Archive for the 'Movies' Category


The Wolf of Wall Street, Blue Ruin

The Wolf of Wall Street

This movie trolls you right out of the gate. Matthew McConaughey shows up as the head of a big Wall Street firm, and positions himself to be Leonardo DiCaprio’s mentor. I was all pumped for some sweet, sweet McConaughey/DiCaprio action, but it turned out to be a bait-and-switch. McConaughey disappears completely. DiCaprio takes center stage as the loathsome central character. What follows next is a completely tiresome, three-hour-long masturbatory fantasy. DiCaprio engages in illegal activities to make himself the king of Wall Street. He and his compatriots party hard and often. There are probably a hundred scenes of them banging hookers and doing cocaine. Now, I’m as big a fan of cocaine and hookers as the next Hollywood executive, but once or twice would have been sufficient. I didn’t need to see it over and over again. The SEC investigates and eventually busts DiCaprio, but they don’t show up until the final hour of the movie. An entire hour of worthless party scenes could have been cut, and nothing would have changed. The only interesting part of the film is near the beginning when DiCaprio discovers he can get rich suckering people into buying Penny Stocks. Otherwise, nothing of interest happens. Other than the tits. Lots and lots of tits.

Verdict: Shitty

Blue Ruin

I like my revenge movies like the Arnold Schwarzenegger classic, Commando. I don’t like them to be about boring, mopey homeless guys. Blue Ruin is about a boring, mopey homeless guy who goes on a killing spree. He murders an ex-con, a dude who served time after killing the homeless dude’s parents. The dead con’s family takes the fight to the homeless guy’s family. The homeless guy, in turn, decides to kill all of them. But don’t mistake this for an action-packed thrill ride with cool explosions, shootouts, and hilarious one-liners. No, the boring, mopey homeless guy acts sullen as he trudges his way through a dreary life. The pacing is languid, and the tone is brooding. There’s very little here to entice a viewer, and the story is entirely forgettable. Good production values are about the only thing this movie has going for it. I wouldn’t recommend it.

Verdict: Bad


John Wick, This is Where I Leave You

John Wick

Keanu Reeves has been languishing for a long time. Ever since the Matrix trilogy wrapped up over a decade ago, he hasn’t been in much. And what he has been in hasn’t been very good. That all changed when he starred in John Wick. This is a true return to form for Reeves. John Wick is a fantastic, fun film that plays to Reeves’ strengths. Here, he plays the strong silent type who kicks copious amounts of ass. The story has been done a million times before. He’s a former assassin who got out of the business, but revenge pulls him back in. The way John Wick distinguishes itself from the pack is in the action sequences. The shooting and the fighting are like a ballet. They are extremely (perhaps beautifully) well choreographed. They manage to do things I’ve never seen in an action film before. Reeves is like a god of combat who dispatches countless nameless hooligans on his quest for vengeance. Plus, headshots, so many headshots. I was impressed by the visual style and the cinematography. Reeves delivers a good, restrained performance. This was an inventive action film, and it was nice to see Reeves in something good again.

Verdict: Awesome

This is Where I Leave You

This is Where I Leave You is a dramedy of the worst kind. It is rarely funny and it is barely dramatic. The general thrust is that the head of a dysfunctional family has died, and he requests that his family spend a week together to mourn him. His ulterior motive was to get the family to become closer. Basically, this doesn’t happen. Everyone has their heads stuck up their own asses to a preposterous level. Nobody can keep their lives or their relationships together. Everyone flies off the handle at any perceived slight. Everyone is detestable, and there are no characters to root for. In the end, they kind-of, sort-of make amends, but not really. The entire thing was an exercise in futility. Given the tremendous cast they assembled, the whole thing was a big letdown. They should have focused more on the comedy aspect, and maybe then the movie would have been watchable.

Verdict: Shitty


Classically Shitty: To Kill a Mockingbird

The Journal of Boo Radley

Dear Diary,

The world is a cruel place. As you know, diary, everything was great until a few years ago when that annoying Finch family moved in next door. The mother was nice, I suppose, but she died a while back. After that, the father was completely unable to raise his children with any sense of decency or respect. He’s a small-fry lawyer, and he’s working so much, he’s clueless what his kids are doing. And it’s precisely what his kids are doing that bothers me.

I was living a happy if not solitary life in my parents’ house. I kept to myself, mostly. I don’t like to get in the way of other people. I don’t like to stick my nose where it doesn’t belong. I value privacy above all else. So, when these supervision-less kids started snooping around my house, I got understandably upset.

At first it was small things. They would knock on the front door and run away. Yeah, that’s annoying, but I did the same thing when I was their age. I let it slide. But as time went on, they got bolder and more aggressive. Pretty soon they were throwing tires at my front door. Sometimes they would roll inside the tires like they were in a Mad Max movie.

Continue reading ‘Classically Shitty: To Kill a Mockingbird’


Escape Plan is the 1980s Most Disappointing Dream Come True

Escape Plan is the movie the 1980s desperately wanted, but, sadly, came about 30 years too late. I’m talking about Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone finally teaming up. They did briefly team up in The Expendables 2, but that doesn’t count because Arnold’s role was pretty small. Here, though, they share the screen equally, playing off one another, and finally bringing a team up that has been decades in the making.
Unfortunately, if they had been waiting 30 years for “the right script,” this one wasn’t it. Now, don’t get me wrong, Escape Plan isn’t really a bad film, but it isn’t the 1980s wet dream/action star team-up movie we’ve all desperately waited for. No, it’s one of those films that actors do just to pay the bills.
For having the two biggest 1980s action stars as the leads, there is surprisingly little action in this film. The movie is a prison escape film. Generally, those kinds of movies work on building suspense and have very few fights, explosions, shootouts, etc. Right off the bat, this movie is not playing to the strengths of its two lead actors.

Continue reading ‘Escape Plan is the 1980s Most Disappointing Dream Come True’


They Came Together, Frank

They Came Together

If you’ve seen a lot of romantic comedies and think they’re stupid, then you’ll probably love They Came Together. This is a farcical send-up of the chick-flick genre. It hits pretty much every cliché in the books, and revels in how much it blasts them. It has everything from the cheating girlfriend who says, “You should really be questioning my motives” to the entire genre structure of 1) hate each other; 2) love each other; 3) break up; 4) get married. This is not a subtle movie. Its sense of humor is more akin to The  Naked Gun than anything else. Despite its short running time, the gags start to get a bit tired by the end. At first, they’re a blast, but there’s almost too much. It’s non-stop buffoonery, and you get bogged down in the horrible clichés they are lampooning. The cast is great, and Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd have good chemistry together. This is definitely worth a watch. You’ll probably get a laugh out of it.

Verdict: Average


Full disclosure: when I watched this movie, I had no idea who was playing Frank. The leader of an ultra-quirky band, Frank always wears a giant human-faced helmet. You don’t get to actually see his real face until the end of the movie. The actor’s probably a bit too good looking (he is an Awesomely Shitty favorite) for his self-shame to be believable, but hey, whatever, it’s a movie. Frank follows the exploits of this trippy band as they record an album and try to play the South by Southwest music festival in the U.S. The band members’ abrasive personalities cause friction and cause the band to degrade over time. A series of comedic mishaps ultimately lead to disaster. Although it is funny, this is not a comedy. It is a heartfelt character study of broken people trying to make their lives work in spite of their quirks. Ultimately, I liked the message the film conveyed, and felt this was a great watch.

Verdict: Good


Mission Impossible 5 V Five Rogue Nation

I’ve generally enjoyed the Mission: Impossible film series. It’s a franchise going on its 20th year, and it’s still going strong. Five movies deep, you’d think it would be getting stale, but somehow they keep reinvigorating it. Part of that has to do with having a different director for each movie. This keeps infusing the franchise with new ideas, and gives each film a unique vision. Christopher McQuarrie helms Rogue Nation, and brings us the best film the series has had since the first movie.

I was pretty worried after watching Ghost Protocol. That movie was such a campy, cheesy, CGI-laden piece of shit, I figured the series was doomed. Ghost Protocol brought out the worst of the spy genre. It had the over-the-top crap from the Pierce Brosnan Bond films combined with the corny jokes of the Roger Moore Bond films. It was abysmal, an absolute travesty. Sadly, it did extremely well at the box office, and I figured they would keep up that style in order to wring every last penny out of the movie going public.

Continue reading ‘Mission Impossible 5 V Five Rogue Nation’


The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Repo Man

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

And here we have another exhibit of Wes Anderson’s overly indulgent, self-absorbed hipster film-making tendencies. He gathers an incredible cast, puts them in a unique and fun setting, and then takes a shit all over everything. This movie pisses me off because it could have been amazing. It is part tribute and part parody of famous oceanographer Jacques Cousteau. Bill Murray plays the titular Steve Zissou. He goes on a quest to find a Jaguar Shark or some shit. What unfolds is little more than a series of loosely connected episodes that have only a slight relation to each other, and do nothing to develop a more robust plot. Sure, some interesting things happen like when Steve’s ship is overrun by pirates, and Bill Murray gets involved in an unexpected gun fight. But that doesn’t sustain a movie. It’s absolutely bloated in length. I would say nearly 45 minutes could have been excised and nothing much would have been lost. There isn’t much substance here. It’s meant to be whimsical, like all of Anderson’s output, but it fails at that too. It just doesn’t do anything. It isn’t worth anyone’s time.

Verdict: Bad

Repo Man

If any movie screams the 1980s, it’s this one. Repo Man is a comedy/sci-fi about a young punk (Emilio Estevez) who drifts through life until one day he winds up working for a repossession company. Harry Dean Stanton takes him under his wing, and trains him in all the tricks of the trade that every repo man must use in order to survive their job. Everyone hates them, they get paid crap, and they work horrible hours. There isn’t much to like about the job, but once he starts, Estevez finds he has a purpose in life. He’s actually pretty good at the work.

A secondary story about a stolen Chevy Malibu slowly intersects with Estevez’s tale. Everyone wants this Malibu: criminals, the CIA, rival repo men, etc. It turns out to actually be an alien spaceship dressed up as a Malibu. Anyone who looks at contents of the trunk (and we never see what those contents are) is immediately vaporized in a blaze of green light.

Anyway, the two stories intersect in a completely absurd way. There is a lot of ironic humor. It’s not a laugh out loud comedy, but more of a “huh that’s weird and clever” kind of comedy. It’s incredibly low budget, the fight choreography is laughably terrible, the special effects are about as basic as they come, and the acting leaves a lot to be desired. But despite all those factors, the movie is as charming as hell. You can’t not like it, because it’s got heart and originality, and it’s pure fun.

Verdict: Good

October 2015
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