Tag Archives: movies

Four on the Floor #3: Hollywood’s Best Swashbucklers

The Situation: Okay, here’s the deal: you need to storm a castle and rescue the princess/steal back the peasants’ taxes/stop the lunatic usurping the throne.  The only problem is you’re just one person and the castle is guarded by legions of well-armed, if slightly thick, soldiers.  What’s a guy to do?  Simple.  Assemble a crackerjack squad of swashbucklers to lend you a hand…and a sword.

The Criteria: Sure, part of what makes a good swashbuckler is skill.  You have to know how to handle a sword.  However, if you truly want to buckle a good swash (or, if you’re really talented, swash a good buckle), then you need to know how to use anything and everything in your immediate vicinity: chairs, tables, chandeliers, servants, mules, suits of armor, etc.

1. Robin Hood (The Adventures of Robin Hood)

When I think “swashbuckler”, the first image that pops into my head is watching Errol Flynn dueling Basil Rathbone on that stone staircase.  I think that I can safely say that, for most people, Flynn’s Hood is the definitive Hood.

2. Westley & Inigo Montoya (The Princess Bride)

Cary Elwes’ Westley and Mandy Patinkin’s Inigo (neither of them left-handed) can do it all: scale cliffs, seek revenge, survive the dangers of the Fire Swamp, reunite with their true love, befriend giants, return from being “mostly-dead”, and outsmart a Sicilian when death is on the line.

3. Lagardere (On Guard) 

A former soldier–who learns the deadly “Nevers attack” after befriending a great swordsman–romps through the French countryside with his fetching adopted daughter and a troupe of travelling performers.  Years later, Lagardere (Daniel Auteuil) must avenge the swordsman’s death by facing his wicked cousin.  Oh…and there are hunchbacks.

4. Captain Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean, et al.)

Whether or not you liked the Pirates movies, you can not deny that Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow has the swashiest buckle in Hollywood.  As a pirate, Captain Jack might not be much help storming a castle, but he knows how to handle a sword, and could probably pick a lock or two along the way.

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5 movies that earned their 11 bucks in 2007

2007 was the first year in a while when I was able to see almost all of the movies that I wanted to see in the theaters (Netflix is a horrible enabler for those who enjoy sloth).  I enjoyed most, if not all, of them–Fantastic Four 2 was good until the last two minutes; Spider-man 3 was fun despite the scene where Peter Parker suddenly transforms into an emo, jazz-dancing lesbian; Live Free or Die Hard was awesome even though it was rated PG-13; and, although it might not have been the movie I would have made, I enjoyed Transformers.  But, none of these movies truly earned the 11 bucks that I had to shell out for a few hours of mindless entertainment.  What follows are five movies that, for various reasons, truly earned the money I spent to see them.

1. Zodiac

What could be better than a movie about a serial killer?  How about a movie about a real serial killer.  Add a cast that’s a delightful mix of Faces (Robert Downey, Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, and Mark Ruffalo) and That Guys (Anthony Edwards, Elias Koteas, Charles Fleischer, Donal Logue, and Brian Cox) and put them all into the capable hands of the guy who directed Fight Club and Seven.

I’m a fan of procedurals…straight-forward narratives about men and women doing their jobs.  Zodiac is two and a half hours of men and women doing their jobs, frequently obsessively so.

2. Grindhouse

Who wouldn’t be willing to pay $11 to see two full-length features and a bunch of goofy fake trailers?  Apparently, a lot of people.  But, as a friend of mine pointed out: most people are just afraid of awesome. 

Just look at that.  It’s got it all.  Even fake trailers:

Now, it’s inevitable that anyone who saw Grindhouse prefers one of the features over the other.  Personally, I like the gore-soaked, zombie-fest Planet Terror over the more psychological thriller that is Death Proof (although Kurt Russell kicked seven kinds of ass in that one and Mary Elizabeth Winstead stands around in a cheerleader uniform).  But, you need to see them both, back-to-back, to get the real Grindhouse experience.  That’s why it’s really sad that Dimension released them on separate DVDs.  I’m holding out hope that we’ll get some kind of special edition collector’s something or other…so I can experience Grindhouse again, the way you’re supposed to.

3. Superbad

Possibly one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen (which I know is a very bold statement). 

Most people I know agree with me; those who don’t usually fall into one of two camps: those who thought it was too juvenile and those who didn’t think it was juvenile enough.  Is it juvenile?  Yeah, absolutely.  But, what it has that other dick-and-fart movies don’t have is heart.  I liked American Pie and the Trip series (y’know, Road and Euro), but I never got the feeling that the characters liked each other very much.  But Evan and Seth are friends.  They care about one another.  They might not show it unless they’re wasted, but it’s there.  And who doesn’t like McLovin?

4. 3:10 to Yuma

Maybe it’s just me, but I find westerns (real westerns, not the P.C., namby-pamby Dances with Wolves crap) highly satisfying.  Maybe I like them because there’s nothing more American than a western.  Maybe it’s because like the procedural, there’s very little room for debate in a western: you know what you have to do and you do it.  Or it could be that I just loved Russell Crowe and his hat:

Whatever the reason, I walked out of this movie extremely satisfied.  Christian Bale and Crowe were awesome, as always.  Ben Foster was fucking insane.  Alan Tudyk was goofy.  It was everything I could have hoped for.  Plus there were horses, trains, and shoot-outs.

5. The Simpsons

You run a huge risk when you try to transform a television show into a movie.  It doesn’t always work (I’m lookin’ at you, X-Files).  But, sometimes it does:

The folks behind The Simpsons gave fans exactly what they wanted: essentially three very good episodes of the TV show.  They didn’t try to reinvent the wheel.  They simply used what’s worked on the show for the last 47 years.  The feature film weaves the three usual television plots into one arc–you have the “Family Dynamic” plot, where one or more members of the Simpson family messes up and has to earn the forgiveness of their kin; there’s the “Simpsons on the Road” plot, where circumstances force the family out of Springfield to some other location (in this case, it’s Alaska); and there’s the “Townspeople Go Ape-shit” plot, which pretty much speaks for itself.

The only way this could have been a better movie is if Sideshow Bob, Kang and Kodos were in it.

What I’ve learned from Hollywood

In the midst of the WGA strike, I feel the need to let you all know the many important lessons that I’ve learned from movies and TV over the years.  So, in no particular order, here it is:

1. If a volcano erupts, call Tommy Lee Jones or Pierce Brosnan.

2. If an asteroid is heading towards Earth, call Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck.

3. If there’s an alien invasion, call Will Smith.

4. If there’s a new Ice Age, call Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhal.

5. What not to do during your show’s season finale: (a) get on a plane, (b) plan a “dream vacation”, (c) confess your love for someone, (d) agree to meet someone at a specific place at a specific time.

6. The avalanche has begun.  It is too late for the pebbles to vote.

7. Never invite Angela Lansbury to a dinner party.

8. Losers whine about their best.  Winners go home and fuck the prom queen.

9. If you run for president, never EVER choose Powers Boothe as your VP.

10. If the doorbell rings and Rod Serling is at the door, do not, under any circumstances, let him in the house.  In fact, it’s best to call the cops and make sure he’s as far away from your house/place of business as possible.  Weird shit happens every place that dude goes.

11. Sometimes it’s just a guy in a mask.

12. You should have boards in these…bloody savage.

13. Sometimes it isn’t just a guy in a mask.

14. Robots will rebel…it’s just a matter of time.

15. Zombies on the rampage?  Aim for the head, dumbass!

Words to live by…trust me, kids.

20 benchmark CGI movies?

Personally, I’m not a big fan of massive amounts of CG effects in movies–a little is okay, from time to time, but if you can’t do it with wires, cables, a bucket of fake blood and a dude in a rubber suit, my philosophy is maybe you should rethink the effect.

Anyways…Premiere.com has this list of the 20 movies that made the biggest impact on the use of CG effects. I agree with most of what they came up with (although movies like Beowulf, Speed Racer and Avatar aren’t even out/made yet). I just wish they had included The Great Mouse Detective, which was one of the first Disney movies that blended computer animation with traditional 2-D animation…

Michael…Michael…MICHAEL!!

I wanted to post something in honor of Halloween…so I figured a little video of Michael Myers I found on The Youtube might work:

Best of Michael Myers – Halloween – part 1