[[Well, NBC removed this video, so forget it.]]
UPDATE: Another awesome year! Read the recap below for post-Oscar reminiscing.
The fun starts later tonight, folks. Stay tuned to this post.
This Sunday (4PT/7ET on ABC) grand dame of awards shows Billy Crystal returns to the small screen to make us feel like maybe we care about the Oscars still. And it must be working already, because Logan and I are on board for another year of live bloggin’ fun.
How does it work you ask? Don’t worry, you big dumb idiot. It’s easy. When you sit down to watch the awards, make sure you’ve got your laptop (or mobile device!) tuned to this site where you’ll find running commentary by me and Logan for the entirety of the broadcast. Check out the snazzy replays of our 2011, 2010,or 2009 events to get the idea.
Don’t have someone to enjoy the show with? Join us and post your comments! Do have someone to enjoy the show with? Ignore them and hang out with us instead.
There’s been a lot of talk about the upcoming/rumored/probably-never-going-to-happen Ghostbusters 3. The most recent word is that Dan Aykroyd is so serious about getting the thing made, he’s willing to recast Bill Murray. Of course, that’s a terrible idea, and if Aykroyd actually said that, I doubt he was serious. Even if he was, they got Murray for the damned Ghostbusters video game, so I have trouble believing that he won’t cave and at least film a cameo if this sequel ever actually gets made.
But whether it’s true or not, it’s got everybody in an uproar, with some bloggers and commenters going so far as to say that Bill Murray was the only good thing about the film. Now I love(d) Bill Murray. He is a fantastically talented dude who gave us some of the funniest performances in film history. Hasn’t done much for me lately, but whatever. He’s brilliant, and he’s definitely a huge asset to Ghostbusters. But, c’mon people, turn away from your Wes Anderson love shrine for a second. Time for a reality check. Let me remind you of 3 Great Things About Ghostbusters That Have Nothing to Do with Bill Murray:
#3. It’s Got a Damn Good Script
Yes, Bill Murray absolutely improvised extra lines during filming, and the ones that made the final cut are hysterical. But over the years, it’s become popular to believe that Murray just strolled onto the set and said whatever dialog came into his head. Heck, he probably wrote most of the other characters’ lines too, right before inventing modern comedy, then ascending to the heavens on a rocket-cloud made of laughter.
Actually, 90% of what you see onscreen can be found right here. That’s the shooting script, and it took several revisions by Aykroyd and Harold Ramis to turn a really basic idea into the tight, funny movie we know and love. And it’s not only funny. Ghostbusters is tense, full of action, and–at times–scary as shit. It’s just a great movie, plain and simple. Bill Murray made it measurably better, but it would have been great even without him.
#2. It’s Fun to Watch
I don’t just mean the effects are good, though they are. I mean it’s well-paced and visually interesting. Take out the funny dialog and you’d still have a decent action/adventure flick with some excellent set pieces.
Our heroes use neat weapons, trash every room they enter, get covered in slime, and drive a pimped out hearse. All while the coolest theme song in movie history plays in the background. Ghostbusters has some truly imaginative action scenes. The thing ends with a battle for all of New York City against a demon and a giant monster from hell (the latter conjured from the mind of one of our heroes) and they end up beating it at the last second with experimental science. Then one of them kisses a girl and they ride into the sunset as the entire city cheers. And those are just the parts of the movie that people DON’T EVEN TALK ABOUT because they’re too busy buying t-shirts that say “Back off man, I’m a scientist”, which, incidentally, is a line that was in the script.
#1 It’s Got a Great Cast That Isn’t Bill Murray
Again, Bill Murray is great. But so is literally everyone else in this movie and they don’t get half the credit he does. You’ve got Aykroyd rattling off paragraphs of rapid-fire psuedo-science with the enthusiasm of a five-year-old, Ramis doing some of the most underrated deadpan comedy in cinema, and of course Rick Moranis who is…just…
So, one last time: Bill Murray is great. I’m talking really really super extra great times infinity levels of greatness. But Ghostbusters is an awesome movie in its own right. He’s the icing, not the cake. Let’s all stop playing into this idea that the man is a hipster god who can do no wrong, and give some credit where credit’s due.
Midnight in Paris and The Artist? When the hell did we get so classy? Anywho, remember you can check our respective IMDb pages (Logan here and Ryan here) year round if you want to see what we gave a particular film. But here, for your reference, is each of our complete ratings for 2011. And below that, our respective best and worst lists.
To hear us chat about this year in movies, make sure to catch our 2011 Wrap-Up podcast.
All ratings are on a 10 point scale.
Johnny English Reborn – 8
Midnight in Paris – 8
Super 8 – 8
Chillerama – 7
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol – 7
The Adventures of Tintin – 7
Contagion – 7
Rise of the Planet of the Apes – 7
Limitless – 7
The Greatest Movie Ever Sold – 7
Apollo 18 – 6
Blitz – 6
Conan the Barbarian – 6
Captain America: The First Avenger – 6
X-Men: First Class – 6
Hanna – 6
The Beaver – 6
Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop – 6
Hall Pass – 6
Our Idiot Brother – 6
The Resident – 6
Kill the Irishman – 6
The Muppets – 5
30:Minutes or Less – 5
Cowboys & Aliens – 5
Lucky – 5
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 – 5
Horrible Bosses – 5
Larry Crowne – 5
Priest – 5
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – 5
Scream 4 – 5
Sucker Punch – 5
Paul – 5
Source Code – 5
Battle Los Angeles – 5
Red Riding Hood – 5
Take Me Home Tonight – 5
Drive Angry – 5
I Am Number Four – 5
Unknown – 5
Rango – 5
Husk – 5
The Green Hornet – 5
Faces in the Crowd – 4
Abduction – 4
Colombiana – 4
The Caller – 4
The Change-Up – 4
Mr. Popper’s Penguins – 4
Green Lantern – 4
Something Borrowed – 4
Thor – 4
The Task – 4
Seconds Apart – 4
The Mechanic – 4
Hobo with a Shotgun – 4
New Year’s Eve – 3
Shark Night 3D – 3
Fright Night – 3
Your Highness – 3
Mars Needs Moms – 3
The Adjustment Bureau – 3
Beastly – 3
Attack the Block – 3
51 – 3
National Lampoon’s Dirty Movie – 3
The Roommate – 3
The Rite – 3
Season of the Witch – 3
Not Another Not Another Movie – 3
The Artist – 9
50/50 – 8
Fright Night – 8
Captain America: The First Avenger – 8
X-Men: First Class – 8
Midnight in Paris – 8
The Muppets – 8
The Descendants – 7
Moneyball – 7
Real Steel – 7
Rise of the Planet of the Apes – 7
Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop – 7
Bridesmaids – 7
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 – 7
Super 8 – 7
Thor – 7
Source Code – 7
Drive Angry – 7
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol – 7
Horrible Bosses – 6
Drive – 6
The Change-Up – 6
The Hangover Part II – 6
Red State – 6
Cowboys & Aliens – 6
Hobo with a Shotgun – 6
Larry Crowne – 6
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – 6
Scream 4 – 6
The Adjustment Bureau – 6
Limitless – 6
The Roommate – 6
Red Riding Hood – 5
The Mechanic – 5
The Rite – 5
Unknown – 5
Margin Call – 4
Green Lantern – 4
Logan’s Best of 2011
1. Midnight in Paris
2. Super 8
3. Johnny English Reborn
5. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
Logan’s Worst of 2011
Logan’s Yearly Average – 4.91
|Ryan’s Best of 2011
1. The Artist
2. The Muppets
3. Fright Night
4. Captain America: The First Avenger
5. Midnight in Paris
Ryan’s Worst of 2011
Ryan’s Yearly Average – 6.50
Let’s take a look at that new super bowl ad with Matthew Broderick:
Now at first glance, this appears to be a parody of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. But it isn’t. A real parody takes something you recognize and puts a comedic twist on it. Okay yes, traditionally the purpose is to mock the original work which isn’t exactly happening here, and technically maybe this is more a pastiche or whatever. But my point is this is supposed to be funny. You’re supposed to laugh when you see present day Matthew Broderick doing a parody (or whatever) of his role in Ferris Bueller. Only there aren’t any jokes in this.
It’s not bad. It’s a reasonably competent commercial. But every potentially funny moment is just a carbon copy of a moment in Ferris Bueller. The sick day call, the parade, the stuff with the car, all straight up lifted–and this is the important part–WITHOUT any new twist. They could have shown Broderick failing at all his wacky antics, playing on the fact that he’s not a kid anymore but his fancy Honda makes him feel like one anyway. In that scenario, you’re taking something familiar and changing it a little to get your joke. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the original pitch. Instead we get exact scenes from the original movie, and you’re expected to laugh just because you remember it.
I like to call this the Family Guy Maneuver because that show does it all the time. Let’s check out an example in high quality taped-off-TV-o-vision…
So yeah it’s an exact recreation of the Power of Love part of Back to the Future…and nothing else. This is basically the same as the drunk guy in the bar trying to reenact the standup routine he saw last week. Listen, I love parodies. But before you laugh, please double check your parody contains jokes.
So apparently the Oscar nominees have been announced. /Film has a great roundup of those. Whatever. That’s not what we’re talking about right now.
Crispin Glover. If you’re not familiar with the man’s work, let me remind you that you are:
Even if you’ve only seen Back to the Future, you get the sense that that is one weird dude. Let’s take a look at some of his other work. There’s this…
And finally, lest you think he only plays creepy lunatics in the movies, here’s what he does when you put him on a talk show:
With this in mind, you can imagine my elation when I discovered that the man had a mailing list. Yes, you can sign up to get periodic emails from Crispin Glover. All you have to do is find his freakishly stark and terrifying website. A website that consistently refers to him as “Crispin Hellion Glover”, which just serves to underscore the weirdness, even though that is apparently his real full name. Needless to say, I signed up immediately. And after three years of membership, I think I’ve earned the right to voice a complaint:
“Crispin Hellion Glover, how is your mailing list not weirder?”
Seriously, I joined expecting long paranoid screeds about the forest people that steal Crispin Glover’s mail, or detailed graphs showing which parts of his kitchen secretly resent him. Instead, it’s just some publicity blurbs about his pet project movie series and a boring list of tour dates. Don’t get me wrong, the movies themselves sound BATSHIT INSANE. I’d go see them, but I’m afraid they’d hypnotize me and turn me into one of his rat slaves.
In fact, comparing the email I got this week to one from 2008…this is the EXACT same text with only the tour dates updated! Come on, Crispin Hellion Glover! I paid (nothing) for your unique brand of unsettling behavior and I expect a return on my investment.
Either the next email’s written in the menstrual blood of an endangered African rhino, or I’m unsubscribing.
Actually there’s just nothing interesting to say today. Seriously, I spent two hours last night looking for news that would spark a blog post. So in lieu of that, please visit this important website.
Last night I saw The Perfect Host, a 2010 dark comedy starring David Hyde Pierce. I liked parts of it quite a bit. Some very interesting twists and turns, and a really awesome performance by Pierce. Still, I was left unsatisfied. The ending didn’t make a ton of sense, and big chunks of the story just didn’t agree with each other. A little online legwork reveals a possible explanation: the movie was adapted from a short.
This happens more often than you’d think, but I’ve noticed it’s often a recipe for a disjointed film. District 9 is another recent example. I loved a lot of that movie too, but again, the end was a letdown. And looking back, a lot of the beginning feels like filler padding out a much shorter story.
I’m not saying it’s impossible to make a successful short-to-feature transition, but I do think it’s a little counter-intuitive to the creative process. If you can tell your story perfectly in 20 minutes, it seems artificial to throw in more scenes just to beef up the runtime.
Expect it late January early February! That is all.
I saw Mission Impossible in IMAX last week and I’ve been mulling two things over ever since. The first is that I’m going to try not italicizing movie titles in blog posts anymore. Because it’s annoying to do and you know when I’m talking about a movie right? Can we agree to let that slide for the time being? Good. Thing two, though, is an issue that keeps coming up on this blog/podcast: the “theater experience.” Mainly, how it differs from the experience of just watching a movie at home, and whether it’s actually all that necessary anymore now that we’ve all got reasonably nice televisions, easy access to new movies, and addictions to texting during the slow bits.
Obviously, Hollywood’s been chewing on this topic too, as evidenced by the gimmicks they’ve been pulling out to get people into the theaters. 3D’s been the big one, and as Logan and I have said before, it’s not doing it for me. I like gimmicky 3D like in Piranha or My Bloody Valentine. There it’s fun. But in most other cases it feels tacked on and unnecessary. Theater chains have also tried offering big cushy seats for premium prices. But you know what? I’ve got a whole couch at home, and it doesn’t cost me 10 bucks extra to sit on it.
Which brings us to IMAX. “Okay,” Hollywood implores us, “you may think movies are just as good at home, but does your home have a 70 FOOT SCREEN?!?!” “No,” I reply, speaking for all of us, “no it does not, that would be ridiculous.” But I do have a reasonably large TV. And I’ve got friends with even bigger TVs. TVs that take up entire walls of their homes. And I’ve noticed that the universal truth about the size of a screen is this: after about 10 minutes you stop noticing it.
Yes, Mission Impossible looked great in IMAX. And there were times when I felt more immersed and part of the action. Brad Bird used that space wisely. But because I’m crazy, I also went to see Mission Impossible in a regular theater. And let me remind you folks, a regular movie screen is still pretty damn big. The difference made by IMAX isn’t worth the higher ticket price. And I argue that seeing the movie at home would have been equally enjoyable.
So 3D, fancy seats, IMAX, none of these are motivating me to leave the house. But a couple days ago I had another experience. An old theater was showing Vertigo and I got to see a Hitchcock film in theaters for the first time. I loved it. Not because I love the movie Vertigo. It’s pretty good, but it’s not a goto of mine. In fact the print was kind of muddy and the sound wasn’t great. What I loved was just being in a theater filled with people who wanted to watch Vertigo. It’s that community kind of feel that I so rarely get with new movies. I love laughing along with an audience at a great comedy, or hearing screams in a horror movie. That’s the heart of the theater experience for me. Sharing a movie with other people.
Maybe as movie theaters become marginalized and your TV becomes the default spot for new movies, then the only people who bother to go to the theaters will be people who feel like I do. And if that’s the case, as Logan has theorized before, theaters will be forced to cater to those people like the Alamo Drafthouse does: by taking a hard stance against talking and texting and bringing the love of enjoying a movie with others back to the movie theater.
Or they could just make everything holograms. I’d go to that.
The winter wind is blowing, the air is filled with carols, and I’ve lost feeling in most of my tongue thanks to a nasty burn inflicted by my third peppermint patty. It must be Christmas Eve. And as I type this blog post from the drafty vacated offices of Critical End! (the cleaning staff, new media team, and senior management having all taken holiday leave), I can’t help but think back to the successes we’ve had this year, and the plans we have for 2012.
For me, the standout moment was this year’s Oscar live blog. You guys came out in droves and served up some seriously funny comments. My heart grew three sizes that night. A close second would be finally birthing our 100th episode of the podcast. I still can’t believe Logan and I have managed to finish 100 of anything, and again, we couldn’t have done it without you. It’s been a pretty great year.
And 2012’s gonna keep that tradition going. However, Logan and I are also going to be spending some time on some new non-CE! projects this year. Don’t worry, you’ll hear about those when they’re ready. To accommodate this, we’re slimming down the weekly schedule around here. Starting January, new blog posts will go up Mondays and Wednesdays. That’s fewer posts, but we’re hoping it’ll give us time to do the more in-depth article style stuff we’ve been wanting to focus on.
We’ll still be podcasting, but less regularly and maybe not always about new movies. We’ve considered opening up the format a little and this seemed like a good excuse. Plus we’ve done 100 of these things, so we can do whatever we want now right? There’s no set schedule, but when we’ve got a new episode you’ll see it go up on a Friday. We’ll be back in your ears early next year with our 2011 wrap-up show.
So Merry Xmas Eve! Or whatever you’re into! And we’ll see you in the new year with more fun. Until then, I leave you with the best trailer for anything ever. Stick with it til the end…