Archive for the ‘Thriller’ Category

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.

The Conjuring (2013) – James Wan (Dir.), Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Lily Taylor, Ron Livingston, Joey King, the Children of the Corn: Female Edition, and a Creepy Fucking Doll

Worst. Santa. Ever.

Worst. Santa. Ever.

Um…guys…can you, um, switch on the lights? Please? Like…like…all of them?

Guys? Why isn’t the light switch working? *Click, click* Guys? This isn’t funny.

HOLY FUCKING SHIT. WHAT WAS THAT? Did that door open by itself? Guys, I’m being serious right now. Fucking stop it.

JESUS MARY JOSEPH AND THE OTHER ALL THE OTHER PLANETEERS, WHAT WAS THAT?

Oh. It was just a camera getting really close to my face. Get out of my way, camera. Why are you so close to me? Why are you focusing just behind my head and not on my face? And why is it so silent all of a sudden?

Wait…wait…should I look behind me? I’m gonna look…I’m gonna look behind me…right…now…

WHAT THE…?

…CONSTIPATION CURED.

(Commercial Voice) Talk to your doctor today about The Conjuring to help with your dyschezia. If you suffer from backed-up bowels The Conjuring might be for you. Side effects include: Mild Heart Failure, Spontaneous Urination, Close-Up Camera Fatigue, Acute 70s Nostalgia, Exorcist Deja Vu, and Bat-Shit Lily Tomlin Syndrome (BSLTS or BathSaLTS). If you or any loved ones suffer nychtophobia, insomnia, sciophobia, wiccaphobia, pediophobia or Vera-Farmigitis, please consult your physician before trying The Conjuring.

Oh the horror (genre). The horror…(genre). What a silly beast you are. My love for you is as undying as your supernatural antagonists and the rage you cause me is comparable to transforming me into a machete-weilding hockey-masked demon and slicing up my Netflix Account (side note: does anyone know a quick fix for “Machete in Your PS3”? I googled it, but there’s nothing helpful). It is a genre that has produced perhaps some of the greatest and certainly the most turd-ulent of cinematic terrors. On the one hand, we have The Shining. On the other…Paranormal Activity 4. In the ‘good’ category, there’s Rosemary’s Baby and in the bad there’s, well, everything else. Other than the annual Spielbergian Oscar grabs, there is no class of movies more emotionally manipulative or as formulaic. While, for the most part, the directors of these schlockfests usually depend upon cheap scares and the cinematic equivalent of ‘Gotcha’ Journalism, sometimes horror movies can be more effective than most at delving into deeper questions about the fabric and quality of humanity. While a soul-searching, uplifting drama of nauseating optimism might champion the strength of the human spirit, horror can venture equally far into the darkness. As they say, the brighter the sun, the darker the shadow. And if they don’t, they should (even though it makes no physical sense).

"WHO ATE ALL OF MY FUCKING COOKIES?" ~ Vera Farmiga, alpha.

“WHO ATE ALL OF MY FUCKING COOKIES?” ~ Vera Farmiga, alpha.

Mr. James Wan, the director of this quaint little ditty, is a fascinating fellow. His career, though short, is as storied and perhaps more grotesquely marred than Nick Nolte’s DUI record. His first film, Saw, the Rosa Parks of torture porn, if you will, transformed the terrorscape forever more, shifting mindless zero-budget BS from the hack-and-slashers of what I call the “80s Hangover”, towards the direction of the openly misogynistic (Hostel: Part II), the purely sadistic (The Human Centipede: Full Sequence) or the utterly pus-ridden and mind-melting (Saw III). Since then, he’s explored the failed career of Donnie Wahlberg as he fights dolls (Dead Silence), Kevin Bacon getting angry (Death Sentence) and the utterly bemusing and more-tonally-inconsistent-than-a-dubstep-appreciation-concert Insidious. It was that last film that clued me into a long lost talent, residing hidden below the surface of jump-scares and nonsensical scary mask design. The first act of Insidious is careful and tense, allowing shots to linger and the silence to infest. It employed Actors (with a capital A) such as stage veteran Patrick Wilson and so-deadpan-you-need-to-check-for-a-pulse Rose Byrne. There were shocks and genuinely disturbing imagery gradually seeping through each frame, growing to a throbbing and spine-tingling crescendo… And then the second half begins and subtlety is thrown to the wind, like a pair of panties captured after a Revenge of the Nerd-esque undergarment raid. We have mediums and ghostbusters and battles in the land of the spirits, not to mention an out-of-the-blue plot point that derails the story faster than you can say “Where the fuck did that creepy old lady come from?”

Now, we have the next stage of his horror opus, The Conjuring. This little ditty tells the tale of Ed and Lorraine Warren, two of the most famous real-life demonoligists this side of the River Styx, as they tackle a tormented house in the backwoods of Rhode Island (and, yes, Rhode Island has backwoods, no matter how small you think it is. Well, it’s more of a back ‘garden’, but you get the idea). Now, these two were the ones brought in to exorcise the Amityville Horror back in the day (though they couldn’t exorcise some fucking profit from the 2006 remake. BOOYAH!) and their work inspired the so-straight-forward-it-might-as-well-be-a-fucking-ruler titled A Haunting in Connecticut. You thought that stuff was scary? No? Well, neither did anyone else, BUT, and that’s a massive Kardashian-sized heiny, this is the scariest tale of them all. Or, at least, the Polanski-esque credits tell us so in the opening frames. Wilson, taking a second crack at a decent movie with Wan, is back as Ed and the delectable and inexplicably frilly-caped Vera Farmiga joins the crew as Lorraine. They hold the center of this tale, their chemistry unmistakable; and they offer a beating heart that is so often lacking in this sort of by-the-numbers ghost story nonsense. The family, on the other hand, does their best to exemplify the classic American Unit, though there’s so many of them (all female) that 1) it’s impossible to distinguish any of them, other than the one that was in White House Down and 2) they look like the Children of the Fucking Corn. I half expected them to transform into some kind of satanic Wicker Woman and cover Patrick Wilson in bees. The parental units are the targets, however. Lily Taylor, an actress who has already slogged through the supernatural sewer in 1999’s Owen-Wilson-gets-decapitated classic The Haunting, has once more drawn the short straw. Throughout the course of the film, along with Ms. Farmiga, she is dragged through metaphorical and literal hell. Meanwhile, Ron “That Guy Whose Career Stalled After Office Space Because He Only Speaks in Semi-Concerned Monotone” Livingston gets off almost scott-free as the kinda distant, mostly clueless father.

"What? Is it my hair? It's my hair isn't it. I look like a Ken doll, don't I? WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME HOW DUMB I LOOKED BEFORE WE LEFT THE HOUSE?!" ~ Patrick Wilson, oblivious.

“What? Is it my hair? It’s my hair isn’t it. I look like a Ken doll, don’t I? WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME HOW DUMB I LOOKED BEFORE WE LEFT THE HOUSE?!” ~ Patrick Wilson, oblivious.

Alright, what’s the plot? Fresh off the case of the Freakiest Demonic Doll You’ve Ever Fucking Seen, the Warrens are called in to investigate the Perron family. They’ve been plagued with night after night of knocks and claps and smashing things and closing doors and opening doors and odors of rotting meat. The Warrens show up and Farmiga immediately goes into “Pressurized Eyeballs Being Sucked From Skull” mode. Shit ain’t right. After about 10 minutes of research, they discover that a witch literally sacrificed her child to Satan and then hung herself on the property about a hundred years before. Since then, there have been suicides and murder-suicides in store for any family unlucky enough to file a mortgage on the place. At this point, Ed Warren literally says, “Well, that explains a lot.” No joke. Anyhoo, the hauntings become worse and Bathsheba (yep, actual name) possesses the poor and haggard Ms. Taylor, who then spends the latter half of the movie acting like hemophilic Beatles fan. The haunting escalates faster than a moving walkway on meth and soon they have no choice but to exorcise the spirit without the Vatican’s help.

"NO! DON'T TAKE ME BACK TO THE HAUNTING! I CAN'T TAKE ANYMORE LIAM NEESON! PLEEEEEASE!" Lily Taylor, damaged.

“NO! DON’T TAKE ME BACK TO THE HAUNTING! I CAN’T TAKE ANYMORE LIAM NEESON! PLEEEEEASE!” Lily Taylor, damaged.

To be clear, there is nothing, I mean nothing innovative about this movie. You will most likely walk from the theater muttering, “I’ve seen all that before.” But your knees are still shuddering and you still check behind every goddamn door in your darkened home before slipping into bed. It seems that this is James Wan’s attempt at pure quality rather than creative depth. Almost every frame is referential to every decent horror film for the last 30 years, most notably The Exorcist. But the references don’t plague the film. They’re subtle emotional cues that, for those that notice them, usually act as harbingers of anxiety. This movie is tense. Wan knows that he only has about three tricks in his shallow tool bag, but he knows how to use them. Where Kubrick employed color tone and long, static lingering shots, Wan keeps things close, dark and unbroken. So often he keeps the take going as long as humanly possible, no doubt orchestrating some kind of graceful choreography behind the scenes to catch us off guard at every moment. It would have been nice to see this story, set in the mid-70s, to have been filmed on actual film rather than HD digital. But, alas, such things are of the past for money-minded studios. Along with that, one of Wan’s most beloved fallbacks is his creature design. He can’t help tossing in a creepy doll here and an old-lady face there. The film is truly unnerving when the threat is only suggested, much as Spielberg discovered in Jaws. Luckily, Wan’s visual indiscretion doesn’t become apparent until closer to the end, when the witch begins popping into frame with increasingly pointless frequency, a pale imitation of a Sam Raimi prosthetic. Until you see it, though, the movie is tenser than Thanksgiving Dinner after Grandma Sally brings up ‘The Negroid Problem’.

"Quick! Get this woman a plastic surgeon!" Vera, helping.

“Quick! Get this woman a plastic surgeon!” Vera, helping.

James Wan, for all of his earlier career faults, is gradually growing into a solid delivery boy of scares. His talent may seem limited to a few predictable fall-backs, but he manages to keep his direction tight and focused. I held my hand over my eyes for a good many sections of the movie. I DON’T DO THAT. EVER. For me, most scary movies are about as unnerving as a fucking squirrel in a tutu. Usually all I do is laugh and then question the humanity of dressing up a rodent in a ballerina outfit. Wan’s skill increases dramatically with every feature, both figuratively and literally. While his next movie might be the seemingly tepid sequel to the bat-shit Insidious, the feature following is the seventh addition to the brain-explodingly brilliant Fast and Furious franchise. Perhaps there he will discover a new set of tricks, what with abs and biceps and carburetors flying about the frame, before returning to horror with a set of terror-inducing weaponry to truly create something magnificent.

Godspeed, sir. Godspeed.

Abduction (2011) –  John Singleton (Dir.), Taylor Lautner, Lily Collins, Maria Bello, Jason Isaacs, Alfred Molina, Sigourney Weaver, Michael Nyquist, Dylan McDermott

I think e.e. cummings wrote that tagline during his CAPITALS period.

I think e.e. cummings wrote that tagline during his CAPITALS period.

In our second episode (well, third, but we got WAAAAAAAAY too drunk to show our episode on Mirror Mirror) we explore the brilliant, genre-defining, ab-defying, franchise-igniting epic that is Taylor Lautner’s Abduction. Erin’s choice may or may not have fried our brains out of our earholes. From random white men getting shot in the face to a surprise cameo from Not-The-Rock, this movie was everything that we never wanted. How many times can you claw out your own eyes?

Will this cinematic treat lead to a second, ab-ier Bourne trilogy? Can Taylor Lautner act? How many drugs was Maria Bello on during filming? Why is Lucius Malfoy a good guy? Was Alfred Molina in any movies where his spinal cord is inextricably attached to four metal arms that try to kill Tobey Maguire? All the answers you seek lie in our second episode of our award winning (not really) webseries, Whine & Cheese.

White House Down (2013) – Roland Emmerich (Dir.), Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, James Woods, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Richard Jenkins, Jason Clarke, Jimmy Simpson, that black guy from LOST, no, not that one, the creepy thin one, well, I guess he was in Fringe too, but I never saw that.

From the man who brought us Evil Shakespeare, Danny Glover as the US President, global warming chasing Jake Gyllenhaal down a hallway and Will Smith punching an alien in the fucking face.

From the man who brought us Evil Shakespeare, Danny Glover as the US President, global warming chasing Jake Gyllenhaal down a hallway and Will Smith punching an alien in the fucking face.

There are two ways to review this movie. Firstly, as the obsessive schadenfraude-loving schlock-queen I never wish to admit that I am; and secondly, as the shrewdly opined writer of screen reviews. There were a number of choices leading to the viewing of this sure-to-be-classic of the bargain bin. Perhaps the most impactful of all was that, in the spirit of the White House’s codename in IPA being Whiskey Hotel, I consumed what might be considered a Hotel California’s amount of whiskey in order to stomach all two hours. And boy, was it worth it. The secondary choice, which only made itself apparent the following day, was seeing this movie during perhaps the most celebratory Pride Weekend since the US government decided burning gay people at the stake isn’t really a good idea. But I’ll get to that in a minute.

So, what is White House Down? Oh so many things. Is it an action movie? Well, there’s certainly some action. Is it a comedy? I did laugh. A lot. Is it a political thriller? Well, it was thrilling. Political? I think this movie understands as much about US democracy as a two year old diabetic understands about chocolate milk. She likes it. She douses herself in it. However, after a little too much, she starts shaking and needs to be taken to the hospital. In the end, as I shambled from the movie theater, my friends hooting and hollering with glee at this giddily flamboyant pastiche of horrendous cliches mashed together into some kind of nauseating and soul-consuming patriot-paste, I had no earthly concept of what I had just witnessed. Whatever this movie might be, there is one unmitigated fact resting at the center of this mind-bending maelstrom. It is a film by Roland Emmerich.

What’s the story? Well, there’s this fellow John McClane, I mean, Who-Gives-a-Fuck-Please-Just-Take-Off-Your-Shirt-Because-We-Know-It-Will-Happen-Eventually or, as you may know him, Channing Tatum. He plays a New York cop bodyguard to the Speaker of the House who is trying to become a Secret Service agent and simultaneously gain back the trust of his estranged wife daughter by hanging out with her at Nakatomi Plaza the White House. However, due to our hero being in the wrong place at the wrong time, terrorists take over and, with a computer hacker, a crazed madman and Alan Rickman James Woods (who looks as though a bald eagle took a shit on his scalp. Seriously, what’s with old dudes with terrible crewcuts in movies these days? First Sam Shepard then this? When I hit sixty, will I suddenly be overcome with the insatiable need to make my head look squarer than a geometry student’s wet dream?) they attempt to force Mr. Takagi President Schmarak Schmoschmama to open his vault the nuclear football. What follows is a frolic through the fields of excess so excessive you’ll have to excise it from your exithole before you leave the theater. But seriously, this script was basically the presidential Mad Libs of Die Hard. Beat by beat, it steals from possibly the greatest contained action movie of all time. From the ‘hiding above the elevator’ technique, to the scene where McClane, I mean, Channing “Sounds Like a Potato Dish” Tatum has to kill the terrorists on the roof to stop them from blowing up a helicopter. They even have a section where a tank is blown up with an RPG before it has a chance to ram into the building. I shit you not. However, I will admit, if you’re going to steal, steal from the greatest.

Oh yes. Maggie Gyllenhaal is in this, basically channeling the scene where she gets blown up in The Dark Knight...just more boring.

Oh yes. Maggie Gyllenhaal is in this, basically channeling the scene where she gets blown up in The Dark Knight…just more boring.

All of that bellyaching about the script has little meaning, however. Because, whatever this crapfest was on the page, is was turned into something else when it fell into Roland “Yes, He References Blowing Up the White House in a Previous Film He Directed IN HIS OWN MOVIE” Emmerich. Now, this is where the Pride Weekend comes in. I’m not sure if it’s okay to call Emmerich ‘King of the Gays’, but he has to at least be Archduke of the Gays. While Michael Bay might spend his Herculean and Dionysian efforts visually molesting his onscreen hotties and thereby frying our braincells in the process, Mr. Emmerich is up to something slightly more subversive. While he isn’t necessarily overtly misogynistic on the same level as, say, Mr. Bay, Emmerich rarely populates his films with too many women because, honestly, who needs all those jiggly bits flopping about? (I imagine Emmerich attempting to bat several double D boobies out of the way with an expression of deep concern and dread). This is a straight man’s movie, by all outward accounts. There are no obviously gay characters. There is no blatant homoeroticism a la 300. Rather, the flamboyance exists in every frame, subverting expectation at every turn. It’s as though Emmerich is making a John Waters film without any of the actual words or characters or things that happen in them. On paper, pretty much everything is blander than a bottled water tasting, but Emmerich ramps up every dial possible. In the aforementioned scene with the helicopters, when Delta Force is inevitably shot from the air, the soldiers falling from their ropes in slow motion look more like an aerial dance display than highly skilled killers falling to their fiery dooms. You’d think tumbling to their deaths they would lose some balletic grace, but not in an Emmerich film. And, not to give away the ending (I’m totally about to give away the ending), instead of Channing Tater Tots simply shooting James “He’s Always the Bad Guy, Why Would You Expect Anything Else?” Woods in the face with, you know, a regular gun, he obliterates him with a fucking gatling cannon after running him over with the president’s car IN THE OVAL OFFICE. I kind of wish we could go back in time and make this entire film with Divine instead of Chandra Taterskins. But, alas, we cannot. Yet…

"Careful, Mr. President, there's Deadmaus in there. Watch out for douchebags. They'll fistpump you into oblivion."

“Careful, Mr. President, there’s a deadmau5 rave in there. Watch out for douchebags. They’ll fistpump you into oblivion.”

While Emmerich’s other movies might be more epic than a bro’s night out after accidentally stumbling into Skrillrex’s coke-wagon, this one looks as though his budget was about as thin as my patience. It was so cheap that it seems he wasn’t able to hire a fucking cinematographer (the lighting is about as dynamic as a Mitch McConnell Comedy Tour) or more than three sets (ninety percent looks to have been filmed on green screen, while the other ten percent was probably filmed in Emmerich’s sex cauldron home). Emmerich does what he can with what he has. From a road-runner-esque chase in the presidential motorcade on the White House’s back lawn to the necklace of grenades Chapstick Tattletale gives to the unfortunately visaged Jason Clarke (the man looks as though he cut off a baby’s face and stapled it onto his own, Hannibal Lecter-style), to Jamie “Why Does he Have Two X’s In His Last Name?” Foxx playing what I can only assume is Black Bush from that one Chappelle Show sketch (the Blackest President Ever actually says ‘Get your hands off my Jordans’), Emmerich milks this sucker for all it’s fucking worth. I mean, the insane white supremacist’s name is ‘Killick’. Like…come on. Come. On.

"I wonder if now there's an African-American president we have to call it the Black House." ~ Channing Tatum: thoughts.

“I wonder…if now there’s an African-American president, do we have to call it the Black House?” ~ Thoughts by Channing Tatum.

It is an interesting juxtaposition for me. Having inundated myself with political commentary of late, from the Daily Show to Armando “Best Name Ever” Ianucci’s brilliant Veep to the blahfest that was House of Cards, the US government is slowly making it clear that nothing can get done in this fucking country. From Congress to the Senate to a lackluster President, this country is becoming a paragon of agonizing inaction. So, thank you Mr. Emmerich, for shoving about thirty tons of TNT up its butt and giggling while you light the fuse (side note: due to the obvious snub by the destruction of Congress in Mars Attacks, Emmerich gets his own back by obliterating the mutherfucker. Take that Boehner!)

It is not a good movie. It is a great one. It is not skillfully made. It is greatly made. It will make you giggle every second it is playing, whether or not it’s intentional. And, I think, for Emmerich, it was. Why not make fun of gross hetero-male power fantasies by reducing and ridiculing? Also, way to make Obama seem like some kind of rap artist. I get the distinct feeling that Foxx probably thought to play President Sawyer as more Morgan Freeman than Kanye West, but ‘The Roland’ had other plans. At least it isn’t as racist as Transformers 2. I mean, what can you expect from a German dude who loves America more than he loves stuffed zebras? Well, he doesn’t love America that much.

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…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summer Movie Preview Part III – Movies I Will See Drunk

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

The Great Gatsby

The Fitzgerald is watching you...

The Fitzgerald is watching you…

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

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

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

I will probably die of acute Jack Daniels-ing.

World War Z

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

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

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

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

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

White House Down

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Byzantium

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

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

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

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

R.I.P.D.

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

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

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

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

300: Rise of an Empire

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

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

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

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

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

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