Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Lady Bird

Let me first start off by saying that I’ve loved Greta Gerwig for close to a decade now! No, I don’t happen to be a pale skinned white woman who lives in Brooklyn and dates a hipster indie director to up my street cred but I do totally identify with her lust for life. She’s an artistically inclined butterfly that was forced to grow up in a small cow town that would rather deep fry a butterfly than appreciate its beauty. And if you know anything about me, then you’d know that I also grew up in a cow town that would deep fry someone like me in a second if they could legally get away with it; but I’m sorry to break it to V-town, the 60’s were a looooong time ago. And as you can see, just talking about Greta has me already making references to artistically inclined butterflies and beauty; normally the kind of stuff I’d break out when quoting Thom Yorke lyrics from his weird side projects.

But I have to admit that when I first saw the trailer for her directorial debut in Lady Bird, I said to myself "That may be a just a little too white for me." But it’s Greta so I had to pop in! And of course I was the only black male in the theater outside of the janitor who was sweeping the floors and even he looked at me puzzled and said "Yo dawg, Tyler Perry’s Madea Boo 2 is showing at the theater ACROSS the street; not here!" Ok, so maybe that last part didn’t actually happen but that’s only because I wore a hoodie over my head so no one would recognize me or see my face on the way in. But once I finally settled in and got comfortable with my inner white girl, I was able to enjoy what I saw.

Everyone remembers their senior year and how difficult it was. Sure, the parties were fun, you no longer cared about getting good grades, and you finally got that hand job from Jessica in Art class but your home life was a mess. You couldn’t wait to get out of the house and be on your own, especially if you lived in a small, nothing town. But just getting out of the house wasn’t enough, you also wanted to go to the college of your dreams, one that probably cost a ton of money to go to and was nearly impossible to get in; especially when you consider the fact that you didn’t start caring about standardized tests until those rejection letters started pouring in. So naturally your stress level was high.

Well your parents were also stressing during this time because they were about to lose their baby; one who seemingly showed no appreciation for all the sacrifices they made for you over the years. They worked hard to provide you every advantage possible in the world and in the process probably gave up on their dreams to do so. So they had to be thinking to themselves, is this what life is all about; stressing over bills, college tuition, and having fights about being out of touch?

Well this is what Lady Bird is all about; capturing all of these moments that nearly every one of any age can identify with. Christine aka Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) is a senior in high school who wants to get as far away from boring Sacramento as humanly possible. She feels like she cannot truly live and become the person she was meant to be as there’s no true culture or life there and there certainly isn’t anything that will let her explore her artistic side; that is until she finally discovers that there’s a drama club at her school (more on this later). Her mom (Laurie Metcalf) wants her to stay in state because it’s cheaper to go to school and she will still be able to see her on a regular basis. This, as you can imagine, creates tension between the two especially after Lady Bird’s father loses his job in a community that’s not exactly a hot bed for thriving new businesses.

And the fact that they are struggling financially makes it hard for Lady Bird to fit in at her school because she goes to a rich private school where everyone is for the most part walking around with a silver spoon sticking out of their mouths. Her only connection lies in her heavyset best friend Julie who is also in a similar situation. Now I only mention her weight because that’s the only thing that’s keeping her from fitting in herself as she’s one of coolest and nicest girls alive; in the fictional world anyway. And things are great between the two of them, that is until Lady Bird falls for the head drama nerd in Danny O’Neill. At first things appear to be normal and good for her but their relationship takes this weird turn and causes Lady Bird to go off the deep end; affecting not only her life but the lives of everyone she comes into contact with. Now I’ll let you discover the rest for yourself but just know that this film will make you, as my friend described it, "ugly cry" in public. Now I personally didn’t cry but as I mentioned earlier, I totally found a connection with this film.

All of the acting in it is on point and to help keep it from being the Precious of 2017, Gerwig thankfully injects quite a bit of her trademark hipster humor in the film. So there is a healthy balance of drama, humor, and self-discovery in this heartwarming story. In a time where everyone is seemingly at each other’s throats on a consistent basis, it’s refreshing to take a 90 minute break and be reminded of the fact that we are all the same when it comes down to it. I give Lady Bird a rating of very FRESH.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Justice League

Even though I grew up in the country, I thankfully came from a family that didn’t completely resort to the typical country ways. We by no means lived lavishly but we also never settled for knock off brands items either. While some of my friends would come home with Plaza Strawberry soda, I was always treated to the real deal in Big Red. And when kids would show up rocking Jordans that didn’t actually have the Jordan symbol on it anywhere, I’d break out my British Knights and Reebok pumps just so I could get schooled on the court while looking good in the process. Now don’t get me wrong, country parents would spent money on the things they thought were important, things like John Deere tractors and ostrich boots, but in order to afford these things, they’d skimp on nonessentials like food and drink. And you could always tell who was covering their Chief Boyardee with Hans Ketchup simply by how it looked (picture me giving my friend the side eye while saying "Yo dawg, there’s no I in Chef."). And it’s because I grew up in this environment that I am able to easily spot the real deal from the fake stuff when I see it.

Well as much as I like the DC movies and what they try and do with them, I hate to say that Justice League falls into the Chief Boyardee category. Due to the fact that Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies made billions of dollars and were critically acclaimed, he was able to do whatever he wanted with them, which meant there was still some level of creativity being brought to superhero movies at the time. And thankfully this freedom was also extended to the Batman vs Superman movie he produced, which explains why that was such a good film. But by the time that movie rolled out, all of Hollywood had been brain washed Get Out style to believe that the mind numbing nonsense that Marvel had been rolling out was the only way to go, so anything that deviated from that formula had to be trash; at least in the eyes of critics. So they labeled Batman vs Superman dark and joyless, prompting the DC world to succumb to the pressures of fitting in and adapting to the ways of the Dark Side (Marvel).

Now I know that The Avengers’ writer/director Joss Whedon had already been working with Justice League’s director Zach Snyder in some small capacity before his tragic exit but once Snyder left, you could totally feel Whedon’s footprints all over this film. Once Snyder was gone, the producers could get away with injecting as much cheesy humor and recycled action scenes as their hearts desired; and boy did they ever take advantage of their opportunity.

The plot is completely forgettable as there’s some scrub with horns on his head called Steppenwolf who returns to Earth to collect three random boxes that he will use to regain his power to reign chaos and destruction upon anyone who gets in his way. But in order to do so, he must fight the Amazonian women (Wonder Woman’s old crew) and the people of Atlantis (Aquaman’s crew) to get them. As usual, the fight scenes with the Amazons are cool but they only last for about 5 minutes. And the fight scenes in the underwater city of Atlantis were also about 5 minutes long but they were in no way cool. Now I thought going in that there would be no way to keep Aquaman from being lame, and for the most part I was right; but I do give Jason Momoa a ton of credit for trying his best. Women will love him because he’s in incredible shape and shows his chest off every opportunity he gets; and guys will love him because he will forever be known as the dude who took Daenerys Targaryen’s cherry. Actually, that makes me hate him, so no, Aquaman was not cool in any way! "That’s my pie!!!"

But Aquaman and Atlantis weren’t the major issues I had with this film; the problem lies in its lack of heart. Sure they tried injecting some lame touchy moments between Superman, Lois Lane, and his mom once he returned from the dead but it was totally forced and felt out of place. And every time the film would try and be serious in any way, the Flash would crack some barely funny joke to remind us that they were just like Marvel. It felt like I was watching the NFL on CBS and hearing Greg Gumbel drop words like propers and pimp in an attempt to remind people that he’s indeed Black and hip. No you’re not homie, no you’re not (see what I did there?).

Now the movie wasn’t all bad, as the action scenes with The Flash were actually fun and had high quality CGI in them, even though they were completely ripped off from the X-Men films and their scenes with Quicksilver. And for the first time maybe ever, Superman was a badass. The second he was revived, he came out of the grave wrecking shop! I actually found myself rooting for him; something that hasn’t happened since he had to save Richard Pryor in Superman III.

All in all, I did like this film but barely. I’d say it’s worth a watch if you’re bored or if you’re deciding between this or Bad Moms 2: No One Gets Naked. By the way, how is that possible? You can’t have a rated R movie called Bad Moms and no one gets naked in it!!! Anyway, I give Justice League a rating of kind of WEAK.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Murder on the Orient Express

For some odd reason whenever I’m hanging out with my female friends, I always get overly protective of them. It’s nothing creepy or anything like that, it’s just that I feel the need to make sure that some tall jerk doesn’t stand in front of them at a show or that they text me when they get home to make sure the Uber driver didn’t murder and stash them on the side of the road after taking their innocence and their loose change. But in addition to that, I even do dumb things like hunt down loose cigarettes for them; all of which occurred this past weekend when my nerdy friend couldn’t find anyone to bum a smoke off of. So me being me, I went out on a quest to find one of these filthy things even though I hate cigarettes and normally the people that smoke them. And when I finally did find one, the guys I bummed it off of thought it was for me and even lit it while I stood there. And I, for whatever reason, was too embarrassed to tell them that it wasn’t for me, so I sat there puffing on it like it was a blunt. Naturally that drew a few weird looks as I’ve only smoked weed like twice in my life and that was centuries ago, so I’m sure that I was even doing that wrong.

And it was in this moment that I started reflecting on all of the wack stuff that I had done in my life to get to this point; like hallucinating after once eating a pot brownie or hating on Missy Elliott’s music for about a two week period in the early 2000’s. But what may have topped it all was reading all of those Agatha Christie novels as a kid. You see, I grew up in a terrible small town and I was a bit of an outsider, so I’d watch a lot of murder mysteries with my mom, you know, stuff like Matlock and Murder She Wrote, just to pass the time. And my mom knew that whenever I went to the library I’d always come home with a mystery novel, so she tried to turn me on to Agatha Christie to help us find even more of a common ground. Well, even as a kid I recognized the fact that her books catered to middle aged women, so to me they were pretty lame but it still beat listening to country music or stealing my father’s dip tobacco to give to my soon to be toothless girlfriend.

But for whatever reason, I forgot about all of this whenever I went to see Kenneth Branagh’s version of Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. Now I will give him credit for staying true to the overall feel and tone of her novel but those books were meant for a different time, not for us twisted freaks of today. Today we want to see weird things like people’s mouths being sewn to someone else’s anus (The Human Centipede) or watch a preteen mow down flesh eating zombies with a shotgun; none of which appeared in this film. This film looked and felt more like a live action Disney cartoon with its almost dreamy backdrop and looney characters who all felt as though they were channeling the evil hyenas from The Lion King. Murder mysteries are supposed to make you feel suspense and even a sense of wonder, not make you feel as though a song and dance number is on the horizon.

Well if you don’t know the story, Orient Express places its focus on the brilliant mind of Inspector Hercule Poirot, basically a lamer version of the Sherlock Holmes we all know and love today. He has a hipster mustache and cracks lame jokes while drinking tea and eating hard boiled eggs. But Poirot can also spot out the evil perpetrator in any given situation faster than any man alive. And it’s because of this that he’s put in a sticky situation while on a train ride to a much needed vacation. Someone has been mysteriously murdered on this train, so naturally the train’s senior conductor turns to him to help find the culprit. And under normal circumstances, Poirot would be able to get to the bottom of this within a few minutes but the person who was murdered had quite a few enemies and everyone on the train is seemingly a suspect. Again, going back to my point about the evil hyenas. Will Poitrot finally be outsmarted or will his talents rise to the occasion yet again?

Now it’s not that this movie is bad, it’s just that it’s not any good either. It is kind of fun to see Poirot match wits with each suspect and eventually put clues together as he gets closer to catching the culprit but there are far too many instances where he makes some pretty miraculous leaps when discovering the truth about someone. And he does so in such a hammy manner that I kept waiting for some fat guy in a three piece suit to stand up and yell "The butler did it!" Sadly that never happened but trust me when I say there was plenty of overacting to help make up for it (see Michelle Pfeiffer). In the end, I couldn’t wait for this film to be over so I could go home and watch some porn to put a little balance in my life but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth watching. If you’re bored on a weekday night, I’d say it’s worth a watch but I do have to give a rating of pretty WEAK!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok

Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in! The last few Marvel movies have been so bad that I didn’t even bother to write a review for them, and even the few that I did like (Ant-Man and Deadpool) while entertaining and funny, were for the most part fairly forgettable. So I came to the conclusion that after The Black Panther came out, I would be done with the Marvel universe forever. I mean, if I paid money to see that other trash, I’d have to at least support my brothers and sisters getting wild in the jungle before throwing up the deuces sign. Plus they did play Vince Staples in the trailer; I thought for sure they’d sell out and play some Macklemore or Iggy Azalea to appeal to the masses.

But anyway, as you can imagine, it took some serious convincing for me to pass up the Bills vs Jets Thursday Night Game to go see what has been the worst of the Avenger solo projects to this point. Ok, I hope you realize that was a joke but seriously, if there had been a halfway decent game on to watch that night, I might not have seen Thor 3 at all. I must admit however that a part of me relates to Thor as I’m a big child who works out way too much. The one thing that I find to be frustrating is that on my way to work every morning, I see at least 5 homeless dudes that are way more ripped than I am! How is this possible?!?! Is Planet Fitness really that cheap?!?! And where are they getting their recovery supplements from?

Well, I’m happy to say that it turns out that I made the right decision! Thor: Ragnorak was actually a good movie. It’s directed by What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople’s Taika Waititi (both good films if you haven’t seen them) and he brings his natural comedy and love for adventure to the Marvel universe. Now I know that most of you are saying that that element has always been there but my response to that is, there’s JV football and varsity football. The terrible comedy and action that exists in movies like Spiderman: Homecoming or Age of Ultron clearly belong on the scrubby JV team while what we experience in Ragnorak is varsity level.

Now I won’t lie to you, I’ve already kind of forgotten what the plot is but basically it revolves around Thor and Loki’s evil sister, Hela (Cate Blanchett) and her quest for revenge. And yes, she’s apparently worse than Loki is as she’s Australian versus that of British. The day their father Odin dies, she is released from her prison and returns to wreak havoc on the universe. Thor and Loki try to stop her but are somehow cast off into this weird middle world where the galaxy’s lost apparently go to die. But before they die, they steal, gamble and drink themselves silly, and this is where Jeff Goldblum shines.

He is the film’s clear highlight as his quirkiness brings the element of oddball comedy that this franchise has been sorely lacking. He has his own little fresh band, a ball of death, and an arena where gladiators fight to the death. And it’s in this arena that we finally see the return of The Hulk and are also introduced to yet another highlight in Korg; one of Goldblum’s reluctant undercard champions who sounds like a surfer that’s missing fish tacos and the wonderful sounds of the oily Sax Man. The Hulk however, seems to have lost his way as he stays in Hulk form and continues to smash everything in sight, including his friend Thor. Can Thor, bring him and Korg back around in time to escape this lost world and save the universe? Will Loki continue being Loki and find a way to capitalize off of what is happening? And I haven’t even mention the badass female scavenger/former warrior in Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) yet.

Well as you can see, there’s quite a bit going on in this film but unlike the other Marvel movies, the writers do a great job of giving you just enough background into each character that it feels as though they are a necessary part of the story. So thankfully you don’t have scrubs like Vision just sitting around baking cakes, drinking wine, and listening to easy jazz. Every scene with The Hulk is fun and funny and Thor discovers and unleashes a new power that makes him even more of a badass. And this is why this Marvel film is one that I won’t completely forget in the next 6 months. Is it intellectually stimulating? No, but not every movie has to be; all I ask is that you don’t dumb it down so that only people in Florida and Arkansas can enjoy it. I give Thor: Ragnorak a rating of FRESH and I suggest that you go see it.
 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Killing of a Sacred Deer

I fought this moment off for as long as I could but alas it has finally come; I’m old! I thought the fact that I couldn’t get out of my spaghetti filled (long story) bed until 3 o’clock in the afternoon following a long night of dancing my face off to LCD Soundsystem was just an anomaly. But after turning down a late night party invite from two really cute girls who I met at the second LCD show to simply go home and eat pizza because I’m fat and had to get up early for work the next day, just proves that my days of needing Viagra are probably not that far away. Heck, I may as well start practicing throwing footballs through the large holes of tires right now; gotta get my accuracy up! That’s easily the most ridiculous commercial I’ve ever seen by the way.

But the reason I bring all of this up is because age is still undefeated in this old world we live in and you don’t have to look any further than to Colin Farrell to see what I’m talking about. It wasn’t that long ago when this used to be ageless wonder was making sex tapes with Black Playboy bunnies with regularity but now he’s been relegated to playing gray bearded doctors with a beer bellies. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure the groupies he rejects will still be way hotter than anything I’ll ever see in my lifetime but my how the mighty have fallen.

Now having said all of that, getting older and a bit chubbier has seemingly made him a better actor as he’s been on quite a roll for the past decade. I thought his performance in The Lobster was one of the best of his career but he easily tops that in director Yorgos Lanthimos’s follow up to that film in The Killing of a Sacred Deer. I know, I know, it’s a fairly pretentious title but after seeing this odd take on a revenge flick I honestly can’t think of another title that would work.

If you’ve never seen a Lanthimos flick, he has his own unique but pretty accurate view on the modern human condition and this film is no different. In Deer, he puts his focus on the weird and borderline inappropriate relationship that exists between surgeon Steven Murphy (Farrell) and the seemingly obtuse teenager Martin, played by Barry Keoghan in what is sure to be a breakout role for him. It’s just a matter of time before Marvel snags him and immediately ruins his career.

Anyway, you soon learn that the reason these two are always around one another is because Dr. Murphy was the surgeon who was operating on Martin’s dad when he died in the middle of an unnamed procedure. At first, you along with Dr. Murphy, believe it’s because the kid is starving for another father figure in his life but you soon learn that it has nothing to do with that at all; even after one of the film’s funniest and oddest moments involving Martin’s mom, Alicia Silverstone. Martin has been up to something this entire time and it’s not until after he’s been introduced to Dr. Murphy’s beautiful wife (Nicole Kidman) and two kids that he reveals what it is.

Channeling what is a perfect mix of Robert Deniro from the classic film Cape Fear and pretty much any character from the brutal Australian crime flick Animal Kingdom, Keoghan is as calculated of a villain as they come. He somehow unleashes this weird curse on Dr. Murphy’s family that causes them to lose the ability to walk, followed by their refusal to eat and eventually bleeding from their eyes which will ultimately lead to their death. It will slowly start to affect each family member of his and kill them all unless he chooses which of his family members will die first. Then and only then will the curse be lifted as this is Martin’s idea of what he considers to be justice.

Naturally, being a doctor, Murphy doesn’t believe in this weird voodoo but as strange things continue to happen he becomes desperate and begins doing whatever he can to save his family. And what’s most interesting is when his family also begins to believe there’s no alternative outcome and starts subtly and not so subtly doing whatever they can to make sure they survive this ordeal.

This film is a dark statement of how we are not that different from animals when it comes to our innate desires to survive no matter how sophisticated we think we are in our societal status. And how evil can come in the most unsuspecting forms. There is quite a bit of dark humor in this film but mainly it’s just dark as Dr. Murphy is put in the positon that every parent considers to be their worst nightmare. How do you choose between your spouse and one of your kids? And is this curse real? Will I make a decision that I will regret for the rest of my life?

All I can say is that I’ve seen literally a thousand movies over the past decade, so many in fact, that I thought it was impossible to impress me anymore; but this movie had me on the edge of my seat. And the film’s final moments rank right up there with anything you’ve ever seen in a Hitchcock or Kubrick film. This is an instant classic and I give it a rating of TIGHT!
 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Blade Runner 2049

Believe it or not, there are a few people on this planet who refuse to succumb to the advancements in technology and still insist on calling me rather than texting to have an actual conversation. Now two of these people get a free pass as they are my mother and my brother but as for the rest of the scrubs out there…it better be a life or death situation or I’m going to be really pissed! I will however excuse my friend who lives in Los Angeles who calls me to help keep him awake while he’s sitting in traffic but I consider that to be my community service work for the month, so that shouldn’t be an expectation for everyone.

Well my movie nerd friend, for some odd reason, called me three days in a row! Now he also occasionally gets a free pass but only when new nude pics of Scarlett Johansson are leaked online, so he should know better. And this is just after we had a phone conversation earlier in the week, so naturally my mind starts to think the worst! Is he sick? Is he in jail? Did Taylor Swift release yet another terrible video?

I had to finally stop everything I was doing and actually attempt to be a good friend. So I called him from the gym in a rather frantic state and was like ‘Hey! What’s going on???" Here was his response "Yo! Have you seen the new Vince Vaughn movie?" The f’n new Vince Vaughn movie?!?! Are you kidding me?!?! I didn’t even realize that that dude was still alive, let alone have any thoughts or desire to keep following his movie career! Was he serious?!?!

And as he kept talking about Vincent’s new movie, I couldn’t help but think to myself, "We really need to get this dude a virtual reality girlfriend like the one Ryan Gosling had in Blade Runner." Even if he’s just getting virtually laid that has to help channel his energy to something more productive. Think about how much safer the world would be if more people had VR girlfriends that were as hot as Ana de Armas is. R. Kelly could have sex with all the 13 year old VR girls his heart desired, Donald Trump could put his fingers up as many unsuspecting and horrified women that he wanted to instead of using them to send out ridiculous tweets (and of course violating real women), and Harvey Weinstein…well sadly he’d still be Harvey Weinstein. Something tells me that that fat bastard would get greedy and somehow try and masturbate to both VR and real women at the same time. The point is, I think Blade Runner 2049 should be required viewing for every potentially dangerous male out there.

But here’s the reason why everyone else should see it too; it’s a great movie! Now, let me first say that it is a true Sci-Fi film through and through, so that alone will keep everyone from thinking that it’s great. But at its core it’s an audial and visual experience like no other, and that’s part of what makes movies so special. Yes, the storyline and the acting are key but if you can walk away from a film in complete awe of what you just heard sonically and what you just witnessed visually, that is the complete package. Now typically when the storyline and acting take a backseat to the technical aspects of a film, you get stuck with trash like Independence Day 8 but director Denis Villeneuve is able to use these sometimes secondary elements to convey the message he really wants to deliver to his audience.

He seems to have a common theme in all of his films where his characters struggle with loneliness, fear, and the ability to connect with the rest of humanity, yet he’s able to share their stories in a myriad of ways. Who would have thought that a father who becomes obsessed with finding his kidnapped son (Prisoners) would have so much in common with a language expert who’s hired to help communicate with aliens from another world (Arrival)? Or that an FBI agent who is tracking down the Cartel (Sicario) would be so similar to a Replicant hunting down dangerous and obsolete Replicants for destruction (Blade Runner 2049). Ok, that last one isn’t too much of a stretch but I’m afraid to talk too poorly of the Cartel for fear of my life the next time I roll up in Mescal bar.

I don’t want to give away too much of the plot but just know that Gosling is a young Blade Runner whose sole job is to track down and eliminate obsolete Replicants. Replicants are synthetic humans who are used to do manual labor. They are hated and despised by real humans and this hatred eventually leads to a war and famine that nearly destroyed the Earth. This is part of the reason why the production of them has been outlawed. (Side note: it would really help if you watched the three prequel shorts that were made for this film; at most it’s 20 minutes of your time)

But because he was able to save humanity from this famine; revolutionary inventor and entrepreneur, Niander Wallace (Jared Leto) is allowed to produce a new race of Replicants; one that only obeys its master or owner. This explains why Blade Runners like Gosling are around. Now while this story takes place 30 years after the original, Gosling, while tracking down one of the few remaining rogue Replicants, finds something that links him to one of the original Blade Runners, Deckard (Harrison Ford). And what he finds could have a drastic and irreversible impact on the world he currently knows.

As mentioned earlier, this movie’s theme speaks so much about humanity and what we feel it should and shouldn’t be while also introducing us to a futuristic world that’s both cool to look at yet chilling to contemplate when you take into account everything that’s going on. Gosling does what he does by bringing his stoic approach to the new Blade Runner and Harrison Ford showed that he’s not quite senile yet. But it’s the women who truly shine in this film. Robin Wright is solid and feisty as Gosling’s boss, Ana de Armas brings the much needed tenderness and heart that’s lacking in this cold and dark world, and Sylvia Hoeks delivers an Oscar worthy performance as the maniacally loyal assistant to Wallace.

Now you should know going in that this is a long film as it clocks in at just over 2 ½ hours but if you’re in for an actual movie experience, you will certainly get just that in Blade Runner 2049. I give this movie a rating of very FRESH! Now if you will excuse me, I’m off to go have sex with dead Tay Tay!
 
 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Mother!

Maybe I’m just officially a part of the older generation but I remember when Boyz in da Hood first came out in the theater and it reminding me, along with every other Black male out there, that if you had a kid before you graduated from high school that your life was basically over! It didn’t matter how smart or how talented you were, society would never fully accept you simply for the fact that you fell right into the stereotype that had slowly evolved over the previous decades. Look at Ricky from that movie, even though he was a badass football player who ended up getting a full ride at USC, he still wound up getting shot in an alley while holding some powdered sugar donuts and a lottery scratch-off ticket. And why was that you ask? Because he had a kid! At least that’s what I took away from it.

But now, in every hip hop song that’s come out the past five years or so, every male rapper out there and their female RnB counterpart talks about either planting seeds in someone or getting seeds planted in them! What in the world happened? When did it become so cool to not pull out? Granted I haven’t seen a porn in quite some time but this can’t be the latest hotness? "Oh, I’m gonna explode so hard inside of you!" I refuse to accept this! Somewhere out there Ron Jeremy is rolling in his fried chicken batter!

Well hip hop may have finally jumped the shark as Russian weirdo Darren Aronofsky seems to have been affected by its charms. In his latest film, he examines the May December marriage between Javier Bardem and Jennifer Lawrence. And in it, you are immediately introduced to what’s at the core of their marital issues. Bardem is a poet who is going through the worst possible writer’s block imaginable meanwhile Lawrence’s entire life seems to be centered on supporting and appeasing him. It doesn’t matter how much patience or love she shows, nothing seems to inspire him, not even the fact that his wife is singlehandedly rebuilding his childhood home from the ground up after it burned to the nothing but ashes.

But one night a stranger in the form of Ed Harris shows up at their random house in the country mistaking it for a bed and breakfast. Bardem immediately takes a liking to him and invites him to stay the night given the fact that it’s so late and he’s obviously lost. The problem however, just to name one, is that he doesn’t ask his wife if it’s ok with her and it’s soon after this that Harris starts ignoring some of her rules for the house; like no smoking inside. Now I know that on the surface that sounds like small potatoes but things start to escalate the second his wife shows up the next day. Not only does she not respect Lawrence’s rules but she also seems to have little respect for her or her privacy. Imagine if your drunk mother in law showed up to your house and had no filter; well that’s Michelle Pfeiffer (Harris’s wife) to a tee.

Now again, at first these seem like they’re just slight annoyances but things soon get out of hand the second this weird couple’s sons randomly show up and someone gets murdered. And yet even after all of this, it still isn’t enough for Bardem to ask the couple to leave. It instead somehow oddly enough triggers a passion inside of him that was nonexistent to this point and he winds up impregnating Lawrence. And it’s at this point that he once again finds the inspiration to write and what he writes is apparently good. So naturally things will get better at this point, right? Well if you thought that then you clearly have never seen an Aronofsky film.

First let me say that the first two acts were tough for me to sit through as a Black man because anyone who has grown up in a household with a Black woman knows that this film would have been over within the first 20 minutes. The second Ed Harris disrespected her, she would’ve cussed him sideways and kicked him out along with Bardem. And if Bardem had the audacity to say anything back, he would’ve been met with a swift right to the jaw and a not so friendly reminder that he was a shitty writer! "I’m up in here cooking these biscuits every day and your sorry ass can’t even write a Jack be nimble, Jack be quick? I knew I should’ve married Jerome with the good benefits! "

But once I finally got past that, I settled into the third act only to be immediately taken out again. Now anyone who knows me knows that I love artsy flicks but I hate when people are artsy for the sake of being artsy. Look, if your weirdness naturally comes out (see Thom Yorke dancing during Radiohead shows) I’m all for it but when it’s forced, it’s obvious that you’re just trying to get laid by French models who are too dumb to truly understand what’s going on. I get the visual chaos that ensues in the third act, and to be honest with you, some of it worked, but ultimately there was just too much nonsense in it that played absolutely no role in telling the story or expressing the theme behind this visual and visceral experience.

The film’s crowning moment occurs when Lawrence finally has the baby and there’s a stare off between her and Bardem. So much is said about their relationship in this moment that it honestly stands out way more than the infamous and supposedly unforgettable scene that immediately follows it. Everyone talks about that scene but in my opinion, everything that follows the stare down is just filler at that point, but I guess you have to wrap the film up in some way.

In the end, the acting is on point and the overall theme of the film is a clever take on today’s society but you just have to sift through too much trash to get to the payoff. I give this film a rating of barely FRESH!