Category: Movies


Burlesque

I just saw Burlesque, the musical feature-length film starring Christina Aguilera and Cher:

First, the bad. This movie isn't going to change your life, empower humanity, or even beg a second viewing. It's "Coyote Ugly" with the pizzazz of "Chicago". Unfortunately, "Coyote Ugly" was a vile chick flick marketed like a guy movie – nowheresville girl boldly challenges the world with only her musical skill, an impossibly handsome gentleman aides her, some stardom+relationship drama, then happy ending. Pretty and poppy, but nothing substantial occupies your mind afterward.

The veil of cinema broke for me when Cher declares "You didn't tell me you could sing like THAT!" It's similar to "Fight Club" when Brad Pitt declares "We were raised by television to believe that we'd be millionaires and movie gods…" ChristinaAguilera = singer just like BradPitt = millionaire movie god. Anyone with ears and eyes knows that.

Second, the medium. Sexy ladies, foot-tappin' song numbers, and vigorous dancing offset the weird characters, strange pacing, and far too much makeup on the two leads. Aguilera acts somewhere between cute and excited the whole movie. Cher manages cute, excited, frustrated, dejected, and relieved through her clown mask, proving she's still got some acting chops.

Third, the good. Cher has the best song in the movie similar to how "Mr. Cellophane" is the best song in Chicago. The best sequence is the final song's call-and-answer exchange between Aguilera and the horn section – the person that made the trailer agrees. Trumpets are awesome even if they get zero screen time.

Finally, there's one unquestionably great thing in this movie – Aguilera's raw singing talent. Her "mutant lungs" can sing anyone into the ground. My favorite songwriter Linda Perry is also credited on the soundtrack. Christina Aguilera + Linda Perry is a formula for excellence in my book. However, given 30-year-old Aguilera is just now getting into musical movies, I can't help but feel hurt that the human race won't fully capture and utilize her immeasurable singing talent.

For comparison, take singer Celine Dion. She designed herself a 5-night Las Vegas show for 4 years – a performance schedule that would kill most people! Why? She loves to sing. Celine Dion has wielded her substantial singing talent deftly.

I have a burning hatred for incompetence and if you're terrible at your job or responsibility, I'll tell you flat to your face to improve or get out. The only thing I despise more is squandered excellence. Aguilera is a powerful instrument in need of equally powerful vocal material and the world's biggest megaphone. I don't think (or want) "Burlesque" to be Aguilera's artistic climax. She stands to learn a lot from her co-star Cher's accomplishments…before it's too late.

To reflect on that, here's the winning formula Christina Aguilera + Linda Perry in the music video for "Hurt" which happens to be Aguilera's directing debut: That music video is much better than the movie I just saw.

My DVDs

I've acquired a not-too-small collection of DVDs over the past few years. "How" you may ask? By legitimately purchasing them, of course.

My DVD Collection as of 2010-11-25 in Excel .xls format (along with brief commentary for the best and worst):

NorrYtt's DVD Collection

 

Rating Movie
? Christmas with the Kranks
? The Next Karate Kid
5 300
5 Airplane!
5 American History X
5 Austin Powers: Goldmember
5 Chappelle's Show Season One
5 Dreamgirls
5 Gladiator
5 Iron Man
5 Juno
5 Knocked Up
5 Pitch Black
5 Planet Earth
5 Shaun of the Dead
5 South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut
5 Stardust
5 Stranger than Fiction
5 Sunshine
5 Superbad
5 Team America: World Police
5 The Blue Planet: Seas of Life
5 The Iron Giant
5 The Jerk
5 The Matrix
5 The Princess Bride
5 The Secret of NIMH
5 The Shawshank Redemption
5 Three Amigos!
5 Trading Places
5 Undercover Brother
5 War of the Worlds
4 Constantine
4 Date Movie
4 Death Sentence
4 Desperado
4 Galaxy Quest
4 Grosse Point Blank
4 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
4 Little Miss Sunshine
4 Live Free or Die Hard
4 Mr. Deeds
4 Music and Lyrics
4 Ratatouille
4 Rudy
4 Silent Hill
4 Sleepers
4 Spanglish
4 Stand and Deliver
4 The Golden Compass
4 The Lake House
4 The Legend of Zorro
4 The Nutty Professor
4 The Simpsons Movie
4 Vantage Point
3 3:10 to Yuma
3 Anna and the King
3 Apollo 13
3 Be Kind Rewind
3 Bewitched
3 Big Daddy
3 Blades of Glory
3 Bulletproof Monk
3 City of Angels
3 Cold Mountain
3 Con Air
3 Cool Hand Luke
3 Dan in Real Life
3 Dead Poets Society
3 Donnie Brasco
3 Fever Pitch
3 Finding Neverland
3 First Knight
3 Full Metal Jacket
3 I Am Legend
3 I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry
3 i, Robot
3 In the Line of Fire
3 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
3 Inglorious Basterds
3 Inside Man
3 John Q
3 Journey to the Center of the Earth
3 Lean on Me
3 Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
3 Lord of War
3 Love Actually
3 Meet the Robinsons
3 My Super Ex-Girlfriend
3 Ocean's Thirteen
3 Once Upon a Time in Mexico
3 Planet of the Apes
3 Premonition
3 School of Rock
3 Shooter
3 Sommersby
2 Spiderman 3
3 Street Kings
3 Superhero Movie
3 Sweet November
3 Syriana
3 Tears of the Sun
3 The Age of Innocence
3 The Assassination of Jesse Jame by the Coward Robert Ford
3 The Bourne Identity
3 The Bourne Supremacy
3 The Butterfly Effect
3 The Devil's Own
3 The Good Shepherd
3 The Great Debaters
3 The Illusionist
3 The Italian Job
3 The Kingdom
3 The Longest Yard
3 The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
3 The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps
3 The Pacifier
3 The Pianist
3 The Pink Panther
3 The Quick and the Dead
3 Traffic
3 Transformers
3 Trucker
3 Wild Hogs
3 You Don't Mess With the Zohan
2 3000 Miles to Graceland
2 Beowulf
2 Bowfinger
2 Couples Retreat
2 Courage Under Fire
2 Definitely, Maybe
2 Edward Scissorhands
2 End Game
2 Ghost Rider
2 Hitman
2 Mail Order Bride
3 Man on Fire
2 Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium
2 National Treasure
2 Old School
2 Reign of Fire
2 Resident Evil: Extinction
2 Semi-Pro
2 Shoot 'Em Up
2 Snatch
2 So I Married An Axe Murderer
2 Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
2 The Affair of the Necklace
2 The Polar Express
2 The Transporter
2 Untraceable
1 Art School Confidential
1 Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
1 Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li
1 The Benchwarmers
1 The Private Lives of Pippa Lee
1 Young Frankenstein

I've stopped purchasing DVDs.

While I believe moving-pictures-with-sound will continue as the dominant art form of mankind, and movies the pinnacle expression of that art form, physical digital media kind of just…takes up space. I have Wall*E on my iPhone just a few clicks away, purchased from iTunes. I believe in a decade or less, movies will do the same shtick as mp3s did for CDs.

I visited my parents, brother, and sister-in-law as a surprise in Huntsville, AL. Also by surprise, we filmed a simple video demonstrating kickboxing:

With online social media exploding, personal video production has quickly become mainstream and commonplace. Within my lifetime, it might become how most interpersonal communication is absorbed. As a testament to that hypothesis, my iPhone made and uploaded this video within 3min and 8 clicks:

I watched "Scott Pilgrim vs The World" with a group of gamer friends. For a brief overview, check out this analyzed trailer:

This is easily my favorite film of 2010 (sorry, I'm not an "Inception" fanboy) and I doubt it can be topped this year. Even the first 30 seconds is riff with teh aw3s0me – a pixelated Universal logo with 4-bit music, then live footage begins with the opening melody when you power up The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time. Superb direction! Based on a graphic novel I've never read (I own zero comic books, probably read 10 in my life, it's not a medium I connect with), I found the video game referenced executed better than any film to date. Even Mortal Kombat and other such movies pale in comparison.

Critics

The critics will tell you bad things about Scott Pilgrim. I think they don't get it. They grew up watching too many films and didn't play enough video games. There is a ton of "quirk" in Scott Pilgrim, but that's what video games are made of – Mario jumps on turtles, travels through pipes, collects coins, eats mushrooms to grow bigger, and can shoot fireballs. While all that makes for the most famous video game character ever, it's extremely nonsensical. Video games have a bigger agenda than making sense – making the player feel teh aw3s0me!

So when you play an instrument, Rock Band-esque visual effects accompany you as you shred. Defeating bad guys drops rewarding coins like in River City Ransom. Super ultimate uppercutting a bully makes the screen rainbow flash like in Street Fighter.

Unfortunately, Scott Pilgrim didn't to well at the box office. I was nice to be treated to a product PERFECTLY targeted at me, though the ticket sales confirm there aren't many of us.