Category Archives: Movies

Everything about movies!

Why you need to Raise YOUR Bar

It’s time to raise YOUR bar! Starting now! Get on it and stop the continual slide toward human idiocy.

How do you raise your bar? It’s not easy. If it were easy, we’d all be speaking coherently, talking about real issues, standing up straight while dressed professionally. But, like all things that need fixing, it will take more time to fix it than it has to have broken it. This is the Catch-22 inherent to the problem. People want things immediately regardless of the cost, and scoff at the effort and resources it takes to change them. Grown lazy by years of getting things when and how they wanted them, any effort required is met with resistance. So, people tended to give up and compromise in order to avoid a fight. How then, do you raise your bar? Continue reading

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What America Needs to Learn From “The Walking Dead.”

Government leaders, please take note…

AMC is thankfully running a marathon of “The Walking Dead” this weekend, and I believe that there is a lot that America and its leaders can learn from this show. All Americans and their lawmakers would be well served watching the complete first and second seasons in order to learn how to better prepare for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. (Later this week, I’ll also take a look at how we, as a planet, can better protect ourselves from space disasters and alien invasions.)

The need to be prepared from The Walking Dead

Walking Dead Zombie Prep

No way does Ben Franklin become a zombie! Prevention, people!

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Benjamin Franklin once said. At the time, he was referring to the transportation of hot coals from the fireplace to smaller stoves throughout one’s house in other rooms to keep them warm in winter. But had he been alive today, I am sure that he would be referring instead to the rise of zombies, be it from a diseased animal, biological weapons or just crazy psychos jonesin’ for the main ingredient of Soylent Green. He would have suggested guns, water, diet and exercise, better building codes and the need for a alternative fuel source infrastructure.

Guns, guns, guns (oh, and bows, axes and samurai swords)

The best walking dead zombie defense is a good offense

Sure, it seems like you don’t really NEED it. Now. But, when the zombies lurch toward your compound, you can thank the 2nd Amendment that you have it.

If there is one thing that I’ve learned from “The Walking Dead,” and other zombie films, it’s that you need to be weapons proficient. The current growth in popularity of archery, thanks to movies like “The Hunger Games,” “The Avengers” and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, is fueling a resurgence in sales of bows and arrows. This is a good thing. Not only do you look cool with a bow in your hand and a quiver of arrows slung across your back, but if you get good at it you can peg lurching zombies from 50 yards away. A comfortable distance if you don’t want to get bitten.

But, people, we HAVE the 2nd Amendment to the constitution. Sure, it was added to keep a well armed militia in case we are ever invaded. But, except for movies like “Red Dawn” and the Chuck Norris film, “Invasion U.S.A.,” we haven’t had to rely on this amendment. It is instead used by a well funded Washington lobby group to keep large caliber rifles and hand guns in the hands of terrified wildlife hunters. But, if there is a zombie attack, you can send your donation checks to the NRA with a special thank-you note and a picture with you and the latest zombie you killed with your Arma-Lite AR-15 semi-automatic. (Hopefully it’s that disrespectful little shit on the skateboard that uses your driveway every night at midnight as a skate ramp…)

I would also suggest learning how to handle a basic fire axe, a machete, and the most badass of all blade weapons: the samurai sword.

Health, especially cardio

If you haven’t seen “Zombieland,” then you’re missing a really funny and informative movie. Jessie Eisenberg’s “rules” are a fantastic how-to in surviving the zombigeddon. Rule #1 is cardio!! A zombie apocalypse will be the ultimate evolutionary step for humanity. The current obesity epidemic in the United States means that 33% of Americans are ripe for the picking. While this will surely keep them full for a time, you can bet that they will be looking to continue eating. You don’t have to be the fastest in your group, just not the slowest. Think Will Smith’s workout regimen in “I am Legend.” If you haven’t held on to your New Year’s resolution of working out and losing weight, now would be a good time to start working on it.

Water

Water is the source of life. You can go weeks without food, but only seven days without water. As the bodies pile up and the nuclear reactors go nuclear unleashing fallout and pestilence, which will be going directly down the proverbial drain and into the ground water sources, you’re sources of fresh water are going to be pretty limited, my friend. So, start stocking up on bottled water. Buy that extra case of Arrowhead or Kroger’s bottled water and stock it in your pantry. Even better: if you have the property, you can build a 10,000 gallon stainless steel water tank buried in a bunker somewhere. Be careful, though. As soon as someone finds out you have it, you are going to be very popular… Then you need to refer back to the guns portion of this blog.

Stronger building codes

zombie proof house

If you’re human, come on in, stay a while!

zombie proof house

Not you, zombies!

Depending on what you film or show you watch, zombies are either really, really puzzled by glass or find it easily to plunge right through on their way to munching on your calves and forearms for lunch and dinner. What you really want to do is start building your compound in a remote area with limited access. A place that you can control with very few people, who are bound to come unglued while the world falls apart around them and “America’s Got Talent” and “The Voice” stop production. You’ll want watch towers and turrets, high walls, a moat if you can build it, and very few windows. Although if you DO have the money, then you can afford three-inch thick “bankers” glass to watch and laugh at the zombies as their frustration grows, clawing at the windows. Hell, build your whole house out of it, if you want. Or you can build a house like the one above. Whatever you do, have a plan to hold off the undead. And have one to get out. It kills me every time that people think that they are safe in their house.

Alternative power sources

Last, but certainly not least, American’s need to start investing in alternative fuel sources and a power grid that could conceivably keep itself powered with very little supervision. Certainly, Americans should add these inexpensive items to their homes today! Solar power panels on your roof are an excellent source of power if you live in the Southwest. And if you live in the East, you can count on the wind to power your multiple windmills around your property. The point here is that nuclear power plants are going to go Fukishima around the world and make a big mess of the place and really cut your power supply. Coal will no longer be mined and gas will no longer be refined, limiting other electric plants. So, learn how to light a candle or build your fortified compound near a river or stream for hydroelectric power. And FOR GOD’S SAKE, make sure the extension cords are buried, lest the zombies trip over them and your power goes out while reading this valuable how-to guide from inside the comfort of your impregnable fortress.

What to take away from this

Movie makers that make zombie movies are your friends. They are training you in the how-to’s of keeping your sorry asses alive when the time comes. By watching and studying these “learning documentaries,” better educated people will survive and thrive in the wreckage of society. You can thank me later.

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Cocktails & Movies PRESENTS – Two Forgotten Movies For June 2012

(How could I forget these…)

AGAIN, I DON’T GET TO SEE THESE MOVIES IN ADVANCE, OR ELSE I’D WRITE A PROPER MOVIE REVIEW. HEAR THAT, MOVIE STUDIOS!!! I’M JUST SAYING!!!

In my haste to post on Friday, I forgot two movies that I’ve been curious about for some time now. They ARE smaller movies, but sometimes those can be funny as hell.

June 22nd

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World http://www.youtube.com/user/seekingafriendmovie?v=EmXWcXKXWBk

At times when I see this trailer, I am am filled with a big sense of melancholy for the main character, Dodge, played by Steve Carell. As his life, and everyone else’s for that matter, nears its end, and his wife leaves him in a panic, he decides on one last goal: to find “the very first one that got away.” Personally, I often think of taking a road trip away from my daily life to find those questions/answers to life and not coming back, but unfortunately there isn’t a huge asteroid about to crash down on me, giving me only a week to live… But, then again while watching the trailer, I laugh out loud as it’s funny to see the absurdity that Carrell and Knightley find as society collapses around them while on their quest to find the girl that got away. Directed by Lorene Scarfaria, who also wrote “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist,” as well as the hilarious, off-the-wall TV show “Children’s Hospital,” this has all the makings of a fun movie to enjoy with some good friends.

Cocktail of choice: Try something you have never had. It’s the end of the world…

Moonrise Kingdom – http://www.youtube.com/user/MoonriseKingdomMovie?v=ocac5Umhb9g

Okay, so not everyone is a Wes Anderson fan. And, sometimes, if you are, you really have to be in the mood to see one of his films all the way through (which is why seeing this in the theater is a good idea…). As he does with a lot of his screenplays, Anderson takes a normal situation (boy meets girl and runs away), and peppers the characters with odd behaviors and strange personalities that you wouldn’t normally expect. Having done that, he then takes actors (a lot of whom he has worked with for years) and lets them add their own nuances. Here, look for odd turns by big names like Ed Norton as Scoutmaster Ward, Bruce Willis as Captain Sharp, and Bill Murray as Walt Bishop, the odd father of Suzy. Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel, Jason Schwartzman (of course!) and Frances McDormand round out the high-profile cast.

Cocktail of choice for this odd little movie: I’d go with what makes you comfortable, as Anderson is not for everyone, and comfort should be your main key.

 

 

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Cocktails & Movies PRESENTS:

(ways to spend time inside…)

This is the first of a 3-part summer movie preview.

Going to the theater (I recommend Arclight Theaters)

It’s no secret that I LOVE the movie theater. It’s big. It’s roomy. It’s dark. For the most part, it’s quiet. Who gives a shit about $4 sodas, $5 popcorn and crowds of people? Go to the airport and these movie theater prices will seem like a bargain. AND the crowds are more well behaved. It is that shared experience of laughter and fright, that huge screen and deep, rumbling bass that shakes the theater which makes a trip to the movie theater a fun night out. AND, if you add cocktails to the mix, it can be one hell of a good time.

Before we begin, I want to mention one of the funniest times I’ve had with my “Cocktails & Movie” group. Years ago, when “Chicken Little” (with Zach Braff voicing Chicken Little) came out, a group of about 12 of us decided on a three hour happy hour before the movie started on a Friday night. We were NOT expecting the huge crowd of children and parents  that night, but damn were those kids funny! I don’t think there was a parent in the theater who didn’t turn around at us at some point to figure out why there was a group of drunk 30-somethings laughing 10 seconds AFTER the funny part that happened on the screen… Good times.

If you want to be included in a Cocktails and Movies outing with a fun group of people, usually held on Sunday afternoons at the Arclight Beach Cities for the 4 p.m.-ish showings, please email offtopictim@gmail.com or post a comment. I won’t share your email with anyone; I don’t have the time…

I thought of one long column today about the whole summer schedule, but it’s Friday, so you’ll only get June. And, you’ll like it.

These are June’s movie picks to see. I’ve not been invited for advanced screenings of any of these films (ATTENTION MOVIE STUDIOS!!!!!), so my reviews are based on trailers and general gut feelings. As always at this site, my opinion is correct. Feel free to contradict, but home field advantage here gives me the tie:

June 1st (In Limited Release, unfortunately)

Piranha 3DD – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XIyJO6vf3c

Fishing and girls! Grab a date for this celluloid gem. Or your buddies and a 6-er!

You’re not going to get Shakespeare here. If movie posters are worth a 1000 words, then this film will probably have: scantily clad, buxom women, impossibly bloodthirsty fish terrorizing impossibly buxom women in a North American lake and some “killer” dialogue. If you haven’t seen the first one, (Piranha 3D), don’t worry. You’re not missing anything – besides Jerry O’Connell as a sleazy “Girls Gone Wild” type producer. Ving Rhames does make a return as the deputy who lost his legs in the first movie. Look for lots of boobs, and appearances by Christopher Lloyd (“Great Scott, Marty, look at those Piranhas!!!) reprising his role as the knowledgeable fish guy, as well as cameos by Gary Bussey and David Haselhoff – playing himself, the “Hoff.” Even though I am probably 3x times the intended age of this film chronologically, maturity wise I am in that sweet spot AND I can buy my own ticket as it is RATED R.

Suggested cocktail of choice for this film: cocktail? This one is PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon) all the way, people!

June 8th (Opening wide release)

Prometheus – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0WUpsErUBA

Ooooh, brings back memories of the original "Alien"

I’ve been eagerly anticipating the arrival of this movie ever since the world was made aware that Ridley Scott, the director of the original “Alien,” was working on bringing this “not to be called” prequel to the silver screen. I have no idea if it will reveal the secrets that were left open in the original film – who was that big dude sitting in the chair of that alien spaceship before the crew of the Nostromo (who apparently didn’t watch any of Earth’s horror films from the 1980’s and 1990’s) decided to inspect the unknown alien eggs? But, this movie does look fun! Ridley Scott (“Bladerunner,” “Alien,” “Blackhawk Down,” “Gladiator”) is excellent at bringing sci-fi to the screen with nuanced noirish-ness, using human emotions well, so that a lot of the time he does a great job of suspending the disbelief that most times is inherent in a sci-fi film. Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender (“Shame,” “X-Men: First Class”) and Idris Elba (“The Wire”) make for a great, moody cast.

Suggested cocktail of choice for this film: I tried to put my mind into the heads of the explorers in the film, and since real absinthe is out of the question (legally, that is), I went with Midori sours to drink something green, as they always do in sci-fi films.

(Also, In Limited Release)

Safety Not Guaranteed – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73jSnAs7mq8

Enjoy this film with a few cocktails to FEEL safer.

Also opening the week of June 8th, is this small, limited-release film called “Safety Not Guaranteed.” From the producers of “Little Miss Sunshine” and starring Aubrey Plaza (who plays the FANTASTIC April Ludgate on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation”) and Mark Duplass (F/X’s “The League”), this film has all the makings of a charming, funny, smart little film that could make noise next January/February when awards nominations are announced…

Suggested cocktail of choice: be  your own man/woman! It’s an indie film. Go for that drink that you NEVER try and then have a few, sit back and enjoy.

 

June 15th (Wide release films, unfortunately for all of us…)

Rock of Ages – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TT_Ytd21mKg

Girls, get your hearts racing. Guys, bring a flask of JD.

Tom Cruise as an 80’s rocker… Hmmm. I HAVE heard that my lady friends are gathering up a group to go see this movie and I can’t suggest a drink more appropriate to go see this movie than straight up Jack Daniel’s so that you can forget it afterward.  Look, eventually I had no problem with Mr. Cruise taking the lead role of the vampire Lestat in Anne Rice’s “Interview With the Vampire,” but couldn’t we let someone with more rock and roll gravitas star in this movie? When I think of rock and roll movie stars, I DON’T think of Tom Cruise. Still, this movie will probably do well. You are bound to see many local news reports interviewing middle aged women who have left their husbands and boyfriends at home in order to act all bachelorette-party-ish in a theater and gush over “how much they loved the musical” and “can’t wait to see the movie.”  They’ll have another chance to act this way again in two weeks with Channing Tatum…

Cocktail of choice for this “movie:” If you’re a woman, whatever you want. If you’re the guy forced to go along with said woman try Jack Daniel’s, neat. Repeat several times.

That’s My Boy – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPV2L2CGWdQ

Ooooooof....

I really can’t say anything good about this movie. I really do like Andy Samberg from SNL. He did give us the SNL digital short craze (“Chronic -What?-les of Narnia,” “Dick in a Box,” etc.), but hitching your horse up to Adam Sandler for your first big project isn’t the greatest idea… There are some who will go see this, but Sandler’s steadfast movie supporters are all grown up now and not about to go see Sandler’s pratfalls and hijinx anymore if they have girlfriends and those girlfriends are asking them to take them to see “Rock of Ages…”

Cocktail of choice: if you still have anything left in the bottle of JD, consume it before you buy the tix, then see if you are still okay to see the film.

June 22nd (Wide Release)

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZp7eBStN1U 

America's greatest president? F*ck yeah!

Based on the new wave of novels taking historical figures and great pieces of literature and combining them with the popular monsters – vampires, werewolves and zombies, (“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” is undoubtedly shooting), this film actually caught my eye for its director. Starring Benjamin Walker as Abraham Lincoln, it follows his hereto unknown career as a vampire hunter. Written by Seth Grahame-Smith, based on his own novel, it is directed by Timur Bekmambetov, who is one of Russian’s greatest sci-fi/thriller directors with such great movies as “Night Watch,” “Day Watch” – both fantastic Russian films, as well as “Apollo 18” and “Wanted” here in the U.S.

 

Cocktail of choice: Several rounds of good American Bourbons for everyone!

Also opening  for the kids this weekend:

Brave – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEHWDA_6e3M

I do like the images and contrast of grays and red hair...

I was more than a little upset that they showed this trailer before the “Avengers,” as I didn’t see the connection between this movie and the the superhero flick, but I guess it’s got something to do with little girls feeling empowered or something. Listen, marketing geniuses – the people seeing the “Avengers” aren’t the ones who are going to go see “Brave.” But, I digress, and I don’t have the job deciding where trailers go, (sigh). This movie comes to us from Pixar, usually pretty good with movies, but I just don’t see it here. Even though I don’t have kids or know many kids, I don’t hear the clamor for seeing this movie like I did with “Toy Story,” “Cars,” or “Wall-E,” etc. Still, if you have kids, you’re probably going to see this.

Cocktail of choice: What? You’re going to drink and take your kids to a movie?!?! What are you, an asshole? Seriously, you are a poster person for “parental licensing.” Dick.

June 29th – the end of the month

Magic Mike – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMU7s6cwxEM

This poster belies what is beneath it!

What’s really going to blow your mind is that this is directed by Steven Soderbergh (yes, THAT Soderbergh – “Ocean’s 11,” et al, “Michael Clayton,” “Syrianna” and so forth)!! Channing Tatum is slowly beginning to grow on me, much the same way that Mark Wahlberg and Justin Timberlake have done. All three had other careers before they turned into actors. Walhberg and Timberlake were “boy band” lead singers who transformed into pretty goddamned good actors in their own right. Tatum, while he still has a lot of work to do in honing his skills, is at home in this film as he was once a male stripper. (If you want to see him not stretch himself too far acting wise, watch him in “21 Jump Street” with Jonah Hill. Not much to it, but he’s hilarious.) In this film he plays a popular stripper with aspirations to get beyond that lifestyle. This film is like his autobiography and you think he should be able to nail it! Look for well known names like Matt Bomer (USA’s “White Collar”), Matthew McConaughey, and Olivia Munn as Tatum’s love interest.

Cocktail of choice: look, you’re probably going because YOUR love interest is dissatisfied with you and needs some eye candy for the night. Take her to a nice restaurant, wine and dine her and you’ll get what you want… (Yes, I am single, what about it?)

Ted –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxKfC77XAp8 (RED BAND TRAILER – NSFW!!!)

I have a stuffed Bucky Badger, but all it does is yell "F*ck you, Gophers!"

No movie has captured my buddy Eric’s attention more than this movie from Seth McFarlane (“Family Guy,” “American Dad”) who wrote it, directs it and gives the voice to Ted, a stuffed bear that Mark Wahlberg, (see? GREAT actor), has refused to give up even into his adult life. Now, thanks to an impending marriage, he must confront letting go of his childhood friend. (Women!) Thanks to Paramount Picture’s incredibly flawed, and therefore shelved until 2013 “GI JOE: Retaliation,” this movie has been moved up a few weeks. I couldn’t be more excited as well.  That the bear is alive and smokes pot and drinks with Wahlberg’s arrested development John character is besides the point. So am I. This movie isn’t pretending to be anything that what it is. I think that the Red Band trailer I put up is enough to give you an idea what you’re going to get here.

Cocktail of choice for this film: look, you’re not going into this movie having been drinking. You’re going to be out in the parking lot, with the rest of the “Family Guy” devotees looking out for the cops. Grab a soda to go with your munchies.

Until next month, movie goers!

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“Avengers Assemble” with 300 of my closest friends

(Forgive me, the movie got out at 3:25 a.m. and the adrenaline of the best movie I’ve seen in the last few years COMBINED with two cups of strong ass coffee has me all jittery!)

This isn’t a review on Marvel’s “The Avengers.” The movie is pretty f*cking great. So great, that I may have to see it again IN. THE. THEATER. And that’s my point for today.

I love movies. I love movies in the theater even more. Normally, I see movies in the theater in the middle of the afternoon. It’s partly due to the fact I have no job and therefore can see them when I need a break, and partly because none of my friends like to see movies in theaters anymore. More’s the pity. Most of my friends give me the shoulder roll, and say, “I’ll watch it when it comes out on NetFlix.”

Such a disgrace. I need better movie-going friends, I think. If you would have rather waited to see “Star Wars” when it came out on VHS then you’re dead to me. (note: “A New Hope,” as it is now called will ALWAYS be “Star Wars.” If you want to tell me that “Star Wars” is six movies composed of two trilogies, you can fuck right off and punch yourself in the face, please. Don’t mess with my “Star Wars.”)

As I stood in the long, slow line for popcorn and soda, rubbing shoulders with the comic book geeks, computer nerds, 30 year-old virgins and Mountain Dew swilling, Cheeto’s t-shirt stained crowd (surprisingly with quite a few attractive couples, oddly) and my two movie going friends, I was reminded WHY I love going to the theater. It’s the collective buzz and anticipation as well as the rewarding experience of being alone together, removed from all space and time, with no distractions, discovering something new and witnessing a great event.

Unless, you’re going to see a Reese Witherspoon or other romantic comedy – the ONLY type of movie you should see at home.

The theater is the last bastion of purely large scale, shared, artistic experience left on the planet where you are removed from all external distraction. You can see people texting on their iPhone at a concert. Or taking pictures with their Droid. People talk all the time on their cellphones at sporting events. (he’s the d-bag talking on the phone when the camera shows the players on the bench). But if you see someone in a theater pull this shit, you are not only allowed, but encouraged to yell at, and at times threaten them, with the crowd’s approval.

I don’t advocate seeing EVERY movie in a theatrical setting. (I’m looking at you Nicolas Sparks films…) But, some movies are made for viewing on a 30′ screen, with your movie stars bigger than life, special F/X blazing across the screen and the sound shaking you in your seat, feeling the same emotions that the crowd does.

Even with those people around you laughing (as they did A LOT last night) or making the occasional comment (as the 72 year-old African American woman next to me at a screening of “The Cabin in the Woods” said, “Oh, honey, DO NOT go in there!”), it is a far better experience to be separated in a world with 300 strangers in the dark than it is starting and stopping a movie with bathroom breaks and raids on the fridge sitting in the Lay-Z-Boy.

To toot my own horn, I am developing a website called “Cocktails and Movies,” which I hope will instill the joy that I get from getting out with friends, and not only enjoy some cocktails, but to sit together and share the same experience – something that we can call “ours,” and refer to it as “that time we all went to see ______.”

Until then, I’ll take my movies in the theater, in the company of good friends, with the laughter of strangers, the off-handed comments from the possibly slightly disturbed (who else would be seeing a movie in the afternoon), and a medium Coke Zero with a small popcorn, thank you very much.

Want to come with me?

 

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