Monday Morning Critic – 4/13

On tap this week:
— Blasting the movie a week challenge
— Making the movie?
— H2? Seriously?
And slightly much more!

So I’m watching the Making the Band reality show on VH1; it’s the afternoon, I’m bored of “Call of Duty” and it’s depressing to look for jobs constantly. This isn’t the original Making the Band that had O-Town on it. That first season was awesome, but then again I was in college in 1999-2000 when it ran and television hadn’t really gone down the reality route just yet. So it was still somewhat fresh and new, so to speak. This was when “reality” television was still new and hadn’t found a true niche formula like it does now.

O-Town’s rise in the era when the Boy Band was at its peak was fascinating, and now Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs is the brains behind this new version of the show. So I’m watching some new band Combs is putting together. For the life of me I couldn’t tell you anyone on it or whatever, but what I find fascinating is that Combs has basically figured out a way to churn out music and new acts on a regular basis that have name recognition early on while basically letting MTV foot the costs. And an idea hits me. Why can’t there be a “Making the Movie” type of show on VH1?

You can get an established director who’s young enough to get the concept. Michael Bay would be perfect and let’s face it; you can’t have much of a passion for “artistic integrity” when you’re the auteur of Bay Boys II. The production team you can bring together from Bay’s crew, and you can do like a show just introducing them and seeing Bay sell them on this. Now this is where the fun begins.

You go through the whole audition process, et al, and narrow the field down to like 20 people. You throw in half unknowns, half people who are famous or at least slightly well known in their own fields. Mix ‘em together into two teams that compete in various movie-related challenges, kicking one person off a week, until you get the principles of your cast. This will be AWESOME.

You make everything into challenges, et al, and film the tension in the house. People can form alliances to get certain people into a less advantageous position. You win the challenge you are exempt from being kicked off by a panel that makes the final cut. You could even have teams throw challenges to try and eliminate certain people, which would be markedly hilarious to see a couple nobodies tank a challenge alongside a pro football player going extremely crazy in an uber-competitive mood. That’s must see TV, for sure.

You can even eliminate people in a similar manner. Whichever team loses responds by nominating three of their peers for final review, and one goes home from it based on a panel decision from outside sources. That’s pretty normal, as similar things are used on American Idol and I Love Money. But you make the challenges ridiculous, like accurately shooting a gun or taking a punch to the face. All the stupid, vapid things you see in a Bay film you can totally reproduce in challenges complete with famous actors stopping in to explain them. Like wouldn’t it be fun to try and get Sean Connery to insult the cast like he did Nic Cage in The Rock? Or who can escape from a chainsaw wielding maniac the fastest? Don’t tell you wouldn’t watch it because you WOULD.

After a while it’ll get fun. Most of the actors I’ve met have all been nice, hospitable folks who love talking about their work. But get them all in one house and get them beaten up, competing for their big break, and the fireworks will fly and you can bet the bank on it. You could even have like low level celebrities mixed in to make it colorful. Imagine this lineup:

3 Comedy Improv actors
3 Off Broadway Talents
2 People who have made livings as extras
1 High School drama club member
1 College drama club member

UFC fighter Chuck Liddell
Strikeforce MMA fighter Nick Diaz
Kansas City Chief TE Tony Gonzalez
Miami Dolphins DE Jason Taylor
Tween singing star Nick Jonas
Tween singing star Taylor Swift
Political blogger Cassy Fiano
WWE superstar Ken Kennedy
NWA:TNA superstar Madison Rayne
Jackass cast member Chris Pontius

There you have 20 people, 20 personalities, all of which would be hilarious in a team atmosphere of competition. But that’s not the best part. You need judges who can really lace into people. So here’s the big twist: you pay them to see who can be the meanest, with a $50k prize to their favorite charity for the meanest evaluation awarded to the top judge. So you continually have judges lacing into people, making it that much tougher on everyone inside and thus raising the tension in the house each week.

So who would evaluate them? Only the best, of course, as you get successful character actor Terry Crews (President Comacho in Idiocracy), Trey Parker of South Park and English character actor Bill Nighy to verbally trash every person in it at the “Final Cut” each week. I can only imagine a cut moment where Crews chewing someone out in hilarious vulgarity for screwing up a “dramatic” moment, Stone topping him by repeating it verbatim in Cartman’s voice and Nighy topping them by repeating it in a voice mocking Cartman but with his usual awesome English accent. Don’t tell me that wouldn’t be 60 minutes of reality show awesomeness because it totally would be.

Thoughts like these, however, are probably the reason why I didn’t get into the good colleges.

Random Thoughts of the Week

Someone needs to stop with the horror remake sequels. I think their zenith should be H2, Rob Zombie’s sequel to his remake of Halloween. Considering that he finished the film with Mike Myers’ apparent death, as getting shot in the face half a dozen times with a revolver at close range is enough to kill any man, it’s kind of sad especially considering Zombie himself said that he didn’t think the film warranted a sequel nor did he ever intend on making one. But apparently his Werewolf Women of the SS trailer still isn’t good enough for a feature length release and will have to stay a fun feature in the Grindhouse experience.

No matter what he does with H2, this is more than enough. With the remake of Friday the 13th featuring Jason Vorhees as a decathlete and the remake of Nightmare on Elm Street probably featuring Freddy Kreuger with a guitar solo, it’s time for Hollywood to stop it.

Eventually the creativity in Hollywood is going to kick back in, much like jobs and the economy, so I guess until that point we’re stuck with crappy horror flicks. At least the summer movie season is nearly upon us and we’ll be able to avoid them for a couple months.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

This Week’s Film – Blast of Silence


Criterion is my second favorite DVD distributor, only behind Dragon Dynasty, and what I’m really digging are their releases from the pre-New Wave era of crime flicks. Before Melville and gang changed the way crime flicks were done, American crime films had a much different approach. Heavy in voiceovers and narration, which was a film-making component many directors relied on heavily in that era, they feature a lot of things that are staples of the genre but are recognized from other films as trademarks. Others are different techniques at looking at a particular type of underworld figure; Le Samourai changed the way films about hitmen were looked at, but Blast of Silence was the way they used to be looked at.

Blast of Silence is an early 1960s crime flick focusing on a hitman on assignment in New York. But for this one it’s a return to earlier times, as this is his home. It’s a trip through memory lane that ultimately puts his life in danger. But we see as he goes through his job as a hitter while balancing his old relationships, with the narration giving us insight into his psyche.

It’s an interesting flick, another that I’m shocked hasn’t been put on the remake block, and it’s a look at a guy with nothing left trying to reconnect to a world that he doesn’t know anymore. Filmed in black and white, it’s always wild to see people in that era as filmmakers didn’t substitute other cities for New York, Chicago, et al. We get to see New York in its seedy glory, down on the streets in the gutter, and get a bit of an insight into the criminal world as well.

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 Keg

This is perhaps going to be my favorite week of the year.

Crank 2: High Voltage – Chev Chelios is back.

See It – Any film that a sneak peek from Ain’t it Cool calls “Anal rape with a shotgun crazy” gets my cash.

17 Again – Zac Efron and Matthew Perry ape Big.

See It – This is going to be Efron’s make or break moment as an actor. He’s been very popular as part of the High School Musical franchise, and stole the show in the remake of Hairspray, but now this film is a test. Can he draw outside of the HSM franchise or will he be stuck with Vanessa Hudgens forever in high school? It’s worth it just for that.

State of Play – Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck star in the American film version of the BBC series.

See It The BBC mini-series is spectacular and I have little doubts that this will follow suit. Plus Affleck’s starring roles lately have gotten a lot better, and Crowe doesn’t take high profile roles in bad movies.

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

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