Posted tagged ‘movies’


August 3, 2010

Like this, but in movie form.

Speaking as someone who usually makes it a point to avoid trailers (more like Coming Distractions, amirite?) I’ve never been a huge fan of ‘WATCH FOR THESE’ blog alert posts recommending movies the author hasn’t even seen. But in the interest of hypocrisy, I thought ‘why not?’ Straight up, I can’t recall the last time I was more excited for a month of movies than what we have right’chere. So without any further depardu, let’s look at AUGUST 2010!

The Other Guys (August 6th)

Director Adam McKay has yet to make a bad film. You spent your college years quoting Anchorman, a wonderful night rediscovering the replay value of Talladega Nights on cable, and a realization on New Year’s that Step-Brothers was far-and-away the best comedy of the decade. Along with a new season of “Eastbound and Down,” McKay is keeping the hits coming with The Other Guys. I think we can all agree that Will Ferrel and The Rock are long-overdue for sharing screentime, and McKay looks to be playing to Wahlberg’s strengths not-seen since the You Gotta Believe video. Awesome.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (August 13th)

I was on the fence about this one for a while, but the more I read about it, the more I’m on-board. While I share your exasperation with Michael Cera playing the exact-same character in every role, this at least puts that character in an interesting setting and would make a nice swan song for it. Besides, better him than that not-Michael Cera guy from Adventureland, right? Plus, it features the homie Kieran Culkin and any film featuring a fellow member of #teamgoldie I’m obligated to support.

The Expendables (August 13th)

My two favorite types of movies are super-depressing pretentious Scandinavian art films and big dumb action flicks. This is the latter. After the masterpiece that was Rambo, Sylvester Stallone decided to bring the images I see whenever I shut my eyes to the big screen with The Expendables. This movie promises things getting killed, things blowing up, and hilariously absurd one-liners uttered after things are killed and/or blown up. I’ve been tracking this film since its inception, and have tremendous faith it will surpass my expectations. I’m not even sure what the plot is, rather I just know what’s going to be appearing onscreen and that it will make me really, really happy. What more could you want? Well…

Big Money Rustlas (August 17)

Coming to DVD three days after my 24th birthday is the greatest gift one could ever ask for: a feature length 35mm Western written-by and starring the Insane Clown Posse. Ten years in the making, the most anticipated prequel since The Phantom Menace looks to be the crowning achievement of the Clowns’ resurgence into the mainstream. Taking place at a simpler time before magnets, it looks to be a promising start for the next decade of direct-to-DVD movies starring rappers.

Magic Everywhere in this Moviehouse.

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


R.I.P. Hollywood Video

May 14, 2010

RIP to The 'Wood 1988-2010

While the beautiful people out in Hollywood, California (formerly Hollywoodland, California) flock to empty their pockets in efforts to save a landmark reminder of where they are, 49 other states this week were given notice that their neighborhood land of the stars was about to become a ghost town. Founded in 1988 by Mark Wattles, Hollywood Video was truly the movie lover’s chain. By shelving the latest independent, foreign and genuinely oddball titles next to box office hits, it presented a level playing field for all films not seen since the initial Video Boom of the 1980s. It also was the only nationwide chain that carried an equal amount of movies in letterbox/widescreen and pan-and-scan formats and, unlike rival Blockbuster Video, DIDN’T edit their movies ensuring proper intact viewings of Basic Instinct, Life of Brian and Last Tango in Paris for generations of moviegoers.

What always stood out for me about Hollywood Video was how truly “Hollywood” it felt. At a time when most video chains were just some DMV-Hallmark Store hybrid, Hollywood really seemed like a piece of Hollywood. Red carpet floors, classic film images decorating the walls, and exteriors having everything from light-up Hollywood sign reproductions to the more-elaborate Golden-Era Hollywood theater recreations, it would always stand out amidst the bland strip-mall culture of urban sprawl. The decorum and often overkilled uniform of the employees almost subliminally reminded you that movies were something special and you were privileged enough to be surrounded by them. There was something for everybody without having to bend for anyone else. The catalog of films was as wide as the Heavens but intimate enough to make it feel like they were just for you.

Yes, this was an actual Hollywood Video.

There’s really two places I can attribute my lifelong love of film to. One was the (original) Suncoast in Rosedale, MN, and the other was the Columbia Heights Hollywood Video. I was all of 13-years-old when I discovered The Toxic Avenger in their Cult Classics section, a stretch of shelves that determined my weekend screening schedule for the following three years. From wooing girls on dates with Surf Nazis Must Die!! and The Human Tornado to attempting to explain Naked Lunch and Twin Peaks to my ninth-grade classmates to show how deep I was, to Class of Nuke ‘Em High and Pink Flamingoes teaching me how to talk to girls, to attempting to use the September 11th attacks to get out of paying a late fine on Killjoy, those dusty VHS tapes really struck a chord with me and ignited my love of film. Such incredible worlds created without any regard for genre or convention, it was like someone scribbled down what was heard in the far reaches of the lunchroom and put it on screen. Even dealing with my first major breakup I lost myself in Bamboozled, 8 1/2 and Jan Svankmajer’s Alice which, thanks to Hollywood, were all within eyesight of each other.

Open 365 days a year - thanks Mormons!

Of course, times change and Hollywood seemed to be the only video chain taking an active position, instead of the “well, let’s see how this whole Netflix thing pans out” approach of their cohorts. In 2004, Hollywood shut down 3 out of every 4 locations and moved the inventory into most successful branch in the area. Instead of competing with the Blockbuster/Netflix standard rental approach, they rebranded themselves as a film archive that promised to have whatever you were looking for. Even if the drive was longer, you were pretty much guaranteed to get your Power Rangers: No Clowning Around, Eraserhead and Magic Johnson AIDS videos while still scooping Battlequeen 2020 on DVD for your nerdy hormonal little brother and Dreamgirls on Blu-Ray for the whole family to watch at Christmas. This approach allowed them to flourish in their number 2 position, inspiring long suffering competitors Movie Gallery to acquire the franchise, returning them to their failing standard rental format and in eight more days successfully sinking the company.

Julie Strain IS Barbara Walters IN - a cover art teenage boys will no longer get to see every Friday night.

This is only the latest in the physical media trail of tears. Even after the Tower/Virgin/Circuit City/etc. genocide, it still hurts. When the closing was announced on Monday, I ventured out to the Hollywood Video Bronx location, the last one in NYC, to get one last look at the franchise. With Mystikal’s Greatest Hits as the requiem, I took one last walk up and down the aisles looking for Troma films, esoteric foreign affairs and low budget action movies starring rappers. I saw DVDs like Delta Delta Die and Dead and Rotting which I hadn’t thought of since getting my driver’s permit but used to smirk at their cover arts every weekend for a good stretch of my life. I witnessed a bevy of adolescents buying armfuls of Playstation 2 games as part of the “10 Video Games for 10 Dollars” section and while I’m happy Christmas is coming early for them this year, it’s saddening to think they’re going to grow-up without knowing what it’s like to be physically surrounded by thousands of movies. Literally millions of man-hours* and wildest dreams went into every Hollywood Video location and soon they will all be gone. Granted you don’t miss what you never had and I’m sure they’ll fine their own ways to alienate their high school peers, but as another nail goes into the coffin of a past life, I’m sad Hollywood Video will no longer be a part of my skyline.

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

*Don’t even think about how many Dog-hours they took!

Great Moments in “Edited for Television”

April 16, 2010


You know what’s truly wonderful about Television? Everything. No seriously, from the good things, to the great things, to even the bad things – it’s all awesome. The past decade has seen the medium flourish with premium channels taking cutting edge comedy and the story-archs of episodic drama to new heights. As memorable and culturally enriching as such programming is, the ever increasing demand for content has made countless hours of television an oozing sore awaiting treatment. TV has often cast its dolphin mutilating tuna net into other mediums like a master-of-ceremonies needing to fill time fishes for semi-relevant anecdotes. More often than not, networks will air movies to fill the gap. Seeing as it’s an upstanding respectable arena, these works of art will often be made more palatable for all audiences’ benefit. By removing all the foul language and violence, the films are neutered made better. Here’s some of the worst them .

WARNING: The language in these clips range from explicit to fluffy.

The Big Lebowski (1998)
This was the first real absurd overdubbing I recall seeing. If you’ve ever walked up and down Hennipan Avenue or strolled through Greenwich Village, you’d recognize that every line of this film without question has been memorized by every human being ever born. Surely broadcast television doesn’t need to protect us from ourselves? Well, maybe a little:

Scarface (1980)
As a rap artist, I am legally required to not only like this movie, but reference it ad-nauseum. The way Al Pachino’s character goes from nothing to amassing a fortune* has struck a chord with most of Hip-Hop’s elite including No Limit Soldier Silkk the Shocker who, in an edition of MTV Cribs, showcased his “Scarface Room” which had no less than NINE televisions playing the movie on a loop at different times so if he ever wanted to see a certain part, it would always be coming up.** One could only imagine the horror that Mr. The Shocker would have if he ever sat down and saw his spiritual guide modified to…well…this:

Snakes on a Plane (2006)
Let’s be honest, this entire movie exists for this scene. A joke of a movie that wound up proving how powerful and unimportant the internet truly was, this exhibition of everything wonderfully wrong with Hollywood cared so much about delivering to its loyal fans who perpetuated its phenomenon by reshooting an entire scene to include something people jokingly knew would never be in any movie. Well, when television plays the internet’s movie, the cosmos align to bequeath a series of trump cards turning the simple concept of movie dialogue into complete and utter unintelligible gibberish. Avert your eyes, children:

OK, what was that? Look, we’ve all seen this film so we know SPOILER ALERT that at NO POINT is the concept of snakes, or anyone, fighting monkeys mentioned. The more I think about it, the more it confounds me. Do monkey fighters exist? I’m all too-familiar with monkey knife fighting***, but the participants in those are recognized by the Nevada State Athletic Commission as “fighting monkeys,” NOT “monkey fighters.” To add to that, what possible flight could last Monday-to-Friday? “But Chaz,” you say, and I say “What?” and you say “maybe he means flights that wouldn’t be on the weekends?” No, the term for those is “Weekday Flights.” How dare you.

Die Hard 2 (1990)
Sometimes the dubbing gets so bizarre it just adds numerous entire dimentions to the movie that shouldn’t exist. There are no words:

Pallies (1996)
Probably the cornerstone of unfortunate editing. Or masterpiece. Depending on context:

Alright, I have to go swear now.

Until next time…let’s agree to agree!

*Then losing everything, including his life, at the end of the movie proving a wholly hedonistic material lifestyle is unfulfilling and frivolous, but don’t ever tell a rapper that as most of us never made it to the end since it’s really long and once we see he has a huge gun OF COURSE he’s going to be OK so let’s just rewind it and quote along with it, K?


***My Church group holds one in the basement of Immaculate Conception every third Sunday. It’s also tortilla night. You should come.


January 29, 2010

Chaz’s Arbitrary Top Ten List Extravaganza continues!

FUN FACT: I have a degree in Cinema Studies. A BA. I am a Bachelor of the Arts. This means A) My opinion on movies ranges from 10x-1,000x that of mere mortals and B) Any and Every movie theater across the country is my swingin’ Bachelor Pad. That makes the ten best movies I saw last year the then best parties* I attended. What makes these great movies? Well, they were the best experiences I had watching them. Therefore, with the power of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts vested in me, I give you my ten favorite movies of 2009!

This is for you, Movies!

10) The Messenger
– I already covered this movie here, but would like to add an ‘RIP Howard Zinn’ sentiment to the context.

9) Black Dynamite
– I grew up on Blaxploitation flix with an undying love and respect for them that extended into me writing one of my two thesis on black horror films**. Michael Jai White must share the same passion because this film stands one of the best genre-tributes I’ve ever seen. Getting every nuance down to science with enough original energy to save it from being a needless retread makes the slightly overboard conclusion forgivable.

8 ) Tyson
– It should have hit documentarians sooner that the best way to capture the triumph and psychosis of the one-time ‘Baddest Man on the Planet’ would be through his own words. A tragic figure who deflects any sympathy thrown his way, it stands the man’s definitive document. An athlete like Tyson doesn’t come along once in a lifetime, he only comes once.

7) Big Fan
– I waxed poetic on the best film ever made about Staten Island here, but let it be known you can stream this gem right NOW on NetFlix! Excelsior!

6) Inglorious Bastards
– DID YOU KNOW that Director Quentin Tarantino doesn’t care what I or anyone else has to say about his movies because he’s going to keep doing what he wants to do with no regard for anyone else anyway? It’s his greatest strength and his greatest weakness, making this film the best sex-less nudity-less period piece porno film ever made.

Better Movies!

5) Up
– The only person in the whole world who doesn’t like Pixar’s films is Michael Jordan, but I feel that I can mathematically prove that Up is not only one of the year’s best films, but also better than Space Jam. A monumental achievement for both 3D and animated cinema, it’s their first to deal with death and show blood yet develops into one of their most entertaining adventures.

4) Girls on the Wall
– I’ve gone on about it here but the highlight of my CMJ experience this year needs to be reiterated. Director Heather Ross got everything right in an unforgettable documentary about girls in a juvenile detention center putting on a musical that will never leave you.

3) Avatar
-Ohhhh you mad, doggie? If you miss out on this amazing theatrical experience, you are a sucka. Forget Old Dogs, Avatar is the cat’s meow and that ain’t ‘lion!’ Also, quick reminder, it’s not racist.

2) Bad Lieutenant: Port of New Orleans
– Nicolas Cage hasn’t been a “bad actor” all these years, he’s just been acting in the wrong film. Werner Herzog harnessed his Leaving Las Vegas magic and mounted it alongside his Ghost Rider sensibilities to deliver the most abundant parade of ‘What the H*** am I watching” on the big screen in quite some time. To call it a ‘Roller-coaster Ride’ would be misleading as it has enough twists, turns and candy to be designated its own theme-park. The inspired dream casting of Cage, Eva Mendez, Val Kilmer and ‘Mr. X-to-the-Z’ Xzibit makes this one for the record books.

Wesley Willis, (rock) star of "Joyrides."

1) Joyrides
– Yes I’m a huge Wesley Willis fan, but that doesn’t make me bias. Quite the opposite as I care so much about the subject matter, to even slightly malign or exploit it immediately registers it on my federal ‘do-not-call’ list. That being said, Joyrides is a ridiculously thorough obscenely researched feat of documentary film-making. It perfetly captures the late Wesley Willis’ essences, and the harmony joyride it brought out of me as a viewer was second only to meeting the man himself. I love watching a movie and having such a good time that I don’t want it to end. This is one of those movies.

What’s that? Why no, I didn’t see The Hurt Locker. Yes, I plan to, but that movie had its first screenings in 2008. Therefore: DISQUALIFIED! GAME OVER! CHAZ WINS! FATALITY!

Until next time let’s agree to agree!

*The ones I wish I’d taped of the awfully crazy variety.

**AKA ‘Urban Horror Films’ if you’re a jive-turkey milkhead caucazoid.