Monday, May 23, 2016

It is not okay.

Every summer my wife and I take our kids to the Baltimore Zoo. Fancy, right?

Anyway, as the kids get older, the trip gets better. Not only does no one have to carry one of them around anymore (well, at least in the beginning), but now they have begun to actually appreciate the animals. Compared to when they were really little, their eyes open even wider, they laugh a little louder, and, of course, they ask better questions.

Hopefully, when they're older, they'll continue to develop that curiosity about the natural world, and develop a sense that it must be valued and protected. Nature documentaries are incredible, right? But nothing can replace seeing a majestic animal in person.

And there's the rub. 

Somewhat parallel to the idea of heading to the zoo, is the notion of watching a documentary like Blackfish. You may not actually enjoy it, but it's something you likely need to see for yourself...once. Maybe it'll leave you furious and frustrated with the atrocities greedy corporations are willing to extend to the greatest creatures of the natural world. But it might also thrill you, seeing the beauty and power these giant beasts possess.

Either way, it's a real kick in the teeth.

Blackfish, like many of you know, tells the soul-crushing life-story of an orca named Tilikum (or Tilly for short). Tilly is an engaging figure to shine the spotlight on, as not only has he lived one fascinating life, but he's also taken three. 

But before you can condemn the killer whale, you have to take a look back. At the people. See, Tilly was captured as a calf over thirty years ago, and taken from his crying mother in the Icelandic seas. He was, for the most part, isolated in captivity, and when he was around other whales, they would carve him up. Tilly, for a host of reasons, would inevitably show signs of aggression toward his handlers, eventually resulting in the death of a young trainer. That was his first kill.

Why wasn't it his last?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Oh, hang it all.

I was in high school when I first saw it.

There, right on the cover of a beloved Disney classic, stood a massive golden dick. It was my first exposure to the underground, salacious side of Walt's crew, and the kid who showed me kept jamming it in my face. Yeah, man. They have weird stuff in all their movies. 

While it might take a certain level of intoxicated detective work to unearth the slew of hidden sexual images buried into many Disney movies (not to mention a perverted imagination...and nothing better to do), it looks like there is indeed a case to be made for repeated inappropriate behavior on behalf of the animators. Yeah, horny teenagers may see dicks in just about everything, but sometimes, you don't have to even look that hard. The last Disney movie I saw? *whistles*

It was all about pulling out.

Maybe it's a cherished part of your childhood, but holy Hell is The Sword in the Stone an awful film to watch as an adult. Recommended by not only my beautiful wife, but also an attractive co-worker, these were some of the ugliest 79 minutes of my movie-watching life. Many a great man has come from humble beginnings...but this? This may be some sort of record.

Young Arthur is a doofus. And a wimp. And not the brightest crayon in the box, if you know what I mean. But apparently, he's going to grow into a legendary figure in British lore. So says a pipe-smoking buffoon named Merlin, a decidedly less-cool version of Mr. Miyagi.

See, ol' Dumbledore Merlin is a magician, and when he's not pontificating about modern inventions (well, 1963 modern) that no one has a f--king clue about, his life's purpose is to make sure young Arthur realizes his full potential. Currently Arthur is mainly in charge of falling down the stairs, but under Merlin's haphazard tutelage, he will become the King of England. So how does one make a king? 
Turn the kid into a f--king squirrel.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The world owes the Avengers an unpayable debt.

Two Dollar Cinema recently turned five years old. I know, I know, hold your applause, please. 


In that half-decade, I have desperately tried to maintain some level of consistency. Sure, if logic and grammar are your thing, it's all a steaming puddle of piss, I get that. But if you're a similar breed of movie-obsessed nerd, well, a few of you have found a place that suits you just right.

In that same time frame, Marvel (in the MCU, anyway) has released ten feature length films. Ten. In five years! And while some have been better than others, the level of crowd-pleasing consistency is nothing short of remarkable. But possibly even more impressive? Comic book movies (maybe to the chagrin of the hardcore types) have been widely accepted by just about everyone

Captain America: Civil War seems like the end of this long cinematic journey, but clearly, it's also a beginning. Directed by the Russo Brothers, the third and final (?) Cap film divides all of Marvel's best and brightest (uh, except Thor and Hulk) into two teams, and has them play the most epic game of superhero flag-football ever. Tony Stark may want to punch Cap in his perfect teeth, sure, but he doesn't want to knock them out.

Pretty much following the same major theme of March's Batman v Superman flick [review], except being, you know, fun, Civil War finds our heroes again saving the world, but not without some collateral damage along the way. Tony Stark, always the nervous Nellie (at least since the alien invasion in NYC), decides that the Avengers need to be put in check, and bows to political pressure. Presumably, by signing the hastily cobbled-together Sokovia Accords, less innocent people will get hurt. I mean, if I signed a paper saying don't be a dick, I guess I wouldn't be a dick. As much.

Captain America, on the other hand, believes the suits are simply getting in the way, and his responsibility is to himself and to keeping the world safe. Period. It's somewhat strange to label the straight-laced Steve Rogers as the 'reckless one', but as far as Stark and his crew are concerned he his. Look, I'm not much of a cook, but I'm pretty sure you can't make an omelette without cracking a few eggs, right? Well, unless Cap just stares at them...'cause then they'd just melt. Sigh.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Not much sun in my story.

My first name is Mario. Make your f--king Luigi joke now, but trust me, I've already heard it.

When my wife and I moved back to her hometown, unbeknownst to me, there were still a few ex-boyfriends we could run into. Apparently, some of these dudes weren't exactly the best boyfriends, and didn't exactly treat her right. While there's a part of me that is thankful for that (think about that for a second), there's also a part of me that wouldn't mind if these guys would simply f--k off and die. And one in particular, a guy who grew up to be a lawyer (of course he did), just so happens to pop up about once a year. I've never met him, don't even know what he looks like, but yeah, f--k that guy.

His last name?


Short of helping that (potentially nice) guy move the Hell out of town, I don't think there's much I'd be willing to do for one of my wife's former lovers. In the 2016 flick, Jane Got a Gun, however, Joel Edgerton's Dan Frost is asked to do much more than horribly pack boxes. Actually, he's asked to pack heat, in order to protect the currently ailing husband...of his ex-wife. Wait, what?

Noah Emmerich (kind of) plays Bill Hammond, who apparently crossed the notorious John Bishop, the head honcho of the ruthless Bishop Boys gang. One day, Hammond stumbles home wounded, and falls directly into the arms of his loving (and tough as nails) wife, Jane (a very stoic Natalie Portman). With just a mention of Bishop, Jane, after removing a few bullets from her husband's torso, knows that Hell is coming. I'm just not sure who the Devil is, exactly.

And while she's certainly down to lay waste to anybody intent on harming her family, Jane also knows deep down she can't do it alone. Since she's about a hundred and ten years ahead of the Ghostbusters, uh, and phones, there's really only one person she can call: Dan Frost.

The poor bastard Jane left behind, so that she could shack up with Hammond.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Because it's my birthday, and I wants it.

Welp, it's that time again. Might as well start defrosting Fudgie the Whale.

Five years ago this evening, I pressed 'post', or whatever it says in Blogger, for the first time in my life. I didn't have a plan, or a point, but I knew that blogging was something I wanted to do. Since then, I've hit that button another five-hundred and thirty three times, yet that plan, or point, remains entirely out of sight. But I still enjoy looking for it very much.

In the last 365 days, like the rest of you, my life and my blog have each had their share of highs and lows, or as they're known around these parts, Yays and Boos. While I try to keep it about movies, sometimes a little bit of that life stuff sneaks into my posts, okay, fine - a lot of it does (and sneaks is totally the wrong word, I know), but today, let's focus on the real reason you're here: pointless lists and self-congratulations.

As is the tradition at Two Dollar Cinema (years one, two, three and four), I've lovingly contemplated/hastily compiled my list of the top (and bottom) thirteen flicks that have come my way in the last 52 weeks, half of which I'll probably hate by this time next year.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Turns out you were right. I should dream smaller.

It's readily apparent that, almost seven years ago, everything went smoothly at the hospital. The safeguards put in place to make sure the worst thing ever doesn't happen? Totally worked, I'm sure of it. That little ball of goo my wife and I brought home in the fall of 2009? Definitely belongs to me.

Unless, of course, another new father also happened to be a mostly indifferent nerd. Because if that's the case, well, I might have his kid. 

Either way, at this point, I'm keeping him (I'll get back to you when he's twelve).

Like one of the maybe dozen or so people on the planet, my son had not only heard of, but also desperately wanted to see, the movie version of Ratchet & Clank. Based on a series of Sony Playstation games, the latest of which we own, my kiddo was impossibly (and improbably) jazzed to see this flick on the big screen. And being that 99% of the time, I'm the one dragging him to the movies, I rewarded his enthusiasm the best way I know how: we went on opening night.

Which is a Friday. As in, immediately after work Friday. 

As in, wow that was a long blink Friday.

From what I can cobble together from slipping in and out of consciousness, Ratchet & Clank tells the story of a group of super heroes known as the Galactic Rangers combating an evil villain named Chairman Drek. Drek and his cronies have been blowing up planets, and the Rangers decide to hold tryouts to bolster their squad. Super fan/cat-thingy Ratchet shows up, armed with little more than overwhelming enthusiasm. Like any underdog story, the kid is sent packing as the Rangers search for someone bigger and stronger. Brains and heart aren't going to cut it this time. If only there was some crazy alien invasion, where Ratchet could unexpectedly save the day on national television, thereby showing the entire world his true worth.

If only.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

If I want your opinion, I'll beat it out of you.

Who threw that?
Who broke it?
Well, who gave you his homework?

Sometimes the only way to actually get my students to stop talking, is to ask them to start. Half the time, Hell, most of the time, they're aren't even going to be any major repercussions, but apparently, even in the slightest of offenses, no one wants to be a snitch.

If you're a clueless punk kid in Mr. Brown's class, I guess this ethical low-road makes sense. But if you're a cop on the mean streets of mid-80's Chicago...

...what the f--k, man?

As part of his uber-rad podcast, Todd over Forgotten Films asked me to join him in taking a look at 1985's Code of Silence. Starring the bizarrely intense Chuck Norris, this peculiar gem mixes internal affairs with external (roundhouse) kicks. While that concoction may include more things to consider rather than explosions to enjoy, I found director Andrew Davis's cop drama rather tasty, even thirty years later.

Opening in the midst of what is likely the largest sting operation ever put on by the Chicago P.D., things head south fast. What should be a straightforward undercover drug-buy from the Columbian cartel, escalates into the grisly execution of cops and thugs alike. Apparently, the Italian mob caught wind of this deal, and as these things go, intervene. As Eddie Cusack (Norris, totes) and his crew rush in, low-life d-bag Detective Cragie inadvertently kills a teenager in the confusion. So while Cusack and the other 900 cops involved chase after the Italians, Cragie and his rookie partner are left in this odd moral dilemma. If only there was a way where Cragie could make it look like self-defense. If only...

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Just tell 'em I wasn't here.

Stick to what you're good at.

That's something people say, right? Sure it is. I usually hear it when I'm dancing, singing, doing anything remotely athletic, or even when I'm trying to make a valid point. While it's decent enough advice, most of the time, if you want to last, or at least be considered's not really enough.

Say your strength is punching people in the face, slamming them to the ground, just before repeatedly stabbing them to death. Awesome. Good on you.

Or say, you write long-winded 'reviews' of movies on one's ever going to watch. That's...nice. I guess.

No matter what your trick is, eventually it's going to get old. Even if you've only been doing it for a few years.

Shit, even if you've only been doing it for eighty-three minutes.

Close Range, yet another entry in my new favorite genre, What Can I Start at Ten and Still Get Up for Work on Time? (or WCIS@10&SGUFWOT?, for short), exists somewhere between unrelentingly terrible and absolutely brilliant. Somehow earning 4 and a half stars in my Netflix queue, this action/revenge tale manages to keep the bullets to punches to spoken words ratio damn near even for the duration of its brief run time. It's starts fast and stays fast, allowing for little time to breathe. Or think.

Or, frankly, give a f--k one way or another.

Since they didn't use many words, let me keep this brief: Mexican Bad Guy has taken Girl hostage. Uncle to Girl is not a fan of such actions. Uncle former Special Ops. Uncle mad. Uncle kill. Everyone.

Yes (former) friends, you've seen this movie before, countless times if you're a thirty-six year old d-bag like me, just never quite like this. Every single aspect of this film is oddly aggressive. The fighting obviously, but the rest of the production, too. Like, I imagine the editor, after cobbling together the twenty-third slow-motion chest kick scene, backs away from his computer and f--king roundhouses it, firing off celebratory shots from an assault rifle, directly into the tire fire behind him.