Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Unknown: A look at the 2010 movie season

It's a new decade for the movies, and there's bound to be features that will lead the class of 2010, those who will wearing the 'dunce' cap, and those you'll have to think twice about. Here's my picks of what to watch, avoid, and decide for yourself in the new year.

The Good:
Shutter Island (February 19) - the Scorsese-DiCaprio tandem is going for four straight films where I continue to be amazed at how Martin continues to be a filmmaker on the top of his game, and how Leonardo has come from being teenage heart-throb who was on top of the world, to one of our generation's most gifted actors. This time, the duo are taking us on a psychological mind-bender as two US federal marshals are assigned to investigate the disappearance of a woman from a mental asylum. The trailer looks like a bare-bones horror film (a first for Scorsese), ready to school the audience on what a horror film should be. With a world-class director who's firing on all cylinders at the helm, this will be an exciting and terrifying lecture.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I (November 19) - If you thought Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) would go out in one huge bang this year, then you don't know jack about Hollywood. The Potter franchise is the highest-grossing film series in history, so they're gonna milk it for what it's worth and split J.K. Rowling's epic finale into two parts. From what we're told, Part I will be a road movie, with the trio of wizards hunting down the remaining bits of Lord Voldemort's (Ralph Finnes) soul, while avoiding capture from his followers, the Death Eaters. David Yates will finish off the series, and from what I hear about Part I, the more excited I become for the two-part finale.

Toy Story 3 (June 18) - after more than a decade, Woody and Buzz are back for the third installment to the Toy Story franchise. What new adventures will Andy's toy's embark on this time? I have no idea, the wizards at Pixar Animation Studios always keep us guessing in their trailers. What we do know is that these guys have the world's best batting percentage when it comes to their movies (see: Toy Story, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Wall-E, and Up), and they have no intention of slowing down.

Iron-Man 2 (May 7) - The shot of pure adrenaline that will kick-start the summer movie season. Why do I say this? Look at the trailer with a menacing Mickey Rouke as Whiplash, the last few seconds of Iron Man and War Machine in combat, and a sexy Scarlet Johannson as a brunette, and then tell me you're not excited.

Inception (July 16) - If Iron Man 2 is the muscle of the summer season at the theaters, the Christopher Nolan's mind-bender of a sci-fi drama is its brain. Alternate realities will be made, bent, and shattered entirely, as ones mind can change the entire course of the least that's Nolan's idea with this movie. Trippy? Bizarre? Yes, on both counts. Is it meant to make the audience think and solve the brain games Nolan will no-doubt inflict? Most likely. I am so there.

The best of the rest:
Ridley Scott's remake of Robin Hood has him again teaming up with Russell Crowe, sans green tights, and focused on medical history rather than romanticized myth. Sweet. (May 14)
Tim Burton and Johnny Depp are reunited (again), this time to go through the looking glass with his zany, bizarre and amazing update of Alice in Wonderland that could freak out young ones and fry the brains of hallucinogenic users. But Burton hasn't done me wrong, and his movies are always one hell of twisty ride, and this looks to continue the trend. (March 26)
A remake of John Wayne's classic True Grit!? What the fuck is Hollywood thinking?? Wait, Joel and Ethan Coen are directing? I'm in (December 25).

The Bad:
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (June 30) - The battle lines will be drawn this summer - Are you with Team Edward, the handsome, Emo vampire who sparkles in the sunlight, or Team Jacob, the werewolf who'll break out in hives if wears a shirt for more than five minutes onscreen. Sign me up for Team I don't give a fuck. The next installment of this teeny-bopper series will have fathers and boyfriends begging their daughters and/or girlfriends to drag them to another viewing of Sex and the City 2, than watch Bella (Kristen Stewart), choose between her vampire boyfriend (Robert Pattinson) that wants to suck her dry, and her pussy-whipped, wolf-boy friend (Taylor Lautner), all while the audience endures 2+ hours of lame posing and posturing, wooden characters and dialogue, and mediocre F/X wizardry. You want a real and exciting fantasy flick? Wait a few months for The Deathly Hallows Part I.

Step Up 3D (August 6) - James Cameron's Avatar is changing the way we look at movies, combining gorgeous visual effects in 3D and solid storytelling that is destined to be another Cameron classic. Unfortunately, Cameron has opened the floodgates for movies that don't need to be seen in 3D. Hell, Step Up 3D shouldn't even be seen in regular 2D. Its the same flashy dance moves we've seen before in the first two movies, plus such "hits" as You Got Served and Save The Last Dance. Patrick Swayze, the king of dirty dancing, must be rolling in his grave.

Dear John (February 5) and The Last Song (April 2) - I'm including these two because they're both adaptations of books by Nicholas Sparks, and to plead with the suits in Hollywood: please, cease with the movie adaptations of Sparks' novels! Every last one from The Notebook on down have been nothing but chick flick hell! Stop it.

Why Did I Get Married Too? (April 2) - Tyler Perry bust onto the scene with Diary of a Mad Black Woman in February 2005 as Madea, the howlingly funny aunt with a short temper and a .9 mm handgun in her purse at all times. I had a blast with the Madea series, but after seeing the same overly dramatic shtick over and over again, I've grown tired of it, and for that reason, i'm avoiding Perry's sequel to his most mature work to date, Why Did I Get Married?

The rest of the worst:
I like Mila Jovovich as much as the next guy, but I'm not going to sit through Resident Evil: Afterlife, the fourth chapter in the franchise, to do so. I'll happily watch her in The Fifth Element, thank you very much. Plus, haven't we learned from past flops (Doom, Max Payne, Hitman, the entire Resident Evil series) that movie studios shouldn't give popular video games the Hollywood treatment? (September 10)
Yogi Bear!? Warner Bros. is doing Yogi Bear!?!? And you've got Justin Timberlake playing Boo Boo!?!?!? Damn you, Hollywood! Damn you to hell!!! (December 17)
Another Halloween = another year of the Jigsaw murderer. Here's the twist to Saw VII...all the gruesome, grotesque, torture-porn violence will be in blood-splattering 3D! Gag. (October 22)

The Wild Cards:
The Last Airbender (July 2) - After 2 1/2 abysmal movies (The Happening, Lady in the Water, the last half-hour of The Village) M. Night Shyamalan has gone from Hitchcock's heir to one trick pony who's running out of tricks. His new movie, The Last Airbender, based on the cartoon show, "Avatar: The Last Airbender," looks great, but i'm still skeptical. All I know is that he cannot fuck this up, for his career's sake.

Salt (July 23) - Pros: Angelina Jolie is still the hottest, kick-ass woman working, playing an agent who's been framed as a Russian spy. Cons: It looks like the female version of the Borne series. Good thing that I'd follow Jolie anywhere.

Shrek Forever After (May 21) - Antiono's Banderas's Puss in Boots announces: "Alas, we have come the final chapter, my friends." The cartoon series that turned every children's fable on its head for shits and non-stop laughs is being given one more chance to redeem itself for the sins of the unfunny and overly familiar Shrek the Third, but do the writers and the main cast have what it takes to send Shrek, Fiona, Puss, and Donkey out in a 21 guns comedy salute?

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (May 28) - This is what I was referring to earlier: another popular video game being given the Hollywood treatment. The fact it's being handled by producer Jerry Bruckheimer could give off the impression that it's gonna be a brainless popcorn film, but directing the video game adaptation is Mike Newell, director of the exciting and thrilling Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in 2005. Although he made one of the better Potter movies in the series, Newell faces a much more challenging climb: making the first good video game turned movie.

Sex and the City 2 (May 28) - Confession: I liked Sex and the City: The Movie. There, I said it. Loved the themes of sisterhood and the bond between friends Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte, but hated the unnecessary fashion shows, and the 2 1/2 hour running time. And now with the cameos of teen queen Miley Cyrus and Liza Minnelli added to the mix, I'm even more hesitant to be the only male counterpart in the theater.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Who am I? That's the great puzzle.

I feel like talking about my past to anyone who willing to listen.

About the way I am. The shyness, the spurts of depression I get, the lack of a social life I have. And my obsession with Radiohead

Going back to 8th grade, I was, for the most part, a complete loner. You could always find me in the library, reading. Reading about past Academy Award winning movies, actors, and actresses. Reading J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Reading, mostly, to pass the time. The library was my sanctuary, my refuge from all the peer pressure I felt. Sure, I had a few friends and some classroom acquaintances, but as the year went on, I began to shut almost everyone out. I already felt like an outcast at a school that mom and dad hoped that my day didn't include receiving a phone call from the counselor that I was involved in another fight. Hilltop Middle was no repeat of Correia Junior High School where I finally had to learn to defend myself from asshole bullies after getting picked on and harassed constantly, but the disconnect I felt at Hilltop between me and my peers was always there.

They were involved in random activities. I wasn't.
They hung around in groups. I was in the library.
They were into the latest trends. I could have cared less.
Some were beginning to date or hang out on the weekends. My weekends consisted of being on the internet, or being at the movies, or reading.

High school didn't change that trend, for the most part. I still felt like an outcast, but I had friends who took me in and accepted me for who I was. We were on our own, private island, near the vending machine, across from the A.S.B. One thing I did try, though, was asking out this girl I liked. We shared a World Geography class together with a teacher we both thought was a total prick. I asked her if she wanted to go to the movies on Friday night, she said yes. We agreed to meet up at 9:00 at the Regal 16 one Friday night. I showed up, she never did. It was devastating to me. From that point on, I never asked out another girl that I was interested in, out of one bad experience, and out of fear that I would see the same result. If there was a dance, I avoided it like the plague. If there was some girl I really liked, I thought that there was no way in heaven or hell that she would give me the time of day, that I wasn't some jock on a sports team, or some really good-looking pretty boy. That I was Jonathan Purcell Holmes, another fucking loser in this place where you were a somebody or no-one at all.

Contrary to my own belief, I was somebody. I was just know by virtually everyone else as Radio (my given nickname by my friends in P.E.) and the name stuck. I was also featured in the school newspaper with a sharp pallet for writing my opinions about this, that, or the other. It still didn't help with my self-confidence issues, or the fact that the invisible barrier was still hanging around me. Everything I felt: loneliness, my depression, a disconnect from my peers, my shyness - I kept to myself.

That was, until I discovered Thom Yorke and his band, Radiohead, and more specifically, track four from "Kid A."

"That there / That's not me. I go / Where I please...I'm not here, this isn't happening."

It was as if the song, "How To Disappear Completely" was telling me what I had already known, but what I could never accept.The song was telling me that there's a reason for the way I feel, the reason why that barrier constantly surrounds me, like a prison: I have no connection to the things my generation were trying to push on me. It all looked alien to me, bizarre. The trends; the stories of my peers posting pictures of wild, drunken nights at parties; the pop culture of the moment fads most everyone was into - most of it seemed completely stupid, vapid, and pointless.

It all made sense to me. I was.....different. I was in a world where I didn't belong, and didn't care much for on top of it all. I felt as if it was only me. I felt completely isolated. Alone. Like if I told anyone, that they wouldn't understand. Like this was my cross to bear. Eventually I did tell someone, or more specifically, they found out, and understood what I felt. That was later on in my Junior year, and I still had support in my Senior year.

These days, I just try and learn to accept where I am right now. And maybe that's all I'm capable of doing right now.

Sorry for ranting on and on like that, and thanks for listening.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

How did this happen?

Allow me to vent here: how did this game so wrong for the Chargers? This one is an absolute stunner to me. I thought this year, finally, we would be able to make it to the Super Bowl.

We had the QB.
We had excellent WR's.
A sure-fire HOF TE.
And a solid Defense.
Everything seemed to come together for us.
And yet, the same result. A loss in the postseason.

Of all the loses by the Chargers in the postseason (04 in overtime against the Jets; the loss in '07 to the then unbeaten Pats; last year's loss to the Steelers) this one cuts more deeply than the rest.

A great season by the Chargers. Maybe next year.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

I can't wait

I am probably a Harry Potter nerd (movie wise). I know the actors who play the characters we adore and the directors who've filmed what HP movie. So imagine my surprise when I find the teaser to next year's two-part epic finish to arguably, one of the greatest film franchises in film history.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Shameless...utterly shameless.

The images, the reports, and the stories we are hearing out of Haiti are shocking, heartbreaking, and astounding. Reports are that over 100,000 Haitians are dead because of the 7.0 earthquake that hit. The Presidential Palace in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, has completely collapsed. Bodies are scattered across the streets, and its people are devastated or wandering aimlessly, looking for survivors, family members, or a safe haven. There's even talk that unless serious humanitarian aid isn't reached quickly, the county could fall into chaos.

These kinds of descriptions and images that capture an international tragedy would shake the hardest of hearts to give sympathy to those suffering.

That is, if you're televangelist Pat Robertson, who couldn't pass up an opportunity to spit into the faces of the Haitians who are struggling to survive tonight.

And, you know, Kristi, something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, "We will serve you if you will get us free from the French." True story. And so, the devil said, "OK, it's a deal."

Pat Robertson should know all about making a pact with the devil. He and his non-profit outfit Operation Blessing made a similar pact with African dictator Mobuto Sese Seko during the Rwandan genocide.

Far from the media's gaze, Robertson has used the tax-exempt, nonprofit Operation Blessing as a front for his shadowy financial schemes, while exerting his influence within the GOP to cover his tracks. In 1994 he made an emotional plea on The 700 Club for cash donations to Operation Blessing to support airlifts of refugees from the Rwandan civil war to Zaire (now Congo). Reporter Bill Sizemore of The Virginian Pilot later discovered that Operation Blessing's planes were transporting diamond-mining equipment for the African Development Corporation, a Robertson-owned venture initiated with the cooperation of Zaire's then-dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.

Robertson's dealings didn't stop with Seko. The article also states that he also was in business with Lybia dictator Charles Taylor.

Absolved of his sins, Robertson dug his heels back in African soil. In 1999 he signed an $8 million agreement with Liberian tyrant Charles Taylor that guaranteed Robertson's Freedom Gold Ltd.--an offshore company registered to the same address as his Christian Broadcasting Network--mining rights in Liberia, and gave Taylor a 10 percent stake in the company. When the United States intervened in Liberia in 2003, forcing Taylor and the Al Qaeda operatives he was harboring to flee, Robertson accused President Bush of "undermining a Christian, Baptist president to bring in Muslim rebels to take over the country."

Pat Robertson's comments today are anything but compassionate, and his further business deals with Taylor and Seko are nowhere near Christian teaching. He is a charlatan of the first order, a bastard willing to step over his religion and the suffering of other people to make a buck or to push his hateful agenda. I just hope that, if there is a Hell, there is a reserved space for Pat Robertson.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Random Questions: The Sports Edition

It's a new year, and to open Jonathan's Corner for 2010, it's time for a new round of Random Questions! We're in the middle of some of the best weeks in the sports world, and already some guys are making waves - most of them for all the wrong reasons, and I'm here to call 'em out. Enjoy, and don't forget: you can comment on my questions as well.

- Even if you're joking, why would you bring a gun into an arena and pretend to threaten a teammate over gambling issues? By now, you know the tale of Washington Wizards point guard Arenas, the idiot that brought guns to the locker room, knowing that he was violating NBA rules about bringing in firearms into a stadium. Now the story gets worse: Arenas drew a handgun at his teammate, Javaris Crittenton, over gambling debts. Not only was the gun loaded with a bullet, but the guns he brought into the arena were unregistered as well. Didn't athletes learn from Plaxico Burress' mishap to not carry firearms on their person? For fuck's sake, you are a wealthy athlete, if you feel that your celebrity makes you a walking bullseye, then hire a damn bodyguard! Adding insult to injury, this jackass make a joke about his incident during a warm-up to Washington's game against the Philadelphia 76'ers in the form of mimicking his fingers for guns and pretending to shoot them. This ignorant dumbfuck deserved what he's got: an indefinite suspension without pay and a soon-to-be trial, and what he might receive - jail time.

- Why do you brag about crashing the party when you have virtually no business being there, and then saying you're hot shit, when all evidence suggests otherwise? Rex Ryan and the New York Jets are in the NFL playoffs at a record of 9-7 and are seeded fifth in the AFC postseason bracket, courtesy of coach Jim Caldwell's decision that going for 16-0 didn't mean squat to the Indianapolis Colts as a squad, and the Cincinnati Bengals shutting it down after capturing the AFC North crown and dealing with the sudden death of wide receiver Chris Henry. Most people would call that being really lucky and coming through the back door, but to coach Ryan, it means New York should be the favorite to win Super Bowl 44. Give me a break. The only reason you're in is because the Colts and the Bengals took out their starters and game 'em a freebie after both teams locked up everything they wanted. Sure, you've got the league's no.1 overall defense and the league's no.1 overall running game, but you also have Mark Sanchez. A rookie quarterback who thrown 20 int's this year - the second-most of any quarterback in football. And with the offensive firepower Indy and San Diego have, there's little chance the Jets will be able to stay stride for stride in the next round, should they get past the Bengals. Rex, your team are the underdogs. Embrace this role. Don't mouth off that you're team is swinging the biggest dick when it's really only 4 inches long.