Archive for the 'Movie' Category

Essay, Movie

When Imagination Can Harm

It’s not uncommon for children to develop an imaginary friend. Perhaps you had one, or maybe a sibling did. I don’t remember having one, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t. My sister had one, she named her Sarah and my young mind assumed it was the triceratops from The Land Before Time. Apparently the only Sarah I knew when I was younger was a cartoon dinosaur. Young life is so awesome.

For the most part people grow out of their imaginary friend, or they get help in moving away from them, or they pretend it’s just their way of organizing their thoughts and that it’s absolutely normal. Or they never outgrow this friend and you probably passed them on the street this morning. Ok, not everyone who keeps their imaginary friend becomes a raving lunatic. Some people are fairly functional members of society. I haven’t met any of these people, but supposedly they exist. Whatever the case I am fascinated by the concept of adults with imaginary friends and what that means. Using three great works of cinema, I’m going to delve more into the made up friends of adults. Continue Reading »

Movie

CJS Quarterly Underrated Movie #7: Breakdown

Release Date: May 2, 1997
Box Office Gross: $50,159,144
Rotten Tomatoes Freshness Rating: 80%
Pertinent Review Line: Breakdown feels at first so casual, so comfortable with its own small expectations (a good but unglamorous cast, a sturdy but unspectacular plot), that the authentic feelings of suspense are a surprise; by the time Jeff’s pursuit of Amy reaches its all-stops-out climax, you’re invigorated by something fresh.” Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly.

We’re bringing this feature back full time, with one underrated movie discussed each quarter. And that starts right now with this taut, suspense thriller that seemingly no one I’ve ever talked to remembers. This movie came out when I was 15, and now, almost 15 years later, it’s gotten even better. And that’s weird to say since the movie serves basically as an enactment of my (and I’m guessing for some of you, your) worst nightmare. Continue Reading »

Essay, Movie

Love Actually And My Changeup

Closing pitcher Huston Street has a habit of keeping the final out ball when he converts a save. Seth Smith was unaware of this as he haphazardly tossed a ball to some fans. Street was downtrodden, but with the aid of technology and social networking a call when out in hopes of retrieving the ball. The fans came forth and were more than willing to give Street the ball. This act of selflessness apparently got to Street as he didn’t take the ball, but rather autographed it and gave to the fans.

I like to think most of us felt some happiness when we hear a story like that. The idea of someone doing something that benefits another more than it benefits themselves is an idea that keeps the world from feeling like a cold heartless place. At least that’s how I feel.

However, if this is true then why does a film like Love Actually, which glorifies selfish behavior and shows the selfless being shit on, tend to make me happy? Continue Reading »

Movie, Sport

Summer Homestand: Moneyball

Every Wednesday between now and the end of baseball season (of 2009) the Cru Jones Society brings you a new baseball movie examined for both overall entertainment value and treatment of our favorite game. This is a special edition of that series. To suggest a film, email us at staff [at] crujonessociety.com. Otherwise, pour yourself an $8 beer, crack some shells, and let’s play ball.

 Date Released: September 23, 2011
Box Office Total (as of 10/2/2011): $38,469,000
Team Featured: Oakland Athletics

“It’s unbelievable what you don’t know about a game you play every day.”– Mickey Mantle, the opening quote in Moneyball.

It’s said that being creative is seeing the same thing as everybody else but thinking of something different. Inventors do this, business leaders do this, comedians do this, and in 2002, Billy Beane did this with baseball player evaluation. Moneyball tells the story of creativity in a classically stubborn and traditionalist sport. It’s less a story about baseball, and more a story of the challenge of innovation and reward of determination. Continue Reading »

Movie

If I Could Make Any Movie

In a recent post by Dagger he described the experience of working on a film for the 48 Film Project. In this post he mentioned how there was that one guy who sucked. First I would like to say that Dagger was 100% accurate in his assessment of this individual, that’s not the point here. I think it was after the first meeting Dagger attended he was telling me about these people and he brought up how this guy who sucks said if he could make any movie it would be “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.” This struck me as a stupid choice, more on that in a bit. What really stuck out in my mind was if I could make any movie what would it be? I have been thinking about this question off and on for the past year. I think I may have finally found my answer. Continue Reading »

Essay, Movie

How to Make a Movie in 48 Hours

This weekend my friends will make a movie. They don’t know what movie they will make, but they know they will start it Friday night at 7:00 pm, and they will turn it in by Sunday night at 7:00 pm. They can’t tell you what it will be about, where it will take place, or even what the main character’s name is. They can’t tell you about the film’s exciting moments or quippy one-liners. They can’t tell you what kind of movie it is.

My friends are not being coy or difficult. They can’t tell you about their movie because they don’t know anything about it either.

This is the 48 Hour Film Project. And while I will not be joining my friends in their quest for two day cinematic glory this year, I can tell you what it was like last year. Here is the Nebulus Visions / Cru Jones Society story of the 2010 48 Hour Film Project. Continue Reading »

Essay, Movie

The Importance Of Movies

Last summer debate raged over the ending of the movie Inception. I suppose before I go any further I am obligated to inform you of a possible spoiler alert. I will go ahead and just preface this by saying there are several of those throughout this article. Everything I’m going to talk about will be at least a year old. It’s not like I’m telling you how Harry Potter ends (though I’m sure most of you know that), or the big twist in The Zookeeper, or that JT and Mila Kunis can’t just be friends with benefits and end up falling in love. There is a real possibility I am not mentioning anything you haven’t read somewhere else on the internet, but just in case I have warned you and I apologize if I ruin a movie for you.

Now, back to Inception. The end of the movie had everyone wondering if Leo was in a dream or if it was reality. They were picking at every detail to help their case; the house was different, the kids were in the same clothes, the clock read 3:07 which can’t exist in dreams. Any kind of bullshit that helped them to find an answer. All of this bogged down every internet movie site and annoyed the hell out of everyone! Even the film’s writer and director Christopher Nolan who eventually said there is no answer. That’s just the end of the movie. Now shut up. I’m paraphrasing.

I figured Nolan would know what he’s talking about so I dropped it and moved on with my life. Then fast forward to the point when Inception makes its way to my TV and I watch it. I try to just enjoy the story and the amazing effects but I can’t stop myself from picking up little things that may tell me what really happens at the end. I can’t help it. But I’ve noticed I am not the only one. Continue Reading »

Essay, Movie

The Last Cinematic Feminist Argument We Should Ever Need to Have

“It isn’t enough for Bridesmaids to be a great comedy; it has to be a comedy that transcends the lady-movie ghetto, thereby becoming the thing to which all lady movies aspire. We don’t have the vocabulary to talk about what it is, so we elevate it into something it isn’t: a paradigm shift, a game-changer, whatever.” – Genevieve Koski , “Why Bridesmaids won’t save the ‘chick flick’ and shouldn’t have to,” AVClub.com

Lady E and I saw Bridesmaids this weekend and both laughed our asses off. Like most of Judd Apatow’s oeuvre, the movie has a laugh out loud quotient higher than almost anything else out there thanks to spirited and inventive profanity, humor driven from fully realized characters, and gross out gags that don’t hold back. Also like the rest of his work, the movie underlines a very sad protagonist that balances the comedy with understated poignancy. Real problems don’t have easy solutions, and the troubles faced by the characters in Bridesmaids don’t resolve easily either.

For as interesting a piece as Bridesmaids is, what I found more interesting was the dialogue Lady E and I had after the movie over giant mason jars of beer. I made the crack that we both should have been wearing our “This is what a feminist looks like” t-shirts while we chatted, but ultimately I came to realize something similar to what Ms. Koski argues above. I have very little distinction between male and female comedy anymore. Funny is funny. And that’s a good thing. Continue Reading »

Movie

The Planes, Trains, And Automobiles Of Our Minds

I recently watched the movie Due Date and it quickly became apparent that it was just an updated version of the John Hughes classic Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. My idea was to write about why it was necessary for certain things to be changed in order to make the movie more relevant to the 21st century. However, as I re-watched Planes, Trains, and Automobiles for research I noticed something more intriguing about the movie, which could also be applied to Due Date. This new revelation is that John Candy’s character doesn’t actually exist and he is merely a figment of Steve Martin’s character’s imagination; a Tyler Durden to Ed Norton. Continue Reading »

Movie, Sport

Summer Homestand: A Question of Verisimilitude

So I’m watching Rookie of the Year the other morning, and it’s the scene where the Cubs play the Mets for the NL Pennant. Gary Busey as Chet Steadman is out there laboring away with his thick ass mustache and hat full of crazy. He walks the bases loaded and begs his manager, the wildly emotion Sal Martinella, for just one more hitter. Steadman shakes off a bunch of pussy ass breaking balls and goes for the heater. He rears back, fires, and you hear his arm give out complete with a giant wail from an inexplicable electric guitar on the movie’s soundtrack. Continue Reading »

Movie

The Duality of Experience in a Pixar Film

The movie Up was not at all what I was expecting. I texted CJS Regular Brad two nights ago; it read “The movie Up was not at all what I was I expecting.” He replied, “What were you expecting?” I said, “I have no idea, but it was way more action movie-y than I thought. And way more dogs too.” Brad’s response: “Yeah, same here, didn’t expect that much action… Or to want to cry at the end.”

That pretty much sums up every viewing experience of a Pixar film rather tidily, doesn’t it? Way more action than you expect married with a desire to cry. Why is that? How does Pixar achieve this strange balance? Let’s take a look. Continue Reading »

Movie

I May Be Wasting My Netflix Subscription

One of the biggest comedic influences in my life has been Saturday Night Live. I recall watching back in the early 90’s, and not getting most of the jokes, but I knew this was a show that would be important in my life. So I continued to watch through the years and eventually I starting getting the jokes. I found that my recent movie watching habits all stem from this SNL influence. In the last week I watched four movies that were new to me and three of those stared SNL cast members (the other was Sherlock Holmes). However, despite the SNL connection, I noticed these movies varied drastically in their overall quality and in their comedic quality, that’s a real thing, I swear. Continue Reading »

Movie

Look Who’s Watching Look Who’s Talking

John Travolta, Kirstie Alley, and Bruce Willis’ voice star in this family friendly movie about being a single mother in the late 80’s. So why would I, a 27 year old man, be watching this movie? Because the Broncos game was a god damn joke, and not a good joke, but one of those annoying jokes you hear a thousands times from that one co-worker who thinks he’s the next George Lopez, but he’s more like the next Carlos Mencia. So there’s that, but also I have some weird tendency to watch movies I probably shouldn’t, which is why I have seen Meet Dave.

I will admit at one time I probably really enjoyed this movie, and I wasn’t completely annoyed with this viewing, but I was thinking about it probably more than I should have, or more than anybody should have. I suppose when watching a movie at age seven and again at age 27 you’re bound to pick up on more things and have some questions, unless you’re some kind of idiot savant child, which, clearly, I am not. So it has taken me twenty years of life experience to fully realize why this movie really sucks. Continue Reading »

Movie

CJS Quarterly Underrated Movie Review #6: SLC Punk!

 

Release Date: April 16, 1999
Box Office Gross: $299,569
Rotten Tomatoes Freshness Rating: 60%
Pertinent Review Line: “In this season of blaming everything on the movies, a film like “SLC Punk!” will no doubt inspire knee-jerk moralists to deplore its depiction of an anarcho-punk lifestyle. But remember: A movie isn’t about what it’s about, but about how it’s about it. What “SLC Punk” is really about is Stevo’s ironic distance on his lifestyle – about the way he lives it and analyzes it at the same time. The message isn’t “live this way,” but “look at the way you live.” There’s a little something there for all of us.” – Roger Ebert, Sun Times

Somewhere in American society the notion that coming of age stories could only feature the likes of Dustin Hoffman being seduced by an older woman, or a New Jersey kid learning to stand up for himself through the power of martial arts. When this kind of story comes along featuring people with odd hair or weird clothes it will often fall to the wayside. As Roger Ebert pointed out, this is what happened with SLC Punk!. Continue Reading »

Movie

CJS Quarterly Underrated Movie Review #5: Club Dread

Release Date: February 27, 2004
Box Office Gross: $5,001,708
Rotten Tomatoes Freshness Rating: 30%
Pertinent Review Line: “Even by its own low-ball standards, “Club Dread” falls short. Chandrasekhar and company opt for graphic gags instead of actual, you know, comedy. The troupe’s 2001 “Super Troopers,” a sort of “Police Academy” caper that featured Broken Lizard as inept members of the Vermont State Police, had its moments. But in “Dread,” no one seems the slightest bit motivated to work the humor. Why bother? The living on this island is too easy.” Desson Thomson, Washington Post

That tepid endorsement for the generally hilarious Super Troopers was as close to actual praise as I could find for Broken Lizard’s cop farce from a critic. Why Super Troopers even matters in this discussion serves as the entire basis for my argument as to why Club Dread underrated. So let’s take a look at Broken Lizard’s alleged sophomore slump more carefully then. Continue Reading »

Movie

CJS Quarterly Underrated Movie #4: Election

Release Date: April 23, 1999
Box Office Gross: $14,902,041
Rotten Tomatoes Freshness Rating: 93%
Pertinent Review Line:This story might have lent itself to pratfalls and broad gags, but Mr. Payne keeps it chillier. He sees the frailties of all the film’s characters, even if its plot is supposedly about winners and losers. And for all its nicely malevolent humor this is a story that ultimately leads to disillusionment. As in ”Citizen Ruth,” Mr. Payne has trouble resolving real issues with a simple ending. But the sentiment voiced by McAllister is ’It just makes me sad.’” – Janet Maslin, New York Times

Election is a movie often beloved by critics and film dorks, but it made it into our underrated category simply because on the mainstream whole the movie lacks the praise it is worthy of. It is a movie that gets play time on TBS, but during the off hours. One someone would stumble upon by accident. But the movie deserves much more than that and I’m here to tell you why. Continue Reading »

Confessional, Movie

Summer Cinema Preview

Since we’re talking about summer movies here, it must be summer, right? Well, it’s actually the middle of May – fucking Hollywood. It’s not even Memorial Day, but Iron Man 2 is already out which means no one respects the seasons anymore. Whatever. Regardless of what season it actually is, we asked you: What summer movie are you most looking forward to, and which one is most likely to suck balls? We answer this week’s (temporarily) final Confessional question, and then our Regulars chime in. Let’s head to the local kinetoscope house, shall we? Continue Reading »

Movie

Ode to an 80s Fat Kid: Lawrence Cohen

From Santa Claus to Homer Simpson, everyone loves a fat guy, and at some point these fat guys were fat kids. We’re celebrating 80s cinema with some reflections about two of our favorite little butterball kids from some 80s classics. Dagger gave us chubby little Vern Tessio this morning, and I offer you Lawrence Cohen. Continue Reading »

Movie

Ode to an 80s Fat Kid: Vern Tessio

One of the most glorious things about movies from the 1980s (besides everything, of course) was the delightful political incorrectness. Looking back at films from the era, and you’re struck by the candid, pointed, and often offensive adjectives used to describe and name characters. Kids call each other “fags” with nary a cross glance from appalled interest groups and “fatass” gets tossed around like “dude” in a surfer movie.

To pay tribute to this bygone era of careless, politically incorrect pejorative, Hart and I have chosen our favorite fat kids from the movies of one of our favorite eras. Mine? The awkward, whining, simpering perpetual pain in the ass from Stand by Me, played by future heartthrob Jerry O’Connell: Vern Tessio. Continue Reading »

Movie

Best of the Worst

Since we’ve spent so much time this week discussing the best of the best, why not spend some time celebrating the worst of the worst? This Saturday, the day before the Oscars, your favorite celebration of achievement in shitty filmmaking presents its 30th Anniversary spectacular. This year’s nominees for Worst Picture of 2009 include: All About Steve, GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Land of the Lost, Old Dogs, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

I’m sure not all of these movies are terrible, but I can say with certainty that I had no desire to see any of them except for GI Joe, and that’s mostly because Lady E wanted to see it. She wasn’t allowed to play with GI Joes as a kid, and therefore has always enjoyed the forbidden fruit.

Whichever film enters this *ahem* prestigious pantheon of suckitude, let’s take a look back at some of my favorite past winners. Not all of these movies are terrible, it’s just that… who am I kidding? These movies are pretty much terrible, but hold a special place in my heart. Let’s find out why… Continue Reading »

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