Miami Vice | B+

director: Michael Mann
starring: Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx, Gong Li, John Ortiz

Miami ViceMichael Mann scores again with the updated film version of the TV show he created in 80’s, Miami Vice. Standing in for Don Johnson and Phillip Michael Thomas are Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx as Miami-Dade vice cops “Sonny” Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs, respectively. The two are played much more seriously by Farrell and Foxx, leaving much of the charm Johnson and Thomas had in the TV series by the wayside. That’s made up for with some solid acting and Mann’s direction. Dare I say it? Mann is the best director working in the industry right now. Well, maybe not the best, but certainly tops on my list.

The flick strives to be the very embodiment of the word “cool,” but instead of coming off as elitist preening, Mann makes it work with his no-nonsense approach regardless of what’s onscreen–whether it be a large-scale, dynamic gun battle in a shipyard or a simple conversation between characters. The grainy look of the film (it was shot on HD video) lends the picture a realism that could easily be lost in the pink lights and palm trees of Miami.

Crockett & Tubbs

It’s fortunate that Mann directed the script he wrote, as his directorial skills seem to outweigh his writing this time around. Some of the dialogue is laughable if you examine it closely; raising the cheese quotient a bit if you think too much about it. In fact, I think the movie could work incredibly well if there was no dialogue at all. Mann is a true artist, getting some breathtaking shots of Miami and South America that have to be seen to be believed–lush tropical waterfalls, sweeping ocean vistas, or amongst the clouds while following aircraft. Almost as affecting is the composition of everyday shots of people just talking. Mann has a way of making the viewer feel like you’re right there in the scene with the actor, floating in and out of the action.

In terms of those actors, Miami Vice is largely Farrell’s movie; the publicized difficulties between Foxx and Farrell on the set during the shoot make a bit of sense in light of that. Foxx doesn’t get to do a whole lot other than shoot off a couple of one-liners delivered as if he were half-asleep, with a look on his face that makes it seem as if he just smelled a fart. Aside from that revelation, don’t expect too much in the way of background or character development here. Both Crockett and Tubbs (Crockett a little moreso, perhaps) are indentured to their jobs. They don’t get any downtime, and thus we don’t really get to know too much about them. That’s not a big deal here, but it becomes hard to identify with them on any level. (Unless you, too, are indentured to your job, routinely wear silk suits and drive around in high-powered speedboats.)

Crockett & Tubbs

What he fails to deliver with dialogue and development, Mann more than makes up for with his action sequences. It’s not quite as good as the bank shootout in Heat, but the gun battle in the shipyard is intense, gritty, in-your-face and pulls no punches. (Insert another cliche here.) It’s a minor detail, but Mann doesn’t use “movie gunshot” sound effects in postproduction. He uses the actual sound of the weapons being fired. It may not seem like much, but you’ll immediately notice the difference when you hear these guns firing in staccato symphonies during the gunfights. It’s almost uncomfortable to hear–as you feel like you’re right in the middle of the action, bullets seem to be whizzing by your head (for God’s sake, make sure you see this in a theater with decent sound).


Speaking of sound, there’s a pretty damn good soundtrack here as well. I was particularly enamored of the Chris Cornell tracks (possibly Audioslave) sprinkled throughout. Mann seems to be pretty hip in his choice of music (or at least hires people with that sensibility) and it works very well in the movie. I wasn’t so enamored with Nonpoint’s terrible cover of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight.” Awful, awful, awful nü-metal garbage.

So, Miami Vice is pretty much what you’d expect. The original TV series wasn’t exactly an in-depth character study of undercover vice cops, and neither is the movie. They don’t need to be. The film comes dangerously close to being something of a vanity project for those involved, with the actors skirting the line between real acting and male modeling. But under the strong directorial hand of Mann, what you’ll get is a taut, intenese action drama shot by one of the greatest directors of our time. Check it out. And if audiences do that, I’m sure you can expect a sequel, as the story certainly leaves that possibility open. Miami Vice 2: Montoya’s Revenge!


Ricardo Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) is urbane and dead smart. He lives with Bronx-born intel analyst Trudy (Naomie Harris) as they work undercover transporting drug loads into South Florida to identify a group responsible for three murders.

Sonny Crockett (Colin Farrell), who may seem unorthodox, but is actually procedurally sound, is charismatic and flirtatious until he gets romantically entangled with Isabella (Gong Li), the Chinese-Cuban wife of an arms and drugs trafficker.

The intensity of this case pushes Crockett and Tubbs out onto the edge where identity and fabrication become blurred, where cop and player become one–especially for Crockett in his romance with Isabella and for Tubbs in the provocation of an assault on those he loves.

Working deeply undercover is dangerous and alluring…especially when Crockett and Tubbs go where their badges don’t count…

Album: Miami Vice Soundtrack
Artist: Klaus Badelt & Mark Batson
Release Date: 7/25/06
Lyrics: N/A
Music: Klaus Badelt & Mark Batson

Some Midsummer's Lost Ramblings

I haven’t really been keeping up with “The Lost Experience” this summer, the online viral marketing game that was started towards the end of season 2. Recently, however, some of the Lost creative staff appeared at the San Diego ComiCon and revealed a few choice nuggets about the show, and indirectly kicked off a new phase of the online game.

LOST Panel Revelations:

Lost was intended to be a 4-5 season arch ending with a feature length movie. Damon Lindelof said that they are still planning on sticking to that plan but it’s hard because the show is a hit now. But they don’t want the show to end up like the X-files. They don’t want to finish that main story line in season five and then have to “tap dance” for two seasons because the network doesn’t want the show to end. He mentioned that when that time comes they may have to consider walking from the show.

Time may not be passing on the island at the same rate as off the island. The question was asked about the amount of time that has passed on the island in the first two seasons at which point Damon interrupted and said that’s assuming that time is passing on the island at the same rate that it is in the outside world. That produced audible gasps from the audience and the two actors on stage had shocked looks on their faces. Damon continued to talk about the concept of the passage of time at which point Carlton Cuse interrupted him asking if he wanted to reveal that much so Damon just left it at that. At one point a “protester” crashed the presentation and confronted the producers asking if they had no shame. She said her name was Rachel Blake and that the Hanso foundation was real and that the producers were using them for entertainment purposes even though they had done terrible things in Africa and Iceland. She said to go to if we wanted the real truth just before security escorted her away.

There are no clones on Lost. Damon Lindelof gave his personal promise and guarantee that there are no clones in the show. Nothing personal against clones, they’re people just like us (literally) but there are no clones on Lost.

There are no nanobots on Lost. If you were there and were wondering who the lone guy was clapping at that revelation, it was me. That’s right, straight from the horses mouth NO NANOBOTS.

There will be an extra on the DVD of every nick name sawyer has used cut together into one clip which I personally can’t wait to see!

Vincent flashback? When asked why Vincent the dog didn’t leave the island with Walt and Michael, Damon said if he had they wouldn’t be able to do the Vincent flashback episode!

Libby will be back in flashbacks! Damon and Cuse said Libby’s back story was significant and still needed to be told since she didn’t have a flashback episode. So she will be back in flashbacks much like Jack’s dad has been through out the show even though he’s dead.

The literal translation of the hieroglyphics according to Damon Lindelof is “Underworld”

The statue shown in season finale wasn’t just put there because it looks cool. The history of the island will become important and it is older than we were originally led to believe.

The six episode mini-series that opens the season will reveal more about the others. The first episode will be titled “A Tale of two Cities” and be penned partly by J.J. Abrams. Abrams will also direct episode 7, the first one back from the break. The new scheduling format is a direct result of fans complaining about all the repeats this last season.

There will be a major revelation midway through the season that Lindelof said will either blow you away or make you say the show has jumped the shark.

The site mentioned by the “protester” is actually and has a rudimentary registration and login screen, after which you’re treated to a page of your statistics. References are made by the site’s admin, “Rachel,” to a “Sri Lanka video” which she’s hidden at various locations on the web.

Hanso Exposed

Hanso Exposed

The statistics page will be used, apparently, to tabulate the number of fragments of video you’ve found. I’m not sure I’ll devote any time to this, but ’tis interesting. This’ll at least provide something to tide you over until September.

Clerks II | B

director: Kevin Smith
starring: Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Rosario Dawson

Clerks IIKevin Smith returns from his critical beat-down (courtesy of Jersey Girl) to bring us a veritable cornucopia of dick and fart (and donkey) jokes in the sequel to an indie flick that started a revolution: Clerks. Dante and Randal are back working for a fast food joint, this time with Rosario Dawson as their “boss,” and a fellow clerk in babyfaced Elias.

Though dick and fart jokes have been Smith’s forte (with my full support), he’s quietly introduced a basic sweetness, for lack of a better word, in each of his films, one which he’s tried to show more and more in the last couple of movies. Though not on par with the sapfest that was Jersey Girl, Clerks II certainly has its moments of lovelorn romance and heart. Unfortunately–and despite how good these moments can be–they represent huge shifts in tone when they appear onscreen, and bog down what is an otherwise fast-paced, hilarious romp. Yeah, I just used “romp” in a sentence.

The conclusion of the film somewhat makes up for those moments, though, with an altogether unexpected “poring their hearts out” conversation between Dante and Randal that ties together seemingly every facet of their miserable existence as clerks. The strange thing is that, well, it works. It works really well. It takes the history between the two characters, and what we’ve seen of them, injects a dose of reality into it, and delivers a thought-provoking message about how to live one’s life. Yeah, that’s right–a dick and fart movie that has a thought-provoking moral. But, it doesn’t necessarily work that well until the movie’s end, and is chief among the reasons I’m only giving the movie a B.


But enough of that crap; you’re wondering if it’s funny or not. Fret not, readers, it has its’ hilarious moments. Jay & Silent Bob are back–Jay giving new life to a character from Silence of the Lambs; Randal’s as wildly inappropriate as ever, managing to offend every sensibility you have (and even some you don’t); and Smith managed to write a climax so depraved, it has to be seen to be believed. I mentioned the “sweetness” Smith has developed over the course of his films, but he’s also made subtle allusions to this depraved act in his other flicks, and it’s all built up to this. You’ll grimace in horror when it starts, but you won’t be able to look away.

Commando | AA+++

director: who cares
starring: Arnold

CommandoThe greatest movie in the recorded history of time as the human race knows it? I think so, folks. It features Arnold at the height of his Eighties hot streak, yelling unintelligibly while killing wave after wave of bad guy in movie after movie. The unintentional comedy factor is off the charts, and Commando couldn’t be a better example of everything that was right about the film industry in the 80’s.

Other flicks like Red Heat and Predator weren’t quite as unintentionally hilarious as Commando, however, never quite finding that fine line between rollicking action and wildly inappropriate dialogue. (Predator does come close, though, with such lines as “Billy! Find me a way out of dis hoooole!” and “Get to da choppah!!!”) In lieu of a review, I’m just going to post some of the many memorable scenes from the movie. My favorite parts are in bold.

[Matrix has thrown a pipe through Bennett]

Sully: Here’s twenty dollars to get some beers in Val Verde. It’ll give us all a little more time with your daughter.
Henriques: Heh.
Matrix: You’re a funny man, Sully, I like you. That’s why I’m going to kill you last.

Matrix: Remember, Sully, when I promised to kill you last?
Sully: That’s right, Matrix. You did.
Matrix: I lied.

Cooke: You scared motherfucker? Well you should be because this green beret is going to kick your big ass.
Matrix: I eat green berets for breakfast. And right now I’m very hungry.

Matrix: [after killing a man in the plane] Don’t disturb my friend, he’s dead tired.

Gen. Kirby: Leave anything for us?
Matrix: Just bah-deez.

Diaz: Mellow out man. Your daughter is safe, Colonel. Now whether she stays that way is up to you. My people, they got some business with you. And if you want your kid back, then you gotta co-operate, right?
Matrix: Wrong!
[shoots Diaz between the eyes]

Jenny: Heeere come the sandwiches!
Matrix: [reading about Boy George in a pop magazine] Why don’t they just call him Girl George? It would cut down on the confusion.
Jenny: Oh, Dad, that is so old.
Matrix: Ha Ha. You know when I was a boy and rock’n’roll came to East Germany, the communists said it was subversive.
[thinks and smiles]
Matrix: Maybe they were right.

Arius: Now that I have you, you will do exactly as I tell you.
Matrix: Fuck you.

Matrix: Keep an eye out, they’ll be coming. You’re downwind, the air currents might tip them off
Jackson: Downwind?
[looks at Matrix like he’s crazy]
Jackson: You think I could smell them coming?
Matrix: I did.

Matrix: What’s wrong?
Cindy: This isn’t a plane… it’s a canoe with wings.
Matrix: Well, then, get in and start paddling.

Bennett: John, I feel good. Just like old times. What’s it feel like to be a dying man? You’re a dead man, John!
Matrix: Bullshit!

This is on cable all the time, and you could probably buy it on for three bucks. Well worth the money to add it to your collection, my friends. You won’t be sorry.

Coming Attractions

I’ve been slacking a bit as of late, with more than 10 assorted posts and movie reviews in various states of completion in the queue. I hope to put the finishing touches on about half of them very shortly, so continue to await them with your collectively bated breath.

Coming soon:

  • Southern California Trip Report: tales of my encounters with a surly, cigarette-smoking Chewbacca, getting into gun battles amid world-infamous L.A. traffic, and enjoying World Cup soccer amid countless numbers of illegal aliens rooting for Mexico.
  • Movie Reviews: A History of Violence, Hellboy, Constantine, The Aristocrats, and more! I need to see a few more awful movies, as I think I enjoy writing reviews of the scathing variety more.
  • Quotable: a new department that will feature some of my favorite quotes from the week in sports, news, entertainment, etc. I haven’t quite figured out how to present this yet. Stay tuned.
  • Pearl Jam – Camden II 5.28.06: my long-awaited review of the second Camden, NJ show from way back in May. “The waiting drove me mad…”
  • Hot Nude Pics every Friday!

See how much you have to look forward to? With such great promise in store, you should be sending me wads of cash in the mail!

(Mailing address available upon request.)

Nacho Libre | B+

director: Jared Hess
starring: Jack Black, some orphans

Nacho!The second flick from Napoleon Dynamite director Jared Hess has much of the same understated hilarity, but with a stronger lead in Jack Black’s Ignacio, a friar/cook at a monastery who moonlights as a ‘luchador’–a Mexican wrestler dubbed “Nacho.” There’s an inherent “sweetness” to the film that keeps it from being an over-the-top Jack Black laughfest (a la School of Rock or Saving Silverman) that center around his trying to help the orphans living in the monastery by using his winnings to buy fresh ingredients for his meals, but there are plenty of moments that result in much busting of the gut throughout the flick.

Jack Black, sweetness notwithstanding, is at the peak of his talents here, whether flying over the handlebars of his motorbike/tricycle during a horrible accident or wooing the saintly Sister Encarnacion at the monastery. His sidekick is also adept at throwing corn-on-the-cob-on-a-stick. I just thought I’d throw that in there. The scenes in the wrestling ring allow Black to really cut loose, as he gallavants around the ring in a fashion strangely reminiscent of his onstage antics as part of his band Tenacious D. I think my favorite scene, which will make no sense until you’ve seen the flick, is Nacho’s construction of a lean-to while in exile, cobbled together from an assortment of driftwood. He simply sits down within it and the laughter commences. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

I don’t have a lot more to say about it, other than to say it’s well worth checking out. Black has expanded his abilities a bit in Nacho Libre, playing a true character this time around, rather than making a character out of an average guy. Okay, that makes absolutely no sense and I should edit this post to completely excise that last sentence, but I won’t–because of my commitment to the readers. I will not shield you from the mistakes of this once-infallible author. You should bow in honor of my ultimate humility. Anyway, go see da Nacho. You won’t be sorry.

The World Diving Championshi–er, the World Cup

With the World Cup finally wrapping up the other day, I find it appropriate to share a few of my thoughts on the much-maligned (in the US, anyway) “beautiful game.”

  • The biggest story to come out of Berlin, other than the Italians winning, was French striker Zenedine Zidane stupidly head-butting an Italian player, earning a quick red card and automatic ejection in the overtime periods. Rumor has it that the Italian player said something racist to Zidane (isn’t Zidane white?) while walking up the field, but I can’t imagine what he could have said that would lead Zenedine to blatantly head-butt the guy in the chest. How in the world, on that stage, in the final game of your career, can you lose it so completely that you forget you’re in overtime of the World Cup final, minutes away from going to penalty kicks (at which Zidane excels), and do something that desperately hurts the chances of your team winning. A selfish, disgusting act that one of the greatest players of the last 15 years will always be remembered for. Of course, the game was decided on penalty kicks, Zidane’s absence clearly hurting Les Bleus.
  • And speaking of penalty kicks, how in the world can the world’s biggest sporting event, watched by billions of people, and upheld by its fans as the greatest sport in the history of recorded time, be decided by what is essentially a crapshoot? Four years of hard work, four years of blood, sweat and toil; hard-fought matches with players on both sides giving every last ounce of effort they have in the name of their homelands, and it’s decided by penalty kicks? I can’t think of anything more unfair in sports. So what if it takes another hour to decide the game in overtime? At least the final goal will be earned.
  • And as far as outrages go: diving, flopping, and more diving–how can a sport so enormously popular continue to put up with this–why do the fans put up with it? How can games be decided because of ridiculously over-the-top dives that result in penalty kicks? Players fly through the air if they even feel a breeze from another player, hitting the ground whilst shrieking in mock agony until the ref blows a whistle. I think one of the big reasons the sport hasn’t gained widespread popularity in the States is because crap like this still goes on. I saw at least two games decided by a penalty kick that resulted from blatant dives, the Italy-Australia game most notably. Blech.


  • The US team disappoints again. What was supposed to be the best US World Cup team in history again failed on the global stage, earning themselves an opening round exit. They were in the so-called “Group of Death” with Italy, the Czech Republic, and lowly Ghana (the same “lowly” Ghana who managed to eliminate the US from the tournament), but that’s no excuse for the lack of effort I saw on the field at times. Nevermind Bruce Arena’s horrible decisionmaking as head coach/manager/whatever they call themselves. The team never got into a groove and was clearly tentative to take the attack to the opposing team. Switching up the formation (Arena relied on a 5-4-1) to emphasize the Americans offensive ability could have made a world of difference. But I guess we’ll never know.
  • KlinsmannAll the negatives notwithstanding, there was a lot of good football in this year’s World Cup. I particularly enjoyed watching the German team, coached by my hero Juergen Klinsmann. I think much of that respect comes from the fact that they dove, perhaps, far less often than any other team. (See how little it takes to gain my admiration?) I’m hoping the US Soccer can do enough to pry Klinsmann out of Deutschland and hire him as their next head coach, lest we end the 2010 World Cup with a loss to West Jahunga in the opening round.
  • Brazil will always have a special place in my heart:


  • As far as the Italians, they’ll at least be known for something other than their deodorant phobia for the next year or so. Congratulations to the Azzurri, they earned a victory despite being outplayed by France for most of the final. Penalty kicks, penalty kicks, penalty kicks. Somewhere, Roberto Baggio is smiling (if he wasn’t already killed by Italian fans after his brutal penalty kick miss a few years ago. Yeah, that’s right, you can get killed by your fans if you eff up on the field. Ask the Colombian player who was killed by fans after scoring an own-goal a few World Cups ago.) World Cup fever! Catch it!