"Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull"
It was everything I thought it would. I'm a big fan of Cate Blanchett, so it was fun to see her in type of "let's just have a blast" kind of role, but you know, I think Harrison Ford is grating on me. He's so grizzled and just... well, unhappy. Perhaps its ruining a perfectly good marriage with Melissa Matheson, perhaps its dating what amounts to a cute yardstick, perhaps its that he hasn't had a real hit in some number of years ("Hollywood Homicide"? Really?) but whatever it is, he just seems so unhappy. I mean, come on, dude, you're freakin' Han Solo! Embrace it. You are Indy! For a period of time in the early 80s, you had SIX of the Top Ten highest money making movies of ALL TIME... be happy. Someone buy this guy an ice cream.
Anyway, it was a good movie, just not a great movie. Maybe I wanted it to be great, maybe like "Independence Day" and "Ocean's Twelve" it will get better upon subsequent viewings... the plot was a little goofy for me, but I have to remember its set in the 50s, when the type of movies that drive this plot were really popular. Oh, and Shia Labeouf is great.
"Charlie Wilson's War"
This movie was pretty darn slick, and I'll give you three reasons why. (1) Philip. (2) Seymour. (3) Hoffman. The guy is just amazing, really. So, this is the true story of Congressman Charlie Wilson who helped Afghanistan get the guns and ammo they needed to drive out the Russians in the early 80s, with the help of Julia Roberts and PS Hoffman. There is a ton of language, some boobage, and either a Tom Hanks butt shot, or a butt double--either way, I'm not a fan of that one.
The movie does open up debate, however, on some crucial what-ifs. What ended up happening is that when the Russians were driven out, because the US pulled their support immediately, the leadership in Afghanistan was null and void... well, until the Taliban or the like moved in. So what would have happened had the US stayed in and finished? I dunno. Hopefully, we won't be asking the same question about Iraq.
"Made of Honor"
Okay, so its cute. And it's Patrick Dempsey, a lead executive in The Lovely Steph Leann's Official Colin Firth Club. And his ingenue, Michelle Monaghan, is pretty hot herself. Anyway, its the basic premise of "My Best Friend's Wedding" (despite the comparisons, its still a better film), just gender flipped--a guy who is a Romeo of women ends up falling for his best friend, only too late, and has to do what it takes to break up the wedding and win her over.
Yes, its as contrived as it sounds. It does have a slightly different ending, though, but nothing as charming as Rupert Everett, Julia Roberts, Cammie Diaz or a table sing-a-long of "I Say A Little Prayer"
Speaking of Jessica Alba... so, I sort of want to see Sandler's "You Don't Mess With the Zohan", parts of the trailer actually crack me up in a "Waterboy"/"Deuce Bigalow" sort of way. However comma there is nothing, and I mean nothing about that new Mike Myers movie, "The End of My Career As I Know It" (also called "The Love Guru") that interests me. And I mean nothing. That looks like fourteen train wrecks in one. And poor Jessica Alba. How did someone so hot get wrongly cast as Sue Storm, only to then get stuck in a Dane Cook movie, and then this? Did she think that Mike Myers somehow still carried weight? Like, has there been once-iconic movies that have held up less over time than Waynes World or the Austin Powers flicks? Seriously, when was the last time you heard someone say "schwing" or anything other than "one beeellion dollars"? Where was I?
The best film of the year thus far. Absolutely unbelievable. Robert Downey Jr is perfect as flawed hero Tony Stark, a guy who starts out a complete jerk, and ends up only being slightly less of one, now that he has some sort of moral code.
Its actually not bad for kids, save the one 45 second scene where he and a reporter... well, "interview", if you want to say that. The action is great, very little language, the pace is quick and clever, and even Gwyneth Paltrow, who was in danger of being horribly miscast, a la Jess Alba in the Fantastic Four movies, pulls off Pepper Potts, the much tempting assistant. And almost as brilliant as Rob Jr is Jeff Bridges, complete with big bald, misshapen head and long beard, making a great return to fun films not seen since Lebowski.
"The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian"
Ya know, I was pumped for "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe", and rightly so, because it was just awesome. However, hearing this movie was coming, I just wasn't as excited. I mean, I guess I'd go see it eventually, but it didn't spark my interest like Wardrobe did.
We went to see it on Memorial Day and... wow. It was amazing. It topped the first one, remarkably, and kept going. Prince Caspian is even cool, not annoying, and the kids are growing up. Who knew that Susan Pevensie was kinda hot? Did I say that?
Its just cool to see big beasts and things attack each other Braveheart style, and of course, Aslan is always a mane attraction. If you think you might like it, go see it--you'll love it. If you think you'll love it, go see it--you'll love it more than you thought you would.
Of course, it's sad that the movie isn't performing at the box office like expected, endangering the next film in the serious.
Dave's Latest Books...
"Unholy Messenger: The Life & Crimes of the BTK Killer" by Stephen Singular
In early 2005, Dennis Rader was arrested, accused, then convicted of the murders of 10 people between 1974 and 1991... and finally, Kansas' worst serial killer was behind bars forever. "BTK" stood for "Bind Them, Torture Them, Kill Them", which is how Rader, aka BTK, killed his victims. Mostly, he went after women, but he started out pretty incompetant, killing others only by virtue of them being there.
Turns out that BTK would have gotten away with it... if it wasn't for his ego rising up and getting in the way. "Unholy Messenger" is a recap and mini-biography of a man who was, for all intents and purposes, the epitome of evil. At his trial, after conviction, as he addressed the families of those he killed, he showed little remorse for his crimes, though he wanted it known that he didn't look at pornography, because he wasn't that kind of person. It reads fast, though can be a little creepy in parts.
I'm a fan of Hiassen novels, as they are just fun, easy, breezy reads. The last I read, "Skinny Dip" was hilarious, so I thought I'd pick this one up. Turns out it's almost as good... the book opens up with half-Seminole Sammy Tigertail dumping a body off of his canoe, and he plans on seeking refuge in one of the thousands of small Everglade islands. Then, we meet Honey Santana, who is a neurotic, odd woman who lives in Everglade City, Florida (the state where all of Hiassen's books are set) and is a single mom to her 12 year old son, Fry. She gets a rude telemarketing call where the end result has her being labeled as a "dirty old skank" by the telemarketer, Boyd Shreave, who is married to Lily, but having an affair with a bored co-worker named Eugenie.
Honey lures Boyd, and as it turns out, Eugenie, to Florida to teach them a lesson in manners, and they are closely followed by Dealey, a PI that Lily hired to prove her husband was cheating on her. Honey is being closely followed by Louis Piejack, a slimeball of a guy who fired Honey earlier because she whacked him with a crab hammer, that is, after he put the moves on her. Also popping up is Honey's ex, Perry Skinner, who is suspicious of why Honey is flying down two strangers, and Gillian, who befriends Sammy Tigertail.
One of the fun things about Hiassen is he's got characters criss-crossing all over, kind of like an Altman film, only not as serious and much easier to follow.
"To Late to Say Goodbye" by Ann Rule
On December 4th, 2004, a little boy ran across the street to knock on his neighbor's door. When she answered, he was crying and merely said, "My daddy shot my mommy." 33 year old Jennifer Corbin lay dead, a gunshot wound to the head, and immediately, her dentist husband, 40 year old Bart Corbin was suspected, though it seemed like it was a suicide.
And what seems like an open and shut case suddenly went heywire, as Max Barber, father of Jennifer and not convinced of his son-in-law's guilt gets a call from another man who merely said, "Bart Corbin was dating our daughter in 1990. And she died of a single gunshot wound to the head too. They said hers was a suicide."
The tale gets darker, as Ann Rule dives into the private lives of two women--Dolly Hearns and Jennifer Corbin--and the same man they dated--Bart Corbin--in 1990 and 10 years later. Not only does the investigation suddenly involve an internet romance with a guy named Chris who isn't what he appears to be, but also an auto mechanic working at Troy Small Motors in Troy, Alabama... a place I've been too. Strange. Good read.
"Bringing Down the House: The Story of Six M.I.T Students Who Took Vegas for Millions" by Ben Mezrich
If you've seen the trailer for the movie "21", starring Kevin Spacey, this is the book it's based on... however, the movie takes a major detour from the book. The basic premise is the same, with a group of students getting together and training on the specifics of counting cards in blackjack, so they can win lots and lots of money not just in Vegas, but around the country.
However, from reports, the book itself is not quite what happened either, as not only does the movie take major fictional liberties from the book, the book takes major fictional liberties from the actual truth--the chip swallowing never happened, and the break in with the chip on the table is reported to not have happened either.
It is a fun book, though, as you chronicle what is a huge payoff, only closely followed by one casino after another shutting them down... even though they really aren't cheating--they are only counting cards, not altering the way the game is played.
Can anything top Ironman? Perhaps this can...