“Lousy choices, that’s your whole story, lousy movies,” someone says to Robin Wright, playing “herself.” This one’s not exactly great, but better than lousy – at least we get interesting topics and some fun animation. Getting around to watching this due to one of those topics – the idea of movie studios scanning actors then using their digital images indefinitely is back in the news.

Harvey Keitel as her agent gets a good monologue during the scan procedure, then Robin takes her money (they never say how much) and goes home with her hard-of-hearing kite-obsessed son Kodi Smit-McPhee. Twenty years later she enters the “animation zone” to attend a contract renegotiation party. The company which has successfully controlled and redefined her image for so long (one of her future sci-fi films is named RRR) stupidly puts Actual Robin in front of a live mic. There’s a revolution, real or imagined, and Robin is stuck in animated form so they freeze her body for future scientists to deal with. This is where Paul Giamatti comes in – he specializes in explaining insane situations to people in movies.

Feels like it’s trying too hard to be a cult hit, and the pacing is often weird, with our somnambulist hero Dave always moving and speaking slower than you’d expect, and its universe and logic seem simultaneously under- and over-developed (maybe since it’s an incomplete adaptation of the source comic), but overall a damned fun flick, unlike anything else out there, and a welcome return to weird-movie-making for Coscarelli ten years after Bubba Ho-Tep.

Attempts at plot summary would be ridiculous, but here are some people and things.

Tall Man as dark-eyed priest:

Basement meat monster summoned by Obscure Object snake girl, destroyed by Dr. Marconi phone call:

Paul Giamatti as viewer-surrogate reporter:

Good weapon:

Glynn Turman as evidence-destroying, hero-threatening rogue cop:

Church of Dave & John: clothing and masks optional

Dave nearly falls into pit of Korrok before monster is destroyed by humanity-saving suicide-bomber dog:

Finally, justice for Chiwetel. McQueen’s follow-up to Shame, which I skipped. I was bracing for a no-holds-barred art film, but it’s closer to a typical Hollywood drama than Hunger was, based on the real guy’s memoir and adapted by John Ridley (Three Kings, Red Tails).

Chiwetel is kidnapped by circus tricksters and sold to Django Unchained vet Chris Berry, who immediately kills fellow slave Omar and throws him overboard. Chiwetel is auctioned by Paul Giamatti to relatively-decent Benedict Cumberbatch, but pisses off watcher Paul Dano and so is sent to Fassbender’s place. Fass is fucking female slave Lupita Nyong’o and Fass’s wife Sarah Paulson knows it – guess which of those three will get the shit end of the stick (or the whip). Chiwetel seeks help from Garret Dillahunt, who sells him out, finally gets it from forward-thinking Canadian Brad Pitt.

Amazing story, certainly a well-made and well-acted movie, but the closing titles leave things depressingly unresolved and one yearns for some Django-style payback. IMDB lists the previous adaptation, starring Avery Brooks of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fame, as a comedy/drama!

“Put your filthy paws on me, you damn dirty ape”

A silly, often stupid, pornographic parody horror cartoon indebted to Ren & Stimpy (for gross-out detail drawings), Tenacious D (for the music) and Looney Tunes (for the ever-present caricatures). References just about everything, including Halloween (Myers is hit by Superbeasto’s car), House of 1000 Corpses (Captain Spaulding as himself) and even Werewolf Women of the S.S. I am an idiot, because I loved it.

Superbeasto (voiced by head writer Tom Papa) is a mexican-wrestler superhero, but his eyepatch-sporting huge-breasted sister (Sheri Moon Zombie, with a perfect voice for cartoons) does most of the hard work along with her super-horny robot (Brian Posehn). It seems a scrawny nerd with a devil head (Paul Giamatti) and his intelligent screw-headed ape (Tom Kenny) has found the foretold badass girl with the mark of Satan on her ass (Rosario Dawson). Dr. Satan needs to marry Dawson in order to become all-powerful, which should be a problem since he’s a satanic nerd, but once she finds out he’s rich she steps right up. A fight ensues, Superbeasto gives Satan a monster wedgie, and order is restored. I love the music – during the big Carrie ripoff scene, the song is “Why’d you have to rip off Carrie?”

Lots of good voices – I didn’t recognize Elvira, Harland Williams, Clint Howard or Dee Wallace, but noted Danny Trejo as Superbeasto’s boss buddy back in the neighborhood, and John “Bender” DiMaggio as a lagoon creature.

Take Clive Owen and give him a gun and you’ve got The International, I guess. But give him and everyone else lots and lots of guns and you have this, which must be an improvement. I don’t know how Davis (director of two dorm comedies and a monster-truck thriller) landed Owen, Paul Giamatti as a sneering baddie, or the budget to make a big-ass action movie, but he’s made the most of it – ambitious, gleefully unrealistic action scenes – and good thing, too, since it might be his last chance (it died at the box office).

Did anyone even envision Paul Giamatti appearing in a scene like this?

Clive rescues a baby (hello, Children of Men) which is possibly a clone of a senator who backs gun control, so a gun company (led by Pontypool‘s Stephen McHattie) is trying to have the clone-baby killed? Something like that. Anyway, Clive kills two people with carrots (he has a thing for carrots) so I’m not thinking the plot details make a big difference. Besides the carrots, it’s full of terrible 80’s-throwback one-liners, and terrible 80’s-throwback gender politics – any women are either moms (Ramona Pringle, killed early) or prostitutes (Monica Bellucci of those Matrix sequels).

I love the low-tech tape deck they use for the ol’ fake-baby trick:

When Clive Owen is drugged and scammed by Julia Roberts at the start of the movie, you know they’ll be together a few scenes later. It doesn’t look like the kind of romantic comedy that’s going to artificially keep them apart for eighty minutes followed by a super-romantic get-together at the end, especially after such a confrontational intro to their characters. But when they end up working together – sure enough, a few scenes later – are they going to stay together, or end up tricking each other in a series of unsatisfying twist endings?

Surprisingly, their relationship is real and they stay together through the whole picture, though pretending they hate each other in public. Plot revolves around their counter-intelligence jobs at Paul Giamatti’s huge faux-Proctor & Gamble company, trying to steal a big secret formula from Tom Wilkinson’s rival company, with Roberts as the inside man. Giamatti’s plan is to beat Tom to the patent office and take his product public before he has the chance, and Roberts/Owen’s plan is to let Giamatti think he’s won while they take the formula to Europe and sell it for millions. The Big Twist: Wilkinson and his company’s superior counter-intel program knew everything all along and the formula was a fake.

A very fun movie with classy, classic style and charming acting. Some floaty split-screen montages give the light Soderbergh feeling of an Ocean’s Eleven sequel. Opening title sequence featuring a slow-motion airport-runway throwdown between the two CEO’s sets the comic tone. Chronology-juggling gradually, effectively reveals the depth of Roberts and Owen’s relationship and their scam, seems more purposeful than the chronojuggling he did in Michael Clayton. Same producers, cinematographer (Robert Elswitt, There Will Be Blood), editor (the director’s brother) and composer (James Newton Howard) as the previous movie. I am already looking forward to whatever Gilroy does next. Critics would disagree, judging from the rotten tomatometer, and Katy thought it was just pretty good.

Finally the hype has died down enough that I feel safe watching Sideways (still 2 more years to go for LA Crash, and at least that long for Babel).


Giamatti is a schlub with a bad novel, an ex-wife, a wine obsession and a poor social life. His buddy Sandman is a womanizer but about to get married this saturday. Road trip! Out to wine country to golf and drink and fuck strangers! Enter oscar-nominee Virginia Madsen and Sandra Oh to complicate things. Sex ensues, and Sandman gets his nose broken and goes and gets married even though he’s an ass and P.Giamatti ends the movie getting back together with V.Madsen.


Extremely not-bad, but never great in any way. I mean, I love watching Paul Giamatti do things, and nudity is fun and drunkenness is funny and relationships are hard, but the movie’s saying big ol’ nothing and seems a step down from Election (though I forgot About Schmidt came in between). Guess I could go back and read those hundred thousand reviews and discussions about Sideways posted online in 2002 and 2003, but it doesn’t seem like the kind of movie worth going on and on and on about either, god it’s less exciting than Little Miss Sunshine.


Katy likes it, and kickball said it was crappy.


Is there anybody who could watch both of the 2006 period-magician mystery movies and not compare the two? Of course not, so why pretend? I’ve rented ’em both in one weekend.

Surprisingly, this is an understated little movie… a simple trick ending (though I don’t know how Norton could’ve planned the sword-fight between the girl and the prince), simple characters and staging. What’s the deal with police inspector Paul Giamatti being talked up as the best part of the movie, though? Just some post-Sideways holdover I guess. He and Norton and the girl are good, bad guy Rufus Sewell less so.

Ed Norton is a magician who likes the prince’s crush Jessica Biel, and taunts the prince at a party. Prince gets all upset and tries to kill Biel in a drunken rage, but nobody sees the fight so she’s just found dead and the prince isn’t blamed. Norton shuts down, opens a new theater and starts summoning ghosts, eventually bringing up her ghost who, through audience questioning, casts suspicion on the prince for her murder. Prince is brought down, shoots himself in front of Giamatti, and Norton and his not-dead girl live happily after an eerie Giamatti-chase through the streets that is every bit like the ending of The Usual Suspects.

Very likeable movie, subtle (even more so when compared to The Prestige).