Archive for the ‘Drama’ Category

Chocolat (2000) – Lasse Hallstrom (Dir.), Juliet Binoche, Alfred Molina, Judy Dench, Lena Olin, Johnny Depp, Peter Stormare, Carrie-Anne Moss

What is with that patch of hair on Depp's face? What is that? A sideburn? Beard? PICK A SIDE; WE'RE AT WAR.

What is with that patch of hair on Depp’s face? What is that? A sideburn? Beard? PICK A SIDE; WE’RE AT WAR.

Alright guys, here’e the fucking deal. I’m in a bad mood. I’m not going to tell you why, but I am. I’m really frustrated and angry and I can’t remember a fucking password for a tumblr blog and this dude sitting across from me KEEPS HITTING MY FOOT AND NEVER APOLOGIZES.

*Deep Breath*

If I could write this article in all caps, I would. But that wouldn’t allow for nuance and I FUCKING LOVE NUANCE. Now, before we get into this, people, I need you to know a few things. I write books. I’m working on a book. At least I have been for the last year…and it’s THIS CLOSE to being done. Can I work on it? Well, every time I sit down, with even a modest modicum of time at my hands, perhaps enough to get my fickle and distracted mind into the creative flow required to put something at least mildly cogent on the electronic page, I ask the universe, “Please, sir, can I write some more?” And the universe looks at me and says, “NO, YOU LITTLE TURD.” And this makes me mad. Like furious. More furious than Fast 9 Furiouserserserser 9. Like, I want to burn this city to the ground and dance on its corpse in the fashion of a demented Betty the Cow or Bessy or WHATEVER I’M TOO ANGRY TO GOOGLE RIGHT NOW.

What am I going to do? I’m going to write about fucking chocolate. That’s right! The brown stuff. That sugary sliver of heaven we dump into our slack jaws with fistfulls of cocoa. I fucking love the stuff. When I’m in a bad mood, just pull out the goddamn Snow Cap AR15 and semi-automatic that sweet shit right through my stomach lining. It doesn’t even need to pass my mouth. Just hook me up to an IV of Cadbury’s and this murderous rage will transform me into tranquilized kitten. GIMME GIMME GIMME CHOCOLATE!

*Six bars of Dark Chocolate later…*

Phew. Let’s all take a step back. Now, I know some things were said. Let’s not point fingers with ‘you said this’ and ‘you swore about this’ and ‘you threatened to burn down a major metropolitan area’. That’s all in the past. Let’s talk about the future. Better yet, let’s talk about chocolate. Oh that glorious divine barrage of calories and seratonin. I would look up whether or not eating chocolate even encourages the body to release seratonin…or whether or not that’s the correct way to spell the word ‘seratonin’. But I’m really tired. Because of chocolate. Did you know, in France, chocolate is called ‘Chocolat’? It’s true. Because they’re too good for silent e’s and hard t’s. They don’t have any issues with slews of silent consonants like, you know, s’s added for pluralization. But, I mean, they are French, so whadda ya gonna do? The correct answer is: get into a 100 year war with them, lose to a prepubescent crazy girl, let her get burned at the stake, then bide your time until a dude called Napoleon comes along, and then have the Duke of Rainboots spank him into submission at a London Underground station. That sounds about right.

"HE'S RIGHT BEHIND YOU!" ~ Catholics didn't appreciate my introduction of pantomime call-backs during communion.

“HE’S RIGHT BEHIND YOU!” ~ Catholics didn’t appreciate my introduction of pantomime call-backs during communion.

Well, this movie, Chocolate without the E, has been sitting on my DVD rack since my ladyfriend moved in about a year ago. Ever since then, it has been a battle of attrition, a siege of epic emotional stakes, a Stalingrad of stubbornness, if you will, to get me to watch this movie. Every time I say, “Let’s watch a movie!” she would say, “Chocolat!” and I would say, “No!” Why? Did I not think I would enjoy this, a multiple Oscar-nominee, this sweet-filled modern French fairy tale, this Judi Dench curmudgeon-a-thon? No. I’m just stubborn. I am the grandest pain in the ass ever since King Edward II succumbed to the awkward end of a hot poker (true story). I don’t care if it’s the holy grail of holy grails (the mythical Holy “Holy Grail” Grail that makes an awkward debut in Indiana Jones 5). If you suggest it excitedly and willingly, my British genes flare, like a pair of 1970s hip huggers, and I am consumed by antagonistic malaise. Well, finally, I don’t know how…but Amelia managed to convince me to finally watch this movie. And I tell ya…it was pretty darn good. So…I’m an asshole. Moving on!

Chocolat tells the tale of the lovely and delicious Juliet Binoche traveling to a tiny French town in the mid 1950s…though it’s difficult to discern any chronological definition in the span from 1750 to 1950 when a movie is filmed in Europe because, well, everything is old. She and her adorably insane daughter (she has an imaginary pet kangaroo) set up shop (literally) in the center of town. Here’s the twist: it’s a chocolate shop in, wait for it…LENT! (Ladies swoon. Gentlemen vomit. Children defecate – though, I’m pretty sure that’s because children just do that). Alfred “Mole” Molina, the mayor and close-minded patriarch of the town, enjoys keeping the plebs under his religiously inclined thumb, though he has obvious issues at home and doesn’t quite have a handle on the Anton Yelchin look-alike new priest. Binoche goes about doing business, handing out candies to all the townsfolk, predicting their favorite taste by way of a mystical pseudo-psychological device. The people are almost instantly entranced, including the secretly diabetic and seriously badass Judi Dench (before the Dame, bitches). Binoche hands out candy like it’s, well, candy, some of her earliest disciples a couple who manage to rekindle their sex lives by way of cacao beans. Because that’s what the French need. More sex.

I don't know how to photoshop! YAY!

I don’t know how to photoshop! YAY!

The movie sets itself up as a fairy tale, the mystical interloper finding her way into a small town community and then upending it from the inside out. There is little newness to the premise, its plot reminiscent of Edward ScissorhandsOne Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Pleasantville etc. etc. It opens with ‘Once Upon a Time…’ and relies heavily on some insanely under-budgeted CGI wind effects before Binoche arrives on the scene and starts her sexualized treat revolution during the dog days of the Catholic period of “Remember that Jesus walked through a fucking desert, so lets lay off very specific items of food…because obviously Jesus wants us to suffer like he did. But not EXACTLY like he did. Just a little bit.” Anyhoo, Binoche will have none of it and turns her chocolaterie into the ground zero of the War on Lent, handing out hot chocolate to anyone lucky enough to stop by. Throughout the film, she helps Judi “Breakfast of Nails” Dench reconnect with her morbidly-inclined yet intensely talented grandson; she saves a battered kleptomaniac from that one dude who murders everyone in every Coen Brother’s movie ever (he will cut off your yon-son); and she helps two old Frenchies bang like a screen door in a hurricane.

Thematically, everything about the tale is fairly by-the-numbers. It even employs a cleverly adapted ‘magical negro’ trope, though masks it so well you might not even notice. Quick background: “Magical Negro” is not me being horrifically racist, but rather it’s a termed coined by maddeningly inconsistent director Spike Lee to describe every role Morgan Freeman has ever played. You know, the black guy who is outside all this crazy white people crap and somehow can explain the essence of all existence to those protagonists who need to know. Here, instead of being black or Native American, as most ‘Magical Negroes’ tend to be, the lovely Miss Binoche is apparently, if her story is true, descended from a French gentleman and a woman ‘from Central America’ or, as we call them over here, ‘Mexicans’. It is by way of this tribal link, and the chocolate recipes derived from her lineage, that she is able to mystically entrance the god-fearing townies. It’s funny because, if this were in the US, she’d have to be from Peru, or Chile, or even Asia. I suppose a half-Mexican woman is a wonder in Europe. If she’d waltzed into Birmingham, AL with a Fist-Full of Non-Pareils (the least well-known of the Clint Eastwood westerns) instead of patronage, they would have handed her a shovel and told her to start landscaping. The tale Binoche tells is that of a wandering woman who must go with the northern wind, never remaining in one place for long. She brings with her treats in order to spread the wealth, but she is doomed to a life of a nomad. I spent a good deal of the first half of this movie dreading that it would be nothing more than a sappy “Sexual Awakening in a Sleepy Town” tale, perhaps sprinting down the delightful, yet sometimes bemusing path of Pleasantville a few years before. Binoche seems like nothing more than a manic pixie dream girl, impervious to the drama she swirls into a torrent, always offering a treat to calm the nerves and managing to save everyone from themselves. It makes a healthy change that a good deal of her gambits aim to save women from an overbearing patriarchy, all symbolized by a very not-Spiderman Alfred Molina, but the structure is hackneyed, to say the least.

I didn't know Irish Gypsies knew how to highlight their own hair. Nice guy-lights, Depp.

I didn’t know Irish Gypsies knew how to highlight their own hair. Nice guy-lights, Depp.

The movie, however, takes a random and refreshing turn. Out of fucking nowhere, Captain Jack Sparrow’s great great great grandson (Johnny “I Bet He Smells Terrible But I Don’t Care I Still Wanna Lick Him” Depp) materializes on a boat of Irish gypsies. This is the sort of side plot that emerges from the aether and returns with little impact whatsoever. Usually this is the shoe-horned love story, forced in there because, fuck it, can’t call it a love story if Binoche don’t get no action. But something subtler occurs. With Depp’s arrival and shockingly convincing Irish accent (he sounds drunk…but that isn’t unrealistic), the emotional life of the tale moves from Binoche fixing the lives of others to finally buckling under the pressure of not taking care of her own. We get to see the vulnerability coursing under the magical veneer she has constructed for herself. And so, piece by piece, as the movie rolls to its sad and fulfilling conclusion, the layers of mysticism are pulled back for what they actually are. There is no magic to her chocolate. It’s just really fucking good. She is offering these people a sense of pleasure, something they are meant to despise on all fronts, though they beg for it with every primal need. She doesn’t ‘follow the Northern Wind’ because of any ancient curse. She does it because she’s scared of making and fortifying emotional connections. What began as a fairy tale matures and blossoms into the truly enjoyable story of a woman coming to terms with her age, emotional life, love, needs and her own stability. Forcing a crew of gypsies to steamroll through the story is the deftest choice possible, juxtaposing her illusions against the grander mysticism of a traveling band of charming drunken layabouts. Suddenly, the magician is entranced herself, allowing us to see her for what it is. Allowing us to see the magic for what it really is.

It’s loneliness. These people look for the magic because perhaps there’s some undulating hidden energy simmering below the Earth’s crust simply awaiting its turn to sprout and pluck them from their emotional desolation. Ms. Binoche gets caught in throes of impressing the charming Depp, never able to satiate him with her impossible treats, always deterred when he always says, “these are good, but not my favorite”. She eventually sees the magic for what it is after a fire charges through her ecstasy and almost strips her of what she values most. After that, she settles, not into the life of the scared nomad sprinting in the opposite direction of anything resembling commitment, but into a community of love, which, in turn, accepts her. The capstone on this cautionary tale is, after Depp is chased out of town, he eventually returns and joins Ms. Binoche for a simple hot chocolate. No magic. No entrapment. Nothing. Just two people who have realized that all you get from running away is tired. She’s even rewarded when he says, “Hot chocolate, that’s my favorite”. It isn’t some divine truffle or perfect praline, just the basic of all basics. Sometimes, stripping away the magic reveals the best part of the illusion: the truth you’re trying to hide.

Wow. I feel a lot better. I don’t at all want to burn anything down. Well, maybe something French.

Goddamnit. Now I really want s’mores.

That’s my s’mores face

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Change is in the air, my friends. The oxygen slows in its vibration, caught amidst the rushing meteorological shifts of this midwestern metropolis. There is gunk in my throat. My clothing has shifted from hues of happiness to those of hipsterian disdain for all things uncool. Yes, my friends, it is FALL. And, as this season was so named to follow Lucifer’s plummet from Providence of summer exponentialism, through the purgatory of mid-September and October bullshit horror second-hand mediocrity and finally into the pit of despair known only to the brave as ‘January’, so have we tumbled from the majesty that was this summer movie season. Did I say majesty? I mean Meh-ity. That’s right, this summer was filled with more duds than a post-Steve Jobs iPhone release (POSTHUMOUS BURN!). However, it is my job, nay my DUTY (tee hee, doody) to rip, roll, tar and feather every release of this thermodynamically diverse cinematic season. So, yes, kiddies, this is the one you have ALL been waiting for (and by all I mean probably like three of you…if that), get ready for Andrew’s:

SUMMER MOVIE AWARDS 2013!

Oh thank you, please, please, don’t get out of your computer chair…oh…please! Stop with all the adulation! I…well…alright…

Now come on guys, I have an article to write! Please, oh, you are too kind. This is all…just…too overwhelming…

WHAT? FUCK YOU AFFLECK! GET OUT OF MY GIFS, YOU NOT-BATMAN SON OF A BITCH! THIS IS MY AWARDS SHOW AND YOU’RE NOT WINNING ANYTHING! I WILL HUNT YOU DOWN LIKE THE NOT-BATMAN YOU ARE AND HIT YOU WITH A MUTHERFUCKING BATARANG! (Spoilers, he totally wins an award. ;). (Okay, second parenthetical…those winks really make me uncomfortable. It’s like my computer is flirting with me. And my computer has seen WAY too much of me to make that appropriate.) Without any further Ado (heh, heh, SPOILERS) let’s get this underway…

MOST MEDIOCRE MOVIE I’M GLAD I MISSED

Winner: The Internship; Runner-Up: Now You See Me

"What should be on the poster? Fuck it. I need to get baked. Let's just have them stand there." Genius designer.

“What should be on the poster? Fuck it. I need to get baked. Let’s just have them stand there.” Genius designer.

Alright, so in every summer, in between the bombast, the explosions, and the RDJ shenanigans, studios attempt to unload middling materials that have already cost so much damn money that they can’t help but attempt to make even a bum’s fortune on. Now, these movies sneak into theaters every year, sometimes disguised as remakes of massive blockbusters (AHEM The Amazing Spiderman AHEM) or four-quels to trilogies that don’t need another movie (AHEM PIRATES 4 and BOURNE 4 AHEM). However, this year, the cake is taken with aplomb and idiocy by the duo that brought us the misogynistic stupid-a-palooza that was The Wedding Crashers, all packaged into a delightful shit-twinkie coated with Google advertising. That’s right, The Internship looked like a rancid pile of boring. Like, if this was once a fanciful bouquet of ‘Interesting’ then some idiot left it in the sun for two weeks, forgetting that DAIRY DOESN’T DO WELL IN THE SUMMER HEAT and it gradually transforms into a mutated hunk of sludge less appetizing than that restaurant that was started by a gastroenterologist (My mother was extremely perturbed when she discovered Colonic Cuisine was not an establishment specializing in colonial delicacies). Now, I didn’t see it, but from everything we could see in the ads it was ‘cool kids help the nerds to be less nerdy and LET LOOSE and FIND THE REAL THEM so they can BE BETTER AT THEIR JOBS’ or something. Bullshit. This is what would have really happened: “They don’t get hired by Google. They die in a gutter. Maybe in a hobo fire. End of Movie.” The hobo fire is the twist. So, no, I will not be watching you, The Internship. I don’t want your miserable excuses for PG-13 dick-filled (not the appendage) comedy and your super-liminal advertising for media monstrosity Google. (Don’t hate me Google. I love you. Make my site famous! I’ll sacrifice anything the God of the Internet needs! Virgins? Annoying roommates? Pizza? Doing your laundry? Microsoft Bing? I’ll do anything you want!)

Also, Now You See Me looked like David Blaine’s wet dream where he was in Ocean’s Eleven and Woody Harrelson showed up. *Shudder*

MOVIE I WISH I HAD BEEN DRUNKER FOR

Winner: The Great Gatsby 3DRunner Up: White House Down; Man of Steel

The Fitzgerald is watching you...

Leo DiCaprio will ejaculate the American Dream on your face.

Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugh

Sorry, I’m not done. UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGH. There is nothing worse than sitting in a movie and reaching for a drink you’ve already finished. It’s agony. It’s as though the doctor is amputating a gangrenous limb and there’s no time for anesthesia. You reach for the whiskey…but the fucking orderly already downed it. That’s what it was like watching The Great Gatsby. It’s a movie like this that helps me understand why Oedipus claws out his eyes. And that was just because he fucked his mom. HE DIDN’T EVEN SEE THE GREAT GATSBY. It was a measure of impossible restraint to stop myself from impaling my pupils with snow caps to save myself from the turd-icaine of a literary adapt-a-Leo-tion. Seriously, at the halfway point, I reached for the champagne Amelia and I had snuck in and I almost screamed in horror when I discovered it empty. The rest of that thing was sobering in the same way that waking up with your head in the dog’s food bowl and the distinct taste of Pedigree Chum on your tongue can be (that totally never happened. It’s just an example. That definitely did not happen last August and my roommates did not force me to pay for another bag of food and therapy for the dog…totally didn’t happen). So, while Man of Steel was a teetotaled experience of agonized proportions and there isn’t enough alcohol in the world to make White House Down the cinematic equivalent of not-food poisoning, The Great Gatsby is offered this dubious award for reminding me that I would rather remove my own eyeballs with a spoon than watch another Baz Luhrmann film. Or eat dog food.

MOVIE I ALMOST GOT INTO A FIST-FIGHT ABOUT

Winner: Star Trek Into DarknessRunner-Up: Despicable Me 2

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

Most. Destructive. Fart. Ever.

Alrighty, this is the award that will probably piss off a few people. I know…because I almost got into a fist-fight about it. So…I didn’t like Star Trek Into Darkness (*cower and cover face*…wait…are they gone? Good). It’s true. The first Star Trek reboot movie was a hoot and/or a holler. We had sexy new this and sexy new that and OMG MY EYES – LENS FLARE! There were tight new costumes, explosive new weapons, and smoldering chemistry so hot it would make a thermite reaction jealous (MISINFORMED CHEMISTRY JOKE!). Granted, the plot was flimsier than an OJ alibi, but that didn’t matter. It was about characters. It was about man-on-vulcan growl-action. It was about Simon Pegg with a Scottish accent. But then…the sequel. Like a ruined sauce, the burner was too high and the elements that interacted so pleasantly before were reduced to a simple and unappetizing sludge. All the women became yapping shrews with D-cups while the plot, driven by evil Admiral Robocop, had somehow become more complex but even flimsier…like a Moebius Strip made out of blue Fruit Roll Up. It looks delicious…but there’s no such fucking thing as ‘Blue Raspberry’. Unfortunately, expressing disdain for anything that has included the newly anointed god of all Sexy Nerdom, Bendydick Cumberbund, is a crime worthy of death. Thusly, I had a multitude of Sherlock-ian friends accost me on my negative feelings. Granted, it never came to blows because, in all honesty, our asthma would have acted up two minutes into it…but it was the closest I came to a brawl in years. Other than that time I almost punched a teenager in line for The Dark Knight Rises (true story).

The runner up receives honorable mention due to a moment of pure vitriol I experienced in my own home. If you want a piece of advice…never, ever, ever say that you don’t like Despicable Me around my girlfriend. Deal? Deal.

MOST OBAMA

Winner: Idris Elba in Pacific RimRunner-Up: Jamie Foxx in White House Down

Okay, okay, yes, Jamie Foxx played the first black president in White House Down. Yes, his wife looked like Michelle Obama. And yes, his character was named Shcmarack Schmo-Schmama. But there is no fucking way he gets this award. If one can sum up Barack Obama in essence, he is a positive role-model and figure of power for the African American community. He is a leader who doesn’t always make the best decision, but he sticks to his beliefs while not being afraid to compromise.  So, by those considerations, Idris Elba is the most badass of fucking badasses ever to roam the Earth. I’m not kidding. I don’t care how silly his character’s name, be it Stringer Bell or Stacker Pentecost or Selection Easter or Serendipity Yom Kippur, Elba is like a deity dropped from the heavens to show humanity how to eat glass and spit out diamonds. Honestly, this man can play any role with power. James Bond? Fuck yes. Doctor Who? Do it. Queen Elizabeth II? It would be an interesting adjustment, but fuck it, let’s do this. The moment in Pacific Rim where Elba turns to one of the indeterminate white boys and says “One, don’t ever touch me again. And two, don’t EVER touch me again. Is that clear?” and then he walks off screen, a colossus of permeating confidence and charisma was the most sexually awakening experience in my life since Reese Witherspoon had pointy boobs in Pleasantville (also, shamefully, a true story). I mean…look at this exemplary specimen of humanity:

Yeah…not just women (*cross legs*)

So, yes, Jamie Foxx. You can wear your silly glasses and shoot bazookas and tell people to get their hands off your Jordans. You might have even chewed more gravel than a special edition Tommy Lee Jones gravel pit when you were in Django Unchained. But you will never reach levels of unbreakable badassery achieved by a man named after the fucking island where Napoleon was exiled.

That’s right. Fucking Napoleon.

BEST MOVIE I MISSED LAST SUMMER AND FINALLY GOT AROUND TO SEEING AND LOVED

Winner: Beasts of the Southern Wild; Runner-Up: Let’s be real, I made up this category to have an excuse to talk about Beasts of the Southern Wild…so let’s just say The Conjuring

220px-Beats-of-the-southern-wild-movie-poster

Alternate Title: How Not to Use Fireworks – The New Orleans Story

This was perhaps my greatest regret of the previous summer. Also, a number of tequila shots. Those were regretful. I think. I don’t remember what happened after, but I know the night ended and I had split my pants in two…so…probably not well. Of all the raucous insanity of the last summer, what with the capstone to Nolan’s Batrilogy and the resounding success and not-at-all-the-bloated-corpse-floating-in-the-East-River-we-thought-it-would-be that was The Avengers, I barely had enough time to explore the finer dining options on offer. Granted, for a city with as many damn hipsters as Chicago, we have the same number of art-house movie theaters as we have insane midget mayors (meaning: one). Thus, it is difficult to consume the delicacies offered by the independent cinema scene. Well, I eventually got my hands on this little ditty and I gobbled it up like Augustus Gloop after finding a Fruit Roll Up Moebius Strip. And, might I say, it was delectable. Beasts is an almost Grecian epic limited only by its impossible imagination. The performances are impeccable. The direction is manic. The script is borderline nonsensical. But the package is so much more than simply the sum of its parts. You might not understand why massive pig-boar-elephant things came out of Gulf of Mexico, and you might not get why Hushpuppy hangs out with a stripper she calls ‘mom’, or why she was named after a harshly unfashionable shoe. But it doesn’t matter. The film is a sliver of perfection, a vein of platinum surrounded by igneous rock. One can smash the precious mineral free and purify it to mold it into any shape you please…but why do that? The impurities only make the product more beautiful.

Oh yes, and I included The Conjuring because I didn’t really want to make a category for “Movie Most Likely to Make You Need Another Pair of Underwear”. Wait…why didn’t I do that? What the fuck, brain? Get your shit together. Oh well. Maybe next year.

MOST PISSED OFF NO ONE WOULD GET DRUNK AND SEE IT WITH ME

Winner: R.I.P.D.; Runner-Up: After Earth

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

I’m coming for you, mutherfucker. Drunkenly.

Well, this category is slightly different than last year. Last year, the winner of this category eventually came out from behind and won Movie of the Year. That’s right, fucking BATTLESHIP. It didn’t matter how much I whined and cried and showed up to people’s work unannounced with a fifth of Jack stamping my feet until security had to escort me out, nobody would see Battleship with me in theaters. And it was AMAZE-BALLS. This year, the honor is slightly murkier. The stage was set for the perfect outing. Huntsy, Erin and I were going to sneak in a few metric tons of alcohol and watch R.I.P.D. the ironically titled finishing touch the tombstone for Ryan Reynolds’ acting career. This movie, parading Jeff Bridges as a verbally deficient post-mortem law man and Reynolds trying desperately to hang onto his lasting relevance, was apparently so fucking bad that they pulled it from theaters AFTER TWO WEEKS. The three of us were going to do a special episode of Whine and Cheese where we snuck into the bathroom to review sections on our phones. However, lo and behold, the movie was R.I.P.peD. from under us, like a tablecloth at a magic show. And so, we were lost, floundering, searching for answers, for hope, for Jeff Bridges sounding like Mr. Ed…thus, eventually, we watched Possession and almost, literally, committed ritualistic suicide due to over-doses of G-Palt. So, I promise you, when that steaming pile of Reynolds excrement becomes available on the Red-Box or the Flix of Net or the fabled land of ‘Illegal Movies’ we shall, oh, we shall get trashed and review it.

Also, After Earth sounded agonizing. I love agonizing. Just like I love M. Night Shamalamadingdong. Did I say love? I mean poop on.

MOVIE SERIES THAT MOST MADE ME SEE THE LIGHT OF GOD

Winner: The Fast and the FuriousRunner-Up: The Cornetto Trilogy

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

It’s like a model call for douchebags!

Now, this was a shockingly difficult category. I see god a lot. I saw him in the finale of The Avengers; I saw the jolly fellow at the conclusion of Children of Men; I caught a glimpse of him when R. Kelly reveals the midget in Trapped in the Closet; and I’m definitely sure I see the altruistic old man every year at the mall with children on his knee. The guy in the red suit, that’s God, right? Anyway, this summer, perhaps more than any other, opened my eyes to true cinematic brilliance. No it wasn’t Citizen Kane or Metropolis. Nor was it The Godfather or Black Swan. It was, in fact, that metallic ballet of flying meatheads and automobiles that is The Fast and the Furious. After missing the lion’s share of the series (chapters 2 through 5, to be exact), I thought I would sit in the theater and be bored with countless tired inside jokes and character choices esoteric to the outside non-Fast non-Furious fans (The Slow and the Impenetrably Calm? The Stupid and the Rational? The Eat-Whenever-You-Want and the Not-Realted-to-Samuel-L-Jackson-in-The-Avengers?). What I witnessed instead was a panoply of genius; a nonsensically coherent parade of bombast and excess; a poem of such pointlessness and beauty that the Dada movement would fall down and weep at its feet. Yes, The Fast and the Furious changed my life. Now, will I go back and watch all of them in a row? Most likely. Will I film my reactions? That is also very likely. Will I be a haggard inebriated mess? Most definitely. But, most importantly, I will be first in line for the next installment if only to see Kurt Russell…but it won’t be for Kurt Russell, it will be for EVERYTHING.

The Cornetto Trilogy, on the other hand, brought me to enlightenment in a subtler manner. Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s trilogy of British comedies, beginning with Shaun of the Dead and ending with the appropriately titled The World’s End, not only strive for the upper-reaches of hilarity, but have such a quiet underlying brilliance that the average movie watcher might not notice at all. From a literary stand point, The World’s End is practically genius. Like, Stoppard-levels of clever. It wasn’t something I noticed when first watching the film, but just read this article (spoilers within) to see how intricate the thought process was behind the film’s themes and references. Edgar Wright has always been a savant of referential humor, but this might be the first time that he trumps Joyce for his complexity of allusions. Check it out. So, yes, dumb summer movies CAN be intelligent. And I don’t mean faux-Inception smart where people spend an hour and a half explaining a plot mechanic that everyone conveniently ignores for the remainder of the runtime. (Don’t get me started on Inception. It will turn into a rant within a rant within a rant within a…OH GOD. IT’S HAPPENING AGAIN!). I mean, like actually sensibly coherent. Well done, boys. Well done.

MOST BATMAN

Winner: Iron Man 3; Runner-Up: The Spectacular Now

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

RDJ was mad they didn’t cast him in Pacific Rim.

I understand the IRON-y of my choice with this category (see what I did there? Do you see? DO YOU SEE? I’m fucking hilarious). In fact, Mr. Downey Jr. was precisely the reason why The Avengers won the award for the most rancid of my negative awards, ‘Least Batman’, last year. His fast-talking, consequence-avoiding, playboy Tony Stark couldn’t have been further from the Dark Knight in all ways. Granted, he doesn’t have superpowers of any kind…and he’s a philanthropic billionaire who turns himself vigilante with his considerable finances…and he has to fight both competitors and mad geniuses…well, anyway, that’s where the comparison stops. However, in Iron Man 3, after The Avengers proved that there is an upper limit to ridiculous third-act finale battles, Shane Black took Stark back to his roots. With a few far-fetched plot points in hand, he forces Stark to use his considerable smarts to rebuild his weaponry using nothing more than house-hold appliances. The effect is brilliant. Finally, we feel as though RDJ might be in actual danger, seeing as he doesn’t have his super-invulnerability-do-everything-swiss-army-knife suit at all times. He even begins feeling remorse and darkness for things that happened in previous movies. AND HE FIGHTS TERRORISTS. If this ain’t Batman, I don’t know what is. Unless it’s actually Batman. Because that’s pretty Batman. You know what else is completely Batman? This tie-clip:

My girlfriend is better than your girlfriend. Because she makes my tie Batman.

The runner up in this category doesn’t have an article attached for various reasons that will be discussed soon…but The Spectacular Now is the tale of a kid who barely has parents, spends his time wooing a girl and trying to figure out his life. Parentless kids? What’s more Batman than that? OTHER THAN MY FUCKING TIE CLIP. So, yes, you want to be Batman? Kill your parents. Become a billionaire. Or…more simply, GET MY TIE CLIP.

LEAST BATMAN

Winner: Ben Affleck; Runner-Up: The Great Gatsby 3D

Yep. The Drunk Knight himself returns.

Yep. The Drunk Knight himself returns.

Sigh.

I dreamed a dream of a world with JGL. When hope was high and movies worth making. I dreamed a dream Batman would never die. I dreamed that Zack Snyder would be forgiving. When I was young and unafraid, and Batmen were made and used and wasted. There was no bat-price to be paid. No Clooney unsung, no Kilmer untasted. But then the Snyder comes at night, with his dick as loud as thunder. As he tears your hope apart. And he turns your dream to Affleck…

I want to go on record here. I have no problem with Ben Affleck. His work behind the camera is nothing short of excellent. Each of his movies, Gone Baby Gone, The Town and last year’s Best Picture winner Argo deserve every ounce of praise they have received. However, I don’t know what it is…whenever he gets in front of the camera everything just…well…goes wrong. What was a funny and smart indictment of modern Catholicism in Dogma turns to shit monster way too fast. What was Pearl Harbor…well, continued to be Pearl Harbor. At least in Argo all he had to do was grumble and pretend that he’s hispanic (Tony Mendoza? Really?). Even in the trailers for his new movie opposite that juggernaut of thespian training that is Justin Timberlake, he looks about as charismatic as a forgotten, carved pumpkin on November 10th. Just…deflated. So, I don’t have too much beef with the Affleck. Worse Batmen have been cast (AHEM Clooney AHEH-HEH-HEH-AGH-I’M-COUGHING-UP-BLOOD-HEM). Worse directors have been hired (Fucking Schumacher!). But, I thought we were past this, guys. I thought we had reached the new age of the Bat. Nolan resurrected the franchise and turned it into something relevant. Passing off a franchise like this to Zack Snyder is akin to Robert Oppenheimer going up to Gomer Pyle and saying “Hey, I’m mostly done with the atom bomb. Why don’t you finish up?” All we’ll be left with is a smoking crater, and scorched earth. I have made my opinions on Snyder as a director on many occasion…but he has quite successfully earned his nickname “Dick in the Ear” each and every time. He is the fucking worst on every level. Man of Steel was rotting pile of penis. The concept of a sequel makes me nauseous. Like I just saw a rotting pile of penis.

The runner up is well earned in this, the worst of my awards. The Great Gatsby is perhaps the least Batman of all millionaires. He earns all of his money illegally…he does nothing but throw parties…and he dies by being shot. Yep. Nothing Batman about that. Asshole.

BEST MOVIE OF THE SUMMER I WROTE ABOUT

Winner: The World’s EndRunner-Up: World War Z

Has a beer every been so strong that it burns a hole in a fucking sign?

This is some epic poetry shit right here.

Clarification is required. These are not the two best movies of the summer. In fact, especially the runner up, the quality best known as ‘goodness’ has barely a tenuous relationship with this duo. However, these were the two movies of the summer that I enjoyed the most (that I wrote about). Since we as a society have had the surgical addition of our new iAppendages, the concept of not glancing at one’s phone every three seconds is akin to self-castration. Why would you do it? Therefore, we have become guilty of addiction. At least Google is doing half the work for us with its new G-glasses or whatever. We don’t even have to look away! Just through! Man, imagine what that world would be like if we saw the world only through the lens of Google. I mean, every time we tried looking for any information, we’d go through Google…or trying to find our way back home…Google might even invade our movies! Oh…wait…

Anyway, as I was saying, these two films succeeded in delivering the impossible. I didn’t look at my phone once. For World War Z it was purely due to early-onset rigor mortis, my knuckles white with tension as they practically ripped the theater chair armrests from their sockets. The World’s End, however, earns the top place on this, the second most coveted Mooney Award (after Most Batman of course) because the film kept me locked into its content at every moment. If I were to glance away from the screen for even a millisecond, I might miss a micro-joke tossed into the mis en scene, a line of such palpable hilarity that I might vomit at its very suggestion. Therefore, I held onto every ounce of that film. And, to be fleetingly sincere for one moment in my life, to let the real world melt away into a memory for a meager two hour span was more than I can ever wish for. There is no way to hit the off button on my near-schizophrenic obsession with movie construction, forcing my enjoyment of a movie to devolve into a clinical dissection of its moving parts. I could disappear into The World’s End. I only drooled over its detailed genius after the fact. For those two hours, I was in another land. A land of Smashy Smashy Egg People, pubs and big lamps fucking off. Bravo, The World’s End for charging where the trilogy had never had the impetus to before. Also, good job World War Z for not being the bucket of old elephant-taint we all thought you would be. Way to hustle.

Actually Best Movie of the Summer I Couldn’t Write About Because My Girlfriend Fell Asleep and We Never Got Around to Seeing it Again

Winner: Much Ado About Nothing; Runner-Up: The Spectacular Now

I don't know about you, but I ONLY go scuba diving with a full martini glass.

I don’t know about you, but I ONLY go scuba diving with a full martini glass.

So…Amelia and I have this chronic issue. We sleep. Hard. I’m not kidding. I’m talking as hard as John MacClane dies, we sleep. Maybe double that amount. When I sleep, it is more akin to rehearsals for decomposition than replenishing rest. I become an immovable lump of flesh. Seriously, and this is true, my apartment once began to burn down and my friends were unable to wake me to drag me outside. And then I burned to death. Well, not really. But you get my point. Over my travels through the universe, searching for a better (or, at least, pretty much equal) other half, I seem to have discovered the only human on planet Earth more likely to sleep through her own demise. When we went to see Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing, both of us giggling with our virginal Shakespeare boners tucked discretely into our belts, Amelia lasted about twenty minutes into the 10pm showing before setting sail for the Land of Nod on the SS PTFO. I, however, engorged myself on the glittering and near-perfect micro-budgeted adaptation from the man who personally murdered cinematic subtlety with a sextet of muscled heroes. When we left, Amelia was furious. And I mean seven-levels-of-Inferno-pissed that she had missed it. As the dutiful boyfriend, and ignorant of the pains of immolation, I tossed some gasoline on that fire by exclaiming, “OMG IT WAS SO GOOD”. I was refused a chance to post an article until she had finally seen it. Well…time came and time went and that trek to the Century Landmark became a thing of wilted dreams. The stunted beginnings of my deftly crafted opinions were left gathering dust in my ‘drafts’ section, begging to see the light of the Internet day. So, here it is, what I have of that article:

Much Ado About Nothing (2012) – Joss Whedon (Dir.), Alexis Denisof, Amy Acker, Fran Kranz, Clark Gregg, Nathan Fillion, Reed Diamond, Jillian Morgese, Sean Maher, Tom Lenk

Oh the Century Landmark theatre. What a delightful place. This little gem, held aloft above the questionable antics of the AVEDA beauty school, a hidden sparkle in lodged in the bleached anus of Clark and Diversey, is the only ‘Art House’ cinema in the non-terrible sections of Chicago (aka, not downtown). This is the place where I have delighted in numerous filmic morsels, from the haunting and grotesque White Ribbon from Haneke to Aronofsky’s white-bitch-be-cray epic Black Swan to the endlessly charming Moonrise Kingdom, this place is the antidote to the poison that is the increasingly cyanic business of 3D/RPX/FUBAR BS subsuming all things of even tepid quality. As summer film puffs its chest and shrinks its testes, we are offered a cavalcade of mediocre bombast, a tidal wave of unnecessary spectacle with a rotten core. Scripts have devolved into a sort of See Spot Run anthology of idiocy, riddled with more stage direction than dialogue to the point that they might as well be adapted from a Beckett Play Without Words. Therefore, there couldn’t be a greater breath of fresh air than a minimalist comedy using words provided by one of the most beloved writers of all time. That’s right, Joss Whedon. I mean Shakespeare. Sorry. Shakespeare.

Much Ado About Nothing tells the tale of two barbed single friends who, whenever they meet, spend pretty much the entirety of the time raking each other through witty verbal brutality while their friends and family look on with more eye rolls than an optometrists bakery. Recently returned from a war where nobody died (yes, this kind of absurdity exists in the plays of Shakespeare), Benedick, Claudio and Don Pedro have decided to put away their swords and unsheathe their most sacred weapons during a month-long frolic at the house of Leonato in Messina. If you haven’t read the play or, at least, looked up the Cliff Notes during high school because you undoubtedly had to read this ‘problem comedy’ at some point, none of this will make any sense. Claudio wants to hump Hero’s brains out…by way of marriage and, while the wedding is in its preparatory form, decides to hook up the two insufferable wits, Benedick (Alexis “Husband of Alison Hannigan” Denisof) and Leonato’s cousin Beatrice (an excellent Amy Acker). It’s the original ‘Will They? Won’t They?’ Tensions run high as the booze flows fast. Will Don Pedro’s inexplicably evil bastard brother Don John break up the wedding? Will Benedick fall for Beatrice? Will Nathon Fillion show up at some point?

SPOILER ALERT: Read the fucking play, you illiterate swine.

Aaaaaaaaaaaand that’s as far as I got. But, believe me, I laughed harder at this film than I did during anything else this summer season. There is one line in the final scene that almost made me, a grown man, request an adult diaper. Honestly, you should rent this shard of literary excellence and cinematic nonchalance immediately. It doesn’t tone down, dumb down or Whedon down any of the play. Amy Acker offers perhaps the best female lead performance of the season because, well, it’s the summer, so women are more likely to be seen and not humanized.

The other pick is the enigmatic indie, The Spectacular Now. It was a good movie, viewed on a quiet evening in the throw-back splendor of the Logan Movie Theater. It’s a problematic drama, exploring teen alcoholism, abusive relationships, and the dangers of codependent young love. Perhaps one day I’ll get around to writing an article on the film, though it struck some fairly vulnerable nerves relating to the ghosts of high school past… I will say, throughout the length of this quiet and thoughtful treatise on dependency and addiction, Pacific Rim was playing at full tilt in the next theater. Every crash of metal, every riff of the guitar, every flash of pubescent and puerile vicarious obliteration seeped through the paper-thin walls and derailed the somber tension. It was a bizarre juxtaposition of the reality of teenager inner life versus the escapism that generally ensues. It was weird, unsettling, and helpfully distracting from this composition of misery that was The Spectacular Now. See it. Or don’t. But it’s the sort of movie that has a right place and a right time. Right now…it feels like a blade in the gut. But that’s what candy is for. There is no coincidence that I ended up seeing Pacific Rim a week later in that same theater. Escapism is a drug whose addiction is only society acceptable due to its epidemical prevalence. I’ll take another hit. Always.

Most Hateful Towards Women

Winner: Pretty Much Everything…; Runner Up: Did You Read the Winner?

That’s right. Once more the heightened temperature brought us the cavalcade of overblown masculinity harshly present every summer. Granted, we didn’t have a Michael Bay movie to smack us with the hard end of a dick, but we certainly had Man of Steel. It seems that, day after day, we are offered more movies that, if not outrightly despise women, carefully ignore their existence as though the entire gender is simply a Forest Whittaker-esque servant lining the rooms of our bombastic and adolescent power fantasies. They waltz into the spotlight only when needed, their entire presence only determined by the male characters who ‘need a romantic counterpart’. In fact, almost every film on this list failed the exceedingly simple Bechdel Test (a movie passes if two or more named female characters have a scene without men and are not talking about men). Why don’t we go down the roster of movies I reviewed and grade them accordingly for how many women A) were in the movie; B) had conversations with people lacking penises C) worked on a movie. SPOILERS: the results are depressing.

This is how this award makes me feel.

The Great Gatsby: Okay, firstly, it’s a love story. It’s got Daisy Buchanan and Jordan Baker. Almost half of the five main characters are female. Not too bad. Does it pass the Bechdel Test? Nope. If so, then barely. Jordan and Daisy might have a scene together but seeing as it’s Tobey “Dopey” Maguire narrative, he’s always there, like your overbearing mother at a sleepover. Also, granted it was written in the 20s-30s, the main woman is merely an object of affection, unburdened by the onerous heft of things like a ‘personality’ or ‘dramatic agency’. Director? Male. Writers? All male (duh). Grade: C-

Iron Man 3: Eh. This one has a couple of female characters, one of them being the only time G-Palt is not nauseating to watch. Yes, there is a scene between her and another female doctor that technically knocks this into the ‘pass’ category for Bechdel. However, in terms of pure screen time, ladies barely have a second to themselves. This is about RDJ. This is ALL about RDJ. I appreciated the prevalence of female soldiers on the opposing team. That was nice. But, all in all, too little too late. How many male leads? 7. How many female leads? 2. Director? Male. Writers? Male. Grade: B-

Star Trek Into Darkness: Where the first movie made sure that Uhura was well-respected for her language abilities and her sassy attitude, here her essence is reduced to nothing more than a clinging-shrewish pain in the ass. She also only gets ONE chance to do the thing that she has been hired to do, you know, speak Klingon…and she fucks it up. It was probably because the blood rushed to her uterus too quickly saving her thinking organ from having to do too much work. Also, Alice Eve’s breasts are dropped into the movie. Why? So she can be in her underwear for no reason whatsoever. How many male leads? 9. How many female leads? 2. Director? Male. Writers? All male. Does it pass the Bechdel Test? Fuck no! Grade: D-

I wish I could have done this without a skull fracture.

Fast & Furious 6: Okay, this one is a shocker. Yes, this franchise is famed for knocking the testosterone levels up to 11 on all counts…but that goes for the ladies as well. We don’t have any weeping damsels in distress or floundering flaps of feminine flesh flaunted for their floopy bits. We have Gina fucking Carano punching Michelle Rodriguez in the fucking face. Does that mean it passes the Bechdel Test? HELL YES. A fist fight is a conversation, of sorts. And there ain’t no penis involved. Granted, the only adonis here who doesn’t manage to miraculously walk away from every auto accident unscathed is a woman…but that’s required for the ret-conned franchise reach-around that occurs in the final scene. How many male leads? 7. How many female leads? 4. Director? Male. Writers? Male. Still, it’s astonishing that the Fast and the Furious has set a higher bar for gender roles than Star Trek. Grade: B+

This Is the End: Um…do I need to say anything? Emma Watson shows up for like five minutes and the rest of the characters spend the film talking about dicks, semen, gay people, and pussies. Also, Watson is there for two seconds before someone mentions rape. Shudder. How many male leads? All of them. How many female leads? Do the math. Director? Guess. Writers? Really? Are we going to do this, guys? Grade: F

Man of Steel: Okay, this one, especially coming from the porn-addled mind of Zack “The Masturbator” Snyder, actually holds up okay. We have Amy Adams as an excellent version of Lois Lane, both confident and driven without anyone brandishing the dreaded ‘B’ word (and it ain’t ‘bunions’, people). Diane Lane is still as foxy as ever…though she doesn’t really get to do anything but be in trouble occasionally. Also…there’s that one bad guy Kryptonian Israeli lady. So…there’s some variety. While the rest of the meatheaded movie was about as intelligent as a passing of gas, the gender politics are not as abysmal as you’d assume. Does it pass the Bechdel Test? Perhaps. If so, then barely. There are no memorable scenes between female leads with Henry “I Want to Lick Him” Cavill being around. How many male leads? 6. How many female leads? 4. Director? So male I want to put him in a post host. Writers? Maler than Norman. Grade: B-

World War Z: Granted, the entire film is about Brad Pitt globetrotting, so any characters he meets are around for about five minutes before becoming zombie chow. However, his wife and daughters are essential characters as is his Israeli bodyguard. Now, if you want to say a two second conversation between mother and young daughter passes the Bechdel Test, go ahead. Otherwise, Pitt takes up too much film to allow any room for anyone else, gender aside. How many male leads? Well, like 2 or 10, depending on how you classify lead. If they survive longer than ten minutes, then it’s 2. How many female leads? 2-4 if you count children as humans. I don’t. Director? Male. Writers? All of them male. All 3000 of them. Grade: C+

Despicable Me 2: This is an odd one. We have the three little girls that Gru cares for, though, in this movie, they are about as essential to the plot as my little toe is essential to my sex life (not very, just to be clear). The only other female presences are Kristin Schaal’s bemusing and whorish crazy date lady and Kristen Wiig’s almost schizophrenic, incompetently ultra-competent spy. Yes, this is a cartoon so reality isn’t really under fire here…but come on. Do all the women have to be cardboard cutouts of humans? How many male leads? Between 5 and 2,000,000 (if you count the minions who are the real stars of the show). How many female leads? 5. It mildly passes the Bechdel Test when the girls converse after Gru has put them to bed. Directors? Male. Writers? Male. Grade: B

Pacific Rim: Oh lordy. After Mr. Del Toro’s excellent and lady-filled Pan’s Labyrinth, you’d think he would keep the trend going. Apparently not. Pacific Rim has as much vagina as a bachelor party: one, and it belongs to a lady who really doesn’t seem to want to be there. Yes, we get glimpses of that one russian lady…but Rinku Kinkuchi is the only lady in this massive expolathon. So, yeah, no Bechdel pass here, guys. Sorry. How many male leads? 7. How many female leads? 1. Director? Male. Writer? Same guy. So, yeah, male. Grade: D

My impression of me after Man of Steel.

The Conjuring: Finally! Something with some ladies! Yes, due to the frustration of being based on a true story, this little ditty had to fill its ranks almost exclusively with the woman folk. From Vera Farmiga to the eternally abused Lily Taylor, this is all-lady. Granted, those ladies get beaten, possessed, assaulted, scared and puked on…but this is a free country. Every woman has the right to be possessed by a homicidal demon witch from Rhode Island. It’s Susan B. Anthony’s dream! How many male leads? 4. How many female leads? 7. Director? Male. Writers? Male as well. Sigh. Grade: A-

The World’s End: Another poor showing. Yes, this tale of the journey through the darkness of male adulthood doesn’t have much room for the ladies. While intelligence throbs through the main artery of this piece, gender politics do not. We have c-words and b-words and p-words tossed out all over the place with impunity. Hopefully, soon, they’ll have the courage to include a few more X chromosomes in the proceedings. How many male leads? 8. How many female leads? 1. Technically, it passes the Bechdel Test…but a woman talking to lady robots doesn’t really count, does it? Director? Male. Writers? Male. Grade: D+

Elysium: Here is the oddest of the bunch. While there are only a few ladies in the mix, the lead enemy of the film was originally written for a man but then adapted to be female by none other than Ms. Filmic Gender Equality herself, Jodie Foster. Without her presence, this clattering, flashing, jumble of epilepsy-inducing trash would have been sucked up its own masculine asshole. It, again, barely passes the Bechdel Test when Jodie Foster tells the nurse lady to stop attempting to save her. Yes, one word. That’s all these ladies get these days. How many male leads? 5. How many female leads? 2. Director? Male. Writer? Male. Grade: C+

This is how this makes me feel always.

Isn’t it sad? Granted, those are only the movies I wrote about, but as a purely anecdotal cross section of modern blockbuster theater, statistically, this is a bad situation. Of course it’s fine to have a movie all about guys. That’s whatever. Yes, Glengarry Glen Ross is a thing. It doesn’t mean that those movies are diminished in value. The issue is the clear and painful trend that has subsumed all Hollywood filmmaking. Women are supporters. They interact with male characters. They help. The reason so many films fail the Bechdel test is solely because the main characters are almost exclusively male. World War Z is a classic case. No matter how many strong female characters he runs into, they are almost the ‘guest star’ of the act, never crossing paths with anyone in the past. The systemic issue is one that truly needs to change. It seems as though when a movie has a female lead character, it’s labeled a women’s movie and so dies the death of inanity at the hands of focus groups who assume they know what women like. What greater indicator of this plague than the fact that Snow White was adapted to make THE HUNTSMAN the main character? Seriously, guys? The only movie this summer that arrived with a plethora of X-chromosomes that was not considered a chick-flick was The Heat…which is fine…though the movie looked like nothing more than a by-the-numbers screwball comedy. Maybe ladies have to start with the shitty genres before working their way up the budget food chain. Oh well. Maybe next year I’ll make this list and the average grade won’t be so abysmal. Maybe it won’t. Maybe I’ll end up stabbing my eyes out during Batman vs. Superman. One can only hope.

What Dreams May Come (1998) – Vincent Ward (Dir.), Robin Williams, Cuba Gooding Jr., Annabella Sciorra, Max Von Sydow

Aka "Jesus Visits Atlantis!" starring Robin Williams and Wishbone.

Aka “Jesus Visits Atlantis!” starring Robin Williams and Wishbone.

Well, after my last post, which has probably already been labeled “The Rape Post” (EMMY PLEASE), let’s talk about something fun, shall we? That’s right, boys and girls, it’s time to discuss VEHICULAR MANSLAUGHTER!

(Children cheering)

Welcome to the world of the Nielsons. They are pretty much the unluckiest group of people in the world when it comes to cars (Unless I’m talking about Pontiac. Amirite?). Yes, whether it’s saying goodbye to their kids headed to school or just traveling home through a tunnel, flying cars seem to follow these people wherever they go. At first I thought this was a murder mystery, but it was ridiculously easy to tell who the killer was (IT’S A 1992 CHEVY!). After the two kids get bumped off (you can tell they died because the screen went to a dissolve) Papa Nielson, Chris, (a post-Patch Adams, pre-Why Can’t I Just Die Already? aka Old Dogs Robin Williams) gets to feel what its like to be an IHOP special after the 1992 Chevy leaps, and I mean it fucking SOARS through the Lincoln Tunnel and kersplats him into oblivion. All that’s left is the love of his life and mother to two passed children, Anne. As life goes on, you can tell her emotional mood by whatever horrendous 90s wig the director managed to screw into her skull. Long luscious fake locks? Happy! Anna Wintour blunt bob that makes her silhouette seem like a mushroom? Suicidal! Lori Petty ‘Look Mommy I Did it Myself!’ pixie cut? Committed! Poor, poor Annabella Sciorra. I half assumed that the second half of the movie would be the flying 1992 Chevy coming back to finish the job, flinging itself through their mansion, the lone survivor of its brutality doing anything to escape its careening wrath.

But then…she commits suicide. Because, with that hair, wouldn’t you? Well…and two dead kids. And you’re only stability gone. And your dead husband constantly whispering unintentionally creepy things into your ear…

Okay, okay. This movie isn’t about a killer car coming after a family of beaming, bouncing bourgeoisie. We’re offered the sweet beginnings to a love story between two completely unconnected people, Chris and Anne, and the beauty of a budding partnership. Of course, as with real life, tragedy cannot help but crash the party like some drunk uncle asking to sleep on the couch because he just needs time to get back on his feet and, seriously this time, he’s absolutely not going to waste his money on the Midget Tossing Championships and, yes, he knows that’s an offensive term and he knows he shouldn’t use it but it sounds so much better than ‘Small Person Tossing Championships’, the point is…wait…hello? Hello?

Mr. Williams danced in the bloodied corpse of Bubbles the Clown, his entrails a cruel reminder of his acute case of paint-ititis

Mr. Williams danced in the bloodied corpse of Bubbles the Clown, his entrails a cruel reminder of his acute case of paint-ititis

Where was I? Oh yes. In the initial act, we see Chris and Anne, so inexorably in love, dragged through the muck as obstacle after obstacle is tossed in their path. Every day is a struggle. She’s an artist. He’s a doctor. She’s a pessimist. He is an unabashed and undeterred optimist. She expresses her feelings. He hides them. They are a yin and yang of emotional torment simply waiting for the levees to break. However, Chris dies and is thrust into the land of the dead, leaving Anne cold, afraid and alone before their tale can conclude. On the other side, Chris is met by an old mentor (Cuba Gooding Junior in his post-Jerry Maguire high, and pre-Snow Dogs ‘What Am I Doing with My Life?’ depression) who shows him the ropes of his own personal heaven. This afterlife, for Chris, is a vibrant impressionist painting, its very molecules globules of acrylic paint. The script does a perfect job of making sure how obvious and deep Chris’s obsession is with Anne. She’s his everything. Even his afterlife is inspired by her artistry.

What Dreams May Come was adapted from a novel by one of my favorite authors, Richard Matheson. He’s the gentleman responsible for the genius novella I Am Legend, which, after passing through the putrid digestive tract of Hollywood idiocy, has been defecated into theaters under numerous failed attempts to realize what makes it great (Will Smith’s growl-a-thon I Am Legend and the laughably dumb Omega Man with Charlton “Cold Dead Hands” Heston). His works, though classed as either horror or fantasy, have always operated on a purely human basis. Anyone who might take the time to read Legend’s svelte 200 pages will discover the twist missing from both filmic adaptations. Matheson, who died only about two months ago, was raised a Christian Scientist, so his view of humanity is gently askew from the mainstream. In this tale, he offers a different conception of both Heaven and Hell. It not-too-subtly borrows from Dante’s Divine Comedy as it explores the personal rapture that is a self-crafted infinite playground as well as the horror of being stuck in between worlds. In his world view, the afterlife is whatever you wish it to be. Its an eternal toy box. It doesn’t judge good from bad; there is no corporeal deity overseeing the operation. In fact, it is so blissful to suggest that perhaps humanity needs no babysitter. We simply are. Forever.

"In heaven, we do sex astronaut-style"

“In heaven, we do sex astronaut-style”

However, because Matheson is a fantasy writer, there are rules. For the first fifteen minutes, we enjoy Chris leaping off of Angel Falls and hitting the ground with nothing more than a light thud, flying about a floating city stolen from the Romance artists of old, fully equipped with Peter Pan and Mary Poppins, even wandering through the grandest library of all time. But all this pales to what Chris actively yearns for. Of course, he wants to find his two used-to-be children in this Baron Von Munchausen fantasy-land, but he’s actually waiting for his wife to find him after taking her sweet time sucking up all the life in her Land of the Not-Dead. What a selfish B. Well, Miss Nielson finally cashes her Suicide Check (with a delicious looking bowl of pills in yogurt. New breakfast idea! We’ll call it Etern-o’s: Meet Your Maker with this Important Part of a Completely Lethal Breakfast!) and crosses over. Unfortunately, seeing as no one told her the freaking rules, she apparently is stuck in Hell, more an incarceration of uncertainty than a dungeon of infernal torture. With Mr. Gooding Jr. telling him to give up, Christy (his very gubernatorial pet name) charges head first into the dark side of eternity.

Mr. Williams realized he was in trouble after running afoul of the National Face-Orchestra of Prague.

Mr. Williams realized he was in trouble after running afoul of the National Face-Orchestra of Prague.

After hooking up with a ‘Tracker’ (I know, I know, fucking fantasy authors) named Mox Von ‘The Exorcist’ Sydow, who, apparently, is still alive after suffering not only a chess game with death, but also the Sylvester “AAAAADRIENNNNNE” Stallone testosterific shit show that was Judge Dredd, the trio dive (literally) into a sea of pallid bodies and are wrenched through the rings of damnation. Funnily enough, it’s all naval-themed. Does Matheson just hate boats? What is this? Finally Chris finds Anne, lost and afraid, unaware of her own demise, plodding through a life that has already run its course. A board game missing all the pieces and players. There are twists along the way, especially a few that make my racially sensitive eyebrow arch into an ‘Um…Really?’ fashion. While the visual majesty of this beast is almost overwhelming, running the lengthy span of western art history, from modernity to impressionistic to Romance to Medieval, the director attempted a near-impossible task. Beauty attempts to seep through every seam. And there are some truly chilly images on hand, none more visceral than a sea of faces peering out of the wintered ground, all of them talking with no one to talk to. Also, Werner “The Weiner” Herzog is there. That alone is enough to make you shit your pants. The broad strokes work. They make the heart palpate.

Even with the awkward mixtures of models and matte paintings, not quite perfected to the level of LOTR-ian brilliance, Mr. Ward crafts a fully realized and vibrant Elysium. Unfortunately, it’s most the other stuff that fails. His direction of actors, particularly of Mr. Williams, lacks specificity and too often is he allowed to shift into Patch Adams BS. Luckily, the piece holds together, even with the mangled and disjointed preamble to the car crashes. The script holds and, for once, we are offered a truly palpable conception of Soul Mates, two people so existentially conjoined that even until death they will not part. There is no way not to beg to the lords of all that is holy that Chris is successful in his search; and it’s all the more heartbreaking when he seems to have failed. What purports to be a musing on death, truly is a celebration of life and love. Matheson’s unabashed optimism surrounds, consumes and buoys this entire universe he offers. Upon being reunited (I mean, come on, you saw it coming), the pair of soul mates don’t decide to spend the rest of infinity hanging out like the good old days. They decide to return, to be reborn and find each other all over again.

"Chris, whatever you do, if they offer you the lead in Old Dogs...just say no. Think of the children..."

“Chris, whatever you do, if they offer you the lead in Old Dogs…just say no. Think of the children…”

Why? Why would they do that? Why would they give up this gift that forced them to brave Hell and high water (literally) to preserve? Why toss it to the wind and try again, allowing the fear of uncertainty to possibly rend them in two? Because that’s what you’re supposed to do. That’s the point. If, in death, all things are equal, all things are at peace, if there is no war, no fear, no unhappiness, then perhaps life is the experiment with which to ensure that eternal bliss. What’s happiness without trials and tribulation? What is paradise if paradise is all we know? It’s a terrifying concept, death. It’s something I have probably dwelled upon far too long for someone of my barely-legal status (okay, solidly legal). Matheson offers a dream rather than a reality. It’s an eternal present where time neither begins, nor ends, its passage merely an illusion. Mr. Ward attempted and mostly succeeded at thrusting this tale into the world of dreams, though such a task, as the surrealists would tell you if they weren’t passed out from ODing on heroin, is impossible. All I know is that this movie is basically Inception…but it’s everything Inception attempted to be and failed. Why? Because this story isn’t about dreams. It isn’t about death. It isn’t even about fantasy. It is only about love. Love is that fickle and brutal beast that forces us back into life to try it all again.

Rest in peace, Mr. Matheson. You were a brilliant author. I hope you are offered the eternity you deserve. And, who knows, maybe we’ll get to see you again one day. Until then…

House MD – David Shore (Cr.), Hugh Laurie, Omar Epps, Lisa Edelstein, Robert Sean Leonard, Jennifer Morrison, Jesse Spencer

NEWSFLASH: There have been reports of both women and men frantically making out with posters all over the tri-state area...and it's totally understandable.

NEWSFLASH: There have been reports of both women and men frantically making out with posters all over the tri-state area…and it’s totally understandable.

Season 3 – Episode 12 – One Day, One Room

This article is breaking almost every one of my formal rules and guidelines dealing with this site, but you’ll see why in a little bit.

Part of the reason I began writing this website over a year ago was to reeducate myself with a bevy of cinematic classics that I have missed by way of disinterest, lethargy, and uselessness. Too often, after a long day of work, I have decided to opt into the mind-numbing silliness of How I Met Your MotherBattleship or any number of meaningless mental diversions. Avoiding the big thoughts and emotions was simple. Of course I should engorge myself on a Haneke whenever I have a chance, a Von Trier perhaps, or even a sprinkling of Welles or a dash of Hitchcock (a dash of Hitchcock is about the size of one normal human being)…but that sounds like wooooooork (with the elongated vowels for Extra Whine (TM)). Just one more episode of Buffy and I swear I’ll try out something challenging, I promise…

Well, along with my time-wasting TV addiction, I recently began supping on the expansive feast that is House MD, David Shore’s modern day adaptation of Sherlock Holmes with a whole lot less Cumberbatch and a whole lot more botulism. The series, a vehicle for the immensely talented and transformed wet-blanket fop of British televised myth, Hugh Laurie, runs the gamut of exceedingly excellent hospital television to utterly absurd medical nonsense. Its cases are near-impossible, between the ridiculous combinations of rare genetic diseases, to the improbable conflagrations of accidents and internal diagnostic nightmares, all perfectly timed in a weekly manner. It gives the sense that New Jersey is riddled with every uncommon defect known to man, usually shaken in a toxic cocktail of temporally precise downward symptomatic progression. God forbid if these patients don’t have an issue that causes them to puke blood after a meaningful conversation with a fellow, serendipitously placed just before an act-break.

House MD conquered the airways while Jack Bauer was still in his constitution-ignoring, counter-terrorism, testicle-electricuting infancy, becoming one of the forebears of the new golden age of hour-long cable dramas. Well-scripted, well-shot, brilliantly acted, it set the bar high, especially with shit-fests such as the boobie and genital-rubbing hilarity that is Grey’s Anatomy clogging its competitor’s primetime slots. At the center of it all is Gregory House, the not-too-subtly malformation of Holmes’ chosen appellation. He runs the Diagnostics department of Princeton Plainsboro, a teaching hospital, with the ever-sexualized and sharp Lisa Cuddy (Inspector Lestrade) as his water-treading wrangler, along with a not-eighteen-anymore Robert Sean Leonard, definitely not standing on desks or shooting himself in the head, as enabler and best friend James Wilson (get it? John Watson? You’ll get there).

"Is that a bottle of Vicoden in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?"

“Is that a bottle of Vicoden in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?”

House, like Holmes, is a genius and an asshole. Instead of foiling criminals with mind bending methods of deductive reasoning, he diagnoses diseases nobody has ever heard of (but it’s never Lupus…except when it is), all the while insulting everything with a pulse in his immediate surrounding. This includes, but is not limited to, his squadron of fellows consisting of a mostly-whimpering Jennifer Morrison, a ferocious Omar Epps, and a bemusingly Australian Jesse Spencer (with additions later on). House chastises, offends, bullies, and verbally brutalizes his way through every ‘case’ until he gets what he wants. No case is ever (so far at least) left unsolved. There’s always an answer and House just needs to find it. What gets him there might be an unethical test, an unproven method, a disregard for the patient’s wishes, or a hackneyed final act illumination of light bulb while engaging in an utterly unrelated conversation. It isn’t realistic, but it sure is good television.

Oh yes, and he’s addicted to Vicoden. That’s important too.

In their third season, as the three puppy doctors, or Scooby Gang, begin scraping the bottom of the ‘Character Arc’ barrel (I think George R.R. Martin co-opted most of the good stuff) Shore injects his series with an essential element: an enemy. David “I Will Fuck You Up Just By Staring At You” Moore shows up in a six-episode stretch as a cop with a House-shaped chip on his shoulder. He’s there to kick some House ass and chew Nicorette. And he’s all out of Nicorette. Well, SPOILERS, to escape jail, House attends rehab and narrowly avoids the big house (no pun intended. Wait, is that not a pun? WHAT THE FUCK IS A PUN?). It seems as though the asshole doctor has seen the error of his ways, cleaned himself up and altered his parasitic relationship with the ever-beleaguered Wilson. But then…a TWIST! He was faking! It was like watching the end of Alice and Wonderland and learning it was all a dream! (Where the Mad Hatter is a black doctor, the March Hare sounds like a drunk Hugh Jackman and the Cheshire Cat has an exceptional collection of push-up bras) All that character stuff? Yep, fabricated bullshit. He’s still an addict. He’s still using. He’s still a dickbag. An entire bag…of dicks. Like, just dicks. Nothing else in there. Just…dicks. That’s right. Dicks.

So, the next episode was pretty much the most brilliant thing the show could have ever conceived.

"I'm sorry, blonde lady. Test results show that you're probably going to be in a movie about you getting possessed. It's terminal." ~ House, predictor of career false-starts.

“I’m sorry, blonde lady. Test results show that you’re probably going to be in a movie about you getting possessed. It’s terminal.” ~ House, predictor of career false-starts.

In the immediate aftermath, having robbed the fans of any catharsis of merit, Shore tosses us probably the most curved ball of all. There is no ‘case’ this time. House gets stuck in a room with a rape victim. Now, the cynic in all of us immediately thinks, “Fuck, this is the ‘rape‘ episode. Get the Emmy pleading out of the way so we can get back to little black girls pooping out of their mouths!” And, I’m sure this was the episode handed to the voting committee that year…though it wasn’t nominated. That’s not the point. For a show that offers neat, tidy, everything-in-the-universe-has-its-place answers to every fucking riddle, suddenly, when House is at his most invulnerable, he’s tossed something he can’t answer and he can’t fix. In previous episodes, if there’s someone who’s paraplegic before he has a stroke, turns out it’s really a curable tumor in their brain! The dwarf teenager? Not a dwarf after House finds a curable tumor in her brain! That autistic kid? Well, actually, he’s still totally autistic. But you get the point. This fucking show stretches the realm of believability to the outer shores of fucking Neverland.

But then there’s One Day, One Room. One would expect, as with most television shows, that rape is the wonderful award-show word dropped into sweeps season to garner as much hollow praise as possible. The poor victims of this heinous crime are further exploited like some kind of former child-actress spewing botox-tears in a Lifetime movie about a dog biting off her face. Instead, this episode derails the show entirely. And not in a Matrix Revolutions thousands-of-people-died-in-the-crapitude-of-this-film sort of way. There is no case. There is no solution. House is stuck in a room with a rape victim and he is the only person to whom she’ll talk. For once, House doesn’t berate and belittle, but finds himself lost at sea, grasping for logic where it can’t be found. What begins as a hopeless case becomes a philosophical debate where he doesn’t already know the answer to his own rhetorical questions.

The reason I bring this up, while breaking all of my own rules, you know, by writing about TV and stuff, is because this episode actually made me think. What with the Daniel Toshes of the world, the Dane Cooks, and the [insert bland taint-scraping male comedian here] making rape joke after rape joke at the expense of the victim and humankind in general, it’s nice to see House, this bastion of logic and male domination, of intellectual and infallible pride, actually stumped with a riddle that has no answer. That riddle of course being: how do you cope with rape? It’s a question few people like to touch without exploitation and even fewer know how to explore without belittling. For the first time in the show’s history, House doesn’t call his patient a moron. Granted, his bedside manner is still as abrasive as usual, but that’s clearly due to his own self-sware short-comings, not his patient’s. The two discuss abortion (him for it, her against), the existence of God, eternal punishment, and reason in the universe.  They don’t talk about whose fault it was, what she was wearing, where she was, who it was, why it was, when it was or anything else that might try to explain this crime away. In the end, it comes down to: if there is a God, why would he let this happen? If there isn’t, how do you make this make sense?

I'm not kidding. There is so much damn talking in this episode. And it's GREAT.

I’m not kidding. There is so much damn talking in this episode. And it’s GREAT.

There is no answer. There is no final act revelation. There is no obligatory zoom-in realization. His eyes don’t pop while eating chicken nuggets with a leukemia patient before sprinting back to the OR insisting on a colonoscopy (no joke, shit like that actually happens. No pun intended. Wait…HELP. WHAT IS A PUN?). Rather, the episode puts emphasis on the fact that conversation is essential. Talking is the first step. Rape is not solely a female problem. Men can be allies. Even if an priggish solipsist like House, who flaunts his masculinity and misanthropy at every chance he gets, can be an ally, then so can we all.  Too often rape is written off as something that “just doesn’t happen here” (yeah, go fuck yourselves, Yale). It does. It’s happened to people I know. It’s happened, in a way, to me. Loss of power is fucking terrifying. It changes everything for the victim. It’s nice to see a show that doesn’t just discuss it, but immerses itself in the issue to the point that you cannot let this chapter of House pass you by without forcing yourself to consider its existential quandaries.

After being robbed of House’s humbling, this was the perfect next step. Bravo, House MD. You can be ridiculous, more outlandish than a Mad Max convention on meth, and as misanthropic as Howard Hughes after a healthy dose of crazy pills, but you did good. The conversation obviously isn’t over. But if shows like House can do it, so can the rest. Let’s see more of it, people.

World War Z (2013) – Marc Forster (Dir.), Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Danielle Kertesz, and a whole lot of unfortunate, expendable bastards. Also Malcolm Tucker, for some reason.

Either it's the zombie apocalypse, or the Red Sox won another world series.

Either it’s the zombie apocalypse, or the Red Sox won another world series.

Alright. I don’t think I’m going to win any friends with this post. In fact, after this devastating first paragraph, I’m probably going to have to spend the rest of it backpedaling, explaining and apologizing faster than a senator who’s just been asked why there is a hooker in his trunk and why in god’s name would you use a sailor hat that way. To add insult to injury, unlike most of my other summer films, I have scoured reviews of this movie for the past two weeks begging the gods of cinematic art that there is a shred of dignity left in this mangled corpse of a summer blockbuster (no coincidental metaphor intended). It had everything working against it. A director responsible for the worst Bond sequel since someone said, “You know where Bond hasn’t been? The fucking moon.” It’s an adaptation so far from its source material, a book that I have an undying love for (stop it with the undead puns, Andrew), that it might as well have been made by Baz Luhrmann (BOOM, Gatsby burn). There were reshoots, delays, rewrites, spit takes, facepalms, big meetings with men with massive cigars (which totally isn’t a dick, it’s just a cigar, Freud) using words like ‘synergy’ and making sure that Pepsi products are used as plot points. It had more fiction writers working on this than on a Sarah Palin memoir. And one of those mutherfuckers was Damen “I Am Slowly Hunting Down Your Dreams And Murdering Them in Front of Your Weeping Eyes Like the Guy Who Killed Bambi’s Mom” Lindelof. It had a purported budget of upwards of $200 million. This thing was whirling itself into a shitstorm more rancid than that time a tornado hit Mr. Magorium’s Feces Emporium. A cock-up of biblical proportions…and none of that wimpy New Testament BS. I’m talking ‘don’t screw with the jews’ angel of death levels of terrible.

Well, that being said…I think this is might my favorite movie of the summer so far.

Okay, okay, boo all you want. Go ahead, throw your popcorn at me, your rotten tomatoes and, was that a wrench? Is Rip Torn in the audience? Is Rip Torn still alive? If not…RIP (sorry. I couldn’t help myself). No, honestly, I have not been more glued to the screen this summer. It’s not the greatest movie. It’s not necessarily even a good movie. All I know is that I didn’t just have to change my underwear, I had to change the theater’s seat (for some reason, the manager did not accept my ‘I was marking my territory’ argument. Racist). Quickly, for those of you who don’t know, World War Z is a brilliant novel by Max Brooks (Mel Brooks’ alter ego after sucking out the souls of the innocent), examining the history, the terror, and the ramifications, social, emotional and militaristic, of a zombie uprising. Through oral essays told by a cast of colorful, sometimes horrifically stereotyped, characters, we see the initial infection, the spread, the survival, and the fight back. On the other hand, World War Z: The Movie tells the tale of a mildly invincible UN investigator sent to find a cure for the zombie menace while the entire world collapses under the onslaught of the swarming undead. Like humans and monkeys, the book and the movie share similar DNA. However, while one is intellectual, expansive, and imaginative…the other occasionally pees into its own mouth (no prizes for guessing which one is which). The movie is kinda dumb, but there is never a boring moment. We leap from Philly, to Newark (which looks largely the same as usual just with slightly more looting), to the ocean (less exciting), to South Korea, to Israel, to…Cardiff? Sure. Why not? All the way, Gerry Lane (Mr. Pitt) is racing to save his own skin more than looking for a handy cure-all. Its scope is impressive, if reductive in places, and a few of Brooks’ best lines are stolen in placed in the mouths of excellent actors offered little more than five minutes of screen time before turning into zombie chow.

Did anyone order the Starship Troopers rip-off? Anyone?

Did anyone order the Starship Troopers rip-off? Anyone?

But, that all said, I really enjoyed this movie. Instead of being a frankenstein’s monster made of dead dicks (I stole that from Veep), this was a solid blockbuster, weaving set-pieces with talky scenes that hold a little more water than your average bear. Forster is shockingly deft at juxtaposing the widespread panic with the one-on-one horrors. It’s clear that the zombie genre works best in close quarters, though it’s novel to actually see, for once, what is usually left to expository dialogue in any other film. What brought me to this positive conclusion was a long, arduous process usually experienced by bereaving family members. And so, because I’m a melodramatic ass, I am going to denigrate every grieving member of the populace by appropriating their sadness for the purpose of my summer filmic entertainment. Due to my rabid (stop it with the metaphors, Mooney) adoration of the source material, I followed the life of this project from its cradle, to its sickly adolescence as a proposed miniseries, to its untimely death at the hands of studio execs and its subsequent resurrection. Who was the messianic figure who raised this Lazarus? Why none other than a man who seems to attempting a fairly convincing Jesus impression himself, Mr. Brad Pitt. He fought to keep this thing alive and, by golly, it is…well, coughing up blood a little, but it seems okay! However, when the trailer was released, my horror was almost more suffocating than when I saw Phantom Menace for the first time.

First, I denied it. I assumed the trailer didn’t exist. Such a choice was simpler than accepting that some studio big wig had slobbered all over my love with his herpes-infected mustache. Second: I was furious. I was ready to burn my laptop in effigy…and then I realized I was about to burn my laptop, my divine portal to the infinite god that is the Internet, and hugged it instead. We cuddled for a while and, after apologizing to Andrew’s Little Helper (no joke, that’s my computer’s actual name), I shifted into the third: bargaining. I wanted to start a Kickstarter to maybe shift the movie towards my tastes. Perhaps an Upworthy campaign? What about an online petition; people listen to those, right? When that inevitably failed, I just got depressed. I watched Dawn of the Dead and 28 Days Later on a loop while force feeding myself Americone Dream, wishing I could awaken from this living nightmare of a world with a terrible WWZ adaptation. And, finally, I reached acceptance. I knew it would be more ghastly than a pustule on the tongue. It would be a hemorrhoid of a movie-watching experience. Knowing that kept me safe from harm.

But then that fucking trailer with the attack on the plane appeared and my hope was reignited.

A horde of ultra-violent undead is the second most terrifying thing for a Pitt-family to see coming down the street. The first is Jennifer Aniston.

A horde of ultra-violent undead is the second most terrifying thing for a Pitt-family to see coming down the street. The first is Jennifer Aniston.

Why did I like this movie? Well, the most terrifying moments of most zombie tales occur in the first act. Its the panic that spreads through the crowd where suddenly human beings become stampeding cattle with no way to tell the infected from the healthy that unnerve me to the core. While 28 Days Later forgoes this stomach-churning, seat-wetting, calling-for-mommy insanity, World War Z sticks you in the shit. Also, Pitt’s adorable daughters are on the fucking menu. I don’t want to see a little girl zombie. Do you? Shit is fucked up. Anyhoo, the movie skillfully slips from tension to tension, offering us more suspense than murder mystery night at the Hitchcocks. 90% of the time, it’s the moments before the zombie attack that keep you nibbling your nails. P.S. by the end of this movie, I’d chewed them down so far, I now need artificial fingers. I’m typing this with gnawed stumps. Forster, who’s resume consists largely of that 2 hour exercise in utter ineptitude that was Quantum of Solace, knows what this story is about. It’s about Brad Fucking Pitt. And I know what you’re thinking, “Andrew, didn’t an entire planet get destroyed by a plague? Aren’t billions dead?” to which I say, “His daughters aren’t. So go fuck your billions. HE’S FIGHTING FOR HIS FAMILY.” And you all agree with me because he is Brad “Golden Ray of Sunshine if It was Super Stoned” Pitt. Much like Will Smith before him, Pitt can carry a picture in which he fights obscene numbers of awfully CGIed beasties. Luckily, Pitt has a decent enough script on his side. In favor of immediate drama, it pretty much glosses over every astute implication set forth by its source novel. We barely hear any word about the corners of the globe untrotted by Pitt. There is no attempt at existential conversation. This thing is a freight trail headed off the rails and it will run down your ‘humanistic examination of a world dragged into chaos’ like the wimpy intellectualism it is. But goddamnit it’s exciting.

I think I reached a point of diminishing returns on the stress front when they reach Israel because, of course, the zombies break into the heavily fortified Jerusalem and, of course, it happens at the exact moment Pitt is hanging out at the main gates and, OF COURSE, it’s because of muslims. At that point, the movie devolves into an underpaid CGI minion’s worst nightmare…so they shaky cam the fuck out of it and try to get Pitt out of the chaos as soon as possible. This leads to what could have been an iconic moment in zombie movie history, the plane attack…though anyone who has seen the trailer knows that it’s coming and all suspense goes the way of the dodo. The ending, however, takes a bizarre tonal shift. But not in a bad way. Usually all zombie movies fall apart at the seams in the final act. From the ‘greatest overreaction to attempted execution’ in 28 Days Later, to the ‘Zombie Doom-Mobile’ in Dawn of the Dead, to the…whatever happened at the end of Land of the Dead, I don’t give a flying pig’s anus. However, Forster brings the action to a quiet, vicious simmer, having already proven that a full boil would result in EVERYONE’S death. We have a few nice narrative shifts and the final moments wrap the whole thing up in a messy ‘We really thought we were going to have sequels’ kind of way. But as the red-headed-stepchild-of-the-studio it redeems itself to earn a place on the ongoing and sacred hierarchy. It may not be the Bodhisattva of the genre like its literary counterpart or Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, nor is it on the level around the redefining zombie-Ghandi of 28 Days Later. It does carve out a space slightly higher than Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake (which dipped into zombie-Hitler territory with that stupid undead baby section) as a sort of shambling, moaning life-challenged Winston Churchill. It did great things during the war, but it ain’t sticking around for peacetime.

Danielle Kertesz, like Sinead O'Connor, but more badass by about fifteen orders of magnitude

Danielle Kertesz, like Sinead O’Connor, but more badass by about fifteen orders of magnitude

Honestly, the most enjoyable additions to World War Z come from the supporting cast, who, on average, last about five minutes each. From James Badge Dale, who has recently recovered from his Extremis treatment in Iron Man 3, to an inexplicably non-swearing Malcolm Tucker (watch The Thick of It or In the Loop right now, plebs), to David Morse, who when reading this script apparently ordered the ham with a side of ham all wrapped in more ham, to the obligatory skin-headed Israeli badass lady warrior, Danielle Kertesz. Also, if you look veeeeeery closely, you can see Matthew Fox fire his agent for getting him a role usually reserved for the dude helping with Kraft services who happened to be around when they needed someone to stand in for a minute. Dude is in the movie for a collective ten seconds. No joke.

Is World War Z great? Not by a long shot. Is it an adaptation of the novel? Don’t make me laugh. I still need to cry a little. But it’s solid. Shockingly so. Anyone who expected a hot mess on par with the Melanie Griffith Botox accident that was Man of Steel will be disappointed. Also, scared shitless. You will be. Sanatoriums will use this bad boy as a non-invasive enema, you mark my words. Go see it. You will not regret it. Unless you don’t like having minor heart attacks for 2 hours…then you probably shouldn’t.

"Excuse me, sir, do you have a moment to discuss our lord and savior Jesus Christ?" ~ Zombie Mormon struggles to find converts.

“Excuse me, sir, do you have a moment to discuss our lord and savior Jesus Christ?” ~ Zombie Mormon struggles to find converts.

Does this obliterate my hope for an actual adaptation of Max Brooks’ novel? Luckily, we live in the age where we had two separate Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movies in three years. Hopefully this mess will earn its money back and then some and Pitt can fulfill his dream of a miniseries. I mean, honestly, AMC has the still lumbering Walking Dead, which seems to be mentally decaying faster than most of its characters; and Game of Thrones can’t last forever, HBO. I mean, come on; George R.R. Martin is old and looks as though he probably ate Paula Dean. Option it and make what we all know will be the Band of Brothers of zombie tales. You know you want to…

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!