Thursday, February 27, 2014

This is my neighborhood. This is my street. This is my life.

The reason I started this blogathon, The Mt. Rushmore of Movies, was to share something with my small circle of friends in the blogging community. The idea of choosing the top 4 anything has been done before I'm sure, but not with a group that I value as much as those who participated (and even those that didn't).

With that said, let me share my own personal monument, the Mt. Rushmore of Clutch Neighbors. The idea is a tribute to all my fellow bloggers, who even though they don't exactly live next door, they still feel very close. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

All you have to do is believe. Then, you will see everything.

In 2005, my wife (back when she was my girlfriend) paid for us both to go Disneyworld for a week. We had a good time doing all the normal Disney stuff: the rides, eating, a moderately lame show, more eating, fireworks, still more eating, a parade, some more rides, and then, before bed, more eating. It was all very typical, but still very enjoyable.

On our last day, we went shopping at some place (Adultland? Adventureworld? Adultadventureworld?) that had a store I had never, ever been to before. An entirely unique experience that I put as much imagination and effort into as anything we did at Disney in the preceding six days. They had a Lego Store. And you get to fill the container with any pieces you want.

My point, if there is one, is year after year of happily devouring Disney flicks (and to an extent, Dreamworks), seeing The Lego Movie felt like some kind of epiphany. I went in expecting greatness, and was only let down by the fact that I couldn't immediately watch it again. Trust me, this might be the most fun you'll ever have at an animated movie. It's that good.

While the story is certainly charming, it's not like something we haven't seen before. Well, sort of anyway. Imagine putting Toy Story, Kung-Fu Panda and The Matrix in a blender, and you'll have The Lego Movie. Even though it reminded me of other stuff, it did nothing to lessen my enthusiasm in the least.

For me, and probably most other guys, the pure joy was seeing all these Lego versions of things we loved as kids come together in truly awesome fashion. Batman, Superman, Shaq!, Dumbledore, Wonderwoman, Lando Calrissian, Michelangelo and even Abraham Lincoln to name a few (assuming there's a kid out there who loves Honest Abe), are onscreen together in an orgy of imagination and comedy. Half the time, I simply wanted to pause any given frame and just stare. Gents, you gotta see this one. Ladies, imagine Jem and Rainbow Bright riding Starlight around Polly Pocket's house and you might be in the ballpark. Probably not though, as, you know, all girls toys are super lame.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Everyone knows it's fake but they watch it like it's real f--king life.

Being that I'm not a handsome young stockbroker, nor a handsome young conman, or even a handsome young man wrongly sold into slavery, it's rare that I feel like I'm watching myself on the big screen. Sometimes, though, a story comes along and simply feels right. You lean forward, thinking This is me. This is my life story. The only thing better, is when that story comes from an unexpected source. You did this?

But as I watched the story of the handsome young guy, who loves his car, loves his house, loves his church, loves working out, loves all the sex he's having night after night and especially loves his internet pornography, it happened. I finally saw myself.

Well, other than the fact that I'm not really handsome, or even young, really, when you think about it.
Oh, and my car sucks. And I actually hate my house.
I don't even attend church, and haven't been to the gym in weeks.
Sex, nightly? That's even possible?
But, like I said, other than that, this is exactly like my life. I mean, to a T.

Now most of that is a joke, but I'm not kidding about how much I loved Don Jon. Written and directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, this film, at least for me, perfectly captures the pitfalls of modern sex and relationships. By that I mean one thing that can be boiled down to three words: Guys love porn.

Jon is a good guy. Yeah, he hooks up with a different chick every week (all at least 8's), but otherwise, he's a solid, if somewhat unspectacular individual. He is also a creature of habit and fierce routine. While his jerk-sessions may be the focus, everything Jon does is mired in a monotony that he actually enjoys. There's a certain freedom to the control he has over his own life, if that makes sense. And as a man, I could not only see this as an acceptable truth, but one that I actually (sadly?) envied. At least initially.

Anyway, two women enter Jon's hilariously regimented life, and surprise!, f--king destroy it. The first, and ever so boner-inducing, is Barbara Sugarman, played by the luscious Scarlett Johansson. Like in real life, Barbara's hotness initially masks her flaws and pathetic endgame. Showing up soon after (and as a result of Barbara bettering), is the decidedly less boner-inducing (boner reducing?) Esther, an eccentric (weird) old(er) lady played by Julianne Moore. Esther is taking the same night class as Jon, and the two somehow become friends. The waters, it appear, may have become muddied.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Yeah. We're awful people.

Throughout my life, I've made many, many mistakes for love. Not love, that's overselling it. In fact, that entire line should read I've done a lot of dumb shit for hot chicks. It's true. I've gone places I didn't want to go, enjoyed things that I f--king hate, listened intently to utter bullshit (and nodded accordingly), and so on, and so on. The list is sadly infinite. But now that I'm an old, married weirdo, my lack of judgement resulting from a soft voice and a pretty face really only affects one thing: my movie watching. I will sit through just about anything if the girl, er, woman is hot enough.

Watching The Babysitters had nothing to do with lead actress Katherine Waterston. Nope, she doesn't do it for me. Cynthia Nixon is in this too, but f--k that, she ranks fifth of the Sex and the City girls if that's even possible, maybe even sixth. No friends, the reason I watched this movie was my equally pathetic and illogical new found infatuation with actress Alexandria Daddario.

Honestly, I'd never ever heard her speak, but after seeing her, um, body of work on True Detective (by that, I mean a lone clip, watched 9,000 times), I hit up Netflix to see what else she had been in. Turns out, she was in The Babysitters, which was also brought to my attention by the nefarious 'Netflix Recommends' Monster after watching Cashback [review].

Now clearly, my motives are pervy, but I wasn't prepared for how f--king uncomfortable this movie made me. The Babysitters (or as it should have been called, Statutory Rape: The Movie) tells the awful tale of a shy eleventh grader who somehow ends up running a fairly substantial prostitution ring out of her high school. Maybe in college this would have been slightly amusing, but as a man in his mid-30's watching a (rather shitty) movie about high school girls screwing fat, married dudes, this flick left me with an eighty-nine minute sadface. I felt like I needed a shower after this one. A hot one, jerk. A hot one.

Monday, February 17, 2014

TDC Blogathon: Mt. Rushmore of Movies

Okay, I feel like a bit of a used car salesman here, but in honor of President's Day, we here at Two Dollar Cinema are proud to be hosting our first annual blogathon, the Mt. Rushmore of Movies.

To participate, simply choose the top 4 of anything cinematic and explain why it should be carved into the side of a mountain forever. Remember, these are real people carved into imaginary rock - so choose wisely!

Who are the top 4 directors of all-time? What about the top 4 movie villains (see also: annoying kids)? You could even go nuts and create the Mt. Rushmore of wasted talent. Or a tribute to 4 actors gone too soon. It could even be decade specific if you like.

Whatever category you come up with will be accepted, so by all means have fun with it (even if you do a Mt. Rushmore of shittiest blogs and put Two Dollar Cinema as all 4 choices). I'd like to have all the posts done by the last day of the month if possible (Friday, the 28th), but if you're late, no worries. I'll still update the main post and link back to your site. Feel free to share the announcement logo on your blog, if you don't mind the massive shot to your credibility, that is. Hopefully your Mt. Rushmore is one people want to take the kids to, versus one we all hope is destroyed in an alien invasion.

To participate, simply include a link in the comments section below and I'll add it to my post on the 28th. Or even claim your category now in the comments, and post the link later (so we don't end up with duplicates). You can also e-mail me at if you want to keep it a secret, um, or something.

Thanks for participating...
Now, let's see what you clever kids can come up with.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Why would anybody do this?

I live in a small house, surrounded by many other small houses. At night, seemingly barricaded by clothes, a sleeping baby, and more dressers than one room should have, numerous sounds interrupt my oft-desired (and potentially deserved) peace and quiet. From an endless number of cars speeding by, to my neighbor's dog barking to finally be let in, or even some random asshole talking to himself during his leisurely stroll, it can be maddening. I'll lay there and think, f--k this. I want to live in a big house in the middle of nowhere, where I can't hear or see anyone.

Then, on a different night (and in my slightly more spacious living room), I'll watch a horror movie and think, f--k that. Those cars aren't so bad. I actually really like that dog. And that guy talking to himself? A fine gentleman, I'm sure of it.

You're Next is yet another entry in the home invasion sub-genre of horror flicks. Possibly peaking with The Strangers in execution, or The Purge [review] in concept, this is a welcome trend in modern horror. Sure, the torture angle was fun for while, but when we started sewing asses to mouths [review], it literally began to suck ass.

Most horror movies, at least when watched at home, are only marginally scary to begin with. But to truly make it work, at least for me, I need to be able to imagine myself possibly being in the situation at hand. I will be at home. I will take a shower (potentially cleaning my ass and breasts for minutes). But backpacking through Europe with two hot sluts? Not f--king likely.

Anyway, You're Next, like countless scary movies before it, is very effective early on. A large, wealthy family has come together for a 35th anniversary party in their (surprise!) sprawling, secluded manor. Mom and Dad are not only thrilled to have each of their four adult children home at the same time, but each has brought with them a significant other. What do ten white people do when they get together (other than struggle to play quality full court basketball)? They eat.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

You got some choice moves, JTRO.

When I was a teacher, there were countless times when I saw someone do something absolutely stupid. Cheating, throwing stuff across the room, swearing, punching, tripping - you name it. But in countless situations, even when I saw it with my own two eyes, the perpetrator of the misdeed would deny it or spin it with such utter f--king conviction, I would actually question indisputable fact. The only thing worse than questioning my own sanity, was finally coming to terms with their shady abilities. If these kids could put that much effort and skill into something worthwhile, they could go places. Instead, as I often told them, they were really smart at being dumb.

I don't even know where to begin with The FP. Honestly, I don't. After clicking on a link @davidcinema posted on Twitter about The 10 Worst Movies On Netflix (and being that I kind of dig trash), I decided to check some of them out. Well, I was going to check out some of them, but now I just might settle on one.

The FP, as far as I can discern, tells the story of a futuristic world where conflicts are settled via a dance-battle videogame. This game, known as Beat Beat Revelation, apparently is the primary way of conducting hardcore business. No, seriously. Rival gangs from the 245 and the 248 compete in these dance-offs with the loser dying on the machine, or as they put it, 187'd. 

I can't believe I'm going to continue, but anyway, after losing his brother BTRO to a Beat Beat Revelation related death (I'm still holding out that he died from pre-existing conditions), main character JTRO is left to wander the earth, like Stallone in the arguably more impactful First Blood. And as much as JTRO would like to continue this paltry existence, it appears he must avenge his brother's death. Not just for BTRO, no. But for the ducks at the pond. That's not a clever phrase, either. I mean it. The f--king ducks. At the f--king pond.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Do you really love me? Or am I just convenient?

There's going to be a moment in each of our lives where we're going to have to make the decision to hang it up, call it, walk away and/or say goodbye. If we're lucky, we'll actually get to choose this moment. It might be the end of a career, or even the end of a relationship. It could be about finally growing up, letting go or possibly even relenting and simply changing the way we've been doing things for years. I doubt many of us look forward to this moment, but the more we accept the fact that things end, the better off we'll all be.

A Late Quartet isn't exactly about this moment, but the idea permeates nearly every frame. In director Yaron Zilberman's 2012 film, a quartet of world-class musicians face the end of their legendary run. This group, known as The Fugue, has been together for over 3,000 performances, but rather abruptly, the whole thing begins to unravel.

The eldest member, cellist Peter (the legendary Christopher Walken), has come to find out he can no longer continue performing. The other three, to an extent, refuse to accept this. Jules, (Catherine Keener) who rightfully sees Peter as a father figure, is devastated more personally than professionally. Her husband, second violinist Robert (Philip Seymour Hoffman), sees their rigid roles finally being bent, and uses Peter's exit as a chance to move up in the quartet's hierarchy. And finally, there's Daniel (Mark Ivanir), the founder of the group and arguably the most (self) important. For him, the music is everything, until he finally questions what he is truly passionate about. The answer, surprisingly, will tear them apart far more than Peter's departure. It will also mark the moment where each individual will decide whether or not they are ready to truly move on with their lives.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Abandon tree! Abandon tree!

My wife's job sent her to Dallas for a week, leaving me home with our two children, a four-and-a-half year old boy and his six-month old sister. And while there have certainly been moments of insanity, there have been a few bright spots, too. See, everything that's happened has generally followed this principle: good intentions, questionable results.  Same goes for our trip to the movies, and the movie itself.

The Nut Job is yet another animated movie from a studio that isn't Disney, DreamWorks or even Fox. It's got talking animals. It's got hijinks. And yes, it's got talking animal hijinks. If you have little kids, this is a soft maybe. If you don't have kids? Enjoy life while it's still yours.

While certainly not the worst animated feature I've ever dragged the boy to (or, I mean, he's dragged me to...), The Nut Job tells the tale of a greedy squirrel attempting to rob a -get this- nut store. Yes, ye ol' nut shoppes existed apparently, and Surly the squirrel (voiced by Will Arnett) is hell-bent on robbing it. The catch, and maybe the most clever thing in the script, is that this shop is actually a front for some small time crooks. These wiseguys are digging a hole (like say...small burrowing mammals) under the store to in hopes to empty the vault of an adjacent bank. In fact, they plan to use the copious amount nuts lying around to fill the emptied cash bags. Ol, Johnny Lawman, will be none the wiser, see.
Yep. Big 10-4 on the hijinks.

Honestly, the fine details of the plot are generally secondary in these lower-tier kids flicks, but at least this one tries. The 1950's setting of I'm gonna get you, see criminals is charming, and there are some welcome themes about friendship and sharing. But for whatever reason, the flick is ultimately hollow and forgettable. Easily worth a trip to Redbox in a few months, but likely nothing more. At least my son didn't nearly blind himself during the movie, he was nice enough to wait until after.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

They say when you meet the love of your life, time stops. And that's true...

...What they don't tell you, is that once time starts again, it moves extra fast to catch up.

For my first post of February, I want to do something a little different. Over at the groovy MyFilmViews, Nostra has been hosting a blogathon titled LIFE, LOVE, and the MOVIES. Being that Valentine's Day is around the corner (and that I haven't seen anything lately, truthfully), I figured I might as well crash their party. If you're curious as to other bloggers more logical and well-written answers, head here. On that note...