Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The only way I could be more eclectic is by wearing stripes and plaids together. And what the hell ... argyle, too!

Before you unleash the fawning praise, though -- and I know you're poised to do just that -- let me make two rather obvious points:

1. It's been more than a fortnight since my last post. (Note to self: Stop talking to Brits.)
2. Even before then, a bunch of movies had stacked up in my brain.

So now you get this extra special Vomit Edition, where your faithful blogger -- the next post will be No. 600! -- spews quickly about a heap of movies from all over the map. And away we go ...

The Fantastic Mr. Fox

Or The First Movie My Elder Daughter Saw as a Thinking Person. Sure, she "saw" some movies while My Eternal Beloved was on her first maternity leave. But the Wes Anderson stop-motion -- or whatever it is -- tale of countryside creatures was the first one she could appreciate. Step aside, David Denby.

The movie? Not bad. My man crush George Clooney is the lead fox, who had been a master thief and later backslides, to his wife's chagrin. She's Meryl Streep, and other notables include Anderson squeeze Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe and a little Owen Wilson. (Surprise!) It's an odd bag to have the Anderson stamp on a non-human movie, but make no mistake, this is kin to his other work. As such, it required a little patience but was an intriguing experience all the same.

Body of Lies

Given the star power, this didn't make that big a splash when in theaters in 2008. Leo DiCaprio is a spy in the Middle East, while a pudgy Russell Crowe is his handler back in the U.S. As such, they spend a lot time talking into earpieces for their cell phones while Leo tracks some terrorists.

Directed by Ridley Scott, this reminded me quite a bit of "Spy Game," which was directed by brother Tony and had a couple of megastars in Robert Redford and Brad Pitt. "Lies" was probably better, but not because of the leads. Easily stealing the show is Mark Strong, who would go on to "Sherlock Holmes" but really shines here as the head of intelligence in Jordan. This is worth seeing just for his performance and character development.

Near Dark

Considered a cool little sleeper when it came out, this tale of a family of vampires in the modern West is now more than 20 years old. Wow. Couldn't remember the last time I saw it, but when it danced across a free cable weekend, I pounced.

While Adrian Pasdar is our hero -- a cowpoke who gets himself bit by a pretty young thang -- the real stars are James Cameron regulars Lance Henriksen and Bill Paxton. And yes, this was the first real movie directed by Kathryn Bigelow, nominated for an Oscar this year for "The Hurt Locker." Have you heard she used to be married to Cameron? Yeah, really!

This is a fun little vampire movie, and maybe just as much of a dusty Western, that holds up well. Paxton hams it up, and the scene where they take down a dumpy bar is a must. "It's finger-lickin' good!"

Mr. Majestyk

The moral of this story: Don't mess with a man's melons.

Post-Western, pre-"Death Wish" Charles Bronson is a watermelon farmer in rural Colorado. After getting thrown into jail on a bogus charge, he ends up in a jailbreak with a mob hitman (a hard-to-recognize Sollozzo from "The Godfather." But when he tries to turn the hitman into the cops .... oh, that's not good.

More happens in this movie than you might think, maybe because it's from an Elmore Leonard novel. I kind of think it all took a little long, but Bronson is fun enough to watch, not necessarily pulling off stoic as much as perturbed. And you can't beat lines like this: "You make sounds like you're a mean little a$$kicker, only I ain't convinced."

Code of Silence

Speaking of tough guys from a past generation and great lines, try on this one from Chuck Norris: "When I want your opinion, I'll beat it out of you."

Norris is a Chicago cop who -- darn it all -- turns out to be too noble for his own good while trying to diffuse a war between the Italian mob and Latino mob. That's what happens when you don't step up to defend a bad cop. They never learn.

There's some of the chop-socky, to be sure. But also some decent police stuff, and Norris doesn't bring it down too much with his wooden acting. Director Andrew Davis went on to do "Under Siege" and "The Fugitive," and you could do worse for Norris fare than this one.

Year One

This sucked. Too blunt? Just don't want you to get suckered like me.

I knew this story of cavemen Jack Black and Michael Cera stumbling through biblical stories was dumb, but I at least thought there might be some decent bits. Alas, it's Cera Lite -- and he's not heavy to start -- and Black Lite. (Hee, hee ... black light.)

We expect more from Harold Ramis, and the presence of such solid players as David Cross, Hank Azaria, Oliver Platt and McLovin didn't redeem this crappy movie. I mean, when you've got pee streaming onto Cera's face, you're just desperate ...