Wednesday, December 17, 2014

This moment is a pearl.

It's kind of embarrassing now, but when I first started dating my wife...well...there was this song. It was the first track on the CD (which I had to connect through a f--king cassette adapter [yes kids, that was a thing]) and I would play it as soon as I got in the car after spending hours enchanted with her. As much as I didn't want to leave, I was secretly thrilled because I was taking the first steps to seeing her again. I would play this song - as loud as I could get it - and basically f--king soar the half mile back to my off campus apartment. We were just starting out (this is pre-everything), and this was that time when my love for her literally consumed every waking thought I could muster. And that song? Well...

...it was the soundtrack.

The relationship between music and love, love and music (however you want to put it), has been depicted in movies a million times, a million ways. But never has it resonated with me as strongly as in director John Carney's Begin Again. Like that song that brings me back to one of the happiest times in my life, Begin Again is a film I could experience over and over. For me, it was just about perfect.

Though it's set in an extremely contemporary New York City, Begin Again basks in a timelessness. Taking nods from one of my favorite movies ever (It's not Jerry Maguire), this film tells the story of a once-successful executive abruptly fired from a company he started. It seems time has passed Dan by (a brilliantly charming Mark Ruffalo), and while the music industry has changed, he hasn't. He insists he still has it what it takes, even if no one really believes (in) him. Initially, I didn't either.

Meanwhile, twenty-something year old Gretta (the understatedly luminous Keira Knightley), fresh off a devastating breakup, decides she wants to leave NYC and head back to the U.K. She dabbles in singing and songwriting, and it's fitting that her last act in the city finds her performing one of her own songs to a room full of uninterested New Yorkers. Her man has rejected her, and the city is about to do the same. The song ends, and outside of her supportive friend clapping like an idiot, it's all coughing and clinking glasses.

Well...except for this one scruffy, half-cocked older gent. He thinks she's incredible.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Let it be no more.

Possibly to the detriment of increased readership, I always start my posts with a personal story. Usually it's very loosely related to the film or its themes, or sometimes, just an incident from my unspectacular life that I was reminded of while watching. But as I'm just north of my four-hundredth post, these introductory paragraphs are getting harder and harder to come up with. Soon, I'm afraid, I'm going to have to dust off some already published stories and reimagine them. Maybe tell you the dreaded untold story...


I'll tell you right now, outside of spending an hour and a half with the impossibly sexy Angelina Jolie, Maleficent simply isn't my kind of film. Yeah, I've said it before, I'll watch anything, but I never said I'd enjoy doing so. And while Disney's latest live-action version of a beloved classic doesn't unseat Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland as biggest turd ever, it further cements the fact that these flicks simply ain't for me. With or without Lara Croft.

Let me be clear: this isn't a bad movie. Not offensively so, anyway. It's just that outside of an enchanting Angelina Jolie, for me, there wasn't much else to care about. The effects are nice, sure, and the script somewhat clever. Hell, I even liked the supporting cast, too. But for a guy clearly outside the target demographic, I simply didn't give a damn about any of it. In fact, I rented it for my wife (and my aforementioned unrequited love of Mrs. Brad Pitt), and that crazy bitch fell asleep before Jolie made an appearance. Just  kidding. She's not crazy...

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Nobody cares about you.

I think it was freshman year.
I want to say it was the spring term.1998.
From room to room, at least in the guy's section, an unmarked VHS tape was being circulated. We didn't get much heads up (our room was in a co-ed hallway [which totally had its perks]), but when it arrived, everybody immediately stopped what they were doing. Every guy in that room knew, we are witnessing history. This was our moon landing. But instead of Neil Armstong and Buzz Aldrin? Well...

We had Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee. On a boat.


Speaking of ultimately disappointing movies where people film themselves f--king, let's add July's Sex Tape to the list. While the original sex tape was really only about Tommy Lee's massive johnson, director Jake Kasdan's flick is marginally more complicated. Okay, not really, but at least they held the camera steady.

Jason Segel plays, well,  Jay, some sort of radio station guy, who just so happens to pass out iPads as presents. Apparently, Jay can turn out a hell of playlist, and he routinely (and remotely) updates his lists all the time. It's truly the gift that keeps on giving. Yes, it's that old story/the weirdest Apple commercial ever.

One night, after realizing their lovelife is lacking, Jay's wife, Annie (the still super-hot Cameron Diaz) suggests that they make a sex tape. Of course Jay's down for this, and fully agrees to delete it after the marathon f--ksession has ended. Surprising no one, he doesn't, and when Jay's iPad syncs, his framily now has access to some kinky shit. What ever will they do?

(SPOILER ALERT: He doesn't just delete it from his account, thereby allowing all the other Best Live Short nominees to breathe a little easier this March).

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Welcome to Nerd School.

I'm hooked on drugs. All of them.

I got my girlfriend pregnant. It's going to be a boy. And two girls.

Or worse, I'm going to go to a small, liberal arts college. Just like you did. And I'm going to major in Communications.

There are a lot of things I hope my son never says, but possibly even more troubling, is this one phrase he keeps repeating. In his tiny, five year-old voice, my son Matthew (on more than one occasion) has said the following phrase out loud:

Dad. I don't like watching movies. 

Whose kid is this?


Where the Turtles [review] failed miserably, and even Rocket and Groot [review] couldn't swing it, Hiro and Baymax finally triumphed. After months away, I finally, finally!, convinced my son to come to the movies with me. And while just having him next to me was the true victory, Disney's latest just so happens to be an excellent film.

Big Hero 6, from directors Don Hall and Chris Williams, may not sit at the top of the studios all-time list, but leaving the theater that day? Well, I might have had it pretty high up there. A surprisingly touching testament to science and family (not necessarily in that order), it's safe to say that this one has something for everyone. In fact, I would love to see it again. Now.

Set in the breath-taking city of San Fransokyo, Big Hero 6 is the story of Hiro Hamada, an incredibly bright kid who spends his time designing robots to battle in back-alley battles. He's good, and being that he's so young - it's an easy hustle. But after narrowly escaping arrest one night (with the help of his older brother), it's time young Hiro actually applies his skills to something more productive. Tadashi, the aforementioned sibling, takes him to the robotics lab he works in, and after meeting a slew of people just like him, Hiro's hooked.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thank you for bringing it to me.

There's this guy that's been hanging around L.A. for awhile - doing his thing, for sure, but not really getting recognized for it. He's a hard worker, and certainly committed to his work, but between you and me, I'm not sure you can really trust him. As much as admire him - he scares me. I mean, he's willing to do just about anything to make a living.

F--king anything, really. 
Usually with a camera rolling nearby.

As much as I'm talking about Louis Bloom, the protagonist in Nightcrawler, I might as well be talking about the masterful actor bringing him to life, Jake Gyllenhaal. Because as intense and entertainingly brilliant as this film is, every single ounce of that comes from Gyllenhaal's mere presence. I'm telling you, this performance is magic. F--king black magic at that, as this one will haunt you.

Nightcrawler is set in Los Angeles, but coming from a guy who has never lived there, it might as well be Los Angeles. Set primarily at night, Dan Gilroy's film tells the sordid tale of a mysterious loner simply trying to make it. He's come to the city with dreams, possibly even big ones, but when we meet Louis, he's selling chain link fence and stolen manhole covers. Katy Perry and her whipped-cream titties this a'int.

Louis is really weird, though strange (as f--kmay be the better word. But somehow, he's oddly honorable, too. He needs a job and presents himself as someone who can work hard and learn quickly. And even though he's impossibly awkward and all kinds of creepy...we believe him. Hell...we might even like him.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Salsa. Why did it have to be salsa?

I don't dance. Like, ever.

Fine. Maybe a little bit at my wedding, and sometimes with the kids, but overall? No. 
Never.

It's likely a coordination thing, combined with a complete lack of rhythm that's the culprit. But let's be honest, the real reason I'm not out there shaking my ass like a madman? Confidence.

(Did I mention I don't drink, either?)

Also lacking confidence is Bruce Garrett, the main character in this year's Cuban Fury. Played by one of my favorite people alive -Nick Frost- Bruce has plenty of the aforementioned coordination and rhythm, sure. But after getting his ass kicked moments before a dance competition as a kid, the thirty-something year old has grown into an incredibly timid man. His dancing days are in the past, as Bruce tells himself that he won't dance again.

Like, ever.

If only there was a way to reignite his passion? 

Oh, wait. I got it. How about the only reason a man ever steps foot on to a dance floor in the first place? Yep, you guessed it: a beautiful woman. And in Cuban Fury, she's played by the lovely Rashida Jones. 

There's no need to tell you the plot, as I'm quite positive you've seen this movie before. Someone stops doing what they love, after tragic events in their past, only to be forced back into it years later. It could be anything really, but here, obviously, it's dancing. Competitive dancing, actually. Of the salsa variety.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Let's just be friends.

Good or bad, she's in every high school in America - even the small private one I went to in Hawai'i. She's pretty, she's popular, maybe even a star athlete too. And at the end of the year, there's a good chance she'll be Prom Queen. She's nice enough, but for some reason, her friends are all guys. Guys that really enjoy just spending time with her, because, you know, she's cool, not because they're desperately trying to be the one. But in that crowd of guys (sometimes referred to as boys...ugh), there's one that's actually different. He really is her friend. She's like her brother, silly. But guess what?

He wants her, too. And it's killing him inside.

Not that I know anything about that.

As my final horror movie for October, I fired up 2006's All the Boys Love Mandy Lane. I first heard of this one over at Rambling Film, but it was the short run time (not to mention postergirl Amber Heard) that really sealed the deal. For the record, my school's Mandy Lane was way hotter...but that was seventeen years ago. Ouch.

Anyway, after establishing how sexy and coveted Ms. Lane is in perfunctory high school/horror movie fashion (slow mo walk through the halls [primarily focused on T & A]), things actually get kind of interesting. Well, okay, more interesting. At the, you guessed it!, pool party, hosted by King Douche, something rather unexpected happens. No, Mandy's chastity belt doesn't rust and fall off, revealing her magical vagina. Instead, in yet another cringe-inducing attempt at impressing Mandy, ol' King Douche dies tragically (and perhaps hysterically). The real kicker? Mandy's tag-a-long (though marginally creepy) bestie, Emmet was inadvertently responsible. Didn't really see that one coming...