Sunday, April 10, 2011

Reasons I Hate the Valley: Tokyo Delve's

My time on the other side of the hill is few and far between, and with good reason. That reason? I fucking hate the Valley. Its common feeling, this hatred of the happenings on the other side of the hill, and yet, we all end up over there. In the same way unattractive people don’t understand why they can empty a club, people in the valley don’t seem to understand why we detest being in that area. It really is a shame that it’s classified as “L.A.” If it weren’t, it would be plenty easy enough to avoid it. That way, when you ask where someone is located it’s another city entirely. It might as well be another planet.

There are a multitude reasons to hate the valley, enough in fact, that I could start another blog on it. We’ll start with one.

Tokyo Delve’s.

My reason for trekking to the valley this weekend, was a dinner with a couple friends I hadn’t seen since college. Ryan, it seems, had an “amazing time” at a sushi bar on Lankershim by the name of “Tokyo Delve’s.” Since Pincus lives right down the street (Why, Pincus? Why?) I agreed to attend. “It’s like a frat party in a sushi bar” Ryan warned me. And with that, I nervously drove through Hollywood and Highland traffic to get to the other side. It would be really great if the tourist capitol of Hollywood was NOT directly in front of my closest entrance to the freeway. Nine years later* I made it to Tokyo Delve’s with, at least, the expectation to get smashed with some friends in a riotous atmosphere.

Tokyo Delve’s was exactly like a frat party, and by frat party, I mean my cousin Mollie’s Bat Mitzvah. Decorated in star cut outs, glitter, flashing lights, bright blue paint, and posters of the 90s most famous actors, Tokyo Delve’s appeared more like an adult Chuck E Cheese than a sushi bar.

Somewhere between the yelling waiters, The YMCA and Cha Cha Slide, I found myself gripping the sides of my chair, excepting at any moment the waiters to hoist me in the air to Hava Nigila.

With the exception of Gaga’s Alejandro, DJ Joe, whose CDs they continually promoted, stuck to top 40 hits. From 2002.

We ordered our food, exposing Pincus to sushi for the first time, and our alcohol. Ryan got his sake bombs, and I settled for a strawberry sake mixed drink (which was literally two sips of beverage). No amount of alcohol would have fixed the atmosphere. Or the food. Prepared by Mexico’s most qualified sushi chefs, the sushi was less than admirable for the price. Perhaps we were paying for the atmosphere. Poor Pincus. I swear sushi is better than this mess that we consumed!

The entire night was narrated by the bartender, Alejandro, whose name was always accompanied by the hit song. He was an, I can only assume, out of work actor or singer masquerading as a Bar Mitzvah DJ in a sushi bar. The rest of the wait staff was no better. All of them, we can only assume, were the hottest things in their home town, who moved to LA and found no other option to dance like a maniac at Tokyo Delve’s. They either have to have had more sake bombs than Ryan to come to work, or they cry themselves to sleep every night. I can hardly imagine that this is what any of them came to LA to do.

The icing on these poor waiters cake? The lip-syncing show at the end of our dinner. Donning wigs, we were subject to a Milli Vanilli/ Right Said Fred/ Vanilla Ice montage of poorly danced and lip-synced “performances.”

We were ushered out precisely an hour and half later, so the next batch of poor unsuspecting customers could celebrate turning 13 in the valley.

Gimmick over food quality, found in the valley. Want to eat well, stay on the right side of the hill. Want to feel embarrassed for everyone around you? Try eating dinner in the valley.

Never again. I hate the valley.**

*Times are approximate

**This in no way reflects on Ryan and Pincus. I had fun with you guys!

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Longwinded (Lincoln) Loser (Lawyer)

In under 30 words: An unintelligent, painfully long movie featuring nauseating camera movements and bad Ryan Phillippe acting (or as Adam Sass brilliantly put it, simply Ryan Phillippe acting).

Warning: I don't know how to successfully bash this movie, AND leave out key facts. There will be SPOILERS.

Denny uses Groupon and came across a deal! Only 6 dollars for tickets to Lincoln Lawyer? Boy Howdy! So we ante up our six bucks a pop and roll into an empty evening showing of the latest Matthew McConaughey legal thriller. While its an unusual departure from the smug romantic comedy he's used to, McConaughey is no stranger to the thriller. It would be nice, I assumed, to see him return.

After sitting through-what seemed like- hours of trailers and commercials (not ONE for something I'd see, I might add) the movie finally started. To it's credit, it had some of the coolest opening credits I'd seen in a while. Shots of LA, Matthew, and his Lincoln town car flew in and out in various squares and rectangles, rocking out to a killer soundtrack. If only I could have watched the credits on loop for two hours...

But no, unfortunately for Denny and I, the movie had to start eventually....

The Lincoln Lawyer tells the story of Mick, a criminal defendant who works from the back of his Lincoln town car. With his faithful driver, Earl, he takes to the streets. When a gang of bikers approaches her car, we get to see how bad ass McConaughey can be. Despite looking uncomfortable in a suit, Matthew is at his best when he is smarmy and confident. He gets plenty of opportunities to be charming, and those are his best. He's not terrible with the more emotional stuff, although he has trouble accessing the emotion. Thankfully, there are contacts to make him look like he's crying and a make-up artist to put bags under his eyes.

McConaughey has a new client. Someone that requested him specifically, Louis (Ryan Phillippe). He's a young playboy accused of beating and threatening to rape and kill a prostitute. He says he didn't do it and that she is setting him up. Mick and his investigator (William H. Macy, searching for another paycheck in "Shameless" downtime) set out to find the truth.

Ryan Phillippe, in addition to being a horrible, lip quivering actor, is not as innocent as he proclaims to be. There is a reason he picked Mick as his attorney, you see. Mick defended a client, for a very similar crime and lost. Lo and behold, its because Phillippe's Louis is the one that committed the crime! As Mick begins to put together the pieces, he realizes that due to attorney client privilege and all that, that there is nothing he can do. Louis torments Mick, in what could be the most interesting plot line of the movie. How can Mick defend this guilty man, AND get him convicted to save his previous client from jail time?

And this is the opportunity for the movie to be really intelligent. But it isn't. Lincoln Lawyer never reaches levels of intelligence that a legal thriller of this caliber should have. There are no a ha! moments, aside from Matthew FOLDING A PHOTOGRAPH IN HALF. Yes, ladies and gentleman, THAT is Matthew's shining moment of intelligence. I suppose, if the character was smart, no one would buy Matthew playing him. So they make other characters figure things out for Matthew. Despite the terrible acting, Phillippe was the smartest character. WHY AM I ROOTING FOR RYAN PHILLIPPE IN A MOVIE?!

To ensure Matthew plays to his game, Phillippe goes after the ones Matthew loves. William H. Macy, whose character is made sympathetic because his gay partner died of AIDS (thanks red ribbon glued to a photograph. Way to show-not-tell. Director Brad Furman went to film school [ but more on that later]), is the first to feel Phillippe's threat. And then Mick's ex-wife and mother of his child (an underused Marisa Tomei) who also happens to be a prosecutor. How convenient.

I'll save you how it ends, but thankfully, it does (about 30 minutes too late). It drags on and showcases a lot of Ryan Phillippe attempting to act, and lot of "fancy" camera work. The entire thing was shot like a student film with quick cuts and exaggerated camera movements. If you need to raise tensions by spinning a camera in a circle in the middle of the courtroom, there is something wrong with your courtroom scene. Same applies for the entire movie.

About halfway through the movie, when I started zoning off in anger, I imagined some potential sequels: The Prius Preacher, The Toyota Teacher, The Jaguar Janitor, and so on and so forth. All wildly more entertaining in my head than what was playing out on the screen in front of me...

Do yourself a favor, even if Groupon offers you $1 tickets to this, save your two hours. Rarely do I see a movie that makes me feel like I wasted my money. This was one of those times. And it wasn't even MY money. It was Denny's. And it wasn't even full price. It was $6. It was, however, 2 hours of my life that I will never have back.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Trailer Analysis: Beastly vs. Red Riding Hood

This March we get not one, but TWO classic fairy tale reboots. CBS Films' Beastly and Warner Brothers' Red Riding Hood open a week apart and will do their best to tap into the Twilight fangirl base. I'll tell you this much now, one of them I'm stoked on and the other... well the other you'd have to tie me to a chair and duct tape my eyes open to watch (and I guarantee you the entire time I was sitting there I'd be gnawing away at my arms in an attempt to free myself. The pain of my teeth grinding through my skin would be less than that of watching this attempt at romance). I think you know where this is going...


Beastly is a modern take on the Beauty and the Beast tale. A pretty, popular, and terribly vain young man is made to look ghastly by a sorceress and only true love (by a brunette) can break the spell.

This is what love looks like, right guys?

The trailer opens with the words "Beautiful people get it better." Then why are you playing this part Alex Pettyfer? If someone loves this movie does that break your spell of only doing shitty movies (I Am Number 4, anyone?)?

Look! It's Will Ferrell in Zoolander!

Beautiful, blond Pettyfer is made to look like an awesome punk rocker by one of the Olsen sisters (I still can't tell them apart, although I always suspected they dabbled in witchcraft [How else did New York Minute get made?].) and so he becomes a recluse to be tutored by a blind Neil Patrick Harris.

But how the fuck can he play darts??!

Don't get me wrong, I love NPH, but apparently blind to him also means deaf given the slow cadence of his dialogue. But it's okay, because NPH can see how awesome Pettyfer is (funny, I didn't get that out of the trailer. Since his personality sucked, too). I contemplated awarding NPH the "What-The-Fuck-Is-He-Doing-In-This-Movie" award, but then I remembered that twin babies are expensive. He's not the only one who can see Pettyfer's inner beauty... It's that bitch from High School Musical! With nothing better to do and the desire for ANOTHER green room, Hudgens is here...trying to be a star... again. Move the bangs aside, sweetie, and embrace your lack of star quality. Just. Stop. You can see how beautiful Pettyfer is, but you can't see how dismal your career is?

It's supposed to be a sweeping Twilight romance, but really its a jumbled modernistic montage of "ugly" Alex Pettyfer looking past Vanessa Hudgen's bangs into her big, vacant eyes. I get no sense of her character what-so-ever. And as I Am Number Four and Twilight taught us, the movie needs to be from the normal girl's point of view, not the supernatural freak. If you haven't guessed it, this is the movie I'm looking forward to THE LEAST. I frankly can't even believe I sat through the trailer three times to write this.

Stay home and watch the good version

My what an exciting trailer you have.... Red Riding Hood.

And my what big eyes you have... OMG guys, she's the wolf.

Less that 15 seconds in and I'm already way more excited about this movie. The vacant glances of Beastly are replaced with a, quite literal, carnivorous love affair. Seyfried's Little Red is big eyed and all grown up. She's fooling around with the woodsman, when her hand in marriage is promised to another. Love triangles did director Catherine Hardwicke well before, (cough, Twilight, cough) and if you're going to try and tap into that fan base, you might as well go back to the source.

They've got more chemistry in this photograph than
Hudgens and Pettyfer have in their entire movie.

While Seyfried is running around with good old fashioned lust (which I know she can play given her stellar performance as the over-sexualized title character in Chloe.) there is another in the village with blood lust! A werewolf, it turns out. And now we're officially in a whole different world than the original little red riding hood. I imagine Grandma will play into this somehow, but the real mystery is not how little red escapes the wolf, but rather- who the wolf is.

Gary Oldman in a dapper purple outfit is hell bent on finding out, and he knows Seyfried knows. It's probably someone she's fucking... but which one?

Red Riding Hood does several things right, where Beastly goes wrong. First, they cast talented actors. Its amazing what Gary Oldman can do for a movie, and I've never seen Amanda Seyfried in something where she was bad. Second, it's got a style. It's beautiful and bright and they stick to that bright but Gothic style through and through. Seyfried is sure to be the only one with red, but the purple, the blue, the yellow all pop just as much. I've always said that Amanda Seyfried has a face for a Tim Burton movie, and this looks like its about as close as she'll get for now. Third, its from HER point of view. This is where Twilight succeeded and I Am Number 4 failed. If you're going to cater to the teen girl, by all means, make your character a teen girl.

A great soundtrack, fast cuts, and a story that I am familiar with (but did not grow up on in a superior animated form) all help to make Red Riding Hood my choice for fangirl storybook romance.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The 8 Types of People You Meet at the Internet Porn Awards

Sometimes in life, you are presented with opportunities that you would be a fool to say no to. This... is one of those times. This Monday I was invited to the internet porn awards, one of which, a friend of mine's website was nominated for. He was assembling a team together to wear shirts advertising his website. This would mean, of course, that we would be mingling with porn stars, attending the awards show and taking part in the open bar. I, of course, said yes.

I have never been to an event quite like this- and should you ever find yourself in a similar situation, allow me to draw you a map of the 8 types of people you will meet at the internet porn awards...

First and foremost...

1) The Liquor Sponsor

If this is an awards show that naked internet celebrities will be attending, you better believe it will be sponsored by some form of alcoholic beverage. There is a high probability, as I learned Monday, that this bar will be open for a LIMITED amount of time. That is why it is imperative that this is the first person you meet at the bar. This bartender poured me my rum and coke (my cup of rum and teaspoon of coke) and much like Barbara Hershey's sweet girl, I was GONE. My other promoters found themselves putting their drinks in my hand and running back to the bar to get another drink/ogle the bartender before they started charging for these deliciously deadly cocktails.

2) The Shameless Self Promoter

Meet Tom. The co-creator of and the reason that we all attended this shindig. While others are basking in the joy of simply being nominated, Tom is hard at work making sure his hook up site remains on the minds of everyone in that room. How does he do that? By inviting 10 of his most attractive friends (Bias? Yes.) to work the room in his company's shirts and hand out business cards. Its a win-win situation for everyone involved, really.

3) The Porn Star

You're at an awards show for internet porn. You better believe some porn stars will cross your path! But Marcus, you ask, how on earth will I know who the porn stars are (and then Marcus will scoff at you because he knows you know...)? Simple enough, they're the half naked ones that everyone is taking pictures of/with. They're the ones who literally cannot read. Nothing is more entertaining than watching a porn star try and read the contents of their awards envelope.

4) The Nobody in a Shiny Dress

Surrounded by porn stars, she needs to do something to stand out, and that's why this nobody dons a sparkly dress. Anything to make you look away from the naked and at her. Her heels rival a prostitutes and her make-up rivals the drag queens. She thinks she looks good though, even though you need sunglasses to look at her.

5) The Drag Queen

Speaking of drag queen, say hello to the 5th person you'll meet at the internet porn awards. Prepare yourself. Its not pretty. One stopped to talk to us for a good five minutes, and given the fact that her heels were 6 inches off the ground, the end result was me having a conversation... with her armpit. From the likes of Chi Chi La Rue to the nobody boy trying to stand out amidst porn stars, drag queens found themselves littering the event with glitter and eyelashes.

6) The Man in a Suit

The man in the suit, much like the shameless self promoter, is there to work (this is an industry, after all) and while the promoter seeks people out, the man in the suit is sought out. He is the man behind the scenes. The man with the money. The man with the face (or body, or... endowment) for radio. He's successful though, and everyone around him knows it, so you will too.

7) The One Who Bought His Way In

You might have found yourself with an invitation to these awards, but this man certainly did. For wherever the beautiful people flock, there are bound to be several creepers there to stare. So whether you're the porn star or not, you're NOT off limits from the advances of the man who bought his way in. He's got just enough money, and is missing just enough dignity to throw it all on the table to get in and mingle with the folks he watches naked from home. And if you're like me, he'll compliment your glasses and offer to buy you a drink... which is why its a good thing you know that the bar is already free. Get out while you still can.

8) Frenchie Davis

That's right. The closing act was none other than Frenchie Davis, the Season 2 American Idol Alum who was forced to quit the competition after her past in porn was revealed. It should come to no surprise then, that she is actively working the porn circuit, promoting herself as a singer- not an "actress." She, of course, closed with a little number from Dreamgirls. Much to my surprise, it was not "And I am Telling You..." but instead, "I am Changing..." Poor thing sweat so much during her performance that I'm sure she left the stage to do just as she promised, change. However, while you may be changing, Frenchie, the people you surround yourself with certainly are not...

Friday, February 4, 2011

Marcus Picks the Oscars - Part II

Part two is underway of my Oscar picks and predix. Full disclosure: I only watched 25 minutes of the The Fighter. I honestly have no desire to ever see the rest/end of that movie. But regardless, here we go:

Who Will Win: Christian Bale. Well Bale has done it again. He's completely altered his physical appearance for a role as a washed up boxer, turned druggie training his brother who happens to be Mark Wahlberg. He apparently isn't even himself anymore, but frankly I thought he was borderline caricature in the beginning of the film. Oh yeah- and there's this: CLICK ME. Forgot about that, didn't you Hollywood? Call me old fashioned but part of being a great actor is not treating your crew like shit....


Who Should Win: Geoffrey Rush. Because he's never gone into a fit of rage that wasn't scripted AND because after The King's Speech all I wanted was for him to be my best friend. I'm fairly certain I brought up faking a speech impediment to Denny after we saw this, simply to go visit Rush. In all seriousness though, he was the perfect foil to Firth and I found myself rooting for Firth not simply because he was great, but also because a success for Firth's Bertie was a success for Rush's Lionel.

Who Will Win: Hailee Steinfeld. Don't ask me why. I hated the film, but the Academy didn't. There is going to be an upset in one of the major acting categories (as Leo is the front runner) and this will be the category it happens in. What is usually my favorite category is so blah this year. True Grit was a box office success and they'll want to find a place to reward it. This is it. Plus Steinfeld is gaining a ton of momentum and has more screen time than any of the other actresses. The Academy is about to turn its precedent of "reward the child actor with the nomination itself" on its side and give Steinfeld the trophy- but that doesn't mean they'll put her in the lead category.


Who Should Win: Helena Bonham Carter. She completely transformed herself out of the eccentric, mismatched-shoe-wearing, neo-witch she has become. On top of that, she gave a subtly moving performance that was the epitome of a great supporting actress. Her turn, however, is being overshadowed by phenomenal performances by Firth and Rush, and a slew of mediocre performances crowding the supporting actress race. I am also still pissed that my Black Swan supporting ladies didn't work their way in here.

What Will Win: Inception. The Academy owes Nolan big time. They screwed him over with The Dark Knight and completely blanked on even nominating him for director for the visually explosive mind fuck that was Inception. The best director nods are the scene of the crime... They'll make it up to him here.


What Should Win: The Kids Are All Right. I laughed. I cried. And I was just reading the script. The script has so much heart, that it's no wonder the movie felt love. The characters are just as defined on the page as they are on the screen and this is the type of genre that the original screenplay usually loves. It's right up there with Little Miss Sunshine in the "quirky family dramedy" genre.


What Will and Should Win: The Social Network. Do I even need to go further on this one? If they could have nominated Sorkin five times they would have. His dialogue is brilliant. It's the perfect combination of material and writer and will undoubtedly be recognized.

What Will Win: Toy Story 3. Pixar is incredible, I will not deny that. This movie did everything that was promised to me. The characters were just as lovable and the story line just as heart wrenching and loving. But the fact that I am using the phrase "just as" should clue you in to something - it is simply a play into a fan base that is already there. Yes, its great. But is it original?


What Should Win: How To Train Your Dragon. This movie utilized animation in a way that animation was intended to be used. The flying sequences were so much fun, and save for Wall-E, I have never associated so strongly with an animated character. Hiccup was the perfect everyman. His connection with Toothless and his desire to please his father were amazing emotional through-lines to a thoroughly entertaining and beautiful movie.