Sunday, November 11, 2007

Film School

As some of you may know, in addition to being the world-renowned blogger that I am, I spend upwards of 30 hours a week standing behind the counter at Blockbuster Video getting my Randal Graves on, without the graphic ordering of porn over the telephone in the presence of small children.

Let's not kid ourselves here either, I work at Blockbuster for one reason and one reason only - free rentals. No, it's actually like Nick Naylor says: "It pays the mortgage" which is actually rent in my case, but that's just semantics.

Anywho - the problem (or one of the problems) with me rockin' the Block is that I'm an incredible film snob, which puts me in a precarious position at least once or twice a day where I have to stop myself from laughing at what people will actually pay to watch. Pumpkinhead 4? Honestly?

Which brings me to the focus of this here rambling...

The Spencer Kyte Guide to Blockbuster

By no means is this an all encompassing list or anything like that, just a couple of pointers from a guy who has watched more movies than you and your five closest friends combined. Shall we?

Don't be afraid of Documentaries
Yes, they're short on explosions and CGI and big name stars, but they're chalk full of information and knowledge. And it isn't only Michael Moore who makes documentaries.

Recommendations: The Devil Came On Horseback about the conflict in Darfur or Shut Up & Sing which details the whole Dixie Chicks uproar from a couple years back.

Big Budget Does Not Equal Better
Ghost Rider cost a lot of money to make. It's barely watchable. You Kill Me didn't and it's easily the best movie I've seen this year. Sir Ben Kingsley as an alcoholic hitman is priceless.

Recommendations (besides You Kill Me): Brick, Thank You For Smoking and stay the hell away from The Reaping.

Subtitles Aren't Harmful to Your Health
Can you read? Then you can enjoy a subtitled movie as much as any other. Granted, I understand the fact that people rent movies so they can watch something and you've got to be in the right state of mind to enjoy a subtitled film, but boycotting them altogether would be a mistake.

Recommendations: Letters from Iwo Jima and Pan's Labyrinth.

There is a reason it wasn't in theatres...
Sure you can find some pretty decent Direct to DVD titles, but for the most part, it wasn't a theatrical release because the people making the movie knew it wasn't going to do very well with The Popcorn Set. As such, something that was in theatres almost always trumps something that came right to Blockbuster.

Recommendations: Watch The Departed or Fracture before you grab Animal 2 or Man About Town

If the actors who were in the first film didn't come back for the second, that should tell you something. And no, the fact that the Prince in Prince & Me 2 is the same guy doesn't count. Consider this The Batman Theory. The original - Michael Keaton in Tim Burton's - was great, then they both walked and the revolving door of actors and directors started until the series spiraled into oblivion. Thankfully Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale have breathed new life into The Dark Knight...

Recommendations: Ocean's Thirteen not Butterfly Effect 2

The Book is Always Better
A lot of people - parents and kids - have been coming in lately looking for various Shakespearean adaptations and other book into film ventures. This frightens me, (1) because I'm a writer and need people to be able to read in the future to continue paying the bills and (2) because I can't think of a single film version that has been better than the book. As great as The Godfather was, Mario Puzzo's words are still superior.

Five to Watch from the Past Year-ish
1. You Kill Me
2. Thank You For Smoking
3. The Prestige
4. Zodiac
5. Ratatouille

Five to Avoid Like The Plague*
1. The Reaping... get it? The Plagues...
2. Evan Almighty
3. Delta Farce
4. Home of the Brave
5. The Lake House

* this doesn't include all the unfathomable nonsense like Return of the Living Dead 47 and anything starting Steven Seagal / Jean Claude Van Damme.

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