Monday, January 25, 2010

Which fan suffers more?

As another football season nears its conclusion I ask this question which I have posed before. It has been established that I am a fan of the Detroit Lions, and note that with the Saints going to the Super Bowl there is but one lone team in the NFC that has yet to make an appearance in that glorious game. I'll let you guess who that one team is. Anyway, it is no scoop that the Lions suck. But lets examine the Vikings for a moment. For almost my entire life as a football fan, and I've been around for a bit now, the Minnesota Vikings have almost always put out a competitive product, with a lot of their teams being just flat out amazing. The Purple People Eaters of the 70's, Joey Browner's Viking teams of the 80's, the unstoppable Randall Cunningham team of the 90's and now this team here. I thought the collapse by the '98 team was bad but this one might've been even worse. I was pulling for the Saints to win because I thought it would be good for New Orleans and two weeks of being bombared by Brett Favre hyperbola might've pushed me over the edge but as the game was coming to its end it seemed to me that the best team in that game will be at home watching the BIG game yet again.

Did the Detroit Lions disappoint me by winning two games this year and zero games the year before? No, not really. I wanted them to do well but it is no shock that they did not. But the Vikings... The Vikings bring their fans to such heights, to such lofty expectations only to drop those poor fans off the proverbial cliff year after year after year. This has to be some kind of torture. How in the world does a Viking fan deal with this? When the Vikings had the ball on the Saints thirty-whatever there was no doubt in my mind, as a non-Viking fan, that Ryan Longwell was going to come in, nail that 50+ yard kick and the Vikings would be going to the Super Bowl. A Viking fan probably knew better than to think that. A Viking fan probably knew that somehow, someway something would happen to screw it all up. This fan knew that despite the fact their team had outplayed the Saints in almost every concievable facet of the game, tried like hell throughout the game to give it away and yet were still poised to win it at the end... this fan feared that this team that he or she loves would find a way let them down. Epic fail, yet again. With maybe a touch of help from the refs.

I suppose in the long run it is better to have repeated events of crushed high hopes than no hope at all. I suppose. Given a choice would you rather be pathetic (Lions fan) or tragic (Vikings fan). It's no fun being pathetic but I don't dig being tortured either.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Top eleven of 2009...

Personally I'm not into doing top ten lists but somebody somewhere told me I should compile something. But to show how I Stick It To The Man I'm doing a top eleven. Obviously this is a list of only the movies I've seen in 2009 and also note that I do not differentiate from theatrical releases and Straight to DVD releases as they are just movies to me.

11. Outlander

Here you have a movie that cost 50 million dollars to make and according to Box Office Mojo raked in a little more than 100k which just might make Outlander the biggest flop in movie history. Sure Waterworld was a flop but it still made almost 90 million bucks. But recognize that I love me monster movie and Outlander was a damn good monster movie. The premise of Vikings vs. Spacemen might've been a little wacky but a monster movie has to be all about the monster and the monster in this flick was angry, bitter, vengeful, violent and damn near invincible. If you like common sense then look elsewhere but if enjoy angry monsters eating vikings... look no further.

10. Strictly Sexual

As much as I love me a monster movie I don't love romantic comedies or romance movies in general, basically because the genre rigidly sticks to a basic formula... but not this one baby. There was something about this tale of a couple of unemployed construction workers moving into a villa owned by a couple of smoking hotties and charging them for sex that just felt authentic. Admittedly what I just described right there doesn't sound all that plausible but credit to the filmmakers for turning that crazy concept into a moving, emotional and highly entertaining tale of fractured people trying to put it all together.

9. District 9

I don't like watching any movie more than once but this nutty SciFi epic out of South Africa almost requires a second viewing to fully absorb all that is going on in this movie. District 9 is littered with allegorical parallels, historical references, political references with all of this exposition taking place in a world filled with some of the most imaginative looking aliens ever designed, mech suits, space weapons and might we also add that District 9 could be the most viscerally violent movie of 2009 to boot. This is a movie that takes us out of our comfort zone of how we expect movies to transpire and takes us to places that is often times very uncomfortable. Love District 9 or hate District 9, it was a different kind of movie.

8. Blood and Bone

What more could anybody want from a movie? Kimbo Slice, that fancy talking brother from 'Oz', a Nona Gaye sighting and The Spawn round house kicking suckers to the head. Repeatedly. Michael Jai White is a man with no name, or at least not much of a name, rolling into a world very similar to those worlds that Clint Eastwood used to roll into in his spaghetti western days, with a big dirty city taking the place of a dusty old western town. The action is fierce, the fighting fantastic, the bad guys are terrible and Michael Jai White STILL can't find a shirt that fits properly.

7. The Merry Gentleman

Michael Keaton's directorial debut, at least from where I'm standing, was a rousing, unparalleled success. This methodically paced story about a suicidal tailor / hitman and the battered woman on the run who he is drawn to, a woman who might very well be a witness to one his murder gigs is all about character and mood. The mood is stark, dark and depressing, the characterizations provided by Keaton and Kelly McDonald are flawless and the performances are amongst the best of the year.

6. Precious

What was most remarkable about this heartbreaking film from director Lee Daniels, a movie that had the potential, due it's horrific subject matter, to be the most depressing movie in the history of everything, is that the director found a way make his movie almost hopeful and joyful. Almost. A make-up free Mariah Carey, a guitar free Lenny Kravitz, a joke free Monique and a star making turn from Gabby Sibide made for one of the most engrossing and heart tugging dramas of the decade. But I didn't cry... at least until Paula Patton's character revealed herself to be a lesbian.

5. Star Trek

After seeing J.J. Abrams re-invention of Star Trek my boy Andre barely made it out of the theater before calling me up on the phone gushing about 'the best movie ever made!' I had already seen it at a critics preview of course and I had told him beforehand that the movie was great and shouldn't be missed, but he just wanted me to know that I should've included that this was the 'best movie ever made!'. While I probably wouldn't go that far this version of Star Trek sure was a kick in the ass. In a summer that had Transformers (booo), John Conner's, Wolverines, G.I. Joes and 2012 ending the earth J.J. Abrams showed those clowns exactly what a big time popcorn munching summer blockbuster is supposed to be like.

4. The Hurt Locker

The harshness of reality doesn't get any more stark than Kathryn Bigelow's version of Modern Warfare as we follow a bomb squad who have heeded the Call of Duty and observe how possibly the most stressful job on the planet earth is affecting these soldiers fighting this battle. As a movie The Hurt Locker is barren and open, allowing the audience to almost peer into the souls of these characters, characters who are played pitch perfect in their presentations by actors Brian Geraghty, Anthony Mackie and Jeremy Renner. Plus my main man David Morse was in this movie for minute, best cameo ever, and David Morse at this point in his lenghty career can do no wrong. Be warned, this is not an action movie, it as methodically paced and forces you to pay attention otherwise it will lose you. Say unlike...

3. Avatar

What can be said that hasn't been said already. I mean have there been other movies that people have seen that made them so depressed their lives suck in comparison to the beauty of Pandora that they've contemplated commit suicide? My fear is that these same people, after choosing life, will hunt me down for not making Avatar #1 on my list. Good thing nobody knows I exist. This is a movie that is an experience all unto itself, especially if you choose go with the 3D IMAX option, and should be seen by everybody on the planet, even if you are a right wing ECO hating, native exploiting, unobtanium hoarding warhawk with a rocket launcher. Michelle Roduiguez bouncing around in 3D IMAX in a way too tight T-shirt didn't hurt either. No, there is no subtelty in this tale and it is not the most original story ever told and we wouldn't reccomend that you attempt to 'deconstruct' this narrative either... but it's not about any of that. Cameron does it yet again.

2. Taken

I guess this came out in 2009. At least I didn't see it until 2009. What I do know is that Taken is quite possibly the best action movie of the decade. Movies don't get much simpler than this. They take his daughter, he's angry, he has skills and he kills pretty much everybody in the movie. These dudes who get wasted are equally angry but unfortunately they lack the skills. Sucks to be them. Director Pierre Morel is an action directing savant and he uses an ancient Liam Neeson to maximum of his abilities. There are no twists in this movie, there are no attempts at clever dialog, it is straight forward, linear, and we are not saddled with watching some filmmaker trying to show us 'what he can do'. It is simply laid out and asks you to either 'love it or leave it'. We loved it. Absolutely.

1. Black Dynamite

Was there ever really and doubt? I don't know how many of you out there have had the misfortune of reading my nonsense but if you have then you know that this one here is a no-brainer. 'Black Dynamite' just might be my favorite movie ever, threatening to take the spot long held by John Woo's 'The Killer'. Are there better movies out there than this send up of the Blaxploitation genre? I resist calling it a 'spoof' because it is a legitimate Blaxploitation movie, but sure there are better movies out there. Truth be told it is probably the worst movie on this list. Have I ever had more fun sitting in a theater seat. Never ever. Ever. The problem with 'Black Dynamite' is that is that its target audience is probably too narrow. If you don't have a unique love and understanding of the genre it is paying homage to, then this movie won't mean all that much to you. I think one can still enjoy it because of the love and artistry involved in making it and the thalent of the actors in this film... but for 'Black Dynamite' to take you away... you probably have to know Petey Wheatstraw on a first name basis.