Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Maniacs are afraid of maniacs.

I have a daughter. I love her very much.

And if someone were ever to wrong her, well, I'm not sure what I'm going to be able to do about it. I mean, I don't have a very particular set of skills. I'm all for revenge, sure, and would surely want blood, but I don't even own a gun. I don't have a lot of knives, and only have two functioning hammers. Shit, I don't have any duct tape, let alone a basement to house the perpetrator in, duct taped or otherwise. But I'm not completely hopeless. There's one thing I actually do have.

I do have a dad.
I'm pretty sure Tarantino saw this on the January 1st.
Big Bad Wolves is one of those movies that somehow everyone has seen despite it not really starring anyone overly famous. I had initially heard about the film last year on Twitter, but avoided any further spoilers in the months that followed (all told, that wasn't so hard to do). While I had all intentions of eventually seeing it, it took a random text from an old friend to finally give me that final kick in the ass. His description?

'F'd up drama suspense and intense'


What Dunphy boiled down to a few words, I'm going to belabor into many more. Primarily set over the course of just a few days, 2013's Big Bad Wolves is a deceptively simple revenge flick. After the brutal kidnapping and death of his daughter, a man kidnaps not only the suspected killer, but also the police officer who inadvertently botched his arrest. This guy is no nonsense, and with so little left to live for he is willing to just about anything for whatever justice he can muster. Actually, it's not even justice that he ultimately wants. It's something a lot more personal that that.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

It's the behavior of an incredibly immature person.

The more I think about it, the more I feel like Christmas is becoming an obstacle in my life, something that must be survived, if not altogether defeated. Getting everyone the perfect gift is maddening enough (essentially it's the simultaneous birthday of everyone you know), but that impossibility can't hold a scented candle to the unrelenting chaos of getting together for the holidays. This year in particular, turned out to be one for the record books in the annals of Brown Family Holiday Disasters. And while there's certainly plenty of blame to go around (myself included), it can really be boiled down to one simple thing: selfishness.

I'll tell you right now, it is truly remarkable how much Happy Christmas seemed to highlight the personal lowlights of last week's holiday festivities. Sure, it's not a carbon-copy of what happened with our brood, but damned if it didn't feel close. Really, really close.

Jeff and Kelley are preparing for Christmas with their young son Jude, when Jeff's younger sister Jenny shows up from out of town. Jenny (an intentionally annoying Anna Kendrick) is moving in, and the plan is that she'll be able to help out by watching the kid. Lucky her, she even gets to move into their sweet ass basement bar, a room Jeff rarely, if ever, uses. 

Her first night home, Jenny heads out with her friend, Carson, to some sort of hipster party where she gets impossibly trashed. Jenny's so far gone that her friend can't even rouse her, and Carson ultimately has to wake Jeff to come and carry her home. While it's really embarrassing for everyone involved, it's a good thing that it'll never happen again. Promise.

The next day, Jenny sleeps through her prearranged babysitting gig, and wakes to find family friend Kevin (Mark Webber) watching young Jude instead. This guy should probably turn and run in the other direction, but being that Jenny is kind of hot, well, you can only assume what he does next. You can also probably guess how it will turn out, too.

From there, like any holiday reunion with family, it's a roller-coaster of highs and lows, lightly sprinkled with substance abuse and misguided bonding. Oh, and it ends on a down note, further adding to its authenticity. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

I don't know what it is, but it's not bird.

They’re everywhere. In fact, their numbers seem to be steadily climbing.

As a kid, it was incredibly difficult to avoid them. In fact, I was the poor bastard that was usually trotted out as a last resort. One of those sacrificial lambs encouraged (that should read forced) to just have some fun and give them a chance.

You’d think that I would have learned my lesson by the time I reached adulthood. You’d think I’d never again willingly spend another moment, not even a second, with another loud-mouthed, ignorant jerk.

You’d think.

I'm not going to lie. I love that shirt.
Tammy was actually worse than I expected. And I expected bad.  I was thinking charmingly bad, but this is just bad bad. Melissa McCarthy, for me, is on the clock. Time is running out on her once-amusing shtick.

Presented as a comedy, Tammy might actually be more at home being labeled a drama (if not an outright horror film). Tammy, after getting fired from a fast-food joint, comes home to find her husband is having an affair with a neighbor. She storms out, and along with her grandmother (an intermittently affable Susan Surandon), hits the road in an effort to deal with her crumbling personal life. Hijinks ensue, curse words are uttered, but damned if I didn’t care about any of it.

While I appreciate that this flick was a joint effort between McCarthy and her husband, first-time director Ben Falcone, that fun fact doesn’t trump how overwhlmingly abysmal this film is. I laughed a few times, and shockingly – my wife watched the whole thing – but it’s still such an uneven mess. Maybe it could have worked as an unrelentingly crude comedy (like The Heat, for example), or perhaps as a more straightforward drama with occasional funny bits (there are some valid themes worth exploring), but the final product is an unholy mix of terrible jokes and lame attempts at saying something. When the heavy moments come, they feel out of place and ridiculous.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

This moment is a pearl.

It's kind of embarrassing now, but when I first started dating my wife...well...there was this song. It was the first track on the CD (which I had to connect through a f--king cassette adapter [yes kids, that was a thing]) and I would play it as soon as I got in the car after spending hours enchanted with her. As much as I didn't want to leave, I was secretly thrilled because I was taking the first steps to seeing her again. I would play this song - as loud as I could get it - and basically f--king soar the half mile back to my off campus apartment. We were just starting out (this is pre-everything), and this was that time when my love for her literally consumed every waking thought I could muster. And that song? Well... was the soundtrack.

The relationship between music and love, love and music (however you want to put it), has been depicted in movies a million times, a million ways. But never has it resonated with me as strongly as in director John Carney's Begin Again. Like that song that brings me back to one of the happiest times in my life, Begin Again is a film I could experience over and over. For me, it was just about perfect.

Though it's set in an extremely contemporary New York City, Begin Again basks in a timelessness. Taking nods from one of my favorite movies ever (It's not Jerry Maguire), this film tells the story of a once-successful executive abruptly fired from a company he started. It seems time has passed Dan by (a brilliantly charming Mark Ruffalo), and while the music industry has changed, he hasn't. He insists he still has it what it takes, even if no one really believes (in) him. Initially, I didn't either.

Meanwhile, twenty-something year old Gretta (the understatedly luminous Keira Knightley), fresh off a devastating breakup, decides she wants to leave NYC and head back to the U.K. She dabbles in singing and songwriting, and it's fitting that her last act in the city finds her performing one of her own songs to a room full of uninterested New Yorkers. Her man has rejected her, and the city is about to do the same. The song ends, and outside of her supportive friend clapping like an idiot, it's all coughing and clinking glasses.

Well...except for this one scruffy, half-cocked older gent. He thinks she's incredible.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Let it be no more.

Possibly to the detriment of increased readership, I always start my posts with a personal story. Usually it's very loosely related to the film or its themes, or sometimes, just an incident from my unspectacular life that I was reminded of while watching. But as I'm just north of my four-hundredth post, these introductory paragraphs are getting harder and harder to come up with. Soon, I'm afraid, I'm going to have to dust off some already published stories and reimagine them. Maybe tell you the dreaded untold story...

I'll tell you right now, outside of spending an hour and a half with the impossibly sexy Angelina Jolie, Maleficent simply isn't my kind of film. Yeah, I've said it before, I'll watch anything, but I never said I'd enjoy doing so. And while Disney's latest live-action version of a beloved classic doesn't unseat Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland as biggest turd ever, it further cements the fact that these flicks simply ain't for me. With or without Lara Croft.

Let me be clear: this isn't a bad movie. Not offensively so, anyway. It's just that outside of an enchanting Angelina Jolie, for me, there wasn't much else to care about. The effects are nice, sure, and the script somewhat clever. Hell, I even liked the supporting cast, too. But for a guy clearly outside the target demographic, I simply didn't give a damn about any of it. In fact, I rented it for my wife (and my aforementioned unrequited love of Mrs. Brad Pitt), and that crazy bitch fell asleep before Jolie made an appearance. Just  kidding. She's not crazy...

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Nobody cares about you.

I think it was freshman year.
I want to say it was the spring term.1998.
From room to room, at least in the guy's section, an unmarked VHS tape was being circulated. We didn't get much heads up (our room was in a co-ed hallway [which totally had its perks]), but when it arrived, everybody immediately stopped what they were doing. Every guy in that room knew, we are witnessing history. This was our moon landing. But instead of Neil Armstong and Buzz Aldrin? Well...

We had Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee. On a boat.

Speaking of ultimately disappointing movies where people film themselves f--king, let's add July's Sex Tape to the list. While the original sex tape was really only about Tommy Lee's massive johnson, director Jake Kasdan's flick is marginally more complicated. Okay, not really, but at least they held the camera steady.

Jason Segel plays, well,  Jay, some sort of radio station guy, who just so happens to pass out iPads as presents. Apparently, Jay can turn out a hell of playlist, and he routinely (and remotely) updates his lists all the time. It's truly the gift that keeps on giving. Yes, it's that old story/the weirdest Apple commercial ever.

One night, after realizing their lovelife is lacking, Jay's wife, Annie (the still super-hot Cameron Diaz) suggests that they make a sex tape. Of course Jay's down for this, and fully agrees to delete it after the marathon f--ksession has ended. Surprising no one, he doesn't, and when Jay's iPad syncs, his framily now has access to some kinky shit. What ever will they do?

(SPOILER ALERT: He doesn't just delete it from his account, thereby allowing all the other Best Live Short nominees to breathe a little easier this March).

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Welcome to Nerd School.

I'm hooked on drugs. All of them.

I got my girlfriend pregnant. It's going to be a boy. And two girls.

Or worse, I'm going to go to a small, liberal arts college. Just like you did. And I'm going to major in Communications.

There are a lot of things I hope my son never says, but possibly even more troubling, is this one phrase he keeps repeating. In his tiny, five year-old voice, my son Matthew (on more than one occasion) has said the following phrase out loud:

Dad. I don't like watching movies. 

Whose kid is this?

Where the Turtles [review] failed miserably, and even Rocket and Groot [review] couldn't swing it, Hiro and Baymax finally triumphed. After months away, I finally, finally!, convinced my son to come to the movies with me. And while just having him next to me was the true victory, Disney's latest just so happens to be an excellent film.

Big Hero 6, from directors Don Hall and Chris Williams, may not sit at the top of the studios all-time list, but leaving the theater that day? Well, I might have had it pretty high up there. A surprisingly touching testament to science and family (not necessarily in that order), it's safe to say that this one has something for everyone. In fact, I would love to see it again. Now.

Set in the breath-taking city of San Fransokyo, Big Hero 6 is the story of Hiro Hamada, an incredibly bright kid who spends his time designing robots to battle in back-alley battles. He's good, and being that he's so young - it's an easy hustle. But after narrowly escaping arrest one night (with the help of his older brother), it's time young Hiro actually applies his skills to something more productive. Tadashi, the aforementioned sibling, takes him to the robotics lab he works in, and after meeting a slew of people just like him, Hiro's hooked.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thank you for bringing it to me.

There's this guy that's been hanging around L.A. for awhile - doing his thing, for sure, but not really getting recognized for it. He's a hard worker, and certainly committed to his work, but between you and me, I'm not sure you can really trust him. As much as admire him - he scares me. I mean, he's willing to do just about anything to make a living.

F--king anything, really. 
Usually with a camera rolling nearby.

As much as I'm talking about Louis Bloom, the protagonist in Nightcrawler, I might as well be talking about the masterful actor bringing him to life, Jake Gyllenhaal. Because as intense and entertainingly brilliant as this film is, every single ounce of that comes from Gyllenhaal's mere presence. I'm telling you, this performance is magic. F--king black magic at that, as this one will haunt you.

Nightcrawler is set in Los Angeles, but coming from a guy who has never lived there, it might as well be Los Angeles. Set primarily at night, Dan Gilroy's film tells the sordid tale of a mysterious loner simply trying to make it. He's come to the city with dreams, possibly even big ones, but when we meet Louis, he's selling chain link fence and stolen manhole covers. Katy Perry and her whipped-cream titties this a'int.

Louis is really weird, though strange (as f--kmay be the better word. But somehow, he's oddly honorable, too. He needs a job and presents himself as someone who can work hard and learn quickly. And even though he's impossibly awkward and all kinds of creepy...we believe him. Hell...we might even like him.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Salsa. Why did it have to be salsa?

I don't dance. Like, ever.

Fine. Maybe a little bit at my wedding, and sometimes with the kids, but overall? No. 

It's likely a coordination thing, combined with a complete lack of rhythm that's the culprit. But let's be honest, the real reason I'm not out there shaking my ass like a madman? Confidence.

(Did I mention I don't drink, either?)

Also lacking confidence is Bruce Garrett, the main character in this year's Cuban Fury. Played by one of my favorite people alive -Nick Frost- Bruce has plenty of the aforementioned coordination and rhythm, sure. But after getting his ass kicked moments before a dance competition as a kid, the thirty-something year old has grown into an incredibly timid man. His dancing days are in the past, as Bruce tells himself that he won't dance again.

Like, ever.

If only there was a way to reignite his passion? 

Oh, wait. I got it. How about the only reason a man ever steps foot on to a dance floor in the first place? Yep, you guessed it: a beautiful woman. And in Cuban Fury, she's played by the lovely Rashida Jones. 

There's no need to tell you the plot, as I'm quite positive you've seen this movie before. Someone stops doing what they love, after tragic events in their past, only to be forced back into it years later. It could be anything really, but here, obviously, it's dancing. Competitive dancing, actually. Of the salsa variety.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Yeah...I kind of enjoyed that.

Many years ago, there was a man. A mysterious individual, capable of doing amazing things that not everyone would have been proud of. In fact, his accomplishments turned many people away in disgust.

When you heard anyone say his name, you knew exactly whom they were speaking of. You didn't have to search your memory, you never confused him with someone else. In fact, just hearing his name, you were compelled, every single time, to utter the same one syllable word in a tone that suggested a sense of baffled amazement.

That man? Keanu Reeves. That word? I won't insult your intelligence.

Now, right now, there is another mysterious man capable of amazing things, but his name is f--king John Wick. And when you hear his name, and you hear what he's done, the only thing you utter is Oh. Because in this insanely kickass film from directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, that's all you've got time for. John's coming. And he's going to f--king kill you.

He sure as shit killed me.

I think it's safe to say that we all love a good revenge flick. And when those about to be revenged are some first-rate pieces of shit? Well it's even better. Here? It's borderline delightful. Sure we love John, but holy shit do we hate the people he's going to kill. Because not only did they steal his car and knock John around, but (and you know it's coming)...they killed his dog.

I'm not going to lie to you, even knowing that it was going to happen, I was still f--king devastated when the moment finally comes. It's so excruciating (and surprisingly touching) that I instantly wanted blood, too. John, after the death of his lovely wife, is given this adorable little dog to take care of, and the moment Daisy (aww) is gone, it's all too clear that he has nothing left. Absolutely nothing left. While he had desperately (and damn near literally) buried his previously unsavory life, he is forced back into it. He doesn't want to do it, and doesn't even take any joy in it, it's simply what must be done.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tonight we came for a bloodbath.

My eighth graders keep telling me this same story, again and again, over and over. And no matter the kid telling me, it starts the same way:

Well, on Facebook, it said...

It's at this moment, that tiny fragments of my soul harden, and I'm forced to pass them like a kidney stone. At least that's what it feels like. Anyway, the most recent story that they've been constantly referring to, just in case the ultra-reputable social media hub has, you know, more than one, is about someone coming back to life after supposedly dying from Ebola. This news essentially confirming what these thirteen year-olds have known all their lives: zombies are real.

I shake my head, imaging that ten years from now, Facebook will actually be a legit news source, with anchors, reporters and the like. But it will be so reputable, that future middle schoolers will shun it altogether, and turn to another online juggernaut for accounts of true events.

Well, on Netflix, it said...

...that zombies are real. And according to 2009's The Horde - they are. And they're not the slow-moving, shambling air-biters of previous zombie flicks, either. Oh no. The only thing these bitches do faster than run, is devour people. And in some shitty, rundown French ghetto, said people are one of two things: cops or criminals.

The idea of being trapped in a building during a mysterious (zombie) outbreak isn't anything new. But the fact that the survivors, who minutes prior were actually trying to kill each other, now have to work together? Well, that adds a nice twist. Throw in some silly violence and an ass-kicking fat man, and you've got yourself a party. Just not a very good one.

The poster likely tells you everything you need to know, as The Horde isn't really trying to be anything more than average horror fare. I will give it an enthusiastic high-five for pace and ridiculousness, however, as each of those are off the charts. Oh, and it kind of starts out rather serious, too, which was a nice touch for a minute. But then a dead guy emerges from the shitter and gets shot...somewhere in the neighborhood of ten thousand times and all bets were off.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Perfect. Now the geeks are in charge.

Raise your hand when you hear the tone, okay?

I was probably in fifth or sixth grade when I took my last hearing test, but I'll never forget it (neither will my family, as I repeat this story all the time). The woman was going through what I'm sure was standard test protocol right up until the very end. The last time I raised my hand, she looked at me in disbelief. You heard that? No one ever hears the last one! 

Apparently, I had a gift. I could hear just about anything. Well, as long as it was alive.

ParaNorman, from the stop-motion wizards that brought us Coraline (and that are currently bringing us The Boxtrolls), tells the tale of a rather unspectacular kid named Norman. This kid, your seemingly average middle-schooler, just so happens to be blessed/cursed with his own special power: the ability to communicate with the dead.

It's never the popular kid that has the gift, no, it's always the lovable goofball, and trust me, Norman is no different. While he's awesomely fascinated by creepy stuff and horror flicks, his family would unsurprisingly prefer he never mention his gift and just be normal. But when a three-hundred year old curse is unleashed upon Norman's macabre town, guess who's going to come up huge? Yep, you nailed it: Norman's chubby friend Neil.

Okay, that's not really what happens, but as is the case with most family flicks, you can see the resolution coming a mile away. But while the outcome may not surprise you, some of the content will. Turns out, ol' m. brown ain't the sharpest tool in the shed. He sat the family down to what he thought would be a quirky Halloween-ish good time. Um, about that...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Ten Best Superhero Movies of All Time RELAY

Brittani, over at the brilliant Rambling Film, has (likely inadvertently) passed me the baton in yet another ass-kicking relay. There have been a few relays going around before, The Top Ten Film Icons, the Top Ten Influential Directors, not too mention a whole slew of others I wasn't included in. Today, I trade in my wrinkled khakis and dry-erase markers for neon spandex and computer that only I can turn on.

I present to you the 10 Best Superhero Movies of All Time Relay, courtesy of my own personal hero, Bubbawheat, of Flights, Tights and Movie Nights.

Here are the rules, as stolen from Brittani:

1. The list of movies will be passed to another blogger who will post their list within a week.

2. The blogger will take their list, remove 3 movies – with explanations, and replace with 3 new movies – with explanations.

3. If a movie lasts five rounds without being removed, it becomes locked in; it is permanent and can no longer be removed from the list.

4. If a movie is removed three different times, it is locked out and can no longer be put back onto the list by someone else.

5. Once four movies are locked into place, bloggers will replace 2 movies.

6. Once eight movies are locked into place, bloggers will replace 1 movie.

7. Once all ten movies are locked into place, the relay will be complete.

Got all that? Me neither. No, actually it makes perfect sense, but I fully lost track of who did what, when and how many times (Bubbawheat has an awesome word-free version of it all, actually). That said, here is my entry:

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Amazing Amy has always been one step ahead of me.

Look around your house. If you're not home, it may be as simple as glancing at your phone. We surround ourselves with things that we love, things that define who we are, then as time passes, we replace them with something else. Or, simply forget about them all together and move on. Within an arm's reach I have at least a half dozen things I once completely adored, and now am relatively indifferent to. In fact, the laptop I'm using at this moment used to be immaculate and doted over. Now? It irritates me just thinking about it. If only I could trade it in for a newer model, you know?

I mean, it's not like it would get upset and try to f--king ruin my life.

Maybe it's a stretch, but the way we treat our things may in fact mirror the way we treat each other. We have long become a throwaway society with our stuff, and the argument could be made that we're doing the same with our people and our relationships. Fixing, it seems, is much harder than replacing. Especially if it was defective in the first place.

In David Fincher's Gone Girl, based on the novel by Gillian Flynn, married couple Nick and Amy appear to be broken. Well, they would look that way, if Amy wasn't missing (literally) of course.

Initially Nick, played with a solemn swagger by Ben Affleck, is upset about his wife's disappearance, but maybe not as much as he should be. Taking anything presented in this film at face value, however, is clearly a mistake, and careful consideration should be given to any living thing on the screen. Well, outside of the cat. You could trust that pussy.

And while I'm sure that you fully know what happened in the book (or movie) by now, I'm not going to say anything else, at least not up here. The Yays and Boos will probably ruin everything, but let's be honest. That's kind of what they do.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

I will dance with the Golden Toad.

Maybe this is a guy thing, but probably a dozen times in my life, I've found myself trapped in a certain conversation that makes me want to immediately scream and/or kill myself. It goes like this:

Guy 1: Would you __________________ for $__________ ?
Me: No.
Guy 1: How about for $ ___________?
Me: No.
Guy 2: Shit, I'd do it for free!
Guy 1 and Guy 2: (laugh hysterically)
Me: (cries inside)

For the record, Guy 1 is almost always talking about having sex with the most unattractive female at work. And yes, Guy 1 is almost always a dickhead. Same with Guy 2.

13 Sins, a remake of a Thai flick called 13: Game of Death, is the extreme version of this conversation. Maybe that's oversimplifying it (and replace all the sex talk with general mayhem), but the short version goes something like this:

A decidedly desperate man answers his cell phone one day, and is immediately thrust into some ancient game of f--kery. If he completes the task that the mysterious caller presents - he gets paid. But if he fails, quits, or - wait for it- mentions the game to anyone, he gets nothing. If only I could remember how many of these zany tasks he has to do...

13 Sins isn't particularly great, but as my first horror movie of the month, it was a nice way to get my feet wet. Mark Webber plays protagonist Elliot as a nice-enough guy, simply in over his head. While the performance feels honest enough at first, it's actually Elliot's motivation(s) that make the whole thing veer into lunacy. Remember, Elliot needs money, so of course he's going to press on, right? Right. But, it might be enough that his fiancee's pregnant, you know? That might be all the motivation we need to buy into his plight. Should we add the fact that tonight is his wedding reception? Or the fact that he just lost his job because he's a pussy (I'm not joking), and now can't afford for the care of his special needs younger brother? Oh, and that his dad is a complete asshole and now has to move in with the newlyweds? Because between you and me, this is sounding a little ridiculous. I can't believe a horror movie went overboard! Well, I never...

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Do you think I enjoy this?

When I was little, I was obsessed with ancient Ancient Greece. Obsessed. And that was before my dad took me to Athens. As I got older, I shirked such scholarly endeavors and became enamored with action movies - the more violent the better. That's all I wanted to watch. Then, as my voice got marginally deeper, and when my bloodlust was (momentarily) quenched, women became all I thought about. Beautiful, mysterious (and um, let's be honest - buxom) creatures that captured my attention and imagination to such a degree, it negated all my other interests entirely. Well, except for movies.

Because, with the cinema, I could have all three. At the same time. 

300: Rise of an Empire isn't a great movie by any stretch, but damned if it isn't a good time. While that good time comes mainly in the form of buckets full of red blood and cups full of Green Eva, I had a solid time with this unnecessary sequel. The original 300 may be a better film, but this one excels in its simplicity. From start to finish, it's one thing, and one thing only: f--king chaotic.

I don't really recall the first flick all that well, as the last time I saw it (all the way through) was eight years ago. Luckily, Rise provides enough explanation of the events to get everyone up to speed.

Apparently, Leonidas' death at the end of 300 has given the Persians the belief that they can take Athens now, too. Turns out, that whole conflict was started by a Greek hombre named Themistocles (some dude named Sullivan Stapleton), who just happened to kill the Persian king. Now, ten years later, the king's son is back and seeking further vengeance. The son is Xerxes, the prettiest man alive (and villain of the first flick), who already decimated the Spartans and is coming for Themistocles and his band of merry men. Did you get all that? Me neither.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Making bad decisions is nothing new to me.

Communication Arts. That's what the adults call the class I've spent my career teaching (I'm sure the kids have another way of putting it). For me, it's simply a class about words. Carefully chosen words, at that. And while it feels like I spend the majority of my time and effort on poorly chosen ones instead, there's a time of year where students genuinely make make me happy, no - ecstatic, halcyonic or perhaps even cock-a-hoop to be a teacher: The National Spelling Bee. While it doesn't hurt that the Bee is in the last two weeks of the school year (ah, the glory of late-May), what I really love is the fact that for a few days out of the year smart kids are celebrated. 

I almost wish I could join in.

Bad Words, the directorial debut of Jason Bateman, tells the story of a 40 year-old man doing just that - competing in the National Spelling Bee. While my adoration of the Bee comes from smart kids doing smart things (the exception in these parts), Bateman's Guy Trilby is motivated by something far less noble. He wants to f--king win it. F--k kids. All of them.

While the blunt, obscenity-laden tirades provide much of the comedy early on, this aspect of the film seems a little derivative, honestly. It's not to say that it doesn't work (I might have shed a tear or two laughing), it just felt like Bateman was more often than not channeling his inner Melissa McCarthy (his co-star from the vastly inferior Identity Thief [review]).And judging by how her last film fared, mentioning her shtick may be quite the deal-breaker.

Fear not, as any missteps in the naughty bits are completely forgivable due to the relationship Guy develops with one his competitors, Bee-favorite Chaitanya Chopra (played by the adorably badass Rohan Chand). The chemistry between the free-wheeling a-hole Guy and the infinitely curious kid, was easily my favorite part of the film.Guy, by being the worst adult on the planet, ends up teaching the kid there's more to life than studying and doing what Dad says (part of this lesson involves a big-tittied hooker, naturally). And in return, Chaitanya shows Guy that being a rotten f--ker isn't his only option. Wait, what?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

You and I are like rain-proofing on a wooden deck. Finished.

I don't know if love is the right word anymore, but I really, really like Saturday Night Live. Maybe even, you know, more than a friend. The nineties were when it really started for me, as Sandler, Farley, Myers, Hartman and the rest solidified my long-term commitment to the show, for better or worse, till death do us part. And if you've watched as much SNL as I have, you know that something happens at about the forty-minute mark (maybe after Weekend Update) of the show. Things generally get pretty f--king weird.

They Came Together, starring SNL alum Amy Poehler and show-regular Paul Rudd, is the film embodiment of that stretch where SNL transitions from somewhat straightforward comedy to batshit absurdity. Being that this one comes to us from director David Wain that may not surprise you, but it also may not interest you, either.

From the outset, They Came Together looks to take the piss out of the entire romantic comedy genre. Loosely based on You've Got Mail, this flick tells the familiar tale of two seemingly opposite New Yorkers (of course), who, despite their overwhelming (-ly cliched) differences, end up falling in love. Aww. While that setup would be a kick in the sack of originality in any other movie, here it's the perfect setup for satire. Very bizarre satire.

If you often find that an endless amount of thoroughly random jokes (delivered by an endless amount of thoroughly random actors) is your cup of tea, trust me, you'll have a blast with this one. But if you're looking for something a little more straightforward to watch with your better half, best to keep it moving.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

This one shows spirit.

I'm sure you've heard what they've been saying now that it's over: it was a huge gamble! It shouldn't have worked out as well as it did. And while they were talking about the movie we saw, in fact, they might as well have been talking about my wife and I seeing it. Together. Because, let me tell you, for the first fifteen minutes? I thought I made a terrible, terrible decision.

My wife loathes sci-fi, and isn't even borderline interested in the Marvel Universe, but she loved Guardians of the Galaxy. And even though I'm three weeks out from having seen it (new job = imminent death of Two Dollar Cinema), I still consider it one of the most entertaining movies of 2014, and (tiny, adorable raccoon) hands down the best movie of the summer. There isn't a doubt in my mind.

Back in the begnining of August, I thought the early word/fanboy boners would steer me wrong, or at least make it impossible for Marvel's latest to live up to the hype, but that word (and those um, boners) was/were spot on. While the easy answer to Guardians success is to say that everything just works, I think what I loved most about it was the fact that it didn't take itself too seriously. And by that I mean that it's f--king hysterical. 

Most of the laughs come from the brilliantly-cast Chris Pratt as Starlord/Peter, but Riley Cooper's work as Rocket Raccoon consistently killed me. Rocket is such a dick in the best possible way that it still makes me smile. His insistence on various body parts being essential to the plan still cracks me up. I need his prosthetic leg.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

I'm a hard guy to impress.

He loves the show. Absolutely loves it.
Loves the toys, too. Just got a bunch for his fifth birthday, in fact.

So I couldn't believe it when he said, rather emphatically, he didn't want to see the movie. There are few things I can recall him ever being so passionate about. It even got to the point where he said, You can go, Dad. I'll wait in the car, okay? Eventually he copped to being scared of them, but you know what? Maybe he just knew that the movie wasn't for him. Or me.

Or anyone?

Thanks for the offer, but my hands aren't going anywhere near your staff.
That might be a bit harsh, but seeing the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, without my son, was a bit of a letdown. Even with fairly low expectations. That actually should be considered shocking, though, as just about every single thing in the movie works for the most part. Except for one thing: the turtles.

Yeah, it's not so much Megan Fox being miscast as April O'Neil, the fact that Foot Clan aren't even ninjas (more like volunteer terrorists), or even that Splinter is impossibly horrifying to look at. No, the main problem with this film lies squarely on the shoulders on the man or woman who decided that the turtles should look like deformed pirates on steroids. Green deformed pirates on steroids.

Anyway, if you can manage to look beyond the creepy character design, everything else is serviceable enough. When the turtles actually show up, they kick just enough PG-13 butt to entertain boys (and probably not girls) under the age of ten. Unfortunately, I have the mentality of someone at least three years older than that, so I was left wanting more. More of what, I'm unsure. Though, a little Casey Jones would've been appreciated.

Right now, I sorry I speak English.

I've been reading Life of Pi for probably over a year now, in between other books, and it's becoming increasingly clear that I wouldn't last a minute adrift at sea. In fact, the last section I read went into great detail about eating fresh tiger feces (he catches it from a squatting Richard Parker) and I just shut down my Kindle, folded my arms, and shook my head for a solid five minutes. I mean, being out at sea for months is bad enough, but when the highlight of your day is a tasteless little shit? Well, that's where I draw the line.

As my last film for Fisti's Twice a Best Actor series, 1937's Captains Courageous wasn't my cup of tea. Sure, Tracy was engaging enough as the Portuguese Mr. Miyagi, Manuel. But even his charm and goofy accent couldn't rise above how much I hated the kid, a scene-devouring Freddie Batholomew.

Victor Fleming's Captains Courageous (based on Kipling's novel) tells the tale of a little rich bastard, Harvey, who is essentially the worst kid on the planet. After some nonsense at school, it appears that Harvey's rich father needs to spend time with his a-hole kid, and decides to take him on a business trip to Europe, via a luxurious passenger ship. Harvey, ever the f--ker, eats too much ice cream and falls off the damn boat. 

But instead of being eaten by a tornado full of sharks as I was desperately hoping, Harvey is rescued by a fishing boat. There, he meets Manuel, the most wise and handsome Portuguese man this side of Cristiano Ronaldo. Though Manuel teaches Harvey nothing of bicycle kicks and slide tackles, he teaches the kid just about everything else in life. And by doing so, becomes the father that Harvey needed so badly. Aww.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

I'm a bit lost, really.

If there's one thing you should never do when you're tired, we all know it's operate heavy machinery, right? Right. It almost goes without saying. I mean, you could really hurt yourself driving a forklift on two hours sleep. F--king lose an eye, or a toe or something.

Recently, I found something else you should never, ever do half-asleep. Luckily, the only thing I lost was my bones. All of them. Oh, and my f--king mind.

Honestly, I didn't have a f--king clue what Under the Skin was about before (or after, sadly) I 'watched' it. Deafened by the buzz, I had stayed away from anything resembling a review and went in totally blind. And exhausted, apparently, as I found myself routinely making those gasping noises one makes when their head -mouth wide open- snaps back into place after a seconds-long coma. Obviously it's no way to watch any movie, but I'm telling you, it makes this one literally impossible. I probably had a better chance of being invited to Brad and Angelina's wedding then ever making it through this um, experiment film.

Days after, I had checked out a review that Sati at cinematic corner. linked to (it was Angela's review at Cinema 13), and at last got some clarification. Had I not read that, this post simply would have been random letters and numbers as I would have likely typed it exclusively with my tear-strewn face.

Anyway, according to Angela, this movie is about an alien. A fairly hot alien, that is (even if a little dirty, and dressed like a Romanian hooker), who drives around in a van, luring men into some sort of death trap. If you can call an infinite ocean of black goo a death trap. Anyway, this chick is pretty content at devouring the random douche from the club, until one day she sees something that sort of derails the mission. Apparently, she develops a bit of humanity and everything is knocked on its sexy ass. Again, this is my poorly written version of a much more elegant post.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

There is no such thing as a bad boy.

It was so long ago that I don't even remember what we were talking about, buy I vividly recall my dad asking me something that has stuck with me since the moment he said it. He asked me, his index finger bobbing up and down as he did, Do you think there's more good in the world, or evil? Without hesitation, a young m.brown replied, Good, obviously.

He shook his head. If there was more good in the world, we could do away with the evil. There's equal parts of both. It's a balance. I nodded, because that's what I do when I agree (or more likely, have no f--king clue what to say next). If that's really the case, if such a balance really does exist, then in 1930's Nebraska? Well, there must have been some bad ass motherf--kers. 

Turns out, there was. About five hundred of them.

In 1938's Boys Town, Spencer Tracy plays Father Flanagan, quite possibly the goodest person ever to walk the planet. Fine, goodest isn't a real word, but Father Flanagan as portrayed by Tracy, appears to be the most agreeable, compassionate and understanding man alive. And even more impressive? He never wavers. Not once. 

Boys Town, (loosely?) based on a true story, details the lengths that Father Flanagan went to in creating a place for wayward, well, boys. Initially starting with a half-dozen troublemakers, eventually Flanagan builds a facility/compound housing nearly a hundred times that. Along the way we see ol' Padre use the powers of persuasion to convert many a non-believer. I'm talking adults - investors, and the like, not the kids. 'Cause the boys? They fall in line real fast, see. 

One day, however, trouble blows into the idyllic Town, as Whitey Marsh (an irritating Mickey Rooney, all of 18 years old) struts in, laughing in the face of Father Flanagan's laid-back approach. Whitey, without a doubt, is a real f--ker, Hell bent on destroying every single thing that Flanagan has built, not to mention being a real dick to every kid at the place. In fact, he's such a little shit, I was actually rooting against his inevitable change of heart, even if it made for a real sappy happy ending.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

This is the essence of discrimination.

Last week, I was on the West Coast for the first time in almost twenty years. At dinner on our final night, I saw this sign on my way into the bathroom:

Now, living in the small mid-Atlantic town (/Hellhole) that I do, I'd never seen anything like that before. In fact, it kind of took me by surprise. Not only because of my own ignorance on the topic (I'd honestly never even considered this was an issue), but that a place of business would be cool enough to make it policy. 

I've been home now for almost a week, and it has occurred to me that there are likely dozens, maybe even hundreds of groups that face persecution, that well-meaning (though uninformed) people such as myself know nothing about. We don't know their struggles, and know nothing of what it's like to walk a mile in their shoes. If only mainstream cinema could help.

Please don't think I'm making light of the socially aware movie, because I think that if done properly, they can make a difference.

I was too young to gauge the importance and social relevance of 1993's Philadelphia at the time of its release (I was 14), but seeing it for the first time recently, I feel it's safe to say that it mattered. Watching Tom Hanks (as Andrew Beckett) deteriorate firsthand while battling not only AIDS but the stigma that comes with it, must have opened eyes. Now, however, it almost feels dated, if not altogether primitive, to see the open persecution of a regular guy simply because he's gay.

Actually, Beckett was more than a regular guy, in fact, he was a damn fine employee. But when an older partner at the law firm where he works notices a lesion on his forehead, people begin to talk. Eventually, Beckett is terminated, not because of his lifestyle or illness (officially, anyway), but due to incompetence. Well, manufactured incompetence, actually. And after trying eight other lawyers to take his wrongful-termination case, Beckett turns to an old rival, Joe "the TV Guy" Miller, played by Denzel Washington. Miller is privately disgusted by homosexuals, but takes the case after seeing Beckett chastised in a local library. From there, it's a heavy dose of courtroom drama, liberally sprinkled with a clear social agenda: to thoughtfully portray the lives of people living (and dying) with AIDS in America.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Don't just stand there. Kill someone!

I hadn't been to the theater in a while, so I was willing to see just about anything. But, there were some stipulations...

I wanted to see a character, known only by a single name, wow me with feats no regular person could ever accomplish. I wanted this person to be attractive, with wavy hair and a massive chest. And I wanted them to lay waste to countless, faceless adversaries.

Turns out, I had two choices.

Being that I'm an average schmuck who only uses 10% of his brain capacity, I was unable to slow time and make it to Luc Besson's latest, Lucy. Instead, I ended up at Brett Ratner's Hercules, somewhat bummed, but still happy to be at the theater.

A mostly exposed (female) breast later, mixed in with some early action scenes, and I was feeling a little bit better about paying seven bucks to see this one in the first place (the preview screamed Redbox!). Throw in The Rock and a pretty badass crew of sidekicks, and this year's second Hercules flick actually rounded into a solid PG-13 adventure. Yes, it's goofy, and probably completely unnecessary, but with Dwayne Johnson (and Ian McShane!) kicking droves of ass, you can't really hate it. Okay, you can, but still. Don't be such a dick.

Honestly, I don't think I knew anything about Hercules, other than that he was a strong dude in ancient Greece, but I actually enjoyed the legend as told here. Hercules, as big and badass as he is, is simply a regular dude. In fact, all the heroic feats he's accomplished have been with the help of a ragtag crew of ass-kicking outcasts, in debt to Herc for whatever reason. They like the myth though, as it will only encourage enemies to give up quicker. And then, Hercules and his crew can get paid and call it a life.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

How's that supposed to make me feel?

I worked in a hotel for years. Years. Specifically, I worked at a restaurant on the grounds, that had a beach on one side and a dolphin lagoon on the other. One night, minutes before closing, this family sits in my section and the mom dramatically waves me over.

Are you still open?

Um, (I look at the bartender who's formed his hands into a pistol and is aiming it at his own head) well...(I look at the lone cook and he's calmly pointing his largest knife at me out of his tiny service window) yeah. We're still open.

Good. Now listen up.

She begins to tell me how her children have some condition or something, and as a result, everything must be burned. Hot dog? Burn it. Bun, too. Put the fries in the deep fryer as long as you can, take them out, and do it again.

Let me tell you something, dear reader. The only thing worse than entering a restaurant minutes before closing, is asking for every single item in your meal to be well done. But as an indentured servant server at major hotel, my job was to make you happy. The way I saw it, maybe I'd get 15%, maybe you'd put me in your will. Oh, what? My request is ridiculous?

In The Grand Budapest Hotel, writer/director Wes Anderson's latest, ridiculous requests are the norm, and each seems to set off a seemingly endless cavalcade of bizarre people doing bizarre things. While that's generally my cup of herbal tea with the teabag on the side and a thimble full of fresh honey, I'm going to be completely honest with you when I say that it didn't really work for me. Almost at all. I consider myself an ardent Wes Anderson supporter, and with Grand Budapest his trademark quirk lost eventually lost its appeal. Instead of laughing out loud as I had anticipated, I found myself merely smiling politely.

It's not all bad, so please, fellow Anderson defenders, chill the f--k out, okay? Put the meticulously crafted knickknack down and go back to your hardcover book. I didn't hate the movie. I just think that the style finally caught and killed the substance, and it was a bloodbath. But an entertaining one nonetheless.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Maybe he could sing, but he couldn't fly.

Thanks to Fisti inviting me to participate in his Twice a Best Actor project, I've been watching a lot of classic movies - which is something I rarely do. But prior to accepting, I hesitated because I felt completely out of my element. I knew I'd be exposed for the idiot, at least in cinematic terms, I am.

And while I'm sure that's the case anyway, I've settled in and seen some fantastic performances in some fantastic films. Recently, we covered Marlon Brando's two wins, and I was excited to revisit The Godfather again (I'd only seen it once prior). After that, I  told a friend, I'm gonna watch that Brando movie with one of the most famous lines ever! Oh yeah. What line? Hey, Stellaaaaaaaaaa!

What's even worse than generally having no idea what I'm talking about, even as I was three-quarters of the way through On the Waterfront, I was still expecting the line. Yes, even though the lead female character's name was clearly not Stella (it's the decidedly un-Stella, Edie), I kept wondering how they were going to pull it off. When it comes to having a working brain, well, it's quite obvious, I coulda been a contender.

Anyway, I enjoyed On the Waterfront, even if I didn't watch it under ideal circumstances (I started it at 1:30 in the morning, after work). The story revolves around Terry, a handsome and likable, do-nothing guy, doing odds and ends for one of the local union heads. One night, he unwittingly sets up one his pals to be murdered by some unsavory individuals, and slowly vows to make that right. Terry isn't the sharpest tool in the shed, but he used to be prizefighter, and the kid's got heart. And with the encouragement of an energetic (and possibly insane) priest, not to mention the affection of the dead guy's beautiful kid sister, Terry's gonna see this through. Even if it could cost him his life to do so.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Something cool!

Last Tuesday, just before the movie started, I got to see the trailer for Dumb and Dumber To for the first time (I don't watch trailers online...ever). It was kind of jarring at first, seeing Lloyd and Harry again twenty years later (you don't even know what kind of kick in the balls that is), but my initial thought was I have to see this. Immediately. But right after Lloyd blew the dust off his hand, I leaned over to my friend and said, mildly irritated, it's the same f--king movie! 

But since I loved the first one so much, my question is, who gives a shit if it's the same old thing? It's those two guys that I love, doing the shit that I love, again.  As far as I'm concerned, why not? 

For 22 Jump Street, I didn't wait decades to see the first movie rehashed, Hell, I'm not even sure I waited a month. So, if anyone should be pissed and hate this movie, it's me, as the original gags and characters were entirely fresh in my mind as I sat down for the sequel. But like a wise man once said (soon to be twice said), when it comes to this movie, I like it a lot.

Maybe it was the lukewarm responses from other (trusted) bloggers that lowered my expectations, or maybe it was the fact that with no one else in the theater, Grunden and I could laugh like a-holes, but I loved 22 Jump Street. And just like the first time, for me, it was all about Channing Tatum and Ice Cube, as almost everything they said (or did) killed me. That's not a knock on Hill, as he's hysterical as always, it's just that Tatum and Cube get to let loose even more, and each guy really delivers.

The plot, as likely everyone involved with this movie (both on and off screen) would tell you, is completely secondary, as it's the same f--king thing as the first time. Instead of infiltrating a high school to break up a drug ring, it's a college. And instead of Hill's performance as Peter Pan, it's Tatum playing football. But outside of those colossal differences, and a bigger budget, this whole endeavor is just another excuse to hang with Schmidt and Jenko again. Oh, and Captain Dickson. I love that motherf--ker.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Thanks. They're actually very informative.

I ran. At the time, I felt like I had no other choice.

I turned my back on a building full of crazy kids, put my head down, and ran. Fast. And for a while it felt good. Real good. But just last week, I got caught. And now they're hauling me back inside. In the nearly ten months since I made my move, I was free. No inherent sadness, no teen desperation. No messed up kids. But here I am again, being led back to a place I thought I'd escaped.

I'm teaching middle school. 


I'm not sure if you're ready for Short Term 12. I know I wasn't. Repeatedly mentioned by the awesome and insightful Brittani over at Rambling Film, I knew I had to see it. And while it's not at all about middle school English, or even school at really, it is about some of those kids I've taught over the years. It's powerful, it's intense and it tapped into every single feeling I've experienced working with 'underprivileged kids'  for the better part of a decade. In short, you'll smile, you'll laugh, but you may never want to experience it again.

Presented in a very drab, very unspectacular way, deliberately of course, Short Term 12 tells the story of what it's like working in a halfway house for troubled youth. It opens with Mason (a charming John Gallagher, Jr.), a goofily handsome counselor happily telling the story of when he shit his pants following a kid who fled the premises. And in under two minutes, this movie had me. Done. Because in that quick scene, I saw the perverse joy and satisfaction that comes from something awful happening to you in a low-pay, high stress job, where literally, you're covered in shit. People don't give their lives to 'horrible' jobs like this because they want to, it's because they have to. They have to help these kids.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

I'd stand up for you, kid, til I drop.

I saw the title first. Damn it. This is going to be boring.
Then I saw the year. Shit. I'll never make it to the end.
Then I saw the runtime. F--k. There is no way in Hell I can finish it.

Then I pushed play.

The Best Years of Our Lives, 1946's 172-minute epic, absolutely floored me by how great it was. Set after World War II, the film tells the story of three very different servicemen all returning to the same small town as each attempts to re-enlist into civilian life. While each character likely could have had their own feature, there's a beauty and charm to how all three tales are woven together. It's a fantastic film, start to finish.

Anchoring the film, is the story of Fred Derry (brilliantly embodied by Dana Andrews), an average guy (minus being a big hunk of heaven) who spent his military career dropping bombs out of airplanes. Fred's come back to a sexy wife but a decidedly unsexy life.Simply put, Fred needs a job. And a drink.

Homer, the youngest of the bunch, is a sailor returning home to his parents house and his love, Wilma, literally the girl next door. Despite sharing names with each half of iconic (television) couples, the reality of their relationship falls vastly short of anything written for the small screen. See, Homer has returned home without either of his hands, and can't get a grip (too soon?) on the idea that anyone could possibly treat him normally, let alone love him. Homer's gonna need some time. And a drink.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

I'll show you what horror means.

If the sun never set, would we all be better people? Not in a logical, scientific way, silly goose. I mean, like, would we all have a nicer, less impulsive and reckless existence? While most of us are sort of operating at a 6 or a 7 when the sun's up, why does nighttime unleash the Kraken? Sure, we drink, fight, kill, and f--k during the day, but multiply it all by nine hundred when the moon's out, right? Is our nighttime self who we really are, or is it simply the break we allow ourselves from the rigidity of the day? With so many unanswered (and stupid) questions, perhaps I should consult a physician...

Trust me, Hyde looks much more menacing in the movie.
This guy just looks like a douche.
In 1931's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the idea of man's dual nature is the catalyst for destruction and mayhem in one of horror's oldest stories. While someone like Dracula is a refined monster of the night, Mr. Hyde is man at his most primitive. He cavorts about aimlessly, looking to start trouble and get laid. He's not quite the irrational monster I imagined him to be (think the Hulk, if he weren't strong and a huge dick), but he's also not as enviable as I thought, either. He's actually a real bastard.

Originally only stemming from an elixir created by the brilliant (and charming) Dr. Jekyll, it doesn't take long for Mr. Hyde to show up whenever he damn well feels like it. And much like anybody with a bad haircut, intense, caveman-like brow and a propensity for wearing capes, there isn't a party he's really welcome at. Eventually he falls for (read: kidnaps) a lovely young woman named Ivy Pearson (the super hot Miriam Hopkins) and ruins her life, and pretty much everyone else's, too. Jekyll claims he can control the beast, but it's going to take more than good intentions to do so.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ape did this.

While this isn't news to anyone that knows me or somehow manages to frequent this site, but I'll watch anything. Really. But possibly even more telling, is that I will watch an entire film for one single moment. Yes, sometimes...that may have to do with a nude scene or something, um, salacious (was there another reason anyone saw Swordfish theatrically?), but generally if I hear something like, eh, it's oooookay, but there's this one part...I'm in. Say no more.

Sometimes, it could be as simple as a ridiculously good knife fight [here], or someone trying to shut a door in the wind [here]. Once,a personal favorite moment of ridiculousness,  it was someone throwing a f--king horse! [here] It can be the tiniest of things, but if great/horrible enough, it can make for something special.

But this time, man, this time. This time it's an ape. Ha, that's funny.
An ape riding a horse. Which is pretty cool.
Through fire. Oh shit, really?
While holding a machine gun. *pantomimes getting an erection*

In each hand. *actually dies*

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is good summer entertainment. It's not as mind-blowing as some might have you believe (um, despite what I just suggested) but it's filled with enough entertaining moments (and by moments, clearly I mean bits where apes do cool shit) that it should certainly satisfy fans of the original. Years ago, my wife reluctantly saw the first one and liked it. And this summer, she had a good time here as well. And if you can't trust a mother of two who's just happy to be not at home, who can you trust?

Actually, in the second flick of the reboot series, trust is going to be paramount. Years after Caesar initiated the primate revolution in the first flick [review], here we find him as he has settled into the role of wise leader, favoring diplomacy over fisticuffs. The humans, what little remain of them (after the simian flu wiped them the f--k out) need to do some work where the apes live (the foggiest hills on the planet), and even though they just recently shot an ape in the face, Caesar trusts that everyone will all be like little Fonzies, you know? Even that one shifty guy, with the rotten attitude and awful face, whose entire family was wiped out by those damn dirty apes. Even that guy's going to cool. Scout's honor.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Six Degrees of Separation: Blogathon

Okay, this one has been spreading like wildfire, but in a good way. Perhaps it's selling like hotcakes? Spreading like hotcakes? No. Definitely not that. Sounds weird...

Anyway, Nostra at My Film Views has created yet another inspired blogathon where bloggers are tasked with connecting two random cinematic figures in six (or less) steps. Apparently this is a thing that exists with or without Kevin Bacon, who knew?

Brittani, over at the seriously rad Rambling Film, has tasked me with connecting that handsome devil Leonardo DiCaprio to child star Shirley Temple. I wonder if Leo likes animal crackers, you know, in his soup? Hold on, I'll text him. In the meantime, this is how I've got it figured:

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Does this scenario ring any bells?

Nowhere else...
   ...would you basically have to get felt up/totally naked just to sit somewhere for an hour or two.
   ...would your 'seat' be considered an acceptable place to spend more than ten minutes.
   ...would seven pretzels be considered a snack, unless you still count your age in months old.
And absolutely nowhere else would you feel ecstatic by having a cold plastic wall to lean against (let alone being equally thrilled to not have that at all, but a place to extend one of your legs - occasionally).

But nowhere else is like an airplane. And up there? Logic is like a crying baby. You can bring it with you, but it's not really welcome.

In Non-Stop, Liam Neeson takes his special skill set to 30,000 feet, playing Bill Marks, Alcoholic Air Marshall. While basically any action film (starring an 8 foot tall, sixty-one year old Irishman, no less) may ask you carefully stow logic in the overhead cabin above you, Non-Stop pushes this request to new heights. Especially by the end. But along the way? Well, it's not only got just enough thrills to keep you interested, but it's got a frantic Neeson trying to do his job, dammit! And as far as I'm concerned, that's good enough for me.

The plot is simple: A passenger on board an overseas flight will be killed every twenty minutes, unless 150 million dollars is transferred to this account. The catch? The guy doing the killings is on the flight (well, sort of, anyway). That means that we're going to get a lot of close-ups of random ugly-ass guys, so someone in the room can point and say, Oh, it's totally that f--king guy. It's basically like the special education version of Clue. It's in the airplane, they're using the same weapon, and it ain't Col. Mustard. So, this shouldn't take long.

Fortunately, it's a little more difficult than that, only because this plane is filled to the brim with a record-level of suspicious-looking a-holes. Hell, even Julianne Moore can't escape scrutiny, as she inexplicably dons Brick Top's glasses and goes all Nancy Drew on us. It's a ludicrous, silly ride, but that's a good thing. What would you expect from a movie based on a plane called Non-Stop? Tender moments during an in-flight movie? F--k that. You want a hole in the fuselage, and at least one or two seats being sucked out, right? I mean, everybody does.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Which one of you nuts has got any guts?

I don't understand psychology. Not as a science, shit, nor even as a required college course (one of my only two C's ever was in my Intro to Psych class, though the professor was a huge bitch, literally, as I think she may have been just a hair under eleven feet tall). I don't understand discipline that is based on how people behave. My chief concern? Well, inherently, people are full of shit. Not just those exhibiting the behaviors, but those classifying them as well.

In 1975's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Jack Nicholson plays R.P. McMurphy, a hot-headed a-hole, who has seemingly schemed his way into the psych ward. Attempting to shirk work detail, McMurphy's plan is to hang out with some nutcases until his jail sentence is up. The rub? If he's not crazy - he's gotta go. But too crazy (Hell, just crazy enough)? He's in. Possibly forever.

You, being as cultured and handsome as you are, probably know everything about this movie. But for me, borderline illiterate and troll-like, I'm seeing this fresh forty-plus years after the fact. And obviously, I was blown away. Not only by Nicholson, who's as charming and crazy as they come, but by the story and the entire cast. It's f--king insane how good they are. Truly.

One of my favorite aspects of this film is the fact that it's almost impossible to classify. It damn near tight-ropes every genre. Clearly it's a drama, but with Jack steering the ship, there are comedic elements liberally sprinkled throughout. But, somewhat surprisingly, it also contains bits from heist movies, thrillers, buddy comedies, a little romance (here and there), and even a solid coming-of-age story as well. But simmering under all of that? Major aspects of classic horror flicks, complete with a menacing villain, as the reality of mental institutions is truly terrifying, even when the lights are on. It's no surprise to me that it's currently ranked as the fifteenth best movie ever by IMDb users, though their mental faculties are likely questionable at best.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Broken body's nothing to a broken heart.

We've talked about having another one. We have. And apart from the financial implications and the fact that we would never have our own lives, the main reason we hesitate is the What if... factor. What if there were complications? What if he/she was born with health problems? We've fortunately got two healthy, happy kids, already. What if something went wrong?

Obviously, everyone wants a healthy child, but why, in my mind anyway, is a disability akin to a death sentence? Why am I convinced that a good life can't be had? Oh, I know why - I'm a thoughtless, uncaring a-hole, too caught up in wanting everything just so. And as a Brown, I should know better...

In 1989's My Left Foot, Daniel Day Lewis plays Christy Brown, a real-life man born with cerebral palsy in the slums of 40's Dublin. The film chronicles the life of Brown from boyhood all the way to adulthood, when he published his autobiography in the mid 1950's. And while the life story of a man who could only control his left foot certainly had the potential of a feel good movie!, it would be hard to say that that's the direction this film went. It's dirty, it can be tough to watch, and it's not incredibly uplifting. But it's true, it's incredible, and it's rather inspirational, too.

The determination (or some would say, stubbornness) that would serve Christy so well as an adult, was clearly forged early on. Seeing young Christy (brilliantly brought to life by Hugh O'Conor) pursue acceptance and worth (mainly from his dad) was equal parts harrowing and fascinating. I'm not sure of the exact number, but the Brown's seemingly had, hold on...carry the two...17,000 kids. Fine, my math may be suspect, but trust me, they had a lot. And somewhere in that mix of dirty faces is Christy. Laying in his little pen behind the stairs (think Harry Potter's room at Uncle Vernon's...but worse). In a word, this whole situation is f--ked.