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KINO KORNER

Movie Reviews by Michael Gildea




The Day After Tomorrow ***

Normally the idea of watching a movie where the special effects are the big star, directed by Al Pacino's former limo driver, makes as much sense as a remake of Casablanca to me. But when Mother Nature decides to stick humanity's wang in a vise and twist until next Earth Day? I'm there. Don't get me wrong-I'm no tree-hugger by any means; I just really appreciate seeing truly stupid people getting it right in the ass for their misdoings. The Day After Tomorrow tells the what-if tale of another ice age coming on, all because you didn't buy a Prius or separate your recyclables. This movie is pornographic in a way: I don't remember seeing a single flash of cleavage, or even a pair of shorts for that matter, but the disasters are like the sex scenes that you fast-forward to get to in a mob-funded T&A flick. Watching that atrocity better known as the Hollywood sign get taken out by a twister was worth the price of admission alone. Hailstones the size of footballs take out people on mopeds. Manhattan gets hit by a tidal wave. I'm not a proponent of drowning a movie in special effects; it's like putting a whole bowl of cherries on one scoop of ice cream or three cups of sugar in your coffee, but all those effects sure tasted mighty fine here. On the other hand, great special effects (except for the CGI wolves) are usually there to distract you from crappy subplots and to make you forget that the few characters that are being focused on will definitely survive. Despite the clichéd exchanges between less-than-secondary characters, there were moments of genuine humor-namely Americans illegally crossing the border into Mexico. I consider this to be director Roland Emmerich's slightly more than halfhearted apology for Godzilla. But as for former indie It boy (I can't believe I just used that title) and star Jake Gyllenhaal, his performance had none of the heart of any of his previous work, and none of the ambition that this role demanded. Maybe he can be Tobey Maguire's stand-in sometime.


Raising Helen *

As a film critic (and a lowly one at that), I felt it my duty to go back and watch all of the past episodes of the failed animated Fox series from the mid-'90s aptly named "The Critic." If you're unfamiliar with it, Jon Lovitz was the voice of a fat, bald, and obnoxious film critic who slammed every crappy movie that came out. I imagine that you understand my fascination. But every once in a while, Lovitz's character Jay Sherman would be ending a rant as a scene began and I always wondered what the rest of the rant was. Well one of his rants ended with the words, "and that is why Goldie Hawn should be shot." And after watching Raising Helen, I now think I know how that diatribe went. Star Kate Hudson is Hawn's daughter and she's falling into the same pattern as her mother-making shitty movies that are so formulaic you could set a watch by them. Hudson plays a personal assistant at a modeling agency in Manhattan who should've been killed in The Day After Tomorrow. Her sister kicks off, and she gets custody of the kids and WHO REALLY GIVES A SHIT? This isn't a movie; it's a full season of a sitcom that got sent to the wrong department. Kate Hudson is a genetically engineered…creature whose spiral curls and pointy features are supposed to draw you in and make you spend your money. If you think about seeing this movie and deep down in your heart know you shouldn't, do what I do: make a skullcap out of tinfoil to block the airbrushed signals. Her Hershey kiss-sized breasts are the source of her power. Get that cap on! Put it on now! The one I feel the worst for is John Corbett of "Northern Exposure" fame-because now we have to kill him. And that is why Goldie Hawn should be shot…


Soul Plane *

1,2,3 and to the 4. Snoop needs a kick in the dick to drop his ass to the floor. It'sbad enough that he's got every honky saying "fo shizzle my nizzle," but trying to elaborate on the two jive-talkin' black dudes from the Airplane! movies is beyond reproach. As glad as I was to see Tom Arnold get away from Roseanne, this isn't a step in the right direction. Blow this one off, kids. Someone's crapping in your mouth and calling it a muffin.


 

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban ***

Sequels and kid's movies have a tendency to make me…let me put it this way. Sequels and kid's movies are to me what kryptonite is to Superman. They make me very weak and susceptible to harm, and once they're gone I'm very, very pissed. But with the Harry Potter movies and a few other franchises, I am immune to this effect. The reason for this (at least with the Potter movies) is that they get darker and better as the series goes on. They're almost like video games in that respect. However, they're not perfect. Cute and precocious muppet-like children have given way to heroin mullets and the inevitable awkward stage for teenagers. Maybe it's the work of director Alfonso Cuaron, known for his movie about two Spanish boys boning an older woman with cancer, but that's not been confirmed at press time. The movie this time around doesn't have a big elaborate plot, and there's not as much cool wizardry going on in Prisoner of Azkaban. Instead, it spends the last hour or so rehashing Back to the Future for kids who've never heard of Huey Lewis and the News. It also has a darkerlook. As for Gary Oldman, who plays said prisoner, don't get too excited. He was (I'm not going to say magic, so don't worry) fantastic for the whole fifteen minutes of screen time he had, throwing in dashes of Charles Manson and Rasputin, but if he's your sole reason for seeing this movie, you're likely to be disappointed. If you're looking for a straight was-it-good-or-not answer, it wasn't the best one, but it has more going for it than most other movies that'll be hitting theaters this summer. When I consider that I didn't run to the can once, and I ate at a Chinese buffet before the feature, that's a major feat. Think of the Huey Lewis score from Back to the Future as Harry takes a ride on his broom for the final scene. It's pretty dumb, but I laughed for about an hour after I left the theater thinking about it.


 

Troy ***

"Joey, you like movies about gladiators?" Troy is based on Homer's Illiad, recounting the story of the Trojan War and all the malarkey that started it. Nutshell plotline if you've never bothered to read a classic: Trojan prince Paris (played oh so effeminately by Orlando Bloom) steals Greek queen Helen on a mission of peace. Her husband Menelaus (Brendan Gleeson) goes to his brother Agamemnon (bullishly played by Brian Cox) who uses the war as an excuse to conquer Troy. Then complete and total batshit ensues. All of that takes up about the first fifteen minutes of the movie and the remaining two and a half hours play out like the NFL playoffs on angel dust. If you have a penis and two accompanying testicles, you will probably enjoy Troy. Brutal fights full of computer-generated soldiers and spears getting thrown through skulls. Director Wolfgang Petersen borrows occasionally from the Lord of the Rings movies (Even a bow and arrow-wielding Orlando Bloom). Brad Pitt plays Achilles, the reluctant yet quintessential warrior in the hammiest and most overbearing performance of his life (yes, I am taking into account his appearance on "21 Jump Street"). Guys back then weren't tortured; they just did their duty. However, Pitt bounces between skulking on shores and delivering Vince Lombardi speeches to his battalion of crazed fighters. I was surprised that the words "let's get ready to rumble" weren't booming afterward. Saved me a cringe, but the speech was funny. Brian Cox wasn't any better as Agamemnon. I think he forgot he wasn't playing a villain in a comic book movie anymore. Basically, if an actor wasn't Australian or British, his performance was doomed. Eric Bana as Hector and Sean Bean as Odysseus gave particularly good performances. In the end, I think I was happier to see an epic that could possibly be hailed as a classic. Troy was no Gladiator, but at the same time, it was better than Cleopatra. One word of advice to any women who are going to see Troy for the love story aspect and to see Brad Pitt's ass: the love story is a cover! Agamemnon invading Troy was like George W. invading Iraq because they totaled the World Trade center. To save you some money: Brad Pitt's naked ass does not make one single solitary appearance in this movie. Oprah lied to you.


Breakin' All the Rules

Do you know what the only thing worse than seeing a romantic comedy with office satire and some mistaken identity is? I can't tell you, but if you figure it out, please e-mail me at Michael@buffalobeast.com. My Big Fat Greek Wedding sounded more appealing than this movie actually was. Breakin' All the Rules? I'd love to be Breakin' All the Faces of the bloatedswine that greenlit this one. This is what happens when you start making movies to finance third and fourth houses and you lose the desire to entertain people. Someone takes a shit, puts it in a film projector and people pay at least eight bucks a head to get laughed at for an hour and a half. Future filmmakers of the world, I have spoken. Good day…


Shrek 2 ***

The only thing I hate more than a computer-animated kids' movie (or a sequel to one) is the bombardment of cross-merchandising which ensues. Remember the good old days where you could just go see a movie and not be reminded of it every time you eat a candy bar in the following months? Yeah, neither do I. As you may or may not know, I hate 99% of children's movies. Mindless, brainless sub-entertainment is used to sell shampoo, breakfast cereal, and everything in-between (I also strongly suspect that these types of movies are also used to catch monkeys in the wild). But the original Shrek falls into that few-and-far-between 1% of kids' movies I approve of, and if my opinioncounted for anything I would endorse. It juggled the tasks of entertaining kids while simultaneously amusing adults quite deftly. I was introduced to the original in a gulag back in '02 as a torture tactic by some Viennese diamond merchants who wanted to know where Rick James lived. They didn't get the desired results, and I escaped while they stepped out to rent Steel Magnolias (the extended edition.) Shrek 2 picks up where the first left off: They're off to meet the disapproving in-laws (Julie Andrews and John Cleese) and fend off the sabotage of an evil fairy godmother. Shrek 2 has just as much edgy humor as the original and a soundtrack with Tom Waits and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. It nods to movies such as Lord of the Rings, Spider-Man, and Ghostbusters. All in all, cleverer than any other form of children's entertainment and better than anything Disney's done since I've been alive. Make sure you stick around for the credits.