Thursday, September 26, 2013

Top Ten Guilty Pleasures

It took me a while to commit to this post. I go back and forth with guilty pleasures. I will admit I can be very opinionated about films and I do usually judge a person by their taste in cinema. However, everyone is entitled to enjoy whatever films they choose. There is no write or wrong opinion. I don’t think anyone should really feel guilty or embarrassed for genuinely enjoying a film, unless of course it’s the nĂ¼ STAR WARS trilogy. By “guilty pleasure” standards, there are a few films I like that could fall into that category. As hard as it is to believe, I don’t always watch Palme D’ Or winners or Academy nominated features. Let me share a few of my guilty pleasures. Maybe it will inspire you to share yours and we can do away with this negative connotation assigned to “guilty pleasure” films. In no particular order:

What can I say; I am a crazy dog lady. You know how some people will stop a mother with a stroller on the street to coo & ahh at their baby? I am just like that with dogs. As a result, I’m a sucker for any movie with a dog in it. I suffered through DUE DATE simply because I loved the adorable Frenchie in it. I actually really enjoyed SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS, but the cute Pomeranian made it all the more enjoyable. HOTEL FOR DOGS really got me. It’s a heartwarming story about a few kids who create a home for stray dogs. How can you not love that? And it has a pug! By the way, I own this film on Blu Ray.

I generally despise remakes, but I’m guilty of enjoying this one. I actually really like the original Vincent Price film. It was spooky and suspenseful without ever showing any gore as opposed to most horror films that are made today. I admit this is not a very good film and the ending leaves something to be desired. Nonetheless, my favorite aspect about it is the cast. There’s a cameo by the RE-ANIMATOR himself, Jeffrey Combs and everyone’s favorite vampire, James Marsters. The script is pretty weak, but the visual effects are really entertaining. I have resisted purchasing this film because I’m afraid to own up to it. I guess I just did.

I watched this film in the theater when I was just a kid with my sister. I thought it was the funniest thing I’d ever seen. You must admit it is a pretty good cast with Eddie Murphy, David Allen Grier, and Martin Lawrence. I guess it reminds me of the days of In Living Color. I have liked Robin Givens since her Head of the Class days. Also, coming of age at this time granted me an affinity for early 90s R&B which this soundtrack is riddled with. I’m really dating myself simply by the inclusion of this film.

It took me a couple years to watch this film. It’s not necessarily the type of film that peaks my interest, although I do have a great amount of respect for Gus Van Sant. It came to me highly recommended from someone who knows my taste. I hated to admit that I actually enjoyed it. Again, this is a pretty brilliant cast even despite Minnie Driver. It was also one of the first dramatic roles I ever saw Robin Williams in. He did a fantastic job and his Oscar was well deserved. GOOD WILL HUNTING also shows what great writers Damon & Affleck are. This film also taught me not to always make assumptions about a film.

I’m not crazy about comedies, but when they parody my favorite decade (1980s) I’m in. Like every other girl my age, I fell in love with John Cusack long ago, or should I say I fell in love with Lloyd Dobler. I was shocked that he even agreed to appear in a film like this. He seems a little embittered by his former heartthrob status. I love every reference and every single song from this film. I loved this film so much I saw it twice in the theater. Both times I was in tears laughing at Rob Corddry’s epic version of “Home Sweet Home.” This film is so much fun and I couldn’t be more excited for the sequel.

Lots of people reference this film and have never even seen it. It’s become a thing to cite “Electric Boogaloo.” I was completely mesmerized by this film as a child. I wanted to know exactly how the hell Turbo could dance on the ceiling. Turns out they used the same rotating room from A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. They just don’t make films like this anymore. The type of feel good, community coming together, everyone wins in the end, type of film. BREAKIN 2 was way ahead of its time by showcasing interracial dating. It also highlighted a young edgy rapper long before he became Detective Fin Tutuola. BREAKIN 2 has a great soundtrack, awesome dance sequences, and incredible montages. How can you not love this film?

For the most part, I despise animated feature films (with the exception of certain Japanese films). It used to make me feel really uneasy. Disney movies were the worst. Those early Disney films were pretty disturbing for a kid to watch. I have no problem with children’s cartoons, but I can’t bear to watch the films. I think the last Disney film I saw was THE LION KING. I happen to be at a friend’s house when his Disney obsessed little sister was watching RATATOUILLE. It caught my attention because I think rats are kind of cute (I slept with a Chuck E Cheese doll longer than I wish to admit). I found myself actually enjoying it. No one’s parents die, no animals die a horrible death, and there are no dancing hippos in tutus. If all Disney films were like this, I might actually give them a chance.

I’m conflicted over whether or not this is actually a guilty pleasure because it’s such a fantastic film. It made my “All Time Favorite Comedies” list. It has Academy nominated actor, John C. Reilly and the adorable Adam Scott. I am willing to debate anyone who disapproves of this film!

This film holds a lot of sentimental value for me. It was actually filmed in the quaint coastal town I lived in when I was a kid. It’s great to watch it now and see all the things I loved about Corpus Christi like Padre Staples Mall and Ocean Drive. The film itself is pretty corny, but endearing. However, I applaud anything that promotes strong women. Although, it does come off very “Afterschool Special,” THE LEGEND OF BILLIE JEAN’s moral is to stand up for yourself. There are lots of interesting casting choices too like Lisa Simpson and Supergirl. This was also the film debut of Christian Slater who went on to become the bane of existence for every Jack Nicholson fan.

Yes, I actually enjoy CALIGULA and not in an ironic way. I’m incredibly fascinated by ancient Roman history. Granted CALIGULA is not necessarily historically accurate, but it’s still a fun movie to watch. This film is a no holds barred depiction of one (perverted) man’s vision. Of course it’s filled with misogynistic tones, but the Roman Empire kind of invented misogyny. This is also an amazing cast of legendary actors like Peter O’Toole, Dame Helen Mirren, and the incomparable Malcolm McDowell. It’s ironic that the no name, Penthouse Pet turned actress was the one who sued Bob Guccione because the film’s hardcore sex scenes “tarnished her career/reputation.” You don’t see Dame Helen bitching about it; in fact she appears in interviews for the special edition DVD set (which I own). I think CALIGULA was ahead of it’s time. Nowadays it’s compared to films like SHOWGIRLS. It takes a certain personality to appreciate the tongue in check concept this film exudes. You either love it or you hate it.


I’m not guilty or embarrassed for enjoying HUMAN CENTIPEDE because it’s an awesome film. Again, it’s not the type of film that is for everyone. Director, Tom Six has a great appreciation for horror films and I really admire his “no rules” approach to filmmaking. He actually makes it fun. I’m also glad that we can make films like this today and that there’s an audience for it. Roger Ebert refused to assign a star rating for CENTIPEDE. He simply stated,
"[The film] is what it is and occupies a world where the stars don't shine."
I think that review is 100% medically accurate.

I felt it unnecessary to include John Hughes or Cameron Crowe films simply because everyone who grew up in that era loves those films and they should not be considered guilty pleasures. They’re just rite of passage films for a certain age group. Now you guys know all my secrets. Care to share any of yours?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I'm Batman

Well, the Internet erupted a couple weeks ago when it was announced that Ben Affleck would play Batman in the sequel to Zack Snyder’s MAN OF STEEL. Now that the dust has settled a bit and our emotions are not so tense, let’s discuss this like mature adults.

First, I’d like to make known that I have not seen MAN OF STEEL nor do I intend to (thanks D. Beth for the engaging review). I have seen enough of Snyder’s work to have no appreciation for it. His style is glitzy and over the top with not a lot of substance. Snyder is like a bad Pinterest project where everything looks nice, but it’s all completely pointless. I won’t inundate you with a longwinded rant about how he ruined a truly classic & flawless film, DAWN OF THE DEAD; or how WATCHMEN was less than watchable. Feel free to disagree, but for me Snyder exists in the same category as Brett Ratner and Uwe Boll.

The other huge turn off for me regarding MAN OF STEEL is all the religious themes that exist within the script. Writer, David S. Goyer has openly discussed the intentional parallels between Superman and Christ even so far as referencing the Book of Exodus in the Old Testament. Personally, I like god and religion left out of my comic books. You can save that shit for The Da Vinci Code because I will have no part of it.

Back to the subjects at hand, which are Batman and Ben Affleck. Ben Affleck is without a doubt incredibly talented. I would argue that his writing and directing are far superior to his acting, but I digress. Affleck has come a long way from his days in ARMAGEDDON and REINDEER GAMES. He built a respectable reputation in Hollywood and even picked up another Oscar along the way. This entire Batman uproar just goes to show that after all that hard work, you can still be reduced to, “the guy from GILGI.”

I’ll be the first to admit that comic book fans are rabid and unforgivingly harsh at times. I know I am! You must understand how important these characters are to people. They are apart of people’s lives and within that exists a history unlike any other. It’s not uncommon to get emotionally invested in a series after following it for several years or even decades. The fans only want to see their beloved character portrayed as best as possible. I understand that this leaves expectations that might be too high, but that’s just the curl of the burl.

As much respect for Affleck as I have, I think he is totally wrong for Batman. I don’t think he has the complexity and strength that this character needs. Anyone can train relentlessly for nine months to bulk up for a role, but not everyone can portray such a psychologically intricate role. Affleck has perfected the “ordinary guy from a working class neighborhood in Boston” act. It’s not even an act, it’s just who he is. What he’s not is the brooding Bruce Wayne with wavering emotions who’s lived a life of privilege. Also, there should be a rule against playing Daredevil and Batman in the same lifetime.

I really wish Hollywood would pay a little more attention to fans and what they want out of these films. Let’s be honest, the fans can make or break you. I was worshipping Joss Whedon long ago, but his success with THE AVENGERS has catapulted him into another universe (no pun intended). On the other hand look how panned films like GHOSTRIDER and THE FANTASTIC FOUR became. Many fans petitioned to have Nathan Fillion portray the Green Lantern, but Hollywood went with Ryan Reynolds. Look how that turned out for them.

Anyhow, I have made of list of actors I think could make a great Batman with the right direction. This list is in ascending order and is subject to change. Feel free to make your own suggestions.


Let’s face it; Angel invented the dark brooding role. I recently thought about the striking similarities between Angel and Batman. Both are primarily nocturnal, lonely, and conflicted. They both are champions of those in need of saving. My only issue with Angel is that he might be slightly older than the ideal Batman. After contemplating this role choice, I came to find out that Angel was in fact up for the role of Batman in the Christopher Nolan trilogy. It makes me wonder how different those films would have been without Christian Bale.


We’ve already seen Lincoln hold his own on The Walking Dead. Granted Lincoln is a choice totally out of left field, but he could really make it work. He’s a great actor who’s got the charisma for Bruce Wayne. Honestly, I had no idea Lincoln was British until I saw an interview with him about The Walking Dead. His Georgian accent is so spot on I’m sure he could handle the Batman rasp a little better than Christian Bale. Plus, this MAN OF STEEL sequel could use a Ricktatorship!


This is the most self serving pick on my list. I just think ASKARS is unbelievably handsome and would love nothing more than to see him don the cowl. I could definitely see ASKARS in the billionaire playboy role, but as the actual dark knight, I’m not so sure. I’ve never seen True Blood so I can’t fully gauge his acting prowess. I did enjoy his minor role in MELANCHOLIA. Again, this is a personal fantasy not really based on logic.


Barta is an actor who often flies under the radar. I’ve only seen him in small indie roles, but he has a striking presence that lingers. He may be a little young to be Bruce Wayne, but that could be up for debate. I think Barta needs a really good project to sink his teeth into because he can be a really great leading actor. My only real complaint about Justin Barta is that at 5’8” he’s a little shorter than the ideal Batman.


Honestly, I haven’t seen many films starring Urban, but I really enjoyed him in DREDD. I think he’s set to carve his name in the sci-fi fan base with roles in STAR TREK and LORD OF THE RINGS. I feel like Urban can bring some clout to this role. He’s the type of actor who was born to play a superhero.


I became familiar with Stan after his role as Bucky Barnes aka The Winter Soldier. Before we quibble over actors who’ve played superheroes in other films, let’s remember that Chris Evans was also the Human Torch AND Johnny Storm prior to donning his red & blues. I think Stan can bring a certain sex appeal and intrigue that Batman needs. He’s a good sidekick to Cap, but I’d like to see him as the dark knight.


Wes Bentley is not usually an actor you would consider in an action role. I don’t think he’s really had an opportunity to exercise his versatility. Let’s remember that Michael Keaton was primarily a comedic actor prior to becoming the greatest Batman we have thus far known. Bentley nearly fell off the radar until his recent role in THE HUNGER GAMES. His role as Seneca Crane is what led me to believe he could be a great Batman. I think he has the bravado and duality that is the essence of Batman. Isn’t it time we began to look at unconventional actors to fill idiosyncratic roles?

There you have it, my picks for a new Batman. In the end, Ben Affleck is still better than George Clooney or Val Kilmer. You know, I would have never chosen Henry Cavill as Superman in the first place. I also recently read that Josh Brolin was considered for the role. I’m certainly conflicted on that choice as I love Brolin’s acting, but I’m not positive he’s Superman material. I really have very little faith in what Snyder can do with this storyline and film. I’m sure the masses will go see it, but I won’t be surprised if this project turns out to be critically panned. Affleck might not be the Batman we need, but maybe he’s the Batman Zack Snyder deserves.