Monday, December 31, 2018

They're no dummies.

My dad was just in for his annual/semi-annual visit to the mid-Atlantic. Cooked a bunch, finished my basement, played an infinite number of games of Hangman with my daughter. Good times, indeed.

For as long as I can remember (but much more so in recent years), politically speaking, he's been incredibly involved. Consumed, even. No matter the topic, all roads lead to some massive injustice perpetrated by a sinister government on its innocent people. While there's a level of shame in discussing any of these crimes with my father, turns out there's a bonus level. The fact that I, his son, knew absolutely nothing about these terrible, terrible events.

What do you know about Cambodia? You know about Laos, right - what happened there? Do you know what the United States did to ________________? I either shrug, sigh, or go silent.

Because, me? I haven't really been the best student of history - especially U.S. History. But, uh, not to brag or anything...

...I do watch a lot of movies.

Vice, the latest cinematic dick punch from director Adam McKay. Packaged and sold as a movie, as in something one would enjoy with popcorn, Vice ends up being one of the most amusing/f--king dreadful two hour history lessons to hit the theater since McKay's previous effort, The Big Short [review]. Imagine your favorite person you the worst news of your life, and you might be on the right track.
It was only fitting that I took my dad (and my wife) to

Just short of shadowboxing my way into the theater (and wearing a white towel with a hole cut in it for a shirt), I felt incredibly confident heading into our evening showing of Vice. At 39, I'm old enough to have a solid recollection of the depicted events, theoretically meaning I wouldn't sound like a bigger moron than usual during the post-watch breakdown we were bound to dive into. Also, there was a good chance I would be the only who stayed awake the entire time, so, advantage m.brown.

Here's the thing, I honestly can't tell you, if knowing more (in this situation), can really be framed as an advantage - a positive. When the house lights came on, as much as I enjoyed my time in the theater, and letting the people flanking me know who snores louder, this depiction of the Bush-Cheney Administration absolutely gutted me. Vice, and the era that it portrays, is nothing short of an absolute f--king nightmare. Maybe the current administration has made some us long for the Dubya days, but seeing this film not only shatters those rose-colored glasses, but then it picks up the shards and jams them in your eye. I think this tweet sums it up the best:

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Let's do it.

I don't mean to brag or anything, but, uh, back in high school? I pretty much saved the Pacific Ocean.

See, I spent the better part of a fairly-humid afternoon walking around my hometown spray-painting the words Dump No Waste, Goes to Ocean in front of all the storm drainsThere was even a little outline of a humuhumunukunukuapua'a chilling there in the middle, so you could clearly see the adorable victim of your potentially reckless dumping. Killing any fish was bad enough, but our state fish? You stay lolo fo' ac' li' dat. (translation: you're a crazy douche, for such actions)

Remember, this was 1995 - an environmentally conscientious Hawaiian kid with a can of spray paint and stencil was, like, incredibly intimidating. Even if he didn't have luxuriously long hair, green eyes, and well, all the muscles.

As little faith as I had in my own efforts to protect the ocean that day, quite frankly, I had even less some two decades later that anybody could make a good Aquaman movieHow would the majority of a film that takes place underwater even be possible? *James Wan clears throat* Fine. The film looks and sounds incredible. But Aquaman? Really? Good luck making that character cool. *Jason Momoa stands, flexes, and winks*

I'm sorry...what were we talking about again?

I'm not going to bullshit you and say that I absolutely loved Aquaman, but I don't think that anyone can deny that it's pretty f--king impressive. Visually striking from the first frame to the last, James Wan's latest is eye-candy to the nth degree. And that's before you get to the visual effects.

As far as origins stories go, I'm pretty sure you've seen this one before. Badass Hero Guy, who came from mysterious/humble upbringings, is called upon, despite his general lack of interest, to reclaim the throne that's rightfully his, more or less because it's good for the people. Take a generous helping of The Lion King, with a side of Black Panther [review]garnish it with the slightest bit of Avatar, and preheat the oven to 400. Now, soak that f--ker in saltwater, add Amber Heard's heaving bosom...and you're good to go. Just don't leave it in too long, or you might dry it out and end up with a Bad Batch.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

I am disappointed in this threesome.

In the last few holiday seasons, there's been an alarming (and entirely unwelcome) trend threatening to make me swear off Christmas forever. No, not the ugly sweaters or freezing my nuts off to see some a-hole light a f--king tree in the town square. Those, it appears, I can actually suffer through. No, what really roasts my chestnuts is this idea that I, yes me, need to provide the absolute perfect f--king present for each one of my children...FROM EACH ONE OF THEIR GRANDPARENTS. 

How is this my responsibility? Don't they know I've got my own mostly blank list to deal with? Isn't it clear that I'm the one dealing with lights that don't work on a rickety-ass ladder that may or may not be able to hold me? And if I manage to find a spare minute in my increasingly shitty days...

...don't they know I've got terrible holiday movies to see?

You know we're in a bad spot when Susan Sarandon is the best part of the movie.
Once Home Alone and Elf have been watched (and re-watched), I'm pretty much all set with holiday movies. Mrs. Two Dollar Cinema, refuses to quit while we're ahead and scours the globe for other potential yule-tide cinematic traditions.  Turns out, the only thing seemingly taking place on an annual basis is that she falls asleep during some shitty film she hand selected. 

Cue the 2018 entry, A Bad Moms Christmas, the follow up to the mostly not-good 2016 flick, Bad Moms [review]. And also cue the deadly combo of my indifference and her exhaustion.

The sequel opens with the lovely Amy (Mila Kunis, sexy as always) amidst the tattered remains of what looks like a holiday party. She's alone, and the place is totally f--ked top to bottom. And I'm pretty sure a rented camel just walked through her living room. How we ended up here isn't a mystery (selfish a-holes doing dumb shit should just about cover it), but over the next 104 minutes she's unfortunately going to tell us how it all unfolded anyway. Here's the short version: Her mom is an absolute f--king psycho and pretty much everything wrong in the world is her doing.

While we could all probably give the merriest of f--ks about this movie, I feel compelled to let you in on something resembling a true Christmas miracle. No, I didn't go from living under a bridge in the park and talking to my pigeons to sharing a precious moment with a ten year old boy in the snow and rejoining society, but it was pretty damn close.

Friday, December 28, 2018

You're the best of all of us, Miles.

When I say I hate kids, clearly I don't mean hate them hate them, but like anyone approaching the end of my fourth decade on this planet, being young ain't exactly in my wheelhouse anymore. I look at all aspects of my own youth and when I find something comparable today, I can't help but recoil and immediately trudge away in the opposite direction.

The new version, of just about everything, absolutely sucks. But what pisses me off even more?

Is when it doesn't.

You don't even know how hard I want to shake my (wrinkled) fist at the absolute greatness that is Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Not only is it quite possibly the best superhero film of the year, there's a good chance it's the best thing I've seen a very long time. My apologies to Toby, Andrew and even the new guy, Tom. But in the race to be the best Spider-Man, you were all beaten by Miles.

Miles Morales is a good kid from the around the way. He's just gotten into a top-shelf boarding school, met a cool girl in science class, and it's pretty clear that expectations are high. And if that ain't enough to deal with, after some epic tagging with his uncle, this kid goes and gets himself bitten by a radioactive spider.

While that story seems beyond familiar, well, it's because it is. Very familiar, in fact. Turns out Miles is just one of many Spider, er, people... as each of the many known universes has their own web-slinging hero. For reasons initially unknown, portals have been opening up all over New York City, and, well, the gang's all here. 

Friday, December 21, 2018

You never get used to the smell.

Ghosts? I get ghosts. Not really alive, just kind of hanging around where they used to live, maybe even being the occasional dick - this makes sense to me. Ghosts...*checks clipboard* welcome aboard.

Monsters - these f--kers rule, too. Hey, you're an friendless abomination, probably hungry as f--k, so it's totally logical that you're killing and devouring everything in sight. What else are you supposed to do - rely on the kindness of strangers? You're a f--king monster. Ain't nobody giving you shit, outside of a bullet between the eyes or a pitchfork up the ass. Go ahead and eat a kid, Monster. F--k it, we can make more of 'em - like that.

But Demons? Man, f--k you pricks right in your upside-down asses. First, you're getting people's religion involved, and murderous f--kwad or not, that shit's just rude. On top of that, you're crass, prone to pissing, shitting and vomiting wherever it suits you, and just generally a bummer to be around. Oh, and a special f--k you to ruining nudity, too, as no one wants to see every curve of your goddamned pelvis. 

And all that's before you start crawling around the floor like a coked-up asshole.

Anybody out there making the argument that 2018 was a great year for horror should grab the nearest crucifix and thrust it repeatedly at The Possession of Hannah Grace. Dumped into theaters unceremoniously a few weeks back, it wasn't Christ that compelled me to catch this janky mess on the big screen, it was Venom. But more on that in a bit.

The Possession of Hannah Grace opens exactly like you would expect it to, mid-exorcism, where a nasty demon has taken control of, you guessed it, a young white woman. Her dad is nearby, and when things head south, he smothers her like a stack of pancakes, assuming instead of syrup, you cover your pancakes with a pillow. Violently.

Cut to three months later, and all of a sudden we're balls-deep in some sexy lady's quarter-life crisis. Apparently she's an ex-cop determined to trade in her metaphorical demons for literal ones. Turns out, there are no other jobs available outside of graveyard shift at the world's most poorly-lit morgue, so even fine-ass Megan Reed  (Shay Mitchell, probably from a show I've never watched) takes the gig. I mean, this is Boston, so it's either schlepping the corpses of dead hobos about or the night shift at a Dunkin' Donuts in Saugus. Either way, for someone prone to wicked flashbacks, this new situation ain't exactly ideal.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Sweet mother of monkey milk.

When we moved to Hawai'i back in the late eighties, the hotel that hired my dad also, perhaps obviously, hired a ton of other people, too. I guess you need more than just one pastry chef to open a 1,200 room hotel. Who knew?

Anyway, the condos we lived in? Well, it seemed like everybody was pretty much in the same boat: new transplants from all over, navigating the move to paradise from wherever the heck they were from prior. A couple of units down, were the Hay brothers - Dustin and Jared. They were from California, and their parents were hired to be the flippin' dolphin trainers of all things.

Though both a little bit older than I was, they would quickly become my best friends. Just not for forever.

While the Hays and I would remain friends for only a couple of years, it would appear that Ralph and Venellope are still going strong in Ralph Breaks the Internet, the follow up to the wildly successful 2012 original [review]. Despite the title conjuring images of sites that won't load (or the N in Netscape refusing to pulse), this clever sequel instead finds the giant-fisted goofball wrecking (and ralphing on) the thing he cares about most: his friendship.

After some unfortunate little girl wrecks their Sugar Rush cabinet (mostly because of Ralph's attempt to appease Vanellope), the racing game is unplugged and destined for the scrap yard. In order to save their home, Ralph and Venellope are going to need a new steering wheel. Turns out, there's one left...but it's only available on something known as eBay. So of course they do what any of us do when we need something: they head to the internet.

Seeing the world wide web brought to life in a Pixar film (as opposed to in something like The Emoji Movie [review], clearly the work of Satan) is something probably everyone should do, as it's equal parts amazingly adorable and impossibly clever. Like much of their previous work, Ralph Breaks the Internet walks that balance between being for kids and (or?) adults, and the cyberspace setting compliments that aspect even further. My kids got just as much joy out of seeing the little Twitter birds fly by as I did...though I'm not sure that's something I should say out loud.

Monday, December 10, 2018

I couldn't go back.

With six and a half days off staring me in the face, anything was possible. I had forty minutes to pack up, say goodbye to my co-workers, and travel exactly thirty-two miles. The last third of this jaunt being typically stop-and-go. It was going to be close, sure, but I would not be denied. 

And when Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' version of Immigrant Song came on the radio, it felt like divine intervention. The traffic seemed to part right in front of me, and the lights were the greenest of greens. I was going to make it.

Shocking no one, I was headed to the movies. To catch an afternoon matinee. Alone.

And I couldn't have been happier.

Even in the best of moods, I found it damn near impossible to consistently enjoy Fede Alvarez' The Girl in the Spider's Web. Bereft of the insane hype that smothered Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo back in 2011, this second film in the Lisbeth Salander series still manages to somehow disappoint. Sure, there are some cool moments, and Foy's turn/performance as Salander is (fairly and surprisingly) rad, but what once felt like a sordid tale that could actually happen, feels now like the Swedish Hallmark Channel's woebegone remake of 9Fast9Furious. You know, assuming that's a thing...

For a minute or two (aka, the time I still have popcorn to eat), things we're looking good. Lisbeth, looking like a mash-up of Scarlett Johanson in Ghost in the Shell and The Crow, breaks into into a house to taze some wife-beater in the gooey bag. Cut to her and her giant girlfriend, scissoring each other to some ill trip-hop beats. Or maybe I imagined that...

Anyway, Lisbeth is hired to hack some top secret government system that allows users access to, get this, launch nuclear weapons from anywhere in the world. What? No way. You never hear about nuclear launch codes in movies! And in another shocking turn of events, after she gets in and downloads the file, everything goes tits up. The United States sends someone to find her while the Swedish government is simultaneously all up in her shit. But even worse? Also patiently waiting in line to f--k over Lisbeth, is some unruly f--ker known as Her Past. 

Monday, December 3, 2018

I don't require a vouch.

Because my wife's business is life insurance, I'm routinely strong-armed into making sure I have enough coverage in the event I die tragically, like in a fire, or before the end of a good movie. 

When I (jokingly?) tell her that she should just remarry immediately and not worry about the money, she makes this face suggesting this isn't a f--king joke you moron, we have kids and you can't leave them both fatherless and penniless, so stop being a moderately-clever asshole and grow the f--k up and be responsible for once in your pathetic life. 

Seriously, it's quite the look. 

But, I get it. I do. It's bad enough she'd have to deal with the sudden loss of her husband, and the last thing I'd want her to have to worry about would be money. Or the wives of the people I worked with. And their families. Or Chicago's corrupt political system, where nepotism and systemic racism run rampant.

At least she'd have our dog.

(I've always hated it when the names and faces don't line up)
Widows is too good a film, and Hell, too utterly f--king relentless to toss around a phrase like it's a slow burn, but I don't get paid for this shit, so go ahead and put that cliche in your pipe and smoke it. Slowly.

See, as I strolled out of the theater that day (with my lovely wife, no less), I simply wasn't wowed like I expected to be. It was good, sure, but it felt a bit like that mountain climber game on The Price is Right: all build up and a quick, not entirely satisfying ending. I know, I know, saying this film is anything but brilliant is sacrilege (at least on Film Twitter) so I should probably yodel my way off a f--king cliff immediately. But can I at least keep the waffle maker?

Unless you've repeatedly read the title as Windows, it shouldn't surprise you that this film tells the tale of four women (eh, let's go with three) coping with the sudden and violent deaths of their crooked husbands. And it wasn't just their dicks or their noses either, as these dudes were balls-deep in all sorts of illegal shit. While their charred corpses can be buried, it turns our their problems can't. 

Well, at least not at first.