Saturday, December 31, 2016

Did he put his puppet in your mouth?

If each of our lives has a million moments, the moment your child is born is like, top two or three. I know it's cliche as f--k, but of my thirty-seven years on this planet, the births of my two little ones are battling it out for the image most seared into my memory.

The making part is a bit blurry (I was going to say fuzzy, but opted against it), sure, but the moment those punks entered this world is simply unforgettable. Especially if you're down low. For my son Matthew, icechips in hand, I stayed high. Whispered little bits of encouragement into the bravest person in the room.

But for Violet, perhaps seeing the fear in my eyes, the doctor nudged me with her left elbow and gave me this nod like, get in there, P-ssy (poorly phrased, I realize). And so I did.

And what happened next...changed my life forever.

While I'm not really well-versed in the series, it's safe to say the events of Bridget Jones's Baby will also alter some lives forever, I'm just not sure which ones exactly. See, it appears that after a couple of incredible (and altogether improbable) evenings, the 43 year-old Ms. Jones has found herself rather knocked up. As any expecting mother north of 35 would tell you, this is a high-risk situation. And that's assuming you already know who the father is.

As yet another of my seasonal cinematic olive branches extended to Mrs. Two Dollar Cinema, I thought this one would be an excellent pick. Consistently charming and just funny enough, the third (right?) Bridget Jones flick essentially delivered what each of us were looking for. For her? A delightful comedy about having a baby starring two handsome men. For me? Two more hours with Dorothy Boyd, all grown up, and with a British accent. 

Though the narrative flow was interrupted by my wife's predictable flat-lining (and me immediately switching to Train to Busan), Bridget Jones's Baby quickly locks you onto the edge of your seat. Even if you don't find the jokes all that funny, or if the constant profanity turns you off, I'd put money on the fact that you'd still be interested in seeing who the father ends up being. Maybe it was predictable, or maybe it was something everybody already knew, but I was nervously rocking in my seat, waiting for the big reveal. 

Or maybe I thought that sound outside was a Korean zombie, coming to eat my face, Either way, I needed some f--king answers.

It's a crucial period for her, too.

If movies have taught me anything, there's an undeniable magic when it comes to riding the rails.

Literally so, I suppose, when Harry and Ron first boarded the Hogwart's Express. Or when those creepy dead-eyed kids headed to the North Pole with Tom Hanks in The Polar Express.

Remember the trip the three brothers took through India in the Darjeeling Limited? It was so enchanting it made trekking through the set of Slumdog Millionaire look something I'd give my right arm for. Hell, even in something like Nymphomaniac Vol. 1 [review], a simple commute home from work on the train had the chance to be a (mind)blowing experience.

But what movies have also taught me about the train? Well, when it's not romantic and whimsical?

It's an inescapable, unrelenting clusterf--k of pain and suffering, where your life expectancy goes from number of years to number of cars in an instant.

So, yeah. It's pretty f--king magical regardless.

Yet another foreign film that could have killed at the domestic box-office if given the chance, South Korea's Train to Busan is everything action/horror junkies could ever ask for. Set aboard a high-speed commuter rail in the early stages of a zombie outbreak, Sang-ho Yeon's flick is as brilliant as it is relentless. Even if bloodthirsty Koreans aren't chasing you down, this is one train you've got to catch.

Yoo Gong (the dude from Silenced [review]) plays Seok Woo, a father so entrenched in work that his family has become an afterthought. After yet another dismal birthday has left her broken-hearted, Woo's lovely little daughter Soo-an begs to be taken to her mom's house as soon as possible. It's an hour's train ride away, but Woo has no choice. They'll leave first thing in the morning.

Like any of us getting up to travel when it's still dark, Woo is a bit bleary eyed as they board the high speed train. He doesn't even notice the weird lady who staggers aboard as they are just about to depart. Hell, he doesn't even notice the incident unfolding at the station they've just left. He's got to be at work soon. Just a quick round trip to Busan and it's back to the grind, you know? No big deal. Hell, he might even catch a few more winks once this train gets moving.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Real talent. From real life. That's what audiences want to see.

I was kind of all in with Justin and Kelly. Even hung around for Ruben and Fantasia, if you can believe it. Eventually though, like the rest of the world, I grew tired of singing competitions. It wasn't ever the music, frankly, as I unabashedly love a good pop song. I've even been known to belt them out on occasion.

In my car. Loudly. Every single day of my life.

Horrific visuals/sounds aside, the real reason I've thrown in the towel on these damn competitions is every single thing about them other than the singing. Sure, that story about the kid from the small town with big dreams was compelling the first twenty times. But now? Who gives a shit. Sing the f--king song and shuffle back to your van down by the river, okay?

Keep your (nicely packaged) personal tragedy personal. Because, between you and me, I'm just here for the music. I ain't got time for all that other stuff.

Unfortunately, that other stuff comprises way too many of the one hundred and eight (!) minutes of Illumination's latest animated feature, Sing. With a moderately charming trailer (that has been seemingly placed in front of every movie I have seen theatrically since 1985) full of adorable singing and dancing animals, it seemed like writer/director Garth Jennings' flick would not only charm Paula and Randy, but also that a-hole in the v-neck, Simon Cowell as well. Uh, no. Not so much.

*holds hand in air* Thank youuuu....

After a fairly rad opening sequence swooshing all around town and introducing us to the major players. Sing inexplicably rushes through the auditions to instead focus on the failing theater of Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey). Moon, despite being a wee bit sheisty, is a likable little koala desperately holding onto an old theater that's been in his family for years.

Maybe there's an interesting story there, sure, but it grinds any joyous momentum to a screeching halt. Combine this with the fact that our half-dozen contestants are secretly trying to win a separate contest of being the most uninspired cliche in the history of modern cinema, and this one is way off key. And trust me, I know off key.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

If you put your Bat-Signal in the air, I'll be there.

I don't care what your eyes (sometimes) tell you. Or what your heart says half the time. Or what the news says always.
And that one guy you work with? He's an aberration. A glitch in the Matrix, I'm sure of it.
Oh, and forget everything you've ever read in a comments section, or just about any interaction on the internet in general. I'm telling you...right here and now...

...the world is a very good place. 

And it's filled with very good people.

At least it was at one point in November of 2013, where thousands of people came together to do something good...for someone other than themselves. Batkid Begins, an endlessly inspiring documentary from 2015 (currently streaming on Neflix), captures a moment in time where all the darkness of the world seemed to magically vanish under the bright lights of the Bat-Signal.

Quietly a love-letter to the bittersweet brilliance of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Batkid Begins tells the story of then 5-year-old Miles Scott, a little dude fighting the good fight against childhood leukemia. When contacted by the charitable organization, Miles' wish was, on paper, rather simple: He wanted to be Batman. Oh, so like, he wants to dress like The Dark Knight? No problem. No, no. He wants to be Batman. Like, the real Batman. Oh....*crickets* Uh, okay. We can come up with something...right?

They do. And as chronicled here, this seemingly little endeavor spirals out of control in the best possible way. Like a giant Katamari ball rolling down the hills of San Francisco (and only picking up the best parts of humanity), Dana Nachman's film shows not only what is possible for one little kid, but what might also be possible for the rest of us.

Friday, December 23, 2016

This is not a slice of pie. This is a slice of heaven.

Wait, you're saying he took her out on a date, in the daytime and....and had thoughtful conversation about relevant topics? What? And people voted for him?

Talking? Art exhibits?  Community organizing? A f--king Spike Lee movie? Really? I thought when Presidential types were interested in a woman...well, I thought it was much simpler than that.

I mean, that's a lot of work. Don't you just grab 'em by the p---y?

As the Obamas prepare for their last day in the White House, Southside With You carefully chronicles their first day together outside of it. Director Richard Tanne's feature debut is much like the future couple: fairly reserved, undeniably picturesque and for some, endlessly inspiring.

In the summer of 1989, Michelle Robinson has been assigned to keep tabs on a charismatic young law student named Barack Obama. You may have heard of this dude. Even though she's his advisor, Michelle begrudgingly accepts his invitation to attend a community meeting in a rough part of town. This area is trying to keep their kids safe, but due to a lack of funding, can't get the kids a rec center. This is an important meeting, sure...but it's not a date.

Well, it wasn't supposed to be, but ol' Barry picked up Michelle about four or five hours before the meeting....and well, they had to make a day of it. Going to a gallery to see an art exhibit? Enlightening, sure. But not a date. A quaint walk through a sunny park? Totally serene. But not a date. But by the time that Barack takes the podium at the meeting and does his thing? Still, not a date. 

Okay, fine. Maybe just a little bit...

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

I fear nothing. All is as the Force wills it.

There's nothing like a surprise ending in a film. You're sitting there, comfortable in every sense of the word, and then bam! You get blindsided in the best possible way. You look at the person next to you like, did that just happen? and you almost want to run out of the theater to immediately talk about it.

For me, The Sixth Sense and The Usual Suspects are two examples of films that basically made my damn near ending it. And while I'll always love an unexpected finale...

...there's something to be said for the direct opposite.

It doesn't matter what galaxy you're in, nor your proximity to it, even in space, war is Hell. In the first of likely many, many Star Wars Stories, Gareth Edward's Rogue One eschews the good times, adorable droids and cherished nostalgia of The Force Awakens [review] and shines his lightsaber on the dark underbelly of the Resistance. For those looking for a more serious Star Wars film, these are the Droids you're looking for.

Wait. That doesn't make sense, does it?

What does make sense, like, in every possible way, is the exceptionally reverse-engineered story of episode III and a half. Maybe you serious types might have some quibbles with some of the finer plot points, but from my seat in Auditorium 1, everything checked out (and stop being such a dick about everything, okay?)

Galen Erso, is a principled/handsome family man living a quiet life on a remote planet. Unfortunately for Erso and his family (but fortunately for the rest of the galaxy that enjoys being alive) he's also a badass scientist and engineer. And when he's recruited by the Empire to help build an enormous weapon, his small family is quite literally torn apart. But what looks like a sad ending...will turn out to be something worse, actually. Much worse.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

No one wants to see your dick, dude.

I get it ladies. I do. And I don't think there's anything to be ashamed of. In fact, as long as I can remember, I knew there was something a little bit different about me. Yep. It's true.

I love dicks.

Especially the handsome pair featured in Shane Black's consistently hilarious 2016 comedy, The Nice Guys. Criminally under-seen and brimming with one great bit after another, Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe knock it out of the f--king ballpark. If it's not the outright funniest movie of the year, it's pretty damn close.

Los Angeles in the late seventies was a pretty gnarly mix of sex, drugs and rock n' roll. And pornography. Somewhere way down from the bright lights of the Hollywood sign, we find two rival private detectives, Jackson Healy (Crowe, kicking ass) and Holland March (Gosling, also kicking ass) balls deep in unsavory types, you know, deplorables. Healy's the type of guy that's going to talk with his fists, while Holland's more likely to talk out of his ass. When unforeseen circumstances force these two together, things go from pretty f--king funny, to no, no. I just spilled my drink in my lap. (and yes, I just happened to be drinking piss).

Crowe plays the strong, silent type as well as he ever has, but surprising no one, Gosling is the real star of the show. March is more or less a total piece of shit, but he's an insanely likable turd that we can root for rather easily. Combining his total lack of scruples as a detective with his efforts to be a responsible single father, elevate the character (and the film) to something beyond what you'd typically expect from a buddy-cop flick. Oh, and he never utters a bad line....ever.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

I need to get a life of my own. And so do you.

In my previous post, I went on an on about how Mom is the real hero of the family. Always has been, always will be. Mom deals with everything that bothers everyone, day in and day out, whether you want her to or not.

Messy diaper? Mom deals with it. Messy room? Mom deals with it. Messy life? Mom deals with it. The list is endless, and likely goes far beyond what my simple one-track mind could even fathom. But don't dismiss Dad just yet, okay? Because there's one problem that the ol' big guy tackles every day of his life, too.

He deals with Mom.

Look, I wasn't going for a continuing theme of motherly trials and tribulations when I picked up The Meddler, I just saw Rose Byrne's name and mashed RENT. Thinking this was a film that my wife and I could swap war stories after (you know, those of the oh, you think you're mom's crazy... ilk), writer/director Lorene Scafaria's 2015 indie-flick gave us surprisingly little to say to one another afterward. But maybe that's what happens after hearing Susan Surandon talk for 100 minutes straight,

Surandon plays Marnie, a widow who has just relocated to California after the death of her husband. Apparently this dude was a good guy, and has set up his wife with everything she needs. At least that's what she keeps telling herself, and us, as Marnie attempts to pass the days being there for her daughter Lori. Maybe if it's not your mom doing the hounding, you might think Aw, I wish I had a mom like that!, but Lori is straight-up worn down by Marnie's relentless quest to help. Eventually Lori skips town back to New York City, where a show she has written has gone into production. Marnie is all alone out west. With no one that needs her.

As a guy, I'm thinking And this is a problem how? But I'm Dad. Dad likes to be left alone. Mom? Not so much.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Moms don't quit!

Don't tell anyone, but being Dad is the best. Wouldn't trade it for the world.

Oh, not like, actually having kids or anything, as they're a huge pain in the ass, but more in the simple fact that I'm not Mom. Cause being Mom? F--king blows.

Mom ends up with all the dirty work, and it starts from day one - Hell, moment one. From the second that adorable parasite passes through the ring of fire, Mom is at Current Threat Level Red for the rest of her life. Her brain will be consumed by not only being the lifetime CEO of a small dysfunctional company, er, family, but she'll also have all the responsibilities of a functioning adult, too.

And, well, she'll have to know where everything (and everyone) is at all times. Always. Because the rest of us are incapable of looking. Or caring. Or caring to look.

But Dad? When he inadvertently looks up from his phone? He might roll up his sleeves and pitch in.

I mean, these Redbox movies aren't gonna rent themselves.

Bad Moms isn't a bad movie, but it could have been much, much better. A clunky ode to modern motherhood, this little flick takes an idea ripe for relevant satire and instead goes for full-raunch and cheap laughs. It could have taken place in reality and perhaps meant something, but instead exists in a world that might as well have been recorded in front of a live studio audience! But we're not firing up Bad anything (be it Moms, Santa, Ass, Grandpa, or Lieutenant) for realism, are we? Of course not. We just want to see rotten people do rotten things. And in that regard, Moms delivers.

Amy (Kunis) is a relatively young mom. She has two ungrateful kids and f--king dog stricken with vertigo. Her husband is a tool and let's just say that it's not his weight he's constantly pulling. Eventually Amy has had enough of everyone's bullshit, and basically abandons her family. No, she doesn't go out for some cigarettes and never come back (isn't that Bad Dad's finishing move?), but instead stops giving a f--k about everything. She's pretty much Peter from Office Space, you know? Except with way better tits...