Archive for the M Category

Milk

Posted in M with tags , , , , on December 23, 2008 by jennyjuniper21

 

Jenny says:

 

I must confess that I initially saw Milk to watch dudes making out with other dudes. And boy howdy, did I get my wish. From James Franco and Sean Penn making goo-goo eyes at each other across the dinner table to Emile Hirsch giving some dude a blow-jay in a darkroom, Milk has gay sex in spades. As a connoisseur of hot man-on-man action (or perhaps just a drooling objectifier of gay men), I was in heaven.

 

But Milk is obviously about more than sex. Milk is a biopic about the life and death of Harvey Milk—the first openly gay man elected to major public office in the United States. The film begins with Harvey (played by a perhaps bit too fey Sean Penn) on his 40th birthday. He’s a closeted chump in a three-piece suit working for an insurance company. He meets Scott Smith (James Franco), who becomes his longtime lover and encourages him to “run away” to San Francisco; specifically to the Castro—a tiny corner in America where gay people can be themselves in public without (much) fear of persecution.

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The two lovebirds do run away to the magical land of gay Oz, open a camera shop, and meet a bunch of other educated, activist queers. Before long, Harvey realizes that the gay rights movement needs one of their own in politics and decides to run for the Board of Supervisors in San Francisco. His platform is one of human rights—specifically for senior citizens, union members, the disabled, and, of course, the homos. To make a long story short, he fails. Not once, not twice, but three years in a row. It’s not until 1977, in the midst of a culture war waged against homosexuality and led by singer turned right-wing Christian psycho Anita Bryant, that Harvey (once again sporting a three-piece suit and a professional haircut—still a hippie fag, but no longer looking like one) is finally elected.

 

Through his kindness and charisma (not to mention his political savvy), Harvey brings the most unlikely people together. But anyone who knows about Harvey Milk also knows that his time is limited. It’s hard not to cringe when Harvey’s now ex-boyfriend, Scott, tells him on his 48th birthday “I guess you’ll make it to 50 after all”. But in his short time on the Board, Harvey manages to help defeat Prop 6—which would have called for the immediate firing of any openly gay teacher—and anyone supporting gay teachers—in California. If this proposition sounds medieval and un-American, just think about which proposition recently passed in California. Milk is a frustrating reminder that, 30 years later, we’re fighting the same battles all over again.

 

But Milk’s days are numbered. It’s not long before Harvey’s fellow Supervisor Dan White walks into City Hall, and shoots both Mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk point blank. But as horrific as the assassination is, Milk ends on a positive note, with Penn reciting Harvey’s own words, which he recorded on a tape to be played in the event of his murder. He says “I know that you cannot live on hope alone. But without hope, life is not worth living. And you…and you…and you…you gotta give ‘em hope.” Moving words back then and still today.

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Milk’s greatest strength is by far the acting. Everyone in the film pulls his or her weight—even the minor characters. Penn, as I mentioned before, plays Milk a little more effeminately than Milk actually was.  But it somehow works—showing that even a “stereotypically” gay man could get the vote of macho union men. James Franco provides a quiet, reserved performance as Milk’s long-suffering lover who leaves when it becomes clear that Harvey’s first love will always be politics and activism. Emile Hirsch is unrecognizable as Cleve Jones, an adorable smartass street hustler whom Harvey recruits to help run his campaign.

 

Josh Brolin is a chameleon of an actor. Last year he played the stoic, hunted Llewelyn Moss in No Country for Old Men; this year he played the most recognizable face in government today—W himself; and in Milk he plays all-American Dan White. His portrayal of White suggests that the man was not malicious, nor particularly hateful towards gays, but merely insecure—a man simply trying to do what he thinks is right and provide for his family, who finds himself unpopular and cornered by the Board of Supervisors in general and by Milk in particular. And in a moment of disgruntled helplessness, White takes his anger out on Moscone and Milk. I’m not trying to excuse White’s heinous crimes, but you realize that he’s not a monster, just a confused, frustrated individual who seriously fucks up. The closing footage reveals that White, perhaps unsurprisingly, killed himself two years after being released from a mild prison sentence.

 

The only major beef I had with Milk (har har!) is that it sometimes becomes heavy-handed and preachy. Sean Penn is well known as a liberal activist in Hollywood and I feel like a little bit of that “stickin’ it to the man” attitude slips into his performance. Rather than making a pure tribute to Milk’s life, Van Sant and Penn seem to use the film as their own personal soapbox and turn it into a “message movie”. Granted, a film about Milk’s life can’t not be in some way political, but I felt that Milk, mainly due to its melodrama and didacticism, failed to touch me in the same way that the 1984 documentary The Times of Harvey Milk did. In any case, Milk is strong, solid film with excellent performances and, or course, plentiful guy-on-guy. You know, if that’s what you’re into.

 

Grade: 82

Mulholland Drive

Posted in M with tags , on March 31, 2008 by theroboticdan

Dan says:

A friend was in Los Angeles last week and we were driving up around Mulholland Drive when it hit me, had I ever seen the movie of themulholland-drive.jpg same name? I vaguely remembered some long, twisted psychological thriller with strange interconnected plotlines. It was set in Los Angeles and began with an M… then I realized, I was thinking of Magnolia.

It was fate then, that when I returned home, the amazing and new Hulu.com was offering Mulholland Drive in its entirety for the price of free! At that cost, how could I resist? I kissed my Sunday goodbye and entered the world of David Lynch’s filmmaking.

The goal here is to try and understand whats going on for as long as possible until reality gives out. I was proud of myself as I followed the amnesia driven plot through its most surreal moments, picking out clues and forming theories as to what the heck was going on. Mulholland Drive is more a riddle than a movie, filled with eerie foreboding characters, people caught up in mysteries and events much bigger than themselves, and complete logical dead ends.

Watching it, you’ll probably be proud and think you’ve got it figured out by the hour and a half marker. Then the whole thing slips into an alternate universe and you’re lost all over again. No one narrative can make sense for these characters, so a beginning, middle and end is hard to pin point here. Characters become one another, timelines are shattered, we rewind to the past and flash forward to the future in the blink of an eye.

Its all a bit insane at times, but the film still retains a sense of humor, suspense and some HOT HOT LESBIAN LOVE SCENES. Go into this film as a brain teaser and don’t expect a cut and dry story. You’ll be far more entertained that way. And when you get lost, just remember that theres probably some tantalizing girl on girl action coming up.

Grade: 87

Manos: The Hands of Fate

Posted in M with tags , , on March 14, 2008 by itlacksoomph

Joe says:

Well, who wouldn’t want to watch a movie that a fertilizer salesmanmanos.jpg
from El Paso made on a bet?

Speaking of selling mounds of crap to the public, there’s this movie, except it can’t be used to enhance the coming harvest.If there were a plot, I’d let you know what it is; it’s more of a nonsensical, choppy flow of events. The protagonist – I guess – is the father in the movie (his name is listed as Michael). This actor, Harold Warren, is also the gentlemen responsible for this fountain of excrement. There’s also a wife, a daughter, a little goat-man named Torgo, a couple dogs, and The Master, who is evidently on Satan’s speed dial.

Do you like driving? Well, who doesn’t, except anyone over age 35. How about ten minutes or so, non-stop on camera? That’s how this movie starts. I’m not kidding – they’re driving, and that’s it. A little unintelligible dialogue here and there, but it’s just driving. They finally arrive at this shack/house/den of ne’er-do-wells in the middle of nowhere, and goat-man Torgo comes out to greet them. Every time he moves, there’s this “dun dun dun DUN dun dun dun DUN” music that plays and pretty much abruptly stops. Almost hilarious, but this movie is ALMOST a lot of things, except good.

So they’re there, nothing happens for a while, then the dog gets eaten, followed by more nothing. Every now and then, for no apparent reason, they throw in a scene of two people making out in a convertible, which has absolutely nothing to do with anything and it’s not even mildly hot. I mean, throw us a bone here. Well, wait, there also was a quasi-orgy catfight scene near the end, which was a little better, but seriously, people.

Anyhoo, Torgo hobbles around, the Master tries to, I don’t know, enslave people, and eventually everyone gets taken over by evil; themanos2.jpg end. The fact is that this movie is so replete with errors that it’s almost so bad it’s good, but then bad again. The movie was made on a minimal budget – as stated in Mr. Warren’s bet – and had, well, virtually nothing with which to work. Lighting was non-existent – in one scene, the police take two steps out of their car to investigate, and then turn back. The camera was basically a run-of-the-mill handheld with no sound capabilities and could only capture about half a minute at a time. All of the music and dialogue was dubbed in later by three people, which is why virtually EVERYONE’S voice sounds the same. Near the end, the Master demands that Torgo arise from being on the ground – it literally takes him about 45 seconds…and all you’re doing it watching him struggle to get up. For nearly a minute. It goes without saying that the acting and editing was…well, WHAT acting and editing?

The community in El Paso would have none of it, either. The town loved the idea of the movie, until they all went to see it. The audience hated it so much that the cast slunk out in disgrace before the end of the premiere. Oh, and the character who played Torgo actually committed suicide; some say because the goat prostheses caused him intense pain, which is sad and ironic because this movie also causes anyone who watches it intense pain.

I can say without question or equivocation that this is the worst movie ever made, and the worst I have ever seen. Anyone who disagrees clearly has not witnessed it. It’s not even so bad it’s good; it’s a wretched display that not even Mystery Science Theater 3000 can save.

Grade: 0*

*Also referred to as “zip,” “zilch,” “nada,” “a goose egg,” or the number of Major League hits racked up by Billy Crystal

Mission: Impossible 2

Posted in M with tags , , , , , , on February 8, 2008 by jharoldson13

James says:

I’d like to preface this review with two things: one is that I LOVED the first “Mission: Impossible” movie. It was an intelligent,mi2.jpg suspenseful, and well-made spy movie dosed with a liberal amount of action. Two is that I actually looked up the movie I’m reviewing so that I could refresh myself on plot points and whatnot. Armed with this knowledge, let me kick off the real review by saying that M:I2 is a disappointing sequel. It’s not that it’s a bad movie…it’s just that it’s so much dumber than the original. A lot of this can probably be blamed on the decision to have John Woo direct. Although I thoroughly enjoy his early work in Hong Kong action cinema, his work in the US has been subpar at best.

The plot is nothing new; a rogue IMF agent steals some crazy virus called Chimera, planning to release it into the world and then make a fortune selling the antidote, which only he possesses. The antidote, not quite coincidentally, is called Bellerophon, the hero who killed the Chimera in Greek mythology. Very clever, gentlemen. You made a literary reference. Anyway, Tom Cruise has to recruit some people to help him destroy the virus before the bad guy can kill everyone. They succeed in wiping out most of the stuff, but then the girl who both Cruise AND the bad guy love injects herself with the last of it to make herself the perfect bargaining chip. Blah blah blah there’s a long motorcycle chase which is pretty cool, culminating in a ridiculous fight on the beach. Cruise shoots the bad guy, the end!

This movie’s primary strength are its action scenes. These tend to be pretty top notch, in typical John Woo fashion. There’s one scene where Cruise walks by a doorway silhouetted by fire while doves fly past him and he stares at the camera like he’s got something big in his butt. I guess it’s him trying to look dark and tormented, but I like my interpretation much better. Other than the kickass explosions and stuff, the movie sort of sucks. Considering the first one was such a cerebral flick, I went into the sequel expecting something that would actually require me to use that big blob of gray shit in my skull to make some sense out of the whole mess, but no. It required nothing other than me sitting back and letting the pretty lights and flickering colors wash over me. Meh.

Grade: 77

Magnolia

Posted in M with tags , , , , , on February 6, 2008 by serranja

Jason says:

After breaking through with the fantastic Boogie Nights, P.T. Anderson’s next film was Magnolia, an opus to a bunch of people with incrediblycruise.jpg pathetic lives. It’s three hours long and full of heartache and sadness. My first bit of advice: Don’t watch it alone. I did, and by the end I wanted to kill myself. Not because it sucked, because it didn’t. But it’s incredibly depressing.

On the bright side, it features acting talent as diverse and skilled as any movie I can think of: Philip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy, John C. Reilly, Julianne Moore, Philip Baker Hall, and Jason Robards are all great in it, to name six. And here’s the shocker: it’s Tom Cruise’s best movie. He’s fantastic…I know that seems weird what with all the nutso religion stuff and whatnot, but seriously. As the super-misogynist who conducts workshops to get guys to hate women, he owns it.
Also, the movie prominently features a quiz show. Which is my thing. And there’s a sing-along to an excellent Aimee Mann song that isn’t as bizarre as it sounds.

This would be a great 120 minute film. But it’s not. It’s three hours. Three hours of rainy glumness and sad people. So check it out. But don’t watch it alone.

Grade: 82

Mrs. Doubtfire

Posted in M with tags , , , , , , on February 3, 2008 by Schuyler

Schuyler says:

An excellent juxtaposition to Man of the Year, Mrs. Doubtfire shows what happens whendoubtfire.jpg Robin Williams is happily supplied with acid. He has a fucking difficult time driving to the set each day…but once he’s there BOY DOES HE SHINE! Williams plays both himself (irresponsible child trapped in an adults body…which sounds a lot like Jack) and an elderly English woman with huge fake tits. He puts on a fat suit, tons of facial prosthetic stuff, dentures, the works. What makes this Robin Williams better than other Robin Williamses? He doesn’t try to teach us something. Yes, there might be a few cute moments between Williams and his kids (Matthew Lawrence? Bargain-bin…) but I don’t leave this film feeling like Williams wants me to protect animals (COUGH Ferngully COUGH), wants me to vote a certain way (COUGH Man of the Year COUGH), or beat the fuck out of every sketchy old guy working at a photography store I see (COUGH…..COUGH COUGH COUGH PUKE 1-Hour Photo COUGH). He’s just like the Genie in Aladdin: funny one-liners at the speed of light.

Sally Fields…she’s good in this movie, but I don’t know why some people think she is Joseph of fucking Arimathea. Aren’t middle-aged housewife actresses a dime-a-dozen? Does she really do anything in this film that Wendy Crewson (The Santa Claus) or Bonnie Hunt (Jumanji) couldn’t have done? No. She’s cookie cutter, and the fact that her tits are sagging lower than Robin Williams’ don’t help. Why can’t Denise Richards play the troubled divorced mother?

Pierce Brosnan? Since I mentioned The Santa Claus, I would like to remove Pierce Brosnan from this film (he belongs in a museum!) and substitute good ole Judge Reinhold. Once again, all the non-Tim Allen characters could be transplanted into this film with no negative effect, which demonstrates that save Williams, the actors have little impact on the actual story. They’re nothing but bits of salad, dressing, and croutons that get in the way of eating the bacon bits (Williams).

Very solid movie, but like some of the best flamingos and worst bowlers…it stands on one leg.

Grade: 80

Monster Squad

Posted in M with tags , , , , , on February 3, 2008 by jharoldson13

James says: monster-squad.jpg

Holy shit. A movie about a bunch of 80’s kids fighting the Universal Monsters (Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, the Wolfman, the Mummy, and the Gill Man) with the help of a heart-warmingly horrifying German man and Van Helsing’s journal. In my opinion, this is the best “kids on a supernatural adventure” movie ever made that didn’t feature either of the Corey’s. The story is basically irrelevant; something about an ancient, magical crystal that Dracula needs to destroy in order to upset the balance of good and evil, casting the world into darkness for a thousand years or something. The local Monster Squad, consisting of a couple nerds, a fat kid, one of the nerds’ little sister, and the middle school badass, realizes they need to step up and kick evil square in the nads for the good of mankind. They try to enlist the help of their parents and the local authorities, but of course in the 80’s, parents were too busy going to coke parties and Wham! concerts to be concerned with the supernatural terrors of growing up.

This movie has it all. Hot vampires school girls, babes in their underwear, Wolfman getting kicked in the nuts, and an army corps. that responds to requests for help with monsters written in crayon. For a really long time, the only way for me to watch this was to wander down the insanely-dangerous corridors of my memory. But luckily, enough nerds remembered how much ass this film kicked and wrote enough reference-laden letters that someone finally decided to release it on DVD. Now you can pick it up at any good Best Buy, and I recommend doing so. This movie is a great one to watch with some buddies, and I’m sure you can make some sort of drinking game to go along with it. It’s not without its faults, of course: the special effects are a bit dated, there are some huge leaps in logic, and I can’t find the little kid’s Robotech t-shirt in my size, so it’s not a perfect movie. But it’s a really damn good one.

Grade: 89