Friday, July 29, 2011

Box Office Battle - July 29th

I should probably reconsider the purpose of this column. In an attempt to show off my amazing knowledge to the world of my many reader(s), it seems I have been caught with my pants down facing the mirror. After last week's mess of a guess where I - and to be fair just about everyone else on the internet - underestimated just how much America loves movies about America...or captains of America as the case my be, I have had to grapple with the fact that I may be trying to gauge the country's cultural pulse with a scalpel rather than a stethoscope. Now with three major motion pictures muscling their way in to theaters I have put aside all misconceived medical metaphors to make my movie money estimates for the coming weekend.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Keep Your Pekinese, Turkish Cigarettes, And Your Lighter That Looks Like A Gun

Twelve (Schumacher, 2010)

Many would say that Joel Schumacher is responsible for one of the worst films ever recorded: Batman and Robin. I have not seen this travesty, so aside from the film's reputation I have little else to form any sort of valid opinion. Similarly, I have incredibly limited exposure to Schumacher's filmography, so when I saw this film about two weeks ago all I took into Twelve dealt with the reputation that the film had built up since its premiere at Sundance. The film was ridiculed by the collective press so horribly at the event that Schumacher had all future screenings canceled and did not conduct any interviews at the festival after the film finished screening. So is the film as hollow and pretentious as the individuals on display in this world or is Schumacher's latest film an unfortunate victim of critical group think that, like the residents of this upper New York society, is simply cornered by expectation?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Box Office Battle - July 22nd

Just as I have been recovering from my trip to this year's Pitchfork Music Festival, I have also had to come to terms with the fact that my early predictions for last week's box office results were disastrously off base. Well, at least my prediction for exactly how much Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two was going to make, because I was actually pretty much spot on in my prediction of how much Disney's latest offering, Winnie the Pooh, would take in on the weekend. So with yet another week and yet another potential blockbuster releasing it's about time that I really start to buckle down and get things right this time. So pull on that helmet, pick up that, shield, and wave that damn flag because I'm dedicating this week's incredible round of predictions to the glorious nation of Patriotstonia! For the CGI!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pitchfork Music Festival 2011 Blow Out

I know it has been quite a while since my last post - one week to be precise - but between my Harry Potter all day marathon and going to Pitchfork Music Festival 2011 last weekend I have been searching frantically for free time to absolutely no avail. But the time to recover has occurred and I am back, ready to recap all of my fantastic journeys in to the great vast world of not the internet! So join me, why don't you as we take a marvelous journey to the Windy City of Chicago in the great state of Illinois. We can listen to some music, look at a couple of pictures, and get a feel for all of the activities that made 2011's Pitchfork Music Festival so damn incredible!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I'm The Villian That's Creeping Around Corners

Horrible Bosses (Gordon, 2011)

I still remember the first time that I watched Dr. Strangelove, a magical movie that for many years remained my favorite film of all time. For me it exists, of the ones I have seen, as Kubrick's best film. The way it perfectly blends absurd humor with a much more sinister, and darker, type of comedy is magical both in execution and in thematic resonance. So when I first saw the trailer for the new dark comedy Horrible Bosses I was, despite not expecting Kubrickian levels of greatness, hoping for an understated comedy that went against conventional construction of some of most traditional R-rated affairs like the abysmal The Hangover Part II. The premise here can suit a really dark fantasy, perhaps even a beautiful dark twisted fantasy, so does Horrible Bosses capitalize on all the promise in its execution?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

"Reefer Madness" L.A. Noire DLC Review: Quick Fix

For a game that is steeped in crime syndicates, the morphine trade, and murder the existence of marijuana trafficking almost seems irrelevant by comparison. No, I'm not using that introduction to make a case for the legalization of Even if it is totally natural, I mean why not just ban topsoil and tree and stuff, right? Don't the cops have bigger fish to fry? Well, Cole Phelps certainly does, but that doesn't mean he can't take a break from uncovering the corruption in the city of angels to put an end to a Tijuana drug operation. In the final - but maybe not really - expansion to Team Bondi's magnificent L.A. Noire, "Reefer Madness," we take a trip back to the vice desk to crack down on the sale of that ol' wacky tabbacky.

Box Office Battle - July 15th

As I mentioned in last week's post, where I almost completely nailed the opening numbers for Horrible Bosses, by the way, I am going to be going to Chicago from July 14th through July 18th for this year's Pitchfork Music Festival, which means that Processed Grass is going to be contentless for the next few days. Also as a result of this trip, my weekly box office prognostication column is coming a couple of days earlier than it would normally be posted. And this week is a big one with two beloved franchises going head to head for all the affections of children and adults the nation over. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two attempts to conclude the long running franchise with a thrilling, emotionally satisfying conclusion, while Disney's Winnie the Pooh brings back a much older literary figure for a completely new adventure that targets the heartstrings of all the people who have ever been familiar with the honey loving stuffed animal. So is the marketplace going to be split, or does one have the sheer strength to out power the other?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Oblivion's Been Knocking Since I Gave It My Address

The Illusionist (Chomet, 2010)

The previous year was an incredibly strong year for animated films the world over. Japan delivered the strongest showing with Summer Wars, Ireland brought the fantastic The Secret of Kells, and France yielded the joyous display of absurdity known as A Town Called Panic. And once again we find ourselves in France for Sylvain Chomet's adaptation of Jaques Tati's script for The Illusionist. While Chomet plays his comedy in a broad sense, likely a departure from Tati's signature style, the pull of the film is located in its ability to balance strong emotional scenes with the tension of an ever changing world.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Wish There Was Something Real In This World Full Of You

A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner (Shortened Version) (Holland, 2011)

Earlier in this year J.J. Abram's latest film Super 8 made unapologetic plays toward the nostalgia of audiences the world over by hoping to tap in to childhood memories of beloved Steven Spielberg classics. With the latest made for TV Nickelodeon movie, A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner!, we have appeal to a nostalgia that I think is likely still there for a large section of the audience, at least it's there for me, while still being able to draw in recent viewers who have taken a liking to the cartoon series that spawned the feature length live action adaptation. I still remember watching the very first episode of The Fairly Odd Parents, actually the pilot on that cartoon collection thing that Nick had which was similar to Cartoon Network's What A Cartoon, and finding, alongside a great block of animated programing that Nickelodeon was pushing out at the time, another show that I became instantly addicted to for a good deal of time. But all too many times with these types of movies making the transition from animated series to full on film is even more difficult than turning a television show into a movie in the same format, so despite being interested in the cast I was even more excited to see how the movie handled this transition.

I've Been Wandering The Desert For A Thousand Days

Singin' in the Rain (Donen and Kelly, 1952)

Over the course of history the affection built up for certain ‘genre films’ has proven to be an incredibly fascinating phenomenon. In many cases the perceived notions are incredibly warranted, capably withstanding the test of time while still retaining the magic that originally marked a film as great. Dr. Strangelove is the epitome of the black comedy, Men in Black defines the summer popcorn movie, and Toy Story captures all the strengths of the ‘family film.’ All of these films take genre convention and present plots that are unique and engaging while also delivering memorable characters and experiences for the viewer to make the films memorable; however, for every Annie Hall there is a Sideways, a film that does enough to make it look unique while doing little to actually elevate the genre, yet it still ends up being heralded as a triumph. This confusion of style for quality brings us perfectly to one of the greatest offenders, Singin’ in the Rain.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

CEO, You Don't Have To See ID

The Green Hornet
(Gondry, 2011)

I had a chance to catch an advanced 3-D screening of Michel Gondry's latest film, The Green Hornet, last night, so I am taking a bit of a break from my 2010 coverage to venture in to the present. Never early enough to get a jump on the current year, especially when that jump involves the director of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Be Kind Rewind, and others. Not to mention a script from the men who penned Superbad, an Asian pop star taking up acting, and one of the more compelling comedians working today. So with all this talent involved this cannot possibly go wrong, right?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Box Office Battle - July 8th

One of the things that I have recently started loving about movies, thanks in no small part to a wonderfully fun game that I always seem to come in second place at over at the Filmspotting Forums, is keeping track of the box office. I know I tend to specialize in review here, but there's something thrilling about prognosticating about what Mrs. and Mr. Jane Q. Public will potentially be seeing this weekend, and exactly how much money each big new movie is going to make. So why not share my guesses with more than just my Filmspotting Circle (Google Plus trademark pending)? So how might this weekend's box office shake out? Well, let's do some projecting!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Day of Reckoning: Harry Potter Announcement

You see that picture above? That's a photograph from London of thousands of people camping out for the London premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. It premiered over there on July 7th (today!). I couldn't be there, so I am going to be doing the next best thing. If there's one thing I love more than Harry Potter, it's big, dumb elaborate stunts that test the very limits of my psyche. There is, perhaps, something incredibly appealing about the art of self destruction (this should be the title of the failed novel I attempt to write). It is with that mindset that I have decided to undertake what is, largely, an incredibly trying task. I am going to be watching all seven of the Harry Potter films back to back to back to back to back to back to back as a way to completely send one of my favorite series of all time out with a bang.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Taking on 2011 - Top Films (Q2 Quarterly Review)

It seems like it was only yesterday I was writing up my Top Tracks and Top Albums of 2011 so far. In fact, it was a couple of days before yesterday. Despite the year being phenomenal for music, as I was looking over the list of movies I have seen in 2011, the abridged list (so the one that excludes all the 2010 releases that I am carrying over because of Filmspots eligibility purposes) is incredibly top heavy. So much so that I almost considered just doing a Top Five Movies list at this point in time because I did not think I have seen ten 2011 movies that were worth dedicating entire paragraphs to at this point in time. The trade off, I think, is that the movies that are at the top of the list are, in many cases some of the millennium's best films. Be sure to look back on the Q1 Top Films list to see how things have shaken up since then. Now dim the lights, grab the old fashioned popping corn, and let's make a list.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Come On Pops, I Need A Little More Speed

Cars 2 (Lasseter and Lewis, 2011)

When I searched Cars 2 on, it was the first result, but right below it was (somewhat inexplicably) Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, another sequel that was lambasted by critics who apparently felt scorned. Prior to the release of Pixar's latest film Cars 2, there was a brouhaha regarding the movie's existence as nothing more than a mindless cash grab. It seemed like far before the movie was even screened for critics that it was practically destined to be shredded by the critical community. Now in the past I have had my share of problems with Pixar, as it always seems to me that since Wall*E the studio has done its best to artificially manufacture emotion for the sake of seeming profound. This notion was incredibly clear both in Up's sectioned off sections of emotion that were jarringly inserted alongside its broad comedy, and the same could be said of many of the scenes in Toy Story 3. So I entered Cars 2, a sequel to what I consider one of the worst of a catalog of mostly lackluster entries, expecting to come out, as many other critics were, completely furious. But in the end, I was mostly left wondering one thing: why?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Taking on 2011 - Top Albums (Q2 Quarterly Review)

My personal vendetta against 2011 continues along at a quick pace, following up the Top Tracks Q2 Review with a larger focus. We're going to be talking about albums, those complex monsters that haunt the innards of our iPods. Crackling on the speakers in the car during long rides, pulsating through ear buds while you're on the day's run, albums are meant to be digested. Even though the year is only half over, I am actually surprised at just how great a year it has been for music. Not to mention that my most anticipated albums are still to be released! Below we have the good, few marks of ugly from 2011. Before reading, check out how the list has changed as well, but catching up on the Q1 Quarterly Review of Top Albums. Here at Processed Grass I am all comprehensive, all the time!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Taking on 2011 - Top Tracks (Q2 Quarterly Review)

So, we have officially hit the halfway mark of the year. How are those New Year's Resolutions holding up? Mine had already been abandoned by the time I composed the first Quarterly Review, so now I have resolved to make no more resolutions. Even if that does not cure my shame and disappointment, I can at least take solace in the fact that this year has produced a number of great songs to inhabit this list. Just a forewarning, this list is going to be a good deal different from the Q1 Quarterly Review. More eclectic! More daring! More music!

Before we begin I should probably issue another short reminder: this is a Quarterly Review because I do them every three months, not because the list only contains songs released in these three months. They are all building to the final lists in January, and as such I think it is important to see the process up until that point. Both for myself and, hopefully, for you the reader. Some songs that were my favorites earlier have had time to sit, marinate, and fall or rise accordingly. These are the ideas that fascinate my mind! As usual, click the links to listen to the tracks. And with that, put the needle on the record!

Friday, July 1, 2011

In The Squares Of The City - In The Shadow Of The Steeple

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Bay, 2011)

I don't think I've ever really liked NASCAR. I know I enjoy elements of the sport, I know I am intrigued at pondering what it represents and where it finds its popularity, but as hard as I have tried I simply cannot discover the appeal on a large scale. As is the case with most sports the only real purpose is to assert dominance, and specifically in racing the appeal comes from watching the wanton destruction on the track when cars crash. Michael Bay's Transformers: Dark of the Moon - and the series in general - has always struck me as sort of similar to NASCAR. I understand it has a purpose, but I never really understood how this purpose is pragmatic. However, much like the motor sport I have attempted to love, perhaps even genuinely found flashes of excitement, I find myself ready to line up for each new entry that Bay attempts to pump out. So whether he is conscious of it or not (I don't think it matters much one way or the other), Bay has to be doing something right. Right?