Wednesday, February 24, 2021

It kind of feels like everything is impossible these days.

In a few short months, I will reach the point where I have been with my wife longer than I've been without her. We're hovering around the twenty-one year mark, and I'm not quite forty two. Arguably, that's the most romantic math I've ever done.

I mention this because we are long past the point of grand gestures and blindly hitting the accelerator to the chorus of Meat Loaf's I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That). I would do anything for her, sure, but it's not like the opportunity, thankfully, ever really presents itself. I mean, it's not like there's hulking monsters waiting outside to devour us all.

They're pretty small, actually. Like, the size of Ted Cruz. 

Despite writing (and speaking) like a pre-teenage girl, I wasn't overly familiar with Dylan O'Brien, and even less informed about his latest flick, Love and Monsters. Released (theatrically?) in the wasteland of 2020, and starring the affable lead from The Maze Runner trilogy (and Styles from MTV's Teen Wolf...which is/was apparently a thing), this little monster flick is gigantic fun. 

Moments after romantic parked car time, Joel (O'Brien) and Aimee (the striking Jessica Henwick) arrive home to find the world in absolute chaos. Massive creatures have appeared and Hell, has officially broken loose. Joel and Aimee split up, but with the promise of seeing each other again. Uh, about that...

It's seven years later and Joel is possibly the least-valued member of a small band of survivors, all of whom are hiding out in a fairly rad underground bunker. Seems mankind attempted to nuke the monsters, but it didn't work, and not only was everyone forced underground, but the radiation mutated whatever the Hell is still living on the surface.

One day after a pretty costly breach, Joel, not so much alone but very much single, manages to contact Aimee after all these years, and makes a very hasty decision: he has to get to her. Unfortunately, she's 85 miles away, and if Joel were a bear, he'd be more Paddington, less Grylls.

But love is love. Rather than live for nothing, he'd rather die for something, you know? So off he goes.

Friday, February 5, 2021

I finished last, Hermione.

I don't know where this is headed, but my daughter, Violet, is a lot like me. A lot a lot.

In addition to being annoying and overbearing, obviously, she's smart, silly, and when she's interested in something, it becomes something just short of an all-encompassing obsession.

A couple of months ago, she had to catch 'em all, and all we would/could talk about is Pikachu, Eevee, Scorbunny and the like. But now, thankfully, she's moved on the Wizarding World of one Harold J. Potter. Once she got wind of all things Hogwarts, it was over. She politely demanded we watch all the movies immediately, and I said we could, but only if she read the books first. Well, at least the first two (I cut her some slack, she's seven).

And she did. Immediately.

Look at Ron's luxurious mane...

After revisiting the first three Harry Potter flicks with Violet, this was, perhaps shocking to you dear reader, my first time seeing Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I was a little late to reading all the books, but once I started, I read them consecutively. This level of dedication didn't translate to the films, apparently. 

Oddly enough, and I know I'm in the vast minority, but Goblet was my favorite book. How it was the only movie adaptation I missed is beyond me. I guess I was super-busy in '05...

Unless I'm reading the room incorrectly, isn't this the flick that most people consider the worst in the franchise? Maybe you hardcore types can point out the inconsistencies or whatever, but coming back to it a decade and a half later was an absolute blast. Especially when you take into account that I had my young daughter along for the ride. And, AND, I had no idea that Team Edward was in this. Holy moly, I didn't expecto that patronum.

*crickets*

Screw you, guys. Anyhow, not that anyone cares anymore, but is there anything cooler than the Tri-Wizard tournament? No, no there is not. In my head it was rad enough, but actually getting to see it play out with the best effects that 2005 could muster was a seriously good time. Honestly, it's hard to really evaluate any of this, as the Nostalgia Machine was cranked to eleven, leaving me impossibly stoked to see something 'new' from the old gang. And having Violet there squealing along with me? Can't beat it. It's impossible.

Friday, January 22, 2021

When they find out who you are, they will show you no mercy.

I love the idea of bringing honor to one's family. It's a bit old-school, sure, but that doesn't make it any less romantic. You just imagine some noble person, wind blowing in their rugged face, doing something grand...and it's just...well, is it getting hot in here? 

Personally, my ultimate goal, whenever I haphazardly take a moment to think of someone other than myself, is to simply not embarrass the people around me. *has blog* Okay, not embarrass them tremendously. *reads blog*

I have brought great shame to us all. 

Shockingly, after it's somewhat lukewarm reception, it turns out Disney has not brought any great level of shame upon the mouse-house with it's live-action re-imagining of Mulan. Okay, remaking all of their timeless classics (which are each essentially rip-offs of classic tales) is pretty flipping shameful, I suppose, but still - the movie doesn't suck. At least not hard.

Sure, absent are the rad songs like I'll Make a Man Out of You (Donny Osmond!) and, uh...others? Forget about Mushu and anything resembling light-hearted fun, 'cause they's gone, too. Turns out there's no honor in humor, right? But left in their absence, is a beautifully photographed epic, with a pleasing mix of action and intrigue, woven into a tale as old as time. Oop, I think I got my live-action remakes confused again...

Anyway, it's not a stretch to say that you've seen this movie before, because obviously, you have, but even on my TV (and not the big screen this should've debuted on) the new Mulan still felt pretty epic. Newcomer Yifei Liu does an admirable job with the title character, even though I've always found Mulan's raging internal conflict ridiculous (girl, you can kick all these dude's asses...and we want you to. Remove that staff from your arse and get to it already). But for me, it was the presence of stalwarts Donnie Yen and Tzi Ma that kept me enlisted, not to mention Jason Scott Lee and a fairly unrecognizable Jet Li, too. While none of these fine gents has a large part, it's still highly enjoyable seeing them all together, shouting instructions and/or looking on stoically.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

I'll always love you Diana, no matter where I am.

In an effort to be courteous, let's go ahead and mark this year down as less than favorable

However, in the infinite darkness/shit sandwich that was 2020, there were certainly some slivers of light/morsels of ham. In exchange for going to the movies, family gatherings, shaking hands, traveling, events, successfully educating children (that's a stretch, sure), we got...infinite time at home with our families. And honestly, in the decades preceding the pandemic, that would have been something I would have fervently wished for. But, as the saying goes...

Be careful what you wish for, you dumb son of a bitch.

Probably the dopest poster ever.
Oh, Wonder Woman 1984, how I wished I loved you so. When early word dropped of your enormous girth, er, runtime, I couldn't have been happier. One hundred and fifty-one consecutive minutes with Gal Gadot, you say? Yes, please. And when it was announced that for some horrible reason the two-hundred million dollar film would premier in my effing living room, our local coroner was going to have to bubble in exploding boner as my cause of death. This was all too good be to true, right?

Yeah. Like, for sure.

Okay, as far as I can tell, this is what WW84 is about: Diana has been chilling in the 80s, kicking ass in the food court, during breaks from writing hearts around the name Steve in her dream journal. But in a routine (and impressively poorly-planned) local jewelry store heist, some small-time rascals have unearthed some sort of dream stone. Uh huh, a magical rock. That was in a mall. Fine, whatever, not great mind you, but Diana's simultaneously kicking ass and gliding around Waldenbooks like an even sexier Wayne Gretzky. The news still good, the soundtrack still great.

(spoilers to follow)

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

If you believe, it's all possible.

I hate lying to my kids. 

My daughter is seven years old, and her belief in Santa Claus has been steadily waning. This year, she's been rather boisterous in calling faaaaake whenever anybody mentions jolly ol' St. Nick. There is no part of me that is willing to say, now, you wait just a minute, young lady...

Typically, you could blame the older sibling, but I'm not even sure Matthew is the reason she ain't having it. Maybe in a year where friends, family, sports and school are taken away from you, maybe you grow up real/too quick?

So, in an effort to renew her faith, without being dishonest, I did what any responsible parent would do.

I put on a holiday move. And in an effort to write something for this blog...one I hadn't seen.

And shocking no one, I watched it with just her, as my wife and son bailed almost immediately on Netflix's color-soaked 2020 musical, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey. Recommended to me earlier that day by a co-worker (sorry, Margaret), I thought what better way to get in the spirit, right? And you know what?

It worked. [insert stoic, Tiger Woods-style fist pump]


Jangle is a good dude, proud father, and frankly, bad-ass inventor, and when we meet him, the final component for his greatest creation yet arrives in the mail. In a flash we see what is destined to be the toy of the century, some insanely articulated and wildly articulate Matador-type mechanical doll named Diego (voiced by Ricky Martin, clearly livin' la vida loca). Diego is special, so special in fact, he balks at the idea of being mass-produced and convinces Jangle's somewhat lowly assistant Gustafson to bounce up out of there real fast. And to, uh, grab Jangle's idea book on the way out the door. Major naughty-list behavior right there.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

I've just told you to f--k off twice, yet you're still here.

At some point in your life, you've said something you regret. It could have been stupid, offensive, hurtful, misguided, uninformed or even my personal specialty, all of the above.

Sometimes you can get lucky and know you f--ked up right away, but in other situations it takes time for the combination of words your big, dumb brain and your big, dumb mouth shat out to get you in trouble. 

Could be a day or two...


...or even the better part of a decade.

I wish I could tell you the exact day and time that blogging legend (/wielder of sharpened knives) Margaret from cinematic corner. recommended that yours truly check out the 2009 ass-kicker, In the Loop, and I wish I could tell you what I said in response, but after pouring through over five-plus years of comments...I've got nothing. I bet I said something flippantly like, of course I'll check that out, and also of course, I absolutely did not. 

UNTIL NOW.

(turns out I'm not the only mostly-agreeable asshole saying things that would have major unintended consequences)

After rather casually saying that conflict in the Middle East was unforeseeable during an interview, Simon Foster (Tom Hollander, absolutely killing it) draws the Sauron-like stare and ire from Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi, my absolute f--king hero), the Director of Communications for the Prime Minister. Tucker tells Foster to toe the line, which is government code for talk, but don't say a goddamned thing, you f--king twat. Oh, and that's not a direct quote. I cleaned it up a bit.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

I'm gonna need to give this a think, I think.

Once - pretty sure it was one time - I snooped around before Christmas. Fine, maybe twice. Three times. Whatever.

Anyway, my mom had an errand of some sort, and as soon as I saw her white Jetta carefully back down our narrow driveway, I instantly became (a much less handsome) Ethan Hunt. With the Mission: Impossible music in my head (though at low volume, in case she forgot something) I swooped into my parents room to gather intel. No boxes moved, no wires tripped. The Sega Genesis I had dreamed of was buried in the back...and in a few short days, it would be mine. Oh, yes.

I'm not proud of this, mind you, as it was probably one of the sneakiest things I ever did at Christmas time. But sometimes, during the holidays, you never know what you might find in the closet, right?

Or, on the rare occasion, who.

Wait a sec. That introduction sounds like I might be implying that I'm gay, which with how much I love Dan Levy...is a distinct possibility. Eh, actually, it's not me flip-flopping in regards to my sexuality that we're concerned about, but instead Mackenzie Davis' character Harper, the protagonist in Hulu's latest holiday offering, Happiest Season

While watching the massive Davis routinely bite her lip over whether or not she really, really loves KStew wouldn't ordinarily be something I'd sign up for on opening night, you throw in any amount of Dan Levy (and Alison Brie and Aubrey Plaza) and not only will I be there, but for some reason, with motherf--king bells on. (I looked up the origin of this statement and it still doesn't really make sense)

Coming home for the holidays is frightening enough, but combine that with coming out for the holidays, and just like that, you've got yourself the edgiest Hallmark movie ever. At least that's what Happiest Season feels like...initially, you know, like those schmaltzy silly flicks where Candace Cameron gets amnesia hanging stockings or whatever. 

Monday, November 30, 2020

We're not here for bookclub.

Every year, as a teacher, you're guaranteed to get that kid. The one that's only happy when everyone else is utterly miserable. And last year, that student was a young lady named...well, let's call her Joanna. Joanna hated everything about school. Every adult. Every kid. Every subject. No lie, for someone who was weeks out of elementary school, this young lady was terrifying.

But before she got kicked out for coming to school high (at age twelve), not coming to school at all, telling most adults exactly where they could go (and what they could do to themselves when they arrived), and basically trying to fight everyone, I decided we were going to be friends. Best friends. Our bond? It was going to be over books. Good books. And whatever book was her favorite?

I was going to read it. IMMEDIATELY. And we'd have our own little book club. 

Yes. 

This is something that I did.

Somehow, in my almost forty-something years on the planet, fifteen as a teacher, thirty-five plus as a reader, and all of them as a horror-loving weirdo, I had never read anything by R.L Stine. Welp, turned out ol' Joanna was a fan of the Goosebumps series, and with 235 books to choose from, she recommended/demanded I start at the beginning with Welcome to Dead House. And, to my absolute bewilderment, it was actually pretty scary. Not Joanna during standardized testing scary, but close. *shudder*

For the Halloween season, me and the other residents of the fallout shelter didn't watch all that many scary flicks, but we did manage to crank up (and out) 2015's Goosebumps flick and it's moderately disappointing follow-up, 2018's Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween. Though my kids were not super into the idea of watching these spine-tinglers initially, by the end of the double-feature (spread out over weeks, because of course it was) they'd been converted into fans of all things R.L. Stine. So when I broke their fragile, little hearts with the news that there would not be a third film, I figured the fact that there are literally hundreds of books they could choose from would ease their pain. It did not. You have to read books, with your eyes and your brain, and even my own kids are like, nah, we're good.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

...I'll eat a bat with you.

It's amazing what you can get used to. 

When even the absolute craziest shit ever, might get you to glance up from your phone for a blink or two, you know humanity is pretty much f--ked. They always talk about lowering the bar, but we all know the goddamned bar melted at the earth's core years ago. And when it did, it didn't even trend on Twitter. Maybe because some handsome young dude said he liked wearing dresses that day, because that? That's UNBELIEVABLE. I mean, what about the children? Won't anybody think of the children?

Anyway, when you do get shocked, you know, when something finally rattles your cage a bit, it can make you feel alive. 

Or dead. It kind of depends on who's behind it.

As the poster may or may not tell you, Sacha Baron Cohen has the biggest balls in Hollywood, and in case that slipped your mind, he reminds us all in the Amazon-exclusive, Borat Susequent Moviefilm. Released way back in October, when Trump was still officially? the President, the sequel narrows Cohen's crosshairs not just on dumb Americans, but dumb Americans under Trump. It's a lot like the first one, but now with added racism! Who knew you could cram any more in there?

It turns out the events of the first film brought great shame to Kazakhstan, so the setup here is that Borat will have to make amends. His plan is to go to America a peace offering (in the form of a monkey), but Borat's newly-discovered daughter becomes the gift instead. It all doesn't really matter, because all absolutely f--king insane. But really f--king funny, too.

Where you and I need oxygen and sunshine to survive, apparently Cohen is able to live and breathe on a combination of danger and cringe, so it's a good thing the second Borat films has a shit-ton of both. Clearly, the guy is an absolute mad-scientist of satire, a giant in whatever-the-Hell genre this is, and as hard as Subsequent Moviefilm can be to watch at times, doesn't mean it's anything short of legendary. Cohen straight up risked his life for this shit!