Thursday, May 11, 2017

Let's find a home for his spirit.

The last time I set foot in another country, I was seven years old.

The last trip to a place I'd never been to before, was f--king Seattle. Not exactly Timbuktu, you know?

I'm thirty-seven years old, don't even own a passport, and I'm deathly afraid that I've more or less seen as much of the world as I ever will. I once considered teaching abroad (primarily in Japan), but the one-year commitment is simply too daunting. Since I wouldn't even consider uprooting my family, I'd have to spend those twelve months a stranger in a strange place...alone. And while it would be hard enough not to see my wife on a daily basis...the real reason why I'll probably never go anywhere?

My kids, Matthew and Violet.

Not only could I never leave them behind (for more than a long weekend, I suppose), but at this rate, I probably couldn't afford to take them with me.

So I go to the movies instead, which is where I happened to stroll into a solo-viewing (of all things) of a little (/giant) flick called The Lost City of Z. Having never seen a trailer, or even glimpsed a (poorly-written) synopsis, I headed into writer/director James Gray's latest film not knowing what lay before me. Cinematically speaking, this was uncharted territory, and I totally forgot my machete.

And my cool hat.

And rad mustache.

Oh, and a half-naked native dude. You totally need one of those, right?

Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam, kicking all kinds of ass) is a good man, undone by a bad name. A bad family name, that is. Passed over for promotion after promotion, seemingly because of something his father once did, Fawcett is a gentleman of the finest sort. Hell bent on improving his lot in the world, he enthusiastically throws himself into any situation he's tasked with, no matter how daunting. In 1906, a few years after we initially meet him, he's assigned to lead an expedition into South America. There, his map-making abilities will hopefully quell an impending border disagreement between Brazil and Bolivia. Apparently there's money to be made down there, as long as war is prevented.

Alrighty then, gents, let's tame this savage wasteland, shall we? Nothing holding us back, right? Right, other than the fact that Fawcett has a lovely wife yearning for him back home. Now wait a second, Nina Fawcett (a fantastic Sienna Miller), isn't just keeping soup warm by the fire, no, she's an educated woman quietly seething that her chromosomal makeup will forever prevent her from a dangerous adventure in the bush (a unfortunate choice of words, I realize). And even more pressing for dear Nina, moments before her husband is to set off on a two-year expedition, she finds out she's going to be a mother. Welp, see ya!

Um, it may not look it, but this shit is absolutely terrifying.
F--k restless, the natives are pissed.
Fawcett is a remarkable man, obsessed with remarkable adventures. Throughout the film's almost two-and-a-half hour runtime, Hunnam's Fawcett is as smart as he is dashing. While I found myself leaning forward during all of his perilous journeys, I was taken aback by how frequently this man left his home. I get it, sure, and so did his amazing wife, but there's a point where this hero's quest feels something less than heroic. It's not to say that I didn't like the film, (I adored just about everyone in it) it's just that as a father myself, I couldn't exactly let go and embrace Fawcett's bravery/foolishness. Good thing Hunnam's so damn charming...or we might have had a problem. Or two. Or ten.

Set a century ago, the surprising strength of The Lost City of Z is how well it manages to shine a luminous glow on the problems of contemporary society. Women's rights, bureaucracy, xenophobia, classicism, and even environmentalism are just some of the themes woven into the lush narrative. None of which are spoonfed to us, either. Yeah, eventually there are some pretty cut-and-dry bad guys, but for the most part, Gray's film is just that.

Look, I know you don't have the mask, but f--k it. Shoot some webs into these a-holes faces.
Speaking of vague and open for interpretation, here are the Yays and Boos. Despite it being significantly shorter, we passed on The Circle and opted for to visit the Lost City instead. It seems like we made the right choice, even if it basically came down to a coin-toss. Sometimes, even if you're holding the map upside down, you can still find a bit of treasure, you know?

Nothing sparkly here.

  • Man, I wish I was alive at a time when you walked into a party, someone loudly announced your name, and then Bam! You were immediately swept into an elaborate dance number.
  • Dude, Fawcett looks impossibly dapper at all times. I don't think I could ever make a mustache look like anything other than the thing the sketch artist starts with, but after seeing this? I'm willing to give it a try.
  • I used to think my wife was understanding of my hobbies and interests. Then I met Nina Fawcett.
  • Did you ever see Tombstone? Do you remember how awesome Val Kilmer was, being the most badass sidekick ever? That's Robert Pattinson in The Lost City of Z. Trust me, Henry Costin? He's your Huckleberry. 
  • I dare you to find a film shot more beautifully than this. Double dare you, in fact.
  • There is no drag in this film. Not for a second. Like Fawcett, this film loathes idle time when there's adventure to be had.
  • Great. Natives are launching arrows at our shitty, uncovered raft. Might as well hide in the water...where the f--king piranhas are! (this scene is soooooo intense!)
  • Next one will be up your ass. Yeah, dude. You might want to stand down.
  • I don't know exactly what you'd call it, sort of an inquisition of sorts, but the scene where Fawcett lays the absolute f--king smack down on a room full of British twats has to be seen to be believed. Settle down, children!
  • I'm certain that was the best husband vs. wife verbal brawl of all time. 
  • You ever have that friend that always puts the rest of you in a bad spot? That's Fawcett. (when he goes with them? I almost died)
  • That fish-stunning trick was so badass. Holy shit, dude. Pants? No. Complete ownership of sea-faring creatures? Yes.
  • Oh, you want someone to say sorry to you, Mr. Murray? Really? Well, hope you can handle the best f--king apology ever, dickhead.
  • Man, that goodbye to Brian killed me. 
  • And finally, it's totally cliche, but they really don't make 'em like this anymore. Nothing flashy, no gimmicks in the least. Just an amazing story filled with incredible characters, all based in f--king reality, too!
It looks like the Good Book took a great shot.
  • What the Hell was that guy's plan on the ship? Seems like stealing someone's shit on a month-long sea voyage would be a bad call, no?
  • An opera house in the jungle? What? If I find some weird shit going on in the middle of the Amazon one day, it best not be classical music being performed.
  • Percy, you made it! Thank God. Now, uh, we're gonna go ahead and ask you to abort mission, yeahhhhh.
  • The indigenous guide dudes are kind of cool, right? Yeah, I guess so. If only they were considered, you know, people. In fact, the casual racism of the early 1900s is basically a roundhouse to the dick.
  • Dead guy on a boat? They throw his ass over without a second thought. Seriously, I'm more delicate cleaning trash out of my car than they are with this f--ker. 
  • Sometimes, the expeditions, uh, end rather expeditiously, right? I thought the first trip to the rainforest was going to be the bulk of the movie. Um, no. That shit wraps up like that.
  • F--k you, Pots and Pans! Guy. That dude was a real a-hole.
  • I know, you should always eat whatever your host is serving...but uh, no thanks, Chief. Though I hear it tastes like chicken...
  • You know how Marvel flicks never really have good villains? Yeah, this ain't a Marvel flick.
  • Way to go, Archduke. You couldn't have been assassinated a couple of years later?
  • Just in case it's unclear: F--k YOU, MR. MURRAY.
  • And finally, that ending. Basically, no matter how you interpret it, it's the f--king worst.
Outside of a couple trips up and down the east coast, and our annual beach vacation in Delaware (Hi. We're in Delaware), I don't think me and my kids will get to see much of the world this upcoming summer. How the Hell am I supposed to show these kids the beauty of this world on a teacher's salary? Oh, right. 

We've got a movie theater, like, two miles from here.

That totally counts. 

Okay, fine. We'll go to the library, too.


  1. I don't usually like Charlie Hunnam but I really did in Crimson Peak. I'd probably watch this if it were on DVD. My theater has it here too. Great review!

    1. I only really remember Hunnam from Pacific Rim and I wasn't the hugest fan (I know I've seen something else with him, but I can't place it), but he's f--king awesome here. But Pattinson is the real star, you know? Just the raddest dude ever.

      Hit me up whenever you see it. I'd love to know what you think. And if you're really gonna wait til DVD, Hell...that probably will be like...late July at this rate. Shit moves fast now.

  2. "I dare you to find a film shot more beautifully than this. Double dare you, in fact."

    I blindly answer Assassination of Jesse James because nothing can be shot better than this.

    "And finally, it's totally cliche, but they really don't make 'em like this anymore. Nothing flashy, no gimmicks in the least. Just an amazing story filled with incredible characters"


    "all based in f--king reality, too!"


    If it's this long and you liked it then it must be good. But please don't do the mustache thing. No one looks good with those. Not even my boos.

    1. I'd be willing to take a look at the Assassination of Jesse James, and almost have once or twice, but someone once told me it was the most boring movie ever made (that wasn't you, was it?). Anyway, I'll give it the eyeball test one of these days. But Lost is gorgeous, no doubt.

      Look, it's not as good as Logan. Not even close. But Percy is a good man (uh, outside of abandoning his wife...repeatedly) doing his best in a tough spot. And he doesn't even have badass claws, just a sweet 'stache (which, yes, I will never attempt...ever. I'm assuming I'd be arrested on site, if I ever showed up in a school full of children with a creepy mustache).

    2. I don't think it was me, it is in my top 15 of all time :)

      Are yo going to see this King Arthur disaster with Hunnam?

    3. you* not 'yo' my God

      This is what happens when you sleep 4h because you just had to watch Logan deleted scenes several times, wake up at 5.45 AM call work to say you are not coming because you don't feel well and start commenting on the blogs instead of going back to sleep.

    4. Hell, I get more sleep than that and I still can't type to save my ass.

      I wish I had more time on the clock to read around. I just bang out a few peaks during lunch. And tests.

      'bang out a few peaks' sounds pretty bad, huh?

      Let's call that a typo too.

  3. Great review! I like what you said about the themes being timely and not spoonfed to viewers.

    1. It's not arduous or anything (though it is a bit...girthy), but there are a lot of parallels to where we find ourselves today. I think you'd like it, but for whatever reason, it seems like on one is seeing this film.

      Let me know if you do!

  4. Great review!

    “Man, I wish I was alive at a time when you walked into a party, someone loudly announced your name, and then Bam! You were immediately swept into an elaborate dance number.” Hahaha YES! That was so rad how that happened.

    This film did look gorgeous as all hell. Clearly so much time went into it’s look and design.

    My one Boo was the sound. The levels were entirely too low and uneven. At one point, I asked the theater usher what the deal was, and he said people had been complaining about it for weeks, but that’s just how the movie is. Did you have any problems with it? I could barely understand a word Pattinson said, and the action scenes had no tension for me because the sound mix was so poorly done. Very odd.

    1. Thanks, AW.

      Honestly, the regalness is astounding at times. Loved that.

      It's a shame no one saw the movie in theaters. It'll be a bit more difficult to appreciate the scope of things at home.

      It's funny that you mention the sound, because I'm right there with you, I just thought that was the point. Almost like they were presenting the expeditions in a documentary style (or using old school equipment or something for effect).

      What's funny is that I thought it added to the tension, because everything was so damn quiet.

      Oh, and I don't think anyone could understand Pattinson, with his lips and mouth being totally obscured under that rat's nest of a beard.