Tuesday, July 22, 2014
But the real question is, how could I not see a movie that took 12 years to make? Linklater has one of the strangest IMDB pages of any director I have ever seen but you can typically find at least a few hidden moments of goodness in every one of his films; with the exception of Bad News Bears that is. So I decided to load up on the sugar and check out his latest epic.
Linklater chose to follow the life of Mason, a young boy who grows up in South Texas under the care of his single mother Patricia Arquette. The film focuses on the life experiences he has from the age of 5 all the way until he reaches the age of 18 (and yes I know how to do math). What's unique about this film is that unlike any of the other coming of age films that you are used to seeing, it uses the same actors throughout the entire 12 years. So they don't rely on silly makeup to show the actors aging, there's no grand announcement of what year it is as they move on to another chapter in the character's lives, and the movie doesn't focus on one specific major event that takes place in Mason's life. It really is just a rather detailed look at all of the little experiences a young boy goes through in life, that ultimately molds him into the man he is going to become.
Linklater shows you how each relationship Arquette has with a particular love interest affects her kid's environment both physically and emotionally. And you also see how each relationship Mason has is fairly standard for a boy in a somewhat normal setting. But as you see Mason grow throughout the years, you get a better understanding of why he takes the approach he does when it comes to trusting girls. You really do feel like you are growing up right along with him and are basically seeing a family member change and age right before your very eyes.
But the same can be said for his sister Samantha who is played by Lorelei Linklater, Richard's daughter in real life. From the very first second you meet her, you instantly know that she is going to be trouble as she annoys her younger brother by hitting him with a pillow and singing every word to Britney Spears' Oops I Did it Again. But she eventually goes from being the annoying drama queen to the level headed young lady that you are rooting for as she goes off to college. And this goes for everyone in the movie, especially the parents. You see how Ethan Hawke goes from being the 'live life to the fullest' guy to the neutered family man once he settles down and gets married. He must be a vampire though, because the only aging he's done through the years is a few noticeable flecks of grey in his hair and a cheesy porn star mustache. With Arquette, while still beautiful, you can see the wear and tear that father time has had on her face and body. But this fits in perfectly with her character when you see all that she has been through; trying to balance the life of going to school, working, and raising two kids through two difficult marriages. This movie could have easily been called Motherhood as Arquette carries a lot of this film with her raw emotion and natural beauty. Mason was a more vibrant character in his youth but as he grew up, he turned more into the stoner artsy kid. I'm sorry, I guess I should say he turned into the introspective youth who is resistant to the norms of society. But I know how this story ends, they end up being the guy that's still working on making their dream album while being a little too old to be a bar back in a dive bar. Or they're the guy who quits their well paying corporate job to start a blog on the importance of movies! *cough* but moving on...
Linklater does an awesome job of incorporating his actor's real life experiences and growth into the story, especially in regards to Mason. And this is why I think everyone will find a connection with this movie. The weekend night when the boys are sitting around drinking and doing stupid things like practicing karate chops and throwing blades around yelled Victoria, Texas to me. And yet it still didn't make me want to move back there but it was a nice trip down memory lane. I also like how he used bits of whatever song was popular then as a transition from one chapter to the next.
I rate this movie as FRESH. Do yourself a favor and don't miss out on Linklater's best movie since Fast Food Nation.
Saturday, July 19, 2014
The Purge movies have a great concept, just poor execution. Even though it is set in a civilized society, they really should just take the post apocalyptic approach to it on Purge night. This movie should be like Doomsday or The Warriors where you have these random and outlandish gangs attacking one another while throwing in killer fight sequences and over the top death scenes. Can't you just see The Orphans getting violently beaten to death by The Baseball Fury? Or maybe have people dressed up as different Chappelle Show characters; pimp slapping and burning each other up in the streets. Prince's fruity basketball crew versus Clayton Bigsby's klan would be cinematic genius. Ok, maybe only to me but at least it would be a start!
Well I'm happy to say that they may be slowly coming around with The Purge Anarchy. During this year's Purge, we are introduced to Sergeant (Frank Grillo), a man who has been waiting for this night for quite a while, so that he can exact some sort of revenge on a man he has been following for reasons we will learn about later. Also you meet Eva and her daughter Cali, who are both struggling just to pay the rent and to take care of their father at the same time. And then finally there is the young couple who is struggling with their recent decision to get separated. Due to the unusual circumstances that only happen on Purge night, their paths all cross and Sergeant reluctantly decides to help them survive as long as they don't ultimately interfere with his mission. Also during this, there is a resistance that has been started up by Carmelo (Michael K.Williams) in order to fight back against the government because he believes that the Purge was created for population control; just another way to get rid of the poor bleeders of society. They actually spend a lot of time talking about this and it's a constant theme throughout the entire movie but the writers and producers should realize that we don't want messages in our horror films; we just want blood and boobs.
So the setup is kind of long but even when the Purge eventually starts up, there's just more of the same stuff that you saw in the first one. It isn't until Sergeant leads the group underground into the subway tracks that you actually start to see what you paid for. They run into this trap where there's a crazy gang of hoodlums that's riding around on four wheelers and wielding flame throwers that winds up chasing them, and this of course leads to a shootout between them and Sergeants crew involving automatic weapons and homeless people acting as a make shift obstacle course. There's also a scene where people who were captured on the street are auctioned off to the highest bidder and end up in a hunting ground where the richy rich can use night vision to track them down and kill them. Some pretty cool stuff. And I haven't even talked about the gang of Juggalos that rides around in a van that looks similar to the clown car from the video game Twisted Metal; or the old dude who's called Big Daddy that rides around in an 18 wheeler shooting people with a 50 caliber gun.
I'm just grateful for the fact that this is the first movie Noel Guglieme has appeared in where he doesn't say the annoying word "Holmes" twenty times in a row in a 5 minute period. I give this movie a rating of barely FRESH simply because its seems to be heading in the right direction and for the fact that I was thoroughly entertained for at least 70% of the movie.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
I once had a friend go to a punk show just so he could show up and complain about how much he hated the band. He actually paid $10 to stand there and hate on them, all the while shouting in my ear about how Lil B was the voice of a generation. Yes you read that correctly; Lil B and Wonton Soup. So part of the reason I write these previews is so you don't sound like the grandma that came up to me complaining about insulting rap lyrics. And the other reason I write them is to prepare you for when scrubs try and tell you ridiculous things like 'Iggy Azalea is the future of hip hop'. Shoot me, just shoot me now!
The first band I'm previewing today is the Balkans; they are a young 4 piece band from Atlanta, a city that has been consistently putting out decent pop/punk or traditional punk bands for years now. The Balkans are somewhere in between these two categories as they have a sound that's similar to what you would expect from the Monkees if they were born in this era. Just try and imagine Last Train to Clarksville but with more distortion. But for a more modern reference, they sound next of Broncho, as their lead slurs lyrics over buzzing guitars that you would normally expect to hear playing during a scene where Lena Dunham of Girls is getting dressed for one of her hipster parties. They have a pretty consistent garage band sound throughout the entire album with Edita V and I Can't Compete being the highlights. It's not an innovative sound but it's certainly entertaining as you'll find yourself tapping your feet and defiantly swaying from side to side despite your better judgment. I rate them as FRESH.
Next up is Spoek Mathambo, I realize that most of you have probably already heard of him due to his clever cover of Joy Division's She's Lost Control, but I'm not sure if you actually dug deeper than that. He's from South Africa but his style is similar to that of a post 1999 Andre 3000. I'm talking about the way he dresses and carries himself more than anything; so based off of appearance alone you'd write him off as another wannabe from ATL. But he's a little more talented than that. And let's be honest, if he could, I'm sure this is the kind of music 3000 would want to make today; well at least for a soundtrack or two anyway. It goes from bass heavy electronic on one track to indie rock on the next (see Let Them Talk). You never really know what to expect because each song is unique. My favorite jam of his so far is probably Put Some Red On It. Now I don't really get Spoek myself but I do respect what he brings to the game; he doesn't really have rhyme skills or mind blowing lyrics but his beats are dope. He acts more like a hype man at a show that actually says discernible things into the mic. I rate him as kind of WEAK but I'd pop in to see him before if it were a cheap show.
Monday, July 14, 2014
My college roommate had a T-Shirt that said “Gay for Crichton” on it. He was a Lit major. It was supposedly ironic because Crichton was a guy that at one time had the number one TV Show, Bestselling novel, and number one movie in America … all at the same time. So at some point in the years we’d all watched E.R. or seen Jurassic Park, and therefore (and perhaps uniquely) a writer captured the imagination (and readership) of his entire contemporary world. He was my first read the book before the movie comes out experience.
I read Jurassic Park before I knew about the movie and that
meant I got to be up on something nobody else knew about. It was an
intoxicating and formative experience. Which probably makes me a douche bag.
For a 10 year old boy growing up without the internet,
Crichton’s books were like crack. The topics were cutting edge, stressful, and
rational. He seemed to ask great questions about power, human will, technology,
greed, etc. but then you realized he was also a craftsman. And that he’d made a
fucking fortune writing the same book over and over again. My mom used to make
me play video games to give my eyes a break from reading … no shit. She said
I’d go blind reading so goddamn much. (Kids are dumb) Regardless, I highly recommend this book – it’s a fun fast
read and actually educational.
So then I grew up and now I don’t read as many thriller books as I used to, I’ve missed his last few and had no clue that he’d done a pirate novel. So this is a tribute/review that organically grew out of a real shitty morning I recently had the pleasure of escaping via the pages of his final book Pirate Latitudes published posthumously.
But as it turns out, there’s an interesting sub history to the golden age of piracy that thematically centers itself within a shared hatred among the French and English for all things Spanish. This was the status quo within the Caribbean for most of the 16th and 17th centuries. Essentially being a privateer (pirate) meant that you were invested in by the royal crown of England to go on a nominal fool’s errand (like clearing a forest or mining) when in reality you were being paid (and armed) to go royally fuck with the Spanish Armada and give a percentage of the loot to the English king (clandestinely). This kept the balance of power in the region and helped the English and French gain territory in order to compete with Spanish supremacy.
This book is all about one such adventure as it follows the (aforementioned) splendidly educated and misogynist Cpt. Charles Hunter. It becomes clear as he fucks bitches, eats peanuts, and commandeers supplies from the governor of Jamaica (at that point one of only a few British settlements in the region) that his purpose is to attack a well-defended and well-gunned Spanish outpost built upon a strategically fortified desert island. The objective is to steal the treasure from a cargo ship that has sought protection while repairs are being made within the fortress harbor. This “treasure” is equivalent to an obscene fortune by today’s standards. Think $300 million-ish.
Ultimately Hunter and crew have the adventure of a lifetime taking them from hand to hand combat with Spanish soldiers, to fights with cannibalistic Caribe natives, to fighting a goddamn Kraken … yep a giant sea squid aka Kraken. People die, chicks get nailed, good conquers evil …
Regardless, I highly recommend this book – it’s a fun fast
read and actually educational.
Friday, July 11, 2014
But whatever, those were the least of my concerns. I will never forget how excited I was for Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes with Marky Mark. He, along with Jack Nicholson, almost single handedly saved the Superhero genre with his version of Batman; seeing as how Superman 4:The Quest for Peace nearly killed it! What sticks out about that movie, besides the fact that it sucked, was the fact that for years my buddy tried to convince me that it was perfectly normal for him to want to have sex with Helena Bonham Carter in a monkey suit! Let's forget the fact that this takes Furry love to a whole new level, and focus on the fact that this gives a whole new meaning to the word unkempt. Also, when other oral acts are being performed, I certainly don't want the feel of a mustache in that area while it's happening; I'm not that big of a Tom Selleck fan! Sorry to gross you out but thanks to my idiot friends and my own twisted mind, these were the thoughts I had to clear out before watching the sequel to a fairly decent reboot in Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
This movie starts 10 years after the virus James Franco developed spread throughout the entire world and killed nearly everyone in it. Only a few humans that were genetically immune to it remain, and we are introduced to a group that has rallied together in San Fransisco with the hopes of reviving some sort of normal society again. The issue is, they are running out of the only viable power source they could find and that is gasoline. So they send a small unit up to the Red Woods to get the local power dam running again, with the hopes of having a constant power source that will also open up communication with the other possible survivors. However when this unit goes up into the mountains, they run into Caesar and his community of apes. In the 10 years that have passed since he freed everyone, they have grown both in numbers and in intelligence. They are a stronger community than when they first started and Caesar now how a wife and two kids.
But a lack of trust still exists between the two species. While there are humans who act intelligently and try to understand these advanced apes they have been introduced to, there still exists your average human that will immediately try and destroy what they don't understand. But it's not just the humans, there are a few apes who still remember how they were mistreated in labs by these humans and they will never again trust them under any circumstances. And it is this mistrust that eventually leads to an all out war.
Now I don't know why I always expect greatness when it comes to a movie about talking monkeys, but I do. I'm not saying this movie isn't good because it is, but I wasn't blown away by it in the way that I thought I would be. The story is a good one and it will definitely keep you entertained as the tension that exists between the humans and the apes is palpable. And you will find yourself on the edge of your seat every time these two have to interact with one another. I guess my main complaint is that the best actors in the movie were clearly the apes. It amazes me that Andy Serkis (Caesar) has never been nominated for an Oscar. This just goes to show how close minded the Academy is when it comes to these things because when you look at the life he brings to characters like Caesar, King Kong, and obviously Gollum; you'd realize that these movies would never work without a performance like his. You mean to tell me he's not as good as Geoffrey Rush was in Shine? Did anyone ever actually see that movie? I dare you to tell me one thing about it without Googling it first! Also Toby Kebbell from RocknRolla almost steals the entire movie with his performance as Caesar's friend who later betrays him in Koba.
The human casting was a bit weird; I like Jason Clarke but more in a supporting role versus that of the lead because he doesn't have the screen presence or charisma that's needed to carry a movie. He basically just walks around with a confused and scared look on his face the entire film, adding absolutely nothing to the character. And I don't know who dusted off Kerri Russell from the 90's but she could barely act then and she hasn't grown as an actress since. Was Kerry Washington or Jennifer Connelly not available? Damn you Aronofsky and your stupid Noah!
Now I know I'm stating the obvious when I say that you will have to suspend your thoughts of reality a bit when referencing a movie about talking monkeys, but this really only pops up when you see Koba become a marksmen with an automatic weapon once the war starts. Outside of that, they do a really good job of not making the apes' ability to speak laughable. It's intelligible yet broken enough to where it seems like they are slowly picking it up as they evolve into more advanced beings. Also, there were some pretty cool battle scenes that included exploding monkeys (you don't actually see them explode) and apes taking down a tank!
The more this movie settles with me, the more I find myself liking it. It runs a bit long but not so long that your kids will make you want to kill yourself by the time the closing credits start rolling. I rate this movie as FRESH!
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Well wouldn't you know it, I was out having a drink with said girl recently and we were talking about the lack of good horror movies that have come out in the past few years. And as we were talking, these hipsters interrupted us and said that we should check out this movie called Snowpiercer. Maybe they thought the movies we were talking about were a bit too main stream, or maybe they just mistook my drunken rambling to be weak game I was spitting to her, so they took pity on me and decided to help me out by giving me a new topic to talk about. For the record, I wasn't hitting on her, I'm not some slimy foreign soccer player! In either case, Snowpiercer is not even remotely close to being a horror film.
What it is however is a brilliant sci-fi flick from Korean director Joon-ho Bong. This is his first attempt at making an almost entirely English speaking film and I have to say that it was a fairly seamless transition for him (you may also have seen his previous films The Host or Mother). This movie is based off of a French graphic novel from the 70's and what you'll find is the themes he wrote about then are still relevant today. The entire film takes place on a train called the Snowpiercer which was was built in response to the world's last ditch effort to stop global warming. The train's designer had a hunch that the element we tried to introduce to the atmosphere would backfire on us, so he built a self sustaining train that would travel the globe continuously while being able to support life for as long as needed. The issue, as it always is with humans, is that no matter where you have a society, a class system will always arise; and in this case there's the clear haves and the clear have-nots. And there happens to be a wide gap between the two as the only middle class that seems to exist, lies in the military or the security teams that are in place to help keep things in order.
Well Curtis (Chris Evans), who is slowly evolving into the lower class's leader, is tired of the cramped and dirty conditions they live in, where they are being mistreated and fed basically the bare minimum to survive. He is devising a plan to get all the way to the front of the train so that he can confront the train's designer to demand that things change. However, in an effort to keep order, the train has a number of security measures in place that they must overcome to achieve this. This doesn't deter Curtis and his followers as they decide to forge ahead as planned and what follows is a bloody and trying quest for freedom.
As you can deduce from my brief description of the plot, the movie's undertone is dripping with both political and social commentary that we rarely see from this region of the world. I'm not saying that the Far East doesn't actually make these films, I'm saying that the only movies of theirs that we are ever exposed to feature subtitles and an expert at a particular fighting style. And when we do get something like Memoirs of a Geisha, it's full of nothing but Chinese actors! Really Hollywood??? Anyway, what's great about this film is that you will experience almost every emotion possible as Curtis and his crew enter each car on their way to the front. Bong will have you pumping your fists with the awesome fight scenes that take place between Curtis' gang and the security team. And just when you think it's turning into your average ho hum fight, he raises the stakes a bit by using the Earth's new climate and the train's surroundings to affect the battles.
Or he will have you crying in horror as Curtis tells you stories of how things were when everyone initially got on the train. And just when things start to get heavy, Bong introduces the amazing Tilda Swinton, who plays the liason' between the train's inventor and the people to help lighten the mood a bit; albeit with some seriously dark humor. My friend best describes the Thom Yorke in drag (Tilda Swinton) as a talented alien that happens to pops up in awesome movies from time to time. And I'll let you experience the weird grade school scene for yourself, but let's just say that some little Hitler youths were being groomed by the junior alien herself, Alison Pill. But that's just the thing with this movie, just when you think you have things figured out, another curve is thrown your way. This movie is a rather scary look into the writer's view of how the government really does control things that we would never think of, or things that we are too scared to even entertain in our minds. And for those of you who only know Chris Evans as Captain America or Johnny Storm, you will see another side of him as he nails the sullen, brooding, and reluctant leader of the revolt. Yes, he's more than just the cool frat guy you want to hang out with.
I enjoyed every second of this film, as the things people said in passing or the items that seemed insignificant at the time, play a rather large role later on in the film. I rate this film as very FRESH and I suggest that you pop in immediately!
***MAJOR SPOILER ALERT***
One issue I did have with the film was Fuyu's plan to escape the train. I loved how he gathered up all of the drugs to basically build a bomb because he thought that the ice was melting, but it's not like he saw any vegetation or signs of edible food outside while he was still on the train. So basically his whole plan was to walk around in the cold and hope? And based off of this, I would've been tempted to let the kids keep running the train from underground. I know that's evil but I would have set up a heavy rotation and given them a little more space to work with. Ok, I couldn't have done that, I would have wrecked the train too but at least I can admit that I would've thought about it for a quick sec.
Sunday, July 6, 2014
As has become the trend lately, Evil is based off of actual events, and I always take that to mean that 10% is actually based off of reality for general outline purposes and the other 90% is exaggerated for entertainment purposes; so whether or not it actually happened is irrelevant. Now what helps in setting this movie apart is that it plays more like a CSI:Bronx episode than it does a classic horror film, but it still does have some really freaky stuff that takes place in it. The film's first shot is of three soldiers that are fighting in Iraq (I believe) who enter a hole in the middle of a combat zone to make sure that they got all of the enemy. When they do, they encounter something unusual that immediately freaks them out and changes their lives forever. What they encountered was a gateway for an evil spirit that has followed them back to New York and is causing havoc in the city. Sarchie (Bana), who apparently has this "radar" for picking up the weirdest investigations, is assigned to a case that involves a woman attempting to throw her 2 year old child into the lion's den at the Bronx Zoo. At first it just appears to be your typical nut job case, that is until he learns that it is linked to a domestic disturbance that he broke up the night before. And as he gets deeper into the case, more and more inexplicable events start happening and eventually he starts to hear and see things himself as the case begins to affect his family. Sarchie reluctantly reaches out to the unorthodoxed priest Mendoza, who specializes in exorcisms to help him solve the case.
This movie wont scare you in the way that you would expect from a typical horror movie; it works more as a psychological thriller than anything else. But don't let that fool you into thinking that there aren't some fairly creepy scenes in it. Every time Bana goes into a basement or a dark room and objects start moving on their own, you grip your chair just a little harder. And there's also a scene where a mental patient presumably eats a doctor and crawls her way to freedom through a pool of blood that will stick with you for quite some time. My buddy said that they should have played Hungry Like A Wolf during that scene; I disagreed. If you are a parent or simply just like kids, every scene where the demon terrorizes Bana's kid will definitely get to you. And that's just the thing, nothing is so far fetched in this movie, with the exception of the exorcism at the end, that you can just simply write it off as fiction. When you go home, you will start to over analyze every sound you hear or the placement of every item on your dresser. And speaking of the exorcism, this is where the movie packs its punch. The intensity of this scene along with the special effects that accompany it are the clear climax and highlight of this film.
While this movie isn't great, its certainly entertaining. And the casting director should get most of the credit for this, as every character was pretty much spot on with it's casting. I liked this movie and I give it a rating of FRESH!