Max von Sydow

strangebrewtruth-1

Two things come to my mind when we start rolling into December and the holiday season. No, it’s not peace or love or some such slop. It’s also not blockbusters or award films. It’s cold weather and drinking. This also makes me think of Canada, and this in turn makes me think of legends of comedy: Bob and Doug McKenzie. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the motion picture premiere of the beer-drinking duo from the Great White North. In their film Strange Brew, Bob (Rick Moranis) and Doug (Dave Thomas) must stop an evil Brewmeister (Max Von Sydow) from controlling the minds of Canadians with a tainted beer supply. In one scene, Bob saves the Royal Canadian Institute for the Mentally Insane from burning down by pissing all over it. This got me thinking: Would it be humanly possible to put out a large fire by urinating on it?

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This is a great week for beer-loving movie fans. Friday saw the opening of Edgar Wright’s The World’s End, which involves a nostalgic pub crawl featuring many pints being guzzled, and Joe Swanberg’s Drinking Buddies, about employees at a brewery who spend their shifts drinking the wares. And tomorrow is the 30th anniversary of the U.S. opening of Strange Brew (aka The Adventures of Bob & Doug McKenzie: Strange Brew). Last monday was the date it opened in Canada, so I guess I’m showing some fitting incompetence here. I should blame my brother or something. Strange Brew is a feature-length adaptation by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas of their Canadian stereotype characters from SCTV, the McKenzie brothers. It’s also based loosely on Hamlet, making it the oddest update of Shakespeare still to this day (sorry, She’s the Man) and giving it way more plot than you’d expect from a dumb comedy about knuckleheads trying to get a free case of beer. The movie also co-stars Max Von Sydow as the villain, which wasn’t that rare a deal in 1983 but it’s still pretty awesome. This movie isn’t referenced enough these days, in spite of it being a major predecessor to Wayne’s World, Step-Brothers, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle and plenty of other modern favorites. It also has the best MGM lion logo parody since the Marx Brothers’ A Night at the Opera. If you don’t love this movie and the following scenes, you’re a hoser, eh. Coo loo […]

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With Jeremy out of commission this week (possibly a victim of an diabolical ancient demon, or perhaps on vacation), I’m jumping in to highlight the commentary track on one of my favorite films. For the most part nowadays, Hollywood stays out of religion. That is, of course, until it’s time to do a movie about demonic possession, and then the otherwise secular industry suddenly finds Jesus and starts spouting dogma like red-state Tea Party patriot at Chick-Fil-A. The gold standard of demonic possession movies is William Friedkin’s chilling masterpiece The Exorcist, which remains one of the scariest movies of all time. All demonic possession movies from 1973 on borrow (or outright steal) from it in some way. This weekend, moviegoers will face demons once again in the cinemas, though The Possession taps into an older religion with a Dybbuk box from the Jewish faith. Still, odds are there are at least a few elements that owe a debt to the Catholic overtones in The Exorcist.

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Drinking Games

If you’ve had a chance to see Seth MacFarlane’s Ted in the theaters, you have been introduced to the awesomeness that is the 1980 film Flash Gordon. Of course, all of us cool kids have already seen the movie many times before, and the coolest (read as: oldest) of us actually saw it in the theaters. If you haven’t seen Flash Gordon yet, then shame on you. How could you let this glorious camp masterpiece slip you by? You need to watch it and broaden your cinematic mind. If you have already seen it, then revisit it on DVD or Blu-ray because we can all use a little more Flash in our lives.

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Oscar 2012 Predictions: Best Supporting Actor

A frustrated actor/director, a former alcoholic and bad father, an old man coming out as he approaches death, a mysterious and gentle mute, and a young whiz kid who may shake up the world of baseball — all in all, that’s a pretty eclectic bunch of nominees. Of course, there’s no real surprises in this category. With the exception of Jonah Hill, my personal favorite of the nominees, these are all safe and understandable nominations. I, for one, am still baffled at how Albert Brooks didn’t get nominated. Who did he piss off to cause this? Someone must be behind this grave injustice! Are the nerds of the world still crying over this? They have reason to, I suppose. While they’re at it, they should continue to shed a few tears for — and sing the praises of – Patton Oswalt (Young Adult), Shea Whigham (Take Shelter), Ben Kingsley (Hugo), John Hawkes (Martha Marcy May Marlene), and just about everyone who wasn’t Gary Oldman in Tinker Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Like most of their respected nominees, they all gave tremendous performances. Without further ado and less whining, here are the nominations for Best Supporting Actor, with my predicted winner in red…

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It’s been a year filled with silent screen stars seeking redemption, the 1920s coming alive in Paris, a young boy searching for the first great director, sex addicts in New York City, horses going to war, maids of dishonor, and skulls getting crushed in elevators. Now it’s time to celebrate all of those things and more with the 84th annual Academy Awards. They’ve come a long way since the Hotel Roosevelt in 1929 (although sex addicts have almost always been a fixture). Get to ready to smile, ball your fists with snubbed rage, or be generally unsurprised. Here they are. The 2012 Oscar nominees:

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr pulls out his screening schedule, which looks like a gambling addict’s racing form. He bounces from huge, mainstream releases to minor indie award contenders. Facing motion-capture CGI, tattooed bisexual investigators, cross-dressing waiters, silent film actors, and a lead star who is literally hung like a horse, Kevin tries to make sense of the seemingly countless releases this holiday week. Exhaustion from this process makes it impossible to buy a zoo or face the 3D end of the world, but his movie stocking is full, nonetheless.

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Remember those trailers for Stephen Daldry‘s adaptation of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close that we all cringed at? Well, how could you forget – they stick with you in a very off-putting way. Disappointingly, most of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close replicates that experience. Daldry’s a fine filmmaker, and with a script from Eric Roth – a writer who’s delivered his fair share of modern classics – one should expect more from their collaboration. What their combination delivered is a mostly stilted, heavy-handed, and, quite often, wrongly manipulative experience. I won’t dismiss the film as being “blatant Oscar bait,” seeing as it’s well-intentioned and earnest. Unfortunately, those intentions, in execution, feel false and empty. A real heart isn’t here to grab onto; only an artificial and cold one. The film constantly says how Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn) affects all these people he meets, but it never shows it. There are little glimpses of the child interacting with people on his quest, and whatever his effect may be holds no weight. The only emotional beat that somehow works is between Horn and Jeffrey Wright, despite the scene leaving one with the thought of, “Well, how’s this going to impact Wright’s character?” Sure, he’s seeing the beauty of a child desperately trying to find an answer, but in the grand scheme of things, the effect will probably be as powerful as a nice Christmas card: makes you smile and maybe makes your day, but a few days later, you’re no different.

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A murder mystery, a sci-fi action movie, a family drama = Tom Cruise… in the future! Why We Love It There’s been a lot of shameful Phillip K. Dick adaptations. From John Woo’s comically bad Paycheck to the just plain bad Next, Dick’s prolific work does not always receive the best of treatments. However, Stephen Spielberg delivered one of those best treatments. In the vein of Blade Runner and Total Recall, I have no doubt that Minority Report will be regarded as a classic one day.

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There are few pleasures in life as great as walking into a film completely unaware as to its plot or purpose and walking out thrilled with the results. Okay, that’s clearly an exaggeration, but there are very few that don’t involve knee pads, whip cream, and tongue depressors. But I digress. Somewhere in the Spanish desert sits Uncanca, a casino filled with sweat, alcohol, and desperation. An old man on a Roulette winning streak triggers a call to the casino’s cooler, Federico (Eusebio Poncela). With a simple touch of his hand, the gambler’s luck runs out and he loses his final bet to the house. Federico leaves the casino floor and ventures into the basement where he meets a man wearing a black velvet bag over his head. If you predicted Max von Sydow was the man beneath the hood you would be correct and incredibly lucky… unlike Federico, who tries to leave Samuel’s employ and in return is given a brief hug and even briefer parting words. “Your gift I discovered, and your gift I take away.”

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Junkfood Cinema

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; it’s a miracle! This is the weekly column wherein I gleefully besmirch the good name of Film School Rejects by loving up a truly terrible film right before the innocent, impressionable eyes of their readers. I will pick apart exactly what makes the film so stinky and also why I would gladly bask in its pungent aroma. Sound appetizing yet? Well wait until you get to act three! That’s where I pair the film with an appropriate snack food designed to unfavorably affect your physique in the same fashion in which the film affects your brain. Today’s film is the universally awful Flash Gordon.

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I met Death today. We are playing chess. Antonius Block returns from the Crusades and jumps out of the fighting and into the black plague as the flesh-rotting disease hitches a ride all over the beautiful Swedish countryside. On a rocky beach looking out over the water, a cloaked man approaches, introduces himself as Death, and Block challenges him to a game of chess on the condition that a victory will secure his life.

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Kevin Carr sits his chubbiness down weighs in on Shutter Island and the slate of Oscar-nominated short films, in theaters this week.

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Pierre Morel has been tapped to make a new Dune for Paramount. Pressing questions and Max von Sydow references inside.

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