Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Elite Opinion Triple-Header

November was a big month for movies in 2006. Of course that's a relative statement because on a whole this year's films have been about as entertaining as rectal surgery with a rusty crowbar and a broken chainsaw.

And yet within the context of this year's cinematic holocaust this was to be a good month. And so Elite Opinion committed itself to delivering the reviews of three films to you.

Of these three movies the latter two were released in all major theaters in the U.S., but the other was actually pulled from what we refer to as "The Global Grab-Bag of Shit You Don't Want to Pay For" or "The Internet" for short.

So please, enjoy the following reviews and remember, hobos are usually near starvation and accordingly they will eat just about ANYTHING you give them.

So make it something funny.





If you were a contemporary artist you could marvel at its striking composition and post-comic visual prose.

And if you were a film student you could grapple with the relevance of the monochrome presentation in the context of the film’s near-future dysfunctionalism.

And if you were simply a film buff, you could revel in the piece’s classic detective noir form and flow.

But what if you’re none of those things, what then is Renaissance to you?

Who cares. Here’s a ticket to Deck the Halls. Try not to eat your hand while your shoveling the cardboard popcorn down your throat.

Now, for the rest of us Renaissance is an intriguing film – even if it is a bit obvious and derived.

And there's no point in disputing that its visuals really are quite impressive.

Yes, the black and white, Sin City-esque portrayal really IS merely a gimmick to cover what is, underneath the hip inky veneer, an old, old, old storyline. And sure, at times it’s obvious the director is new to the black and white format and has given us scenes that only really work in full color – but that’s okay. Because when the thick moody monochrome matches the dark brooding nature of its host scene- you can’t help but think, Christ, this is Noir to the bone. No this film isn’t covering any new ground with its sci-fi meets hard-boiled pet dick story, but it doesn’t need to. Because no one makes movies like this anymore, and sometimes the old standard is good enough, especially with a good gimmick.

Oh, and if you watch the dubbed version of this and not the original subtitled version, you should be taken to a wall and shot. The French surrendered this flick to the internet in record time, even for a nation of cowards. You have no excuse.*

* Not entirely true, it took me 3 hours to get the subs to work, and even then, they were shitty. What do you expect, it’s ze French.

Elite Opinion Gives This Movie 4 out of 5 Bullets

Casino Royale

The last few Bond flicks were horrible. So horrible that a six-year old, high on meth, armed with a camera phone and a room full of Legos could have assembled a more compelling, entertaining and coherent movie.

So, Casino Royale didn't exactly have big shoes to fill. Actually, if Daniel Craig had spent the entire 2-hour movie on the toilet battling a villain named Bhal Movement, the world would have hailed the film as a modern triumph and a return to form.

And 15 minutes into Casino Royale, don't be surprised to find yourself wishing that you were watching Craig take a shit, instead of feeding you shit, because Craig and Co. are serving it by the truck-load.

Here's a quick breakdown of the opening scene:

Strike 1: Bond's agent partner blows their cover by continually touching his ear piece every time they radio back and forth. Apparently McDonalds has a more comprehensive training program than Her Majesty's Secret Service.

Strike 2: Bond yells to his partner, "I need him alive," when the man attempts to kill their target. Seven minutes later, Bond tries to knock their target off of a 15 story crane by whipping an empty gun at the man's head. And then, 7 minutes after that, Bond kills their target.

Strike 3: In the movie, the man that James' is so intent on taking barely-alive is a terrorist bomb maker; however, in actuality the actor is one of those French street-acrobats (A Traceu), and the man engages in an endless collection of death-defying idiocies that seem a bit out of place for an African Terrorist.

Strike 4: The agile terrorist has a gun and uses it to shoot everyone he sees – everyone EXCEPT JAMES BOND – even when Mr. Bond is only inches away. OH, no wait, after the bomber shoots so many bystanders that he actually runs out of ammo –THEN, he tries to shoot our hero. Clearly, the man is a proficient and ruthless killing machine.

Strike 15: Every. Other. Single. Chance the terrorist has to kill James – he ignores. Once, when Bond is hanging over the before mentioned 15 story crane- hanging literally by the tips of his fingers the terrorist is standing directly above him and instead of stepping on Bond's fingers or spitting on him or breathing on him... the bomber RUNS AWAY!

I actually took off my jacket, bundled it up, closed my eyes and took a nap during this scene. And when I woke up 10 minutes later – it was still going on. And, that's not even a joke.

At that point, *I* was ready to kill James Bond.

Now, it's easy to accuse this sort of nay-saying for rampant nit-picking, but hear this:

Casino Royale cost nearly $130,000,000 to make.

Just in case you missed a few of those zeros, because there are a lot of them, here is that number again:


Now, if I pay $13,000 for a brand new Kia Rio, I expect quirks, I expect issues. The car's finish might be lacking and poorly fitted. The drive train will have reoccurring problems and breakdowns.

But that's okay. I paid $13,000 for it, new.

However, if I pay $175,000 for a Bentley Continental GT,

..I expect a car that that will not only run longer than the moon will orbit the earth, but also fellate me on command.

And at that price, that's reasonable.

The same applies for film. If Space Marines 6: Return to Death Planet costs $2 million to make and the script writing was done by the director's ex-porn star wife and the special effects are done in their backyard and the boom mic is visible in every shot – that's okay. I expect that. That's reasonable.

For $130,000,000 million, I expect Casino Royale to at least make a decent effort at being a reasonable film.

And, it just isn't.

Honestly, the creators of Royale could pay some migrant worker 40k a year to sit in a room and watch the flick on repeat, spotting errors and simple faults, and he would call them gods and in his undying gratitude the Mexican-proof-viewer would name his first born son Martin Campbell.

But, for $130 mill, no one should be able to nit-pick this film. It should be impregnable. A small army of movie makers erected this glitch ridden monolith, and none of them could forge the film into a work that is anywhere NEAR reasonable.

And that's such a shame, because aside from its infestation of continuity and logistical errors, Craig is a solid Bond. And the franchise has turned its back on the over-the-top gadgets and one-liners that spoiled Royale's predecessors with camp, and the result is, without a doubt, a more serious and effective bond.

But ultimately Casino Royal still doesn't hold a candle to other quality spy movies, such as the Bourne series or even Pitt/Redford's Spy Game. And at such a steep price, we shouldn't expect a candle; we should be demanding a flame thrower.

Craig is helming the 007 films into new and better waters, but there is still too much chop in the sea to make this sailing the brilliant success it should be.

Maybe next time Bond. Maybe next time.

Elite Opinion Gives This Movie 3 out of 5 Bullets

The Fountain

The Fountain opened nationally on November 22nd. And in the short time since its release, it has taken an absolutely savage beating at the hands of critics across the U.S. Almost every publication in the country has taken turns pummeling the 96 minute film by director Darren Aronofsky.

Which is actually convenient…

Because if you compile of all these noxious reviews, you'll find yourself with a who's-who-list of halfwit, jackass journalists who shouldn't be trusted to report on a high school basketball game, let alone a movie for grownups.

And guess what, we've compiled that list of halfwit, jackass journalists who shouldn't be trusted to report on a high school basketball game, let alone a movie for grownups!


Jack Mathews of The New York Daily News
Chris Kaltenbach of The Baltimore Sun
William Arnold of The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Kyle Smith of The New York Post
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone
James Berardinelli of ReelViews
Michael Wilmington of The Chicago Tribune
Ty Burr of The Boston Globe
Lawrence Toppman of The Charlotte Observer
Rene Rodriguez of The Miami Herald
Scott Foundas of The LA Weekly
Anthony Lane of The The New Yorker
Dana Stevens of Slate
Liam Lacey of The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
Pete Vonder Haar of Film Threat
Carina Chocano of The Los Angeles Times
A.O. Scott of The New York Times
David Edelstein of New York Magazine
Maitland McDonagh of TV Guide
Ray Bennett of The Hollywood Reporter
Leslie Felperin of Variety
J. Hoberman of The Village Voice
Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post
Claudia Puig of USA Today
Peter Rainer of The Christian Science Monitor
Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal
Meredith Brody of The Chicago Reader
Ruthe Stein of The San Francisco Chronicle
Steven Rea of The Philadelphia Inquirer
Marjorie Baumgarten of The Austin Chronicle
And so on and so forth

Congratulations, you morons, you've all missed the boat. Your collective publications should be ashamed of themselves for staffing such gross incompetence. Idiots.

As you may have inferred by now, despite the media's overwhelming disapproval, The Fountain is in fact a breathtaking and revolutionary cinematic achievement.

But unfortunately, this isn't the first time that a groundbreaking work of art has been gratuitously maligned by critics. Throughout history artists have crafted masterpieces that have been misunderstood and viciously disparaged by contemporaries, only to be recognized and hailed years later as the magnificent and form changing works that they always were. The Fountain is a perfect embodiment of that classic tragedy. But, this movie is getting trashed for a simple reason:

The Fountain is different.

The Fountain asks questions that it doesn't answer. So no, the movie does not reconcile its three interwoven time lines. And no, the film does not explain its far-future, space-traveling protagonist's destination or his intent. And no, The Fountain does not stoop to illuminate which scenes are character-fantasy and which are reality. Ultimately, the Fountain is willing, ready and able to leave you scratching your big empty head.

It would seem this movie just doesn't care.

But that's not quite true. There are answers hidden deep within this gorgeous, time-warping tapestry. But none of these answers are spoon fed to you. And this is because The Fountain is very much like a dream and accordingly, definitive interpretations are elusive.

The good news is that this film is a product of Darren Aronofsky- not your subconscious and so there is a method to the seeming madness.

But it is important to understand that The Fountain is unabashedly reminiscent of a dream in nearly every consideration. It obviously LOOKS ethereal and fantastic, but beyond that, the movie's flow and form are distinctly dream-like. The normal confines of time and space are irrelevant.

Traditional movies use emotions as an excuse to indulge in the characters and events that are the true focus of the story.

In The Fountain, emotions are the true focus of the story, and everything else; the characters and events, are merely a backdrop for the epic scope of one man's love.

And using this love as a common thread, The Fountain's storyline is propelled through the fabric of our universe so recklessly that reality is left muddled and warped in its awesome wake.

The visuals, the music, the writing, the acting- they've all been plied in both subtle and endlessly grand brushes strokes resulting in a picture that is both alien and mysterious but also intensely- almost excruciatingly intimate and familiar.

There is a point in your life when you will be overwhelmed by your emotions. Your feelings will take hold of you, and in that moment, you will wish that you could push yourself beyond human limitations to satisfy whatever howling desires roar deep inside of you.

Darren Aronofsky has taken that overwhelming surge of raw emotion, and he's given one man the power to spread its potential across thousands of years and through the endless vastness of space.

And because The Fountain is a story about a man whose ability stretches as far as the drive of his emotions, and because emotions are virtually boundless, this film doesn't concern itself with any cinematic restrictions.

Ironically, The Fountain suffers critically and commercially for the very same reason that it succeeds brilliantly as a work of film. Put simply, this movie demands that its audience invests both emotionally and intellectually. Unfortunately, mainstream American viewers are utterly bankrupt of those two resources.

But that does not diminish the triumph of this film.

Through unparalleled dedication, ingenuity and integrity, Darren Aronofsky has created a work that is almost incomprehensible in its range and vision; the man has filmed love itself- in all of its matchless and unceasingly brilliance.

If you are not massively and irreversibly moved by this movie, than you are certainly not a true film lover, and what's worse, you may be woefully lacking the breadth of emotions that make us human.

Elite Opinion Gives This Movie Legendary Status with 5 out of 5 Bullets

For additional reading on both The Fountain and its writer/director click HERE

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy T-Day

Thanksgiving: because sometimes you need to tell a room full of family members exactly how bad V for Vendetta really was. Followed by a 15 minutes lecture on the finer points of how wrong they all are about The Lord of the Rings Movies.

So overrated.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

NEWS FLASH: Elite Opinion Likes Guns. And Movies About People Abusing Guns. Weird.

It’s a well known and rigorously documented fact that two of my favorite things are stories about professional killers and Jeremy Piven.And I think we can all agree that those two things needed to be intertwined and put on the big screen.

So on the movies-that-should-be-fucking-great scale, Smokin’ Aces is a 9.0.

And if this movie turns out to be a giant pile of horse shit, you can bet your ass I’m going to piss down someone’s throat.

And when I say ‘someone’, I mean director Joe Carnahan. Of course he directed Narc as well, and that flick was absolutely harsh. So I’ve got hope. And that hope is only bolstered by Aces’ cast:



Jason Bateman

Common (yes, the rapper)

Andy Garcia

Alicia Keys

Ray fucking Liotta


Ryan Renolds, who I like, no matter how many bad movies he’s in.

Kind of an odd list- but they are all playing grimey violent characters, which is obviously the best kind of characters.

Check out the goods:

Trailer 1 (click to view)

Trailer 2 (click to view)

The only thing this movie’s missing is Ice-T dropping a load in a senator’s cereal bowl and spoon feeding it to him. This flick looks that raw.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Oh and Carnahan, you’ve been warned.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Elite Opinion Gives The Nod: Light Grenades

Well, to say I didn’t have much hope for Light Grenades would be a vast understatement.

Anyone who's heard the few “songs” Incubus did for the Stealth soundtrack knows that the band had not only hit bottom, but crashed straight through that bottom and fallen into a fiery noxious pit of pop-music hell.

The songs were bad enough to induce seizures, vomiting and in a few isolated cases, death.

Of course when I say death, I mean the death of the band, because surely these astonishingly obvious chords and melodies were the indisputable death-tolls of this group’s career. And it’s not as if their last release would disagree; aside from a few enjoyable and clever moments A Crow Left of the Murder was painful in its own right, but in contrast to Incubus’ earlier work - it was downright torturous.

So Light Grenades.

As soon as the listener arrives at the meat of the album you’ll find that guitarist’s Einziger’s attempt at huge distorted attacks have, (as always) fallen short of even the most trite hard-rock band’s delivery. And Brandon, oh dear Brandon; this band’s listenablity has ALWAYS hinged upon your tart and spacey vocals – but you’ve grown increasingly nasally and banal.

So what now? Does Boyd deliver the epic wandering sonic majesty that we all know he’s always been capable of?

No. And yes.

And does Einziger’s lack of crushing distorted chops castrate the band right from the start?

Yes. And No.

It's complex. In regards to Boyd; sure his iffy, terse and forced choruses are all there. And he isn’t pouring out endless waves of abstract soaring undulation we all love.

But he’s found something else, he’s found maturity.

For the first time in a long time, Brandon floats when he should float and ducks when he should duck. And he’s not the only one. While Einziger’s guitars still don’t punch and roar like a proper hard-rock guitar should, he’s mastered just about every other nuance you could ask for. And in the album’s later tracks he manages to give his axe some extra punch using his most formidable skill – rampant ingenuity. And the rest of the Incubus boys follow suit. Anyone who knows anything about this band knows the Jose is a phenomenal drummer and Ben Kenney has proved himself yet again.

Actually as proof goes, Light Grenades is crystal clear declaration that Incubus is in it for the long haul. This is a career band. And when I say that, I mean Red Hot Chili Peppers. The connection between these two Cali groups has never been more pronounced than it is on this last release. You could literally swap members in and out of each other’s line-up and neither band would miss a step.

Beyond being overtly reminiscent of Cali groups like Chili Peppers, 311 and now even The Volta, Grenades sounds distinctly European mainly like the Doves and of course Radiohead.

Uh oh the “R” word.

Look, there is a lot of OK Computer in Light Grenades. There just is. And if you don’t believe me go ask Einziger or producer Brandon O’Brien.

They clearly crafted this product after Radiohead’s masterpiece and god bless them and their huge balls, it just about works.

Light Grenades is trippy, snappy, deft, playful, epic, honest and all of the other things that make a great pop-album, and well frankly, a great album in general.

And so Incubus has surged out of their brimstone purgatory and returned to their rightful place in the sky. But while the guys do great work in the clouds – they truly come alive in the endless expanses between planets and suns, and they haven’t quite rejoined the cosmos. Yet.

However, I think most of us will be thoroughly satisfied to see that once again, Incubus is reaching for the stars.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Elite Opinion on $piderman 3

Well, the new $pidey trailer's out, and it confirms what we already knew.

The 3rd lukewarm offering in the $piderman franchise will not threaten its predecessors' mediocre dominance over the comic-movie-realm by straying far from the iron-clad formula they've adhered to thus far.

For E.O.'s more science-minded readers, that formula looks like this:

$piderman Feel-Good $oule$$ Formula:


P = Peter Parker is a goddamn coward and a complete tool bag when not in costume.

S = When in costume Spiderman cracks weak jokes with a wormy delivery that sounds a lot like that pussy Parker after two cosmos.

A = Gratuitous CGI action.

MJ = Mary Jane. "I hate you", "I love you", whatever. She wants to do a guy with power, not the guy with glasses and a degree in a field of study she can't pronounce.

In the comics MJ was an actress and a model. The problem is Dunst can barely play the role of an actress.

Go ahead and read that again.

Julia Stiles should have played Mary Jane.

W = Whining. Either Parker's whining or his Skank, his Grandma, his friend, whatever, someone is whining. And it's always about something cliche, manifested in dialogue that would insult a 3rd grader.


It's difficult to hear anything else in this movie, over the constant whine.

X = The requisite amount of colors and shapes moving quickly in seemingly random motions that keeps the average American entranced for up to two hours.

Now for those of you who are trying to make any actual sense of that formula, go to hell. For the rest of you, watch this trailer and then mark your calenders- you don't want to miss all of these bright colors and fun shapes.

Click below to view:

$piderman 3 Trailer

Oh, and I almost forgot. This schmuck is playing Venom:

For those of you who think that Topher Grace doesn't quite look like this:

-You're obviously not a Sony Pictures Casting Director. And accordingly, your retinas and corneas are still intact. Lucky you.

In related news, Carnage, depicted below:

-will of course, be played by Frankie Muniz.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Music thats better than you Week... uh, October.

Forget Cassettes

Forget Cassettes named their new album Salt. That’s about dead on. The tracks are jangling, bawdy excursions into acrid cynicism. Every song snarls with voracious guitars and drums as bold as thunder. But Salt is more than tense, brash Indie-rock musicianship, it’s a phenomenal product fronted by one of the best female leader singers of ‘06. With the exception of Ice Land’s Under Byen, Forget Cassettes’ vocalist slays like no other. Beth is armed with one of the most cutting and sardonic deliveries since Darryl Palumbo was young and cross. Wait, and what’s this- oh sweet Christ, she’s the one playing that guitar too?!

Kicking and roaring like a liquor-bent hell-spawn diva, this is more Rock than Indie-rock and it’s about damn time. This is a ’06 best-of contender. Take notice.



[MP3] Forget Cassettes - Salt


It’s easy to write off the Deftones. They are lingering remnants of one of the worst music genres, of all time (The Thing Of Which We Do Not Speak.) And what’s more, they are aging. Chino is 34, bro. And in a genre were success hinges upon a bands ability to emote unhinged youth-rage to their listeners, a bunch of dudes in their mid-30s who have sold millions of albums usually don’t have much to say to today’s gnashing kids. Yes, it’s very easy to write of the Deftones.

Until you hear them again.

Saturday Night Wrist makes it crystal clear that The Deftones are one of the few bands on the planet Earth that have improved with age. They haven’t lost their edge- it’s a cliché phrase, but it’s true, and god knows how. Chino by all rights should have switched over to some weak-wristed pop trash, or at least fallen back on a hopeless mimicry of his earlier work. But he hasn’t. And the man has actually tempered his sound to forge a new delivery that’s even more blistering and vicious than it was 10 years ago. Throw that level of frontmanship on top of the band’s polished murder-ballad approach to hard rock, and you’ve got a release that soars with the scope and majesty of Radiohead, but then comes screaming back down to earth with the unsheathed tenacity and brutality that has always given the Deftones their razor sharp edge.



Boards of Canada

When Artificial Intelligence becomes a reality in the not-so-distant future, Boards of Canada will be the soundtrack to the dreams of machines. Haunting and blissful, Boards’ synthetic harmonies rise and fall like the tides of some far-flung planet. Of course being an electronic outfit, the sonic glory of the Scottish duo- being the Brothers Sandison- either soars or stumbles on the prowess of their rhythms.

Of course these boys are legends for a reason.

Esoteric and hypnotic, the Sandisons have been underground beatmaking gods for decades and without disappointing, their ’06 Trans Canada Highway EP, is yet another par- bending gift from the clouds. Although I can’t speak for the living-computers of our future- but if my dreams truly had a sonic backdrop that sounds anything like this- waking would be true misery indeed.