Monday, May 25, 2009

Movie Monday - The Good, The Bad and the Pointy-Eared (and the Conquistador who Tormented my Childhood)


Tropic Thunder (2008)

[Robert Downey, Jr., Jack Black, Ben Stiller]

We got this in the mail from Netflix, and at a family dinner, asked people if it was okay for us to watch with our younger kids (ages 13 and 11). I think one person spit food out of his mouth before we got a resounding "Hell, no!!!"

So, my wife and I watched it without them. Good advice. Definitely an adult flick.

That said, it is pretty damn funny. Everyone is great in their roles, especially Robert Downey Jr. He should have won the Oscar for this, truly great stuff.

Funny, fun movie. And even the damn awful Tom Cruise was good. Yeah, I wrote that.


Devour (2005)

[Jensen Ackles, Shannyn Sossamon, Dominique Swain, Teach Grant]

Oy. Okay, I watch lots of stuff, good and bad. This I really hoped was something good. It was not, and sadly I was just lost.

A young man is having strange visions of death and horror. On his birthday, his best friend gets him on some website that does real life role playing. Or something. I don't really get it. But soon enough, his friends starting killing people before killing themselves, and then his uncle dies, but then he finds it is much more convoluted than that.

Don't see how it could get more convoluted, but it does. I just was lost by the end, unsure of which plot line the movie was following.

The acting is good enough, much better than standard low-budget fare. But the plot just cannot hold it together. I was more confused than the lead character, and that is not good.

Avoid it!


Star Trek (2009)

[Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Leonard Nimoy, Eric Bana]

I saw this over the weekend with my daughter, while my wife and son saw Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, which they both liked.

Wow. I had heard lots and lots of good, positive reviews for this flick. But I have to admit to being wary about it.

I loved it. It is a remake, but it is definitely done with care for the deeply loved story and characters that have come before. That said, it also gives it all a fresh, clean, updated feel that, to me, reinvigorates the whole shebang.

And the casting was near-perfect, for all the characters from the "original" Star Trek. I want to say Quinto was perfect as Spock, or Pine as Kirk, but really I loved them all.

VERY highly recommended, I truly hope there are more big screen adventures for this incarnation of the starship Enterprise.


Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009)

[Kevin James, Keir O'Donnell, Jayma Mays]

My family and I saw this film in theaters in January, and we liked it. My youngest son, however, loved it, so my wife bought him the DVD this past week, and we watched it again last night.

A fun, family comedy, the movie is a good enough way to spend some time. Watch it looking for a few laughs and nothing more, and you will be okay.

We also liked that some of the mall scenes were filmed at a mall we sometimes visit, and the Rainforest Cafe there we sometimes eat at. Very cool.


Blood Freak (1972)

I don't know what to make of this film, other than that it is not good. It is like a movie made by a bunch of friends, very few of who knew what the heck they were doing.

A Vietnam vet stops to help a young woman on the highway, and is soon even more messed up on drugs. The movie goes seriously weird from there. And I am being kind.

I am guessing the point the creators of this film were attempting to make is that drugs are bad, as is the scientific tampering with the food we eat (in this case, poultry). The narrator (who appears at the beginning and sporadically throughout, reading off of something on the table before him) is smoking throughout. This is eventually shown to be ironic. I think.

Not recommended, unless you are looking for something so bad it hurts. Another flick that would be perfect fodder for MST3K.

As an aside, the movie did hold one particular scare for me: A painting shown a few times on a wall was one that freaked me out as a kid. My parents had the same painting in our house, and my aunt had one in her basement. I can only guess it was a discounted print that was available to many people in the late 60s/early 70s. It is a painting of a Spanish conquistador, I think, who has a look of evil in his eyes. Just freaky! Anyone else remember this painting?



  1. nice. can;t wait to see star trek. glad to hear mall cop is fun as well...maybe hitting the redbox tonight.

  2. I also caught Blood Freak on TCM this week. This seemed to be an anti-drug/Christian movie yet it had tons of drug use, sex, and violence; and sometimes all three at the same time! I thoroughly enjoyed basking in its unparalleld awfullness.

    I don't remember the creepy painting, however. Sorry.

  3. How do you choose your movies...the old dart and dart board method? Loved Tropical Thunder - when you constantly forget its Robert Downey Jr. THAT is a great performance. Even Tom Cruise was funny and my tongue should snap off its roller for saying that. Glad to hear that you censor certain movies from your kids. That is good parenting.

  4. Brian: Hope you enjoy them, too.

    Gilligan: It was an odd one, that's for sure. I read that the actors were from the director's acting class or something. Not a good sign.

    Calvin: I pretty much go with either what is on the cable channels or what has arrived from Netflix. So, usually a good mix of stuff - good and bad! hahahaha

  5. That painting is 'Man in a Gold Helmet' by Rembrandt, if you care to know still. I was looking for the name of it myself and came across your post in my searching.

  6. Charles: I actually did end up find out what this was. Check out this post: Man With Golden Helmet

  7. We have the same spooky conquistador on our dining room wall. do you know the artist? please email me at if you know. Thanks!

  8. When I was a kid, my stepfather had this painting. Scared the heck out of me. Over the years it deteriorated until all you could see was his face dimly staring back and his piercing eyes. The frame it was in was beautiful, but the painting I had to get rid of. When I was little I thought it was cursed. I still have the frame, though I've never been able to bring myself to put another painting in it.

  9. Also, if you know anything else about this painting I'd love to hear about it. It's kind of haunted me my whole life. I know that sounds weird, but it's true. My daughter's the one that showed me your blog with the pic of the conquistador in the first place. She's 18 and hasn't seen it in 10 years, but she still remembers it too.

  10. All I know about the painting is in the follow-up post and comments:

    Man With the Golden Helmet - FINALLY!

    Hope it helps!

  11. I was just searching the Google for that painting! It came up in another conversation and I remembered my parents having it when I was a kid. Now I know what it was. Thanks!

  12. spooky conquistador :
    i too own this painting. i found in a basement of an old apartment i used to live in. i have had it for about 10 years and have seen 3 others in that time. *Does anyone know which spanish conquistador it is? or the artist?

  13. we have the same painting!! its somewhere in our basement now.

  14. The painting I believe is a Rembrandt reproduction, entitled, "The Man with the Golden Helmet".

    My grandparents had that same painting down in their basement and it terrified me as a kid as I agree he looks evil!
    I was indeliably marked for life when my uncle tricked me into going downstairs and then turned off the lights laughing hysterically, saying the "Spanish Man is going to fly off the wall and get you"

  15. I hated that painting as a kid, especially when your uncle makes you go downstairs, turns off the lights and laughs hysterically at you saying it's going to get you!

  16. Hey Mark - Check out my follow-up post on the painting here:

    Thanks for commenting! - Joe