Movie Diary

1. Ice Age: The Meltdown
Last week I tried to go to an advance screening for some movie called Hoot for the City Paper, but it was so advanced that the theater didn't have a reel of it and were presenting it via sattelite, and had a bunch of technical problems. They started the movie 45 minutes late and even then said you might not be able to see the ending, so I said screw it and decided to catch a later screening. But the theater felt bad and was throwing free tickets at people to make them feel better. So the next night, I was able to take J.G. to this for free, so it wasn't a total waste. The first Ice Age is easily my favorite non-Pixar digitally animated feature, so I was kinda looking forward to this. The Wile E. Coyote-style extreme slapstick of the scenes with Scrat are still by far the funniest parts, and sometimes the actual plot with the main characters dragged a little, but it was still almost as good as the original. I wouldn't mind seeing more sequels.

2. The Gong Show Movie
I was somewhat shocked to learn that a full 22 years before Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind, there was already a movie about Chuck Barris that blurred the line between fact and fiction. In fact this might be the most bizarre idea for a movie adapted from a TV show ever, with Barris basically directing himself playing himself as the put-upon host who has to deal with people with crazy talents coming up to him all the time on the street trying to get on the Gong Show, with a lot of odd dramatic interludes although basically no plot. And a young Taylor Negron in a small, uncredited role. If nothing else, watching this movie affirmed for me that comparisons of the American Idol auditions to the Gong Show are perfectly apt.

3. Dig!
Man, this was hard to watch, partly because I identify with the inevitable failure of shitty rock bands far too much. Plus I don't like the music by either of the subjects of the movie, save for maybe the Veronica Mars theme song. It really is a pretty amazing document, though, simply because, in most rockumentaries and Behind The Music type things, there's not much actual footage of the wildest stories, but for these bands, there seemed to be a camera around for everything crazy that ever happened to them. This guy may have replaced Bam Margera as the single most annoying despicable person I've ever seen, the same kind of infuriating inability to take anything seriously and questionable facial hair, along with being one of those guys who's in a band but only ever plays tambourines and maracas and shit like that. Just watching that guy for a couple hours was exasperating, I can't imagine travelling across the country in a van with him.

4. Neighbors
Neighbors has the distinction of being the last, and perhaps least seen film in John Belushi's short career. It's also one of those movies where the 2 lead actors, Belush and Dan Aykroyd, seem to be in roles that could have just as easily been reversed, and according to the IMDb page, they actually were originally set to play the opposite roles, but then switched at the last minute. Aykroyd plays the kind of wild, unpredictable character that Belushi was best known for, and Belushi plays a straight man not unlike the ones played by Aykroyd in later films like the Great Outdoors. But Aykroyd also often did wacky, so his role isn't much of a stretch. But it is kind of odd to see Belushi as a mild-mannered suburbanite with graying temples, playing an age that, at 32, he wouldn't live to experience. He does let loose a little toward the end of the movie, though. It's one of those farcical comedies where certain characters don't seem to operate by any logic at all, to the point that by the end, even the straight man seems to be operating by no rationality, and at that point, you don't care about the plot at all. Which might be excusable were it funnier.

5. The Family Stone
I took my lady to see this and then we went to Red Lobster, a while back, while this was still in theaters but had already been out for a while. It was a little better than I expected, made good use of a big ensemble. Speaking of reversed comedic roles, Luke Wilson is good at being the straight man, but it was refreshing to see him actually be the funny guy for once, and he's good at that too. At some points the tone of the comedy became kind of cruel and shrill, with characters behaving unbelievably and the story coming to a predictable and unlikely resolution, but still, not bad. I'll probably watch it again in a year or two when it's on cable.

6. White Noise
Man, what the fuck happened to Michael Keaton? There are so many "gracefully aging" actors of his generation that still headline a new movie every couple months that I'd gladly trade in for Keaton to have a decent career. This movie probably could've done better with a good trailer, I remember it giving me no motivation to want to see the movie, but having watched it on cable, they totally could've cut together a spooky and intriguing trailer that would've made people want to see it as much as The Ring. It wasn't very good, but I did get good and creeped out watching it, partly because it's about the dead speaking through electrical signals, and my cable was acting up and making all sorts of glitches and jumps on the screen that enhanced the creepiness of it.

7. Cellular
Another one I found myself on the couch wasting an afternoon on, but it definitely surpassed my humble expectations, which were that the movie had nothing to offer beyond the premise established by the trailer. It was pretty fun, though, good plot twists and more cell-related humor than one could ask for.

8. The Apartment
A black-and-white classic that won a ton of Oscars after it was released in 1960, I'd heard good things about this for a long time and finally caught it on TV. Movies this good always make me yearn for a time from before I was born. It's a comedy, but one that plays out very carefully, revealing plot twists so subtly you never see them coming. It's weird to watch something from so long ago that Shirley Maclaine is actually kind of hot, though.

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Shirley MacLaine was hot as shit in the 50's and 60's. And also in Being There, when she masturbates all over the floor.
 
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