Monday, May 25, 2015

Tomorrowland

So a girl I’ve never met before randomly decides to come up and ask me this question the other day "So my boyfriend wants to watch me have sex with a strong black man. Are you ok with that? He wouldn’t play, he’d just watch us." Um…do you always start off conversations this way? And did you guys just decide this as you were standing in the middle of the frozen foods section while choosing between Popsicles and rocky road ice cream?

Is this the kind of world director Brad Bird was trying to prepare us for in Tomorrowland? A world where we’ve become so socially detached that this is actually considered normal behavior in a public setting?

I certainly hope not but maybe I have this creeper look to me that I am only now becoming aware of. Maybe this is the reason why I stopped getting invites to my friends’ birthday parties for their kids once they turned four. I always thought it was because that was the age the parties stopped being for the adults and it actually became more about the kids. But who knows, I could have that face that makes strippers put in a request that I put my hands behind my back before they actually agree to give me a lap dance.

Oh well, all I know is that I didn’t get instantly arrested upon my arrival to the theater to see the PG rated Tomorrowland and that the woman I met earlier definitely left my place fully satisfied the other night; so I have that going for me. I’m so joking about the last part! I’m not creepy Rob Lowe, I have DirectTV!

Tomorrowland is the second live action film that director Brad Bird has made since he left the world of animation. He made some of Pixar’s best movies in The Incredibles, Ratatouille, and The Iron Giant (can’t remember if that’s Disney or not). So he was the perfect mind to reach out to when it came to making a film about a place that exists in another dimension where every inventor or positive thinker’s dreams can come true.

Tomorrowland is a place where robots, who were created by humans, recruit the world’s most mechanically inclined dreamers; people who actually use their mind to try and do good in the world. Well one day this teenage girl named Casey gets arrested for breaking into NASA in an attempt to save her creepy dad’s job. I say creepy because Tim McGraw plays her dad and for whatever reason, all Country music stars look like total molesters when they start acting; look at Dwight Yoakum.

Upon her release however, she is given this pin; and the second she touches it, she gets access to this futuristic world. It’s a world that’s full of jetpacks, hovercraft trains, rockets, and people who dress like a mix of Captain Neo and the people in Spike Jonze’s Her. Everyone is happy as they see their dreams coming true and everything truly does seem possible. But after a while, the pin’s magic goes away and this is where Casey goes on a mission to find its origin. Along the way she is introduced to violent robots, an old looking George Clooney (who is a former child genius himself), and an unexpected fate for the world. So overall, not a bad story.

Brad Bird does the best he can with Damon Lindelof’s script, one he co-wrote with him, but everyone should know from the Lost and the Leftovers series that Lindelof is great at coming up with ideas, he’s just has no idea how to execute them. The movie runs way too long and there are some really odd moments in the movie that just make you uncomfortable; such as the creepy relationship that exists between Clooney and his 12 year old recruiter. I wont ruin the movie for you by going into detail, you’ll just have to experience it on your own. The fights between with the robots are cool and every scene that takes place in Tomorrowland makes you wish that you were a kid again because it does look exactly how you imagined the future would look when you were a kid. So from perspective, kids will love this film as children are doing lots of cool stuff in it; like flying in jet packs or blowing up robots. But as an adult you just wonder why it’s taking so long to tell the story.

Tomorrowland isn’t a bad movie, it’s just that it falls well short of what it could have been. Plus Hugh Laurie gives this long, drawn out sermon at the end that sounds like it was written by an unfunny Bill Maher; this is where I make my joke about there not actually being a funny Bill Maher in existence. If you have kids and you want to get them out of the house, then I suggest you check this movie out; if you don’t, then you’ll probably want to pass. I rate this movie as kind of WEAK.

By the way, if you do wind up seeing the movie and you find yourself thinking that young Casey is actually pretty hot; it's ok, in real life she's actually 25 years old. Just saying.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Poltergeist

I just realized why I have been so hard on horror movies lately; it’s because horror movies used to be about making you face the things you were most afraid of in life. Things you would never talk about in the open or things that you secretly hoped would never come to life or be true; like people coming back from the dead looking for vengeance or having to see Kathy Bates naked on a 100 foot screen again.

I remember secretly watching Poltergeist as a kid and freaking out whenever that little girl would talk to the snowy television, or I’d hide under my bed every time something freaky came out of someone’s body in the movie House. There used to be so much blood and gore in movies that you almost felt as if you were the one evil for liking it so much.

Horror movies also gave me my first exposure to horny and naked white girls who would all of a sudden lose their coordination whenever they were being chased. Maybe this explains why I am always attracted to the girl who has big boobs but can’t do the Dougie to save her life. I just envision us having sex in the back of my X-Terra right before having to run from some creature who has a flaming ax in their hands. By the way, I grew up in small town Texas, this is a lot closer to being a reality than you think.

So after all of this nostalgia, I decided to break my PG-13 rule when it comes to horror movies and went off to see the recent remake of Poltergeist. And of all of the movies that are being remade or re imagined, this was one that was definitely in need of an update. The spiritual world that’s in the original is so dated that it’s nearly impossible to watch; for whatever reason the final scene looks like the inside of an abandoned Lane Bryant store. I kept waiting for Melissa McCarthy to come out in a nightie in a disgusting attempt to seduce the dad, thankfully though that never happened.

The remake for the most part follows the original storyline as Sam Rockwell (one of the main reasons I saw this movie in the first place) has to move his family to a new neighborhood after losing his job. Unbeknown st to him or his family, their house just happened to be built over an old cemetery, and as they will soon find out, it appears as though only the headstones were moved and not the bodies themselves. As you can imagine, the dead are not happy about this at all as they are now stuck in the spirit world which lies in between the land of the living and heaven or hell; so they reach out to Rockwell’s little girl to help them find their way to the light.

This movie has all of the classic scenes you’d expect in a remake of Poltergeist, including the snowy television scene where the girl creepily turns to her mother and says "They’re here!" as hands of the undead try and break through the television screen to get her. It also has the evil spirit expert in Carrigan Burke, played wonderfully by Jared Harris, who is there to help guide the family through the spirit world. He also provides quite a few moments of comic relief in between the scares from the angry ghosts.

The problem is, the first half of the movie relies too heavily on the classic scare tactics that we’ve all become desensitized to. There are the long, slow walks that are set to loud and creepy music, which supposedly build anticipation of something popping out, but when something does eventually happen it’s so lame that you wind up giggling at it versus actually being frightened. But who knows, killer clown dolls or creepy old trees might actually freak some people out.

But thankfully by the time you convince yourself to sit back and just enjoy what is unintentionally a campy horror flick, things start to get better. They still employ the classic horror tricks they used earlier in the film but this time they all of a sudden get better at it. A college intern gets pulled into the creepy closet with a power drill, a little ghost runs around the house and freaks everyone out, and there are actually some cool looking scenes with the angry dead in the spirit world.

Rockwell brings his usual cool comedy to the screen and Rosemarie Dewitt is full MILF mode in this movie. And while there are no boobs in it, she still nice enough to look at to help make up for it. The second half wasn’t good enough to make up for everything else that’s wrong with this movie but if you’re bored and looking for a horror flick to watch, you should check it out. I give it a rating of WEAK. By the way, it was just brought to my attention that the original is rated PG! What the hell was going on in the 80’s???

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck

Right now there seems to be an inordinate amount of documentaries and short movies dedicated to the lives of dead celebrities. Last night in particular I spent a significant amount of time learning how drugs, fame, and Courtney Love can lead to the untimely death of cultural icons. And even after four hours of watching some of the most depressing stuff you can imagine, I still can’t figure out why anyone would ever name your daughter after a vegetable.

What’s the inspiration behind all of these documentaries? Are all of the directors really excited for the reboot of the Poltergeist franchise? Or are they simply just preparing us for the next dead celebrity? I hate to say this but I think that Andre 3000 has now surpassed the invincible Scott Weiland as the next candidate to join this list; if a million fans screaming your name and thousands of groupies throwing their panties at you can’t make you enjoy tour life, then I’m not sure what can. By the way, I would have said Sisqo but clearly he wants underwear the dick holes thrown at him, so he’s obviously in the wrong profession.

Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck is unlike most of the other documentaries we’ve seen about Cobain or Nirvana to this point. Most of the documentaries in the past have put their focus squarely on Cobain’s drug use or the battle that exists between his former bandmates and his bitter ex-wife. But this movie starts from his early childhood and takes you all the way through the rise of Nirvana without any kind of hidden agenda behind it. I kept waiting for them to present Love or the media as this evil entity that ultimately led to his death but director Brett Morgen never did. I am sure the fact that Frances Bean was one of the main producers of this film had something to do with that but they never went out of their way to prove her innocence or anything of that nature.

You can draw your own conclusions as to what ultimately led to his suicide, and the movie certainly does give you plenty of evidence to do just that, but Morgen leaves it up to the viewer to decide what happened by simply presenting facts of his upbringing and the environment he grew up around.

You see how hard his parent’s divorce was on him and how it eventually led to him reaching out to drugs, music, and art to help cope with it. Through the use of personal recordings, artwork, lyrics, and notes, you get to see how he eventually grew into the public figure that took the world by storm in the 90’s and still has people wishing they had seen them perform live today. He was always the uncomfortable in his own skin introvert you saw in interviews but in this movie you learn about his rebellious stage as a teenager where he was stealing booze and smoking weed with the local losers, get an in depth look at first relationship with Tracy Marander, and you learn of his lifelong desire to be the ultimate family man. And it was this last part that became the driving force behind his music.

I truly believe that no documentary should be longer than 90 minutes long, and this one runs for just over two hours, but Morgan does an excellent job of never allowing there to be a lull in the material he presents. Where most documentaries will just present still photos with boring instrumental music playing over them during transitional periods, he instead plays Nirvana’s amazing music over weird stock footage and some of Cobain’s odd drawings.

Every interview with his parents, his sister, and even the toned down Love shows just how much he is still missed and how much of an impact he had in their lives. And you even see how much Love and Cobain truly loved one another; but it was just painfully obvious that they were probably also the worst thing that could have happened each other. Krist Novoselic provides some interest insight into Kurt’s history but noticeably absent in this film was Dave Grohl, quite possible the one who benefited the most from this man’s life.

Watching this film reminded me of just how incredible this band truly was and how I was a part of a something special without even realizing it. No one should ever question Nirvana’s mark on music and this is a great film to show someone who has never really experienced the band. I rate this movie as very FRESH and I suggest you watch it.

Now I am off to go watch the Cosby episode with B.B. King. Rest in peace. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road

Opening night for movies sure brings out all of the freaks in this lovely little town that I live in as there were droves of bubbly teenage girls grinning from ear to ear just waiting to pour into the theater to see the latest Hollywood offering of awful show tune entertainment, otherwise known as Pitch Perfect 2. And alongside them were their dates, these guys who all looked just a little bit too old to be out in public with them and all of whom had these sullen looks on their faces that said “I cannot wait until these 90 minutes are over so that I can go collect on that degrading and disgusting sex act that was promised to me earlier!”

And then there were the Mad Max: Fury Road freaks who were also strolling into the theater last night. The most memorable of which was a muscle man who for whatever odd reason was wearing this oversized dog chain around his neck! It’s the kind of silver chain you’d expect to see around the neck of The Beast from the Sandlot however this was a human that was wearing it and not some St. Bernard that happened to live in the backyard of James Earl Jones. He was with this lady who was clearly from Jersey as she was rocking the leopard print top, a short and super tight mini skirt, six inch heels, and the 80’s frizzy hairdo. 10 years ago I bet this lady was unbelievably hot but sadly last night was not 10 years ago; so I got stuck seeing Snooki’s stepmom on a first date in north Austin with a reject from the MMA circuit. I won’t lie though, I was kind of turned on by her and her get up but more on this couple later.

Anyone who fancies themselves an action fan had to be pumped when they saw that George Miller was going to be given the opportunity to reboot, reimagine, or whatever you want to call it, the Mad Max franchise using today’s technology. The three previous films he made all turned out to be classics and he was able to accomplish this with little to no help from computers, so Fury Road couldn’t help but match the levels of freshness that those movie brought to our lives; or so we all hoped.

Well I am happy to say that this was surely the case in what is now the fourth and quite possibly, best installment of this classic franchise. Gone are the days of Mel Gibson and the tight leather outfits; it’s now time to welcome in the grunting, super cool, and less racist Tom Hardy to this world of anarchy and destruction. Fury Road is the perfect mix of Road Warrior and Beyond Thunderdome as you are introduced to Max after his days of being a cop. He’s now a crazed man who has to deal with both the land of the living and the realm of the dead as he is constantly seeing images of the people he couldn’t save in this dark and dying world. On a daily basis he tries to survive in a world of radioactive mutants who all live under the control of the evil Immortan Joe, a grotesque being who ruthlessly rules the land he’s been put in charge of. He starves his people, selfishly holds on to the endless supply of water, and also has his own harem of beautiful breeders he keeps locked up in a room to fulfill his every desire, all of whom are there against their will.
Well one day after being caught by this weird and rugged clan of Joe’s, Max finds himself in the middle of a wild chase to bring back Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron). Furiosa is a female badass who is a part of Joe’s army and does all of his supply runs for him, but on this day she has decides to steal his most precious possessions, his harem, in an attempt to free them from their bondage and take them to her homeland. During the chase however, Max eventually breaks free from his captures and reluctantly decides to help Furiosa and the beautiful women she’s trying to save.

Miller takes you through almost two hours of over the top non-stop action; and along the way introduces you to every interesting aspect of his new world. You see crow people, mutant freaks who drive muscle cars, and my personal favorite, his version of the sand people from Star Wars. These guys were able to pull off some pretty awesome stunts with their motorcycles while launching grenades at their targets.
But hands down my favorite part of the movie had to be when Joe’s crew was about to follow Furiosa into the electrical sand storm. You are already pumped up from watching Miller’s slightly sped up filming style because it just adds to the frenetic tempo of the movie, but the second you see Joe’s own personal band rocking out with a giant double neck guitar that has a flame thrower at the end of it, you’re ready to stand up in the theater and start punching the guy sitting next to you!

The amount of effort and expertise it took to pull this movie off is truly incredible. As you’re sitting there, there are quite a few moments where you honestly can’t believe what you’re seeing on screen; and then you come to the realization that it only cost you $11 to witness it all! All I have to say is bravo to Mr. Miller for bringing this movie into my life and I rate this movie as TIGHT; and I will also go as far saying that you are not an action fan if you do not see this movie.

Oh and by the way, muscle man and his girlfriend hated the movie. I guess he was disappointed by the fact that they didn’t play California Love during any of the chase scenes. Now that I think about it, that’s the only thing this movie was missing.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

While We're Young

Lately I’ve been coming to the sad realization that I am no longer considered a young man by most people’s standards. I’m not quite old or middle aged yet but my times of jumping into random mosh pits at concerts may be over since I am 100% certain that I absolutely destroyed my knee this past SXSW during a Cloud Nothings show. Oh well, at least I’m not to the point of piercing my ears or experimenting with a gay phase or anything like that because these things really do happen people, I saw the last Ewan McGregor film (The Beginners).

Anyway, Noah Baumbach’s latest uncomfortable comedy features a middle aged couple who’s stuck in a rut. They lead fairly normal and boring lives where they lie to one another about still being spontaneous and having the ability to do whatever they want whenever they want even though it’s been 8 years since their last trip. And while they’ve decided not to have children themselves, all of their friends are starting to do so and this is causing a disconnect between them and anyone who’s in their age group because they now have different interests in life.

So as opposed to having dinner parties or taking trips to other countries, their friends now attend music labs where everyone sings to one another using the voices and the vocabularies of two year olds. Or they are simply just obsessing over themselves and the advancement of their children in the world, which is something that would understandably make anyone want to punch them in the face after a while.

Well one day, Josh (Ben Stiller) meets Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried) at one of his lectures. Jamie admits to him that he is a huge fan of his documentaries and that he would love nothing more than to pick his brain for a while; and as the two hang out with one another, they along with their wives, become close friends.

Josh and his wife Corneilia (Naomi Watts) find themselves going to hipster “street beach” parties in Bushwick and to weekend trips to a shaman’s home to take drugs so that they can find their inner selves. They are also over time exposed to how truly different their lives are compared to Jamie and Darby’s lives as they are fully immersed in the hipster world, a world where kids actually read books, listen to records, and watch VHS tapes versus that of playing on their IPads or listening to mp3’s.
  
After a while though, Josh begins to question Jamie’s motives as his silly idea for a documentary takes off in ways that no one could have ever imagined; and as he becomes successful and things start to line up for him, it exposes Josh and his recent failures in a way that begins to bring the ugliness out of him.

Did I mention this was a comedy? Baumbach has a way a tackling serious issues that take place in normal people’s lives but does so in a funny manner; similar to Wes Anderson. The difference is that Baumbach presents it in a way that makes laugh to keep from crying.

This movie hit home with me as I live in the heart of hipster city where my best friend’s ex-girlfriend (who’s awesome btw) has a room dedicated to VHS tapes and wears nothing but high waisted skinny jeans; while I find myself discovering more and more grey hairs every day and am still holding on to the hope that my Nirvana cover band My Chemical Toilet will hit it big one day so that we can open up for Weird Al Yankovich. We all have to dream, don’t we?

Overall this movie was rather enjoyable and I suggest that you pop in after seeing Ex Machina and the Avengers. I give it a rating of FRESH!  

Friday, May 1, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron

When I told my friend everything that I had to do yesterday, she paused, gave me this long confused look, and told me that it sounded like it was going to be a total nerd day. And while what she said was partly true, sadly I’ve been getting this kind of reaction from women far too often lately. But in between having our $10 fruity drinks that were being made by these beautifully tattooed mixologists, I informed her that I had to teach kids math all day, watch and write about the NFL Draft, and then rush on over to the theater to see the new Age of Ultron movie. I actually thought that sounded like an awesome day but maybe that’s the reason why I’m still single.

Anyway, when I have the opportunity to see Scarlett Johansson’s boobs in 3D on a 100 foot screen you can certainly bet that I will be there on opening night! And from the very first scene you could tell what this movie was going to be all about; tons of computer generated action with a somewhat convoluted storyline. I honestly thought the first scene was a video game training sequence until the evil Strucker and his genetically enhanced twins show up.

This is where we are introduced to Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and his sister Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olson). Quicksilver is just like the one you saw in X-Men as they chose to film his scenes in a similar fashion by slowing down the world around him while he runs from target to target; which I have to admit is still pretty entertaining. My friend pointed out to me that the one Olsen who is not a twin in real life plays one in a superhero movie; maybe she’s living out a life-long fantasy. And after hearing her with a Russian accent, I’d have to say that I too have a few fantasies that I’d like to live out with her but I won’t bore you or freak you out with those here.

But once this opening sequence is done, the Avengers do finally come away with Loki’s scepter. So they are in control of a very powerful weapon that can once again bring evil to Earth. But what the rest of the team doesn’t know is that Scarlet Witch used her powers to mess with the mind of Tony Stark and he now has plans to use the scepter to create the world’s first AI machine to protect us from attack. The problem is, the AI otherwise known as Ultron, doesn’t come out as planned and he goes on a mission to destroy the Avengers as well as the world.

It’s a fairly decent story and for the most part Joss Whedon (writer and director) does a good job of getting each character their due time on screen. The problem is, that there are just far too many characters on screen to begin with. What made Captain America 2 the best Marvel movie was the fact that it was a simple story (by comparison). They just focused on Cap and his fight with the Winter Soldier, this way they could put more emphasis and time on creating amazing action sequences between characters you actually cared about and were invested in.

This movie tries to balance way too many storylines and has far too many scenes that involve the Avengers fighting nameless and faceless robots; which would be cool if they were Terminator robots but they aren’t. They’re more like a weak version of Storm Troopers who only show up to get tossed off the screen in less than two seconds.

There is one really cool action scene that involves a fight between Ironman and the Hulk where they basically destroy an entire city. It goes on and on for like 15 minutes but it’s by far the freshest part of the movie; I just wish they didn’t cast the annoying Mark Ruffalo as David Banner. He’s old, he’s lame, and he makes you want to punch him in the face; especially when they introduce the unnecessary love subplot between him and Natasha. This movie runs almost 2 ½ hours long, that’s a good 20 minutes that could have easily been cut out.

James Spader playing Ultron was tight as he added a sarcastic and funny element to the main villain but by the time his counterpart Vision showed up, things got a little weird because it felt like Vision was more sexually confused than anything else. Maybe it was tight leather he was wearing.

Overall I’d have to say that I enjoyed Ultron, mainly due to the fact that every 10 minutes or so a robot would come flying across the screen (and yes I do realize that I complained about this earlier) but I do have to say that it left me wishing they had done more with it. You will say goodbye to some Avengers in this movie while saying hello to a few others, let’s just hope they eventually replace Don Cheadle (who I love in absolutely everything else btw) by the time the next one comes around.
I rate this movie as kind of FRESH!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Unfriended

I can see why Unfriended didn’t get the reviews it wanted or the money that it had hoped for at the box office last weekend; it’s because it has far too much technology in it. Everyone who reviewed it and everyone who actually has the money to go see movies on a regular basis are just now learning how to use Siri or their IPads from 2011. So how can we expect them to be responsive to a movie that has kids using Skype, Facebook, ITunes, Instant Messenger, and Google Mail all at the same time? Their heads probably exploded within the first 20 minutes of it as their idea of multitasking when they were kids consisted of masturbating while drinking Smirnoff Ice at the same time! Believe it or not, that’s actually a lot harder than it sounds, or so I’ve heard anyway.

I give Unfriended credit for actually trying something different in what has become a fairly stale horror genre. Everything you see and experience is through the eyes of an online video chat between six teenagers, and their conversation just so happens to take place on the anniversary of the suicide of a fellow classmate of theirs in Laura. At first their conversations start off simple enough as you see Blair and Mitch flirting with one another and talking about finally having sex on prom night but then as their friends join the online group, they all notice that there is someone who has joined that they didn’t invite. And despite numerous attempts to remove this person, they can’t.

This mysterious person eventually starts talking and lets them know that they all deserve to pay for what happened to Laura. Laura committed suicide because someone posted a video online of her doing something unbelievably embarrassing, and kids being kids, they all suggested that she should kill herself after they saw what happened on the video. The problem this mysterious person has is that no one ever owned up to posting the video and they feel as though they should suffer the consequences of doing so.

So you are taken through a number of weird games that this person, who is operating under the identity of the deceased Laura, takes them through; and each game could end up in someone’s death. Now I know what you’re thinking and that’s that it’s hard to scare the viewer by showing death scenes from the eye of a webcam but believe it or not, it actually works.

I never jumped out of my seat or anything but with clever use of these cameras the director was able to create suspense with each non responsive character or the freezing of a frame followed by a severed hand or a gun shot.  By the film’s end, you notice that almost every character involved has some amount of dirt on them and it took this random act of horror to reveal it.
The true horror however lies in looking at each actor’s IMDB page and realizing just how old they actually are. I swear the guy that plays the beautiful Blaire’s boyfriend is pushing 40 in real life when he’s supposed to be a 17 year old in the film. Thankfully the makeup artist does an awesome job of making them all look like they are dangerously young (dangerous for old people to be commenting on how hot they are), so you don’t really notice the fact that you’re looking at future Ian Zierings (90210).

I rate this movie as KIND OF FRESH?!?! Barely! At the very least it’s worth a watch at home when it’s available on pay-per-view.