Friday, October 17, 2014

Fury

I have learned over time that the power of the mustache apparently has no limits! With the exception of the Hitler stache, this wonderful hair growth on the upper lip can add unexpected levels of freshness to your life and to the lives of those around you. Just look at what Tom Selleck did for Hawaii and short white shorts, he made it ok for white dudes everywhere to walk around showing off their bulge even if their best friend happened to be a big angry black man who also showed off his package; girls flocked to him and that amazing beast on his face anyway because they wanted a taste of hairy masculinity! So grow yourself a stache and bulge up white America; bulge up!

Why am I talking about mustaches? Because I hated Colin Farrell and everything he did until he finally manned up a grew a porn star stache himself for Michael Mann's Miami Vice. Once I experienced the awesome sleaziness he brought to Sonny Crockett's character, I couldn't help but be on board with that movie and every single one of the stories that revolved around his plowing through the young starlets of Hollywood. The power of the stache converted me!

Now I am nowhere near ready to say that I am a Shia LaDouche fan but the mustache he is rocking in Fury almost made me forget the fact that he is by far the douchiest actor in Hollywood right now. He plays the Bible beating member of Wardaddy's (Brad Pitt) crew; a 5 man outfit that mans a tank in war torn Germany during the Allied Force's final push to end World War II. As a matter of fact, his nickname is Bible and he fires the cannon rounds for what is to become a legendary tank in this war.

Writer and director David Ayer has done nothing but make solid movies ever since he got his break in Hollywood and all you have to do is look at Training Day, Street Kings, and of course Fast and the Furious if you need proof of this. He is known for making dark and gritty films that rely heavily on brutal and unforgiving violence to tell his story and that trend continues here with his latest effort in Fury.The film's opening scene has Pitt leaping from his tank and savagely killing what appears to be an SS Officer after his assistant driver was killed in battle; immediately setting the tone for what to expect from this unique tale of war violence.

At first I was a little worried because the first hour of the film is stuff you have already seen or read about countless times before. You have the young and scared idealist in Norman (Pitt's replacement driver), the battle tested and forever changed in a negative way soldiers in Grady and Gordo (Bernthal and Pena), and of course the seemingly crazy and secretive leader in Pitt. They all must get Norman up to snuff as he has absolutely no desire to kill anyone and his apprehension may ultimately get them all killed.

It isn't until they take a small town in Germany where the film's originality starts to shine and you begin to experience Tarantino like tension when Pitt and Norman run into two German women who are hiding out in their home. I won't ruin this scene for you but it's at its conclusion where Norman finally realizes what he's been thrust into and he then begins to undergo the same changes Grady and Gordo have.

The crew then undertakes a dangerous mission where they are outnumbered and are facing superior artillery and must decide if they are going to stand their grand to complete this important mission or do the smart thing and run.

The scene in the small town alone makes this movie worth seeing. It by itself encapsulates everything you need to know about the war and what it does to people and their lives. Pitt says so much without hardly saying a word in that scene but he does make me sick to my stomach in that at age 50, he is still in better shape than I am. There are a few cool battle scenes in the film's last act and you find yourself cheering as the crew is running out of ammunition and starting to panic when Pitt calms them down by letting them know "Bullshit! We still have hand guns and the .50 cal". Haha hell yeah you do Pitt!

I rate this movie as very FRESH and I suggest that you pop in.
 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Judge

Hollywood makes me sick to my stomach when they put their collective devious minds together and blatantly decide to produce a money grab movie. Now I know that you can argue that 95% of the movies that are released these days fall under this category but there are times when they don't even try to hide their intentions at all. The Judge starring Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall clearly falls under this category. I can just hear the discussion in the board room now "Hey! We need a movie that will make old people with money show up to the theater this fall. Toy Story 8? Nah, Paramount already has that slated for next summer. We need something that mixes As Good As It Gets with Dutch. I got it! Will put Robert Downey Jr. in a movie with Bobby Duvall. Everyone loves Ironman and women still think he's sexy. Plus old people love Bobby D. because he always plays the wise and slightly cranky old man who cackles with his mouth wide open every 5 minutes. You're right! It worked in Phenomenon and Downey's perfectly fine with making crap movies in between his Marvel pics! Let's do it!"

The Judge is the tired old story of the father that was that way too hard on his kids and the emotional distance that's created between them as a result of it. So you can immediately detect the tension that exists between Downey and his father Duvall when Downey has to return to small town Indiana to attend his mother's funeral. Downey is a big time lawyer in Chicago who is known for using his fast talking, sharp wit, and large vocabulary to get his mostly guilty clients off the hook. And he hides behind his work and his success to forget his upbringing and his past mistakes.

As he tries to recreate some semblance of traditional family interaction between him, his brothers, and his father, he learns that his dad is about to be brought up on charges for vehicular homicide; an accident that took place on the night of his wife's funeral. So as he decides and Duvall reluctantly agrees to allow him to become his lawyer, old family issues come to the forefront, secrets are revealed, and skeletons come out of the closet.

I will give this movie credit for having some teeth to the story as certain things are brought to light that can't help but move you emotionally. And I believe that all families can identify with at least one of the many issues that Downey is facing in this movie, so there's that. Also both Duvall and Downey actually try in this movie and neither one of them quite makes a caricature of themselves with their performance; which was my biggest concern going in.

It's just that the score is corny as hell and only people over the age of 65 will connect with it. The courtroom scenes are a little too My Cousin Vinny and I didn't even realize that Billy Bob Thornton was still alive! I still can't believe that he got to bang Angelina Jolie at her peak.

The movie runs way too long and they try and tackle one too many issues in this movie. It's not that it's bad, it's just that it's not anywhere near being good. I'd save this one for a family movie night over the holidays. I rate it as kind of WEAK!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Dracula Untold

I have said this a million times on this site, so you are already aware of the fact that I love all things vampires. This means that I will see almost anything that doesn't involve the evil blood suckers sparkling like diamonds in the daylight. And I'm especially drawn to the films that have horrible slow covers of actual fresh songs in the previews. Speaking of, why is this such a trend now? I have heard terrible versions of Nirvana's Something in the Way and Tears for Fears' Everybody Wants to Rule the World in multiple trailers and I'm ashamed to admit that they're surprisingly effective on me! Seeing Dracula with his hair flowing in the wind with an acoustic version of Black Hole Sun blaring in the background had me pumping my fist with excitement! Sadly though, the only time I was pumping my fist during this movie was when I was shouting angrily at the screen like Beetle Bailey! "Why you!!!!"

Dracula is a short story about Vlad the Impaler, a fierce war hero who is played by The Fast and the Furious' Luke Evans. Vlad grew up in a time when the Turks were in control of most of the known world and they were notorious for ruling with an iron fist. They would routinely take the young boys of their conquered lands and brutally train them to become ruthless killers in their massive army. And during the process of their training some kids would die while others would become these cold hearted monsters. Vlad was unfortunately one of these children and he turned out to the most skilled of them all. As he grew into a man he was able to escape this lifestyle and he eventually grew into a family man who ruled his kingdom in peace.

That is until the Turks somehow lost a thousand of their men to something mysterious in the mountains. So in order to replenish what had they lost, the king of the Turks decides to come for Vlad's kingdom and his young. Knowing that his army is no match for the Turks', Vlad reaches out to the dark force in the mountains for help. And as it turns out that dark force just happened to be the one and only Dracula. Dracula decides to help Vlad by giving him a 3 day trial; during these 3 days Vlad will have all of the powers and strength of Dracula but he will also have his thirst for human blood. If he gives in to that thirst, he will then take over the curse of being Dracula for eternity. So it's up to Vlad to defeat his enemy and not give in to the thirst so that he can remain human and enjoy life with his family.

I wont lie, that's actually a pretty badass premise. The problem however lies not in the story but in the director's awful use of CGI. I was expecting to see Dracula running around biting people's heads off and ripping limbs to and fro. But no, instead you just see him turn into these bat looking creatures that just simply fly through people. And apparently the force of the bats hitting the enemy is enough to kill them. Pretty weak if I must say so myself. When one man takes on 1000 soldiers, there should be blood and Ice Cube playing in the background. Bow Down fools!!! It sucks they failed miserably on this because the entire movie depends on the freshness of these battle scenes and sadly none of them are even close to being fresh. So his extremely hot wife at least gets naked right? No! It's a stupid PG-13 vampire movie.

There were two unintentionally cool moments in the movie; one belonging to Vlad's random Igor/Gollum and the other going to the random hot wenches that he decides to turn into vampires because every Dracula needs hot wenches. That latter needs no further explanation but his Igor just pops up out of nowhere and immediately submits to him. He sounds just like Igor does and for whatever reason he worships him and offers him blood. He does however have a rather fresh and key moment later on in the movie.

In the end this movie is totally forgettable but I wouldn't be surprised if it came on USA a year from now and I watched it hung over simply to laugh at it. This movie is really WEAK!!!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Annabelle

I've never really been one to believe in ghost stories and the like but I did recently stay in a mansion in Cape Cod that has been there for well over 100 years. And before we all moved in for the week the owner let us know that they had received complaints from past guests about the place possibly being haunted. Now I know that so far this story sounds like total BS but believe me when I say that it's true. I personally thought that the owner was just full of it and I simply blew it off as his lame attempt to add to the mystique of the grounds.

But in only our second night there a buddy of mine was having a casual and sober conversation with a female friend of ours when all of a sudden the front door of the house slammed shut on its own. We had it opened so that the fresh air could come in through the screen door. And as my buddy tried to open it again, he said it felt as though something was causing resistance on the other end as he struggled to pull it back to its original position. Again, I simply blew it off as their falling for the owner's nonsense.

But then soon after this occurrence and admittedly a few beers into the night, I saw what I thought was a bright and flickering porch light on the other side of a door in the house (there were literally 7 to 8 doors in this place). And soon after I saw the light we heard two distinct knocks coming from that door. My buddy laughed and dared me to answer it, so I did. I opened the door and discovered that it wasn't a porch light or even a door to the outside, it was a door to one of the many bedrooms in the house. The room was pitch black and it had another one of our friends in it who was already asleep for the night. And he had been out for a while! Now I'm not saying that Annabelle was in the house or anything, I'm just saying I started taking inventory and realized that I was the only black man in the house, meaning it was high time for my ass to get out of there!!!

And this is why I can't understand why people in these horror flicks try and stick things out. The second I bring an ugly looking doll into my home and a satanic cult happens to break in that very night to admire it, that's the same night that I throw up the deuces and say "Peace! I'm out!" But no not Mia and John Gordon; they decide that after the break in which involved an attempt to kill their unborn child, they were going to go back into that house to try and live a normal life. I guess they were just going to ignore the fact that one cult member cut her throat and bled all over Annabelle, the antique doll that John had bought as a present for his wife.

Well wouldn't you know it, the same night that Mia returns home from the hospital is the very night televisions start losing reception, sewing machines and record players turn on and off by themselves, and Mia starts seeing visions of little girls running around the home. Even after they realize that something is off and throw the doll away, Annabelle somehow moves with them to their new place. And the second they unpack her, she steps her game up a bit and physical harm starts to take place.

First of all it's creepy to me that Mia is played by an actress whose name is Annabelle Wallis because that's the name of the evil doll that this film is centered around. But I can overlook this weird fact because Mia is certainly pretty to look at. Second this movie is supposed to be the back story of how Annabelle became the carrier of evil and serves as a prequel to The Conjuring in that regard, but sadly it's nowhere near as scary as that movie was. Its scare tactics rely way too much on household appliances and feels more like a Paranormal Activity movie with its cheesy setups that yield disappointing results. It's not until you reach the third act of the movie where physical contact is involved that you finally begin to feel creeped out. But the sad thing is, is once they reach the film's climatic scene you can tell step for step what is going to happen as the writers and the director follow the How to Make a Horror Movie 101 class and shamelessly give you one of the most predictable endings ever!

I went in actually looking forward to seeing this movie but towards the end of it I was looking forward to leaving more than anything else. I rate it as kind of WEAK.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Best and Worst of Austin City Limits

The problem with Austin being one of the coolest cities on the planet is that it brings all sorts of clowns into town that ruin everyday life for us locals. I know you may argue that ACL isn't everyday life but in actuality it is. There is a music or film festival in this town almost every month and that's part of the reason why everyone wants to move here. The problem with that is, is that people don't realize that we actually go to music festivals to hear the music; its not just another excuse to get really wasted or get high. So that's why it was so annoying to see people run to and crowd a stage area just so they can could get together and talk loudly to one another about the dumbest crap imaginable during a performance. Is determining who has the better fantasy team or Keds collection really that important? Maybe I should have broken out my British Knights from 1992 so they could really see what was up!

Ok now that my old man rant is over, it's on to the best, worst, and unnecessary moments of ACL.

Friday

The Best Moment

This one is easy as it clearly belongs to Outkast and their so fresh and so clean performance which had everybody dancing and losing their minds that night. Both Big Boi and Andre 3000 looked to be having fun as they came out on fire with Bombs Over Baghdad and ATLiens, immediately letting everyone know that they were far from falling off after a thirteen year absence from the stage together. It's hard to beat two hip hop legends walking around and rhyming in a giant digital cube when they have the giant booties of beautiful black women twirking in the background. Well I just assumed they were beautiful, I never got around to seeing their faces. Also 3000 was his usual weird self rocking a Make Love Like War T-shirt while wearing a weird black jumper and blonde wig on his head. The fact that I got to hear Roses and International Player live was worth the price of admission alone.

The Worst Moment

This goes to Chvrches and their ridiculous name spelling as well as the stupid backwards sevens on their keyboards and beat machines. Because I chose to see them I was stuck on the side of the festival where 70% of its attendees were, so I also had to see Sam Smith (who was actually pretty good) and missed the majority of St. Vincent's awesome set! I came to see rock stars, not some scrubs stand around and press random buttons on a machine with a look on their face as if they are doing something really awesome. After only seeing 15 minutes of St. Vincent I was reminded that ACL actually allowed weird and talented people to play distorted guitar on stage and dammit I liked it!

The Unnecessary Moment

This belongs to the people rolling out the double wide baby strollers. It's bad enough that grandpa is out there sitting in the back in his lawn chair but at least he's not hitting my shins with his 20 foot wide baby stroller that's carrying two kids who got in for free and are eating all of my tasty Torchy's Tacos! They're kids, get them some damn Gummy Bears and a baby sitter and leave me to slowly kill myself with cholesterol and cheap beer in peace.

Saturday

The Best Moment

This goes to Interpol and their rocking 50 minute set. Both their sound and their performance were flawless as they knew exactly what the festival crowd wanted to hear, the hits. They only played three songs off of their amazing new release and mainly stuck to their first two albums which featured favorites like Narc and Say Hello to the Angels. They needed no light show as their stage presence and casual coolness kept you glued to the stage as you were dancing your tail off. The best moment happened when this girl came up to me and told me that she had cried three times during the first half of their set. We're getting married next week.

The Worst Moment

I have to say that I love Lana Del Rey's recorded stuff but man it's REALLY boring live. She is definitely easy on the eyes and her oddball behavior almost makes you expect to see her randomly shank one of her bandmates on stage but after about 20 minutes of hearing her croon, it basically turns into listening to a Sounds of the Orca cd. You remember those sleep aid albums that were really popular a few years back? Well I think she heard one too many as a teenager and a light bulb went off in her head. "Hey! I can make money using this style!" The best part was seeing all of the women freak out over her performance while the boyfriends or dates they dragged with them to the stage all had the "I better be getting laid tonight for this" look on their face. Still love you Lana, just ignore the fact that I'm getting married to the Interpol fan and hit me up sometime.

The Unnecessary Moment

I should make this Chi'lantro's Kimchi Fries and the fact that they made me queasy but I am going to give this moment to bad batch of Molly that was apparently going around Saturday night. You could tell all weekend that half of the festival was tripping or rolling on something but Saturday literally had me fearing for people's lives. After an amazing Major Lazer set which had one the biggest dance parties I've ever seen at ACL, I saw dozens of kids and adults all passed out on the ground in the  chalk outlined dead body pose and none of them appeared to be breathing. I had to go up to each one of them just to be sure that they were alive. The good news is that were all in fact still alive, the bad news is that each one of them sounded like the wounded Ewok at the end of Return of the Jedi when I tapped them to see if they were ok.

Sunday

The Best Moment

I missed Pearl Jam that night to see Interpol's incredible and game changing set at Stubb's but I heard that PJ closed out it out like a true festival headliner should. But before I left, I was at their stage and what I predicted would happen actually did. All of the old fogies were camping out early while the kids were heading on over to dance to Calvin Harris. The Great Divide happen right before my very eyes and I couldn't contain my laughter. What was great is that my buddy is such a PJ freak that he went out and bought a traveling pee cup so that he wouldn't have to lose his spot near the stage. Yes, you just read that. It's a paper device that you put in your pocket and when you pee in it, it turns your pee into a gel. It was both the grossest and most awesome thing I had seen in quite some time.

The Worst Moment

This belongs to the frat family. My buddy's girlfriend rejected the portable pee cup and decided that it was a better idea to go use an actual restroom. Well on her way back she had bought two beers, one for her and one for her boyfriend. But this ridiculous looking frat boy made her give him one of the beers in order to get by him so she could return to us. Needless to say this almost led to an all out brawl just an hour before PJ's set, especially when his frat boy brother and retired frat boy dad came to his aid. In the end I diffused the situation and we did get her beer back but we should have thrown some pee gel in their face just to let them know what time it was.

The Unnecessary Moment

I know that this moment happened on Saturday but I think it sums up our culture right now. Its the fact that literally 90% of the festival was there to see Iggy Azalea's performance. We got there about 5 minutes into her set and we couldn't get within 500 yards of the stage. I don't know if its the fact that so many people actually like her terrible music, the fact that I shamefully like two of her songs and wanted to dance to them live, or the fact that I was just happy that I could eventually get close enough to the stage to see her outstanding ass; but whatever the reason, we are all going to hell for being stupid stupid people. Get her a bigger stage ACL and please require that people take a music theory class before being allowed to attend the festival next year.


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Gone Girl

In college I used to do dumb things like change my caller id name to Wu Tang Clan member aliases so that my name would show up as Johnny Blaze or Russell Jones on my friend's phones. And I used to think that I was being clever by giving the AT&T operator the last name first and saying it in a proper voice so that they wouldn't catch on to what I was doing and deny me the name change. But one day I decided that Wu Tang wasn't enough for me so I got greedy and moved on to Reggie Noble (Redman) and B.Smalls (Biggie) for extra freshness. Sadly however the operator finally realized what was going on when I tried to change my name to "last name Shakur, first name Tupac"; he sort of chuckled and told me to never call in again. The point of this is, is that after last night I realized I am nowhere near as clever and deceitful as the characters in Gone Girl are but I guess after reading that story you could figure that out for yourself.

David Fincher's (Se7en, Fight Club) films are worth seeing in the theater simply because of what he can bring to the screen visually. His expert utilization of editing, lighting, and colors can turn a 4 hour film that's full of nothing but pseudo intellectual dialogue into one of the best films of the year (see The Social Network); and I have to say that his skills are on full display in this dark and methodical thriller. His teaming up with Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor once again brings magic to the screen as simple scenes are elevated to another level with their beautiful and creepy score.

What's elevated you ask? Well on the day of their anniversary Nick's (Affleck) wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) turns up missing. Nick immediately calls the cops to come investigate but something seems a bit off as it appears that Nick could honestly care less about it. And all throughout the town's searches for her, he almost seems more relieved about the fact that she's gone than he is concerned about her whereabouts. Well it's not long before evidence starts to build up against him in connection with her disappearance and soon no one in the nation or even his own town believes that he is innocent. So the race is on to find her before the cops have enough evidence to arrest him and give him the death penalty! And it certainly doesn't help matters that Amy has a diary that documents every second of their relationship and her growing concern for her safety.

Speaking of Amy, they really should just give Pike the Oscar for Best Actress today as she absolutely destroys this role. The mix of sexiness and desperation she brings makes Amy one of the most memorable characters I have seen in years; and it didn't take her uncrossing her legs with no panties underneath to do it! Well not quite.

Fincher is able to bring Gillian Flynn's (author, screenwriter) words to life and in doing so he creates one of the best thrillers of the decade! I rate this film as TIGHT as it is easily in the top 3 of 2014 to this point.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Guest

It seems like everyone who is making music or movies these days is falling in love with the 80's all over again. Everyone remembers the cool music, the movies that had these great endings where the lead characters always had something over the top and awesome happen to them, and of course the unforgettable and tasty Mr. T cereal. It's easy to reflect on these things however if we focus on the good then we also cannot forget the bad that came with it. Not to be a downer or anything but I was alive in the 80's and that time period also brought us AIDS, the rise of crack (some people see this as a good thing) and sadly Andrew Dice Clay (ooooh)!

But with all of that said I still love the 80's for what they were and I have to say that last night I saw the best 80's horror flick that has been made since that odd and wonderful decade. The Guest is full of random weirdness that doesn't have much explanation behind it at all, and when you're not really sure why these horrible things are happening all around you it makes them become all the scarier.

I have no desire to see the show Downton Abbey but one of its stars Dan Stevens totally gets the vibe of this story and he nails his role. His character David mysteriously shows up claiming to be a close friend of the Peterson's fallen son from their time in the army. And at first he appears to be the perfect gentleman but when no one is around you can see that something is totally off with him. He is almost alien like with his demeanor and his calculated movements and everything he does seems to have a plan behind it as he charms each member of the household while attempting to improve their lives. But all of a sudden weird things start happening around town and the family's daughter Anna begins to question the character of their new house guest.

I wasn't much of a fan of director Adam Wingard's You're Next because his attempt at humor in it completely missed with me but it's spot on in this film; some of David's facial expressions alone will have you laughing out loud in the theater. And I have to say that the film's score is killer (no pun intended) as it does for this movie what Drive's score did for it, just to another level.

Once you reach the film's final scenes it's almost like you're watching the classics Carrie or Prom Night and any movie that reminds me of those awesome flicks automatically gets a rating of very FRESH!