Tuesday, September 25, 2007

No. 24: The 40 Year Old Virgin

My All Time Favorite Movies: Number 24

The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005)

Starring: Steve Carell, Catherine Keener, Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen

Not exactly the most hard to find, subtle movie on my list, The 40 Year Old Virgin may be the most sophomoric, yet consistently funny and charming romantic comedy in movie history. What starts as a simple "guy must get laid" premise, turns into a love story with a real relationship at its heart. The progression of the courtship between Steve Carell's titular geek Andy, and the always appealing Catherine Keener's Trish comes to satisfying fruition at the films (pun intended) climax.

The film is fillled with zany set pieces including a tryst with a margarita spewing barmaid, the speed dating round from hell, and the most devilishly painful 3 minutes on film, Andy's chest waxing appointment. Andy gets terrible advice from his co-workers, one a pothead, one a player, and one a man scorned, and yet Andy is the one who respects women and treats them with kindness. If foul language, graphic sex talk, and bodily fluid jokes offend, this is not the film for you. But at it's core is a heart as big as Andy's action figure collection.

Is it wrong to love this movie? It's a pure love like Andy's. More of a respect really. Steve Carell is the rare comedian who we both laugh with because of how smart he is, and yet laugh at without feeling guilty for it. An everyman who can be the charming lead romantic figure and also the Xbox playing, Asia humming, bike riding uber geek, Carell shines. From his deliciously awkward role as the world's worst boss Michael Scott on TV's The Office to roles in films such as this or the Academy award winning Little Miss Sunshine, he's on the short list of the funniest men in show business. Now he's on my list.

Monday, September 24, 2007

No 25: American Splendor

My All Time Favorite Movies: Number 25

American Splendor (2003)

Starring: Paul Giamitti and Hope Davis

A movie about living and loving life, from the point of view of one of the most misanthropic people on the planet. Real life underground comic book artist Harvey Pekar plays himself in transitional material throughout the film, while Paul Giamatti brings his hangdog-ish lovable loser persona to the fictionalized version of him. As a struggling file clerk in Cleveland who's wife leaves him after a bout with chronic sore throat rendering him speechless for months at a time, Pekar plods through life observing the ordinary, which to him, is pretty complex. Whether it's choosing a line at the grocery store, or deciding whether or not to shave, every decision Harvey makes is a difficult one. With the help of his "celebrity" friend Bob Crumb, Harvey makes himself into a comic book hero, and creates a cult comic 'American Splendor'.

When a kooky yet chronically depressed Delaware lady (Hope Davis) meets Pekar, for a makeshift date-weekend, they decide that they're perfect for each other and get married right away, though Harvey warns her, "I want to tell you right off the bat, I've had a vasectomy." The interplay between Davis and Giamatti is so real yet so funny, you'd swear they were the real Harvey and Joyce. And they probably got to study the couple pretty well, since they're in the movie too. It's a non-gimmicky thread that links all the events in Harvey's life with the real life character's that inhibit his world, and the film plays all the notes correctly, while never being to cutesy about its unique process.

That a man like, the unkempt, cranky, hostile Pekar can find love, find family, and find success sends a message to all of us. We can all be the heroes in our own lives. Thisis really the performance that catapulted Giamatti to stardom, not the more commercially successful and equally hilarious Sideways. As Harvey says, Ordinary life is pretty complex stuff. Yet wi th Giamatti, he's so natural, so real, so sympathetic in a non-sympathetic role, you forget which Harvey is the real one and which one is the actor.

American Splendor is simply one of the truest, funniest, saddest, most unique films I've ever seen and beg each and every one of you out there to rent this movie, and then share it with your friend and family. You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

My Favorite Movie List

Thanks to derek, I have decided to compile my own favorite movie list. Now since, I have probably seen more movies and have more years on him, my list is longer and was harder to compile. There were so many great movies that couldn't make my top 25. So just for right now I have some Honorable Mentions. Movies that I love for sure, but just didn't make the cut. These are the movies that if you don't love, I guess that's ok, but you're wrong.

Honorable Mentions

-21 Grams
Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, and Benicio Del Toro in a disjointed story about rebirth, new love, revenge, grief and forgiveness. It's told in a jigsaw puzzle where tenses change and scenes at the end happen in the beginning. The title has nothing to do with drugs, but the theory that when a person dies the lose 21 grams of weight. All three actors are strong, but as a criminal set straight by Jesus, Benicio Del Toro is stronger and more powerful in this, than he was in his Oscar winning turn in Traffic.

-Best in Show
Waiting for Guffman will be on my top 25, but this when is almost as good and quotable. 'What are you suggesting, my good man?' With a bigger cast than Guffman, Christopher Guest's mockumentary is hands down the best Dog Show movie ever made. Fred Willard as the clueless commentator is hilarous as is Eugene Levy as the terrier owner with two left feet. And, plus, Winky is adorable.

-Boogie Nights
Watching this movie again recently, I forgot how darkly funny, sad, engrossing, and hopeful it was. It's about a family of lost people, struggling together, which happens to be set in the porn industry in the late 1970's. Beautifully shot by P.T. Anderson with a cast that includes Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, William H. Macy, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, it's not graphic in its depiction of the adult film industry, though you definitley want to send the kids to bed before the final reel. And the eventual downfall of the characters in the final act has some of the most tension filled scenes in film history.

-Capturing the Friedmans
Just putting it on here because probably no one has ever heard of it, but this documentary MUST be seen. It's about a upper-middle class family in New York in the 1980s whose father figure and one of his sons is accused of sexual assault. What's bizarre about this is not the only the question of guilt, and the testimony of the alleged victim's, but that the family shot home movies of themselves arguing about it, so the audience really gets to see what happened in the kitchen after a court date, etc. Truly mind blowing.

One more...

Mulholland Drive
-David Lynch at his puzzling best. Naomi Watts (once again) stars as a young, naive girl coming to Hollywood to make a name for herself. There she meets a handsome producer, and a fellow starlet. Her aunt is missing, there's a murder, a car accident, lost identity, a creepy guy behind a diner, a cowboy, a phone that won't stop ringing, creepy casting types, a key, a blue box, and whole lot more of confusing stuff. Then, an hour and a half into it, reality starts. And everything you thought you were confused about, fits in somehow. One of those movies you watch, read about it, then watch again so you're sure what you just saw made sense. Plus, Watts is amazing in her first lead role.

I may have some more honorable mentions later. Then my top 25.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Little Bites

OK, I'm not gonna write a big rigamaroll (that's a word) about not posting. Whoever reads this knows my commitment level to certain things. So instead of biting off more than I can chew. I'm gonna take little bites. Nibbles, if you will.


-While attending a brunch at my Stepbrother's wedding I noticed fathers throwing their kids around a pool and the kids loving it. I realized that if this was any other venue the dad would be under suspicion for child abuse. But at a pool with 40 people around it's fine. He's throwing the kids in the pool while they scream "No. Daddy, NOOO!!!!". He's slapping them around, splashing at them. Dunking them in the pool. And no one bats an eye. If he threw his kid into a wall he'd go to jail. Here, it's just another beautiful day.

Come to the Pool! Where you can beat your kid and no one will think twice. I can just imagine a father wanting to wail on his kid at home then restraining himself saying "You think you're so tough. I'm gonna take you swimming. Then we'll see if you want to finish your vegetables, you little brat!!"

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Year End Movie Review

There have been a lot of year end lists, reviews and magazine specials recently, so I figured it was time for mine. To my records, I have seen 33 movies that were released this year. Probably not as many as my brother, who constantly reminds us that he "lives across the street from a movie theater." Thanks for the reminder. Now go enjoy that 2:30 showing of Happy Feet. So without further adieu, my top ten.

10. Thank You For Smoking

Satire is always hard to pull off, but Aaron Eckhart and the rest of the cast pull it off. Highlights include Rob Lowe and Adam Brody as a kimono-wearing movie exec and his high energy assitant.

9. Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny

I wasn't a huge D fan before I saw this movie, but it really has turned me on to their stuff. Yes it's cheaply done. Yes it has fart jokes. And yes it all works. Cameos from Amy Poehler, Dave Grohl, and Tim Robbins compliment the sheer joy that Kyle Gass and Jack Black have riffing (literally) off each other. And I'm still working on my push-up.

8. Stranger Than Fiction

Will Ferrell's transition to the Jim Carrey side of film works well his first time out. Flanked by Emma Thompson and a hilarious Dustin Hoffman conjuring the quirkyness that he first fleshed out in Wag the Dog and I Heart Huckabees, Ferrell's Harold Crick is an everyman that you end up rooting for despite his own inner torment.

7. Borat

My favorite movie of the year with an extended full nude man-on-man wrestling scene. At times cover your eyes-gape your mouth offensive, at others wipe your eyes-guffaw inducing hilarious, Sacha Baron Cohen's social statement says more about the racism and ignorance of Americans than any Spike Lee documentary could. But, people ask me, aren't you offended as a jew?? People, Cohen (duh!) is jewish. The real offensive people are the ones who can't understand his message.

6. Dreamgirls

Just give Jennifer Hudson the Oscar right now as far as I'm concerned. She gleams as Effie, the ousted backup singer diva of the titular 'Dreams'. The flaws in the film are the flaws of the stage show. Underwritten and underdeveloped, it may have been more satisfying with a four hour running time as a two part-TV movie or miniseries. Yet the production values are flawless and the performances electric. And I am telling you I'm going to see it again.

5. The Devil Wears Prada

We've seen it before. A green young kid gets met with obstacles in his/her way to becoming a professional. But the obstacle this time was a diabolical ice queen played with such pinpoint devilish glee by the master, Meryl Streep. Between guessing what meal to bring her, to the daily tongue-lashing she receives from her boss Streep and co-worker Emily Blunt, Anne Hathaway held her own and then some. Streep proves once again that she is THE top actress in America.

4. The Departed

Matt Damon. Leonardo DiCaprio. Jack Nicholson. Mark Wahlberg. Alec Baldwin. Martin Sheen. You knew it was going to be good. But it exceeded even the highest expectations anyone must've had. It was truly entertaining, engrossing, and had it just felt like you were watching a slick, intelligent crime story. Scorese gets back to his roots, Damon and DiCaprio do some of the best work of their already stellar young careers, and Alec Baldwin steals every scene that he's in. I only wished it would have as smart an ending as the rest of the film.

3. The Descent

First, I am a horror fan. I love a good, scary movie. And the best horror movies are the ones that are about real people, that don't pander to stupid teenagers, and that throw you curves here and there. A film about six people who get stuck in a cave might have been terrifying enough, but then it turns on its head halfway through as Bat Boy attacks. And though it could have devolved into a standard monster movie flick, and became more and more about man vs. man, and how people would react in pressure situations. Plus, I never was, but I will NEVER go into a cave in my lifetime.

2. Casino Royale

Daniel Craig gives the grittiest Bond performance in history in the best Bond movie ever made. In what is perhaps the best action movie since Die Hard, Casino Royale makes Bond bleed, not from his leg or his arm, but from his heart. The tango Craig engages with co-star Eva Green, is witty, warm, and real. We finally see Bond without his armor, and that makes him much more human to us. And now, we know why he is who he is. Truly a film, like Batman Begins, where I can't wait for the next one.

1. Little Miss Sunshine

Heartwarming and hilarious, this is the little picture that could. A dysfunctional family trip with sad and funny bends at every road. Led by the loserish-Tony Robbins patriarch Greg Kinnear and a surprisingly tender Steve Carell as a suicidal gay scholar, this should be required viewing for any who has thought that their family just doesn't get them. The script stays true to life while throwing the family into a few outlandish scenarios. And when they finally arrive at the Little Miss Sunshine beauty contest, it begins to really get scary. Funkilicious!!

Friday, December 22, 2006

New Schedule

So I want to get back into writing here more, but finding the time is the immense issue. I thought maybe if I set a schedule based on want I usually write about, it could be followed cause I'm such a Type A personality.




NOT!!! I mean about the type A thing, not the schedule thing. So here's the first schedule thing. Since I talk about movies a lot, I'll make Friday my movie night, and preview all the upcoming films hitting theaters each weekend. This Friday it's gonna be movie equation night. Here goes.

Matthew McCounaghey - shirtless ness

divided by

United 93 - twin towers + football team



Jumanji - Robin Williams + Ben Stiller + Robin Williams

multiplied by

A Night at the Roxbury - the Roxbury


Night at the Museum

Rocky + Rocky II + Rocky III + Rocky IV (but not Rocky V)

mutliplied by



Rocky Balboa

Syriana + Good Night and Good Luck

divided by

Ben's boyfriend and Brad's girlfriend


Brandon Ridenour


The Good Shephard

So for the weekend, if you're choosing to venture out I'd say
Best Bet: Rocky Balboa
If you've got the money: We Are Marshall
Steer Clear: Night at the Museum

and if you don't want to go out

DVD Rental of the Week: Little Miss Sunshine.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I'm baaaaack!!!


Hello?? No, no, no. Don't hang up. It's me. Me. Unky Rob. Remember?? We were friends once. I used to write to you a few times a week. I had afternoons filled with thoughts about Steven Seagal, Chick Flicks, and midgets. But then something amazing happened.

I got a job. What? Yes, a real job. Kind of.

So I'm a hall monitor at my old high school. It beats renting out The Lizzie Maguire movie to a 40 year old man. It's better than working retail or cash register or at a car wash. I think I love schools, but I hate classes. That's a problem. But now I get to punish kids who have the same problem.
Disrespect me? Detention!
In the hall without your pass? Detention.
Hitting a kid in the nuts?? Double Detention.
Ripping up the detention I give you?? Well, you're looking at a fat inschool suspension.

And when I wasn't monitoring, ahem, excuse me, SUPERVISING the halls, I was at rehearsal for Children of Eden. Molding minds. Choreographing arms. Smacking AJ in the back of the head. You know, the stuff every director does. But now that we've closed, and all know what the shape of Dwight's Linus looks like, I can continue writing with a vengance. And I'm back. Back, baby!

Don't hang up. I'm not done yet. You may want to get rid of me. You may want to make me disappear like Michael Richards career. But it ain't gonna run. I aint' scared. I will commit. I will commit again. I will recommit, if you will, to you. To the kitchen sink. And to you Mr. Seagal. God bless you.

Unky Rob