Category Archives: Movie Reviews

Fat Head Says Super Size Me Is Full Of Bologna

Perhaps you’ve seen Morgan Spurlock’s documentary, “Super Size Me” where he takes McDonald’s to task with an experiment over 30 days to see how unhealthy McDonald’s food is. Well, filmmaker Tom Naughton, decides to do the same experiment but prove it’s possible to lose weight eating only fast food for 30 days and in the process takes not only Morgan Spurlock to task, but also the US Government, consumer action groups, and basically every diet and exercise guru who advocate low fat, high carb diets.

Naughton points out that in Morgan Spurlock’s “Super Size Me”, Spurlock consumed over 5,000 calories a day, which by anyone’s standards, would be likely to make anyone fat. But Spurlock had three rules he was going to follow, he ate only three meals a day, would try everything on the menu at least once, and would super size the meal if asked by the clerk. Naughton pokes a hole in this because there’s no way he could put together three meals a day and hit that calorie level without adding extra food. Spurlock gained over 25 pounds during his experiment, and it’s Naughton’s claim that Spurlock intentionally “Mc-Stuffed” himself because had he only gained four or five pounds, it wouldn’t have been as dramatic a film. And repeated efforts to contact Morgan Spurlock to review his food log were refused.

Continue reading Fat Head Says Super Size Me Is Full Of Bologna

Under The Boardwalk Documentary Showcases Monopoly

If you were asked to name the first board game that comes to mind, would that game you name be Monopoly? Arguably, Monopoly is the most celebrated board game in the history of board games. It has recently had its 75th anniversary and there is no sign of it’s popularity slowing down. Monopoly is as much part of pop culture as it is a board game. And there are so many ways to play the game, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone these days that hasn’t heard of the game. With a game as popular as Monopoly, you almost have to wonder why it took so long for there to be a documentary about it.

What is it about Monopoly that has made the game such an enduring success for so many decades? San Diego based filmmaker, Kevin Tostado decided to find out. Not only did Tostodo explore the history of the game, he traced the enduring legacy of the game in popular culture, met with serious collectors that like to collect just about anything that the Monopoly brand has licensed, and even spoke to a winner of the million dollar grand prize in McDonald’s annual Monopoly game. Perhaps the highlight of Tostado’s exploration of Monopoly was following some of the game’s most competitive players through the 2009 international championships, where every four years the national champions from over forty countries compete in hopes of being crowned the newest World Monopoly Champion. Kevin Tostado compiled his findings and presents an extensive look at the world of Monopoly in his new movie entitled “Under The Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story.”

Continue reading Under The Boardwalk Documentary Showcases Monopoly

Meeting The Ultimate Prairie Bitch – Alison Arngrim

Most people will remember Alison Arngrim as the wickedly evil bitch, Nellie Oleson, from the television series “Little House On The Priaire.” The show ran from 1974-1983 and since I was born in 1975 so much of my experience of “Little House” was in reruns in the early 1980’s when the show aired on one of the three channels my family had while growing up in the rural areas outside of Calgary. You see in Calgary, which sits in Canada’s Prairie region and the outskirts of Calgary didn’t look so different from the scenery of the show. Also Calgary is well known for the Calgary Stampede celebration where the entire city embraces it’s Wild West past and is home to Heritage Park Historical Village which preserves many Little House era buildings in a town like setting, so the “Little House On The Prairie” show didn’t seem quite so removed from the 1980’s I grew up in.

Continue reading Meeting The Ultimate Prairie Bitch – Alison Arngrim

Google Me – A Look Into One Man’s Experiences Googling Himself

Thanks to Netflix’s ability to stream movies directly to my television using their Instant Streaming technology, I took the opportunity to check out a really interesting documentary called, “Google Me.” The film is a look at what happened when Jim Killeen looked up his own name on Google and decided to see what would happen if he met the other people around the world who shared his name. The movie is a fascinating journey as Jim meets six other men named Jim Killeen from all walks of life.

What Jim found was more than six other Jim Killeen’s but was only able to get six of them to agree to meet with him and be interviewed on camera. Additionally he also asked each to submit to a DNA test so that ultimately it could be seen if any of the family blood lines for any of the men are related. What he found in his Google search ended up meeting an Irish Priest, a retired cop, a father of eight, a Scottish traffic engineer, a sexual swinger, and even an Australian CEO. As Jim gets to know each of these men, he becomes inspired to take it to the next level and not just have the experience of meeting the other Jim Killeens all to himself, he gets them all together and using Google, found the perfect place to do it, Killeen, Texas.

In the process of meeting these Jim Killeens and looking to create a film about the experience we also see Jim go through the trials and tribulations of securing permission from Google to do the film, and even teetering on the brink of bankruptcy and winning money on a poker circuit to be able to finish the film. Ultimately, this makes Jim Killeen a lot more of an every man as you can’t help but emphasize with him with every minor setback in the process and celebrating the triumphs as we discover how seven Jim Killeens from around the globe who most likely would never have met without a little search engine called Google.

Continue reading Google Me – A Look Into One Man’s Experiences Googling Himself

Unexpectedly Saw Up In The Air

Yesterday, I received a phone call from my friend Vito Grandolfo to invite me to join him and a couple other friends to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie followed by a run to Five Guys Burgers. That sounded like a good idea so I headed my way down to the theaters everyone was meeting at.

By the time I got there, it was just a few minutes before showtime but I discovered that the Sherlock Holmes showtime was sold out, so the group decided to go see Up In The Air instead and to save time they went ahead and got my ticket ahead of time. I had never heard of the movie nor had I had no clue who was in it, but what the hell, it sounded like fun being spontaneous.

Turns out the movie stars George Clooney and is about his role as a traveling job terminator. Probably something that hits a little too close to home in this economy with George playing a guy that is brought in to terminate employees for bosses who in the words of the movie are “too much of a pussy” to fire their own employees. The premise is the next generation of traveling job terminators wants to bring the operations back in house and conducted over the Internet. George Clooney’s character has to train the young lady on the nuances of the firing people and while adversaries initially, become respectful of one another. It has a few surprises along the way.

Continue reading Unexpectedly Saw Up In The Air

Xanadu Movie Screening Is Incredible Fun

The Xanadu Movie screening the other night was so much fun. Not only is it a classically bad movie, one I happen to love immensely, it’s got an incredible soundtrack, and the screening as a part of the Out San Diego monthly movie screening series was the first time I got to see the movie on the big screen. The audience was encouraged to sing along and talk back to the movie in ways probably similar to screenings of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and so the screening became an interactive fun event.

The audience here in San Diego shouted back at the screen causing fits of giggles during scenes that were definitely cheesy, and others were greatly enjoyed by the audience, that by the time the movie finally progressed to the final scene in the Xanadu club and Olivia Newton-John knocks the title track out of the ball park, the audience was cheering in excitement. It was a fun night out and a much better experience than sitting home and watching Xanadu on DVD. Now to just get up to Orange County to see the Xanadu stage show again before it moves on to its next destination. Continue reading Xanadu Movie Screening Is Incredible Fun

Xanadu Returns To San Diego Tonight For One Night Only

XanaduTonight is the night that Xanadu returns to San Diego. No, it’s not the fantastic stage musical that was here for two months last year. (That’s actually opening up tonight as well, but further up the road in Costa Mesa.) Tonight, it’s the Original Motion Picture version of Xanadu starring Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly that is playing here in San Diego.

The movie is notoriously known for being a bad movie, as it has a very loose plot, but despite the fact the movie bombed originally, it’s soundtrack was a massive hit for the record label. The collaboration between Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) and Olivia Newton-John (ONJ) on the title track, Xanadu has made the song one of Oliva’s biggest hits. Filling out the rest of the album are more fantastic songs by ELO and ONJ. Wisely, the songs weren’t put on the album in the order in which they appear in the movie, they were placed so that one side was the ELO side and the other side was the ONJ side. As the both acts draw different audiences, it made sure the fans of each artist could enjoy the work of their favorite if they weren’t as big a fan of the other.

Continue reading Xanadu Returns To San Diego Tonight For One Night Only

Lucille Ball Is Enjoyable As “Mame”

Lucille Ball Mame As MameLast week when I was introduced to Rosalind Russell’s “Auntie Mame” film from 1958, one of the hosts of the screening referred to the Lucille Ball lead musical version simply called “Mame” from 1974 as an abomination. Naturally, I felt obligated to see for myself how allegedly terrible this version is. And I didn’t find it horrible at all, in fact I quite enjoyed it.

To preface seeing both films, I should admit, I was actually introduced to the Original Broadway Cast recording by my Australian friend, Graeme Read, who is a big fan of the song “Open A New Window” and as a result of his introducing me to the song, I’ve actually had the cast album for a number of years now. I knew of Angela Landsbury through the “Murder She Wrote” series and Bea Arthur through both “Maude” and “The Golden Girls.” Also my grandmother looked a lot like Bea Arthur, I’ve always felt like anything Bea did was a larger than life version of my grandma. So anytime I see Bea Arthur on “The Golden Girls” or play a song from “Mame” I am always reminded of my grandma.

Continue reading Lucille Ball Is Enjoyable As “Mame”

Introduced To Film Classic Auntie Mame

Auntie MameLast night I attended another “Economy DVD Night” get together at the apartment shared by my friends Mike Yada and Jeffrey “J.P.” Pohlmann. About 15 of us or so showed up for the get together. The movie of the evening was “Auntie Mame” starring Rosalind Russell, the 1958 film based the original stage play, not the 1974 movie musical version entitled “Mame.”

I’ve not seen either film before, but apparently the musical version on film is referred to as an abomination by one of our hosts of the evening and the movie was not allowed to be mentioned. Apparently that’s due to Lucille Ball in the title role. Despite the ban on the subject, following the movie we viewed the trailers for both films as they were both on the DVD as extras. It was discussed that the musical version definitely had some good songs and of course, Bea Arthur. Maybe if they had gotten Angela Landsbury from the Original Broadway cast of the musical version it wouldn’t have been so derided. I have the Original Broadway cast album for it, and I quite like the banter between Angela and Bea. Might just have to give it a rent to see how bad it really is.

Continue reading Introduced To Film Classic Auntie Mame

James Ray’s Harmonic Wealth & Sweat Lodge Tragedy

James RayI had actually rented from Netflix James Arthur Ray’s DVD called “Harmonic Wealth” at the end of July prior to the tragedy of a few people dying in a sweat lodge in Sedona at one of his events. I did not rent it out of any morbid curiosity, but rather I quite enjoy “The Secret” and I had actually attended an event here in San Diego where James Ray was pitching his Harmonic Wealth program.

However, the DVD sat in my pile untouched until about a week ago. For some reason I’ve just not been able to bring myself to put it in the DVD player and watch it. And when I finally did, I just watched about twenty minutes of it before I turned it off, then a couple days later resumed where I left off, paused again for another couple days and then finally finishing it off today. I just couldn’t do it in one sitting.

I think part of it is due to the fact that following the event I wanted to say hello to James Ray and give him a copy of a mix CD I made of songs that have a “Law Of Attraction” feel about them. I wanted to present a copy of it to James Ray as a thank you for the inspiration I got from his segments in “The Secret.” And when I finally got my opportunity to present it to him, he quickly handed it off to his assistant and asked me if I was going to come to one of his Harmonic Wealth weekends and I said that would not be able to do it at this time, he had absolutely no interest in me or my presenting him with a sign of my gratitude.

Continue reading James Ray’s Harmonic Wealth & Sweat Lodge Tragedy