Monday, March 28, 2016

I was supposed to be happy.

A couple of years back, I was walking my dog, Dodger, and not all that far from my house...we encountered a woman. Have you ever seen someone coming toward you, and just known, like for certain, they have something to say to you? Well, my spider-sense was certainly tingling, and as this possibly seventy-year-old woman addressed me, I knew something wasn't right.

Do you know where North York is? Is this the road to North York?

Look, I really wasn't sure what the f--k direction either of us were walking in, but I was pretty sure, either way, she wasn't headed in the right one. As we stood there, uncomfortably close, ol' Dodger (though he was Young Dodger back then) started to get antsy. Whether he wanted to keep on keeping on, or continue his familiar sniff-pee ultimate combo, I started to worry somebody was going to get upset (or bitten). Quickly, I apologized, and yanked my dog away from this old woman.

And as I walked away, instantly I knew I'd f--ked up. I should have helped her (even though, no lie, I imagined taking her into my house and she absolutely goes Reverse Underwater Spider and screams and crawls up the walls backwards). I turned to call to her, and yeah, you guessed it...

...she was totally f--king gone. 

At first glance, the soul-crushing film Room, from director Lenny Abrahamson, has little do with my pointless anecdote, outside of one very intense moment. While I'd rather not spoil it for you, for the thirty seconds I could actually function as a person during this film, it was all I could think about. That was, of course, when I wasn't holding back an endless stream of guttural sobs.

Winning an Oscar for the role, Brie Larson plays Ma, a woman confined to a very small room... somewhere. Always at an arms-length away is her son Jack, masterfully realized by the tiny force of Jacob Tremblay. Together they are utterly alone, with a tiny skylight hinting at the season, and bad TV hinting at everything else. It's just about the worst situation imaginable, but Ma and Jack are making the best of it.

That is until Old Nick shows up, a night-time visitor to Room interested in only one thing: having sex with Ma. Apparently he provides for our downtrodden pair, but just enough to keep them alive. He blames layoffs at work, but it's all too apparent that Old Nick ain't right in the head. In fact, this whole situation is beyond f--ked up, and after five years of it, Ma decides it's time to get the Hell out of there. Her plan is fairly straightforward, but entirely awful.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

I trust you had an historic evening.

It took me about a decade to get over Braveheart. Any thing in the ballpark of historical epic utterly failed in my eyes, simply because it wasn't the tale of William Wallace (and his uncle. Argyle).

In 2000, most people I knew lost their collective shit after seeing Gladiator, and many of my friends insisted it was the best movie ever made. Not even close, a-holes. Sure, it was okay, but it wasn't f--king Mel Gibson and a thousand dirty Scotsmen laying waste to droves of English soldiers. 

And if Ridley Scott's movie really was that great, well, where's its years-late, mostly unnecessarily, totally inferior PG-13 sequel, huh? It never got one of those, right?

Ohhhhh. About that...

Fine, 2010's Robin Hood has nothing to do with Gladiator, but it might have even less to do with f--king Robin Hood. Again pairing star Russel Crowe and director Ridley Scott, this swords-and-arrows epic tells the (untold/unwanted) origin story of Robert of Loxley. I mean, Robin of Loxley. I mean, Robin Roberts. Of Nottingham?

Okay, most of that may be totally wrong. Here's what I do know:

Crowe plays Robin Bigdick Longstride, a fairly badass archer in King Richard the Lionhearts' army. For whatever reason, King Dick himself fights along side his men. And on one typically gloomy English day, he's (rather unceremoniously) shot in the f--king neck and killed. Bummer, right? Guess we ought to send his crown home and let everyone know the King is dead. Long live the King. 

But on the way to fully deserting the royal army, Robin and his dudes stumble across an ambush of the King's crown and all of a sudden decide to be honorable. Not only are they going to return the crown, but Robin decides to return the sword of a dying soldier, the (possibly) aforementioned Robert of Loxley. You with me so far? Of course not.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

He's a notorious troublemaker, my lady.

Twenty-four hours from now, I'll have seen Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. And while the early reviews aren't exactly favorable, I'm sure I'll have a decent time. Even if it's not a really good flick, there's something inherently satisfying about seeing such iconic superheroes share the big screen. Especially considering that in the thirty-six years I've wandered this planet, there has almost always been an iteration of at least one of those colossal figures coming to (or leaving) the cinema. Almost forty years of cinematic lore to obsess over!

Impressive, right?

Well...not exactly.

I always trying to convince myself that I'm not really a fan of classic movies, but as I smiled the whole way through 1939's The Adventures of Robin Hood, it's becoming readily apparent I am. Sure, there's a thin layer of cheesy goodness covering this whimsical production top-to-bottom, but of the three Robin Hood films I watched last weekend (more on that later), it was easily my favorite.

Combining aspects of the Dark Knight and Superman Clark Kent, the character of Robin Hood has been dramatized in film for almost eight decades. In this version, Errol Flynn and his rad mustache absolutely own the screen, injecting Robin with a level of joy unseen since FDR was in office. He literally bounces all over the screen, swinging and smiling throughout a Technicolor Sherwood Forest with the slightest of effort. Wait, heroes can be fun?

Yeah. Lots. 

But don't think ol' Robin'g just a charming goofball. Nope. Turns out the OG Mr. Hood is a motherf--king badass, heartily chuckling before and after his arrow buries itself in the stomach of quite a few of Prince John's goons. 

Saturday, March 19, 2016


Call me crazy, but when I take my kids to the movies, I want them to have fun.

When that rare moment of not breathing in popcorn occurs and I have a second to glance over at them, I'm always psyched to see one of my little ones engrossed in a flick. My daughter Violet is two and a half (and has more letters in her name than theatrical movies conquered), so let me be honest, when I check in on her? It's usually to see if she's looking at the screen. Or awake. 

Or still in our row.

But my son? I'm always hoping to catch my 6 year-old smiling. Usually he's sitting in that annoying trapezoidal way that little kids do (also inhaling salty snacks), and somewhat distressingly, he always looks like the weight of the world is on his tiny shoulders. And while I used to think it was his fault (or mine), after a couple years of going to kids' movies, I now know better.

It's because he's paying attention. 

Disney's latest, Zootopia, almost crumbles under the weight of the (numerous) social burdens it carries, as the increasingly downward trajectory of race-relations in this country is the talking animal movie. What I thought might be a cute tale about an animal society much like our own, instead is a timely allegory about a deliberately fragmented society and its rampant xenophobia. Oh, and cute little bunnies, too. 

See, simmering just above all the ugly racial stuff, is a different tale of inequality, this one of the little girls can do anything big boys can do (and likely, even better) variety. That shame of humanity might have been enough to be the message in a message movie, but not here. Nope.

Judy Hopps (charmingly voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) is a tiny rabbit with a big dream: being a cop in the beautifully-conceived Zootopia. Raised by local-yokel parents with zero expectations, Judy refuses to let anything stand in the way of her destiny. And apparently, her destiny is to be a meter-maid.

Whether it's because she's small, or a girl, or a small girl, Judy isn't given any respect on the force. While a writer somewhere was ticking off boxes of wrongs to be righted (I really wanted to go with writed, just so you know), Judy stands up for a fox just trying to get a tasty treat at an all-elephant diner (hmmm...elephants aren't being tolerant? Can't imagine any symbolism there...). The elephants don't like his kind, but eventually relent when the by-the-book bunny threatens the manager with countless health-code violations. Aww.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange.

As you may know, I try to start every post with some (potentially) relevant anecdote to the film I'm about to 'review'. I do this as a way for my kids to have a window into their father's life in case I'm not around to tell them myself. But when I look back at most of those tales, I see silly stories from a life played very safe. Perhaps, overly so. I'm that guy in the movie that's happy enough, but clearly isn't living his dream.

A little over a month ago, after trying to find an excuse not to do it, I decided to quit being such a wuss and finally do something I always wanted to do. While making out with Brad and Angelina would have been awesome, that wasn't it. Actually, my wife had heard about someone in Houlton, Maine (about an eleven an a half hour drive from my house) willing to give up their family business to whomever could write the best essay

Naturally, this business was a movie theater. Not just any theater, but the theater. Set in a small picturesque town in the northeast corner of New England, the Temple Theater was a life-long dream I didn't even know I'd been having. Two screens, 400 seats, and an eight-bedroom apartment upstairs was infinitely more than I could have ever hoped for. I'm not religious, but that sounded like heaven.

And if I could combine a hundred bucks and two-hundred and fifty words, it would be mine. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

That's a lot of dead whores.

Some guys like the Grammys. That's cool. I mean, I appreciate them, respect them...but they're not something that turns my head. Same goes for the Emmys. Congrats on those. You should be proud.

Other guys like the Oscars. Or the Tonys. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

But me? As long as I can remember, it's the Globes that I'm obsessed with. Those wonderful, wonderful...Golden Globes.
Do you notice a sign in the front of my house that says Dead Hooker Storage?
I don't think Everly, a small-time action-flick (starring a then 47-year-old Salma Hayek) garnered much attention during the 2014 award season, but damned if I couldn't take my eyes off it. Well, when I could keep them open, anyway. Loud, stupid and utterly f--king ridiculous, director Joe Lynch's flick is like ordering a 10 piece from McDonalds. Yeah, they're might be some breast meat in there, but also a lot of awful bullshit, too.

Hayek plays the titular Everly, who just so happens to be a total f--king whore. No, not like, she's a slut or anything, she's just the finest piece of tail in a stable of prostitutes hired/kidnapped by some mysterious members of the Japanese mob. Things go tits up, and Everly finds herself having to shoot and stab her way out of the top dude's penthouse. This wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, except that there's an infinite number of goons and rival whores looking to knock her up off.

And that's before her mom and estranged daughter show up and join the fray. Because that's who you'd invite to a shootout: your bitter f--king mom and your adorable four-year-old daughter. Trust me, neither of these ladies are your Huckleberry.