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Bananas (1971), Woody Allen, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Saturday, May 30th, 2009

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An absurd comedy classic. People have cribbed from this ever since – including Woody Allen.

Nonstop stupidity – visual gags, wordplay, “he brings a cake and not an assortment?” and some other extremely other dated NYC/Jewish jokes that I even I barely get. Fantastic.

Whatever Works (2009), Woody Allen, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Saturday, May 30th, 2009

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My deep rooted inability to say anything too negative about Woody Allen prevents me from telling you how I really feel about this movie – that it is a limp noodle, a shrug, a cast-off half-project. It’s a movie that you can watch and talk on the phone at the same time. And still – there are parts that are stone cold hilarious and even a little bit touching.

Futurama: The Beast With a Billion Backs (2008), Peter Avanzino, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Thursday, May 28th, 2009

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When it was announced Futurama would be back with four feature-length DVDs I was ecstatic. The first one came out, I loved it, and then. . .that was it. I turned on Futurama for a stupid reason I won’t get into here.

But I finally watched movie #2 last night and it is fantastic. It truly embraces insane, stream-of-consciousness thinking blended with hardcore nerdish sci-fi. It’s been said before, but there is more hard SF in an episode of Futurama than almost any other TV show, really.

This one involves a polygamous octopus monster from space voiced by David Cross.

Up (2009), Pete Docter and Bob Peterson, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Thursday, May 28th, 2009

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I don’t want to be a gigantic douche, but Up is more “very good” than “great.”

Full review on UGO today.

Burnt By The Sun (1994), Nikita Mikhalkov, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, May 25th, 2009

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Perhaps if I were Russian I’d have more feelings toward this film. It’s won every award imaginable, I left thinking, “yeah, that was pretty good.”

The first 90 minutes feature and an extended family and group of artists at a collective colony out in the country. It the Stalin years, pre-WWII.

An old(ish) war hero and his young bride are up there and all is well until her old lover returns. What follows is a fairly classic character-driven tale of romantic upheavals. Almost British is its presentation.

The final 30 minutes, though, take an odd political turn. Stalin’s purges come down hard and we realize (Spoilers) that the returned lover is actually there to take the old man away for giving secrets to the Germans. Violence concludes the tale. A closing crawl implies that the dude wasn’t actually giving secrets away. Tugs on the heartstings a bit, I guess, but hardly angered up the blood. In Russia, in 1994, that was a different story I am sure.

Most Russian films I’ve ever seen (Soviet or not) are very technical, very formal. This is not. (It is also a French co-production.) Just saying, is all.

Chocolate (just the fight scenes) (2009), Prachya Pinkaew, C+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, May 25th, 2009

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It’s takes a lot for a martial arts movie to make it into my sphere of knowledge, but this one a) stars a woman and b) features “thai boxing” instead of the other leading brand. To my untrained eyes, it is all just kicking and punching and going “eeek” with each move, but who am I to say it isn’t “thai boxing.”

We tried to watch the movie proper, but the opening sequence made that simply unbearable. The midi-esque music! The slow dissolves! The incomprehensible storytelling! “Is this the movie, or still a trailer?”

On FF we determined that a special needs child is blessed with the gift of catching tennis balls with great speed and kicking mounds of ass. She needs to collect “mother’s money” because mother is dying (and has been doing so for about 17 years) so the young tennis ball catcher (and her tubby, goofy friend) proceed to put some muscle on varying bad guys who hang out in warehouses.

First they hit the ice warehouse. Then it was the box factory. Then the meat lockers. Then, just, I dunno, some room. The big boss fight, and, frankly, the only one that made me really say, “Wow, that is cool” happened on various ledges of sign-heavy three story buildings. Lots of jumping up and down levels, straight out of games like Prince of Persia.

The illusion was shattered though as the closing credits showed all the injuries. When Jackie Chan’s movies do this it is filled with laughs and good cheer. Chocolate showed people being taken away in traction, perhaps never to walk again. That’s not all that fun.

Taken (2009), Pierre Morel, B-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, May 25th, 2009

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I hate Albanians so much.

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Maelstrom

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Monday, May 25th, 2009

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If you’ve been paying attention, you might have noticed that I haven’t been all that fond of the TNG comics. They’ve all been, oh, what’s the word I am looking for. . . .awful! Yeah, that’s it.

This collection is the first that is at least moderately okay.

LaForge and Riker get captured by Ferengi while off snow-surfing (?) and then there’s “Journey to Babel” knock-off with assassination attempts at a diplomatic event. Ultimately, there’s some cool stuff in there with Romulans who wear light blue and checkered yellow. It’s pretty fab. Medical Officer Selar shows up, which is cool, too.

Okay Maelstrom, into the collection with you, never to be heard from again.

Tears of the Prophets, DS9 6

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Monday, May 25th, 2009

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Worf, the mighty Klingon warrior, emits a death cry as his par’machai rides to StoVoKor.

The Dominion War (which, let’s face it, likes to take a breather now and then for a bottle episode) is back with a vengeance and takes the life of a regular cast member. A hot regular cast member. War is, indeed, hell.

The Sound of Her Voice, DS9 6

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Monday, May 25th, 2009

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Like the movie BAT 21 but in space. Well, not really. Maybe Pump Up The Volume in space. Yeah, that makes more sense.

Time’s Orphan, DS9 6

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Monday, May 25th, 2009

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This episode fails and it is particularly painful because it could have been good.

I very much like the science fiction elements of it – and, apparently, much research was done about what would happen if an 8 yr old child lived as a feral creature for 10 years and suddenly came back. No thought, however, was put into how the parents would react. I would imagine that Colm Meany and Rosalind Chao just thought it pointless to fight on behalf of their characters – their abandonment of their child is an abomination. Feh on this poorly written episode.

Hope and Fear, VOY 4

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Monday, May 25th, 2009

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You had my at Seven of Nine and Janeway showing off their new racquetball outfits. This season closer gave us a summer of slash possibilities with that scene.

That aside, some solid stuff as a curious stranger seems to have all the answers to an Alpha Quadrant return. . . .but no. But he ain’t just a bad guy, he’s (yet another) example of Voyager’s well-intentioned-benevolence causing mishigoss on other worlds due to interplanetary geo-political ripples. Whoopsie! (Brannon Braga clearly has a bug up his ass about this topic.)

Profit and Lace, DS9 6

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Monday, May 25th, 2009

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I’m kinda done with you, Grand Nagus Zek.

Some of the Ferengi episodes are flat out genius. They can be funny, and usually Armin Shimerman does something against type that really makes you see the whole species in a new light. This is not one of those episodes.

One , VOY 4

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Monday, May 25th, 2009

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In order to survive a month-long passage through a (particularly) brutal nebula, all on Voyager save the Doctor and Seven of Nine must go into stasis chambers. The the Doctor has a prob and must stay in Sick Bay. And then Seven of Nine realizes she’s never, ever been alone. Bad news for a former Borg drone. Will they make it through the nebula before she goes completely bananas?

Lots of Jeri Ryan running in this episode, therefore something of a success.

Drag Me To Hell (2009), Sam Raimi, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Thursday, May 21st, 2009

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Holy crap, what fun.

There were moments in this film where women were shouting “Oh my God!” at full voice in the audience.

The story is asinine, but as a clothesline to pin outrageous set pieces, it is fine. There’s a scene in a garage that is Raimi’s masterstroke. It’s more awesome than Viggo’s swinging dick scene in Eastern Promises.

See this in a theater, preferably one with an “urban” audience.

Nickelodeon (1976), Peter Bogdanovich, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Thursday, May 21st, 2009

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This love letter to the wild, wild west of pre-Birth of a Nation filmmaking is a little cheesy, but if you can handle the wooden acting (or tell yourself it is done on purpose) you can have a fabulous time.

It’s funny – Bogdanovich has such a horrible reputation for his lesser known work – but I’ve never disliked anything I’ve seen by him. (That said, I haven’t seen ‘em all.)

Jonah Hex: Origins

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

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Read this for research purposes.

It’s a very standard Western. Nothing too original, frankly, but much of the art is very cool. Just basic enough, I think, to launch a very cool movie.

Children of Men (2006), Anfonso Cuaron, A+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

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This is still my pick for best movie of the 2000s. Certainly of the Bush years. Watching on Blu-ray just confirms this.

What’s so wonderful is its simplicity. The world created is so deep and yet, plot-wise, so little actually happens. It is a perfect film. (And still makes me sick to my stomach.)

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