Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The most worthwhile path, my young friends, is seldom the easiest.

In Mrs. Well's room, it was Cars. The first one (!).
In Mrs. Montgomery's, it was Bill Nye videos.
In Mrs. Bleacher's room...well, they were still doing math (which is hysterical).
As long as summer vacation have been imminent, every teacher approaches those final glorious (/dreadful) days a bit differently. Some keep going till the end, others, like me, simply show a movie.

In Mr. Brown's room, the criteria for the movie is simple, though typically effective: show them something they haven't seen...and make sure it was released within the last sixth months ('old movies' will be met with equal parts scorn and confusion).

Even though they wanted to watch Endgame (these pirates have no respect for a film currently in theaters), I opted for screening The Kid Who Would Be King, which was, at the time, newly released on home video. I knew the whole knights and wizards angle was going to be a hard-sell for these kids, but so was actually basic human decency, so why not roll the dice? And being that only one of my 90+ students had actually seen the film (and I think all he had seen was the trailer), I was two-for-two with the aforementioned rules.

Good news, right? Well, yeah. But here's the rub: For each of my four classes, it would take three days to complete the latest film from director Joe Cornish (Attack the Block [review]). And while I'm just a social studies teacher, safe to say four times three equals an infinite amount of minutes with Gollum's son. Good thing young Louis Ashbourne Serkis is a pretty likable chap.

Young Serkis plays Alex (Like Alexander the Great, Mr. Brown? [no.]), a quiet product of a single-mum more than content to hang out and do magic with his buddy, Bedders. Shocking no one, the two goofballs (though mainly the amiable Bedders) often find themselves in the cross-hairs of the school bullies, Lance and Kaye. Alex, not long after we meet him, gets in a wee bit of trouble for fighting back. Proving once again, school administrators are the worst.

Monday, July 15, 2019

We are the infection.

If the world was ending...again...and I was told I had to get to Boston, honestly, I'd be pretty f--king stoked. And if my last breath just so happened to be in Fenway Park of all places, well, even better. Dying on that field is probably a dream I share with half of New England, in the literal sense of course, as the Sox have killed me there metaphorically countless times. But if you're telling it's really over, like I'm done-done, can I least touch the Monster one last time?

No, no. The green one.

No, no. The other green one. The one not shooting lasers out of his face.

Considering I grew up in the eighties, it's pretty much a given that I have a modest (and very much radioactive) boner for all things Godzilla. But after the one with Ferris Bueller back in '98 and the one without Godzilla [review] in 2014, frankly, I'd just about given up on the scaly, fire-breathing bastard. But when I saw the preview for Godzilla: King of the Monsters, like a screaming old woman in Tokyo, there was simply no way I could turn my back on the majestic beast. I mean, look at him. He's pretty much the coolest thing ever.

Unfortunately, this latest attempt at bringing him back to the big screen, while an improvement over the other two, still can't do the big fella justice.

Outside of the impossibly rad Godzilla-related turbulence the action brings (though at times, it's also impossible to see), this creature feature is bogged down by a different two-headed monster. On the left, is Incomprehensible Plot which while brutal, is nowhere near as deadly as the right side, where Family Drama No One Cares About resides. I'm not sure which head to should cut off first, but as the one dragged on, I started to think I should start with my own.

Friday, July 5, 2019


Saying I'm reading it might be a bit generous, but I'm currently reading/experiencing(/surviving) a book called Welcome to Night Vale. I guess it's based on a popular podcast or something, but for the most part, I absolutely hate every minute of it. It's so bizarre and illogical, I feel like I'm getting absolutely nothing out of it as I get further into it. Honestly, I could derive a better narrative perusing the newly updated terms and conditions of my Amazon Store Card. That said, regardless of how nonsensical and repetitive this novel gets, I'm going to tackle each chapter until there aren't any left.

Even if it f--king kills me.

I don't even know where to begin when discussing the latest John Wick film, Parabellum. Initially, I found the film to be absolutely f--king electric (my god, he killed f--king Boban with a book! A BOOK!), but by the end of it I was nearly comatose, rendered lifeless by the sounds of incessant gunfire and shattering glass. And when I finally trudged out into the world (and apologized to my wife, again), all I could tell myself is at least it was better than Chapter 2. Because, you know, f--k that movie.

But then I did something stupid. Really stupid. I rewatched the second film. 

And I f--king loved it.

So now I don't know what to say. Like, even more than usual. Keanu Reeves is still the coolest motherf--ker on the planet, and the third John Wick has him doing even cooler shit than before (with the help of animals, no less). But in that theater, on that night? It seemed to go on forever. I'm going to assume I'll have a much better time with Chapter 3 the second time, but for now, mark me down for Parabellum landing somewhere between f--king exhilarating and impossibly tedious. Sounds reasonable...if you're an asshole.

Friday, June 21, 2019

We are rejects.

I'd like to introduce you to the newest member of the Two Dollar Cinema review team, v. brown. 

Pitbull and Wanda Sykes? Is this some sort of dare?
While she's been to a couple of movies without me, our viewing of STX Entertainment's UglyDolls marked our first trip to the theater without any one else. I passed on a second date with Avengers: Endgame, so that I could take her to this brightly-colored, pop-song induced nightmare. On the car ride on the way, I recall her saying that she was sooo excited to go with just me. Aw. Seriously, I almost had to pull over it was so adorable. But as I gathered myself (and likely ran a red light) I realized something: even at almost six years old, she was playing me. And I was all for it. 

What follows is a recent conversation we had about the film in our kitchen, minutes before dashing out to her swimming class (almost a month after seeing the film, no less). Even though this reeks of poor parenting, she was very excited to be lending her opinions to this website. Which, let's be honest, is basically a first around here.

Maybe this will be the post that she references as the genesis for her successful career as a writer, or maybe this post will be what she references when she tells the judge she'd rather live with her mother. Either way, it sounds like the beginning of something magical.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

I see this as an absolute win.

Around this time next year, er, in two years (damn you, math), Two Dollar Cinema will turn ten years old. Though nothing is set in stone, that anniversary will serve as an ending point for this project - at least as the current format goes. And when I reach the end of this long (and sometimes arduous) journey, I hope to figure out a way to not only tie it all together, but to also pay tribute to those who have been along the way.

If only there was a blueprint for how to end something in the most perfect way possible...

It might be impossible to overstate how good Avengers: Endgame truly is, but don't think that that's going to stop me from trying. Easily my favorite film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Russo Brothers have improbably saved their best for last. 

As of this post, I've only managed to see Endgame once, and as anyone, er, everyone who has seen the film can (and will) tell you (with a glow not unlike a new bride or expectant mother), that simply isn't enough time to take it all in. It's so densely packed, so stuffed with perfect moments, I need to see it again.

And again. And again.

While rehashing the plot is foolish on countless levels (insert Charlie Day conspiracy pic here), all I can tell you is wowwwwwwwwwwwww. With storylines, plot points, scores to settle, callbacks, nods, winks, and relationships from over twenty films prior, somehow in Endgame, they all coalesce into a gripping story that simultaneously saved and destroyed me. Had I not been sitting with my brother-in-law (aka the Grinch), I'm not sure I would have made it out alive.

Friday, May 10, 2019

By the way, Harry, happy birthday...

When I told my wife that Two Dollar Cinema was coming up on its ninth birthday, I followed that up an unintended feeler, one that bordered both a question and a statement. Guess I'll do it for one more year, then finally shut it down ...? She didn't hesitate in her response:

That sounds good. 

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Get out of here, Devil!

Almost two years ago to the day, some drug-dealing asshole totaled my wife's (fairly) new car while evading the police through our neighborhood. Fortunately, no one was in (or near) the car when it happened, but I still remember my wife getting emotional moments after they towed it away. While most of her tears were because she was overwhelmed at the thought of what could have happened, I know she was also mourning the loss of something she once loved now needing to be replaced.

And worse, for absolutely no good reason.

Uh, Red? You're balls are on fire.
It's unfair to say that David Harbour doesn't do a good job in the latest Hellboy flick, when his biggest misstep may be the alarming fact that he is simply not Ron Perlman. While I'm not sure we even needed a third Hellboy flick with Ron Perlman, I'm now fairly certain we didn't need a third Hellboy flick without Ron Perlman.

But like the guy that smashed in my wife's car, even if what you're selling benefits no one, if there's money to be made...

Though I'm no scholar of Hellboy lore, obviously, similarities exist between the original del Toro films and this new one, helmed by Neil Marshall. Hellboy is still a wise-cracking demon unearthed by Nazis during WWII. He's still part of some super-secret government organization that uses monsters to, um...fight other monsters (think the Suicide Squad with more scales and less twirling garbage).

And yes, he's still got a massive right arm that he absolutely obliterates people with. The meat may be the same, but it's the potatoes that are different this time around.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

I'm a snake.

There's room at the top. Just not enough to sit down.

I'm not sure if my dad stole that line, but of all the advice he's ever given me - that's the bit that stuck. I was probably seventeen at the time, and even at peak I KNOW EVERYTHING, OLD MAN those words not only penetrated, but they actually made sense. You can make it - you just have to work hard. Always.

I wish I could tell you that in the two-plus decades since that conversation, I have proven his words true, but I think I'd be lying on both fronts. I'm not sure I've ever worked that hard, and the payoff...uh...I do okay? (He was talking about money, right?)

While I wish I had that type-A fire, I simply don't and likely never will. Honestly, I'm about as relaxed a guy as you'd ever meet. Not like, Dude-level, but pretty close. Never too high, never too low. Hell, I rarely get upset about anything...

...even shit that's entirely stupid and unfair.

Oh, Laggies, how you've put my in an uncomfortable spot. Typically I'm okay with young people trying to figure it out (though my thoughts here might suggest otherwise), and generally speaking I love Keira Knightley doing just about anything, but good God, f--k all this noise. My dad told me I couldn't sit at the top, fine, but I didn't know it was because there's all these a-holes just laying the f--k around.

Foolishly stripped of her accent, Knightley plays Megan, a woman in her late twenties still hanging out, playing Nintendo. Her (awful) friends have grown up (represented here by being married and/or pregnant [lame]) and seems like ol' Meg should probably follow suit. But even with a shockingly supportive boyfriend (of the high-school sweetheart variety, naturally), she can't seem to find any footing whatsoever in adulthood. So, she concocts a plan (plan might be overstating it, more like if bracing yourself before going through a windshield could be considered planning) to turn her life around: she volunteers at a local orphanage and teaches parent-less children how to express themselves through cooking.

Oh, wait - sometimes my notes are hard to read. *adjusts imaginary glasses* My mistake, she actually just DISAPPEARS FROM SOCIETY AND MOVES IN WITH A HIGH SCHOOL GIRL SHE MET A F--KING GROCERY STORE.