“The Tree of Life” – 2011. Dir. Terrence Malick

With Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, Hunter McCracken, Tye Sheridan, Fiona Shaw and Sean Penn

“Guide us. To the end of time.”

    I was fortunate enough to see Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” today. Anything I could try and articulate about the film, would fail it in every way possible. I don’t know whether or not I’ll ever muster up the courage to write a review, or even my thoughts/interpretation of the film, but this is for sure: “The Tree of Life” is not only “the greatest movie ever made”, but – it is the most profound thing that I have ever seen.

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“The Game” – 1997. Dir. David Fincher

With Michael Douglas, Sean Penn, Deborah Kara Unger, James Rebhorn, with Carroll Baker, and Armin Mueller-Stahl.

Like my father before me – I choose eternal sleep.

David Fincher couldn’t have followed his masterpiece “Seven” up any better than with “The Game”. The film follows the secluded life of Nicholas Van Orton an extremely wealthy alienated millionaire played by Michael Douglas. Nicholas’ birthday is the day the film begins; he’s 48, the same age his father was when he killed himself.

He has a lunch date with a Mr. Seymour Butts which is a joke from his brother Conrad (Sean Penn). During his lunch date with his younger and more of a free spirited brother, Conrad gives Nicholas a gift certificate to CRS (Consumer Recreational Services) and tells Nicholas to call the number because it will change his life.

Nicholas eventually contacts the service, and spends most of his day filling out a questionnaire and physical fitness tests. He finally is told what CRS is, it’s a game. It’s a very sophisticated game that is tailored for wealthy people.

Nicholas goes about his day to day life; he travels to Seattle to fire his father’s old friend Anson Baer (Armin Mueller-Stahl) because he hasn’t met his projections for the past few quarters. Nicholas tries to open his brief case to give Baer his severance package but he can’t open his brief case, it’s not his.

From this point of the film on, things begin to get skewed, events happen that are surreal – yet seem normal to everyone but Nicholas. I can’t really talk about much of the plot without ruining most of what happens in the film.

This is an excellent film directed by a master of suspense and intrigue. David Fincher is such an unbelievable talent that his films have remained to be influences to future filmmakers. I haven’t seen “The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons” and have zero interest to see “The Social Network” – I believe that Fincher is almost selling out now. Stick with what works, stick with what you’re good at.

What adds to this film is the original score by Howard Shore is as much a major part of the film as Michael Douglas or Sean Penn. It’s a wonderfully haunting score, much like that of “Eyes Wide Shut”. The music to the film is as much of a character as Michael Douglas or Sean Penn. Fincher’s use of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” is the best usage of music in any of his films. This is the film “Shutter Island” wanted to be.

Review: 9/10

Top 25 1/2 Performances of the Decade

I intended on making a list of Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress (I did start with Supporting Actor). But I thought it would be better to lump them all into one solid and concrete list. I’m sure there is going to be much disagreement. So, let me know what you guys think.

25. – Richard Gere as Billy Flynn in “Chicago”

I honestly think Gere gets a bad rap – he’s an extremely talented actor who began the second act of his career with “Chicago”. They found the most unbelievable actor to sing and dance – and he knocked it out of the park. Gere supports this film on his shoulders and completely holds it together. His performances in this film paved the way for his roles in “The Hoax”, “I’m Not There”, and “Brooklyn’s Finest”. And what’s with “rom-coms”? Can people stop fucking saying that? It’s so annoying.

24. – Anne Hathaway as Kym in “Rachel Getting Married”

I didn’t see this film until about a couple of months ago. I don’t know why I strayed away from it for so long. I’ve always had this love for Jonathan Demme (even though I think “Silence of the Lambs” is grossly overrated and “Manhunter” is a far superior film). The way Hathaway breaks out of her typecast and breaks our hearts is wonderfully painful to watch. A quick note: I love the movie a lot, but the part I find most distracting (no, it’s not the wedding montage, I liked that part) is the actor who plays the best man of the wedding is like this shitty hybrid of George Clooney and Kevin Spacey. Weird.

23. – Ray Liotta as Henry Oak in “Narc”

Ray Liotta has made a whirlwind of shit. He’s always enjoyable for me, even if he is walking through his role in “Wild Hogs”. I can’t help but always be captivated by him, I think he’s an incredible actor and has this way of commanding your attention. His performance in “Narc” is just fantastic. He plays the clichéd rage induced cop who’s seeking the killer of his partner. Liotta gained about 40 pounds for his role – and what adds to the gaining of weight, is the realism of the flashback sequences where Liotta’s character appears fit and trim. If you haven’t seen this film, do so soon.

22. – Robert Downey, Jr. as Paul Avery in “Zodiac”

This seems like an easy sell, Downey, Jr. playing an alcoholic, drug addicted and charming beat reporter. But this was really the first role that he got to sink his teeth into since he’s troubled past. With his past experience with drugs and alcohol I feel as if Downey, Jr. could really play this character that spirals out of control to full authenticity.

21. – Mickey Rourke as Randy the Ram in “The Wrestler”

This is one of the best performances I have ever seen. What keeps this from getting higher on my list is the fact that I’m not sure how much actual “acting” Rourke does. I think he took elements of his personal life and mimicked them to Randy the Ram’s life. I know some people disagree, but I think that Penn’s winning his second Oscar for “Milk” was the correct performance to reward. Without “The Wrestler” Rourke would have fallen back to Eric Roberts land.

20. – Ellen Burstyn as Sara Goldfarb in “Requiem for a Dream”

The fact that Burstyn lost to Julia Roberts makes me sick. I like Julia Roberts, she’s cute, funny, and has an amazing sparkle in her eye. That being said: she’s not an Oscar winning actress (although more so than Bullock or Berry). Ellen Burstyn gives the performance of her career in this film. This film may be the roughy of all roughies – and due to her performance this film will stay in my mind forever.

19. – Daniel Day-Lewis as Jack Slavin in “The Ballad of Jack and Rose”

Day-Lewis gives a remarkable performance in his most flawed film. He balances inner rage and compassionate love for his daughter Rose. You find yourself loathing his character due to his selfishness and incest riddled relationship with his daughter – yet you find it in your heart to forgive him, and to understand his true love for Rose.

18. – Paul Newman as Jack Rooney in “Road to Perdition”

Newman should have won a Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance in this film. I felt that Cooper winning was his make-up Oscar for not even being nominated for “American Beauty”. I feel that Newman gives one of his most subtle performances in this film. He’s the loving father figure to Tom Hanks, but has to chose between his own son (Daniel Craig) and Tom Hanks. One of the most heartbreaking scenes ever filmed is when Tom Hanks finally catches up with Newman.

17. – Daniel Craig as James Bond in “Casino Royal”

This is how you reboot a franchise! I am a James Bond super freak and I own them all. I’ve had a liking for each individual Bond (even George Lazenby). I’ve felt that the producers have always gotten it right for 007. I remember being pissed when they signed Craig, I was a strong supporter of Clive Owen (who I still think would have been a great Bond – check out ANY BMW Films add on Youtube and you’ll see my point). Daniel Craig gives us the perfect James Bond. He’s a stone cold killer. The way James Bond should be.

16. – Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman in “American Psycho”

I want to be Patrick Bateman (well…not the homicidal serial killer part). But deep down inside, don’t we all have an element of ourselves that is Patrick Bateman? Don’t we all from time to time get filled with disgust and greed? Or is it just me?

15. – Cate Blanchett as Sheba Hart in “Notes of a Scandal”

Blanchett is one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen, and she’s one of the greatest ACTORS ever. She’s just remarkable in everything she’s in (well…maybe not that last Indiana Jones movie). As Sheba Hart she engages into an inappropriate relationship with a 14 year old student of hers, which is both erotic and haunting. What she’s doing is wrong, but what gets done to her by Judi Dench is ten times worse.

14. – Alec Baldwin as Juan Tripp in “The Aviator”

Baldwin is remarkable in the way he’s rebuilt his career over the past decade. The guy went from being a tabloids wet dream. His personal life took a tremendous toll on his profession career, but with an Oscar nominated turn in “The Cooler” it spring boarded him into working with Scorsese, Robert DeNiro and his staple, “30 Rock”. As Juan Tripp he’s one of the most menacing corporate villains, standing second only to Gordon Gekko.

13. – Sean Penn as Paul Rivers in “21 Grams”

This is one of the most heartbreaking performances ever. How he won for “Mystic River” over “21 Grams” is bullshit. Probably because it was a Clint Eastwood film.

12. – Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill “the Butcher” Cutting in “Gangs of New York”.

Day-Lewis single handily saves this film from the utter nightmare it could have been. If he wasn’t in this film to counteract the terrible performance of Cameron Diaz and the miscasting of the decade of Leonardo DiCaprio – this film would have been a sheer train wreck of a great director’s most personal project. How he lost to Adrian Brody for “The Pianist”, I’ll never understand.

11. – Ted Levine as The Warden in “Shutter Island”

Levine was only in three scenes in this film. He had only one scene that last about ten minutes with dialogue. This is the perfect example of less is more; by showing us everything about this character without telling us one thing about him. Levine is absolutely jaw dropping in this role. He shows us what a great, great actor he really is. This film should pave the way for meatier roles on the horizon for Levine.

10. – David Strathairn as Edward R. Murrow in “Good Night, Good Luck”

I think there is always hesitation when an actor takes on the role of an icon like Murrow. David Strathairn has always been one of my favorite character actors – from his roles in “Eight Men Out”, “The River Wild” and “LA Confidential”. In “Good Night, Good Luck” he finally becomes the leading man that he deserves to be. He’s absolutely amazing as Murrow and gives the performance of his career.

9. – Heath Ledger as The Joker in “The Dark Knight” and Enis Del Mar in “Brokeback Mountain”

What can I say that hasn’t already been said about his performance as the Joker. I guess the SAG, BAFTA, Golden Globe and Oscar said all that there could be said. And for “Brokeback”, he was overshadowed by PSH for “Capote”. What a shame, a real shame. It’s hard for me to pick which performance of his is better? Sometimes I lean towards The Joker, and other times I lean towards Enis. Face it, they’re both perfect.

8 ½. – Daniel Day-Lewis as Guido Contini in “Nine”

Daniel Day-Lewis is the greatest actor I have ever seen. I will challenge anyone who claims that someone is better. Sure, you can throw around Bogart or Brando or DeNiro. But I will stack his performance in “My Left Foot” and “There Will Be Blood” against any Brando or DeNiro performance. In “Nine” Day-Lewis talks with a genuine Italian accent, and sings (though he’s no Dean Martin) in an Italian accent. He is brilliant in this film, just fucking brilliant.

8. – TIE: Philip Seymour Hoffman and Meryl Streep in “Doubt”

This is truly a team effort. The entire film is a battle of showmanship between Streep and Hoffman. The way they fight each other is as epic as Luke Skywalker battling Darth Vader. The display of their acting craft is monumental, and will bring anyone to their knees. Watch this if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s amazing to watch.

7. – George Clooney as Bob Barnes in “Syrianna”

Clooney completely broke his typecast in this role – more like fucking shattered it. He became an artist that year, actor, producer, director and writer. He’s a marvelous talent. This film is truly an ensemble piece that doesn’t have a lead actor – oil is the main focus and character of the film. But George Clooney brings the house down in his final scene. It floods me with overwhelming emotion every single time I see it.

6. – William Hurt as Richie Cussak in “A History of Violence”

This is the biggest example of less is more. The little screen time that Hurt is given, he uses it to the extreme. He’s absolutely unbelievable, and I think his character is much like that of Col. Kurtz in “Apocalypse Now”, he’s the final trial of the main character’s journey to return home to his family. His performance is burned into my brain. There are very few actors with raw talent like William Hurt.

5. – TIE: Christoph Waltz as Col. Hans Landa in “Inglorious Basterds” and Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh in “No Country for Old Men”

This is much like Ledger’s role in “The Dark Knight”. There’s nothing more I can say about their PERFECT performance. There is a reason both of them swept critics awards, won the SAG, Golden Globes, BAFTA and Oscar. This was their major introduction to American audiences. That’s one helluva break through! To be honest, I do have to give the edge to Waltz. He’s amazing.

4. – Julianne Moore as Charlie in “A Single Man” and for Cathy Whitaker in “Far From Heaven”

Academy, please give her an Oscar already! I don’t care if it’s for a lifetime achievement award! Just someone, do something! She’s absolutely brilliant. ‘Nough said!

3. – Colin Firth as George in “A Single Man”.

Colin Firth gave a performance like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I’ve never see a performance that is so…empty. He’s unbelievably touching and gives a beautiful performance that brings me to my knees each time I see it. We need to see more Colin Firth. Now.

2. – Jeff Bridges as Ted Cole in “The Door in the Floor”

This is hands down Jeff Bridges finest performance. If you ever want to see an excellent, perfect, mind boggling performance, try and seek out Tod Williams’ “The Door in the Floor”. Bridges is heartbreaking, just plain heartbreaking. Ted Cole will stay in your heart forever.

1. – Daniel Day Lewis as Daniel Plainview in “There Will Be Blood”

This is the biggest tour-de-force performance ever on screen.

2010 films that have me JAZZERSIZED!

Let us look forward!

In no particular order:

“The Expendibles”

How could an action film with Sylvester Stallone, Mickey Rourke, Steve Austin, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Jason Stratham (ehh), Eric Roberts and cameos by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis suck that bad?

“Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”

This is the film I’m most skeptical of. I love Oliver Stone, but “The World Trade Center” I thought was a disaster of a film, and “W” could have been epically great (it’s still enjoyable). Even though I’m leery of Shia LeBeauf in the film, the fact it takes place in our current economic climate and has Michael Douglas, Charlie Sheen and Martin Sheen returning has me very excited. The addition of Frank Langella and Josh Brolin is equally as great along with Carey Mulligan. I was hoping Stone would also bring back Terrence Stamp, John C. McGinley and Hal Holbrook too.

“The Tree of Life”

Terrence Malick directing a 1950’s period piece about a boy witnessing “the loss of innocence” with Sean Penn (again!) and Brad Pitt. ‘Nough said!

Jeff Bridges' artwork for "True Grit".

“True Grit”

The Coen Brother’s making a western! A real western reuniting them with Jeff Bridges! I feel a sixth Oscar nomination for Bridges on this one. In addition to Bridges the Coen’s also bring Josh Brolin, Matt Damon and Barry Pepper to the table.

“Tron: Legacy”

Jeff Bridges in a new Tron movie… As if the special effects in the original film weren’t groundbreaking enough!

“Iron Man 2”

Robert Downey, Jr. is back as Tony Stark! This time he’s battling Mickey Rourke as a tattooed Russian who builds his own Iron Man suit. Hott! I want to make a prediction here that I told my friends Kevin and Peyton about after viewing the trailer for “Iron Man 2”, Mickey Rourke will get a nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

“Fair Game”

The story of Valerie Wilson’s (Naomi Watts) outing as a covert CIA Agent by the Bush administration because her husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson (played by Sean Penn) a registered Republican, spoke the truth in his report about Saddam Hussein not trying to purchase weapons of mass destruction.

“Love Ranch”

Taylor Hackford directing his wife Helen Mirren as the wife of Joe Pesci who play the couple that open the first legal brothel in Nevada, and it’s based on a true story.

“Machete”

Robert Rodriguez making a feature length film from his “Grindhouse” trailer with the best cast I’ve ever seen: Danny Trejo, Jessica Alba, Lindsey Lohan, Steven Segal, Don Johnson, Jeff Fahey and Robert DeNiro.

“Company Men”

A film about corporate America with Ben Affleck, Kevin Costner, Chris Cooper and Tommy Lee Jones. Awesome.

“The Special Relationship”

The film examines the relationship between President Bill Clinton (Dennis Quaid) and Hillary (Julianne Moore) with Tony Blair (Michael Sheen for his third portrayal as Blair).

Oscar Thoughts…and there are a lot of them.

Okay, raise your hand if you’re upset about Quentin Tarantino getting snubbed. Thought so, there are more of you then I thought. I was very disappointed with the Academy Awards last night. It wasn’t only with the awards, and who won and who didn’t win, the production was just bad (maybe more bland, not bad). There were some high points, and I liked of some of the things they did – but that wasn’t enough to save the show. The opening musical number with Neil Patrick Harris was just so fucking atrocious, I couldn’t even believe my eyes. Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin are two of the funniest guys in show business and I thought they were going to hit it out of the park. They kind of did with some jokes and shorts, but I just thought they weren’t that good.

I was pleased with Christoph Waltz winning for Best Supporting Actor, and I absolutely loved his acceptance speech. I thought it was touching and heartfelt. When it came to Best Original Screenplay, I had a feeling “The Hurt Locker” was going to win (Peyton is my witness). I thought by “Locker” winning that award, it would help “Avatar” or “Inglorious Basterds” win Best Picture. We all know how that turned out. The fact that it has been fifteen years since Tarantino was nominated for anything is too long. The fact he went home empty handed is a crock of shit. What makes “The Hurt Locker” a good film isn’t its screenplay, or memorable dialogue – its Kathryn Bigelow’s direction, it’s Jeremy Renner’s solid performance, and its Anthony Mackie’s supporting performance, the three (distracting) cameos and the near perfect cinematography. It wasn’t the fucking screenplay! Think about “Inglorious Basterds” for a minute. Think about all the characters, the dialogue and the amazing universe that Tarantino has once again constructed! The characters of Hans Landa, Aldo Raine and his version of Hitler! Looking back I am amazed that the Academy didn’t reward the greatest writer/director of our generation. It’s unfair and bullshit. And YOU know it.

I did enjoy the extended acting clips for the supporting roles this year. I think the lack of clips takes away from the emotional connection the audience has with the winner. I am very glad they brought that back. It was truly a treat to see Waltz win. He deserved it hands down, everyone knew it. His speech was very gracious and very sweet. The

"Oscar and Penelope -- that's an uber-bingo!"

Academy sure got this one right. Finally, an actor won an Oscar for being in a Tarantino film. It’s perfect too, Hans Landa may just be Tarantino’s finest character yet. Welcome to America Christoph, enjoy your ride while it lasts. And as much as it pains me to admit it, so was Mo’Niques. I still think she’s a self righteous diva. It seems fair that the star of “Soul Plane” get an Oscar the same night the director of “Pulp Fiction” gets snubbed. Nice.

I was very disappointed with the songs nominated for Best Original Song weren’t played (but for Original Score there was some odd dance number?). I would have enjoyed seeing Ryan Bingham perform “The Weary Kind”. And listened to the other Randy Newman songs that were nominated, I guess they were more worried about showing tribute to horror films. What the fuck was that about? Horror is the most bullshit genre there is because there aren’t any good horror films. If I stretch myself, I can think of 20 good horror films. And I’m talking horror films, not thrillers or mysteries that have scary elements; I’m talking real horror films. I’m sorry but “Silence of the Lambs” isn’t a horror film, and what was with the clip from “Marathon Man”?

One of my favorite parts of the Oscar telecast has always been when they show clips of people from the film industry who passed away the previous year. The addition of James Taylor performing The Beatles “In My Life” was a very nice touch, although I think “Fire and Rain” would have been better. I have one small question, why wasn’t Farrah Fawcett in that montage? She may not have been the best actress in the world, but she was in an Altman film (“Dr. T and the Women) and Robert Duvall’s “The Apostle”. The Academy released a statement this morning saying, “It’s impossible to pay tribute to every star that has passed away.” You’re going to show Brittney Murphy, but not a huge pop culture icon like Fawcett. Really?

Those of you who read my blog and know me know that I am no fan of “The Hurt Locker” and it’s Godlike momentum. I think it drags and doesn’t have a lot of substance to it. I think it’s good, but not great. It’s very ironic that the one Oscar I think it deserved (Best Achievement in Cinematography) was won by “Avatar”.

The fact that Barbara Streisand presented Best Director was the biggest ploy ever and so utterly transparent. How is it possible that Bigelow has a Best Directing Oscar and Stanley Kubrick, Alan J. Pakula, Terrence Malick, Spike Lee and Quentin Tarantino don’t have any directing Oscars? With “The Hurt Locker” winning Best Picture, it follows in suit with my opinion that the Academy keeps awarding the wrong film Best Picture. But that’s just my opinion.

There are a lot of things I like about “The Hurt Locker”. The shot of Renner pulling the six secondary bombs around him is great. The cameos are great. The greatest shot of the film is when Renner is home and is standing in the cereal aisle, and has no frame of reference of what to get. It’s just such a haunting long shot of Renner standing there and you know he’s thinking about Iraq. His character is a slightly more intense Willard from “Apocalypse Now”. Bigelow knew what she was doing, but putting gender aside, the film wouldn’t be as big of deal and you know it (at least give me that Kevin). I’ll say it again, “The Hurt Locker” is a good film, but it’s not Best Picture caliber.

I think the biggest upset of the night was Jason Reitman not winning Best Adapted Screenplay for “Up in the Air”. I thought since he was nominated for “Juno” (even though I don’t like the film) and was again nominated for “Up in the Air”. I almost like the fact that Reitman didn’t win because he is the embodiment of nepotism. But to his defense, he is extremely talented – more than his father Ivan Reitman – but still had every opportunity in the world to make films. I resent that.

"Thank you, mom and dad, for turning me on to such a groovy profession."

I am very happy that Jeff Bridges finally won his Oscar! Even though he shouldn’t have and Colin Firth should. It was a very sentimental moment, watching Bridges holding his Oscar up in the air. I was worried that Jeremy Renner was going to follow in suit with the Academy’s gushing for an above average non bias (but is anti war?) war film and win Best Actor. I would have lost my mind. Bridges’ acceptance speech was wonderful. I love how he is just a beatnik. Deep down inside, he’s more like the Dude than any of his other characters. I think Renner being introduced by his “Swat” costar Colin Farrell cheapened his nomination. They should have gotten Brad Pitt for “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” or Charlize Theron or Richard Jenkins from “North Country”. If “Swat” is your best achievement next to “The Hurt Locker”, that’s pretty sad, although Colin Farrell was delightful as always.

I am getting extremely tired of Ben Stiller. I don’t think he’s as funny as much people. I thought it was somewhat humorous, but I think he dragged it a little too long. But I will give “Greenberg” a try.

The one thing that I really wanted to see was Roger Corman giving his acceptance speech for his Lifetime Achievement Oscar. More than half of the people in the auditorium got their start from Corman. I don’t know why he didn’t speak. That’s pretty shitty.

I love Sean Penn. I think he’s a huge asshole, but a great actor and director. He didn’t let me down with shitting on the Academy. I believe when he said how he and the Academy share that they ignored a great actress the past two years, I believe he was referring to Robin Wright (Penn?). He didn’t thank her in his speech last year, and he thinks she should have been nominated for “The Secret Lives of Pippa Lee”. He’s just so great.

As for Sandra Bullock winning: why? She’s a one trick pony. Her Oscar will follow along the lines of Halle Berry’s and Gwyneth Paltrow’s Best Actress Oscar – people will look back and shake their heads. I feel bad saying this almost; because she seems like a really cool and fun lady, but I think she knows too, that she didn’t really deserve it. As funny as this sounds, I do feel bad for Meryl Streep. She should have won this year and last.

Tom Hanks running out and just announcing the winner was a nice touch. I liked that.

I liked the John Hughes tribute.  That was very classy, and very well done.  But Molly Ringwald scared me.

Maybe Bridges can pull a next year with “True Grit” and win back to back. Wishful thinking?

Did you almost feel like Streisand alluded to Bigelow winning just because she was a woman as well, or was that just me?

And for the love of anything that is holy, please Academy, don’t have ten nominations for best picture next year.

And why wasn’t Jack Nicholson sitting in the front row?

Mini Reviews: “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and “Iron Man”

“Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (1982)  – Dir. Amy Heckerling.  With Sean Penn, Judge Reinhold, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Ray Walston.

Believe it or not, I had never seen “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” before a week ago.  The film pleasantly surprised me.  I thought it was a nice time capsule movie.  It was vintage 80s.  I am actually quiet surprised that it’s from 1982, it feels newer, it doesn’t feel so dated.  It had a great soundtrack in it including one of my favorite songs “Moving in Stereo” by The Cars.  I finally saw the infamous scene with Phobe Cates getting out the pool, removing her top.  I remember watching the TV show “I Love the 80s” hearing the guys talk about it, or hearing my older friends talk about how they used to watch it, over and over again.  The film was witty and had well written dialogue.  The film feels well paced.  It has your cliche teen humor in it.  It’s got nudity, drug references, and snappy lines.  The scene with Judge Reinhold washing the mirror in the bathroom of the fast food joint, just staring at himself in disgust made me laugh so hard I was crying.  Ray Walston delivered as usual, but I was surprisingly impressed with Penn.  I have always thought Penn was a great, great actor but it was really fun seeing him in a role like this, even though it was one of his first.  The film left me wanting more Penn, but then again, I really do think that from time to time, less is more.  But I still can’t help but wonder, dude…where is Jeff Spicoli now?

Review: 7/10.

“Iron Man” (2008) Dir. Jon Favearu.  With Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard and Jeff Bridges.

This was the first superhero film since “Batman Begins”, that was made with the same quality that they should be.  It came out the same year as “The Dark Knight” and was overshadowed by it, but “The Dark Knight” was a superior film in all every way.  RDJ gives nothing more then a stellar performance because in a sense, RDJ is Tony Stark.  The rich playboy that dates beautiful women, but has an emptiness inside of him.  The arrogance of Tony Stark is so brilliantly pulled off by Downey Jr.  I’m not really that big of a fan of Paltrow, but she’s pretty good as Stark’s assistant Pepper Potts.  Terrence Howard doesn’t really bring a whole lot to the role of Stark’s friend Col. James Rhodes.  I actually think replacing Howard with Don Cheadle for the sequel was a good choice.  I’m looking forward to Cheadle’s performance since he’s an actor that can display more range, and more capability.  And what can I say about Jeff Bridges that I already haven’t said?  That he’s wonderful.  He’s amazing.  He’s brilliant.  He’s Jeff fucking Bridges!  The action sequences don’t feel jarred or forced, they flow very well, and as we watch a CGI man fly around the sky, Faverau show’s us Stark’s face inside the helmet of Iron Man, to give it a personal feel, a connection with the audience.  That was very smart, and probably one of my favorite aspects of the film.  The only problem I have with the film is the ending battle scene is anticlimactic.  It isn’t what it should have been.  There are over ten shots of RDJ’s face inside of the Iron Man suit, but only three of Bridges’ inside the Iron Mongeror suit.  There isn’t as much of emotional connection that there should be in the end battle scene.  It’s a huge moment of the film, it’s Stark fighting his mentor, his surrogate father to the death.  They dehumanize Bridges’ character, maybe they did that since everyone loves themselves a little Jeff Bridges.

The DVD Extras are your typical behind the scenes shorts that are boring and don’t show you anything insightful, but there are two excellent extras.  The first is Robert Downey Jr’s screen test for the role of Tony Stark and it is just so wonderful.  It’s very cool to see an actor screen testing for a role, instead of it just getting handed to them.  The other special feature that is just brilliant; it’s a rehearsal with Faverau, Bridges and RDJ.  It’s the scene where Bridges tells RDJ his real intentions and what he plans to do.  It’s very cool to see these two masterful actors work and play off each other.  They’re dropping F-bombs at each other, Bridges actually slaps RDJ.  It’s very cool to see actors perform in such a raw form.  It truly is art.

Review: 8/10.