Thursday, April 30, 2015

Blogathon: White Swan, Black Swan

For her latest blogathon, Sati over at the fantastic cinematic corner. has asked participants to consider their favorite movie nutcases. But not just batshit crazy wackos, no, she's interested in exploring those characters that show two distinct sides to their personality. Here is my entry into the White Swan, Black Swan blogathon.

For many, many movies (at least the kind I watch), it seems to me that a stark contrast between two sides of the same character can be broken down into three simple categories: the Possessed, the Cheater, and the Reluctant Ass Kicker. Each of these character types present themselves as one thing, perhaps the White Swan, while secretly harboring an inner Black Swan. Ultimately we're not sure which version is the real version, but that's not where the fun is. The real joy is the struggle between the two. I just need to find one of these, right? Not all three. That would be absurd.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

If you tell anyone, this empire collapses.

What you're reading right now - this is me. More than anything else, Two Dollar Cinema best represents who I am as a person. I'm no artist, not by any stretch, but sadly, this site distinctly expresses who I am. And as the hours add up (and the pageviews trend down), I find myself thinking more more about I much time I spend here, toiling away in obscurity.

Wouldn't it be great if the whole world could see my work? Of course it would. I would do anything for that kind of exposure. Even take your name off of it? Give the credit entirely to someone else?

Bullshit. Sure. I could live with that. The Hell I could. I just want to share what I do with the world. And bask in their adoration, you sonuvabitch.

Big Eyes, from director Tim Burton, recounts the tumultuous life of painter of Margaret Keane, who for years sat idly by as her husband took the credit for her work. Though the story is compelling and (quietly) infuriating, the film itself seems to be oddly similar to the children Keane so often painted: eerily lifeless.

Playing the aforementioned plaintiff and defendant husband and wife, is the capable duo of Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz. Clearly the strained chemistry is the point, but as the focal point of the film it can be a tough watch when the couple has this little on-screen chemistry. Have you ever seen your grandparents kiss? Well, that shit is about 900% hotter than any moment between these two passionate artists.

If you can get beyond the somehow lifeless pairing of two of the best actors working today, you may have an alright time. I think my wife enjoyed it much more than I did, but in an insane reversal of fortunes, I was the one falling asleep. Sad, I know.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

And now we're on fire.

Despite the contents of this blog firmly suggesting otherwise, I actually went to prom. With a pretty girl, no less. Hell, years later? I even married one, too. But looking back to each of those majestic evenings, I distinctly remember the complete absence of the requisite limousine. In fact, I don't think I've ever actually been in one.

My only memories of limos come from those times as a kid, when you'd see one drive by, and we would all desperately wonder who could possibly be inside? It had to be someone famous, right? But those damn tinted windows made it all a guessing game that never really made any sense.

Why would only a chosen few ever get the chance to lay eyes upon such greatness?

Maybe it's my unnatural adoration of Patrick Wilson talking, but I f--king loved Stretch. Damn near every frame of it. And as its ridiculous story unfolded great bit after great bit, I kept thinking: why hasn't anyone seen this? 

Primarily set over the course of one insane day, Joe Carnahan's latest flick initially starts off lampooning celebrities. Stretch, as Wilson's character is often referred to, makes his money schlepping a variety of a-hole celebrities all over L.A. Stretch is a good guy, but has clearly f--ked up in the past. Often. Gambling debt, he has. A fine-ass girlfriend? Not anymore. As she recently dumped him mid O-face. His, not hers.

The big day starts innocently enough, as Stretch, shortly after getting chewed out by The Hoff, shuttles a rather irritated Ray Liotta to the airport. Easy peasy, no? Well, it was going to be, until eccentric millionaire Roger Karos literally falls out of the sky and into Stretch's life.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

This monster thing has got to stop, okay?

It was probably just my brothers f--king with me, but when I was a little kid I distinctly remember a low, breathy voice telling me to look toward the window. While that might not sound like much to you, I hated looking out that damn window, as all the potted plants lining it looked like little creatures when backlit by the moon. *shudder*

So that night, as a hopelessly terrified five or six year old, I ran out of my room to my two older brothers, and managed to say, Eddie! That scary voice that you heard? I heard it too! Shockingly, they didn't laugh, but instead it seemed like the life had immediately been sucked out of both of them. Eddie had heard the voice...

...but he never mentioned it to me.*

The only thing creepier than being a freaked-out little kid, is being the parent of a freaked-out of little kid. I say this not only as someone whose young son tearfully staggered into his mom and dad's bed again, but also as someone who recently finished the chilling Aussie horror flick The Babadook. The monster might be scary, but the kid? The kid is f--king terrifying.

Single mom Amelia is having a tough go. Her job sucks, she has zero love-life, and -most pressing of all- her son Samuel is a real handful. We've all known a kid like Samuel: wiry, jittery, with perpetual dark circles under the eyes. He's a good dude, but with his (hopefully?) over-active imagination, he's a tough one to be around. He plays rough, he talks about monsters and death, and ultimately, no one really wants to spend anytime with him. Even his mom to a degree. And watching her struggle with Samuel, I felt two things: bad...and really, really fortunate.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

I know what you're thinking. And I approve.

College opens your eyes to a lot of experiences. You see and hear things there that would be wholly unacceptable anywhere else on the planet. And after four years of living on (and off) campus, many of these occurrences become strangely routine. For me, many of these moments happened in the same awful place: the bathroom. I recall that I often showered next to a guy who was doing what in my mind, could only be one of two things: masturbating vigorously...

...or turning into a werewolf.

Only as I write this, does the logical choice finally appear clear to me. It was probably both.

As I have no real werewolf stories, the above was the best I could do. And the other night, on Netflix, WolfCop, at seventy-something minutes, was also the best I could do. It's actually a decent little horror flick, with a few really inspired moments. But overall, I'll put my enthusiasm like this: if I was on the roof of a green delivery truck, my handstand would probably only last two seconds, versus say, thirty.

In the podunk hunting town of Woodhaven, an annual 'drink-and-shoot' takes place. This year, however, it seems the festivities are going to be cancelled as a douchey mayoral candidate is found murdered.

Enter Lou, town drunk/one-third of Woodhaven's ramshackle police force. Ol' Lou already looks like a werewolf (or at the very least, Wolverine's Canadian uncle), so it's not really a surprise to any of us when, after investigating 'damn partying teenagers' he actually becomes one. While Lou never found those pesky kids, someone found him. And after getting knocked out, Lou comes to as the honored guest in some sort of satanic ritual. Rough night, eh?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Do not drink the lemonade!

Fitting in can be a tricky thing. Daily, I see kids entirely give up on the person they actually are simply to gain the smallest bit of acceptance. I get it, sure - everybody wants to belong (even those annoying kids repeatedly screaming the opposite). But don't think it gets any easier as you get older. In fact, find like-minded adults is even more difficult (heads up, kids: adults are really weird). The good thing, however?

You eventually stop caring (and likely start blogging).

Even though I dragged my son to it, I kind of wanted to hate Home. Either it was the pandering preview or the credibility-smashing nutpunch of casting RiRi and J. Lo (I loathe the casting of musicians in animated films), but something didn't sit right with me about this one. Despite my initial disdain, it's...actually a decent little kids movie.

Especially for one that doesn't feature a bouncing Luxo Jr. beforehand.

Jim Parsons voices Oh, probably the least liked member of the Boov, a race of purple, six-legged aliens. They are a peaceful bunch, until the rival Gorg show up, forcing the Boov to flee whatever planet they are currently occupying. As Home begins, Earth is the Boov's new destination.

Oh, as these kind of friendless characters often do, totally screws up. In an effort to invite folks to his new apartment on Earth, he inadvertently sends an e-vite to the Gorg, granting them instant access to the Boov's latest hiding place. Oh realizes his mistake, and gets out of Dodge quickly.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Any of this feel familiar to you?

I've never been a car guy. In fact, I've only owned two cars in the twenty years I've had my license, and I didn't put much time into the purchase (or maintenance) of either. It's just something I use to get to work, pick up my kids or whatever.

Speaking of family, as much as I truly love them (actual and acquired), I'm only close to a small number of them. My kids are one thing, but the adults in my immediate family? We're like part-timers. We're super close, but only for about twenty hours, um, per year. I have three brothers that I haven't seen together in at least a decade. The one thing that could bring us together? A beach trip. In Hawai'i....

...where there'd be sexy ladies with nice asses. It would be fantastic. But as much as we all like a great butt, personally, I've always been a fan of the tatas, you know?

So clearly it's my love of boobs that led to my (admittedly late) viewing of Fast & Furious 6. Though frankly, the boobs I love are not the ones you're probably thinking of. No, I keep coming back to these ridiculous movies because I've always loved lumbering oafs mumbling bad jokes, one awful syllable at a time. I shit you not.

Oh, those boobs.

Even though I wasn't really a fan of the highly-coveted fifth entry [review], the untimely passing of Paul Walker renewed my interest in this silly franchise. While I still haven't seen the second one, I was overcome with a sense of duty to see six before seven. And, well, that f--king tank scene from the preview didn't hurt either.

While you either a) already know or b) don't give a nos-boosted shit, here's the plot in a nutshell: Dom and crew, after a successful heist in Rio, have (yet again?) retired from their speedy and super-pissed lifestyles. That is, of course, until Agent Hobbs shows up, needing an elite crew of tech-savvy, multicultural gearheads. Dom refuses, until Hobbs drops a picture of Dom's dead girl while simultaneously raising the people's eyebrow. Cue the riding and the dying. For family.

And the nice asses, of course.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

You're only technically black.

Indian. Mexican. Spanish. Jewish. Muslim. Italian. Hell, even Hawaiian if you can believe it.

Pick any of the above, and I have been labeled it on more than one occasion in my lifetime. And while I'd love to claim any of 'em as distinctly who I am, when it comes down to it, I always end up bubbling in 'white/Caucasian' on standardized forms. And even then, I hardly feel it applies. I may appear one thing, and actually be another, but honestly? I don't really identify with any of them. 

If only I could bubble in 'indifferent'.

As foolish as I'm likely to come across as, I'm not indifferent toward other races and cultures, it's just not something that I honestly put a lot of time into. Maybe that's a mentality born out of sheltered unawareness (with a dash of growing up in Hawai'i), but I've always been more concerned with your mindset rather than your bloodline. You like the same shit I do? We're cool. You don't? We're still cool. But we're probably not going to be good friends.

Dear White People is a film that brings race and racism front and center. And as the aforementioned indifferent dickhead, at times the film was utterly jarring. It's easy for me to forget that racism is alive and well where it has no business to be (if that makes sense), but clearly that isn't the case.

I work in an inner-city middle school where race is the reason FOR EVERYTHING. But these are kids, you know? Eighth graders. But at a prestigious university? No way, right? People are too smart for that bullshit. Too grown up. Too mature. Well...not so much.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Blogathon: A Fistful of Moments (p. II)

I just saw the preview for the new Paul Blart movie and thought to myself, It's bad enough they made a first one, but now they're making another one? What the f--k? Who asked for more of this nonsense?

Anyway, for Fisti's A Fistful of Moments blogathon, here is the promised second batch of my favorite cinematic moments. My first post [here], nine of my twenty-one favorite scenes, featured rectangular squares, death becoming him and lots and lots of daffodils. But the one that seemed to resonate the most? 

The one with the transvestite. 
Eating dog shit.

Let's just move on, shall we?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Blogathon: A Fistful of Moments (p. I)

Fisti, over at A Fistful of Films has unleashed Hell. Again.

While his proposed blogathon isn't asking for a slew of flaming arrows to rain hot death, he is instead asking for cinematic moments that have been seared into our minds forever. Wisely, he has suggested to keep the number of scenes under a hundred, which is appreciated, as I can think of about five hundred nude scenes right off the top of my head. Just kidding. It's more like a thousand.

Anyway, while I'm assuming that much smarter bloggers are going to absolutely nail this with moments that truly define cinema, I'm going to go with 21 scenes that occasionally fill the void in my head, where a functioning adult brain should reside. When possible, I've loosely grouped them into categories, attempting to connect the childlike emotion(s) that surface when these moments originally flickered on the big screen.