At the Theater #4: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus Jan29

At the Theater #4: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus...

I have to hand it to Terry Gilliam. Having one of your main actors die in the middle of filming is a big hurdle to overcome. But Gilliam came up with a very creative way to deal with it. Since half of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus takes place in an fantasy world of the mind’s imagination, Gilliam cast the trio of Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell to play the part of the late Heath Ledger’s character Tony, who Ledger plays in the real world scenes. I wasn’t aware of this heading into the movie. I thought Ledger’s death would have been handled the same way as Brandon Lee’s for The Crow: a body double and plenty of shadows. When Tony steps into the Imaginarium, I thought to myself “Wow, Heath Ledger really looks like Johnny Depp here.” And then said, “Wait, is that Johnny Depp?” Watching Depp, Law and Farrell play Tony in the imaginarium was very cool, but finding out afterwards that the three of them gave their paychecks from this movie to Heath Ledger’s young daughter Mathilda was every cooler. Each of them showed some real class with that. Not Heath Ledger.       Also not Heath Ledger Heath Ledger’s final film shows off his charm. The amnesiac Tony quickly takes up with Dr. Parnassus and his roving sideshow and goes to work as their caller, bringing in new customers to help win Doctor Parnassus’s bet with the devil. Ledger’s physical and verbal deftness during his first scene as a member of Dr. Parnassus’s crew reminded me of Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow from The Pirates of the Caribbean movies, which I think helped confuse me when Johnny Depp appeared as Tony in the next scene. I’ve been a fan Ledger’s work...

At the Theater #3: Up in the Air Jan23

At the Theater #3: Up in the Air...

The central theme of Up in the Air is rejection. Ryan Bingham, played by George Clooney, rejects anything that will keep him tied down: his family, a furnished apartment, a closet full of clothes, preferring to live in the places in between. Those places in-between are sky high, in the first class section of American Airlines. Ryan’s best friends are the magnetic stripes of his various loyalty program cards, allowing him to rush past lines. What he’s rushing to isn’t his destination though, it’s his first class airline seat. No one is immune to rejection to the movie. As a professional firer, Clooney delivers corporate rejection. His protégé and nemesis, Cornell grad and corporate up and comer Natalie, played by Twilight’s Anna Kendrick, is initially rejected by Clooney and faces further rejection as the film goes on. Clooney’s family starts out being rejected by him and it isn’t long before they start rejecting each other. Anyone is any kind of relationship, familial, romantic or corporate, is sent through the ringer. It’s a very good movie and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Clooney get as many award nominations for this as he did for Michael Clayton two years ago. But if any actor in this movie deserves an award, it’s J.K. Simmons. He makes every movie he’s in better. Jason Reitman knows this and was smart to cast him again. Whenever I see his name in a film’s opening credits, I smile, because not matter what part he’s given, his scenes shine. He has a small part here, as a father of two who laid off by Ryan and Natalie but man does he shine. He has to be the most under-rated actor working in Hollywood today. If any actor makes the transition over...

On the Couch #3: Inglourious Basterds Jan22

On the Couch #3: Inglourious Basterds...

Inglourious Basterds is Tarantino’s takes on the World War Two adventure film. It’s like Indiana Jones by way of Reservoir Dogs. If you’re a fan of Quentin Tarantino, you’ll find more to like here. If you’re not a fan of the violence that characterizes Tarantino’s movies, this is one to be avoided. It’s not as over-the-top violent as the Kill Bill movies, but it’s easily as bloody as either Reservoir Dogs or Pulp Fiction. Looking at the poster, you really have no excuse for not thinking it’s going to get bloody. What sets this film apart from most World War 2 movies, the characters here speak their native languages. Unlike Valkyrie’s Germans who all spoke English with American or British accents, in Inglourious Basterds, the Germans speak German, the French speak French and the Americans speak very butchered Italian. It’s worth watching this movie just to hear Brad Pitt’s character, Lt. Aldo Raine, say “buongiorno” with a heavy southern twang. The movie tells two stories, both of revenge. The Basterds are a group of Jewish American soldiers who go to Europe with one mission, killin’ Nazis. The second story revolves around Shoshana, an orphan of the war, who hatches a plan to avenge the murder of her family by the Nazis. Both sets of protagonists are instantly relatable. This is due to who they are fighting. It’s impossible to root for the Nazis in any movie, they represent the worst in man, especially here. The opening scene, showing Shoshana’s origin, is one of the most tense movie scenes I’ve seen in a long time.  Christoph Waltz is despicable as main bad guy Col. Hans Landa. If Sherlock Holmes were a Nazi with a mean streak, he’d be Col. Hans Landa. The pure evil of the Nazis gives...

At The Movies #2: The Fantastic Mr. Fox Jan17

At The Movies #2: The Fantastic Mr. Fox...

First off, I apologize for the delay is getting this post out. When George Clooney heard I was going to blow the whistle on The Fantastic Mr. Fox’s true motivation, he did everything in his power to keep me from posting this. I still walk down the street looking over my shoulder, knowing that he’s out there, ready to take me out with a Facts of Life Boxed Set. It took me a little time, but I figured out the true purpose of The Fantastic Mr. Fox. It is to ready children to accept George Clooney as their heist movie star of choice. It was a cunning move on Mr. Clooney’s part. After seeing competition emerging from Clive Owen and Jason Statham, Clooney, using his Danny Ocean-like razor sharp mind, decided that the true way to box office gold is through the next generation. I didn’t know that The Fantastic Mr. Fox revolved around a heist when I entered the Brooklyn Heights Cinema to see it. I never read the Roald Dahl book. And Mr. Fox’s uncanny resemblance to Nintendo character Star Fox caused me to unintentionally think the movie took place in outer space.     Wrong Mr. Fox But once the movie gets underway, it’s easy to spot this as a children’s primer for Ocean’s 11. It could have been called Fox’s 11 with no problem. Clooney’s Mr. Fox, just like his Danny Ocean, assembles a team of individuals of various backgrounds, sizes and abilities to take what he wants. Casino chips are replaced with chickens, but the plot is basically the same. The mole even bears a more than passing resemblance to Carl Reiner. Same Person? The similarities don’t end there. Danny Ocean is a snappy dresser. As is Mr. Fox.                                                                You would...

What’s in a name? Jan17

What’s in a name?...

As you may have noticed, this little blog isn’t called 52×2 anymore. I was a fan of the name. It was short, sweet and to the point. Well, maybe it was only to the point if you knew what the point was already: me seeing 52 movies in the theater and another 52 movies at home during 2010. But as it’s been pointed out to me, it looks more like the title to a math blog, not a movie blog. I knew I needed a new name, but for the life of me, I couldn’t come up with one that wasn’t cliche, already taken or both. Tuesday Night Movies came as a perfect suggestion when someone asked if we were still doing “Tuesday Night Movies” this year. When we first did a movie a week in 2008, Tuesday was the night we usually went to the movies. Looking at 2010, that will most likely remain true. Tuesday isn’t the only day I’ll go to the movies, but it definitely will be the most common one. For the math-minded of you though, 52×2=2010 still remains...

At The Movies: #1 Sherlock Holmes Jan06

At The Movies: #1 Sherlock Holmes...

At a Foo Fighters concert I attended at MSG, lead singer Dave Grohl yelled to the audience “I hope you went to the bathroom already, because we’re going to rock three hours non-stop!” The same warning should be given at the beginning of Sherlock Holmes. I’m serious here. After gulping down a water and a green tea (really trying to get over my cold) before the movie, by five minutes in I really had to go. I mean, I REALLY HAD TO GO. But there was never a good time to jump up and run to the men’s room. It’s not that the movie is a thrill-a-minute nail biter. It’s not. This isn’t Crank (Thank God). It’s just very engaging. The majority of Holmes and Watson’s best lines come in the slower scenes, which is why over an hour into the movie, with my bladder feeling like it would burst, I was still glued to my seat. But the fast paced fight scenes aren’t a good time either, because they’re awesome too. It wasn’t until the 1 hour and 15 minute mark that I finally succumbed to my bodily needs and ran out and back in as quickly as possible. I found out afterwards from my friend that I missed Rachel McAdams‘ disrobing scene in the two minutes I was gone. So I repeat my advice: Go to the bathroom before the movie starts. Either you’ll sit in pain for 2 hours and 14 minutes and possibly cause kidney damage to yourself or you’ll do what I did and miss the only scene in the movie where Rachel McAdams isn’t covered head to toe in Victorian era garb. It’s a lose-lose if you don’t go before the start. Unlike most big star blockbusters that...

On The Couch #1 & 2: The King of Kong and Biggie & Tupac Jan03

On The Couch #1 & 2: The King of Kong and Biggie & Tupac...

I had grand plans for the start of this blog. Grand plans of getting a jump on my theatergoing early and catching two movies in the opening two days of 2010. Grand plans that involved me leaving my apartment at some point in the past three days. But my post-New Year’s cold and New York’s post New Year’s chill put an end to that. Instead, I spent that time on the couch. All was not lost; through the magic of Netflix streaming I was able to watch two documentaries: The King of Kong and Biggie & Tupac. Both deal with bitter rivalries. One was very good, the other not so much. The King of Kong could have been called When We Were Socially Awkward Kings. The story plays out very similar to the fabled Ali/Foreman fight, involving a champ, Billy Mitchell aka Mr. Super-Mullet, refusing to give an up and comer, Steve Wiebe, his due for the coveted title of Donkey Kong World Champion. Billy Mitchell: harnessing the power of the mullet & the USA tie. How powerful is Mitchell? He’s both the spokes-figure and a judge in the organization that determines if high scores are legit. But besides that, he has a team of adoring cronies working for him, one of whom is none other than a blonde haired, blue eyed Steve Sanders. Okay, so this Steve Sanders isn’t Ian Zierling, but the similarities are definitely there. Both are blonde, are fans of pink polos, and known for their underhanded ways. One Steve Sanders was expelled after hacking West Beverly’s school computer to change his grades, the other was caught in a lie about his fictional Donkey Kong score. They’re basically the same person The King of Kong does a very good job...