Monday, December 10, 2018

I couldn't go back.

With six and a half days off staring me in the face, anything was possible. I had forty minutes to pack up, say goodbye to my co-workers, and travel exactly thirty-two miles. The last third of this jaunt being typically stop-and-go. It was going to be close, sure, but I would not be denied. 

And when Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' version of Immigrant Song came on the radio, it felt like divine intervention. The traffic seemed to part right in front of me, and the lights were the greenest of greens. I was going to make it.

Shocking no one, I was headed to the movies. To catch an afternoon matinee. Alone.

And I couldn't have been happier.

Even in the best of moods, I found it damn near impossible to consistently enjoy Fede Alvarez' The Girl in the Spider's Web. Bereft of the insane hype that smothered Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo back in 2011, this second film in the Lisbeth Salander series still manages to somehow disappoint. Sure, there are some cool moments, and Foy's turn/performance as Salander is (fairly and surprisingly) rad, but what once felt like a sordid tale that could actually happen, feels now like the Swedish Hallmark Channel's woebegone remake of 9Fast9Furious. You know, assuming that's a thing...

For a minute or two (aka, the time I still have popcorn to eat), things we're looking good. Lisbeth, looking like a mash-up of Scarlett Johanson in Ghost in the Shell and The Crow, breaks into into a house to taze some wife-beater in the gooey bag. Cut to her and her giant girlfriend, scissoring each other to some ill trip-hop beats. Or maybe I imagined that...

Anyway, Lisbeth is hired to hack some top secret government system that allows users access to, get this, launch nuclear weapons from anywhere in the world. What? No way. You never hear about nuclear launch codes in movies! And in another shocking turn of events, after she gets in and downloads the file, everything goes tits up. The United States sends someone to find her while the Swedish government is simultaneously all up in her shit. But even worse? Also patiently waiting in line to f--k over Lisbeth, is some unruly f--ker known as Her Past. 

Monday, December 3, 2018

I don't require a vouch.

Because my wife's business is life insurance, I'm routinely strong-armed into making sure I have enough coverage in the event I die tragically, like in a fire, or before the end of a good movie. 

When I (jokingly?) tell her that she should just remarry immediately and not worry about the money, she makes this face suggesting this isn't a f--king joke you moron, we have kids and you can't leave them both fatherless and penniless, so stop being a moderately-clever asshole and grow the f--k up and be responsible for once in your pathetic life. 

Seriously, it's quite the look. 

But, I get it. I do. It's bad enough she'd have to deal with the sudden loss of her husband, and the last thing I'd want her to have to worry about would be money. Or the wives of the people I worked with. And their families. Or Chicago's corrupt political system, where nepotism and systemic racism run rampant.

At least she'd have our dog.

(I've always hated it when the names and faces don't line up)
Widows is too good a film, and Hell, too utterly f--king relentless to toss around a phrase like it's a slow burn, but I don't get paid for this shit, so go ahead and put that cliche in your pipe and smoke it. Slowly.

See, as I strolled out of the theater that day (with my lovely wife, no less), I simply wasn't wowed like I expected to be. It was good, sure, but it felt a bit like that mountain climber game on The Price is Right: all build up and a quick, not entirely satisfying ending. I know, I know, saying this film is anything but brilliant is sacrilege (at least on Film Twitter) so I should probably yodel my way off a f--king cliff immediately. But can I at least keep the waffle maker?

Unless you've repeatedly read the title as Windows, it shouldn't surprise you that this film tells the tale of four women (eh, let's go with three) coping with the sudden and violent deaths of their crooked husbands. And it wasn't just their dicks or their noses either, as these dudes were balls-deep in all sorts of illegal shit. While their charred corpses can be buried, it turns our their problems can't. 

Well, at least not at first.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

He didn't steal Christmas. He stole stuff.

I'l let you in on a little secret: I hate the Fourth of July. The fireworks are the main culprit (how are adults still impressed by this?) with a dash of the absurdity of celebrating the current United States in there too. Also, and this is a bitter teacher talking, because the day signals the beginning of the end. Of summer. The back-to-school sales will start soon, and the carefree nature of June has officially given way to the impending doom of August.

But all the other holidays? Nothing but love from me. Fine, Valentine's Day I could take or leave, and New Year's Eve ain't ever been my scene, but Halloween? Thanksgiving? I couldn't enjoy them more.

And Christmas? Goodness. I mean, everyone loves Christmas.

Even the Grinch.

Violet liked my idea of sprinting by the poster, instead of posing like a normal kid.
Yep, in The Grinch, brought to us by the good (but never truly great) folks at Illumination, even that salty green curmudgeon doesn't seem to outright loathe the holiday like he once did. Nah, this time, as voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, ol' Grinchy seems more generally irritated with Christmas versus his borderline psychotic let's burn this mutha to the ground stance seen in previous outings.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

But, hey - what are we gonna do, cancel Halloween?

We've all heard that right before you die - your whole life flashes before your eyes. Or, according to movies, the easily-decipherable important bits do. Your wedding. The birth of your children. Your spouse telling you they love you. It's all rather romantic, isn't it? I mean, who'd want to see a montage of all the times you wiped your ass?

Whether it's your little brother stabbing you while you toplessly comb your hair, or a kitchen knife through the back of your throat from a silent stranger dressed like a garbage man, one way or another, that highlight reel is cued up and ready to go.

All you gotta do is die!


Because I wanted to finally rejoin (film?) society and see the new Halloween movie (on opening night, no less), it would only make sense to revisit the old one beforehand. As in, immediately beforehand. So, within the space of half an hour, my wife and I (both of born in 1979), finished the 1978 original, then dashed across town to the theater to catch the 2018 sequel.

So, just like that, our entire lives had flown by. Four decades, gone. And when we came to, everything had changed. We were alive and very old, and more pressing, Jamie Lee Curtis' hair was no longer feathered.

After slogging our way through the deliberately-paced original, with my wife side-eyeing me the whole time (this is a classic? This?), it's safe to say that we both enjoyed the latest sequel infinitely more. While not much has changed for Laurie Strode, the pace and intensity of horror films, thankfully, has. Yes, this beauty versus the beast setup is a tale as old as time, sure, but now it's more visceral and exciting. Mikey is still as quiet and pissed off as ever. Bus transfers at the prison are still scoring needs improvement on Survey Monkey. And when Love It or List it comes to Haddonfield, Illinois, I don't give a shit how nice that new kitchen looks - you f--king list it, goddamn it. 

Saturday, November 17, 2018

It's the burning rain of death!

The Halloween of 1993 was probably the last time I went trick-or-treating. I think.

I would have been fourteen (and a high school freshman), so I might be a year off, but for the sake of this post (and the fact that it doesn't matter in the least), let's just go with it.

I wore a San Jose Sharks jersey (um, it was '93 - the Sharks teal road jersey was issued to wannabe a-holes by the federal government) and a glow-in-the-dark Jason Voorhees mask. If it had come in a package, once could assume it would have been titled murderous hockey player and/or timid dickbag desperate for Skittles. Either way, I knew right away, from the slight frowns of the candy-givers, that I had made a huge mistake. Simply put?

I was too old to be participating in this annual tradition. 


Which brings us to Hocus Pocus, yet another Halloween-related activity that I shouldn't have partaken in. You'd think I'd have learned something in the ensuing quarter century since 1993, but here I am, still ruining a perfectly good holiday with a bad decision.

In my defense, at least this time I wasn't an awkward virgin, knocking my sweaty hands on the doors of my apathetic Hawaiian neighbors. Instead, I was an awkward adult, gathering my children around the television, insisting they watch this 'classic' with me and my wife. I'm emphasizing they're mine, my kids, just so we can be clear that unlike that kid back in 1993, the 2018 model of m.brown has had sex. More than once, in fact.

Blogger Guy, what the f--k? No one needs to know all that. Oh, but they do Italicized Voice of Reason, because in a silly kids' movie about Halloween, whether or not the main character has ever gone for a ride on the wild bologna pony is paramount. Trust me - it matters. So much so, in fact, we should probably talk about his virginity as much as possible. Just so the little ones can really understand that having sex is like, super important, if witches be all up in your shit.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

What is wrong with me?

Honestly, I liked it better the first time.
In June.
When it was called Upgrade.
And I wasn't a miserable prick.

Even though the, uh, modifications weren't as cool, and the voice in his head wasn't as routinely hysterical, I had a better time with Leigh Whannell's flick. The violence was more visceral and the love interest was more, well...lovelier.

Hell, even if the Tom Hardy wasn't actually Tom Hardy, for whatever reason, I still had more fun with Upgrade [review] than I did with its cinematic cousin...

...VenomEven if early word (at the time) had suggested it was a hot mess, I still went in hoping Sony's latest Marvel flick would defy odds and kick so much ass.

But as the audience around me seemed to be enjoying themselves more and more (including my sister, an enthusiastic moviegoer, to say the least), I felt myself drifting in the opposite direction. This is what you guys came to see? This? People were damned near falling out of their seats they were laughing so hard, and even more bewildering, it wasn't at the movie, but with it.

All I can think of at this point, is that I'm incapable of joy, because this Venom flick, while being thankfully Topher-free, rubbed me the wrong way. Tom Hardy is great in everything, so despite his performance being the best part of Ruben Fleischer's latest (dude did Zombieland and Gangster Squad), he's also why I was so let down.

See, once Hardy was announced as Eddie Brock, it only seemed logical that this new version of Venom would be a hard-R, impossibly creepy look at the famous villain/anti-hero. I imagined something along the lines of what Heath Ledger (and Nolan) did with the Joker in The Dark Knight, and began to count the days until Venom hit theaters. Hardy is going to literally eat someone.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Well, I guess I'm in.

The original Predator film is in my DNA.

String up my naked corpse from a tree, rip my skull and spine out of my tattered body, and all over the jungle floor will be fragments of John McTiernan's classic. Even if I ain't got time to bleed, you'll see the 1987 Schwarzenegger flick spilling out all over the damn place.

The woosh woosh of the Predator scanning his surroundings. The minigun that cleared out an acre of trees in thirty seconds. The dead scorpion in predator vision. The yousonuvabitch handshake between Arnie and Apollo Creed. Hawkin's simultaneously teaching me about the birds and the bees and how sound reverberates in a vast chamber. I have seen that movie so many f--king times, it's a part of me. Hell, a part of us, as each of my three brothers feel the same way.

But my sister? My twenty-eight year old baby sister? She's never seen it. Like, never ever.

Violet was infinitely curious as this poster adorned our local theater for months.
Which likely explains why she absolutely adored Shane Black's latest entry into the Predator franchise. Bouncing and clapping along and just having a merry f--king time was my sister Tatianna, who, after we had just got home from Monster-Mania Con [wrap], straight-up devoured her first taste of the outer-space skull collectors.

For me, however, The Predator was just the latest film featuring those ugly muddafuckas that desperately lacked the sublime magic of the original. Oh, it's not terrible by any stretch. It's just not, you know, Predator.

After its ship crashes on Earth, a Predator gets into a bit of a kerfuffle with soldiers who were on some sort of hostage-rescue mission. An army-ranger type dude named McKenna, kicks its ass a bit, and in the process gets a hold of some sweet alien tech. Worried that the government will frame/kill him, he mails himself the iconic helmet as a potential bargaining chip later on down the road. Unfortunately, his autistic son opens the package and, obviously, wears the badass helmet to go trick-or-treating.

While that's good news for the kid, it's bad news for everyone else, as the helmet/mask thing acts as a beacon which the Predator can follow to get its gear back. Of course it does this, but not before gloriously murdering a room full of dudes in lab coats in the meantime. Though it doesn't kill everyone, as it thankfully decides to spare a naked woman. Yep. Even the most elite sport hunters in the galaxy aren't total dicks. 

Sunday, October 28, 2018

I was spellbound.

I'll watch your kids.

Assuming, that is, you're desperate enough to ask me. I'll talk to them, I'll feed them (take them to the King of Burgers, in fact), I'll even play with the little goofballs. Shoot, I'll even cleannnnn.....up after them (I'm a dude, so bath time's at your house). The whole nine.

I don't even need money, or a gift card (though they are appreciated) - absolutely no payment is required. And quite honestly, I don't even need reciprocation.

All I ask, all I require, is that eventually, perhaps even as soon as possible... is that you, after whatever it was you were doing that afternoon/evening...eventually come back and get them.

We good? Good.

Significantly better than good (but not quite great), was A Simple Favor, the latest film from (cue announcer voice) the dark side of Paul Feig. Based on a novel by Darcey Bell, this seemingly innocuous tale of friendship gone awry, initially presents itself as a bit of a fish-out-of-water comedy. But as the plot starts to unravel, any singular thing you might have penciled in as objective truth dissipates into a bloody handful of glitter, leaving you questioning the actions and motivations of everyone involved.

As much as it wants to f--k with your head, A Simple Favor is primarily a dark comedy, one that's an alluring mix of silly and sexy. Think of the most hysterical blowjob you've ever given/received and you're on the right track. Sure, some of the cutesy f--kery can be a bit much, but then you remember that that's Anna Kendrick onscreen, and well, all is immediately forgiven. Or forgotten. Sorry...someone mentioned Anna Kendrick?

Oh, right. I did.

Anna Kendrick, er, Stephanie Smothers, is your typical small-town movie widow: impossibly awkward yet way too hot to ever truly remain single. Stephanie, a doting mom, runs a moderately successful vlog, but still seems friendless and alone. Cue a mysterious amazon named Emily, skulking about with the heavy-footed grace of someone unburdened by f--ks to give. Steph and Emily (the names of my sister-in-laws, in an odd turn of events) have boys in the same elementary school, and over playdates and mixed drinks become fast friends. Turns out, Emily's gotta head out of a town for a bit, and if wouldn't be too much trouble, asks the astonishingly bubbly Steph to watch her son. Sure. She'd love to. *spits out drink* Wait, you can say that without being sarcastic? Who knew?