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Archive for the ‘movies’ Category

Soundtrack To Get You Going At Work

Posted by The Gimcracker on January 5, 2009
Posted under movies, music

I need to be inspired to be productive. There is no intrinsic desire within me to work, trust me. There are lots of things that can inspire me to work, most of them having to do with music. We all have playlists of our favorite songs to get us motivated to work, hype us up for sports, or prepare us to party on a Friday night.

There are a lot of good songs out there to listen to for any number of reasons. But there is nothing like a good film score to motivate you. I’ve got plenty of soundtracks queued up in iTunes for just such occasions, and I tap my film score playlist up to 2-3 times per week.

I was able to find YouTube videos of some of the best soundtrack samples in my playlist. If you’re dragging your feet at work and have absolutely no inspiration, I want you to listen to the following 5 audio clips. This isn’t a list of “greatest film scores of all time” because it digs one level deeper and presents to you a specific part of each soundtrack that has particularly inspired me over the years.

This first one is meant to awaken your all-but-forgotten imagination and get the blood flowing to your creative side.

The Mummy End Credits by Jerry Goldsmith (The Mummy)

Now that you’re feeling a bit magical, I’ll turn it up a notch with arguably the best single part of the entire Star Wars film score catalog (it’s possible that I will be murdered for saying that).

Throne Room by John Williams (Star Wars: Episode IV)

I make no guarantees that your head will not explode by listening to this next one directly after listening to that last one.

Batman Main Theme by Danny Elfman (Batman)

You will find that as you listen to this one, something will happen to you. You will either A) complete any and all outstanding projects you’re currently working on or B) join the army.

Leave No Man Behind by Hans Zimmer (Black Hawk Down)

We’re coming to the last song on the list, and I must present you with an apology right off the bat. You will listen to this and then it will end and then you will look around and the world will be so dull that you will regret ever having come to my blog, and for that I’m sorry. It will be like a blind person gaining sight for 2 minutes and 53 seconds and then being struck with blindness again.

Charging Fort Wagner by James Horner (Glory)

P.S. I think they play that last one on the loudspeakers as you ascend into heaven.

5 Annoying Comedy Character Clichés

Posted by The Gimcracker on September 19, 2008
Posted under gimcrackery, movies, stupidity, top fivers

There’s nothing worse than a cliché. They were obviously invented for a good reason. Sometimes you don’t feel like explaining something the old-fashioned way, such as using logic and meaningful words, so it’s easier to just use a cliché.

The problem is people use clichés much too frequently, causing them to A) lose their poignancy and B) get really annoying. Even the word cliché has become a cliché, which has caused a recursive lapse in the time-space continuum - similar to what would happen if you were to make two mirrors reflect each other. Thank goodness no one has ever tried that.

Even more annoying than clichéd words and phrases are film elements, such as plot lines, endings, actors, and characters. Today we will focus on the latter.

On a side note, the price of movie tickets has gotten really, really, ridiculously out of control. Why are we complaining about gas prices? It costs just as much to take your date to a movie as it does to buy the dang DVD. And popcorn I think is up to about 39¢ a kernel.

Focus. These are the top 5 most annoying character clichés in comedy films.

Read the rest of this entry »

Why Do People Hate Titanic?

Posted by The Gimcracker on August 12, 2008
Posted under movies, theory

Pop Aversion Theory™

That’s why.

Let me tell you about a new theory that is blowing the minds of scientists and philosophizers ’round the globe. It’s called Pop Aversion Theory™ (PAT™) and it was discovered by the same great mind that brought us Reference Burst Theory™. Mine.

I recently took a movie compatibility quiz on Facebook because I was sick of getting requests from friends to see if we had the same taste in movies. As an aside, I can already tell you we aren’t going to have the same taste in movies if one of your favorite “films” is Pirates of the Caribbean, which sadly includes more than one of my Facebook friends.

While taking the quiz I noticed the first film I was supposed to rate was Titanic, and I proceeded to rate it 5 out of 5 stars without thinking twice. It wasn’t until after I finished the quiz, while I was reviewing my friends’ results, that I found out I’m in a very small minority of Titanic-lovers. I thought this was strange because I remember everyone liking it when it first came out. In fact, after reviewing 25 of my friends’ results (50% male, 50% female), I noticed there was only one person who rated Titanic above 3 stars besides me.

What’s infinitely more disturbing is that there was only one person who rated Pirates of the Caribbean BELOW 3 stars.


WHAT THE F**K??!!!??

About every other Tuesday or so, it seems, something happens that makes me lose faith in humanity. This is one of those Tuesdays.

So, what unstoppable force of nature is causing the immovable object of bad opinion to favor the superficial shiny-but-empty summer blockbuster Pirates over the truly epic and one-of-a-kind love/drama that is Titanic? I have discovered that it actually doesn’t have much to do with the quality of film-making present in either film, believe it or not.

I know all of this because in my research I’ve performed a few experiments. I make it a point to mentally record the reactions people have when the movie Titanic comes up. Most of the time it is just a dismissing grunt or sound that indicates the film is much too trivial to take up any of their time talking about. That’s when I usually hit them with it. After ensuring I am in fact in the presence of a Titanic-hater, I proceed to tell them “Oh I thought it was great. It’s one of my favorite movies.” Usually this statement is met with shock and awe. How could I, a 26 year old football-watching beer-drinking chest-hair-having manly manly guy speak such blasphemy? It’s almost as if I just told them The Hills is my favorite TV show.

Compare that to another experiment I do with the opposite angle but the same outcome. I have specifically singled out Pirates of the Caribbean, not because I mean to pick on the film (it’s directed by the same guy that directed The Weatherman - one of my favorite movies), but because it’s such a good example of a film that people just inherently think they’re supposed to like without actually evaluating. When this movie comes up in conversation, most people claim to at least like it, if not love it, and after hearing that I do not share their sentiment, go through the same shock and awe as experiment #1.

Here comes the proof. When we get down to the heart of the matter, which happens when I ask these people why they loved Pirates and hated Titanic, we finally see the effects of PAT™ hard at work and can prove it’s existence. Here are common explanations I’ve heard for the “greatness” of Pirates:

“Johnny Depp.”
“Orlando Bloom.”
“Kiera Knightly.”
“The ride at Disney World is sweet!”
“It’s awesome.”
“The FX are stunning.”
“It’s such a fun movie!”
“Johnny Depp.”
“How can you not like it?”
“Johnny Depp’s face and body.”

Which one of those explanations should be the basis for rating a movie 5 out of 5 stars? If just once someone would describe it using phrases like “amazing acting”, “awesome plot”, “so realistic”, “unlike any other movie”, “invokes strong emotion”, or “has David Bowie in the cast” I would shut up and publicly discredit my precious PAT™.

Conversely, here are some common explanations for the popular aversion to Titanic:

“Played out.”
“Girl movie.”
“Some people saw it 17 times at the theaters. That’s sick.”
“Just a love story.”
“Way too long.”
“Just a sad excuse for a really long love story.”
“I hate Leonardo DiCaprio.”
“Most of it is boring.”
“It has that stupid Celine Dion song in it.”
“It’s way way way too long.”

First of all, none of these responses warrant a 1 star rating. If you think about it, you can use some of these same phrases to describe universally-hailed films such as Braveheart, The Departed, and The Green Mile. I have yet to hear a concrete example of why Titanic is such a bad film.

And now we come to it. The reason I’ve not heard a concrete example is because the reason is not consciously known to the person with the opinion, and consequently can’t be put into words. The reason is that people were so bombarded by how insanely popular Titanic was - how mainstream it became, how much money it made (highest grossing film of all time), how much girls loved it, how it spawned a sappy #1 radio hit - that they decided they hated it, not because it was a bad movie, but because everyone else loved it so much. Pop Aversion Theory™ at it’s finest.

Titanic made more money by a LONG shot than any other movie in history. That means A LOT of people REALLY liked it. What happened to all these people? The film did well with critics, too - although even critics are not immune to PAT™. The reason they tend to get it right more often than the rest of us (in general) is because they usually submit their reviews before the film is released, and therefore before the public has had a chance to create the aversion needed to spawn a PAT™ attack.

You don’t have to like Titanic. I’m sure you are going to spout off your much more sophisticated reasons for not liking Titanic in the comments. I, however, do love Titanic, despite the sour taste its “titanic” popularity left in my mouth, because of the acting (superb cast), the realism, the immense scope, the one-of-a-kind nature, the director (Terminator series), the cinematography & visually-immersing style, the story, the FX, the music (James Horner’s soundtrack is beautifully haunting), and the emotions it evoked in me (dread, love, sadness, terror) - I was on the edge of my seat for the entire last hour and a half of the movie.

The moral of the story is, make your own opinions. If you hated Titanic that’s perfectly fine, I just hope you can support your opinion with good examples.

More examples of things affected by PAT™ are Coldplay, The Matrix 2 & 3, Survivor, Dave Matthews Band, and American Idol. Believe it or not, I’ve talked to a number of people that haven’t even seen Survivor or listened to Dave and yet have somehow developed an immense hatred for them. I know I’m missing some really good examples that I had previously thought of, but my mind just went blank.

One more thing. I have cleverly phrased my new theory in a manner that will make its acronym form easy to remember. It obviously has a very bad connotation - you do not want to be associated with PAT™. You also don’t want to be associated with the New England Patriots. If you are a PATs fan, you probably also fall victim to the allure of PAT™ quite often because you obviously have a small brain. PAT™ = Pats.

The Dark Knight

Posted by The Gimcracker on July 21, 2008
Posted under beratings, movies

It stars an unlikely actor as “The Joker” who’s accidental death came just before filming was to wrap up. It’s a 2.5+ hour comic book movie spawned from the same franchise that contains filth like Batman & Robin. It had to compete with such summer action blockbusters as Wanted, Hellboy II, and Hancock.

It shattered 5 box office records, including highest-grossing opening weekend evAr.

It also received an astounding 94% on the Tomatometer. But are these reviewers just caught up in the current of such a huge film? Are they succumbing to the hype? Are they giving it good reviews just to honor the late Heath Ledger?

No. It was that good.

The Good

I want to see it again. That’s a good thing because it means the movie was full of so much plot that it was hard to take it all in the first time. In that respect, it was sort of like a Scorsese flick. I was so interested in all the characters that I forgot The Reason I was seeing it: Heath Ledger portraying The Joker. Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Gary Oldman are very good actors. Christian Bale is fitting as Bruce Wayne. Newcomers Aaron Eckhart and Maggie Gyllenhaal just build up the list of amazing actors. And for a second there I almost forgot that I had not seen the main star of the film yet.

Then he came on screen. Everyone in the audience got chills. People audibly reacted to his first scene. It’s the first time I’ve ever witnessed such a thing, and I found myself reacting the same way. It was impossible not to. It is some of the best acting that’s ever been done.

Every little detail of the Joker was interesting. The way he talked, his mannerisms, his walk, his facial expressions - sheer joys to behold. I’ll be honest, the rest of the movie could have been terrible and I still would have liked it. It could have been the plot of Indiana Jones 4, Angelina Jolie as the entire cast, the soundtrack of A Knight’s Tale, and directed by the guy who directed Serving Sarah, and as long as it had Heath Ledger as The Joker I would love it.

Hell, it could have been a made-for-TV autobiography of Angelina Jolie starring Angelina Jolie, directed by Angelina Jolie, produced by a homeless kid, with a soundtrack composed entirely of Angelina Jolie belching the theme song to Friends, in Arabic with Chinese subtitles, with every scene containing either A) Angelina Jolie talking about how rich and beautiful she is or B) Angelina Jolie just staring into the camera with that “I’ve got one eyebrow raised and a smug grin on my face signifying that I can totally kick anyone’s ass (except not in real life because I only weigh 80 pounds)” look in her eyes, and as long as that movie contained one sentence spoken by Heath Ledger as The Joker I would give it a 10 out of 10.

I hate Angelina Jolie.

The great thing about The Dark Knight is that even if you were to remove Heath Ledger as The Joker it would still be a great movie. Since this review is being written so close to opening weekend, I’ll try not to give any spoilers here. Basically, we are immersed in the mob scene of Chicago - I mean Gotham City - throughout most of the movie. There are multiple villains, which is an element that I always look for in a well-made “good vs. evil” type film, and some of them develop right before our eyes.

The “City vs. Hero” aspect, where the once grateful population is quick to turn on its masked savior, is also present, as it is in most other comic book movies, but it is done to a greater depth in The Dark Knight. There is also an unpredictable love triangle involving Bruce Wayne - at least I was thrown off by its outcome.

There is a lot of good to say here. You’ve probably read most of it in the myriad of other reviews out there, so I’ll spare you the trouble.

The Bad

It is a very good movie, but it is not a perfect movie. The Dark Knight is an awesome movie. Wall-E is a perfect movie. There are three main reasons The Dark Knight couldn’t make the leap to perfect.

1) Pace. The film seemed to move around erratically. I like the fact that you never know when it’s going to end and it keeps you guessing as to whether or not there is still another predicament around the corner or it’s truly about to end. But I don’t like how some scenes were just thrown in there. There was a scene where cops are standing on the roof by the bat signal waiting for Batman, which was confusing to me. It was almost like we were seeing a scene in a montage outside of the montage it belongs in. Some of the other scenes just ended too quickly and I found myself trying to figure out if an hour or a month had gone by since the last scene. Especially during the part of the movie when Harvey Dent makes his transformation.

2) Unbelief. While The Dark Knight is much more believable than say, Spider Man, it still couldn’t quite get away from the outlandishness that just gets under my skin in these types of movies. For instance, it isn’t even close to possible for anyone to pull off the giant wall-o’-sonar-cell-phones that gets relayed to the eyes in Batman’s suit and lets him see anything anywhere. He could even see into rooms where there were definitely no cell phones. How was this possible?

Falling 100 stories onto a car with a half-broken hang glider (bat wing) while holding someone in your arms would instantly kill both of you. There’s no question about it.

You can’t reassemble a fingerprint by replicating the ballistics that were used on the crime scene, analyzing how the bullet would’ve shattered, and then reverse-engineering the outcome. You just can’t.

Harvey Dent’s burnt face was cool looking but ludicrous. First of all, why didn’t his eye get the slightest bit burned along with every single fiber of his skin? Second of all, where is the infection? The bleeding? The skin trying to regrow? I’m not a doctor, but I know this was just a silly excuse to go crazy with some slick CGI. And don’t tell me “it was cauterized”. There were freaking chasms in the guy’s face. Cauterization doesn’t result in that. Why would he refuse pain killers and skin grafts? How could anyone stand this type of pain? How could anyone even function at all? This was totally ridiculous and I just couldn’t look past it.

3) Not enough Batman. Isn’t this a Batman series? Why was 90% of the movie devoid of Bruce Wayne and/or Batman? Don’t get me wrong - I loved the content - I’m just pointing out that it veered a bit from what it was supposed to be. I needed to see more about the guy that the series is supposed to be centered around. The movie would’ve been better titled “Chicago a.k.a. Gotham City And It’s Inhabitants And Comings And Goings And Whatnot”.

The Beratings

Acting - No beratings. Some of the best I’ve seen in a long time.

Plot - No beratings. It was so interesting I need to see it again just to catch it all.

Inconsistencies - 1 berating.
We have this character, Harvey Dent, who is a do-good DA who fights for Gotham, stands up for what he believes, and sacrifices himself to take the fall as Batman. Then he sustains an injury, loses the girl he loves (through no fault of the authorities I might add), and somehow becomes a villainous, murdering, super pain-tolerating evil man overnight. They never explained this one to me.

Unbelievable Events - 1 berating.
Not as bad as Spider Man, but still unbelievable enough at times to be distracting. If I get distracted, I start berating - it doesn’t matter the category or the movie.

Schematics - No beratings.

2/10 Beratings = See it at full price

0/10 Stand in line for the very first showing
1/10 See it the first weekend
>> 2/10 See it at full price
3/10 See it at the Five-Buck-Club
4/10 See it at the dollar-fifty
5/10 See it OnDemand
6/10 Rent it from Blockbuster
7/10 Watch it on TV
8/10 Watch it purely for spousal points
9/10 Never watch it
10/10 Buy it and publicly destroy it

Katy Perry Looks Like Zooey Deschanel

Posted by The Gimcracker on July 7, 2008
Posted under movies, music

I’m astounded at how much these two broads look alike. In case you don’t know who they are, Katy Perry is this girl. She is a 23 year old pop singer with the current top 40 hit entitled “I Kissed a Girl”. Zooey Deschanel is this girl. She is a 28 year old actress who was in Elf and, most recently, The Happening.

STOP! DO NOT go look up pictures of them. Stick with the images contained in the links above, because otherwise you might come across the pictures in my post and ruin the whole game. And don’t click “see all photos” on Zooey’s IMDB page. Just use the pictures on the front page for reference.

We’re going to play a little game called “Katy or Zooey?” This may seem like a pretty dumb “Perez-Hilton”-esque post, but I am just taken aback by how much they physically resemble each other. You will be too.

Here’s how to play. Study the pair of pictures and determine which one is Katy and which one is Zooey. If you are struggling, just remember the clues you know thus far:

  • One’s an actress and one’s a musician
  • One’s 4 1/2 years older than the other one

I don’t know how those will help you at all. The Answer key is in the comments so you don’t accidentally scroll down and see them in the post.

The first three are warm-ups to get the blood pumping to your fusiform gyrus. Difficulty level increases at number 4.









OK, got your answers? Are you sure? I have more than likely tricked you at least once. Did I alternate who is first on each pair? Did I make them all the same order? Did I put two pictures of the same girl together? Is this really all just one person? See the comments for the real answers.