Thursday, September 29, 2016

HHFF 2016 Block E Recap: Shorts

A year ago, on the weekend prior to my birthday, my wife and I attended our first film festival, the Harrisburg-Hershey Film Festival. Though, like any sequel, this year's birthday plans were going to be bigger and feature not only a trip to the groovy Midtown Cinema for the festival, but also an intimate appearance by Coolio, Tone Loc, and Vanilla Ice (among others). Unfortunately, thirty four sixth graders intervened as my birthday just so happened to fall on the dreaded back to school night, sadly devastating our plans to see the 90's hip-hop show mere blocks from our house. Fifty percent of my thirty-seventh birthday plans? Devastated. This was certainly no Gangsta's Paradise.



Luckily though, no children, not even my own, could impede our attendance to the film festival, as Block E was slated for Saturday afternoon at three o'clock. With the kids dropped at my mom's house and the twenty-five minute drive north to Harrisburg complete, we we're officially go for launch. Now, all Movie God had to deliver was 120 minutes of compelling, low-budget cinema.

About that...

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

I eyeballed it.

As I write these words (well, wrote), I'm anxiously waiting aboard Flight 5065 (with non-stop service to Charlotte) for the flight attendant to shut the cabin doors so we can get the Hell outta this place.

Wait a second...ah, nevermind. For a minute there it looked like that beefy dude outside was going to leave my luggage just sitting there on the runway, but he finally tossed it on the conveyor thingy.

Anyway, on the way into the plane, I managed to catch a glimpse of the pilot. He looked like a competent enough guy, with a profile landing somewhere between Harold Ramis and Jim's Dad, Eugene Levy. And as I stared at him, I couldn't help but think, no matter how good he is at flying airplanes, it's highly unlikely he's the best.

How can I now sit aboard his plane and have the stones to say such a thing? Well, to be quite honest, I've already flown with the best pilot ever. And judging by the box office numbers...a lot of us have.

And that guy looks a lot like Tom Hanks.

I don't know (or care to know, frankly) what liberties were taken in bringing Sully to the big screen, but whatever was added or omitted, the result is a fantastic (though thoroughly gut-wrenching) film. Under the direction of the legendary Clint Eastwood, something I never wanted to see in the first place became don't blink cinema. Happy endings aren't supposed to be this sad.

I'm sure you know the story, but if not, he's the short version. After a routine take off on a cold January morning in '09, Captain Chelsey Sullenberger's plane suffered total engine failure as a flock of Canadian geese flew into and disabled both main engines. With only moments to spare, Sully and his co-pilot decided to land the plane on (in?) the Hudson river, and unbelievably, everyone survived.

"And that's where the story ends. Sully was a hero for a couple of days, and everyone lived happily ever after. I guess. [flicks cigarette]. Are we done here?" -m.brown, the world's biggest a-hole,, had you asked him about the Miracle on the Hudson.

Okay, speaking of miracles, our flight attendant is super hot. She just literally handed me my nuts.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

You tell me what God would allow this?

There was a very short time in my life (basically a weekend...or two) where my friends and I would wait until it got dark and watch people in their homes. The rumor was that this one woman in this one house walked around naked, and as seventh graders, the idea of exposed breasts was seemingly worth committing a misdemeanor.

As it was laid out by my older, moderately sketchy friend, it seemed like the perfect plan. We would wait until it got dark, take our ready positions, and boom: boobs. It would take all of like, five minutes. Sure, as the super nerd of the group, I was totally scared about getting caught, but everyone else in our crew basically told me to shut the f--k up. We'd get what we desperately needed, and she'd never even see us. 

What could possibly go wrong?

Don't Breathe is f--king crazy. Like, an absolutely hold-your-junk, try not to piss your jorts, f--k all of this shit level of crazy...and I loved every second of it. And possibly even more f--king insane? My wife liked it, too. A lot.

And she (supposedly) hates scary movies. A lot. 

Three young kids of varying levels of sketchiness seem to have being f--k ups down to a science. Alex, basically the brains of the operation, sets up low-risk/high-reward burglaries for he and his two partners, Rocky and Money. It's a pretty sweet setup, as Alex is able to get his crew in and out using insider information from his father's security company. Dick move, sure, but he's a kid. Those skinny jeans aren't going to by themselves.

Rocky, the poster girl to the left, is your typical moderately hot home invader. She's probably smart enough to do something better with her life, but is basically looking for the fastest way to get the f--k out of Dodge, er, Detroit, as her homelife is a real shit show. Oh, and surprising no one, Alex totally has a boner for her, and he reluctantly keeps up the burgle business to get her more money. Lower case money, that is, as the dude named Money is a real f--ker, and consistently ruins...well, just about everything. And I'm pretty sure he's banging Rocky (I guess he has a thing for young Jodie Foster, huh?), but it's been three weeks so I might be a little fuzzy on that one.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

If you must blink, do it now.

I love a good story. Always have. But if there's one thing that I love more than a good story, it's a good storyteller. If only they weren't so elusive...

When I listen to my students tell stories (something certain kids love to do), they all too often inject their tale with lies and half-truths because they lack confidence and live in fear that their audience will turn against them. My son, who's seven, tends to lose track of where he's headed, and I generally (and impatiently) take over, leaving him to fill in the blanks. But my daughter? All three years of her? That little girl can spin the most elaborate tales I've ever heard.

Too bad they're all make believe. Like, over-the-top dogs broke into my room and bit all my dresses level of imagination. Hopefully, I'll still be alive...

...when she finally starts telling the truth.

Kubo and the Two Strings isn't like any other animated movie you'll see this year. While the breathtaking visuals and stellar voice-cast are beyond reproach, other top-tier animated films can boast similar accomplishments. Kubo distances itself by not only having a living, beating heart and soul, but a willingness to explore what it is to be alive...when everyone you care about is dead.

Despite living with overwhelming adversity in his daily life, Kubo is a good kid. A really good kid. When he finally reaches town each day (after a brutal hike from the cave he lives in with his sick mother), he earns what little money he can by wowing the villagers with brilliant tales of mystical heroes. While any good storyteller can make their characters feel alive, Kubo's actually are. Sort of, anyway, as he possesses the ability to make beautiful origami creations actually act out his captivating narrative. It's a great show, and even the most downtrodden members of his village get the chance to escape their troubles for a moment and be enthralled with the adventures of Hanzo the legendary samurai. Good storytelling, it seems, is pure magic.

But so are the evil forces that are coming after Kubo when he fails to come home before dark.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Horrible feedback from everybody.

Yes, I love her. A lot. But work with her? Professionally? No f--king way.

Oh, it's happened once, no twice before, but we were young. When you're a kid, everything your girlfriend says and does makes them even more amazing, you know? But when it's your wife? That same shit can be...well, maddening.

We waited tables together in Hawai'i (awww) in our early twenties, and later on worked at the same insurance company in Connecticut (uhh...awww? ewww?). Now the only job we share is raising two little kids, and let's just say the pay totally sucks. 

Why my aversion to working with the person I live with (and the person I occasionally sleep...next to)?

All that time together would likely lead to mixed results. I mean, even in a best case scenario, you can't exactly bring it, when you've already got it.


It's okay, I'll watch them for you.
It's probably been three weeks since my wife and I rented and watched 2016's redemption comedy The Boss, and the reigniting of my professional fire has left my willingness to blog charred to a crisp. But with The Boss, I'm back...and better than ever*.

[*same shit, probably worse]

After the steaming shit show that Tammy [review] turned out to be, I was actually surprised that Melissa McCarthy would so quickly star in another film helmed by her husband Ben Falcone. The good news, is that they've apparently learned a thing or two from their past transgressions on movie-going audiences. The bad news? They've still got a long way to go. 

And the badder news? They're trying again. But more on that in 2018.

After ruling the financial world for years, Michelle Darnell (McCarthy) abruptly finds herself locked up for insider trading and loses her entire empire. Upon being released from prison, Darnell turns to the only person in the world who can stand her, her long-suffering, oft shat-upon, ex-assistant Claire Rawlings (Kristin Bell). Claire, a devoted single mom, isn't exactly thrilled to see her old boss, but at the urging of her pre-teen daughter, takes her anyway. If only you knew how this would end...maybe you wouldn't have to actually watch it.

About that...

Saturday, September 3, 2016

That would be absurd. Think about it.

I think the obvious answer is a monkey, as it's basically a lateral move. And you can pretty much play with yourself at all times and it's totally acceptable. Even high school boys have to occasionally stop touching it.

But if coerced by a stern British woman into something a little more...exotic? I'm all in on dolphin. Mainly because of that rad thing they do where they wiggle across a pool with 90% of their body out of the water, but also because of the fantastic noises they make. Oh, and these dudes love the ladies. Sometimes...more that one.

At a time.


Sure, imagining myself as a dolphin simultaneously f--king two other super-sexy lady dolphins seems kind of weird and random, right? Of course it does. But that imagined scenario can't hold a candle to the consistently bewildering reality of director Yorgos Lanthimos' latest feature, The Lobster.

Sometime in the near future, perhaps in a parallel universe, society has broken down into two distinct groups: those who are in a committed relationship and those who are not.  Couples live in a very typical city, while single people reside in the woods like wild animals...uh, mainly because they are wild animals. Literally.

David's wife has left him for another man. And when we meet this odd fellow, he's checking in to a mysterious hotel completely forlorn and defeated. While maybe clean sheets and a hot maid who is totally willing to twerk all over your boner sounds like a nice combo for any (newly) single (or happily married, ahem) guy, this place is different. Way different. This facility, er, hotel, comes with a catch: you have forty five days to find mate for life (with one of the other prisoners guests naturally)...or you'll be turned into the animal of your choice.

Wait, what?