Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tonight we came for a bloodbath.

My eighth graders keep telling me this same story, again and again, over and over. And no matter the kid telling me, it starts the same way:

Well, on Facebook, it said...

It's at this moment, that tiny fragments of my soul harden, and I'm forced to pass them like a kidney stone. At least that's what it feels like. Anyway, the most recent story that they've been constantly referring to, just in case the ultra-reputable social media hub has, you know, more than one, is about someone coming back to life after supposedly dying from Ebola. This news essentially confirming what these thirteen year-olds have known all their lives: zombies are real.

I shake my head, imaging that ten years from now, Facebook will actually be a legit news source, with anchors, reporters and the like. But it will be so reputable, that future middle schoolers will shun it altogether, and turn to another online juggernaut for accounts of true events.

Well, on Netflix, it said...

...that zombies are real. And according to 2009's The Horde - they are. And they're not the slow-moving, shambling air-biters of previous zombie flicks, either. Oh no. The only thing these bitches do faster than run, is devour people. And in some shitty, rundown French ghetto, said people are one of two things: cops or criminals.

The idea of being trapped in a building during a mysterious (zombie) outbreak isn't anything new. But the fact that the survivors, who minutes prior were actually trying to kill each other, now have to work together? Well, that adds a nice twist. Throw in some silly violence and an ass-kicking fat man, and you've got yourself a party. Just not a very good one.

The poster likely tells you everything you need to know, as The Horde isn't really trying to be anything more than average horror fare. I will give it an enthusiastic high-five for pace and ridiculousness, as each of those are off the charts. Oh, and it kind of starts out rather serious, too, which was a nice touch for a minute. But then a dead guy emerges from the shitter and gets shot...somewhere in the neighborhood of.ten thousand times and all bets were off.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Perfect. Now the geeks are in charge.

Raise your hand when you hear the tone, okay?

I was probably in fifth or sixth grade when I took my last hearing test, but I'll never forget it (neither will my family, as I repeat this story all the time). The woman was going through what I'm sure was standard test protocol right up until the very end. The last time I raised my hand, she looked at me in disbelief. You heard that? No one ever hears the last one! 

Apparently, I had a gift. I could hear just about anything. Well, as long as it was alive.

ParaNorman, from the stop-motion wizards that brought us Coraline (and that are currently bringing us The Boxtrolls), tells the tale of a rather unspectacular kid named Norman. This kid, your seemingly average middle-schooler, just so happens to be blessed/cursed with his own special power: the ability to communicate with the dead.

It's never the popular kid that has the gift, no, it's always the lovable goofball, and trust me, Norman is no different. While he's awesomely fascinated by creepy stuff and horror flicks, his family would unsurprisingly prefer he never mention his gift and just be normal. But when a three-hundred year old curse is unleashed upon Norman's macabre town, guess who's going to come up huge? Yep, you nailed it: Norman's chubby friend Neil.

Okay, that's not really what happens, but as is the case with most family flicks, you can see the resolution coming a mile away. But while the outcome may not surprise you, some of the content will. Turns out, ol' m. brown ain't the sharpest tool in the shed. He sat the family down to what he thought would be a quirky Halloween-ish good time. Um, about that...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Ten Best Superhero Movies of All Time RELAY

Brittani, over at the brilliant Rambling Film, has (likely inadvertently) passed me the baton in yet another ass-kicking relay. There have been a few relays going around before, The Top Ten Film Icons, the Top Ten Influential Directors, not too mention a whole slew of others I wasn't included in. Today, I trade in my wrinkled khakis and dry-erase markers for neon spandex and computer that only I can turn on.

I present to you the 10 Best Superhero Movies of All Time Relay, courtesy of my own personal hero, Bubbawheat, of Flights, Tights and Movie Nights.

Here are the rules, as stolen from Brittani:

1. The list of movies will be passed to another blogger who will post their list within a week.

2. The blogger will take their list, remove 3 movies – with explanations, and replace with 3 new movies – with explanations.

3. If a movie lasts five rounds without being removed, it becomes locked in; it is permanent and can no longer be removed from the list.

4. If a movie is removed three different times, it is locked out and can no longer be put back onto the list by someone else.

5. Once four movies are locked into place, bloggers will replace 2 movies.

6. Once eight movies are locked into place, bloggers will replace 1 movie.

7. Once all ten movies are locked into place, the relay will be complete.

Got all that? Me neither. No, actually it makes perfect sense, but I fully lost track of who did what, when and how many times (Bubbawheat has an awesome word-free version of it all, actually). That said, here is my entry:

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Amazing Amy has always been one step ahead of me.

Look around your house. If you're not home, it may be as simple as glancing at your phone. We surround ourselves with things that we love, things that define who we are, then as time passes, we replace them with something else. Or, simply forget about them all together and move on. Within an arm's reach I have at least a half dozen things I once completely adored, and now am relatively indifferent to. In fact, the laptop I'm using at this moment used to be immaculate and doted over. Now? It irritates me just thinking about it. If only I could trade it in for a newer model, you know?

I mean, it's not like it would get upset and try to f--king ruin my life..

Maybe it's a stretch, but the way we treat out things may in fact mirror the way we treat each other. We have long become a throwaway society with our stuff, and the argument could be made that we're doing the same with our people and our relationships. Fixing, it seems, is much harder than replacing. Especially if it was defective in the first place.

In David Fincher's Gone Girl, based on the novel by Gillian Flynn, married couple Nick and Amy appear to be broken. Well, they would look that way, if Amy wasn't missing (literally) of course.

Initially Nick, played with a solemn swagger by Ben Affleck, is upset about his wife's disappearance, but maybe not as much as he should be. Taking anything presented in this film at face value, however, is clearly a mistake, and careful consideration should be given to any living thing on the screen. Well, outside of the cat. You could trust that pussy.

And while I'm sure that you fully know what happened in the book (or movie) by now, I'm not going to say anything else, at least not up here. The Yays and Boos will probably ruin everything, but let's be honest. That's kind of what they do.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

I will dance with the Golden Toad.

Maybe this is a guy thing, but probably a dozen times in my life, I've found myself trapped in a certain conversation that makes me want to immediately scream and/or kill myself. It goes like this:

Guy 1: Would you __________________ for $__________ ?
Me: No.
Guy 1: How about for $ ___________?
Me: No.
Guy 2: Shit, I'd do it for free!
Guy 1 and Guy 2: (laugh hysterically)
Me: (cries inside)

For the record, Guy 1 is almost always talking about having sex with the most unattractive female at work. And yes, Guy 1 is almost always a dickhead. Same with Guy 2.

13 Sins, a remake of a Thai flick called 13: Game of Death, is the extreme version of this conversation. Maybe that's oversimplifying it (and replace all the sex talk with general mayhem), but the short version goes something like this:

A decidedly desperate man answers his cell phone one day, and is immediately thrust into some ancient game of f--kery. If he completes the task that the mysterious caller presents - he gets paid. But if he fails, quits, or - wait for it- mentions the game to anyone, he gets nothing. If only I could remember how many of these zany tasks he has to do...

13 Sins isn't particularly great, but as my first horror movie of the month, it was a nice way to get my feet wet. Mark Webber plays protagonist Elliot as a nice-enough guy, simply in over his head. While the performance feels honest enough at first, it's actually Elliot's motivation(s) that make the whole thing veer into lunacy. Remember, Elliot needs money, so of course he's going to press on, right? Right. But, it might be enough that his fiancee's pregnant, you know? That might be all the motivation we need to buy into his plight. Should we add the fact that tonight is his wedding reception? Or the fact that he just lost his job because he's a pussy (I'm not joking), and now can't afford for the care of his special needs younger brother? Oh, and that his dad is a complete asshole and now has to move in with the newlyweds? Because between you and me, this is sounding a little ridiculous. I can't believe a horror movie went overboard! Well, I never...

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Do you think I enjoy this?

When I was little, I was obsessed with ancient Ancient Greece. Obsessed. And that was before my dad took me to Athens. As I got older, I shirked such scholarly endeavors and became enamored with action movies - the more violent the better. That's all I wanted to watch. Then, as my voice got marginally deeper, and when my bloodlust was (momentarily) quenched, women became all I thought about. Beautiful, mysterious (and um, let's be honest - buxom) creatures that captured my attention and imagination to such a degree, it negated all my other interests entirely. Well, except for movies.

Because, with the cinema, I could have all three. At the same time. 

300: Rise of an Empire isn't a great movie by any stretch, but damned if it isn't a good time. While that good time comes mainly in the form of buckets full of red blood and cups full of Green Eva, I had a solid time with this unnecessary sequel. The original 300 may be a better film, but this one excels in its simplicity. From start to finish, it's one thing, and one thing only: f--king chaotic.

I don't really recall the first flick all that well, as the last time I saw it (all the way through) was eight years ago. Luckily, Rise provides enough explanation of the events to get everyone up to speed.

Apparently, Leonidas' death at the end of 300 has given the Persians the belief that they can take Athens now, too. Turns out, that whole conflict was started by a Greek hombre named Themistocles (some dude named Sullivan Stapleton), who just happened to kill the Persian king. Now, ten years later, the king's son is back and seeking further vengeance. The son is Xerxes, the prettiest man alive (and villain of the first flick), who already decimated the Spartans and is coming for Themistocles and his band of merry men. Did you get all that? Me neither.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Making bad decisions is nothing new to me.

Communication Arts. That's what the adults call the class I've spent my career teaching (I'm sure the kids have another way of putting it). For me, it's simply a class about words. Carefully chosen words, at that. And while it feels like I spend the majority of my time and effort on poorly chosen ones instead, there's a time of year where students genuinely make make me happy, no - ecstatic, halcyonic or perhaps even cock-a-hoop to be a teacher: The National Spelling Bee. While it doesn't hurt that the Bee is in the last two weeks of the school year (ah, the glory of late-May), what I really love is the fact that for a few days out of the year smart kids are celebrated. 

I almost wish I could join in.

Bad Words, the directorial debut of Jason Bateman, tells the story of a 40 year-old man doing just that - competing in the National Spelling Bee. While my adoration of the Bee comes from smart kids doing smart things (the exception in these parts), Bateman's Guy Trilby is motivated by something far less noble. He wants to f--king win it. F--k kids. All of them.

While the blunt, obscenity-laden tirades provide much of the comedy early on, this aspect of the film seems a little derivative, honestly. It's not to say that it doesn't work (I might have shed a tear or two laughing), it just felt like Bateman was more often than not channeling his inner Melissa McCarthy (his co-star from the vastly inferior Identity Thief [review]).And judging by how her last film fared, mentioning her shtick may be quite the deal-breaker.

Fear not, as any missteps in the naughty bits are completely forgivable due to the relationship Guy develops with one his competitors, Bee-favorite Chaitanya Chopra (played by the adorably badass Rohan Chand). The chemistry between the free-wheeling a-hole Guy and the infinitely curious kid, was easily my favorite part of the film.Guy, by being the worst adult on the planet, ends up teaching the kid there's more to life than studying and doing what Dad says (part of this lesson involves a big-tittied hooker, naturally). And in return, Chaitanya shows Guy that being a rotten f--ker isn't his only option. Wait, what?