Saturday, February 28, 2015

It is what it is.

Every year my wife goes on a business trip, and every year I'm stuck home with the kid(s). This year, while she was living it up (my words) in North Carolina, I was the sole caretaker of not one, but two mobile children (last year Violet was an adorable lump of goo). Anyway, about an hour into our first night alone, I slipped down the stairs. I caught myself, but instantly had a vision of laying at the bottom of our wooden stairs, compound fracture in each limb. Instantly, I grabbed my son and had the talk. 

If something were to happen to Daddy, kiddo, call 9-1-1. And if you can't reach my phone, or if it's dead (it's always dead), go next door, okay? Our neighbor will help you.

I mean, I assume she would. Right?

While my neighbor Cindy is a quiet older woman I really don't know too much about, I still feel I could trust her a lot more than Bill Murray's character in St. Vincent. Cindy's not going to take my son to a bar. Or to the track. And she's certainly not paying a pregnant Russian woman for sex.

If you missed the trailer, Vincent is your typical movie a-hole neighbor. He's always rude, he's often drunk, and barely qualifies as a functioning member of society. And after some movers smash up his car, he's pissed. And it just so happens that the family moving in next door will come to rely on him very heavily. Yes, Vincent the selfish bastard, will have to watch her neighbor's kid, as Single Mom's gotta work late. Again.

As familiar as the whole thing sounds (at at times, feels), I can't say I didn't enjoy it. Despite most of the plot feeling rather formulaic, St. Vincent still works. Sure, the ending almost lovingly hugs the life out of the film, but the stellar cast ultimately saves the day.

Murray does a bang up job playing Vince as a (possibly) misunderstood scumbag, and Melissa McCarthy dials it back a bit as the overwhelmed single mom, Maggie. But the star of the show, without a doubt, is newcomer Jaeden Lieberher as young Oliver. This kid is the best.

Monday, February 23, 2015

I have a lot of things to worry about.

The hardest part about growing up is not everyone does. Or at least, not at the same time. 

In middle school, it was the first guy to get a girlfriend. Everyone hated that guy.
In college, it might have been the guy that moved off campus first. Or the guy that never moved off at all.
Later, it's the guy that gets married first. Then the guy that moves away.

Whatever it is, as a man, once that first step is taken, there's really no going back. You can hang out again, catch up here and there, but the fact is, it's never going to be like it used to be. 

Scenic Route shocked me. Rarely does a film surprise me by how good it is, but Kevin and Michael Goetz' 2013 thriller did just that. Buried in the dingiest depths of Netflix Hell, I unearthed this gem late Wednesday night - and loved damn near every minute of it. The only problem?

I don't want to tell you anything about it.

Okay, fine. Maybe just a little...

Old (former?) friends Mitchell and Carter, in an effort to re-connect, decide to get away for the weekend. Their trip takes them through an incredibly lonely stretch of deserted highway, where inevitably, Carter's old Ford breaks down. What begins as a shitty day, escalates into a full-blown nightmare - one I'm not sure either will ever wake from. It's all pretty f--king the best possible way.

Even though the beginning teases you with the end, or at least the middle, there was more than one occasion where I was left completely blown away by the events that transpired. Writer Kyle Killen crafts quite the series of unfortunate events. It gets so bad, I had to look away.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Show me the worst.

Looking back, I don't know what I was thinking. While I could try to justify it countless ways, maybe even mention that the tickets were free, at the end of the day, I've got nothing. Granted, I'm not alone in what I did, as millions of people all over the world committed the same cinematic sin.

I bet there's at least fifty in this scene alone.

This exchange from Kevin Smith's Clerks. sums up last Saturday much better that I ever could.

Dante: You hate people!

Randall: But I love gatherings. Isn't it ironic?

You, despite currently visiting this site, have a little thing I like to call sound judgment. You would never be caught dead at something as God-awful as Fifty Shades of Grey. You prefer to watch second-tier Lifetime movies at home, where no one knows that you're doing it. But ol' m.brown? That sumbitch ain't half as smart as you. He's like Bill Paxton in Twister. He rushes headlong into that F5-rated shit-storm, smiling all the way. 

And sometimes he even brings his lady-friend.

Yes, dear reader, I saw it. I have officially thrust my eyes upon the phenomenon that is Fifty Shades, and I can tell you, without reservation, it's as bad as everyone says it is. In fact, it's worse. Fifty f--king times worse. 

Outside of what is common knowledge, I didn't know shit about these books heading into the theater. I think my wife had read two of them, back when her entire office (and the f--king world) was reading it, and she wasn't really interested in seeing it on the big screen (or at home, honestly). But once I got the passes, I was in. And about five minutes later all I could think was f--k this. F--k everything about this.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Could it be that failure agrees with you?

Note: I don't care if any of the following seems silly or frivolous. It matters to me, so I'm going to type it. This is my website, and with the shocking support of some international bodies, I'm going to just churn out whatever the Hell I want. Pageviews (and coherency) be damned.

In high school, bees invaded our house. Like, a biblical amount. They had covered the exterior wall of my room, until ol' Pops Racer jerry-rigged some sort of poison to kill them. The bees, mildly pissed, left the wall and flew to a nearby tree where they decided to from into a giant f--king ball. Of bees. I was instructed to hold the bag! as my dad cut the branch. The bees thudded inside, and he quickly filled it with water to drown them. And while I can't speak for my father, I can tell you one thing: I didn't get stung.

I know, I know. Sorry ladies. I'm already married.

The above story may not mean anything to you, but if you've seen Jupiter Ascending...well, okay, it still might not mean anything to you. The Wachowski's latest, like my ridiculous bee story, is a well-meaning tale that ultimately amounts into just one thing: not f--king much. I didn't hate it, but it's certainly a tough one to love.

Mila Kunis plays Jupiter, a decidedly average maid who lets us know on more than one occasion that she hates her life. Somehow, this beautiful girl (despite stemming from a family of Russian Hagrids) has ended up in a life where she exclusively cleans the toilets of the rich. Hmm...I wonder if that's going to be relevant later? Anyway, ol' Jupes is so bogged down in her awful life, she's willing to, get this, sell her eggs so she can buy a telescope off of Ebay. That sentence alone makes we want to take the blue pill.

Way off into space, word has gone out that there has been a re-emergence of the newly-dead space queen's genetic code, and shocking no one, it's Jupiter. Apparently some feuding aristocrats/space-dicks need to make sure mum's alter-ego doesn't show up and take back their inheritance. Send in Magic Mike Gretzky (aka Channing Tatum), as the spliced tracker, Caine. He'll be sure to track her down before the bad guys do, assuming a bad guy can be rightfully determined. Caine is certainly the man for the job, as this motherf--ker can determine your location by smelling documents you once handled. Got all that? Good. Me neither.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Dude, a stool?

The summer after my freshman year of college, I took my dad to see Saving Private Ryan. As we were walking to the car, I distinctly recall saying to him, well, they'll never make another war movie after that. He nodded in agreement, silently understanding my point. After what we just saw, why would any other film even bother? Well, that's the funny thing about creating such a compelling story.

It inspires.
If Shaun of the Dead is the patriarch of the zom-com family, Zombibi is the weird second cousin that no one's ever met. Originally released in 2012 and listed on Netflix Instant as Kill Zombie!, the parallels between the two films are obvious. The key difference, if you can believe it, is that Shaun at least took itself somewhat seriously.

Instead of a bunch of working class stiffs in South London, Zombibi's worker bees reside in the Netherlands. Apparently a Russian satellite (um, covered in space moss) has crashed and unleashed a zombie plague in Amsterdam-West.

Office drone Aziz, who the night before was arrested for disorderly conduct, awakens with zero knowledge of the chaos outside. It's only as he and his a-hole brother Mo (and the two guys they fought) check their phone messages do they realize that something's amiss. As they head out to the street, they quickly realize that something terrible has happened. The only person in the street is a little old lady, who just so happens to be infected. Needless to say, this bitch won't die. To the safe zone they go!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Forget ironic. That's...iconic.

Not that you asked, but I recall really enjoying Steven Spielberg's Lincoln [review]. It was a fascinating look at one of the great men in the history of the United States. But when I think back to the film, it's not really ol' Honest Abe that I tend to focus on. No, sadly my mind often drifts to Mary Todd Lincoln, played by the impossibly delightful Sally Field. And to put it bluntly, in that film, I hated that bitch. I realize that makes me sound like a sexist asshole (mostly fair assessment, by the way) but Mary Todd really was just the worst. Luckily the film didn't focus on her and her endless berating of those around her. Instead, we spent the bulk of the run-time with the iconic man standing next to her.

Saving Mr. Banks, though having nothing to do with Lincoln, left me with a very similar (albeit worse) taste in my mouth. But instead of focusing on Walt Disney, this film tells the tale of P.L Travers, the woman who wrote Mary Poppins. Travers is a complicated woman, undoubtedly, but she is also borderline insufferable. And after 125 minutes with her and her relentless pursuit of destroying fun, it was going to take way more than a spoon full of sugar to make any of this go down.

I know I'm way off the rails, um, again, but did you ever see Blue Jasmine [review]? Emma Thompson probably has, and her version of Travers is like an unholy mix of Cate Blanchette's Jasmine and Field's Mary Todd Lincoln. It's not a bad performance, far from it. But I've never wanted to actually choke my television more. 

My wife, somewhat unbeknownst to me, is a giant fan of Mary Poppins. It was one of the movies in heavy rotation during her childhood. Two weeks ago, she attempted to show the 1964 classic to me (I'd never seen it), but we both ended up passing out about 90 minutes in. Being the wonderful husband that I am, I thought she would enjoy Saving Mr. Banks. And unsurprisingly, she did. In fact, she stayed awake the whole time. How pleasant is the life I lead!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

That's such a Boromir thing to say.

Her name was Bri.

It was early in my teaching career, and yet again, I was dying a slow death in the front of the room. I don't remember fully losing it, but I recall, in that moment, feeling like saying f--k this and walking out. Bri, sitting to my left, motioned me over. Mr. Brown, come here. As I got to her, she raised her right hand and extended her index finger to the ringleader of the chaos on the other side of the room. Matter-of-factly, though with a hint of discernible disappointment, she said (and I'll never forget this):

You're letting that upset you?

Like essentially everyone I know offline, I dove in to The Interview the moment it hit Netflix. And while I certainly knew enough about the 'national incident' the film had become, honestly? I expected something more.

As they have proven over a couple of films together, James Franco and Seth Rogen stick to a simple, and in my opinion - proven, formula. Rogen plays the thankless straight man dealing with Franco's unrelenting ridiculousness. But before, no one really cared in the least. I guess third-rate pot dealers and self-absorbed celebrities are a lot harder to offend than foreign dictators, huh?

I feel like I'd be insulting you, further anyway, if I detailed the plot even for a second. The real question you should concern yourself with, is is this movie funny? The simple answer is yes, even though The Interview is lighter on laughs than either Pineapple Express or This is the End [review]. That said, it still cracked me up enough to recommend it.