Friday, March 9, 2007

Review: Bam's Unholy Union

All right, sorry for the late posting. Even though I have officially been on spring break for over 24 hours now, I have done more work in the past 24 hours than I have the past three years at my school. Thanks to my ridiculous over achieving ways in high school, my mother - who works in the school system - will forever be entangled in the going ons of my high school's drama club (former Thespian Society President here and star of every damn show ever while I was in school, as well as acting stage manager, costume designer, set builder, lobby displayer, graphic designer, programs, tickets, flyers, promotion, advertising, fundraising, choreographer, assistant director, lighting, sound, effects, and that was just the last show I did). This year, they are staging Disney's High School: The Musical, and right now I need to save the off-stage events from complete distruction. Go Wildcats! Woot.

Trent Sketch Safety Tip: Avoid the movie like the plague people. Run! Run! Run for your lives!

On with the reviews.

I hate Jackass. I hate Wildboys. I hate the new Celebrity Death Match. I hate the new Road Rules. And I hate Viva la Bam. Why? Because they are utterly stupid displays of ridiculous stunts that many people I know are dumb enough to repeat in person. There is no redeeming quality to any of this drivel.

So how can I hate that and inexplicably love Bam's Unholy Union? Simple: I love drama. The stupid stunts are balanced out with pure bitchiness from Bam's wife Missy and his entertaining mother April, and Bam actually gets stopped from doing the worst of his work. If he does go through with something that would make Jesus cry, Missy makes him pay for it any way she can. And best of all: unlike the other marriage reality shows on MTV (Newlyweds, Till Death Do Us Part, and that unwatchable Travis Barker/Hooker Wife show), Missy and Bam are very clearly in love. It's no reality sham for money, there is actual chemistry here that makes it seem like Bam may actually be a human being and not just a worthless meat puppet also-ran skateboarder.

Hopefully, for once (please?), MTV won't destroy every ounce of goodwill I have towards a show by running into the ground with way too many seasons that try to recreate what was enjoyable about the first (cough Real World cough).

Varb For Me

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Review: The Notorious Bettie Page (2006)

I was not entirely sure what I would think of this film when I watched it today. It's been on my to see list since I read rave reviews of Gretchen Mol's titular performance, but I also read that the film wasn't nearly as good as her performance.

After watching it, I believe I might need to revisit the Sketchy's, because this is certainly one of the best made films of 2006. The film is a biopic of former pin-up queen Betty Page, focusing on her photographic and film work as a gateway into her actual personality and beliefs.

The technical film making is spot on: the various qualities of black and white/color film stock capture the actual passing of time in the film in a realistic way, while adding a visual interest many biopics neglect in favor of superficial analysis. The most interesting visual trick is showing the actual covers of magazines Bettie appeared on with Gretchen Mol posing as if the shoot were happening live. The direction is spot on and I am eager to see more work from Mary Harron (of American Psycho and I Shot Andy Warhol Fame). If she keeps choosing smart projects like these, she will certainly become a force to be reckoned with in film.

The performances are terrific, especially Gretchen Mol as Bettie and Lili Taylor as Paula Klaw - a photographer who shot most of Bettie's work. Mol captures the purity and innocence of Bettie with great ease, while Taylor pulls off a funny - yet caring - money loving business woman to perfection.

The film is great, but be forewarned: there is a whole lot of nudity and bondage in the film - tastefully executed, but there none the less. If this makes you uncomfortable, I probably wouldn't recommend seeing it. But for those that can handle the content, The Notorious Bettie Page is a surprisingly uplifting, inspiring tale of a woman who wanted to live her life the best way she knew how, no matter what.

Varb For Me

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Review: Norbit

So even though I'm not feeling much better, I realized that if I didn't start posting in this blog again, it would end up dying. And dying isn't fun. Believe me, I've had way too many failed projects that weren't nearly this much fun or rewarding (woot! 3.70 via Google, only 96.30 more and I can collect!).

I am not very proud but certainly pleased to say that I did not pay a dime to see Norbit, and neither did my darling mother. A family friend apparently buys every bootleg available, and I will be working my way through a classy stack over spring break (2007: NJ Suburbs, now where'd I put my swimmin' trunks?) including Stomp the Yard, The Hitcher (remake), and Black Christmas (remake). I might even build up enough nerve to finally watch Dreamgirls (might, Beyonce scares me, yo).

So, let's start with the positive. The make-up is incredible. The only character that looks anything like Eddie Murphy in the film is Norbit, and that still looks quite different considering the impressive under bite, scrunch to the face, and head protecting fro (it's in the film, I'm not making this up). Mr. Wong - an elderly racist Chinese man (not making this up, yo) - looks convincing elderly and bald, while Rasputia looks realistically obese and bitch-faced. I'm just waiting for when, ironically, the film that lost Eddie Murphy his Oscar is nominated for one (best make-up, more of a lock that Click was).

Now that we have that out of the way: acting sucks, characters suck, pacing sucks, continuity sucks, lighting sucks (and it wasn't just the bootleg DVD recording that looks like a five year old with developmental problems made), sets sucked, costumes were ok, direction sucked, music sucked, sound editing sucked. Surprisingly, the screenplay was rather complex for the series of fart/racist jokes it held (my personal favorite running gag: Mr. Wong saying Rasputia was a big ugly gorilla - not joking, people, I'd say watch for yourself but I will not be responsible for people poking out their own eyes or busting their eardrums to stop the madness). If a more adept director had handled the film with a cast that wasn't just Eddie Murphy/phoning it in, this could have been a heartfelt little comedy. Thankfully, I will never have to worry about that ever again.

Suddenly, I have a headache again.

Trent Sketch safety tip: don't watch this film. It's bad for your health.

Varb For Me

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

New content tomorrow

Sorry or lack of update. I only left my apartment for an exam and have been sleeping since. I'll try to get new stuff up tomorrow.

Varb For Me

Monday, March 5, 2007

No Reviews Today

I'm sick. Like, can't get out of bed for fear that I won't make it back to the bed sick. Not even a free ticket to go see Black Snake Moan from a friend was enough to get me out.

Vlog of the week canceled. I'll make it up with the next one. Tons more typed reviews tomorrow for things that would have appeared in that one.


Varb For Me

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Review...Tomorrow: Norbit

Sorry about not being as creative as usual this weekend. I was visiting my family for the weekend and just couldn't get them to leave me alone enough for me to dedicate hours upon hours to sitting on my ass and coming up with witticisms to the soundtrack of Diet Coke, Pop Tarts (mmmm....frozen pop tarts - damn you Idol!, story for another day), and my roommates talking shit about me without realizing I'm in my bedroom - classy.

Anyway, I haven't even had the time to set up my laptop in the basement this entire weekend, so I don't have access to all of my media and everything, meaning the weekly Vlog will be coming tomorrow, and oh what a treat it will be.

For starters, I will actually talk this time. I hope it doesn't drive anyone to suicide.

Second, I will be tackling my most anticipated tear it apart film of the year thus far: Norbit.

Finally, there will be surprises, possibly based around the world of Top Model. And original music. And my face that possesses a beauty America may not understand, but the world of high fashion would love.

Dear Tyra:
Thank you for providing an accurate phrase to describe someone that is not entirely handsome, pretty, ugly, fugly, or hideous, but falls somewhere in between - kind of like a nice Picasso; if nothing else, you have given me this gift.

This is going to be fun. Now where'd I put my combat boots and fake Frat's time for me to go steppin'!

Varb For Me

Review: Reno 911: Miami

Thanks to some connections I have, I was able to get a free pass to the CMJ music festival last Fall and it was one of the best experiences of my life. This is where I was able to learn about Bodog Music (you really can't go wrong with their roster, plus Bif Naked works with them, and she is awesome) and see a screening of Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (I'll add a review of that eventually, here's a preview: easily one of the best films of 2006 and incredibly moving).

One of the unannounced events I wound up attending was a midnight screening of Reno 911: Miami and I wound up being kind of underwhelmed. It just felt awkward: the editing was strange, there were some really unfunny bits, and some dialogue was just lost due to quality.

So I was pleasantly surprised when I took my brother to the movies today and saw this again. The film, based on the hit show, has the Reno 911 Sheriff Department invited to Miami for a police convention, only to be denied entrance, which turns out to be a blessing when the Reno 911 officers are the only police who can still work in the city. All of the regulars are there plus some of the best of the other featured actors (including Dave Holmes, aka former MTV VJ and host of Say Whay? Karaoke who famously lost Wanna Be a VJ to Jesse Camp).

The film is a thousand times better than when I saw it. It has been mercifully edited down by at least 15 minutes, entire scenes appear to have been re-shot, dialogue was dubbed over, and many unnecessary scenes were replaced with comedy gold. If you've seen the show, you know what you're getting into.

For those who haven't: there will be a whole series of vignettes with different combinations of officers in a Cops styled show travelling around Miami in various hilarious situations.

All I can say is this film should not disappoint the fans, now that it has been edited to actually be a film.

Varb For Me

Review: Mark Twang

Ok, I am not going to sugar coat this. I cried a lot on Thursday night because of American Idol. Quite possibly, as far as I'm concerned, the only actual musician who ever made the semifinals (a few had come close before, but were cut just short of making it) Leslie Hunt was sent home. Considering the love-hate thing I had (past tense, people) going on with my on again/off again reality TV viewing relationship with American Idol (we had been on rocky grounds since that whole Frenchie Davis bs - people, she told them about the photos, they knew they existed, they just did not want her on the show, and frankly - she's better off), Leslie was the one thing that kept me tied to this season at all. My back-up contestant, AJ, was also sent home, and he was the only guy that was even close to being record contract ready on the show.

So where does that leave us? I'm seriously (for true this time) not watching Idol for the rest of the season. I will most definitely never audition again for the show (not that Nigel would ever let me get TV time, 0 in 2 there, heh). And, I probably won't tune in ever again, depending on how poorly they treat the contestants this season. However, if they do get the songwriting contest together (recap: AI is allegedly holding a contest for an undiscovered songwriter to write the winner's first single, but they are still hammering out the kinks six months after the announcement) I will enter that, because I know I can write a pretty kick-ass song about unicorns, puppies, rainbows, and reaching for the stars.

And what does all of this have to do with this review? Mark Twang is Leslie Hunt's band, and they kick major ass. Check out the Myspace to hear what I'm judging them on. Every song is a great mix of folk and jazz, the perfect showcase for Leslie's bluesy alto. I'm personally a fan of the song 4 Blond Bitches, but that might just because the band named a song 4 Blond Bitches. The music is awesome, and I'm hoping Leslie can use the one possible advantage of AI - TV Time - to get a nice distribution deal for Mark Twang so they can start touring nation wide. I know I want to see them live, where I will wear my "America Don't Care for Jazz" t-shirt and smile the whole time like a total goofball - not that I've ever done that before (shut-up, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, you don't even know who I am, how dare you judge me for smiling like a total goofball and being the most awkwardly white person in the world trying to groove to your music last spring, not cool Karen O, not cool - still love you, though).

What do you mean you found my AI concert tickets, board game, DVD, video game, other video game, that other video game, and home made Idol merchandise in the trash can outside my house?

No comment.

Check out Leslie:

Bitch is out of her damn mind, and I lover her for it.

Call me!

Varb For Me