Archive for May, 2013

6 Fast 6 Furious…or Furious 6…or Faster 6 Furiouser or whatever it’s called (2013) – Justin Lin (Dir.), Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Tyrese Gibson, Ludicris, Michelle Rodriguez, Dwayne “Samoan Thor” Johnson, Sung Kang, Luke Evans, Gal Gadot, Gina Carano

 Do you see how unrealistic this movie is? It's only mildly cloudy in London. Bullshit.

Do you see how unrealistic this movie is? It’s only mildly cloudy in London. Bullshit.

Guys…I’m not sure what happened. What began as a joking suggestion to waltz into the sixth installment of a series that I would rather encounter less than a bout of super-herpes, ended with me walking, nay, stumbling from the theater, falling to my knees and crying to the heavens, “WHY? WHY DID YOU NOT TELL ME ABOUT THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS? WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?” (I was, of course, talking directly to Roger Ebert, duh). I would have put my face in my hands if it hadn’t already been melted off by Justin Lin’s fatality of a blockbuster. Like that guy who claimed he had gotten to third base because a girl had fainted on him breasts-first, I was basically a virgin when it came to this…I can’t even call it a ‘franchise’. Words fail me when describing what this series of films represents. It is no mere set of cheap cashings-in on some out-played formula. I mean, it is…but it is also so much more than that. It is not an epic, but rather a saga, a creation myth for, what one brilliant writer at Grantland termed, the ‘Fast & Furi-verse’. It is a beautiful and complex realm. A land of beautiful vehicles speeding recklessly through foreign cities with impunity while their mildly invincible meat puppets at the wheel communicate only in punches to the face and bullets to the chest. This is a world without logic as we know it. A world where the laws of physics are merely a suggestion. A world where runways can be thirty miles long to allow for a 20 minute finale. A world where the otherwise absurd concept of racing thieves isn’t just a possibility but an active scourge on the legal landscape. This, ladies and gentlemen, is where magic is born. And by magic, I mean Vin Diesel.

I had little to no understanding of the series before taking my seat. I had seen snippets of the first movie and, with the rest of the footage I have had incessantly burned onto my frontal lobe from every HD ad for DVDs ever, I managed to piece it together. However, there were 4 more fucking movies after that. Do you know what that means? Lord of the Rings happened in 3 movies. Imagine what could happen in 4! Well, apparently, not that much. From what I gathered in the “Previously on the only thing on Paul Walker’s Resume”, a bunch of shit went down in the last movies. However, because Lin’s throbbing techno soundtrack played in the place of actual audio, the plot round-up seemed more like an NYU experimental film just with very pretty people.

"The script says this is where we make out..." "I will fucking stab you if you try this again, dude."

“The script says this is where we make out…”
“I will fucking stab you.”

Basically, we have Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel), a man who both simultaneously gives enough fucks that he will do anything for his friends and so few fucks that he will RAM HIS SPEEDING CAR INTO A WALL TO PROPEL HIMSELF OVER A RAVINE TO CATCH SOMEONE HURTLING FROM A FLIPPING TANK…IN SLOW MOTION (true story), is chilling in the Canary Islands with newly-fathered and Chris-Pine-if-he-were-homeless Paul Walker when The Rock shows up to ask for his help in taking down an international crime lord. The twist is? The crime lord uses CARS. Because, in this universe, caltrops and tire traps don’t exist. Of course, Dom and his super rich pals (I guess they robbed a place in the previous movie and became exceedingly rich) are hypnotized by a picture of Michelle Rodriguez. Now, I like Rodriguez just fine. She basically eats badass for breakfast and regurgitates it on the cinema audience like a mother returning to her chicks. I don’t understand getting yourself caught in a massive crime scheme because of a grainy photo. I guess she ‘died’ in a previous movie so they were ‘shocked’ she was still ‘alive’. What the fuck ever.

THE POINT IS: There are multiple bags of flesh flapping multiple mouths. Some of them are people and some of them are Tyrese “I’m Pretty Sure He’s a Robot That Wasn’t Wired Right” Gibson. But this is all blah-blah-blah until someone gets punched or someone gets into a moving vehicle of some kind. Our director Justin Lin understands this well. Thusly, there is nary a scene of this film where a gun is not discharged or a person is punched in the moneymaker (and seeing as the entire cast is populated by models, both male and female, it’s absolutely an accurate term). But then the cars start and suddenly every member of the cast becomes invincible. It doesn’t matter if a car flips or smashes in half or gets crushed by a tank, as long as you are inside the car, in this Furi-verse, you are deemed worthy of life and safe from harm. The second you get out…well, that’s another story. In terms of the ‘scenes’ between car-gasms, I believe I counted almost ten that began with an explicit act of violence. It’s a purer form of communication in this world.

Finally, we come to the action. Oh the action. It is difficult to describe the feeling one gets when witnessing a high speed chase through Picadilly Circus, or a fist fight between Michelle “Midwife of Badassery” Rodriguez and Gina “I Am Literally Trained To Fucking Kill You” Carano in the London tube, or the aforementioned aerial/auto acrobatics of one Vin “His Last Name Isn’t Ironic In the Least” Diesel. It might be that sense of glee a young Andrew might find while awaking at five am on Christmas morning, rushing downstairs and discovering a tree surrounded by presents. Except, instead of presents, it’s the fucking Rock with his neck increasing in size every day and biceps comparable to damn jackhammers. Every set piece is captivating and pulse-pounding from beginning to end. And, seeing as it is quickly defined that every character in this universe has as much to fear from physical harm as Superman, watching the flesh marionettes beat the ever-loving shit out of each other takes on a zen-like joy. I mean, watching Diesel get a face full of roundhouse kick, you can finally sense that there is some order to the universe. THAT IS HOW LIFE-CHANGING THIS MOVIE IS. Also, Ludracris playing, I guess, a stoned super-computer-genius garden gnome uses the phrase: “We need more alphabets!” Yet. This is pure, uncut, Colombian amazingness.

Terrifying. On a pant-wetting level.

Terrifying. On a pant-wetting level.

And it, I am sure, is all thanks to Justin Lin. He is the director of this batshit menagerie. Mr. Lin was, I believe, brought on to direct the dark horse of the series, 3 Fast 3 Furious: Something About Tokyo (or something) and, since then, has cornered the market on ridiculous sequel names since. I, however, know Justin Lin as the man who delivered the genius ‘paintball’ episodes of the harshly underrated TV show, Community. This is a man who knows his humor and so, when Tyrese delivers yet another of his bland, misogynistic, cowardly one-liners, you don’t roll your eyes, but laugh. All attempts at intentional humor are almost intentionally humorously humorless. The lack of funny in the quip is exactly what makes it hilarious. It’s a moebius joke. An inside-out jest. An ouroboros chortle. His understanding of action is so precise, perfect and complete that you never once fear that your hopes will fail you. The ordeal is so beautifully paced that you never get bored. I mean, yes, I started looking at my phone when the meat muppets began yapping, but I could always assume there were only a few seconds before someone felt some facial malefaction by way of a fist to the nasal region. It could have been due to the writers, though it’s seriously doubtful. Most the lines dribbling from The Rock’s mouth had about as much gravity as a fucking M&M on a diet. There is literally a moment when the crew, who is currently in London, discovers that Luke “Zeus” Evans and his bad guy team are in Spain and Diesel says “That means they’re in another country!” Do you really have so little faith that your audience has so meager an understanding of European geography that you have to…oh wait, someone’s about to get punched again!

Now, I am keenly aware of my rather pretentious leanings when it comes to my flavor of cinema. Only a few days ago, I took Star Trek into Darkness to task for almost exactly the same things for which I laud this movie. And, yes, this might be hypocritical. But there is so much more going on. This series is brilliant. I don’t mean ‘brilliant’ in the sense of Beasts of the Southern Wild. No, even with its predilections for it’s heavy-handed ‘FAMILY IS FOREVER’ themes, it’s about as thematically deep an ant’s paddling pool. Its complexity comes from pure scope. Upon our exit from the movie, my friend Ben regaled me on the finer points of the Furi-verse’s chronology. Turns out, movie 3 takes place after all of the others. Due to the fact that they enjoyed the totally awesome character of Han so much, they decided to make the next 3 movies in the franchise his origin story, which finally culminates at the end of 6 with a brilliantly ret-conned cameo paving the way for movie 7, which will no doubt be titled 7 Fast 7 Fur7ouslier. It’s as intricate a world as anything Marvel can pump out. Yes, it’s fluff. It’s mental meltdown of the purest kind. But it has no pretension towards anything else. Lin keeps you on the edge of your seats, not because you’re afraid the good guys might lose or that anyone will get ‘hurt’, but because LOOK AT THE ROCK’S BICEPS, WHY HASN’T HE FOUGHT ANYONE YET? I BET WHEN HE DOES IT WILL BE AMAZEBALLS. Sure enough, it is. Both he and Carano shift through the film like springs wound to their tensile limit, ready to fucking explode. When they finally do, you will not be disappointed.

If I could sum up this movie in a single image...

If I could sum up this movie in a single image…

This is not good cinema. This is an anomaly. If I had seen something half as stupid, I might have condemned it to the lowest ring of hell. But not this. There is a level of passion and love that is coursing through this franchise’s veins that could rival any great film. It truly cares about its characters. I mean, how rare is it that I would remember any of the characters’ names in a bullshit fest like this? It never happens. You know what? For two hours, I forgot that I once suffered through The Chronicles of Riddick while bedridden with the flu and, for the first time in years, I actually rooted for Vin Diesel to not get his face caught in a weedwacker. Do you know how significant that is to me? Life-changing. Nothing but.

However, I then left the theater and saw a poster for the next Riddick movie and my bloodlust was ignited once more. Fuck that guy. Oh well.

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It was only a matter of time. Once I discovered this thing called the ‘Interweb’, I had to have a blog. From there it is a slippery, and inadvertently, drunken slope down into the grotesque depths of ‘cat videos’ and the unending purgatory of ‘animated gifs’. Yes, after a night of carousing, I decided a webseries was in order! It would be one of these classy joints! Not just a bunch of idiots sitting around talking about terrible movies while getting blitzed harder than London in 1940 awkwardly jump cut to provide the illusion of coherence. We would have CGI! Music rights! Movie clips! Guest stars! Celebrity interviews! Product endorsements!

Buuuuuuut…then I realized all of that costs money. So, drunk assholes talking about dumb movies it is! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is the official webseries accompaniment for Netflix Russian Roulette starring Erin, Alex and myself as two drunks and a facepalm wandering through the darkened backwoods of a Netflix nobody wishes to acknowledge. We will see shit! We will see bullcrap! We will see wastes of millions of dollars for no other reason than the fact that the studio has to produce a certain number of films a year! And we will DRINK.

No, this is a poster for a thriller. Not for an Eagles comeback tour.

No, this is a poster for a thriller. Not for an Eagles comeback tour.

Episode 1 – The Raven (2012) – James McTeigue (Dir.), John Cusack, Alice Eve, Brendan Gleeson – On our maiden voyage into web reviews, Erin and I got a leeeeetle too hammered. We ended up talking drunken nonsense for about an hour including, but not limited to, Dreamcatcher, John Cusack, the merits of the horror genre, hobo wizards, boobs and an honorable mention to e.e. cummings. On the cutting room floor was a lot of footage of me slurring words, me yelling at people and Alex shaking his head in shame. I’ll assume that will be true for all of these movies. We stopped at the 40 minute and the 1 hour twenty minute mark to give our thoughts on the film. They were not good.

I would also like to point out that this was my first time editing ANYTHING. So, please be gentle.

Please leave any movie suggestions in the comment section of this page or any of the articles. Seeing as the amount of work and liver-based fortitude required to make one of these things is daunting, we might only be able to pump one out every two or so weeks. Well, thank you for watching and please join us soon for more cheese and far, far, FAR more whine.

Ah. The dream team on it's maiden voyage. Yes, I'm aware that's a mixed metaphor.

Ah. The dream team on its maiden voyage. Yes, I’m aware that’s a mixed metaphor.

Star Trek into Darkness (2013) – J.J. Abrams (Dir.), Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch, Peter Weller, Zoe Saldana, Alice Eve, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, basically fucking everybody.

"Who put a goddamn banana in the exhaust? It's not funny guys!" ~ The final log of Captain Jim T. Kirk.

“Whose idea was it to put the aquatic sex dungeon next to the engine room!” ~ The final log of Captain Jim T. Kirk.

Finally. It has arrived and so have I. After the trials and tribulations of having a real job have thwarted any attempt I made at viewing this monstrosity of a summer blockbuster, I at last charged the fort, stormed the breaches, surmounted the odds, trounced the, um, trout and barreled the roll and… What I’m trying to say is, I saw the movie. Congrat-u-fucking-well-done. And, as is my style these days, I did so fairly blitzed on a bottle of fair-to-pretty-decent Tempranillo stuff rather cunningly into that same water bottle of Gatsby fame. What did I discover? Was it the tour de force its trailers and the rest of Facebook had led me to believe? Was it the answer to the greatest question: can Star Trek be a bankable action franchise? Was the script cobbled together by two illiterate mongrels most likely illegally acquired during a famed Jerry Bruckheimer wine-and-battery-acid drinking contest?

Um…

There was no doubt that there was a great deal of grandiosity surrounding this film. What with J.J. Abrams’ first outing being a success of Herculean proportions, it was clear that the Star Trek franchise was resting on the edge of the universe set to jump into hyperdrive and beat the Kessell run in… Wait. Wrong franchise. Anyhoo. Back in 2009 we were treated to seeing where young Captain Han Solo, sorry, I mean pre-I-Ate-Everything-At-the-All-You-Can-Eat-Buffet-And-I’m-Still-Starving-William-Shatner Captain Kirk, came from and how he came to be the unlikely and, let’s be real, utterly impossible captain of the USS Enterprise. It was Trek unlike any we had seen before! It had glitz! It had pizazzle! It had lens flare! OH THE LENS FLARE! It had so many damn people running down spaceship hallways it was like 2001: A Space Odyssey had a one night stand with Chariots of Fire and had forgotten protection. There was nary a calm moment as Spock growled at Kirk and Kirk hit on Uhura and some other people were wacky and…well…it was exciting.

"Dammit man! What have I told you about interrupting my time with Bones in the aquatic sex dungeon!" ~ The second to last log of Captain Kirk.

“Dammit man! What have I told you about interrupting my time with Bones in the aquatic sex dungeon!” ~ The second to last log of Captain Kirk.

Thus, Trek was poised to become the greatest Sci-Fi franchise of the new millennium. Much like Nolan with Batman Begins, Abrams redefined something that had been central to many generations’ childhoods. It is a fragile thing, fanboy-hood. On the one hand it offers infinite adoration and monetary income…on the other hand, they are a mass of rabid turncoats ready to rip your bleeding corpse asunder. And so, with Into Darkness, Abrams and his team of logic-disabled writers had to take this foundation of strong characters, but rather weak plot, and turn it into a The Dark Knight-ian epic. What did they do? Well, while the writers all decided to fart loudly in each others’ faces for the whole ‘writing’ process, Abrams did whatever he could to make something at least somewhat sensicle.

Alright. Plot and all that jazz. After becoming captain of the Enterprise, Kirk begins his career by BREAKING EVERY RULE EVER. You know, because he’s a ‘rebel’. This pisses off Spock who, on the other hand, is BREAKING ALMOST EVER RULE EVER. Every character gets to deliver their already time-worn catchphrases as soon as they appear on screen while Spock tries to stop a volcano with a cold-fusion bomb. Now, while I was admittedly suckling on Chilean red gold at that point, I wasn’t so drunk as to notice that Cold fusion is a process of creating heat. It, and I repeat, it makes NOTHING cold. Anyhoo, Kirk’s rank gets stripped but, seriously, it’s like ten minutes before he gets it back because, honestly, the ranking system of the Starfleet is about as well defined as the laws in a little girl’s schoolyard game of ‘Pony Princess Congress’. Then: reveal on Mr. Bendydick Cumberbund, who smolders every fucking frame of this movie as if to say, “Guess what if Sherlock Holmes was a bad guy.” To which every fangirl wet their pants on command. He sets off a bomb in an underground installation causing a chain of events where all of high command is assassinated and Kirk has to take the Enterprise to the Klingon home world to exact revenge. Wait, did I say ‘has to’? I meant, he ‘does’. In fact, everything anyone does in this film would be, as Spock so frequently fucking says, ‘illogical’. Yes, we know Kirk is a hothead. But, why let him fucking start a war with the Klingons so he can get his rocks off?

"Dammit, woman, you're supposed to put the aquatic sex gear ON." ~ The third to last log entry of Captain Kirk

“Dammit, woman, you’re supposed to put the aquatic sex gear ON.” ~ The third to last log entry of Captain Kirk

Thusly, we fall into the never-ending whirlpool at center of this film. Namely: the script. Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman are two men blessed with a career I would murder for (no, officer, it wasn’t me). They have been paid obscene amounts of cash to recreate some of the most beloved sci-fi franchises for a new generation. Transformers? Yep. That was them. Also Mission: Impossible IIIFringe, the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, their characters wander about their tales like hypothetical meat puppets, tossed in the direction of yet another pointless grinder for the sake of ‘action’ or, as I put it, eye-bleedingly incessant pointlessness. I understand that Abrams wanted to take the characters of old and ‘sexify’ them for the modern audience and, well, he does. The problem is, once the new car smell of the first movie peters off, we are forced to realize a deadly issue. These aren’t characters. Save for Spock, every role is simply the summation of their catchphrases and cartoonish presence. Not to mention, the only fucking female character in the entire universe, apparently, becomes nothing more than a yapping shrew. Oh, and of course we get the lovely Alice Eve to provide the completely unwarranted boob scene. What the fuck guys? Did you watch the first movie and say, “I like it. But those boobs with mouths attached, can we give the mouths less to say?” On the other hand, I love Bones. His only job in these movies is to literally get in the way when someone walks in his direction on the bridge. It’s nice to see Karl Urban get to do something other than growl at the other cast members (see: his entire career). How about Sulu? No sword fighting this time? Nope. He gets to be…the Asian guy! In the background! Only Scotty is given anything of substance to do and, please don’t get me wrong, I mean in no way ’emotional’ substance. No. He does things. Dumb things. Nonsensical things. But he’s charming!

I could get into every little plot hole in this beast, but I’m sure there are already a million youtube videos on the matter. Commander Robocop was utterly ridiculous. Cumberbatch is giving the performance of a lifetime while spewing the literary equivalent of See Spot Run. They even get to throw in some ridiculous fan service with, as it seems, very little understanding of this franchise’s fans. Oh yes, and they reverse a plot point. I won’t tell you how, but it involves magic blood. That’s right. Fucking magic. *FACEPALM*

"Hey, Cumberbatch knows a really good aquatic sex dungeon. I think we're all going to take a dip." ~ the fourth to last log entry of Captain Kirk.

“Hey, Cumberbatch knows a really good aquatic sex dungeon in the engine room. I think we’re all going to take a dip.” ~ How it all began…

This movie succeeds at entertaining. It really does. It’s pretty as fuck. You can’t blink without the rampant excess of light trying to scratch your cornea. The pace sprints along hoping you won’t think about what you’re watching in case the entire thing just unravels before your eyes. J.J. Abrams is a great director. Not great in the sense of he always makes good things, rather that he constructs films extremely well. . It almost seems as though he has about as much faith in the script as the audience as almost every lapse in logical, physical, emotional, sociological or simply basic, is downplayed and almost lost. His first acts are almost flawless while the second and third tend to peter off a bit. For a man who knows how to kick your ass in the first half of the movie, he certainly hasn’t bucked the trend for this one. It’s like Abrams likes reading the first 30 pages of a book and then tosses it out thinking, “Eh. Whatever. No point. Where can it go from here?” Perhaps he gets distracted by the next, shinier thing and heads straight for that, like the child he assumes his audience is, leaving his unfinished project on the playroom floor? I mean, this is Star Trek. What in the world could ever distract someone from Star Trek? I mean…it’s the second biggest sci-fi franchise in all of history. What could possibly trump that?

Oh. Right.

Well, bring it on Abrams. We all know Star Wars is going to happen. We are all going to declaim to the heavens that it will suck but, let’s be honest, in our heart of hearts, we are begging that it will be good. Please, please, please dump Orci and Kurtzman. You know, the two guys who when left alone for two long begin eating their own poop. Find someone good. Someone who cares oh so deeply about everything Star Wars. Someone who has, not only gorged himself on the extended universe books, but the video games as well to the point that his lack of friends in middle school was technically classified as a social disorder.

Who me? You mean me? I can send my resume as a PDF.

STAR WARS PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE.

Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) – Benh Zeitlin (Dir.), Quvenzhane Wallis, Dwight Henry, Levy Easterly

and

Mud (2013) – Jeff Nichols (Dir.), Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, Reese Witherspoon, Sam Shepard, Michael Shannon

Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just happy to take your shirt off?

Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just happy to take your shirt off?

Okay. So you thought I was going to do a piece on Star Trek didn’t you? DIDN’T YOU? Well, jokes on you fools, I had to work on every fucking night that I was meant to see it in 3D IMAX so yeah, ha, you don’t get to hear my witty and over-worded examination of a movie that probably isn’t that good. Yeah, sure there’s Zach Quinto, the beautiful and distant Spock, still on his astronomical career high and, fine, Benedict Cumberbatch as the beautiful and distant and most sadistic villain since Kahn…I mean, who needs to see that? In IMAX 3D? Like, really? C’mon. I have better things to do. Like, like…work and, um, read William Faulkner. Who needs such a dumb, huge, explosive, gorgeous, eye-splitting, brain-enema when there is so much intelligence waiting to be found in our long and deep literary history?

ME! ME! I FUCKING NEED IT! GIVE ME STAR TREK AND STOP DESTROYING MY CHANCES, YOU PESKY CAREER!

Yes, this weekend, I did not have the chance to experience the most grandiose movie of the summer since Robert Downey Jr. so much as sneezed in the direction of a camera. Instead, I returned home, the prodigal son sneaking back into the comforting, peaceful, and shockingly caucasian, warmth of Connecticut. No, there would be no nightly carousing through the streets of Wicker Park and smuggled water bottles stocked full of the finest Andre $10 can buy. No, there would be no blasts of bombastic bullshit or crippling chromatic craziness. And there certainly won’t be the bloated corpse of what used to be Leo DiCaprio offering me a gimlet while the screen blows a wad in my face. Connecticut is a peaceful place and, unless it is our yearly Christmas Mooney Family outing, the insane blockbuster must wait. Instead, my mother treats me to all of the ‘quality’ films I’ve missed while ‘wasting’ my ‘time’ with ‘bad movies’ or as she secretly calls them ‘turd-taculars’ (she doesn’t). So, during my momentary convalescence, my mother, father and I or, as the British call us, “mum”, “dad” and “his lordship”, journeyed to the quaint, whiter-than–a–picket-fence–at-a-neo-nazi-convention town of Madison. There I purchased some ‘literature’ by some American ‘Greats’ (and, no, that does not include Twilight. You dicks), delighted in some tea and scones before sauntering to the local art theater for a film entitled Mud.

I shit you not. All of that is 100% true. Yes, I am British. I am also, if the constraints of hipsterdom were finally loosed, the boojiest boob that ever booed the bourgeoisie. Deal with it.

After said movie, which left us a little lacking, we retired home (yes, in Connecticut, you don’t ‘go’ you ‘retire’ because, more often then not, as a state, the general inhabitant regardless of age is wealthy enough to quit the workforce entirely) and after a few glasses (read: bottles) of wine, we chowed down on another fancy indie film that passed me by last year, Beasts of the Southern Wild. Both movies are small. Both are about the South. Both are about story telling, in a fashion, and both are about coming of age. To compare and contrast the two discovered a couple of fascinating little gems of self-realization. But I’ll get to that.

THERE IT IS!

THERE IT IS!

Mud tells the tale of two boys, the blandly named and even more blandly acted ‘Ellis’ and the badassly named and ‘um-what?’-ly acted Neckbone, who discover a bizarre gentleman living in a boat caught in a tree on a lonesome island in the middle of the Mississippi by the name of Mud. What is perhaps most perturbing about this gentleman is that he is played by Matthew McConaughey, LET ME FINISH, and he didn’t make we want to puke my brains out. Coupled with that, he spends most of the movie with a shirt ON. Granted, the definition of ‘on’ is loose and this shirt stretches that definition further than this actor has managed to stretch his bullshit career. Now, of course, he takes it off at some point because a movie without a shirtless McConaughey is like a broken pencil: pointless. I’m fairly certain his contract has a mandatory abs-clause. Well, Mud for all his roughly-edged charisma, is a man on the run, waiting for the love of his life (Reese Witherspoon looking more white trash than a Honey-Boo-Boo convention), while avoiding a slew of bloodthirsty bounty hunters. He spins a good yarn, encouraging the two wide-eyed mentorless greenhorns to scavenge the requisite parts to get their tree-borne boat back to its aquatic habit. Along the way, we enjoy inter-parental conflict, a number of black eyes, Michael Shannon in not-crazy-eyes mode, Sam Shepard whose haircut seems to have said to itself, ‘I want to look more like a skunk’s anus’, and a bitter-sweet, if unabashedly misogynistic, coming of age tale. Jeff Nichols, the madman behind Michael Shannon’s tour de force performance in Take Shelter, is a director who primarily focuses on the economic and emotional meltdowns of the South and Midwest. During a summer of blockbusters intent on making their first bigger and bolder, it’s nice to see a story told simply because it’s a story.

Nichols sautés his film with a healthy helping of natural elements, a handful of slow gorgeous tracking shots depicting the teeming yet morose pace of Arkansas life, and a dash of soulful silence. There is no doubt that he is a masterful director, always providing strong scenes and delightful dialogue. McConaughey, against all odds, shines. Apparently, his agent’s push to create the next Tom Cruise, just with more blonde and less clothing, has finally perished giving way to latter-day McConaughey (say that five times fast). This is the Matthew of Killer Joe, the sadistic hitman with a penchant for young meat, and of Magic Mike, shirtless, yes, but deep as well. His joy of lower-rung dialogue and dialect shines as he spouts BS concerning anything from snake bites to true love.

So...you told me I would have lines in this movie? It looks like all I do is s some d's? Okay...

So…you told me I would have lines in this movie? It looks like all I do is s some d’s? Okay…

Be that as it may, while pretty decent, the film felt hollow. The bullshit spewing from McConau-lips turns out to be almost entirely factual and the twists and turns the scripts suggest end up being more curls and bends than actual shockers. Coupled with that, we have Nichols obvious distaste of the ‘fairer sex’. Throughout, his predominantly male cast asserts hateful accusations about women incapable to defend themselves. Witherspoon’s character herself is essentially called a dumb whore by every character who meets her and, save for Mud’s endearing love, she has literally no redeeming qualities. While most filmmakers adhere to the polarized, sexist, Leone-model of woman (either saints or whores), Nichols seems convinced that all the women in the world are out to get his money while getting everyone else’s cock. The only out to this conundrum that I could conjure was by why of Ellis’s little foray with the town’s ‘popular’ girl. He goes on a date, after winning her favor with a slug to the eye, and asks her to be his girlfriend. When she doesn’t respond, he assumes a ‘yes’ and then flips out when he sees her with another guy. If one were to give Nichols the benefit of the doubt, it seems that the movie is somewhat of a ‘Last Temptation of Christ’ for Ellis in terms of his gender beliefs. On all sides he is beset with miserable bastards, from his alcoholic and dead-beat dad, to Neckbone’s stallion of an uncle and Sam “I Growl at Women for Breakfast” Shepard. It’s only through Mud and his unwavering optimism does he realize that women aren’t actually the succubi they might seem. In particular, Ellis’ mother, while leaving his father and causing the destruction of their house-boat, does nothing but make intelligent rational choices, much to the furious chagrin of pretty much every other character in the film.

But, maybe I’m reading too much into it and the south just isn’t nice to women. With that in mind…

The Sequel to Stephen King’s Firestarter…just with more black people.

After a beef tenderloin, two bottles of wine and a happy helping of scotch, the only sensible thing for the Mooney family is to attempt a heavy fucking Oscar-nominated Indie. As a unit, we have attempted, in vain, numerous times to sit through Magnolia, Children of Men, No Country for Old Men, and, and this was a bad one, Glengary Glen Ross…you know, fun films! The second the lights dimmed and my father’s mass of newspapers found his hand, I was hooked. This movie, for lack of a better term, was magical. Now I’m not talking like that Chris Angel card trick bullshit magical. No, I’m talking, this mutherfucker of a film flew in my goddamn window took my hand and flew me to mutherfucking Neverland (and not the Michael Jackson one. The Robin Williams Glen-Close-in-drag Neverland). Yes, this thing is a feast for the ears, eyes, tongue (I may or may not have licked the screen) and soul. It tells the tale of intrepid little Hushpuppy, a six-year old with a dialect that would make Faulkner weep and a fro that would make the Jackson 5 re-evaluate their lives (if they haven’t already done so). She lives with her father, Wink, on the fictional island of ‘The Bathtub’ just beyond the levies of New Orleans. The movie chronicles her impossible, brilliant, insane journey through a Katrina-esque deluge, the explosion of her elevated motor-home, the depths of a sea-bound strip club and a confrontation with a prehistoric gigantic pig-beast.

What’s perhaps most bizarre about this movie is that it doesn’t dive into the fury surrounding the government’s failure post-Katrina, nor is it an indictment of a failing welfare system. Rather, it’s a Greek myth imbued with the modern cajun gumption of an otherish group of people. They are, for the purposes of the tale, a different world from modern day USA. They live in their fantastical microcosm, self-sustaining and loving life. However, the outside world invades time and again, by way of her father’s medical maladies, a hurricane or Government relief workers forcing them into sterile hospitals from which they stage a daring escape. Now, it makes sense that people are probably pretty infuriated by the depiction of poor black people in the South, no doubt assuming this was going to be some kind of didactic visual essay ala Trieme. Rather it’s how a myth is created, devoid of a specific cultural touchstone and equipped perfectly to its time and space. Hushpuppy, though a child, has seen more hurt and tragedy in her six lives than I probably ever will, but she charges into the future with a scream and biceps showing. I think my favorite link to draw is between her and Gatsby. Throughout the movie, she sees a glint of light out in the ocean, which her father has dubbed ‘her mother’. So, what does Hushpuppy do? She fucking swims into the fucking ocean with a band of fucking six-year-olds and finds out what it is. Because she’s a BAMF. While Gatsby is content to lie in wait for his love, always getting close enough to declare “that’s close enough,” Hushpuppy dives into the waters with almost Grecian impunity. She isn’t Gatsby. She’s mutherfucking Odysseus. She’s a warrior in search of her home.

Beasts of the Southern Wild - 6

Go home, pig, you’re drunk.

Beasts of the Southern wild is a different kind of film. It’s a blast of images and sounds that, when analyzed and dissected, lose what truly makes it great. It’s a experience, one that must be completed in a single 90-minute seating, with the lights down and a smile on your lips. To equate it to a piece of jazz would be unfair. It is so much richer and complex. Every choice, while wild and rough, seems precise with the deliberation of, not a mind, but some kind of artistic muse guiding the lens. I doubt Zeitlin, the director, planned every take and every shot. It simply occurred and he was there to witness it. This is the kind of story that transports you to a world you never imagined and drops you back in realness before you’re ready. Over the past five days, I’ve done nothing but roll the images about in my mind, like a tongue trying extract every flavor possible from a heavenly treat. It’s the kind of movie whose imagination is infectious and you can’t help be feel inspired. It’s a rare sense of excitement that I get when leaving a tale such as this; one that hasn’t appeared since my dad read me the Odyssey as a child. It’s a reaffirmation that something beautiful can burst from the chaos. That you can truly lose yourself in a world that isn’t your own.

Apparently, I unwittingly purchased several tickets to the Gun Show: Little Black Girl Edition

Apparently, I unwittingly purchased several tickets to the Gun Show: Little Black Girl Edition

On my return to Chicago, with my tickets to Star Trek IMAX 3D HDD Blah-de-blih rotting away from unuse, I found myself turning off the Netflix machine, pulling out a book and losing myself again. After that came my laptop. I didn’t even need to think what to write next, it just poured forth.

That is why I love movies. That is why I love stories. Pure and unadulterated inspiration.

The Great Gatsby 3D (2013) – Baz Luhrmann (Dir.), Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher, Elizabeth Debicki

Huh. I didn't realize Christmas was in May. Welcome to Obama's America!

Huh. I didn’t realize Christmas was in May. Welcome to Obama’s America!

The American dream. Such an ephemeral, changing, yet eternally constant concept. We all have our own goals, loves, ambitions and needs. We all reach for the distant green light of emotional and financial success so that we might taste, if only momentarily, that sweet nectar of fleeting happiness and that, maybe, at the end of our lives we flitter from consciousness with a smile on our lips. The American Dream is fragile, complex and futile. It has driven people mad since the founding of this nation 250 years ago. It is the subject of countless existential novels, all drenched in longing and stewing with disillusionment.

So who more appropriate to make it into a 3D movie than an insane Australian famous for giving my epilepsy a fucking heart attack?

Yes, Baz Luhrmann, the man, nay, the god responsible for obliterating both my cones and rods via ocular over-stimulation during the course of the shockingly non-mathematical Romeo + Juliet, the strictly-chromatologically insane Strictly Ballroom, and the lives-its-punctuation Moulin Rouge!, has decided to take on perhaps the most celebrated of the purported ‘great American novels’…IN THREE DIMENSIONS! That’s right, see the ennui come right at you! You can practically taste the crushing defeat of hopefulness! So, the question is, does the American Dream come alive? Does Luhrmann take us to the seventh level of glittery insanity? Does he capture the essence of the book and elevate it to a new and dizzying level of clarity?

Nope, nope and fucking no way in hell.

I imagine this is what the inside of Hugh Hefner's penis looks like.

I imagine this is what the inside of Hugh Hefner’s penis looks like.

My lovely girlfriend and I, knowing that one of our favorite novels of all time was about to be more ravaged than my pride on prom night, smuggled in an entire jug of prosecco in a water bottle. As we donned our 3D glasses, the lights dimmed, and the gorgeously over-wrought art deco gate sprinted towards our unprotected eye testicles, we took a dive into the depths of mild jovial inebriation. What occurred was bizarrely apt for our current state. The Great Gatsby 3D is two movies, in essence. The first movie is a Dionysian epic detailing the absurd excess of the roaring twenties, fully equipped with Jay-Z soundtrack, slow motion, garish colors and sparkle-shooting Moet bottles. Amelia and I reveled like the poor suckers on screen, all about to feel the hit of the greatest stock market crash in all of US history. We drank and giggled and squirmed and drank some more, completely inured to the nonsensical narration torn from the pages of Fitzgerald’s great book. It was a party and we were the guests of honor. More pizzazz shot at my face than at a Jazz-hands convention. It reached an aptly-termed climax when Gatsby is finally revealed, lost in his party amongst the glitterati, to the building sound of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and the screen, I shit you not, literally ejaculates fireworks into your face. This shot, in essence, was the reason why Baz Luhrmann exists. From now on, I decree, whenever Leo Dicaprio is in a movie, his entrance better be a visual money shot, a cinematic cum-in-the-eye, if you will, or I want my goddamn money back.

But then…the second half began. Gatsby and Daisy begin their affair and the parties end. As the world of West Egg sobers up, so too did Amelia and I. I wasn’t sure if it was my diminishing blood-alcohol content, but the movie ground to an absolute halt. What happened? Where was the Baz Luhrmann I loved to despise? The man too afraid to hold a shot longer than a millisecond in fear of his actors exploding or something. The man more ADHD than a two year-old injected with pure sucrose and adrenaline. Suddenly, we have lingering shots, people talking, lack of slow motion, even, and I am appalled that I might even write this, scenes that had NO CGI AT ALL. It wasn’t until the actual climax of the movie that I realized I had been watching a bunch of tepid thespians talk in a single room…in 3D. That’s like doing A Room With a View: The IMAX Experience. Sure…you caaaaaan make that. But I don’t think when Daisy starts lamenting the choice between husband and lover we need to fear her tears slapping us in the face.

I think this was in 3D to give their performances depth. OH! DIMENSIONAL BURN!

I think this was in 3D to give their performances depth. OH! DIMENSIONAL BURN!

In the end, almost everything about this film is wrong. Not necessarily bad…but incorrect. Firstly, there is the increasingly puffy and Jack-Nicholson-esque Leo playing essentially his detestable villain from Django:Unchained, Calvin Candy, simply with feigned hopefulness and a lack of extreme-racism. After that, we have the utterly vapid Carey Mulligan who encourages about as much chemistry with the rest of the cast as a cardboard cut-out of a bored rock. Finally, the coup de grace, is the horribly miscast and painfully drab Mr. Maguire. I’ve never been fond of the man who made Peter Parker seem like a talking horse with mental difficulties. Here, he wanders from scene to scene like a lobotomy patient, seemingly amazed by the concept of oxygen. The boy is also tasked with delivering some of the finest prose known to the English language. He fails miserably, though it is difficult to truly embody the idea of emotional ‘without and within’-ness while glitter-titties (or glitties) fly past his head in 3-dimensional slo mo. Only the striking Elizabeth Debicki and her strangely proportioned super-model body comes off as actually playing a character.

The greatest failing here, however, is not a single performance or even the miserable ensemble as a whole, but rather it’s Mr. Luhrmann’s. Perhaps what is most unfortunate is that Baz seems to be working his way from the land of visual excess and towards that of pathos. Over and over, he pummels both the imagery of the green light and the eyes of oculist into our skulls. Yes, we fucking get that the green light is a metaphor. You don’t need to tell us that it’s a metaphor. Nick Caraway moves from passive observant outsider to that asshole reading the IMDB trivia page out loud while you’re watching the movie (yes, I am aware that I am usually that asshole). Not to mention that the framing device of having him locked in the nut house and working through his issues with a psychiatrist doesn’t say much for Luhrmann’s appreciation of Fitzgerald’s quality of thought.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate Luhrmann’s attempt at higher art, but forcing him in that direction is like asking a piglet to play Gershwin on a piano. At first, it’s cute to watch, hoofing all over the black keys. Then it just drones on into pointless cacophony. Pigs wallow in mess. That’s what Baz does best. He more adept at crafting hot messes than Lindsay Lohan at an all-you-can-drink buffet. Ultimately, The Great Gatsby falls between two extremes. It neither realizes the subtly of the novel (seeing as its imagery is more hamfisted than Hammy the Baconator) nor does it blow our eyeballs out of our fucking brains. I give it credit for the attempt, though I found myself yawning as sobriety reared its ugly head in the final act. It commits perhaps the greatest sin that Baz could ever perpetrate…it becomes boring. Like…check your watch every few minutes, god-when-is-my-next-gas-bill-due brain-numbing blahness. And so Luhrmann beats on, boat against the current, borne ceaselessly back into the past.

And, of course, by ‘past’ I mean a forest of penile, climaxing, mylar champagne bottles. Le sigh.

Ladies and gents, time to get a face full of Leo!

Ladies and gents, time to get a face full of Leo!

Summer Movie Preview Part III – Movies I Will See Drunk

I have always contested that Christian and family oriented Blockbuster went horribly and heroin-in-the-gutter out of business so quickly, not because of the advent of the internet movie sharing, but because they did not include this essential movie-viewing category. Drama? Horror? Comedy? Awkwardly-Messaged-Tween-Sexual-Exploration? All of these pale in comparison to the pure intention of this category’s delightful crap pile. Yes, these are those morsels of cinematic bliss that run the gamut of fucking eye-bleedingly terrible to bat-shit, mind-bending, David-Lynch-after-bad-seafood bemusement parks. Previous years’ have included the quintessential pillars of the filmic inebriati that are Piranha 3D, Battleship and the hook-your-car-exhaust-up-to-your-mouth-out-of-sadness-for-the-human-race Nicholas Cage’s The Wicker Man. What does this year bring? Do we drink to heighten ridiculousness? Do we douse ourselves with Jackie boy in the hope that it will offer some zen-vino-levels of clarity? Or do we simply drink to forget the abomination of taste, the societal sacrilege, of turdtacular cappitude? Let’s find out with the Movies I Will See Drunk:

The Great Gatsby

The Fitzgerald is watching you...

The Fitzgerald is watching you…

I think this might actually be the creme de la creme of summertime drunkitude. What better setting than the bootlegging, cocaine-swilling, gin-gobbling laggards of the roaring twenties? Ah, The Great Gatsby, the book we all know and love/despise with a burning hatred. How do we all know it? Because every fucking English curriculum from here to Zimbabwe has it as required reading. Read it or not, it’s about as hefty as a feather on a diet and can be devoured in an extended caffeine-based mania session. We all remember the quiet scenes of inward contemplation, the themes of alienation, of loss set to the backdrop of hollow revelry, all the parasites clawing at the heels of the rich in an attempt to eschew the inner sadness of their pointless lives. It’s slow. It’s literary. It’s F. Scott “He Wrote Benjamin Button?” Fitzgerald. So, who better to adapt this fiction masterpiece than a masterbator of setpieces Mr. Baz “The Hitler of Subtlety” Luhrmann, a man with more bombast than squadron of B52s filled with clones of Brian Blessed and gives us more party out back than a mullet convention. Yes, Mr. Luhrman has dazzled us (and I mean ‘dazzled’ in that I am physically dazed and mildly epileptic whenever crawling from the clutches of his silver screen outings) with his loose adaptations of Romeo + Juliet = An Awkward Next Thanksgiving, Moulin “If You Ever Wished Nicole Kidman Would Start Coughing Up Blood” Rouge!, and the film that would result if you took a lethal dose of LSD, fake tanning lotion and highlighter ink and then shoved it up Dirty Dancing’s ass: Strictly Ballroom.

Mr. Luhrmann has made a career of taking, for the most part, fairly restrained materials and pumping it with so much glitz and pizazzle that it would make one of Ke$ha’$ glitter cannons blush. Romeo + Juliet, a tragedy filled with verbal poetry that has withstood centuries of orally mangled maligning, but not without some admittedly fun moments, was suddenly transformed into a tween-serving, cross-dressing, gun-toting, Leo-fan-dribbling dance fest that turns out not-so-great. I mean…it’s fun. It ain’t Shakespeare. It’s Frank-n-Furter-speare. And don’t get me started on my vendetta against Moulin Rouge! If I could send out hitmen to murder a film with extreme prejudice, I would. I guess I’ll just have to resort to burning down the Library of Congress. Oh well.

So, this movie is an abomination. I calls ’em like I sees ’em. From the disregard for its source material to the employment of both ‘Puffy’ and ‘Dumb Accented’ Leo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire, a man who looks like he is constantly baffled by the wonder of oxygen, to exploding Fitzgerald facades, to using more green screen than George Lucas did on his wedding night (let’s say, the Force wasn’t exactly ‘strong’ down there), the thing looks like a mess hotter than Tara Reid after National Crank-and-Boob-Job Appreciation Day. However, I will hold my kvetching at bay and suffer through this nonsense with a sure-to-put-me-in-the-hopsital drinking game. Rules: 1) Drink every time there’s a musical number; 2) Drink every time there’s unnecessary CGI; 3) Drink every time I confuse Leo with the Michelin Man, but with a dumb accent.

I will probably die of acute Jack Daniels-ing.

World War Z

"Yeop, there's your problem right ther. You got yourself a fucking terrible movie problem."

“Yeop, there’s your problem right ther. You got yourself a fucking terrible movie problem.”

Oh dear, oh dear. This, I am sure, will be a ‘Drink to forget’ situation. As I am of around the age of 18 – 30, and since my complexion is pale and the existence of a penis lies in the positive direction, I have an affinity for zombies. This began long before it was age appropriate during a terrifying and white-knuckled play-through of the goofier-than-Tiger-Woods-with-dentures survival horror game Resident Evil 2. Since then, I have been utterly and irrationally terrified of the undead and their inevitable rise from Hell. Now, a modern psychiatrist might stock this up to my fear of social opinion and my crippling anxiety surrounding friendly backstabbing, but I say it’s because I’m a boy. Since that beautiful moment of imaginary origin, I have gobbled up zombie meal after zombie meal (it’s like a Happy Meal…except it eats you) and with it, of course, were some zombie turds. From the great and genre-defining 28 Days Later to the hollow but hilarious Zombieland to the oh-god-make-it-stop-Romero-what-are-you-doing Land of the Dead, I will take my zombies with a side helping of MORE PLEASE. Thus, when Max Brooks released his undead tour de force World War Z, I gobbled it faster than a pack of deadies stumbling on a MENSA brain storage lab. It tells the cerebral and sometimes harrowing set of stories in the wake of a near zombie apocalypse, from cradle to grave to not-grave to munching-on-your-puppy to hatchet-in-the-cranium. We have glimpses into the tales of the doctors who first discovered the outbreak, to the Jewish special forces who contained the outbreak, to families who almost froze to death in Alaska, to soldiers in the vanguard at the Battle of Yonkers. It’s a sweeping treatise on the realistic and grotesque lengths that the human race will have to resort to  just to survive. Of course, in the wake of The Walking Dead and the second zombie renaissance, this thing got greenlight. It was offered one of the greatest TV writers of all time (J. Michael Strazinski, I salute you) who, apparently, gave it a script worthy of Oscar dribbling all over its undead balls.

And then purgatory. Nothing happened. Brad Pitt signed on. And nothing happened. Then the release date changed. Nothing happened. They rewrote the script to be, and I use ‘douche quotes’ here, “more action-oriented”. We all watched in horror as this victim of the hollywood succubi, teeth sunk into its arm, slowly succumbed to the evil of ‘summer movies’. Finally, the trailer slipped subtly onto the interwebs to an outcry of hatred and vitriol. Really? Flying zombies? What is this, Starship Troopers fan-fic? And why, oh why, does Brad Pritt insist on sullying my eye testicles with that Tom-Hanks-in-Castaway-crossed-with-Tom-Hanks-in-The-Da-Vinci-Code mullet? Does it require it’s own contract and extra pay? Because it seriously makes Pitt look like Three-Legged-Joe our neighborhood homeless-person-junkie-amateur-accordianist. At first the spit and the anger flew, spilling vilely across the book of Face. I could not believe that Hollywood had dragged World War Z into its dungeon and was demanding the lotion be put on the skin otherwise it gets the hose again.

But then I remembered I Am Legend. And Episode I. And The Great Gatsby. So, I decided that drink was the only escape. Rules: 1) Drink every time someone says ‘My God’. 2) Drink every time there is a ham-fisted and out-of-place reference to the book. 3) Drink every time there is an even more awkward reference to Starship Troopers. 4) Drink every time Brad Pitt needs a goddamn haircut, you hippie!

White House Down

It started like any other day, just Channing Tatum walking away from things looking ashamed for G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra.

It started like any other day, just Channing Tatum walking away from things looking ashamed for G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra.

Do you remember when the first trailer of Antwon “Where Are You Even From?” Fuqua’s absurd, jingoistic and Gerard-Butler-Heavy-and-Not-in-a-Penis-Sense boner-head action movie Olympus Has Fallen? You know, that mess of a movie (I can only assume) where the North Koreans inexplicably capture the president by way of JFK Jr.-ing their plane into the Rose Garden (too soon?). Then, I guess, they capture Aaron “The Chin” Eckhart playing President Blandy McWhite-Man and of course Mr. Butler has to murder everybody. It looked dumb. It looked blowy-uppy. It looked mildly racist. You know what I thought to myself in the theater? I thought, what if the most ridiculous filmmaker allowed into the Hollywood outer rings made a completely incoherent even dumber remake, nah, response to this snorefest? Enter, Roland “Welcome to Earth” Emmerich. That’s right, the near-genius/homosexual-Citizen-Kane of blockbuster cinema, hot off his shocking un-exploding what-the-fuck-ness Shakespearean tale, Anonymous. He’s had too much time dealing with talky bullcrap like, you know, the most important Bard in western literature and his ‘art’, while arch-nemesis and homophobic frenemy Michael Bay has been rubbing his Transform-ational penis in his face.

Well, no longer must Mr. “Godzilla: The Remake” be relegated to the shadows. He must be heard, he must dazzle the world! Most likely in a sequined Speedo borrowed from Baz Luhrmann’s wardrobe for [insert any Baz Luhrmann movie here]! And so we have White House Down. How is it different? Well, EXCUSE ME! The president is BLAAAAAACK. Man, doesn’t that have some essential thematic weight? I mean, a black president? When have we ever seen that?

Oh. Deep Impact. That’s true, but, come on, that’s Morgan Freeman. That doesn’t count. He’s God. …Right and The Day After Tomorrow, that was Danny Glover. I mean, he’s no Morgan “Penguin Voice” Freeman, but he has some credibility. But there are no other movies with bla-… Well, Head of State was satire and didn’t really… Wait, we have a black president now? Since when? 2008? And I voted for him? Twice? Where the fuck have I been? Well, at least this time, Mr. Emmerich has brought some credibility to the role on Freeman-levels of excellence. (Sorry, who is playing the black president this time? …Jamie Foxx? You mean, “Stealth” Jamie Foxx? Like…Django? Oh lordie.)

Though the material looks about as original as a Che Gueverra shirt on a college freshman, this is from the gentleman who created, nay, agonizingly and lovingly birthed 2012 and Stargate. I say, carry on, Emmerich! Bring us the silly! Bring us the dumb! And Channing-Tatum-size the product!

Drinking game rules: 1) Every time someone says “My God”; 2) Every time something politically impossible occurs; 3) Every time something physically impossible occurs; 4) Drink every time someone delivers a catchphrase; 5) Drink every time someone delivers a catchphrase that isn’t a catch phrase like, “Time to Die” or “Fuck you, asshole”; 6) Just drink. Like seriously, it will make it go faster.

Byzantium

Irresistible. Immoral. Immortal. Inconceivable. Incontinent. Um...Impossible? Impotent? I'm running out of I-words guys!

Irresistible. Immoral. Immortal. Inconceivable. Incontinent. Um…Impossible? Impotent? I’m running out of I-words guys!

Another one on the “Holy Shit, this Director Is Batshit Crazy” list. Neil Jordan is a director of both great skill and meager sanity. Over his twenty-something years, he has both amazed, confused and Tom Cruised us from his politically-charged and not-a-gin-drink Michael Collins and the equally Irish, but way more penis-tucked, The Crying Game to Brad Pitt/Kirsten Dunst/Cruise-tacular suck-party Interview with a Vampire. His career has been dotted with some of the more sexually confusing forays (looking at you, Breakfast on Pluto) and some really, really dumb ones (The Brave One is unofficially Jodie Foster’s coming out…but with more penises being shot off). He even created the sex/blood/anthrax orgy of scenery chewing that is The Borgias television show.

So, like Buffy Summers after months of dipping her nib in the ‘human’ inkwell, he’s back to vamps. We’ve got the delightfully buxom yet awkwardly talentless Gemma Arterton teamed up with the awkwardly not-buxom infinitely talented Saoirse “How the Fuck Do You Say That?” Ronan. The former has boobs and bathes in literal showers of gore, while the latter, Ms. Shazam Ronin, has an extenda-nail that can cut through beef like butter and…I guess drink people? Does it have a little mouth in the cuticle? Or is it the vampire equivalent of a human can-opener? Maybe she only has enough cash to afford one totally ghetto nail extension and has to save up her pocket money for the full LaTisha set? Who the fuck knows. All I know is that the trailer looks insane, Gemma Arterton is attractive and Snow Mobile Rohan is a fantastic young actress. The game is simple, drink every time you’re confused. Bring on the drunkles!

R.I.P.D.

I bet those two were fucking blazed every second of that production.

I bet those two were fucking blazed every second of that production.

Oh Ryan Reynolds, what a rising star you once were, soaring over the heavens, a meteoric rise tailored to his chiseled abs and wry boyish grin coupled by an equally meteoroid-esque plummet through the ozone layer of Hollywood politics and the explosive reentry flames of a super hero movie more nonsensical than ballet-adaptation of Gravity’s Rainbow directed by Rob Zombie. Yes, Mr. Reynolds has entered the same fame-purgatory that has clasped its Lohanian claws around the likes of Melanie Griffith, Sarah Michelle Gellar and every graduating member of SNL for the past fifteen years. Once again, studios have tapped the mercenary with a mouth but without a film franchise (oh Deadpool, will you ever come to be?) to star in Men in Black 4: This Time They’re Dead R.I.P.D., the tale of a police officer being posthumously tapped to solve undead crimes. At his side is requisite insane old man Tommy Lee Jones Jeff “A Joint a Day Keeps the Doctor Away” Bridges as a barmy old west ranger with ridiculous facial hair and a rather breasticled alter ego.

This thing will be the big, dumb, mediocre, middle-range blockbuster of the summer. Around long enough for people to see because, shit, what else are you going to do during the summer? Go outside? What do I look like? Tan? It will pass through the intestines of the America media conglomerates, unseen and untouched, a metaphoric corn kernel of unexceptionalism. It’s loud, brightly colored and thoroughly cgi-ed. It won’t push boundaries, nor will it be particularly exciting or funny. However, it has Jeff fucking Bridges and, if the Dude abides, then so do I. Obviously I need to attend this movie joint and white russian in hand and yell Cohen brothers quotes at the screen all night. Granted, this is my strategy for every Jeff Bridges movie, which made watching Seabiscuit with my grandmother very uncomfortable.

300: Rise of an Empire

Oh. And I forgot to mention the essential flagrant racism. Bring it on, nerds!

Oh. And I forgot to mention the essential flagrant racism. Bring it on, nerds!

And finally, we have the proverbial cherry on the top of this booze-pie. While some of these films included on this list will cause a semi-woozy Mooney to stumble from his seat, flask flailing and spraying Knob Creek here there and everywhere, this movie might fucking kill me. Yes, because as parts of this world are plagued with famine, blood-thirsty warlords, nuclear weapons, neo-nazis, and really annoying paper cuts, God has finally answered our prayer. Was it is for more food? A reusable and clean energy source? An answer to the conflicts in the Middle East? Paper that doesn’t cause paper cuts? No. He decided to bestow upon his believers perhaps the greatest gift since Prometheus stole the fire from heaven and made a terrible fucking sci-fi movie. What is it? Why a prequel to 300 of course! Now, a sequel would be absurd. What are they going to do? Resurrect Gerard Butler by wrenching him beard first from the gravel to pit him against penis spear-weilding knob-beast intent on impaling his…well, there might be children reading. So, the studio has done one better: it has begged and pleaded Frank “Cum-for-Drains” Miller to craft another tale about the far-fetched and incredibly homosexual adventures of the Spartans.

I haven’t even seen a trailer for this movie and I’m already excited for the dangerous levels of inebriation to which I will crumble. The cast is a who’s-who of who didn’t make it. Conspicuously absent are, of course, the lovable asshole, Gerard Butler, the incomparably endowed Michael Fassbender, the sneakily British Dominic West and old Dick-in-the-Ear Zack Snyder at the helm of the HMS Testosto-licious. All of those  boys and their chiseled abdominal areas have moved onto bigger and better things. From saving the president in Olympus Has Fallen to saving confident women from their feeling-good-about-themselves, Gerard Butler is a b-lister of the highest quality. Fassbender is currently frolicking in the shadow of another famously massively snaked thespian, Sir Ian McKellan. Even Snyder has overcome his obvious mental deficiencies to direct one of the obvious successes of the summer. Left, however, are the paltry remains of careers that have slipped into a Beckett-ian purgatory. Lena “The Bitch Queen Herself” Headey is doing delightfully well, but on the rest of the shortlist is David Wenham, the awkward remains of the Lord of the Rings franchise, as well as Rodrigo Santoro, whose insanely good looks have been cursed by some still-angry LOST fans, along with Eva “Light of My Sexual Life” Green, who seems to have drawn the short straw since her break out in Casino Royale.

But all of that snark aside, I am genuinely excited for 300: Rise of an Empire. What could go wrong? The only thing that leant the original any merit was Zack Snyder’s jaw-dropping visual style. So, is he directing again? Fuck no. But he sure as fuck is writing the script! That’s like getting the IBS without the delicious burrito beforehand. While I’m fairly sure that Zack Snyder’s writing skill equals that of a room of monkeys on type-writers, this trollop-party isn’t going to be as genius as the original but, I tell you, it will do one better. It will be a cheap-as-Donald-Trump-at-a-charity-auction slice of hackneyed and pointless sludge. It won’t know if it’s coming or going, throwing out boobs and nipples and abs and awkward-in-the-butt sex, every which way. And I will be there, cheering every misogynistic act of douchery, every intentionally homophobic yet unintentionally homoerotic scene of ‘brothers in arms’, every tittie and every 6-pack to fly my way. I will swim in the mediocre crud like Scrooge McDuck through his improbably large collection of gold coins. I will dance the dance of a crazed loon, sucking down my whiskey like a babe from its mother’s teet. My review will consist of solely blacked-out non-syllables, sloshily slapped across the keyboard at 2am. Will I give into thematic continuity use my penis instead of my numbed fingers? Only drunk Andrew will know. And who can predict that glorious maniac?

There shall be no drinking rules. 300 might attempt to praise Aries and Athena, the gods of war, but the only deity present will be that drunk delight, Dionysus. Together we shall tumble, Daniels in hand, into the waters of Lethe to cleanse us both of the fact that we just watched a fucking PREQUEL to 300. Never before have I been convinced that God was dead until this moment. Or the second half of Prometheus. That sucked.

Iron Man 3 (2013) – Shane Black (Dir.), Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Ben Kingsley, Rebecca Hall, Guy Pearce

In Marvel-land, RDJ holds the orgasms for the ladies.

In Marvel-land, RDJ holds the orgasms for the ladies.

Yes! The summer begins! And I’m still wearing a scarf outside! Go home, Chicago, you are drunk. As per usual, Marvel rolls out its initial super-tank of a mutherfucker before any of the other paltry ‘real’ studios have a chance to even start advertising. With The Avengers snagging the “Wait, I thought summer started after Memorial Day” slot, they, as always, set the box office ticker high for their competition and then laugh through the rest of the summer season at their piddling contenders like some kind of bejeweled warlord in a gladiatorial ring of cinematic crappery. This year, they have bequeathed us yet another entry into the Downey Jr. Motor-Mouth Olympics. Yes, the most loquacious of lotharios is back in the titular dress of ferric properties ready to do battle with an awkwardly porn star/Bin Laden-esque and awfully accented super villain, The Mandarin. So, after the mind-blowing brilliance of The Avengers, anything following in its wake is going to look as explosive as a ladybug’s fart. Does Iron Man 3 live up to the hype? Is it a worthy addition to the money-sucking juggernaut that is Marvel Studios? Does it stay true to the comic instead of pissing in the face of every comic fan ever to greasily thumb through an edition of Iron Man?

Nope.

Okay, let’s get this straight. I thoroughly enjoyed this film. Mr. Black, our hidden hand taking over from Happy Hogan, Jon “Candy-Ass” Favreau, and inserting his own unironically termed pitch-black-humor, does a decent job of keeping the action moving and the audience guessing. Haunted by the events of The Avengers, our dickish hero, Tony “Winter Isn’t Coming” Stark suffers panic attacks and spends his nights tinkering in his infinitely-resourced basement lab. What haunting events, you might ask? No idea. The guy seemed stoked about schwarma. Anyhoo, a new threat has appeared in the form of Osama Bin Laden if he was a film student at NYUs special education department. He teaches ham-fisted lessons about fortune cookies while sending exploding veterans into heavily populated areas. All the while, a slicked and uncomfortably tan Guy Pearce is putting the moves on Pepper Potts and also…spitting fire? What the fuck?

"I think about it every night and day, spread my wings and fly away!" ~ Ben Kingsley, not so secret R. Kelly fan.

“I think about it every night and day, spread my wings and fly away!” ~ Ben Kingsley, not so secret R. Kelly fan.

There are some things that Black gets extremely right. In the past (*cough* Iron Man 2 *cough*) the tension drains from the films the second Downey Jr. slips into his metal badassness-enhancer. Instantly, we know that the guy is safe from harm and can dispatch between 20 and six thousand bad guys without breaking a sweat. This is why the second half of the second movie becomes as exciting as watching your younger brother suck at Halo. I mean…things explode and the graphics are nice, but are we supposed to care? Here, with the addition of the piecemeal Mark 42 (where they milk the silly Xbox Kinect-esque gesture commands joke for all it’s fucking worth), we find our hero seriously under-tooled and outgunned for a majority of the movie. Especially with our enemies’ supposed invulnerability and the ability to force a superheated fist through his thorax, suddenly the fight sequences take on a more intelligent edge. Probably the most pulse-pounding section involved a microwave, a gallon of gasoline, a tank of propane and the world’s most unattractive hottest woman. Black has been writing action movies for long enough (he wrote the unintentionally prescient Mel Gibson biography Lethal Weapon and Long Kiss Goodnight) that he knows how to take a worn-out formula and shove a thousand volts up its ass. What apparently eludes him, however, is even the most basic sense of thematic through-line.

What makes Black’s writing so enjoyable is also its greatest weakness. His dark-as-a-Sith-Lord-with-a-case-of-the-Mondays humor keeps his characters spewing witticisms left and right, whilst simultaneously turning every single person on screen into an incorrigible asshat. Stark, while an untouchable yet lovable douche in the previous movies, takes some dives into the awful-person end of the pool. I’m not sure if Shane Black has children, but if his writing is any indication, they are some of the most patriarchally-ridiculed kids on the playground. Thanksgiving dinners must be a no man’s land of emotional land-mines and bladed conversation. I imagine that his children, when they first rode a bike five minutes without falling over and splitting the skin on their knees for the thirtieth time, looked to their father searching for some kind of pride or approval only to receive a, “good job, you little turd”. The same could be said for the action. While varied, explosive and pretty across the board, there is little place for emotional movement. I mean, the final battle takes place in a shipyard solely due to the fact that Shane Black’s obsession with bland backdrops from the 90s. Much like the mid-movie bone-crunching foray in The Dark Knight Rises, we could have seen Stark as totally vulnerable without his tools. We could have seen a man coming to terms with his morality. Instead, the guy is just as nimble and tree-frog like in his aerial skills as he is with the weaponry, bullshit panic-attack side plot aside. The whole thing reeks of hollowness.

I got that bitch a plaid suit. Bitches love plaid suits.

I got that bitch a plaid suit. Bitches love plaid suits.

Now, there are some twists that, honestly, really got me. So, unless you have seen or have no desire at all to see this movie, please skip ahead. It will seriously hamper your enjoyment.

***SPOILERS***

Alright, are the laggards gone? Delightful. So, to those of you who don’t give a fuck, the Mandarin doesn’t exist. Perhaps the most hilarious turn in the history of silly British accents has Ben Kingsley drunkenly stumble from a bathroom warning his two prostitutes not to go in due to the major shit he just took. It is probably the biggest choice Black makes with this film/this entire franchise, which is both appreciated and despised. It turns out that Pearce, that orange mutherfucker, has created the Mandarin to explain his experiments accidentally, you know, vaporizing innocent bystanders. Kingsley, perhaps type-cast, is simply a druggie actor kept hidden from the public eye in a place where you’d probably find most of the worlds greatest blemishes on the permanent record: Miami. Such a massive shift in plot and expectation causes feedback, some good, some bad. The good: suddenly the film has something flirting with a ‘message’, you know, that pesky thing that is really why art exists in the first place. America creates its own demons…literally. What is a better cover-up for a national fuck up than an international threat? This ties nicely into the fact that Stark blames himself for Pearce’s turbo-dick genesis. It also solves the insanely racist ‘Mandarin’ problem that went the way of the fucking bigoted dodo back in the mid-70s. Having a Fu Manchu-esque sorcerer attacking America with a mystical dragon isn’t going to win us any points on the UN security council.

However, like the second name in the Clint Eastwood murder-everyone classic, we have ‘the bad’: by eradicating The Mandarin from the Marvel universe, Black has made a choice that, instead of spawning more choices, has torn off that plot limb from the Avengers’ massive creative trunk. Not only that, but he has just urinated in the faces of pretty much every comic book fan to have ever dreamed of donning the suit. There is no way a sequel could expand from this world and no way to head further down the imaginative rabbit hole Mr. Joss “King of the World and Not in a Dumb Titanic Way” Whedon opened last summer. It cut this baby into a one-off nugget of purest unimportance. Funny it may be.

***SPOILERS OVER***

Alright. To sum up, on the one hand you have lovers of film apathetic to the details of a goofy comic rag; and, on the other, you have a fanbase so die hard they would save an entire Nakatomi Plaza from terrorists in response to even the slightest of minute factual snubs. The movie, on the whole, let’s itself down. When you have Chase from 24 (remember season 3? Kim’s boyfriend? Anyone? Anyone?) douchily chewing gum while slicing a fucking Iron Man suit in half with a super-heated karate chop, that’s some fucking imagery to work with. However, Mr. Black seems to simply see the world as it is and makes no attempt at allowing ‘art’ to get in the way of his ‘awesome’. And that’s fine. It’s just not good. Yes, you could choose the pasta dish with a fine mix of herbs, tossed with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella, topped with a meat so tender you’d think Barry White had serenaded it for an evening before placing it in the pan; or you could choose the mac and cheese dusted with parmesan and bacon bits. Both tasty. But one nourishes, while the other becomes an inevitable and slushy date with the porcelain goddess at number 2 poop lane. With something so imagistically fertile as evil fire-douches and as politically potent as Osama Bin Laden/PTSD/veteran post war anti-patriotism, you’d think Black could have crafted something as least menially thought-provoking. But this thing is about a thought-provoking as Keyboard Cat. You watch him, you laugh, you question humanity and it’s purpose for existence seeing as you are laughing at a fucking cat playing a fucking keyboard.

Look at that adorable little shit. Giggle, you fools, GIGGLE!

…But then you click on the next Buzzfeed article because, fuck it, it’s Friday. Ain’t no work getting done today.