Friday, June 18, 2010

Ninja Death

I love old traditional kung fu films. It reminds me of my youth when I watched hours and hours of Kung Fu Theater. And since I was a hormonally-riddled teen when this was airing, I secretly hoped to see a scantily clad lady or thought I might hear a swear word more harsh than “bastard”. Where has this movie been my whole life??? It has BOTH!!! And then an entire non-PC scene with derogatory homosexual comments – yes, inappropriate, but hilarious during the 1970s.

Here’s the plot: Tiger works at a whorehouse (ahhhh, feel the irony in that sentence…). The Japanese immigrants have set up a rival brothel down the street in an attempt to find a kung fu master with a plum flower tattoo on his chest. We later find out that kung fu master is Tiger. Tiger isn’t ready to take on the ninjas, mainly due to the fact that he’s never heard of them or know what they are. His master HAS heard of them and sets about training Tiger to fight them (mainly by kicking his ass repeatedly). As a baby, Tiger was taken from his mother during a ninja battle and the ninjas have returned to finish him off years later. The end of the movie stops short in preparation for Ninja Death II and Ninja Death III (yes, I own them all), so I am looking at this like the kung fu version of Lord of the Rings.

Here are some things that I learned from Ninja Death:
  • Hitting 300 pressure points will stop someone from puking
  • Suspender snap hurts kung fu masters worse than multiple punches in face
  • British overdubbed voices pronounce “ninja” like “ninjer” – I giggle every time
  • If a female ninja attacks you, she can be defeated by trying to kiss her – apparently, they’re powerless against the kissing attack. The tradeoff is that three Japanese geisha can bring down a kung fu master with giggles
  • Everytime I hear a clarinet, I’m going to be on the lookout for ninjas
  • Ninjas used to be sex machines
  • A man with long black hair that wears a long black wig looks exactly the same when he takes said wig off
  • Ninjas take baby steps when they run
  • Hugging is foreplay
  • Based on the amount of passion demonstrated by female ninjas during kissing, I hope I never kiss a female ninja
  • Beggars hold their own pretty well against a swarm of ninjas

I wouldn’t run out and buy this series but it is pretty amusing. I hope the second and third ones are equally amusing. As is typical for traditional kung fu films, the overdubbing is half of the comedy. However, halfway through the movies, the accents suddenly turn British instead of American, up to that point. There are some pretty sweet fight scenes, but there are also some awful special effects that counter the awesomeness. There isn’t much about the plot of this film that makes it stick out amongst the hoards of difficult-to-differentiate kung fu films, but like most of them, you won’t feel like you wasted your time. And for the record, this is borderline Bad Movie Night material… Also is it ninjas or ninja (similar to deer or deers)?

Julie & Julia

Julie and Julia is a cute little film about Julia Child, the famous cook played here by Meryl Streep, before she became famous and modern Julie, played by Amy Adams, who is kind of a non-famous writer. Julie has a bunch of rich and important (read: snooty) friends who have no idea what she's going through because they can't relate. Julie decides, with the recommendation of her boyfriend, to go through Julia Child's entire cookbook and blog about the experience. She does so (with some difficulty), but gets quite a following of friends and readers she doesn't know.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Get Him To The Greek

I had mixed feelings going into this movie, but based on the previews I thought I had better at least give it a shot (especially since someone else was paying). It’s about a record company kid (Jonah Hill) trying to make a splash in the business by pitching an idea to his boss (played by P.Diddy) to have a just-past-peaked rock star (Russell Brand) play a show at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles. The trick is getting this drug- and drink-consuming machine to the theater in the first place.

Aldous Snow is a rock star who used to be a pretty big deal. He and his band released a pretty crappy album which got scathing reviews. He split with his pop star wife because they had both been cheating and living the rock star life style. She’s been clean for a while, but Aldous has been pounding drinks and narcotics for long enough that it’s clearly effecting his performance.

Aaron Green (Hill) works for Sergio Roma (Diddy) at a record label and Sergio asks his people for advice on how to make the next big smash hit artist. Aaron says they should get Aldous Snow (Brand) to play the Greek Theater and make a huge comeback (along with all kinds of interviews and publicity along the way). Aaron flies to London after breaking up with his girlfriend to pick up Aldous and all kinds of hilarious things happen because Aldous doesn’t feel like going to the US right then. Aldous takes Aaron out on the town (for a continuous three days) and gets him amazingly loaded.

They eventually make it on to a plane to the US and have stops in NYC, Vegas, and Los Angeles for publicity and eventually the concert. Aaron tags along and manages to drag Aldous to barely make each engagement. Aldous stops in Las Vegas to see his washed-up musician of a father and serious comedy happens here. I hate to admit it, but as slapstick as this stupid scene is, I hurt myself laughing at everything that happens here. Everyone on drugs and drinking leads to hilarious fist fighting and a fire in the hotel.

I’m not going to ruin anything by telling you Aldous makes it to the Greek Theater to play the show, but not until after being seriously messed up (mentally, emotionally, physically, and probably a few other adverbs). There are some touching “buddy moments”. There are some messed up relationship moments. There are some hilarious (and true) rock star d-bag things that happen. And there are incredible moments of comedic brilliance.

This may not be my favorite movie of the year, but it was a really solid movie that I’m really glad I saw. The acting in the film is really funny. I’m not even sure it was believable, but I’m not sure it was supposed to be. Honestly, P.Diddy was hilarious in this film and did some things that were probably outside of his comfort zone, but it totally worked. Russell Brand should be the only persona allowed to play a rock star for as long as I’m alive. He’s an amazing combination of borderline-gay, douche-bag, pompous ass, pretty boy, emotionally void moron, and charismatic British playa. The film has more intelligent humor than most films out there, while still containing enough impossibly zany things to make you feel guilty for laughing. I’m not really comparing the two films, but if you like movies like The Hangover, then you’ll probably love this film. It’s worth checking out, for sure.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

It’s Complicated

My new boss suggested I check out It’s Complicated during a conference call two weeks back. If I had declined, the rest of the people would think I was a jerk (they’ll find out soon enough anyway), so I told her I would. I moved it to the top of the Netflix list to try and suck up. I now realize my boss and I will have to disagree on which movies we like.

Jake and Jane (Alec Baldwin and Meryl Streep) have been divorced for 10 years and are civil to each other, despite the fact that Jake has remarried a significantly younger and sluttier woman. At Jake and Jane’s son’s graduation, the two ex’s have a few drinks and “hook up”, as the kids call it these days. This illicit affair goes on for a short while with Jane loving it at first, and then becoming more and more distraught as she begins to realize what she’s doing. John Krasinski plays her son in law who actually sees some of this affair happening and doesn’t let on that he knows. During this affair, Jane is also torn because she ends up liking the attention she’s getting from Adam (Steve Martin), the architect who’s working on her remodel project. Jake finally leaves his young wife to pursue a legitimate relationship with his ex-wife.

The movie starts out really slow. In fact, I made a couple of comments about 30 minutes in and 45 minutes in, asking when it was supposed to get funny. It didn’t. It dragged out mercilessly without humor for over an hour before it got an actual laugh from me (and that was a John Krasinski line, I believe). Even Steve Martin, whom I LOVE, didn’t even make me crack a smile. He’s super cute in his usual way, but they didn’t capitalize on any of his humor in this film – including the scene where they get smoked up and get giggly, which I didn’t believe for a second.

The acting was a tad (sometimes more than a tad) overdone in the entire film and characters were just a bit too chipper. Alec Baldwin either needed to be more friendly and likeable or he needed to be more of an ass, like in 30 Rock. If he had done either of those things, I would have liked him a LOT more in this movie. At the end of the movie, I said, “maybe if I was a middle aged woman or a cougar, I’d find this movie funnier.” Actually THAT got the biggest laugh of the night. Sad, but true. This movie kind of sucked the life out of me and stole two hours I will never see again.