediums: books, television, and of course, movies.

Check out these worthy websites but don’t forget to come back to your favorite Spoon!


Television Roundup: Chuck and Heroes (spoilers)

Given how much I liked Chuck’s premiere, perhaps a little letdown was inevitable. The second episode's jokes were sparse, the action felt rehashed and I didn't feel the same sparkle that I did in the first episode. Admittedly I missed the first 20 minutes because I am slow in the head, but I'm pretty certain the poisoned food routine was stolen from another show, and other than the tablecloth gag there weren’t too many surprises. Even the helicopter finale felt clichéd.

Zachary Levi could've been the the fourth member of Alvin and the Chipmunks

On the brighter side, next week’s episode looks a lot spicier; knives thrown at crotches have a way of making good television.

And on to Heroes.

I'm glad Peter cut his hair. Now if he could only learn how to talk normal-like

Today’s episode reminded me how intriguing this series can be. I can literally hear the creaky wheels in my head struggling to anticipate what will happen next.

It was gratifying to see at least one of my theories came true when Hiro borrowed Kensei’s identity to save the blacksmith’s daughter. But will the daughter realize that it’s Hiro who is actually the hero?

And the “real” Kensei apparently has rejuvenative powers like Claire. Thanks to Claire’s toe chopping demonstration, it looks like her healing powers – and therefore, likely Kensei’s power as well – can repair damage at a sub-cellular level (whatever that might mean). If I were to put on my science hat, I might suppose that their healing powers would also prevent aging and very likely allow eternal life. Is it possible that Kensei is Claire’s ancestor, or perhaps even her father? (I just did some reading and found out that Nathan Petrelli is actually Claire’s biological father. Boy did I miss a lot.)

I don't want to brag, but I was perving on Hayden before it became fashionable

We learned a little more about the brother and sister making their way to America. They're twins and each of their powers seem to nullify the other's. The sister can induce those around her to cry black tears (of shame?) before dying while the brother is able to prevent his sibling's power from manifesting. Today's episode also showed how the brother, Alejandro, can revive his sister's victims.

Is it just me or is Peter a little more muscular than last year? Whatever his physique, Peter is certainly making the most of his stable of powers. He looked pretty unstoppable against a couple of thugs, which makes me wonder why he won’t use force to retake his identity from his Irish captors.

Mohinder, Matt, Mr. Bennett, Molly (the little girl), and now the Haitian all seem to be in league together with the goal of bringing down Mr. Bennett's old company. It even looks like they're making progress which leads me to believe that disaster will soon strike. This could be the perfect opportunity for the worse-than-bogeyman character to make an appearance, unless he was already on the scene as Hiro's father's murderer or Mrs. Petrelli's secret scratcher.

What were your thoughts on the shows?