Monday, June 29, 2015

To be no good at something bad, is good.

I don't want to use the word vacation, but I spent the last week traveling with my family. Most of the time, it was just me and my son (in the car), a young man on the brink of turning six. And in our travels, there was one thing that he did just about every single minute we were together: he asked a question.

While perhaps a bit behind other kids his age in this regard, my son is still working on mastering the urinal. He gets entirely too close to it, he's willing to look everywhere except straight ahead, and possibly the worst offense...he pulls his pants down, like, all the way. While this baffled me, the only thing puzzling him was the urinal cake/gum-catcher thing at the bottom.

Dad, what is this?
Why is it here?
Do we have to pee on it?

It's somewhat surprising that each of those questions totally apply to the one film I managed to (mostly) watch during our family trip, last year's Seventh Son. Unfortunately, like a lot of my son's questions, I can't exactly knock any of them out of the park, but two out of three ain't bad.

What is this? Well, it's a fantasy tale (based on a novel) about a young man named Tom, the not-too shocking seventh son of a seventh son. Tom is selected to be the final apprentice for Master Gregory, an old curmudgeon whose job it is to rid the world of dark forces. Tom will initially suck, Gregory will initially be a dick, but by the end, dicks are not sucked, and instead asses are kicked. Makes sense? Doesn't matter.

Why is it here? Not sure. Maybe in the mid-80's this movie would have been a sure-thing, and then we could have had Slurpees at the arcade afterward. But in the, um, teens? It's anything but.

And finally, Do we have to pee on it? Judging be it's current 12% on Rotten Tomatoes, yes. Yes we do.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

No one's impressed by a dinosaur anymore.

When I was around eleven or twelve, we went to Florida and did the whole Disneyworld and Universal Studios thing. And minutes upon arriving at Universal, I recall my mom had to go to the bathroom (I mean, the exact f--king minute we got there). Okay, we'll wait here.

We're sitting there...and it's clear, like, completely obvious, something has happened. Something has gone wrong. Eventually my mom comes storming back to us, furious. Apparently, the bathroom was out of paper towels, and when my mom questioned some hapless employee, (according to legend) the lady's answer was, So? If this is a movie, this is the part where you say out loud, Oh, bitch. You done f--ked up now.

Long story short(ish), my mom went apeshit, complained to someone, and ended up getting some Willy Wonka Golden Ticket-esque VIP Pass. We now were granted the ability to not wait in line on four (4) rides. But instead of signaling an employee and being quietly ushered past the rope, my mom dragged us through the entire line, jamming this f--king badge-thing in the face of thousands of angry tourists. It was the worst.

But also kind of awesome.

It turns out that employees at Jurassic World are also highly skilled at totally f--king up, and as much as it hurt my soul to watch, these careless mistakes led to greatness. And by greatness, I mean the best parts of a decidedly average film. Yes friends, despite it making eleventy billion dollars, and starring the fantastically charismatic Chirs Pratt, put me down in the camp of You're f--king kidding me, right?

Looking back, I don't know why I had such a nerd-boner for this one headed in. Of course I liked the first one, but I think I was just a little too old when it came out to f--king love it (my younger brother Nikos wore out a VHS copy). The second one was dumb, but enjoyable, and the third one was a step up from that. But this fourth one? I don't know...I thought it was going to be really, really good. Like, Mad Max: Fury Road [review] good. Maybe even better.

Um, nope.

The idea of genetically-mutated dinosaurs seemed great on paper, and Starlord leading his Raptor Brigade on a dino-hunt via dirtbike appeared to have been plucked straight from the sticky pages of my Dream Journal. But as the film wore on, and yet another f--king moronic employee did something, well, f--king moronic...I began to think, f--k me. And f--k this. In fact, f--k everything. But...

Friday, June 19, 2015

So, you do know the difference?

As much as I tend to avoid conflict in my life, it's always nice to have the occasional really big fight. I don't mean a physical altercation, or even a screaming match, but just that heated discussion where all the bullshit is cast aside and all parties involved unleash Hell. All those seemingly minor things that are usually swallowed (figuratively, perv, figuratively) are regurgitated directly into the face of the person standing in front of you. It's awful, but at the same time...exhilarating.

My wife and I recently had such a, um, conversation, and among the tidbits I learned about myself, there was one that burned just a little bit more than the others. She said that I exist without any sense of urgency. That I'm slow. This is totally a fair point, and stepping back (after insisting I wasn't for awhile, naturally) and looking at it, I guess I'm on board with this theory. But what if I'm going at normal speed? What if she's fast? It begs the question:

Can two people have a successful partnership, if they don't operate at the same rhythm?

Whiplash may ask that question, but it certainly doesn't answer it, not at all, as it honestly doesn't give a f--k about you and your feelings. In fact, in the world of competitive jazz (feels like an oxymoron, no?), as presented here, there isn't room for humanity, let alone basic emotions. It's basically keep up or f--k off.

As you surely already know, the highlight of Whiplash is J.K. Simmons' performance as Fletcher, an instructor with the subtlety and understanding of a f--king tommy gun. Fletcher is a ruthless instructor, concerned with nothing except getting the best out of his students. And if they can't cut it - f--k 'em. It's just that simple.

Navigating this human minefield is Andrew (an exquisitely haunting Miles Teller), a new student at the prestigious Shaffer Conservatory. Andrew has dreams of becoming a great jazz drummer, and when he's selected/challenged by Fletcher, he essentially loses his mind to make the grade. I was the kind of student that got pissed when I felt like my personal life was being taken over by school (it's so unfair! *sadface*). Andrew has a simple solution: f--k having a personal life. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

I would accept that with an open mouth.

In every job I've ever had, at some point, it's totally fair to say that someone was carrying my ass. Usually it's only in the beginning, but there has been a gig or two where I've been woefully inept at the task at hand the entire time (I was the worst server in the history of time [or waiter, to you assholes out there]). And when I take the time to actually think about these gracious people, littered throughout my adult life, it's readily apparent that they all have one thing in common:

Vaginas. They're all women. And I'm okay with that.

Fully atoning for Tammy [review], last summer's shit-show deluxe, Mellissa McCarthy returns to form in director Paul Feig's Spy. While maybe not the most inspired comedy, it routinely does exactly what you want it to do: Make you laugh your ass off.

Susan Cooper is a spy for the United States government. Technically, anyway. But as the years have gone on she has settled into a role that she not only excels at, but on the surface really likes, supporting the James Bond-like Bradley Fine (Jude Law). Fine is the dashing and debonair lead, while Cooper is simply the voice in his ear. They really are the perfect team.

After Fine is killed, however, it's apparent that the entire covert operation is in jeopardy. The quick solution? Shut it down. But instead, Cooper and her team, led by the bitchy Elaine Crocker (a consistently disgusted Allison Janney) decide to go rogue and take of business their way. But what agent could they possibly find that no one would ever suspect? Who could be so plain, so f--king boring, that they could infiltrate the bad guys completely unnoticed? Hmm. I have no idea. Maybe Mike Myers? Rowan Atkinson?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Yeah, that's my bicep.

Near my friend's house, there used to be this one-off video store, totally unaffiliated with any reputable chain. And while most of the time we went in there solely to dare each other to enter the adults-only section (which my memory tells me was denoted by an actual cave-like entrance [possibly with fog machine - though that seems doubtful]), occasionally we would actually look at the real movies, most notably, action films.

In that section, there was this movie we always picked up, but never ever rented. It was called That's Action, and the back of the cover promised Over 500 punches! Even though we were douchey high schoolers, we were savvy enough to know that there was no way the actual movie could be as exciting as the mere thought of it. 

I vaguely recall seeing the trailer for Kung Fury on Kickstarter, but I do remember thinking there's no way to sustain that level of ridiculousness for an entire feature. And thanks to missing their million dollar goal, they'll never have to. But what we did get? It's nothing short of thirty one minutes of pure f--king magic.

Set in 1985, Kung Fury tells the absurdly perfect story of Miami's most badass cop. Struck by lightning and bitten by a cobra, Kung Fury is a cop like no other. In addition to his incredible martial arts abilities, teamed with Hackerman (the world's best hacker), he also has the ability to travel back in time. And he must do so, in order to kill the world's most notorious villain, Adolf Hitler.

Unfortunately though, Hackerman hacks too much time, and Fury ends up back in the land of vikings and Laser Raptors (I thought those were extinct thousands of years ago). But with a little help from Thor and some sexy ladies (and a wolf?), Fury's surely going to find a way into Nazi Germany. I mean, that only makes sense, right? Of course it does.

Friday, June 12, 2015

I could use the distraction, actually.

I'd say my personal number is probably around a dozen. I can't even remember most of them, other than the one in Pennsylvania where my principal was screaming like a lunatic, RUN! Get outside, NOW! 

Back home, supposedly there was an epic one about six or seven years ago. The only details I know about it have something to with the fridge ending up on the other side of the kitchen, actual cracks in the house, and a sordid tale of my father darting through the house stark naked after the shower doors (made entirely of inch-thick glass) caved in, and shattered all around him.

But, typically? In my experience, the whole event usually can be summed up with one question:

Hey, did you feel that?

I'll tell you right now, I felt every single (utterly f--king ridiculous) minute of San Andreas. All one hundred and fourteen of them. And while each was more laughably absurd than the one prior, I'll tell you something else that's hard to believe:

I f--king loved it.

Director Brad Peyton clearly has done/copied his homework, as every single disaster-movie cliche has been cranked to eleven. Estranged family? Check. Lone Scientist who knows what's going to happen!? Check! Main Character Whose Job Experience Will Prove Invaluable? Check, check bitches. Child in Peril (but who has learned a lot from his/her dad). Uh, 10-4, good buddy. Oh, what about Last Minute Saves? Shit...those are buy one, get one!

Clearly you have seen this movie before, but with The Rock and Paul Giamatti holding it down, and Carla Gugino and Alexandra Daddario keeping it up, it's still a Hell of a ride. And outside of a couple of those lame scenes where people do that annoying thing that only happens in movies, you know, thoughtful conversation on motionless ground - San Andreas simply refuses to let up. Basically it's like going to the Chinese Buffet. Sure this shit ain't good for you...but look how much you get!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Think of your little daughter.

They were easily my best class this year, and a solid contender for all-time. When I would launch into one of my countless/pointless stories (you frequent readers know what I'm talking about) the students in my third block would actually move closer. Not even on the sly, mind you, as they would jump out of their chairs and someone would say shh, he's telling a story. Without a hint of hyperbole, let me tell you, it was the best thing ever.

The only way I could pay them back, was quite simple: when they spoke, I listened. And when movies came up, if I hadn't seen it, I promised I would watch it. One dude recommended Fury [review] and off to Redbox I went. Another young man vouched for Paddington [review] and I watched it hours later. But this last one? Well, I dragged my feet on it. Not because of the student (as she's one of my favorite people alive), but because of the subject matter.



Silenced is a good movie, but a terrible story. One I'm positive I'll never, ever watch again. It's technically sound, full of very solid performances, and presents an interesting narrative, but its a punishing watch. 

As a parent, educator and (moderately) functioning member of society, I still can't wrap my mind around how this could ever happen, but years ago in South Korea - it did. 

Set in a school for deaf children, director Dong-hyuk Hwang's 2011 feature details the true events of the systemic rape and abuse of students as young as eight years old. Protected by an uninterested police force, and hiding behind infinite bureaucratic bullshit, the principal of the school and his staff basically did whatever the Hell they wanted to these kids. And unfortunately for the viewer, it's all rather graphically portrayed on screen. *shudder*

Monday, June 8, 2015

So shiny. So chrome.

I'm not a fan of the ballet.
I'd never want to step foot into the f--king desert under any circumstances.
And shocking no one, I've never been a willing participant in a brutal death orgy.

Well, until now.

I realize at this point in the summer, telling you to see Mad Max: Fury Road is essentially telling you not to be an asshole, but I'm going to do it anyway. Of course you will. But just in case there's a part of your brain that thinks eh, it can wait, let me be rather clear:

The f--k it can.

Even with weeks of unrelenting hype to potentially sully the experience, I left the theater last Thursday breathless and covered in my own sticky excitement. Fine, it was also two hours after the last day of school, but trust me: my overwhelming joy had less to do with an absence of eighth graders, and much more to do with the presence of all things Mad Max. My heart races just thinking about it.

If you haven't heard, here's what you need to know. Tom Hardy plays Max, a former cop tormented by violent visions of his long-dead family. In the dried out, post-apocalyptic version of wherever the f--k they are, Max gets caught up in some weird shit. After being branded, Max is then forced to be a constant blood-donor to some ailing soldier in what appears to be the last great army on Earth. This army, known as the War Boys, is run by this strange-looking f--ker, Immortan Joe. Max and Joe? Well, lets just say, they ain't exactly gonna see eye-to-eye. Why not you ask? Well, the reason all guys have problems with each other:


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Smart people do dumb things.

As a kid we actually had one, but he was an oddly effeminate character, prone to sporting Nintendo-related T-shirts and delving into unrequested monologues about Japanese trinkets. And when he got older, he essentially turned into a carbon-copy of Harry Potter (it was remarkable how much he looked like Radcliffe) and, um, confirmed his love for Ron, rather than Hermione. This kid couldn't break up a Kit-Kat, let alone a marriage. Well, unless we're talking about a White Bird in a Blizzard [review] type situation, then I guess it might have been possible.

The Boy Next Door is an awful film, but almost charmingly so. Yet another entry in to the sexy neighbor ruins everything genre, I picked this one up hoping for the best. And by best, clearly I mean f--king worst.

Jennifer Lopez stars as Claire, the recently-divorced, sexy single mom, who despite living on one income, parks her big ass in an even bigger house. Her husband has recently cheated on her at the corner of happy and healthy, and is slowly trying to regain the trust of his wife and all of her ridiculous hairstyles. Oh, and their son Kevin, too, needs his dad back, as ol' Kev is perhaps the biggest pussy in his high school.

Enter Ryan Guzman as Noah, the handsome twenty five year-old high school senior who's moving in next door to take care of his uncle, The Guy Who Hates Those Damn Meddling Kids in every episode of Scooby-Doo ever. Noah is a real charmer, as not only can he fix your garage door, quote Greek literature, but he also has rock hard abs and the squarest of jaws. Oh, and he's quite the bad ass motherf--ker, too.