Saturday, May 31, 2014

Nobody told me we were having a party.

When my wife and I are having problems (which seems to be happening with increasing frequency...cue the Jaws theme), we really only have a handful of ways to solve them. With overwhelmingly limited success, I tend to opt for the ol' pretend it never happened approach, which involves me saying Nothing's wrong! at least a hundred times. Her go to, on the other hand, is the let's talk it out routine. Rarely, we both decide to raise our voices and get together for the passionate tell me how you really feel verbal war (in thirteen years, I can count these with my fingers). But now, it appears, I have found the ultimate solution: the let's invite a 19 year old drifter into our hotel room to take a nap approach. This move fixes everything.

At least it does in 2007's Ploy, from writer/director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang. Well, I think it does anyway. After grinding through this one late the other night, I still have only a moderate understanding of what took place. If you stare at the poster for a minute and make up some random shit, I might totally agree with you that whatever you said did indeed happen. But, oddly enough, you also might be totally right.

Set over the longest day in history, Ploy tells the story of an extremely tired couple (in every way possible) arriving back home to Thailand so they can attend a funeral. The unhappy couple, Wit and Dang, seem to have fallen out of love, and while Dang attempts to sleep, her husband heads downstairs for a drink. Okay, seems straightforward enough.

At the bar, Wit meets the chick featured on the poster, the just-turned 19-year old Ploy. Ploy's in town waiting for her mom, who will supposedly arrive the next day. For whatever reason (creepy or generous, I'm unsure), Wit invites Ploy upstairs to crash and/or freshen up. Needless to say, Dang isn't too pleased about this...ploy. (My God, I'm a genius)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Ten: Most Iconic Movie Characters

When I started this blog, my mentality was nothing but reviews. Once I was approached to join in on my first blogathon [check it out], all bets were off. Lately, they've been coming one after another, and honestly, I kind of like it. A lot. 

Recently, Elina over at the super sweet Films and Coke passed me the torch in a different kind of blogathon, the always fantastic relay. 

Started by Nostra at My Film Views, the idea is simple: Take the inherited list of ten iconic characters and drop the least deserving and replace him/her/it with someone else. When you're done, pass it on to another blogger, and let the good times roll. Here's who is staying on the list (for now):

Friday, May 23, 2014

Wrapped candies!

What's that old saying? Hate brings us together. Hmm...that might not be it. But it's close, I'm sure.

Anyway, it's probably always been that way, but with message boards, social media, Hell, the internet as a whole, it's easier and easier to not only find something to hate, but people to hate it with. Now, I'm not talking about organized, awful, deep rooted, mean-spirited hate. I'm talking about silly shit that annoys you on the regular. Honestly, I'm too old to really hate anything anymore, as I can rarely muster up the time or energy to care either way. That said, here are six things I f--king hate the shit out of. Maybe you'll be able to join in?
  1. Fanboys, especially of the video game variety. Guys, are you f--king kidding me? We're arguing about toys. Buy it, play it and shut the f--k up about it.
  2. The Montreal Canadiens. Way to go, f--kers. You beat my beloved Bruins, and now this?
  3. Melissa Joan Hart. Everything post-Clarissa Explains it All is just awful and infuriating.
  4. Maryland drivers. Just the biggest group of non-blinker using a-holes ever. If only there were cliffs they could blow past me and drive the f--k off of.
  5. The fair. F--k you, do I hate the fair. Bad food, awful rides and just the worst of the worst of humanity. Oh, and it smells like shit. Everywhere.
  6. Family Guy. Yep, never really cared for this. At all. Ever. Not my kind of humor.
Perhaps surprisingly, I didn't hate A Million Ways to Die in the West. In fact, looking back, I think it was pretty f--king funny. Maybe it was the lively crowd, maybe it was the excitement of an advanced screening (my first since 2006), or maybe it was just because it's honestly funny. Whatever it was, the movie worked for me.

Set in Arizona in 1882, A Million Ways... tells the story of Albert (a hysterical Seth MacFarlane), a pretty shitty shepherd who hates every single thing about living in the Wild West. Every single thing that is, except his lovely girlfriend Louise (Amanda Seyfried, in full on bitch-mode). Turns out she needs some time to work on herself, and dumps poor Albert and shacks up with Foy (Neil Patrick Harris, kicking ass left and right), the proprietor of the local mustachery, whatever the f--k that is. Foy is a huge dick, and routinely torments Albert until the mysterious Anna (Charlize Theron, hotter and more likable than ever) shows up and slowly instills confidence in him. We've seen this story before, but trust me, it's never been told quite this way. 

The plot is incredibly secondary, as surely no one will be talking about it on the way out of the theater. What they will be talking about, however, are the jokes, and whether you like them or not, this movie is f--king full of them. Sure, some are beaten into the ground in true MacFarlane style, but even those work. While I was probably smiling the entire time, and laughed out loud a fair amount, the theater was rolling. Shit, the guy next to me? That dude probably pissed his pants a dozen times he laughed so much. But...he also came equipped with a pretty serious stack of comic, there's a chance that most of that urine was already there.

Rambling Film: Favorite Movie Titles!

Brittani over at Rambling Film is hosting her first blogathon, and it's all kinds of awesome. All you need to do is come up with a great movie title starting with each letter of the alphabet. There have been some really cool lists so far, so I'd thought I'd break that streak with my own.

Check out the official (and better written) rules here).

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Your courage will never be more needed than it is today.

Eighteen minutes. According to the encyclopedic Alex Withrow at And So it Begins... that's how long Michael Keaton appears onscreen as Beetlejuice in the Tim Burton classic. Eighteen glorious minutes. While sometimes, less is indeed more, that still seems like not enough time with the character, considering how iconic he is (not to mention the movie's named after him). How is it possible that the film manages to succeed despite such limited face time with the big guy? Oh, right. It's because the human characters were unique and interesting, and worth giving a shit about. That's how. It all seems so simple.

That's me on the right. So desperate to see Godzilla up close,
I'd jump out of a f--king plane.
I don't know care how many times you say Godzilla in a row, he simply isn't going to appear. Well, not enough anyway. In the latest film featuring the legendary monster, I'd be shocked if he's onscreen for eight minutes, let alone eighteen. Sure, when he does flash that handsome, scaly mug, it's f--king incredible, but the rest of the time I found myself unable to care about the people. Capable actors undoubtedly, but Lydia and Otho they ain't.

I loved director Gareth Edwards' previous creature flick, Monsters [review]. Loved the minimalist approach, loved how we barely saw the monsters. But even more so, I loved the lead characters. They were great. But after leaving his first mega-budget flick Monday night, I felt cheated. Big time. I wanted to see Godzilla. And I wanted to see him a lot.

Instead, I found myself spending way too much time with some lame ass giant insect-things (MUTOs, apparently), and a cast of characters each more generic than the other. At least something like Pacific Rim [review], which also had a slew of boring human characters, got the action right. That shit was inspired lunacy, with the big budget routinely punching you right in the Kaiju. But this Godzilla? Shit. Sometimes it felt like a Michael Bay flick. But worse.

You want the hammer?

My work commute is 75 miles. Each way. It used to be 3. Total. For six years, I never really listened to the radio and no idea what was happening in pop music. Well, I taught 12 year olds, but who the Hell listens to them? Now, unfortunately, I know the charts inside and out. And as I hear these same damn songs over and over again, one thought routinely crosses my mind: How the f--k do people like this shit?
Thursday night, for whatever reason, I Redboxed Ride Along. Back in January, I rolled my eyes at the trailer just like the rest of you. But when it raked in $134 million at the domestic box office, I'm not gonna lie and say that I wasn't at least a little intrigued. This little voice in the back of my head, when it's not saying There's no going back, whispered, Well, maybe it's better than it looked. 

Turns out, it's worse. Much worse.

Kevin Hart, to me, is actually a pretty funny dude. And Ice Cube, quite frankly, was one of the voices of my youth (Death Certificate is one of the best rap albums of all time). But the combination of these two, combined with reasonable expectations, turns out to be a resounding misfire. It's the cinematic equivalent of a Ke$ha single: It's not only acceptable, it's somehow beloved by the masses. Even if it's clearly the work of the devil.

If you saw the trailer, trust me, you're good, as there are likely only two minutes of worthwhile story. The tale of the eager new recruit and the grizzled old vet has been told a thousand times, and in every instance I can think of, in a much better fashion. The only time this movie even remotely enters the vicinity of not shitty is when Hart is let loose, and even those aren't particularly memorable. At least he's trying though, as Cube is stuck on possibly insulted for the duration, and seems okay with being the worst part of a bad movie. He's got more charisma in those Coors Light commercials, and there he's arguing with a f--king can.

Friday, May 16, 2014

I can't promise what's gonna show up at the door.

I'm not very handy. At least as far as 'around the house' is concerned. You need an obscure movie title, or a poorly written sentence about that movie? I'm your man. But say you live with me. And say there's a live animal trapped in the crawlspace, or an intermittently clogged main sewer line, or possibly even a broken storm door. There's nothing I can do about these things. I'll give it a shot, sure, but I'm going to make the problem worse. I'm basically worthless. 

So much so, when my wife and I were watching a movie last Sunday night, upon seeing a man completing actual tasks, she actually said 'If only we could get a convict to come to our house...' Ridiculous, right?

Fine. Maybe it isn't. But what is ridiculous, is just about every single frame of Labor Day. Redboxed, on paper anyway, as something my wife would potentially enjoy (while awake), but secretly because parts of it infuriated fellow bloggers Fisti and Brittani (which always make me curious), I didn't have any real hopes for this Jason Reitman directed love story. In fact, also didn't have any real idea what it was about, either. About that...

Set in 1987, Labor Day tells the story of divorced and depressed mother Adele (a permanently bewildered Kate Winslet), trying to hold it together for her early-teen son, Henry (an oddly engaging Gattlin Griffith). Dad has moved on and remarried (and is running S.H.I.E.L.D), leaving the two to tread water without a strong man in their lives.Enter Frank, a handsome drifter, quietly demanding they take him in. Obviously, Mama Bear's claws come out, that is until her dress comes off.

See, it turns out that this goateed mystery man is actually an escaped murderer with a bum appendix. Yeah, that old bit. And as Adele nurses him back to health/hides him from the authorities, she realizes that ol' Frank is exactly what she is looking for, twofold. A manly man for her burgeoning son, and a manly man for her burgeoning loins. It's been a long time since she's been in love, so you can't blame her if she's in a hurry. I might have bought her falling for Frank in a few weeks, but this chick signs up after a few hours. I guess that was some magical chili.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

You're not going to let me spend my birthday all by myself, are you?

Is that a long time?

That's what my son asks me, every single instance where we discuss the concept of time. It could be the thirty minutes until dinner, the seven months till Christmas (which means Skylanders), or the five years till he's ten (he's obsessed with that age), but time is still a very fascinating thing for him. Today, however, the number isn't thirty, seven or even five. Today the number is three. 

Three years ago tonight, I started this blog as a personal forum to express my love for movies. I didn't know what I was doing, and had never even read someone else's movie blog (um, those are both still essentially true). It started slowly (and rather embarrassingly), but I was hooked regardless. I had to keep doing it. In fact, there hasn't been a movie I've seen in it's entirety and not posted about since that night. It's basically a tradition at this point. A sad, sad tradition.

Also tradition, is this annual horribly self-congratulatory anniversary post (2012, 2013). It's not only a look back at the year that was here at Two Dollar Cinema, but also a thank you note to the people who make this train wreck even possible. Let's start with that look back first, shall we?

I watched and reviewed (and by review, I mean rambled endlessly near) 87 movies in the last twelve months, 28 of which I saw in the theater. Not too surprisingly, that's actually a huge decline from the 113 and 44 I churned out last year. But, making and raising a baby can take a lot out of you. Well, not so much the making....Anyway, dramatic films doubled the nearest other genre, with a total of 32 so-called dramas taken in. Horror was the lowest of any genre watched, with only seven flicks featuring people getting killed in ridiculous fashion.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Well, even if we found nothing it's an effective discovery.

Remember, last fall, there was that terrifying movie set in outer space? It had some astronauts in an increasingly horrible predicament, and realistically presented space as one of worst possible places to ever find yourself? So intense, right? That awful scene when they're out repairing that thing? Jeez. And after all that build up, it had that oddly ambiguous ending? Oh, and remember when it was nominated for the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation? Ugh. It's on the tip of my tongue. Oh, oh! [snapping fingers] The director! He's this cool guy with a funny accent. Shit. It's so close, damn it. What was that friggin' movie called again?

Oh, right. Europa Report. That's it. Damn. I was totally thinking about something else.

Anyway, strongly recommended to me by my heterosexual life-partner, J. Fleming, Europa Report was that other space odyssey released last year.

Directed by Sebastian Cordero, this found-footage flick tells the story of a group of astronauts studying one of Jupiter's moons, the titular Europa. This moon, slightly smaller than our own, is believed to have water beneath its surface, thereby making sustained life a possibility. But, like -oh, I don't know- every f--king space mission ever, something has gone, or will go, horribly, horribly wrong. 

Shot on what was likely an incredibly small budget, and featuring, to me, only one recognizable face (the always awesome Sharlto Copley) Europa Report is surprisingly effective. The footage looks very authentic, and is impressively cobbled together. It's tense, moves quickly, and resonates on an emotional level thanks to the intimate portrayal of the six-person crew. And despite it taking me two viewings to get through (I slipped into, um, hypersleep the first time), I'd still recommend it, even if it's presented, as my wife puts it, really sciency. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

You ready to take a piss?

I'm married. And I have kids. According to Movies, I'm:
  1. secretly miserable, mired in an increasingly stale routine
  2. totally envious of my douchey, non-married friends, who have sex all the time (even on weeknights!)
  3. basically a virgin again, as it's been so long since I've had sex with anyone
Well, f--k you Movies, because also according to you, after an hour or so examining those awful truths, it will turn out that I:
  1. am too focused on the negatives, and am ignoring the great beauty of my simple, yet rewarding life
  2. don't realize how unhappy those friends of mine are, and they actually long to be me
  3. love my wife more than anything, and that we will soon rekindle that passion in a stunning grand gesture
Why do I hate this poster so much? Oh, it's because I'm the top guy.
Despite this dead horse being beaten routinely since the dawn of time (or at least bad cinema), The Change-Up takes yet another crack at the all too-familiar story hinted above. The only innovation to the tired grown-man envy story, if you can call it that, is the entirety of the Freaky Friday plot has been lifted, and then sprinkled with a little bit of Big for good measure. But instead of a young Lindsay Lohan and that lovable goofball, Josh Baskins, we're left with the nightmarishly handsome duo of Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds. Not a bad pair, when you think about it.

No, the real fault of this life-swapping 'comedy' is the ridiculous script, too reliant in easy gags and f-bombs versus anything remotely insightful. Now, I realize that people don't fire up a flick like this one for the human drama, but I was hoping for a few more genuine laughs. But, to be fair, I did almost piss myself during a shit scene. Um, if that makes sense.

Monday, May 5, 2014

He was brought up from Hell.

Don't tell my wife, but for the last couple of years, there's been someone else. It all started with a wild Saturday night, back in September of 2011. It began innocently enough, a happy accident, but quickly blossomed into full-on obsession. Initially, just having my thoughts consumed by that magical evening were enough, but eventually, I needed more. I caved, and invited this person into my home. Things got crazy, and my wife ended up walking in on us. It was impossibly awkward her catching us like that [lurid details].

As a result, we wouldn't meet again until two years later to the day (fine, it was like two years and four days...whatever). All that time apart would make my expectations of our next meeting astronomically high. Surely I would be disappointed, right? Imagine that it ended up being worse than mere disappointment. It was so bad, I was never going to do it again. Never was I going to put myself out there like that. It was too risky, too painful.

I was done with him forever.

Well, I thought I was, anyway. After the Cleveland Steamer that was Only God Forgives [review], I swore I was done with Nicolas Winding Refn. But as my nine-month old daughter luckily slept in her swing a few days ago, I decided to give him one last chance. I decided to go back to 1000 A.D. I decided to watch Valhalla Rising

Vikings? Yes, please. Mads Mikkelsen? Don't toy with me. Unflinching violence combining the aforementioned pair? I think I have to change my pants. 

On paper, it seemed like a sure thing. But after the longest 93 minutes of my life, the only thing I'm certain of is I have now discovered my go-to movie when I can't fall asleep.

Despite focusing on the bloody spread of Christianity a thoussand years ago, and featuring a constantly shirtless and thoroughly badass (and potentially psychic) Viking, Valhalla Rising feels insanely familiar. An oppressive group of outsiders runs into a one man shit storm, and is quickly in over their heads. This man, this f--king beast of a person, single-handedly dispatches them in brutal outbursts of rage. We think he's a good guy, but he revels in the violence so much, he's kind of hard to fully root for. Making cheering for this anti-hero even more difficult? Well, he never says a f--king word.