Sunday, May 9, 2010

You have to look beautiful for your funeral. This is how they are all going to remember you.

Hello I am the movie encyclopedia and if no one else will see it, I will.

Films that deal with the idea of death have always intrigued me. Whether it's about the Grim Reaper or a Reaper-esque character, the idea of death, or what happens after death I have always been interested. But one idea of death or near death has always freaked me out: what if you're alive but everyone else thinks you're dead? Stephen King did a great story on it called "Autopsy Room 4" in which a guy had to get a hard on to prove that he was not dead (it's scarier than you think). The Twilight Zone did a great piece on that as well. It's also one of Roger Ebert's biggest fears in life. So the idea is nothing new. But when I heard about a movie called After.Life I got interested again.

The story is of Anna (Christina Ricci). She has a good life, a great boyfriend and everything going for her. But after a small fight with her boyfriend she storms off and drives away. While she is driving she get's in a horrible car accident. She wakes up on a slab in a funeral home, scared and confused. A man named Eliot (Liam Neeson) tells her that she is dead and that he is preparing her body. She thinks that she is still alive and that he is crazy. He says that he can see and communicate with the dead and that it's his job to help guide them to the other side and help them accept death.
But a young boy sees Anna moving around and goes and tells Paul (Justin Long), her boyfriend, that she is still alive. Paul believes the little boy and decides to try to find a way to get to Anna, who is trapped inside the funeral home with Eliot. So it's up to Paul to figure out what to do, Anna to try and cope with the idea that she's dead and Eliot to lead her to the other side.

It's a good story but it suffers from being in the gray zone too much. Is Anna really dead? If so how did the boy see her? Does the boy have powers? How did Eliot get the powers? Is Eliot crazy? There are so many unanswered questions and the movie never really places itself at one end of the spectrum or another. It teases the idea that she is dead but teases almost as much that she is alive. The movie never states whether she is alive or dead. Now I realize that would work for the Sixth Sense and maybe work to create tension but it becomes tedious at times during the movie and makes the overall feel of the movie frustrating. The one good thing it has going for it when it comes to it's writing is it doesn't depend on jump scares. It uses genuine tension and suspense to make the audience jump. A nice surprise compared to the norm.

Where the movie does WELL though is in the acting department. Justin Long is witty and charming as ever finding almost a niche in these thriller films a la Bruce Campbell. Ricci is actually pretty good and believable as Anna. You really do FEEL for her and care about her character's well being. Neeson is great as always. Calm and soothing voice, an eerie feel about him but also a sense of gentleness and a "Why me" attitude. He works great with the film's tone and makes the film actually fun to watch.

After.Life is a decent thriller that suffers from too much gray. The tension and suspense are good and the acting is great but overall it's a pretty forgettable film. Still worth a rent though.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

If you could make God bleed, people will cease to believe in Him. There will be blood in the water, and the sharks will come.

Hello I am the movie encyclopedia and if no one else will see it, I will.

Besides the Expendables and The A-Team this is the film I had the highest hopes for this year. A soundtrack by AC/DC, the introduction of one of my favorite heroine's Black Widow and one of my favorite villains Whiplash, Samuel L. Jackson, Sam Rockwell, RDJ, Gwyneth Paltrow, tons of comedy, great special effects and great action. Well this film has all of that and more. And while it's not as groundbreaking or as fresh and original as the first film, it's still an entertaining film and a worthy sequel.

The story starts off in Russia showing the death of a Russian physicist. It's there we are introduced to Ivan aka Whiplash (played by Mickey Rourke). Ivan is the son of this physicist and vows revenge on the men responsible for making his father and his life a living Hell: Stark Industries. Ivan then for the next twenty minutes or so creates a device using the technology that Stark Industries has developed. While all this is happening Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) is dealing with some issues himself. The government is on his ass about Iron Man, his secretary is on his ass about getting everything done in Stark Industries, Hammer (Rockwell), a weapons dealer, is on his ass about weaponizing Iron Man and while all this is happening Tony has to deal with his own mortality. You see Tony is slowly dying thanks to the device in his chest which pumps out a poison that grows the more he wears the suit.

Tony decides to change things up a little. He hires a girl named Natalie to be his new secretary and makes Pepper (Paltrow) the CEO of the company so that Stark can focus on being Iron Man and fixing his problem. But things start to become overwhelming and he takes a trip to Morocco which shapes the rest of the film.

You see while there he decides to engage in a race. Halfway through Ivan comes in as Whiplash and destroys the track, leaving Tony in a pile of his own blood. Ivan is eventually subdued once Tony puts on his spare armor and Ivan is led off to prison. From there the film splits into three factions:

Stark Industry-Dealing with the aftermath of this and the ramifications that come with Iron Man getting his ass kicked.

S.H.I.E.L.D- Trying to convince Tony to join the Avenger initiative, get his life back on track, and cure whatever is wrong with him

Hammer and Ivan-A villainous duo working together to take over the weapons market and destroy Stark Industries

The film splits up the time fairly evenly and we are left with a really well done film. The writing DOES get muddled in the middle and sometimes the action can be a bit sparse in the first half, but it's all made up for by the amazing ending which features some of the best action I've seen in a while. Chases, explosions, bombs, boss fights and Black Widow being the greatest thing since sliced bread. But Favreau and Theroux (the writer) have great control over the film and make sure never to make the film lean towards the boring and stupid and instead make it feel balanced and well done.

Part of that is obviously thanks to Robert Downey Jr. RDJ as Tony is brilliant. He is snarky, narcissistic, a total smartass, a womanizer, a thrill seeker, a genius, a madman and a very real person. Every scene with him glows and every time he is on screen you can't take your eyes off of him. Paltrow and Cheadle (a replacement for Terrance Howard) do good as well but each have their own problems which bring their characters down. Paltrow can't seem to decide whether she wants to be a cold, businesswoman or the sweet, happy girl. It's almost bipolarish at times but never distracting. Overall her character arc is quite well thought out. I can't say the same for Cheadle. While he is a better Rhodie than Howard, he never really grows as a character and that makes him hard to really root for.

As for the villains Sam Rockwell is great. He is the anti-Stark. He is rich, smart and powerful but unlike Tony he is corrupted by power and greed. He is what Tony could have been if he had gone to the dark side. That makes him all the more intriguing. That and he never really gets angry until the end and when he does he is scary. Rourke is good too but isn't really given much to do. He comes up, snaps, builds a machine, kicks Tony's ass, gets HIS ass kicked, goes to jail, breaks out and builds for pretty much the rest of the movie. He doesn't talk much except for his token trailer lines and when he does it's in muddled Russian or very thick English. But he does well despite these gripes and makes for a good villain.

Ah I can't forget my favorite part of this movie though...Natalie Rushman aka Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow. Look RDJ is great, the writing and directing is great, the action and effects are great and the overall acting is great. But from the minute Scarlett Johanson walked in and all the way to the end with her massively awesome slo-mo action sequence I could not take my eyes off of her. Honestly when she was on screen I didn't see anything else. I realize that she was mostly there for ass shots and to be the token heroine but still...damn. She blew me away.

Overall Iron Man 2 is a great film full of great action, acting and writing. It has it's problems that DO hinder it and it does slightly suffer from sequelitis but it's worth seeing and worth your time and money. And Scarlett Johanson is hot. Nuff said.


Friday, May 7, 2010

Survivor Heroes vs Villains Interview with Candice Woodcock and Danielle DiLorezo

Hello I am the movie encyclopedia and if no one else will see it, I will.

Well last nights episode of Survivor was a doozy. As we get closer and closer to the finale, with the producers realizing that they have more contestants than they do weeks left, we got to see a DOUBLE elimination this week! Not that it's new to Survivor or anything, I mean it's happened once already this season but still it's always good to see the time on the show being put to good use instead of Outback Steakhouse commercials or pointless filler. They got to the meat and potatoes of the show and delivered a stellar episode. Not the most memorable by any means but it certainly brought some surprising results. The outcome? Two Survivors, a hero and a villain, both got voted off. Was it strategy, dumb luck or is Russell trying his damnedest to make sure he doesn't get outsmarted? Who really knows. But in the end Candice and Danielle went home and now I got both of them to interview. This is my first duo interview so cut me some slack but hopefully it gives the same feeling as you would get from a singular interview.

The Movie Encyclopedia: Hello ladies.
The Ladies: Hey, thanks for interviewing us.

TME: No thank you...Alright. First question and this is for both of you: Why did you decide to do Survivor again?

Candice: Well it was hard being away from my fiancée and because of Survivor I had to push the wedding back ten months but for me I always loved Survivor. It challenges you physically and mentally in ways that you wouldn't expect. It's a feeling you can't get from anything else and if you get the chance it is totally worth it.

Danielle: I have to agree. I mostly did it because I came in second the first time and I wanted to prove to everyone and to myself that I could do it again. I enjoy pushing myself and while I didn't win I was blessed to team with some of the best Survivors of the past seasons and to make it as far as I did.

TME: On that note do you think you'd do it again?

Candice: Probably. I'd have to think about it first but if it seems like the right time and I'm still in good enough shape to do it I would be hard pressed to say no.

Danielle: Totally. It's such a fun game to not only watch but to play as well that I would do it again in a heartbeat.

TME: So what was it like going to stay with the jury?

Candice: It was tough for me. When I arrived they all gave me the silent treatment. They would talk to Danielle and to each other but not to me. I was pretty bummed out but if they wanted to be immature that's fine. The food was amazing and Danielle and I were still friends so I didn't really need to worry about them. The next morning however Amanda came to me and we worked out our differences. Eventually the rest of them warmed up, all except for J.T, and it wasn't that bad.

Danielle: It wasn't that bad for me. I tried not to piss too many people off and Candice, Coach, Courtney and I got along just fine. There was some initial tension between Amanda and I but we worked out our differences and everything was fine.

TME: I have a question for Danielle-Did you think you were going home?

Danielle: Honestly no...or at least not at first. Russell, Parvati and I were the ringleaders of the Villains tribe. We were really close and did everything as a team. Sandra and Jerri were mostly there to pad out our votes but still I thought the villains got along fine. Then when Russell started talking to Parv and I about flipping on each other I got kind of worried. I tried confronting Russell about it at tribal council and he just kept lying to Parv and everyone else. I got so frustrated and so hurt that I started crying. Once I started crying I knew my time was probably up. I had a feeling I was going home then.

TME: Now one for Candice- What was your strategy in the game? You didn't really seem to stand out as a big personality or anything in fact you seemed probably the most normal. Did you intentionally stay in the background or what?

Candice: I just wanted to play it safe. None of the heroes tribe wanted me there. Colby and Rupert spent most of their time calling me weak and pathetic so I knew that if I stirred up any sort of trouble whatsoever that I would be gone ASAP. I don't know why they thought that but I guess I couldn't change their minds. So I stayed in the back, kept to myself and went along with everyone else. More and more peOnce we merged I had to switch things up a little and look where that got me.

Take the last challenge I did. I didn't step off because I was really craving a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich, I was doing it because after I switched teams I wanted to keep my head down as much as possible. But with Rupert and Colby still dead set on getting rid of me, I knew things wouldn't turn out so well.

TME: Alright for both of you-what are your opinions on the rest of the people left?

Candice: Colby's a nice guy but very black and white about everything. He doesn't switch things up and he doesn't evolve with the game. He also seems to like to sit in the back and let everybody else do everything. He's also really stubborn because once he has an idea about you he won't let go. Probably why I ended up going home. I've never liked Rupert past or present and especially this season he has been quite whiny. Sandra's nice but a bit too no nonsense for me.

Danielle: Parv is great and playing, at least in my opinion, on the same level as Russell. She knows what she wants and won't let anyone stand in her way. Russell is a great player but a horrible person. That and he smells to high hell. Jerri is nice but is too flip floppy. She goes back and forth way too much and eventually that can get you in trouble. It also doesn't help that she's riding Russell's coattails. That never turns out well.

TME: So what's next for you ladies?

Candice: I'm going to enjoy being married (NOTE: she got married after the show ended) and finish up medical school.

Danielle: Mostly just living in L.A and auditioning for different things. Modeling, acting, reality shows, you name it I'm auditioning for it.

TME: Well good luck to both of you ladies and I wish you the best.

The Ladies: Thanks, have a nice weekend.

He Shot Cyrus Thanks for Writing April Winner!

Hello I am the movie encyclopedia and if no one else will see it, I will.

I love to visit other people's blogs. I also love to share my opinions of what I think of some of their posts. The problem usually comes down to two things: Captchas, which I understand but can be cumbersome and how many blogs I actually read. If you go to my profile you will see I'm following AT LEAST 100 other blogs. It's hard to comment on all of them.

One site I have casually read on and off since becoming a LAMB is He Shot Cyrus. It's best known for the coverage of Sundance, it's poster analysis unlike anything I've seen and a quirky sense of humor. In the past couple months He Shot Cyrus has started up a new contest called the Thanks For Writing Contest. Each month you are encouraged to leave deep and thoughtful comments on his site and each comment gives you an entry into that months contest. At the end of the month it all gets counted up and he picks a random name and sends you some prizes. At the end of the year there will be a grand prize which should be interesting. I plugged HSC a few times in my last podcast so if you want more details on the contest and other things going on just be sure to go visit. I thank Scott for the prizes and now here is my doofy mug with the prizes...
PS: I'll incorporate the films into my next Haul.

MUSIC MEME...because I can...

Hello I am the movie encyclopedia and if no one else will see it, I will.

As most people know from listening to the Demented Encyclopedia, or by just listening or getting to know me, they will know that besides film, TV and video games I am extremely passionate about music. I play a few instruments myself (guitar, saxophone) and have been in choir on and off for 8 years. So when I saw a meme floating around the web that involved music and because I am a total meme whore right now (sorry review lovers) I decided to take this beast on.

1. Open up your iTunes, music player, spin the CD, whatever, hit shuffle and tell us what the first song to play is...

"Ice Ice Baby"-Vanilla Ice

2. Name your top 5 favorite bands/musicians of all time:

Easy: Metallica, Rush, Nirvana, Muse, The Beatles

3. What was your first CD to own (8 track, Record, CD, MP3 for the Newbies)

CD-N'Sync: No Strings Attached (hey I loved them...don't judge...better than Bieber)
8 Track- Whitesnake...not sure which one
Record- Metallica-The Black Album
MP3- Weird Al- Amish Paradise

4. Of All the Bands/Artists in your CD/Record collection, which one do you own the most albums by?

It's actually a tie between Rush and Metallica...although I do have a record AND a CD of the Black Album so I guess Metallica wins.

5. What was the last song you listened to?

Airplanes Part II-B.O.B featuring Hayley Williams of Paramore and Eminem

6. What song would you say sums you up?

Green Day-'s my life story

7. What's your favorite local band or band that originated from your hometown?

I wish I could say Nirvana since I live NEAR Seattle but sadly no. So I chose the instrumental band The Ventures.

8. What's the greatest concert you've ever gone to?

Sadly the only concert I've ever gone to was a Nickelback/Breaking Benjamin/Three Days Grace concert. It wasn't good. But in a few days I'm seeing Reliant K and Paramore which hopefully will be good. The greatest though will be in August when I see Rush.

9. What musician would you like to hang out with for a day?

Lars Ulrich (my favorite drummer) or Avril Lavigne. The latter because I would probably do more than hanging if ya know what I mean. I love that Canuck.

10. What was the greatest decade for music?

I get laughed at a lot but I loved the 80s. Sue me...

11. What is your favorite movie soundtrack?
It's a tie between 300 (pulse pounding awesomeness) and Pulp Fiction (because The Ventures did it)

12. What's the most awful CD/record ect that you have ever bought?

Anything by Nickelback or probably To The Extreme by Vanilla Ice.

13. What is your favorite band t-shirt/poster?

My Rush t-shirt that says GOOD RUSH, BAD RUSH with Rush Limbaugh on the BAD RUSH part.

14. Rolling Stones or the Beatles??

The Beatles...totally

15. What is one song you would like played at your funeral? Your birthday? While on a romantic date?

Funeral- Probably It's The End of the World As We Know it by REM
Birthday- Spirit of the Radio by Rush
Romantic Date- Physical by Olivia Newton John...oh yeah...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Demented Encyclopedia Episode 8-It wasn't THAT bad

Hello I am the movie encyclopedia and if no one else will see it, I will.

Well in this special Part 1 of our 2 part series on Animation we decided to cover Animated films and specifically the three (or four possibly) major animation studios: Disney/Pixar, Dreamworks and Studio Ghibli. We compared the styles, the tones, messages and overall quality of the films. For once me and Nick actually had a heated debate as we debated which was the best Pixar film and in the end which was the better overall studio.

But first we started off with plugs and I did a three way plug for He Shot Cyrus. My buddy Scott is doing a blog-a-thon in which you send your best post that you think you've ever written and it becomes part of the blog-a-thon. Him and his wife Whitney are also doing a month of Foreign films which has turned out to be quite interesting. Also his "Thanks for Writing" contest is going strong and in fact you are looking at the April Winner. I'll do a formal post when the prizes come in (just so you can see my goofy mug) but be sure to go over to He Shot Cyrus to get all the details and rules.

After the plugs and the main topic we did a brief but thoughtful Reality Show Round Up covering Survivor and American Idol (trust me the interviews are coming). Then we got into Recommend A's in which Nick recommended the arguably country band Sons of Sylvia. Meanwhile I plugged the debut album of Bobby Ray aka B.O.B whose album is one of the best I've heard in terms of hip-hop. Mostly, as I explain, it's because he doesn't focus on weed, drugs, pimps, hos or the usual rap/hip hop stuff but instead dreams and achievement and actually worthwhile topics.

We then finished up with our Mono/Dialogues of the Week. Nick sang a piece from Beauty and the Beast and I did the hot internet parody video "The Adventures of Chappy (I accidently say Chuckles) LeStrange."

Stay tuned this Saturday for Part 2 in which we discuss animated TV shows of the past and present. Hopefully this cold will go away and I won't sound like an angry tranny come showtime.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

LoaCaB Seven Movie Questions Meme

Hello I am the movie encyclopedia and if no one else will see it, I will.

Well I like meme's and if nothing else I am a sucker for posting stuff about myself that's movie related so I was excited when MovieNut14 over at Life of a Cinephile and Bibliophile created a meme in which he asks people to answer seven movie related questions. Chances are that I've answered a good portion of them already but I don't know if you've noticed but I repeat myself in every post I do so repeating isn't a huge problem for me.

Anyway I wasn't directly tagged by anyone but Rachel over at Rachel's Reel Reviews put in her answer to the meme that she was openly tagging any and everyone interested so I took that as my invitation. Well enough stalling....onto the questions.

1. What was your first movie going experience?

Well I've been pretty open about this one. I've mentioned on a few different podcasts and a few different posts that the first movie I ever remember seeing in theaters was The Lion King.

2. How many DVD's do you own?
Before or after I destroyed the Hollywood video? Before I probably had somewhere in the ballpark of 100-150 DVDs with about 10 Blu-Rays (all except one Kubrick films, Blade Runner being the other) but ever since Hollywood and with Blockbuster recently liquidating their stock of films (post to come soon) and my frequent trips to the mall I have somewhere roughly between 250 and 300 DVDs. But once again I am roughly estimating. So instead here is a picture of my collection. Feel free to count if you want-

3. What is your guilty pleasure movie?

Well you COULD listen to Nick and I's entire episode devoted to our top 10 guilty pleasures but one that I did NOT mention on the list that comes in at a very close 11th place is actually Deep Blue Sea. Yes the horrible Jaws rip off with smart sharks and Samuel L. Jackson. I am fully aware of how terrible, improbable and stupid it is but every time it comes on TV I am forced to watch it. In fact I have watched it over 25 times (sadly) from beginning to end. But only twice uncensored...think about that.

4. You have compiled a list of your top 100 movies. Which movies didn't make the cut?

Oh man this is a tough one. If I had to guess I would probably say all of Mel Brook's films besides Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, and Robin Hood: Men in Tights. I LOVE Spaceballs but I already got Star Wars on there. Also I would only take the original three Star Wars...not the prequels. I would also probably only include two Scorsese films: The Departed and Goodfellas.

5. Which movie(s) do you compulsively watch over and over?

Well besides the aforementioned Deep Blue Sea I have only watched a few movies over and over: Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Monty Python's The Meaning of Life and Clue.

6. Classic(s) you're embarrased to admit you haven't seen yet?

I have yet to see The African Queen and until last September I had yet to see Citizen Kane. I also have a habit of watching films without finishing them and so I don't know if that counts. If so then add The Maltese Falcon, The Birds, Psycho, Streetcar Named Desire, Gone With the Wind and Touch of Evil on that list. Luckily I have most of these films so I'll finish them someday.

7. What movie posters do you have hanging on your wall?

Currently I have none HANGING on my walls. I have a few that are framed and propped up against my wall though. I have an original Casablanca poster, a Sweeny Todd poster, a Dark Knight Poster and my Top 101 movie quotes of all time poster.

Seeing as how everyone and their mother is tagged I guess if you haven't done it...go do it now...there.