Monday Morning Critic – 2/2

On tap this week:
— Love & Hate in regards to Seth Rogen
— Jackie Chan!
— The Resurrection of Mickey Rourke
— Pulse Glazer takes one for the team
— Scott gives dating advice!
And slightly much more!

You know who bugs me? Seth Rogen.

Ok, I take that back. I think he’s hilarious and excessively quotable in both his films and in real life. He’s one of the funniest guys in films and one of the few actors who, when they release a film, I’m a guaranteed ticket buyer on opening night and a probable DVD purchaser as well for anything he’s been in. I remember him in Undeclared, as I was one of the few that watched that show.

He and Paul Rudd make for the two guys in a film that guarantee its sheer awesomeness. I’m all about a film if it has either of them in it, and if it’s both then I’m definitely there. But it’s led to one unintended side effect, at least to me. And after I heard it the first time from Travis Leamons, I swear to G_d that everyone in the world has repeated it. Every Jewish guy who doesn’t look like Woody Allen, Adam Sandler or Ben Stiller (i.e. the whacky Jewish guy) is immediately declared to look like Seth Rogen.

I thought Travis, who inspired the theory, was just being his usual whacky self but IMMEDIATELY after he said it everyone I know made the reference. It’s like being a Jewish guy with facial hair automatically means you look like Seth Rogen.

I was at a bar once (big shocker, I know), celebrating a multi-layered event. My buddy Terry had a birthday, as well as he finished up his college degree AND was opening up his Awesome Comic Book Shop as an actual business, with a storefront and everything, after being online only for a while. Good times, yo. And you definitely should visit the site and buy stuff, too, if you’re a comic book type. If you’re in the greater Chicagoland area and want to hop on in, go for it as well. Terry’s a cool cat and gets the highest recommendation I can give.

I had popped on in to the celebration between films; it was one of those three film nights and I had two hours between films. So I popped in to say hi. Considering the bar it was being held at is connected to the theatre, it’s not like I had to go out of the way or anything. So a mutual friend of ours was there and she was two things. She had this little red dress on and she looked really hot. I mean normally she looks great, but some girls really turn it on and look hot. She was that kind of hot. AND she was markedly drunk. Which meant that no matter what she said, I really wasn’t going to pay THAT much attention to whatever drunken shenanigans was going to come out of her mouth that night because. . . well . . . let’s face it. Sometimes the aesthetics of a woman ARE good enough to overcome anything.

So my lady friend was in a fun mood. We always banter back and forth (she was the one who inspired the Crazy Cat Lady Skill Challenge comment from several weeks back) and when she’s drunk it gets even goofier. She’s perhaps one of the coolest women I know (and one of the warmest), but bantering back and forth with her is fun because the angrier she gets the more obnoxious I get.

Sp I was wearing a t-shirt I got at the Juno press screening. It just has the film’s title on the front in messed up lettering and Rainn Wilson’s line about doodles on the back on a crude drawing of an etch-a-sketch. It fits awesome and gives me a sort of post-modern slacker motif with jeans and sandals, per usual for me in early summer Chicago.

The first thing out of her mouth to me, after probably a half dozen martinis, is a response to something I had said which I thought was funny and most people found offensive:

“You think you’re so [incredibly] funny, don’t you Seth Rogen.”

She then went on this awesomely bad (yet surprisingly hilarious) rant about how being younger and dressing like a slacker doesn’t make you cool. “It doesn’t make you funny, just a lazy bum.”

Several girls who I dated, or at least had some fun with for one to several nights, said the same bloody thing. “You look like Seth Rogen” or “You look like the hot guy from Forty Year Old Virgin” or something along those lines. While I’ll take that particular compliment, it kind of bugs me that everyone who isn’t related to me has said that. Travis qualified it once as my “Seth Rogen on Dianabol” to Mike Noyes and his “Skinny Kevin Smith” but still.

I was out at the bars this past weekend and some random drunkard said “you totally look like Seth Rogen, man.”

Hopefully looking like Seth Rogen won’t keep me out of a good graduate school.

Random Thoughts of the Week

One thing kept bothering me as I watched Oscar coverage, following the release of the nominations that is. It was the whole “resurrection of Mickey Rourke” thing following his nomination for The Wrestler. Everyone is acting like he went from being a low level actor to back on top, biggest draw in Hollywood. That’s not the reality of the situation.

Rourke was a guy whose biggest hits came in minor roles and was a cult favorite and sex symbol for a couple years, but not a long time. His time of top was short, as he never was a huge star to begin with, and to call this point in his career a “resurrection” is the wrong phrase. It’s temporary career resuscitation more than anything else, at least until he does something stupid like participate in a wrestling match for real. Then it’s back to the dregs with Travolta. Rourke is a tale of not striking when the iron was hot, the ‘80s Ben Affleck with a face that’s had the hell beaten out of it. Nothing more, unfortunately, and that’s more of an insult to Affleck than it is a compliment to Rourke. It’s not as if he headlined a film that made $200 million in 1985 or has a handful of Oscars already. Rourke was an “it” guy for a while and nothing seriously beyond that. Think Orlando Bloom with less clout.

The real redemption story of 2008 was Robert Downey Jr. It’s not even a comparison. It’s easy to see when you compare what 2008 was for him as opposed to how it was for Rourke. Downey headlined one of the biggest films of the year and then promptly stole the show in one of the funnier films of the year, earning an Oscar nomination in the process.

For the record I’m a big fan of both actors, but there has to be a reality check sometime before it gets out of control.

Downey was a true burgeoning A-list actor in the mid 1990s, headlining Air America with huge megastar Mel Gibson. Downey has also had some well-documented substance abuse issues, 1996 to 2001 being his spectacular downfall. His issues were probably there before, but his life spiraled out of control spectacularly around then. He spiraled down the same path of self-destruction that Rourke did, except with drugs as opposed to boxing. Downey even messed up on Ally McBeal, which seemingly was his last chance at being a star. I was sad the day he was off the show, as I always hoped he’d get his act together. The show sucked, but he’s the one guy I always rooted for despite his constant screw-ups and watched it because of him.

He’s been clean and sober since 2003, which is something in Hollywood. His was always a case of talent being eaten away by internal demons, which is something because several of his character have had issues with the bottle (Charlie Bartlett, for example). His comeback has been gradual, building up to this summer where he made one mega-hit and scored an Oscar nomination for another hit.

He came back doing a lot of great films, including A Scanner Darkly and Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang as well as A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, to the point where people were willing to take a chance on him. The independent circuit, outside the studio system, is where he found a sort of acting redemption. He headlined one summer blockbuster in the last 12 months and will be headlining one of this fall’s bigger films in Sherlock Holmes. Plus next summer comes Iron Man 2, which will probably be one of that year’s bigger films.

Rourke really has gone from being a lead actor to being one of a select group of character actors referred to as “That Guy,” as in that guy from that movie. He’s a solid second banana, a white Morgan Freeman in training, but this isn’t a resurrection. This is him being prominent enough to get in better films than Harley Davidson and The Marlboro Man, no more. He’ll be one of the villains in Downey’s Iron Man sequel, has a supporting role in the Stallone vehicle The Expendables and comes back in another supporting role in the Sin City sequel (if it ever gets made). Not exactly the comeback trail of an actor who probably will win an Oscar. It’s the trail of a good supporting actor who did something to get back in the spotlight behind true headliners.

The Wrestler and Iron Man are a pair of great performances in films that have brought two actors back into a spotlight they once seemed destined to share. But the differences after both films are staggering. Rourke is still in the same position he was before the film: secondary star. Downey is in the position he seemed poised to be in: headliner.

That’s the difference between a career resurrection and a momentary shine in the spotlight. Mickey Rourke is Richard Jenkins with more hair, nothing else. While it’s not a bad position to have, it’s not a career resurrection.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

This Week’s Film – Supercop, a.k.a. Police Story 3: Supercop

policestory_poster

Chen Ka-Kui (Jackie Chan) is back for another round of crazy police shenanigans. This time he’s undercover in a prison camp. His girlfriend May (Maggie Cheung) is none the wiser as Chen meets a feisty Inspector (Michelle Yeoh) who helps him out as he goes undercover. It dissolves into the usual Police Story antics of wild action sequences revolved around basic elements of a film noir layout.

I had always thought of Jackie Chan as kind of a joke, not having seen any of his Hong Kong films, because anything I saw of him growing up and as a teenager was awful American films where he played second fiddle to guys like Chris Tucker and Owen Wilson.

It wasn’t until Rob Sutton convinced me to take a gander at Chan’s Hong Kong stuff that I started to really like Jackie Chan. And I really loved it, as this is Jackie Chan in a way he should’ve been shown here in America. The Police Story series is up there amongst my favorite action franchises.

Supercop is interesting in that it marks the last time Cheung would appear in the series and also the first that Chan himself didn’t direct. He obviously had a huge hand in the directing, I would imagine, as well as other aspects of the film like writing because this is his signature franchise in the same way that Bruce Willis is heavily involved with the Die Hard franchise. It has all his signature touches as a director, as Stanley Tong probably didn’t want to be the guy accused of screwing it up and just followed the established pattern of WWJD: “What would Jackie Do?”

Dragon Dynasty just released a two disc of the film with the original Cantonese and the original score, making it much better than the first release with the bad English dub but still shorter than the international release apparently.

It’s interesting to see how Michelle Yeoh has aged since this film. Here she looks a bit younger; it’s like she was ridden hard and put away wet for The Mummy 3: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. It’s in her face, mainly. Not to nitpick, because she’s still beautiful, but she aged really quickly over the span of like 15 years. But it’s pretty cool to see her as a true action star in the same manner as Chan; performing all her own stunts, and it’s a shame she never got to be in her prime in America as she puts a lot of male action stars to shame. And if Tia Carrera can become a sex symbol for being in two Wayne’s World movies, you can only imagine what an Asian woman with better English and a better body could’ve done. Oh, the possibilities.

Definite recommendation.

Mailbag

Hey Kubryk,
You seem like you know a lot about movies. I’m in a bind. I’ve been trying to find just the right movie to watch with my girlfriend, or a girl I’d like to be my girlfriend to be more honest, but everyone I’ve asked is useless. There’s a local Blockbuster, so I can find a ton of DVDs if need be. Any advice?
–Clueless in Sheboygan

Such a cliché question, but one that deserves an honest answer from someone (for once) and I ought to be the guy that gives it out. I’m sick of seeing advice column on movie-picking and it’s always the same, lame result.

Dear Abby and the lot will tell you some Jane Austen flick or a romantic comedy, but they’re full of it. That stuff never works, but it’s a matter of projection. Why? Dear Abby always wanted Mr. Darcy to sweep her off her feet and instead got Irving the accountant who likes internet porn. So they pass on that advice so they can relive the time when they were still attractive to men and fantasize about being Elizabeth Bennett and getting the big flowery speech about true love and how some guy wants to live forever with them no matter what.

You want a good flick to watch with a woman, avoid anything that involves romance as its primary goal. And unless you absolutely know for sure that she likes action-oriented flicks, avoid anything that involves violence. I made that mistake once, with this girl Stacy. She had this great body and was a teacher, which was solid as well. Definite potential to bring home to mom and dad, for sure, and we got along quite well. Date #2 (Date #1 was over drinks at a bar) was for the most appropriate date movie ever: Crank.

Gross over-estimation on my part would be the understatement of the century. Probably why Date #3 never materialized, I realize, but my mistakes can help others (I hope). So unless she suggests something that’s violent, like Gladiator, don’t be the first to suggest it.

There are three types of films you can throw out there and be cool. That’s the key to it all. You don’t want to appear like you’re trying incredibly hard to get in her pants; you want just to have a good time with good company and let whatever happens from there come out organically. Part of moving forward in any relationship is letting things occur naturally, not forced, and the fact that she’s willing to come over and watch a movie with you gets you 9/10 of the way there. The other tenth is the right film.

A nice light comedy tends to even the air and laughter is quite the aphrodisiac. Death at a Funeral is definitely a good one to go for, films along those lines work. Something that will get a laugh without being too offensive or too obscure is always going to work in your favor. Get Smart is another good one too, This is Spinal Tap could be one that would work as well.

A solid drama can always work in your favor and is your second route. Michael Clayton is definitely one you can go for that’ll work, so could The Lost City, The Verdict, A Few Good Men and The Insider are all solid choices.

The road less traveled is to go with the all-time classic route. You can feel like a movie connoisseur if you go for La Dolce Vita or The Seventh Seal, foreign flicks that are classics but not a lot of people have seen. You can come across as cultured in some aspect, but don’t grab something like that if you don’t get the basic information about it first. Roger Ebert’s “Great Movies” is a great place start, as Ebert’s list is usually on the money and the review gives you a tremendous perspective on the film (that you can crib from). As much as he’s slipped in the last couple years, his “Great Movies” list is well worth the time.

Top Five Challenge

In keeping with tradition, another member of the Inside Pulse family has stepped into the ring for this session of TOP FIVES! Pulse Glazer of Comics Nexus joins me for a comic book movie themed question.

Aaron, you’re known for your work in the Comic Nexus as well as in other areas of Inside Pulse. With the plethora of films based off of comic books having come out in the past several years, and will be coming out in the next several years, which five seemingly “can’t miss” properties that haven’t been made into films already do you see Hollywood screwing up on?

1. Preacher seems to be gaining steam as a film. Since it’s the ultimate mix of a gross out/buddy film with real controversial religious material within, I see next to no chance the film is loyal to its roots and will likely be a train wreck.

2. Scott Pilgrim is the single best indy book to come around in years… and they casted it terribly with the thin guy from Superbad meant to be cocky, anxious Scott. The comic’s charm is that is mixes genres and insanity with an emotional core. A director would have to figure out how to capture that and I just don’t see it.

3. Shazam… they scrapped their fun, lighthearted movie because the Dark Knight was successful. It’s Shazam in Fawcett City- Darkness here is as inappropriate as it was in the atrocious Spirit movie.

4. Captain America – The First Avenger is all but guaranteed to suck. Most people don’t talk about it, but it’s extraordinarily difficult to tell a non-hokey Captain America story in this day and age. Prior to Brubaker, Cap had been nearly unreadable since Waid… Do you trust Hollywood to figure out a way to make Cap an effective solo star without it being terribly corny or preachy? I don’t.

5. Magneto: Year One. It’s going to be impossible to mix superheroes with the Holocaust and not come off as, at best, insensitive.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and Northwestern University Co-Eds with low standards at the Rhythm Room

Coraline – Neil Gaiman has another one of his graphic novels made into a film. A young girl goes into a fantasy land through a closet in her room and has adventures. Then it turns all evil and she has to go home.

Skip It – They already made this film. It was called Mirrormask and it wasn’t very good. Don’t expect this to be any better.

He’s Just Not That Into You – A whole bunch of people have love problems.

See It – It has that Jane Austen Book Club & Friends with Money kind of feel in that it tries to appeal to men and women with a mature theme about love and marriage.

Pink Panther 2 – Steve Martin and his annoying French accent returns as something has been stolen and it’s up to Clouseau to solve it. And this time around he has a lot more co-stars with which to annoy people with.

Skip It – Not even the power of John Cleese can save this film.

Push – A bunch of people with mental abilities are living in Hong Kong. Then the American gov’t shows up, ostensibly to use their powers for evil. It’s up to Chris Evans and Dakota fanning, and a generic hot brunette, to save the day.

See It – The film just oozes coolness and Evans has attached himself to decent projects as of late, outside of the Fantastic Four franchise.

Do you have questions about movies, life, love, or Brannigan’s Law? Shoot me an e-mail at Kubryk@Insidepulse.com and you could be featured in the next “Monday Morning Critic.” Include your name and hometown to improve your odds.

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