Fortress (1993), Stuart Gordon, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Saturday, August 30th, 2008

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Anyone with an interest in the magic of cinema owes it to themselves to see Fortress. Not for the story and CERTAINLY not for the acting (we expect Christopher Lambert to be bad, but even the usually good Kurtwood Smith and Jeffrey Combs are terrible here) but for the ability to create feasible sci-fi sets on a budget of $12.98. The suspension of disbelief will work – all you have to do is sell it. A flashlight? No! A laser beam!

This movie is wonderfully inspiring. Oh – and has, like five exploding stomachs. And a killer truck that needs to be destroyed Toreador style lest it interrupt an important childbirth.

Maneuvers, VOY 2

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Saturday, August 30th, 2008

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Seska – the Cardassian pretending to be a Bajoran pretending to be a Maquis – is back, and now she is with one of the Kazon sects, looking to a) unify power and b) give Chakotay a hard time.

She succeeds a little in both categories, causing Chakotay to sneak behind Janeway’s back and cause a lot of aggravation. Janeway really outta get rid of that guy, he’s a total douche.

Little Green Men, DS9 4

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Saturday, August 30th, 2008

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Quark, Nog and Rom with the Hew-mons in Roswell, 1947. Anyone who doesn’t like this one has problems.

Starship Down, DS9 4

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Saturday, August 30th, 2008

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Sometimes DS9 is all about the social commentary, and sometimes it is action-adventure. This is the second.

Pretty much a classic submarine tale, with little B-stories with individual groups of characters dealing with their own crises. Jadzia and Julian trapped in a meat locker not quite as touching as Kira desperate to keep Sisko out of a coma by discussing Bajoran beliefs. Best: Quark disarming a torpedo. Very entertaining.

Cold Fire, VOY 2

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Saturday, August 30th, 2008

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By Voyager standards this episode is pretty damned good. Kes, surprisingly one of my favorite characters by now, continues her exploration of telekinetic powers. A run-in with more Ocampa on a second Caretaker-like array leads to too much power and general mishigoss. Somehow it all ends status quo, but not without a lot of yelling and carrying on.

I must say that Jennifer Lien plays scared very well and is a terrific shrieker.

Tattoo, VOY 2

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Saturday, August 30th, 2008

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More Chakotay spiritual nonsense. This time, involving “sky people” or something, I dunno. Awful.

Rejoined, DS9 4

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Saturday, August 30th, 2008

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Here is an example of a story’s warp core humming along at maximum speeds. The best of TOS, of course, was taking social issues of the day and couching it with lasers and black holes. What Rejoined did (in 1995) was take the issue of same-sex relationships and present it in a context completely organic to the fictional universe. As the produces said at the time – this isn’t a story about lesbians, it is a story about Trills.

I’ve always felt that the coolness of the character of Dax and Trills in general was undercut by the so-so acting of Terry Farrell – but she really steps up to the plate here. You really do feel for her as she vacillates between going with her heart of upsetting the codes and ethics of her Trill culture.

Wisely, the script opens with some uncharacteristic back story (told to Quark, to great comedic effect) so this episode does live on an island. If you think DS9 is a big joke, check this one out.

Persistence of Vision, VOY 2

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Saturday, August 30th, 2008

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I like stuff when you can’t tell when you are hallucinating or not. That element (and keeping the viewer unaware of what is reality and what isn’t) keeps this typical Voyager tale (basically) interesting.

Appaloosa (2008), Ed Harris, C

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Saturday, August 30th, 2008

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How could a western starring Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen, Jeremy Irons and Lance Henriksen (!) possibly be bad? Somehow, they found a way. There are some okay moments and the lighting is good, but for action stick with 3:10 to Yuma and for brooding epic stick with The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

Redbelt (2008), David MMAmet, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, August 24th, 2008

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Firstly, just, like, hats frickin’ off to a film that has Tim Allen, Randy Couture and Jennifer Grey in the cast. Take your base for that alone.

Redbelt, the first “serious” film about Jiu-Jistu and mixed-martial arts will certainly delight any fan of that sport, in that it treats it very seriously. Prior to this film, I knew that there was a lot of skill and intelligence involved in this enterprise solely because people had told me so. But turn on Spike TV when the UFC is on and it looks like two maniacs are rolling around on the floor performing random acts of violence on one another.

Many of the scenes are quite sharp and the whole “warrior’s code” thing comes off a lot nicer here in Redbelt than it does in Mamet’s least successful film Spartan. The thesis of the film, that no obstacle can’t be turned on itself, is played with well in story terms. The ending, though, feels almost like a porno. Once the money shot of the “big knockout” credits roll as if the VHS is popped from the machine before anyone can find it. A pity, as there are some cool characters that are “briefly” sketched out that deserve more screentime.

Vicky Christina Barcelona (2008), Woody Allen, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, August 24th, 2008

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Rebounding from the well-played but uninspired Cassandra’s Dream, VCB is a gem of a film for a very small audience. . . the very small percentage of filmgoers out there who like spending time in Woody Allen’s crypto 1950s-lensed view of youth and affluence.

The plot of VCB hardly exists and its representation of reality (women swoon over Europeans!) is an embarrassing fossil. And yet, find one moment of this film that isn’t an absolute joy to watch? I love watching people drink wine and speak in dated psychological phraseology!

There’s that great line Randy Newman had about the “redneck” and Lester Maddox: he may be a fool but he’s our fool. Another one of Woody’s preposterous films is like spending time with family. One of the great joys of summer 2008.

Resident Evil 2: Apocalypse (2004), Alexander Witt, C-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, August 24th, 2008

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I don’t mind a story that makes no sense, I don’t mind paper thin characters, I don’t mind a scenario literally taken from the screens of a video game. I mind when fight sequences are poorly edited and revert to dumbass shudder-vision slo-mo.

Seems like you could do more with a “city of zombies” concept, but the neutron bomb was cool, as was when Milla ran down the side of the Toronto Municipal Tower.

Glengarry Glen Ross (1992), James Foley, A+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

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One of those films you can watch 100 times and still discover something new.

Everything to say about this movie has already been said, except this: it inspired this bit of genius –

I want to make one thing clear from the outset: I’m not old. Yeah, I might be a little older than you — maybe — but I’m not old. I’m still cutting edge, still tech-savvy. I know how to friendster people on my Face-Book, and nobody downloads more Youtubes on a daily basis than I do (I like the ones where cats fall off of stuff).
Which is why it really offended me when I was IM’ing with my 19-year-old cousin the other day, and he mocked my consistent use of punctuation. My first response was an angry tirade. Something like: “Yeah, so my e-mails aren’t an undifferentiated string of lower-case letters — that makes me over the hill? I was IM’ing when you were still mastering Lite-Brite technology, you little punk.” (Followed by lots more raving that’s unprintable, highly personal, and anatomically impossible. But you get the idea.)
Then, as his mother was calling my mother and a major family crisis started brewing, I plopped down on the couch to cool off with some DVDs. Movies always chill me out, and as I watched I realized, hey, I don’t just use punctuation because I’m old and atrophied! I use punctuation because it’s really handy! For example, what would that great Mamet line be without the punctuation?? “F— me? F— you!” … Without punctuation? Wouldn’t be much of anything, in my humble opinion.

CONTINUE……

Resident Evil (2002), Paul W. S. Anderson, C+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

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You’d think that I, the guy who was instrumental in the building of Resident Evil World at UGO, would’ve actually seen the movies. Well, it doesn’t always work like that. But I watched this for the first time the other day and was surprised at how not-awful it was.

Yes, the story is asinine and the storytelling is atrocious (who are these people? what do they all want?) but in terms of action, it is just fine. I say with respect that Paul W. S. Anderson is one of the best hack directors working today. His movies are crap, but they are always watchable and never boring. Hats off.

Indiscretion, DS9 4

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

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This is the first DS9 episode in a while that is merely just good, not great. And you’d think it would be a knockout, about the Kira/Dukat backstory of the Cardassian occupation of Bajor. Perhaps reading the mighty Terok Nor trilogy has set the bar pretty high on this, I dunno.

Anyway, when Dukat has to rub his ass with a tissue regenerator, a little part of me checked out.

Star Trek: Death Before Dishonor

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

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Subcategory within subcategory: dudes who like comics but don’t really like Trek. And they all say the same thing – “Trek comics suck. Except for the Peter David ones.”

Death Before Dishonor is part of Titan Books’ trade paperback rereleases of early 90s comics. And one of the Peter David ones. It is awesome.

Set between Star Trek V and Star Trek VI this collection does what all hardcore fans really dream of – kinda hangs out with the crew. The storyline has a wonderful lived-in quality. Chill a bit with Chekov, chill a bit with Sulu. There is an ark (everyone is out for Kirk’s head, even some members of the Federation council) and things end on a cliffhanger. Luckily, I already own the next book.

Peter David really effing nails the voices. Some – nay, many! – of the Trek comics feel like they are written by people who’ve never seen an episode. (Of course, this actually was the case with the Gold Key comics.) Not here – it is as “real” as any of the TOS episodes or the films. Hotcha!

Top 50 Hottest Sci-Fi Girls

Jordan | No News Is Good News | Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

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It’s the fun little feature that’s tearing up the internets. Take a look at the eloquently titled Top 50 Hottest Sci-Fi Girls.

In Bruges (2008), Martin McDonagh, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, August 17th, 2008

This isn’t just a good movie on its own merits, it is absolute panacea in a culture choking on the films of Guy Ritchie and Joe Carnahan and other talented yet stuck-in-neutral filmmakers. In Bruges, a crime thriller that manages to be funny and foul and NOT derivative of Quentin Tarantino! And actually exciting, with a well-thought out ending! And well shot, despite not flinging the camera around all over the place like a crazy person. And really goddamned funny (if I didn’t say that already.)

I skipped this in the theater because I thought I’d seen enough of this type of crap. No. It isn’t like that. This is a quality film with a genuine script and real actors. Definitely a top pick for 08.

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