Screen Junkies » Esteban Movie Reviews & TV Show Reviews Thu, 28 Aug 2014 18:33:55 +0000 en hourly 1 Jackie Chan And 8 Other Actors With 100 Films Or More Fri, 07 Oct 2011 16:35:24 +0000 Esteban Welcome to the century club, Jackie.

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A new Jackie Chan film hits theaters today. It’s called 1911 and it’s (yawn) another period war epic. Usually this would be about as noteworthy as a fat celebrity doing a commercial for Jenny Craig. But today is different because, with this film, Jackie joins the Century Club. And I’m not talking about the Century Club you joined in college by drinking a hundred shots of beer in a hundred minutes. I’m talking about the Century Club you get into only once you have appeared in one hundred films. (It’s a little more exclusive.)

In honor of Jackie’s 100th film, and to give this accomplishment some historical context, how about we take a look at his career and the careers of eight other members of the hundred-film club?

Jackie Chan (100)

Jackie Chan is, without a doubt, one of the greatest action/kung fu movie stars in the history of cinema. No, screw it. He’s the best.* Sadly, he is also 57-years-old and, therefore, has been gradually (and understandably) moving away from the types of films that made him famous. These days you’re more likely to see him in war epics (Shaolin, 1911) and unnecessary remakes (The Karate Kid, which they didn’t even have the decency to rename The Kung Fu Kid, even though Jaden Smith clearly learns kung fu from a Chinese man in China) than movies with painstakingly choreographed action sequences like this one from First Strike:

*My shrink told me I should be more assertive.

Samuel L. Jackson (106)

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Sam Jackson’s membership in the Century Club is the fact that he only started getting regular work around 1987, when he was pushing 40-years-old. That means the guy has made 101 of his 106 films in the last 23 years, which comes to about 4.4 per year. To give you some perspective, prolific actors such as Gene Hackman, Robert Duvall, and Charlton Heston aren’t members of the 100 film club despite careers that are twice as long as Jackson’s.

Incidentally, if you count Jackson’s work in the four recent Star Wars abominations, his 100th film was Iron Man 2 If you’re a supernerd who would prefer to excise those films from his resumé, that would make Captain America number one hundred. Either way, it’s a superhero movie.

James Earl Jones (107)

James Earl Jones is the only 100-film actor who didn’t even appear on screen in his most famous film.* But that’s not to say he hasn’t had some great moments on the silver screen. After all, the very first movie he ever made was Stanley Kubrick’s classicDr. Strangelove. Since then he’s done a little bit of everything, from the beloved baseball film Field of Dreams, to the not-so-beloved Dana Carvey bomb Clean Slate, to a made-for-TV vampire flick called Feast of All Saints—his 100th.

*If you just read that sentence without realizing I was talking about his role as the voice of Darth Vader in Star Wars, please be so kind as to punch yourself in the face for me.

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9 TV Shows That Would Have Been Better With Buscemi Wed, 21 Sep 2011 15:00:06 +0000 Esteban A stunning look back at what might have been...

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Back in the day, Steve Buscemi was just a weird little character actor who found his niche (and a cult following) making unconventional films with quirky directors. Occasionally, he’d pop up in a “mainstream” flick (like Con Air, or every single Adam Sandler movie) playing some weirdo or another, but he was never the leading man. So if I told you in 1998 that the creepy little kidnapper who gets put through the wood chipper at the end of Fargo would be the star of the hottest, most critically acclaimed television show of 2011, would you have believed me?

Nevertheless, next Friday you can catch the inimitable Mr. Buscemi reprising his role of Enoch “Nucky” Thompson in the season two premier of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. Personally, I’m not surprised Buscemi has found his greatest fame on television. In my humble opinion, he should have made the transition to the “small screen” years ago. Can you imagine how amazing he would have been playing some of the most beloved characters in TV history?

Well, in case you lack the faculty of imagination, I did a little photoshopping to give you a peak at what might have been.

Buscemi as Mitch Buchannon – Baywatch

Baywatch, a show about lifeguards, was the most-watched television series of all time, with over 1 billion viewers (no, really, 1,000,000,000) tuning in around the world each and every week. And that was with David Hasselhoff. Could you imagine how popular the show would have been if, instead of the Hoff, the show’s producers had cast chronically pasty Steve Buscemi to star along side Pam Anderson and Yasmine Bleeth? I bet the show would still be on today.

Buscemi as Ward Cleaver – Leave It to Beaver

Rascally Beaver Cleaver (a name that could only have been cooked up in a genuine age of innocence) was always getting into some sort of trouble. Luckily, he had parents Ward and June to guide him through the trials and tribulations of life in suburban 1950s America. Hugh Beaumont was quite steady as Beaver’s all-American dad, but there was always something a little bland about good old Ward.

You know who would have spiced the character up a bit? Yep, Steve Buscemi. Obviously, he’s not old enough to have played Ward Cleaver, but every night in my dreams I watch serial killer Garland Greene from Con Air explain life to his sons, Wally and the Beave.

Buscemi as Balki Bartokomous – Perfect Strangers

Remember ABC’s TGIF Friday night lineup? Of course you do. Who could forget classic sitcoms like Full House, Family Matters, Step by Step and, last but not least, Perfect Strangers?

These shows were overflowing with schmaltzy plots, corny catch-phrases, and zany characters. And no one was more zany than the lovable Myposian, Balki Bartokomous, from Perfect Strangers. Sure every episode was the same—Balki does something silly, embarrassing Cousin Larry; Cousin Larry gets bottles up his rage until he flips his lid; Balki sulks; Cousin Larry apologizes; everybody is happy again!—but that’s what made it great (according to memories formed by my 10-year-old self).

Still, as much as I loved watching the under-appreciated Bronson Pinchot ham it up week after week—the guy should have been indicted for grand larceny after stealing scenes from Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop—I think I would have enjoyed Steve Buscemi in this role even more. If nothing else, I feel like shit would have gotten a little more real.

Buscemi as Mike Brady – The Brady Bunch

The Brady Bunch was actually a pretty risky show when it first aired, given that it strayed from the “wholesome family” sitcom archetype by depicting—gasp!—a blended family. Fortunately, civilization didn’t collapse when widowed architect Mike Brady married divorcee Carol Martin, and The Brady Bunch turned out to be just as trite and saccharine as just about any family sitcom that had come before it. Of course, all that would have been different if Steve Buscemi played Mike Brady instead of Robert Reed. Could you imagine if dear old dad sat Greg, Peter, and Bobby down and taught them life lessons like this?

Buscemi as Alex P. Keaton – Family Ties

Oh, the irony (and hilarity) of former hippies having a Reaganite for a son! So many opportunities for comedic situations! But how different would have been the rapport between mom, dad, and son had the latter been played by Steve Buscemi rather than Michael J. Fox. Instead of a run-of-the-mill Young Republican, the Keatons probably would have had a squirrelly libertarian conspiracy theorist on their hands with Buscemi. In fact, I’m pretty sure, Alex P. Keaton would have ended up in a militia instead of Wall Street.

Buscemi as Thomas Magnum – Magnum, P.I.

Tom Selleck wrote the book on manliness in the 1980s. Every women wanted to be with his mustache, and every man wanted to be have his mustache. Moreover, to this day, he’s probably still the only guy who ever looked cool in an Aloha shirt.

In case you’ve forgotten, Magnum, P.I. was an hour-long comedic drama centered around the professional and romantic adventures of debonair ex-Navy SEAL and current private investigator Thomas Magnum. Who lives in a rich guy’s guest house. And gets to use his Ferrari. In Hawaii. (Magnum was obviously a big inspiration to OJ’s pal Kato Kaelin.) For whatever reason, Magnum didn’t really have to work, but he did from time to time, whenever a hot babe would come along with a mystery that needed cracking.

To get a sense of what Magnum, P.I. would have been like with Steve Buscemi playing the title character, all you have to do is have a look at the second and third seasons of 30 Rock. Buscemi guest stars as a private investigator named Lenny Wosniak, who gets around New York on his bicycle and is not allowed to carry a gun by his pastor because he suffers from depression. So Buscemi would have done Magnum a little differently, to say the least.

Buscemi as Barney Fife – The Andy Griffith Show

Television shows don’t get more wholesome than The Andy Griffith Show. Little Mayberry, North Carolina, was a bedrock of real American values back in the 1960s, what with Aunt Bee bakin’ pies, little Opie goin’ fishin’, and Sheriff Andy git’n after moonshiners resolvin’ town conflicts.

Of course, there was also bumbling Sheriff’s Deputy Barney Fife, played by Don Knotts, whose numerous accidental firearms mishaps would surely have gotten him fired (and probably killed several people) if the Mayberry Sheriff’s Department was actually in the business of promoting public safety. Still, if Barney had been played Steve Buscemi, Mayberry would have had a deputy that looked like a pedophile. It’s kind of hard to say which is worse.

Buscemi as Danny Tanner – Full House

Steve Buscemi as Danny Tanner on Full House? Let’s just dive right in.

First of all, if Buscemi played widower Danny Tanner on Full House, depending on makeup and lighting, your first thought might very well have been, “well, he probably killed his wife, right?” If the production crew managed to get his makeup and lighting just right, Buscemi could probably have pulled off “sad and lonely,” but I doubt he could ever do “jolly” like Bob Saget. So there goes the tone of the entire series right there.

Second, no matter what they did with the makeup and lighting, they still would have had to re-write Danny’s character a bit, because there’s no way anyone would ever buy Buscemi as a TV personality. A radio shock jock, sure, but a news anchor? Yeah right.

Third, would people have believed this guy could have such cute kids? I didn’t think so. So if Buscemi was Danny Tanner, they would have had to recast the whole Tanner family. Where would the Olsen twins be today if they had to cast less cute twins to play Michelle Tanner? (Did you just say “a strip club”? Wow, I can’t believe you went there.)

Buscemi as Mr. Rogers – Mr. Rogers Neighborhood

The actual Mr. Rogers was just about the nicest, most gentle guy ever. He taught several generations of children how to be nice and share through the cunning use of hand puppets and make-believe.

Also, he had an awesome collection of cardigans.

So what if Buscemi had charged with instilling morals in our children on Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood? Well, for starters, we’d have a lot of messed up 30 and 40-year-olds walking around today. Instead teaching kids not to litter, he probably would have taught them about the intractable pain of being, or some other topic not suited for youngsters.

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]]> 0 baywatch leave it to beaver perfect strangers brady bunch family ties magnum p.i. andy griffith show full house Now THAT'S a good photoshop! mr rogers’ neighborhood
Eight Other People Who Would Have Made Great Oscar Hosts 15 Years Ago Thu, 08 Sep 2011 23:30:45 +0000 Esteban 1996 would love these hosts!

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On Tuesday it was officially announced that Eddie Murphy will host the 2012 Academy Awards. Obviously he will share co-hosting duties with his sister and uncle, both of whom will be played by Eddie in a fat suit.

This announcement ended six months of speculation that began immediately after last year’s abysmal effort by Anne “What The Hell Is Comedic Timing?” Hathaway and James “Maybe I Should Just Pick One Or Two Hobbies And Stick With Them” Franco.

Of course, most observers figured the Academy would go with someone familiar and safe (and named Billy Crystal) this time around. However, it turns out that the producer of the 2012 telecast, Brett Ratner, was looking for someone a little less “safe” and a little more, I don’t know, starring in a film he directed that is being released this November. So they went with Eddie Murphy even though he is clearly past his comedic prime, having appeared in precisely two good films since the turn of the millennium.

Now, as evidenced by their attempt to be hip and connect with the youngsters last year, the Academy generally tries to choose a host who is at least somewhat commercially relevant. So this decision struck me as a little strange. If Murphy can’t entertain people with his movies, which last about 90 minutes, how the hell is he going to keep 300 million people glued to the tube for four and a half hours this February? Sure, Eddie is a comedy legend, and he would have been a fantastic host back in 1993. But have you seen Meet Dave?

That being said, I don’t particularly enjoy going against the grain. In fact, I love the establishment. If “the man” writes something on the wall, I read it and don’t ask questions. So if this “picking Oscar hosts who were really awesome 15 years ago” thing is the direction the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences wishes to go, that’s cool. I even have a few suggestions for other has-been Hollywood types the Academy might want to keep in mind for the future. You’re welcome, guys.

Chevy Chase

In his prime, Chevy Chase was a physical comedy genius and a true master of the dry one-liner. He rose to stardom as an original cast member of Saturday Night Live, then parlayed that notoriety into a successful movie career, making classic comedic turns in such films as Caddyshack, Vacation, Fletch, ¡Three Amigos! and, of course, Christmas Vacation. Chevy was so funny in the 70s and 80s that he actually did host the Oscars back then. Twice. And he was great. He opened the 1987 telecast with the classic greeting, “Good evening, Hollywood phonies!”

Sadly, that was one of the last funny things Chevy Chase did for about 20 years. For some reason, Chevy just stopped being funny. Maybe all those comedic pratfalls just took a toll on his body. Or maybe all the drugs he took to numb the pain of those pratfalls took a toll on his brain. But one way or another, Chevy lost it. Luckily, in the last two years he’s been able to regain some of his old form in the NBC sitcom Community, so he might be the perfect guy to follow Eddie Murphy in 2013.

Dan Aykroyd

Dan Aykroyd was probably never quite as brilliant as contemporaries Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, or Steve Martin, but he had some pretty great moments. The unscrupulous toy company executive on SNL selling his “Bag O’ Glass”? Hilarious. Blues Brothers? Classic. Trading Places with co-star Eddie Murphy? Pretty funny. Ghostbusters? Perfect. But all good things come to an end, and I’ve got one word for you that pretty much sums up the man’s current ability: Crossroads. So yeah, these days old Danny boy would be wise to just focus on hocking his wine and liquor products and leave the comedy to others. Which means he’s just the type of guy the Academy is looking for.

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9 Most Convoluted Movie Conspiracies Thu, 01 Sep 2011 15:31:15 +0000 Esteban It's a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a turd...

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This Friday, the hotly anticipated summer flick Apollo 18 finally hits theaters. Of course, it’s somewhat unclear as to why this release is “hotly” anticipated, given that the studio has been remarkably tightlipped about such trivial things as the basic premise of the film. However, one thing we do know about it is that it’s a “documentary-style” film that tells the story of a big government conspiracy to hide the truth about what really happened on the Apollo 18 mission to the moon.

This, at least, should provide a little hope for movie buffs, because if there’s one thing a good suspenseful thriller needs, it’s a convoluted conspiracy. After all, no one wants to watch a movie where the government is helpful, honest and forthcoming; where giant corporations abide by the law and are unwilling to commit treason for the sake of profit; or where a race of aliens is simply “passing through,” with no intention of annihilating our species so they can take over our planet. No, we want to watch movies about villainous criminal syndicates and cabals of rich old men who secretly control the world so that, even subconsciously, our brains can think, “hah, I knew it.” Because it’s a relief to know all the crappy stuff in life is someone else’s fault.

So if Apollo 18 is any good at all, chances are it will be because there’s a good conspiracy propping up an otherwise weak premise. And if this is the case, the film will be keeping good company. There are lots of films driven, if not propped up, by ridiculously convoluted conspiracies.

Here’s a rundown of some of the most convoluted movie conspiracies of all time, so you can better appreciate where I’m coming from.

Above the Law (1988)

Movie conspiracies about covert CIA operations and corrupt police officers are a dime a dozen. So in that regard, Above the Law isn’t all that special. It’s just a movie about how the CIA is selling crack in order to finance its illegal black ops around the globe. All in all, pretty standard Hollywood material. But what really sets this conspiracy flick apart from the pack is the presence of one Mr. Steven Seagal. And his presence is required because you know the only way this CIA drug conspiracy was going to be brought down was with the help of a Chicago cop who just happens to be a former CIA agent and kung fu master.

The Game (1997)

This movie isn’t based on your typical conspiracy, its primary distinction being the fact that both the audience and the guy being conspired against are, to some extent, “in on it” the whole time.

Uberwealthy banker Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglass) is given a really unusual gift by his eccentric brother Conrad (Sean Penn). It’s a gift certificate for “the game.” Nick doesn’t know what the game entails, only that he must be subjected to numerous psychological and physiological tests before it can begin. But it seems the game is actually a ruse designed to get all his money. Soon Van Orton is broke and on the run, trying to figure out who the hell is trying to kill him—a typical conspiracy film scenario. Yet with this film, I really don’t want to give away to much, because I fear many people haven’t seen it. So let’s just say that, while it is a thrilling story, it’s hard to believe the premise is possible at all. (Sometimes you just have to go with it, right?)

The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

Every film buff knows the plot of this movie. A platoon of American soldiers is captured by the Soviets during the Korean war. While the soldiers are in Soviet custody, one of them is brainwashed so that, whenever he sees a queen of diamonds playing card, he will obey any order given. After a successful demonstration of the full potential of this brainwashing, the Commies release the guy so he can go back to America and be their patsy. And the worst part is, in America he’s under the control of his own mother, who is one of the real spies her Joe McCarthy-like husband is always warning his fellow Americans about. Of course, the Communist conspiracy is eventually thwarted, but not before a bunch of bad stuff goes down. As for the nature of the conspiracy itself, while I’m sure it is convenient to have secret agents doing your bidding from the heart of your enemy’s territory, I really wonder whether having a brainwashed assassin would be worth all the trouble. If you really wanted somebody dead, there’s probably an easier way. Plus, I’d take one really nasty guy in full control of his capacities over ten hypnotized assassins any day.

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]]> 0 above the law steven seagal the game starring michael doglas and sean penn directed by david fincher the manchurian candidate 1962