Monday Morning Critic – 12.14

On tap this week:
Jersey Shore….really?
— Getting a little Red on the indie scene
— The Delayed Nut Punch and other twists
And slightly much more!

I used to think that crap like the The Hills was perhaps the worst thing humanity could come up with. And then came Jersey Shore. I just keep thinking that there’s no way MTV can go from being a channel about music to being a documentary about the decline of western civilization.

When the final epitaph for Western Civ is written, it’ll be a movie. And it’ll start out with “Mike the Situation” talking. But then again, thoughts like this kept me out of the good colleges.

Random Thoughts of the Week

If you haven’t seen Up in the Air yet, you should, because it has one of the most awesome twist endings ever. And it got me thinking: we need to come up with a classification for various twists. So I decided we need one, the unofficial “Kubryk Twist Classification System” if you will.

The ‘Irritation’ Twist – When the logical build up is thrown away for a cutesy twist, like the main character really is the killer despite all the evidence that the butler did it.
ExampleHigh Tension

The ‘Ha ha ha, you paid money for this’ Twist – When all hope is lost, out comes a twist that just undermines the entire movie. Like when all hope is lost, a quick flashback that says “we planned it all along” and Deus ex Machina later you have a happy ending.
ExampleOcean’s Twelve

The Delayed Nut Punch – When you know how a film is going to end, as it’s telegraphed early on, but when it does happen it’s so well done you have to admire it.
ExampleUp in the Air

The ‘Happy Ending’ – When a film should end in a dark, ominous way and has to pull a 180 to send the audience home.

The Stupid Twist – A twist you see coming because it’s perhaps the stupidest thing a film can do to try and be entertaining.
ExampleRighteous Kill

That’s all I can think of for the moment.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

This Week’s DVD – Red


Travis Leamons and I are amongst the few who get “For your Consideration” screeners on a regular basis. For those not in the know, studios send out freebies to promote their films during the “Prestige” season. I have a box full of ‘em from the last couple years. What I also get are random indie movie-makers who send me stuff, or want to send me stuff, so they can get publicity. With the cheapening of technology, everyone who ever wanted to make a film well…can make the film. Mike Noyes has spent years working on a film he did during his M.F.A that has some promise to it; Paranormal Activity was made by a couple people with nothing more then a rented house, a camera and some ‘70s special effects.

Red was sent to me by writer/director Nick Warnock, and is at this point a work in progress. Working on a full form picture starting spring 2010 (per the nice press release provided), this is at best what could be a short film. Much like Knuckle Draggers was from Murtz’s buddy Paul Alessi, Red comes from another one of Murtz’s professional buddies. One of the perks, I suppose, but that’s why I come with the big title. But Red has a hook that intrigued me: McCarthy era United States. It’s why I watched it, honestly.

Following the tale of a fallen FBI agent turned insurance investigator, turfed from the FBI for having Communist sympathies, he’s on to a fairly large case. A woman has filed a massive insurance claim upon the death of her husband and he has to figure out if it is or is not the murder for hire he thinks it is. And the more involved he gets, the more he begins to realize that his very life may be in danger. A short film now, apparently this is going to be made into a full length film.

It’s an interesting DVD box, I’ll give them that, but the film is just a dramatic version of The Experts. It’s a late ‘80s flick that was made during John Travolta’s years in decline and the film follows a similar path, but with “clever dialogue.” And hopefully if this film does go into full production it’ll get some of that because so far this isn’t very good. With a bad film sometimes you have to stop it part of the way and do something else; even for a film that doesn’t last longer then an episode of House I had to stop it multiple times.

And I feel for bad writing that, because obviously Nick and gang put their hearts into it, but this isn’t very good so far. It seems as if they’ve watched a lot of movies from this era and just cribbed dialogue, or just watched Brick and said “we could do that.”

Recommendation to avoid.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club

Nine – The musical version of 8 ½, with Daniel Day-Lewis as Fellini.

See it – Quite good, saw it at a press screening a couple weeks ago. Well worth searching out.

Avatar – James Cameron is back.

Skip it – Welcome to a $300 million version of Tron, except crappier. Or you could rent Battle for Terra and save yourself a trip to the theatre.

Did you hear about the Morgans? – Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker go into witness protection and rediscover their love.

Skip it – Formulaic rom-com. I’ll spoil it for you, without having seen more then the trailer: they fall back together in love.

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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