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Eagle Eye (2008), D. J. Caruso, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Thursday, September 25th, 2008

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Eagle Eye is so brazenly stupid that I have to just stand up and salute it.

It almost feels like the writers (four of em!) got into a daring match – just how long can we keep this up? How ridiculous can we make this without breaking. And then when you get to the end, you realize they wrote the whole thing backward. All they did was take a scenario you’ve heard pitched a thousand times and get you there in the most insane and convoluted way imaginable.

And I think it takes great chutzpah to that! Plus – a visual cue from Rollerball and The Man Who Knew Too Much in the same picture?!? Who can resist?!!??

Cube (1997), Vincenzo Natali, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

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I didn’t see Cube when it came out for one simple, idiotic reason. Pi had just come out. I figured, eh, I’ve seen Pi, I don’t need to see Cube. My brain works this way. I still haven’t seen the documentary Spellbound because I like the Hitchcock film.

Anyway, if you are a pessimist you will watch Cube and say, “Boy – the acting sure is shitty, the characters are false and the plotting doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.” If you are an optimist you will say, “For a no budget film out of Canada, this achieves a great deal of tone, is very engaging to watch and somehow manages to be “heavy” without being overburdened by bullshit.”

For the most part, I consider myself an optimist.

Nathalie…(2003), Anne Fontaine, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

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What’s French for “keep it simple, stupid”?

A spurned woman hires a call girl to shtup her husband. Is it to spy? To learn how to please him? To live vicariously? Does there have to be just one reason? What happens when friendships are formed? Who is exploiting who? How can a movie with virtually no nudity or onscreen sex be so filthy? And, finally, what’s up with the French? What is going on over there when a guy that looks like Gerard Depardieu (or, as Ann called him, “Le That Guy”) has women throwing themselves at his feet?

Jokes aside, see this movie. It is like a tall glass of cold water – simple and with great purpose.

Crossfire, DS9 4

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

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Probably the most noticeable thing about this episode is that it comes in the middle of a blazing run of DS9′s Season 4 and is just….kinda okay.

Odo loves Kira. She doesn’t know it. Sigh.

That’s basically it.

Standard Operating Procedure (2008), Errol Morris, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Saturday, September 20th, 2008

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I did something I almost never do with this movie. I watched it twice in a row. Mostly because Morris’ style made it a little difficult for me to follow the first time. If you, like me, only have a vague knowledge of the major players in the Abu Ghraib story, then you’ll need to see it twice or hit that rewind button.

But maybe that is the point (you never know with a trickster like Morris.) Names and acronyms and regulations kinda fly in your face at a confusing rate – leaving you a little dizzy and hoping for order. Orders? “Just following orders” of course, is one of the major themes. We meet the people behind (and from) the Abu Ghraib photos – including her – and they kinda seem like normal people.

Standard Operating Procedure is not a 60 Minutes expose on Abu Ghraib. It is a look into the specifics of awfulness (more than once was I reminded of Hannah Arendt’s “Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil”) and, perhaps more importantly for our echo chamber news media culture, a discussion of the importance of the photo or video image and its contexts.

Each of the “defendants” have an opportunity to speak for themselves and, frankly, many make a good case. One guy who did a year of prison had nothing to do with the torture (excuse me, “softening up”) except for one day when he was the guy removing cuffs so someone’s hands didn’t fall off. But that was on film. Don’t let yourself be seen on film.

Most shocking was the revelation that the guy in this photo, arguably the most sickening of all the Abu Ghraib photos, was actually a “friend” to the officers before and after this shot was taken. And that the wires weren’t hooked up to anything. The jury stamped this photo as “S.O.P.” – Standard Operating Procedure, by the way.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008), Nicholas Stoller, C-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Saturday, September 20th, 2008

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Movies are about the suspension of disbelief, but there comes a point where you just can’t take the lazy writing anymore.

Forget the myriad coincidences that are essential to the plot, just the unlikely premise that a Froot Loops-eating zhlub has beautiful women throwing themselves at his feet no matter where he goes. Oh – I see – the lead actor is also the screenwriter. I understand now.

There are a few decent laughs, mostly from Russell Brand (who they’re making a quasi-sequel about, which is cool) but everything else here is a kind’ve a waste of your time.

Threshold, VOY 2

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Saturday, September 20th, 2008

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There are some out there who call this the worst episode in ALL of Trek. I don’t see it that way, because it only gets truly terrible at the end. TOS’s And The Children Shall Lead is awful all the way through.

Tom Paris kajiggers a shuttle to get to Warp 10 and “be at all points of the Universe at once.” Upon return, he starts to mutate (we later learn evolve) into the Swamp Thing. He kidnaps Janeway and turns her into Swamp Thing, too. Then the two salamanders mate and have kids?! And Chakotay just leaves them on their swamp planet??!? WTF! You can’t just leave them there. That violates absolutely every every everything the entire show represents.

Anyway, there are entire websites dedicated to how bad this episode is, so I’ll leave it here.

Alliances, VOY 2

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Saturday, September 20th, 2008

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Quite an episode, but hardly efficient. There’s a lot of story going on here – Battlestar Galactica would’ve stretched this out to half a season. A space battle, kidnapping, negotiations, double-crosses, moles, more kidnapping, eegads. What they’re really doing in this episode is telegraphing to the audience – “please, please, our show is different from TNG. Janeway faces different problems from Picard. And we’ve gone all in on the Kazon, so please like them as a bad guy!!”

This is, for the most part, achieved. The tribes of the Kazon were actually victims of an apartheid structure under the Trabe, who are now running scared from all the different (and warring) Kazon tribes. Can Janeway bring peace to everyone? Or can she just get people to leave her the hell alone?

Role Models (2008), David Wain, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Saturday, September 20th, 2008

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The Friedrich Engels to Judd Apatow’s Karl Marx is probably David Wain. Wait, what? I don’t really know what I mean by that either – except to say that David Wain’s films employ the same actors as Apatow’s and are funnier.

Role Models is the funniest dumb ‘n vulgar comedy in a year of ‘em – probably because the entire third act climax is centered on an epic LARP scenario – some of the beats stolen (uh, inspired) by the wonderful film Darkon. There’s some really funny shit in here, like a young black kid threatening to run a train on an especially tasty plate of chicken wings at “Chuck E. Cheese.” And a well-placed shofar. But I’m not really supposed to be talking about this movie so much. More, maybe, as we get closer to release.

And There Was Much Rejoicing

Jordan | E-motions | Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

Linden’s Butter Crunch

Jordan | E-motions | Monday, September 15th, 2008

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Bold statement:

Of all the pre-packaged and mass produced cookies out there, these are the best.

Batman: Hush by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Monday, September 15th, 2008

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Oddly enough, I found myself with absolutely nothing to do the morning and afternoon of my wedding. So I wound up sitting on a deck, by myself, reading Batman comics.

This two-book collection is actually quite fabulous, partially because it features so many sexily drawn characters fighting one another: Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Huntress, Harley Quinn…..and they’re all on motorcycles half the time!

There’s a nice whodunnit type storyline (indeed, please keep in mind that Batman is a detective!) and I must say that the love story angle between Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle is actually rather touching.

Pineapple Express (2008), David Gordon Green, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, September 15th, 2008

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As expected, this movie starts out very, very funny and gets consistently less funny as the film progresses. A full twenty minutes too long but the stuff that does work works very nicely. We all knew Seth Rogen was a gifted comic actor, but it is James Franco that steals the show here.

Fuck Jeff Goldblum.

The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Monday, September 15th, 2008

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One of the most influential books in comic-dom and, by extension, all of pop culture, Frank Miller’s brooding, nasty Batman stands up quite well over two-decades later. The shock of a “dark” superhero has past, but what still remains effective is the surprisingly impressionistic artwork. Indeed – weeks later (sorry, I’ve been too busy to blog) it’s the images that have stayed with me – the story, I dunno….there were some bad guys and Harvey Dent and the Joker were involved somehow. And David Letterman.

Definitely worth taking a look at.

These guys

Jordan | E-motions | Monday, September 15th, 2008

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Quid Pro Quo (2008), Carlos Brooks, F+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, September 7th, 2008

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Why the “plus” in F+? What’s keeping me from whipping out the old “Shit Sandwich” review and leaving it at that? There’s one pretty funny joke at the expense of public radio that keeps this piece of trash from being 100% awful. Instead it is only 99.99% awful.

Vera Farmiga, who was good enough to be forgettably superfluous in The Departed, gives a performance so painfully and embarrassingly bad in Quid Pro Quo that acting students should forever thank her, as people will be able to point to her work here and say, “See? This is what you should NOT do.”

The blame must be shared with the director, of course, and the open-palm-to-forehead screenplay, so lumbering and preposterous and about as subtle as container ship full of anvils dropped from the top of the Petronas Towers.

The final joke is that, yeah, I’d love to hear a “This American Life”-esque story about the people who feel compelled to pretend to be paraplegics. The shallow tale behind the hunt for this story? Vapid and inane.

Speed Racer (2008), The Wachowski Brothers, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, September 7th, 2008

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I’m not about to do anything as confrontational as call the universally derided Speed Racer a good movie – because it isn’t. What it is is a fantastic DVD. I guarantee you this will be a hit to keep on in the background during parties. There also are some moments of delightful camp that, if you aren’t under any pressure to, like, watch the movie, jump out and nip you on your nose. Christina Ricci and Susan Sarandon, especially, seem to “get” what it is they are doing here. (Making peanut butter sandwiches for the big race against evil is a nice touch.)

Visually, this is an exhausting milestone – as a “production” it is a curiosity piece for the ages. I just like seeing the buff “Racer X” who never gets out of leather, even when hanging around the living room. I feel like Joel Silver and the Wachowskis made exactly the movie they wanted to make and could give two shits if everyone else thought it was awful.

Prototype, VOY 2

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, September 7th, 2008

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The nicest thing you can say about this episode is that it at least cribs from a few different TNG episodes instead of just ripping one off.

Robots who just want to live, man. Robots programmed to fight, even when the war is over, man. The Prime Directive, man. Eh, at least Neelix is barely in it.

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