Friday, March 25, 2016

The disappointment

of being a good person.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Yeah, okay, so you're going to space.

But shit, bitch, you don't got to rub it in my face.
I'm going places, too.
I'm just not telling you.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

We’re like healers or something.

Magic Mike XXL - 4/5 
Pretty early on, it gives up on having a story in favor of just having fun. And man, what a great decision that was. It’s a road trip movie with long and weird detours that don’t really matter. A series of short stories revolving around the theme of male strippers doing rando shit ‘cuz they buds. ’Nashville’-esque. And fuck yeah, Joe Manganiello. That dude deserves to be elevated to The Rock-levels of entertaindom.

Girl, like vagina and everything.

Tangerine - 4/5 
It’s everything I like and dislike about the lower cultures – quick to fuck, quick to not give a fuck, quick to anger, quick to turn on you, but also quick to loyalty, quick to forgiveness, quick to being fucking hilarious. Every day is a new day. Every day spans the emotional spectrum.

One by one, we will take you.

Evil Dead (remake) - 1/5 
Terrible. Just a cabin drama with an old name. No character, no charm, no fun. I wish there *were* callbacks. Jesus. But hey, I like the idea of detox as demonic possession. I mean, it’s not really doing that but… has it been done? Is there a movie that does that? Hello? Anyone? That general set-up does leave everyone dour as fuck, but I’m sure a skilled person is capable of overcoming.

You friended up.

The Duff - 3/5 
‘Easy A’-lite, with a mix of ‘Angus’. Lead dude’s a charmer, Mae Whitman is both a perfect choice and also not doing it complete justice. But fun, guys.

When I was small, I only knew small things.

Room - 4/5 
It’s got these great scenes of conflicting feelings. The escape is full of hope and unsurety. The look on the kid’s face when he’s outside for the first time is a better sense of wonder than most Disney movies, mixed with bewilderment. "That terror and wonder in which all lives begin."* The little dude is happy when he should be sad and she’s sad when she should be happy. Everything's on the wrong side of a wall. It earns all its emotional beats, but it perhaps forces a too pat conclusion.

*James Baldwin

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

People are afraid of all the wrong things.

A Walk Amongst the Tombstones - 2/5 
Generic and rote, but fine in that.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

That’s not how the Force works.

The Star Wars: The Force Awakens - 3/5 
It feels like nostalgia for something that never went away. Like when people at work say ‘I saw you last night!’ and yes, of course, but you also see me every day, what’s the big f-in’ deal, Rhonda. It’s excitement for the familiar, which is fine; it’s its insistence on easy references that is less so. In-jokes that the whole world’s already in on. JJ’s desire to internet-ify everything gets in the way of identifying what people actually like about the movies – the tone, the mood, the characterizations, the universe. All this movie needed to be was decent (and it is) and for all its flaws and inconsistencies, it gets a few of those right. I mean, I’m not too tied up on Finn and Rey and wherever-the-fuck they’re going, but I’ll absolutely come back to see what Kylo Ren is up to next. That dude’s a baller; petulant and angry like a 16-year old boy. That swagger down the hallway. Shit. In him, I feel like the movie missed a chance to have a meta-message about living up to expectations. As is, I think we’re all just excited because it doesn’t suck.

For now, we’ll just keep an eye on the time.

Sicario - 4/5
Villeneuve's whole thematic aesthetic seems to be about ‘not knowing.’ Not necessarily playing it like a mystery; just that you only know as much as the main character, and they’re fucking shut out from what’s actually going on. There are long stretches of this movie where I had absolutely no idea where it was going. It’s not full of twists and turns, it’s full of tiny bubbles of chaos, and the bureaucracy of that chaos. It might erupt. It might not. Let’s proceed accordingly. Props to Emily Blunt for playing the edge between powerful and powerless. She knows what she’s doing except when she’s too stoic to ask.

I don’t know him. Ain’t got nothing to do with me.

Rocky - 3.5/5 
It’s not the tightest – particularly when Rocky gets sick. But it hits its emotional cues well. And Michael B. Jordan’s the bomb, yo, all this pent-up anger without it taking up every inch of him.

They’re not confessing. They’re bragging.

The Big Short - 3.5/5 
It explains the housing crisis as well as it can (and it deserves no end of props for that) while being unable to stop the whole situation from being generally confusing. It’s greatest strengths are, one, making the whole thing accessible and entertaining to watch and, two, giving us no one to root for by the end. The good guys are the bad guys. Not as bad, sure, but a variation on a theme. It could've gone harder in that direction, but it's enough. The general respect I have for this movie is matched by a general annoyance I feel at these types of movies: it leaves you nowhere to go. Direct our anger, man talking directly to camera. You’ve got better opportunity than most.

Spiritual abuse.

Spotlight - 2.5/5 
What an adequate movie. I think it’s main bit of trouble is that it treats the ideas of priests molesting kids as revelatory, but it’s, like, common cultural knowledge, dudes. There’s no tension in the learning. Man, what I wouldn’t give for some manufactured drama. It’s real-deal journalism, but no sense of the pure effort of it all. Blah blah blah.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Each person you speak to has had a day.

Anomalisa - 3.5/5
A fairly normal story told weirdly. Not to say that the way it was made was unnecessary to what it is, because it’s very important. It’s just not as odd of a story as you might be expecting. Beautifully rendered, with some scenes approaching life-like in that off-putting yet admirable way. This is a rare case where the trailer perhaps makes for a vehicle to better understand the movie: you have to constantly remind yourself why other people are special. You forget it, it gets lost. You yourself, as also the main character, want to be seen as special, but so rarely do you look at others in that way. You have to look at others the way they don’t look at you. You have to force yourself to see what’s interesting. You have to be vigilant.

The book of jobs.

Hail, Caesar! - 4.5/5 
I could hardly love this more than I do. Perhaps it is because it is a feeling that I’m constantly feeling – am I doing the right thing (professionally)? And that’s a difficult question, a life of possibilities and all, but damn if this isn’t a beautiful answer. On the tip-top layer, it’s about movies as religion, but that’s only because that’s the thing everybody can relate to: the magic of cinema, the wide-eyed wonder and pure belief that that whole thing manages to create in everyone. And that’s what they show (so fucking easily). But just a little bit beyond that, it’s about jobs – any job – and the faith that comes through the machinery of Work. A builder doesn’t necessarily see the cathedral he’s building; he just sees the sweat and sore muscles and asshole bosses and lazy coworkers and shortcuts and bad decisions and whatever other bullshit came between the dirt and the cross at top. Is there a better way to spend your time? A nobler purpose? Yes. Sure. Probably. But this is your work. And all the bullshit and all the good shit can only exist at *your* work. And that’s Josh Brolin’s journey – he can’t enjoy it like everyone else can, he can hardly see the magic through all the idiots and primadonnas and what-have-you. Too deep in the middle of things, he can’t remember why he’s there, he can't view it fresh from the outside of it – but he believes in it. I wholeheartedly believe this movie is about Joel and Ethan Coen reminding themselves why they do what they do.

Incapable of being culpable.

Muppets Most Wanted - 3/5 
Ugh, shit, why did I wait too long to review these shits. I don’t remember. Better than I thought it would be? Filled with little tiny gags. I like throwaways.

You have to pick the sin you can live with.

Horns - 2.5/5 
Interesting idea, but I like it better as a metaphor than a, like, spiritual/supernatural thing. The idea being about you becoming the devil others already think you are. Either because their perceptions are out of your control or because it’s easier (and more freeing) to be the thing they think you are. And that’s a cool thought, but then it becomes typical.

If you are going to eat a sandwich, you would just enjoy it more if you knew no one had fucked it.

What We Do In The Shadows – 4/5 
It’s not just some ‘The Office’-level shenanigans, where you laugh at jackasses laughing at idiots – the smart guy laughing with the smart guys. Here, everyone’s an idiot and you’re an idiot laughing at idiots laughing at idiots. There’s no straight man here, except for, like, the straightest dude, and the whole movie builds to be a genuine and unexpected story rather than just some lame slice-of-life thing.

This is a fucking asshole of a day.

MacGruber - 2/5 
Just, you know, my personal preference, but I think it’s funnier when he’s a dumbass rather than an asshole. I’ve got a big desire to like Will Forte because he’s got a real dumb face, but he keeps wanting me to hate it.

What warm unspoken secrets will we learn?

Phantom of the Opera - 2/5
Schumacker doesn’t know how to make the visuals interesting while they sing. Lots of sets, but no idea how to move the camera around them. Elaborate but uninteresting. You want to know a quick way to ruin a great rock opera of a title song? Accompany it with the dulcet visuals of slowly walking down long passageways. Joel Schumacher from ‘Batman & Robin,’ where the fuck are you when we need you? I wish the whole movie could’ve had that ridicu-seriousness of the drum machines and synth in that song. The ‘this is stupid, but it’s great.’ The improbability of it working. Get those Rocky Horror fucks to make this shit as weird as it’s supposed to be. It’s not horror, it’s not drama; it’s surprisingly deep schlock.

Daddy needs to express some rage.

Deadpool - 3.5/5 
I believe it all comes down to whether you like Ryan Reynolds. And I do! You know, it’s a fun movie that leaves me with nothing substantial to really say about it. It’s a genial and occasionally hilarious neighbor and I won’t turn the channel when its segment of 'DVD on TV' comes on F/X.

If you know what an animal looks like, you just, well, you just start making an animal.

Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control - 2/5 
My fourth attempt to like an Errol Morris movie ends in failure. I’ll say this – he keeps it interesting. Talking heads accompanied by driving music that doesn’t fit their subject matter. Well-framed shots of their subject matter, looking as epic as I’m sure it looks in their head. It defies easy descriptions or a simple sum up. I don’t know why I find that as troublesome as I should. I suppose I’m just annoyed at a puzzle I can’t figure out.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

I let you know me.

The Long Goodbye - 4/5 
Man, Elliott Gould is so fucking good. The impossible cool of Spike Spiegel by way of a homeless man who found a nice suit in a trash can. Nothing to lose except his cat. And that’s gone, brother. And that’s the thing, the thing I’m maybe just now realizing – he moves through Los Angeles like a man without a care, but he’s got some. I don’t know if I buy the ‘Rip Van Marlowe’ filter (where he’s been asleep for 20 years, waking up in an era his morality doesn’t quite match) because Elliot Gould is so fucking '70s, but he definitely has the sense of right, reasonable wrong, and of wrongs gone too far. He’s lost his ego, but not his center; lost himself, but not what he stands for. He’ll let himself be made a fool, but not by the people that matter to him. Friendship is friendship, man. You don’t fuck with that.

I’d prefer you didn’t.

Just Friends - 2.5/5 
I forget (or never realized) that early Ryan Reynolds was just an angrier, vitriolic Jim Carrey. He's a physical comedian that uses a lot of mean words. Here, he’s an egotistical asshole that never gets what he wants, which makes him less insufferable. The problem with the movie is that what he wants – Amy Smart – is boring. There’s nothing there to indicate why they were friends, or why he would want to take it further. She’s just a generic pretty girl. Extra points for the brother relationship, which could’ve sustained the entire movie.

What’s the hurry, Harry?

Miracle Mile - 4/5
There’s a rare mood found here. It’s got a heapin’ helpin’ of wacky and legit-no-shit tension that leads you to have the same reaction to watching the movie as the characters have of living in it: how seriously can you take this? Is the world going to end in 50 minutes? And why would we trust this guy? You’ve got no idea where it’s going to go. And I think it would have succeeded regardless of where it ended up. And Tangerine Dream fits along perfectly: building pressure while being hard to take seriously. Like holding a needle next to a children's party balloon. Shit – it sounds like an insult.

Don't give a fuck,

'cause motherfucker, that's what I do.