Poll Results: Favorite Road Trip Movie

The Warning Sign is back! After a much-needed vacation followed by an insane work week, things should be back to normal over here starting today. First, here is the winner of last week’s poll:

Planes, Trains & Automobiles

THE RESULTS:
– Planes, Trains & Automobiles: 5 votes
– Thelma & Louise: 3 votes
– Badlands: 2 votes
– Little Miss Sunshine: 2 votes
– The Muppet Movie: 2 votes
– Y Tu Mamá También: 2 votes
– Borat: 1 vote
– Easy Rider: 1 vote
– It Happened One Night: 1 vote
– The Motorcycle Diaries: 1 vote
– Rain Man: 1 vote
– Sideways: 1 vote
– Two-Lane Blacktop: 1 vote
– Vanishing Point: 1 vote
– Wild Strawberries: 1 vote

As expected, a lot of different films received votes in this poll, but the 1987 John Hughes fan favorite, Plains, Trains & Automobiles, got a well-earned victory here. I didn’t get to see that film until last year, but yeah, it’s a fun movie, and I can see why so many people still love it today. Nice voting, folks, and it’s nice that so many great road trip films were represented here.

This Week’s Poll: The latest Ron Howard film, Rush, has been out for a week now, and it has been getting a lot of positive buzz. In honor of this recent release, let’s take a look back at Howard’s extensive filmography. What are your two favorite Ron Howard directed films?

Have a great week everyone! It’s good to be back.

Poll Results: Most Anticipated 2013 Video Game + The Warning Sign is on vacation!

We have another tie:

gta-v
south-park-the-stick-of-truth

THE RESULTS:
– GTA V: 4 votes
– South Park: 4 votes
– Watch Dogs: 3 votes
– Beyond: Two Souls: 2 votes
– FIFA 14: 2 votes
– Gran Turismo 6: 2 votes
– Batman: Arkham Origins: 1 vote
– WWE 2K14: 1 vote

Interestingly enough, the new Assassin’s Creed, Battlefield, Call of Duty and Killzone games received a grand total of zero votes. I love it. Nice to see some original IPs like Watch Dogs and Beyond: Two Souls snag some votes, too. One thing’s for sure: there will be no shortage of quality games to play this fall/winter.

This Week’s Poll: By the time you read this today, I will be on my way to Denver, Colorado for a much needed vacation. It will be a short trip — just four days — but I am making the best of it by catching a baseball game, exploring the Rocky Mountains, and seeing my favorite band, The National, at one of the greatest music venues in the world: Red Rocks. In honor of my vacation, this week’s poll is: what are your TWO favorite road trip movies? This one’s tough, as there are *a lot* of great options. I put together a list of popular choices, but if you need more inspiration, I highly recommend checking out the Top 20 Road Films list at And So It Begins…

While I’m away, I have two posts prepped and ready to go, so there will still be content to read. It just might take me a little longer than usual to respond.

Have a great week, folks!

Movie Review: Crystal Fairy [2013]

Crystal Fairy [2013]

Crystal Fairy [2013]
Director: Sebastián Silva
Writers: Sebastián Silva
Genre: Adventure/Comedy
Starring: Michael Cera, Gaby Hoffmann, Juan Andrés Silva
Running Time: 98 minutes

One of the biggest highlights in this year’s surprise comedy hit, This Is the End, is Michael Cera’s out of control, coked-out cameo. With his starring role in the Sundance selection, Crystal Fairy, Cera continues his recent on-screen drug binge, this time trading in James Franco’s mansion for the vast Chilean coastline.

Cera plays Jamie, a college-age American who has traveled to Chile in a quest to find the illustrious San Pedro cactus, the inside of which contains the hallucinogenic mescaline. Jamie is a stereotypical boorish American, the type of guy who is only thinking of himself and his object of desire (the cactus). It’s a wonder that he has managed to make any Chilean friends, but he does find himself in the company of three mild-mannered and polite brothers, the oldest of whom offers to help Jamie.

Crystal Fairy [2013]

At a party the night before their planned road trip, Jamie notices another American dancing by herself without any inhibition whatsoever. This amuses him to no end, and he starts cracking jokes about her to anyone who will listen. Eventually, he starts a conversation with her, discovering that her name is Crystal Fairy (Gaby Hoffmann). Still tickled at the idea of such a radical free spirit doing as she pleases, Jamie jokingly throws out the idea of her joining them on their cactus hunt. Surprisingly, she accepts.

Sure enough, the next morning he gets a phone call from Crystal, and she is waiting to be picked up in a nearby park. Jamie, further proving his selfishness, suggests ignoring her request and not bringing her along. His friends immediately discredit this notion, as they agree that would simply not be the right thing to do. And so the journey goes with two completely different Americans and three Chilean brothers.

Crystal Fairy [2013]

What follows is an easy-going road trip movie that manages to remain enjoyable despite taking its sweet time to get anywhere. The culture clash is very much at play here, but the biggest disparity is between Jamie and Crystal. Jamie is especially taken aback by her carefree behavior and casual nudity, and this seems to embarrass him far more than the others. Although both American characters are never really fleshed out all too much (and come across as little more than stereotypes), they are still just likable enough to make the film work.

The script is bare-bones at best, and much of the film is at least semi-improvised. This gives it an air of authenticity that helps remain engaging (it also probably helps that the cast members did in fact trip on mescaline for this film, some of which made it on screen). When the film does attempt to dig into a character’s back story, it feels unnecessary and tacked-on, providing a resolution that leaves something to be desired.

Still, sometimes it’s nice to just go along for the ride, and Crystal Fairy left me guessing throughout. I wasn’t sure where these characters would end up or what might happen during their adventure, and it was rare that I didn’t have a smile on my face. Sometimes that’s all that is needed.

7/10

Movie Project #8: Into the Wild [2007]

Due to the overwhelming success of my initial Movies Project, I decided to do a second round for 2012. This time around I put a greater emphasis on directors I am not familiar with, but I also tried to compile a mix of different genres and eras. This will be an ongoing project with the finish date being sometime this year.

Into the Wild [2007]

Into the Wild [2007]
Director: Sean Penn
Genre: Adventure/Biography/Drama
Starring: Emile Hirsch, Vince Vaughn and Catherine Keener
Runtime: 148 minutes

I was skeptical upon my viewing of Into the Wild. I have friends who swear by this movie, ranking it among their favorites, but I was worried that it would be too similar to Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man, a similarly true tale that did very little for me. While both films have similar concepts — a man giving up everything to live in the wild — I felt that I could empathize more with Into the Wild’s lead character, much to the credit of director Sean Penn’s adaptation.

Emile Hirsch stars as Christopher McCandless, a middle-class kid who promptly gives up everything after graduating from college. He donates his savings (approx. $24,000) to Oxfam, ditches his car near a beach, and proceeds to live as a vagabond, happily drifting across the continental United States. His reason? He doesn’t agree with society, and the feeling of being trapped by its expectations. His ultimate goal is to live alone in the Alaskan wilderness.

This is an admirable notion, to be sure, but his lack of care and respect for his family is appalling. He doesn’t like his parents (Marcia Gay Harden and William Hurt), a stuck-up couple that are abusive to each other, but his little sister (Jena Malone) adores him. He shuns all of them, opting to go on his own personal journey.

Into the Wild [2007]

Christopher’s selfishness is disturbing, but it’s hard to stay upset at him thanks to Hirsch’s fantastic performance. He is charming, intelligent and has a strong set of morals when dealing with stranger (i.e. passing up on the chance to fornicate with a 16-year-old Kristen Stewart).

On the road, Christopher dubs himself Alexander Supertramp, and he meets a wide variety of characters, all memorable in their own way. There’s an old hippie couple (Catherine Keener and Brian H. Dierker) that he develops a strong connection with. In South Dakota, Alexander gets a job with a harvesting company owned by Wayne Westerberg (Vince Vaughn). In California, he meets an old retired veteran (Hal Holbrook, in an amazing performance) who begins to feel as if “Supertramp” is his own grandson. In different ways, Christopher makes an impact on all of their lives, then quickly goes off on his own, seemingly never to be seen again.

Into the Wild [2007]

The film is presented in nonlinear fashion, showing us glimpses of Christopher alone in Alaska, then showing us segments from his road trip leading up to that point. This connection is masterfully created by Sean Penn, who also wrote the screenplay. The cinematography is simply stunning, beautifully showcasing the glorious splendor that can be found in a country as large as the United States, even in places that might not be expected (i.e. South Dakota).

Special mention must be made of the movie’s soundtrack, performed by Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder. I am not a big Pearl Jam guy, but damn if this score doesn’t hit all the right spots. A perfect fit for the vast, expansive nature of the movie’s central theme.

Perhaps Into the Wild runs a little long, and yes, the main character is decidedly selfish, but this film is emotionally stirring in ways that I was not expecting. I felt a connection to this young man and his idealistic beliefs. He had a great message (and could have redeemed himself), it’s just a shame that he took it to such an extreme.

8/10