Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Dave's Random Reviews

The Finals in The Dave's Random Bracket:

After much battle, it all boils down to...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket VS Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Who will win when Factor 7 ties up against both Jessica AND James Hawbaker?


So I finally saw 300 last week. Excellent film, I must admit... for all the talk about how violent it was, and decapitations and arms being severed and the like, it really wasn't as bad as it was made out to be. Oh, there's decapitations and arms being severed and the like, but the violence was so stylized, and so comic book-esque, it wasn't the over-the-top gore fest I was almost expecting.

300 tells the story of the Battle of Thermopylae, when 300 Spartans took on over a million Persians. When Xerxes sends a messenger force to Sparta to demand their surrender, King Leonidas says "No thanks", then he and his men tosses the entire messenger group into a pit.

Leonidas go before the Oracle to authorize warring against Persia (in the first of two scenes of unnecessary boobage), but the men around the Oracle have already been bought by Xerxes, so they say no. So, Leonidas gathers 300 of his best, strongest soldiers, only those who have sired a son, to take on the Persians. Before he leaves, he meets up with his good looking wife (in the other scene of unnecessary boobage)... just saying, be aware.

From there it's one battle after another, with Xerxes tossing one army after another at the 300, until the dramatic end, filled with betrayal, death and lots and lots of arrows.

The film is shot in mostly bluescreen, to give it the oatmeal colored sky and the brownish texture it has, done so to keep it connected to the original comic by Frank Miller, who also did Sin City. Highly recommended.

"Sweet Escape" by Gwen Stefani, featuring Akon. Almost annoying, but just poppy enough to be slighty catchy, and who doesn't love Gwen. Download it. Catch the video.

"Grindhouse" is a purposeful double feature from directors Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez... if you don't know either of those directors, this is probably not the film(s) for you, so I won't go into detail.

The proper definition of "Grindhouse",
according to Wikipedia is as follows (links are theirs): "A grindhouse is an American term for a theater that mainly showed exploitation films. It is also a term used to describe the genre of films that played in such theatres. Grindhouse films are also referred to as "exploitation films." Grindhouses were known for non-stop programs of B movies, usually consisting of a double feature where two films were shown back to back. Many of these inner-city theatres formerly featured burlesque shows which included "bump and grind" dancing, leading to the term "grindhouse." Beginning in the late 1960s and especially during the 1970s, the subject matter of grindhouse films was dominated by explicit sex, violence, bizarre or perverse plot points, and other taboo content. Many grindhouses were exclusively pornographic."

Short definition: Give up good story for violence, sex and other audience-drawing traits. Boy, that sounds appealing, doesn't it?

Well, it is really not that bad. Like "300", I was almost expected to be blasted with violence, and when you toss in Rob-Rod and Tarantino, tons of naked chicks and worse... and like "300", I was pleasantly surprised.

The two films that make up "Grindhouse" are Robert Rodriquez's "Planet Terror" and "DeathProof", both about 80 minutes long. Even better are the "fake trailers" that appear with the film, the first (and best) called "Machete", setting up the revenge of a day laborer done wrong. "Don't F*** With This Mexican" makes for a classic tagline.

"Planet Terror" features Rose McGowan (who looks hot but I still can't get out of my head she made out with Marilyn Manson) as a go-go dancer named Cherry Darling, who wants to leave dancing and become a stand-up comedienne. Along the way, we see Sayid from Lost involved with Bruce Willis involved with poison gas that turns people into zombies which kill Fergie and infects the town and there's a lesbian doctor who's married to a bad dude and a BBQ grill owned by legendary That Guy Jeff Fahey who is brother to another That Guy Michael Biehn and... whew... it's great stuff.

And somewhere in there, Cherry Darling ends up getting a machine gun for a leg.

The best moment comes when you see the "missing reel"... back in the day, "missing reels" happened frequently, due to error in film or just clumsiness in theater operation, and when you get back to the film, you have no idea how you got here from where you werebefore--there is a missing reel in "Planet Terror", and its really funny when it happens.

When these films are released on dvd separately, as I'm told they will be, I would definately support catching "Planet Terror"... perhaps not so much "DeathProof".

Well, before you get to "DeathProof", you've got a few more "fake trailers", including a gem called "Don't",which is hysterical, and a random Nic Cage sighting in "Werewolf Women of the SS"... the one for the Eli Roth fake movie "Thanksgiving" is a little disturbing... including a random 2 second visual that made the entire theater go "what the...?" at the same time.

"DeathProof" shows you three chicks partying at a country bar, and meeting a stuntman driver named "Stuntman Mike", played by Kurt Russell. Essentially, I'm not telling you anything you didn't know if you were planning to see this movie by telling you that Kurt Russell is a bad, bad man and you know these girls are going to end up dead... and they do. Spectacularly, I might add. Stuntman Mike drives a Hollywood stunt car, built of solid steel, protected and made for violent crashes... and it does.

Then we skip to another diner scene with three more girls, including Rosario Dawson, who sit and talk forever... the story of the falling-yet-uninjured Zoe is important... but long. Anyway, they end up test driving a Dodge Challenger, and meet up with Stuntman Mike, and a showdown ensues. It's almost as if the film is two different stories, connected by a single bad guy and a single M.O... though both parts of the film have long, sometimes taxing, lead-ups, the payoffs are more than enough.

Watch the the crazy babysitters and the lesbian doctor (and her dad) who make appearances in "DeathProof", after all play a central role in the previous "Planet Terror". Also watch for the mush-mouth football player from "The Waterboy" as "Jasper".

And finally, here's "Fast Food Nation". The film is a fictional story based on the non-fiction book by Eric Schlosser, and tells three stories, all intertwined by one corrupt meat-packing plant in Coby Colorado.

1) Greg Kinnear (among Steph's pantheon of guys that she wouldn't leave me for, but would take a second longer to answer no than, say, Charlie Sheen. Also see "Whitford, Bradley" and "Firth, Colin") is Don, an executive for the fast food giant Mickey's, and creator of Mickey's biggest hit, "The Big One Burger". When Mickey's CEO is alerted that fecal matter is found on the burgers, Don is sent to the meatpacking plant to investigate. His research finds him much more than he wanted to know, while along the way meeting Kris Kristofferson and... yes, Bruce Willis.

2) Wilmer Valderrama, from doing both That 70s Show and Lindsay Lohan, is Raul, a Mexican immigrant who illegally crosses his wife Sylvia, by way of Luiz Guzman (an International That Guy hall of famer). Raul and Coco, Sylvia's little sister, get jobs at the meatpacking plant, while Sylvia works at a nearby motel. Mike (Bobby Cannavale) is a supervisor who's a complete pud and has his eye on the chicks there at the plant. Things don't go well for Raul and company.

3) Amber (played by Ashley Johnson... yes, the chick who played Chrissy Seaver is all growed up) works at Mickey's, along with Brian, and simply wants something more for her life. She's in high school, is niece to Ethan Hawke, daughter of Patricia Arquette, and ends up meeting up with Avril Lavigne in a protest. Who knew.

The meat packing plant is the central character that ties all three stories together, however loosely. I'm really not sure what I was expecting, be it comedy or serious message film or whatever... but I took from the film just one thing--I want to read the book.

The film was billed as "for fans of Fahrenheit 911", and since there's more truth coming out of The Neverending Story than Fahrenheit 911 (trust me, I can back it up, its not just me talking), I knew it might have a political slant on it... which actually, it didn't.

It does make you feel bad for the treatment of Mexican immigrants (which is okay... its kinda not their fault our country's system is so effed up... here I go again), but if you want to see a true attack on the fast food industry, go get Super Size Me. That will disturb you.

Hey, what if they showed Fahrenheit 911 and An Inconvenient Truth back to back, and called it "LieHouse"? Thank you, thank you.

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