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Quint at Sundance, Day somethingorother!! Mike White's YEAR OF THE DOG and Justin Lin's FINISHING THE GAME!!!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. They just keep on coming. YEAR OF THE DOG Mike White, who wrote SCHOOL OF ROCK, CHUCK & BUCK and NACHO LIBRE, steps into the director's chair for this flick about a lonely middle aged woman who has no love in her life besides her love for her dog and her dog's love for her. The press screening was packed and there were many "Awwws" when Molly Shannon's little beagle does anything remotely cute. The tone of the film is a bit weird. Molly Shannon's character gets to a point halfway through where she begins going slightly insane, but they play up the reality of it rather than the comedy. I can respect that choice, but I can't say I liked it. Regina King steals this film as the bubbly and uncensored friend of Shannon's character. She had me gut-laughing a lot when riding Shannon to get a man. "Even retarded cripples get married!" The first half of the movie is pretty strong, with Shannon interacting with a glut of bizarre characters. You have her crazy hunter next door neighbor (John C. Reilly), her egotistical but weak-willed boss, her brother and his wife (Laura Dern), who are overly protective of their daughter and a Vegan animal lover/love interest (Peter Sarsgaard). I'm not a fan of how they spend the second half. I missed the laughs and didn't really find Shannon's insanity all that interesting without the humor, even though Shannon herself gives a strong performance all the way through. So, consider me mixed on this one. FINISHING THE GAME Get this... the idea is a group of documentary filmmakers follow the circus surrounding Bruce Lee's passing while filming GAME OF DEATH. The focus is on the recasting of Bruce Lee so the producers can finish the movie. You have all walks of life trying out, from well known knock-off martial arts stars to body builders to Vietnamese immigrants to starry-eyed youths... basically anybody that is Asian... or thinks they are. The premise is incredibly strong and the film is filled with enough kooky characters to make Christopher Guest proud. The director looks all of 19 years old and is completely controlled by everybody around him, including a bossy casting agent that makes that bitch on the last season of GREENLIGHT look like a saint. She has the worst taste in the world, but that just leads to more entertaining insanity. On the whole, Justin Lin's (BETTER LUCK TOMORROW and TOKYO DRIFT) film doesn't quite live up to the premise. It could use a good edit. There's a lot of worthy material in there and some great characters, my favorites being the white dude who claims to be half Asian and attends rallies and poetry readings where he emotionally reads out his painful poetry... saying he will overcome being called slanty-eyed and gook. You can't beat misplaced racism for top comedy value. There's another character, the semi-famous Bruce Lee knock-off actor. His name is Breeze Lu. By far my favorite part of the movie was seeing the fake footage of his starring vehicles. The one they focus on has him fighting a typical Asian baddie from a chop socky movie, but it's revealed that he's working for the Nazis (swastikas adorning his kimono). The movie is called FISTS OF THE FUHRER. They nailed the look of that kind of film, the fighting style and editing. Also throw in a great cameo by Ron Jeremy and you have many great pieces that need to be put together a little differently. The movie is in the "it's good" realm right now, not the "that's fucking great" realm the concept promises. It is a solid flick, though. It has a recommendation with some reservations from me. It might have just been my expectation level. I was hoping it'd be just as good or better than FISTFUL OF YEN from KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE. I know one's a spoof and one's a mockumentary, but I'm speaking in terms of comedy value. Okay, two more down. Got tons to get to. Be back soon. -Quint

Readers Talkback
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  • Jan. 24, 2007, 6:19 p.m. CST

    What Happened to Gut-Busting Film Comedy

    by CaptDanielRoe

    Where is todays Gene Wilder and yesterdays' Eddie Murphy? It's been too long. Not even a John Belushi. Oh, sure, Sasha Baron Cohen, but come on. "The Jerk" > "Borat."

  • Jan. 24, 2007, 6:30 p.m. CST

    great Ron Jeremy cameo?

    by taintyourwagon

    I've seen orgazmo and boondock saints, and this mans unit is all hes got. also, kind of weird that Justin Lin went from asian gangsta to drift racing to Waiting for Guffman. good times, I guess. as for Year of the Dog, I would bet it is as uncomfortable and bizarre as that Chuck and Buck. I like my MW mainstream, School of Rock was good and Nacho Libre was somewhat amusing.

  • Jan. 24, 2007, 7:01 p.m. CST

    Don't you mean Better Luck Tomorrow?

    by chico-san

    If Justin Lin directed A Better Tomorrow, FF: Tokyo Drift woulda been filed with doves and Chow Yun Fat would be dual pistol-ing all those punks in their ricemobiles!

  • Jan. 24, 2007, 7:26 p.m. CST

    Ignignokt is so money.

    by The Ghoul

    Everytime he does that This Year Miss Sunshine thing it kinda turns me on. Does that make me some kinda fag?

  • Jan. 24, 2007, 8:58 p.m. CST

    I just got off the phone with Bruce Lee

    by Pound Sand

    And he said he thought "My Name is Bruce?" was offensive.

  • Jan. 24, 2007, 9:12 p.m. CST

    justin lin is not doin the oldboy remake anymore

    by triplefive

    and the world sighs in relief.

  • Jan. 24, 2007, 9:22 p.m. CST

    Hopefully the US remake of OLDBOY is dead...

    by Harry Weinstein

    Haven't heard much about the Queen Latifah remake of MY WIFE IS A GANGSTER lately, or the ill-concieved transplant of JOINT SECURITY AREA to the US-Mexico border, have we? Then again, MY SASSY GIRL, or more accurately MY SASSY WHITE GIRL, is now filming in NYC, so we need to wait for that to flop before I feel truly safe. I do want to see FINISHING THE GAME, though.

  • Jan. 24, 2007, 10:12 p.m. CST

    Where the hell is Tom Laughlin?

    by Douche Baggins

    for some reason this Bruce Lee premise make me so horny for Billy Jack! Why are we concerned with dead Bruce when we still have alive, crazy Tom?! Molly Shannon is a good 2nd banana, but that's about it. SOMETIMES I JUST GO BERZERK!!!

  • Jan. 24, 2007, 10:31 p.m. CST

    You can't polish a turd...

    by SkinJob69

    When I read the brief description of "Finishing the Game" in the sundance directory, I expected this movie would kill. It seemed like a great concept and had the potential for some great, retro-style "politically incorrect" humor. I went to the first showing of the movie, and I counted about 14 people who walked out of it midway through. This is a pretty bad sign, considering: 1)how difficult/expensive it is to attend movies at the festival, and 2) the fact that the people there are generally big film fans. Good points about the film: the actors were likable, they did nail the 70's look, and the Ron Jeremy part was mildly amusing (though it lasted only about 1 minute). Scenes portraying Hollywood's sterotyping of Asians in film and TV was insightful and amusing...maybe the first 10 times. The Asian actor cursed by his former role in a Starsky & Hutch-type show was amusing (his catch-phrase, "I'm not doing your laundry" was great). But again, this joke and others like it are repeated over and over, making the humor pretty one-note. By the time the "Game of Death" casting is derailed by a series of murders by "the Chinese take-out killer", I actually walked out myself. Too bad, actually, since the concept of the film had such potential. I'm not certain any amount of editing could fix this film (see subject), but I suppose it is possible...

  • Jan. 24, 2007, 11:43 p.m. CST

    Not to be too negative, but...

    by SkinJob69

    The Year of the Dog was also pretty disappointing. It had me going for a while, especially with Laura Dern's portrayal of the overly-protective parent ("we don't really discuss the D-E-A-T-H concept...") and her concern about Molly Shannon's character giving her kids the movie "Babe" ("oh...Babe...that's got some pretty heavy stuff there"). John C. Reilly's character also has some moments. His first(and last) date with Molly, the animal lover whose dog just died, was pretty amusing--especially when he tells her about the "rush" he gets when hunting, and the time he accidentally shot and killed his own dog. Generally to this point the movie was pretty light and, while not gut-busting, pretty funny. Things start to change at about the midpoint of the movie. Molly's romantic interest, Peter Sarsgaard (who works at a vet's office and is a major animal lover), suddenly becomes unavailable - out of the blue he explains that he is celibate. This is never explored or expained, and the whole thing seems a bit odd and out of place. Other events cause the movie to go into strange, less humorous territory: Molly secretly begins writing company checks to support animal shelters, etc. She attacks her neighbor with a knife when she finds chemicals in his garage she thinks may have poisoned her dog (granted the attack was pretty silly and over-the-top, but still...). Essentially her character becomes increasingly fanatical about protecting animals, culminating in her joining PETA (or a similar organization). This is pretty heavy stuff, and it clashes with the generally more "rom-com" tone of the movie. I was unable to relate at all to the main character's behavior in the third act, and this uneven aspect, I think, will make it difficult for the movie to find an audience.

  • Jan. 25, 2007, 7:51 a.m. CST

    Happy belated birthday to Mr. Ernest Borgnine

    by Borgnine JR

    It was yesterday!

  • July 29, 2007, 10:25 p.m. CST

    They're Holding a FTG Contest to go to Hawaii

    by narom

    It's actually a combination contest for "finishing the game" and "the heavenly kings" (Daniel Wu HK mock-u-mentary). They're giving away a trip to the Hawaii International Film Festival to check out the film and hang out with the cast and crew at the after-party. More info at