Archive for films

My Favorite Holiday Films (Updated)

Posted in list with tags , , , , , , , on 11/12/2014 by Kevin Entrekin

A few years back I wrote an article listing my five favorite Christmas films, and in review it was a combination of bad writing and lame choises. I included Home Alone and It’s A Wonderful Life in that list. And if I’m honest, as enjoyable as those films are, I will survive each year without viewing either of them. Because I don’t really enjoy most films with a heavy focus on the holidays, more the ones that just happen to take place during the season. So here is my updated, true, five six or seven favorite X-Mas films. And maybe they’ll be aides in your survival of the holidays as well.

  •  Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

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If I could choose only one film to consider essential personal viewing during the holidays, I’d choose Shane Black’s genre-blending Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. What more could you want? Murder. Mystery. An inept Robert Downey Jr. Val Kilmer as a gay private eye. And femmes Michelle Monaghan and Shannyn Sossamon round out an even more expansively talented cast in a modern, comical noir. Black’s name has more provenance since last year with his sophomore directing effort, a little indie flick called Iron Man 3. And he wrote another film on this list, but more on that later. But this film, clever and underratedly brilliant, is still one of my favorite films.

  • Die Hard (1988)

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I have only ever seen two Die Hard films. The original McClane classic and then the terrible A Good Day to Die Hard. And I’m fine with that. The original has a plethora of fun and mayhem to satisfy each repeat viewing. You get a primed and smart-ass Bruce Willis facing off against wicked Alan Rickman set in Nakatomi Towers. There is an unmistakable 80’s aesthetic without straying too far into a cliche or becoming formulaic. Think of it like this: A crappy Christmas party you were invited to, but exciting and fun. Well, that’s the plot. You get the comparison though, right?

  • Trading Places (1983)

jlc4Time to buffer that action with some comedy, and what better way to do that than with this classic John Landis 80’s Pauper-adaptation. It has many great actors at the height of their careers. Eddie Murphy is hilarious yet sincere as a poor black man given a job as a stock trader. Dan Aykroyd is equally entertaining as snooty stock trader turned poor white man. And Jamie Lee Curtis, whom (no secret) I very much adore, is charming as a smart prostitute with a heart of gold. Trading Places has that special Landis charm and whit that combined with this cast makes for an heart-warming comedic romp.

  • Lethal Weapon (1987)

lethal-weapon-2I love the Lethal Weapon films. They’re a guilty pleasure that I don’t really feel guilty about. It’s odd to me, that modern action films shy away from such a brilliant formula as these films. Yeah, you get to switch off and just watch, but not like now where people have to wipe away dribble from their lips at the end of a Michael Bay film. Did LW get a little ridiculous? Better believe it. I mean, a guy gets killed by a flying surfboard in the sequel. But there was some intelligence to these films, something to keep you lucid and connected. Before Gibson went nutty and Glover was actually too old for anything, they were one of the best buddy cop duos around. Well, they still are. And that Shane Black guy mentioned earlier? Yeah, he wrote it.

  •  National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

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A December nary passes the Entrekin household before watching Clark Griswald’s decent into middle-class holiday hell. To this day, this comedic observation of those quirky people we call family is still relevant. Considering that this film comes from the Lampoon’s, a studio that pumps out about fifteen films a year and the last one that was of any relevance was… Christmas Vacation, that’s quite impressive.  Most everyone has a Eddie in the family, albeit a good bit more racist. Most everyone has heavily medicated grandparents that just stare at the tele and have the age-old conversation of how “the good ole days are gone”. And most everyone has strung out parents just trying to hold everything barely together.

  • Batman Returns (1992)

batmanbatman1I mean… Keaton as Bats. Pfieffer as (the quintessential) Catwoman. DeVito as Penguin. Gloomy neo-gothic Gotham. Can’t go wrong. I’d even go ahead and throw in the original Batman film as a warm up to Returns as well. It also has a winter drabness and why not have a mini-marathon of the Tim Burton masterpieces? It’s also a nice reminder of simpler times, pre-Marvel and Zach Snyder CGI projectile spewing.

Yeah, the holidays can be hell sometimes. The haze of Christmas lights and seasonal scents and corporate greed sends some into a sedated existence. And then there are the Christmas social media defenders. You know, the ones who get really worked up and hateful when underprivileged people point out inequality in America. The type you mostly wonder why you added them to your Facebook in the first place.  The ones who like to share a “IT’S MERRY CHRISTMAS, NOT HAPPY HOLIDAYS” photo everyday. Screw those grinches. Anyways, this time of year can get pretty heavy for a lot of people. So spike that egg nog just a bit more, kick back with these films, and drift away from Grandpa Ulysses’ snoring.

My Favorite Ladies of Science Fiction

Posted in list, Nerdism with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 10/12/2011 by Kevin Entrekin

Science Fiction films have always fascinated me since I was young. Back then, it was the out of the world visuals that held me glued to the screen. The music, the characters, everything drew me in. As I’ve grown older my love for this genre of films has only grown stronger. Like many things as you get older, the story and complexities of the films begin to reveal themselves to you. You realize that they are more than just a fantasy film and that they actually have relevance to many issues today. And it’s not only in film. You see the labor of love put into television, literature, and video games as well.

Another interesting thing about Sci-Fi films is how strong the actresses are in them. More so than most genres of film. And as you get older, sexy is defined by strength and intelligence. Okay, the outfits occasionally don’t hurt either. And I figured it was time that I paid tribute to my favorite ladies of Science Fiction. So without further ado…

1. Carrie Fisher (Known for: Star Wars: A New Hope, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi)

Carrie Fisher was my first crush as a young Padawan and still today holds a very special place in my heart. She is my “permacrush” I have been informed. Not sure I’m crazy over this word but it could grow on me. Anyways, there is just so much to love about her as Princess Leia. From her very first encounter with Darth Vader, she exudes confidence and strength. She will grab a E-11 blaster and take care of business while Han and Luke are arguing. She can even kill you while wearing a skimpy gold bikini. See what I mean about a lot to love? The simple fact of the matter is that in the Sci-fi universe, she is a queen instead of a princess.

2. Sigourney Weaver (Known for:  The Alien series, Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II, Paul)

Warning: Spoiler alert for those who have not seen Alien.

In space no one can hear you scream. Nothing makes the tagline for the movie Alien more true than the scene at the end when Ripley thinks that the Alien that has been terrorizing her and her crew is dead. But when she is at her most vulnerable, the Alien crawls out of it’s hiding place. Keeping a calm head, Ripley slips on a spacesuit and then kicks the alien out of her ship into the great unknown. Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley in the Alien films is enough to cement her place as a Sci-Fi goddess, but she doesn’t stop there. She starred as Dana Barrett in the Ghostbusters films as well. And even as she has gotten older, she continues to rock the screen today.

3. Lara Croft (Known for: Tomb Raider series of video games and films)

In video games, there are important game changers (no pun intended). Halo changed how we interact and play together. Call of Duty took the formula of war games and flipped in on it’s head. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial showed how to nearly bring down an entire franchise. And Lara Croft changed how women are perceived in the gamer community. She’s strong, smart, and always ready with a quick quip. She can plug a slug in the back of a T-Rex’s head with ease. Oh, and her explorer outfits did not hurt either. The truth is she came into a genre that at the time was exclusive to men and made her presence known. Not only known, but put most of the fellas to shame (and still does). I’ve always loved Ms. Croft, no matter if she consist of 300 polygons or portrayed by Angelina Jolie.

4. Milla Jovovich (Known for: The Fifth Element, The Resident Evil series of films, Ultraviolet)

Leeloo from The Fifth Element is probably one of my favorite Sci-fi film characters ever. Her innocence and ignorance to the everyday activity in 23rd century Los Angeles is why she is my favorite character actress Milla Jovovich has done. All of here characters are strong but all of them are self-aware of this (Best example is Alice from the Resident Evil films). Except for Leeloo. For most of the film you think she is delicate until she in the latter half of the film challenges a horde of Mangalores to a fight. Which I image Jovovich would also do in real life.

5. Carrie-Anne Moss (Known for: The Matrix Trilogy, Red Planet)

Carrie-Anne Moss is one of the most underutilized actresses working today. She’s so talented it annoys me sometimes that she is usually only remembered for her role of Trinity in The Matrix. Although to be remember for such a great role isn’t a bad thing. Her strength is something that exudes of the screen, and many times she is stronger than Keanu Reeve’s Neo. And few women could legitimately pull off a full leather outfit in a gunfight and she’s one of them. Equal parts muscle and sexy? Good combo.

6. Michelle Rodriguez (Known for: The Resident Evil series of films, Avatar, Battle: Los Angeles, and Lost)

If there was one lady on this that I would for sure not want to piss off, it would be Michelle Rodriguez. Just look at that photo to the right; I didn’t post it because of what she is wearing (or more appropriately what she isn’t wearing), I posted it because of that stomach. The fact is that Ms. Rodriguez is a hardcore woman and her presence in Sci-Fi films are just as hardcore. She’s not always a leading lady, but simply her presence as a supporter is enough to make your side tougher. Whether fighting zombies in Resident Evil or fighting time travel in Lost, you want M-Rod on your side.

7. Sean Young (Known for: Blade Runner, Dune)

Probably the least known member on this list of Sci-Fi royalty is the amazing Ms. Sean Young. But she is also the lead actress in one of the greatest Sci-Fi films of all time, Blade Runner. In a movie that stars Daryl Hannah and Harrison Ford, you have to be able to hold your own. Sean Young does this and more. She makes herself strong yet vulnerable as a conflicted experimental replicant. Plus, she’s one of the few women who has actually been able to pull off over-the-top 80’s fashion.

8. Anna Torv (Known for: Fringe)

If there is one show that has had the most surprising success, it would be Fringe. Much of this can be attributed to the core cast which includes John Noble, Joshua Jackson, and Ms. Anna Torv. Her portrayal of Olivia Dunham is one of strength and determination. She always stays focused on the task at hand. She is beautiful yet never really acts that way. She rarely shows emotion or lets her guard down but when she does it’s an amazing moment. If you have not watched this series before, start now.

There were many strong ladies left out of this group. I’m sure I’ll get a few emails or comments here and there saying “Where’s Scully?” and No Katee Sackhoff or Raquel Welch?” Well I have not seen much of X-Files or Battlestar Galactica, although I will admit that what I have seen of these shows I was impressed. And even though One Million Years B.C., I have just never had the opportunity to see it. This is my list and I want to hear yours. So leave it below if you have time.