Sunday, April 25, 2021

Following is the greatest movie of all time

Following. “You take it away... to show them what they had.” Made my high school girlfriend watch this. All I remember really was that it was pretty fucked up and she hated it. You’re welcome. Also, another 1999 film, one of the best years for cinema. 

Rotten Tomato Consensus: Super brief but efficient, Following represents director Christopher Nolan's burgeoning talent in tight filmmaking and hard-edge noir.

Gist of the flick is a grungy dude follows around strangers like a fucking creep and picks another fucking creep that draws him into London’s criminal underworld. Eventually they get caught up with the girlfriend of a crime boss and shit goes south pretty quick.     

Nice little short flick. Christopher Nolan’s first. You can see a lot of his signatures here. Time is all fucked up and confusing. Dudes spend the movie investigating shit. Complicated male relationship at the center of the movie. Femme fatale between them. Great shit. Plus, I fucking love neo-noir. Great story told with impressive technique with some twists and turns.     

Definite MVP is Nolan. Currently watching all of his flicks again. Doing it sort of in order. Figured I’d do the Batman films together though.    

Friday, March 19, 2021

The Love Witch is the greatest movie of all time

The Love Witch. "Men are like children. They're very easy to please as long as we give them what they want..." "I'm the love witch! I'm your ultimate fantasy!" I loved this movie. Like Season of the Witch except good. Solid movie with a lot of layers to unpack. Plus it is extremely visually appealing. Would be a hell of a movie to trip to. 

Rotten Tomato Consensus: The Love Witch offers an absorbing visual homage to a bygone era, arranged subtly in service of a thought-provoking meditation on the battle of the sexes.

Gist is a a modern-day witch uses her magic to get men to fall in love with her before killing them for failing to live up to expectations. She drugs them with love potions made out of hallucinogenics before giving men "what they want." She is totally deadpan, which allows the guys to project whatever they desire onto her, which drives them crazy. It's a playful tribute to 1960s horror and Technicolor films, combined with its serious inquiry into contemporary gender roles. It's a super interesting take. 

Came out in 2016. Was written, edited, directed, produced, and scored by Anna Biller. Stars Samantha Robinson (a very pretty lady) as Elaine Parks, the modern-day witch who uses spells to get men to fall in love with her. She played the role of Abigail Folger in Once Upon a Time In Hollywood. Didn't really recognize anyone else from the movie, but all the acting was serviceable. One of thems, one Laura Waddell, looks just like Chassie Tucker from At Home with Amy Sedaris, which is like my favorite show. Others include Gian Keys, Jeffrey Vincent Parise, and Jennifer Ingrum, if you've heard of any of them.

Watched this on The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs. It was his Valentine's Day special. He has a great interview with Biller. His drive-in totals highlight the six "wang doodles" in the film. Also talks a lot about how the movie is super colorful and looks so good because it was shot on 35mm film, instead digital. The last bit focuses on this crazy sequence near the end that involves a random renaissance fair and includes a mock wedding. It's out there... Again, love.

Really hard to pick an MVP in this since Robinson is so great in this role and Biller's vision is so well executed. Ultimately giving it to Biller for putting together such a fine and visually appealing film. Good shit. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Tenet is the greatest movie of all time

Tenet. "I think this is the end of a beautiful friendship... I'll see you in the beginning, friend." I loved this movie. Checks a lot of boxes for me. Crazy time travel stuff. Billionaire shit. Male friendship. Insane action. A smoking hot femme fatale. Amazing cast. Chirstopher Nolan movie. Cool ass watches. Dope Travis Scott soundtrack. A title that is palindrome. I could have watched/restarted this immediately after finishing it. Dope AF. 

Rotten Tomato Consensus: A visually dazzling puzzle for film lovers to unlock, Tenet serves up all the cerebral spectacle audiences expect from a Christopher Nolan production.

Not going to go through much of the plot with this one. It's too out there to get into. Basic gist is that this is a time travel spy movie that is focused on stopping World War III. The word "tenet" also has a lot of significance. 

Directed by Christopher Nolan, I'll go see every one of his movies in the theater. It stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki (she plays Princess Di in The Crown and is crazy beautiful), Dimple Kapadia, Michael Caine, and Kenneth Branagh. MVP, for me, was Pattinson. I love that dude's work over the last few years. He sort of stole the show in this, although many of the performances are memorable. 

Also, seeing this was a sweet experience. This was the first movie I saw in the theater since Onward the first week of March of 2020. I was the only person in the entire cinema. Did not disappoint. However, right after this things blewing up again, coronavirus wise, and then the theater I went to only opened Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I don't foresee myself back in a theater until after I get my shot, which is hopefully soon. 

Monday, March 15, 2021

The Kid is the greatest movie of all time

The Kid. "Please love and care for this orphan child." Fucking classic. Loved, loved, loved. Part drama, part comedy. This was amazing. Even if you aren't into silent films, you should give it a chance. Hell of a film. 

Rotten Tomato Consensus: Charles Chaplin' irascible Tramp is given able support from Jackie Coogan as The Kid in this slapstick masterpiece, balancing the guffaws with moments of disarming poignancy

A movie that doesn't need sound to tell a hell of a story. From 1921 so is silent. Written, produced, directed by and starring Charlie Chaplin, this guy was, believe it or not, a genius. This Jackie Coogan, who plays the kid, is adorable and great as well. He is considered the first child movie star based on this film. Watched the Criterion Collection version of this. Is indeed culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant. Can confirm. 

Gist of the film is a kid gets abandoned by his mother. She was very poor and her baby daddy is a mother fucker. Don't blame her, she tries to make good later. The Tramp finds him and cares for him. They have a good life. But that comes crashing down when the state gets involved. 

Doing a little half-assed internet research, there is some dark shit surrounding this film. First, something fucked. There is a child named Lita Grey in this film. She is 12 years old. Chaplain, in his 30s, much to my disgust, makes out with her (as does this guy with a total catcher's mitt of a face). When this same girl is 15, Chaplain knocks her up. They get married when she is 16. This nymphet was part of the inspiration for Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita, if that tells you anything. 

Now something incredibly sad. Just before the movie was filmed, Chaplin's first child, an infant son, died. There is a lot of speculation that the depth of the relationship portrayed in the film may have been connected with the death of that child. His care for the kid does indeed seem to be extremely genuine, though dude is a hell of an actor. 

What really makes the movie is Chaplin, who is so the MVP here. Not as much for his acting, which is exceptional, but for his direction. Truly innovative shit here. It was the first full-length silent comedy for christ's sake. Blends comedy and drama. Made me laugh and gave me some feels. Had a few subtitles but it sure as shit didn't need them. You really get everything you need visually. The screen language is fucking sick. Chaplin was a genius. 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Body Bags was the okayest movie of all time

Ah, body bags. You see, if it's murder, suicide or a nasty accident, they put them in here. Checked off a lot of boxes for me. Anthology comedy horror with two "masters" of horror directing. A rip off of Tales from the Crypt with lots of fun cameos. Stacey Keach, Debbie Harry, and Sam Raimi. I figured this would be dope. But in the end, not really my cup of tea. 

Three segments. John Carpenter hosts and introduces each story. He is this morgue employee, it seems, who is into some weird shit. Sort of tells us about how some of the people there die and are brought in in body bags. These are their stories. 

The first segment was the slowest and most traditional/run of the mill of the three. Slasher stalks a gas station attendant. Cool setting and lots of great bit parts, but it doesn't hold up at all when it comes to logic. The plot holes in this one are too distracting, and I'm not one to care about that generally. But you ask yourself a couple of questions and it comes undone as shit. Robert Carradine, bro of David, plays the killer. Get cameos from David Naughton from American Werewolf in London, and directors Wes Craven and Sam Raimi.

Second segment is easily my favorite. Stars Stacey Keach, the obvious MVP of the movie, as a dude going bald who is fucking obsessed. He has a pretty girlfriend who is supportive, but dude just won't let it go. Fucking paints his head and shit like that. It's fucking gross. But everywhere he looks he sees dudes with like 80s rockstar hair, or some dog with a golden mane, and dude loses his shit. So he goes to this Hair Club for Men type place and gets some hair treatment whilst nurse Deddie Harry is all over him, telling him how sexy he'll look with long flowing locks. He's fucking stoked when he pulls off the bandages and has hair down to his ass. It's crazy ridiculous and obviously looks like shit. But he gets what he wanted, but, you know, this is a horror anthology, so that shit comes at a price. 

Third segment is sort of the same as the second. Dude loses a part of himself, his eye, is obsessed with getting it back. Does an experimental surgery. Gets what he lost back. Is ironically tortured by the eye. It's the old, got an eye from a dude that got executed, now I see his crimes and will start killing myself bit. If you're a Simpsons fan, it's the same plot as "Hell Toupée" from "Treehouse of Horror IX" where Homer gets Spike's hair after he got the chair and then Homer starts having urges to kill and what not. The guy that gets the eye, by the by, is Mark Hamill. He is basically out there playing hero ball during his whole segment. 

Directors are listed as Carpenter and Tobe Hooper. Carpenter did "The Gas Station" and "Hair" while Hooper did "Eye". Not what either are going to be remembered for, for sure. But definitely not either of their worsts. Plus, I think Carpenter is a genius and generally love his work. That said...

There were moments that I had fun, and the casting was amazing. But overall I thought it was sort of meh. I thought the bookend segments with John Carpenter as a morgue attendee ghoul were especially disappointing. Too much a really bad rip off of Tales from the Crypt without the humor. I mean, they tried, but the jokes were shitty and sad. 

Friday, January 1, 2021

Wonder Woman is the greatest movie of all time

I've touched the darkness that lives in between the light. Seen the worst of this world, and the best. Seen the terrible things men do to each other in the name of hatred, and the lengths they'll go to for love. Now I know. Only love can save this world. So I stay. I fight, and I give... for the world I know can be. This is my mission, now. Forever. 

Trully the greatest movie of all time? Yeah, not quite. Visuals are stunning, action sequences are insane. Plot is decent. Gal Gadot is a star, sort of, but her lines and acting weren't the best. However, she nailed the role. 

Cool to see Germans that aren't Nazis. WWI, so the Nazis are still the bad guys. Cast is great, like with any super hero movie. Lot of "that guy" actors. Liked that Danny Huston was in it. Love a Huston in any movie. Also, Robin Wright is smoking. More so now than ever. Grrr. 

Overall, it's fine, but I didn't think it was anything special. Sure, Gal Gadot is solid and hot. I mean she's no Margot Robbie, and sort of seems like an idiot, but she's an A-list act/beauty. But the film is a lot of really bad Wonder Woman dialogue. A lot of Gal Gadot saying to Chris Pine, "let's save those people," him being like, "are you crazy? We can't do that," and Wonder Woman being all, "We do nothing? I will do it myself." Then doing it. Repeat. 

Also, a lot of bad CGI. I'm not sure what is going on with DC's CGI, but it always looks like shit. I dig how colorful the DC movies are when it visuals. But they get super cartoon when fighting the big bads at the end. 

While it's the best of the DC movies going back to the Christopher Nolan Batman flicks, it'd be in the back half if it were a Marvel movie. Villains are extremely forgettable and numerous. Ares is no Loki, for example. But it's solid and fun. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Book Review: I'll Be Gone in the Dark - Michelle McNamara

I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara. A fun true-crime romp that was super engaging but sometimes hard to follow. Felt like the jumping around in time and place was a bit of a mistake, but hey, what the hell do I know. 

Title of the book came out of a quote spoken by the Golden State Killer to one of his victims: "You'll be silent forever, and I'll be gone in the dark." That's some scary shit. Fucking asshole. 

The book is somewhat of a memoir as well as a chronicle of the Golden State Killer (a name she coined), his victims, and his near escapes. It follows McNamara as she goes down the path of seedy crime blogs and forums, which is super dark, but fun (I'm a long time lurker on Websleuths). Has the feel of a cross between Gillian Flynn (who wrote the forward) novel and The Devil in the White City, except all over the place. 

This makes sense considering the book was unfinished when McNamara suddenly died. Patton Oswalt (her famous husband [big fan]), along with her assistant and journalist/Websleuth regular Billy Jensen, put the book together from McNamara's notes and completed chapters (which were in separate files in no particular order). The final product was released two years after she died. 

Meanwhile, whence Oswalt and company were promoting the book, just after the book was released, Sacramento police announced they had arrested a suspect. They arrested one Joseph James DeAngelo, a 72-year-old former cop, after Sacramento's finest submitted his DNA to one of those family DNA database sites, I'm not sure how I feel about that but that's not really the point here. 

This was right after shooting of Stephon Clark. I know it's hard to keep up with these officers-shoot-young-black-guy stories, but in this one, cops had been looking for a young man smashing windows that, you know, fit this guy's description (I guess). Cutting through yards and with a helicopter searching the area, the police find a black guy on his cellular phone in his grandma's backyard. They light his ass up, saying he had a gun. He did not. The cops also went out of their way to say they were confident that he was the one smashing windows, which was unlikely and doesn't really matter. So, alas, the cops got off, as they do. Mass protests followed. Then, suddenly, the Sacramento PD is like, oh, now's a great time to get in the news for something else, lets run that DNA through 23andMe or whatever. The lady who announced that they caught the guy, one Anne Marie Schubert, the Sacramento County District Attorney, was the same person who I'd seen a month earlier say that her office would not be filing criminal charges against the police officers that killed this Clark guy who, again, was unarmed and not doing anything. 

Also, they eventually mentioned that McNamara's research was worthless except for keeping people interested. This was obviously bullshit and infuriating. She coined the killer's name which the Sacromento PD used and they offered a $50,000 reward for his capture while she was knowingly gathering information from them for a book. Before then, they called the guy the East Area Rapist, Original Night Stalker, and Visalia Ransacker, among other things. In that press conference where they offered $50k, they called him the Golden State Killer. Plus, she talked extensively about submitting the guy's DNA to commercial databases, which was how they eventually caught the guy. Whatever. Glad they caught the guy, but don't be dicks about an amateur sleuth helping out a little bit by thinking outside of the box or what have you. 

For me, the best part of the book is the end. After getting all this information on the EAR, seeing McNamara tracking him down, and knowing the final outcome, it is bitter a pill that she didn't live to see DeAngelo arrested. But seeing the letter she wrote to him, before he was caught, was a touching way to end it. Especially since we know he was ultimately caught. 

Finally, I was flipping through HBO Max and see that this was turned into a docuseries sometime in the summer. Guess I know what I'll be watching over New Year's break. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Freaky is the greatest movie of all time

Oh my God, it's a slaughterhouse! Why are you smiling? Ah, I've heard that before. As a former reporter, my sense of humor is pretty dark, I guess you can say. On many occasion, when explaining some horrific thing I covered, my partner would whisper, "you have to stop smiling." 

Rotten Tomato Consensus: An entertaining slasher with a gender-bending, body-swapping twist, this horror-comedy juggles genres with Freaky fun results.

I loved this movie. Same director as Happy Death Day, Happy Death Day 2U, and Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse. Sort of the same take as Happy Death Day. Take a popular movie, Groundhogs Day, or in this case Freaky Friday, and turn it into a horror flick. I'm definitely a massive fan of this Christopher Landon guy. At four for four, I will definitely be watching everything this guy does in the future. 

Cast is great. This Kathryn Newton girl is really having a moment. She was also in Lady Bird and Three Billboards. They do that thing where everyone treats her like she is hideous when the movie first starts. Sloppy bullshit. No one buys that this beautiful young woman is so ugly to be a pariah. The kids at her high school treat her like she's the spitting image of Janet Reno or something. But then when her and the killer switch bodies, the killer pulls her hair back and puts on different clothes. Now everyone wants to fuck. She looks the same, honestly. Don't jerk me off, man. 

Does get a killer line though when she tells this rapey asshole, "Your touch makes my pussy as dry as sandpaper, you fucking monkey. I can't wait to kill you." 

Her friends, played by Celeste O'Connor and Misha Osherovich, neither had I seen, are great sidekicks with solid comedic timing, especially Osherovich.  

But the best is Vince Vaughn. He is perfect and hilarious. Total MVP of the movie. He is the reason to watch this flick. Carrying himself like a young woman is pretty great and not as offensive as I was expecting. This might be his best role of all time. He comes in smoking hot and kills it as a high school girl. 

Definitely going on my Plex server. Solid kills. Solid directing. Good performances. Fun and funny. My type of flick.  

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Stand-up Comedy - Maria Bamford: Weakness is the Brand

Maria Bamford. A Bloomington Comedy Attic favorite. That was how she first got on my radar. The club here is exceptional at picking up-and-coming talent. Sort of that next big thing. Then saw here on some programs, Louie, and played a major role in one of my faves, Arrested Development. By the time she had her own show on Netflix, Lady Dynamite, my partner and I were all in. Watched all her stand-up. It's amazing. So, yeah, I adore her work. This is no exception. 

Definitely "on brand," as it were. I love her style. The way she flows is completely unique and my favorite part about her. It's like she is talking about one thing, just goes into something else, goes back to the original, has an aside with the audience, onto something else, talks about ten other things at once with no segue, no theme, just spills it all out there. 

Highly recommend the show. One of my favorite bits was her and husband's sexual role-playing about “gentrification” and “earning a living wage." Also when she tells the story about her forcing her mother into a three-part religious-off to see who is the better person. Her style is never more out there than during that bit. “The important thing about standup comedy,” she tells the camera at one point, “is to call whatever you’re doing standup comedy.” Totally how she rolls. Loved it. 

Friday, November 13, 2020

Book Review: The Stand - Stephen King

Trippy read during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Loved it, of course, and started reading it again because of my slightly more extra time during quarantine and it being all timely and all. I've read something like 15 Stephen King books. Dude got me into reading when I was young. This was my second reading of this novel. The first was like 26 years ago. 

If you don't know, The Stand is a post-apocalyptic novel (up there with distopias as one of my favorite subgenres). The plot centers on a pandemic of a weaponized strain of influenza that kills 99.94% of the world's population. The few survivors in the United States form in two groups, the evil one led by Randall Flagg, the good one by committee, get it on at the end which concludes with a literal hand of god. 

Like I said, read this a long time ago. Seventh grade. There were parts that were definitely a little much for a sensitive, somewhat sheltered child such as myself (I'm thinking specifically about the many extremely violent deaths and extremely disturbing sexual violence), but I couldn't put it down. Plus, I've thought about it a lot since then and it still looms large. 

I'll say that I find several of the main characters a little milqutoast (Stu Redman, Mother Abagail) and others irritating. The Kid and The Rat Man are maybe two of my least favorite characters from any work of fiction. However, the novel features some of King's most vivid and well written (Larry Underwood, Harold Lauder), and others where we get just enough that we are left wanting so much more (Dayna Jurgens, Lloyd Henreid [these two are so damn interesting]). 

Depending on the day, this is my favorite Stephen King novel and favorite post-apocalyptic work from any genre. Though it is considered popular fiction, I think this work will be read in schools years from now. Like Twain or Mellville or Sir Walter Scott or someone like that. 

King said, of the book, "There’s something a little depressing about such a united opinion that you did your best work twenty years ago." While that may be the case, it's not like he didn't set a pretty damn near impossible bar to clear. Plus he gets pretty close once or twice a decade. Great shit.