DVD | Movies

Hold Up Your Badge: L.A. Confidential

I’ve been playing L.A. Noire, and what with all the fedoras, old-timey cars, and talk of “bracing” witnesses, it’s put me in quite the mood for one of my favorite movies, L.A. Confidential. I stayed up late watching it again the other night.

There’s a shorthand in a lot of movies, especially cop dramas, when it comes to character flaws. Want to quickly build an anti-hero? Give him a drinking or drug problem. Give him an ex-wife (or a dead wife) or an estranged child. Give him a couple days of beard growth and a crummy, messy apartment. This signifies to the audience that your hero is struggling with demons without having to do all that pesky work of, you know, writing a good, believable character.

L.A. Confidential takes the harder, longer route, and it pays off in spades: the three main characters are all horribly and realistically flawed and thus incredibly compelling. Exley is a overly ambitious weasel, a political rung-climber obsessed with outdoing his father, and happy to wear the disdain of other cops as a badge. Vincennes is a charming sleaze, willing to sell out for fame and headlines and not interested in solving crimes as much as starring in them.

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DVD | Movies

I Can Never Let It Go

I was going to write a review of the film Never Let Me Go, but the first half-hour of the film featured a scene that distracted me so badly that I’m going to mainly talk about that instead. There are some premise spoilers ahead, though nothing I hadn’t already heard before watching the film.

Never Let Me Go is science-fiction, but it’s “light” science-fiction, which means the science-fiction is really just the backdrop, rather than the center, of the film. The film wants to tell a story about people, and doesn’t try to or need to explain the sci-fi stuff. Unfortunately, I’m the type of person who really does need that stuff explained, as I’ll detail below.

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Lady Business | Movies

Lady Business: Does it Hold Up?

When I first moved to California in 1989, I remember my college friends talking about Wynona Ryder. One had an acting class with her, and the other was her walking partner at high-school graduation. (He was told to move out of the shot by some photographers, and was bitter about it.) When I see her in a movie, I’m always oddly aware that she’s my age.

Imagine my horror last year when I saw her in the Star Trek movie as Spock’s mom. She was covered in makeup, but still. Sheesh! Then, I see Black Swan where she is described as old and washed up. For all I know, ballet dancers are considered old at 15. I still felt the hit.

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Lady Business | Movies

Lady Business: Summer Movies

Last year, I only went to see one movie in the theater all summer long. It was a combo of not having much out that I was interested in seeing, and also I am what you would call a ‘cheap bastage’. Of course, this summer is full of sequels and that lessens my choices. Typically, I’m not a fan of sequels unless they involve Han Solo, Legolas or some other hot nerd bait.

Hobo With a Shotgun, May 6th – Lordy, that’s a great title. If Rutger Hauer keeps to his tradition of saying only 13 lines of dialogue in any given movie, it’ll be a whole lot of silence followed by shotgun blasts. Truthfully, I’m on the fence for this one, but with a title like Hobo with a Shotgun at least I’ll know what I’m getting into.

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Movies | Netflix | Television

Stream Cuisine: Bond. Megashark Bond.

Some more of my favorite picks for your Netflix Instant viewing pleasure.

Easy A: The really nice thing about Netflix Instant is that it makes it easy to check out movies you’d probably never see otherwise, like this teen comedy based on The Scarlet Letter. I’d heard some good things about it but it’s probably something I’d never rent or see in a theater. We watched it this weekend, and it’s a fun film: Emma Stone is great as a high school girl who rides rumors of her promiscuity to new highs and then lows, and Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson steal every scene they’re in as her goofball hippie parents.

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e-Books | Movies | Television

Lady Business: Comedy is the New Whiskey

I’m in the middle of an office move and it’s no fun. I think I’ll have a little plaque made for the front my urn that says: “She solved 2,218,437 meaningless problems for other people and now she’s dead.” In order to remain sane, I’ve been loading up on the entertainment. Here are the things that have kept me from throwing a chair through the window or drinking heavily.

Anthony Jeselnik,  Shakespeare

I like my stand up comedy to be smart, dry, absurd and borderline cruel. I’ve seen him a few times on various specials, and his bit about the marshmallow dream had me in tears. If you are a sensitive sort, you’ll most likely hate this guy. However, if your idea of comedy involves allowing yourself to laugh at nearly everything that normally makes humans uncomfortable, then you’ll be just fine.

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Movies | Television | Video Games

Weekend Menu: Presidents, Parrots, and Possibly Portals

Busy week, what with trying to get this blog off the ground. Thanks to anyone who’s been reading!

My own personal menu for the weekend includes a watching of Tron: Legacy, which just arrived on DVD from Netflix. I’ve seen the first ten minutes of the film already, and I don’t have a lot of hope that I’ll enjoy the rest, because the preview featured a digitally-created young version of Jeff Bridges that was creepy and unconvincing. He looked like a character from a video game cut-scene. From two years ago. Also, there was a guy base-jumping off a skyscraper that served no purpose except to make the character doing it seem X-TREME.

Here’s the weekend menu; see you on Monday!

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The Future Was Then: Timecop

A lot can happen in ten years, but perhaps not as much as you might expect. Filmmakers in the 80’s and 90’s predicted grand changes to society and technology as we prepared to enter the 21st century, but now that we’re here, how accurate were their visions?

Today, The Future Was Then looks at Timecop, the 1994 time-travel action flick starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. Interestingly, this week the Chinese government banned time-travel movies because they “disrespect history”, and after watching Timecop it’s kind of hard to argue with them.

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Lady Business: Chick Flicks

[Editor’s Note: Since I’m mainly concerned with movies about exploding trains and alien invasions and video games where you shoot people in the face, I’ve asked my wife, Kris, to be a contributor here at Screen Cuisine. She’ll be occasionally covering TV, movies, games, and all things pop-culture from a female perspective, though she’s been known to enjoy the occasional alien invasion and exploding train herself.  — Chris]

I’m not much for Chick Flicks. For instance, I once attempted to watch “The Notebook” and nearly lost my damn mind. Typically, if there’s a poster with people tenderly holding each other’s faces, I’m not getting in line to see that movie.

These movies are some of my favorites based on the sheer volume of times I’ve seen them:

  • Shaun of the Dead
  • Anchorman
  • Caddyshack
  • Meatballs
  • Dawn of the Dead (2004 version)
  • The Empire Strikes Back [Read more…]
Internet | Movies | Netflix | Television

Stream Cuisine: The Best Stuff on Netflix Instant

Mitchell & Webb

Netflix, I’m convinced, is the greatest invention of all time. It took a tedious, nigh-impossible chore — going to a video store, picking out a movie, coming home, watching it, and then going back to the store to return it — and made it as easy as ticking a box on the internet and opening and closing an envelope.

Naturally, opening and closing that envelope become too much goddamn work, so Netflix quickly reinvented the greatest invention of all time, and came up with Netflix Instant, which lets you strean movies and TV shows on your PC and TV just moments after you decide you want to watch them.

The catalog of streaming entertainment isn’t entirely fantastic, but it’s constantly growing and changing, so from time to time I’ll post about the better stuff I’m watching, so you can watch it (in the U.S., at least) if you haven’t already.

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