GLITTER (2001)

LOOK AT ALL THAT GLITTERRRRRR

Christopher

Glitter is a film I have been trying to watch for some time and I finally got the chance to live my dreams! The film is a basic story of pop star fame but my favorite part is that Mariah Carey is the most famous person in it? It was almost (definitely) like she didn’t want anyone bigger than her on set. The only other star even close, and I’m sure not as big as he is today was Terrence Howard, who plays a sleazy producer. The main love interest is played by Max Beesly who you might know from Torque?…maybe? This idea that it truly was a bunch of Everyday Joes with Mariah Carey in the mix was extremely distracting. The other distracting part of this film was the sliver streak. In I believe every scene, Mariah Carey, has a silver streak on her body? It changes spots but it’s always there. Elizabeth and I tried to look up why but we were unsuccessful so I am going to start the rumor right here that it has to do with her religion that is a mix of 80s fashion with the belief that aliens are our saviours. Mariah Carey is worshipping her alien gods in each scene through the act of painting a silver steak on her torso.

Now of course we did not go into this hoping it was good, more so the exact opposite, but it was only mildly entertaining, so I would not say this is a must-see. Of course I am still trying to get off my Simply Irresistible high so that might have something to do with it.

Elizabeth

The pointlessness of Glitter is mind-blowing. When reading a script like this and one asks oneself, “Why do we need to tell this story?” and one does not have an answer, I would like to think that the script would stop there. But, of course, if it did, we wouldn’t have masterpieces of misfortune like Glitter.

The story of Glitter is nothing special, except that it’s just kind of stupid: a mother gives up her young daughter because the mother falls asleep with a lit cigarette and burns down their house. It’s implied that the mother is an addict of some kind, but other than cigarettes, there’s no evidence that she’s addicted to anything. So the girl (and her kitten) goes to some kind of orphanage where she meets two scrappy, racially ambiguous friends that latch onto her forever.

The story lurches forward to 1983, and if they didn’t have that time stamp on the screen, you would never, ever know it’s the 80’s. I would think the 80’s would be one of the easiest and most fun decades to costume a movie for, especially a movie that takes place so much in dance clubs. Instead, everyone, throughout the whole movie, is dressed like it’s 1997. Which begs the question: why the hell did this movie take place in the 80’s and not the 90’s? Or just present day? Was the real-life Mariah Carey too omnipresent in the 90’s to where her fictional counterpart couldn’t possibly inhabit the same era? Or were the filmmakers just fucking lazy? I think we all know the answer.

Another weird problem the movie has: Billie (sometimes spelled Billy), played by Mariah Carey, gets increasingly famous as the movie goes on: a number one single, performing at award shows, and finally selling out Madison Square Garden. Yet, her life does not change at all. No one recognizes her on the streets, she doesn’t have an entourage beyond her producer boyfriend, Dice (Max Beesley) and her label-appointed publicists, and she and Dice still live in the same apartment, with no changes, until Billie/Billy moves out (with her now-cat, the real star of the film) and back in with her racially ambiguous orphan friends and their shitty apartment. Does all of this show how grounded Billie/Billy is, that she is the same person despite mass amounts of fame and fortune? Or does it show, again, just how lazy the filmmakers were? The answer is as clear as the silver streak of paint Billie/Billy always has on some part of her body for some unexplained, not even addressed, reason. (True.)

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN (2011)

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Elizabeth (spoilers!)

It looks like Chris and I are continuing are series of Why Children Ruin Everything with We Need to Talk About Kevin.

This was a movie that I knew nothing about before we watched it, except that Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller were in it. And I’m glad I didn’t know anything about it, because I’m not sure I would have gone through with it. I can handle most things in movies, murder, rape, kidnapping, etc. But there’s a few things I really can’t handle, and school shootings are at the top of the list. I saw Elephant in 10th grade when it first came out and it was a huge mistake that haunts me still. If I had known that We Need To Talk About Kevin was about school violence, I would have probably made another mistake and not seen it.

I’m usually on the fence about a non-linear storyline, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to like the way the story was told in We Need To Talk About Kevin, but it ended up being perfect. It managed to make the movie less scary without eliminating the tension. Early on in the movie, you know that some kind of tragedy happened at a school and the main character, Eva (Tilda Swinton) used to have a family that we don’t see anywhere in the present. So I didn’t spend the whole movie nervous that something was going to happen, because I knew it was. So while I wasn’t distracted by own fear, I still wanted to know what happened.

Tilda Swinton is good – real good – but in this, she’s amazing. How do you wrap your head around a character like Eva? A woman whose child murdered her husband and other child, and many others, and is despised for it. Her performance is a perfect balance of a character who cannot stop obsessing about the past but who also can’t stop herself from trying to move forward.

We Need To Talk About Kevin is one of the most beautifully and cleverly shot films I’ve seen in a long time. Once it’s clear, toward the end of the movie, that Kevin (Ezra Miller) is responsible for a mass murder at his high school, I was pretty scared on how, or if, they were going to show it. I didn’t want to see Kevin murder students. But I also wanted to know what happened. The perfect solution showed up in the film, of shots of only Kevin himself, locking up the school gym and then shooting off arrows into what we can assume is a crowd. So we see what he did without actually seeing him do it. Perfect. The reveal of the murders of Kevin’s father (John C. Reilly) and young sister (Ashley Gerasimovich) were comparatively more shocking by showing their dead bodies riddled with arrows in the family’s backyard. But these shots were beautiful: quiet, delicately lit, and lingered just long enough.

Kevin never reveals why he committed the murders, because there wasn’t a reason. He just did. It was the natural conclusion to his whole life of terrorizing his mother, murdering animals, using weapons, and causing his sister to lose her eye. The more interesting question is why he left Eva alive, the person he clearly hated most of all. Which leads to the question: Which is worse: being murdered by your son or being left alive while your son murders the rest of your family and many other people? The answer to that answers why Kevin left alive the one he hated so much.

This movie is terrifying, particularly after what happened in Newtown, but not scary in the sense that Elephant was. I was in high school when I saw that, and I was in college when the Virginia Tech murders happened, and it all scared me because of the thought of myself being in that situation. But We Need To Talk About Kevin is scary not because Kevin was behind a school massacre, but because Kevin was someone’s son.

Christopher

This film was very intense and scary. I was aware that people enjoyed it but I was blown away by how much I did. I was unsure about watching this because I was nervous that it would be a chore to get through, however, it was extremely easy. The film had my attention from the get go, and even though you kind of know what the big incident is, with Kevin, you still want to see every second of this film to the very end.

Tilda Swinton, who plays Kevin’s mom, did an exceptional job in this role, although I think I’m a little bias because she’s my favorite actress right now. This film is definitely not for everyone, and I know that I would not have gotten through it if I was in high school, but I definitely enjoyed it now.

MOMS DO NOT SEE!!

SIMPLY IRRESISTIBLE (1999)

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Elizabeth

For over 10 years now, from the time I first saw the movie as a 12 year old, whenever someone brings up “the worst movie,” the very first thing I think of is Simply Irresistible. Why? For a singular reason that no one who hasn’t seen the movie believes: it’s about a magical crab.

Yes, Sarah Michelle Gellar plays a chef, Amanda, who can’t cook, but for some reason is the cook in her dead mother’s long-standing restaurant. Her lack of abilities threatens to close the restaurant until she runs into a slightly flamboyant, slightly magical man at a market with a basket of crabs he convinces Amanda to buy, even though she doesn’t know how to cook crab and she seemingly doesn’t have the kind of money it takes to buy a basket of crab. Within the basket is a rogue crab who gets out and crawls away, causing Amanda to chase it on her own hands and knees (had she done this in a crab walk, the movie would be infinitely better) until she reaches the foot of Tom (Sean Patrick Flanery), whom the crab bites. They talk and it’s boring. She goes back to the restaurant and the crab somehow gets himself on a top shelf in the kitchen and from there he wields his magic crab powers with nothing more than a lift of his claw. The crab makes Amanda an amazing cook, which no one seems to question, makes Tom’s girlfriend walk out on him, and somehow orchestrates Tom and Amanda falling in love, which they do, after about 2 dates.

Also: Tom is obsessed with paper airplanes, Amanda’s restaurant is a silent, apartment-like atrocity, AND THERE’S A FUCKING MAGICAL CRAB. I cannot emphasize this point enough. The driving force behind all of the action in the story is a magical crab.

A++++!!!!

Christopher

Simply put this is the greatest worst movie I have ever seen. It is far superior to Troll 2 and if you are at all interested in terrible film, please do yourself a favor and check it out.

The film is about Sarah Michelle Gellar and how a magic crab helps her become a great cook? And she falls in love with a millionaire for no real reason? And the crab was delived to her by an angel that was sent by her dead mother?

One of the greatest things about this movie, which was pointed out to me by Elizabeth, is that it’s a combination of my two favorite shows. In one corner is Sarah Michelle Gellar, Buffy (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and Lawrence Gilliard Jr., D’Angelo Barksdale (The Wire). Gilliard plays Geller’s sous chef and top many times during the film I just wanted him to send his Uncle in to exterminate everyone on set. I also just imagine that it must have been pretty quiet on set, everyone just knowing that Gellar’s film career was taking a very dramatic and abrupt end.

I have never been the best at describing movies or shows that I am extremely fond of so I think it’s the best that I end this post with just a simple, “ PLEASE SEE THIS FILM.”

KILL BILL: VOL. 2 (2004)

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Christopher

The Kill Bill series is something that is very close to my movie heart. These two movies were the first R-rated films I ever saw in theaters. I’m not quite sure how it happened but I was able to convince my mom to go with me as I was still too young to see it on my own.

Kill Bill Vol. 2 has always been my favorite of the two films. Where Vol. 1 is full of blood, violence, and action, Vol. 2 is really where, I always felt, the story comes more into play. It also feels more like the kind of westerns and samurai films I truly enjoy. It has a quietness about it that has you uneasy throughout.

The other reason I enjoy this film the most is Budd, Bill’s younger brother, and another person on the Black Mamba’s list of revenge. The reason I love Budd so much is how unlike all the other trained killers he is. He looks awful, rundown, and truly no threat to no one. He did get the closest out of everyone in killing Beatrix but he also cheated, using a gun. I always thught that Uma’s list was in order of how dangerous they were. The fact that Bud was above O-Ren Ishii is very interesting to me. it makes me think that Budd had a side to him that we never really got to see. As far as the film was concerned it made it look like O-ren was far superior than Bud. But was she really? …

All in all these two films are fantastic and certainly have a big nostalgia to them. I forgot how much I love the soundtrack; I guess I did listen to that a ton in high school.

Elizabeth

While I generally consider Vol. 1 as my favorite of the whole Kill Bill series, Kill Bill: Vol. 2 contains what might be my favorite chapter of all: “The Cruel Tutelage of Pai Mei.” Pai Mei (Gordon Liu) is The Bride’s, in this volume revealed to be Beatrix Kiddo, (Uma Thurman) ancient and almost indestructible Kung Fu master. And after watching a full movie of Beatrix beating everyone at their own games, it’s a nice and interesting break to see her treated as an amateur as Pai Mei molds her into his greatest student. And seeing how Beatrix childishly (and almost creepily) looks up to Bill, we can see a hint of their relationship, as well. Not to mention Pai Mei using his beard as various punctuation marks to his statements and feelings is pretty awesome.

I have mixed feelings about the murders in Kill Bill: Vol. 2. I don’t like that Budd (Michael Madsen) died thinking he had killed Beatrix. I don’t like that Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah) was the driving force behind Budd’s death (although he was killed by a Black Mamba, so it’s sort of like Beatrix killing him, as that was her assassin codename). I don’t like that Beatrix didn’t kill Elle, even after finding out that Elle was behind the murder of Pai Mei by poison. But I do like that the only person Beatrix did kill in Vol. 2 was, of course, Bill (David Carradine). She killed a lot of people in Vol. 2 to get to him, so maybe it’s best that her one murder was the most important one of all.

I love revenge movies. And say what you will about him, but Tarantino knows how to make a revenge movie. And Kill Bill is among the best.

KILL BILL: VOL. 1 (2003)

Kill-Bill-Vol-1

Elizabeth

Yesterday was my birthday and it just so happens that the Alamo Drafthouse read my mind and showed Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and Kill Bill: Vol. 2. Now, obviously, because I am an intelligent and sane person, I have seen both movies before, and many times. The whole Kill Bill saga is one of my favorites.

Kill Bill: Vol. 1 has a surplus of something not easily found: totally badass women. The first scene between The Bride (Uma Thurman) and Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox) gets everything going and never really stops until Vol. 1 itself stops. It’s women killing men, women killing other women, all for the sake of vengeance. Yes, there is a man in the middle of it all, but what it comes down to is a woman getting revenge for the murders of her loved ones, including, presumably, her unborn child.  It’s hard not to get behind revenge like that.

Kill Bill Vol. 1 was released in the heart of my high school Bruce Lee obsession, which made me love Kill Bill even more. The beauty and goofiness of some of the fight scenes owe a lot to Bruce Lee, as referenced by The Bride’s yellow jumpsuit, similar to the one Bruce Lee wore in Game of Death. I watched Bruce Lee’s movies in both awe in sadness, knowing that he was dead and wouldn’t make anything else. I watched Kill Bill Vol. 1 in awe and excitement, because not only was a woman dishing out cold revenge, but this was only the beginning.

My favorite character in Kill Bill Vol. 1, besides The Bride, would have to be O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu). Although her origin story in anime is my least favorite sequence of the whole Kill Bill story, O-Ren is unbelievably cool. Her reaction to The Bride coming for her is both unsurprised and nervous. When The Bride chops off Sofie Fatale’s (Julie Dreyfus) arm, O-Ren is visibly shocked, but quickly assesses the seriousness of the situation and keeps her cool. Even at the last showdown between The Bride and O-Ren, knowing that The Bride has murdered everyone that was supposed to protect O-Ren, O-Ren is calm and collected, even when The Bride scalps her and she falls to her death. And fighting in traditional Japanese garb? Pretty goddamn cool.

Christopher

Good, bloody, Tarantino fun.

SANTA WITH MUSCLES (1996)

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Elizabeth

The important thing to keep in mind about Santa With Muscles is that it takes place in a magical land. Not the North Pole, but some unnamed small town in the western United States in which millionaires run around unrecognized, police have no authority, no one has parents, and magical crystals simply exist.

It’s amazing to me how different Hulk Hogan looks here than he does now. Though I’ve never watched wrestling or seen Hulk Hogan in anything in general, I thought I knew what he looked like. This Hulk Hogan, with his naturally-lined face and short hair, looks nothing like the Hulk Hogan I have in my mind. Perhaps this lends itself to the idea that children believe he is Santa Claus, and not the town millionaire? (It doesn’t.)

There’s an orphanage that, as you find out over halfway through the movie, sits above some catacombs that contain magical crystals that explode when you make noise, or something like that.  It blows my mind that these exist, because I can’t imagine Hulk Hogan starring in a movie where the geology wasn’t 100% accurate.

In a way, this town is like Gotham City: there’s a millionaire that no one recognizes as the hero, there’s a villain and henchmen, and police can’t do shit. Oh, and lots of orphans. One can only assume that the endless amount of orphans at the end of the movie are an unfortunate result of this Gotham City-like world. Stan Sitwell murdered a lot of parents.

Christopher

As a big fan of watching awful movies it’s very difficult to say where Santa With Muscles stands. It was certainly ridiculous, weird, and over the top but I’m not sure if it held my interest as much as I had hoped. Certainly what saved it was having Elizabeth there to talk about the absurd physics and giant plot holes that lay in the story.

One might say that, “Of course this movie was bad, it had Hulk Hogan in it,” where I could say the exact opposite. However, it never truly felt like the Hogan in this film is the Hogan we all know and love in our hearts. It sounds stupid but in this film the Hulkster had short hair and it was extremely off-putting. When I sit on my couch and pop in a Hulk classic I want it to seem like they wrote the film around his wrestling persona. True, the word muscle is in the title but it felt like Hogan was trying to become this character on screen instead of just playing the same person he is between the ropes.

Overall this movie was enjoyable and definitely the first of many more Hogan films to come. I can’t say that it put me in any Christmas spirit but it certainly left me with the feeling that I need to start watching wrestling again….it’s too bad Randy Savage didn’t have the same kind of movie career!!

THIS IS 40 (2012)

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Christopher

Before watching This is 40 I was expecting to enjoy it twice as much as Knocked Up. It has the best part of Knocked Up (2007), a movie I thought was a step beyond any comedy I had seen before it, but for more than two hours! This unfortunately was not the case.

I don’t know if it’s the fact that I was in high school the first and last time I watched Knocked Up, but it’s painfully obvious that it’s not as good as I remember it if This is 40 is supposed to be its sequel. This Is 40 definitely had its funny, charming sections but the overall tone of the film was long and pointless. There were too many characters, especially famous characters with no real role, that had small scenes that went nowhere, and not “nowhere but that was still super funny” just, nowhere.

Don’t get me wrong: I would definitely watch it again –  well, I guess I could watch it again if it wasn’t over two hours long. I feel that Apatow still has many great films to shoot but for this to happen I think he truly needs to cut back on his need to cast friends and to just stick to the story and cut way back on the time.

Finally, directors/writers/filmmakers, it’s getting really hard to care about rich people having money problems.

Definitely watch This is 40 when it gets to TBS though!!

Elizabeth (spoilers!)
This Is 40 [or How Kids Ruin Everything]
I was interested in This Is 40 because it seemed like Judd Apatow decided to make a sequel to Knocked Up that focused on the funnier, more interesting couple of Debbie (Leslie Mann) and Pete (Paul Rudd). I was expecting a movie about a family veering closer to “normal” than other movie families: a middle-class family with problems not entirely caused by each member’s extreme neuroticism. This Is 40 is marketed to be a movie about what being in your 40s is like in 2012. Here’s what This Is 40 is: a very long movie (2 hours and 14 minutes – 35 minutes away from being the length of The Hobbit) about a beautiful couple and their beautiful children with self-created and possibly simply solved problems if they stopped being narcissistic enough for one minute to look at the big picture.
I’m being harsh. This Is 40 made me laugh and my initial thoughts afterward were that it was pretty good. But the more Chris and I talked about it, the more glaring the problems became: the completely unnecessary subplot involving Debbie’s employees (Megan Fox [?] and Charlyne Yi) and the even more unnecessary sub-subplot involving the characters of Megan Fox, Jason Segel, and Chris O’Dowd. This Is 40 also suffers a unique problem of having too many well-known faces playing minor roles. Jason Segel as a trainer in a few scenes, Megan Fox as a character only existing to make the beautiful and thin Leslie Mann feel ugly, Lena Dunham as an employee of Paul Rudd’s with a few lines, Melissa McCarthy as a classmate’s mom in a couple of scenes. It made the movie feel claustrophobic, and instead of Judd Apatow giving work to his talented friends (which I’m sure was the intention), to me it came off as just a clusterfuck of look-who-I’m-friends-with.
There’s also the infuriating aspect of the couple’s money problems (someone is stealing from Debbie’s shop, Pete’s record label is going under) that wouldn’t exist if they lived within their means. They each drive luxury cars (a BMW and a Lexus), go on an extravagant vacation, and have a upscale catered party for Pete, complete with an open bar. Yet when money issues become apparent, they both come to the conclusion that the first and best step would be to sell their house, which their children have grown up in. With every scene about this issue in the movie, my empathy for the characters got zapped little by little.
And of course Debbie gets pregnant. This severely disappointed me, as it’s such an easy, go-to conflict to put in front of a couple, especially a couple older than average new parents. The upcoming third child really does nothing more than underline the idea that if only they didn’t have children, 99% of their problems wouldn’t exist.
Expectant parents: stay away.