Saturday, March 31, 2018

Game Night is the greatest movie of all time

This was super fun. Like that Michael Douglas movie The Game where bored rich people pay a company to ruin their lives all in good fun. When I become a one percenter I am totally going to pay to have someone simulate kidnapping and murdering people on my trivia team. I'm only like half kidding about that as I do occasionally host game nights, do trivia multiple times a week, and do shit like escape rooms when I'm on vacation. Totally relate to that shit. Gotta love a movie like that. Greatest movie of all time, in fact.

Rotten Tomato Consensus: With a talented cast turned loose on a loaded premise -- and a sharp script loaded with dark comedy and unexpected twists -- Game Night might be more fun than the real thing.

Pros: Fun and funny. Light for movie featuring torture and murder. Basically everything Jason Bateman is in is going to be solid. Lots of surprise cameos.

Cons: Too many twists. It got a little irritating how many times shit would go insane and someone would jump out and say "it's all part of the game."

Staring Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams, Game Night features a gang of buds who meet with a pair of couples for a weekly game night. When Bateman's character's brother, played by Kyle Chandler of Friday Night Lights (the series) fame, who makes a living selling dubious shit on the black market, shows up and ups the unpredictability by signing them up for a kidnap mystery party which leads to some of the old ultraviolence when real kidnappers show up to the crib. As time goes by and people get  the group starts to realize that it is not all part of game.

The couples are made up of Kylie Bunbury (who was the lead in that garbage show Pitch), Sharon Horgan, Billy Magnussen (who looks like that Matt Bomer guy from American Horror Story but is not that guy), and Lamorne Morris (the black guy in New Girl). Some of the cameos include Jesse Plemons who was Landry in Friday Night Lights and a psychopath in Breaking Bad, Dexter (Michael C. Hall), Danny Huston (brother of Angelica who actually was in AHS), Chelsea Peretti from Brooklyn 99, and Jeffrey Wright.

Much of the humor comes as the group gets increasingly deeper in a violent, chaotic world they are ill equipped. But their competitive natures help them get through it. Favorite scene was the one featuring the game of Faberge egg football. They go to a rich people fight club where these one percenters engage in human cockfighting. There one of them steals the egg, they have to get it to save Bateman's brother who back stabbed Dexter's character and is being held hostage. It doesn't get more slapsticky than this but was still pretty funny. Also coming on strong was Plemons's character who is a cop that lives next door to Bateman and McAdams. The group basically dropped Plemons, who is a cop, after him and his old lady split. They think he sucks (he does) and go to great lengths to avoid him around game night. That dude is too weird and deadpan to live. Another great scene from the movie is when they have to go to his house to use his police computer and Bateman, who was shot earlier in the film, bleeds all over the shrine he has built for his ex and the guy's white dog. Good stuff.

The whole vibe of the flick reminded me of this dope Bill Murray movie from the 1990s called The Man Who Knew Too Little. Similarly, that film feature a clueless guy that unknowingly gets in over his head. If you like this flick you should definitely check that shit out. It's also chaos like another enjoyable flick from back when called Rat Race which featured a bunch clueless idiots trying to get to some location before everyone else to score some big payout. Both are zany and physical and also fun and uptempo.

The twists kind of get old. We keep getting people popping out of woodwork being like "that was all part of the game!" These keep getting more elaborate and ridiculous. After the third time this happened I was sort of over it and irritated. But it comes back around again, kind of, at the end when people have fucking died and such and characters were like, "oh, that was Kevin, he is an actor, he's fine," when he was obviously completely dead and such. Overall the flick is pretty fun. While I won't buy it on Blu-ray or digital, I'll probably rewatch it (or pirate that shit) when it comes to Netflix or HBO or whatevs.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Annihilation is the greatest movie of all time

Holy shit. This movie was crazy. This movie has everything: self-immolation with a grenade, bears that absorb the screams of the people they maul, a phosphorescent technicolor yawn, shimmer people interpretive dancing. That's that thing where your shimmer doppelganger mimes you  as you flop with your hands over your head like a European NBA player circa 2001. Everyting. This is why it is the greatest movie of all time.

What the fuck from beginning to end is a fucking starting off point. I can't stop thinking about it. It was great. Probably won't ever watch it again though.

Rotten Tomato Consensus: Annihilation backs up its sci-fi visual wonders and visceral genre thrills with an impressively ambitious -- and surprisingly strange -- exploration of challenging themes that should leave audiences pondering long after the end credits roll.

Pros: Fucking beautiful. The fake nature stuff was awesome in that Avatar way except it's going to hold up 10 years down the line. Super trippy (microdosing may seem like a good idea but do not microdose for this movie, speaking from experience here). Super engrossing.

Cons: Ending is vague. Intentionally confusing. An extremely distressing movie going experience. If you can't deal with that shit, this not your type of movie.

Good time to remind everyone that I spoil the shit out of everything so watch out. Here are my "hot takes", as the kiddies say...

Gist of the movie is a group of women led by physiologist Jennifer Jason Leigh (Single White Female, The Hateful Eight) go into a shimmering anomaly that engulfs several square miles of coastline somewhere in the southern United States. In this mysterious and dangerous area, DNA mutates and refracts creating unpredictable creatures and reeks havoc on all who enter. The movie stars Natalie Portman who joins the expedition after her husband, played by Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi), shows up after returning as the sole survivor of a previous mission into the "Shimmer". Once in, shit be cray. Also in the flick are Tuva Novotny whom I've never seen before in my life, Gina Rodriguez whom I've also never seen, and Tessa Thompson (Creed, Thor: Ragnarok, Westworld) who is mad hot right now. It was written and directed by one Alex Garland (Ex Machina) who wrote dope screenplays and books before directing, and was adapted from the novel of the same name by Jeff VanderMeer. I guess it veers wildly from the book which I haven't read. One thing I heard about the book which I wish would have been kept as is was that the singularity was completely unexplained. It was just suddenly there and spreading. Here it was something from space.

Ground zero looking super exciting
The movie is deliberately confusing. We are sort of made to feel like the characters that have gone into the shimmer. They say it feels like they are all in the early stages of dementia or something like that which is the vibe we get. Getting info in fragments and without context. We get little chunklets that shed some light on what is going down but this leads to more questions. This is movie that requires active participation from the viewer. I feel like most of the answers are there but you have to connect the dots yourself.

I've seen the movie mostly compared to Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey with the whole surreal/abstract finale and dissonant/alarming music, John Carpenter's The Thing because of the terrifying unnatural creatures with the bear and the body horror of the fungus/plant man in the pool, Alien for obvious reasons (it is the sci-fi/horror movie that they all aspire to after all), and Solaris with the whole question of am I really who I think I am (literally) among scientists undergoing emotional crises and doppelgangers. I thought it was also James Cameron sci-fi porn. Like Aliens it has the paramilitary group going into the unknown and getting picked off one by one. Like The Abyss we have an alien being mimicking terrestrial life while also threatening to annihilate it. Like Avatar with the insane visuals and people willing becoming the other. And it had Sphere DNA as well with the whole investigating the origins of a mysterious shimmering thing that brings nightmares to life.

It was its own thing too: refracting themes and images from those films for what is a fresh and demented shift for the sci-fi/horror genre. For sure it was unsettling but in a way that was alien. Two scenes--the one involving the bear and the one involving the liquid metal dancer person--were unpleasant in part because of how unreal and unimaginable they were. During the screaming bear attack scene where the most unhinged of the four ladies that had survived to that point had tied the other three up when this bear shows up having already killed one (maybe two) of them and was aping that woman's death screams with easy access with all of them in restraints, I tried to put myself in that position and my brain went to shit. That shit really disturbed me. It was fucked. Did not like. Then at the end with the shimmering mime/doppelgangers, did not like that either. That starts out with one of most beautiful fucking things I have ever seen. It was an indescribably beautiful mound of light and color that moved like liquid.

The movie hinges on the concept of self-destruction. We are all doing it, the movie says as I sip a frozen coke, eating Cadbury Mini Eggs while on little bit of acid. Raw, organic vegetables for me from now on. The psychologist of the bunch explains that people rarely commit suicide. Rather they destroy their relationships, smoke, drink, freak out at work, so forth, and these things lead to our demise. It's in our DNA, she argues. And here we have a group that is not so well adjusted going into this singularity, a lighthouse, where the shimmer started. This is the most dangerous point imaginable. The parallels to Chernobyl are striking and disturbing with the fluid mass of color sort of  resembling the elephant's foot (the radioactive made up of nuclear fuel, melted concrete, sand, and core shielding that melted and flowed together) at the base of the reactor that went full meltdown and is also deadly as shit. Anyway, the ending is highly interpretive but it seems that Portman's character is the real version of herself with altered DNA. Her eyes shimmer (which leads some people to think this is a clone but I don't see how that is possible or makes sense), she has another chick's tattoo, and she is no longer self-destructive (it is implied) though she does destroys the doppelganger version of herself. She overcame that genetic defect (assuming it is actually encoded in our DNA [I have no idea]) and has now self-actualized or whatever. Now she's not going to bone any of her coworkers (she was cheating on her dude with another professor) and is going going to go live with her husband's doppelganger happily ever after. And that is Annihilation. Great flick.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Every movie is the greatest movie of all time

After minimal consideration, I have decided not to shit on movies anymore. For me to consider something bad, it's got to be fucking BAD.  However, as time has gone by and I've watched movies that are supposedly garbage, my threshold for what I can watch and consider entertaining has significantly changed and I see  even the Worst Movies of All Time as having their redeeming qualities. I am therefore hyping every goddamned movie I see. They are all amazing. Greatest movie of all time. That is all.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is the greatest movie of all time

Continuing with the Academy Awards movies, talking about Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which I saw a few weeks back. One of those Oscar movies. Was up for a bunch of awards. Won the Golden Globe for Best Picture. Not that Oscar though. It was pretty alright though I feel it became cool to hate on it. Probably not the most zeitgeisty movie of 2018 and was likely to ruin everyone's careers if it won all those awards, like Crash did for whatever reason, but it is by no means a shit movie like I'm suddenly hearing. Part of it is was this a comedy? A drama? A comerama or what have you? Directed by one Martin McDonagh who did In Bruges and Seven Psychopatchs. Also movies of that is this like a joke variety. This guy.

This one is all about a mother, Frances McDormand, who puts up these three confrontational signs in her yard, maybe, calling out the local sheriff, played by Woody Harrelson (who is dying of cancer) for sort of not doing enough in her mind to catch her daughter's rapist/murderer who set her on fire. Also features Sam Rockwell who is a dick bag police who ends up being on good terms with everyone in the ends (but is still a dick bag). Mixed in with a bunch of dark as shit humor. Just having fun with it, I guess.

Rotten Tomato Consensus: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri deftly balances black comedy against searing drama -- and draws unforgettable performances from its veteran cast along the way.

Pros: Impressive ensemble cast. I'd watch a McDormand, Harrelson, and Rockwell. It was a good story (despite not being very taut) based on an interesting premise. Despite being way over the top, it felt pretty real.

Cons: All over the place. How they fit all this in one movie is crazy pants. Redeemed Rockwell's character too much for my taste. Sort of gives vigilante justice a pass.

This weirdo
The cast carries this McDormand does the McDormand thing that she does in all those Coen bros movies she is in. A brooding, stern, character of few words, and sort of funny performance. Like Fargo or The Man Who Wasn't There. Same shit if you like that. Woody and Rockwell too play characters that were probably written with them in mind and great. Rockwell's mom, who is also Mac's mom in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Grandma in Napoleon Dynamite, is the only person in the world that you would want if your movie calls for a hideous chain-smoking bumpkin of an aging single mother. She has that shit locked down. The dude that played Red though, one Caleb Landry Jones, who was that creepy brother in Get Out and that creepy brother in The Last Exorcism and was the creepy boyfriend in Twin Peaks, that dude was probably the breakout star here. You also get some Dinklage action as well as John Hawkes and Clarke Peters character actor goodness.

Again, the movie was pretty good but there was some shit. Not trying to give too much of it away here but you don't really empathize with McDormand's character in the end because of shit she does. Rockwell's Dixon is a fucking piece except towards the end when he does one thing that is okay. Then he is a piece again, kind of/sort of. And the end is irritatingly vague in that dumb you have to draw your own conclusions way which in this case was unnecessary. But, yeah, if you want to see some top-notch (perhaps over) acting, then this is a movie to check out. Especially keep an eye on Woody who is like his generation's most underrated thespian. Plus he is super cool. Gotta love a pothead vegan. 

Sunday, March 4, 2018

I, Tonya is the greatest movie of all time

Academy Awards are tonight. And the Oscar goes to... Damn. That Margot Robbie is really something. Really, really, really something. I have seen her in three movies. In all of them (Wolf of Wall Street, Suicide Squad, and I, Tonya) she was phenomenal. This was her best though. She is the new Meryl Streep, this one, and this solidified it, for me anyhow. On her performance alone this would have been of the greatest movie of all time variety, but seriously, so much more that fucking rocked. Kenyon grad Allison Janney was fucking great. As was the guy who played douchebag Jeff Gillooly. It was nice reliving this little chunk of insanity through this medium and fucking believe the world is a better goddamned place because of this movie. Though it does give Tonya too much benefit of doubt. Like her mom would say, “fuck her.” Also, Nancy still seems like a bitch, which will never not be unfortunate (a lot of negatives there, I mean it always be shitty) since she was the victim and all.

Alison Janney. Known for playing great mothers.

Pros: Margot Robbie. OMG is she good. Ditto Allison Janney. Pretty much a flawlessly acted film. The way the iceskating is shot is super cool and impress. You are on the ice with her basically and Robbie looks like an Olympic figure skater (for the most part). Pretty funny considering it's about a real life shit show.

Could you imagine if this chick played you in a biopic?
Cons: Sort of amounts to a Tonya Harding apology (in the classical sense) film. Nobody is really on board with that. Music is a little much and too on the nose (do we really need to hear “Devil Woman” when Tonya's mom is being terrible?).

Competitive ice skater Tonya Harding rises amongst the ranks at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, but her future in the activity is thrown into doubt when her ex-husband's people do the thing. You know the story. This is absolutely the Tonya version, hence I, Tonya, which has some basis in fact but is super kind when it comes to its subject matter. So if you fucking hate Tonya, which I imagine we all still do, keep that in mind.

She had me at "suck my dick"
This is not the movie for you if you are squeemish when it comes to domestic violence. It is brutal and fucking sucks. We start out seeing little Tonya acting exactly like you'd expect, her mom (played by Janney) drinking like a chimney, chain-smoking, so forth, is super abusive. Doesn't like it when Tonya doesn't land tricks like many a Olympic parent, I'm sure. Beats her for all kinds of stuff. Then she meets Jeff played by the guy who is Bucky in the MCU movies and was the asshole 80s guy in Hot Tub Time Machine. He beats her for the rest of the movie and even almost shoots her once. He is fucking terrible. They all are. But it's great.

Probably the thing I was most impressed with aside from the performances, again, fucking sick, was how they shot the skating. Not only does it seem that Robbie is an Olympic level skater (which she obviously is not) through effects and what have you but you end up on the ice with her as she rushes through her routines. It's a pretty dope effect. 

Favorite scene though was when she got screwed at an event early in her career and the judge told her it was because she looked like a bull-dyke and Tonya told her to "suck my dick." Classic and classy. My kind of gall, that one. 

Overall, it was pretty cool to go back in time and relive all that shit with an insider's perspective. Up to that point it was some of the craziest shit ever. I mean it is still nuts. Reality train wrecks were already carving their way through the zeitgeist in the early 1990s (before Tonya there was Buttafuoco, John Wayne Bobbitt, the kid getting caned in Singapore, Lyle and Erik, the Gulf War, so forth)   but at the time it seemed like that really escalated it. Then, like we see at the end of the flick, OJ came along, did his thing, and now fucking Trump is the goddamned President. But yeah. Dope movie.