Thursday, February 28, 2008

Rocket is on the LAMB!!!

The ROCKET VIDEO BLOG has been added to the Large Association of Movie Blogs!  
And you can find out more about LAMB here:

Monday, February 25, 2008


This has one of those A Bridge Too Far type casts.
Well, it's gotta be the biggest-name cast ever assembled for a little comedy skit, at least.
It's late night comedy fella (the guy who has a Tonight Show type show on nightly, after Nightline) Jimmy Kimble's response to (his girlfriend) Sarah Silverman's video "I'm Fucking Matt Damon"

Saturday, February 23, 2008

WHAT’S WATCHIN’ - Left Overs from ‘07 - PART TWO

Continuing to look at films I missed in the theater in '07, but have caught up with on DVD.  Many of the best documentaries I saw last year have been released on DVD already...  An Unreasonable Man, No End in Sight, The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, 51 Birch Street, Crazy Love.  I haven’t heard a DVD release date announced yet for Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten. But I’m watching out for it. 

Speaking-of-which...  * I noticed playing on PBS next week, something called The Clash Live: Revolution Rock is scheduled to air. Looking further, I see it’s scheduled to come out on DVD in April. So this is a early sneak peak.  * Also on PBS this week on American Masters is the documentaries, I’m excited to see Pete Seeger The Power Of Song. It had a brief theatrical run last year to much acclaim.  * As long as I’m giving some TV tips American Experience has a bunch of new documentaries airing and one of the local PBS stations is re-airing Sisters of Selma, about the Catholic nuns, following Ireland’s Bloody Sunday, who joined up with American Civil Rights protests in Selma.  * Also keep your eyes peeled for another showing on PBS of American Idealist: The Story Of Sargent Shriver. Director Bruce Orenstein doc on the Kennedy in-law and controversial founder of the Peace Corps is so far the best flick of 2008 (even though I caught it on PBS).

Mr Untouchable (Levin)

This excellent documentary by Marc Levin director of the wild Protocols of Zion (2005) tells the true story of 70’s drug king pin Nicky Barnes. He is the creep that Cuba Gooding plays in American Gangster. This has a much different take on the characters in Ridley Scott’s forgettable flick.  

Speaking of which, I may American Gangster another look because I wanted to dig it, but it did nothing for me in the theater. And the other day, the LA Times had an fascinating review of the DVD.

Crossing The Line (Gordon)

A great documentary about the strange US soldier James Dresnok who defected into and is still currently living in North Korea. Daniel Gordon previously made the wonderful doc A State of Mind (2004) about the young North Korean gymnasts.

My Kid Could Paint That (Amir Bar-Lev) On DVD March 4 2008

A four year old NY state child-prodigy becomes the darling of the art world, fetching hundreds-of-thousands of bucks for her Jackson Pollack-like abstract paintings. It slowly leeks out that maybe her would be artist father is the actual painter. This is a blast. It doesn’t take a stand or try to prove the parents are shams. It seemed obvious though. What it really makes a point of is the over hype of the art world. Asking, so a beautiful painting is worth more to a collector if it’s painted by a child instead of some stiff? A terrific flick.

Oswald’s Ghost (Robert Stone)

This doc appears to be about the impact the JFK murder had on culture, but maybe it needed to be longer, because it only skims the many ideas it presents. And frankly it's skewed in the wrong direction. It goes out of it's way to present attorney Jim Garrison as a kook. It washes over the Warren Commission's lies (no matter what you think, one gunman or two, The Warren Commission did a lot of covering-up). It has many goofy unsupported claims, towards the end in explaining why some Americans would be crazy enough to suspect a conspiracy, some 'historian' claims "Americans are historically paranoid". Not sure what he bases that on? it seems to me, if anything Americans have historically been chumps and easily brainwashedAnd then it ends on Norman Mailer giving a long and powerful view of Oswald (the lone nut theory), which sways the casual observer, in possibly the wrong direction.

I’m a big fan of Stone’s earlier flick Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst. And though once this film takes a side, It lost me politically, it still is incredibly well made, entertaining and it has a lot of  great footage never seen before, including clips of Mark Lane (author of  "Rush To Judgment") debating the Warren Commission's young hack Arlen Spector. Watch and enjoy, but with a grain of salt.

Martin Scorsese Presents: Val Lewton The Man In The Shadows (Jones)

Great subject matter, film producer Lewton and his collaboration with director Jacques Tourneur on his noiry horror flicks (Cat People, etc). But I found this doc a little dull. I much more enjoyed the little 53 minute doc Shadows in the Dark: The Val Lewton Legacy (Nasr) that came as part of the The Val Lewton Horror Collection DVD box set in 2005

Casting About (Hershey)

A rather boring compilation of actresses audition footage for a unmade film. Possibly of interest to actresses who want to see some heavy emoting. Other’s beware

Czech Dream (Klusák & Remunda)

A number of people expressed dismay with the brilliant comedy Borat, finding the duping of racist and ugly Americans cruel. As a guy who abhors many of those folks, I'm glad they got what, I think they deserve. However, I don’t have anything against the poor everyday idiots of the Czech Republic. So seeing these suckers fall for a new mega-superstore’s ridiculous advertisements and then showing up to shop at what was only a giant facade of a structure, was a little cringe worthy. Still it’s an entertaining look at the power of advertising and the struggles of a country trying to enter the 21st century and the politics of the European Union. It reminded me a little of the hilarious flick The Yes Men (2003).

Terror's Advocate (Schroeder) 

What begins as almost a sequel to The Battle Of Algiers (if you haven’t seen Pontecorvo 1966 Academy Award winning masterpiece, stop reading & go rent it). French expatriate lawyer Jacques Vergès tells his story. He gained controversial fame defending many of the Algerian Freedom Fighters. He saved the Algerian bomber-babe /poster girl Djamila Bouhired from deathrow and then married her briefly. After defending Palestine Hijackers and other terrorists he disapeared into twelve years of self exile and reemerged hanging and representing an all star cast of 20th-Century boogeyman, including Cambodian psychopath Pol Pot and hitman Carlos the Jackal and Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie

Previously directing docs about Ida Amin and Koko the talking gorilla, Barbet Schroeder (Reversal of Fortune) adds another fascinating subject to his body of work. This challenging epic is one of the best films of recent years.


Friday, February 22, 2008

WHAT’S WATCHIN’ - Left Overs from ‘07 PART ONE


I finally caught up with two methodical, high pedigree thrillers from 2007 on DVD. The one problem I had with both of these flicks and I may be completely off-base on this... Both films have some questionable police procedures that seemed ridiculous to me. I gotta ask a cop, find out if I’m wrong.
In We Own The Night, Joaquin Phoenix plays a coke sniffing NY club manager, who dabbles in crime and hangs with definite criminals. When his goody goody baby bro (Marky Mark Wahlberg) a decorated cop gets shot and later his old man (Robert Duval) a veteran cop, gets killed.
So...the NYPD makes the bad brother a cop... on the spot, to go get his revenge. They tell him, that he can go to the police academy later. So he skips being a uniform beat cop and jumps right into running around with a shot gun, shooting bad guys. Even with sped-up paper work and family connections, I would assume you would at least have to take, I don’t know, a vision test or blood test, something? Needless to say, it rang false to me. Director James Gray, works like a Long Island Terrence Malick, this being only his third flick in the last 15 years (his two other similarly paced and themed flicks The Yards in 2000 and Little Odessa in 1994. Two flicks that seemed to be enjoyed more by the actors who got to do some heavy emoting, then the actual audience who had to slog through them). But at least he peps this one up with some nice stylized action sequences and gritty cinematography. And the always entertaining Phoenix is great at playing mumbly inner turmoil. Watching him struggle with guilt and self torture can be a blast. He made me look pass the forced plot points and enjoy sitting through this.

After giving
my favorite performance of the year in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, pee-wee Casey Affleck teams with Michelle Monaghan as a pair of small time private detectives in working-class Boston, hired by a couple to find their high profile missing baby niece in Gone Baby Gone. At first the pair of private dicks seemed to young and good looking for me to take serious with this weighty flick. And then actors Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris seemed to recognizable in supporting roles to blend with the otherwise impressive authentic feeling cast. But they all grew on me as the movie went along and I got drawn in. Though I assumed that the two veteran thespian roles would eventually give them some moments to do some ‘big acting’ which might of hurt the ‘mysteries’ of the story for me. No, the one thing that bothered me was that the young would-be Encyclopedia Brown & Nancy Drew would be allowed to tag along with the lead detectives and eventually taken so seriously by the cops. We are told what a media-event the missing girl case has become, yet only about three actual cops appear to be working it.
Directed and co-written by Ben Affleck, it’s based on a novel by Dennis Lehane who previously had his Boston novel Mystic River (2003) was turned in to an overrated movie by The Bridges of Madison County (1995) director, Clint Eastwood (and every ham actors best bud, director Martin Scorsese apparently is about to shot an adaptation of Lehane’s novel Shutter Island).
I’m sick of Boston. That said, surprisingly Affleck’s film show’s a lot more restraint then Eastwood’s hysteria-fest. Though Amy Ryan (Oscar nominated for her performance) and Amy Madigan, as the the mother and aunt of the missing child, chew scenery with the best-of-them, it all plays believably and seems to help the story as opposed to eying award season.
As the mystery unfolds, lots of names are dropped. I wanted desperately to follow who the hell they were talking about and found my self pausing the DVD and checking the IMDB for reference. So for your greater pleasure, I would recommend having a scorecard with the names of every character. This is a rare film, that though flawed, is worth making some the effort for.

That's Enough, Michael Bay

This is just about the funniest thing I've seen all week...

At least he's in on the joke I guess...

Seriously though, I really don't dislike the guy. There are a few of his flicks I really dig. Like The Rock (Nic Cage, Sean Connery, witty one liners, and explosions. what's not to like?) and The Island (basically THX 1138, but you know, watchable. and I heard the French really liked it. and we're supposed to like what they like, right?). I also really enjoyed the last 20 minutes or so of Transformers (a giant robot fight in Downtown Los Angeles. Again, what's not to like? It was the movie Mr. Bay was born to make!)

What's the deal with him and Criterion though? There are a staggering number of his movies with Criterion editions (and by "staggering" I do mean more than zero). Seriously, I know I just got finished saying the guy's not all bad, but Criterion quality? REALLY? Surely there was some sort of Faustian deal involved?

I get asked a lot at Rocket, "what does Criterion mean?" and my response is usually something along the lines of, "It's a company that puts out special editions of important films. Oh, and Armageddon too." ugh...


Wednesday, February 20, 2008


With Sylvester Stallone once again donning the Stevie Nicks look to reprise his second most serialized alter ego John Rambo, it became apparent to me that this character held some enduring popularity (I dug the first flick First Blood in 1982 but generally found the other two unwatchable). Since the masses seemed to miss Rambo, but I didn’t, It got me thinking... well, who are some of my favorite retarded characters of film.

I was saddened to realized... I don’t like most retards in movies

Bear in mind, I may be using the word incorrectly (I’m not a doctor, well just a doctor of love, but these uppity collages don’t offer a degree in that). I tend to lump crazies, mutes, autismees and slow-folks all together, let’s just call ‘em SPECIAL.

As a kid I was into special people, I recall crying my eyes out reading Of Mice And Men and while I was watching the TV Movie version with Randy Quad as the dimwitted Lenny (also starring Italian food connoisseur Robert Blake as George). I was also devastated by a pair of sweet mutesAlan Arkin in The Heart Is  A Lonely Hunter (recently released on DVD for the first time) and Jackie Gleason in the 1962 flick Gigot directed by Gene Kelly (and never released on DVD or VHS).

But most heart-tuggers annoy me. 

Have you ever seen the horrid feel-good lightweight goo I Am Sam (2001) with Sean Penn and the that freaky moppet Dakota Fanning? Not since Peter Frampton and The Bee Gees in Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978) has a movie made the wonderful tunes of The Beatles more excruciating.

Hey Penn got an Oscar nomination for it! As did Arkin and so did Leonardo Da Caprio for What's Eating Gilbert Grape? (1993). Many actors have even won those Oscar things for doing the ‘dah-role’, Dustin Hoffman for Rainman (1988), Tom Hanks for Forrest Gump (1994), Geoffrey Rush for Shine (1996) and Cliff Robertson for Charley (1968). 

DEEP BACKGROUND: Before Charley got the operation that sent him from being a lovable idiot 

to a snotty MENSA member, I played one of his mean co-workers who picked on him in the 

Theatrical play (of the same book) Flowers For Algernon, back at Cass Tech High School in Detroit.

Also nominated  for an Oscar one of my favorite ‘special people’ was Billy Bob Thornton as the country-fried killer Carl in Slingblade (1996). I like it when the ‘special person’ is also scary or unlikeable or complicated. 

Or when a ‘special person’ just pops in for a supporting turn and isn’t explained to made enduring for the audience like the banjo kid in Deliverance (1972) or the goony Beeno lumbering around the third-act of Mad Max (or the bottom half of the Master Blaster in the third Mad Max).

Speaking of religious a-holes, (though Apocalypto is a masterpiece) the same year he first played Mad MaxMad Mel Gibson played a hunky ‘special person’ in the boring Australian weepy Tim. I bet ol’ Tim would hit it off with jock-babe Elisabeth Shue’s lovable Molly  in the aptly titled Molly (1999). 

Molly is one of those ‘special people’ movies that reeks of ‘Lifetime Channel’ like the so-so A Dangerous Woman (1993) with Debra Winger. And of course the retardo-riffic camp-classicThe Other Sister, with real-life retard Juliette Lewis and ‘retard looking’ Giovanni Ribisi (similar to Adam Sandler all Ribisi’s characters seem to have at least a touch of possible retardation in them). 

Oh but aren't they adorable? Like the ch-ch-ch-charming Cuba Gooding in Radio (2003) or that kid Bruce Willis has to protect in Mercury Rising (1989) or Tom Hulce in Dominick And Eugene (1988), they make the freaks in Gummo (1997) or poor slow, horny David Warner in Straw Dogs (1971) look like the creepy fiends.

On TV, I’ll take South Parks’s Timmy over the more celebrated Gomer Pyle or Corky Corky (of Life Goes Onany day.

The tube also brought us Mickey Rooney old n’ special in Bill (1981) and a retarded dude who comes back seeking revenge disguised as Ray Bolger in the 1981 TV movie Dark Night of the Scarecrow.

Some times people pretend to be ‘special’ like Nicholson does briefly in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) before the doctors really make him 'special’. But when it’s revealed in Something About Mary that the crippled guy is faking it, the comedy of that flick was ruined for me. If you like ‘fakers’ you may dig Lars von Trier’s bizarre The Idiots (1993) where a group of ‘actors’ run around pretending to be ‘dense’ then return home for all out orgies. 

Sex is the last thing on my man Chance Gardner's mind in Being There (1979), maybe that’s what draws us to ‘special’ people, life would be easier if all we wanted was to watch TV. 

WAIT that sounds like most of us! Are we all special?