Monday, December 31, 2012

It's gonna make your Olympic training look like finger painting.

As the last few hours of 2012 wind down, many of us will look back on the year that was. News channels, sports and entertainment programs, hell - everywhere you go, highlights will be shown and lists will be made commemorating both the best and worst of the year. And as we get closer to midnight, the focus will inevitably shift from looking backward to forward, and the quiet birth of the New Year's Resolution will happen a million times over. I've broken just as as many as I've made, but this year's going to be different. Here at Two Dollar Cinema, I'm making the resolution to stop watching (and writing about) so many shitty movies. Around here, 2013 will focus on incredible, life-affirming stories and the indelible art of film-making. No more sarcastic bullshit.

But it ain't 2013, yet.

I didn't know what I was getting myself into with Gymkata, I promise. I saw the stupid title, read the ridiculous plot summary from the program guide, and thought f--k it, why not? Little did I know I was sitting down to one of the worst movies if all time. 

But, here's the thing. It f--king rules. 

Released a year after the US smashed in the Russkie-free 1984 Olympics, someone must have thought this idea would amount to even more guaranteed American gold. Combining the ridiculousness of mid-80's action with the sweaty awfulness of male gymnastics would have been enough. Hell, it would have been more than enough. But then to throw in the weirdest final twenty minutes of any movie ever, and things spiral into utter madness.

The story is actually more,if possible, absurd than that poster, but I'll give it a shot regardless. Government agents recruit a male gymnast to participate in an obscure game on the other side of the planet. If he wins, he gets a, wait for it, request. Seriously. And with this request, presumably he'll ask for the safeguard of numerous satellites in the Star Wars missile defense program, and not a proper haircut and shorts that actually cover his ballsack. And with that, we're off to training montages, guys with massive tits, probably over two-hundred unnecessary backflips, and the infamous battlecry of Yamkala!! Indeed.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Typical Ringelfinch behavior.

Did you read the story about that college student uncovering the dark side of humanity? No, it wasn't what college guys do to their unconscious roommates, but instead an experiment using, of all things, rubber turtles. See, this kid, Nathan Weaver, was studying the declining population of box turtles in South Carolina. He placed a realistic-looking rubber turtle in the road and tracked how many people deliberately swerved to crush the poor thing. About 3% of drivers destroyed the turtle, and a few tried and missed (dumb bastards on multiple fronts, clearly). I think it's very sad to imagine a cute, little-bitty thing, trudging along, only to have some a-hole go out of his way to kill it. But what if it wasn't cute? What if it was a gigantic, menacing beast? Then what? Well, in that case...

Troll Hunter, released in 2010, tells the story of a trio of college kids also investigating the senseless slaughter of animals. In this case however, replace South Carolinian turtles with Norwegian bears (sounds like the matchup from Super Bowl CCXXVI) as the crux of the story. Seems numerous bears have been found dead and these three, armed with their HD camera, go all Scooby-Doo and decide to get some answers. But being that this found footage was compiled under less than ideal circumstances, it appears that not everything is coming up Milhouse in the Land of the Midnight Sun.

A few minutes in, we discover that the dead bears are part of an elaborate cover for the larger problem of, you guessed it, trolls. Seems these giant f--kers have been wreaking havoc throughout Norway for years, and our college kids track down the man responsible for hunting them. But, awesome Blogger Guy, trolls aren't real. Well, no shit. But, outside of some spotty special effects (but certainly good enough, all things considered), there's enough of a silly story to make you think otherwise. The lore is presented with steadfast appreciation, for sure. And, this isn't one of those flicks where they bitch out and make you think you saw a troll. These goofy bastards get ample screen time. I might even go as far as saying too much, even. But then, I remember that trolls are obviously, like boobs. You can never see enough of them. Oh, and the bigger the better, clearly. Though not too big, because that just looks fake and unnatural.

Friday, December 28, 2012

No, mate. That's adorable.

If the holidays are a time of family and traditions, I thought it was about time I started my own family tradition. Surprising no one, I decided that we should go to the movies on Christmas Day. Every year. It'll be our thing. My wife countered, Well, us and all the Jewish people. Fine. Whatever.
As we merrily drove to the mall, it was interesting to see how few people were out. All the parking lots, normally full of meandering, elderly shoppers, were completely empty. As we looked out the windows...

My son was thinking, I wish I was home playing with my Skylanders and new Lego sets.

My wife was thinking, I can't believe we're doing this. I need to bake an apple pie for tonight.

And I was thinking, Whoa. Today would the perfect day to shoot a zombie movie. There's no one in front of that Chili's.

Proving Christmas miracles actually exist, we made it to Rise of the Guardians on time. In my head, the theater was going to be chock full of families (all led by wise, flannel-wearing, barrel-chested, like me) so we needed to be there early. Turns out, not so much, A trio of old people and a large family (not in number, but size) were the only others to venture outdoors on Christmas afternoon. Well, let's not forget the poor bastards working the theater.

Anyway, despite not really getting much fanfare this holiday season, Rise is a very entertaining film that I wholeheartedly recommend. This flick takes all of your childhood heroes, some more obscure than others, and throws them together against an evil force threatening the whole world. Basically, this is The Expendables for six-year olds.

As with most holiday films, the core of this one is believing. The big four (Santa, Tooth Fairy, Sandman and the Easter Bunny) don't have any problems in that department, but the new guy, Jack Frost, does. He has been selected to join the ranks, but hesitates as he finds the whole Guardian thing rather pointless. But then things take a nasty turn, as children begin losing faith rapidly. Seems the Boogeyman, Pitch Black, is back on the scene and is dead set on scaring little kids so much that they stop believing in anything but fear. Pitch eventually interferes with the Tooth Fairy's affairs, leaving kids all over the world waking up, finding their teeth where they left them and thinking f--- this noise. And with that, our man Jack has gone from indifferent prankster, to firmly-believing ass kicker.

Monday, December 24, 2012

I do believe the worst is behind us.

There have been few better theatrical experiences than the time I saw The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. I was in Connecticut visiting my grandparents, and on a whim, I decided to catch an early showing at the mall after doing some Christmas shopping. I don't remember having huge expectations going in (I hadn't read the book), and wasn't overly familiar with anyone involved, outside of Peter Jackson and Elijah Wood. But I had time and thought, why not?

Three hours later, everything had changed.

Clearly I was a huge dork that day back in 2001, but I left the theater an even bigger one (if that is at all possible). Peter Jackson had made one of my favorite movies of all time and shown everyone what an epic film truly looked like. I'm actually one of the few that consider Fellowship their favorite of the trilogy. In addition to being an outright great film, what was truly memorable, is that it surprised me. I had never seen anything like that before.

Eleven years later, there were no surprises as I meandered through The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. And no, it's not because I wised up and actually read the book this time (despite this blog, I swear I'm not illiterate. Promise.), but that we've simply seen all of this before. We've seen a slew of characters embark on an epic journey traversing Middle Earth.  And for my money, we've seen it with more likeable characters on a more interesting journey.

Don't think it's all bad, 'cause obviously, it's not. We still have an incredibly-realized Middle Earth, filled with fascinating creatures and epic battles. We also get to spend more time with some of our previous favorites, including Frodo, Gollum, Galadriel (I looked that up) and Elrond (that one, too). And of course, a slightly more spry (though older looking, hmmm) Gandalf, who conjures up numerous ass kickings this time around. The older, familiar characters are not the problem - it's the new batch. All fourteen of them.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Not everything has to be a big deal

Our dog, Dodger, was a rescue. When he was three years old, he ended up in the hands of a lady working for an agency who fostered dogs transitioning to new homes. Her generosity spiraled out of control, and she ended up with twenty-two dogs, our future pup being one of them. This odd story was on the table when we adopted Dodge, but at the time, it didn't seem like a big deal.
Well, it turns out that living with dozens of others under the control of someone who initially meant well, but waded into f--king madness, isn't exactly the best place to spend one's formative years. Let's just say, those affected might show up on your doorstep one day with a few...quirks.

Elizabeth Olsen is completely mesmerizing as the lead in 2011's Martha Marcy May Marlene. I thought she was easily the best part of the shit-tastic Silent House [review], but clearly, that isn't saying much. In this flick, she gets to do more than peer into the darkness in a low cut shirt. Well, come to think of it, she's still peering into the darkness, just not literally. And as for that shirt? Well, it's not low cut this time. At least when it's on, anyway.Yowza.

Now complimenting Olsen and her fantastic performance, is a well-told story of a young girl who has lost her way. For whatever actual reason (the death of her mother the likely culprit), Martha found herself living in a commune with a bunch of people who are off the grid. What appears to be a pretty harmonious group of hippies, is actually a cult full of miscreants. You need proof that shit ain't right? Well, the leader of this clan is played by the frighteningly awesome John Hawkes.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Way back, I remember driving home from somewhere with my dad. It was a hot, Texas day, and we had the windows rolled down (probably each of us with one arm more tanned than the other). My dad slowed his rickety VW van, and said something semi-excitedly to the effect of, Hey, do you smell that? And despite never really having a reliable sense of smell, I did. Sweet Jesus, I did. Yeah, I smell it. What is it? My dad smiled and quickly pulled over. C'mon. This was yet another time that my dad would do something crazy in the name of one thing: His collection.

Of skulls.

This past Thursday, I caught the last possible showing of The Collection before the influx of Friday's new releases. I know, lucky f--k, right? Well, not so much. This movie was laughably bad and I had no business seeing it. But, as has been the case countless times, I had an expiring free pass and felt obligated not to waste it. My wife had come home too late for me to catch Killing Them Softly, so this was the only thing starting that I hadn't seen. Well, Red Dawn was a possibility too, but that movie actually received worse reviews, and I was convinced that it was just the Expendables minus all the famous guys and violence. Sounds promising enough...

Anyway, I sat down alone in theater 10 (like, completely) , and began to stare at the screen with mild indifference for the first of the 82 total minutes. I had heard somewhere that this was a sequel, but shockingly, I missed the first one. Well, f--k, guess I'll get my stuff and lea---hold on. Was that Shooter McGavin? Oh shit! Dude just got f--ked. Up.

And with that, we're off to Shit Town, with the occasional stop in the vicinity of Mediocrity. I mean, Horror Shit Town, and Horror Mediocrity, of course. Yes, in a genre where at least three-quarters of it is downright awful, The Collection does little to separate itself.  We've got a creepy-looking, speechless Bad Guy, who is also is like a Jedi version of Kevin McCallister. Just replace the pony-tail with a gimp mask.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I can't find the wrench.

There was a death in the family yesterday and me and my wife (and ever our young son, Matty) are not sure how to deal with the loss. It was one of those unexpected things that came out of nowhere and blindsided all of us. As we pick up the pieces and make final arrangements, I honestly think that there was an amazing act of nobility in the final moments, as truly frightening as it was. This post will be a sincere tribute to that brave soul. Godspeed. You left us too soon.

My 50-inch plasma television tried to save me. I swear to you it did. I was watching Lars von Trier's Antichrist and my TV f--king exploded. I'm not bullshitting you in the least.

As my son slept soundly upstairs in his room, my dog Dodger and I were trying to stomach this film. Antichrist opens inexplicably enough, but my pup and I had made it to a scene where Willem Dafoe finds some strange thing in the woods. He bends down to touch it, and he is startled (and we were scared shitless oursleves) to find it's a fox. The fox sort of hisses at him. Dafoe stares at it, bewildered. But there's another fox, and this one is a bloody f--king mess. It unfurls itself, ripping apart its flesh and exposing its internal organs. We cut back to the first fox, and it says in a rather sinister voice:

Chaos reigns.

And I swear to you, f--king promise you, this is the moment my TV offed itself in one of the loudest f--king noises I've ever heard. BOOM! For a second, I thought it was the movie and was thrilled (though I might've half-pissed myself). But once I realized it was simply my eleven hundred dollar television saying goodbye/f--k you? Well, I understood then I'd made a bad decision. No, not that I wasted that much money on a television. And no, not the fact that I didn't buy a warranty for that television. What I did that was truly a bad call? I continued watching the movie (on my laptop).

Saturday, December 8, 2012

I come in here and see you playing Hee Haw with the f--k around gang.

I ran for office once. Well, actually we ran for office. No, not me and you (but that would've been awesome, I'm sure), but me and three other high school seniors. We had this clever/bullshit idea of sharing the responsibilities of the four student council positions (president, VP, secretary and treasurer, naturally). But, between you and me, this was a savvy way that all of us could put Student Council President on our college applications and technically not be full of shit. This shady idea also accomplished something else. We didn't have to run against one another. That could've been ugly.

The Campaign is, undoubtedly, everything you think it is. If you think it looks like another giant turd shat upon us by that idiot Will Ferrell, well, you're right. But if you think it looks like another baby-punching, Ferrell stayin' classy, classic, you'd also be correct.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Makes me wanna sniff some lines and go fly a jet!

I have never used drugs. But, I have seen quite a few movies where drugs (and drug use) were well, prominently displayed. Now, hold on. I realize this is like saying, Well, I've never had sex. But, I do have the internet.
Obviously, the experience of watching doesn't exactly hold a candle to doing, right? Right. Though, to be fair, there is a level of education and insight to seeing such acts on the (big) screen. For example, say I've got my boss' ladyfriend overdosing on heroin in my living room, right? This is simple. I jam a needle full of adrenalin in her heart, naturally. But what if I'm in charge of an American hero who has gone on a major bender the night before an important hearing? Oh, wait. I know this one too.

Flight is an incredible film. Despite having heard nothing but great things, for whatever reason I was relatively indifferent as my sister and I sat down to watch it this past Tuesday. It took less than a minute, but believe me, I was hooked. Sure, a screen full of titties always helps (not to mention Wally Cleaver's little brother), but the film is loaded with great characters, great scenes and utterly fantastic performances. And that's not even including the guy that King Kong ain't got shit on.

Denzel. There's not much more positive to say about him that hasn't already been said, but he has delivered yet another truly epic performance. His Whip Whitaker doesn't do anything half-assed. He's an incredible pilot, who's also incredibly f--ked up. He's charming, he's outgoing and he's impossibly good at what he does (all qualities of many of Washington's roles), but otherwise - he's a mess. An absolute train-wreck of a person. And while maybe Whip could have lived his miserably doomed life in relative peace, everything changes the moment the plane he was piloting crashes in spectacular fashion.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

If it happened, it happened. Why should it 'mean' anything?

When my younger brother moved from the family house on the Big Island of Hawai'i to his new residence outside of Honolulu, Oahu, he decided to take his parakeet, Lenny, with him. Never being one to let rules and formality interfere with getting things done, my brother simply put the bird in his pocket and boarded the aircraft. Everything seemed to be going smoothly, when just before takeoff, an older woman boarded the same flight carrying a large cage. Sure enough, this woman had her cherished pet parrot in her lap, traveling, well, legitimately. Moments after the doors shut and the plane began to taxi, the parrot started to squawk uncontrollably. And passengers all over the plane must have thought, God, not only is that parrot going crazy, but I swear it sounds like there's two of them in here. Unbelievable, right?

Also unbelievable, is the fact that every frame of Ang Lee's Life of Pi is something to marvel at. From the nature-doc style of the opening shots to the fantastical middle and end sequences, Life of Pi should undoubtedly be seen on the big screen. I saw it in 2D with my older brother and sister, but we all desperately longed for the 3D version. 

More important than the visuals, obviously, is the story. Based on Yann Matel's 2001 novel, this film tells a tale about a young man stranded at sea in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger (of all things). While traveling from Manilla to Canada, the ship Pi and his family were traveling on, sinks during a hellacious storm. Pi is the only human survivor. Told through flashback, Pi details his 227 days at sea and the unbelievable events that occurred. From the impressive encounter with a whale, to the improbable visit to an island that kills, the limits of credibility and faith are stretched increasingly thin. Whether you believe any of it is up to you, but clearly - that's the point. Decide for yourself. And be at peace with your decision.

I haven't yet read the book this film was based on, but I will. I loved the ending so much, I immediately wanted to watch the movie again. Instead, I'll think I'll opt for the novel, to dust off the ol' imagination, and also because I'm curious to see what was added and/or left out, especially regarding the conclusion. More so than most movies, the ending here was utterly vital. It's so simple, but also very beautiful. I'm not a religious person, but the message here felt perfect.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The moon is just a chip shot away.

I spend a considerable amount of time on this blog mentioning and discussing women in film. Okay, by women I more or less mean breasts. I think we can all agree that the female form in its natural, unencumbered glory is an incredible thing, right? Right. But on the other end of that spectrum is the awkward awfulness of the naked man. Sure, some of you out there enjoy that type of thing, but be honest with yourself: There's nothing sexy about some dude's sweaty junk in your face.

Magic Mike is yet another instance of director Steven Soderbergh proving that he can do whatever the Hell he wants. Helming a male-stripper movie might be a risky movie for numerous other directors, but not this guy. If I heard that his next movie was going to be a live-action VeggieTales movie, I wouldn't be shocked. He does what he wants, how he wants. And even if you don't want to watch mostly-naked dudes jiggle their balls for two hours, you have to respect his.

While a few of the performances are special, the story itself is anything but. Matthew McConaughey plays Dallas, a slightly older, bongo-playing businessman whose business happens to be entertaining the ladies. He has a small stable of guys that dance at his small-time club, though he dreams of bringing the flapping-dong action to Miami. His main draw, is Magic Mike, played by The Sexiest Man Alive Channing Tatum. Mike can shake it with the best of them, but has the oh-so dreamy dream of building custom furniture. Complicating everything, is The Kid. Mike recruits him to the club and for some unknown reason, falls for his sister. Hearts will be break, bottoms will be hit and, yes ladies, penises will be pumped.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A weed by any other name is still a weed.

At one point in my life, I was a high school janitor. Hold on. This happened when I was in high school, not after getting out of prison or something. Looking back, the job was equal parts terrible and awesome. Terrible, because I had to clean a f--king high school (the biggest offender? The buckets in the girls' bathroom - Dear God). Awesome, because I had access to any room after hours. And one time, my friends used my big-ass key ring to go on an Ocean's Eleven style break in. Their goal? The acquisition of a VHS tape, used annually in 9th grade English. Two words: Juliette's boobs.

Sadly, that moment of glory is all that remains in my memory of my introduction to Shakespeare. I'm more than familiar with a few of his stories, but being that I'm pretty much a complete idiot, have never investigated them otherwise. Well, that is until me and the family sat down to watch 2011's Gnomeo & Juliet last week. 

Real quick, even though no one cares, humor me. What do you think came first, the title or the story? Doesn't it seem that some jerk came up with the name Gnomeo and then figured, Gnomeo. Gnomeo and Juliet.
Someone get me my laptop. Now.
Fine, that's not how it went at all, but still. There's no way someone said, we should make a movie about garden gnomes! is there? Well, you're still reading this, so I suppose anything is possible.

Anyway, on to the flick itself. Very loosely based on the play, Gnomeo and Juliet is yet another cutesy piece of fluff that's loaded with an all-star cast and features the bastardized works of a musical legend. It's pretty to look at, has a very short run time and has all the hallmarks of every average animated flick that gets a theatrical release these days. Talking animals, droves of indecipherable things, and even a dance number or two, round out a very typical love story. Though that's to be expected considering how many times the original source has been used (or misused, perhaps?). It's not to say that there aren't clever bits, but overall it simply wasn't my cup of tea. And for the record, it lost my son to repeatedly jumping off the couch and bothering the dog, and lost my wife to snoring like an 800lb man. It's not terrible. It's just not awesome, either.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Were you expecting an exploding pen?

As I've mentioned countless times, my actual job, allegedly, is teacher. Every day I go to war with middle school kids and try to convince them of the importance of words and reading. And every day, someone says that reading is doing too much. Though they probably use to because they don't read enough to know the difference between the two. They just want to go on the computers or iPads and play games and take pictures of themselves. Very few really buy what I'm selling. Higher ups say that we've got to change the way we teach, that traditional ways just aren't good enough anymore. We need to make everything a project, an experience, that resonates with the kids. Times have changed they say. Once, I was even told don't teach them anything they could simply Google.

I love Daniel Craig so much I actually hate him. Handsome, charming bastard.
I don't know what industry you're in, but chances are, in the name of profits and bottom lines, it is becoming less about people and more about machines and technology.  I feel your pain. So does Bond. James Bond.

Before I really get started, let me admit it right now: I'm not a big Bond guy. At all. Yet despite that, I had a blast with the latest entry, Sam Mendes' kickass Skyfall.

The story is pretty straightforward. Bond must get back a stolen hard drive that contains the identity of numerous embedded agents. Naturally, an exceedingly badass chase ensues and Bond recovers it rather easily. He nails some hot broad with a groovy accent aaand...credits. 

No, wait. That's not it. Bond dies and the hard drive finds its way into the wrong hands, thereby putting dozens of lives in peril. Eh, close enough.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

That's an awful lot of chocolate for one man, Fred.

At my high school, there was an end-of-the-year tradition where the graduating class would dig up a section of the sidewalk and bury a time capsule beneath it. And by time capsule, obviously I mean Tupperware container. Anyway, I remember the things to be preserved were of varying levels of quality. Photos, notes and mixtapes (yes, I said tapes, f--k you, I'm old) were acceptable enough, though sometimes things would go awry. I vividly remember a couple of guys putting in large amounts of their artwork. And by artwork, obviously I mean countless drawings of dicks.

If there was ever an ultimate movie time capsule, I think 1974's Foxy Brown deserves a spot. And like the aforementioned drawings, it perfectly captures the goofy absurdity of the time it was created. Those graduating high school seniors drew and colored hundreds of shafts (and balls). These filmmakers crafted a film filled with badass ladies, kung-fu and dialogue often bolstered with liberal use of the word motherf--ker. Oh, and both featured their fair share of titties. The way I see it, upon an unearthing years later, each of these endeavors will charm whoever finds them, no matter how crude they are.

Pam Grier is a force on the screen for a number of reasons. First, she's gigantic. Tall, thick and incredibly buxom, she is oddly alluring. But more than her appearance, is my  second reason, her presence. For all the previously mentioned reasons, she commands your attention and can (and will) kick the shit out of you if she doesn't get it. If you don't believe me, check out the scene in the, um, Female Trucker Cantina. It's magic.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

I'd hate to be accused of not killing him when I had the chance.

There are exceptions, but for the most part, work sucks. Worse than being at a job you hate? The always dreaded team building activity. 'Mandatory fun' as a friend puts it, often makes a regular shitty day seem precious. But even worse than spending time with co-workers in a forced situation? Being murdered. I don't mean what happens to your soul day after day, I mean actually. Oh, and worse than that? Well, I don't want to ruin it. Let's just say it involves something sharp. And an ass.

Held over from my month-long pledge to watch nothing but horror movies, Severance managed to avoid being lost in DVR purgatory. I don't know what drew me to it, as all I was going on was the one-sentence summary provided by the good folks at the Dish Network program guide. I hadn't heard of any of the mentioned actors, but proceeded to dive in. And even though it took me three attempts (I keep slipping into mini-comas), overall it was a bloody, good ride.

Initially, everything is on the up-and-up. A small group of people who work for some weapons/defense company are on their way to the ubiquitous cabin in the woods. And while sequential murder isn't supposed to be on the agenda, team building is. The characters begin fairly one-note. Douchey Boss? Check. Overly Nerdy Guy? You bet. Quiet Lady and Pretty Girl are here as well, along with Confident Man and his friend, Druggie Perverted Guy. Oh, and there's Black Guy, too. Each is given a moment or two to flesh out their characters, but as they are picked off one by one, there's only two or three we'll ever really care about. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Top shelf.

Then you better start swimmin', or you'll sink like a stone. For the times they are a-changin'.

When we headed to the movies this past Wednesday night, my wife and I noticed that a mainstay of the mall, the arcade, had closed up and was now vacant. And while this is rather inconsequential for either of us, our three-year old son was saddened, despite thinking it was simply closed, as we so often tell him.  A week ago it seemed like the arcade would outlast a Skynet attack, but the mall recently instituted a ban on unaccompanied minors under the age of 18. The arcade had joined the ever-growing list of childhood things likely never to be heard from again.

Coincidentally, we were taking him to see Disney's latest animated feature, Wreck-It Ralph. It was our fourth anniversary and we thought it would be fun to take the little guy to the movies. He's three, and has already developed an interest in video games (the kid loves Skylanders), should I say unfortunately?, so we thought this would be perfect for him. And while it didn't hold his interest the whole time, the wife and I were enamored. This is a very sweet and charming film.

Ralph is a miserable and misunderstood guy relegated to a life he has grown tired of. Like many of us, his days are incredibly repetitive and uninspired. He's a bad guy. But, as Zangief puts it, heeez not a baaad guy. Simply put, Ralph is tired of being alone. Despite his initial quest being greedy and self-centered, ultimately Ralph finds meaning and a place in the world. And by that, I mean, he finds family. And as any parent will sigh and then tell you, that really is all that matters.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A dog living in a palace is still a dog.

I don't know how it is with you, but my iPod is loaded with countless songs I immediately skip when they come up in the shuffle. The only reason they are even there in the first place is because they take up so little room and I foolishly tell myself there might be a time when I want to hear it. Certain songs however, are always welcome. For example, the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" never, ever gets skipped. It's fun, it makes you want to move, and most importantly, everything about it screams vintage, old-school goodness.

Saturday morning, a friend and I caught a matinee showing of The Man with the Iron Fists. I went because I've always been down for the ridiculousness of old-school martial arts flicks, and Chad went to support the directorial debut of RZA (dude has some major love for the Wu-Tang Clan). And while initially this movie was like a classic 70's jam, eventually I think we both felt like skipping to the next number. It's like a great three minute song that happens to run just under six.

Terrible music analogies complete, let's talk about the story. Seems a large amount of gold needs to be transported through China. Along the way, it will travel through Jungle Village, home to various gangs, whores and a whole host of undesirables. Complicating matters even further, are a few epic fights, double and triple crosses, curiously spicy ribs, badass weaponry and the most titty-free brothel ever put to film. Stuck in the middle of all this, is the local Blacksmith, played by RZA. This guy wants two things: 1) to live a decent life with his ladyfriend (she's a whore, but hey - the best whore) and 2) to keep his actual arms attached to his body. Spoiler alert! Oooh. About that...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I don't like human beings.

Have you ever seen the show Shark Tank? This has somehow become my wife's favorite show. Anyway, the premise is simple: A quartet of rich people (the titular Sharks) are looking to invest thousands of dollars in the next big thing. Average schmoes desperately pitch them these ideas to entertainingly mixed results. Sometimes, they bite and invest willingly. Other times, they say the idea sucks and bail with the simple catchphrase, I'm out. Imagine with me...

Shark #1: Okay, our next guy is pitching a movie. Sir, are you ready?
Shark #2: This should be good.
Shark #1: Well, let's hear it. What's this movie about? Another comic book flick? Rom-com? What is it?
Guy: A creepy German doctor fulfills his life-long dream of surgically connecting three people.
Shark #2: I'm sorry, what did you just say? Surgically connecting?
Shark #1: I'm out.
Shark #3: Me too.
Shark #2: What a terrible idea. Just awful. I'm out.
Guy: Wait. Did I mention he connects them, ass-to-mouth?
Shark #4:  Let me get my checkbook.

You know, I thought that opening would have been better. The idea was novel, you know, combining the Shark Tank concept with a movie pitch as a way to open a new post. But, let's be honest, it was poorly written, sloppily executed and really not as interesting as it could have been. I mean, just because I had the idea, didn't mean I should have followed through with it. What was I thinking? And shame on you for even reading it.

Anyway, on Monday night, I managed to watch The Human Centipede. I was trying to end my month-long horror binge with something notorious in the genre, and this one certainly qualified (I almost opted for the original I Spit on Your Grave). It seemed fitting as Halloween approached, to aim high. Or low. Depending on your tastes.

Speaking of, my tastes have apparently changed as I've gotten older. Instead of being grossed out while having a good time, I just kept shaking my head and asking myself why? There was a little bit of why was this made? but much more of why am I watching this? It reminded me of this ultra awkward wet T-shirt contest that somehow broke out at a party I was at in college. While the idea sounded good on paper, it ended up being awkward and embarrassing. But, I suppose, each was memorable, even if for the wrong reasons. I guess that's something...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Honor thy consumer.

I'm a teacher. At an under performing school. We meet about test scores all the time. Then, we meet again. And again. Slowly but surely, we've stopped beating around the bush and openly admit we are teaching to the test. And while sitting in a meeting Friday afternoon, I thought to myself why do we bother teaching history? Now, I realize that this is one of the dumbest questions to ask, but when the test concerns itself with only reading and math (and eventually science), at some point I wonder when they'll eliminate history class altogether. We could use that time to teach more reading. And math. And eventually science.

Hours later I found myself at Cloud Atlas, marveling at its greatness. And while my earlier question about the validity of learning about the past was more of a joke about the present, this film proves over and over again the importance and relevance of history. The tagline, Everything Is Connected, doesn't even begin to describe the intricately overlapping nature of The Wachowski's latest. If you consider yourself a fan of film, I think you owe it to yourself to experience this movie.

As briefly as I can summarize it, Cloud Atlas tells six stories simultaneously. Each take place during a different time period, yet all share an infinite number of themes and experiences. Love, grace, honor and bravery exist in each story, as do fear, greed, prejudice and cowardice. Additionally, the motivations and desires of certain characters can be traced back to those who came before them. It may sound convoluted and heavy-handed, but in the hands of capable directors and actors, it is a fascinating watch. Our post-movie conversation was as spirited as any recap I've ever been apart of. Flem was damn near shouting. Trust me, that's a good thing.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

However, please know, it is with sincere regret that I must now kill all of you.

I remember this time in seventh grade when I had a bunch of friends over my house. Throughout the night I was eating Cheetos by the handful. The first two or three were delicious. The next couple, not so much. After the eighth one, things weren't looking so good. As everyone else slept, I stumbled out of my bedroom, careful to avoid strung out kids sprawled on the floor, and headed toward the bathroom. Even though it was mere steps away, I didn't make it. I threw up this incredible amount of bright orange sludge. Clueless, panicked and half-awake, I returned to my room and pretended the whole thing never happened.

Dark Shadows marks the eighth time that Johnny Depp and Tim Burton have worked together. And while this professional relationship peaked early with the unforgettable Edward Scissorhands (1990) and Ed Wood (1994), things have been inconsistent since. That's probably putting it kindly. In fact, the last two, for me, have been borderline disasters. Maybe not to the level of hours-old orange retch, but still. These guys are too talented to misfire at this point in their respective careers.

Dark Shadows is the film adaptation of some old soap that means nothing to me. Here, we are privy to the tale of Barnabas Collins who has awoken in the 1970's after being cursed with eternal life hundreds of years prior. Barnabas (Depp) has always had his way with the ladies, and things are no different when he awakes. More pressing however, is his sullied family name and business. And speaking of family, turns out they're all a little...wait for it...quirky. I know, I know. Shocking.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

It means there's a twelve-foot great white shark in here.

There are few moments that all of us will remember forever. These instances where time stood still and society, hell, humanity united in awe of a completely transcendent event. Close your eyes. Think back to 2006. Where were you, when you first heard Samuel L. Jackson utter, Enough is enough! I've had it with these motherf--king snakes on this motherf--king plane. 

Maybe I'm half joking, but I fully believe Snakes on a Plane was a watershed moment in contemporary cinema. For a minute, absurdly titled, low-concept movies were cool. Really cool. Mainstream, even. Now, the DTV market had been churning out messes like that for years, but now there was a dash of legitimacy to them. In my mind, this is the moment that every ridiculous idea was just so stupid, it might work.

I think the 's' in theaters is a little presumptuous.
Despite the latest flick I've seen ending up with the incredibly lame title of Bait, more fitting would have been Sharks in a Grocery Store. Well, fine, that title is f--king lame, too, but at least it would get your attention. After catching this one (hi-yo!), I can see why they went for a more serious title. Because that was their angle, for the most part: serious.

Now, that doesn't mean the movie is completely terrible, but it does mean there are going to be entirely too many minutes where people are talking/I'm not giving a shit rather than where sharks are eating faces/I'm fully engrossed. Keep that in mind, when you never, ever watch this, okay?

Let's revisit stupid ideas for a second (and yes, actually renting this is on the list). After a freak tsunami devastates a coastal city, a group of people are trapped in a flooded grocery store. With two massive sharks. Yes, the sharks got inside, but there's no way out. Oh, and minutes prior to this, we had a failed robbery in said grocery store. Because, you know, why rob a bank, when your town has a f--king grocery store. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

There is no life in this body.

I remember this time in the 90's, when I was traveling through Europe on business. I was using a dodgy British accent, trying to blend in, but even I'll admit it fooled no one. One particular rainy night, when I was almost asleep, three women silently entered my room. I was startled, but it seemed as if they appeared out of nowhere. Let's just say, that's when shit got real. And just as things were really heating up, the old man of the house barged in the room and ruined everything.

Oh, wait. That wasn't me. That was f--king Keanu Reeves.

My wife was fairly alert on Friday night when we sat down to watch something. I told her that I wanted to watch a horror flick to keep the theme going, she wanted to watch anything but. I thought by putting on Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula, I was somehow meeting her in the middle. Turns out, not so much.

Dracula is arguably the most well-known film adaptation of author Bram Stoker's 18th-century novel. Vampires had been around for a few decades when Dracula was published, but this novel was the genesis of the Dracula character as we know him today. I'm not the biggest fan of Drac (or vampires in general), but I certainly respect the creation of such a legendary character.

What I didn't appreciate, however, was this film. Released in 1992, Dracula seemed years older than that and felt incredibly dated (and that's odd, considering it's a period movie...tee hee). It was beautiful at times, and featured an epic performance from the frighteningly intense Gary Oldman, but by the end I was hoping someone would drive a stake through my heart. Or at least, that a giant wolf creature would have its way with me. One of those.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The wind must have blown it open.

Lewis Black has a great bit about anticipation being the best part of life. His point, is that the moment just prior to whatever you've been waiting for is actually the pinnacle of the entire experience. The rest is just a letdown. This is an absolute truth when it comes to watching horror movies. Seeing whatever it is that is tormenting everyone, can't match the level of intensity in the seconds prior to the big reveal. The best thing about not knowing for sure, is there still the possibility that this could really happen. Things are still realistic.

The Cabin in the Woods fails on the realistic angle almost immediately, which removes damn near all the scares, unfortunately. But, it succeeds on just about every other level. While I enjoyed the characters, the acting, the violence and all the little things, what has stayed with me days later is the concept. Just when I feel that every self-referential and/or ironic angle has been played out, somebody comes along and rejuvenates the genre. Writer Joss Whedon and director Drew Goddard are two such somebodies.

For anyone who hasn't seen the flick yet, you might as well bail here. Oh, and people who like well-written and thoughtful posts, you kids should probably head out, too. I'll hold the door for you.

Sadly, I knew about the observation/lab angle going in. I tried to avoid any prior knowledge, but I inadvertently caught half a preview somewhere. But even knowing that much, still didn't prepare me for the awesomeness. And I'm not really talking about the ultimate ending (honestly, that kind of lost me, despite being cool visually), I'm really focusing on the contents of the program. Rooms and rooms of the worst things imaginable is so f--king badass it makes me want to squeal. Imagine if they could had licensed some of the horror legends, thereby making every horror flick ever true? I would have shit pure delight for at least a week. Maybe two.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Holy rabies!

No, Dad. I don't want to see that one. It scares me.

This poster is all the plot summary you're getting out of me.
That's what my son kept telling me, every time I mentioned the idea of going to the movies this past Saturday night. As I assume I will do throughout his entire life, I reassured him that it's going to be okay. And while for a minute or two, I felt like the world's worst father, in the end that's exactly what Hotel Transylvania was. Okay.

Actually, it might have been better than that - or worse. I'm not really sure. What I do know is that my three year old son loved it and that's all I was hoping for. The fact that me and the wife chuckled a few times? Pure bonus.

Adam Sandler rounds up his usual stable of friends for yet another trip into that semi-awkward family territory he has has grown so comfortable in. Yes, there's a message about the importance of family and acceptance, and yes it's entirely too sentimental. But, at the same time, it entertains with enough laughs (both cheap and clever) to ultimately get a passing grade. Goodness, you had me at Steve Buscemi.

Because if I weren't a clown, I'd be a murderer.

You know that old story, where the shy, not-so-attractive guy, falls in love with the incredibly hot woman? And this chick, who of course, has a psychotic (though undeniably handsome) boyfriend, strings him along regardless. You ever see that one? Of course you have. Friday's flick told that familiar story yet again, but that lovable loser? He's slightly different. Instead of being a timid, bookish introvert with glasses, he's a murderous, dual machine-gun wielding clown, sworn to a life of revenge. With glasses.

I'm not even sure where to begin with 2010's The Last Circus. While a fairly straightforward tale of unrequited love for the most part, this flick bounces all over the place as well. Part black-comedy, part action/horror mash-up, and maybe even part historical allegory (sorry, but my knowledge of Spain's bloody history is nonexistent, at best), director Alex de la Iglesia has crafted a visually stunning epic with all the subtlety and grace of a punch to the dick.

And while the aforementioned crotch-shot never happens, many surprisingly gruesome things do. Opening in Madrid in 1937, but chiefly set in the early seventies, The Last Circus follows numerous unsavory characters in a downtrodden traveling circus. The main character is Javier, an overweight punching bag, who joins the circus as the unenviable sad clown, due to a personal life filled with misery. Things perk up, literally, when he meets Natalia, the alluring (and curvy) female star of the show. But, not too shockingly, she is already taken, and her man is the raging alcoholic/super-douche of the group, Sergio. Javier should glance at her rack and run in the opposite direction but instead decides it would be better to stick around and fall in love. Bad move, that.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Stop punishing yourself, Sarah.

Being the hugely influential trendsetter I am, I've decided to try to watch more horror movies this October, to gear up for Halloween. I know, I know - revolutionary idea, right? Wait, what's that? Everybody does that? Well, damn.

Okay, how's this? Instead of just watching any horror movie, I'm going to dig deep and watch a shitty one. I bet that's never been done before.

This is the same face I made when the movie ended.
Maybe shitty is too strong, but overall, I was pretty disappointed with Silent House. I'm not sure what I expected, but as someone who rarely watches horror movies (my wife can't stand being scared), I was hopeful this little flick could give me a few decent jump scares. And while the setup was intriguing/creepy enough (though inherently ridiculous), eventually, it all became tedious and frustrating.

The plot is simple, if not just a little bit silly. A girl and her dad are fixing up their old house in an attempt to sell it. To lend a hand, is the moderately-creepy uncle. All of this? Reasonable enough. Creepy house, small But, the power is out. And, due to pesky kids, every window is boarded up. Hmm. I guess that explains why it's pitch black in the house, despite the fact that it's f--king daytime. Whatever, I'm still on board. Oh, what's that? Your cell phones don't work up here? Well, then. F--k this.

And while my rational mind had problems with this one, other parts of my body had a good time. The reason? A very convincing (and oddly attractive?) Elizabeth Olsen. She doesn't have much to do, but I enjoyed watching her do it. [Even I see this has taken an unsettling turn] All I'm saying is that I enjoyed her performance. And her shirt (i.e the real Olsen twins).

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Smells like Willie Nelson's braids...

Can a minute save an entire film? Literally, I mean. One. Actual. Minute. As a kid, this was completely possible. One great fight sequence could save a D-grade action movie. A bad thriller or dramatic flick could be salvaged by the arrival (and subsequent pausing) of unexpected, high-quality nudity. An awful horror movie could redeem itself with a legendary death, even if it was just one. But what about a comedy? Can something not terribly funny be redeemed by a moment that made me f--king choke on my tears? 

For me, the answer is a resounding yes. When I look back on last week's Redboxing of Wanderlust, I can't help but smile. It helps that I find Paul Rudd utterly hysterical no matter what he's in. Another assist comes from countless members of The State, arguably one of the funniest shows of my formative years. But, a week later, only one thing has truly stayed with me: the mirror scene.

I'm going to apologize ahead of time for hyping it up, because at least half of my enjoyment resulted in the sheer unexpectedness of this classic scene. Sure, some of you (shit, most of you) won't find this nearly as funny as I did, but I literally cried during it. I've watched it on Youtube a few times since, and at this point, it still cracks me up.

Minus this scene, the entire film is slightly charming, but probably a Volkswagen van full of missed opportunity. I like Rudd enough to forgive just about anything, and Aniston is always nice to look at, but they have very little onscreen chemistry. Now, in a way, that's entirely the point, but it also made a lot of the movie feel forced.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Project Alice, who do you work for?

I used to have time to play video games. Now, I have just enough time to buy them. But, before I was a father, and before I was a husband, I had time. Crazy amounts of it, too. And a game I remember playing endlessly was Resident Evil 4 for the Nintendo Gamecube (of all things). I loved that game. The series had always been good, but part 4 was the pinnacle of survival horror. I might even tell you that it's my favorite game of all time.

Whatever goodwill I have for the games, I feel the exact opposite for the movies. I think I've only seen the first two (of five!), but they've all run together in my head. I do, however, specifically remember Milla Jovovich jump kicking a zombie dog, which is clearly great, but outside of that? It's all a giant ball of who gives a shit?

Maybe that's not entirely fair, but as I sat down to watch Resident Evil: Retribution I can honestly tell you that I wasn't very excited. I'm not sure how the other four people in theater one felt, but I'll bet it wasn't giddy with anticipation.

Despite my initial indifference, once things finally got rolling, I suppose I was entertained enough. I expected nothing and got a little more than that, so I'm calling it a win. Oh, and for the record, I only paid a buck (and that was for the 3D upgrade, naturally), keep that in mind.

Four paragraphs in, might as well lay some plot on you, huh? After we are provided with a much-obliged rundown of the first four flicks, the fifth flick begins and is basically a rescue mission. Alice has found herself knee-deep in shit down in the underground headquarters of Umbrella (Oh, and if any of my facts are wrong, feel free to correct them. Also, feel free to go f--k yourself, nerd). A crew of strong dudes must extract her, then blow the whole place to Hell. Inside, the facility is laid out in super generic video game levels, I mean detailed recreations of Tokyo, Russia and New York. There's also a Neighborhood level, most of which you've seen if you caught the relatively kickass trailer. That said, it was still kind of cool, despite being 900% ridiculous.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

You insult me again, and I'll cut your face off and wear it over my own.

In September of 1995, something shocking happened at our local movie theater in Kailua-Kona, Hawai'i. Paul Verhhoeven's controversial NC-17 flick, Showgirls, was to be shown on one of the town's four screens. The hype was palpable. Also in September of 1995, a young m.brown turned 16 the week before the movie was released. For the time being, I was going to be denied horrible dialogue and unlimited access to Jesse Spano's tits. Worse, I was going to be denied some glorious nudity featuring the Joker-mouthed Gina Gershon. Seventeen years later, I would atone.

For my 33rd birthday, I wanted to go to the movies. Sure, that's nothing special, but I wanted to see something great. Our local theater had only two things showing, jack and shit, so I did a little research and found a small independent theater in Harrisburg. Sure enough, all three screens were showing something very interesting, but there was really only one choice. I had to see Killer Joe.

When I start to hear about certain movies or performances, I freak out and go the other way immediately. I want to know nothing. Yeah, I knew Matthew MacConaughey was in it. I knew it was a black comedy. That's about it. Emile Hirsch? Had no clue. Gina Gershon? Couldn't recall. NC-17? Wait, they still make those? Interesting.

If you're reading a movie blog, you probably know all the real interesting bits, but I'll try to keep it as spoiler-free as possible anyway. Well, at least up here. Killer Joe, based on a play, tells the story of a highly-dysfunctional family who hire a hitman/local detective to kill their mother. Seems money is a bit scarce (and desperately needed by older brother Chris), and mom has a pretty hefty life insurance policy. Simple enough, right? Well, it seemed that way until Killer Joe showed up. That's when everybody starts going down on Col. Sanders. If only I were joking.

Friday, September 14, 2012

What if we loaded it with nudity?

Contract or no, I will not bow to any sponsor.
One of my favorite movies as a young jerk, was the 1992 flick Wayne's World. As an awkward twelve year old, I found just about every frame of it hysterical. But the one scene that absolutely killed me was the bit where Rob Lowe confronts them about giving the sponsor, Mr. Vanderhoff, some time on the show. Wayne and Garth are vehemently opposed to selling out. It's like people only do things because they get paid. And that's just really sad. This scene was a brilliantly executed jab at selling out, all the while completely selling out.

Twenty years later, Morgan Spurlock has basically extended this scene and made a feature-length documentary about product placement and advertising in movies. POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is a light-hearted look into the gray area that exists between the art of film and the world of advertising. Spurlock's hook, is that he wants his movie about product placement to be financed through product placement. And while some of you out there might roll your eyes at that idea, I found it incredibly clever.

The film follows Spurlock around as he pitches his ludicrous idea to numerous companies. Major players, like Volkswagon, flat out reject his requests. But secondary brands (Hell, maybe even tertiary brands) like Ban deodorant are thrilled to be apart of something. Eventually, larger companies basically say  f--k it and sign on as well. It's an interesting journey and I can think of few people better to tag along with, than the amiable Spurlock. He realizes this is a gamble, and appears to not be entirely interested in selling his soul to advertisers, but is determined to see the project through. Even if he has to drink enough pomegranate juice to induce a massive, raging hard on.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Our donkey's in a ditch.

A few years ago, Blockbuster had this slogan, Life after late fees. This idea came at a time when video stores were still relevant, and basically let you keep the movie as long as you wanted, until they simply charged you some set price and you owned the damn flick. It was a shitty idea, but removed the pressure of having to watch whatever you'd rented that night. Well friends, I miss that sense of urgency. I often find my Blockbuster Online rentals, with their lack of set return date, sitting in my house for f--king ever, especially if it's a movie for us. I'm sure you Netflixers know exactly what I'm talking about. Especially you married jerks.

Bernie gathered dust in my house for almost three weeks. And while that sounds like the plot to a bad eighties flick, unfortunately, it isn't. The movie was completely undeserving of this fate too, as it was a pretty enjoyable tale of real-life small-town murder. Wait. Enjoyable. Real. Murder?


Director Richard Linklater, through the use of the actual townsfolk involved, quaint title cards and a quirky score, has created a based on a true story flick that makes the audience feel like murdering someone is, well, not the worst thing you could do. Jack Black, as the titular Bernie Tiede, is just so darn nice, we feel compelled to let the confessed murderer off the hook. Especially since the victim is a rotten, old bitch. And while I was certainly along for the ride, hindsight has dampened my enthusiasm, even if just a little. This guy murdered someone. And then stole all their money. Not cool, bro.

The man who would agree with that last statement the most is the local district attorney, Danny Buck, played with wild-eyed disbelief by the always awesome Matthew McConaughey. While watching the movie I felt this guy was an overzealous madman, but in reality, he's the most sane person in the movie. It actually makes me appreciate the movie much more. The packaging is sweet and fluffy, but at the core, things are pretty ugly. Honestly, this whole town is seriously f--ked.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sir, are you ill?

Some of you smarter types might read a classic novel to better educate yourself, or perhaps to simply make you a more well-rounded individual. I do something similar, but remove the legitimacy. See, I'll watch obscure or niche movies in hopes of one thing, being able to cleverly reference them in conversation. In my mind, I'll be having this chat, surrounded by people who look like various incarnations of Rivers Cuomo, and I will drop some amazing reference and it will astound everyone. In college, before I met my wife of course, this imagined scenario was filled with women. And they were so wowed by my wit, it made their shirts uncomfortable. Naturally, they removed them.

Dropping a proper Blacula reference is likely going to be impossible, but I've hopefully got at least fifty more years to do it. Or, if I'm bitten by an irate African prince with massive eyebrows, I might have the rest of time. Either way, I'm up for the challenge.

This was one of those situations where I thought my wife was asleep. No, not one of those situations, but one where I figured I might as well watch something that she would have absolutely zero interest in. Sure enough, she saunters into the living room right as I press play. Ooh, what are you watching? Shit.

Actually, she hung in there for a minute. Just long enough to see Count Dracula not only curse the African Prince (after mildly offending him by casually offering to purchase his wife), but to also give him a new f--king name. Seriously, when did vampires get this power? Shit, not only am I an undead f--k, but now I have to be called f--king Blacula? This is some bullshit, man, Bullshit.

Outside of the random beginning, Blacula is pretty straightforward. Our main man wakes up in early 70's Los Angeles rather bloodthirsty. He chomps on the first two dudes he sees, meets his reincarnated wife, easily convinces her of her past, and attempts to live happily after. Meanwhile, an incredibly smooth doctor pieces together the mystery of a rash of dead people showing up in the morgue completely drained of blood. And while this bothers him ever so much, he still finds time to take his sweet lady/lab assistant to the club. There, they meet and hang out with some funky dude who sounds like Sideshow Mel and wears a long black cape everywhere he goes.  Man, if only we had some leads!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

If I don't get this back...your ass is terminated.

Very rarely do I appreciate that I'm in my thirties. But looking around at things now, as old bastards generally do, I think thank God I'm not growing up in this mess. Now, that relief is quickly tempered when my now (as of two days ago) three-year old son streaks into the room, but it often lingers under the surface. I turn on the radio and it's what is this shit? I look at the way my students dress and I think someone would have rightfully kicked my ass if I had gone to school dressed like that. Don't even get me started on television. At least half of all shows are rich or stupid people, or stupid rich people, doing jackshit for an hour. People live like this? And we watch them? But the one thing that probably saddens me more than anything? It's something very dear to my childhood and teenage years. The lack of the hero. Well, the Action Hero.

Now, don't get me wrong. There have been some kickass action flicks in the last couple of years, but nothing has come close to the way things used to be. If you're a teenager now, and not into old-school action flicks, who's your biggest star? The Rock? Badass, but too many family films, thereby squandering his prime years. Vin Diesel? Had a chance, but it didn't work out. Who else is there? Shit, is it Matt Damon? Johnny Depp? Christian Bale? No, probably not any of those three. It's likely Jason Statham, who is genuinely a charismatic screen presence, but I'm not sure he's been in anything with enough mass popularity.

My point? The best Action Heroes, were from my youth. They always have been, and likely, always will be.

The Expendables 2 is yet another reminder of, depending on your tastes, the good ol' days. Now, the movie itself isn't great, but you can't deny the magic of seeing all these iconic ass kickers together on screen. Cheesy one liners, droves of guys running into bullet spray and an overwhelming on-screen awareness of each guy's historical significance make for a good time at the movies.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

It's like, extra sad when a hot chick dies.

The things we do for love. A few weeks ago, my wife accompanied me to Blockbuster to help me choose our next movie to watch. First thing I need to mention, is involving her has traditionally been a bad move. Now I watch a ton of shitty movies, but it's generally inspired shittiness (at least in my opinion). Her picks? Not so much. But worse than watching a bad movie with her is, watching half of a bad movie with her. I don't know if this happens to you, but my significant other flatlines into a near coma if we start a movie past say...ten. And being that we have a two year old, that's pretty much every f--king time ever. So there I sit, watching something I didn't want to watch in the first place. Alone.

Flypaper is one of those movies that you inadvertently stumble across, see the decent ensemble cast, and ask yourself why haven't I ever heard of this? And while I can't specifically answer that question for you, most savvy types know the true answer: because it sucks. Now, this movie might not even qualify as awful, but for me, it didn't qualify as good either. And I loves me some Tim Blake Nelson. I do.

These movies always crank the quirk to eleven and hope for the best. And while everybody loves a good mystery, it helps when the audience actually gives a shit. And judging by my increased indifference and the volume of my wife's snoring, Team Two Dollar Cinema wasn't really onboard. And that's saying something, because the missus loves her some Patrick Dempsey. She do.

Okay, jerkface, what's the flick about? Well, it's a heist movie. But, the difference here is that there are two sets of bank robbers robbing the bank. At the same time! That premise seems tailor-made to make an old woman smile and clasp her hands together in ancient delight. But, this one is rated-R, Grandma. Despite being rather cutesy at times, it's probably got nineteen too-many motherf--kers for this one to get play at the Springfield Retirement Castle. My point, is that this flick seems like a goofy, almost made-for-TV caper, that would be on CBS on a Saturday night. But then the script went for misguided edginess, and the whole thing unraveled into a deep pile of average.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

I used to encourage everyone I knew to make art. I don't do that so much anymore.

I think all of us know someone who is completely full of shit. I knew this kid growing up, who couldn't speak for more than a minute without saying something that everyone in the room knew was a flat-out lie. Somehow, no one ever called him on it. We would just roll our eyes and try to exit the conversation immediately, but after years, his shit wore pretty thin.

In sixth grade, as only some really cool eleven year-old boys could, we both entered a poetry contest, and this bastard won with some poignant shit about early American settlers. I was quietly pissed, not because I lost, but that the poem he wrote was actually good. Years later, this jerk-off would surprise no one when he told me he had simply copied it out of a book. F--ker.

Exit Through the Gift Shop, shockingly, isn't about shitty middle-school poetry, but rather the burgeoning pseudo-credibility of the Street Art phenomenon. Banksy, probably the most influential street artist ever, assembled this documentary as equal parts history lesson and cautionary tale. Both parts exist by focusing on this fascinating French dude, Thierry Guetta (who goes on to be known as Mr. Brainwash).

Thierry spent years following (and filming) a slew of street artists as they did their thing all over the world. Thierry began his fascination with street art watching his cousin Invader place old-school game characters all over Paris. From there, Thierry would follow and film other artist with a possible goal of one day creating a documentary about street art. As Thierry records these notoriously secretive artists (he considers it collecting), he longs to meet the enigmatic Banksy, clearly the best in the field. Eventually, this happens, and Thierry becomes a part of Banksy's ultra-secretive crew. But instead of a happy ending and a watchable documentary, things sort of go off the rails.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Welcome to rock bottom.

I was really sick last week, perhaps deliriously so. I had just left the diagnostic lab where I had given five, yes five, vials of blood and proceeded to hustle through the local grocery store to get something to eat, as it had been at least 24 hours since my last bite. So, it was rather weakly that I approached the Redbox machine and made my pick. Apparently, giving blood makes you want to see blood. And feeling like ass, actually makes you want to see tits. Who knew?

Clearly, I'm reaching, as the true inspiration of my willing rental of Piranha 3DD was not the result of my mystery illness, but more of a logistical matter. At a doable (ahem) 83 minutes, I thought I could finish it before I passed out. And while that wasn't the case, I was also going for simple. No plot twists, no character development, nothing that involved even the slightest twinge of thought. And in that regard, is the only way, that this film could ever be considered a success. Because unless you're an eleven year old boy who hasn't ever been on the internet, this flick is a giant, floating turd. Hell, even that might be more entertaining to look at, depending on it's shape and size.

You know, I actually saw the first one (the 2010 remake) theatrically and had a decent enough time. I mean, seeing a severed schvantz floating around in its 3D glory certainly has its charms, right? Okay, no - but still. It was incredibly stupid, but so comically violent and over-the-top it deserved whatever slight praise it was given. And, it had Elisabeth Shue. So, you can't hate it. Oh, and there was that girl that got her hair caught in the propellar, too. Remember her? Of course you do.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

We are morally indefensible, absolutely necessary.

Ah, the movie virus. Generally, it's a terrible thing - they either wipe out the planet completely, or turn its inhabitants into blood-thirsty rage monsters. Occasionally though, the movie virus can be a good thing. It can make you stronger, smarter, Hell, better. But there's a catch. There's always a catch. You're probably going to need more of it at some point, and guess what? Getting more, well, that's not going to be easy.

It's been a week since I've seen The Bourne Legacy. And while I wish the excuse for this late review was only related to going back to school/work, I've also, oddly enough, acquired some sort of mysterious virus of my own. Chills, muscle pain, full-body rash, and my favorite part of all, it hurt to look sideways, have been some of the telling signs. So, if this review is for largely worse (or, better) than the norm, well, let's go ahead and blame wavering health.

Last Sunday, I wasn't terribly excited to see this flick. I had already decided I hated it due to over-exposure to the trailer (which was seemingly placed in front of every movie I had seen this summer). Additionally, I had stayed up late on Saturday and watched Ultimatum and was owned by its relative greatness. It seemed like a perfect place to end the franchise.

But, as is the trend, Hollywood couldn't leave well enough alone. And while Legacy doesn't do anything particularly wrong, it's altogether forgettable, really. I'm a week out, and I quite honestly, can hardly remember anything that happened. Oh sure, maybe it has something to do with whatever is ravaging my immune system, but I'm leaning toward the microscopic need for even telling this sidestory as the main culprit.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Get some rest, Pam. You look tired.

With the end of summer looming, I'll be headed back to the classroom soon enough. This week, all the teachers and support staff gather to begin gearing up for the upcoming school year. It's fitting then, that on Saturday night, I felt like I finally completed some long overdue assignment when I decided to tackle 2007's The Bourne Ultimatum.

Though I think TNT shows all three Bourne films seventeen times a day, I had never seen a minute of the third one. The only mental image I could recall was that shot of him jumping through a window as the camera follows him in. Awesome, right? Obviously, my interest in completing the original trilogy was upped by the release of The Bourne Legacy. I mean, you can go four, just four, but you can't go one, two, four. No way. Bourne wouldn't stand for it.

Even five years late to the party, I found Ultimatum to be fairly kickass. I had forgotten how much of a bad customer Matt Damon can be. I've kind of settled in to the frumpy/dreamy dad-version of Damon, featured in disease flicks and zoo purchases. But not here, friends. The only illness he has is being sick of not knowing who the Hell he is. And the only thing he's buying here, is time. To kill.

Okay, even I thought that was stupid, but let's just pretend it never happened. What has happened, is that director Paul Greengrass has done it again. This movie is so tightly-wound, so fast-paced and yet still essentially based in reality that you can't take your eyes off of it. In fact, with so many things in play, you might not want to. Sure, all the action is tense and frenetic, but even conversation is on the clock. Seriously. There are few, if any, casual moments - it's great. I was shocked at how seamlessly everything was woven together, too. Bourne, in case you've forgotten, is no joke.