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?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

You and I are like rain-proofing on a wooden deck. Finished.

I don't know if love is the right word anymore, but I really, really like Saturday Night Live. Maybe even, you know, more than a friend. The nineties were when it really started for me, as Sandler, Farley, Myers, Hartman and the rest solidified my long-term commitment to the show, for better or worse, till death do us part. And if you've watched as much SNL as I have, you know that something happens at about the forty-minute mark (maybe after Weekend Update) of the show. Things generally get pretty f--king weird.

They Came Together, starring SNL alum Amy Poehler and show-regular Paul Rudd, is the film embodiment of that stretch where SNL transitions from somewhat straightforward comedy to batshit absurdity. Being that this one comes to us from director David Wain that may not surprise you, but it also may not interest you, either.

From the outset, They Came Together looks to take the piss out of the entire romantic comedy genre. Loosely based on You've Got Mail, this flick tells the familiar tale of two seemingly opposite New Yorkers (of course), who, despite their overwhelming (-ly cliched) differences, end up falling in love. Aww. While that setup would be a kick in the sack of originality in any other movie, here it's the perfect setup for satire. Very bizarre satire.

If you often find that an endless amount of thoroughly random jokes (delivered by an endless amount of thoroughly random actors) is your cup of tea, trust me, you'll have a blast with this one. But if you're looking for something a little more straightforward to watch with your better half, best to keep it moving.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

This one shows spirit.

I'm sure you've heard what they've been saying now that it's over: it was a huge gamble! It shouldn't have worked out as well as it did. And while they were talking about the movie we saw, in fact, they might as well have been talking about my wife and I seeing it. Together. Because, let me tell you, for the first fifteen minutes? I thought I made a terrible, terrible decision.

My wife loathes sci-fi, and isn't even borderline interested in the Marvel Universe, but she loved Guardians of the Galaxy. And even though I'm three weeks out from having seen it (new job = imminent death of Two Dollar Cinema), I still consider it one of the most entertaining movies of 2014, and (tiny, adorable raccoon) hands down the best movie of the summer. There isn't a doubt in my mind.

Back in the begnining of August, I thought the early word/fanboy boners would steer me wrong, or at least make it impossible for Marvel's latest to live up to the hype, but that word (and those um, boners) was/were spot on. While the easy answer to Guardians success is to say that everything just works, I think what I loved most about it was the fact that it didn't take itself too seriously. And by that I mean that it's f--king hysterical. 

Most of the laughs come from the brilliantly-cast Chris Pratt as Starlord/Peter, but Riley Cooper's work as Rocket Raccoon consistently killed me. Rocket is such a dick in the best possible way that it still makes me smile. His insistence on various body parts being essential to the plan still cracks me up. I need his prosthetic leg.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

I'm a hard guy to impress.

He loves the show. Absolutely loves it.
Loves the toys, too. Just got a bunch for his fifth birthday, in fact.

So I couldn't believe it when he said, rather emphatically, he didn't want to see the movie. There are few things I can recall him ever being so passionate about. It even got to the point where he said, You can go, Dad. I'll wait in the car, okay? Eventually he copped to being scared of them, but you know what? Maybe he just knew that the movie wasn't for him. Or me.

Or anyone?

Thanks for the offer, but my hands aren't going anywhere near your staff.
That might be a bit harsh, but seeing the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, without my son, was a bit of a letdown. Even with fairly low expectations. That actually should be considered shocking, though, as just about every single thing in the movie works for the most part. Except for one thing: the turtles.

Yeah, it's not so much Megan Fox being miscast as April O'Neil, the fact that Foot Clan aren't even ninjas (more like volunteer terrorists), or even that Splinter is impossibly horrifying to look at. No, the main problem with this film lies squarely on the shoulders on the man or woman who decided that the turtles should look like deformed pirates on steroids. Green deformed pirates on steroids.

Anyway, if you can manage to look beyond the creepy character design, everything else is serviceable enough. When the turtles actually show up, they kick just enough PG-13 butt to entertain boys (and probably not girls) under the age of ten. Unfortunately, I have the mentality of someone at least three years older than that, so I was left wanting more. More of what, I'm unsure. Though, a little Casey Jones would've been appreciated.

Right now, I sorry I speak English.

I've been reading Life of Pi for probably over a year now, in between other books, and it's becoming increasingly clear that I wouldn't last a minute adrift at sea. In fact, the last section I read went into great detail about eating fresh tiger feces (he catches it from a squatting Richard Parker) and I just shut down my Kindle, folded my arms, and shook my head for a solid five minutes. I mean, being out at sea for months is bad enough, but when the highlight of your day is a tasteless little shit? Well, that's where I draw the line.

As my last film for Fisti's Twice a Best Actor series, 1937's Captains Courageous wasn't my cup of tea. Sure, Tracy was engaging enough as the Portuguese Mr. Miyagi, Manuel. But even his charm and goofy accent couldn't rise above how much I hated the kid, a scene-devouring Freddie Batholomew.

Victor Fleming's Captains Courageous (based on Kipling's novel) tells the tale of a little rich bastard, Harvey, who is essentially the worst kid on the planet. After some nonsense at school, it appears that Harvey's rich father needs to spend time with his a-hole kid, and decides to take him on a business trip to Europe, via a luxurious passenger ship. Harvey, ever the f--ker, eats too much ice cream and falls off the damn boat. 

But instead of being eaten by a tornado full of sharks as I was desperately hoping, Harvey is rescued by a fishing boat. There, he meets Manuel, the most wise and handsome Portuguese man this side of Cristiano Ronaldo. Though Manuel teaches Harvey nothing of bicycle kicks and slide tackles, he teaches the kid just about everything else in life. And by doing so, becomes the father that Harvey needed so badly. Aww.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

I'm a bit lost, really.

If there's one thing you should never do when you're tired, we all know it's operate heavy machinery, right? Right. It almost goes without saying. I mean, you could really hurt yourself driving a forklift on two hours sleep. F--king lose an eye, or a toe or something.

Recently, I found something else you should never, ever do half-asleep. Luckily, the only thing I lost was my bones. All of them. Oh, and my f--king mind.

Honestly, I didn't have a f--king clue what Under the Skin was about before (or after, sadly) I 'watched' it. Deafened by the buzz, I had stayed away from anything resembling a review and went in totally blind. And exhausted, apparently, as I found myself routinely making those gasping noises one makes when their head -mouth wide open- snaps back into place after a seconds-long coma. Obviously it's no way to watch any movie, but I'm telling you, it makes this one literally impossible. I probably had a better chance of being invited to Brad and Angelina's wedding then ever making it through this um, experiment film.

Days after, I had checked out a review that Sati at cinematic corner. linked to (it was Angela's review at Cinema 13), and at last got some clarification. Had I not read that, this post simply would have been random letters and numbers as I would have likely typed it exclusively with my tear-strewn face.

Anyway, according to Angela, this movie is about an alien. A fairly hot alien, that is (even if a little dirty, and dressed like a Romanian hooker), who drives around in a van, luring men into some sort of death trap. If you can call an infinite ocean of black goo a death trap. Anyway, this chick is pretty content at devouring the random douche from the club, until one day she sees something that sort of derails the mission. Apparently, she develops a bit of humanity and everything is knocked on its sexy ass. Again, this is my poorly written version of a much more elegant post.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

There is no such thing as a bad boy.

It was so long ago that I don't even remember what we were talking about, buy I vividly recall my dad asking me something that has stuck with me since the moment he said it. He asked me, his index finger bobbing up and down as he did, Do you think there's more good in the world, or evil? Without hesitation, a young m.brown replied, Good, obviously.

He shook his head. If there was more good in the world, we could do away with the evil. There's equal parts of both. It's a balance. I nodded, because that's what I do when I agree (or more likely, have no f--king clue what to say next). If that's really the case, if such a balance really does exist, then in 1930's Nebraska? Well, there must have been some bad ass motherf--kers. 

Turns out, there was. About five hundred of them.

In 1938's Boys Town, Spencer Tracy plays Father Flanagan, quite possibly the goodest person ever to walk the planet. Fine, goodest isn't a real word, but Father Flanagan as portrayed by Tracy, appears to be the most agreeable, compassionate and understanding man alive. And even more impressive? He never wavers. Not once. 

Boys Town, (loosely?) based on a true story, details the lengths that Father Flanagan went to in creating a place for wayward, well, boys. Initially starting with a half-dozen troublemakers, eventually Flanagan builds a facility/compound housing nearly a hundred times that. Along the way we see ol' Padre use the powers of persuasion to convert many a non-believer. I'm talking adults - investors, and the like, not the kids. 'Cause the boys? They fall in line real fast, see. 

One day, however, trouble blows into the idyllic Town, as Whitey Marsh (an irritating Mickey Rooney, all of 18 years old) struts in, laughing in the face of Father Flanagan's laid-back approach. Whitey, without a doubt, is a real f--ker, Hell bent on destroying every single thing that Flanagan has built, not to mention being a real dick to every kid at the place. In fact, he's such a little shit, I was actually rooting against his inevitable change of heart, even if it made for a real sappy happy ending.