Hey all, Pip here, long time no see!

This little happy gem of a movie is brought to us by Jean-Pierre Jeunet: the genius behind everyone’s favorite Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain (or just Amelie for us). This film takes place in that same fantasy world. In fact it is so fantastical, the eye of the camera is so free, it’s closer to an animated film most of the time than anything. The story is pretty simple, and somewhat melancholy in its setup. A boy loses his father to a landmine, the army even sends a picture of the landmine with his father’s personal effects. After his mother loses her mind, he is sent off to boarding school where he escapes and we find him thirty years later miming every word to old movies and working in a video store. A miraculous accident happens and he’s shot in the head, yet survives with the bullet still lodged in there. Due to the logos of both weapons manufacturers being right there on both the landmine and the bullet casing, he one day comes across both of the companies and they happen to be right across the street from each other. So starts his journey to get revenge for his life, so shattered by both of these companies.

He finds himself adopted by the cast of this film, and each has their own unique way of helping. I could write a paragraph for each character and then some, that’s how alive everyone was. Even if they had very little screen time relative to others, each made their mark. Dany Boon and Julie Ferrier both steal the show with their leading parts. Dany plays Bazil, the simple man who is shot in the head and seeks revenge. He is simple, but not simple-minded in spite of your first impression of the man. He, after all, is the mastermind behind one of the best revenge plots I’ve seen. Do you remember the scenes in Amelie where she was sneaking into the mean vendor’s apartment trying to make him go crazy? It’s like that. Julie Ferrier is a contortionist that has a bit of a crush on Bazil, who is clueless at first of course, and wants to be a part of the plan no matter how dangerous and manly the mission. My absolute favorite part of the movie: that there was in fact a Plan B.

The bad guys were really bad, in their own legal way. At first they are just normal CEO types, but the more we get to know them, the more we get to see their true colors. Some of the scenes were very intense, Rachel almost had to hide a few times!

The film is whimsical when it wants to be, scary and serious when it wants to be, and cute as a button just about all the time. The world is what France is like in my head I think, having never been there in person. I thoroughly enjoyed everything from start to finish, and I look forward to seeing it again. I hope it gets wider distribution soon, so if it comes even within a long hike from you – I highly recommend it!

I was not ready for today… Still sick and all I wanted to do was hang out in bed and listen to the rain as I attempt to breathe. I probably should have stayed home… Not sure what I was thinking.

What is helping me get through the Monday blues? The Up In The Air Soundtrack. It is a great Soundtrack and if you have not seen the film yet, please do. I know you will not be disappointed. This is a great song from Sad Brad Smith, really the center point of the soundtrack. I kind of can’t believe it didn’t get a nod from the Academy but they have a tendency to shaft some of the good stuff (to put it nicely).

mp3:  Help Yourself

Sad Brad Smith on myspace

Up In The Air Soundtrack 2009 (Rhino)

fantastic fox

I must begin by saying that I have been waiting for this movie to come out for a LONG time. I first heard about the release about 5 years ago and I was delighted that Wes Anderson would take on such an interesting and beloved story as the Fantastic Mr. Fox. I immediately re-read the novel by Roald Dahl on a trip back East… When I found out that one of my favorite writers and directors Noah Baumbach would return to participate in the writing of the screenplay I was afraid I couldn’t wait, I was so excited! Of course with this anticipation and excitement comes great expectation… I began to get worried… How could this film live up to all my wildest dreams? Could they pull it off?

They freaking did. It was classic Wes Anderson, all the little nuances and details were so wonderful. And the writing team of Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach for me did not disappoint by any means. It was a darling novel twisted in a true Wes Anderson fashion, with a wonderful soundtrack that wrapped this film in a big giant red bow… I enjoyed every moment of this film and I cannot wait to see it again and again.

mp3:  Street Fighting ManThe Rolling Stones

Fantastic Mr. Fox Soundtrack 2009 (Abkco)

The Oscars are this evening…  I love going to see a movie… It is one of my favorite things to do aside from going to see a favorite band play live. There is something so amazing to me about making a great film, it is inspiring to know all of these people came together to create and infuse their own artistic talents into this one vision… To see it all come together up there on the big screen is really quite enjoyable. However, that being said I am not a die hard Oscar follower, but I have been known to gamble with friends on this night to see whose horse came in first. This year I have seen some but not all that are nominated, I have yet to see The Reader, Waltz of Bashir among the other Foreign Language nominations and some in the Documentary category. But tonight I thought it would be appropriate to post a couple of songs from 2 of my favorite films of 2008, both nominated in the Best Picture category.

mp3: Queen BitchDavid Bowie

MILK Soundtrack 2008 – Review HERE

(MILK directed by Gus Van Sant)

mp3: Jai HoA.R. Rahman

Slumdog Millionaire Soundtrack 2008

Slumdog Millionaire directed by Danny Boyle & Loveleen Tandan

*** The Slumdog soundtrack has some great tracks on it

The Wrestler

The Wrestler

I remember Pi and watching it the first time vividly.  When it became easy to find was right around the time I was beginning to take notice of these types of films.  It had a profound impact on me and I consider it to be one of the experiences that molded the way I watch movies.  Aronofsky followed up Pi with Requiem for a Dream, one I do not believe anyone walked away from unscathed.  I made his third film, The Fountain, my almost favorite of 2006, one most would completely disagree with me on.  Like all the small cadre of my favorite directors, I anticipate their future projects like a little boy on Christmas Eve.  Sometimes my expectations are up so high that if Jesus Christ himself walked out of the screen and sat down next to me to share popcorn I would shrug my shoulders and yawn.  It’s a curse.  I was not disappointed with The Wrestler.

Aronofsky is starting to make this look easy.  The story moves forward effortlessly through waters most other movies get bogged down in with sap and over-writing.  Watching this film was more like watching a documentary or following him around.  Much has already been written about Mr. Rourke’s performance, and I do hope he works some more and lays off the plastic surgery.  He turned the role into something you couldn’t imagine anyone else doing, not even the real guy this story was loosely based on.  Marissa Tomei has been showing off her body quite a lot lately, god bless her.  But the beautiful thing is not her courage to show off her body, but to take the parts she’s taking as the characters are complicated and anything but the damsels we’re so used to.

This is a deeply touching story about a man so far down on his luck it’s almost painful to watch.  The stuff that really stuck me was the estrangement with his daughter, something I have experienced in a way.  Even though the man is alone, broken and a pauper, he does what he knows in his soul he was put on this earth to do.  In spite of everything, getting to the end will make you smile with a sigh.

I’ve been wholly neglectful of my reviews, and for that I apologize.  Reading a film review so far late in the game doesn’t really help most people out there.  I only hope maybe those that don’t see these in theaters will catch them on DVD in the near future.  My first review, well both of them really, is fairly difficult as it needs a preface of sorts.  I always try to take a movie on what it gives the audience.  I try not to get wrapped up with outside forces or current events or how well it adapted a book I’ve read.  I’m doing the same to these following reviews however much I might want to get up on my soapbox.



I love Gus Van Sant of course.  He has this relaxed air about his films, the actors are definitely king on his set.  This much is most likely obvious to even the average movie-goer.  I discovered him without realizing who it was when I watched My Own Private Idaho, and of course again with Good Will Hunting.  I was even along for the ride with the brilliant, yet difficult to watch, ‘death trilogy’.  So, like all my favorite directors, when I realized he was going to direct my favorite asshole Mr. Penn, I was quite titillated.

I say Sean Penn is my favorite asshole because he is a gigantic asshole.  Have you seen him in interviews?  It’s actually funny.  Damnit the man can act, though.  I really don’t know anyone else that changes so much from role to role.  This is the same guy that was in Dead Man Walking and Fast Times at Ridgemont High?  As I said, the actor is king on Van Sant’s set, Penn is not the only that flourishes.  Each and every one of the guys on screen so exuded the time and place, not to mention their character as a real life human being.  I think aside from Milk himself, James Franco’s Scott Smith I felt the most connection with.  Their relationship on screen was almost heartbreaking to see unfold, but the love between them was palpable which is something difficult when working with a beautiful member of the opposite sex let alone… well Franco is pretty damn hot.  As method actors, were they gay during shooting?  Am I gay?

Similar to the Titanic, I knew how this one was going to end.  I didn’t mind, though.  I really enjoyed getting to know Harvey Milk.  I’m sorry to see that his battle was only the tip of the beginning, but what a beginning.  This story, like other great men or women that changed history, show us how powerful we really are as individuals.  We are truly greater than anything anyone else believes us to be, including the government of our local municipality, city, county, state and country.  Harvey Milk is a hero in my book and definitely deserved to have his story told in the medium of the day.  See it if, especially if man-flesh bothers you.


The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Damn you David Fincher.  He’s the director for the uninitiated.  Damn you for getting so much right.  Damn you Brad Pitt.  He’s the old guy that ages backward.  Damn you for getting everything right.

I’m upset because I walked out of the film knowing I had enjoyed it, knowing I had attached myself to the characters, knowing I might have learned something, but also knowing it wasn’t quite as good as it thought it was.  Let me start by saying it’s a seamless film, wonderfully executed by all parties.  The script was smart, if a bit heavy, and didn’t take the audience for granted.  It was long, but I didn’t really feel it.  It had all these things going for it, so why didn’t I adoringly, unabashedly and other words that end in -ly love the dickens out of this?

The answer is: I’m not sure.  It’s much like the infamous line, I love you, but I’m not in love with you.  I think I would see this again, just to marvel at the many things I did love about it.  The craft of the film is something to behold.  And there were many sequences and people he meets that I did adoringly love.  I think the closest thing I can compare it to I mentioned earlier – Titanic.  All the parts are there: great crew, great cast, great story… but where is Titanic now?  It’s a statistic unfortunately, forgotten.  This is a really good film, and should be seen, but it will be forgotten and that is why I damn… that is why…

It’s pronounced sin-NECK-doh-key.  Say it fast and you got it.  Don’t let some punk kid at the box office correct you condescendingly as if he’s used the word in conversation the last decade.  The great Charlie Kaufman, who is responsible for this, is also responsible for some of the most outrageous and inspiring scripts made in mainstream Hollywood.  If you go down the list, he’s literally never taken a misstep tying his material with the proper director.  He’s been blessed with Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry and of course George Clooney as directors.

I walked out of this complete and total mindfuck not really knowing which way as up, let alone if I liked it or not.  I knew I had seen something stunning, but I wasn’t sure if Kaufman was making fun of me or bowled me over with a work of such staggering genius my poor mind trembled before him.  You see, this film is his directorial debut and he flexed that power as if he’s been doing this his life entire. He not only created a total world of fantasy while retaining reality, but he also created a world for his actors to live in and poop in.

The damn film was just so blazingly sad and depressing and winding in upon itself with time going by decades per cut and confusing and like a Chimera that had the penis and vagina fused together locked eternally in a staring contest.  I can almost compare it to an extremely well done and high budget student film that’s more like visual poetry than anything.  Yes there is a cohesive story, but the line between reality and the main character’s fantasy was so blurry it might as well have been a part of the scenery.

I’m rambling on purpose, brevity being the soul of wit and method to the madness and all that.  I recommend two types of people to see this film: those that are snooty and would see such a film anyway and those that are curious about a car accident on the freeway.  You see, I’m so confused about this masterful work of art that I really do need to let it stew some more… catch it on the flip side in the comfort of my living room… throw back a beer and let it happen.

Maybe I’ll write a real review then.

P.S. Hoffman was a god yet again.


Rachel here: The soundtrack was written by the genius Jon Brion, music which sounds inspired from a smokey jazz club with a pinch of class. Little Person, sung by jazz vocalist Deanna Storey and I must add that Ms. Storey is quite the mysterious one… I found her old CD Baby bio and a very sparse IMDb page… Quite elusive indeed.  Little Person is just a wonderfully sad but beautifully touching song.  An absolute perfect marriage of music and film.

mp3: Little Person

Synedoche, New York 2008 (Lakeshore Records)

Album available digitally at Amazon

I want you to see this film, but I need you to do some heavy lifting training first because Changeling requires it.  If you go into this one out of shape, you’re going to sprain something that much I can guaranty.  Most of us know the story by now.  This Clint Eastwood helmed feature is a true story about a woman that lost her boy under mysterious circumstances.  Calling on the LAPD to help was apparently her mistake, as the corruption and brutality she faces thanks to that department in the late 1920’s is truly a rage-inducing experience.

I give Jolie a hard time in most cases.  She’s basically insane and her lips are crazy huge.  She plays two characters really well: the bitch and the insane bitch.  What she has done in this film, I really do have to give her credit for.  Not only did she break out of her bitch (although it was appropriately channeled at certain points), but as an audience member I felt her pain as if she was my own mother.

Clint Eastwood is an amazing director.  He effortlessly puts together a story that could easily feel like the History Channel, and gives us a film so gripping the two hours and twenty minutes flew by without being noticed.  There are some amazing stories of human spirit and the pursuit of justice melded into the main arc.  I went into this ignorant of the story as it happened and I was shocked and, well pissed off as it unfolded before me.  Honestly I want to go back in time and start punching LAPD officers in the face.

By the end of the film, one that I will not dream of ruining, you cannot help but hope that what Christine Collins went through happened for a reason.  As Rev. Gustav Briegleb says in the film, “..the Lord works in mysterious ways…”


Filed Under Film Box | 4 Comments


I was a little hesitant to see this movie because of my utter disdain for Bush… It is Oliver Stone though so I thought I owed it to him to give it a chance. The movie itself was good, well done, most of the characters seemed right on, although I had some problems with the Actress who played Condoleezza Rice… I mean Rice is definitely Bush’s puppet but she isn’t stupid and the character just seemed dumb to me. (That may have been more of a glitch in the writing though, not sure) 

It seemed a half hour too long, which is pretty characteristic of Stone’s films and I left the theatre feeling the same as I did when I walked into the theatre, which was disgust for the entire administration and the complete mess they have made of this country and the American name.

Howdie folks, Pip here.

My sister Tara found a cool quiz and sent it our way in which you have to guess the film by a single letter from the ‘one-sheet’ teaser poster of said film.  Some of them were really easy, others I couldn’t come close to figuring out.  See if you can beat my try of 23 correct without cheating!  QUIZ

Not only do I love films, but I love the behind-the-scenes action too.  I’m not talking about who Brad Pitt is shacked up with, I’m talking about knowing a funny story as told by the key grip on Lord of the Rings unit 14.  In fact I think I love the that stuff as much as the films themselves.  I have been known to see a film I love more than ten times, memorizing every last detail, but most surprising to some is the fact that I watch the fly on the wall docs that are on disc 2 of the special editions more than once too.  I’ll even go so far as to show friends what I think are particularly funny parts of a commentary track.  I have dreams of one day owning a rare collectable one-sheet and original film print collection.

When I tell you that a new Art House Theatre was just remodeled and had a grand re-opening literally two blocks away from my place, you’ll understand when I tell you that I was mind-bogglingly excited.  The place is really nice, too – and should be after one million dollars in renovations!  I went to go see a really cool doc the other day called “Man On Wire” which I will post a review up this weekend.  Already I plan on going back for every single release our neighborhood theater shows.  For all those lucky enough to have a local (or semi-local) art theater, show your support by going there as much as possible instead of the fancy multiplex.

Off of the soap box for me, let me know how you do on the quiz!

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