Chris Spicer

Chris Spicer (152)

 

This Is the EndThere’s a scene in Ricky Gervais’ show, Extras, that I love deeply.  Gervais plays an actor cast in a play.  The play’s director is Sir Ian McKellen.  What transpires is beautifully inspired comedy, as the legendary Sir Ian presents himself as a complete buffoon, explaining to Gervais that his technique as an actor is to pretend he is somebody else.  You see, Ian McKellan isn’t, in fact, a wizard.  He had to pretend to be one for Peter Jackson during the filming of Lord of the Rings.  “How did I know what to say?” he explains.   “The words were written down for me in a script.  How did I know where to stand?  People told me.”  If it weren’t a figure of such reverence saying it, the scene wouldn’t be funny at all.  Extras got great mileage out of that particular gag as stars ranging from Daniel Radcliffe to David Bowie would pop in to joyfully offer up the worst possible versions of themselves.  The show business settings of programs like Entourage or The Larry Sanders Show made it very easy for stars to lampoon themselves.  Jim Carrey’s vicious appearance on the finale of The Larry Sanders Show is still probably the funniest thing he’s ever done.

 

The Kings of Summer“I went to the woods, because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”  
 - Henry David Thoreau


I'm not sure if it would be appropriate to use the word “cool” to describe me as a high school student.  I'm not certain if teenagers have the capacity for actual coolness.  I was a teacher for ten years, and I can assure you the ones labeled as the “cool kids” are usually anything but.  Those are the kids who are obsessed with being trendy, and there's nothing less cool than that.  My friends and I played sports and were involved in a lot at school, but, most importantly, we were very interested in popular culture.  We have subscriptions to Rolling Stone and Premiere and the like, and we read those publications cover-to-cover.

 

Star Trek Into DarknessI don’t feel bad revealing this about myself:  J.J. Abrams' Star Trek reboot had me at hello.  About eight minutes into 2009’s Star Trek, George Kirk (played by Chris Hemsworth, the once and future Thor) is listening to the birth of his son just after rescuing his wife and crew from certain doom.  The Kirks discuss baby names and, fighting back tears, the elder Kirk says, “I love you so much” to his wife just before he explodes, taking the entire Star Trek timeline with him.  The funny thing is I was fighting back tears, too.  What was happening to me?  I was getting all choked up by a fricking Star Trek movie?  In the first ten minutes?  Had I gone soft?

MINOR SPOILERS BELOW

 

Arrested Dvlpt S4There are three huge movies opening on May 26. Two of them are sequels to monster box office franchises, The Hangover Part III and Fast and Furious 6. The other is Blue Sky’s animated family film Epic. Their previous films include the popular Ice Age series. Memorial Day weekend is going to be a massive one at the multiplex.

But, my interest that weekend is focused on another huge (yet unlikely) media event. On May 26, Netflix will begin streaming the new, 15-episode fourth season of the dearly departed Fox comedy Arrested Development. Like Serenity and next year’s Kickstarted Veronica Mars movie, a new season of Arrested Development is a godsend. It’s something that simply just shouldn’t exist. It’s a minor miracle. Personally, I plan on pulling an all-nighter to catch up with the dysfunctional Bluth family. With the possible exception of Man of Steel, I’m more excited about the new season of Arrested Development than I am any of the big summer movies this year.

 

The Great Gatsby"I'm really looking forward to The Great Gatsby movie, because I've always loved the book but felt it needed a song by Fergie."


- Billy Eichner from Funny or Die





There’s a really famous scene in Martin Scorsese’s classic mob saga GoodFellas in which Ray Liotta takes Lorraine Bracco to the Copacabana on their first date.  Rather than wait in line and go through the front entrance, Liotta takes her in through the exit.  What transpires is a three-minute tracking shot of the two of them winding through the back hallways and kitchen only to end up with front row seats for a Henny Youngman show.  All the while, Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound plays on the soundtrack (“Then He Kissed Me” by the Crystals).  Scorsese has always been a great visual stylist, but the Copacabana tracking shot is especially nifty. 

 

Iron Man 3It’s getting harder and harder to review all of these Marvel movies. 

For perhaps the first time in cinema history, we have a film that is essentially a sequel to two movies simultaneously; Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 follows up not only the previous Iron Man sequel but also directly addresses the New York alien invasion from The Avengers.  But, the stakes don’t stop there.  Iron Man 3 kicks off Marvel’s Phase II, a series of five films that will culminate in 2015 with Joss Whedon’s The Avengers 2.  Is it possible to critique Iron Man 3 based solely on its own merits?  I suppose so.  But, Iron Man 3 isn’t meant to just be its own thing.  It’s meant to be the first step in a new journey of five films, and, on some level, it’s perfectly fair to criticize just how well it gets that party started.

MINOR SPOILERS BELOW

 

Michael B Jordan

*Please note that this article is an opinion-editorial.



Please forgive me the following sports analogy, but I’m going somewhere with it.

Last weekend, the National Football League had its annual draft of college players who are making the leap to the pro level. Over the years, The Draft has morphed into a huge media event. The NFL has now stretched The Draft to a three-day event broadcast from Radio City Music Hall on two different networks. It’s crazy when you consider it’s just a guy walking to a podium every few minutes and reading a name off a card.

 

 

Death of a Salesman*Please note that this article is an opinion-editorial.



I’m a fan of live theater.  I like how the theater is so much less literal than movies are and that it requires us as an audience to use our imaginations more.  Live performances are just as able to transport us as movies, just in a very different way.

I am first and foremost a huge film geek, but I think I would be even more of a theater nerd if I lived in New York and could afford the astronomical Broadway ticket prices.  As it is, I live in Los Angeles and I still can’t afford the astronomical ticket prices live theater usually charges.  I play this probably deeply unhealthy game with myself in which I fantasize about what I would do with all my money if I won the lottery.  If cash flow were no object, I would always book an annual (or semi-annual) sojourn to New York to see all the live theater my heart desired, and to also check out the great New York contemporary art museums.

 

The IcemanAll right, first thing’s first.  Has everybody got their Iron Man tickets?  I’ve got mine.  Early word is that Shane Black knocks it out of the park, and I’m very excited to see it.

 

Pain and GainI’ve always wanted to meet Michael Bay, especially in a lingering social setting like having dinner with him. I’d love to spend some time talking to him and seeing what makes him tick. On the one hand, he’s one of the most reviled film directors of the last 25 years. He’s directed nine feature films, and a quick perusal of Rotten Tomatoes says only one of them has ever had a fresh rating (The Rock). His average Tomato score is 36%, and his production company, Platinum Dunes, has an even worse record. They’ve churned out a series of genuinely terrible films, mostly remakes of classic horror titles like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (theirs is the one with Jessica Beil), A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, The Hitcher, and The Amityville Horror.

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