Tag Archives: movies

Breaking News: People Argue Over Shit

Pax Arcana

Living the life of an reclusive eccentric billionaire has its advantages, to be sure. But spending my days secure in a (extradition-free) mountain redoubt also leaves me regrettably isolated from the rest of society.

That’s why I turn to the Fashion & Style section of the New York Times to keep me abreast of how the lesser classes (that would be you) spend their days. For example, yesterday I learned that the high tech movie rental service Netflix is driving a wedge betwixt married people everywhere.

No, really. That’s what it says:

leonardBut for many couples, the queue — the computer list of which films will arrive next in the mail, after those at home are returned — is as important as everything else that spouses and other varieties of significant others share, from pet names to closet space to the bathroom. For some, this is fine. For others, the queue is the new toilet seat that somebody left up.

The article then quotes a gentleman whose wife refused to watch The English Patient for a full six months. The couple — by now almost certainly on the verge of divorce — finally returned the DVD unwatched.

And somewhere in heaven, an cherub was born with AIDS.

Unfortunately, the aforementioned rift is not the only one. According to the article, acrimony over the Netflix queue is in a giant tie for first place on the list of stupid ass shit husbands and wives argue over:

Mr. Marino and Ms. Miller are not alone. Far from it. Men and women from perfectly happy partnerships report their own dysfunctional cohabitation within the confines of the queue. Once upon a time, these sorts of disagreements were sorted out in the aisles of a video store, before a movie was selected. Now, when the conversation begins, it’s already too late.


This is why I simply trade from my DVD collection with Kim Jong Il. His taste is surprisingly girlish, but at least he returns things on time.

Hey, Who Ordered ‘Gigli’? [NYT]

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Watch out for fast-moving Nazi snow zombies

Pax Arcana

Most students of modern history know that Norway was occupied by Germany for much of World War II.

What you probably didn’t know is that fast-moving Nazi snow zombies still roam the fjordland, wreaking havoc on groups of young pleasure-seekers. Luckily — as contributor Fallen Angel discovered — there is a new documentary film on its way that promises to fill that knowledge gap.

Presenting, for your edification, Dead Snow:

This is a subject that hits close to home. My grandfather’s cousin Otto lives in an area with a very high concentration of murderous undead Nazi soldiers. He once had to fend them off armed only with a bucket full of frozen herring and a slingshot.


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Black Dynamite

Pax Arcana

Via FilmDrunk comes the “red band” trailer for a movie called Black Dynamite that I predict will shatter every box office record and sweep the Academy Awards, the AFI Awards, and the Nobel prizes.

Please feast your eyes on the deliciousness that is… Black Dynamite (WARNING: This trailer contains a brief look at some exposed female body parts, including those whose name starts with “t” and ends with “itties” and I’m not allowed to say in front of my wife).

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What is it with “Scarface” anyway?


Pax Arcana

Back when I was studying film theory at the Sorbonne, I watched both the 1932 original and the 1983 remake of “Scarface.” The original was a taut, if completely overracted, film noir gangster thriller starring Paul Muni as an Italian tough making it big in the city. The remake is the clownish, oversized minstrel show of campy violence starring Al Pacino in what will long be remembered as the first in a long line of movies in which he completely lost track of what he was supposed to be doing and hammed it up like a deranged soap opera actor.

It is also, for some goddamn reason, the favorite movie of every athlete, singer, rapper, or producer on earth.

In this article, Salon writer Louis Bayard reviews “Scarface Nation,” a new book by Ken Tucker that tries to unravel the mysterious allure of the film and explain its place in the firmament of popular culture. The answer, Tucker suggests, has less to do with what the film was than what it was interpreted to mean, rightly and wrongly:

We can see, then, that the phrases “Tony Montana” and “cinematic treasure” are never going to be yoked in the same sentence. “Scarface” owes its immortality, anyway, not to traditional tastemakers but to a devoted cult of young black and Hispanic men (a few women, too) who seized it for their own. Its arrival coincided with the gangsta phase of rap and hip-hop, and the film’s various tropes — “the ostentatious jewelry, the glorification of drug-taking as well as drug-selling, and the images of women as near-naked arm-candy” — have been staples of music videos ever since. As one observer put it, “All these rappers are out there rapping about how much money they got, and all the drugs they sell — that’s who they’re emulating: They’re living their little Tony Montana dream.”

Tony’s second-class status, coupled with his ruthless pursuit of the American dream, spoke with ferocious directness to a whole generation of street kids, not to mention celebrities. Snoop Dogg watches the movie at least once a month; Sean “Diddy” Combs has seen it at least 63 times; Shaquille O’Neal celebrated his 34th birthday with a Scarface party. No episode of the MTV series “Cribs” is complete without some musician pointing pridefully to a Scarface photo collection or a set of Scarface window blinds or an exact replica of Tony Montana’s white sofa.

I think celebrities and athletes would be a lot more interesting if they obsessed about “The Dark Crystal” instead of “Scarface.” Think about it. That movie was scary as hell and just as realistic as “Scarface” ever was. Imagine if they had an MTV Cribs episode where Willis McGahee showed off his replica of Thra and called his live-in homies “Gelflings.” And had a Rottweiler named “Emperor SkekSo.” How awesome would that be?

Why “Scarface” is f-ing great [Salon]


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That guy with the voice died

Pax Arcana

Don LaFontaine, whose kick-ass deep voice convinced thousands of otherwise rational humans to fork over $10 to see Big Momma’s House 2 and other awful movies (and some good ones), died yesterday at 68.

Here’s a nifty little video about his career from YouTube:

The cause of death was, um, extremely specific:

LaFontaine died Monday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, according to ETOnline, “Entertainment Tonight’s” Web site. He died from complications from pneumothorax, a collapsed lung that causes air to build in the pleural cavity, his agent, Vanessa Gilbert, told “ET.”

In a world, where air builds in your pleural cavity…

Anyway, expect movie ticket sales to drop by at least 17% now.

‘In a world’ voiceover master dies at 68 [CNN]

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Barack Obama is going to kick people into pits

Pax Arcana

Like the rest of America, I follow politics passionately and armed with as little information as possible. I accomplish this mostly by ignoring the work of print journalists — but paying close attention to the graphics displayed on cable news shows.

Needless to say I was in for a shock this morning when I accidentally opened the front page of the New York Times Web page (on my way to reading about the Mets’ 10-game win-streak) and saw this headline:

A Cast of 300 Advises Obama on Foreign Policy

You mean these guys?

Oh man. The Obama presidency is going to rule!




A Cast of 300 Advises Obama on Foreign Policy [NYT]
Mets, With Late Push, Pull Even With Phillies [NYT]

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Here’s something weird

Pax Arcana

If you’re among the 0% of the population who thinks famous orchestral movie themes would be better if they had actual words — you’re in luck. Witness the spastic genius somethingness of Andrew Goldenberg, who is on a mission to set lyrics to many of the most famous film tunes in history.

I guess the song is okay, but the video falls flat to me because of all the fancy special effects. When is Hollywood going to learn that all these expensive computer graphics are no substitute for writing and talent.

Odd L.A. Spotlight: Andrew Goldenberg [MetBlogs]

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Your new catchphrase: “Nuke the fridge”

Pax Arcana

Via FilmDrunk, I am proud to present you with the perfect catchphrase to describe a phenomenon that cried achingly for appropriate nomenclature.

Here, let’s let the Urban Dictionary explain it to you:

NUKE THE FRIDGE is a colloquialism used to delineate the precise moment at which a cinematic franchise has crossed over from remote plausibility to self parodying absurdity, usually indicating a low point in the series from which it is unlikely to recover.

The phrase originates from the latest Indiana Jones movie, which was so full of stupid CGI and empty action scenes that Perry Ellis permanently scarred his own forearm on a hot grill just to burn the stupid out of his memory. Or, as the UD puts it:

The term comes from the film Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, in which, near the start of the movie, Harrison Ford’s character survives a nuclear detonation by climbing into a kitchen fridge, which is then blown hundreds of feet through the sky whilst the town disintegrates. He then emerges from the fridge with no apparent injury. Later in the movie, the audience is expected to fear for his safety in a normal fistfight.

Don’t even get me started on the monkeys.


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Simon Pegg is funny and smart — and in grave danger

Pax Arcana

Because all good things in life eventually get murdered by small-time newspaper editors with abhorrent writing skills, it’s a good bet that Simon Pegg will one day follow Ricky Gervais into the cross hairs of the Lowell Sun.

In advance of his new movie, Run, Fat Boy, Run, the New York Times profiles the star of the hilarious films Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.

Frost and Pegg. Like Sonny and Cher only funny and British. And dudes.

Unsurprisingly, Pegg comes across as whip smart and down-to-earth. Like the complete opposite of most actors. Here’s his take on it:

“I THINK the reason actors become idiots is because you’re treated so well,” the British actor Simon Pegg said recently over multiple cups of coffee at a chic downtown hotel. “You’re driven everywhere, and you’re put up in really nice places. The actors that turn into idiots are the ones that start believing it’s because they deserve it, not because they’re just not trusted, which is the truth. The truth is actors are flaky, unreliable and mostly unstable people, and they need to be mollycoddled at all times.”

Of course, no story on Pegg would be complete without mention of Nick Frost, Pegg’s costar in two movies and one TV series. The two met when Frost and Pegg’s girlfriend waited tables at the same Mexican restaurant in England. Eventually they began communicating in beeps and boops and sleeping together:

At dinner a week after they met, Mr. Pegg, who was soused, “made the noise of a little droid in ‘Star Wars,’ ” Mr. Frost recalled. “It was such a little specific thing, and I’d never heard anyone else do that before. It was like he was talking my language. We both understood each other perfectly.” They eventually parlayed their knowledge of pop culture ephemera into bull’s-eye parodies.

When they met, Mr. Pegg was performing as a comedian, and he pulled Mr. Frost along. They were roommates for eight years; through a series of buddy-flick-worthy mishaps they even wound up (platonically) sharing a bed for months. “There was never any impropriety,” Mr. Frost said, “but it just felt nice.”

It’s exactly this kind of story that makes me want to pay $10 for Run, Fat Boy, Run, even though Frost isn’t in it (to my knowledge), and it was directed by David Schwimmer.

The Times says Pegg and Frost are working on a new film about a pair of geeky British friends called Paul. I can only pray the Lowell Sun spares their lives at least until after primary photography is done.

Regular Bloke Takes a Dip in Star Territory [New York Times]

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Zombies in rear view mirror are faster than they appear

Slate writer Josh Levin, when not cowering in fear of preternaturally developed 12-year-olds, also cowers in fear of zombies.

In a 2004 Slate article, reprinted this week to commemorate the success of Will Smith’s I Am Legend zombie flick, Levin asked a simple question: Why do today’s movie zombies move much faster than the undead of yore?

From the article:

The oft-repeated image of a slow, walking line of zombies is the best representation of the zombie’s place in the scary-movie food chain. In horror, zombies behave more like a creeping plague or a disease than singularly terrifying monsters like Dracula or the Wolfman. Zombies have no individual identity, but rather get their power from membership in a group: It’s easy to kill one, but 1,000 indomitable flesh eaters may just overwhelm you.

Hey, that’s littering!

Today’s zombies, he says, are free to trot, gallop, and even sprint after their human prey, as in films like 28 Days Later, House of the Dead, Resident Evil, and the 2003 remake of Dawn of the Dead.

The reasons for this are twofold, he argues. For one thing, slow-moving reanimated corpses ate up a lot of screen time for low-budget filmmakers who couldn’t afford to shoot a lot of extraneous scenes. Digital cameras and editing equipment make this less important.

And the advent of realistic CGI means filmmakers can incorporate elements of video-game level speed in their violent thrashings:

The effect of corpse-heavy video games is all over the nascent fast-zombie genre. In first-person shooter games, the undead’s usual pack mentality is necessarily replaced by zombie exceptionalism: Each creature that jumps out from around the corner has to be an individual—fast, strong, and threatening. Even more so than Resident Evil, the movie version of House of the Dead follows this model, as filmed sequences of running, jumping, and swimming zombies are actually intercut with parallel scenes from the corpse shoot-’em-up video game.

One of the early themes of this blog was that Pax Arcana was painfully afraid of zombies. That was good for a few laughs, but it’s hard to sustain that kind of humor over time, especially since we’ve found it awfully hard to maintain the illusion that zombies could actually exist. We’re science-oriented people at Pax Arcana. We don’t believe in the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, or zombies. In fact, Father Scott once said thaggggggrrwwwworr asdf afdskfAFHELP!HELP! awwwaf lka;s;l;;lkj;fadva6541414654esa-d0f98-ioh

The Running Dead [Slate]

Now playing: Grinderman – No Pussy Blues
via FoxyTunes

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