Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Always take the fancy option.

Ask anybody who knows me, I'm not a big fan of people coming into my house. If I've got a hundred friends, 95 of them have never been invited inside (and yeah, I rounded up from...six?). It's nothing too weird, other than the fact that the vast majority of the time, this place is a f--king nightmare. Toys all over the floor, (dirty) dishes in the sink, (clean) laundry on the couch, and simply too much of everything else. Embarrassing, slightly. Maddening, exceedingly.

But the one guy that managed to get in? The one guy that made himself rather at home? The one guy that, all bullshit aside, wouldn't f--king leave? 

The f--king Heating Oil Guy. That motherf--ker was relentless.

Even though it pained me to break from my self-imposed scary movie month, I f--king loved A Most Violent Year. Screened at a nearby college by one of the film's producers, writer/director J.C. Chandor's film is a quietly heart-pounding look into the seedy underworld of the heating oil industry. Yeah, you read that right.

Set in an early-eighties New York City on the brink of yet another miserable winter, Chandor's film feels simultaneously familiar and fresh. We've seen gangsters and lowlifes before, but we've never seen one so honest, so hardworking. We've seen the sexy and hot-headed wife before, too, and we've seen her get into the face of her husband (and say some really nasty shit), but we've never seen it end like this. We've seen it all before, honestly, but all the familiar parts it contained within come together in spectacular fashion. What really sets A Most Violent Year apart? Two things: Oscar Isaac...and...

...restraint. Which are, coincidentally, two of my favorite things.

Isaac plays Able Morales, the head of an up-and-coming player in the endlessly fascinating (no shit) heating oil game. Maybe the others guys are running their outfits in a less-than-legitimate fashion, but Mr. Morales ain't having it. With the assistance of his cunning wife (Jessica Chastain, playing Anna like a female praying mantis) and right-hand man Andrew Walsh (the delightfully sleazy Albert Brooks), Morales has bought some coveted land damn near guaranteeing him King of New York status. He's all in, and if he can just get the bank to back him, it's a done deal. Puppy dogs and rainbows, you know?

Unfortunately, those puppy dogs are rottweilers and that rainbow is reflecting off of the biggest shitstorm I've ever seen. Not only are Morales' drivers being high-jacked left and right (pissing off the Teamsters, no doubt), but his own home is being terrorized, too. But worse, the D.A. is about to announce fourteen counts of you done f--ked up. And even though Morales isn't wavering, all of a sudden the bank is. 

Just typing this shitty summary makes me immediately want to watch this incredible film again. While some may argue it's a slow burn (perhaps a really slow burn), I found it utterly relentless and suffocating, but in the sexiest way possible. While many of us were leaning forward waiting for this MOST VIOLENT YEAR, Isaac's Morales took a deep breath and...thought things through. And it was in those moments where I simply couldn't admire the film any more.

What I refuse to admire, are the Yays and Boos. Sometimes these two get a little too comfortable around here, you know? Though, with the house almost always at 73 degrees, even in the dead of winter, that's probably to be expected.

There's never been a straight shooter like Abel Morales.
  • The supremely-talented David Oyelowo plays the aforementioned D.A., and while it's perfectly clear he's having fun, his intentions and endgame are not. (I love this)
  • Two words: The coat.
  • There's this fantastic scene that finds Morales coaching his new hires in the finer points of selling heating oil. The deadpan intensity is intoxicating. 
  • Chastain. Plain and simple, you don't f--k with Mama Bear.
  • The head of the Teamsters is awesome. Even though I'm a pretty by-the-books guy, I fully support the way this guy does business here. His definition of 'legit gun permits' is f--king brilliant.
  • We have to walk around like we're f--king gangsters?
  • Even though I soiled myself each and every time, let me put my (stinky) hands together for an unexpected amount of jump scares. A most violent diarrhea, indeed.
  • Julian may have made a hundred bad decisions, but that lady he lived with wasn't one of them. What's Spanish for rowr?
  • That chase scene was intense. I would have been equally freaked out had I been in the car, not just some jerk watching it.
  • Ah, those greens. Lovely and nauseating all at once.
  • What a fantastic script. There's hardly a wasted word. Well, outside of this post about it, anyway.
  • And finally, every scene that featured Oscar Isaac. This guy was such a presence, it's hard to believe that he was the second choice to play Morales. I can't believe he isn't a bigger star, you know? It's like there's this force inside of him, and he's doing all he can not to unleash it.
Awww. Such a nice ending!
  • So...this was a fancy screening, featuring the producer of the film...and we get a DVD? Huh? Was the laserdisc player broken?
  • Abel has three daughters. First, that's a Boo...because, you know, girls are crazy, but more pressing: the one with the gun. Damn, girl. Damn.
  • Speaking of: Mrs. Morales, roadside Executioner. What the f--k was that? I thought I'd been shot.
  • Look, if you're a low-rent goon sent to scare somebody senseless, I'm pretty sure that's not how they drew it up. Dude. Duuuude. What were you thinking?
  • Nice going, guard dog.
  • Julian. I didn't really mention this guy at all, but there's a reason for it. He's a f--king asshole.
  • I really think that there's something in this film for anyone. I do. Well, unless you're an officer with the NYPD. I mean, it's hard to like a film that routinely presents you and your co-workers as utterly f--king clueless every chance you get. These guy's can't catch a clue, a perp, Hell, even a break. It's kind of sad, actually.
  • And finally, that poor Sales Guy. I've had some pretty tough days at work, too. But at the end of a hard shift, I've only wished to be thrown in a landfill...not, well...
So, about that f--king Heating Oil Guy at my own house? That guy was a dick. A huge one, too. No really, he was like, 150 pounds overweight. That said, the guy simply would not leave. 

So, you gonna sign the contract, Mr. Brown? 
Uhh...let me talk to my wife. 
When does she get home, cause it wouldn't bother me to wait [sweaty breathing]
No, that's okay. I'll give you a call after we discuss it.
I really think we should sign this now, and you can call me if she disagrees. 
Here. It's not a problem. Just sign here, here...and here.
I really think you should sign it. That's what I would do. Who knows, the price per gallon could go up tomorrow. I'd hate to have to lock you in at a higher rate. 
Fine. [angrily signs the paper]
Well, it's been a pleasure. [leaves at a speed belying his girth]

When my wife got home I told her about this guy's bullshit antics and that I honestly thought about throwing him out of our house. But being that I'm a huge pussy, and that it was cold as shit in our house at the time?

Let's just say...

...I showed some restraint.

(though not in the service agreement, as I bought the most extravagant package available...that motherf--ker)


  1. Just watched this, myself. Restraint is a perfect word for what's going on, here. Showing some myself, because my review won't go up for another couple weeks, lol. Isaac and Chastain are fantastic. Great call, there.

    Actually getting a laserdisc would have been downright hilarious...to me, anyway, probably not for you.

    What a guard dog, lol.

    Big time YES to the coat. Watched this while my mom was over. She's a coat aficianado and was just mesmerized by this thing. She must've commented on how great it was four or five times. Can't say I blame her. Sadly, I don't think it's a look I could pull it off.

    1. Well, I'm looking forward to your post in...November, I'm guessing? You're a machine, after all - shouldn't be too long.

      Judging by the few comments here, I'm certainly glad you liked the film as I did (though maybe not as much). I f--king loved Chastain and Isaac, so I found the movie to be captivating. The fact that the producer was two rows in front of me (and gave me a little dirt) didn't hurt, I'm sure.

      THE COAT. Damn, Dell. It was almost like those old-school MNF blazers, but classier and full-length. Apparently, that sumbitch was a custom Armani (someone in the crowd asked about it)...so, if I ever want to see it again...I'll track down the Laserdisc.

  2. I'm glad this worked for you, I didn't care for it. It was a bit slow.

    I hate pushy sales people with a passion. I had some people trying to collect offerings for their church come to my apartment once, and when I kept telling them no and they insisted that even spare change would help, I told them I was going to call the police because they were soliciting in a secure building. That made them leave. I'll pray for their dumbfuckery to end.

    1. The last line of your comment is the funniest thing I've read in weeks.

    2. It was slow....but it was soooo good. I thought it was perfectly intense just about the whole time!

      Pushy sales people should go straight to Hell. I understand they've got money to make, but maybe they should take all that drive and go get a better f--king job.

      Steph - I couldn't agree more!

  3. I have finally given up any pretense that our house is clean enough to allow non-family members inside ... EVER.

    1. This statement is 100% fact in the Two Dollar Cinema household. Like, if someone was being chased by an axe murderer and begged me to let them in, I'd be all..

      Um, could you give me like five minutes to tidy up? Sorry...

  4. My wife is a lot like you in that she doesn't like people in the house. Our friend's houses are, like, 1000 x's worse than ours, so I call BS on her reasons, but whatever.

    What can I say, I'm a people person.

    This movie was good, but I didn't love it. Oscar Isaac was VERY good though, so there is that. I just don't care much for Chastain as an actress. She doesn't do anything for me.

    1. That's funny. We actually own our weirdness on both ends. We never really invite anyone over, nor do we ever go anywhere either. Yeah...we're those people.

      Yes, my good man, you strike me as quite the people person. Indeed.

      I don't get the Chastain dislike. I think she's quite good, and easy on the eyes, not to mention the pants. Rowr.

  5. You know I don't remember watching this till the end. I remember watching it half heartedly right before Golden Globes ceremony while stalking Ruffalo's instagram and facebook and being appalled when Issac slapped Chastain. I'm gonna need to rewatch this.

    1. I would certainly recommend the re-watch. It might not be more entertaining than a good Ruffalo-fueled facebook stalk, but it's a good time regardless.

      (I don't remember him slapping her. I remember thinking he was going to...but did he? She hit him, right?)

  6. So glad you liked this one. I thought this film was pretty much perfect. Still up there with my favorite Chastain performance. Her character was in total control of everything she did. She knew what speaking or dressing a certain way would do for her and her family in any given situation. So calculating.

    1. AW, from what Neal Dodson said, apparently Chastain was pretty calculating off-screen, too. Not that I blame her, shit.

      I'd do anything to work with these guys, too. JC Chandor is crazy talented.

      But, to your point, I agree. She was fantastic.

  7. I'll rewatch this today.

    Pretty sure that force is gonna be unleashed.

    On my ovaries.

    1. All I remember is the coat.

      My God.

      What a coat.

      Try not to get any ovary on the coat.