Monday, November 27, 2006

C Dub's Top Fifteen Films of 2006 (So far...)

1) The Departed
2) The Fountain
3) The Proposition (Officially 2005)
4) Half Nelson
5) Little Children
6) Babel
7) The Queen
8) The Prestige
9) Who Killed the Electric Car?
10) United 93
11) Water (Officially 2005)
12) The Science of Sleep
13) Casino Royale
14) Thank You For Smoking
15) A Scanner Darkly

Pan's Labyrinth
The Good Shepherd
The Good German
Children of Men
Blood Diamond
Factory Girl
The Painted Veil

Worst Film Thus Far: Tie for "Little Man" & "Let's Go to Prison"
Freakiest Film of the Year: Hard Candy
Best, Get Your Ass Up and Help Save the Planet Film of the Year: An Inconvenient Truth
Best Slap Stick Horror Film of the Year (The Evil Dead Award): Slither
Scariest Motherfucker of the Year: The Descent (Officially 2005)
Hands Down Funniest Film of the Year, Possibly the Decade: Borat

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Ladies and gentleman I give you David Bowie as Jareth the Goblin King circa the twisted 1986 muppet tale, "Labyrinth." I think this photo pretty much sums the film up...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Film Review: Little Man

To honor the recent DVD release of the Wayans' romp of a comedy, "Little Man," I decided to post my original review of the film from the IDS circa July 20, 2006. I'll preface by saying, films don't get any worse than this.

Crazy Little Thing Called Crap
By C. Warner Sills

It's fair to say that my expectations going into "Little Man" were about as low as the main character's center of gravity. A movie like this is going to be stupid. We know that. But stupidity, if done right (see "Airplane!," silver fox actor Leslie Nielson or Monty Python's entire career), can be very funny. Unfortunately the Wayans Bros. decided to go beyond stupid, entering a world of, wait for it, shit-fueled unadulterated suck.

Calvin AKA Little Man (Marlon Wayans) is vertically challenged. Calvin also chose a life of crime. After being released from a stint in prison, he robs an extremely valuable diamond from a poorly run jewelry store with his friend/driver Percy (Tracy Morgan, whose only funny line, "word." may also be the only funny part of the film).

After Calvin and Percy flee the scene with the police on their backs they stash the bling in the purse of a random woman in a pharmacy.

The random woman is Vanessa (Kerry Washington) who, believe it or not, just found out that she wasn't pregnant with the child that her husband Darryl (Shawn Wayans) desperately wants to have. Calvin, overhearing this discussion, decides to shave, dress like a baby and show up on the poor couple's doorstep to infiltrate an elaborate forced adoption scheme to get back the diamond. Badamn! We now have a plot folks.

Eventually a mob boss (Chazz Palminteri, who I'm guessing has a child to put through college or just wanted a wicked yacht when he signed on for this role) pops up who also wants the diamond. Enter the poorly delivered suspense element.

I wish that I could tell you that stupidity tries, and that "Little Man" has its funny moments. I wish I could say that, but I can't. Instead of utilizing the clever parody and social satire that made the first two "Scary Movies" somewhat funny, the Wayans instead rely on poop and booby milk jokes and seven, count them, seven moments where someone is hit in the balls.

Then there is the creepy CGI miniature Marlon Wayans, whose size at times rivals that of a toddler or a My Buddy doll but then will magically grow in size (take the scene where the little man drives an automobile in the film's little car chase scene) dwarfing even the Stonehenge midgets from "Spinal Tap." But hey, who said continuity was important.

Judging by the stellar box office results of the Wayans' last film, "White Chicks," and the two giggling pre-pubescent mall urchins sitting two rows ahead of me at the matinee, "Little Man" will probably do quite well, maybe even warranting a sequel--"Bride of Little Man" for example. This is unfortunate since if I were given the choice of screening this film again or falling off a Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle going 50MPH on a gravel road, I'd lean towards the crotch rocket.

Film Review: Jacob's Ladder

Film Classics:
Jacob’s Ladder (1990)–R
Directed by: Adrian Lyne
Starring: Tim Robbins, Danny Aiello

I’ve often said that “Jacob’s Ladder” is by far one of the most frightening psychological thrillers out there. Adrian Lyne is one of those directors who unfortunately seemed to have been typecasted as solely an “erotic thriller” filmmaker, being known mainly for his successes–“Fatal Attraction,” “Unfaithful” and “Nine ½ Weeks.” “Ladder” proves that Lyne is not only a misrepresented master but also extremely underrated.

“Ladder” is a film that treads many different waters. At its surface the film deals with the Vietnam War, the use of hallucinatory drugs during combat and the post-traumatic stress disorders that followed. On the other hand the film examines the human psyche, more specifically, how the mind can play unforgiving tricks on you during harsh times. Finally the film is an allegory about accepting a fate and moving on with your life. To say any more would defeat the film’s purpose and magnificent twist.

“Ladder” tells the story of Jacob Singer (Tim Robbins, in by far one of his best and underappreciated performances), a Vietnam vet who wakes up on a New York subway one night and enters a world on the fringe of reality and dreams. At first his visions warrant a double take–people with weird horns and tails, train cars with eerie ghost like passengers and literal demon like creatures begin to haunt his every move. While Singer cannot explain his the frightening apparitions, he likens the torment of his life to that of living in hell and begins to wonder if his experiences in the jungle is the cause.

As Singer shifts in and out of his supposedly haunted reality he begins to have strange and incomplete flashbacks from the war, specifically one night full of carnage and haziness. Singer seeks out fellow vets as well as his former service shrink but comes up short on answers and is on his own on his quest for answers.

“Ladder” is a film that takes a lot of patience and a keen eye for details. The answers and culmination of the story are presented but not spoon-fed. Some viewers may find this style and the film’s editing to be confusing but on second viewings the film as a whole is quite rewarding.

Robbins is one of those actors who, personally, I can take or leave. He shined in early films like “The Player” and “The Shawshank Redemption” but lately hasn’t blown me away, even despite his unwarranted Oscar for “Mystic River.” In “Ladder” Robbins not only nails the role of Singer but also gives the character a level of shear innocence and frustration with life that makes it a standout performance.

Other supporting roles equally compliment Robbins. The great Danny Aiello (“Do the Right Thing”) shines as Singer’s chiropractor and personal guardian angel type friend. The highly underappreciated actor has that kind of soft-spoken wisdom to him that benefits the film and helps the flow of the often-chaotic nature of the film.

It’s hard to sum up in words why “Jacob’s Ladder” is not only a successful thriller but also a very sophisticated and smart look at a person struggling with fate and his beliefs. As the end credits roll and the soft and eerie piano soundtrack starts up again, all the pieces of the puzzle come together and we are left with a lot to ponder. And while the film may seem a bit dated at times it has survived the tides of time and holds its own to any Shyamalan type thriller out there. Always a sign of a classic film.