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Augustus Gloop goes item by item down through BNAT: reviewing the trailers, shorts and features of BNAT8! 300, BLACK BOOK faves

Published at: Dec. 11, 2006, 9:38 a.m. CST

Hey folks, Harry here... Back with Augustus Gloops' exhaustive examination of this year's BUTT-NUMB-A-THON. Only thing that I really disagree with here - is his knock on Victor MacLagen's character of Gypo Nolan as being completely unlikable. I love Gypo Nolan. He's a lug, a mug and a pug. An ugly metal anvil of a man just lost. He's the Hulk having killed his Bruce Banner. Gypo Nolan is John Ford's Story Of Judas - a man who sinned out of impulse. This is a GREAT film. Fucking love it and on the big screen. MY GOD! Here ya go...

Hello again Harry. I still haven't slept. Maybe now I've done these quickie reviews I can go relax and get some shut-eye. Complete Lineup (Barring any accidental omissions) 1) Chirpy (short) A college friend of mine once had an alarm clock shaped like a chicken that would play guitar and sing "Wow, yeah, oh, yeah, hey baby wake up, come and dance with me" in precisely the same voice as the animated bird in this seriously twisted short. That's about all they have in common. Tweety Bird Fucks Mr. Ed. Nuff Said. 2) Stunt Rock (trailer) If you don't know about this by now, go read previous years' BNAT reviews. This is a perennial. 3) Raw Force (trailer) Zombie Ninja Cannibals! T&A!! Rock on! 4) Teenage Tramp (trailer) Naughty-naughty! 5) The Telephone Book (trailer) This is about a girl who falls in love with the worlds nastiest prank caller. Hrmm. 6) Black Snake Moan (Feature) I love, LOVE Samuel Jackson. I love Christina Ricci. I wasn't sure what to think about Justin Timberlake acting. However, this is a really solid film. Ricci manages such an over-the-top performance at the town skank, I actually didn't realize it was her. With blonde hair and makeup that takes her back to the age of about 15 or 16, I just kept looking at her eyes, thinking to myself "Man, this sure would be one great role for Christina Ricci." Black Snake Moan mixes comedy, good music, serious drama, and the just plain weird into a very enjoyable first film. 7) Dreamgirls (Feature) Alternate-universe story of Diana Ross and the Supremes told from the perspective of one of the Supremes. Excellent performances both acting and especially vocally. No doubt we'll be seeing Oscar nods for one or more of the numbers. Jamie Foxx manages to come off as a real bastard in this one. HILARIOUS all-too-brief cameo with Stephen Lynch. Also listen for the line "Baby, you'll always be 16 to me." Jennifer Hudson really steals the show vocally, while they've managed to make Beyonce look so much like Diana Ross I couldn't believe it. 8) Panama Blue (Trailer) I don't actually remember this one, but I wrote it down. It's not even on IMDB. Huh. 9) Female Animal (Trailer) Girl sees cat. Girl loves cat. Girl REALLY loves cat. Girl HATES men. 10) Baby Love (Trailer) Girl wants to love everyone. 11) Girls are for Loving (Trailer) Girl wants to own a country. 12) Underage (Trailer) She was UNDER AGE. (Really, any sick twisted thing you can think of PLUS the 'under-age' moniker) 13) Once Upon a Girl (Feature) Otis Campbell (Hal Smith) dons drag to stand trial for the heinous crime of impersonating Mother Goose. During testimony, she reveals the original fairy tales are not correct but are actually the watered-down versions the kings insisted she tell. This almost would seem to read as a condemnation of the MPAA rating system, if it weren't for the fact the film jumps straight into animated versions of what 'actually' happened. Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Little Red Riding Hood in ways you've never seen them before in this X-rated flick. This was actually the only film print in the world, so it was extremely cool to watch for the first few minutes. But it suffered all the same problems you'd expect with overused, over-repeated shots and dare I say it, a complete lack of storyline. "Chirpy" was far, FAR away more entertaining. 14) Inherit the Wind (Feature) I'd heard of this 1960 drama based on the Snopes Monkey Trial, but never had a chance to see it. You can't expect anything less than great acting from Spencer Tracy, Fredric March, and Gene Kelly. Fleshed out with a supporting cast including recognizables Dick York, Harry Morgan and Norman Fell, solid performances are turned in all around. The subject matter is still just as relevant as it was 45 years ago, if not more so. This film dragged a bit for me at times, not because I was uninterested, but because the irate bombastings of March's character are so unrelenting, uncompromising, and self-assured even though they fly in the face of logic, reason, and consistency. There is no shortage of great one-liners, especially good for use with bigoted people. 15) Rocky (Trailer) 16) Rocky II (Trailer) 17) Rocky III (Trailer) 18) Rocky IV (Trailer) 19) Rocky V (Trailer) 20) Introduction & BNAT Greetings from Sylvester Stallone During the Rocky V trailer, the film appears to break and melt in the projector. Tim League jumps up and announces that the Drafthouse has just installed a Dolby shit detector which has stopped the film and replaces it with a pretaped message to Harry and the BNAT audience introducing the film. Rock on! 21) Rocky Balboa (Feature) There was so much cheering for this one in the audience, I felt I must have been alone in never being able to get into the Rocky series. In fact, the only one I've ever seen in full was Rocky 4. I have followed the Q&A with Stallone here on AICN with interest, and I've discovered he's not just a dumb Italian Stallion. Stallone has written a heart-touching script that managed to hold my interest. This film worked for me, because it spends so much time establishing that Rocky is a genuinely good person, who may not be book- smart, but who has become very wise as he's aged. For someone with no prior experience in this story, he still manages to establish a connection that makes you care about Rocky. When the time comes for the fight, the audience was on the edge of their seats with excitement. The outcome of the match was satisfying to both the character and the viewer (but you knew it would be, didn't you?) 22) Fanboys (Extended Trailer) Oh my god, they got Shatner! I LOVE Shatner! Who was that playing Harry? Wasn't he supposed to be himself in this? This was the one film that DID drop out of the lineup, because they weren't quite finished. Seeing the trailer, I'm really disappointed, because I seriously can't wait to see this, but I'm glad, because I want it to be perfect. 23) The Mafu Cage (Trailer) 24) The Buttercup Chain (Trailer) 25) Pepe (Trailer) 26) Matango (Trailer) 27) Knocked Up (Feature) My best friend has a tendency to obsess. In the past, he would move from obsession to obsession, never completely letting go of one as he found another. Comic books, Mystery Science Theater 3000, The X-Files, The Simpsons, no matter what it was, he would obsess so completely that I couldn't stand to hear anything about the current subject of his obsession. For a time, his obsession focused on Freaks and Geeks. This led on to Undeclared, and to Judd Apatow in general until he finally found a healthier obsession, his wife. The damage was done though. I wasn't turned off Apatow, I'd just kept myself from turning ON to his work in order to avoid getting sucked into my friend's obsession. Luckily, I have yet to find any of his work that doesn't appeal to me. Catching Undeclared and Freaks and Geeks on DVD as well as the 40 Year Old Virgin, I can say I love them all. Knocked up is no exception. I don't think it particularly stands out as funnier that the previous projects, though it kept me giggling all the way through. I felt a lot like I was watching Freaks and Geeks grown up. I don't know if it's due to Apatow's writing style, the use of so many of the same cast members through all his works, or both. I don't want to do Apatow an injustice by calling Undeclared "Freaks and Geeks Go to College" or Virgin "Freaks and Geeks Go to Work", but I've probably already made a lot of enemies and will cement that by calling this one "Freaks and Geeks Have a Baby." That's not necessarily a bad thing by any means, but I know some people will take exception to that kind of summarization. I can only offer that audiences unfamiliar with his previous work are sure to enjoy Knocked Up while audiences that ARE Apatow fans are free to disagree with me if it pleases them. Either way, you have the same lovable characters, and the same geek humor that makes it all worth watching. I just wish I didn't have to pee and miss the 12-foot vagina mock-up. :( 28) Teen Wolf (NOT!) The story goes Jeff Mahler (writer, director "Inside") has been trying to get Harry to show Teenwolf at BNAT for several years. Like Michael J. Fox, Jeff is about knee-high to a shetland pony (actually, I believe Fox is 5'4, so to Jeff he'd be a giant), so it's easy to see why this would be one of his favorite movies. Power to the little people! (And I mean that, seriously. I LOVE little people. I want to marry a hobbitt. I'm not that tall, myself.) Anyway, Harry introduces Teen Wolf and tells the story about how this one is a birthday present for Jeff. We get about two minutes into the film, and it 'breaks' and again Tim jumps up explaining that the Dolby shit detector has stopped this shit and that the actual next feature will be Paul Verhoeven's "Black Book" 29) Zwartboek 'Black Book' (Feature) This was my favorite film of BNAT with the possible exception of 300. It's not that one is necessarily better than the other, but more an indeterminate formula that includes the kind of films you like and the particular mood I'm in at the moment I see them. Black Book is a thriller that maintained my rapt attention. This is not my normal territory, so I can't speak with authority. Beautifully shot, based on a true story, Black Book seems to pile tragedy upon tragedy on the characters, pulling the audience along by their heartstrings. Some movies about this period may gloss over the human tragedies, the sheer atrocities that were committed. This one was at times in danger of kicking me completely into the pit of despair that humans could and still do such evil to one another. The heroine perseveres, however, through every unimaginable horror that is dealt to her. I need more time to digest this one, and would really prefer to see it on its own, outside the headlong freight train that is BNAT. 30) In the Nick of Time (Trailer) 31) The Informer (Feature) C'mon Harry. You picked this one specifically so we could get some sleep, didn't you? This was about twice as long as it would require to be considered too long. I had trouble following the dialogue, not because of any accents but because I just didn't care what was happening. We see a man who performs a completely reprehensible act, one that results in the death of his good friend, for the paltry sum of 20 pounds. We are then subjected to eons of his descent into guilt over the act, and the pursuit of the police. Set in one gloomy, foggy night, this film fogged my brain, but I couldn't get myself to shut it off entirely, on the off chance that something, ANYTHING interesting would happen. I know Harry likes to show films that make the audience squirm, and there are different ways to do that. I saw The Informer as almost a prototype for Frankenstein where the monster had absolutely none of the human traits of personality that allowed the audience to connect and empathize with him. Victor McLaglen's Gypo was painful to watch, because he was so completely unlikeable. Perhaps that is why he was awarded the Oscar for Best Actor for the role in 1935. 32) Challenge of the Lady Ninja (Trailer) 33) The Legend of Hillbilly John (Trailer) 34) It Came Without Warning (Trailer) 35) Cannibal Girls (Trailer) 36) Curse (Trailer) 37) Raw Force (Feature) Cannibal Zombie Ninjas! The trailer made this look like so much fun! What went wrong?! All the fun parts were in the trailer :( Most of the film doesn't take place on the island with the ninja zombies (who aren't it turns out actually cannibals). That's just the priests who raise the zombies. They eat female flesh in order to gain the power of resurrection. (Though it's never explained just why they want this power) The majority of the film seems to be spent on the boat a group of tourists is using to try to reach the island, though not with so much haste it might interrupt their orgic activities. In the meantime, there are ninja pirates who want to keep the tourists from the island so they can't do anything to disrupt the flow of young virgin girls the pirates are trading for goods with the priests. By the time the boat is sunk and the surviving tourists reach the island by liferaft, I was too exhausted and fed-up to give a shit about what would happen with the non-cannibal zombie ninjas. I really don't remember how it ends, just that the fact it ended was the happiest part of the film for me. 38) Smokin' Aces (Feature) Fuckin awesome action flick similar in feel to Snatch. Buddy "Aces" Israel is a mob informant the FBI is trying to protect in the hopes he can help them bring down the entire Cosa Nostra. Unfortunately, a hit has been ordered on him with a reward of one million dollars. While the FBI agents set out to find and protect him, the five top hitman operations are in motion to bring in the bounty. Aces features memorable performances from a huge cast of cameos including Jason Bateman, Ben Affleck, Nestor Carbonell and others. I had a couple of minor complaints that tarnished this film for me. First, I had the basics of the plot-twist ending worked out half an hour into the film. The exposition at the end hurt the pace of what had been a non-stop action film. Second, Ryan Reynold's character is just this side of being called a pussy. He never really gets to kick ass and take names. Nor does he get to play on the sarcastic wit that has always given him so much charm. His role could have as easily gone to Jason Bateman (who I felt had a LOT more to work with as the self-deprecating cross-dressing lawyer) Finally, the film has a homophobic bent. I noted that every gay character was killed, while many if not most of the non-gay characters had happier endings. Aces is completely worth seeing if only for Ben Affleck as a leather daddy. 39) Introduction/BNAT Greeting by Smoking Aces Director 40) 300 (Feature) I don't know what I can say that will please anyone about this. I completely 100% in every way LOVED it. Unfortunately, I have kept myself away from the source material just to ensure I wouldn't pick it apart. More than one person told me it was not as true to Miller's work as it could have been and that they were disappointed to know that now the film has been made as it is, it will never be made the way they feel is the 'right' way. Someone else I think called it music made out of blood. I don't think that's entirely a fair metaphor. While the battle scenes comprise a majority of the film, and they are I think everything the fans will be looking for, I never believe in violence for violence's sake. One theme that connects several of the selections this year is perseverance. Rocky Balboa says that it's not how much you can dish out but how much punishment you can take and still keep going. The heroine of Black Book perseveres through every horror the nazis can bestow. The characters in Knocked Up even keep working at it until they manage to become good parents and make their relationship work. The Spartans in 300 aren't so much taking punishment as they are dishing it out repeatedly, but they face overwhelming odds and still persevere to the last. The grim resignation of these characters, the unstoppable fire in them is inspiring and kept my throat choked up through much of the film. From a technical standpoint, the visuals were matchless, the acting was perfection, the costumes were, well, the warriors were mostly naked and the women in togas, the music wasn't very memorable, but the sounds of battle were likely driving it away. I believe 300 will spawn mixed feelings in audiences depending on how familiar they are with Miller's book and how closely they feel it matches, but I think there will be more positive response to this than negative. -Augustus Gloop

Readers Talkback

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  • Dec. 11, 2006, 9:53 a.m. CST

    1st... no?

    by superfatty

    maybe

  • Dec. 11, 2006, 9:56 a.m. CST

    2nd ... yes!

    by Freefinger

    I am... YES!!!

  • Dec. 11, 2006, 9:59 a.m. CST

    THIS IS SPARTA!

    by Phimseto

    Harry or anyone, does anyone know Frank Miller's view of how 300 has been adapted? I imagine he feels somewhat spoiled after the "every writer's dream" treatment of "Sin City", but Penn sounds like he did an admirable job. Any scoop?

  • Dec. 11, 2006, 10:04 a.m. CST

    Nevermind

    by Phimseto

    Just did some research and I see that Miller is in fact more than a producer in name only. It looks like he had a significant role in adapting the work, so that it has his blessing. Poor Alan Moore.

  • Dec. 11, 2006, 10:25 a.m. CST

    "The Spartans in 300..."

    by 3 Bag Enema

    "...aren't so much taking punishment as they are dishing it out repeatedly, but they face overwhelming odds and still persevere to the last." Well, they persevere until they all fucking die, anyway. Oh, spoiler.

  • Dec. 11, 2006, 10:32 a.m. CST

    Oh, and as for the faithfullness of 300...

    by 3 Bag Enema

    ...has anyone read Frank Miller's screenplay based on his own Batman: Year One? It's not faithful at all! Batman Begins was more faithful to it, for Christ's sake. Alfred is a fat black guy who owns a garage, and Bruce works for him and sleeps in the back room. So, being that Miller's a producer on 300, I'm guessing he didn't have a problem with most of the changes. By the way, are there any female nipples in 300? I imagine that after watching a bunch of naked gym bunnies for two hours you'd need a little female nudity to keep you from feeling like Gore Vidal in heaven.

  • Dec. 11, 2006, 12:54 p.m. CST

    "PANORAMA Blue" not "PANAMA Blue"

    by filmcans

    Might explain why you couldn't find it on imdb. It was the 70mm porno with people humping on a roller coaster and in a demolition derby. Is Augustus Gloop the lady sitting one person down from me on the 600 row, feverishly scratching notes in a notepad? I'm the guy that won a Master Replica lightsaber. I met some awesome people, saw some awesome movies, and then went to awesome sleep. Thanks for the great weekend, Harry!

  • Dec. 11, 2006, 1:52 p.m. CST

    My sister had the same fucking alarm clock.

    by Lenny Nero

    I managed to destroy it after three years of incessant torture.

  • Dec. 11, 2006, 2:07 p.m. CST

    Sounds like I missed nothing

    by Trazadone

    Except for Rocky 6, the rest sounds like a big, "meh".

  • Dec. 11, 2006, 2:19 p.m. CST

    I loved THE INFORMER!

    by bmsatter

    I know I may be the only one other than Harry but I loved it. I agree more w/ Harry on this one. Gypo was an amazingly complex character. Far more so than most characters we see on screen now a days.

  • Dec. 11, 2006, 2:23 p.m. CST

    Black Snakes Moaning on a Plane

    by Doctor_Sin

    Do we see The Snake? Do we hear moaning? Rocky Balboa and 300 are the only appealing-sounding things in this line up for me, anyway.

  • Dec. 11, 2006, 3:49 p.m. CST

    Filmcans

    by AugustusGloop

    Thanks! Couldn't read my own writing, but it was HARD to write with the lites out. I was in the very back, and it was darker back there. (Also about 80 degrees most of the time). I'm on page 16 of the yearbook. Middle row, far left.

  • Dec. 11, 2006, 4:55 p.m. CST

    Wow...

    by Purgatori

    Hmmm...so there were two whole movies that were worth seeing shown. And no people from either of those showed. Harry couldn't get anything from Grindhouse?? No Tarantino?? What happened?

  • Dec. 11, 2006, 5:16 p.m. CST

    Wow ... good thing I didn't get selected

    by ye olde shiza

    Besides the beer from the Drafthouse, I think there might have been one thing I was interested in seeing!

  • Dec. 11, 2006, 9:44 p.m. CST

    This is impossible to read.

    by yaz67

    Whats up with returns in the middle of sentences? Poetic verse???????

  • Dec. 12, 2006, 6:44 a.m. CST

    Hey Gloop

    by Doc-Holiday

    I can't wait to see Smoking Aces (though I'm going to have to). What was the word on Piven in this film? I love the sound of the character he plays...

  • Dec. 12, 2006, 7:59 a.m. CST

    Didn't Bugsy come out in 1991...

    by TylerDurden3395

    Why does that banner ad for Bugsy say nominated for 10 1993 Academy Awards if it came out in 1991?

  • Dec. 12, 2006, 9:08 a.m. CST

    "A very enjoyable first film..."

    by Nate Champion

    Are you fucking serious? This is the kind of moron who you let into BNAT while the real film fans are left out in the cold? Fuck that shit.

  • Dec. 12, 2006, 9:12 a.m. CST

    Nate Champion

    by Doc-Holiday

    Perhaps Harry is more concerned with a persons attitude than grammatical ability. You didn't get in I'm guessing....

  • Dec. 12, 2006, 5:35 p.m. CST

    Nate Champion

    by AugustusGloop

    Nate, I won't apologize for anything I wrote. By the time BNAT was over, I'd had no sleep for 30 hours. By the time I got home, wrote up the swag list, typed up the full lineup and then wrote the reviews, it was 36 hours w/o sleep. I could write much more on any particular film, but was in a very fucked-up state of mind at that point, and Black Snake Moan as the first was the least clear in my memory.

  • Dec. 12, 2006, 5:38 p.m. CST

    Doc-Holiday

    by AugustusGloop

    Hey Doc, whatya want to know about Piven? I don't know how they did it, but it looked like they de-aged him about 10 years at first. Maybe he's been working out, seemed like in better shape. Then they re-aged him to where he was more recognizable. In a very large ensemble cast, his wasn't a particular stand-out performance, but I don't think it was a character that would make or break the film.

  • Dec. 13, 2006, 2:42 a.m. CST

    Piven

    by Doc-Holiday

    I remember when the film first got announced hearing that he was going to be playing an ex-magician-turned-assassin and I thought that was an interesting mix. Throw in Jeremy "Hey Jenny Slater! Just looking for a little validation of my life!" Piven and I thought it might be one of those supporting roles that underpins a movie - sounds like that wasn't the case though. I'm still keen to see the movie though - the trailer was kick-ass!