Archive Page 2


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


The Devil is a Part-Timer, Otaku no Video

The Devil is a Part-Timer

Comedy anime rarely work. I’m not sure why. Are animators inherently unfunny? Is the Japanese sense of humor just that different? Does it have something to do with the translation?

The answer is: laziness. They think showing bouncy breasts, characters screaming at each other, and super-annoying misunderstandings are hilarious. This is the basis of humor in every single anime ever created. They rely on incredibly tired genre tropes instead of ever trying to fashion a new joke.

This series is labeled as a comedy, but it’s not funny. It uses all the gags outlined above, and fails to be funny even once. However, the series does have kind of a cool premise, and the story was interesting enough to keep me watching.

The Devil lives in an alternate universe. His armies of evil are beaten by humans, and he escapes to our universe. In our universe he has no powers. So, he resorts to getting a job at McDonald’s in order to pay the bills. Various members of his home universe trickle through to our side to be a thorn in his side and create plenty of drama.

The story of him trying to start a new life was good. I especially liked the attention to detail that the Devil didn’t know how to speak Japanese when he first crossed over, and everyone thought he was insane.

Sadly, the story doesn’t go anywhere. There are a few battles, and the Devil manages to save humans because he’s suddenly turned over a new leaf. He manages to do all this while getting a big promotion to Assistant Manager. I liked the concept and the general thrust, but nothing else happens. The story just stops mid-way through without any resolution. The anime is probably based on an unfinished manga. That would explain it. I’m too lazy to look it up, though.

Verdict: Average

Otaku no Video

Otaku no Video is one of Gainax’s weirdo pet projects, an OVA from the early 90s. They were just getting a foothold in the business, and had a couple of modest hits, but they hadn’t skyrocketed to success with Evangelion yet.

You can tell it’s autobiographical as hell. The main character is a normal guy who is in college, likes to play tennis, and has a cute girlfriend. He gets turned on to manga and the otaku lifestyle. From there, his personal life disintegrates. He loses the cute girlfriend, but gains a bunch of strange friends.

Eventually, they start a company making figurines (with questionable legality), and are wildly successful. This venture fails, too. Now, I was pretty interested in the story until this point, but this is when it completely falls apart. The main character picks himself back up, and is determined to become the “Otaking,” the greatest otaku of all. OK, sure, so what’s next?

Well, you don’t get to see what’s next. We flash-forward several decades, and the Otaking is old. He became the Otaking, but you don’t know how, and you don’t know what that means. He and his best friend go examine their defunct theme park (again, completely skipped over), and then ride a magic rocket with their friends (who are young again for some reason) to a special planet for Otaku.

Um, yeah.

This OVA is only two episodes long, but it needed to be three. We needed to see how exactly they got where they ended up. They forgot Act 3 of a 4 act play. And the utter fuck-up in the storytelling sinks this anime big-time.

The OVA is also punctuated with live-action interviews with “real” otaku. They are actually Gainax staff who are reading from a script. Most of these were woefully lame. I think I may have only laughed twice. And they seem to go on and on. Maybe some otaku and their waifus will find this shitty funny, but as a person with a job, a life, and a family, I didn’t.

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’


Justified Season 6

We’ve reached the end of the road. With the conclusion of season 6, Justified has finally gone off the air. It’s sad, really, because this has been one of the most consistently well-written, well-acted series on TV in an extremely long time. Fortunately, the final season did not disappoint in the slightest.

Season 6 is the culmination of everything that came before. Raylan and Boyd, the two main characters, were often like ships passing in the night for much of the series. Their exploits affected one another in tangential ways, and they only occasionally crossed paths directly. This season, however, removes all other distractions, and Raylan’s final task is to confront Boyd directly and bring him to justice.

But it’s not that simple. It’s never that simple. It’s Justified, after all.

Continue reading ‘Justified Season 6’


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

November 2015
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