Posted tagged ‘comics’

Greg Giraldo’s Best Roast Performances (I Got 5 Honest)

October 1, 2010

Roast in Peace

Last Wednesday, the day I planned to see him perform in NYC, Comedian Greg Giraldo left this world after 44 years of comic excellence. In reading one of the numerous tribute threads on messageboards across the web, I read one fan refer to him as “a Colombian who never played up being Latin and had the snapping capabilities of an entire black kid lunchroom table.” A touching sentiment, with an unfortunate cloud cast over it by Viacom spending the day after he died removing all clips of his performances from the internet under the guise of copyright infringement. Fortunately, there are no rules on the wild west known as ‘everywhere else on the internet’, so here via hyperlinks of varying sites and quality, are my five all time favorite Greg Giraldo performances!

Again, my apologies on the varying video quality and weirdness of the sites. Going all out for Greg here.

The Roast of William Shatner

– The reason Greg was such a favorite at these Roasts is because of how effortless a crowd pleaser he was. Any kind of joke for any kind of celebrity or “celebrity” he had. Here, he runs the gauntlet of topics and subjects that any Roast audience would want from a performer.

Greg Destroys a Heckler in Jamaica (2007)

– While nobody could prepare a roast like Giraldo, few could come off-the-top with such firepower either. You can almost see how the joke-writing side of his brain works here as he evaluates the situation where an “old New England-looking man with a beard” approaches him and his instant-arsenal unfolds.

The Roast of David Hasselhoff (2010)

– Because of his ability set a night of with everyone laughing, most of Giraldo’s roast appearances had him going first. Fortunately, before Greg’s untimely passing he had an opportunity to close a major televised roast. This past summer’s Roast of David Hasselhoff saw him bring the same mastery he applies to kicking off the night to go out with a bang, leaving the audience wanting more.

The Roast of Flavor Flav (2007)

– This one’s my personal favorite. I’m not going to spoil it. Just watch.

The Roast of Larry the Cable Guy (begins at 3:57) (2005)

– This right here may be Greg’s masterpiece. Perhaps overlooked because of the absolute Larry the Cable Guy saturation at the time, Greg manages to vivisect the Cable Guy that on the surface works as just a great roasting, but probing deeper reveals the perfect exasperated venting of a lover of comedy in a world where one of the art’s most successful names otherwise represents everything he loathes and detests about society. Giraldo’s just barely playing nice as the frustration of the Cable Guy-era is perfectly encapsulated in one five minute assault.

One of the best.

We give Greg Giraldo a Five Out of Five

So until next time…let’s agree to agree!

X-Men Origins: Wolverine – One Year Later

April 30, 2010

Genesis 18:20

During his 1817 visit to Florence, Italy, French author Henri-Marie Beyel fell victim to a psychosomatic illness now known as Stendahl Syndrome. Characterized by fainting, catatonia and intense hallucinations triggered by being overwhelmed by art, it is believed to be the result of a literal sensory overload. With the majority of the outbreaks happening in Florence where works are particularly lush and plentiful, one could make the argument their art having such an impact the highest compliment an artist could receive. But what about when a work of art causes an overtly negative reaction that pushes its viewers to the absolute limit causing a passionate outburst of violent anger? So was the opening night screening of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, or as actor Steven Trolinger put it, “the worst thing that has ever happened.”

It’s hard to believe one year has passed since the release of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, henceforth referred to as The Events of 5/1. Before we continue, I’d like to point out that I absolutely do not care in the slightest about a film’s faithfulness to its source material. While my familiarity with the Marvel Universe is above-average, I can recognize that comics and film are both different mediums and can divorce the merits of one when evaluating the other. My loathing for this film isn’t because I feel some nostalgic loyalty, but rather because it is an absolute abomination on every imaginable level.

Leviticus 18:25.

For every hyperbolic critique people tend to lob at a movie, this was perhaps the first time that all of them were true. Most glaringly, there was no plot. No story. At all. Some of you reading this now may remember thinking the “movie” was “OK,” “wasn’t that bad” or that you even “liked it.” Well riddle me this, what was the “movie” about? I challenge you, in once sentence, to describe The Events of 5/1. The whole 82 minute running time is an attention-deficit fueled* experiment in human endurance. Don’t get it twisted, I love a good summer blockbuster shiny-go-boomy movie as much as the next real American, but if I’m going to turn my brain off I don’t need it pried from my skull.

“Director” Gavin Hood is the “film’s” cinematic angel of death. His inept handling of The Events of 5/1 seems to almost be intentional. Either that, or he has perhaps never seen a motion picture before and doesn’t understand how they work. Evidence for this is seen in an overhead shot of a character looking to the sky and screming “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” happening no less than FOUR (4) times in the film. Even what would be the film’s highlight, the opening scene of Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds, some truly inspired casting) smart-mouthing a room full of soon dead bad guys, becomes inverted into one of the film’s greatest flaws as we don’t see the character for another seventy minutes until he returns with his mouth sown shut and everything endearing about the character removed.

Psalms 7:14

But the silver lining in the F-5 funnel cloud that was The Events of 5/1 was seeing it opening night in New York City and, for the first time, seeing an entire audience turn on a “film.” Even with the bootleg leaking over a month prior** the entire theater was sold out and packed into Union Square like chickens in a slaughterhouse. The first five minutes seemed fine, heroic action was cheered and one-liners were repeated with the word “bitch” added to the end, all-in-all a typical opening night Manhattan screening. But then, the first “NOOOOOOOO” happen and the audience stared in dumbfounded silence. Were we not in on some joke? Ten minutes later, serious revelations were met with laughter, moments of heartbreak were heckled and action sequences were met with outright groans. Yes, it was that bad and this summer movie “opening weekend” audience knew it. It got so bad that when the credits rolled, the audience (and I swear to gosh this happened) rose to their feet and BOO’ed the movie while pelting the screen with garbage. There was no smattering of applause as rows of disenchanted moviegoers cleared the theater row-by-row with heads hung like a Catholic funeral. When it came time for the bonus scene at the end of the credits, I optimistically yelled from the balcony “HANG ON EVERYBODY, THIS IS GOING TO REDEEM EVERYTHING!” not anticipating that us remaining moviegoers were to be subjected to the absolute worst most hackneyed written moment of dialogue in the history of cinema. The audience boo’ed again, and we all went out separate ways in order to drink to forget.

1 Kings 21:20

With it still having an impressive weekend and Fox hoping to make a sequel and several spinoffs, some are clamoring for a reboot of the franchise. I disagree as, living in a world where X-Men Origins: Wolverine was made and released, I think we need a reboot of humanity as a whole. It’s important that we never forget the Events of 5/1 or else we are doomed to repeat them. Just as the Bush Administration will be defined by 9/11, Obama’s legacy will be that of letting The Events of 5/1 happen under his watch. I attempted to find a copy of the film to listen to the director’s commentary, hoping there would be some explanation for letting such an atrocity take place, but it’s been stripped from all the copies at rental outlets and only made available through the deluxe $34.99 Blu-Ray edition of the film and I flat-out refuse to contribute any more to their evil empire.

We Give X-Men Origins: Wolverine aka The Events of 5/1 a Zero Out of Five

Until next time…let’s agree to agree!

*Realistically speaking, if there was a fuel for the film it would be some mixture of Surge, Red Bull and the liquid at the bottom of the ham in your Lunchables.

**A bootleg which, in all honesty, is a superior cut if only for using the scores of The Dark Knight and Transformers in place of Harry Gregson-Williams’ series of noises.

Kick Ass – Movie Review

April 19, 2010

Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire

Kick Ass is the story of Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson, Shanghai Nights), an awkward high school senior who, out of sheer teenage impulse, becomes a masked vigilante “superhero” named ‘Kick Ass’ that winds up in the middle of an actual hero’s conflict with New York’s biggest drug cartel. A shot at post-modernist hero lore, the film attempts to posture itself outside of traditional comic book movies by basing the character in a more “realistic” portrayal of New York City. The film’s R-Rating allows it to ground this reality in keeping the action sequences gun-centric and the dialogue four-letter friendly. Bad guys die, good guys get hurt, both sides cuss and the citizens watch it all unfold on YouTube. Yet, for a film so specific on what its aims are, the results are vague, plodding and genuinely unentertaining.

The film’s become something of an internet meme after film critic and Twitter enthusiast Roger Ebert panned it on the inherit morality (or lack thereof) of Kick Ass’ fellow superhero ‘Hit Girl’ (Chloe Moretz, Big Momma’s House 2), an eleven-year-old who exercises her itchy trigger-finger and rapidfire foulmouth just about every time she is onscreen. Raised and trained by her father ‘Big Daddy’ (Nicolas Cage, Face/Off) a framed policeman looking to bring down the corrupt system that sent him to prison and caused his wife’s suicide, at no point is the concept of vigilante justice or its consequences discussed between the two of them. While its absence isn’t necessarily a bad thing, there’s still a void that doesn’t explain where they go from wanting retribution to foregoing proper justice to “kill everyone now.” Both performances are great, particularly Cage who seems to be the only one aware of the sheer ludicrousness of the film he’s in and, to coin a phrase, “Cages Out” – maximizing all of his over-the-top acting abilities and holding the audience’s hand as we walk through an otherwise barren cinematic wasteland together.

As someone who grew up on Mortal Kombat and Rap Music, there’s just about nothing I love more than profanity and violence. When either is taken to the extreme in a jovial expression of one-upsmanship, the inherent hilarity is a feast for the senses and a triumph of human achievement. That being said, explicit language and violence is only as strong as the conviction behind it. Even if that conviction is just to be the most violent, profane thing ever, that’s still a valid reason to go to a particular extreme. Kick Ass director Matthew Vaughn gives us a preteen girl who jumps, jives and wails a relatively-plausible arsenal and drops s-,f-, and c-bombs without batting a glittery eyelash. I find it painfully disinteresting and not because I’m offended, but rather because I’m underwhelmed. As a New York High School teacher, I’ve seen kids who were more violent and vulgar than anything on-screen in Kick Ass and honestly significantly more entertaining. The problem with Hit Girl is that Vaughn thinks having a cutesy eleven-year-old girl who swears and kills is enough to make a character work and it honestly isn’t*. A good starting point, yes, but for two hours he does nothing with her. Compare that to the three on-screen minutes of Kill Bill‘s “Gogo” and you get everything you would hope for from Hit Girl in a fortieth of the time.

A midst the misfires, the film does reach a few goals exceedingly well. Dave’s pulsating teenage hormones guide the him through the teenage lust for classmate Katie (Lyndsy Fonseca) and the awkward tension before finally sliding into second base is among the best handled I’ve seen on-screen. Fonseca really nails the subtle aspects of walking the line between “I’m concerned for my boyfriend’s health” and “I’m awesomely hooking-up with the local celebrity” Also shining is Superbad‘s Christopher Mintz-Plasse who shows the darker elements of the rich loner awkward kid, a much-different side of the same roles he and his ilk have been coasting in since their debuts. But such a talented cast firing on all cylinders just makes the flaccid final film all the more frustrating.

"Let's say you're a big fan of the original comic book, and you think the movie does it justice. You know what? You inhabit a world I am so very not interested in." - Roger Ebert

Vaughn’s biggest misstep with Kick-Ass is that he’s trying to make sure so many elements of the film’s story seem like they could take place in real-life, but attempts to propel the film with a fantasy comic-book energy that, as a result, doesn’t exist. You can’t have your Layer Cake and eat it too. Regardless the source-material or genre, a motion picture requires at least one complete thought, even if that thought is “Let’s have a bunch of stuff blow up so sexy people can look back at it and say something funny.” Kick Ass lacks the momentum to even let me turn my brain off and just revel in the carnage. By trying to define itself so much by what it’s not, Kick Ass forgets to tell us what it is over the course of two un-engaging hours where nothing happens. It’s baffling a film can do so little with so much and as a fan of foul-mouthed on-screen brutalities, I’m offended.

We give Kick Ass a Two out of Five

So until next time…Let’s Agree to Agree!

*And the fact that she does it to THIS SONG makes it all the more cringe-worthy.