On The Couch #44: Scarface Nov29

On The Couch #44: Scarface...

I’m not sure why I never saw Scarface before now. I’ve seen a lot of rap videos. I like rap. I have friends who like rap. How is it that I’ve managed to avoid this movie for so long, a movie which seems to be rapped about more than any other? …with the possible exception of The Little Mermaid. When I told a friend this morning that I just watched Scarface for the first time, he looked at me incredulously and said “You just watched it for the first time? That movie is awesome! It’s one of my favorites!” He then slipped into a faux-Cuban accent and said “My name is…Don Corleone. Let me introduce you to my papi.” “Wow,” I replied, “It’s one of your favorite movies and you managed to butcher both of those lines. Impressive.” It’s interesting that when Scarface was first released, these characters in it were a break from the gangster movie cliché, but have now become the current gangster movie cliché. Scarface is definitely firmly rooted in the 1980s. The fashion. The hairstyles. The neon lights. The non-stop coke binges. Some of those things should never leave the 80s. Specifically Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio’s hair. How much coke do you have to snort before this perm looks good? The world may never know… Tony Montana is a complete dick in the movie. Why does every fan of Scarface idolize Tony? They should idolize Manny. Manny was awesome. He was a fun loving, hard working ladies man. So of course Tony had to kill him. Why? Because Tony’s a dick and that’s what dicks do: murder their awesome best friends. The worst thing Manny did in the movie wasn’t dating Gina behind Tony’s back; it was hitching his boat to Tony’s...

At The Theater #36: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 Nov24

At The Theater #36: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1...

When I first heard that the seventh Harry Potter book was going to split into two movies, I thought it was just a greedy move designed to milk as much money from fans as they could at the end of this series. Now that I’ve seen Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, I take that back. I think it’s great that the decision was made to divide the final book into two movies. While watching it, nothing felt overly padded. And unlike some of the other movies, nothing felt rushed or obviously left out from the book. During the movie, I kept wondering where in the book the movie would end. I haven’t read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows since the book was first released. All I remembered about it was the flight of the many Harrys at the beginning, the camping that seemed to go on forever and the fight at the end. Harry Potter and the Secret of Victoria My favorite part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 was the lead-up to the flight of too many Harrys. Seeing Daniel Radcliffe as Fluer as Harry in a bra saying “Look away! I’m hideous!” made me howl.  My second favorite part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 was Hermione’s red dress. A friend pointed out that in the book, Harry and Hermione disguised themselves with polyjuice potion when scoping out Godric’s Hollow. I’m glad this was dropped in the movie. Harry and friends had already used polyjuice potion twice before this in the movie and using it again would have felt like they were going to the polyjuice well one too many times. One thing I discovered before the film even began is that if I walk...

At The Theater # 35: Black Swan Nov23

At The Theater # 35: Black Swan...

Watching the trailer for Black Swan, I couldn’t help but think that this movie was just going to be a by-the-numbers new version of Fight Club, where the twist is that Mila Kunis is the imaginary Tyler Durden to Natalie Portman’s Ed Norton. I was very happy that this turned out to not be the case, which helped make The Black Swan a very good psychological thriller. Black Swan deals with the theme of “messing up when you’re 95% to a goal” very well. Shortly after the start of the film, Natalie Portman’s character Nina is given the opportunity to get exactly what she’s worked for her whole life, to play the Swan Queen in Swan Lake. The closer she gets to that goal though, the harder her life becomes, often by her own hand (both figuratively and literally). There are scenes in Black Swan that make this movie very hard to watch. I didn’t realize how much a mother clipping her daughter’s fingernails could make me recoil until I watched this movie. And any time Natalie Portman would start peeling away her own skin, I could feel my face involuntarily cringe. Natalie Portman’s eyes are so red, I almost expect her to shoot beams out of them like Cyclops from X-Men. If you ever had a crush on both Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman, you are really going to want to see this movie. You’ll probably even score some points with your girlfriend for taking her to a movie about the ballet. Don’t worry, I won’t tell her your real reason for wanting to see this. You’ll probably enjoy this scene as well.  I had an easier time separating fantasy from reality in Inception than I did in Black Swan. Director Darren...

On The Couch #43: Batman: Under The Red Hood Nov22

On The Couch #43: Batman: Under The Red Hood...

Despite Netflix offering Batman: Under The Red Hood through instant streaming, I opted to rent the Blu-Ray from them instead. My reason for doing this was that with every previous DC direct-to-video release, I enjoyed the special features much more than the movie. Thankfully, that didn’t end up being the case with Batman: Under The Hood. Out of all of the DC direct-to-video animated movies, Batman: Under the Red Hood is the best. The story is very faithful to its source material, probably because original writer Judd Winnick is the screenwriter here. And the source material is good. Batman: Under The Red Hood revolves around the resurrection of the second Robin, Jason Todd, who wants to get back at his killer, The Joker, and his former mentor who allowed his killer to live, Batman. Neil Patrick Harris voices NIghtwing, the original Robin all grown up. I still remember vividly when DC Comics killed Jason Todd. It made national news. Not only did DC kill Batman’s partner, but the fans were responsible for it. DC set up a 900 number and let the fans vote if Robin would survive the story A Death in the Family. It was 50 cents to call, which prevented 11-year-old me from getting my parents permission to call in and vote. To this day, I’m not sure how I would have voted if I was given permission. Like many Batman readers at the time, I wasn’t a big fan of Jason Todd as Robin. I thought it was cool that he was discovered by Batman while stealing the wheels off the Batmobile, but he became annoying very quickly with his whininess and temper tantrums. Still, I don’t know if I would have voted for him to die. At the same...

On The Couch #42: The Secret of Kells Nov21

On The Couch #42: The Secret of Kells...

The Secret of Kells was almost one of the first movies I saw at the theater this year. The Secret of Kells was nominated for an Oscar and playing at the nearby Brooklyn Heights Cinema, but seeing it didn’t work out for one reason or another. Once Netflix made it available to instant stream, my desire to see it was renewed. The animation in The Secret of Kells is beautiful. The colors really pop, especially in HD. But for a long stretch of the movie, I felt like I was just staring at pretty, moving pictures. When it came to the story, I was sitting there thinking “Huh?” for a good part of the movie. Eventually I caught up to what was going on, but more of The Secret of Kells might have been behind me at that point than ahead of me. This would be a fine way for the plot to work if The Secret of Kells was a mystery, but it’s not. The Secret of Kells is as pretty as it is confusing. Whenever characters would look at the Book of Kells, their faces would be covered with a golden glow emanating from the book. It only took 15 years, but we now have the answer to what is that damn briefcase in Pulp Fiction. Vincent Vega’s original line “That Irish book is so beautiful.” was shortened in the final cut. The Secret of Kells was a bit of a let down. It was okay, but I’m guessing its Oscar nomination was due more to the gorgeous animation and not the so-so, hard to understand...

On The Couch #41: First Blood Nov16

On The Couch #41: First Blood...

Continuing, my thematic movie watching, I watched First Blood on Veterans Day. But my real reason for watching First Blood was that one my friends recently challenged my manhood because I had never seen it (or any of the Rambo movies for that matter). I hope that I have redeemed myself a bit in his eyes now that I’ve seen the first one. Before this, the only connection I had to Rambo was a Rambo action figure’s Uzi I received in a bag of hand-me-down toys as a kid. The Rambo figure never made it to me, but that I didn’t mind as I now had the only He-Man on my block armed with both a mystical sword and an automatic weapon. Little know fact: He-Man is a card-carrying NRA member. I wonder how much First Blood influenced Bruce Springsteen in the writing of Born in the U.S.A. Bruce left out the one-man-taking-a-town-under-siege finale in the song, but the movie plays out as an hour and half long version of Born in the U.S.A. At least Bruce was inspired by Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot In the battle of 80’s action movies I’ve seen this week, First Blood is definitely the better film over Top Gun. Top Gun had some great fighter-jet sequences, but the bad in Top Gun was really bad. First Blood, on the other hand, was great the whole way through. Included on the Blu-Ray is an alternate ending, where John Rambo forces Colonel Trautman to kill him. Imagine how much money they’d have left on the floor with Rambo dead! I think it’s safe to say Sylvester Stallone is very happy John Rambo survived his mental breakdown at the end of the film. As am I. I look forward...

On The Couch #40: Marathon Man Nov15

On The Couch #40: Marathon Man...

I ran the NYC Marathon this year. Since then, one of my coworkers keeps calling me Marathon Man, so I decided to mark the achievement by watching the movie of the same name. The car chase scene in the beginning of Marathon Man is reason enough to watch the movie. It is the most ridiculous car chase scene ever filmed. It involves two geriatric men driving a pair of clunkers, in an alarmingly slow chase through crowded NYC intersections. I know this movie isn’t a comedy, but that chase had me rolling. Most ridiculous car chase ever. After I finished the movie, I met my girlfriend for lunch. I told her all about Marathon Man, that it starred Dustin Hoffman and a very old Sidney Poitier, and that Poitier plays a Nazi. Her very legitimate question: “There were black Nazis?” Whoops. Laurence Olivier, not Sidney Poitier. Two very different actors who have kind of similar sounding last names. Imagine that movie: Sidney Poitier as a black German who joined the Nazis disguised in white face and is now hiding out in South America. This is not the bad guy from Marathon Man. How cool is Roy Scheider as Doc, Dustin Hoffman’s secret agent brother? The answer is “so cool.” I was upset when he died, because it meant no more of his bad-assery. I’m glad that Dustin Hoffman’s character Babe’s marathon training came into play as he made his escape from the bad guys. But I did think it was kind of a cop-out for him to take a cab back to his uptown apartment. Sure, you’re half-naked, bleeding and just escaped a Nazi torturer, but that’s no reason to hop in the back of a yellow cab! You’re a Marathon Man, Babe! Pump...

On The Couch #39: House of 1000 Corpses Nov14

On The Couch #39: House of 1000 Corpses...

Rainn Wilson was recently on an episode of The Nerdist podcast where he and host Chris Hardwick talked about starring in House of 1000 Corpses together. I knew Chris Hardwick was in it, and seeing him perform stand-up recently was enough to add the movie to my Netflix queue. Finding out Rainn Wilson was also in it was incentive to shoot the movie to the top of the queue. I had no idea that Rainn Wilson was in anything before The Office. I always thought he came out of nowhere, rocketed to stardom as Dwight, and made his feature film debut in The Rocker. Rainn Wilson pretty much looks the same in House of 1000 Corpses as he does today. Chris Hardwick really doesn’t. When Hardwick first came onscreen, I didn’t think it was him. Today Chris Hardwick is a really skinny guy. I knew he lost weight when he gave up drinking, but wow, I didn’t realize what a dramatic change it was. Nice job, Chris. I had a hard time finding this guy in House of 1000 Corpses. While watching House of 1000 Corpses, I thought to myself “Oh yeah, this is why I don’t usually watch horror movies.” I thought the movie was good, but in the end it really wasn’t for me. I think a lot of that feeling had to do with the four friends being totally fucked right from the start. There never seemed like they had any chance of escaping in the slightest from the inbred serial killing family. If you buy these for your baby, I’m reporting you. In a way, House of 1000 Corpses reminded me of an episode of Louie, Louis C.K.’s TV show, where Louis C.K. goes to the south and notes that...

At The Theater #34: Red Nov11

At The Theater #34: Red...

I caught Red at a near-empty City Cinemas theater on 1st Ave and 60 St. There was me, the guy who walked in a minute before me, the guy who walked in a minute after me and a set of five grandmothers. I’m still trying to figure out what was up with those five grandmothers? Would they see anything with Helen Mirren or Morgan Freeman in it or were they just adrenaline junkies looking for a morning fix? Even without the grandmothers, I was surprised the theater was this crowded. Not because Red is bad, in fact I liked it a lot, but because the screening was at 11:30 AM on a Monday. I thought there would be a good chance I’d be having a screening of one. Still, with only 7 people in the entire theater, I was able to spread out nicely and enjoy the movie. Red is an action-comedy. What makes it work is that the comedy doesn’t come at the expense of the action. The action isn’t over-the-top slapstick, which works very well in other movies, but wouldn’t work here. The tone of Red is very similar to that of NBC’s Chuck, but without the dork-humor. The scene where assassins descend on Bruce Willis’s suburban home was awesome. When that scene ended and his house is riddled with thousands of bullets, all I could think about were his neighbors, who all must be freaking out. Those killers weren’t exactly quiet in any sense of the word. And even if you sleep like a log, what would your reaction be to finding all those bullet casings in your cul-de-sac in the morning? Also, can someone please explain to me how Willis got from the kitchen to behind the assassins in the...

On The Couch #38: Top Gun Nov10

On The Couch #38: Top Gun...

So many people have asked me how is it that I have never seen Top Gun, and now that I have seen Top Gun, I have to ask myself why it took me so long. I loved Afterburner in the arcade, why wouldn’t I love this? Then again, I loved Spy Hunter and didn’t see my first James Bond movie until junior year of college. I could never land that damn plane on the aircraft carrier. Watching Top Gun is like watching someone’s idea of what the military would be like if Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell finally was repealed. Plenty of cabaret singing? Check! A hell of a lot guys close talking to the point where you’re waiting for them to just kiss already? Check! Tom Cruise standing in towel with his leg up on a bench trying to get Anthony Edwards to look? Double-check! Look down, Goose. But just so that no one would accuse of Top Gun of being homosexual propaganda, Tony Scott sticks in as many scenes of the grossest make-out sessions as he can between Tom “All Tongue, All The Time” Cruise and Kelly McGillis. I thought actors usually didn’t go for the tongue action during kissing scenes. Not Tom Cruise. He slobbers McGillis’s face like he’s Jabba the Hutt. I recently heard that some actors were complaining that they don’t look as good in HD as they do in standard definition. Kelly McGillis should join that group. Blu-Ray and HD are not her friends. Her teeth are as green as the gates of Oz. Green smoker’s-teeth have freaked me out since I was a kid. I don’t know what it is about them, but whenever an adult with those kind of teeth would laugh, it would freak me out more than...