Tuesday, November 13, 2018

What is wrong with me?

Honestly, I liked it better the first time.
In June.
When it was called Upgrade.
And I wasn't a miserable prick.

Even though the, uh, modifications weren't as cool, and the voice in his head wasn't as routinely hysterical, I had a better time with Leigh Whannell's flick. The violence was more visceral and the love interest was more, well...lovelier.

Hell, even if the Tom Hardy wasn't actually Tom Hardy, for whatever reason, I still had more fun with Upgrade [review] than I did with its cinematic cousin...

...VenomEven if early word (at the time) had suggested it was a hot mess, I still went in hoping Sony's latest Marvel flick would defy odds and kick so much ass.

But as the audience around me seemed to be enjoying themselves more and more (including my sister, an enthusiastic moviegoer, to say the least), I felt myself drifting in the opposite direction. This is what you guys came to see? This? People were damned near falling out of their seats they were laughing so hard, and even more bewildering, it wasn't at the movie, but with it.

All I can think of at this point, is that I'm incapable of joy, because this Venom flick, while being thankfully Topher-free, rubbed me the wrong way. Tom Hardy is great in everything, so despite his performance being the best part of Ruben Fleischer's latest (dude did Zombieland and Gangster Squad), he's also why I was so let down.

See, once Hardy was announced as Eddie Brock, it only seemed logical that this new version of Venom would be a hard-R, impossibly creepy look at the famous villain/anti-hero. I imagined something along the lines of what Heath Ledger (and Nolan) did with the Joker in The Dark Knight, and began to count the days until Venom hit theaters. Hardy is going to literally eat someone.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Well, I guess I'm in.

The original Predator film is in my DNA.

String up my naked corpse from a tree, rip my skull and spine out of my tattered body, and all over the jungle floor will be fragments of John McTiernan's classic. Even if I ain't got time to bleed, you'll see the 1987 Schwarzenegger flick spilling out all over the damn place.

The woosh woosh of the Predator scanning his surroundings. The minigun that cleared out an acre of trees in thirty seconds. The dead scorpion in predator vision. The yousonuvabitch handshake between Arnie and Apollo Creed. Hawkin's simultaneously teaching me about the birds and the bees and how sound reverberates in a vast chamber. I have seen that movie so many f--king times, it's a part of me. Hell, a part of us, as each of my three brothers feel the same way.

But my sister? My twenty-eight year old baby sister? She's never seen it. Like, never ever.

Violet was infinitely curious as this poster adorned our local theater for months.
Which likely explains why she absolutely adored Shane Black's latest entry into the Predator franchise. Bouncing and clapping along and just having a merry f--king time was my sister Tatianna, who, after we had just got home from Monster-Mania Con [wrap], straight-up devoured her first taste of the outer-space skull collectors.

For me, however, The Predator was just the latest film featuring those ugly muddafuckas that desperately lacked the sublime magic of the original. Oh, it's not terrible by any stretch. It's just not, you know, Predator.

After its ship crashes on Earth, a Predator gets into a bit of a kerfuffle with soldiers who were on some sort of hostage-rescue mission. An army-ranger type dude named McKenna, kicks its ass a bit, and in the process gets a hold of some sweet alien tech. Worried that the government will frame/kill him, he mails himself the iconic helmet as a potential bargaining chip later on down the road. Unfortunately, his autistic son opens the package and, obviously, wears the badass helmet to go trick-or-treating.

While that's good news for the kid, it's bad news for everyone else, as the helmet/mask thing acts as a beacon which the Predator can follow to get its gear back. Of course it does this, but not before gloriously murdering a room full of dudes in lab coats in the meantime. Though it doesn't kill everyone, as it thankfully decides to spare a naked woman. Yep. Even the most elite sport hunters in the galaxy aren't total dicks. 

Sunday, October 28, 2018

I was spellbound.

I'll watch your kids.

Assuming, that is, you're desperate enough to ask me. I'll talk to them, I'll feed them (take them to the King of Burgers, in fact), I'll even play with the little goofballs. Shoot, I'll even cleannnnn.....up after them (I'm a dude, so bath time's at your house). The whole nine.

I don't even need money, or a gift card (though they are appreciated) - absolutely no payment is required. And quite honestly, I don't even need reciprocation.

All I ask, all I require, is that eventually, perhaps even as soon as possible... is that you, after whatever it was you were doing that afternoon/evening...eventually come back and get them.

We good? Good.

Significantly better than good (but not quite great), was A Simple Favor, the latest film from (cue announcer voice) the dark side of Paul Feig. Based on a novel by Darcey Bell, this seemingly innocuous tale of friendship gone awry, initially presents itself as a bit of a fish-out-of-water comedy. But as the plot starts to unravel, any singular thing you might have penciled in as objective truth dissipates into a bloody handful of glitter, leaving you questioning the actions and motivations of everyone involved.

As much as it wants to f--k with your head, A Simple Favor is primarily a dark comedy, one that's an alluring mix of silly and sexy. Think of the most hysterical blowjob you've ever given/received and you're on the right track. Sure, some of the cutesy f--kery can be a bit much, but then you remember that that's Anna Kendrick onscreen, and well, all is immediately forgiven. Or forgotten. Sorry...someone mentioned Anna Kendrick?

Oh, right. I did.

Anna Kendrick, er, Stephanie Smothers, is your typical small-town movie widow: impossibly awkward yet way too hot to ever truly remain single. Stephanie, a doting mom, runs a moderately successful vlog, but still seems friendless and alone. Cue a mysterious amazon named Emily, skulking about with the heavy-footed grace of someone unburdened by f--ks to give. Steph and Emily (the names of my sister-in-laws, in an odd turn of events) have boys in the same elementary school, and over playdates and mixed drinks become fast friends. Turns out, Emily's gotta head out of a town for a bit, and if wouldn't be too much trouble, asks the astonishingly bubbly Steph to watch her son. Sure. She'd love to. *spits out drink* Wait, you can say that without being sarcastic? Who knew?

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Thanks Dad :)

I think any father has thought about what they would do in that situation. What action they would take if their child went missing. It's not a game I enjoy, but sometimes my mind wants to play it, so of course, I've kicked it around a few times...

Earlier in the baseball season I lost my son at a Phillies game, after he failed to hear/comprehend the let's head this way command. It was probably the longest forty-five seconds of my life, but luckily that's all it was. He did the right thing and told the nearest police officer that he'd lost his family, and before they could even begin the search, we'd doubled back and reunited.

But my original plan, if one of my kids went missing? The one I've given some thought to? Oh, it's simple: absolutely lose my f--king mind. 

Good thing, unlike me, David Kim's an actual adult, capable of solving problems involving those he loves the most. Starring the impossibly-underrated John Cho as the aforementioned Mr. Kim, Aneesh Chaganty's Searching is a gut-wrenching thriller you definitely need to check out. And as cool as it was to see on the big screen, turns out, it might just be better to catch it on your laptop. Wait, what?

Taking place solely on a lone computer screen, Searching ups the found-footage ante to eleven in the clever presentation of a desperate father's frantic scramble for his missing daughter. While it works better than Unfriended [review] - which I remember liking a bit -  there are still some moments and scenes where you're gonna have to shut your eyes before they role out of your f--king head.

Maybe you kids see nothing wrong with every moment of every day being live-streamed by everyone, but there were a few occasions where things got pretty ridiculous. Maybe I'm just not on YouTube when the local news streams footage of a car being pulled out of a lake, or I've never logged into a live broadcast of a f--king funeral, but these moments seemed beyond absurd. (rambles the guy on his blog)

Monday, October 1, 2018

Monster Mania Con 41: Wrap and Crap

Having two highly-deviant older brothers, I grew up watching a lot of horror flicks. While they were likely in it for the requisite shower scenes, I was too young to be enthralled by a soapy co-ed. At least initially. Instead of focusing on the double-d's, I was more fixated on the double v's. That is, the villains and the violence. Yeah, those two were doing something in the bed, but did you see how Jason jammed a spear through both of them? Wowzers.

But if there was anything I was even more obsessed with than late 80s/early 90s horror, it was the simple act of acquiring the indecipherable scribbles of someone other people had heard of. Or, as you might put it, collecting autographs. Never to sell, but always to gawk at, I spent too many nights writing letters to moderately famous...athletes, in hopes of getting a much sought after Herbie Hancock. 

If only three decades later, an event would be held near my house where my two long-forgotten obsessions could coalesce into a writhing orgy of unrelenting nerdiness. 

If only.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Who bit your boner?

Gary Maynard was the second film professor I'd ever encountered. And maybe my favorite.

While he looked like the lead singer of The Verve, he moved and sounded like Professor Frink from The Simpsons.  When he would introduce a film, he would almost always describe one of the characters as milquetoast, which perhaps unsurprisingly, was the perfect noun to describe Professor Maynard.

Other students who took the class because Bro, all you do is watch movies made fun of him behind his back, but I f--king adored this dude. You just knew, he was living his dream. And when he casually turned our MC 270 - Techniques of the Cinema class into solely a study of film noir, you could tell it was for no other reason than it was his favorite genre. Quickly, I became a fan. Night of the Hunter was so good, and Double Indemnity was even better. Before long, I knew all the hallmarks of the genre.

Except, you know, f--king puppets.

And the award for Most Apt Title in the history of cinema goes to...
And you can emphasize that either way, frankly, when slogging your way through The Happytime Murders. Because not only is this film about actual f--king puppets, but also about puppets actually f--king. And quite vigorously, at that.

Ah, late summer - you vengeful bitch. Not only was the latter part of August the cruel reminder that I would soon have to go back to work, but it's was also where all the bad movies go to die. And with the clock ticking on time I still had to waste, foolishly, I took my wife to the f--king puppet movie.

Why? Well, I figured as absurd as the whole premise appeared, The Happytime Murders simply wouldn't exist unless the film weren't utterly f--king hysterical. Combining that (horribly misguided) logic with the fact that Melissa McCarthy playing a hard-ass cop in an R-rated comedy (not to mention she needed to atone for the shit-tastic Life of the Party [review]) and the laughs were seemingly guaran-f--king-teed. Yeah, about that.

Instead, the only thing guaranteed was a mostly unfunny tale of murder and revenge starring a grizzled ex-cop named Phil and his estranged human partner, Connie (McCarthy). Of course, their past is decidedly checkered with Phil having inadvertently shot an innocent puppet in a bust gone wrong. And on that fateful day, Connie took a hit and ended up with a, you guessed it, puppet vagina liver. No. Really.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

The great game continues...

I would have looked you in the eye and said it was five miles, easily, but according to Google Maps, it was only one point four. Whatever the distance may have been, the mileage was more or less irrelevant: the walk home from the bus stop was treacherous.

Along the route there were many obstacles a middle school kid could encounter, many factors that could make the trek tumultuous.
  1. Oppressive heat (afternoons in Hawai'i? Might hit 82 degrees)
  2. Rogue elementary students, swinging bookbags and/or throwing rocks
  3. High school kids driving by (and being dicks)
  4. Weird old people that wanted to say hello for an hour.
  5. Shortcuts that not only weren't shorter, but were littered with a generous amount of kiawe thorns (Google it, I dare you) just waiting to tear your shi(r)t up
  6. And, if you wanted to take an actual shortcut across the golf course, an overzealous Marshall, waiting to bust us
But to be quite frank with you, none of this along the way stuff ever really bothered me. In fact, it was the calm before the storm. Because when I got close to home, like almost there, I-can-see-our-roof level of closeness? That's when all hell broke loose. The final stretch.

That's when the shit really hit the fan.

OPTION 4: See another movie.
Mile 22 isn't about an annoying kid trudging home from school, but instead tells the tale of a covert group of hardasses attempting to get an informant from point A to point B. Brimming with an overzealousness that borders on f--king hysterical and cobbled together with the grace of flaming sledgehammer, Peter Berg's latest collaboration with Mark Wahlberg is a tactical strike gone horribly wrong. And as we search through the rubble for survivors, there's one overwhelming positive: only a few people were foolish enough to be in the theater when the (box-office) bomb went off.

I may be enjoying the smell of my own farts too much, sure, but good God Mile 22 is a chaotic mess. And not in a good way. The story is simple enough (dude knows some stuff, people want to kill dude, America must protect dude during twenty-two mile trip to airport), and the actors are all game (f--king John Malkovich is in this!), but the wheels fall off almost immediately. Good thing I stayed around till the end, because, and this is likely because I'm a moron, but...that shit was a banger.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Why you actin' like you ain't got skin in the game?

I didn't vote for Donald Trump.

Since I have eyes and ears (not to mention a brain and a heart), I never even considered it. But being that there was (supposedly) no way in Hell the obnoxious prick from The Apprentice could possibly be voted in to our nation's highest office, what I did consider, with a sort of morbid fascination at the time, was what the future would be like if he somehow pulled it off.

But I couldn't come up with anything that made sense, you know? Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos, jokingly echoed through my head (about that brain I mentioned earlier? Scratch that.) when I imagined this exceedingly far-fetched scenario. 

How was this guy going to change things so drastically? President Obama was the most radically different person I'd ever seen in office, and everything still felt...normal, right? How could Trump really change our future?

Turns out, by making it a lot like our past. 

As it's been just under a month since I've seen Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman, safe to say I've had some time to sit and think about. And while most films tend to dissipate in the noise of life (and it's been especially noisy as of late), remarkably, I still haven't been able to shake this one off. Which shouldn't be surprising, considering it's so f--king heavy.

At times?

See, the (mostly true?) story of Ron Stallworth (a fantastically droll John David Washington) starts innocently enough, with the young man joining the Colorado Springs Police Department back in the early seventies. Initially banished to the records department, Ron desperately wants to do more, and is reassigned to work undercover. His first gig? To check out a meeting the local black student union is hosting. There, Ron meets a lovely young lady, the politically-charged president, Patrice. Sparks don't necessarily fly, and Ron's going to have to work the long game.

Good thing his career is on the fast track, however, as Ron is not only reassigned again (to the intelligence division) in record time, but somehow manages to infiltrate the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan in the blink of an eye. While it didn't take more than a phone call to get the invite, Ron can't exactly reach out an touch a white supremacist someone. Instead, he recruits an impossibly reluctant co-worker named Flip Zimmerman, played by the perpetually unimpressed (though thoroughly impressive) Adam Driver. Together, they'll play the character of Ron Stallworth: Proud American/Racist F--kface.