Saturday, April 30, 2016

Keanu

We all have those movies that we grew up on and loved as children; the ones that sparked our imaginations and helped mold us into the people that we are today. Whenever we needed a laugh, needed our spirits lifted, or simply wanted to get away, those films were always there for us. For me I would look for inspiration through the wonderful stories of Krull, The Neverending Story, The Karate Kid, and of course Silence of the Lambs; I wasn’t much of Disney kid growing up. And no matter what anyone said to me, nothing could keep me from loving these films.

Well the problem with this is that we have such fond memories of these movies that we tend to overlook the glaring flaws in them. So we forget the fact that the only way Krull could defeat the evil beast was with the power of love or that Willow was really just a creepy looking midget on film. I’m sure the kids of today will one day look back and realize that movies like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games were never really any good to begin with mainly due to the fact that with all of the MDMA that’s out there these days, there really is an easy solution to those pesky friendship testing love triangles that pop up in these corny films; and I’m not talking about a game of Quittage either.

The point of all of this is that I believe the movie Keanu may eventually fall into this category. Don’t get me wrong, I was laughing like an idiot in the theater last night but once the hype machine behind Key and Peele dies down a bit, I’m not so sure that this movie will have the lasting power of say, a Chappelle Show skit. I know, I know but they had to know that they would forever be linked to him once they signed up to be on Comedy Central.

Keanu is as dumb as its premise sounds; it’s about the brokenhearted Peele finding a new reason to live when the cutest kitten the world has ever seen wanders his way up to his doorstep. This lovely little creature appears to have turned his life around until one night, when he returns home from seeing a movie with Key, he realizes that Keanu has been stolen by a rival gang of drug dealers who mistook his apartment for his weed dealer’s. So the two of them embark on a dangerous trip through the dark underworld of drugs and guns to retrieve this little life saver of Peele’s.

Along the way however they must prove to its new owner Method Man and his crew that they are the mysterious duo the Allentown brothers, two deadly assassins whose killing methods have become legendary in the hood. But at the same time, they must be careful not to do anything that will jeopardize their everyday lives, which includes the struggling marriage of Key’s.

From there you are taken on a wild ride that includes the od’ing and fatal shooting of a real life celebrity, gang banging initiations, the entire George Michael anthology, and of course Keanu running his way through epic gunfights! And even though it doesn’t appear that way in the previews, they really do find subtle ways to poke fun at some of the stereotypes that are associated with black culture. Now I have to admit that that last part truly surprised me simply for the fact that nothing about their show is remotely subtle.

And if you’ve seen their show, you know going in that only about 25% of what they put out will actually be funny, but that that 25% will be unbelievably funny! Well it appears that they saved their best for this film as that percentage went way up in what will surely be a game changer for them. I rate this film as FRESH and suggest you check it out.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Green Room

Whenever you put punk bands and skinheads in the same room, you’re typically setting yourself up for a night full of trouble. It will always end with banjo music and squealing of some kind coming from a dark room in the back when you mix aggressive music about hating your parents and angry white bald dudes who think that the big chested girl from The Waterboy is hot (that’s an American History X reference btw). Why do you think I left country Texas as quickly as I did? The second some of my short haired Caucasian friends realized that I liked the Stone Temple Pilots, they started giving me the eye after having a few beers. Ok, so that last part isn’t true but after spending 18 years of my life in a small town, I figured it was just a matter of time before someone tried to attack me A Time to Kill style. You can only outrun the odds for so long!

Anyway, I love movies with fake bands! I would totally go see Sex Bob-Omb from Scott Pilgrim and Soronpffbs from Frank (the movie with the guy that wears a big fake head) mainly because that kind of weird music is right up my alley. And even though the punk band in Green Room sucks, they were just good enough for me to risk hiding in the back of a skinhead bar to check them out too, which goes to show that my affinity for obscure music knows no bounds!

So Green Room is about this young punk band who’s on the tail end of their tour. The tour itself hasn’t gone all that well as they find themselves having to siphon gas from other cars just to make it from gig to gig. But they remain undeterred as they generally enjoy each other’s company while drinking, camping in the woods, and discussing classic rock bands. Well one of their last shows and interviews gets cancelled because their hookup no longer works for the promotion company that originally set it up, so in an attempt to make it up to them he hooks them with up with a show playing a dive bar that just so happens to be full of skinheads. They know the deal going in but decide to do it anyway because it’s a halfway decent payday.

However from the very second they pull up to the venue they’re completely uncomfortable with the situation as everyone just has this look of total disdain on their face. And it doesn’t help matters that they’re all looking at their female bass player sideways because she looks like she could be Jewish. They press on however and make it through their set, even after playing a sort of "F you" song to the crowd at the onset. And everything seems to be going ok until they witness a murder in the green room just as they’re about to leave.

From that moment on, they are held hostage by the bar’s manager until he and the owner can figure out how to properly handle the situation. Well as you can imagine, their eventual solution doesn’t work in the favor of the band and they are forced to fight for their lives as they try and escape. Now keep in mind that this all takes place in the woods of Oregon so the chances of them getting help from anyone remotely normal is fairly low.

On the surface this sounds like your run of the mill "fighting off weird hicks" horror flick but trust me when I say that this film gets a little darker than what you’re accustomed to. The director pulls no punches when it comes to the brutality of the situation. He by no means resorts to gore porn or anything like that but just know that attack dogs mauling people to death, shotgun blasts to the head, and the carving up of body parts via knives or any sharp object for that matter are all fair game.

The trapped band members handle the situation like any normal person with above average intelligence would and that’s what’s refreshing about this film. It never succumbs to the cliché’s that have almost killed, no pun intended, this genre. Oh and just know that they take the George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones) route in that no one is safe, so don’t think that this film will have the usual Hollywood ending. You want to trust Sir Patrick Stewart because he’s the captain on the Starship Enterprise but in the end all he is, is another evil manipulative and parasitic skinhead leader. He’s great in his role but you could totally tell that this was the first time he’s ever said the word nigger in his life.

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

The Invitation

I recently dated a girl who was crazy. Now I realize that every guy or girl says that about their ex whenever the relationship doesn’t work out but in this case it’s actually not hyperbole. She was in fact clinically diagnosed as crazy! I had known her for a while and sure, she was always a bit of an oddball who had this crazy look in her eye from time to time; but I’m an oddball too, so I just figured that this was yet another thing that we could say we had in common as we started our adventure together. Well as it turns out I was wrong, almost dead wrong (I know, I know. I couldn’t help myself)!

I didn’t find out about this illness until a few weeks in after she kept saying these off the wall things and started freaking out over me not putting ketchup on my hot dog. Now again, I had known her for years before this but I guess having sex truly brought out the crazy in her! Things got so bad in fact that I honestly started to fear for my life. I broke things off as quickly as I could as I figured it was just a matter of time before she started cutting herself in front of me or decided to poison one of my drinks simply because it was the new moon. I had no desire to be the first black man involved in a murder/suicide. People are still upset over the whole OJ thing; they would’ve blamed it all on me, resuscitated me, and then killed me all over again just for sort of looking like him!

Anyway, when I saw the trailer for The Invitation, alarm bells started going off in my head again! I was yelling "Get out! Get out!" the entire time as the set up for the movie looked all too familiar to me! In it, Will (Logan Marshall-Green) and his girlfriend Kira get invited to this dinner party in the hills of Los Angeles. His ex-wife Eden and her current husband David (Game of Thrones’ Michiel Huisman) are the hosts and they’ve apparently decided to invite all of the old crew together again for a reunion of sorts. No one has seen or heard from Eden for nearly two years after some tragic event occurred while she was still married to Will but one day out of the blue she just randomly resurfaces and has a new lease on life.

Will is obviously skeptical seeing as how he is still struggling with their loss and can’t understand how she apparently is able to let go of her grief after nearly killing herself just a few years prior to this night. He however seems to be the only one concerned as everyone else has made a conscious decision to overlook the creepiness of her clownish smile and her overall nonsensical joy. They’ve also decided to overlook the fact that her and her husband have joined this new grief counseling group called The Invitation, two of whose members just so happen to be at this party. They too seem to be a bit off but again, not too off considering the fact that they are also getting over something tragic as well. Everyone at the party just writes it off as it simply being LA and that this is typical for this part of the world. They just want their friends back.

Well in spite of all the evidence that points to the contrary, you never think that Will is simply being paranoid. There’s always a weird private conversation that takes place in a corner or an odd glance from one of the guests that keeps you on your toes. But as the movie goes on, you realize that in spite of the quirky behavior of the hosts, this really does just have the feel of being another weird dinner party with nothing sinister on the menu (again I couldn’t help myself).

Is Will just being paranoid? Are the writers of this film simply playing with your emotions and your overall sense of distrust? Or are we so overly concerned with being polite and not offending anyone that we’ll do so even if it means putting our own lives in danger. This is a mind twisting psychological thriller that has a jaw dropping ending! And after seeing this film I will never date anyone that looks like the crazy version of Liv Tyler again! Ok maybe I would!

This is the most uncomfortable I’ve been in the theater in a while and it’s because of that, that I give The Invitation a rating of TIGHT!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Huntsman: WInter's War

When I woke up this morning, I found myself reading Maxim’s breakdown of the seven hottest women Prince "dated" during his illustrious time on this Earth. I got so into this wonderful article that the start to my day was delayed by about 30 minutes due to my creepy daydreaming but I do have to say that it was well worth every minute I spent as purple penetrator! And as I was drooling over the likes of Carmen Electra and Vanity, I started to go over my own top seven list of amazing hookups. It took me a bit of time to complete the list but in the end I was quite proud of the quality of women I had bagged over the years. But my time in total bliss came to a crashing halt when for some strange reason I also decided to compile a list of the bottom seven hookups during my lifetime and I quickly came to the sad realization that I was in fact no Prince!

If Prince had stepped anywhere near the set of The Huntsman: Winter’s War, he could’ve had Jessica Chastain, Emily Blunt, and Charlize Theron all in one night if he wanted to; and all three would’ve easily cracked his top seven! If I had walked on set, I would’ve been lucky to have even had the opportunity to steal a bagel from the dolly grip girl as I pinched her butt before security came and pummeled me to death!

Well I have to say that both of the scenarios that popped into my head this morning were far more entertaining than anything that actually happened during the plodding Winter’s War. I thought the first Snow White movie they made was awful simply because they tried to make us believe that an 80 lbs. pale faced emo scrub like Kristen Stewart could inspire a land full of warriors and dwarves to risk their lives for her "beauty". But apparently that wasn’t laughable enough to keep them from making a sequel. The first one made just enough money to where the studios thought that if they simply made a few tweaks to the original that a sequel could take off in the same way that Winters Soldier did for Captain America. That’s the only logical explanation I can think of for this movie’s ridiculous title and storyline. So there I was, wasting two hours of my life because I can’t keep myself from watching a train wreck.

Well they thankfully got rid of the sallow Stewart and chose to put their focus on Chris Hemsworth and Theron’s sister Emily Blunt (The Ice Queen). At the beginning of this movie we find out that Blunt is having the child of a man who is promised to another. And despite her sister’s warning that he will never stay with her, she decides to have the child anyway and hold onto the hope of true love. Well one day she is tricked into believing that the two of them will run away together only to return home to see that something awful has happened.

And it’s because of this terrible event that she finally discovers her own powers and decides to leave her sister’s kingdom to start one of her own. She now no longer believes in love and decides to go on the warpath to rid the world of it. So she steals the children of every kingdom she conquers and turns them into her own personal army of warriors or huntsmen. Two of those warriors just so happen to grow up to become Hemsworth and Chastain, who of course in spite of their icy surroundings, still find a way to fall in love. But once Blunt finds out about this she does everything she can to separate the two to help restore order in her world. Will the power of love prevail in the end just like it did in the movie Krull? These are the burning questions nerds everywhere will ask themselves as they watch this re-imagination of a classic fairytale.

Oh I almost forgot, Blunt is also on a quest to find the mirror that was the great source of power for her evil and twisted sister (yes I did that on purpose). Once she gets her hands on it, she will be unstoppable, so it’s up to Hemsworth and his dwarves to get to it before she does.

Now this is actually not a bad premise, it’s just that the execution of it is a bit off. The first 30 minutes are almost unwatchable as the director bores you to death with lame fight sequences and jokes that fall completely flat. But once the female dwarves show up the movie actually kicks up a notch. The jokes all of a sudden become funny, there are a few cool action sequences involving goblins and overzealous huntsmen, and the director provides you some pretty incredible shots to gawk at as he takes you deep into the CGI fairyland he’s created.

All of this gives you the false hope that this will eventually turn into a good movie but ultimately the film’s convoluted ending leaves you feeling a bit underwhelmed. Oh well, I wont complain too much; I did get to stare at my imaginary top three for two hours. But in the end this movie gets a rating of pretty WEAK! 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Criminal

When you really think about it, Michael Pitt and I have quite a bit in common. Now I know that at first glance that may seem like quite a stretch but please bear with me for a second. When we first got started in our professional careers we were both earning a decent amount of money and were both gaining a ton of respect from our peers; me at a soul sucking Fortune 50 company and Pitt with his acting in Hollywood. But as time went on we both grew tired of doing what was expected of us and chose to go down paths that made most of our friends and family roll their eyes in disgust.

I left to chase the silly dream of writing screenplays for a living and now find myself eating In n Out burgers for a fancy weekend night out on the town. And Pitt, depending upon whose story you believe, famously forced his way out of Boardwalk Empire so he could chase his dream of playing in a band. He now finds himself playing the fifth lead in a Kevin Costner B movie called Criminal. Now while he's way more famous than I will ever be and undoubtedly bangs hotter girls than I will ever meet, I feel as though our shared dreams of hipsterdom will forever link us as we travel down the road of degradation together. Who knows, maybe the two of us should make a sequel to the movie Money Train that originally starred Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson.

Anyway, speaking of the movie Criminal, I thought Ryan Reynolds made this movie already! Wasn't it called Self/less? That was when Sir Ben Kingsley tried to live forever by putting his consciousness in the body of a younger Reynolds, and as is typically the case in Hollywood, disaster ensued. Well in Criminal it's the dead Reynolds' memories that are being transferred into the mind of a much older Costner; apparently the 61 year old was the only eligible candidate for this ground breaking surgery. Which is unbelievably odd when you think about it because aren't most people's minds starting to disintegrate at that age?

Well apparently not Costner's. Revolutionary doctor Tommy Lee Jones decides that Costner is the best candidate for this surgery because the frontal lobe in his brain never fully developed after a childhood accident, so he has no capacity to feel emotion or determine  right from wrong. And the fact that it has never been developed means that there's plenty of room for growth in that area. What's truly awesome about Costner's character is that he grunts and talks like Christian Bale's version of Batman the entire time. He's as violent as they come and is kept in solitary confinement because beats everyone that just so happens to cross his path to a pulp. Now you do have to believe in Hollywood magic for this to work as he is 61 years old but thanks to Costner's acting chops and the fact that the director only films him from the waste up talking trash and sucker punching people, he's actually believable as an old school badass who can still pretty much do whatever he wants.

The reason he's receiving the transplant in the first place is because C.I.A. operative Reynolds has been killed by Spanish anarchist Xavier. Xavier is looking for the Dutchman (Pitt) who is in possession of a secret weapon that allows him to override functionality and gives him control over all of the U.S.'s weapons. And lucky for Reynolds, he's the only one who knows where he is. So the C.I.A. needs access to the now dead Reynolds' brain to retrieve this information so they can find the Dutchman before Xavier or any other evil country can first.

As the transfer becomes complete you start to see Costner wrestle with the new experience of feeling emotions and being able to determine right from wrong, as well as now having access to another man's life through his memories. This of course leads to some pretty intense moments between him and Reynolds' former wife (Gal Gadot) and their daughter.

Now this movie isn't Oscar worthy or anything but it sure as hell is entertaining. Like I said earlier, before Costner is able to feel emotion, he's like a bull in a China shop in pretty much every situation he encounters. He constantly cuts in line, steals people's food, and picks a fight with pretty much anyone that comes within 5 feet of him. And his trash talking is off the charts. But as he slowly starts to become more human, he turns into the every man Costner we've all come to know and love. Along the way however, he has to deal with an impatient U.S. government, a world class hacker and anarchist, his henchmen, and the opportunistic Russians who also want in on the action.

It all adds up to a ton of car chases, gun fights in public areas, and random explosions on the highway. Basically my dream movie. There are one or two scenes with Reynolds' old family that seem to bog the movie down a bit and the film's final scene feels like it was forced in by the studio but overall this is a rather enjoyable movie.

Go in with low expectations and you'll find yourself coming out with high praise. I rate this movie as FRESH!

P.S. There isn't a fresh twirling scene from the Costner like there was in Mr. Brooks but don't let that keep you from checking it out. Because, and to quote my idiot friend, it could be a COSTly mistake. Get it?

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Jungle Book

Since I'm about to reach the tender (I almost spelled that tinder btw) age of 74, I thought it was high time for me to finally experience what it's like to watch a movie with a bunch of screaming kids surrounding me. Hey, if Dick Clark can have a kid at the age of 75 it's certainly not too late for me to have one. Now I'm not saying I want to have a money sucking pet that only has two legs and sneaks out of the house in the middle of the night to be with their boyfriend but I like to be prepared for anything.

So there I was on a Friday afternoon watching The Jungle Book with a bevy of stressed out parents who were all way too excited to spend hundreds of dollars to get their kids out of the house and keep them entertained for a few hours. Is this really what I have to look forward to? Maybe they should just show a film of what toddlers do the hopes and dreams of adults when they're teaching the benefits of abstinence in Health class.

Anyway. I was actually excited to see The Jungle Book because I do remember loving it as a kid and the thought of having a giant bear as my best friend was appealing to me at the time. Of course if I was still searching for a bear to be my friend as an adult male, that would mean something totally different in this day and time but I digress.

Jon Favreau signed on to direct this film, and after the success he had with Zathura, he seemed like the logical choice. He's adept at filming entertaining action set pieces and seems to get what kids as well as adults like to see on screen; and he certainly does deliver in that regard when it comes to Book.

Mowgli is an adorable and likeable kid, Bill Murray was the perfect choice for the bear Baloo, and Idris Elba was fantastic as the evil tiger that wanted to kill Mowgli, Shere Khan. My only real problem was with some of the writing. Now I'd like to think that I have a longer attention span than most kids but man I found myself dozing off a time or two during this film.

I get that the story is about self discovery, finding and being comfortable with your place in life, and creating a sense of harmony with all of nature but save the deeper stuff the Coen brothers movies. There should've been more songs in this film. Hell I'm 187 years old and I still find myself singing Hakuna Matata  every now and then. So if I was getting tired at times, I can only imagine what some of the kids around me were experiencing.

As far as the experience for kids goes, there's really only two or three scary moments in the movie, one of which involves the evil and seductive serpent (Scarlett Johansson) and pretty much any scene with Shere Khan. But honestly nothing happens that your kids haven't seen before.

The tight action in this film more than makes up for any complaints I had about the movie and it's because of this I give it a rating of FRESH! Just please parents, next time you decide to have sex, you may want to consider combining the sponge and the pull out method.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Hardcore Henry

I remember back in the day when the two roommates I lived with were not only going through their hardcore nerd phase but at the same time were slowly transitioning into their new stoner personas. Every morning these two would wake up, smoke a huge bowl, listen to Kool Keith’s Master of the Game, and then immediately follow that up by playing first person shooter games like Quake into the wee hours of the night. This was when I first moved to the city of Austin, and back then, it seemed like everyone I met was going through a similar transition. So I thought this kind of oddball behavior was pretty standard fare for this once pseudo sleepy town.

Things got so deep that they would participate in these online tournaments and would then have their friends come over to watch replays of the games they just played. Again I just want to reiterate that they were watching video game replays with one another. So it was nothing for them to sit there and watch 90 minutes of violent action through the eyes of the person that’s inflicting pain on others while trying to avoid it themselves.

Now I said all of this to try and explain why a movie like Hardcore Henry was not laughed at when the filmmakers brought it to the studio heads for approval. And the only logical explanation is that it was made for all the nerdy stoners out there who still happen to live in Austin and in Portland. Now unfortunately for the rest of us normal folk, we had to listen to all of the glowing reviews of these nerds and in the process were somehow duped into seeing what was considered to be a revolutionary action movie. I mean I even saw some cute girl get tricked into seeing this film with her chubby boyfriend the other night.

But once the credits started rolling, I am 100% certain that said boyfriend will be at Bed, Bath, and Beyond and IKEA every weekend for the next month straight after walking out of this awful debacle. Listen, if there is anyone who enjoys nonstop and senseless violence on screen it’s certainly me. But at some point there has to be a decent story that surrounds the violence and helps make what is actually transpiring on screen somewhat memorable. Don’t get me wrong, they do try and provide some shell of a story but I’m sure you’ll be able find a narrative with more depth in the last few Call of Duty games than you will here.

At some point the shaky cam violence just gets old and you really don’t care that he just cut the head off of another faceless and nameless bad guy. Beating Mike Tyson in Mike Tyson’s Punch Out was cool and all but I really don’t remember the details of any of those fights. And why is that you ask? It’s because I had no personal connection with either Mike or my wimpy little boxer. Well the same theory applies to our "hero" Henry and his bout with the supposedly supernatural villain Akan, otherwise known as pale Kurt Cobain. You don’t connect with either one of the characters and neither one of them seems particularly cool. In fact, every time Cobain came on screen you were once again reminded why this movie sucked.

Now there are a few scenes that are pretty cool, like the time you see Sharlto Copley’s character stop in the middle of a gun fight to do a couple of lines of blow while being surrounded by beautiful hookers. But sadly these scenes were few and far between. I do give the filmmakers credit for attempting something new but that’s where I draw the line. This movie is garbage and I give it a rating of really WEAK!