bsmechanic's Profile - Rotten Tomatoes

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Rating History

Little Miss Sunshine
6 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

[size=3][font=Arial][b][i]Little Miss Sunshine[/i] [/b]garnered a standing ovation at the Sundance Film Festival. But don't let that cause you to dismiss it as highbrow, in case you're a comedy fan in the vein of [i]National Lampoon's Vacation[/i]. Little Miss Sunshine is also comparable to Michael Ritchie's [i]Smile [/i](1975) (he also directed the original [i]Bad News Bears[/i]) in its subject matter, that being a juvenile beauty contest that comprises the finale of both films. [/font][/size]
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[font=Arial][size=3]The photos above depict a dysfunctional family that is the subject of the film. Let's treat them like a family photo album, shall we? In the first photo, Grandpa (Alan Arkin) takes a break from his frequent non-PC blue streak swearing, and tells his granddaughter/ Little Miss Sunshine contestant Olive (Abigail Breslin) "You are beautiful on the inside and the outside." Photo number two: dad (Greg Kinnear), brother-in-law (Steve Carrell, in a show-stealing performance), son (Paul Dano), mom (Toni Collette) and Olive await news on Grandpa, who is in the hospital for snorting too much heroin (huh?). Photo number three: what a sweetie! Incidentally, her performance in the Little Miss Sunshine contest will feature moves that her grandfather taught her (heh!). Photo number four: on the road from their home in Albuquerque to the contest in California, the family stops at a diner. A power-shift dynamic is evidenced, whereupon dad guilt-trips his daughter out of eating the "fat-inducing" ice cream she has ordered, and the other three men gently nudge her back into the happiness of the cold, creamy, and tasty [i]a la mode [/i]experience.[/size][/font]
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[font=Arial][size=3]This was a delightful ride of a film. I laughed my proverbial ass off early in the film, as the family characters establish themselves in all their glorious quirks. As the gears of the film shift (if not the defective gears of the family's VW van, which in and of itself deserves an Academy Award nod for "best honking sound in a supporting role"), the laughs tone down, yet there is a pervasive spirit of familial love, through conflict as well as support for one another, that sustains throughout.[/size][/font]
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[size=3][font=Arial][b][i]Clerks II [/i][/b]has been disparaged by one critic as "the original [i]Clerks[/i], colorized." I'd like to give director/writer Kevin Smith more credit than that. The main characters from the original film are here, and no, they really haven't changed too much. Dante is still a lovable schmuck, kind of uptight, and has a conflict over women. Randal, his best friend, is a wisecracking, foul-mouthed ass, and will probably grow up to be Grandpa in the above-mentioned film. Jay, though now sober and clean for six months, still sells drugs in the parking lot with his pal Silent Bob. Additional characters include a Jesus-loving, Lord of the Rings afficianado named Elias, and store manager Becky (played hot, sweet, and New Jersey real by Rosario Dawson).[/font][/size]
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[font=Arial][size=3]So, though, yea, the colorized sequel to the great, grainy, independent film of the '90's decade be backed by Hollywood dollars and advanced production... go screw yourself and your quest for "indie credibility points" in your put-downs of [i]Clerks II[/i], because it was truly an irreverent laugh riot at points, not the least of which was Randal's argument with Elias over which epic fantasy series was better: [i]Star Wars [/i]or [i]Lord of the Rings.[/i] Or Jay's performance-oriented tribute to the killer in [i]Silence of the Lambs. [/i]Not Hannibal, the other guy. Or the alleged existence of the "pussy troll" that lives in the body of Elias' girlfriend. And then there's the subject of inter-species erotica...[/size][/font]

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
7 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

I watched it this past Sunday night, and man does it still ring true. For some reason I have a recurring vision of Christopher Lloyd's character, early in the movie, prodding Harding (William Redfield) during a group meeting in the institution. Lloyd's character is bald-skulled crazy, manic twisted smile, and he repeatedly pokes the effeminate, cerebral Harding, whose face grows increasingly red, puffy, madder and madder... it's an insane asylum, dammit! I've been in a couple of institutions, been about as close as I want to be shy of being committed, and watching One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, I could almost smell the must, sweat, antiseptic, and urine.[/size]

[size=3]Monday through today, I've wittled some spare time re-reading Ken Kesey's novel of the same name, upon which the movie was based. And unsure upon reconsidering the movie. I noted similarities between the two that were stunning, dialogue passages in the book that had me honoring the screenwritter in maintaining serious faithfulness to the original text. And on the other hand, I considered disparity in the overall feel of the book vs. the movie.[/size]

[size=3]Ken Kesey's novel is written in first person from the point of view of Chief Bromden. His description of the hospital is that of a giant control room. It is a place where fog billows out from vents, where nurses, doctors, orderlies, and custodians are activated by frequencies, lasers, ... they're all puppets. And the residents (Acutes and Chronics) are subsequently controlled by the lasers emanating from the Big Nurse (Ratched), who twists and fiddles with knobs in the security of the nurses' station. From the Chief's focal point, it is new patient Randle McMurphy who rips through the machinery of the institution. His presence causes the fog to dissipate. The Chief's viewpoint is a lot more complex than that, actually. Kesey takes us to the center of Bromden's own insanity at points, to where I reconsidered the mood of the movie to be closer to Animal House, notably the boating scene and the party at the end, with wine being fed to a bedridden Chronic. And the Chief... he's a pretty essential character in the movie, but the basketball court sequence where McMurphy trains him to make and reject shots effortlessly, well, hell, that was just for yuks. [/size]

[size=3]You're right. What the hell am I bitching about? Party scenes and all, the movie stands head and effing shoulders above much Hollywood ka-ka. Jack Nicholson realized the McMurphy of Kesey's novel to nearly a tee. Swaggering, rambling 'n gambling, flouting authority with the fists and temper to back it up. He wins cigarettes, money from bets made over his ability to drive Nurse Ratched to blow a fuse, and the respect of the residents. He loses, becomes morose over his subordinates' inability to stand up for themselves.[/size]

[size=3]Ah man, feeling like I've bitten off more than I can write here. The last note on my comparisons between the book and the movie end with this: respect to the fact that the movie would have earned a borderline "X" rating were it more like the book (profane language, anal swabbings.... you want more? Then read it, man!). [/size]

[size=3]BONUS: Great passages from the book that didn't make it to film.[/size]

[size=3]*** McMurphy's initial rapport with the Acutes leads him to a joshing match with Harding in who gets to be the "bull goose looney". McMurphy wins in exclaiming, "not only did I vote for Eisenhower TWICE, but I plan on voting for him again in the next election!" Make that claim nowadays in Elgin Mental Health Center, and that might get you elected ... uh... president?[/size]

[size=3]*** McMurphy, as he did in the movie, has two old lady friends with a lot of booze drop by the institution for a party. Upon concern over Orderly Turkle's amorous feelings towards one of them, McMurphy responds with a not-to-worry: "Turkle's so drunk he couldn't put a carrot in a wash tub."[/size]

Kung Fu Hustle
7 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

[size=3]The first surprise about Kung Fu Hustle: It's been in release in Chicago for a little over a month, and is playing at ONE stinkin' theater! What the hell?? What about all the great reviews? All the TV ads? It must have something to do with the movie being subtitled.

There's no way I'm going to be able to paint you a picture of this one with simple words. Kung Fu Hustle is an incredible blend of martial arts/comic book action, colorful and likeable characters, choreography, and a little dash of heart whereupon a young Sing (played as an adult by director Stephen Chow) faces a gang picking on a mute girl and gets humiliated in the process. The soundtrack is brilliant as it captures and enhances the comic tone that runs throughout the movie.

Upon trying to describe Kung Fu Hustle, the phrase "pop art in a blender" comes to mind. There are visual references to The Shining, Looney Tunes' Coyote and Roadrunner, Michael Madsen's dancing madman sequence in Reservoir Dogs, and spoken references to Marvel Comics' Spiderman and The Matrix. However, using the blender metaphor implies that the end result of the ingredients is a green, foamy mix. Such is not the case here. The direction and editing is executed to near perfection. The fight choreography is by Yuen Wo-Ping (Kill Bill Volumes I and II, The Matrix trilogy, and the upcoming Unleashed). It's all really clean... there's plenty of fighting with an extreme minimum of sadism and gore.

To cut it short, because I'm giving this movie an obvious recommendation, Kung Fu Hustle may very well be just a kung fu flick with a simple kung fu story dressed up by high production values. But man, does it work! Very much in the same manner that Die Hard caught me by surprise... walking in going "ah yeah right, a Bruce Willis action flick", and walking out in an action movie daze feeling stunned and happy. I've walked out of crappy movies like the 21st century version of The Mummy with friends dogging me with comments like "Well what'dya expect? It's an ACTION movie!" Right. An action movie with a shell of CGI techno-wow that has nothing in the middle. But THIS one had me aglow and marvelling at the effects and action, while chuckling in whimsy all the way through in its characterizations: the chain-smoking slumlord landlady whose martial specialty is a scream; two knuckleheads who unsuccessfully attempt to gain membership in the feared Axe Gang, who are well-dressed, dance in sync, and sport top hats on occasion; the Beast, the "greatest kung fu master in the world", who is rescued from a mental asylum. The only characterization that didn't sit well with me (at first) was that of a slumlord tailor who scampered about in a playing out of a homosexual stereotype. Hmm. I checked with my friend Anthony on this character, and having seen the movie, he replied smilingly, with mock scorn. "Oh, yes, I was [i]terribly [/i]offended, and I took this stereotype personally on behalf of myself and the rest of the gay community...", then told me he really liked the movie. Well fuck it, if he's not bothered by it, why should I be?

As in Shaolin Soccer, Stephen Chow's release prior to this one, the action is farcical. Combatants are knocked through many layers of walls and rise to fight some more. The main character is propelled high into the clouds, and upon reaching his ascent he finds footing on the back of a hawk and propels himself higher. The laws of physics are rudely shoved aside, yet the action remains compelling.[/size]

Crash (2004)
7 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

[size=3]Many movies and workdays since Revenge of the Sith. On the recently viewed list include Harold and Maude, The Exorcist (Director's Cut), Shanghai Noon (three word review... piece of shit), The Longest Yard (original version), Saw, City of God (a nine tomato film, will get to it later), and the DVD recording of the Tim Robbins' play Embedded. And Goodfellas, which prompted me to read Nicholas Pileggi's book Wiseguy, from which the film sprung.

Crash stars a slew of folks; Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Brendan Fraser, Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Esposito, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, ... even spots a well done cameo by Tony Danza as a TV show producer. Actually, there aren't really any stars. The film is a series of vignettes, slices of life in modern day Los Angeles, all of them relating to the theme of cultural racism. While watching this, I recalled Magnolia, only its unifying themes were a quiz show host and a frog apocalypse.

There are a couple of stretches in Crash that strained my intellectual suspension of disbelief... y'know, that thought that goes "there's no effing WAY! How the hell does Matt Dillon as an LAPD officer run into the same civilian TWICE, both of them harrowing situations in their own right... the first one confirms him as a racist thug, the second one sets up his change of heart, act of redemption, etcetera..." But see, I was originally planning to see Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room last Saturday, and my date said "Ahh, let's go 'Hollywood'." Sure, why not? The Enron film is probably better suited for DVD viewing anyway, extras and all. So with the mental governor being that "Crash is a Hollywood film", I accepted the fact that in a city of millions, a beat officer could encounter multiple interactions. And a pawn shop customer could unknowingly purchase the bullets that would alter the course of at least one life. And through all the vignette characters there would run one... maybe two, max... degrees of separation. But the acting and smart dialogue overcame any head-scratchers of plot twists.[/size]