|Me and my old lady are apparently celebrating some anniversary this week so I thought I'd throw her a bone and put together a "movie night". Now, I usually demand peace and quiet after a long day, but I assumed she'd shut up during the movie and allow me some rest and relaxation. If she starts running her mouth about some family function I missed, or how I need to stop drinking, I'll leave and head straight to the damn bar. She can stay home and watch The Real Housewives of Whogivesafuck while I pound shots of Fireball at the Ground Round.
So, I had her paged at work and told her to pick up a KFC Family Fill-Up for the big night. Chicken was amazing (no shit, Sherlock) but of course she forgot my extra side of gravy which nearly ruined the meal. She gets the extra biscuits but not gravy??? I swear that woman was kicked in the head by a mule. Anyway, we finished dinner and I hit the recliner and slammed down a couple cold beers to take the edge off after the gravy debacle. My wife got started on her standard routine of putting away the leftovers, washing the dishes, paying the bills, walking the dog, and the rest of the items on her chore list (bros, I recommend getting a dry erase board for the side of the fridge... easy to add tasks when you're grabbing a fresh brewski). About twenty minutes later she finally plopped her ass down and said we could start the movie. OH THANK YOU, YOUR HIGHNESS! I'M SO GLAD YOU GRANTED ME PERMISSION TO WATCH THE MOVIE NOW. Christ.
But guess what? All my wife's bullshit was worth it. What a flick!! Nothing but bros being bros and telling it like it is. Cool tunes, cool cars, cool clothes, and lots of babes. It's *CLEARLY* saying that women suck and don't have a place around cool dudes unless they have a mouthful of dong. *IN NO WAY* is it a loving snapshot of some dumbasses stumbling their way through college (and adulthood) while chasing girls, pontificating life, and having some fun. There's a lot more going on if you dig deeper, maaaaan. Obviously bro culture is perfect and the only good woman is a marginalized one - that's the *only* possible interpretation of Everybody Wants Some!! I wish I could do a shot of Goldschlager with the director. The guy seems like a dude's dude and a real poonhound.
Of course my wife fell asleep and missed an eye-opening film about the greatest time in American history - the early 1980s! Where the good times never end and all that matters is beer, bros, and ballgames. Oh, and feathered bangs. I give it 4 stars. Could've been 5 but there's hardly any tits in it.
|All the four stories in "XX" feel incomplete, especially the first one that has an impressive premise, but doesn't care to make sense at the end.
The second one has a huge tone confusion. It's not funny or horrifying.
The third one is almost okay for an amateur. It has some good takes and a bloody fun attack sequence.
The last one has the best premise (Rosemary's Baby 2), some good little ideas (like the egg scene) and a good performance by Christina Kirk, but the ending is a mess!
The only reason that "XX" is getting so much praise is because it's done by four female directors like some kind of feminist event. Nothing against the idea, but good intentions are no guarantee of a good product/work.
|I have yet to hop on board the Leo hype train. Granted, I haven't seen too many of his films, but he's never really been the standout for me. It always feels like I'm just watching him do impressions of himself playing different roles, as if he drew a charades slip that said "Leonardo DiCaprio as a game hunter in the 1800s." It all comes out feeling like a Tom Cruise movie: I never forget that I'm watching Tom Cruise.
Tom Hardy, on the other hand, is a man among boys. I've never been let down by the guy, and that's saying something considering how immersive his performances have to be. Think about it: Mad Max, Charles Bronson, Bane, and here we have an angry redneck soldier. All of these roles work on a hit or miss scale. If he doesn't absolutely sell his character, the whole project will fail or just fall flat in his department. He's a trustworthy actor, and I pride myself on being a fan of his work.
Unfortunately, even with a remarkably convincing performance from Hardy, The Revenant does fail, and all the flashy cinematography and choreography in the Yukon can't save it from DiCaprio's baseless grunt-fest wherein which he won an Oscar for doing his best Jackass cast member impressions. Most of his work on camera here lacks any form of necessary subtlety to be truly breathtaking, and the result is a lot of excessive discomfort. I couldn't go with the Academy on this one, nor do I usually anyways.
The real story of Hugh Glass, the one where he isn't trying to get revenge on his non-existent half-Indian son, is American folklore unrealized, probably forever, thanks to a script and plot rife with bloated magical realism and forced thematic elements that are liable to leave a viewer feeling shallow. I highly recommend revisiting Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man instead.
|A movie that begins with Kevin Bacon peeing off a cliff and pulling his underwear off his butt can't be bad.
"Tremors" is the perfect B-movie horror! Excellent practical effects, charismatic main characters, challenging enemies, simple and credible supporting characters and plans based on reality, without exaggerated inventions, using everyday objects and the union between the characters.
The audience feels closer to the characters when they see that they think logically, that they have no special abilities beyond ordinary intelligence.
The director, Ron Underwood, shows creativity when it comes to figuring out how to show the graboids' ambitious attacks through practical effects, without discarding the details that help to give impact and credibility to the scenes, such as the headlights of a car sucked into the ground that are still on, the use of smoke spots to locate the creature's movement under the ground and the constant references to the creature's bad smell.
The companionship between Valentine McKee (Bacon) and Earl Bass (Fred Ward) is what carries the film. A pure and sincere friendship that creates several fun moments, great quotes and a familiarity with their mannerisms that make them unforgettable for those who watch. A natural charisma that makes the dialogues believable.
The idea that you're never safe on the floor is scary and at the same time amusing because it creates several chances of improvisation. In addition, the creature's mythology allows them to evolve and continue to test the characters' creativity, who can never be comfortable in their situation.
The film never betrays its own rules. On the contrary, it constantly adds a level of difficulty as the creatures are defeated, but without abandoning previous information, such as, for example, the same vibration that can be used to attract the creature, can also be used in great quantity to distract or disorient it.
"Tremors" is worthy of being called "Jaws in the desert". Just like the Spielberg classic, it has its support in the rationality of the characters, the creativity of the practical effects, the appreciation of the details, and in the charisma of its good-hearted protagonists.
|Who knew a Colin Farrell movie about lonely singles being turned into animals would end up being one of the most profound examinations of relationships I've ever seen.
It may be hard to believe, but I've been married over 15 years to a lovely, beautiful, and amazingly tolerant woman. I sincerely appreciate having someone to grow old with that not only tolerates my eccentric behavior, but actually embraces our differences. In fact, some of the strongest couples I know seemed like total opposites when they first met. But they stayed together because they learned to embrace certain personality quirks, physical imperfections, and different political and pop-culture interests. Variety is the spice of life, as they say. But Yorgos Lanthimos' The Lobster plays by a different set of rules. Rules that consistently reminded me not to take my own relationship for granted. Hell, I doubt I could survive dating in this current sociological climate, let alone in the dystopian nightmare The Lobster presents.
Plus, masturbation is illegal so I wouldn't last a week.
Set in the not-too-distant-future, The Lobster begins in "The City" - a dreary place where singles are given 45 days to find a romantic partner or they're turned into an animal of their choosing (yes, that old story). Colin Farrell plays David, a brokenhearted, paunchy potato of a man whose wife recently left him and is forced to take up residency at "The Hotel". Once inside we meet a gallery of lonely hearts and blackened souls, all while David attempts to find a partner and avoid becoming a sea-bound crustacean. And that's as much as I'm going to say. It's nearly impossible to discuss this movie any further without ruining what makes it special.
Just know it's a pitch black comedy mixed with biting satire that's disturbingly odd yet strikingly relatable. I loved how the Lanthimos calls out society's expectations of modern coupling and the primitive bullshit that comes with it. Fucking brilliant. To call The Lobster merely an absurd social allegory doesn't do it justice either - it takes a flame thrower to our preconceived notions about relationships and becomes more than satire. The way David's fear of loneliness makes him quickly abandon his principles should ring true to anyone who's been blindsided by a breakup. Or the way relationships built on lies always crumble in devastating but predictable ways. Sometimes people even turn bitter because of their own failed relationships and attempt to poison those around them. It's all here... and it's fascinating. But despite those hurdles, sometimes love can conquer all.
And in The Lobster, love is truly blind.
|I kinda miss this kinda thing...
You know... the John Hughes timelessness mixed with melancholy nostalgia in a time capsule smothered in spontaneous mirth? That thing... or feeling... or momentary thought bubble put on film. I want shit like this launched into space towards alien life. I want them to see that despite all of our foibles and character flaws there is always hope. Useless freewheelin' hope.
I want the alien dudes to know that one of my favorite parts of life is that there is always a choice to be made to accept others and look for knowledge through strange mentoring situations.
Most of all I want them to know John Candy. I want them to know how he made me feel. He was goof, yet he was real.
And God was he good.
The scene where he mocks the beret-hatted goth niece suitor "Bug" that has pure unadulterated psychosis in it? Can't ever be replicated folks...
[Buck's beat up old car pulls up]
The scene where Hughes' camera takes a beat while Buck is legitimately anguished by his decision between family and horse fixing is legitimately dramatic. That is a well-played scene in any movie... let alone a movie about a loony uncle who has implied sexual relations with a washing machine. Candy was an actor. He made his films funnier by having these tiny moments of drama.
The sequence in the bowling alley set to "Juke Box Baby" by Perry Como still makes me roar with laughter. Hughes' take on the smoke-filled, beer stained midwestern Bowl-A-Rama is so maliciously wistful I longed for the days spent playing video games as my uncle got wasted on Special Ex Light while starting a gambling pool on who was going to score the next goal in the 1991 Stanley Cup finals.
But even this hazy trip is filled with menace as a local greaseball sex predator starts hitting on the 15 year old. Is this funny? Hell no, it's downright gross for a PG family movie. What makes it a gut buster is when the pervert gets his favorite tooth pick stuck in between the roof of his mouth and his tongue while trying to cockily flip it end over end. Then Candy's look of hot seething anger as he notices "Pal" (yes that's his name, it's literally embroidered on his bowling shirt) is hitting on his niece and prepares to punch his lights out. This is 1980's situational comedy at its zenith. Hughes has a way of drilling and embedding a corny joke into your head like none other. I've remembered that Pal scene vividly for over 28 years... though I'll be damned if I can remember if this came before or after he punched out Pooter the Clown (an unrecognizable Mike Starr) for showing up drunk to a kids birthday party. Either way Hughes allows Candy to play the loose cannon vibe to the nines and it is infinitely interesting to see such an unbalanced - yet believable - lunatic stomp around a family popcorn flick (and this isn't even mentioning the infamous "Moley Russell's wart" scene).
Speaking of family flickers... I tried to start a new holiday tradition by making this the first non-cartoon film played on "Sunday Movie Night" at the Swartacus home.
Let's just say the PG films of 1989 are a little different than more recent cinematic fare.
5 "stupids", 8 "shut ups", 17 "shits", 1 "son of bitch" and 1 "asshole" later, my wife had realized my gambit and the jig was up (my kids are just 6 and 3).
As I described to the girl that an "asshole" was "like a butt" and the boy's eyes bulged like Macaulay Culkin when he sees Uncle Buck's giant flapjacks... my loving wife, (whose own "asshole" was tightening to the size of a chick pea as uncontrolled lasers of hate from her eye sockets bounced off me and exploded all over the room) began to usher them over to decorate the family faux Christmas tree across the room.
Ok... so... maybe a few more years (or perhaps a solid decade) before this officially becomes a yearly holiday custom? But if I could have one Christmas wish this holiday season, I would want it to be that we all remember the freeze frame which ends this movie. John Candy as Uncle Buck waving a merry farewell in his hideous brown fedora. Toodle-oo Buck! Enjoy eternity with your beloved Chanice Kobolowski. 1,000 thank yous for making one boy's late '80s midwestern upbringing just a wee bit more tolerable.
Ween's "Chocolate and Cheese" album, released in 1994, was "dedicated in loving memory to John Candy (1950-1994)". At the time Gene Ween remarked, "There was so much going on about Kurt Cobain, and nobody mentioned John Candy at all. I have a special little spot in my heart for him."
|When I heard this was a survival movie I didn't realize they meant the audience.
Jeremy Saulnier's Green Room is an unrelenting punk rock song come to cinematic life. It's hard, it's short, and it gets the message across with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. After an almost tranquil opening (that seemingly nails life as a struggling Pacific Northwestern punk band), Green Room drags you through a blood and beer stained hell before releasing you battered, bruised, and smiling. I think most of the audience was ready to go buy boxcutters, Chuck Taylors, and Dead Kennedys records once the credits started rolling. I know I was. But just like the characters in the movie, not everyone survived the show; an older couple behind me was an early casualty. This is one "room" they should've never entered.
As I'm settling in and nursing my Fanta Electric Blue Icee, I hear this question waft towards my ear holes "What's this about anyway?" Ooooh, shit that's hilarious. Like any plugged-in movie person (particularly one who drove two hours to see Blue Ruin at a little indie theater because of some advanced buzz), I knew this was going to be a nasty little movie with no shortage of carnage. Saulnier paints with a bloody genre brush and that was a big reason I was there (that, and Blue Ruin was outstanding). But the thought of two folks older than my parents stumbling into Green Room with zero advance knowledge had me giddy. The husband replied "Not sure. It was the shortest one and it's over by 6:15. Gives us plenty of time." So, I'm assuming a day at the mall led to the need to kill some time before a dinner date. Simple enough. But the ONE movie that worked for these simple mid-western, salt-of-the-earth types was Green Room. Fucking Green Room. If I had a seat belt I would've buckled it.
We meet our punk rock heroes - "The Ain't Rights" - asleep in a van that's slammed about 20 rows deep into a cornfield. With an empty tank and limited funds, a couple band members head out to syphon some gasoline. You know, broke-ass punker shit. It's a simple set-up but something about the dynamic really rings true. It all seems so authentic, and the conversations between the bandmates have the perfect blend of respect, love, and burnt out frustration. These early scenes are so important and the game cast gets us invested quickly.
Anyway, a busted gig leads to a $24 payday and ZERO options to get home. Of course, there is a show at an out-of-the way place with a rough crew, but desperate times lead to desperate measures and all that shit. If you've seen the trailer you know where this ends up - at a bar full of Nazi skinhead jerk-offs. I'm not going to say anymore because this movie is all about FEEL and having a visceral reaction to the chaos unfolding. Green Room has a few inventive detours but it's mostly a straight ahead journey - and I really appreciated that. Like a punk song there is no fat on the bone - lean, mean, and ready to blast your face off. Green Room was truly everything I hoped it would be. I mean you get Captain Jean-Luc Himmler, great tunes, graphic violence, Macon Blair, and precision filmmaking from an up-and-coming talent. Oh, and Imogen Poots - what a badass.
I mean, who wouldn't love it? Oh yeah, that couple. Yikes. Let me wrap that up.
So, after some bored sighs during the initial set-up, shit quickly got real for our AARP-aged film fanatics. The first use of the boxcutter was met with this sort of guttural, primal yelp from the wife which caused the husband to disgustedly mutter "Jesus". I'm not sure if it was at her or the events on screen. Probably both. 15 minutes later our first pit bull is introduced, and 16 minutes later I hear "That's enough. Let's go." I could've eaten it with a spoon - it was like my dad telling me to turn my rock music down when I was a youngster!
And maybe that's the best compliment I can give Green Room. It's fucking hard. It's fucking punk. And it's a bit "dangerous". And how often can you say that about a movie that's playing in a mall between a Rojo Mexican Grill and Old Navy?
|Where a hitman befriends an underage girl (but who's the child?), Gary Oldman is a beautifully underplayed classical music critic, and a plant wins best actor award.|
Such a simple word. Compact and direct. One of those rare words that guarantees a reaction when used in conversation. We say it in anger, lust, jest, and sometimes just because it feels good. We all drop a fuck from time to time. But just like anything else, there are amateurs and there are professionals. Robert Anthony De Niro Jr. is a fucking professional. And if fucks were home runs he'd be a first ballot Hall of Famer.
Simply put, Midnight Run is masterpiece of tough-guy vulgarity. It's also really, really funny. A burned-out bounty hunter (De Niro) scores $100,000 if he can drag a wise-ass criminal (Grodin) back to L.A. in five days. On paper it looks like your typical 80s-style road movie where two buffoons prattle back-and-forth only to resolve their differences in the final reel. But Midnight Run takes this boilerplate approach and elevates it to the heavens with double crosses, comical violence, Joey Pants comb-overs, greasy guitar riffs, razor-sharp dialogue, and more chemistry than Walter White's meth lab. I cannot stress how well De Niro and Grodin play off each other. It's like a 12-round title fight with two different styles - balled-up rage vs. smart-ass indifference. De Niro looks like he's having a blast playing a bounty hunter at the end of his rope and gives one of his best performances (you heard me). For those of you turned off due to De Niro's recent comedic stylings, I urge you to give this a chance. In fact, here's 5 more reasons to watch Midnight Run:
1) The supporting cast: Dennis Farina, Joe Pantoliano, Philip Baker Hall, John Ashton, and Yaphet Kotto. All dressed in mid-80s clothes and chain smoking cigarettes. Great work from top to bottom. John Ashton as "Marvin" is cinematic buffoonery at its finest.
In closing, I really fucking love this movie. Nostalgia may play a role, but Midnight Run holds up and remains an all-time favorite.