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.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Against the Crowd: BLOGATHON

Dell, who's been kicking lots of ass lately over at Dell on Movies, is hosting yet another interesting blogathon. The rules are simple:

1) Pick a movie that everyone loves. Piss all over it.

2) Pick a movie that everyone hates. Kiss it, stroke its hair. Whisper to it, it's going to be okay.

3) Something about tomatoes.
(for official rules here, the other participants here)

I don't want to rehash my original post [check it here], but I will reference it, as I will never watch this movie again. Overly long and mostly ridiculous, The Dark Knight Rises was supposed to be, in my mind, the greatest Batman movie ever. It isn't. It's not even in my top 5. I think the final act of this movie is about as bad as there is in a 'good' movie. I know everyone loves this flick, but sweet Jesus, after The Dark Knight, this one falls woefully short. We might as well have had Bale strut around to a Bee Gees tune, you know? That would have made more sense than some of the decisions in Nolan's final film of the trilogy.

And if you're the kind of person who considers this flick the best move ever!, please, thoroughly search your utility belt for something you can f--king choke on, 'cause I don't want to hear it. Again, anyway.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Never know how your day is gonna turn out.

In Home Alone, it was used to aid in self-defense.
In Spider-Man, it gave Peter Parker his powers.
And in The Return of the King, it's yet another obstacle keeping Frodo from tossing the ring.

Nine times out of ten, I fully understand the role a spider plays in a given movie. But this? Well, this is that tenth time.

I don't even know what to truly make of Enemy, other then I loved every single minute of it. As routinely puzzling as it is, it's arguably the most consistently intriguing movie I've ever seen. In fact, it's so intense, my PS4 randomly ejected it halfway through and refused to accept it until almost twenty-four hours later. Maybe it was looking out for my fragile little mind, or maybe it's just really scared of spiders.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays Adam Bell, a nice-enough history teacher, not exactly living the dream. He has a decent job, a fairly hot girlfriend (whom he routinely bangs), but not much else. One day, after a co-worker rather awkwardly recommends it, Adam watches a movie and is floored by what he sees. Playing Bellhop #3 is a man who looks exactly like him. Intrigued and moderately bewildered (he's a pretty level-headed dude, well, for the most part), Adam decides to search this man out.

And that's all I'm going to tell you. See the f--king movie. Then you can read more. Otherwise, don't click that shit below. Or I'll dress up like you, head to your house and go have sex with your girlfriend. Unless, you're a chick. Then, well...I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A chief protects his own. We're going back.

I have a dog, Dodger, who's actually sitting next to me as I type this.

And when I was a kid, I had a dog named Pharaoh, then a pup named Koko. I love dags. As for my family, we've had more cats than anyone knew what to do with, and at one point, a shit-ton of obnoxious birds (by the way, f--k birds). Hell, we even had turtles for awhile, too. We also had a pair of Jackson's chameleons for a single day, but they got out/were liberated that night. Oh, and we even had a rabbit, too, though I don't think anyone ever really liked him. Or her, honestly, as no one gave a shit about it's gender. But you know what? I'd trade them all in a heartbeat for the one special creature I want the most.

I want a dragon.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a remarkable film, and easily on par with the best animated films of the last decade. Like a lot of the upper-tier of (so-called) kids movies, it's smart, sweet and impossibly gorgeous. But unlike many of them, this one deals with some incredibly intense emotions (while still remaining funny and breezy). But even better, it handles these feelings with a deft amount of grace and class. Up isn't the only animated movie that could make a grown man cry...

After the events of the first film, HTTYD2 brings us back to a Berk where dragons have been fully integrated into Viking society. Instead of making weapons to kill dragons, tribe chief Stoick (Gerard Butler, awesome) helps his people by making saddles to ride them. For the most part, it seems, life in Berk is good. Very good, in fact.

Soon, however, it is discovered that another clan is hunting dragons, with eyes on creating a dragon army (that's has to a band name, right? - Dragon Army?). Hiccup (Jay Baruchel, doing his thing to perfection), always the diplomat, wants to show whoever is leading this uprising that dragons can co-exist with humans. Stoick, having history with this mysterious madman, disagrees, and begins preparing the village for war.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Ten Most Influential Directors of All Time


Dell over at Dell on Movies passed me the torch in yet another relay blogathon, and while I certainly appreciate it, it also totally baffled me (which, let's be honest, isn't that difficult). Originally started by John at Hitchcock's World, participants are tasked with removing a director from the inherited list and replacing it with one they find to be more worthy. Since I'm not particularly enamored with the history of film, let's call it a healthy respect, this decision was a difficult one. While I think many of these older gents are truly pioneers, I don't know how influential they are to contemporary filmmakers. Does that make sense? Anyway, here are the nine that I'm leaving on the list:

Top: Francis Ford Coppola, Alfred Hitchcock, Quentin Tarantino
Middle: George Melies, Martin Scorsese, DW Griffith
Bottom: Steven Spielberg, Sergio Leone, Stanley Kubrick

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Love is a wonderful thing, but it's not all you need.

A bad guy that's not really dead.
A meaningful letter, found years later - unopened!
A last second save, by the least likely person.

In my movie-watching lifetime, there have been an infinite number of things I've seen over and over, again and again. It happens in every genre, and even great films can fall victim. But it's not just limited to what happens on-screen...

A husband that rents a movie.
A movie that his wife will like.
A wife that falls asleep during that movie, despite insisting she's awake and wants to watch it.

My wife was sound asleep at the seven-minute mark of the 2014 version of Endless Love. While the film itself is a collection of the most tired cliches, my wife's immediate slumber came at a pace never before seen in our thirteen year relationship. Eight minutes in, I was convinced that she'd made (as involuntary as it was) the right decision. But ninety minutes after that, I'd changed my mind. Slightly.

As an unintentional comedy, Endless Love is a masterpiece. But placing my size-14 foot into the shoes of say, a 14 year-old girl (what a odd, terrible image that is), I'd probably feel less likely to laugh and more likely to weep. Uncontrollably. And while I resisted initially with just about everything I had, eventually this film simply wore me down. Maybe I'm getting soft in my old age, or maybe there's a certain charm in (fictional) melodramatic teens (not to mention their f--king absurd fathers!), but truthfully, I didn't hate this movie. Oh, it's basically terrible and so f--king cheesy it should come with a box of macaroni, but as the credits rolled, something had changed inside of me.

I wasn't furious.

I was...amused?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

It's a lot to take in.

When I tell someone about this blog, I hardly ever say the actual name of it. It's not that I'm not proud of it, or that I don't want them to read it, I'm just afraid that they won't get it. Not that they won't like it, to each his own, but that they'll think that I've somehow been wasting my time on an stupid idea that only means something to me. If I have a thousand comments on Two Dollar Cinema, only about ten are from people I actually know. My friends? People I've actually seen in person? They hardly say anything - good or bad.

Rapare is a short film written and directed by my childhood friend, Justin Roppolo. We've known each other since I was in eighth grade (he's a year older) and have bullshitted about movies likely since the day we met. While I'm rather comfortable at being all talk, Justin has spent years toiling away at screenwriting. And for the second time, he's taken action and brought his script to life. What a dick.

Described to me years ago as Jesus in a hotel with a hooker, Rapare tells the story of a downtrodden mom, forced to prostitution as a way to take care of her daughter who is battling leukemia. Uplifting shit, right?

Anyway, it turns out that Jesus pays this woman a visit, hoping to restore her faith in God. Perhaps if someone in an impossibly shitty situation like her can believe in God's plan, the man upstairs could be persuaded to call off plans to firebomb the shit out of Earth,