OscaRank: “The King’s Speech” and I

29 12 2010

Pssst...who's that creepy guy behind us?

With a line before me boasting a median age of 60, I entered the theatre with the expectations of the crowd I had been with while watching “The Queen” so many years ago. That is…subtly subdued and borderline regal. Afterall, this movie was another take on the British Monarchy. Not just any take…but a take on King George VI’s stutter and how he overcame this oral disability during a very trying time in England’s history: the onset to World War II. I would be pleasantly wrong on that supposition. Before I get into it further, check out the trailer on the left menu over there or just click here.

From the opening scene where the Duke of York (not quite King yet) tried to force his tongue around a speech, I could feel his pain. I have been struck by debilitating fear when faced with a crowd. I recall one instance in particular where I had written this great paper in Grade 8 about the Third Reich (coincidentally) that had been chosen as one of three to represent my school in a regional competition. The one caveat is that I had to read it in front of an auditorium of peers. I was excited to hear I was chosen but elated I had to speak in front of the entire school. I wrestled with my demons and my demons eventually won. I pulled out of the competition. So we only ended up with two representatives instead of one. Never did learn how we did. But I promised myself that I’d spend as much time as it took to overcome that fear/shyness.

The Duke (played amazingly by Colin Firth) had no such option. It had become his duty to deliver speeches as a representative for the monarchy. However, he had the buffer of his brother as heir to the Throne. So he’d never need to deliver a great number of talking engagements and hide his impediment the best he could. And considering that this is all historical fact and on record, I wouldn’t consider it a spoiler to say that fate had other plans.

With some caring urgings of his wife (soon-to-be Queen Elizabeth played by Helena Bonham-Carter), the Duke employed the help of speech coach, Lionel Logue (the brilliant Geoffrey Rush), who pushed His Royal Highness outside his comfort zones embracing his weaknesses and using it to make him a better orator.

I never had any such guide in my battle against shyness other than myself when I decided on a whim to audition for an acting program at a prestigious university. If accepted, I’d have three (potentially four) years of forced onslaught against my enemy. I got in despite using a Simpsons tune as my audition song piece where it was just simple enough and silly enough to make an impression. It worked. I got accepted and met who was to become the most influential person in my life up to that point, the late Patrick Christopher. He was a bard who never achieved his full potential yet he accomplished exactly what he set his mind to…which is more than a lot of us can say. He brought me outside of my comfort zones and he saw something in me that I didn’t fully appreciate at the time: that there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do, that the only limitations where set by myself and that the “fear” was only an excuse to not to do things I really wanted to do. I graduated not living up to the stamp I wanted to leave in university but still left with new found energy and a oyster-world full of pearls to shuck loose.

The Duke became King George VI by some questionable and selfish choices (by the Prince and not the Duke) and all of a sudden he became the “voice of the people”…the exact thing he wanted to avoid. Thankfully, Lionel was always at his side as a sage and crutch to help him learn to stand on his own. Lionel used methods I learned during those years in university that really struck home and the reason why I’m relating a part of myself in this exposition of thoughts. But to be fair, all writers put a piece of themselves in everything they write whether they admit it or not.

I will end the plot narrative at this point for the sake of trying to coax you all into giving this simply breathtaking movie a try.

The King’s Speech takes easy liberties on the King’s and Lionel’s relationship intermingled with the backdrop of WWII. Most surprising of all, this movie is really really funny in that endearing Forrest Gump kinda way. Not to compare the King to Gump in character! HA-HA! (Please don’t chop off my hea, Red Queen.) I’m just talking about the great (intentional) unintentional humour of it all.

Also, I don’t mean to talk only about Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush’s stupendous portrayals of the two main characters. Helena Bonham-Carter deserves an Oscar nod for her take on the conservative yet independent Queen Elizabeth, Guy Pearce as the King’s brother, King Edward VIII, who’s personal choices made him lose the Throne, and Michael “Dumbledore” Gambon as the father of the two, King George V, who expressed “sink-or-swim” tough love on them both.

When the lights rose in the theatre, the audience erupted in honest and enthusiastic applause. Something I rarely see with movies anymore. The last time I applauded at a movie was probably at The Dark Knight. And that speaks volumes about The King’s Speech.

It’s an amazing movie hidden behind a boring title. It’ll probably be the best movie you’ve seen in awhile.

(And for those who want to know how I turned out…I may get into it at another review someday. But I’d like to still say “Thanks Patrick”)

9.8 bouts of forced Tourette’s out of 10

You hold the Oscar like this, Your Highness.

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The best videos of 2010

24 12 2010

It’s an early Christmas Eve present from the makers of the Rankatron to all of vous! And barring any sort of amazing videos in the next week, this post should be incredibly accurate.

Over the past year, we’ve witnessed the beauty of double rainbows, gravity defying performances, roller skating made a comeback (or will next year thanks to Picnicface), and, in a sub par SNL year, they still delivered on their digital shorts.

So here’s the Rankatron’s of the best videos of 2010.

Double Rainbow Guy

Out of any year in the past, this is the first year that YouTube stars started to break into the mainstream. Most of them unintentional as with this brilliant display of extreme gratitude over one of nature’s most beautiful displays. This dude (named Paul “Bear” Vasquez, a former cage fighter) got interviewed by Jimmy Kimmel, an AutoTune song made after him, spoofed by CollegeHumor.com and even got a phrased coined after the video (“This brownie is sooo good it’s double rainbow good”).

Bed Intruder Song

Hats off to Antoine Dodson (the un-expected YouTube star) who took a spoofed video of his serious interview about his sister being sexually assaulted and house invasion and spun it into a lucrative (and short-term) career. The props for this video should go more towards the AutoTune the News guys (The Gregory Brothers) who used their talents to make Dodson look good…but it seems that Dodson was the one who benefited. And good for him. This catchy tune actually peaked at #89 on the Billboard top 100 and it was YouTube’s most popular video of 2010. If you’ve never watched it, do yourself a favour and prepare to tap your feet…against your better judgement. But Dodson got to perform the song on the BET awards…so I guess it makes this alright to watch.

Fighting Gravity Best performance

You may have seen black light performances before but nothing as creative or as innovative as these SoCal guys (who all quit school for a semester to perform on America’s Got Talent). Fighting Gravity ended up not winning but if they ever roll into town, I’d snap up a ticket to see this new age Blue Man Group.

Jackie Evancho

When I first heard this on America’s Got Talent, I got shivers. It’s because she’s sooo cool. Totally makes sense in the Year of the YouTube star that she got on the show through a YouTube video.

Watermelon Fail

FAIL! But Nat and Kat shook this off on the first episode of the Amazing Race to grab second place. It’s probably less painful than it looked but…DAMN!!!!

SNL Great Day

I’ve always been a fan of SNL’s Andy Samberg and the Lonely Island crew. They add a bit of lethal marshmellowy topping to a vanilla SNL. This one…I was shocked to have seen on the actual show…but at the same time, I’m glad they did.

Rollertown Telethon Promo

Picnicface. Who? I said Picnicface. You’ll hear of them soon enough. They’re a Canadian comedy troupe from Halifax, Nova Scotia. They became an internet sensation with their Powerthirst video that caught Will Farrell’s eye and spun them into online stardom. They perform a weekly show in Halifax and release new hilarious videos from time to time such as “The Button”. One of the performers, Mark Little, won the 2009 Great Canadian Laugh-Off from Yuk Yuks. And the troupe just landed a 13 show deal on Comedy to be released sometime in the future…that’s all I know. This promo was for their 24-hour telethon to raise money for their rollerskate movie spoof called “Rollertown”. The trailer for the movie is brilliant on its own but this promo speaks volumes of who they are. And contrary to all the links in this paragraph…there are two girls in the troupe too. Ladies Representin!

Troy Palumalu’s Head and Shoulders Commercial

This one makes me smile every time. Awww Troy.

Old Spice Guy

I know when I look back on this a year from now this is going to be one of those “you had to be there” things. But when it was in its hey day, it was as funny as the Wassup guys from yesteryear.

Technically this was Christmas 2009…but it’s sooo Epic!

The Muppets Bohemian Rhapsody. It was a 2009 Christmas gift that keeps on giving. Enjoy its full glory one last time (and because I didn’t do this last year.)

Katy Perry PG-13’s Elmo!

I personally don’t see anything wrong with this video…but I’m a guy. Then I had to think about that little kids will be watching this and realized…yeah, it’s probably wrong.

…which led to this on SNL…

Jimmy Fallon actually did a GREAT job at the Emmys in 2010…

To me, Jimmy Fallon is hit or miss. When he’s on fire, he’s as awesome as any SNL alum and he can nail a ton of impressions. When he’s off, he’s painful to watch. During the Emmys, Fallon was on. And this is what we got. Special props to Hurley from Lost keeping up with everyone else.

Like a Bosh by the Basketball Jones

I almost missed this little diddy from the Canadian basketball podcast turned TV show duo. It is pretty clever spoof of another The Lonely Island song called “Like a Boss”.

And speaking of The Lonely Island, here’s the final entry…

“I Just Had Sex” featuring Akon

Well, that’s all until the New Year! I may post again sometime over the next week if the urge challenges me but expect a brand new post New Years day and every Wednesday and Saturday after that!

In the meantime, I would like to wish you all a Happy Holidays and a great New Year…except for China, you don’t change until February…but we’ll still invite you to the party. You’re cool.





“Tangled” Up in Yule

18 12 2010

And nary a split-end in sight.

You’ll find a lot children’s Holiday movie options this Season such as the upcoming live-action Yogi Bear flick, the popular Megamind (which is still lingering around), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (for the older kids), and Jack Black’s Gulliver’s Travels…but none will have such a wide appeal as Disney’s latest 3D contribution, Tangled.

For those who’ve not seen the preview, Tangled focuses on a liberal re-telling and Disnified version of Rapunzel and her long golden hair. The difference here is that unlike the original 1812 Brothers Grimm fairy tale, this one boasts quirky animal characters such as Rapunzel’s loyal chameleon buddy, Pascal, and a strong-willed palace guard horse, Maximus.

The physical comedy here is what you’d come to expect from Disney: flailing arms and funny body contortions that would put a real person in traction. The oral comedy (is that right?) is a balance of kid humour and just enough adult chuckles to keep mom’s and dad’s interested.

The musical numbers and scores are what really makes this movie. As I watched, I couldn’t help but think that this will make a GREAT Broadway musical. I was enthralled by the vocal power of Rapunzel’s step-mother/bad gal, Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy) during her number “Mother Knows Best”. And the hilarious ensemble chorus of shady brutes and thieves called “I’ve Got A Dream” (featuring the vocal stylings of Brad Garrett, Jeffrey Tambour, Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi) is nearly worth the price of admission alone.

Rapunzel (voiced wonderfully by Mandy Moore) isn’t your typical Disney Princess where she’s waiting for her knight in shining armour to save her from the villain. She can entirely stand on her own and is a refreshing turn for Disney Princesses. Little girls should be proud of the strength (and vulnerability) Rapunzel possesses. Zachary Levi (of ‘Chuck’) plays the kind-hearted and somewhat narcissistic thief, Flynn Rider, who helps Rapunzel realize her dream and, in turn, makes him a more fulfilled person. But the gold-star goes to Donna Murphy (previously mentioned evil Mother Gothel) whose presence puts her up there in the upper echelon as purely evil and manipulative Disney baddies such as Cruella Deville…but I’ll say again, her voice IS amazing.

The only flaw in the entire movie is at the climax. I won’t spoil it here…but suffice to say there is one small part where Disney crosses that hazy line of kid-friendly into something closer to PG-13. It’s only one 5-second part and they kind-of tease it in the beginning of the movie when Flynn Rider does his voice-over introducing the tale. You’ll know it when you see it…but this initial parental shock (me=parent) doesn’t last long as everything isn’t as it seems on first impression. It’s really fun being hazy in a description, eh? Did I say “fun”? I meant to say “frustrating”. Sorry.

This is a swashbuckling tale that even with that small scene, I’d recommend it for anyone who is looking for a guaranteed entertaining movie this Christmas/Kwanzaa/Hanukkah/Festivus/”Everyone Else That I Can’t Name Because I Don’t Know Everything” Season.

8.3 Hairnets out of 10

 

Presenting...The Snuggly Duckling Cabaret!





The Walking Dead of Winter

15 12 2010

Traffic's always good during Zombie Rush Hour.

I’m a little behind but I really wanted to give my impressions of this incredibly innovative series.

I’m talking about that Zombie drama called “The Walking Dead“. For those unacclimatized, check this out:

Now there’s probably a lot of you out there (me included) who think “zombies” and can’t get by the “Night of the Living Dead” or “28 Days Later” version of the undead. Unlike those stories which focus upon the zombies themselves, “The Walking Dead” instead uses zombies the same way military dramas use war: simply as a backdrop. We’re pulled into the characters and how different people cope different ways to an apocalypse such as this.

We experience this world through the eyes of a police officer named Frank  Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) who’s flawed confidence leads him on a road to find his family then to salvation. Does he find it? Well, considering that The Walking Dead got picked up for a second season after a short six-episode first season…probably not.

The show got a great launch point with the premiere happening on Halloween Night to one of the largest audiences in cable history. From there, they ate up competition like a “geek” hoard through the streets of Atlanta. The nail-biting finale proved that this story has much more left in its tank besides a simple story of a piece of humanity trying to survive.

Those of you who’ve been privy to the graphic novel version of The Walking Dead knows where the story is going. I’m excited to see some parts come to reality (like The Governor and the woman with the two swords…possible spoiler if they go down that direction).

Stand out performances include:

  • Andrew Lincoln starring as Frank Grimes (you’ve seen him before in Love Actually) carries the show as a police officer who falls into a coma for two months but re-awakens in a world of chaos and braaaaaaains!
  • Steven Yeun as Glenn, the former pizza delivery driver who specializes in sneaking around. (He’s a newbie on the acting front with one episode of Big Bang Theory under his belt.)
  • Jon Bernthal (The Pacific, Eastwick and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian) as Shane Walsh, as Grimes best friend and partner (who ended up hooking up with Grimes’s wife during the zombie war).
  • Jeffrey DeMunn (Shawshank Redemption, Green Mile) as the friendly old guy, Dale, who is the unofficial Papa Smurf of the survivors.
  • Sarah Wayne Callies (Prison Break) as Frank Grimes’s wife Lori who walks a tightrope between rekindling their relationship and trying to put a stop to the blossoming one with Shane…all while protecting their son from the truth of everything.

I’m excited the path this series takes and I’ll be watching it religiously when it eventually comes back for Season 2 in October 2011 with a full 13 episodes.

Do yourself a favour and sit down to watch this show…not to be frightened because it’s not a horror like that (though there are a few “Holy Sh!t” moments and as bloody as True Blood)…but to be genuinely entertained with one of the best new dramas on TV. (PS…while your at it, read Max Brooks’s novel “World War Z“…not related to the movie but a very good read…and where else am I going to get away hyping two zombie things at once.)

Lastly, to get you in the mood (in case you need some more convincing), here’s some Cranberries…

9.0 severed hands out of 10

(For Season 1)

I think my contact's over here, guys.





It’s a Wonderful Life vs The Rankatron (Real Time)

12 12 2010

It's......a wonderful life!

So this Real-time Rankatron is an experiment of sorts to test out what would happen if A) I happen to catch the movie in question on the tube and B) if I reviewed it on the fly. If this is successful, I may use it again if I ever stumble upon one of the Ultimate Rankatron movies in the future.

Below, you’ll find the running transcript of my thoughts as the movie ran (a full THREE hours thanks to commercials) from 9pm to Midnight last night.

THE RANKATRON REAL-TIME TRANSCRIPT: Jimmy Stewart Edition

  • 8:50pm – Just got back under the wire. Mass transit is awesome when it works but horrible when it doesn’t. Expected to be back about an hour ago. Decided it would be fun to have a running thought-flow as I watch this. Need food.
  • 8:59pm – Chinese food. Check. A nice beverage. Check. Xmas lights on. Check. Alright. I’m all set. Let me do a quick breakdown of this movie in less than a minute…crap, it’s starting now. Let’s see what I can pull up while the opening credits roll.
  • Based on an original story called “The Greatest Gift” by Philip Van Doren Stern who couldn’t find anyone willing to publish his story in 1939 (I know the feeling). So in 1944 he sent it out as part of a Christmas Card to his family and friends. In 1945, an RKO producer caught wind of the story and bought it. In 1946, it was adapted into a movie and renamed “It’s a Wonderful Life”.
  • Directed by Frank Capra and starring James Stewart and Donna Reed.
  • 9:03pm – Angels are jerks! “Clarence has an IQ of a rabbit.” Stay classy there, Inconsiderate Angel.
  • 9:04pm – Is the head angel voiced by Orson Welles? Time to do some digging on the Info-Tron…Nope, it was Moroni Olsen.  Thanks IMDB!
  • 9:06pm – Is evil Mr. Potter’s first name Harry? I must’ve misheard that. But the emblem on the side of his carriage is eerily similar to the current Harry Potter ‘HP’ logo. (NOTE: Turns out it was Henry Potter.)
  • 9:12pm – Unintentional attempted murder by a drunk pharmacist? Child abuse? Gotta love Christmas movies…and we’re into the first commercial break! Time to click through some more movie stats.
  • Won 5 Oscars in 1946: Best Picture, Best Director – Frank Capra, Best Actor – James Stewart, Best Editing, and Best Sound Recording.
  • Only became a Christmas movie staple in the 1980s. Frank Capra didn’t even consider it a Christmas movie when he made it but is happy it’s become so.
  • Other actors up for the main roles: Henry Fonda – George Bailey, Ginger Rogers – Mary Bailey, and Vincent Price – Mr. Potter. Imagine how that movie would’ve looked!
  • 9:19pm – And we’re back! AAAAAH-OOOOGAAA! How did they get the car horn to do that? If any women deserved it on this movie, it was Violet (Gloria Graham). Side note: must remember that these people are older than my grandparents…
  • 9:22pm – “I want to do something big…something important.” Amen Jimmy. Don’t we all. That’s why I just finished off a huge plate of Chinese food and not feeling to great right now…it was big. How “important” it was is yet to be determined. Commercial break!
  • Hey just noticed that Tron’s showing on another channel? Why did I have to take this on tonight? This’ll probably replay a million and a half times in the next couple weeks. (It is on Xmas Eve. Check your local listing!)
  • 9:29pm – When George met Mary…things are about to get spicy. And when I say spicy, I’m taking about the Charleston! Why isn’t there a movement to bring this back?
  • 9:32pm – Pool Scene where George and Mary fall in. Nothing bothers this guy. He’s so even keel. He has no outlet for frustrations or disappointments. This might be bad.
  • 9:37pm – George: “So how old are you now Mary? Seventeen?” Mary: “18.” George: “Well, I remember you just being a young girl a little while back.” (I’m paraphrasing all of this because I’m writing fast.) Special Family Guy adaptation expressing the context: “Giggity-Giggity.”
  • Commercial Break. The Chinese is starting to come back. HERE’S where it lives up to it’s “important” moniker.
  • 9:45pm – Missed a bit but I’m back.
  • 9:46pm – Huh…Whoda thunk that it turns out that George Bailey’s view of banking (allowing anyone no matter what their credit history is like to borrow money) is what really lead to the recent Recession and that Mr. Potter’s take on it is harsher but would’ve prevented the whole thing?
  • 9:50pm – And George sacrifices again. How many parts of himself will he give up before he fights for himself? This is more rhetorical. I’ve seen this movie a billion times and whoever’s seen it already knows the answer.
  • 9:59pm – We’re an hour in and so far exactly 0% Christmas content and that whole little scene at the beginning with the angels seems more of a plot device than an actual plot point.
  • 10:02pm – Note to self: Drunk Jimmy Stewart = not very suave. Drunk me = less suave and more smarmy.
  • 10:03pm – 10:53pm – Got caught up in the story a bit and forgot to make notes. In a roasted chestnut shell by the fire, George marries Mary. They have a couple kids (one names Zuzu). George doesn’t leave Bedford Falls. George’s life is about to fall apart (oops…spoiler alert!). Mr. Potter just stole $8000 from one of George’s absent-minded employees.
  • 10:54pm – Still 0% Christmas content. But there’s snow…I guess that counts. Let’s say 0.5% Xmas content.
  • Commercial break! That Yogi Bear movie looks horrible but it will do well in theatres because it’s aimed at the same demographic that made Alvin & The Chipmunks movie a hit. I fear for humanity.
  • 11:00pm – Aaaah! There’s Christmas. Up until now, this was merely a good dramatic movie but nothing that really stood out. But for the record, the past two hours were necessary to set the scene for the final hour to establish George’s character. Without that, this final act wouldn’t seem so classic.
  • 11:04pm – Zuzu’s Petals! If I ever have a punk band, I may name it Zuzu’s Petals. Darn…it’s already been taken by a early 90’s girl’s rock band. I’ll call it Zuzu’s Metal Petals then.
  • 11:05pm – Bailey’s FREAK OUT!!! (Stewart’s acting is superb in the movie!)
  • 11:15pm – This is where that strange angel scene with the jerky angels comes into play. Where the movie moves out of the realm of entertaining drama into a fantastical sci-fi Holiday movie.
  • 11:18pm – OK. Two plot holes that I can’t ignore have just popped up: 1. Clarence falls into the freezing river on Christmas Eve to get George to jump in and save him totally ignoring the fact that George would probably suffer from hypothermia thus risking killing him. 2. I’m pretty sure life insurance plans didn’t cover suicide back then either. So if he was hoping his family could cash in would be sorely disappointed.
  • 11:20pm – Clarence: “Read the new book Mark Twain’s writing right now.” Yeah, it was Mark Twain’s autobiography that just came out this year. Haven’t read it yet…but I will geek out for it.
  • 11:24pm – Alternate Reality…before Lost…before Fringe…before Sliders. Probably the first successful film to dabble with that subject.
  • 11:42pm – Two police officers are named Bert and Ernie! However, by the admission of longtime Muppet writer Jerry Juhl, it is simply a coincidence that they’re named the same as the famous Sesame Street duo. Yet, they did spoof the scene in “Elmo Save Christmas” in 1996.
  • 11:43pm – Rabid angel! If an angel bites you, do you become an angel. Is the rule the same with angels as it is with zombies? Inquiring minds want to know!
  • 11:47pm – Who do you turn to when know one remembers who you are? Can you shoot a man who doesn’t exist? The Wachowski Brothers (The Matrix trilogy) would’ve probably explored these questions.
  • 11:48pm – And we’re out of alternate reality world. 24 minutes (minus commercials) that turned this movie into a classic.
  • 11:50pm – Moral of the story: Don’t drink when your depressed or appreciate the little things or the value of a man is weighed upon the number of friends he has or if 30 minutes of a three hour movie is centred around Christmas, this turns it into a Christmas movie.
  • 11:54pm – “Hark the Herald Angels Sing!”
  • 11:55pm – Why is the auditor counting money when George just received a telegram saying he was being advanced $25000 for the $8000 he lost. Doesn’t that make the pile of money moot? Now that I think of it, maybe the telegram said $2500…wish I had a DVR or Tivo to resolve this…sadly I don’t.
  • 11:56pm – “Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.” Zuzu gets the line of the movie. George pulls the weight but Zuzu gets to put the cherry on top.
  • 11:57pm – And that’s all she wrote!

The live viewing was intense and I will do it again if I happen to discover that one of the Ultimate Rankatron movies appear on TV.

Why did I do this? Not sure exactly. It just felt right. Also, it gives you the unique ability to follow along with my thoughts as you watch the movie to try to get into my head (Again, it’s on Christmas Eve!). That’s all for tonight. Have a good one!

8.4 money shots out of 10.

It's a wonderful movie, Baileys.





I’m BAAAAAAAACK!!!!

10 12 2010

I need decaf!

First off, thank you for indulging in my blog and reading all the Retro-Ranks over the past few weeks. It’s been an adventure the lines of The Hangover but with less alcohol and one less naked Asian. From the looks of the hits, it was somewhat of a hit. So I may take advantage of this in the future…but not for awhile yet.

Allow me a moment first to profess a Statement of Commitment for the Rankatron.

  1. Beginning immediately, the Rankatron will feature new reviews and articles every Wednesday and Saturday. The time depends on when I’m able to do it. But it will be done. Most likely late at night. I’m a night owl. Correction: I am Night Owl. It’s my super-hero alter-ego. So don’t expect an early morning update. I ain’t no newspaper.
  2. From time-to-time, while I complete the Ultimate Rankatron, I will be posted new reviews of newer movies and other stuff I’ve seen or been privy to. This may equal more surprise postings! It’s like finding more than two scoops of raisins in your Raisin Bran.
  3. I promise more raisin and less bran…but not too much less, just enough bran to get you regular.
  4. I have some clever plans potentially laid out for the New Year as a means to expand my media footprint. Stay tuned here for more. I may be buying a blimp like Conan!
  5. Update: I’m not buying a blimp unless someone has a freebie I could borrow.
  6. You can follow me on Twitter by going all clickity-click here! Or just Google “Twitter TheRankatron”.
  7. I’m kinda on Facebook but I don’t like updating the Fan Page. I find myself checking out other stuff before I get to it and before you know it, it’s 4am and you have to get up at 7…so don’t follow me there quite yet. That may change.
  8. Hey what’s that subscription thing on the right menu? Wonder what it does? Could I win money? Do I get to ride in the Rankatron Blimp? (NOTE: There’s no blimp…I’m sorry I brought it up…but there may be a Rankatron balloon…the small kid’s carnival kind.) Just click it and see what happens. It costs nothing but it pays you in free notification of my bloggings.
  9. A Rankatron Tank-a-tron???? Oh yeah!!!!!! (That would be AWESOME!!!)
  10. Serious note: also on the right menu you’ll notice a charity called “To Write Love on Her Arms”. To quote from their website “To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.” Costs nothing but time by clicking on the link. If you’ve ever known anyone who’s been down that road, just give’er a try and take a couple minutes to listen to what they have to say.

So that’s about it.

In the meantime, it’s Game On!

Sights are aimed on YOU!

Sights are aimed on YOU!

 





RETRO-RANK: Top Ten Movies of the Naughts

4 12 2010

Originally Published January 2, 2010.

Alright…so there’s been a little hiccup in my hook-up. Bad news: this is another throwback. Very cool to look ALL the way back to the year 2010. Good News: This is the last of such Retro-Ranks because new blogs are coming back on December 8, 2010…barring any unexpected surprises. Watch out for it! (“it” = new blog post and not unexpected surprises)

Selecting a Top 10 of anything is like choosing a favourite kid if you were the Duggars. They’re all special in their own way and any of them could be a part of this list.

With that in mind, there’s going to be some of the “children” that won’t be included but should be mentioned (To Judd Apatow fans…I’d like you to know that plenty of your movies were on the shortlist but just didn’t make it…though I love you just the same.)

So take this list for what you will and compare it to other lists across the board. No one list is 100% correct but if movies keep popping up on other lists…there’s probably a good chance they deserve there.

My main criteria were: -Memorability of characters, Timelessness of the story, and Re-watchability.

Also, I’ve linked the previews of these movies on the right to help you jog your memory.

Let the countdown begin…

…As always, all trays should remain in their upright position during takeoff and landings.

10. 8 MILE (2002) – Eminem, Brittany Murphy, Kim Basinger, Mekhi Phifer

One part allegory of the “Little Engine That Could” (yes, that’s also an allegory), one part grimy gangster flick, one part Rap Battle. This movie makes the list primarily on the skills Eminem brings to the table. He plays himself (cleverly named B. Rabbit) and retells his days before he broke it big. This movie is the 2000’s version of Rocky but with words instead of fists. And for those of you who doubt Eminem’s skills as a freestyle rapper and thinks it’s all hype…check out this

9. ANCHORMAN: THE LEGEND OF RON BURGUNDY (2004) – Will Farrell, Paul Rudd, Steve Carrell, Christina Applegate

I hated this movie when it first came out. I really really did. I made bile rise up in my throat and I thought the only palatable scenes involved Steve Carrell (“I Love Lamp.”) Now: This movie grows on you like a glass of scotchy, scotch, scotch, down to my belly. It’s infinitely quotable like Dumb and Dumber and Office Space in the 90’s. “The only way to bag a classy lady is to give her two tickets to the gun show (kisses biceps) and see if she likes the goods.” Stay classy, World!

8. ALMOST FAMOUS (2000) – Patrick Fugit, Kate Hudson

Ever wonder what it would be like to be a teenage journalist for Rolling Stone in the 70s while riding along with an up-and-coming band who think of themselves bigger than they are? This story is loosely based on writer Cameron Crowe’s own experiences as a fledgling journalist and carried the authenticity that you can’t help but appreciate. Filled with amazing performances from Kate Hudson (as Penny Lane) and Patrick Fugit (as teen journalist William Miller), and so many memorable scenes of life on the road, this comedy-drama as a bit of everything. Also, it was a snapshot of future stars of the 2000’s before they got big including Jason Lee (My Name Is Earl), Rainn Wilson (The Office), Anna Paquin (True Blood), Jimmy Fallon (SNL, and Late Night), and Zooey Deschanel (she’s everywhere now). You’ll want to relive the 70’s over and over again…in a good way.

7. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (2007) – Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin

No other movie has spawned so much range of feelings as this movie has. I’ve heard people describe this Coen Brothers thriller as one of the best movies ever made…and others who think it was a waste of two plus hours of their lives. There has yet to be a person who rests in the middle ground. The polarization, I’ve learned, has come from the ending which takes more than one viewing to understand. The only concensus is the role of serial killer Anton Chighur (pronounced Sugar and played by Bardem) is one of the most terrifying villians in cinematic history. He’s ranked right up there with Hannibal Lecter in pure evil. I wouldn’t want to meet either in real life. And I could never look at a Captive Bolt Pistol without a shiver going down my spine…not that I’ve never seen one before this movie. If you want to be truly terrified, give this flick a try.

6. DONNIE DARKO (2001) – Jake Gyllenhaal, Drew Barrymore, Patrick Swayze

Time Travel. Alternate Realities. Mind-Altering scenes. Numbers. And a twisting thought that will keep you guessing until the very end. Yes, in 2001, a single movie had encompassed the entire plot of ABC’s “LOST” before JJ Abrams introduced us to that island in ’04. Add to that a giant demonic talking bunny and a depressed teenager trying to decipher it all (Gyllenhall), and you’ve got one of the best movies of the decade. You won’t see the ending coming…but you’ll understand it…mostly. And even on repeated viewings you’ll learn new things you missed before. The depth of this movie is unparalled by few others.

5. JUNO (2007) – Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman

Halifax-born Ellen Page stars as the title character in one of the smartest teen comedy-drama…no strike that…one of the smartest comedy-drama’s period…of any genre. The wit and pace of this movie about teenage pregnancy is unlike anything else besides Warner Bros’s Gilmore Girls. Don’t expect the typical teenage girl lost and downtrodden when she learns she’s pregnant and underage. Juno is a girl that tackles her issues head on with poise and humour. This movie is not only thoughtful but funny (at times hilarious). Nominated for 3 Oscars (Best Picture, Best Actress for Page, and Best Original Screen Play) and won for Best Original Screen Play. I can never get tired of this movie.

4. WALL-E (2008) – Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Fred Willard

Animation has improved leaps and bounds in the past twenty years. And computer animation has always pushed the envellope in what we see on the screen. WALL-E became a perfect storm of brilliant computer animation, one of the most original scripts in history, and slapstick comedy. Not since Johnny-5 from the Short Circuit movies have I cared so much for a little robot. WALL-E often times was more human than the humans he was programmed to clean up after. A morality tale about how messed up our planet can become if we don’t fix things ourselves. There’s enough here for both children and adults alike. And when the first third of the movie has no dialogue to speak of…yet, still keep kids in their seats, you know you have something special. And when Disney creates this, it just ups it’s coolness.

3. AVATAR (2009) – Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver

Who would’ve thunk that James Cameron would’ve produced one of the greatest movies of the decade that is released a short two weeks before the end of it? There were so many red flags when the previews started coming out. The most expensive movie in history (Cameron claimed this title when he directed Titanic in ’97), he created special cameras from scratch just for the movie, the great majority was CGI coupled with live action. Usually when this much is spent on special effects, the story suffers (see 2012 released in 2009). Not so with Avatar. Not only is the story amazing (a fable of how everything on this strange distant planet is interconnected by spirit…or is this such a strange notion?), not only does it flip the script and make humanity the alien invaders, you walk out of this 3D experience as if you just watched something about 5-10 years ahead of it’s time. All movies will be filmed this way by 2020. Don’t worry if you don’t like sci-fi movies, don’t worry that there might be nothing for you…there will be…I promise.

2. LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING (2003) – Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen

In more ways than one, this movie (and it’s 2 equally worthy prequels) paved the way for movies like Avatar to be created. I could’ve easily used up three spots of the top 10 for this trilogy but I opted to only have this one represented because it is the best of the bunch and it won Best Picture for that year. In the early ‘oos, this Trilogy was all that people could talk about and it has eclipsed the original Star Wars trilogy as the best of all-time (sorry hardcore Star Warriors). Breathtaking scenery, epic plotlines, and memorable characters. It is so easy to get lost in this series. For those Lord of the Ringers out there (I’m so bad with pet-names for groups), yes, Peter Jackson IS doing a live action movie to Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” (the prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy). And he’s split it into two parts to be released around Christmas 2011 and 2012. I’ll be in line.

1. THE DARK KNIGHT (2008) – Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal

Another sequel? As your top 2 movies of the decade? Are you insane? Marginally…but if you look back, the Naughts could be remembered as the “Decade of the Sequels (and Remakes)”. No other decade has produced so many “easy money” scripts from sure thing commodities like video games (Doom), successful franchises (Shrek, Harry Potter, Saw), or tried and true remakes (The Departed, I Am Legend, King Kong). It’s no surprise that one of them was bound to be the cream of the crop.

The Dark Knight is the highly overachieving sequel to the revamped darker and grittier Batman series which began with Batman Begins (2005). The first movie was an alright affair but nothing to write home about. But the second movie is all about Heath Ledger’s Joker. Rarely does a movie elevate to an upper echelon because of one supporting role. This is/was Ledger’s greatest role and every other Joker will be compared to his genius portrayal. He pulls you in with every scene until the point where you start to root for the villain over the hero. He makes the Joker sadistic, disturbed and fun. I couldn’t help but think about the famous A Clockwork Orange “Singing in the Rain” scene.

The greatest villain of all time? I think so. Sadly, we won’t see him again. RIP Heath Ledger.

Here take a look and see if you agree:

I’m sure most you will think I’ve made some glaring omissions but this is only my opinion. What’s yours?

Alright Judd Apatow fans…go at it!