13 December 2010

A Manly Christmas Viewing List

A Manly Xmas List
By Leigh Wood

Well, while the ladies celebrate their Fassbender Festivus (You know who you are, biznitches!) what are the gentleman of the season to do?  Here’s a list of flicks for the dudes to gather around the tele and toast their egg nogs.  Cheers!

Half Baked – Dave Chappelle and Jim Breuer (Saturday Night Live) have some ‘weed for a good cause’ fun, i.e. raising enough money to save Harland Williams’ (Employee of the Month) virgin ass and get  him out of prison.  Some of the gags are crude and stale, but director Tamra Davis (Billy Madison) and Chappelle’s witty writing with Neal Brennan (Chappelle’s Show) keep the amusing and lighthearted sequences coming.  A few great pothead cameos and unexpected guest stars also keep a mellow viewer on his toes.  I don’t think this is a bad movie, but obviously, it has a very limited audience demographic, doesn’t it?

The Hangover – Oh, the absurd things that can go wrong in Vegas and how effing funny they can be!  This 2009 comedy starring Bradley Cooper (Alias, Wedding Crashers), Ed Helms (The Office), and Zach Galifianakis (Due Date) has just the right amount of gags and stupidity to be a modern classic.  In addition to the similar but far superior reverse memory storyline like Dude, Where’s My Car?, director Todd Phillips (Old School) makes room for honest male bonding and even some fun sentiment.  But, let’s not get too crazy now, because this is a dude’s list.  The Hangover is strangely touching, hysterical, and some how both preposterous and realistic at the same time. I’m really looking forward to The Hangover Part II.

Inglourious Basterds – Okay, so this is actually a Michael Fassbender (Hunger) movie, too, but this is one the guys can enjoy. (If you’re gal is one of the Fassinator obsessed, you’ll be pleased by his fate here- or, you might even think he’s pretty cool, “There’s a special rung in hell reserved for people who waste good scotch” and all that.) Quentin Tarantino’s 2009 alternative World War II romp looks the period perfection and has plenty of fine irony about how film can save the world.  However, I’ve seen this one a couple of times and I still can’t decide if I like it or not.  Some sequences are a little too clever and full of themselves, and though he’s supposed to be an over the top send up, sometimes I just hate Brad Pitt’s (He’s Brad %^&*# Pitt I don’t need to refer to another movie!) stupid accent here.  Thankfully, Best Supporting Actor winner Christoph Waltz (The Three Musketeers) adds serious charm and weight.  Even if you’re not a Tarantino fan, this one deserves at least one viewing, and obsessive fans can eat this one up with plenty of multiple watches.  

 (I respect all holidays: Christmas, Hanukkah, and even the %^&$#% Fassbender Festivus!)

The Men Who Stare At Goats – I really don’t like George Clooney.  In fact, I generally hate George Clooney (Michael Clayton, Syriana). However, the delightful Ewan McGregor (Revenge of the Sith, Moulin Rouge!) and wonderful Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart) make up the slack in this 2009 adaptation of author Jon Ronson’s book from director Grant Heslov (Good Night, and Good Luck- I guess he really likes Clooney then).  The tongue and cheek brilliance of casting an actor who has played a Jedi in a comedy about a New Age and Jedi-esque military project gone humorously awry is worth at least one helping of ironic viewing.  The fact that McGregor is so believable as the straight man for most of the picture makes this stupidity all the more fun.  Bridges is a little too much like The Big Lebowski sometimes, but seeing The Dude put the army on its LSD ear is also a great trip.  Again, perhaps you either get this one or you don’t, but with some spiked cider and a group of friends, one can certainly have some fun here.

Zombieland – I don’t know that I would call this 2009 zombie road trip movie truly horror, as the primary bits are not about how gory and badass said zombies could be. Thankfully, the coming of age humor amid those meddling undead makes for great fun and gags.  Director Ruben Fleischer (Fantasy Factory) and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (The Joe Schmo Show) have some apocalyptic seriousness, but the onscreen zombie survival rules are sweet. Woody Harrelson (The People Versus Larry Flint) and Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) seem like a seriously unlikely pair, but both have a lot of fun here and give it their all.  Naturally, I’m not a Jewish guy, so some of Eisenberg’s too similar to Michael Cera charm gets lost on me, but Bill Murray (again, no reference needed) is just gold.  I really hope the formula isn’t screwed for the sequel, but as Rule #32 reminds us, “Enjoy the little things.”

So hug your bro briefly and not too closely, have a shot, and get those Fassy girls away from the TV and under the mistletoe ASAP. 


Unknown said...

The movie hanover is really awesome.In the follow-up to the record-breaking hit comedy "The Hangover," Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), Alan (Zach Galifianakis), and Doug (Justin Bartha) travel to exotic Thailand for Stu's wedding. After the unforgettable bachelor party in Las Vegas, Stu is taking no chances and has opted for a safe, subdued pre-wedding brunch. However, things don't always go as planned. What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but what happens in Bangkok can't even be imagined.
Good reviews!

watch movies online

Andina said...

Maybe you should try "Up In The Air" where George Clooney shows his fragile side.

ortugoa said...

"I’m not a Jewish guy, so some of Eisenberg’s too similar to Michael Cera charm gets lost on me"

More racism. Michael Cera isn't even Jewish, you prick (and apparently Eisenberg's "charm" is more likely to be appreciated by Jews - thanks, didn't know that one).
What is this absolute obsession some people have with referring to Jesse Eisenberg as Jewish over and over and over again, an obsession they evidently don't share when it comes to other Jewish actors in his age group (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Logan Lerman, Anton Yelchin, Zac EFRON, etc.).

ortugoa said...

"I’m not a Jewish guy, so some of Eisenberg’s too similar to Michael Cera charm gets lost on me"

More racism. Michael Cera isn't even Jewish, you prick. What is this absolute obsession some people have with referring to Jesse Eisenberg as Jewish over and over again, an obsession they evidently don't share when it comes to other Jewish actors in his age group (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Logan Lerman, Anton Yelchin, Zac EFRON, etc.).

Kristin Battestella said...

Hi Ortugoa.

Leigh Wood is a woman, in case you didn't know.

I've never known her to make a racist comment, so I'm not sure what you mean by 'more racism'. I suspect she meant that yes there is a young Jewish crop out there that perhaps do seem interchangeable and/or are not or are going for the 'young Woody Allen' appeal.

That was how I took it anyway. The way British, Irish, and Scottish actors all get called one and the same though they are different and are always up for the same part- usually villainous roles. Sadly, that's how the acting trends go.

I actually don't like any of the new crop of actors you mentioned, and again, I'm not sure what you mean by obsession and over and over?

I'm also not sure if it's correct to answer what you say is racist with a insult like prick, anyway, but c'est la vie.

And to Andina, Up in the Air does look like it's a different Clooney movie. I'm touch and go with his work as well.

Kristin Battestella said...

Not that it's always accurate, but wikipedia does say Jesse Eiseberng is of Jewish descent.

No Michael Cera is not Jewish, but he has been involved with the Judd Apatow/Seth Rogen young crowd. Perhaps that is the connection to which Leigh was referring.

We're all for healthy discussion and debate here at I Think, Therefore I Review. What we don't like are spam comments and flame posts like 'you suck'. There's no fun and brain power in that.

fliersal said...

The point you made about Irish and Scottish actors is actually the exact OPPOSITE of what these people are doing here. They're not grouping all Jewish actors together. If they did, people like the one who wrote this blog would be writing about Logan Lerman and Gordon-Levitt and Mila Kunis being Jewish just as much as they do Eisenberg. But they don't. That's the point.

They're only grouping the fugly nerds together and calling them Jewish because they are fugly nerds, even if they're not Jewish (i.e. Michael Cera).

And what does Woody Allen have to do with anything? I don't see anyone comparing Logan Lerman and old-school movie star Tony Curtis together because they look a little alike and they're both Jewish. Nobody compares Lerman to Zac Efron, even though they look a lot alike, and Lerman is full-on Jewish and Zac is part Jewish (they even sound alike!). People call Jesse Eisenberg the "Jewish Michael Cera", but nobody calls Joseph Gordon-Levitt the "Jewish Heath Ledger".

And yes, I know very well that Jesse Eisenberg is Jewish. The point is, he's not the only one. His generation of American actors is chock-full of Jews (7 out of the 15 actors on the new Vanity Fair cover are Jewish or half Jewish, Eisenberg, Kunis, Gordon-Levitt, Andrew Garfield, and the half-Jewish Rashida Jones, James Franco, and Gyllenhaal). The fact that the one whose Jewishness people seem endlessly obsessed over is Eisenberg is obscene, and of course it's racist. If he wasn't a fast-talking geek, would they be as equally obsessed with him being Jewish? Of course not. Therefore it's racist.

Kristin Battestella said...

Hi fliersal.

I don't think Leigh Wood is racist at all. In fact, she has address the issues you mentioned on another blog that she writes for. She has mentioned the new rise of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Mila Kunis. Natalie Portman is from Israel! There is always a Jewish crop of actors in Hollywood. I think Leigh meant that it is no surprise and Jesse Eisenberg is the next pop one. If he's also the geek vibe so be it.

I'm amazed this post is still getting negative comments. Doesn't anyone like Eisenberg's performance in Zombieland? I did. Isn't that more important? If his ethnicity or nerd status have him making good movies, good for him. If he's playing the supposed 'Jewish card' and that put Leigh off of the movie, she's entitled to her opinion. I'm all for discussing issues in film and television in a respectful, insightful manner at I Think, Therefore I Review. I'm more saddened that people are only finding this blog and calling out drive by reverse racisms than actually critically discussing these ideas onscreen.

Leigh is some sort of mix, but believe you me, I am an Italian so I know a thing or two about fast talking stereotypes onscreen, thanks very much. We aren't all mobsters or fake shore guidos, just so you know. Yet its perfectly okay for everyone to assume we are all 'Sopranos' or over tanned twits and no one gets upset. Isn't that the same racism to which you are referring?

Kristin Battestella said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
fliersal said...

I didn't say anything about Italians, and yes, of course, Italian (or rather Italian-American) stereotypes are wrong, too. A few Italian-American groups did speak out against Jersey Shore when it premiered.

Yes, I liked Eisenberg's performance in Zombieland, so that's part of the problem, throwing the ethnic card into it when it has nothing to do with the film or the performance or the character. Nobody is mentioned as being any ethnicity in Zombieland (no one is even given a last name!). Of course Leigh is entitled to dislike the movie or Eisenberg or his performance. That's not the point and it's not what she did. What she did is bring an ethnic group into a film and character that had nothing to do with, and then used it as a negative (not that using it as a positive would have been any better).

Here's a litmus test. If Joseph Gordon-Levitt or Logan Lerman had played the exact same character in the exact same film, with the same script, would she have used the word "Jewish"? Of course not, despite the fact that these two actors are just as Jewish as Eisenberg. Would anybody say they dislike Gordon-Levitt's acting because he's Jewish? Of course not. That would be absurd. So it should be absurd for Eisenberg, too. There are plenty of actual adjectives somebody could use to describe Eisenberg's performances and why they dislike them. The word "Jewish" refers to a genealogical heritage or to a religious belief. That's it. It doesn't refer to someone's personality or behavior (unless they are speaking in a Yiddish or Hebrew accent, and Eisenberg certainly is not). And the proof is that Michael Cera's acting style and on-screen persona are very similar to Eisenberg, and Cera's not Jewish. Surely there are enough actual words in the English language to describe their acting style? A term that refers to a religion and an ethnicity certainly isn't one of them, unless you're going to use it for all actors who are Jewish, and it appears that certainly isn't the case.

Kristin Battestella said...

Good Points Fliersal. I double posted earlier.

I agree there isn't anything major ethnic in Zombieland. I don't wonder if Leigh means that that type of built in Woody Allen-esque character is already built into our psyche? Perhaps she presumed or deduced the vibe? With the young crop being so hot right now- as you said is it a negative or a positive? Is it for a specific audience, as Leigh points out, does not include her? I don't think she meant it vehemently, merely an honest observation on her part. Even if he's not necessarily Jewish in the movie, is the acting style actually Jewish? Is there such a thing of 'acting Jewish' the way folks like DeNiro always play Italians?

Am I hung up on these Woody Allen imitators? For years he was the personification, always playing a golly gee shucks Jewish New Yorker? That's the type I keep thinking of, rightly or wrongly. (?)

Actually, I know she doesn't like Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I didn't like him in Rise of Cobra especially. Is Lerman Percy Jackson? Maybe I'm getting old, some of these super young folks I don't even know who they are!

Leigh also posted her thoughts on her FB. Feel free to go after the horse's mouth there.


On a similar but different note- What's with the German-Irish Fassbender always playing Nazi types?

fliersal said...

Well, Michael Fassbender is playing Magneto, a Jewish character, in his next movie. Magneto isn't just Jewish, he's a Holocaust survivor. There's an irony that actors who play Nazis sometimes also play Jews (see German actor Armin Mueller-Stahl and Austrian Christoph Waltz, whose character is Jewish in Water for Elephants). I don't know the reason. But what Nazis did Fassbender play? Looking at it, none come to mind.

I don't see how the acting style can be "Jewish" if we can name only three actors who really fit it, and one of them isn't Jewish. And what is the style we're talking about here? I would understand if we meant somebody having a distinct accent, like a Yiddish New York accent, which I think Allen had but Jesse Eisenberg does not. Is it talking really quickly? Surely we're not saying that talking really fast means somebody is "Jewish"? That would be an insult to the many fast-talkers of all ethnicites and creeds worldwide. And surely we're not saying that somebody being a nerd of some sort means they're Jewish? Surely nerds are a diverse race? What else is there to Eisenberg? I suppose he says words that are in the script, but his character in Zombieland didn't speak any Yiddishisms (and in Adventureland, the Irish-Italian writer-director explicitly said that Eisenberg's character was based on him (the director), and wasn't Jewish).

As for Robert De Niro, he actually hasn't played that many Italian - some, but not overwhelmingly. He was Irish in Goodfellas and Jewish in Casino and a whole bunch of other groups throughout the ages (his character in the Fockers movies definitely isn't Italian). And besides, the characters you're talking about are actually identified as Italian in the movies they're in, and not just by last name (De Niro is one quarter Italian, as you probably know). I couldn't really name a "De Niro acting style" that would make someone Italian, unless you mean talking in what sounds like a New York Italian accent.

Kristin Battestella said...

Good points about Magneto! Fassbender played a Nazi in Blood Creek.

Ironically, he's undercover as a Nazi in Inglourious Basterds- which is also in Leigh's Manly list above. I wonder if she had his comment from the film about the 'Jewish controlled Dogma of Hollywood' on her mind when it came to Zombieland?

Hee, I'm a very fast talker, indeed. Is it weird that we- or Leigh initially- interchanged Cera and Eisenberg when as you say if there's no distinct Jewish angle to the character, and one isn't even Jewish. Is it Cera that is playing into the hip young Jewish crowd on of actors on the rise? You know what I mean? Is it actually the other way around- the nerds getting ethnic? Indeed did this Rogen era class create the Jewish geek and are just milking it for all its worth?

I personally don't care for any of these teen tales since Superbad. Have they grown up yet? Although if Green Hornet is an indication, probably not ;0) Now there is a seriously stereotypical blight: Kato! Indeed, stereotypes have been going on in Hollywood for years. German actor Henry Brandon played the Comanche Chief Scar in The Searchers. Charlton Heston as a Mexican in Touch of Evil?!

De Niro is just De Niro. I love him but now I always think of that Frank Caliendo comic skit where he does the over the top New York accent and says 'Look at me, I am the Frankenstein's Monster!'

Blood Creek and Superbad are reviewed here on the blog, too, somewhere. There's a discussion on the documentary Pride and Passion, Italians in America as well, if you're interested.

fliersal said...

lol... my point about the Jewish actors on the rise is that they're NOT like Eisenberg (or Woody Allen)... that's why I cited Lerman, Gordon-Levitt, (Andrew) Garfield, Gyllenhaal, Franco, Ben Foster, Kunis, Portman, etc.

Yes, there was that whole unfortunate thing with the Apatow people... but I don't think Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill really have much similarity to Woody Allen. Certainly not Rogen, whose persona is very different.

The other Apatow people are all kind of different... there's Jason Segel (father Jewish, mother not) and Jay Baruchel (who has one Jewish grandparent - an Italian Jew! - and three non-Jewish Catholic grandparents, so I would say he's pretty marginal).

I guess Martin Starr is another Apatow geek, but he isn't Jewish, and he never got very big. Then there's Paul Rudd, who IS Jewish, but who definitely isn't Eisenbergian.

Speaking of Italians, Between Cera, Jason Schwartzman (Italian mother), Michael Angarano, Jason Biggs, Paul Iacono, and Matt Bush, there's certainly a crop of Italian-American actors who often play nerds... but never seem to play Italians.

Kristin Battestella said...

Schwartzman is a Coppola! You can't tell me he hasn't gotten by on clout and family connections or utilizing cheats on both sides all around. ;0)

Unless there's an oddity- Portman and a few Canadian connections- everyone you mentioned is American or considers themselves LA bound. More and more I am finding I don't like young Hollywood. Granted we've been discussing Jewish angles, but even the crowd before that like Affleck, Hartnett, I never cared for them.

Is the intellectual and well rounded representation all across the pond? Are they more open than we are, instead of picking a design, running with it or pigeonholing a mold? That's why I like Fassbender. He's continually breaking bounds. I've seen interviews where folks ask him about being German and Irish- but he says he's simply European. Even after seeing him go IRA for Hunger, I still believed him as a Roman in Centurion.

Do Americans just not have the versatility? Or do we and we only see what is popular of the moment- The Eisenberg, for example? The Social Network certainly did better than Percy Jackson!

Thanks for taking the time out to respond with such intelligent and researched comments. I had to put the delay on a few months ago because I was getting so much spam. Everyone who has a blog is a film critic, eh? ;0)

I wonder what Leigh is going to submit next?

fliersal said...

Yes, the British/Australian actors definitely seem to be taking over (and I know Fassbender, being from Ireland and not North Ireland, isn't actually from the U.K.... but still... British Isles). Superman/Batman (and sort of) Spider-Man, along with a lot of other characters have all been colonized. :-)

And it's not just the kind of intellectual or "deep" roles that are played by Brits like Fassbender and Tom Hardy... it's also the fairly bubble-headed ones, like Twilight or everything Alex Pettyfer is getting now. It seems like there's an interesting split among young actors these days... with one half British/Australian and the other half American, heavily Jewish and from L.A., with some interesting exceptions like Channing Tatum and Chris Evans (these American ones are also often former child actors, like Gordon-Levitt and Foster).

Then again, there was always a heavy British presence. Robert Duvall k-od 4 British actors to win Best Actor in 1983. But the change that seems to have happened is that the younger actors now are British as well (i.e. Pettyfer or Pattinson).

The Social Network has only grossed about 5 million more than Percy Jackson. But I know, I know, unfortunately, Eisenberg is a bigger star than Lerman. I do like Eisenberg as an actor, most of the time, but it seems his presence isn't very healthy. :-)

My favorite actors tend to be these really weird ones, like Richard Jenkins or Oliver Platt. I don't know why. I just find them more entertaining, even if they're not as refined as actors as somebody like a Fassbender.

Kristin Battestella said...

Ugh, Twilight! And what is the appeal of Channing Tatum? Christian Bale seems to mix between the avante garde stuff and the big pictures. He was a little too much everywhere for awhile and now that he's reeled it back, here comes the hardware.

On a similar note, it seems the same way with actresses. Those who are goodie 'serious' actresses who then take it off- like Halle Berry- win the Oscar. Jennifer Connolly keeps her clothes on for a change and gets the hardware.

I suppose there is always a double standard in Hollywood about who goes against the typecasting, which 'out there' roles are acceptable,and which of the moment group is going to get the clout. And Hollywood decides according to how much money they can make. Maybe Percy Jackson made a good bit of money, but it was generally panned and probably won't get franchised- ergo Lerman is in the second tier, as opposed to Eisenberg and the acclaim and good press for The Social Network.

I only watched Percy Jackson for Sean Bean anyway ;0) I always tend to gravitate towards obscure people. That's how I originally found Fassbender. I hope he doesn't get crazy now in Hollywood.

Who doesn't like Oliver Platt?