Friday, November 6, 2009


Somehow I missed this movie completely when it came out a year or so ago. I probably dismissed it as just another crappy pseudo-thriller but I have to give Taken some props. It was really enjoyable...right up to the end where it kind of tanked for me. More on that below.

In Taken, Neeson plays a down-on-his luck former government agent whose daughter is kidnapped from her “I’m a rich white girl following U2 all summer” European tour to be presumably sold into a human sex trafficking ring. Neeson’s Bryan Mills kicks into high gear to cunningly find and take down every person involved in the kidnapping of his daughter.

Taken is a formula thriller but somehow it worked for me. Maybe it was because there was no dramatic “reveal” of the bad guy. We know pretty much from the start who it is and we just get to sit back and watch Liam Neeson kick ass and take names until he finds him.

What works for the film is how much I have a huge crush on Liam Neeson, making me blind to any fault he might have in acting, and blind to many faults in the script. Also, there’s a lot of good fighting and vanquishing of bad guys that makes it fun to watch.

What’s bad? Well, here goes…
1. His daughter? Seriously, that was some horrific acting. Like every time she ran to give her dad or mom a hug it resembled a five-year-old running to a giant lollipop. SEVENTEEN-YEAR-OLD-GIRLS DO NOT RUN LIKE THAT. Ever. And they hate their parents. They scowl. There is a good deal of eye rolling. They don’t make goofy arms-out-flappy-legs-dances up to their mommies.

2. Mills’ ex-wife, played by Famke Jannsen. Her character was trite, poorly written and about as formulaic as it can get. She was upset that her daughter was kidnapped! No! I can’t believe it!

3. The ending. Oh, Taken. You had me right up until the end. I don’t want to give anything away but let’s just say that the ending was full of body count and not so full of dialogue. It just wrapped up so abruptly I felt like we never go the chance to feel very vanquished. And then that goddamn daughter did another one of those goofy runs and I just had to shut the whole thing off. It’s a good thing Liam Neeson is so incredibly, terribly dashing or I might have hated it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Away We Go

Away We Go is one of those movies that feels like it’s a studio movie masquerading as an independent film. More polished than a true indy – too rough to be Hollywood. Unfortunately, it falls into the trap of being a melancholy movie with an interesting soundtrack and not much else happening for the whole damn film -- except a lot of eloquent conversations that real people never have.

The film centers on a young, driftless couple who find themselves pregnant and in search of a place to call home. The movie follows them on a vast road trip where they audition cities in which to lay down roots. Along the way, we meet an amusing cast of characters who steal the show from the drab, chemistry-challenged leads, Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski [who plays Jim from The Office with a scruffier beard. What a marvel of costuming!]

That being said, Away we Go is enjoyable and is probably worth watching for Maggie Gyllenhaal’s insanely crunchy-granola-toddler-breastfeeding-hippie mama character alone. If you’ve ever encountered one of those family-bed fascists in your own life, you will squeal with delight at how pompous and self-righteous she is. "Do you plan to hide your lovemaking from your children?" she asks Maya Rudolph with an air of implied reproach when she questions how they all sleep in one bed together. Another notable cameo is Allison Janney who is just terrific as usual playing a loudmouthed, booze-soaked cougar. She’s dynamite. Go rent it, you’ll enjoy it.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Sit down.
Are you there?
Because I have an announcement:

Mike Tyson is going to melt your cold, dark heart.

Don’t believe me? Then sit through this new documentary, Tyson. I promise you that you’ll find your heart filling with gooey Mike Tyson mush.

Mike Tyson isn’t easy to love – for most of my life I considered him just one step above a housetrained animal. After all, this was boxing’s bad boy who attacked his opponents with brutal ferocity, bit his rivals and raped women on the side. The Tyson documentary is a chance to look behind the headlines and understand what fueled Mike to make the choices he did.

He is so incredibly candid, humble and reflective in this documentary that you can’t help but find yourself in his proverbial corner. In talking about the tabloid frenzy that was his marriage to Robin Givens, Tyson sagely reminds us that in the end, they were just kids who didn’t have any business being married so young (age 20!).

Consisting only of direct interviews with Tyson and intermixed with photos and footage of his career, Tyson traces his blazing rise and furious descent from fame and glory. And I mean nothing is held back. He speaks about his personal life and his professional life with complete candor. All the machismo and charisma is stripped away and he doesn’t shy away from any subject, even coming to tears a few times and discussing the inherent fear that drove him to many of his bad decisions. And dare I say it; he speaks with great intelligence and even eloquence at points.

Although, I did do a double-take at one point when discussing his alleged rape of Desiree Washington (which he still denies), Mike said something to the effect of, “I’m not saying I never took advantage of other women, but I did not take advantage of her.”

Head whip…
Did he just admit that he raped other women? Or maybe he just like drank milk out of their refrigerators while they were sleeping?


In the end, I walked away feeling like Mike Tyson The Famous Boxer is now Mike Tyson The Very Humbled and Damaged Person. I for one am rooting for a second chance.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Gran Torino

First of all, Gran Torino is a car, not a desert city in California like I believed it was for some unknown reason.

Second, you will spend the first hour of this movie wondering if Clint Eastwood lost his mind in some sort of Geriatric Dirty Harry bout of dementia. There is no other way to explain the great lengths he goes to in order to demonstrate FOR AN ENTIRE HOUR that his character Walt Kowalski is:
a) Old
b) Codgety
c) Racist
d) Prone to facial twitches
I think we pretty much had that nailed down in the first five minutes of the film, Mr. Eastwood.

Third, you will think the second hour of the film is a complete turnaround. It was completely redeemed for me, although I did find it a bit hard to believe that Eastwood's surly Walt Kowalski would so easily befriend his Asian neighbors, Sue and Thao. Still, there are a lot of touching moments and the end truly surprised me, although I was kind of jonesing for a true Dirty Harry-takes-down-the-bad-guys bloodletting.

Finally, you will be amazed that anyone let Clint Eastwood walk in front of a camera wearing sweatpants pulled up to his armpits. That's Dirty Harry y'all. Someone should have put a stop to that.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

And we're back among the living

What a summer it's been for our beloved TV. Here's what we did in a nutshell:

LOVED HBO's TrueBlood. Like I-AM-A-TOTAL-NERD-FOR-VAMPIRES loved it. Hot southern gentleman vampire? You can't go wrong with that. Sure, the first few episode are a little vamporny, but I still love it.

HATED HBO's The Tudors and Rome. Oh, wanted to love them. Tried to love them. But had to admit they just suck. Here's an example: in The Tudors, all the drama and intrigue surrounds whether or not King Henry will leave Catherine of Aragon for Ann Boleyn. Um, excuse me, but WE ALREADY KNOW HOW THIS ENDS. You are just telling a history lesson here. And not very well. As for Rome, well, it's just a little too 'old men wearing dresses and talking politics' for me.

WATCHED a fabulous documentary on steroids, Bigger, Stronger, Faster. Very entertaining. Also watched a devastating documentary, Dear Zachary. It's decent, but I'm telling you, you don't want to see this. It will make you weep. Dead children. 'Nuff said.

BECAME ADDICTED TO Mad Men. Right? I know, we're possibly the last people on earth who work in advertising to watch this show, and we should have our membership revoked for taking so long. All the same, I died when Betty Draper didn't bat an eyelash at her daughter playing inside a plastic drycleaning bag. My mom did the same thing. Props, Betty.

EH could have done without both Slumdog Millionaire (predictable and cloying) and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (shades of Forest Gump all over it and we don't need another Forest Gump). Did I mention BB is approximately 14 hours long?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Queue is Taking a Hiatus

Hi Readers, sorry it's been so long since my last post but a lot has been afoot at the Queue household. New job. New baby. New sleepless nights. We're still watching movies but between the screaming toddler and the constantly-feeding newborn, I'm calling myself lucky if I manage to walk out to get the mail every day.

I'll return, I promise, and in the mean time:
-Liked but didn't love The Wrestler
-Found Revolutionary Road predictable and such a bummer
-Loved the documentary Bigger, Stronger, Faster
-Tried watching In Treatment but found it tedious and just couldn't commit
-Am about to watch the first disc of True Blood and am really excited for it in a dorky vampire sort of way


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Ricky Gervais: Out of England

A rule to live by: when Ricky Gervais does a comedy special, rent it.
Motley Queue

Monday, May 11, 2009


Well now, the American Dairy Association is going to be unpleasantly surprised when they watch this tribute film.

Tee, hee. All jokes aside, it's no surprise that Milk is a good film. It was nominated for a slew of awards and Sean Penn is obviously terrific in it. I'm pretty sure Sean Penn is terrific when he trims his toenails or pays his utility bills, so it's hard to be bowled over by his performances any more, right? It's like putting A-Rod up to bat. You're pretty safe to go get a hot dog because you know the team's in good hands.

It's easy to admire Penn's charismatic portrayal of the first openly gay public office holder, Harvey Milk. But did I love the movie itself? Love might be a strong word. It's really good, but it doesn't evolve beyond the trappings of a biopic, trying to cram so much history into so little film and make us understand the person's soul at the same time. The latter is where the movie really failed for me.

Maybe that's because the tableau of characters surround Harvey Milk felt stereotyped and trite, as if director Gus Van Sant threw them in because he needed them to be there, not because he really wanted to pay them any attention. Look at me, I'm the hysterically unpredictable foreign boyfriend! Look at me, I'm the wisecracking lesbian campaign manager!

I never found myself engaging with any of the supporting cast, with the exception of Josh Brolin, who absolutely seethes in every scene (as one would expect the stepson of Barbra Streisand to do very well, zing!). He's like a pile of twitching electrical cables just inches from a pool of water. Watching his character slowly unwind iis the real pleasure of watching Milk.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Let the Right One In

Okay all you Swedish film fans...

[Insert cricket noises here]

Okay, so there aren't many of you out there, but don't fret. Let the Right One In was my first Swedish film too, coming on the recommendation of former coworker, Meredith, who has never led me astray. She was right once again, this movie is a winner.

Shot in the winter and set in Stockholm, the film's cold and desolate locales are the perfect setting for the spare and harrowing tale. The plot revolves around 12-year-old Oskar, whose awkwardness and loneliness make him the frequent target of school bullies. Oskar is painfully Swedish looking: white-blonde hair, red-rimmed rheumy eyes and skin so pale it appears translucent. He has what is either the worst haircut on the planet, or a look that is really cool in Sweden. I can't tell which, but I'm betting on the former.

Oskar reluctantly befriends a mysterious gypsy-like girl in his apartment building, Eli, whom we later discover is no ordinary child. Are you ready for it? Okay, she's a vampire -- but don't jump to conclusions -- this is no Hollywood-style vampire movie, although there is a fun amount of gore and destruction. This is a sorrowful, lonely tale of a vampire child seeking simple understanding and love from another human being. A romance develops between Oksar and Eli as she teaches him to defend himself and he helps her feel a connection to the normal world. Their friendship takes center stage over Eli's darker needs.

There are a few grisly scenes in the film and a couple of lame special effects but on the whole, this is a refreshingly spare hand to the filming, letting us anticipate the impending danger, rather than showering us in a Hollywood gore-fest.

Do yourself a favor and watch the movie with both the English-dubbed audio AND the English subtitles on. They are hilariously mismatched, like this:

Oskar's audio: "I don't think so."
Oskar's subtitle: "Please do not consider my answer to be yes."

Ha, ha, ha. It goes on and on....we couldn't get enough of it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Rachel Getting Married

It's hard to tell if the point of Rachel Getting Married is to make you feel the turmoil of a recovering drug addict attempting to rejoin her family or to make you feel like every wedding you've ever attended was completely lame.

RGM stars Anne Hathaway as Kim, a drug addict released from her latest stint in rehab just in time to join the final preparations before her older sister's wedding. Kim's family inhabits one of those shabbily wealthy sprawling old Victorian homes in Connecticut. The kind filled with cozy furniture and expansive wrap-around porches that make it hard to believe a Waspy drug addict could live there. In fact, we never learn how Kim became a drug addict, just that she did and made a mess of herself and her family including one tragic accident that created an irreparable rift in the family, which I won't spoil for you here.

Despite the tragedy, Rachel's family itself is a paragon of feel-goodiness, including her overly attentive father (who is played by Mister Noodle's Brother on Sesame Street!), her Mother Earth stepmother and her straight-arrow older sister Rachel. We watch as Kim tries to insert herself in Rachel's wedding weekend, resulting in awkward, painful interactions in which Kim can't seem to stop stealing the spotlight from her sister and crowing "but look at me, I'm the addict!" It succeeds mightily in making you feel the same discomfort and anger at Kim as her family does.

Anne Hathaway got a ton of buzz about her role in this film and deservedly so. She ain't no Princess here, at turns painfully endearing and shamelessly raw. Her transparent skin and bloomy eyes make her perfectly suited to play a fragile soul teetering on the edge of a precipice between suburban propriety and gritty addiction. She's perfectly matched with her wounded mother, played by Debra Winger. Yes, that Debra Winger from Urban Cowboy.

The only off-notes of the film come from the wedding itself, which we follow in deep detail from rehearsal through reception. Rachel is marrying a man from....somewhere tropical? Or African? I can't tell. He wears unfortunate glasses, but everyone seems to think he's too swell to care.

He's a musician and so the house is dripping at every moment with a hodgepodge of ethnically diverse musicians playing at all hours of the day. The wedding itself is a multicultural, Bohemian stewpot of reggae singers, someone I think was a monk and one girl who I'm pretty sure was a singer from American Idol (Tamyra Gray, if my eyes don't deceive). The whole wedding feels like the "Teach the World to Sing" Coca Cola commercial. And it's almost as sugary.

It's a bit hard to swallow all the ethnically diverse love and energy pouring in great quantities from every scene of the wedding party. Where were the boring old people complaining the chicken was too dry? Where was the drunken uncle who gets a little handsy after too many gin rickeys? Do they not know about the chicken dance in Connecticut?!!!!! Sorry, but the crowd was just a little too perfectly diverse and in love with one another to be altogether believable.

Otherwise, this is a smart little film filled with a great deal of emotion and earnest pain. Kim's plight is raw and transparent, and as a viewer, you're pulled fully into the complex emotions her family has for her. You want to root for Kim, but you want to slap her too. Just like real family.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Role Models


Approximately 37 people have been hounding me to watch Role Models, swearing that I will DIE, literally DIE laughing. "It's exactly like Knocked Up." "It's even better than 40-Year-Old-Virgin." This is what they tell me.

Which leads me to the question, Role Models?

The one starring Paul Rudd and -- finger quotes -- "actor" Sean William Scott? I respectfully disagree. It just wasn't that funny, guys. Sorry, but it wasn't. Sure, it had a few laughs but for the most part, I found myself leaning forward hopefully on the sofa waiting for the story to kick in. Any moment, I kept thinking. Right up until the end. Sigh.

Let's talk about what works first: Paul Rudd. Is there a more lovable actor in film today? You can't not like Paul Rudd. Men want to be him. Women want to date him. He's just adorable. And he's funny. But one thing he's not, and it pains me to say this, Paul, is a screenwriter. Rudd co-wrote this movie, and it shows, filled with slow, sophomoric plot developments, predictable jokes and tame attempts at envelope-pushing.

The set-up for the plot is incredibly long and drawn out: two guys have an implausible screw-up at work and have to perform community service mentoring young boys to avoid jail time as a result. Trust me, it's a painful road to get there, especially when it's so obvious where the plot is heading all along.

Surprise, surprise, the young mentees assigned to Rudd and Scott are an unpredictable and unruly lot, leading to loads of hijinx for our two heroes.'s all totally predictable and if you can't see the ultimate resolution (the boys grow to love their mentors!), you need to schedule an optometry appointment post haste.

But what's even worse than the script and the plot is Sean William Scott. HOW IS THIS GUY GETTING WORK? He is not an actor. He is a frat boy. He's the dude who's so talentless that his dad gets him a job in his company even though he can barely manage to make copies of his butt on the copy machine.

I imagine that Sean William Scott shares an apartment somewhere in Hollywood with Vin Diesel and Ashlee Simpson and they just sit around and laugh, laugh, laugh themselves silly about how people pay money to watch them. Then Vin Diesel gets his foot stuck in the toaster AGAIN and Sean and Ashlee try to help him but they got lost on the way there because they can't remember how to operate the doors to the living room (push, not pull!), so they forget about Vin and instead spend the afternoon staring in wonder at the light switch.

Something like that.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Pineapple Express

As a rule, I am not a fan of stoner humor. Nothing against it; it's just never tickled me fancy. Cheech & Chong? Harold & Kumar? Eh. I just can't find a way to be interested. So I was a little apprehensive about Pineapple Express, which for the uninitiated, is a true stoner comedy about a pleasantly even-keeled stoner, Dale, played by Seth Rogen, and his eccentric dealer, Saul, played by James Franco, who get accidentally wrapped up in a chase escapade after witnessing a murder.

To my surprise, the Stoner Comedy 101 scenes of Dale and Saul waxing ineloquent in slow-motion, smoke-filled highs were few and far between. Thank god. I'd rather watch paint dry. This was much more of a silly action movie than I ever expected. The funniest scenes in the movie had to involve Saul's dealer, Red, played by Danny McBride -- who is one part Steven Seagal wannabe, one part needy housecat. Red gets beat up, shot and stabbed about a dozen times and just keeps showing up in future scenes like a chubby, mullet-wearing version of the Terminator.

I also loved the duo's pursuer, played by Craig Robinson, whom you're more likely to recognize as warehouse foreman Darryl from The Office. In Pineapple, he's a merciless killer who will crack you up with his very delicate emotions ready to burst forth at any moment.

The plot is predictable, familiar and takes way too long...two-hour-run-time too long. Some of the ancillary characters, like Rosie Perez as a dirty cop and a band of Chinese drug dealers, seem like afterthoughts, but do serve to add small doses of humor here and there. I could have done without the extended and very predictable fight scenes at the end of the film, although it was fun to watch chubby Seth Rogen try to fistfight.

Would I recommend Pineapple? I guess so...but certainly not as a gateway drug to a future appreciation of stoner flicks.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


First of all, I couldn't help but snicker at the description on the back of the Netflix envelope referring to "Ace director, Clint Eastwood." Who wrote that? An old-timey journalist from 1938? Ace director! He's the cat's pajamas!

Don't get me wrong, if anyone deserves the Ace title, it's Eastwood. The man delivers a good film and Changeling is no exception. Although, if anything in this film, his directing is so spartan and unembellished that you won't even notice it. I guess I'm saying that even a tool like Bruckheimer probably couldn't have screwed up this material: the story is that good. We loved watching it.

Changeling follows the true story of 1920's Los Angeles mom, Christine Collins, as she battles police corruption to find her missing son, Walter. The LAPD, facing horrible public image problems, brings Christine's son back to her, but she's convinced it's not her son. When Collins tries to make public the fact that the LAPD returned the wrong kid, she quickly finds herself staying at a mental institution on police orders.

A legal team headed up by anti-LAPD preacher, played by John Malkovich (who is just so good at being preachy, let's be honest) and a shark of an attorney come to the rescue of Collins and attempt to mount a strike at the LAPD. But what makes the movie really compelling is the co-story of the alleged murderer, Gordon Northcott, accused of murdering 20 boys, Walter Collins among them. Northcott's scenes are riveting and his madness is chilling.

Collins is played by Angelina Jolie. Now, I will be the first to admit that she's a good actress and she handled the role with skill. But I couldn't help but feel like she's just too physically striking to make this role believable. Draped in face-framing clothes and brilliantly rich make-up, she looked stunning...too stunning. The camera loves her face but it's so distinct that it distracts you from the character.

At no point was I unaware that I was watching Angelina Jolie, not Christine Collins. I could only imagine how powerful the role would have been in less facially-captivating hands (that is a nice way of saying "not so pretty"). Forgive me, but I'm thinking Frances McDormand here.

My favorite character in the film was Collins' lawyer. For the life of me, I can't figure out who the actor is (why have you forsaken me, IMDB?) but I've seen him in other roles and he's superb in this film. He'll make you want to love your lawyer. I'll refer to him henceforth as "Ace Actor Portraying a Lawyer."

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Reader

"I nailed Kate Winslet. And I still wear Underoos."

Hurrah for babysitters! Friends Marcie and Beth kindly offered to watch the wee one so Motley Husband and I could sneak off for a matinee on Saturday, which for anyone with a toddler, is something akin to being given the keys to your own private island. I know, a matinee might sound boring to you, but trust me, two hours of relative relaxation that don't involve a short person whining at you to read the 37th installment of Dora the Explorer is pure bliss.

So, we showed up to our local megaplex on the hopes of just finding something playing around the time we arrived that didn't involve the words Paul, Blart, Mall or Cop.

Check. The Reader with Kate Winslet was starting in five minutes.

We grabbed a giant vat of popcorn and loaded it with butter (more on that later...) and settled in for what I can only describe as the creepiest love story I've ever seen.

The Reader
is set in post-war Germany and is told through the perspective of a fifteen year-old-boy who befriends a much older woman, Hanna Schmitz (played by Winslet), on a chance encounter in the street. The two eventually become lovers and "the Kid" reads to Schmitz at each of their liaisons. It's like a pedophile's version of Oprah's book club, if you will.

Anyway, the actor cast to play the boy looks VERY, VERY young. Winslet looks VERY, VERY experienced by contrast and the many lingering love scenes between the two were squeamish and unsettling to say the least. I'm sure for some tastes, this sort of thing is titillating but I found myself feeling much the same way I did as a teenager stuck watching "dirty parts" of a movie in front of my parents. It creeped me out. When the two finally parted I heard Motley Husband mutter, "Thank god."

The rest of the movie was happily filled with Nazis. Yes, that's right, I found Nazis a welcome change to Kate Winslet licking the navel of a pubescent boy. Sue me.

The Nazis...see, years later when our young friend is in law school, his class attends and studies the trial of a former Nazi war criminal, who turns out to be none other than his former lover, Hanna Schmitz. Here the movie takes a very beautiful and agonized turn as the boy tries to rectify his feelings for Schmitz with the brutality of her crimes.

You'll be able to guess Schmitz's fate and the Nazi themes are all very familiar to us, but you will be moved by the performance of one of Schmitz's former victims, played with chilling iciness by Lena Olin. There was nothing in the movie that came as a great surprise--even the big 'reveal' should be no surprise to anyone with working eyeballs--but it was all well done and much of it was very moving.

Oh, and about the popcorn. So after shoveling down the better part of two pounds of popcorn, followed by a giant coffee and a beer, Motley Husband got throwing-up sick and he couldn't eat anything for almost a day and so claims now that he got some kind of bug. We have been going round and round on this one because he is sticking to this "bug" story, but we both know that BUTTERED POPCORN IS NOT A BUG.

The defense rests.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Wire, Season 3

Resident bad-ass and all-around best TV character ever created, Omar, from The Wire.

I think we're still feeling the effects of the writer's strike because the movie landscape out there is...well, it's just a huge pile of crap. Motley Husband and I actually have the chance to go to a real movie theater this weekend -- without a toddler -- and I can't believe the stunning array of choices awaiting us.

Honey! Should we see Confessions of a Shopaholic OR Paul Blart, Mall Cop? Oh, I can't decide between these two dazzling gems!

Thank god there's still The Wire. I haven't had any movie posts lately because we have become deeply and passionately obsessed with The Wire Season 3. This just has to be one of the top television series ever made (Arrested Development, don't worry, you'll never lose your #1 spot).

Watching this show, I have to believe that somewhere in the bowels of a mansion in Malibu, Ron Howard, Stephen Spielberg and Martin Scorcese are huddled together on the floor crying over the fact that they didn't think of this show first. It's just so damn good, it has to burn up every other director/producer/writer in town.

If you don't know, The Wire is a cop show on HBO. Now, I know what you're thinking, "Cop show, shmop show, if you've seen one CSI, you've seen 'em all."

But The Wire isn't like any cop show you've ever seen. Set in Baltimore, The Wire presents a unique and in-depth look at both the cops and the drug dealers they track. Each season of the show follows just a single investigation. It gives the audience an unbelievably gritty and real look at how the game is played on both sides of the law. The cops are both heroic and flawed. The drug dealers have dimensional, empathetic sides. It's nothing short of spectacular.

Season one was unbelievably good. Season two was -- eh -- not as great, but still very good. But Season three is back to fantastic, reuniting our police force with the nemesis of Season 1, the Avon Barksdale drug ring.

In Season 3, we get to watch the ominous rise of Barksdale's #2, Stringer Bell, as he attempts to evolve their business into legitimate enterprise using the drug money bankroll. Layered into the self-destructive antics of the police force is a new cast of characters from City Hall, giving us a glimpse into the gray morass where political ambition clashes with the everyday needs of a city police force. I won't give you even a hint of the plot, but suffice it to say that you're going to love how one rogue police captain decides to deal with drug enforcement this season.

And let me just take a moment to talk about the character of Omar Little. Omar is a rogue vigilante who robs from the drug dealers, making him an enemy of the street and not exactly a friend to the cops either. He's like an ass-kicking, shotgun-toting Robin Hood and HE IS THE BEST CHARACTER EVER CREATED. Did I mention that he's gay? It's so interesting and pretty astonishing to see how the show handles an openly gay street vigilante. I promise you it's something you'll never see in that fluffy pancake called Law & Order.

If they made a spin-off show called "Omar Cracks Some Motherf'ing Heads," I would watch it every day. You should watch the show for Omar alone. Please. I'm begging you.

Something terrific is brewing here for Season 4, and I for one can't wait to see how the City Hall players muck up the soup. And if Hollywood keeps making craptastic features involving the words "Mall Cop," you can bet we'll be watching a lot more Wire here at the Queue.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hugh Jackman Manages to Make the Oscars Even Worse

Hugh Jackman, manhood called. It wants you to turn in your man-card.

Seriously, I had no idea that Wolverine had lady-parts. Watching Jackman prance around the stage in his hideous "I think I'm hosting the Tony Awards" musical montage ruined the Oscars for me.

And let's be honest, he didn't have to do much to ruin them. I heard a news story last week about how the producers were determined to spice up the show this year to combat sagging ratings from last year. And, by spice, they clearly meant drag out every major award with bloated and ridiculous introductions.

Goldie Hawn: "Amy Adams, you are the most talented and godlike person who has ever walked the face of the earth. Humanity would fail were it not for the grace of your immaculate being. Amy Adams, I am going to sacrifice this human child before you on this stage just to honor how important you are to my life and to the future of planet Earth. Amy Adams, I have never married Kurt Russell because I have been waiting to become your wife. Marry me."

Beyond the horrible scripting was the boring, predictable filler, including A Look Back at Comedies of 2008. Seriously? That was the best you could come up with? God forbid you actually cut an hour out of this bloated awards show and actually get to the awards.

When will the producers of the Oscars learn that people tune into the Oscars for just three things?

1. To see what people are wearing. Note to Hollywood: we need less stylists making everyone look pretty/boring and we need more Tilda Swinton. Holy cats, she can wear some wackadoo duds.

2. To see who wins the awards. Not to see a musical montage from the soundtrack of Doubt. I repeat: NO ONE CARES. THE PEOPLE FROM DOUBT DON'T EVEN CARE.

3. To watch the uncomfortable interactions of Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston. On that score, well-played Oscars.

The only bright spots of the telecast came from the more youthful and fresh interplay of duos like Tina Fey/Steve Martin and Seth Rogen/James Franco. Take note, Oscar producers, comedians + funny = enjoyable. Hugh Jackman + estrogen = misery.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Imagine a movie that's one part Karate Kid, one part The Matrix, and you have Wanted.

Wanted starts out with a black screen and small text giving us the back story. "1,000 years ago, a group of weavers formed a society of assassins..."

Hold the phone.

I kid you not. The fate of the world as we know it rests in the hands of sweater makers. How's that for gripping backstory? Weavers. Leather tanners I might believe, but weavers? Tee, hee. I still can't get over it. But wait, there's see, a loom weaves out encrypted messages telling the weaver assassins who they must kill next. Go ahead, re-read that previous sentence. Take it all in. Death by textile. You might never look at your cotton t-shirts in the same way.

So it goes without saying that you need a fair suspension of disbelief to enjoy Wanted. And it's not an unenjoyable action film. It's a fairly non-stop assault of high testosterone action and violence, but there's nothing that will feel too new.

James McAvoy stars as the Karate Kid -- er -- Wesley Gibson, a miserable office drone who learns his father was the world's top assassin. He's drawn into the assassin's training ground in order to train to take down his father's killer.

His training involves a lot of bloody fighting montage scenes and a lot of slow-motion bullets whizzing Matrix-style around impossible angles. It also involves a lot of the surly assassin Fox, played by Angelina Jolie. I'd be pretty surly too if I hadn't eaten anything resembling food in the last six months. Seriously, did they have craft services on that set? Couldn't somebody at least maybe have spooned some broth into her mouth? She's still a knockout but girlfriend was looking pretty bony and haggard in this film.

If you're looking for pure action, you'll enjoy the movie, even if much of it so unrealistic and improbable, you'll find yourself giggling through it. James McAvoy was an interesting casting choice because he's completely against archetype for action hero. I think the boy can actually act, but he just didn't get much a chance to do it here. But hey, he does save humanity from a killer scarf maker, so no complaints.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A tale of two indies

Netflix recommendations, you are my best friend and my worst enemy. Let's compare our two most recent rentals, Outsourced and The Rage in Placid Lake.

Outsourced, which earned a 3.7 stars (out of 5) rating on Netflix, is a total waste of film. Who are the people giving it 3.7 stars? I would like to meet you, and at that meeting I will remove a cotton glove from my purse and smack you smartly across the face with it.

I'll be honest that I thought the premise of Outsourced sounded kinda fun: a yuppie US office worker is forced to go to India to train his replacement when his job is outsourced. It has a certain ironic appeal, no?

No, no, no. Nothing could save the film from the horrific acting of the lead, played by some C-list actor named Josh Hamilton, who's biggest screen credits come from Law & Order. Big surprise. The film devolves into a tepid romantic comedy involving the lead character falling in forbidden love with one of the Indian office workers. Oh no! Cross-cultural love? What a taboo! In 1977!

Did they overcome their cultural and religious differences in the end? I couldn't tell you. We didn't even bother to finish this turd. Please don't waste your time either.

Moving on to The Rage in Placid Lake, which was an absolutely delightful movie. It earned 4.0 stars on Netflix, which maybe is the new litmus test for what a movie needs to make it to my mailbox.

The Rage follows a kid named Placid Lake, played endearingly by the very talented Ben Lee, as he tries to overcome his "weirdness" to become a normal member of society in both life and love. Placid is a kid raised by distracted hippie parents who encourage him to express himself in creative ways, which ultimately leads him to become a persistent target of school bullies. After graduation, fed up with feeling like a weirdo, Placid decides to adopt the habits of a modern drone: wearing a suit and working for an insurance company.

The film is adorable. I just loved it. It was weird and offbeat and exactly what I want out of an indie movie. There were a ton of hysterically awkward scenes involving the nerdy sexual escapades of Placid and the outrageous sexual antics of his hippie parents. Hilarious.

In summary, I can't take another Outsourced. Yet at the same time, I'd hate to miss another Rage. So I'm torn. I guess for now, I'm officially putting Netflix Recommendations on probation.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Some days you feel like being a movie snob. "No," you insist to your highbrow friends, "I can't say that I've ever spent an entire Saturday afternoon watching reruns of The Wedding Singer on TBS in my pajamas with a bag of Lays surgically attached to my mouth."

And then there are days when you just want to watch a movie like Stepbrothers. Starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly guessed it...stepbrothers, this is perfect, stupid humor. It's the movie that will one day replace reruns of The Wedding Singer on TBS, foreshadowing many lazy Saturday afternoons in your future.

The plot? Do you really care? Because there isn't much of one. Just that these two guys are total louts who are still living at home with the 'rents in their forties. Naturally, the parents conspire to get the boys out of the house and living on their own. Along the way, we're treated to plenty of physical comedy and even a very graphic scrotum-rubbing scene for good measure. It is, an ideal Will Ferrell vehicle. You won't be surprised by any of the humor, but you'll still enjoy it.

Some of the best moments of the film come from the unhappily married yet oversexed sister-in-law, Alice, who tries to bodily rape John C. Reilly at every opportunity. The duds in the film all come from the mother figure in the movie, played by Mary Steenburgen, who, it turns out, is just a terrible actor. I guess I never noticed it before, but she really stinks this thing up. I blame Ted Danson. And the fact that she appears to have ingested her last meal in 1987. Mary, consider a cheeseburger, please. It might help with that fraught/twittery thing you do.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tropic Thunder

I believe the deth knell of American comedy boils down to two words: POLITICAL CORRECTNESS. Don't believe me? Then I challenge you to rent Blazing Saddles and honestly tell me you think someone would make that movie today. Puhleeze. Al Sharpton would have their balls for breakfast.

I hate being PC. It's the fakest thing on the planet. I hate that it gives healthy, entitled white people (of which I am admittedly one) carte blanche to feel morally satisfied that they are no longer racist, prejudiced or judgemental. It's like winning the clean slate lottery. "Racist? Not me," the smug white proudly proclaims. "I use the term African-American even when there isn't a black man in the room. See?"

I can't help myself. I love bawdy humor. I think stereotypes are amusing. But does that make me a bad person? Probably. Deal with it, PC Police.

Which brings me to Tropic Thunder. I laughed my smug white ass off through the whole thing. Sure, it's a great parody of making a Vietnam War movie and all the cliches of action-hero stereotypes, but god bless the team who decided to push the PC-ness...even if it's pretty tame.

I know, some of you might not think that putting Robert Downey Jr. in black face is tame, but man, it was just so funny you have to love it. It put a fine point on exactly how overboard we've taken the whole political correctness movement. Kudos to Downey Jr. for being in on the joke.

The other part of the movie which drew great PC ire were the references to Tugg Speedman's (played by Ben Stiller) former movie role as Simple Jack. Again, this was a great jab at all those serious actors who think they're going to strike Oscar gold by ... and these are not my words, people, but a quote from the movie: "Going Full Retard."

Ha, ha, ha. It's so true! And that's what makes it hilarious. Can't you see that, PC Police? Just ask Juliette Lewis. Ask Sean Penn. It didn't exactly pan out for them, now did it? Again though, I thought the Simple Jack storyline was tame at best and certainly not worthy of the uproar it caused. It was just plain funny and a great dig at taking political correctness too far.

So go rent Tropic Thunder. Laugh as hard as you want. No one is listening. And the next day, amidst a crowd of smug whites, you have complete permission to pretend you were entirely offended.

I'll await your hate mail now.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Wind That Shakes the Barley

1. A lot of people suffer in Ireland.
2. For two and a half hours.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Hamlet 2

I owe a big apology to Hollywood. Just when I'd about given up on your shitty Kate Hudson-dominated, mindless drivel, you threw me a bone: Hamlet 2.

How this movie didn't get more buzz and attention is beyond me. It's a perfect off-beat flick filled with subversive humor and witty dialogue.

The cast, including Catherine Keener, Steve Coogan and a hilarious cameo by Elisabeth Shue as herself, is perfect. David Arquette is also in the film, uttering approximately 2 words, which is just about the perfect use of David Arquette.

Set in a high school in Tuscon, Arizona, Hamlet 2 follows the yearnings for greatness of a failed actor turned untalented high school drama teacher, Dana Marschz (with a hard Z). Marschz, played by Steve Coogan, bears a striking resemblance to a character that's one part clueless Napoleon Dynamite, one-part over-the-top Bruce Campbell. He's perfect. Married to an embittered housewife (Keener) whom he's trying to impregnate by wearing caftans to keep his scrotum at a reasonable temperature, Marschz launches a campaign to save the school's drama program by staging his own creation: Hamlet 2. Let the games begin.

When the school theater critic points out, "Didn't everyone die at the end of Hamlet?" Marschz simply writes a scene involving Jesus Christ and a time machine to bring them all back. If you're not drooling a little bit over that, there is a Kate Hudson movie waiting for you at the theater right now.

Naturally, Marschz has to mix two overzealous theater geeks (one a closeted gay with whom Marschz has a balloon fight that will keep you laughing for minutes) with a rough and tumble bunch of Latino toughs to make his dream come to life. The final production is well, let me just say that two of the numbers include: "Raped in the face" and "Rock me, sexy Jesus."

I think William Shakespeare would have been so, so proud.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Why I Love the Golden Globes

Alec Baldwin looked surlier and drunker than ever, like at any moment he might bust off one of Angelina Jolie's skinny sticks and gnaw it like a Kodiak bear.

Colin Farrel. If a former Hollywood drug addict announces he "only has a cold" while he rubs his nose, he's definitely doing coke again. You heard it here first.

Rene Zellweger and that batshit crazy hairdo can only lead me to believe she was attacked by Sharon Stone on the way in.

No one had the guts to tell Tina Fey to fix her hair before she went on stage. Although, it was refreshing to see someone resembling a real human instead of a Botox-bot.

Because DVR let me fast-forward through Steven Spielberg's insufferable "I am the most important man who has ever walked the Earth including ol' what's-his-name you Christians are so keen on" speech.

Ditto Kate Winslet and her "I am so surprised that I wrote a 12-page speech" speech.

Rumer Willis as the "I'm never going to be A-list am I?" Miss Golden Globe. Man, she lost the genetic lottery between her parents in a major way.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Californication, Season 1

Admitting to you that I watch Californication is rather like saying, "I subscribe to Playboy, but only for the articles."This show is like a fungus. A dirty, disgusting fungus that you are embarrassed you have but one that grows on you nonetheless.

To say that there is a lot of T&A in Californication is like saying that Aretha Franklin enjoys a plate of ribs from time to time. I guess this show is supposed to be the male version of Sex in the City, but I'm over it already. The first two episodes alone were so rife with bouncing fake boobs and oversexed starlets that I almost sprained my eyes from rolling them so much. But then that fungus action started to take place and slowly I found myself getting involved with all these decrepit characters. By the end, I actually cared about some of them.

Not star David Duchovny, who plays Hank Moody as the most magnetic and desired sexual being on the planet. Really? Old Mumbles No-Chin Duchovny? Really. Did I mention that in several scenes he also handily kicks the snot out of men twice his size? Really. Maybe if I could understand a f-ing word his mushmouth says, I might like him better. BUT I REQUIRE DIALOGUE THAT IS AUDIBLE TO THE HUMAN EAR, DUCHOVNY!

Lucky for Duchovny, he's working with a stellar supporting cast. His spurned love interest, Karen, is played beautifully by Natascha McElhone, a woman whose expression melds in a lovely way between sorrow and joy at every turn. Daughters Mia and Becca offer a nice balance of psychotic tension and puppy dog innocence to the mix of characters.

The comic relief of the show comes from Duchovny's over-sexed agent and his wife, played brilliantly by Evan Handler and Pamela Adlon as Charlie and Marcie. Trust me, these two take marital sexual tension to a hilarious new level. They are so much fun to watch that I'll be renting Season 2 for sure, despite the knowledge that Mumbles is still the star of the show.

Monday, January 5, 2009

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

Parents, if you have teenage girls in the house, this is the film for you. Nothing will inspire obsessive birth control practices like watching two Romanian girls arrange and suffer through an illegal abortion in Romania circa the 1980s. You can feel your hormones shrivel up with each chilling new scene.

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is a profusely dismal yet entirely riveting film. It was the kind of film you don't really want to watch, but you can't turn off at the same time. It's a very well-done turn on subject matter few can tackle so honestly.

Set in just one day, we watch as college student, Otilia, struggles through a quagmire of obstacles to secure an illegal abortion for her roommate, Gabita. It should probably come as no shock that a back-alley male abortionist in a communist country is probably not the most trustworthy sort of soul. Just a word of advice for the ladies out there.

Gabita proves to be an equally untrustworthy character, further complicating Otilia's brutal journey with her unfolding lies and misinformation. And to think, the worst thing I ever asked my roommate to do was hold back my hair when I puked all over myself in a Boones Farm fiesta.

The film's setting and scenery are as dire and bleak as the subject matter. For me it removed "Visit Romania!" from my life's to-do list forever. It looks like it's your lucky day, Kygrzstan!