Category Archives: Moviegoing

Mangle Awards Are Here!

Well, it’s Award Season – Golden Globes, Academy Awards, BAFTA, SAG Awards, the Razzies – you name it, people are giving out awards.  But we here at the Movie Mangle would like to do something less traditional.  Like many average Joe’s, I haven’t seen all (or most) of the nominated movies this year.  So while I will be losing the Academy Awards bingo, I want to bestow my OWN awards for the movies that impacted me last year (not the tooth that impacted me last year – that jerk gets NO award!).  Ladies and gents, I present to you… the Mangle Awards!

MANGLE AWARDS2

 

#1 WORST MOVIE WITH BEST POTENTIAL: “Escape From Tomorrow”

Mangle Award: Worst Best!

Mangle Award: Worst Best!

You’ve probably heard of this one – a filmmaker wrote a “script,” had his actors memorize and rehearse, then snuck his whole sound and film team in to shoot it all in Disney World.  Theoretically, this could be really cool.  (In fact, a short film titled “Missing In The Mansion” did the same thing and was very fun!)  But no.

It starts off fine, a story about a 40-something father of two who gets fired on the morning that he brings his family to Disneyland, then following his point of view as he does creepy things like stalking some underage French girls around the park.  The whole point of the movie is to subvert the idea of Disney perfection and showing the juxtaposition between the seeming innocence of Disney and the realities of how adults think and behave.

But then it goes off the rails.  The main character starts seeing trippy, LSD-like things happen around him and there’s some stupidity about a “cat flu” going around, so the movie becomes surreal, but then tries to hold on to some kind of reality and never achieves the kind of connection that even a David Lynch movie has.  A waste of time.

 

#2 BEST TRANSFORMERS MOVIE: “Pacific Rim”

Mangle Award: Best Transformers!

Mangle Award: Best Transformers!

If only Guillermo del Toro had been brought on for the first TRANSFORMERS movie, I might still be watching its‘ copious sequels.  But instead, we wait a decade or so to watch PACIFIC RIM – or, as I’m sure it was pitched – “Transformers meets Godzilla.”

I’ve heard a lot of people whine about how the effects were great but they were disappointed in the lack of characters and development.  I disagree.  In fact, I went in expecting ROCK ‘EM SOCK ‘EM MONSTERS AND ROBOTS and instead found some pretty solid emotional and character grounding….. plus some pretty spectacular rock ‘em sock ‘em monsters and robots!  PACIFIC RIM made a monster movie better than past GODZILLA’S and CLOVERFIELD and beat TRANSFORMERS in the giant robot department.  Personally, I can’t wait for the sequel.

 

#3 BEST DOCUMENTARY DIRECTED BY DAVE GROHL:  “Sound City”

Mangle Award: Best Daveumentary!

Mangle Award: Best Daveumentary!

I love music documentaries, especially when they involve “behind-the-scenes” of an album.  Of the handful of music docs I saw last year, my two faves were “A BAND CALLED DEATH” (You should definitely check that one out, btw) and “SOUND CITY.”  The latter is Nirvana and Foo Fighters member Dave Grohl’s directorial debut.

Sound City was a recording studio in the Valley that had incredible acoustics, an incomparable soundboard, and history of recording some of the biggest records and bands of the past few decades:  Nirvana, Fleetwood Mac, Nine Inch Nails, Rick Springfield, etc.  Alas, it went out of business.  But before it did, Dave Grohl bought the fabled soundboard, installed it in his own state-of-the-art home studio, and made this killer documentary.  And THEN, he invited some of the more prestigious people who ever recorded at Sound City and had them come record some tracks at his studio.

Seriously, this is worth watching for a thirty-second Paul McCartney moment alone.
**bonus awesome: Sound City is available right now on Amazon Instant Video, FREE to Prime members… just sayin***<Click here to watch Sound City for FREE on Amazon>

 

#4 BEST UNDER THE RADAR SURPRISE: “Trance”

Mangle Award: Best Rad Surprise!

Mangle Award: Best Rad Surprise!

I vaguely remember the previews for this one.  Vaguely.  But an acquaintance from work (at Stan’s Donuts N’ Firearms) had a digital copy that he was selling for the low low price of “stop blackmailing my wife” so I checked it out.  And it’s GREAT!

Danny Boyle directs this thriller about an art heist and the hypnotist (James McAvoy) hired to figure out what happened to it.  Smart, tight, and featuring an equally smart and tight (and naked!) Rosario Dawson, this is one of the handful of psychological thrillers that does a really good job of keeping the ending a surprise.  With great performances and a fun twisty story, I recommend TRANCE to everybody.  (I have a digital copy if you want to borrow it.  Plus some nice blackmail material if you wish to peruse.)

 

#5 BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT SINCE INDIANA JONES 4: “Man Of Steel”

Mangle Award: Biggest Disappointment!

Mangle Award: Biggest Disappointment!

This movie was so bad it made me angry.

It’s a lot of non-linear storytelling that doesn’t reveal anything so much as simply stop the narrative dead several times.  Characters make ridiculous decisions that as an audience member I cannot relate to (See: Clark’s father’s death), they have blase reactions to monumental happenings (see: Clark’s MOM’s reaction to aliens wrecking her home), and we’re supposed to simply understand who people are by them TELLING us their caricature type (see: Lois’s first scene) so that we don’t have to see people interact and learn about them.  Hence, we don’t care.  At all.

And good thing, too!  Because once we’re halfway through the movie, everything and everyone in Metropolis and Smallville is completely destroyed with no thought to life or property.  BUT Superman cares for us humans SO MUCH!!!  (When and where does he do this?  Oh, right: never.  He just says it  but then lets people die and destroys buildings thoughtlessly.)

This is where I point out that the only person who has ever made a good Superman movie was Richard Donner.  In the exact same scenario (Zod and alien supercohorts attack and destroy Metropolis), Superman reveals his WEAKNESS: caring so much for people’s lives that he spends most of his time PROTECTING them rather than FIGHTING the enemy.  (And yes, that was Richard Donner’s movie – I don’t care who’s name is on the credit card in Superman 2.)  We get to see Clark slowly grow up and deal with his problems and see his connection to his parents in realtime and feel for him in the first SUPERMAN movie.  Here, the same beats are played out, but even though the CGI is great and could pull us into more character development, it’s simply a sight gag in Hack Snyder’s hands.

Oh, and Superman needs to have a love affair with Lois.  Right.  So add that checkmark and make sure that they kiss at the end of the movie.  Why?  Because “Superman loves Lois Lane.”  Says so in the comics.  Check.  Got it.  Ignore the fact that they have, oh, ZERO chemistry or moments of intimacy in the movie.

MAN OF STEEL had some great design elements and could have been a really good ten minute film.

I wish it had been.

 

#6 BEST ANNIVERSARY RE-RELEASE: “The Wizard Of Oz in 3D IMAX”

Mangle Awards: Best Anniversary!

Mangle Awards: Best Anniversary!

  1. I used to watch “The Wizard of Oz” annually when it came on TV.  It was the first videotape I ever rented (shut up, I’m old).  It’s one of the best movies of all time.
  2. When I first moved to Hollywood, it was playing at the famed Mann Chinese Theater.  This was perfect.  My first cinmea experience in Los Angeles would be one of the most classic, magical movies of all time in one of the most magical, historic movie theaters.. ON HOLLYWOOD BLVD!
  3. So, when it left and I wound up seeing MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 there instead, it was a letdown.
  4. BUT!  When it was re-released in IMAX 3D for it’s 75th Anniversary, you can bet I didn’t miss it this time.

And it was fantastic.  I’m not a fan of 3D most of the time and I find it to be a money-grab more often than not, but the depth and clarity of the picture (you could see the SEAMS in the clothing and baldcaps!) for this was incredible.  And the movie itself?

Come on, I’m not even going to review it.  If you’re not a fan of The Wizard of Oz…. something’s wrong.

And there you have it!   Matt’s Mangle Awards for 2013.  Let me know if I missed any great or unique movies by commenting below and I’ll see you at the Oscar Bingo game!

-Matt

PS. As always, if you like what you see we really appreciate your positive reinforcement. Please share your thoughts and send to a friend.  Cheers!

Christmas Sucks! These Movies Can Help

We all know that nobody REALLY loves Christmas. All that joy, singing, and lying to children is enough to make anybody want to puke up a turkey leg just to beat the nearest lawn snowman with. But movie expert Matt Ritchey of Movie Mangle has just the cure:

Grumpycat says: Christmas Sucks!

Grumpy Cat says: Christmas Sucks!

Top 3 Movies This Christmas Even Holiday Cynics Can’t Miss:

Christmas sucks less with heartwarming animation

Christmas sucks less with heartwarming animation

1.   Disney’s FROZEN: an AMAZING animated film about Elsa, a young girl forced into exile because everything she touches turns to ice (sound familiar, you humbugs?). Much like TANGLED, FROZEN has the heart, imagination, incredible animation and great storytelling that Disney is known for, and the accompanying Disney short film makes FROZEN an absolute must this Christmas. It may just soften your frosty heart in the process.

Christmas sucks

If Disney succeeds, will Christmas still suck?

2.    Disney’s SAVING MR. BANKS:  Starring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, SAVING MR. BANKS is the “true” story of Walt Disney’s promise to his daughters that he would make MARY POPPINS, their favorite book series, into a movie. Problems arise when the author of the series turns out to be a complete humbug herself and wants all children everywhere to suffer (that may be a slight exaggeration, but at least she sounds grumpier than you, dear reader). MR. BANKS has the heart and great acting that will make you want to root for everybody. Plus, it will have you on the edge of your seat to see if Walt succeeds in making the movie!

piccit_the_secret_life_of_walter_mi_81414023.1024x0

Walter Mitty definitely thinks Christmas sucks…

3.    THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY:  Directed by and starring Ben Stiller, WALTER MITTY is about a day-dreamer who escapes his hum-drum world by withdrawing into his own imagination. But when his job and that of a co-worker’s are threatened, he goes on a real adventure and discovers he’s got more in him than he ever imagined. Sounds uplifting right? Well it is, and you should see it. The original 1947 film starring Danny Kaye was really outstanding, and this new rendition should speak to a whole new generation of grouches.

The holidays are officially here – and not everyone is happy about it. But great movies have a way of lifting spirits and easing stress. Why not help spread the cheer this year – or at least subdue the anger – by sharing these great films with your fellow movie lovers?

Peace and good will everybody!

Halloween Mangle Double Feature!

halloween mangle

Halloween Mangle Double Feature!

Well here it is folks… with just days to go before the great hour of witching, we give you the greatest Treat of them all… not one, but TWO super scary Halloween Mangles to delight your funnybone, and tickle your shivers! (I think that’s a thing)  In any case, we polled our fans on Facebook to choose the very best of Movie Mangle to present this spooky season, and they chose wisely: The Exorcist, decades old STILL chills even the stoutest souls… and our Universal Movie Monsters special, which reminds one and all of the true meaning of Halloween.  So settle in with some hot cider and a pillow case full of fun size tasties, and prepare to enjoy the first ever Halloween Mangle Double Feature!  (mwaahahaaaahaaa!)





Do you REALLY want to see that in a movie theater? You betcha. ~Matt’s Rants

Matt on the big screen: “it’s a good thing”

Movies.  Media.  Content.  It’s all changing.  Not so long ago, the movie MEET JOE BLACK made a ridiculous amount of money at the box office opening weekend – having nothing to do with the movie or even Brad Pitt.  No, movie theaters were packed because the movie featured the first trailer for STAR WARS: EPISODE ONE – THE PHANTOM MENACE.  Seats were filled with howling fanboys, and mere moments after the trailer ended, they left.  Suspecting this would happen, many theaters promised to show the trailer again after the credits just to get people to stay.

This would never happen now.  Five years ago somebody would have made a crude video of the trailer on their phone and posted it to the internet.  These days, studios don’t even bother with theaters – they send you text messages about when the trailer will be uploaded to the website or sent directly to your phone in full HD.  It’s not too laughable to imagine that in a few more years, you can pay a few bucks to the studio directly after watching the trailer on your iPad, and the moment the film locks, it will download automatically.  (Which gives me a huge money-making idea for iPopcorn and iCandy….. but I digress.)

What tablets were really made for: couch surfing and memes

What tablets were really made for

With the advent of huge, surprisingly affordable, high definition televisions and surround sound THX systems, we are closer than ever to getting a movie theater experience at home  (and, word to the wise, some of the theatres at the Beverly Center in Los Angeles have screens smaller than HD TVs, so sometimes you’re better off at home).  And I will take watching movies at home any day over the rowdy, crowded, sticky movie theater experience.  When I sit down during several of the utterly free hours of my day to watch a really great film, it doesn’t become any less exciting and dynamic being viewed on my TV or computer.

Okay, that’s a total lie.

Telling stories in the form of stage productions or major motion pictures demand, by definition, a different kind of experience.  Sure, we’re ABLE to watch HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON and AVATAR and BEN HUR on a TV, but don’t tell me it’s a preferable experience to seeing it in a theatre.  It’s not.  Sure, theatres mean there might be a jerk texting near you, somebody brought their three-year-old to a showing of CHUCKY PART 9, or an obnoxious girlfriend  keeps asking her boo “what just happened?” (I’m petitioning for any actions against these people to be deemed “justifiable homicide”), but sitting in a large dark room with a picture clearer and larger than your peripheral vision while being surrounded by incredible sound and no chance that your significant other will disturb and ask you to take the trash out is bliss.  It’s exciting.  It’s an experience.  It’s how some stories were meant to be seen.

Think about this: you’re an HBO subscriber and for next season, they offer their usual TV and internet options for GAME OF THRONES…… but they also give you free tickets to see each episode shown at a movie theater on the night it premieres.  Now, who thinks it would be just as cool to watch it at home on their laptop?  Exactly: nobody.  Why?  Because GAME OF THRONES is an epic cinematic story that almost demands to be seen on the big screen.  The emotions you feel when watching a great TV show or movie are multiplied when seen in a theatre, because there is nothing around you other than the story.  You can’t go grab a drink during the credits, you won’t have neighbors stopping by – all you have is the story in it’s grandest form.  And just as important, there is a sense of community in a theatre.

I know, I know, I just spent a paragraph opining the idiots who go see movies and talk through them.  Well, yes.  That happens.  But it’s very different when you’re in a theatre with people who are all there because they LOVE the project.  George Lucas re-released all three STAR WARS films in theatres before doing his Special Editions and I went to the midnight opening night showings of each one when I lived in New York City.

Let me repeat: Original Star Wars movies, midnight showings, New York City.  Yes, it was kind of the best thing ever.

pass down money lucas spielberg

The place was packed to capacity, people were dressed as their favorite characters, and even though I only knew three of the probably two-to-three hundred people in that place, as soon as “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” and the first note of John Williams’ score blared out, every single person in that room screamed and cheered.  You don’t even get that kind of energy at sporting events – everyone was happy, everyone was on the same page.  And the moment one idiot started to talk back to the screen a la Mystery Science Theatre, the whole auditorium booed at him.  (You don’t mess with people’s STAR WARS.)  And even at special screenings or opening nights of brand new films with a built-in fanbase, it’s the opposite: nobody talks – everybody wants total focus.  THAT is the kind of community I’m talking about.

Steven Spielberg and George Lucas spoke at USC recently and opined that this kind of moviegoing experience is going to become so costly that it will soon be financially on par with seeing a Broadway show.  And since studios are spending 300-plus million dollars on a special effects bonanza, they won’t have the money or time to promote smaller stories to the big screen.  So, TRANSFORMERS ELEVEN: JIFFY LUBE TIME will cost you sixty bucks at the multiplex, but an all-star feature about Teddy Roosevelt with the best cinematography all year will be relegated to TV.  Most filmmakers have a specific way they would like their art to be seen – certain sound, certain lighting, hell in some cases, even film projection calibration – but all control over their art goes bye-bye once it’s in homes on TVs that most busy humans have no idea how to properly calibrate.

But does any of this matter?  Well, of course it does.

From an artistic perspective, the opportunity to create any kind of content for any platform to be enjoyed in many different ways is thrilling.  As Kevin Spacey recently pointed out at Edinburgh International Television Festival, there are no more guardians – and if you DO find yourself blocked by one, just leave and go to another entry point.  True, the ability to make money on different platforms is widely variable, but from the standpoint of getting your art seen, things have never been better.  The new problem is not getting your pilot on CBS, it’s getting people to discover and watch the pilot you financed and shot and put up online.

But it’s a different experience than sitting in a small, dark, air conditioned room watching a story play out in front of you.  And that experience shouldn’t be reserved for $60 tickets to see a movie about giant robots destroying galaxies.  Some of my favorite movie-going experiences were watching indie films alone at the Angelika theatre in Greenwich Village in the middle of the day.  And Quentin Tarantino’s New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles shows 35mm Double Features all year long – a great way to experience old and new films in the classic tradition of cinematic entertainment.

So which is more important, content or experience?

Wait, other things are in 3D besides movies?

Wait, other things are in 3D besides movies?

At the risk of sounding idealistic, they have equal value.  They’re symbiotic – one cannot survive without the other.  If you’re showing Tommy Wiseau’s THE ROOM, it could be in Technicolor 3D in a surround-sound theater with free alcohol and half-naked women giving massages and that movie would still be an abomination.  But watching LAWRENCE OF ARABIA on an iPod touch at Port Authority is equally offensive.  (Also, don’t accept the aforementioned massages if you’re at Port Authority…. trust me.)

Vincent van Gogh, Jackson Pollock, those differential-vowel twins Monet and Manet: their artwork is up all over people’s homes and offices and they bring joy and color to the places they hang.  But no matter how close you stand to a poster of AUTUMN RHYTHM (NUMBER SEVEN), you will never get the experience of seeing the intricacies of the brushwork and specialized lighting that seeing it hanging in the Met will afford you.

Art is created with a specific mode of perception in mind.  And we should all do our best to see it under those circumstances – we owe it to the artist and to ourselves.

-Matt