Fan Site of Excuse Me For Living

There are different forms of how people express themselves yet the most common one has got to be laughter. Face it – everybody wants to laugh, no matter how serious the situation is. Laughter can be contagious, too and the moment other people can hear laughter, they’ll be very curious and would want to know what made them laugh.

Ric Klass


Tom Pelphrey


Melissa Archer


Each person’s perspective on how to make themselves laugh is different, too. What one makes them laugh may not be that laughable for others. Some would laugh at natural jokes while others can laugh at situations wherein people involved are insulting each other. It really depends on what tickles the funny bone of people. However, you can’t deny most people easily laugh when they watch comedy movies and shows. Isn’t that why many people stay up late at night just to watch late night shows? This is because most late night shows are filled with laughter, especially with how the host of the show delivers their comedy skit.

Another form of comedy that most people will surely laugh is a comedy film. There is various comedy film in the movie industry today. If you take a look at the comedy films more than ten years ago and compare them with the ones out today, you will see a lot of differences with how comedy was delivered. Some comedy films today are quite complicated to understand that some people would start wondering what was so funny about it. The simplest ones can make most people laugh, but then again it all depends on perspective. Some comedy films are aimed for children, for families while others for adults.

Drama can be very serious, it will control you.

The latter is usually censored since it is not appropriate for kids. The same can be said for late night shows. There is a reason why it is called a late night show – kids are already sleeping at such time of the night. One of these adult comedy films is entitled “Excuse Me For Living”, directed by RicKlass. It is a story about a drug addict that had just enough about his life and want to end it all. He used to enjoy the life of most adults his age – partying, getting frisky with the women and even getting addicted to yuppie substance. He was coping with a number of personal issues. But then, he was already fed up with his life, thus attempting to jump off from the George Washington Bridge. However, he was stopped by a security guard that was monitoring the bridge. He winded up a clinic filled with senior men and have to stay there. He also has fallen in love with the doctor’s daughter in the story, too.

There is a hint of drama to the story, but it is all more about comedy. But why should you invest your time watching a comedy like this title? Usually, a protagonist that has undergone through addiction and coping through it sounds like a drama, but this is entirely acomedy. So why watch comedy like this one instead of a drama?

Have you ever seen comedies get to win an Oscar award? Here is what you have to look through a closer picture: movies that win the best picture always centers on suffering. It has been a pattern ever since then. First, the protagonist or the hero gets beaten up, and then he triumphs, restores and brings out the world back that most people are familiar with, and then lastly you bathe with all that sticky love. Some examples of this would be war movies – they show young men sent to war to protect the common people’s way of life. Romance movies usually end up in a tragedy. Historical ones dwell so much on injustices that are not even happening anymore.

Keep in mind that such as this is considered popular entertainment. The hero of the film is designed to be inspirational. The audiences are meant to take cues regarding the values the hero inspires to be. So what are these cues?

The first thing that you’ll notice here is that suffering is portrayed as something noble. Second, it accepts status quo as being great. The heroes depicted in the story always have this something to sacrifice for and that they die all the time in the hopes of keeping things as the way they are. It always keeps repeating the same message, telling people that by going through suffering, it is considered noble or that you are respectable. They place too much important on being in pain, making the country great and so on.

Comedy can stick really good to the man

It doesn’t have to be a comedy that goes against everything that is deemed popular. It just has to provide something more powerful compared to the person that is delivering the essence of comedy. And because of this, comedy can turn out entertaining and funny.

Here is one fine example: the difference between taking a look at a bully that pummels some little runt and that run surprises the bully with a straight jab. The former displays tragedy, yet the latter is a very popular genre that you’ll witness a lot in YouTube videos. People love to see an underdog win, yet at the same time, they don’t want to see anyone getting hurt. This is the reason why a lot of comedians talk about the useless things when they are on stage – the more people get better compared to them, the more of the stuff they can make fun out of it. That is why it is quite dumb to make jokes out of the homeless – because they do not have power over anyone.

But is this all the reason that you have to watch a comedy over drama? That is not the only reason. The reason why people love comedy is because they love to laugh, and what good laughter it is to have when watching comedy shows and films.

So grab yourself your favorite movie snack – whether it’s popcorn, candy, steak made from a sous vide machine purchased from – and enjoy your movie!

What are the Benefits of Sous Vide Machine and Comedy Movies?

The sous vide machine is a cooking machine that lets you do the same cooking technique that the pros are doing. It utilizes precise control on the temperature in order to deliver proper and consistent results just like how they are prepared in a restaurant. Sous vide translates to “under vacuum” from the French language, wherein it is a process of sealing the food in a bag by taking out the air inside it. It is then cooked at a precise temperature inside a water bath. Such a technique produces amazing results that are not possible to achieve when done in any other cooking method.

Why cook in Sous vide machine?

One of the main advantages of cooking in the best sous vide machine is that you can cook and leave it alone while you go watch a comedy movie. This is because you only have to set the machine according to the time it needs to be cooked, depending on the recipe that you choose. After closing the machine, you just have to wait for it to cook by itself. By the time it is finished, it is ready to be served and eaten.

What if you are cooking a meal that will take almost an hour to complete? So why not watch comedy movies while waiting then?

Why watch comedy movies?

Did you know that when you are happy, the food you eat will become more delicious? This is because the entire time you were watching the comedy movies, you were always laughing. Laughter takes out the stress of your body and all your muscle relaxes, too. What’s more, when you cook while you are relaxed and happy, all the more the outcome of the food’s flavor becomes delicious. That is the effect that a happy disposition can do to the body, not to mention the perspective you have about food.

There is research showing how laughter can relieve the stress, wherein it showed how it can cool down the stress responses of the body. And knowing that it is a comedy movie, you are already anticipating that you will certainly laugh, thus your body is already releasing powerful effects that relieve stress.

Laughter from watching comedy films can help relieve pain as well, especially a long term one. Laughing makes the body produce its own natural painkillers, thus relieve the pain that you feel in your muscles. Have you ever noticed when you are too stress, your muscles ache at the end of the day? If you can’t address this stress in your body, your body will eventually develop an illness due to how you mismanaged your stresses.

All you need to do is list down the titles of comedy shows and movies that you are sure that will make you laugh. Avoid serious stories as this will make your muscles really tense. If you are cooking, it will affect the flavor of the food. So it is best you are in your relaxed and happy condition as this will result in the food you cooked.

Season 7 Game of Throne Recap

Season 7 Game of Throne Recap

Season 7 Game of Throne Recap

Now that Game of Thrones has ended, we’re allowed to talk about it with all of you.

We loved this latest season. Why? Because the character development was out of this world!

We got to see so many new sides of Daenarys and John Snow (or should I say Aegon Targaryen). Also, Cersei really showed how evil she was. There is nothing that Cersei wouldn’t do in order to retain her spot atop the Iron Throne. Heck, she had more evil in her than the murderer in the Black Dahlia.

Details. We love when directors pay attention to details. Know what Game of Thrones Season 7 had? Details. The directors paid attention to the food in every single scene that was showed on the air. Did you notice that there would be pig meat in nearly every single food scene? There’s a reason for that. Similar to the sous vide cooking technique we talked about in Burnt, there were pigs shown in every scene that proceeded showing the food (pig meat).

While this would usually go unnoticed by most movie buffs, it is something that we did not miss.

We also loved how the White Walkers were made to appear more human. You can tell that HBO is really investing heavily in their CGI.  Is the Season 7  as good as the movie Excuse Me For Living? No, there is nothing that good. Is it worth the watch? Absolutely – we think it is!

Midnight Movie (2008)

Midnight Movie

Just once in my life, I want to see a B-movie of camcorder-level quality or above that makes me forget that I am watching a mega-low-budget film. We’re not talking immaculate, just something that will prove compelling and moving. Midnight Movie is not much above a camcorder-level quality film and what arguably should be classified as a “C-movie” out of respect for B-movies.

It starts off in a psych ward where an old man who used to make films is shown one of his old films in hopes of making him responsive and rehabilitate-able. Did you guess that the film he made and wants to watch is a horror film of himself killing? Well, it is.

The old fart was committed for going psycho on everyone years earlier. When shown the movie, for some ridiculous reason, he becomes enabled to exist in the film and outside of it as a devilish serial killer endowed with super powers, wearing half of a skull for a mask and overalls as he kills with an oversized, hand-turned drill bit.

He can only kill you if you fear him. He smells fear. He’s invulnerable to bullets, and yet there is evidence that if you are holding a metal pipe, he might get hurt, so he will avoid you until you stupidly put the pipe down, like one dumb teen does before he bites the big one.

Why the demented old man is a wicked, insane killer we are not told, but he killed decades ago, and thanks to the doctors for showing him the film again, he’s runamok for a second wave of death.

And he’s not even an original killer. He’s just made up from what is not far off from a modified “Jason” hockey mask, with Freddy Krueger’s fear-sensing/killing ability, mixed with the overalls of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre murderer. And he has a mother who influences him like in Psycho. If your goal is to insult my intelligence, Mr. Director, you are doing a damn fine job!

And no, the goal was not to parody horror films. It puts too much of itself into being horrifying, and it is horrifying-especially the lighting. In the film, a police officer, a young couple, and some teenagers are trapped and hunted by this thing inside a movie theatre. All I can say is, I’m glad as can be that the flick didn’t make it to the theatres for the sake of audiences everywhere. It was “torture” to watch (if you know what I mean).

It’s slow and boring to the point of making an audience practically beg for death. It’s menacing enough to frighten the hell out of grade-schoolers, but only a grade-schooler would construct a film this way. Even by B-movie standards, this one is terrible. I doubt if the Sci-fi channel will lay a finger on it.

Please, haven’t I suffered enough? What’s the point in anyone else having to suffer in seeing this? Please, please, please, don’t subject your loved ones to this…even if it is found only in the bargain basement section of Walmart.

Can We Go to the Movies?

Can We Go to the Movies

Best kids movie of 2009:

Cloudy with a chance of meatballs: For me a surprise from left field, Cloudy with a chance of meatballs was a whirlwind of a movie that was quite impressive with its depth and the quality of the comedy. Cloudy takes us through the life of a child and later young man, Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader), who aspires to be an inventor of Einsteinian proportions. Unfortunately for Flint both his father and town do not heavily support his passion as the town routinely has to deal with the consequences of his experiment and his father because he thinks the inventing is silly. Most labored of all is the town police Officer Earl Devereaux, voiced perfectly by Mr. T, who is constantly telling Flint off. In my opinion despite not being a major character in the film, Mr T’s Earl Devereaux steals the show and is even responsible for saving the townspeople.

Second best kids movie of 2009: Ice Age 3:

I was not expecting Ice Age 3: Dawn of the dinosaurs to be as good as it was. Anticipating the typical sequel fare, as was the second Ice Age, I was pleasantly surprised to not see the bigger is better mentality and the “threat” was scaled back greatly from the previous movies biblical proportions. Ice Age 3 saw the return of all main characters from the previous two films as well as the introduction of Buck (Simon Pegg) a one eyed weasel. Ice Age 3 Dawn of the dinosaurs was easily the equal of the first Ice Age movie and possibly its better. With rollicking laughs and a good pace this was a really good family movie.

Runner up kids movie of 2009:

Monsters vs Aliens: Following the success of 2008 Kung Fu Panda, production company Dreamworks released Monsters vs Aliens. Starring Reese Witherspoon as Susan Murphy, a young woman on the eve of her marriage to up and coming News man Derek Dietl. After being disappointed by Derek following the revelation that they will not be honeymooning in Paris as they thought but Fresno, California because he has an interview there; Susan goes to the field adjacent to the church to get fresh air. While in the field Susan is struck by an irradiated meteor that causes her to mutate during the wedding. Following this Susan is captured by the military and her name is changed to Ginormica. After being apprehended Susan meets others like her including B.O.B (voiced excellently by Seth Rogen) as well as Dr. Cockroach Ph.D (voiced by Hugh Laurie) and The Missing Link (Will Arnett) who have all also been imprisoned by General W.R. Monger (hilariously brought to life by Keifer Sutherland). After an attack by the alien Gallaxhar on Earth, the President authorizes the General to use the “Monsters” to attack the aliens.

Ten Movies to Love During Valentine’s Day

Ten Movies to Love During Valentine

Ever since I was old enough to have a source of income, I have used a portion of my earnings to see as many movies as possible. Whether this means paying through the nose to see a film on the big screen or buying a copy of a new release the day it hits the shelf, my movie-viewing experience has been vast in the last ten years.

I’ve watched movies throughout the different stages in my life, including the many romantic phases I’ve experienced. From being single, to you-know-what-backward in love, to bitterly regretting the former, to falling in love in the “to death do us part” style, there’s been a movie appropriate for all these emotional rollercoasters. I’m sure one of these flicks will speak directly to your heart this Valentine’s Day. So whether your heart is bursting with love or broken over a break-up, put on your favorite pj’s, order a pizza, crack open a beer and a box of Godiva and enjoy!

Gone With The Wind: Oh, Ashley! Is there anything more romantic then those poofy dresses, defying society by line dancing while (feigning) mourning, and seducing your husband when you catch him drinking alone in the study in the wee hours of the night? I think not, and if you disagree, well, I don’t give a damn.

The Princess Bride: It is simply inconceivable to ignore the possibilities of true love when watching Wesley flop down the largest hill in the world while he proclaims “as you wish”, revealing his identity and love to the slightly dim but always endearing Buttercup.

Clueless: Watching a young Paul Rudd pine after Cher as he tries to pretend like his interests go no further then his humanitarian lawyer aspirations reassures me that there probably were guys who had crushes on me in high school that were too shy to ask me out, and this is why I never had any dates. I’m still waiting for my kiss on a grand marble staircase.

Pearl Harbor: One of the most incestuous yet believable love triangles in cinematic history. This movie will have you cheering when Evelyn arrives to the train station against Rafe’s wishes and crying when she believes he has died. You will fall in love with her as she begins to look at shy second-string Danny in a different way, and be utterly torn when Rafe returns from the dead to find Evelyn with his best friend. Just when you think you can’t feel any worse or love the characters any more, the Japanese attack and love and life are threatened on a whole new level. Grab your tissues for this three-hour tear jerker.

Cinderella: Ladies, enjoy the benefits of a fairy godmother who makes you sparkle and shine and true friends who would get eaten by a cat just to hook you up with Mr. Right. Fellas, take lessons from Prince Charming; ask us to dance, chase us when we run, acknowledge our footwear and we’ll live happily ever after.

Unfaithful: From the moment Diane Lane gets blown away by that over-the-top windstorm, you can feel the tension from your head to your toes. If you can manage, ignore the rampant infidelity and betrayal to Richard Gere (he gets even, don’t worry) and vicariously enjoy some of the hottest, I would-never-do-that-in-a-million-years-but-wow-it-looks-awesome lovin’ I’ve ever seen on the big screen. Keep the lights low; you WILL blush!

The Notebook: I’ll be honest; even in a romantic movie I enjoy, I usually find myself detached in some way because I am smart enough to know the difference between the real thing and the Hollywood-version of love. When the time comes in your life that you are spending Valentine’s day with your soul mate, pop in this movie and watch a genuine testament to the kind of love we all hope we are lucky enough to find. Even with its bittersweet ending, I am hooked on Noah and Allie from the minute they lay down in the street to stare at the stoplight.

Sweet Home Alabama: Watch this and you will be tempted to call the one that got away. Finding your other half at twelve may not be fun, but for all of us who have an unresolved love in our past, this movie allows us to imagine that it is possible to find your way back together again. Plus, who hasn’t wanted to throw out everything in their sweetheart’s house and change the locks, just to prove a point?

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: With all the butchering going on in this movie I’m sure a heart flies out of someone in at least one scene! This movie may not scream romance, but it does take your mind off your own scorned heart when you watch these couples get hacked into teeny tiny pieces.

You’ve Got Mail: Maybe Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks don’t do it for you; maybe listening to the antiquated AOL slogan chime repeatedly drives you over the edge. I know that’s how I would feel if I hadn’t had my first kiss in the last five minutes of this movie! But I can’t help myself; almost twelve years later and I melt when I hear Meg Ryan say, “I hoped it was you!” Feel free to substitute this with your own melt-inducing movie moment.

Wigstock: The Movie – A Documentary of an Interesting Drag Festival!

Wigstock: The Movie - A Documentary of an Interesting Drag Festival!

Many people who are fascinated by drag come to Wigstock every year. People from all over the world come to visit this spectacular event. Some of these people are performers and others just enjoy being members of the audience. Professional, working drag queens attend as well as people who only dress up once a year. Anyone can go to the festival and put on a wig and just have a good time.

Every year since 1984, the drag festival Wigstock has been held in Tompkins Square Park in New York. It was The “Lady” Bunny who started this first outdoors drag festival. The first Wigstock movie was released in 1987 and was made back when the festival was very small. In the beginning of the 1995 version of Wigstock: The Movie, black and white footage is shown of older festivals. This documentary is mainly interested in the 1993 and 1994 Wigstock festivals.

The performers of Wigstock are each unique. However, they are almost all men dressed up as women. “Their towering, Day-Glo hair stretches toward the heavens. Their high-heel sizes range in the doubledigits. They ooze glamour even as they’re lampooning it.” The opening act is that of Misstress Formika singing “Aquarius” from Hair. I thought that Misstress Formika looked more like a woman than any of the other drag queens. In her tight purple dress, showing every curve on her body, plus a great wig it would have been hard to tell she were a man if seen on the streets. In contrast with Misstress Formika’s performance, the performer Tabboo! wore her hair spiked and performed a song about it being natural to dress up in drag. Deee-Lite was one of the few female performers. She said that it was the drag queens that had taught her glamour. Deee-Lite looked about the same in her interview as she did in her actual performance because she had incorporated a lot of the glamour into her everyday style of dress. However, Lypsinka looked like a model performing, yet very strange in the footage of him practicing with a skirt on but his shirt off. Seeing him dressed as a man for the interview was kind of weird because he looked just like any ordinary guy, but before he appeared to be a model. Another thing that really stood out was the level of dedication of these performers. The case of Wendy Wild really stands out. She came to watch part of the festival the day she got out of the hospital after a bone marrow transplant and then the next day was performing on stage still hooked up to an IV. A few of the performances were also quite bizarre. “Perhaps most bizarre of all is a large fellow in Kabuki makeup who climaxes his act by ‘giving birth’ to a red-stained nude woman, complete with umbilical cord.” Another shocking performance was that of Flloyd performing “What Makes a Man a Man?” After taking off his wig to reveal his purple hair underneath, he takes off all of his clothes until he is completely naked. I thought all of the performances were very interesting in their own ways.

This film has an important significance for the LGBT community. “Gay pride is on display in his film, pride that is celebrated with raucous exuberance.” One of the performances by Misstress Formika celebrates the coming out experience. His song tells of coming out, being sent to a shrink, and his dad getting mad at him for dressing in drag. The chorus of the song is, “You’ve gotta fight, for your right, to be queer!” Another important part of this festival is the performers lost to AIDS. ”

Issues pertaining to drag are also going to have significance for issues of gender. In this film, Misstress Formika discusses social stereotypes. He believes that men who wish to wear a frock should be able to wear a frock. There was no good reason according to him, that a man was forced to a certain dress code. However, he said some women’s clothing articles would not be necessary for most men, such as a bra. The Wigstock dancers also felt that it should be more accepted for men to dress as women in today’s society. While many do not understand the need for males to dress as females, The “Lady” Bunny says, “[i]t’s a tribute to women, they like the way women talk and they like the way women talk.” While in most of the performances drag queens go over the top and do not really portray women, in one of the performances, traditional gender roles are portrayed. A bride and groom show a traditional marriage ceremony. Then, the groom spins the bride around, unraveling her dress. Suddenly, the bride is a housewife and is dancing around with eggs in a frying pan. I thought that performance was an interesting play on gender roles.

Another important aspect of this documentary is that which deals with identity. One of the professional, working drag queens describes his experience in high school of wearing a gown at graduation and feeling like a woman. Now it is a high for him to dress up. He says, “we’re all a family” referring to transsexuals, transgendered persons, and transvestites. He is now going through a sex change operation. RuPaul had a story about being unaccepted at first in the drag world for being black. Later, he became identified as a supermodel. He also spoke about his amazement that in the 90s it was actually “in” to be gay. The “Lady” Bunny says about the festival that, “This is not necessarily a drag thing or a gay thing or a straight thing. It’s proof that we can all get together and have a great time.” This festival may have helped strengthen the drag community’s identity, since they were finally able to be out in the open.

Many performers in this movie had either had a sex change operation or were going through a sex change. Misstress Formika as a kid “was dressed in male drag because [he] had male genitals” and society had taught his parents to dress him that way. Others described society not being understanding of those who were transgendered. In Sex Change and the Popular Press, sex change surgeries also seemed to be looked down upon by society, far more so than today. In the past, if someone were not intersexed, the doctors would not have seen a need to operate. Both the article and the movie describe a request for the surgery and then major lifestyle changes. The article and the movie acknowledge that nature can mess up. However, based on what is said of the procedures in the article, the procedures had greatly advanced as far as being more realistic and safer, by the 1990s.

Bodies in Motion: Lesbian and Transsexual Histories also brings up a few points that are significant in the movie. This chapter talks about cross-dressing in women often being a sign of lesbian sexuality rather than a sign of being transgendered. In Wigstock: The Movie there was only one cross-dressing woman portrayed. Crystal Waters performed in a suit and tie, with a group of similarly dressed men as her backup. However, the movie did not say if she were lesbian or transgendered. However, in the chapter it is made into a political fight as to who was lesbian and who was transgendered. Transgendered individuals were kicked out of certain lesbian events and were not always welcome in the lesbian community. In the movie however, all performers were accepted and it did not matter if they were lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, or even straight.

There were a few similarities in the movie to the chapter on Creating Good-Looking Genitals in the Service of Gender. In the movie, some of the drag queens described what it was like to be “butch drag queens” in that they could never really look like a woman. Others described feeling more feminine and said there was more to being a man than just having a penis. In the chapter, doctors who perform sex changes on intersexed infants seem to base their decision of whether the baby should be male or female on the size of their penis. However, an infant born with a large clitoris is described as being too difficult for feminine cosmetic results and basically looked down upon as being defective. It was interesting that doctors and parents could just pick the sex of their child. However, in the movie no intersexed performers were interviewed. Although many performers did express that their parents would not allow them to wear dresses as children simply because they had a penis.

This was a very interesting documentary. Overall, I thought it was well done. There were a few performances that I might have left out, if I were making a documentary of Wigstock. There may have been other performances that should have made it into this documentary. It may have also been beneficial to take out a few performances and include more interviews. I would have liked to see what the professional drag queens thought of people just going to Wigstock and dressing up one day a year. It would have also been interesting if a female in male drag were interviewed. However, it was interesting to see many members of the public interviewed about what they thought of this festival. It was a lot of fun to watch and I think anyone interested in drag but unable to go to New York to see Wigstock in person should see this movie.

‘Burnt’ – A Move Review


I recently had the pleasure of seeing the movie Burnt, starring Bradley Cooper. I had never heard of this title before I saw it in the discount bin at my local Wal-Mart. I’m a huge Bradley Cooper fan so I figured for a few bucks, I’d give this movie a shot. I’m glad I did.

Burnt tells the story of a chef who has hit rock bottom due to alcoholism. In his quest for resurgence, he opens his own restaurant with the hopes of becoming a 3-star Michelin restaurant. The main chef is played by Bradley Cooper.

This isn’t your typical redemption / cooking film. In fact, there’s actually a lot to learn about the restaurant industry and cooking in general from this movie.

Burnt gives an excellent look into the world of high-end restaurants. You see the dedication that all of the working folks have to their craft. It’s simply not cooking and serving. Rather, it’s creating and complimenting.

One thing that I really loved about Burnt was the use of sous vide. In fact (spoiler alert) sous vide cooking is what ends up saving the restaurant and getting them their 3 stars. While they were able to use a new, best commercial sous vide machine to cook the award winning steak, they also incorporated other fine elements such as vacuum sealing and searing. The attention to detail was amazing.

In addition to sous vide cooking, there were other traditional French recipes used. Bradley Cooper’s character has a strong French cuisine background. They dabbled in other realms of cooking but ultimately fell back on what they knew.

The discipline that was shown throughout the film is amazing. Chefs have to endure so much; it’s really remarkable.

Bradley Cooper did a great job in this film. His portrayal of a desperate chef should have won him some awards. The movie wasn’t even nominated for any awards; even independent ones.

I feel that this is one of Bradley Cooper’s best films to date.

I highly recommend everyone go and rent or buy Burnt. It’s an easy-to-watch, thrilling, dramatic 1.5 hours of cinema. And you get to learn about sous vide cooking!

“The Black Dahlia” Falls Flat

The Black Dahlia

Brian De Palma has, in the past, executed some intriguing film noir with an uncanny style, a unique touch of creativity, and interesting multi-layered characters. Unfortunately, none of these things can be found in his latest film “The Black Dahlia.”

Supposedly based on the novel by James Ellroy, the movie attempts to cram absolutely every subplot of the novel into a mere two-hour time frame. The result is a convoluted story with a series of senseless and unnecessary subplots that confuse the audience and leave them wanting to throw popcorn at the screen. Additionally, one has to wonder why the movie is named “The Black Dahlia” since so little of it has anything to do with this notorious California crime. In fact, the Dahlia isn’t even introduced into the story until 20 minutes into the film.

“The Black Dahlia” boasts what should have been a dream cast with Hillary Swank, Josh Harnett, Aaron Eckhart and Scarlett Johanssen. Sadly, the performances of these stars are blatantly disappointing. Harnett and Eckhart in the roles of Buddy Bliechert and Lee Blanchard respectively represent the two LAPD detectives assigned to the now infamous Hollywood murder. Eckhart overplays his role to the point of utter distraction. While Harnett paces himself in the part, he simply lacks the charisma necessary to make moviegoers care about his character. Swank is reduced to a second fiddle role as narcissistic heiress Madeline Linscott. Her role brings little to the film except for further jumbled plot confusion. Johanssen, as the love interest of the two detective partners, sincerely attempts to make the best of a poorly developed role. However, she still falls below her obvious acting capabilities. The only shining performance of the entire film is that of Mia Kirshner as Elizabeth Short, AKA The Black Dahlia. Her scenes, which show the screen tests of the Dahlia – – filmed in eerie black and white – – are absolutely captivating.

The real shame is that the story of the Dahlia, who is supposed to be the focus of this film, doesn’t really get much play. It is only through the use of her haunting screen tests that the audience gets a glimpse into Short’s life. These, along with her pornographic films, make it clear what the aspiring actress was willing to do to achieve fame and fortune. Ultimately, it is believed – – although never proven – – that these deviant ventures were responsible for her death.

On a positive note, the film captures the feeling of the 40’s and shows a pretty realistic picture of the ugliness of the film industry during that time. The costumes, makeup, set design, and photography of this film is right on target; almost making it worth watching for those things alone. Almost. In reality, this movie bogs down almost at the outset and never quite catches fire. I regret that I can only give it one and a half stars and that is strictly for the work of supporting staff (costume designer, set designer, cinema photographer).

“The Black Dahlia” is a Universal Picture in association with Millennium Films, Signature Pictures, Equity Pictures and Nu Image Entertainment. Brian De Palma directs it. The movie is rated R for violence, some grisly images, sexual situations, and some bad language.

A Review of the Lifetime Movie She’s Too Young

A Review of the Lifetime Movie

She’s Too Young is a movie depicting a Syphilis outbreak in a school in any-town United States.

It tries very hard to point out a very real problem. I say that it tries because the acting in this movie is extremely forced. Over all it is not a bad movie, it just seems to be from a one sided viewpoint. As parents we all have to educate our children into the dangers they may face. We all would like to shelter our children and guide them in the right direction.

This movie does nothing to glamorize the sexual activity of teens and that is a very good thing. However this movie seemed to be made as a wake up call for parents only. I believe more effort could have been made to not just give the parents a wake up call but also for teens. Of course it pointed out a very real sexual transmitted disease, but it overplayed the stereotypical outlines of teen-dom.

In addition what kind of parents were they targeting. All of the parents in that movie were 40 something. Most parents of teenagers in this day and age are all under forty easy. I believe a more realistic plot could have been gained with adults that were a more realistic age.

As I said before the teenagers in this movie were cast and starred in specific stereotypes that have always been played up by Hollywood. However these lines in more modern times are blurring. The interaction between the cast of young adults was very forced and did little to show how they may actually relate. It seemed these parts were written from an adult point of view. Because of this they acted exactly as an adult would think they may act and not actually how they would react.

Overall it was a decent movie and they went very far to picking cast members that supported each other well. It was good they were pointing out very real dangers all teens are facing. If I were to grade on a scale of one to ten, it would get a eight for entertainment value and a 7 for actual believability. Movies such as this need to target not just a realistic parent target audience, but more importantly a realistic teen target market. I would watch this movie again in a pinch with nothing else to watch. I recommend that you watch it on your own and gather your own opinion.

Classic and Campy Spring Break Movie Musicals

Classic and Campy Spring Break Movie Musicals

As winter begins to subside, students around the country anxiously await their annual rite of passage: Spring Break. And while a younger generation might think that MTV’s pilgrimages to Daytona, South Padre Island and Cancun were the start of the fusion of music and Spring Break, cinematic history suggests otherwise. The Spring Break movie musical is the ultimate in campy melodrama and the older versions are sure to bring about some laughs. So whether you are a year-round working stiff or are strapped for cash, pick up one of the following Spring Break movies available for rent at your local video store, pour yourself a pina colada and enjoy!

Girl Happy (1965, MGM Studios) – Starring Elvis Presley, Shelley Fabares, Harold Stone, Fabrizio Mioni

This film features Elvis as a singer asked to escort the daughter of a Chicago mobster on her first-ever trip to Fort Lauderdale. And while this Spring Break movie has all the romantic twists and turns one would expect, its real value is the beauty of both the landscape and the Spring Breakers

Notes for serious Elvis fans:

-This film features Elvis’s only known recorded appearance in drag.

-Many of the tracks for this film were sped up making Elvis’s voice sound higher. When these tracks were re-released in the 1990’s, the tracks were re-adjusted back to normal speed.

Where the Boys Are (1960, MGM Studios) – Starring Dolores Hart, Yvette Mimieux, Paula Prentiss, Connie Francis

This is the gold standard of the campy Spring Break movie musical genre. When four young women just can’t take the frigid weather, they make a break for Fort Lauderdale in hopes of finding Ivy League husbands. The title song remains one of Connie Francis’s greatest hits. From scenes of the Fort Lauderdale police department battening down the city’s hatches to the perfectly coiffed and tan Yalies, the film has each aspect of the Spring Break movie captured in an impeccably corny fashion. However, be forewarned, the plot takes a surprising and highly controversial (for its time) twist, and does so in an impressively subtle manner.

From Justin to Kelly (2003, 20th Century Fox) – Starring Kelly Clarkson, Justin Guarini, Katherine Bailess, Greg Siff

Unfortunately, the Spring Break movie musical has not had much of a revival in the last forty years. However, this recent attempt is worth at least a mention. The plot is quite similar to “Where the Boys Are” – guys and girls road trip to Florida for a little bit of sun and fun and a chance at meeting the right guy or girl. However, this version isn’t wrapped up in the gender norms of almost fifty years ago and thus loses some of the kitschy charm. And as you might imagine, two American Idols with little professional acting experience surrounded by a no-name cast does not bode well – not that acting was ever the hallmark of a great Spring Break movie. But shoddily put-together dialogue and weak music are simply unforgivable. While the previous two movies were good to laugh with, this is a good movie to laugh at. If Kelly Clarkson’s career lasts another few years, talk show hosts will certainly be pulling footage of this in attempts to embarrass her.

Movie Review: Eight Below

Movie Review: Eight Below

Eight Below is a story of survival against incredible odds. Eight dogs are left behind in one of the most inhospitable places on Earth, Antarctica, at the onset of one of the worst winters in history.

Few in the world even dare to venture the frozen wastes of Antarctica. It is a place that does not provide the essentials for life. Unless you have them brought to you, you cannot survive in Antarctica’s harsh environment. For those who are driven to survive there, their time is limited as the winter is brutal and stops travel on to and off of the frigid continent.

Gerry Shepherd (Paul Walker) is a guide in this harsh environment. He and his co-workers are stationed there to aid in expeditions in to the frozen lands that surround their camp.

His other companions at this camp are his team of eight working dogs. These friends are the muscle that pulls Gerry’s dog sled and then guide him home to camp. They are like part of his family, all with distinct personalities.

Gerry has been asked to guide an American geologist (Bruce Greenwood) to a mountain in hopes of making a scientific discovery. He now knows that the trip will be more dangerous than expected and decides that it would be safer to take the dog sled to travel to their destination. The ice in places will be too thin to take any other transportation.

Severe weather has been reported to the expedition team. Their adventure is cut short and they are forced to return to base for immediate evacuation. The dogs are left behind to be collected in a second rescue run… a run that never happens. Now alone, they must depend of their instincts and each other to survive.

Safe back in the US, Gerry’s conscience will not rest. He needs to know the fate of his family, the dogs that he loves and abandoned to die and is driven to get back and attempt to rescue them.

Ok, I’m a sap. I liked the attachment that you can’t help but feel for the dogs. They are his family after all. Besides, after you are formally introduced to them, you can’t help but be compelled to look for their individual traits and markings that make them distinct. Some of them are more dominant, some just plain goofy; all of them are lovable.

Is this a must see film? I don’t think so. It is a mushy and at times slow Disney flick. What that means is organized disorder with a side of heartbreak. What it doesn’t mean is a story with a motivated plot meant to capture your attention. Contrary to popular belief, not every movie that Disney produces is a gem. You’ll be interested in what happens, but it’s not all that exciting or unexpected.

If you love animals and want to see them in action, this is your film. Just remember that this is not a happy story so you’ll have to bring a box of tissues.

Movie Review – the Other Man with Liam Neeson, Laura Linney and Antonio Banderas (2008)

Movie Review - the Other Man with Liam Neeson, Laura Linney and Antonio Banderas

With such a great cast, this movie should have been spectacular. However, the story was laid out in such a peculiar manner that it was a challenge to divine what happened to the wife who supposedly disappeared. The story takes place initially in Cambridge, England and later in Milan, Italy.

Peter (Liam Neeson) accesses his wife’s internet messages which clearly implicate her in an extramarital affair. We are given to believe in the beginning that Lisa (played by Laura Linney) is on a business trip to Italy for her company which designs and sells expensive high fashion shoes. We are made to wonder why Lisa would document this affair, complete with pictures, which could easily be hacked by a clever computer technician. In fact, her husband Peter is a software engineer.

Peter is so obsessed with learning the details of this romance that he searches further to find out where this lover, named Ralph, lives. Ralph, of course, is the suave Antonio Banderas who has apparently seduced Peter’s wife over a long period of time. Against his daughter Abigail’s wishes, Peter flies to Milan to find Ralph with the possibility of confronting him.

Peter does locate Ralph in Milan and follows him to a café which conveniently has tables equipped with chess boards for those who wish to play chess while dining. Peter is invited by Ralph to a game of chess during which Ralph tells Peter about his love affair.

I hesitate to reveal the plot but it is so outlandishly contrived that I must comment on it. First, Peter, feigning friendship towards his competitor, discovers that Ralph is actually a janitor and not the idle aristocrat he portrays himself as. Using Lisa’s cell phone, Peter texts a message to Ralph, supposedly from Lisa, to meet him in Lake Como in Italy, the romantic spot where they always rendevous. Ralph is ecstatic and tells Peter that he is planning to be with his lover.

Peter shows up, of course, rather than Lisa, and finally admits to Ralph that he is Lisa’s husband. He also tells Ralph – and the movie audience – that Lisa has died from a long bout with cancer. We are then informed of the credibility of this revelation through flashbacks which show Peter caring for Lisa through her illness.

If the audience had known this from the beginning, of course there would be no staggering tale to tell. I do not think this is reason enough to lead the viewer along so playfully. The film is based on a short story by a German writer, Bernhard Schlink; therefore, one is left to wonder whether the film matched the original intent of the short story.

You might as well hear that the ending is even more incomprehensible than the events leading up to it. The last few scenes take place at a memorial dinner for Lisa given by Peter. Ralph is present as one of the honored guests. How different from real life is this scenario. I am left with the sense that the cast must have been embarrassed to be connected with the film.

Kicking and Screaming: An Unoriginal Family Film with Heart

Kicking and Screaming: An Unoriginal Family Film with Heart

When I saw the previews for Will Ferrell’s new movie, Kicking and Screaming, all I could do was sigh. My five year old daughter, who is playing her first season of soccer this year, begged me to take her to see it. Even though Will Ferrell’s comedy is generally a little far out for my taste, I reluctantly agreed.

I must admit, Will Ferrell surprised me. His performance was significantly better than I had expected. He did do some of his trademark slapstick comedy, but he did an admirable job of showing some real emotion as well. Robert Duvall and Mike Ditka also came through with inspiring performances. The children were cute, funny, and talented, and the soccer action was exciting.

Kicking and Screaming had all the ingredients that make a great movie. Unfortunately, it was offset by an unoriginal and predictable script. It was just like so many other sports movies: the underdogs come back and become the champions. The coach becomes consumed with winning, realizes the error of his ways, and discovers that winning isn’t as important as working hard and having fun. Pretty standard stuff.

Despite that, the movie ultimately redeemed itself. It had a valuable lesson and a lot of heart. My daughter had a great time, laughed hard, and learned a lesson about sportsmanship in the process. Watching her enjoy the movie was as much fun as the movie itself.

It comes down to this: Kicking and Screaming is not a great classic film. It is not thought provoking and it’s not worthy of an Oscar nomination. What it is is an entertaining family film. It will make your kids laugh and remind them that winning isn’t everything. Little soccer players will love and learn from it, so I think that it’s ultimately worth the price of admission.

The Men Who Stare at Goats: Movie Review

The Men Who Stare at Goats: Movie Review

Alright, I’ve mulled this for a bit too long. I don’t have a great deal to comment on but here are some immediate thoughts. “The Men Who Stare at Goats” didn’t quite do it for me. I was looking forward to seeing this one, but this isn’t the first time I’ve been let down after seeing a great trailer.

This movie starts out strong, but falls flat by the start of the third act, and has almost no pulse. After that, it drags itself across the finish line. The opening scenes are great, and for a moment it felt like a Coen brothers’ film. The comedy was dead on for a bit, but then it became dull quite suddenly. The main problem with this movie is while it’s a mere ninety minutes, it drags, and feels about twice as long.

At the beginning of the movie we get a blip on the screen claiming the following story is true in more ways than people will believe. I believe this claim completely. Here’s why. Most true stories aren’t very interesting. And that’s what this movie is, not very interesting. That’s why I believe it’s nearly all true. One of the first things I learned studying screenwriting was most true stories just don’t cut it. Any time I see “based on a true story” I know most of it is probably b.s. But honestly, that’s the stuff that makes the true stuff more interesting. Very infrequently does an entirely true story have all the ingredients necessary to make a truly great film.

The acting is solid. After all, we’re dealing with Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey, Ewan McGregor, and George Clooney. They delivered in my opinion. Unfortunately, the rest of the film can’t stand very well. The story simply isn’t engaging. At about the halfway point I stopped caring. It’s the actors that make the film tolerable; if not for them it would have been a complete waste.

Zombieland: Movie Review

Zombieland: Movie Review

First…the team of cats who wrote this, Rhett Reese  amp; Paul Wernick have such a wealth of information and ideas about their characters, they pitched this as a hour-long TV show pilot (hence zombie kill of the week). The first episode was supposed to end when Wichita and Little Rock steal Columbus and Tallahassee’s car. Oddly enough, the pilot was picked up and canceled several times before it secured movie status. Apparently the writers have at least two sequels planned (this is directly from their lips, not making this up) as well as a plan to take the story back to TV where it was meant to be originally. In summation: fun times ahead.

Now…this is a great flick for the Halloween season and if you have a sense of humor, you’ll dig this. It’s a fast watch, it doesn’t drag, it’s funny and one of the male leads is named after my hometown Columbus, Ohio. So it gets my vote. I was a little taken aback when I saw Jesse Eisenberg among the cast. My first thought was, “the awkwardly pissed off serious kid from ‘The Squid and the Whale’?” Anyway, I had my reservations about this guy because I’d never seen him in a humor driven role. I am happy to report that I am tickled pink by the casting director’s choice of Eisenberg. He has stepped into the geeky, awkwardly wise-ass and hilarious shoes left behind by Michael Cera. Eisenberg is filling those shoes quite well. Columbus is the very cautious, frightened kitten who is only alive because he follows a list of rules he writes continually. He also serves as the omnipresent narrator of the story which works wonderfully.

Woody Harrelson continues to blow my mind in comedic roles. Here he’s the quintessential redneck from Florida. He loves big fast cars and guns. Every car he steals comes complete with a custom job number “3” on the door in honor of the late Dale Earnhardt — in the soul of every true redneck. At a glance Harrelson’s character could be considered a one-trick pony with no tangible depth but toward the end of the second act we find out his character lost a son to the zombies. It’s in this moment we see the real Tallahassee. When we see him first he won’t tell people his name because he feels there’s no point getting attached; but by the time it’s revealed he lost a son it’s evident these three other survivors are his new family…even if he won’t admit it yet. It was an interesting moment seeing this because it’s squished between carnage and comedy. Very affective in my opinion.

Emma Stone…the red-haired bombshell from Superbad. She was as beautiful as she was bitchy in this film. She and her sister Little Rock rob poor C-bus and Tallahassee twice without batting an eye. She’s a tough as nails girl who will stop at nothing to protect her little sister and I must say, Stone pulls this off very well. Just when I thought I’d seen all the character had to offer, well she went and surprised me by growing up a little and thinking about the people who were along for the ride.

Abigail Breslin…kind of annoying but equally affective. Her character Little Rock has her sister’s get out of the way or get run over attitude and even has her own little streak of bitch.

Ultimately, the story is about this group of survivors attempting to get to a safe-haven on the west coast which is supposedly zombie free. Not the most solid battle-plan I’ve ever heard of but it works. The survivors deviate from their plan every now and then to try and better their situation. At one point this includes crashing at Bill Murray’s house (whom I’m pleased to say is in the film). The directing is good. The camerawork and cinematography are good, any time one has to capture a zombie apocalypse on film I watch closely because it can’t be an easy task. This film pulls it off. The story is well written. What else can you ask for? In closing it’s no Shaun of the Dead but it’s a super fun ride (no pun intended) and you’ll laugh. I give it 4 stars for well-above average.