Archive for the N Category

New York Stories (Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Woody Allen) 1989

Posted in N, Woody Allen Retrospective on May 17, 2012 by moviemoses

New York Stories is a compilation film where Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, and Woody Allen made short films somehow featuring New York.  The three directors did not collaborate with one another and there are no other links between the films beside what was already mentioned.  I’ve seen a ton of these compilation film films whether they be horror (Creepshow, Trick R Treat), stories about love, or in this case stories about a place, and most seem to play the same way for me.  There is one that is good, one that is alright, and one that is shite.  It really doesn’t matter what stars or directors you throw in that’s just how I feel about it and New York Stories is no different.

The first is Scorsese’s which turns out to be the alright one.  The film is about Lionel (Nick Nolte) who is one of the biggest painters in the world who is struggling to finish work for an upcoming art show.  He is in a tumultuous relationship with his protege played by Patricia Arquette.  Lionel is pining after her but she seems to absolutely loathe him at this point.  Lionel’s passion also seems to be feeding into the passion of his paintings.  I certainly found “Life Lessons“ the most intriguing of the bunch as Scorsese is being more adventerous with the opportunity.  This is not a simple fluffy story as one you would find in say Paris J’Taime.  These are some heavy themes that Scorsese has kind of flirted with before in say New York, New York.  Even in the shortened scope of 45 or so minutes I found myself getting restless especially since both main characters are rather unlikable.  It is one I enjoyed on a technical and thematic level than with anything else.

The next is Coppola’s Life Without Zoe which is the bad one.  The thing is this film isn’t bad like it made me angry, it was bad in that I did not know what the point of any of it was.  The film is about Zoe who is kind of like the 12 year old girl version of Ferris Bueller I guess.  She is an upper class girl living in New York City for which the whole world revolves around her.  There is a strange plot about Zoe helping her dad from being killed by a jealous lover by sneaking a diamond back to a princess and believe me when I say nothing I describe means anything to the tone or relavance to anything.  Stuff happens and then it ends.  I guess you could say it would be “cute“ for an audience of 12 year olds which I guess has a little to do by the co-writing by Sofia Coppola.  But cute just don’t cut it compared to the other work in this movie.

Finally we have Oedipus Wrecks directed by Woody Allen and by process of elimination you have figured out that it is the good one.  Woody plays it doesn’t matter so let’s just call him Woody.  Woody doesn’t like his mother and how he embarasses him in front of his friends and girlfriends.  They go to a magic show and during the act, Woody’s mother disappears.  Woody thinks his problems are over until she shows up as a gigantic face superimposed over the New York skyline and she can talk to anyone.  Given the marathon of Allen films for me and of this single movie in particular, it was nice to have Woody plain have fun for a little bit.  Allen is known for having a drawer full of comedy ideas and many are not good enough to fill out a full length movie so it is probably the perfect setting to have a mini-movie to get the most out of the joke.  It comes in, tells the story it needs to tell, tells the best jokes it can, and gets off the stage.  That works just fine for me.

Would I recommend New York Stories on the whole?  Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.  If you did I would recommend outright skipping Life Without Zoe.  I have read numerous reviews and I have yet to find anyone who really likes it.  At best, people tolerate it.  However Life Lessons and Oedipus Wrecks are interesting enough that if you love both directors I think it would be worth your while to check out on a slow day.

Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown (Michael Jai White) 2011

Posted in N on September 15, 2011 by moviemoses

Yes, this movie exists.

I thought movies had to be somewhat popular in order to get a sequel.  I saw the original but, then again, I somehow got saddled with the role of crappy MMA movie reviewer.  The first Never Back Down was the cinematic equivalent of an upper decker which was pretty much panned by everyone.  It was pretty much a CW version of Karate Kid where a beefy high school student was getting picked on at school by bullies.  Beefy kid befriends an MMA trainer with a “mysterious dark past“ who takes him under his wing.  Djimon Hounsou teaches his young pupil that violence is never the answer and to prove that point he has his student take him on in an underground fighting tournament called the Beatdown.  Yeah, the moral of the story didn’t quite fit now that I think about it for a whole second.  Now, even though NBD was shit, I could actually find it somewhat entertaining in the fact it was so bad it was funny.  The bad guy is so over the top he might as well be sweeping the leg while wearing a Darth Vader helmet over his handlebar mustache which he twirls.  Seeing Never Back Down 2 in my rental store, I just had to see if it was even worse than the original.

Now how do they continue the story from the original?  What characters do they bring back?  The answers are they don’t and none.  Like many direct to DVD sequels, it is not so much about continuing the storyline but about making a movie with a similar plot and slapping on the sequel title of what you are ripping off.  This sequel though is starring and directed by Michael Jai White (Black Dynamite).  It is about four high school students who all come to be taught by MMA trainer with a mysterious dark past Case (White).  Stuff happens involving the students which leads them to sorting out their differences in another Beatdown tournament.

So does The Beatdown live up to the high potential set up by the original NBD?  Well…yeah.  I guess that’s one way to put it.  This movie is freaking stupid.  Now maybe my brain has atrophied by seeing all these shitty MMA movies.  But like the first NBD, this movie is so freaking stupid that I actually think it’s funny.  One of the reasons I like it is Michael Jai White who I swear was still somewhat channeling Black Dynamite.  In the movie this guy beats up six honky racist cops on the way to the Beatdown and he only has to spend a few hours in jail.  There is another scene where someone insults one of his student’s mothers.  His advice you would think would be something along the lines of “Words are meaningless and you shouldn’t be provoked to violence by such an ignorant person.“  No his response is “You gonna let him talk about your mamma like that?  Punch him in the face!“

This movie is completely divorced from any kind of reality and the characters act as if they are aliens with no idea of what tact or manners are.  There is one of the characters who’s personal problem is his father left his mother to be with his gay lover.  What is the response from one of his close friends?  “Wow that sucks dick…kind of like your father.“  Also to make a villain in this movie, one of Case’s students goes all Private Pyle and goes on a homicidal rampage killing all the people who talked bad about him.  In addition to killing people with his MMA skills, he is trying to frame Case for the murders.  You see, I couldn’t make this shit up.  I’m too smart to think so dumb about a movie.  My only natural response is to laugh cause otherwise I would have had to cry myself to sleep.

The action in this movie is actually well done.  This could be due to the fact director/star White has done this stuff all his life so he can choreograph decent enough fight scenes.  Plus this sort of this actually works well with the micro budget of these direct to DVD movies.  There are also plenty of scenes of Case dominating people to show he has balls the size of beach balls.

Now I don’t know if I would recommend it to bad movie aficionados.  Even though I was able to laugh at it, it’s not as insane as say a Troll 2 or The Room.  I was able to find the silver lining in being stuck watching a direct to DVD sequel to NBD.  But who knows?  If you were able to enjoy the original for being so shit-tastic maybe you can enjoy a Black Dynamited sequel.

Never Surrender (Hector Echavarria) 2009

Posted in N on April 14, 2011 by moviemoses

You would think a movie written by the same man, starring most of the same actors, and with the exact same plot, you would figure its part of the same series.  If you picked up Never Surrender with that same theory you would a freaking idiot.  After seeing the abomination that was Death Warrior, I said I had to see its humble beginnings.  But despite having the same cast and crew and EXACT SAME SYNOPSIS ON THE BACK BOX COVER, it is a completely different movie.  I am going to review this kind of as I see it so it is fresh in my mind.

Holy shit we get the exact opening! We have I swear the same credit sequence.  We get blood spatter credits interspersed with an outdoor UFC venue (mainly because they can’t afford that many extras for a fight crowd).  Produced, written, starring, and directed by Hector “it’s my money I’ll do whatever I want” Echavarria.

Anyway, Hector plays Diego in this movie as he just wins his latest bout.  The MMA promoters now run a video segment of the rags to riches story of the greatest Cinderella Man and blah blah blah.  As with Death Warrior, he is unstoppable as he started his fight career at 17 and has NEVER lost a match ever in his 30 year career.  I didn’t mention this in the first review but I will anyway.  Echavarria is 40 years old and despite being somewhat in shape for this movie, it is strange everyone hyping him up as the pinnacle of human conditioning.  Compared to actual fighters, Echavarria looks like someone who does Tae Bo on the weekends.  Anyway we cut to GSP who is making a Tuna sandwich to music that is one step away from the Imperial March.  I agree with Spoony; just because you play menacing music does not mean you can make whatever the guy is doing menacing.  Either GSP wants for fight with Echavarria or is turned on by him.

Diego is celebrating with his entourage after the fight.  Oh Johnny Drama, where are you?  Rampage Jackson and BJ Penn roll up and exchange some “banter”.  By banter I mean Rampage stutters out some gay innuendo about Diego wanting his ass or something.  Ugh, anyway three guys from the club come up claiming they lost money on the Diego fight tonight and want to take it out of their ass.  I understand you lose your inhibitions when you drink alcohol, but it takes some gold standard stupidity to pick a fight with BJ Penn, Rampage Jackson, and the Fedor equivalent of Diego ALL AT ONCE!

All of the women are falling over Diego but he chooses the ugliest woman in the club to chat up; meaning it’s his real life girlfriend most likely.  She offers him the chance at some “ultimate fighting experience” in some underground club and he immediately takes them up on the offer.  What!?  Why would he…screw it.  They go to the fight club.  Apparently, the rules are they fight in an octagon for pride, money, and for hos.  Yeah, if you win you take the other fighter’s ho train for one night.  Diego immediately takes them up on that offer if ugly blond becomes his consort/ho.  Our hero ladies and gentlemen; a misogynist asshole only out for money and pussy!  So he nearly kills the dude in the ring and has sex with his newly won slave.  Wow, I loathe this man.

Diego’s next opponent is an Ivan Drago equivalent called Crusher and despite Diego being a Light Heavyweight, Crusher is more a Brock Lesnar size roid freak.  Cue Rocky montage!  It turns out GSP is actually Diego’s friend and is concerned because he hasn’t heard from him in a while.  GSP goes to Diego’s house and finds goons there to beat up.  Wow, GSP is even a better fake fighter than Hector.  GSP tries to convince Diego this is rather shady and Diego says he really feels alive.  I hate him even more now because he’s so incredibly stupid.

Diego vs. Crusher: cue useless spinny kicks with his opponent lowering his hands and putting his chin out.  Deigo wins the ho train and has sex that night.  I know I keep saying it but I hate this guy.  Skinemax sex scene lol.  Another training montage cut with Skinemax sex.  *Barf* Ugh, we get it, you think your girlfriend is hot.  We get it, stop showing her body!

The Crazy Horse Heath Herring makes his appearance as Diego’s trainer.  He is there because apparently Diego’s opponent is “a real badass”.  Cue ANOTHER training montage.  Holy crap, this is the third training montage in at least 12 minutes.

Carter vs. Marco: cue more spinny kicks with the opponent’s hands down!  Seeing this clown in two movies I can safely say this guy couldn’t beat Dustin Diamond in the ring or satisfy anyone in the bedroom for that matter.  His technique is apparently laying down, doing nothing and making Ernest like faces.  NOOOOOO not more Skinemax!  Some banter from Herring about how fighting isn’t everything.  Evil guy then watches Diego have sex.  Um, eeeeewwwwww.  One note about the evil guy.  He does this Russian accent that would be laughed off Rocky and Bullwinkle.  Just exchange every “w” with an overemphasized V and you got it.  Diego finally grows a brain and figures out this whole illegal fight business with slavery, prostitution, and death might not be on the level.  Everyone join me in saying DDDDOOOOOOOOOOOOOOIIIIIIIIIIIII

Bad guy rapes ugly girl and Diego gets pissed at that because he’s now in love with ugly girl.  Diego professes his love to ugly girl and NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO not more Skinemax with ugly girl *taps out and cries*.  Aaargh, I didn’t want Diego going down in an hot tub.  Give me anything else…NOOOOOOO not another training/dating montage!  Oh god, this movie is an endless loop with no escape, its just montages and disgusting sex.

Seifer (the bad guy) vs. Heath Herring.  Seifer kills Herring despite being a 60 year old man.  Must’ve taken his Ensure that day.

Diego goes to kill Seifer and some random baddie gets in his way.  BJ Penn then comes out to help Diego with this guy.  Um, okay movie, just pull anything you want out of your ass.  Sure, let’s roll with that.  Diego walks into the warehouse to see Anderson The Spider Silva.  An actual competitive fight from Silva until Diego remembers he can deliver spinny kicks and his opponent will lower his hands.  The fight ends with Diego curb stomping Silva.  Our hero, ah forget it.

Old man Seifer vs. old man Diego in a geriatric battle for the ages.  Seifer beats down Diego and all seems lost until he remembers he can do spinny kicks and his opponent will lower his hands and stick out his chin.  Seifer’s goons are going to shoot Diego when he’s close to winning but Diego’s entourage shows up and kills the goons with guns.  What!?  What!?  How did they!?  Why do they!?  Fuck it, movie is almost over!

They get away in a stretch Hummer while the cops show up at the same time.  What!?  The cops just let a stretch Hummer get away from the scene of a multiple homicide!?  Goddamnit!  The end?  No, no way movie.  Diego gets away from police prosecution and lives happily ever after?  Fuck this.  Despite having one of the most loathsome protagonists in history the movie should just be titled Training Montage and Disgusting Sex: The Movie.  Here’s hoping these movies tanked and Echavarria can’t make this a trilogy.


 

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (Peter Sollett) 2008

Posted in N on December 8, 2010 by moviemoses

Nick (Michael Cera) and Norah (Kat Dennings) pretend to be boyfriend and girlfriend one night to show their exes they have moved on. During this night they try to find some rare indie playing in an unknown location. In the middle of endless shenanigans they find they really like one another.

 

I didn’t mean to really watch this. I for some reason thought this was a bomb so it was queued up on my Netflix. And like an idiot I now checked and it isn’t a bomb. This movie felt a lot like an homage to Adventures in Babysitting crossed with an attempt at trying John Hughes. It may try to be like that, but the quality is not quite up to par.

 

Now I am not the biggest fan of Michael Cera. He is fine in certain roles, but his schtick can get tiring fast. Now whether you will like this movie is really tied to how much Michael Cera you can stand seeing as how he is in most of the running time. This is a role where he is at his most Michael Cera-est. Now, I get that Nick’s conflict is about him getting over a girlfriend. But there is a difference between being hung up over a girl, and being a complete pansy. He whines at the drop of a hat and mumbles all of his lines.

 

There isn’t much else to this movie besides the likability of the actors. The plot is just barely enough to push it over the 80 minute mark. You can see the predictable plot conflict that will separate our title characters. Well, this movie has so little to do it’s like they have to do it twice. Most of the movie is about Nick and Norah going from one goofy situation to another in search of this McGuffin.

 

I’m kind of struggling to come up with stuff to say but really, this is it. This isn’t a movie about a complex story or difficult themes. Here we have a movie with two likable characters falling in love. I can’t really rage against this movie. I thought it was kind of meh but I can understand if people like it. You can tell that the director is really trying hard to make a charming movie. Sadly nothing really pushed this over the top for me. The dialog is by no means smart, the jokes are telegraphed, and the supporting characters are stock. This is by no means a bad movie, but there isn’t enough for me to recommend it.

 

1968: Tunnel Rats (Uwe Boll) 2009

Posted in N, T on May 31, 2010 by moviemoses

A little bit about the box cover before getting on to the actual movie.  First, the box says the movie is “Tunnel Rats”.  However, the movie is actually titled “1968: Tunnel Rats”.  Make up your mind people: is it just Tunnel Rats or 1968 Tunnel Rats?  But that’s not the only funny thing about the box.  NO!  The funniest parts are the usual critic blurbs on the front like “Astonishing” or “Four Stars!”.  Usually these reviews (if you bother to try to look up the source) either the person doesn’t exist or the review doesn’t exist.  Or maybe the quote isn’t complete, like “Astonishing…in how bad this shit stain of a movie sucks!”  I actually looked up the review and it exists.  What’s truly funny is that “Astonishing” isn’t even the blurb I would use from this guy.  This reviewer gives Uwe Boll the written equivalent of a blow job.  This guy says with a straight face that if this movie were made in 1983, it would have won an Academy Award.  He goes on to say Uwe Boll is the next Oliver Stone.  Wow.  Why is it insane assclowns like that reviewer and incompetent fucktards like Ben Lyons get to review movies for a living and I can’t?  If you ever compare Boll to Oliver Stone or say one of Boll’s movies “deserves” an Academy Award…I don’t even have a witty end to that.  I’m sorry the sheer stupidity of that review numbed my brain and my capacity for wit.  You are just a fucking moron.

Ok, 1968: Tunnel Rats is about a squad of soldiers whose job it is to clear the hundreds of miles of tunnels that run through Vietnam.  But even the soldiers find out the tunnels are filled with traps to kill them.

To lay out all the problems I have with this movie I would need a commentary track to fill it all in.  I will just give my major gripes right now.  For one, I never knew the Vietnamese were engineering savants.  Granted, I don’t know much about the tunnels the VC used, but I always thought they were just big enough for a skinny skinny man to worm his way through and make his way to various spots in the jungle.  I didn’t know they made a series of rather large crawling tunnels and a large underground base that puts the Pentagon to shame.  Seriously there are rooms where dozens of VC are just milling about underneath the ground with ceilings over 8 feet tall.

Do I have to mention the acting sucks?  Well it does.  Now Boll really tries to be serious with this material and not give his usual crap dialog but none of these community theater rejects have the chops to pull it off.  I seriously love the two minute shot where a soldier should burst into tears at the horrible sight but we literally see the actor trying to will himself into crying (short of pulling out pube hairs or putting Visine in his eyes).

I honestly can’t remember a single character out of the whole bunch.  I was paying full attention to the movie and I can’t tell you one character’s name or any serious character motivation.  I know one wanted to create a burger joint when he returned to the states.  Wow, when that is all I remember of a squad of characters that is sad. This movie is almost on the side of the Vietnamese.  The Americans are all evil and panicky while the Vietnamese are coordinated and seen as just defending themselves from the Imperial menace.

This movie almost has the feel of a horror movie.  The story is a near perpetual loop of soldiers going into a tunnel and either falling into a trap or being picked off by the Vietnamese.  This is intercut with an endless action scene where the American’s army base is ambushed.  This leads into my next major problem.

Boll seems to have lost all sense of timing and dramatic tension and plotting.  The cutting in between the slow horror movie type kills and the quick war movie action scenes are incredibly jarring is like gunning your car to 60 then slamming the brakes to gunning it again to slamming the brakes.  Neither plot thread is done particularly well either.  The ambush combat scenes are shot as well as the final battle at the end of Alone in the Dark.  So in short they are pathetic.  The scenes in the tunnel are also excruciatingly slow.  Boll seems to think that if you hold the camera on a disturbing shot for minutes on end that it becomes even more dramatic.  In some cases that’s true but when you are talking about Boll you know that he can do nothing right or subtle.  There is one shot that is almost five minutes long where a soldier stabs a dead body again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again.  I GET IT!  The soldier has been driven mad by war.  Can we move on people!?  At that point it turns from being dark to almost comedic in Boll’s attempt to stretch it out to nearly five minutes.  But its not funny or even disturbingly dark: its just in bad taste.

This movie is also one big war movie cliche.  Picture every soldier stereotype and every cliche line about the horrors of war being spouted by them and you have 1968: Tunnel Rats.  And having your theme song be “In the Year 2525” is epic facepalm.

God I could go on and on but you get the picture.  As I said before, I have a difference when talking about bad movies: so bad its good and so bad its just bad.  1968: Tunnel Rats is so bad its bad.  I almost consider this worse than Postal.  This is the rare Boll movie that is not funny no matter how you slice it. This movie is almost evil.  I can watch just about every Uwe Boll movie again due to the humor.  I don’t want to see Tunnel Rats again.  This movie is astonishing…in how I want it wiped off the face of the Earth and and the filmmaker to die a horrible and bloody death.  Four stars…out of 1000!