Alec Baldwin is the guy from headquarters issuing ultimatums, Kevin Spacey the boss with the promising leads that he isn’t handing out, Al Pacino the loudest, most confident salesman, and Jonathan Pryce as Al’s customer and drinking buddy from last night who wants to back out of his deal. They’re selling property in Arizona or something, all real scumbag scam artists, and washed-up old-timer Jack Lemmon is the most desperate with family issues. Ed Harris decides to steal the leads, gets the very nervous Alan Arkin caught up in it before turning to Lemmon.

Foley (also Who’s That Girl and the Fifty Shades series) knows that movies aren’t just guys talking, however great the talk and the guys, so he injects strong colored lights – red, blue, green. Good seeing this again in high quality… RoboCop got me thinking that it’s time to rewatch EVERY movie I saw before 2000 or so.

Alec Baldwin has atrocious hair, starts out the movie stealing someone’s identity and accidentally(?) killing a hare krishna, and just gets crazier from there. He slows down to hook up with call girl J.J. Leigh and build a convincing domestic life with her, but he’s still pulling insane stunts whenever he goes out (robbing drug dealers with an uzi squirtgun, stealing cop Fred Ward’s gun and badge and teeth), just running the most improvised scams. Alec pulls off a triumphant Nic Cageian performance in a perfectly balanced comedy – it’s like if Raising Arizona didn’t signal that it’s a comedy from the beginning, acting like a crime movie until the comic tone finally overwhelmed the others (so, it’s like Vampire’s Kiss).

This was fun. Bad guy Sean Harris is back from part five, Henry Cavill is a traitorous team member, Rebecca Ferguson is a badass, Vanessa Kirby (TV’s The Crown) an arms dealer, Angela Bassett the new boss when Alec Baldwin gets killed. Ends with some more impressive-looking helicopter stunts than in part one, a clifftop battle, and nuclear weapons set to destroy a significant chunk of the world’s population beginning with Ethan’s wife Michelle Monaghan.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010, Jon Turteltaub)
Our brash teen hero is driving around anxiously. But elsewhere – Alfred Molina/Nicholas Cage wizard battle! That’s what I came here for. The CGI flies as dark sorceress Monica Bellucci unleashes ancient evils. Cage inhales her face, Mummy Returns-style, but gets possessed by dark powers. Then our teen hero discovers the power was within him all along. From the director of the National Treasure series and the first 3 Ninjas.

Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002, Jay Roach)
Instead of the last ten minutes, I enjoyed the Tom Cruise / Gwynyth Paltrow / Kevin Spacey / Danny Devito / Steven Spielberg open and the Britney Spears / Quincy Jones credits sequence. If I hadn’t read the reviews when this came out, I’d gladly sit through the rest of this. While Myers has kept busy voicing cartoons lately, Roach made a Ben Stiller and a Steve Carell comedy, neither of which looks good.

Mercury Rising (1998, Harold Becker)
One of those generic-looking action thrillers from the late 90’s with a forgettable nonsense title. Alec Baldin is the government baddie, and after watching four seasons of 30 Rock I cannot deal with him in a straight role anymore. I thought Bruce Willis was doing pretty well in the 90’s – what would make him agree to something like this? The two stars are fighting on a greenscreen roof until Bruce saves the autistic kid who cracked some kinda government code according to the plot description, sending Alec to a gruesome death plummet. Becker also made other action thrillers with generic names like Sea of Love, Malice, City Hall and Domestic Disturbance.

Starship Troopers 3 (2008, Edward Neumeier)
Two women are praying, and a giant beastie made of dodgy CGI is arising from a volcano, until Casper Van Dien’s dodgy-CGI power suit comes and rescues them. Looks like the worst movie ever, and practically a cartoon with all the poorly-rendered graphics. Neumeier wrote the original Starship Troopers and Robocop, so he can’t be all bad, but he also wrote all their shameful sequels, so maybe he is.

The Funhouse (1981, Tobe Hooper)
Looks like our heroine (who played Mozart’s wife in Amadeus) has finally reached the breaking point into psychosis when presented with the dead body of her (husband? brother? best friend?) by a robot clown. After a long suspenseful chase sequence, a dude in a drooling latex mask catches up with her, but gets electrocuted and chewed up in some gears while she screams uselessly. Some heroine. A forgotten feature made by Tobe between Salem’s Lot and Poltergeist, from the writer of that gag 1990 Captain America movie.

Blood Creek (2009, Joel Schumacher)
The man once in charge of the Batman franchise is now making direct-to-video nazi zombie flicks? Apparently his career was destroyed not by his derided comic movies or his despicable follow-up 8mm, but by the 2004 Phantom of the Opera. Some people are running from the nazi, and some from the zombie, who has a wormie in his forehead just like Jeffrey Combs in From Beyond. Anyway, this looks no good, but at least the effects are better than the above three movies combined. From the “writer” of a whole bunch of remakes.

Stone (2010, John Curran)
Robert De Niro’s house is on fire! He rescues his wife, who gripes some religion at him. Flash forward, Rob is retiring, and is an asshole. Then he finds, and does not kill Ed Norton, who steps back into the shadows. Some stuff about redemption and god’s will, oh and here’s Milla Jehovavich finally, in a bar. The sound mixer thinks he’s all that. Was a time I wouldn’t have missed a De Niro/Norton movie, but that time was about a year before The Score came out. From director of The Painted Veil and writer of Junebug – weird combination.

War of the Worlds (2005, David Latt)
Another one of those quickie direct-to-video titles designed to confuse Blockbuster patrons looking for the Tom Cruise version. C. Thomas Howell plays substitute Tom Cruise here (he’s also sub-Jennifer Connelly in The Day The Earth Stopped and sub-Will Ferrell in The Land That Time Forgot). Some guy informs us D.C. is gone (budget filmmaker’s motto: tell, don’t show) and the rebellion is hiding out in the Blue Ridge mountains, and oh here’s Jake Busey as an authoritarian dick army man, cool. But Howell makes it to D.C., gazes at some CG backgrounds, crosses a bridge that crumbled in a totally believable way (destroyed but for a convenient walking path down the center), chats with a dying alien tripod (err, 4 or 5-pod) and is reunited with his family in the last minute. Just like the Spielberg version, except not any good. From the writer of The Da Vinci Treasure, AVH: Alien vs. Hunter and Allan Quatermain and the Temple of Skulls.

30 Rock seasons 1 & 2

So apparently I like sitcoms now. Katy and I enjoyed this a lot. I don’t want to talk about TV shows (“remember that one episode?”), so instead I looked up the credits.

Writers with movie connections: Tina Fey and Kay Cannon (co-producer of Baby Mama), along with veterans of Norm, Animaniacs, Just Shoot Me, Spin City, The Weird Al Show and Futurama

Directors with interesting credits: Dennie Gordon (Joe Dirt, What a Girl Wants), Don Scardino (lead actor of Squirm), Gail Mancuso (lead director on Roseanne), Beth McCarthy-Miller (Demetri Martin’s show, 200+ eps of Saturday Night Live, the superbowl halftime show when Janet Jackson took her shirt off, Nirvana Unplugged), Michael Engler (Sex and the City episodes), Scott Ellis (an upcoming movie from the writer of Untamed Heart, he hopes), Adam Bernstein (It’s Pat: The Movie), Juan José Campanella (oscar winner The Secret In Their Eyes), Richard Shepard (The Matador) and Kevin Rodney Sullivan (Barbershop 2).

Oh, the guests!
Paul Scheer (as the head page) and his Human Giant costar Rob Huebel, Jerry Seinfeld, Steve Buscemi, David Schwimmer (as “Greenzo”), Kristen Wiig, Edie Falco, James Carville (yay), Andy Richter, Matthew Broderick, Conan O’Brien, Whoopi Goldberg, Paul Reubens (as the last of the Hapsburgs), Isabella Rossellini, Charlyne Yi, LL Cool J (as “Ridikolus”), Wayne Brady, Nathan Lane, Molly Shannon, and hundreds of TV people I don’t know.

The Mighty Boosh season 1

I didn’t care for this at first, but oh boy did it grow on me. I’d like to thank Fumi for insisting for years that I watch it.

Howard Moon (Julian Barratt) started out on Edgar Wright’s Asylum, which I really must watch now that I’ve found a copy. He and Vince Noir (Noel Fielding) were in the seemingly popular Nathan Barley and the barely-known-to-IMDB Unnatural Acts together. Naboo seems to have only ever been Naboo, which is fine by me because he is a perfect Naboo.

Director Paul King made a darkish Gilliam-esque movie called Bunny and the Bull with some Boosh cameos, and worked on a promising-sounding show called Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace.

Stanley Kubrick’s Boxes (2008, Jon Ronson)

A fascinating look through Kubrick’s research with glimpses into his working methods and various obsessions (like collecting stationery, and having a location scout photograph every single doorway in a certain neighborhood, only to have Kubrick end up creating the doorway in a studio). Can’t say I was enthused by Ronson’s role as gleeful narrator, but I’m thankful for his valuable work peeping at Kubrick’s private life and showing us the results (especially dug the rapid-fire location-photo montages set to the music from the Clockwork Orange sex scene). Lots of talk about Eyes Wide Shut and a couple never-completed projects, so I wonder why there wasn’t a single mention of A.I.. Ronson wrote the book The Men Who Stare At Goats was based on, and he hopes he’s written the book Edgar Wright’s next movie will be based on, but he shouldn’t hold his breath.