Sunday, July 31, 2016

I gotta admit. That's a Hell of a distraction.

I have always preferred blondes.

From as far back as I can remember, the girls that I would endlessly obsess over, plot and scheme to actually talk to, were almost always blondes...with incredible blue eyes, no less. Heights and weights fluctuated, sure, but that golden yellow hair (uh, along with a winning personality) was a constant. 

Blonde hair and blue eyes? Real original. What's next? Did they have big boobs, too? You're quite the visionary, m. brown.

Whoa, there. My point is, you like what you like. And sometimes, there's very little room for anything else. 

Even a lovely brunette.

Clearly women aren't exactly what I'm talking about, but galactic space operas aren't all that different, honestly. Both can be incredibly fun, super intellectual and undeniably sexy, too. But for me, as Star Wars runs down the beach in slow motion, her older sister Star Trek reads a book under a towel. Nice lady? Of course she is. For someone else.

I hadn't even seen the second installment of the new films when my son and I decided to catch a matinee showing of Star Trek Beyond. Set after the events of the (supposedly) divisive Into Darkness, the latest entry into the perilous adventures of Kirk and Spock concerns itself with reconnecting a fragmented crew. It seems three years into their five-year mission, the crew of the Enterprise has, more or less, had enough of this same old, you'd-have-to-be-an-idiot-to-accept-that-kind-of-mission level of bullshit. The solution? Dock on a badass space station and recharge the batteries. Forget about the familiar routines and faces of the ship...for most of  a day.

And then, yeah, go on another f--king unwinnable mission for some a-hole who hates to ask...but has no other choice.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Pretty magestical, eh?

When you're a kid, you think I can't wait till I'm an adult. Then everything will be easier because I'll be in charge. And this makes sense, because, even when you're not f--king up (inadvertently or otherwise), people are still always telling you what to do. Because, you know, they know what's best.

And when you finally do grow up, however, finally become that adult you've longed to be? Hell, you look at any kid that crosses your path and think these lucky shits don't know how easy they have it. 

But as someone who both was a kid and has a kid (two, actually), I'm at the point where I think I've finally got it all totally figured out. It's readily apparent to me that both how you grow up and how you end up are tied to one simple concept, known by every single culture walking the planet today.

Luck. It's all f--king luck.

As luck would have it, last Friday night, my wife and I chanced upon a showing of the utterly brilliant Hunt for the Wilderpeople. While it's not like I drove the entire thirty miles blindfolded in a sandstorm or what have you, but many seemingly random factors made Taika Watiti's latest the only movie we could see. And without really knowing what I was getting into, let me be very clear when I tell you: I f--king loved this movie. So much in fact, it's almost like fate brought us together.

Ricky Baker (an impeccably deadpan Julian Dennison) is a shit. In and out of trouble for most of his young life, we meet this (apparent) little f--ker after he's been dropped off at the home of his latest set of foster parents, Aunt Bella and Uncle Hec. Ricky isn't impressed, and actually strolls right back into the police car that brought him to their isolated, New Zealand farm. But Bella persists, and eventually wins the kid over. Uncle Hec (Sam Neil, kicking as much ass as ever) is not as impressed, however, and would be more than okay if the kid left him the Hell alone. Ricky's actually kind of cool with this...

...until Aunt Bella suddenly passes away. And Hec's ready to send the kid back.

Monday, July 25, 2016

I've heard terrible things about you.

I think I like the old Ghostbusters movies more than the new one.

This wasn't really a swerve-from-the-left-lane-across-three-lanes-of-traffic type of moment, but it was pretty damn close. How could my son, my son, utter such nonsense? Have I failed him, and the world, as his father? Sure, you're allowed to like what you like (and hate what you hate)...that's totally fine. Especially when you haven't even had your seventh birthday.

But when you haven't even seen the new Ghostbusters movie yet? We've got a problem. But even more concerning?

He hadn't seen the old ones yet, either.

While I'm not (really) afraid of ghosts where I live, I'm deathly terrified of finding a troll in my house. So the easiest solution? Last Tuesday, along with my wife, we headed to the irrationally-divisive Ghostbusters remake to see a movie. 

Directed by Paul Feig, this updated version of the apparently f--king sacred eighties film plays it surprisingly (for me, anyway) close to the original. 

Three scientists, risking different levels of credibility, discover paranormal activity all over New York City. Behind the technical wizardry of Jillian Holtzmann (an awesome Kate McKinnon), and the leadership of Abby Yates and Erin Gilbert (Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig, respectively), our new Ghostbusters set out to prevent, you guessed it, the opening of a portal from another dimension. 

Seems some sketchy guy/deranged lunatic has discovered the means to summoning an army of ghosts and plans to take over the city...and one can only assume...the world.  Joined by NYC transit worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones, not quote dialed up to eleven) and their newly-hired secretary, Kevin (the best kind of ridiculous Chris Hemsworth), Yates and her crew must defy all the non-believers and save the day from a variety of misogynistic a-holes apparitions and abominations.

Friday, July 22, 2016

We're not keeping you. You're just ...staying.

There was a minute or two in my life where I would actively seek out (somewhat) underground punk bands that I loved and see them wherever they happened to be playing. There were a few dicey clubs, sure, uh, a polo field one time, and even a Jewish Community Center that had a gigantic mural of James Van Der Beek prominently featured. Yeah. Clearly that place was hardcore.

And had I ever been cool enough to actually talk to someone else that I didn't arrive with? Well, I figure there's only three things I would have desperately shouted into their ear:

If the band was good, I f--king love these guys!! They're incredible! Wanna dance?
If the band was bad, These guys? Oh, they suck. I'm just work here.
And, if pretty girl was involved...

Yeah, I'm with the band.

Luckily, any of those options, coming from me, would have simply been pathetic, but in 2015's Green Room, they would have been (increasingly) f--king catastrophic. Heading in, I didn't really know much about this horror-thriller, other than the fact that it was a bit violent and featured the late Anton Yelchin. And while you basically had me at Hello anyway, let me make this an even easier sell: it's by the guy who did f--king Blue Ruin [review].

No, it's fine. Go. I'd be more upset if you didn't...

After yet another dismal gig, would-be punk rockers the Ain't Rights are offered one last show before the tour, and potentially the band, is over. Rolling into some backwoods dive bar, it's clear that this club is owned and operated by some pretty grimy neo-nazi, white supremacist motherf--kers. Uh, cool. I guess. So they do what punk bands do: they open with a cover of Nazi Punks F--k Off. I guess skinheads aren't exactly fans of irony...

Actually, once our dudes bust out the original numbers (and stop telling everyone in the room to personally f--k off), the crowd chills out, digs the music, and the overwhelming tension in the room is tossed into the mosh pit never to be seen again. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Is murder our new religion?

The ballot is stronger than the bullet.  - Abraham Lincoln

While I whole-heartedly agree with the 16th President of the United States, ultimately, it wasn't a lost election that took his life. Hell, it wasn't even a vampire [review], or an unrelentingly demanding wife [review] (both equally deadly). It was a single bullet cast by, of all things, an actor. 

Yeah, we gotta vote. No matter what. But let's not entirely discount the power of a psycho with a gun.

Turns out, those f--kers have some pull, too.

And I thought the Washington National's version was scary....
For something as easily dismissive as an 'action/horror movie', The Purge: Election Year is an impeccably-timed piece of subversive cinema. Writer/director James DeMonaco's third Purge film ups the ante of the previous two, pitting the fate of our yearly cleanse in the hands of drastically divided voters. Twelve hours of murder and chaos seems like something that we would never actually see on a ballot, but, at this point, would anything really surprise you?

Anyway, in DeMonaco's fictional version of the United States (decades into the future), two rival political figures are battling it out in a Presidential debate days before the annual Purge. Senator Roan (a solid Elizabeth Mitchell) represents a new way of thinking, and opposes the annual bloodbath . See, in the twelve hours where anything goes, a disproportionate number of poor people and minorities are ruthlessly slaughtered, and Roan has a plan to end it. Minister Owens, on the other hand, speaks for the old guard, and sees nothing wrong with our God-given murder one another. While the debate is certainly heated, it's just words being fired at one another. Remember, as lawless as the Purge is, there are some basic ground rules. Killing government officials is illegal.

Well, it was.

Monday, July 18, 2016

It's poo poo with a dash of ca ca.

My daughter Violet is two weeks shy of turning three.

People will often describe tiny demons kids this age by using the old saying of the terrible twos. But every parent knows that phrase got traction because adults adore alliteration. Terrible threes doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, you know? Now, I love my daughter, damn near more than anything else in this (currently horrible) world, but I'll be the first to admit that wrapped up in that adorable exterior is an, at times, unrelenting disaster. Incessant whining, feet stomping, selective hearing is just the start of it.

Luckily, surrounding all that unnecessary drama? Tiny moments of pure brilliance and bliss.

Even though the family and I caught The Secret Life of Pets last Sunday, here I am, a (summer!) week later, posting about the number one movie in America! And being that the oldest three members of our clan didn't really care for it (I'd ask Violet, but it might set her off), I'm kind of surprised that it's still raking it in. I figured Americans would reject such a one-note project bringing very little to the table, right? least 40 forty percent would. Currently.

Unless you've been living under the heaviest of rocks, you've seen all the good bits this movie has to offer. Billed as a look at what our precious pets do when we're gone, Secret Life is instead, as my six-year old son put it, a shittier version of Toy Story (fine, maybe I punched that up a bit). But Woody and Buzz this ain't.

Max (voiced by Louis C.K.) is an adorable little dog, totally (and rightfully) worshiped by his childless owner. One day, poor ol' Max is blindsided when she comes home with another dog, a giant fuzzball named Duke. Duke (Eric Stonestreet, doing his best John C. Reilly) is kind of a dick, honestly, and treats Max like the second banana he's quickly becoming.

One day, during a break from being walked with a shit-ton of other dogs, Max and Duke inadvertently end up on the mean streets of NYC only to get lost and ultimately, you guessed it, caught by the dog catcher. If these two buttsniffing leghumpers have any chance of getting home...*lowers voice* they're going to have to work together. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

It's a fire, mister. And all fires are bad.

We don't have much in the dumpy, little town I live in. It's not tumbleweeds and hitchin' posts, but it's no burgeoning metropolis, either. In fact, the tallest building around is probably the old hotel in the city, which, built in 1925, tops out at a whopping eleven stories tall.

But what we do have? Well, among other oddities, we have a sign. And it's not just any sign (a billboard, really) that we pass every single day of our lives, this particlular sign tells all the citizens of our dumpy, little town the average wait time to be admitted into the emergency room. Just before I started this post, the sign said 7 minutes. But on a bad day? My son and I laughed endlessly when it read 48 minutes.

Almost an hour? For an emergency? That's f--king terrible. I mean...imagine just sitting around waiting to die...

That would be terrible. And occasionally, really, really funny, too.

In order to possibly contribute to last week's LAMBcast (episode #330), I needed to watch the 1974 action/thriller/unintentional comedic masterpiece, The Towering Inferno. Championed (repeatedly) by Jay Cluitt at Life Vs. Film, director  John Guillermin's epic disaster film is a shockingly star-studded affair. While contemporary films jam packed with famous people are silly and have two strangers fall in love in an elevator, this bad boy is all business and simply has people falling out of them.

Apparently, back in the seventies, people gave a shit about buildings. Big ones, especially (the buildings, not the...nevermind). And on the opening night of the world's tallest building, San Fransico's The Glass Tower, a very large party is to be held on the 138th floor. The guest list will include the upper crust of the City by the Bay, including the noble mayor and his lovely wife, and even a prominent senator. Oooh fancy. 

Anyway, as preparations are underway for the big evening, the architect of the building, Doug Roberts, inexplicably shows up after two years of wrestling grizzlies in Montana (not that there's anything wrong with that) to make sure things go smoothly. I always thought architects designed buildings, but apparently they frantically maintain them as well. Doug (Paul Newman, starting and stopping all kinds of fires), after rocking the casbah with his lady-friend Susan (the super-fine Faye Dunaway), immediately discovers the whole building is f--ked. See, it's readily apparent that one of the contractors skimped on the electrical wiring, and The Glass Tower should probably be renamed The Oily Rag.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Deliver us from weasels.

When it comes to movies recently, there's been a lot of talk lately about ruined childhoods. I understand the sentiment, but what a stupid thing to say, right?

First, think about the things that actually ruin a childhood. I don't think a recycled plotline qualifies, you know? And even if it does somehow matter to you, uh, let me give you a quick heads up about that: no one cares about your feelings. At all. But if you happen to find a group of like-minded individuals who, like you, are having their youth diminished by a modern film? Congrats. Though, I'm not sure how your childhood has been ruined, as it's readily apparent you're still living it.

Instead of complaining about some cherished childhood memory seemingly bastardized by Hollywood, you know what you should do? Take a kid to see it. 

Maybe it will save theirs.

I wouldn't say that The BFG falls into precious childhood memory territory or anything, but it was certainly a story I remember fondly. And prior to seeing the film with my almost seven-year old son, I had been reading it aloud night after night. And while he was as rapt with Roald Dahl's tale as I remember being (back in fifth grade when my teacher read it to the class), something strange came over me as the left side of the book got thicker than the right: nothing really happens in this damn story.

Set in the early eighties, The BFG tells a remarkably simple story. Late one night, a young girl named Sophie catches sight of a mysterious giant slinking around the streets of her London orphanage. The giant scoops Sophie up and brings her to his home where the two become fast (and unlikely) friends. Unfortunately, this giant, of the Big Friendly variety, isn't the only of his kind, and resides near a motley crew of man-eating giants, each twice the size of the BFG. When Sophie learns that these gnarly dudes actually eat children, she decides she must intervene. And by that I mean, she's going to tell on them. Uh...that's it.

Monday, July 11, 2016

She said she was bored and lonely.

I used to frequent chat rooms.

Initially, I was there because I was curious about this whole internet fad, and talked to random people about movies, music and whatever. Then, pathetically, my roommates would join me in the chat rooms and we would harass people trying to have genuine conversations. When they would jump to other rooms (after inevitably succumbing to our incessant dickery), we would follow them and steal their usernames and say horrible things to whomever they were talking to previously. It was stupid, but holy shit was it amusing.

But then shit got real. I started talking to the same person (I'll roll the dice and say...girl) night after night, and began to think about them when I wasn't online. And then, well, then she did something I'll never forget. She wrote me an actual, tangible, hand-written letter. And...most scintillating of all?

She included her picture. 

The arrival of visual aids immediately ended my, uh, relationship. But in the 2009 documentary, talhotblond, shared pictures are crucial to the burgeoning online romance. Falling in love with someone's words may be risky enough, but when you also love the [provided] face that's saying them? Hell, it's even easier to lose your mind . Especially when your just might be totally f--king crazy in the first place.

Currently streaming on Netflix, director Barbara Schroeder's film details the deception and debauchery permeating throughout a doomed online romance. An unintended precursor to the much more effective 2010 documentary film Catfish, tallhotblond also features the unholy (but expected) three-headed monster of jealously, dishonesty and idiocy. But what separates Schroeder's film, sadly, is that in this story, the broken heart doesn't just belong to some blindsided lover, but to a family whose son was methodically murdered by one. 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

I'm fine, I'm fine. Just keep shooting.

What the f--k, America?

The rules are pretty simple, right? Like, don't get it wet or feed it after midnight simple. Outside of dropping nukes and shit, you get to do whatever the f--k you want, to whomever the f--k you want for twelve hours a year.

Not twelve months. 

As I frantically stumble around to see all the part twos and threes the summer movie season inevitably shits and pisses upon us (sometimes at the same time), I managed to take the time to catch The Purge: Anarchy on demand. Even if I wasn't all that thrilled with the original [review], the series' premise is simply too compelling. The idea of twelve hours of government-sanctioned lawlessness, however logistically impossible, is (and likely always will be) horror movie gold.

Set a year after Ethan Hawke defended his family from the only graduating class of Trump University, Anarchy takes us away from suburbia and out onto the mean streets of Los Angeles. Sure, no one in their right mind would be in downtown L.A. on the night of the Purge. But, according to movies, no one in downtown L.A. is ever in their right mind.

A mysterious badass known only as Sergeant (Frank Grillo, rightfully stuck on intense) has hit the streets during the Purge in his armored-up car with a score to settle. Eva and Cali, a mother and daughter team who had originally planned to stay home and not be killed, were forced out of their apartment when a drunken neighbor decided he wanted to um, Purge both of the ladies, starting with the oddly coveted Eva. Some major shit goes down, and the ladies are taken hostage...until Sergeant sees what's going on, and regrettably for his evening plan, decides to intervene. Also along for the ride are Liz and Shane, a bickering young couple totally bent over a barrel because their shitty car broke down moments before all Hell is officially allowed to break loose.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Careful, gringa.

Somehow, I was moderately respected in high school. Like, almost everyone was fairly okay with my presence (and the incessant sarcasm/high school douchery that came with it). But even more shocking, and I shit you not, the hottest girl in school was a fan, too. A big fan. 

She was smart, funny, had a sweet...uh, truck, and was, in all seriousness, jaw-droppingly beautiful. And while she liked me, her true love was the beach. And surfing. 

On more than one occasion, she would beg me to come out with her so she could teach me how to surf, but there was (foolishly, I'll readily admit) no f--king way that was going to happen. Even after repeated tales of her top being totally lost at sea (this wasn't her persuasion angle, just anecdotes that rendered me incapable of basic human functioning), I couldn't bring myself to do it. Ever. 

Surfing, to her, was something beautiful, something that connected her to the ocean and all the marine life that lived in and around it.  It was, without a doubt, part of her DNA. Me? I never appreciated the ocean until years after I left it. DNA? F--k. I was in it for the T&A.

You could remove all the words and just say the following:
It's like CastAway, but Tom Hanks is a hot chick and Wilson's a seagull.
Oh, and there's a giant, a-hole shark wanting to eat both of them.
Which is a motivation deeply rooted in many, as there are an infinite number of things most dudes (high school and otherwise) will do/and or watch to satiate our primitive instincts. Not the least of which is this summer's highly-effective thriller The Shallows, Blake Lively stars in this 85-minute gem that checks the boxes of not only watching a pretty lady doing stuff, but also, a notch or two down the list, sharks f--king eating people.

Opening with a bit of the end, before heading back in time, The Shallows tells the story of Nancy, a twenty-something year old sorting some shit out. When we meet Nancy, she's riding shotgun in a rusty-old pickup with some handsome hombre named Carlos. She's a little coy with the stranger, but this pilgrimage to some top-secret beach location serves two purposes: One, the beach was a spot her late mother often told tales of, and this visit will help Nancy reconnect. And two, as a recent med-school dropout, the time away will hopefully provide some direction as to what, if anything, Nancy will do with the rest of her life.