Monthly Archives: December 2010

FB Movie Book Smackdown: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2010)

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Written by: Seth Grahame-Smith

Publication Date: March 2, 2010

Published by: Grand Central Publishing

Genre: Historical Fiction

Price: $21.99

Movie Adaptation – Directed by Timur Bekmambetov. Screenplay by Seth Grahame-Smith. Release date: June 22, 2012. Studio: 20th Century Fox

I wanted to expand my reviews than have endless movie reviews. This new feature was inspired by a spirited discussion with the guys from The Film Cynics where Brian made a point about not reading the source material before or after seeing a movie. I chimed in that my love a particular book have been ruined by awful adaptations of it… (coughs) Running With Scissors. I thought that I would read books that have been or will be made into movies and give let them fight to the death.

The inaugural review goes to Seth Grahame-Smith’s follow-up to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies named Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. The premise of the book is self-explanatory. There have been hundreds of biographies about out sixteenth presidents ranging from a slavery sympathizer to a closet homosexual. Why not the next best thing is to transform him into a lean, mean vampire-killing machine?

When a 500-year-old vampire by the name of Henry Struges commissions Grahame-Smith to transform the “six secret journals” of Lincoln’s lifelong battle with the creatures of darkness. Ever since, Abe was a little boy, he would question why his loved ones would be healthy one day and die the next day. He learns the bitter truth about the existence of vampires and makes a solemn vow that he would see each one of them dead. He is recruited by the same Henry Sturges to do just that. You are asking yourself, why would a vampire want to kill his own kind? You just have to fight that out for yourself. Let’s just say it’s about an impending war. It’s not what you think.

My interest was piqued when I saw the cover of the book, especially the back. The idea of the tall, lanky Abraham Lincoln being a badass vamp killer was awesome.

The problem is that he rarely killed as bloodsuckers in the book. He would have his acquaintances carry out some of his assignments for him. The main problem with the book is that Grahame-Smith felt restricted about retelling Lincoln’s life that is bogged down with facts that have heard before with sprinkling of stretched truths. It was like he was afraid to go balls out insane with it. It could have gone further.

My morbid curiosity about the damage of war or ravenous vampires would do to the human body kept my interest to read further. Even though there were sporadic kills in the book, the gory details about blood gushing out, beheadings, plunging axes into chest cavities or brains spilling out of skulls made me cringe and laugh with joy at the same time.

Final KO: Without seeing the movie, I can only hope that the movie was focus more on the killing and less with the facts. If the movie was like  Zombieland, than I would give the advantage to it.

Decision: ***1/2

If you were offered the job of U.S. president would you take the job?

I want not take the job, because I would lose all of my hair dealing with the weight of the world on my shoulders.

Ask me anything

What would be the best thing about being a vampire?

You don’t have to tell with disease, smog, and all that. you’re already dead.

Ask me anything

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Black Swan (2010)

I just want to be perfect.

— Nina Sayers

The genesis of the #119 Movie of All Time on IMDB, Black Swan stemmed from a jettisoned storyline from Darren Aronofsky’s last movie, The Wrestler. It was intended to be a story about an over the hill wrestler and fading ballerina. Aronofsky wanted to explore the psyche of a ballerina further in this movie.

Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) is a featured dancer in the American Ballet Company in New York City. Her overprotective mother, Erica (Barbara Hershey) gave up her dreams of being a prima ballerina to have Nina. She wants Nina to succeed in ways that she could not.

Headmaster Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) is auditioning potential dancers for his stripped down version of the classic ballet, “Swan Lake” to open up the season. The original Swan Queen, Beth MacIntyre (Winona Ryder) is forced into an early retirement, because she is not drawing the crowds like she used to. She is embittered by this drastic action.

Seeing her chance to be the principal dancer, Nina tries out for the Swan Queen and almost loses the part due to her frigid, perfectionist style of dancing. Thomas seeing the potential in Nina when he forces himself upon her and gives her the part.

Nina’s ambition for being the best Swan Queen that ever was is consuming her when she thinks a rival dancer from San Francisco, Lily (Mila Kunis) is trying to steal her part and her life. Her paranoia over Lily, the pressures of her mother, the criticism of Thomas and the part almost consumes her as she thinks that old habits of scratching are rearing their ugly head again.

Aronofsky has a way of setting the mood of the film with a device that he did in his last film with having the camera being behind the main actor. Like the audience is falling her, going on her journey to madness. I don’t know if the notice that the color palette was mostly black and white to represent the light and the dark, good and evil, etc. I would not think that a movie about a ballerina would be Aronofsky’s plate, but I would impressed by the result.

I did find some faults with the film. It mainly deals with the supporting actresses in this film, Hershey, Ryder and Kunis. I know that Hershey wanted to be the overbearing, neurotic mother, but the scene in the kitchen with the cake. Yeah. I don’t believe for a second that Ryder would be on point in her life. Her only emotions were inebriation or anger. Nothing in between. The problem that I had with Kunis was that I didn’t believe that her character would be a rival for Natalie’s character at all. I also had an issue with the camerawork in the up-close dance sequences. It felt so jerky and weird that I could not get into the dance on an emotional level.

Judgment: It is a graceful retelling of obsession, jealousy and destruction.

Rating: ****1/2

The Fighter (2010)

I have known about The Fighter for  some time now. It was originally supposed to be Darren Aronofsky next movie, but it kept getting delayed in the process. He did The Wrestler and felt that this movie would be too similar so he passed the baton to David O. Russell. It has got a lot of buzz this award season. It deserves it.

This is the true life story of Lowell, Massachusetts residents Mickey Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and his older half-brother, Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale) circa 1993. Dicky has a HBO documentary crew follow him around for his comeback to the boxing ring where he shined as knocking out Sugar Ray Leonard, who appears as himself in the film.

Seeing that his time has passed, Dicky trains Mickey to make more goals than he ever did in his career. His decades long crack problem had him wasting away his body, hair, and mind. Their mother, Alice (Melissa Leo) is trying to keep the family together by acting as Mickey’s trainer. Dicky’s crack problem is hampering Mickey’s training and everybody sees that, except for Alice.

Mickey meets a feisty bartender after a night drinking named Charlene (Amy Adams). They begin to have a courtship when a fate steps in. Mickey would supposed to fight one opponent that is in his weight class, but his opponent caught the flu and will not be able to box. Another opponent steps up who is twenty pounds heavier than Mickey. (If you expect me to believe that Mark Wahlberg weighed 145 lbs, you are nuts. I am 160 lbs and I hit like a girl.) He takes the match so the family could get paid. He gets his ass handed to him.

Embarrassed by the loss, Mickey doesn’t want to talk to anybody in his life. Not until a rival manager would train Mickey in Las Vegas so he could have a chance to have a great career ahead of him. Mickey has a tough decision to make about choosing between his family and his career.

The movie overall was a very good exercise in establishing the dynamics between duty and pride, acceptance and being ostracized.

The story gets under your skin and wants warm your heart. It does has its faults. The main problem with this movie is the lead actor. Wahlberg has been training for this part for roughly five years and I was not rooting for him to succeed. He didn’t have the nuance, the charisma to make me be on his corner. Lastly, another down point is the fight sequences in the general were overly rehearsed. It did not feel like that they were hitting each other in the ring. It was like a choreographed dance.

Judgment: This movie is like a sucker punch to the gut.

Rating: ****1/2

2011 SAG Award Nominations

2011 SAG Awards nominees list

A list of nominees for the 17th Screen Actors Guild Awards

Outstanding performance by a male actor in a leading role
Jeff Bridges, “True Grit”
Robert Duvall, “Get Low”
Jesse Eisenberg, “The Social Network”
Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech”
James Franco, “127 Hours”

Outstanding performance by a female actor in a leading role
Annette Bening, “The Kids Are All Right”
Nicole Kidman, “Rabbit Hole”
Jennifer Lawrence, “Winter’s Bone”
Natalie Portman, “Black Swan”
Hilary Swank, “Conviction”

Outstanding performance by a male actor in a supporting role
Christian Bale, “The Fighter”
John Hawkes, “Winter’s Bone”
Jeremy Renner, “The Town”
Mark Ruffalo, “The Kids Are All Right”
Geoffrey Rush, “The King’s Speech”

Outstanding performance by a female actor in a supporting role
Amy Adams, “The Fighter”
Helena Bonham Carter, “The King’s Speech”
Mila Kunis, “Black Swan”
Melissa Leo, “The Fighter”
Hailee Steinfeld, “True Grit”

Outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture
“Black Swan”
“The Fighter”
“The Kids Are All Right”
“The King’s Speech”
“The Social Network”

Outstanding performance by a stunt ensemble in a motion picture
“Green Zone”
“Inception”
“Robin Hood”

TELEVISION

Outstanding performance by a male actor in a drama series
Steve Buscemi, “Boardwalk Empire”
Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad”
Michael C. Hall, “Dexter”
Jon Hamm, “Mad Men”
Hugh Laurie, “House M.D.”

Outstanding performance by a female actor in a drama series
Glenn Close, “Damages”
Mariska Hargitay, “Law & Order: SVU”
Julianna Margulies, “The Good Wife”
Elisabeth Moss, “Mad Men”
Kyra Sedgwick, “The Closer”

Outstanding performance by a male actor in a comedy series
Alec Baldwin, “30 Rock”
Ty Burrell, “Modern Family”
Steve Carell, “The Office”
Chris Colfer, “Glee”
Ed O’Neill, “Modern Family”

Outstanding performance by a female actor in a comedy series
Edie Falco, “Nurse Jackie”
Tina Fey, “30 Rock”
Jane Lynch, “Glee”
Sofia Vergara, “Modern Family”
Betty White, “Hot in Cleveland”

Outstanding performance by an ensemble in a drama series
“Boardwalk Empire”
“The Closer”
“Dexter”
“The Good Wife”
“Mad Men”

Outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series
“30 Rock”
“Glee”
“Hot in Cleveland”
“Modern Family”
“The Office”

Outstanding performance by a male actor in a television movie or miniseries
John Goodman, “You Don’t Know Jack”
Al Pacino, “You Don’t Know Jack”
Dennis Quaid, “The Special Relationship”
Edgar Ramirez, “Carlos”
Patrick Stewart, “Macbeth”

Outstanding performance by a female actor in a television movie or Miniseries
Claire Danes, “Temple Grandin”
Catherine O’Hara, “Temple Grandin”
Julia Ormond , “Temple Grandin”
Winona Ryder, “When Love Is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story”
Susan Sarandon, “You Don’t Know Jack”

Outstanding performance by a stunt ensemble in a television series
“Burn Notice”
“CSI: NY”
“Dexter”
“Southland”
“True Blood

2011 Golden Globes Nominations

The Nominees Are…

Best Motion Picture, Drama

Black Swan
The Fighter
Inception
The King’s Speech
The Social Network

Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical

Alice in Wonderland
Burlesque
The Kids Are All Right
Red
The Tourist

Best Director – Motion Picture

Darren Aronofsky
Black Swan
David Fincher
The Social Network
Tom Hooper
The King’s Speech
Christopher Nolan
Inception
David O. Russell
The Fighter

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama

Jesse Eisenberg
The Social Network
Colin Firth
The King’s Speech
James Franco
127 Hours
Ryan Gosling
Blue Valentine
Mark Wahlberg
The Fighter

Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama

Halle Berry
Frankie and Alice
Nicole Kidman
Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence
Winter’s Bone
Natalie Portman
Black Swan
Michelle Williams
Blue Valentine

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Comedy

Johnny Depp
Alice in Wonderland
Johnny Depp
The Tourist
Paul Giamatti
Barney’s Version
Jake Gyllenhaal
Love and Other Drugs
Kevin Spacey
Casino Jack

Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Comedy

Anne Hathaway
Love and Other Drugs
Julianne Moore
The Kids Are All Right
Annette Bening
The Kids Are All Right
Emma Stone
Easy A
Angelina Jolie
The Tourist

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture

Christian Bale
The Fighter
Michael Douglas
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Andrew Garfield
The Social Network
Jeremy Renner
The Town
Geoffrey Rush
The King’s Speech

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

Amy Adams
The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter
The King’s Speech
Mila Kunis
Black Swan
Melissa Leo
The Fighter
Jacki Weaver
Animal Kingdom

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture

127 Hours
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
Inception

Best Animated Feature Film

Despicable Me
How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3
Tangled

Best Foreign Language Film

Biutiful
The Concert
The Edge
I Am Love
In a Better World

Best Original Song – Motion Picture

Bound to You
Burlesque
Coming Home
Country Strong
I See the Light
Tangled
There’s a Place for Us
Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me
Burlesque

Best Original Score – Motion Picture

Alexandre Desplot
The King’s Speech
Danny Elfman
Alice in Wonderland
A.R. Rahmin
127 Hours
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
The Social Network
Hans Zimmer
Inception

Best Television Series, Drama

Boardwalk Empire
Dexter
The Good Wife
Mad Men
The Walking Dead

Best Televison Series, Comedy or Musical

30 Rock
The Big Bang Theory
The Big C
Glee
Modern Family
Nurse Jackie

Best Actor in a Television Series, Drama

Steve Buscemi
Boardwalk Empire
Bryan Cranston
Breaking Bad
Michael C. Hall
Dexter
Jon Hamm
Mad Men
Hugh Laurie
House

Best Actress in a Television Series, Drama

Julianna Margulies
The Good Wife
Elisabeth Moss
Mad Men
Piper Perabo
Covert Affairs
Katey Sagal
Sons of Anarchy
Kyra Sedgwick
The Closer

Best Actor in a Television Series, Comedy or Musical

Alec Baldwin
30 Rock
Steve Carell
The Office
Thomas Jane
Hung
Matthew Morrison
Glee
Jim Parsons
Big Bang Theory

Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television

Hope Davis
Special Relationship
Jane Lynch
Glee
Kelly McDonald
Boardwalk Empire
Julia Stiles
Dexter
Sofia Vergara
Modern Family

Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television

Scott Caan
Hawaii Five-0
Chris Noth
The Good Wife
David Straithairn
Temple Grandin
Eric Stonestreet
Modern Family
Chris Colfer
Glee

Best Actress in a Television Series, Comedy or Musical

Toni Collette
United States of Tara
Edie Falco
Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey
30 Rock
Laura Linney
The Big C
Lea Michelle
Glee

Best Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television

The Pacific
Carlos
Temple Grandin
You Don’t Know Jack
The Pillars of the Earth

Best Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television

Dennis Quaid
The Special Relationship
Ian McShane
The Pillars of the Earth
Édgar Ramírez
Carlos
Al Pacino
You Don’t Know Jack
Idris Elba
Luther

Best Actress in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television

Claire Danes
Temple Grandin
Hayley Atwell
The Pillars of the Earth
Jennifer Love Hewitt
The Client List
Judi Dench
Return to Cranford
Romola Gara
Emma

From Hollywood to Hollywood (2010)

He would have smelled the beer, then he would have fired me for sure!

— Dempster Pierson

One of the stars Jeff Bushaw of From Hollywood to Hollywood contacted me on Facebook a month ago to offer me a chance to view their movie. I was like, “Okay, I’ll watch your movie.” I finally watched the movie this past weekend and I was like, “What the fuck is this?”

The Pierson brothers are trying to find some kind of success that is not in their little town of Hollywood, Florida. Skylar (writer/director Scott Bushaw) is a reluctant gay-for-pay pornstar that wants to be a real actor and not been known for man-on-man action. His doofus of an older brother, Dempster (Jeff Bushaw) wants to drive out to Hollywood, California to be rich and famous. The trouble is that they have almost no money.

Driving out to Hollywood, California in a beat up Ford pick-up, they have a rude awakening that they hit a man, Fernando (Fernando Olivares). Miraculously, they don’t get into trouble. They end up crashing at his place, while they go to Skylar’s agent, Pat Masters (Jonathan St. Clair), who sleeps in his office with pages of screenplay as his sheet.

The brothers want to write, produce and star in their own movie. Things are not what they seem when Pat books Skylar on an audition for a ultra-low budget gay porn flick. Dempster tries to find odd jobs to help pay Fernando for rent that is due.

I almost didn’t want to review this movie, because I thought it was a huge waste of time. Jeff said it had a “unique sense of humor.” You got that right. It had none. I wasn’t expecting much from it, but come on. The acting was not good. You have a bunch of non-actors come in with their monotone, emotionless delivery of lines would make you want to kill yourself.

It was said on the IMDb page that the movie was 92 minutes long. I called bullshit. It was more like two hours of agony. It tried not to be clichéd, but it had stupid plot developments.

The only saving grace with this flick was Scott Bushaw as Skylar. At least, he did something with his character.

Judgment: This movie was painful to watch like Chinese water torture.

Rating: *1/2

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