Friday, March 07, 2008

Good Night, Sweet Grieco

The Dark Times come fast, my friends. One day you're a telephone psychic and on top of the world, the next day your wife leaves you, she gets shot, you lose your job, and your cat dies. You find yourself living in a cold, bitter wasteland, sleeping on the floor of a furnitureless apartment with nothing but porn, pizza, and the occasional boneless wing to get you through.

Things reach rock bottom for you one early morning at around 4:00 AM. You're walking down the street to the gas station for a pack of smokes and a can of Power Horse when a man easily twice your size grabs you. He says something like, “Give me six fucking dollars.” You know you only have a $20 in your wallet, and that's like a week's worth of food, and there's no way he's getting it. He grabs you again as you try to walk on, and he keeps yelling about six fucking dollars. This time, he doesn't let go of you. There's no way you're giving him the $20, though, so you start talking to him. Soon, you talk him out of mugging you by convincing him that you are as miserable as he is, you hate this place as much as he does, and your woman walked out just like his did. You make him laugh, talk about how things are better in the South, and tell him to come with you to the store. Once you get change from the smokes and the Power Horse, you'll give him the $6.00 he needs. He walks with you, you give him some cash, he says “God Bless You,” and wishes you better days ahead. You do the same, and then walk home. As you crack open your Power Horse, recline on your blanket-bed, and start talking to your one remaining cat, a part of your ceiling collapses. The City, like the house in The Amityville Horror, is telling you to get out.

Eventually, you make it to warmer climes, and the Dark Times slowly give way to the Gray Times. There's less porn, but the pizza isn't nearly as good and you still can't really find a job. You work in a call center, grade standardized tests, and then decide to sell Kias for a living. The man who interviewed you told you he drops more at the titty bar on a Friday night than you make in a month, so you figure it's gotta be great. I mean, you always wanted to sell fucking Kias, didn't you? Of course, you bail before your first day, and commit to another stint of unemployment. But then, you discover that some people will pay you to write from home, which is perfect, because you like to write and you hate wearing pants that aren't flannel.

You meet a lovely girl and the Gray Times start to pass, and you find yourself working from home and watching a lot of bad movies. One day, you decide you'll write about these bad movies, so the People (or your six friends) will also know about them. After some time, you send some of the stuff you've written about these bad movies to a guy, and he says he is willing to pay you decent money to write blogs for a living. You still get to work from home, so you still get to watch many, many bad movies.

After some more time, a company reads some of your stuff and convinces you to move back to your hometown and settle in for a job that will require you to wear real pants as well as write, edit, and manage some blogs. You do it, leaving the bad movies behind. You bitch about it a lot, but you know deep down it's the coolest job you've ever had, and there are moments when you catch yourself with your feet up on your desk, staring out the window of your office at the Dallas skyline, and you think, “In some fucked up way, if it weren't for Grieco, I would never have gotten to where I am right now.”

Thank you all. I couldn't have done it without you. Goodbye.


Thursday, March 06, 2008

A Collection of Griecos

Over the last year while I was totally dropping the GIK ball, I would catch pieces of movies, read descriptions on the Guide, and see previews that made me think of Grieco and how I needed to get back to it. Of course, I failed. However, before Grieco and I ride off into the sunset, I want you to know about some of these pictures, so that you may see them and tell others of their Glory.

Voyage of the Unicorn
Beau Bridges stumbles around looking utterly bewildered in this mind-blowing made-for-TV LOTR-Potter-Land of the Lost attempt. Even the simplest line is spoken with pure wonderment, like when Beau and family gaze upon a plastic bluish rock and say, “amaaaazing.” Oh, and it’s four hours long. (3 ½-Griecos)

Left Behind 3: World at War
I’m guessing it’s the greatest installment of the greatest GIK series of all time. Lou Gossit, Jr. joins the cast as the President of the United States, Kirk Cameron is still rocking it as GNN correspondent Buck Williams, and the world is totally at war with the Antichrist, Nickolai Carpathia. I will miss you most of all Left Behind movies. (4-Griecos)

Atomic Twister
Amazing title. Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Deputy Jake Hannah. A must-see. (3 ½-Griecos)

All Things Sci-Fi
Don’t think for a second that the Sci-Fi Channel has stopped turning out gems just because GIK stopped covering them. I caught a preview for Ogre the other night while I was watching a bold modern-day Pterodactyl piece. Preview and movie both awesome. (3 ½-Griecos all around.)

I am Legend
OK, this film goes way beyond Grieco, but I have to talk about it. BTS was fired up about it over Christmas, and he told me I had to see it. I wasn’t sold on the idea, but the lovely Sherpa and I finally got around to checking it out at the dollar-movie last week. BTS was totally right. I loved it. Bold as shit. Had dreams about it for three straight nights.

The pictures are out there, people. Keep the dream alive!

Oh Grieeeeco…I’m dy---ing.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Have We Met Before, Monsieur?

So, this it. We're down to our final three posts. Let's not dwell on the past or focus on the sadness of it all. Instead, let's act as though we are young attractive characters in a movie who have just found out that they will die in three months, so they choose to embrace all the Joy in the world and live each day to its fullest, helping those around them to do the same in the process. Like Campbell Scott in Dying Young, Ali MacGraw in that horrible Love Story, Winona Ryder in Richard Gere is Way too Fucking Old to be My Love Interest, or that guy in that other thing.

On that note, here we go...

Deja Vu
A few weeks ago, I had to go to LA for work (yep, I used to work at home in my pajamas and now I have to fly places for the job. It's fucked up and sad.). On my flight back to Dallas, I cracked open my trusty portable DVD player and put in a movie my mom gave me for Christmas. It was Deja Vu, starring Denzel, the Jewish kid from Dazed and Confused, a hot chick, and a doughy Val Kilmer. It honestly took me a second to realize the man in the over-sized suit was, in fact, Kilmer, but once he brought out the acting chops I was sure.

Deja Vu involves a steamboat explosion, some cops, and the most tenuous time-travel plot/device (not plot device, mind you) you have ever seen. Seriously, I know how whenever you start thinking about a time-travel movie the physics of it all kind of breaks down, but at least the good ones adhere to some set of rules they've established. Other than Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, which is awesome and totally breaks it's own rules for all the right reasons (remember “Remember a trashcan,” anyone?). Anyway, Deja Vu is all over the place time-travel wise. It involves some FBI geniuses and a wormhole and a helmet with a camera mounted on it. For real, there is a helmet-cam that gives you a window into the past.

So, Denzel gets mixed up with Kilmer's rag-tag group of time-traveling agent/scientists and tries to save a dead girl that his time traveling may or may not have caused to die. There are some bold multi-time car chases and some sexy shower scenes, and a lot of Denzel doing his laughing and acting earnest at the same time thing. You know, where he has a toothpick in his mouth, but he's still kind of serious.

Alright, so Denzel has just broken through to the past for real, and he's tracking a killer/bomber and trying to save the dead/live girl, and-- “return your tray tables to their bla bla bla fuck you if you're watching Deja Vu, you're not going to get to finish it...”

The shit landed. I was actually mad about it. This movie was the perfect plane ride picture. Sure, it made no sense and Kilmer seemed bored at best (hopped up at worst), but it was still kind of awesome. I was way into it. Not into it enough to have actually finished it over the past three weeks, but still way into it. I give it 3-Griecos. Could have gone 3 ½, but even Timeline made more sense scientifically speaking.

Alas, poor Grieco! I knew him Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy

Monday, December 17, 2007


TGOGS, like brave Patroclus, has picked up the armor of Grieco, and gone into battle. Thank you valiant TGOGS.

In honor of #5’s heroic journey into the pits of insanity, I undertook a tributary Grieco post by watching four Stallone pictures in 48 hours. If I were truly heroic, I’d have done it in 24, but it didn’t occur to me to do so until day two.

Before I get going, let me just say that the Grumpy Santa tour has been a consistent source of delight, pity, schadenfreude and jaw-dropping wonder thus far, and it’s only 2/3 over. Though I truly fear for Numero Cinquo’s mental and physical safety, and that of those around him, I exalt him for this Herculean endeavor.

So I got this Stallone sampler DVD package at Best Buy (along with a copy of Varsity Blues). Contents: The Specialist, Over the Top, Tango & Cash, Demolition Man.

Aww yeah…


Mastermind behind the entire operation: Rod Steiger, whose Cuban kingpin character rivals Mickey Rooney’s beloved Chinaman with its subtlety, realism and cultural sensitivity.

AntiStallone: Jimmy Woods, who absolutely carries the picture. Pretty sure Gary Oldman watched this film a few times before he shot The Professional. Stallone and Woods were special ops or DEA or some shit, but Woods went too far and Stallone had to take him down. Now Woods is a crooked cop or FBI or some shit, working with Steiger, and he’s out to take Stallone down. And yell, and crack wise.

Love interst: Sharon Stone’s tits.

Stallone as: Ray Quick, tortured assassin trying to get out of the game. Explosives expert, the best. Mumbler. Lives in a sewer/batcave. Hates knives!

The rundown: Stone (the subtly named “Mae Monroe”) is trying to get Stallone to do a job for her. Before Sharon Stone was a wild-eyed, leathery hag, she was smoking hot. You forget sometimes. The two of them are communicating by telepathy. Or else by phone calls, the audio of which is superimposed over footage of the two of them looking sexy and pensive.

“I heard that you control your explosions, you shape your charges.”

“What I shape and who I shape it for is my business.”

He stalks/falls in love with her, and when she threatens to take on the bad guys all by herself if he won’t help, he finally agrees to do the deed. He’s gonna wipe out these four or so dudes that killed her father when she was a kid (which murder she witnessed from her hiding place in the closet, as evidenced by intermittent blue-tinted flashbacks). And wipe them out he does.

My take: The pyrotechnics are nice. Woods is doing vintage Woods. The whole explosives expert/hit man concept has all the ingredients. But the movie’s about as generic as they come. Even Stallone seems pretty bored throughout, except when he’s putting his paws on Basic Instinct’s bare flesh. There is, however, a nice lesson at the end, when Stone gleefully blows up Steiger herself: revenge killing is the best killing of all. And our heroes kiss and laugh and ride off into the sunset in a convertible.

I’m giving it: 2 ½ Griecos. Awesome and funny in all the ways one would expect, but somehow left me unfulfilled. In fact, I may have actually seen this movie before. I’ve almost forgotten it already.


Mastermind behind the whole operation: Stallone’s past. He’s just tryin to make good.

AntiStallone: Robert Loggia, Stallone’s father-in-law, tan as all get-out. His daughter is dying and he wants custody of the grandkid.

Love interest: The heart and mind of his estranged son.

Stallone as: Lincoln Hawk, regretful trucker, arm wrestler. Mumbler. Ekes out a meager existence in his shitty old truck. Favors the suspenders/t-shirt look.

The rundown: This is an arm wrestling movie. I’m not sure what all else I need to say about it. Stallone is playing Rocky up there. His 10-year-old military school genius son hates him until Sly lets him drive the truck on the highway, then he loves him. Loggia reclaims the kid, and it looks like all is lost, until Stallone wins the big arm wrestling match with his signature move (they call it going “Over the Top”), and gets the money and the new truck and so then he gets to keep the kid. Yay!

My take: If you haven’t seen this movie, you’re really missing out. It’s one of the most absurd things ever put to film. And fully realized, at that. The kickass soundtrack features Sammy Hagar, Eddie Money, Kenny Loggins and the one and only Frank Stallone.

I’m giving it: 4 Griecos! I’m loath to do so as a guest reviewer, but this film simply demands all four. It is a triumph.


Mastermind behind the whole operation: Jack Palance, criminal overlord of L.A. He sets up T&C, getting them behind bars and off the streets so he can run drugs and hang out in his evil genius conference room with impunity. But not for long…

The AntiStallone: The British thug, I suppose. Really, though, it’s Cash, isn’t it? Gabe Cash, the gritty, downtown yin to Tango’s slick, uptown yin. And boy, do these two yins clash, in the most homoerotic shower scene since Top Gun. Cash, as you know, is played by Kurt Russell’s hair.

Love interest: Also Cash. Too bad though, cause Cash loves Tango’s little sister, a permed-to-the-max Teri Hatcher. Uh-oh, Tango ain’t gonna like that!

Stallone as: Ray Tango, yuppie cop who’s in it for the thrill. Wildcard. Mumbler. Also, Russell mimic. When I told a pal I was going to watch this picture, he clued me into the predominant inflectory pattern used by both T&C. It goes something like this: Duh DUH...duh Duh duh Duh duh Duh…(etc.) It’s a wiseguy sort of thing. There should be a drinking game.

The rundown: Tango y Cash are superstar hotshot drug cops who compete for regular front page newspaper coverage. After Palance gets them into the stir, they spend the first half of the movie fighting for their lives and trying to break out. See, they get sent to the wrong prison, the one that houses all the toughs they ever put away, the one with flaming toilet paper raining from the sky and no prisoner supervision whatsoever. But with begrudging teamwork and sheer moxy, they bust out. Free at last, T&C set their sights on Palance, who has legions of underlings, one of whom is Russell’s personal nemesis and is played by James Hong, who also happens to portray Lo Pan in Big Trouble in Little China. Their explosive mission culminates in a truly ridiculous action sequence, where T&C get this Batmobile cum Hummer from Cash’s crazy underground inventor friend (Lazlo Hollyfeld meets Q (there’s also a boot-gun) ) and they take the vehicle to Palance’s lair, which is situated in the middle of a construction site, and so there’s an extended chase scene/shootout with dirt bikes, pickups, dune buggies, monster trucks and finally, heavy construction equipment. They eventually kill Palance in a nonsensical Enter the Dragon sequence, save Teri Hatcher, clear their names and high five.

My take: You’ve seen this movie, you don’t need my take.

I’m giving it: 3 ½ Griecos. Another high score. I don’t know that a film this popular really qualifies for what this site is all about, so it’s hard go gauge. Depending on how you view it, it could be a 3- or 4-Grieco movie. Add or subtract the extra half-Grieco for this film’s introduction of “F.U.B.A.R.” into the popular lexicon.


Mastermind behind the whole operation: Sir Nigel Hawthorne, the corrupt leader of cultish utopia San Angeles (a.k.a. Future L.A.). Or is it a dystopia?

AntiStallone: Blonde Wesley Snipes as Simon Phoenix, psychopathic criminal extraordinaire.

Love interest: Sandra Bullock, prudish futurecop in a puritanical futureworld, ripe for the plucking.

Stallone as: John Spartan, pastcop, loose cannon. Mumbler. Crazy bastard with nothing to lose.

The rundown: In a somewhat post-apocalyptic 1996, Stallone busts arch-criminal Snipes, supposedly kills some innocents in the process, and they both get the Han Solo treatment. Forty years later, Hawthorn thaws out Snipes, having programmed him with secret codes and kung fu, so that Snipes can be his minion. Snipes is charged with eliminating Dennis Leary, who acts as the de facto leader of a quasi-resistance movement when he’s not busy doing tired “rant” material straight from his standup act. Hawthorne’s future-kingdom is one of liberal fascism – there’s no cussing, no booze, no smokes, no salt, no sex, no violence, constant surveillance. The cops are pussies who’ve never experienced real action. With Snipes on a rampage, there’s only one person who can take him out. So they defrost Stallone and he does just that.

My take: This film suffers from a genre identity crisis. It’s part camp (all restaurants in the future are Taco Bells), part banal social commentary (sex is performed via virtual reality, cause sex is getting too sterile, man, and it’s a slippery slope), and part run-of-the-mill cool future movie (gull-wing doors on all the cars). The banter throughout is on par with any of Stallone’s top pictures - “You’re gonna regret this for the rest of your life. Both seconds of it.” Overall, it’s a pretty big mess. For most of the movie I have no clue what they’re going for, and neither do they. Which is part of the reason I like is so much.

I’m giving it: 3 Griecos. The pseudo-Orwellian future jargon rules – seconds are called “tick tocks,” hello and goodbye are “be well,” and everyone is addressed by both first and last names (so you get to hear “John Spartan” and “Simon Phoenix” uttered over and over). Snipes has free reign to do whatever it is that Snipes does. And Stallone wears a beret.


He doesn’t annunciate very well. His characters have amazing names. He can actually be natural and engaging when he’s ad-libbing, and they should let him do it more often. He’s best as a born loser or underdog type. His muscles are large, well-defined, and often oily.

Bonus trivia question: Two of these movies directly reference Rambo. Do you know which ones?

Well, that’s about enough out of me. Be well, #5, wherever you are. Be well.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

It Ain't Easy Being Grieco

There comes a point in your life when you have to look in the mirror and admit that some weird shit comes your way. You've been a telephone psychic, you've sold stuffed bunnies door-to-door, you've handed out menus in a blizzard while wearing a chef's hat, you've starred in two fake Italian weddings, you've watched 27 hours straight of Twin Peaks at a local movie theater (just me?). I bring this up, because another strange event is upon me. I can't to into it, because it's for work, but I will say it involves flying to all 50 states in 11 days and a Santa suit.

That said, I am going to be on a strange journey for a time, and I will most likely dedicate GIK to that for a spell. While it strays from the premise of the blog, I would like to have a record of the insanity (hopefully with pictures). It all begins this weekend, and I will have work-oriented things to do along the way, but hopefully I will have some time to dedicate to GIK. I also plan to review airplane movies along the way, so that's kind of Grieco.

Anyway, stay bold. Chip Chip!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Back from Thanksgiving

The 4-day weekend was beautiful but too short. I have recovered from beige food overdose. I am going to try something new to try to get GIK back up and running on a regular basis. Start looking for posts to go up on the weekend. I hope to do at least two (maybe 3) a week still, but this whole work thing is kicking my ass, so Sat. and Sun. seem like the way to go. Also, I would like to open the floor to some guest posts. TGOGS, the People look to you to return to glory. The people look to you all. Just let me know if you've seen some Grieco-worthy pictures that you would like to tell the world (or at least 7 or 8 others) about.

Keep it Grieco!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Are You the One they Call Beowulf?

Last year, I wrote about checking out Friday the 13th III in its original 3-D form. It was awesome in its own love for the fledgling technology, placing broomsticks precariously close to the audience's eyes or popping popcorn into the third dimension for like 20 minutes. Well, the technology has come a long, long way, but the self-fascination remains, and as badass as 3-D is, you will still have the “hey look, this is totally 3-D” shots thrown your way.

With that, let's get down to Geats:

Beowulf (an epic post for an epic tale)
First off, this picture isn't just 3-D, it's crazy Zemeckis Polar Express (yeah, I saw it. What?) up there. You know, where (for the most part) the “cartoons” totally look like the actor who is playing them only with less pock marks and better abs. It kind of blows my mind. Anyway, here we go:

I am a huge fan of Beowulf. It is, in my opinion, one of the boldest tales ever told. It is pure metal at times, and it smacks of honor and the Norse. If you think it sucks because you had to memorize part of it in Olde English in high school, I suggest taking a look at the relatively new (2000?) Seamus Heaney translation. It kicks ass. “Wound-slurry.” All I'm saying.

As a lover of Beowulf, I was heard to remark “that's bullshit!” quite loudly in the theater when the first MAJOR plot discrepancy occurred like 10 minutes in, but luckily I was able to put that behind me and enjoy the sheer digital insanity to come.

Digital Hopkins guzzles mead with his thanes and frolics in his Hall, and all is well. Until Grendel shows up. Played by Crispin Glover (reunited w/ Back to the Future director Zemeckis), this Grendel owes more to the titular character of John Gardner's book than to the monster of the original. He is tragic, misshapen, and sad, and has bad hair and a pulsating eardrum that drives him to violence. He speaks Dutch or German or ESL to his mother until he is slain by Beowulf.

(note: once in a hotel in Chicago, I was in the lobby next to Mr. Glover. He was clad in all leather, and as he poured himself a cup of coffee, he rapped the words, “I am going to a party. I am going to party,” over and over again. It was 11:30 AM. It is, to this day, one of the greatest moments of my life.)

As the well-endowed mother of Grendel, digital Angelina Jolie seems a bit hotter than real life Jolie, as though the digital version has no love of orphans or home-wrecking, but only has love for you. She uses an accent similar to her “I'm kind of Russian” thing she does in Alexander. It's ridiculous, but I don't think that is what she'll be remembered for by most.

Once Grendel gets killed, there are some fantastic digital battles involving equally fantastic digital gore. There are blades and chalices, and oaths, and loss, and betrayal, and all the things you'd expect from such a picture. However, there is also some digital buffoonery with a non-seen Beo-penis that goes on way too long. There is also digital Malkovich who is awesome in the same ways as real Malkovich, and his character serves to work in some of the bizzaro Christian elements that the Monks forced into the book. There is also digital Robin Wright Penn, who I think I have a little crush on. Not the real Mrs. Wright-Penn, mind you. She seems like she could destroy me.

OK, so after the battles and ascensions to the thrown, there is a dragon chase that resembles every dream I have had since I was 12. There is also a moment when our hero slices the muscles in his own arm to bring him closer to the heart of the beast. But, where, I ask, was the high-flying guitar lick to underscore it?

Eventually, the movie reaches an ending similar to that of the book. There is a funeral pyre on a dragon ship and a flaming waterfall, and it's so very right. But then, there is the Sci-Fi Channel style “is the story really over?” ending, which is totally absurd.

If you can divorce yourself from the book (probably not too hard for many), this is a crazy 3-D ride. However, I must say this—the picture calls into question Beowulf's honor, and that I cannot abide. And so I give it 3-Griecos. Enjoy it. Love it. Battle it. And prepare for Ragnarok.

Also, prepare for Part II of this epic, in which I will break down the 3-D previews the lovely Sherpa and I saw before the movie.