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Hello Rotten Tomatoes community!
I have created a website entitled "Blog Meet," it's essentially a swap meet for blogs where people can find other people's blogs (be it from Blogger or any other popular site) and give each other feedback. It seems that people have issues getting their voices heard by posting through Twitter and Facebook (I know from experience), so I want people to have that chance to have their voices heard and get feedback from people outside their friends and family. I am posting on RT because I specify in film reviews or anything that concerns movies. I write for TheProgram101.com as well as have my work posted on the Ellensburg Film Festival blog page, but here I want to start something different, something revolutionary. And it all starts right here, right now with you guys. If you have a blog, go to the site, http://blogmeet.weebly.com/, and post a link to your blog on the "Contact Us" section, and I will see that your blog gets posted and that you will see numbers increase. If you know anyone else who has a blog in a different area of expertise (Politics, Health, etc.) let them know about Blog Meet, and hopefully we can get this site to explode with popularity. Be patient with me, I am still working out the kinks on the site, but I hope all of you are excited as I am.
Ryan D. Oliver
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The summer of 2009 as officially come to a close, and for Universal Studios, it was the summer that would never end. They were the only major studio this year to not produce a $100 million hit. Twentieth Century Fox suffered the same fate last summer, however these are the films that fox released last summer:
What Happens in Vegas
The X-Files: I Want To Believe
Honestly, I don't have to say anything more, everyone of those films were dreadful and deserved to make no money. They recouped this summer in the economic portion, but their films still sucked (500 Days of Summer aside). However, you may be wondering why I am so sympathetic towards Universal. Well, according to the RT summer wrap-up, Universal had the highest average tomatometer for summer films, and it's for good reason too. Most of the ballsiest, riskiest movies came from Universal this summer, however moviegoers shunned them. We were too busy spending our money on pointy ears (which is totally ok), teen wizards (which is ok), a bachelor party gone wrong (which is ok), giant robots in disguise (which is NOT ok) and the real American hero (which is also NOT ok) that we didn't see past and seek out the great films of the summer. So, in honor of this summers' fallen studio, I want to go through the major "intended" blockbusters they released, and why each of them in their own way are worth seeing (some more so than others):
Land of the Lost
Ok, so "Land of the Lost," was released the same weekend as "The Hangover;" seeing "The Hangover" was a wise decision. However, I am probably one of the few people on this planet who didn't think "LOTL" was awful. I thought it was watchable, and mildly entertaining. Will Farrell can sometimes wear me down, but I think that Danny McBride is exceptionally funny in anything that he is in, and I think he is pretty damn funny in this one. Sure, the movie couldn't choose between kids movie fair and raunchy humor, which is exactly why it was lost among audiences. It's the only movie in Universal's tentpole that I can actually make a decent argument for people not seeing it, but if you happen to rent it or catch it on TV in the years to come, it's worth taking a look.
Drag Me To Hell
When it comes to horror films, I am extremely picky. I don't usually like to watch one under an R-rating (no substance), and even at that I still pick and choose. However, Sam Raimi (Spider-Man, The Evil Dead) returns back to the horror genre with his proudly gross, grimy, funny PG-13 horror comedy about a young woman (Alison Loman) who is cursed by an old gypsy woman to hell. Now what I can't understand is why you're shelling out the cash to see crap like "The Final Destination," but when an entertaining and actually frightening horror film comes along, you treat it like it was "The Unborn" or something like that. It comes to DVD around Halloween time, and if you're looking for a scare, you must seek it out.
And now, you're all in trouble for shunning these next three films:
Explain to me how a film starring Johnny Depp and Christian Bale directed by Michael Mann (Heat, The Insider) failed to make blockbuster status. Though some were disappointed by Mann's take on notorious depression-era gangster John Dillinger (Depp), I thought this was easily one of the best films of the summer. Mann's viscreal film of sights, sounds and images to paint a portrait of a man living on the edge is exhilarating to watch, and Depp is nothing short of outstanding in a role tailor-made to his coolness. Bale is a little one-note as Melvin Purvis, the FBI agent hired by Hoover to take down Dillinger, but overall it's a grand experience, but more money was spent its opening weekend on "Ice Age" than its beauty. Tisk tisk.
There's no easy way to say this; Sacha Baron Cohen is way too smart for the American public, which is why his follow-up to "Borat" didn't connect with audiences. Cohen's Bruno, a gay, Austrian fashionista, set up to satirize the homophobic, ignorant, celebrity-worshipping citizens of our society. However, these are the comments I heard from the audience all three times I saw it. "That movie was so gay," or "That guy has issues, that's sick." Sure, some of it can be sick, but it's that shock factor that is supposed to make you laugh (and does most of the time). People who hate the movie because they think that it is too "gay," guess what? The movie is holding a mirror up to you. It is blatently obvious that the movie is making fun of you. And people actually listened to those ignorant bastards when they said they shouldn't see it. Critics told you you shouldn't see "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," but you all did anyway, good job. You could've spent that money better to laugh your ass off for 80 minutes. Instead, you paid to have your senses thrashed for two and half hours. Good job America.
"Funny People" is hands down Adam Sandler's best performance, period. And just because it's more "serious" than the majority of his films, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't avoid it. His previous craptacular, juvenile entries "You Don't Mess With The Zohan" and "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry," both made over $100 million, but "Funny People" isn't even going to make back it's $75 million budget. Judd Apatow's serious and seriously funny film about a jerk-off comedian (Adam Sandler) dealing with a near-death experience and an up-and-coming comedian (Seth Rogen) who he befriends is my favorite comedy of the summer. Not the funniest, but the most well done and drawn out. Both Sandler and Rogen give their best performances, and great supporting roles from Jonah Hill, Jason Swartzman, Eric Bana (hilarious) and Leslie Mann. Fans of typical Sandler fare were more than likely turned off by the serious tone, but please seek this out and make it a cult classic on DVD, because filmmakers deserve to have their work rewarded, and by not checking out, you're only hurting yourself.
There you have it, a studio that didn't deserve to have its movies tank. Universal put out consistent films this summer, but got lost in the shuffle. It's just my opinion, but I truly believe that all these films had something going for them. Some more than others, but no film that I truly hated, and for that they have my outmost respect.
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Just a random video for our homecoming skit,more to come soon!
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Oscar Nominators Make Room for ?Old Men?
By Ryan Oliver
No Country For Old Men
Studio: Miramax Films, Paramount Vantage
Directed by The Coen Brothers (Joel and Ethan)
Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson, Kelly MacDonald
Writers: The Coen Brothers, based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy
MPAA: Rated R for strong graphic violence and some language
**** (out of four)
In the last scene of ?No Country For Old Men,? the movie ends on the drop of a dime. The whole last row of the theater I was in exclaimed ?Awwww,? as if they felt like they were ripped off. The Coen Brothers could have gone for a flashy Hollywood ending that could explain it to you, but instead they end it on the same note of the last page of Cormac McCarthy?s novel, staying true to the source material, and let you dig deep into the meaning. The Coen?s have always been good in letting you figure out the meaning, instead of spelling it out for you. With ?Country,? they have created a masterpiece, outdoing their previous one ?Fargo?. With a combination of suspense, dark humor and fantastic performances, it has proven to be so far the year?s best film.
The story is set in 1980 West Texas. While hunting, a man named Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) discovers a massacre over a drug deal gone sour. He finds a truckload of heroin and a satchel with over $2 million in it. As any red-blooded American would do, Moss decides to keep the money. His decision becomes costly while he becomes hunted by Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), a homicidal maniac who carries a tank full of compressed air and a cattle stun gun as a weapon. Chigurh is by far the scariest and sinister villains to grace the screen in many years. He literally has no soul. He will dispose of anyone in his way, even flip a coin at a stranger to decide if he is going to live or die. Moss goes on the run from hotel to hotel to escape the hell he has been put through, so he and his wife (Kelly MacDonald) can go back to living their lives. In the midst of their battle, Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (a superb Tommy Lee Jones), tries to save Moss before Chigurh gets a hold of him.
The Coen Brothers suck us into a film that is very entertaining, but questions the midst of which our country is headed. It depicts how the violent nature of men is increasing, which is impacting our society by waging war with ourselves. They have brilliantly brought McCarthy?s words onto the screen and made it their own. Some of the scenes show you what McCarthy could not describe in words. The most chilling sequences are done with silence to raise the tension. The lead performances are all at the top of their game, with great supporting performances from Kelly MacDonald and Woody Harrelson.
This film should receive quite a few nods during Oscar season, hopefully including best picture. I am sure that you are going to want to go see a ?feel good? Christmas flick during this holiday season, and this film is certainly not that, but if you are daring enough to be informed and entertained, go see ?No Country For Old Men.? I promise that you will not regret it.
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Biopics Take a Beating in ?Walk Hard?
By Ryan Oliver
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Director: Jake Kasden
Writers: Jake Kasden and Judd Apatow
Starring: John C. Reilly, Jenna Fischer, Kristen Wiig, Tim Meadows, Chris Parnell
MPAA: Rated R for sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language
*** (out of four)
This year has been a great one for Judd Apatow. Building upon the success of ?Knocked Up? and ?Superbad,? he has gone out to prove that third time?s a charm with ?Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story,? a parody on biopics such as ?Walk The Line? and the musicians featured in those films. The film successfully skewers every aspect that goes into those films and makes for quite an enjoyable time.
This movie explains the epic tale of musical prodigy Dewey Cox (Reilly), who as a boy was experienced a tragic loss. During a machete fight, he accidentally cut his brother in half. Constantly reminded by his father that he is not even ?half of the top half? as good as his brother, Dewey vows to be successful in his brother?s honor. He leaves his house at age 14, marries 12-year-old Edith (Wiig), and hits the road with nothing but his musical dreams. He cuts a break with his single ?Walk Hard,? and his career sky-rockets from there. During the course of his career, he becomes addicted to almost every drug known to man, divorces, remarries his back-up singer Darlene (Fischer), has tons of kids, and visits rehab twice. He tries his entire life to make his masterpiece, the one song that he will be remembered for forever.
That?s about all there is for plot. I?d say about the first third of the film strictly follows ?Walk The Line,? but becomes it?s own from there. Some parts of the film drag on a little bit, and some of the jokes wear thin, which is to be expected from a spoof film. When the jokes do hit you though, they are really funny. Not only are aspects of biopics greatly made-fun of, but also musicians take quite a beating from the jokes. One who understands music or has a great appreciation for it might find this film funnier than others.
It?s an up and down and up again story about a fictitious musician who you can almost believe is real. John C. Reilly makes that part his own, and makes you believe that he IS Dewey Cox. Reilly is really the one who makes this movie happen. The music in the film is also great. They are all original songs from the writers, and Reilly sings them all. The film has received two Golden Globe nominations, one for best actor (Reilly) and best original song (Walk Hard). The more I think about the film, the more I realized that I enjoyed it. It?s sometimes smutty, but mostly funny, and one of those films that will probably get better the more you watch it. There?s quite a bit of great films that are hitting theatres this Christmas break, and this one may not be your number one priority, but if you go see two films, give this one a try. There was only maybe 12 people in the theatre I was in, and that is pretty weak for an opening night. This film could use some strong word of mouth, and I will try and give it.
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