Archive for May, 2010

20 Movies in 20 Words or Less

This blog is the result of a direct challenge posed to me by a loyal reader. This will certainly be a tough one; not the 20 word plot summary—for most movies that’s nothing. Rather, it’s the fact that I don’t think I even saw 20 movies in the last decade. I probably did if you count B movies, instant big-budget failures, etc, but those aren’t nearly as entertaining as movies that won Oscars and such. So I’m going to have to sum up basically every “high profile” movie I’ve seen since I was 13. And for the ones I have not seen (because God knows I’m not going to rent, borrow, or pirate, let alone watch, a dozen-plus “trendy” movies for a 7-minute read), I’ll have to be spot-on enough to make you think I have. So here they are; let the challenge [insert gong sound] begin.

By the way, there are plenty of omissions that are just begging for it… feel free to leave your own in the comments.

Avatar (2009)
Like Pocahontas with machine guns. And they try to drop massive ordinance on Grandmother Willow.

(alt-version) Herbert’s Dune was supposedly unfilmable. Cameron managed; make the sand worms pterodactyls, the Fremen blue, replace water with “unobtanium.”

The Departed (2008)
Remake of the more appropriately-titled Japanese film Internal Affairs. Everyone gets shot by everybody else. Usually in the head.

Gladiator (2000)
“My name is Maximus Desimus Meridius. You killed my family. Prepare to die.” Gayer version of Braveheart, despite no kilts.

The Dark Knight (2008)
Ledger’s posthumous masterpiece confuses chaotic motivation with impossible master-planning. Bonus half-movie featuring Two Face tacked on. Bale sounds ridiculous.

Bonus quote: “The world will ask if you bought the ticket just for the Watchmen trailer. And you will whisper [insert gruff voice] ‘No.’”

Minority Report (2002)
Futuristic version of The Fugitive. Plot holes you could misplace a Chevy in. Thankfully, it moves too fast to notice.

Fun fact: This movie made me feel stupid because I could not keep track of anything that happened after Cruise first goes on the run. The test of time has vindicated me, and it is now generally accepted that the movie makes no sense. Some fans of this movie (or of basic continuity…either way) speculate that the ending takes place in Cruise’s head. Sadly, that makes it a much better movie.

Cloverfield (2008)
The novelization will consist entirely of forum-posts, Tweets, Axe body spray ads, and it will all come to an abrupt

Transformers (2007)
The cartoon offered better characterization; the robots show more facial reaction. Bay lacks all sense of scale; Labeouf, delivery; Fox, grace.

Bonus quote: Sometimes, the best parody is direct quotation. “This is like, ten times better than Armageddon!” That line is actually in the movie.

Fun Fact: I just realized—the coolest thing about Shia Labeouf is that his name contains all five vowels.

Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Deadman’s Chest (2006)
Matrix: Reloaded was a critical failure. They drooled for this P.O.S. despite being the exact same movie. Knightly ruins hotness.

Fun fact: The titular “chest” was shoe-horned in to justify the pun-title. Sad, because it would have made a much better title for the award-winning pornographic parody of the series (I’ll let you know right now I haven’t seen that one).

Crash (2005)
Most racist movie about racism I’ve ever seen; the conflicts portrayed would have been more dramatic had race been disregarded.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (2009)
Fan 1: “Great music and dialogue. I think the projector light’s broken… it’s so dark.”
Fan 2: “Nope. They filmed it that way.”

Bonus cryptogram: “Do snakes pull? Bridle me!”

Kill Bill (2003/2004)
After a decade-plus onscreen, Uma became attractive… in a film so violent only a slim group of fetishists could enjoy it.

The Passion of the Christ (2004)
It happened in Golgotha, with the nails, and the Jews did it.

Note: The above is a parody of the film only and not of the underlying historical events. Please take no offense, especially Mr. of Nazareth. I mean no disrespect.

Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003) [I get 60 words for this one]

Brilliant; exhausting. Early action from Ring Wraiths masks the fact that the first 90 minutes is exposition. Part one has four endings. The Ent’s summarize part two’s pacing, nevertheless, Helm’s Deep is possibly the greatest battle put to film. Frodo’s decline in part three becomes frustrating, especially since [spoiler alert], by all accounts, he fails. Luckily, Golem then goes all Deus-ex-machina.

Ray (2004)
Many biopics feature the protagonist confronting ghosts of their pasts; this movie takes it literally.

Star Trek (2009)
Bypasses prequel problem by obliterating established canon. Farmboy protagonist, planet destroyed, followed by aggressor’s mothership. Yeah, it’s Star Wars.

Fun fact: With the above in mind, Spock is the new Princess Leia. That’s gonna make for some awkward scenes in part 2.

Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Lucas: I have nothing of value but (waves hand) this film will do fine.
Audience: No, it won’t.
Lucas: This film WILL do fine.
Audience: OK.

Walk the Line (2005)
Like Theron before her, Witherspoon goes dramatic and nabs an Oscar; never seen since. Joaquin Phoenix soon to follow.

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Visual Learner: Pop songs represented in chart form

Some light humor to kick off the week. Enjoy.

Please note that this particular post is rather image-heavy and may be slower to load than most of my postings.

One Step Closer

8 Days a Week

And while we’re on the subject…

Set on You...

Imagine

The same graph with different categories would work with Sam Cooke’s “What a Wonderful World It Would Be.”

Vertigo

And finally, difficult decisions, simplified by flowcharts

Difficult Decisions

Rent: The Alternate Script

This post is largely inspired by the work found at The Editing Room. I’ve wanted to do this for awhile now, and depending on reception, more similar works may follow.

I got the idea for this when Rent came to Gammage in early 2009. I considered going, but ultimately opted not to when I realized the irony of seeing a performance about minimalistic living, when tickets for said performance were going for the approximate annual income of the characters portrayed.

~STRAFE PRESENTS~

RENT
The Alternate Script, Abridged
with apologies to Jonathan Larson

FADE IN:

INT. STAGE—NIGHT

A row of harsh spotlights hires a diverse CAST; a perfect blend of ethnicity, gender, perceived socioeconomic status and sexual orientation. Seriously, add a guy in a wheelchair and this could be a stock photo for a math textbook.

WHOLE CAST
(singing)

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six
hundred minutes…

They perform “Seasons of Love.” Good song.

FADE OUT.

EXT. NIGHT—GRENNICH VILLAGE.

GRAINY FOOTAGE FROM AN OLD HANDHELD.

MARK (V.O.)
December 24, 1989. I’ve decided to improv my filming in thirty-second segments, with no lighting, primarily at night. Instead of my old shit. Since this cuts pre-production time to zero, my days are now completely free. I cannot pursue employment, however, because this would undermine the Bohemian ideals of–

The tape reel RUNS OUT. mark shrugs and gets on his bicycle as power chords and 4/4 rock drumming FADE UP in the background.
ROGER, MARK, and COLLINS rhetorically and harmonically muse about how they might meet their financial obligations for the previous year.

MARK & ROGER
(singing)
How we gonna pay, how we gonna pay…

Few solutions are suggested which do not include pyrotechnics.

To that end, the past-due residents of Alphabet City display an amazing sense of community and choreography by making it rain flaming eviction notices. A black SUV approaches.

EXT. ALLEY WAY—NIGHT

TOM COLLINS succumbs to a brutal beating. His absence does not go unnoticed by his protesting friends above: he is granted a curious “Where is he?” during the next instrumental tacit. That’s it until morning though.

COLLINS
I’m dizzy.

MARK, ROGER & ENSEMBLE
(singing)
We’re not gonna pay, we’re not gonna pay…

Ironically, the communal escapades have focused everyone’s attention to the street, leaving no local residents to monitor the alleyway. Had this mugging taken place during a less festive occasion, there may have been at least one person dumping burning trash out the BACK window, and this whole tragedy could have been avoided.

CUT TO:

EXT. CURBSIDE IN FRONT OF APARTMENT COMPLEX–NIGHT

BENNY confronts MARK and ROGER RE: Mark’s ex-girlfriend’s unwelcome protest, to be held the following evening on private property.

MARK
(singing)
What happened to Benny, what happened
to his heart?

BENNY melodically asserts an offer to forgive his friends’ debts and trespasses, provided they quietly and nonviolently prevent MAUREEN’S protest.

BENNY
Just stop the protest, and you’ll have
it made…

ROGER
Didn’t she leave you for a woman? After multiple instances of infidelity?

MARK
Well, yes, but–

BENNY
It should be noted that, judging by the equipment her attorney and life partner has moved into my building, the “protest” appears to be little more than an avant garde one-woman promotional venue. There appear to be no provisions to raise funds help house any of the homeless who stand to be affected by my investor’s construction plans. Oh, and she plans on singing.

MARK
And if I stop this from happening?

BENNY
(singing)
You’ll see boys…

ROGER
He’ll do it.

CUT TO:

INT. THE APARTMENT—MORNING

The PHONE RINGS. Mark answers.

MARK
Hello?… Maureen?

AROGER, holding his guitar, stares mark down.

MAUREEN (V.O., on the phone)
The samples won’t delay, but the cables…

MARK hangs up. He glances at ROGER.

MARK
That was easy. Merry Christmas.

ROGER
Cool. Hey, check out this riff.

CUT TO:

INT. CUTTING ROOM FLOOR—DARK

MARK (V.O.)
December 24, 1990. I can’t believe how quickly this year has gone by. We have accomplished so much…

INT. A RECORDING STUDIO—DAY

ROGER at guitar, with MARK on tambourine and backing vocals, ANGEL on drums, and TONY LEVIN on bass.

RECORDING ENGINEER
One… two… three… four

ROGER & MARK
(singing)
…and when you’re living in A-MER-I-CA, at the end of the mil-EN-I-UM…

PAN OUT of the studio, out over the New York skyline as a light snowfall begins. CHRISTOPHER LEE narrates:

NARRATOR (V.O.)
Benny was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Angel, who did not die, he was as good a friend, as good a landlord, and as good a man.

Roger had no further intercourse with strippers, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us!And so, as Roger observed, Happy Birthday Jesus!