All posts by Sheldon Wiebe

Shine A Light: The IMAX Experience – The 60-Ft. Stones Rock The Joint!

shinealight_poster

When Mick struts onstage, he resembles a Gerry [Thunderbirds] Anderson marionette on crack, while good ol’ Keef looks like he might not make it to his next solo – but The Rolling Stones can still rock the vast majority of today’s bands under the table. Martin Scorsese’s Shine A Light is more of a concert film than a documentary – though it does cut to some ironic and even prophetic clips from the early Stones.

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Married Life: Cruel To Be Kind!

Married Life Poster

Married Life is a Douglas Sirkish melodrama with noir overtones. Based on the John Bingham novel Five Roundabouts to Heaven, it’s the story of a married man who has fallen in love with another [younger] woman, but won’t leave his wife because he’s afraid it would destroy her life. Rather than divorce her, he therefore resolves to murder her – humanely – to save her from the pain it would cause her.

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The Ins and Outs of Starbuck: Katee Sackhoff Talks Season Four of Battlestar Galactica!

Battlestar Galactica Katee Sackhoff

On Friday, I had the opportunity to take part in a teleconference with Starbuck, herself – Katee Sackhoff, of the Peabody Award-winning Battlestar Galactica. She talked about her reaction to the mind-bending prophecy that Starbuck was a harbinger of doom; which is tougher – love scenes, or fight scenes; who she thinks Starbuck should wind up with [if indeed she wainds up with anyone…]; how she’d like the series to end for Starbuck, and much more.

Battlestar Galactica returns to the Sci Fi Channel Friday at 10/9C.

Note: There were some reception problems, so there will be an occasional word or phrase missing [replaced with the word unintelligible].

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Tin Man: That’s How We Roll In The O.Z.!

Tin Man Cover Art

Tin Man is the Sci Fi Channel’s re-imagining of a classic work of fiction and its film adaptation. It’s darker, livelier and definitely entertaining, but it’s not your great-great grandparents’ Wizard of Oz.

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Run, Fatboy, Run: An Exercise in Clichés!

 Run Fatboy Run Review EclipseMagazine.com Movies

Apparently, even Simon Pegg’s rewriting of a Michael Ian Black script wasn’t enough to keep Run, Fatboy, Run from becoming a mash-up of romantic comedy and sports movie clichés. This is not quite one of the worst movies of the year. There are major spoilers in this review – because, well, I can’t see the point in not mentioning them. They’re clichés!

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Stop-Loss: Character Drama Makes Point About Military Legal Loophole!

Stop-Loss Review EclipseMagazine.com Movies

It’s been awhile since Kimberly Peirce directed a feature film [that would be her first, 1999’s Boys don’t Cry], but she’s back with another character driven drama that is important for more than just its characters – Stop-Loss.

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Drillbit Taylor: Low-Budget Bodyguard Ekes Out Just Enough Laughs!

Drillbit Taylor Review EclipseMagazine.com Movies

This small effort from the Jud Apatow funny factory skips the f-bombs but still manages to be funnier than at least one of his R-rated efforts.

What can you do when you’re corpulent, skeletal or really, really short and are facing your first day of high school? Apparently, you can expect to get thumped on a regular basis; crammed into lockers, trophy displays and such; and get kicked when you’re down.

How can you avoid these problems? Well, there’s always Drillbit Taylor: Budget Bodyguard. As played by Owen Wilson, Drillbit is a homeless deserter who stumbles into a great scam – charging three kids of the aforementioned general builds for teaching them to keep the school bully and his equally malevolent sidekick from using them as punching bags.

The three are the corpulent Ryan [Troy Gentile], the really, really short Emmit [David Dorfman] and the skeletal Wade [Nate Hartley. The bullies are Filkins [Alex Frost, apparently taking his bully role from Elephant and making him a complete psycho] and his sidekick, Ronnie [Josh Peck] – and they are definitely serial killers in training.

The Kristofor Brown/Seth Rogen screenplay features more physical violence than all three of the other hits to come from The Judd Apatow production line [I guess something has to escalate to fill the space of all those missing cuss words]. Steven Brill’s direction is pretty straightforward – the pace picks up for the violence; slows slightly for the jokes [allowing beats for audience response], and slows appropriately for the one romantic plot arc.

Drillbit Taylor Review EclipseMagazine.com Movies

It’s the romantic arc between Drillbit, faking his way as a substitute teacher, and the lovely, but lovelorn Lisa [Leslie Mann, who is brilliant as usual] that brings the homeless con man out of his scam and into admitting that he actually likes his intended victims. This revelation occurs just in time to try to stop his equally homeless friends from stealing all of Wade’s family’s possessions.

For Wilson, the character of Drillbit pretty much plays to his strengths: aw shucks charm with an underpinning of darkness. He’s fast on his feet, though not as much as he thinks he is – and, of course, when it comes down to crunch time, he makes the right choices even if the result won’t be that good for him.

The punching bag trio come from the usual assortment of circumstances: Wade’s mom re-married a guy who is proud of having been a bully in school and has two sons who look to be following in his footsteps; Ryan’s single mom dotes on him to the point of enabling his weight gain, and Emmit seems to appear from the ozone.

Filkins has become emancipated, and the idiot Principal Doppler – Stephen Root’s second most oblivious character [after Office Space’s Milton] – takes that to mean he’s a nice, honest boy who is being maligned by the trio’s allegations of violence. The only person outside the trio who seems to like Wade is a little Asian girl named Brooke [Valerie Tian], which is good because he has a definite crush on her – and has joined all the same clubs [including the Asian Heritage Club] as her in hopes that he’ll be able to work up the courage to talk to her.

Drillbit Taylor Review EclipseMagazine.com Movies

Ryan’s claim to fame is that he’s a not too terrible rapper – a sequence where he raps against Filkins is one of the movie’s highlights. Emmit, it seems, doesn’t have any notable skills, but shows an immense amount of courage at a crucial moment.

While the climax of the movie might not be what you’d expect – you’d think three nerds would outthink the bullies – there is an intelligence at play in their actions, especially in how they organize them. And there’s a moment near the end that harkens back what we are sure must be an apocryphal tale about Filkins – a perfectly timed bit of business that gives Wilson one final bravura moment to follow up his one moment of genuine heroism.

Sure, Drillbit Taylor doesn’t have the same level of language and gross humor as, say, Superbad, but it still has plenty of bodily function humor and decent sight gags. It never reaches the heights of Superbad, or Knocked Up, but I have to say I enjoyed it more than The 40-Year Old Virgin [despite Steve Carrell, I still don’t regard that one with much respect]. Drillbit Taylor is a little more violent than it needs to be, but it works well enough, overall, that I can recommend it – just.

Final Grade: C+

Unexpected Pleasures: Gabriel, Outpost, Rowan Atkinson Live, Sands of Oblivion and Black Moon Rising

Unexpected Pleasures EclipseMagazine.com DVD Reviews

If you want to watch something a little different from your average Hollywood Blockbuster, or want a night off from playing online games at http://www.poker.dk, then you might want to take a look at some of these lesser known titles. Beginning this week, I’ll be looking at B-movies, unheralded re-releases and direct-to-video releases on a roughly weekly basis. Let’s start with Australian indie Gabriel [archangels versus fallen], Outpost [a new form of scientifically created undead], Rowan Atkinson Live! [he’s way more than Black Adder or Mr. Bean], Sands of Oblivion [archaeologists searching for buried movie sets], and Black Moon Rising [an early Tommy Lee Jones heist flick].

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Robyn Hitchcock: Sex, Food, Death and… Insects – My Stuff Doesn’t Appeal to Meatheads!

 Sex, Food, Death and… Insects Review EclipseMagazine.com DVD Reviews

Robyn Hitchcock has been releasing his ever-so-slightly skewed music for well over twenty years – spread across three decades. Robyn Hitchcock: Sex, Food, Death and… Insects is a documentary, from The Sundance Channel, that will be released on DVD on March 25. It features interviews with a number of Hitchcock’s co-conspirators and the first real look at his songwriting process.

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Doomsday: Being Derivative Doesn’t Make It Bad!

Doomsday Review EclipseMagazine.com Movies 

The trailer for Doomsday ripped off… I mean, paid homage to several movies: Escape From New York, all of the Mad Max films and 28 Days Later [and its sequel] among them. The actual movie adds more than a few more such referential scenes – but not out of lack of imagination. Instead, we get a movie that does for plague pics what director Neil Marshall’s earlier Dog soldiers did for werewolf movies.

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