Posts Tagged ‘beasts of the southern wild’

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.

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

and

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THERE IT IS!

THERE IT IS!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beasts of the Southern Wild - 6

Go home, pig, you’re drunk.

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

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

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

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

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

The winds of a distant winter are rising. Cold fronts, like chilled custard, are gradually consuming the Midwest and with it Chicago. Those summer dresses that make ladies seem so dishonestly ephemeral are quickly disintegrating to the temporal safety of jeans and sweatpants. The summer is coming to a close and, as Ned Stark would say if he had an issue with premature ejaculations (referring specifically to the archaic definition pertaining to elocution), Fall Is Coming. Finally, I’m able to cast aside my vibrant colors in favor of dour earth tones. I no longer need to repel the incessant whines of “Andrew, you should try shorts, you’d look adorable” because it wouldn’t be adorable, it would be as horrifying as looking into the Ark of the Covenant, doesn’t anyone understand I AM EXTREMELY INSECURE ABOUT MY PASTY LEGS.

Well, for a Summer of Film, like any good night of sex, there is a shit load of build up and anticipation, a middling execution with some high points (and seriously low ones) and finally a required and sleepy denouement. This is that sleepiness. A decomposition, if you will, a digestion, that special walk that you take after Thanksgiving Dinner in the hope that burning about fifty calories will offset that Herculean gorge-fest that was that five course monstrosity. Perhaps these will take the form of awards and, if they do, they will be more important than the fucking Oscars (because, honestly, what isn’t?). Perhaps they will take the form of rants. Perhaps the form of an elaborate and labyrinthine puzzle, dragging you through the depths of your own psyche, revealing grotesque truths about the human condition before finally revealing what I actually thought about a shitty film franchise. Perhaps. I haven’t decided yet.

Oh Summer of 2012, what a beast you were. You had such dazzling highs and such confounding lows. You were filled with aimless, drunken wanderings through the streets of Chicago, ending with confused mornings waking up in puddles of Dunkin Donuts breakfast sandwiches (true story). You were riddled with dates and drunken make-outs. Midnight showings and Bat-a-thons. You were epic and understated at once. Much like my fifth grade math teacher, I entered you a boy and a left you a man (not a true story). I have gained some loved ones, and lost some (you will be missed, Donnie. New York doesn’t deserve you). I went from living with four wonderful and crazed souls to living alone. And I saw both The Dark Knight Rises and Prometheus. I will be forever changed. So, now that I’ve arbitrarily decided to structure this like a rewards show, lets get this thing on the road. Without further ado…here are…

ANDREW’S SUMMER MOVIE AWARDS 2012!

Welcome, welcome ladies and gents. It’s been a wacky and wild roller coaster this summer, hasn’t it, Jane?

(Insert painfully unwitty, overly-enthusiastic response from once-pretty co-host whose face looks like it’s had more nips and tucks than a fucking French pastry)

Hilarious, Jane. You’re so on point. Well, let’s get to it!

Most Mediocre Movie I’m Glad I Missed

Winner: The Amazing Spiderman; Runner Up: The Borne Legacy

OH NO! MECHA-GOJIRA! Nope…my mistake. It’s just boring.

So, I know these were both on my list of “Movies I Will See and Hate Myself“, but guess what, other than a few noted exceptions, this was not a summer of self-harm. I read reviews of Spiderman. My friend told me it was, and I quote, “Totally Fine.” You know what? Fuck totally fine. I don’t want totally fine. This is the summer. If I want ‘totally fine’, I’d be in January. This is the time for RPX/3D/IMAX/ VHS/ADHD/CPS/SIDS to melt your mutherfucking face off. If I’m not feeling some facial phase-changes, then it has no business being in the summer movie line-up. I like Andrew Garfield, but it was so infuriatingly clear in every ad, clip and interview he was trying to be a total badass. You know what? No matter how many times you shove a lightning bolt up a corpse’s ass, you don’t get reanimation, you just get the suffocating smell of cooked, rancid meat and charred hair. My Peter Parker will always be the animated one that awkwardly fought the Green Goblin on Saturday mornings…and then got all weird and sexy with Madame Web and…well…let’s not talk about that. Also, The Borne Legacy, I heard Jeremy Renner was wasted. For that, I say, you deserve a penis in the ear. That is the one place no one likes a penis. Well, I’m sure someone does. Anyway, it’s invasive and unpleasant. You’re welcome.

Most Pissed Off I Got That Nobody Would Drink a Fifth of Jack With Me and Watch

Winner: Battleship, Runner-up: Piranha 3DD

YOU GUYS, IT LOOKS SO GOOD! SERIOUSLY! YOU GUYS!

Seriously, like, seriously guys. Why would NOBODY watch Battleship with me? Of course it’s moronic. Of course it’s about as worthy of sense as Gary Busey on the third day of an acid binge. Of course Liam Neeson will cash a paycheck. But still…COME ON. I heard there was an old person montage! And Rihanna acting! And Tim Riggins on a Boat! (For the record, I do not know, nor do I care, who Tim Riggins is. He has a cool name. Discussion over). I tried, time and again, to Shanghai someone to sneak a bottle of bourbon into the movie theater with me and drink every time someone said the words “Ship”, “God” or “Hey, isn’t that the guy from True Blood?” This summer has been seriously lacking some Transformers, over-the-top, misogyny-riddled, nonsensical action and I need my shit-fix. Why did you all abandon me? WHY?

Piranha gets honorable mention because, honestly, it’s a Piranha movie and those cannot be missed. At the same time, I heard it sucked massive elephantitis-balls. Like, globe-sized, Jack-and-the-Beanstalk-style giant testicles. And not in the good way. More in the, “just got back from rowing the Atlantic ocean and am suffering from about 12 different fungal issues in the nether-regions…do you still want to do this?” way.

Most Forgettable Movie of the Summer

Winner: I can’t remember; Runners-Up: Men in Black III, Brave

It’s that one movie…with the thing…and that guy, from that other movie…

It’s only logical that the least memorable movie was one that literally forgot its existence. This has happened numerous times. Some of the more memorable least-memorable films would be…um…that one with the cops…a black one and a white one…maybe the one with a scary thing in the something or other…or when that one person was on trial for something and somebody was trying to do something with the…it was by John Grisham, I know that. So, here’s to you, the least memorable movie of the summer! I might have written an article about you. Maybe. Maybe I didn’t because you were so fucking forgettable that my brain forcefully rejected your existence the moment I left the theater/my living room. Not because you were bad. No, bad movies deserve remembrance. You have committed the worst crime of all existence: you have stolen time out of my life that, not only will never be returned, but I cannot recollect. You’re a black hole of blandness. A vortex of vapidity. A nebula of nebul-‘eh’. So, movie that was positively pointless, thank you.

The other two runner-ups are nearly as blameful. Men in Black III was fine, without a capital ‘f’ because it doesn’t deserve such frills. It was a movie constructed by the corporate machine, placed in the hands of jaded, half-spent celebrity and given nothing to do other than make a really amusing joke about Andy Warhol. Otherwise, the film was so inoffensive and uninteresting that I literally forgot I saw it until I looked back at my articles written for this summer. And, Brave, you just stick that fucking bear tail between your legs (do bears have tails? I can’t remember. NOT THE POINT). You’re a Pixar, not some poxy by-the-numbers bullshit excreted by Lionsgate. You have a legacy to uphold! Now, yes, I enjoyed the film just fine (there’s that word again! I know grammatically the sentence is incorrect, but the issue is the same. Oh US parlance.) Semantics aside, Brave attempted a few things and succeeded. The issue was one of scale. I return to the face-melting essential nature of summer film. Wall-E fucking sublimated my entire head. Up transformed me into a sobbing, weeping, sniveling husk of mush. Brave? Brave made me shrug my shoulders and go “It wasn’t terrible.” Fuck that noise. I expect more from you people. I expect my very dreams to be haunted with your cartoonish mugs. I expect my bowels to loosen during the opening credits. I expect…

Holy shit. I just remembered what the most forgettable movie was. It was…wait…gone again. Oh well.

Most Good Movie Until a Super-Zombie Showed Up

Winner: Prometheus; Runner-Up: Um…Prometheus?

This is much more accurate depiction of that movie: people doing things that bear no relation to other things

You know how it is in the morning. You wake up, make yourself a cup of coffee, discover an alien planet that probably instigated all of evolution on planet earth, take off your fucking helmet because you “think it’s oxygen” and everything is forgivable and fine until a fucking SUPER ZOMBIE jumps out of nowhere and wrecks every non-named character? Know what I’m sayin’? No? That’s never happened to you? Well, Prometheus, I would like to thank you for obliterating the last twinkle of hope I held for modern science fiction. Thank you for taking such a deliciously dense, fertile, deep and compelling premise and the injecting it with Michael Bay cinema-herpes-riddled spunk. Much like the chaos-black stuff that infected and fundamentally transformed your characters, so did this Bay-Semen attempt to latch its genetic material onto yours. And, in self-same fashion, instead of becoming stronger, better and more interesting, you just became a fucking super-zombie, roaring like an idiot, throwing people this way and that, and eventually being crushed under the wheel of good fanboy taste. Yes, Prometheus, you are a dumb asshole. Not only that, but you built my hopes, you promised so much! And yet, as I drew back the veil, ready to place a ring on that finger and pledge my love to you, I instead discover the whale-vaginal, made-up visage of Guy Pearce peering back, Charlize Theron forgetting that human beings are capable of lateral movement and a big white dude giving forced fellatio to a crustacean.

It breaks my heart. It really does. Well, Prometheus, I really want you to be happy. Just…not with me. Bu-bye now.

Most Batman

Winner: The Dark Knight Rises; Runner-up: Moonrise Kingdom

Surprisingly Batman

This was a difficult category to decide. The list of contenders was long and contentious. We were offered an entire platter of Bat-films. Who could forget when the Dark Knight helped that family in Dark Shadows beat the evil witch’s curse? And when Bruce Wayne traveled back in time to help the Union get the silverware past the vampire threat in Abraham Lincoln: I Still Can’t Believe They Made This Movie. And, in one of the more memorable moments of summer film, who would ever lose sight of the iconic scene where the caped crusader gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to Judy Dench after a fatal Over-British-Dose in The Best Exotic Marigold HotelUndoubtedly, however, the award for Most Batman goes to The Dark Knight Rises, fearlessly having Batman in as many as six scenes! They did so well to make sure the cape and cowl had its due, featured in a whopping more than three action sequences! It takes a lot of strength, determination and creative prowess to offer so much screen time to an icon of the common imagination so immensely awesome that it naturally eclipses and obscures all sense of nuance and depth. But they did it.

Our runner up may seem like a surprise, especially with movies such as The Avengers which are simply blatant love notes to the amazingness that is Batman. I mean, they deliberately put all these mediocre characters together in an attempt to make some sort of kind-of-decent Comic-Book Voltron, composed entirely of Stan Lee’s penis inner neuroses. And they were completely and utterly successful in their attempts to show that the Dark Knight does indeed rise above the rest. However, Moonrise Kingdom takes the proverbial cake for second-place Most Batman. In fact, it’s one of my favorite origin stories of all time. X-Men: First Class was a campy/sexy mess; Batman Begins only scratched the surface; and Spiderman was about as subtle as a bottle rocket tied to my scrotum. Moonrise Kingdom charts the unlikely tale of a young Bruce Wayne, his family killed before the film even begins, falling for a young weirdo outsider whom we have to assume is Rachel Dawes (again played by Katie Holmes who really looks like she’s aged a lot since the end of TomKat) and running away from his captors (Ed Norton as a pre-police force Commissioner Gordon and Bruce Willis as Mr. Freeze before earning his PhD in ‘cold things’). I tell you, casting Bill Murray as Clayface was inspired and Frances McDormand as Harley Quinn was a stroke of genius. So, I thank you Wes Anderson, for filling in the missing pieces of Bruce’s journey. 

Least Batman

Winner: The AvengersRunners-up: The First Half of Dark Knight Rises, Magic Mike

This movie poster is still dumb.

Ok, I lied about The Avengers being a love note to The Dark Knight Rises. It was, instead, the Beethoven-esque, ovary-busting overture celebrating the eventual and glorious birth of one Mr. Joss “Fucking Finally” Whedon, a man that has been flirting with commercial greatness and total fangirl vomitoria for years. Throughout his career we have been fed tasty morsels of wonderment, from the episode Hush in Buffy season 4 to Serenity. We’ve also been plagued by Alien Resurrection and Joss Whedon fanboys (I’m not going to make any friends saying this, but if ANYONE begins singing Dr. Horrible around me, I will personally gag them and mail them to Nicaragua). The bald/ginger behemoth of pure nerdom has been gestating in a womb of ridiculous female caricatures and self-referential nonsense for years, only to bloom into a snarky, badass epic ball-buster that was The Avengers as well as the beautiful and hilarious send-up of horror films that was Cabin in the Woods. This was, in no uncertain terms, the summer of Whedon. I shall award him the honor of Least Batman because, contractually, the is no fucking way Batman can appear in the Marvel universe and, more importantly, the overall manic tone of The Avengers couldn’t haven’t been further from the Dark Knight’s noir necropolis. So, well done, Avengers. You did us proud.

The runners-up are slightly less Least Batman. First of all, the first half of The Dark Knight Rises does an incredibly admirable job of pretending to be about Batman and yet teasing us constantly with the fact that the caped crusader doesn’t show up for about THREE FUCKING HOURS. Yes, I understand pathos and that this is the first ever Batman movie that is actually about Batman. But c’mon! I want bat-antics (you know what they are because they’re labeled!)! I want gadgets! I want action scenes! I want to see Batman do something that makes my fanboy panties need a serious deep-clean on the ‘Teenage Boy Without a Girlfriend’ Cycle. The other runner-up, a film I did not see, seemed extremely not-Batman. Because, if the sixties taught us anything, there is nothing gay about Batman. Magic Mike looked super homo. Also, Matthew McConaughy is like anti-Batman. Not in that he’s something awesome like the Joker. No, he’s like buttered toast that falls on the ground butter-side down. He’s like getting a hang-nail while cutting lemons. He’s like Halle Berry’s Catwoman.

Very not-Batman indeed.

Best Movie of the Summer

Winner: Moonrise Kingdom; Runners-up: The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises

So surprising. Yes, it was the best. Deal with it.

Commence ‘Serious Face’ (TM). Yes, my favorite movie of the summer was indeed Moonrise Kingdom. Honestly, that movie cut me deeper than anything I’ve seen in some time. Deliriously funny, oddly dark and so whimsical that my testicles almost bloomed into Mumford and Sons and played a pop-folk concept in the middle of nowhere. It is probably the most entertaining modern tale of what it’s like to be a child I’ve seen in years. It was truthfully the most affecting thing I’ve seen in a while, both due to its examination of the child’s experience and because it makes you REALLY uncomfortable about how close to naked the little girl gets. *AWKWARD* That aside, thank you, Mr. Anderson, for serving us the same dish every single time and that same dish is absolutely fucking delicious.

Honorable mentions go out to the already lauded and fellated  The Avengers and Dark Knight Rises. So, yes, congrats, good movies. You’ll probably be the best movies I’ll see for a while. Unless someone FINALLY watches Battleship with me.

Movie I Wish I Had Been Drunker For

Winner: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Runner-up: Men in Black III

This poster is the most disconcerting thing I have seen since…well, this movie.

Seriously. My head was already fucking spinning, like that silver-coated axe wielded by our less-than-fortunate-looking 16th President of ours. So many things branded into my memory would have been offered the forgiving haziness of Jack Daniel-instigated inebriation. Perhaps Dominic Cooper’s horrific accent wouldn’t have pained me so. Perhaps I would have chocked up the absurdity of certain scenes to my waning control over basic motor skills. Perhaps I might have excused the nonsensical nature of the, well, the everything. Maybe Temur Nab-I’m-Not-Going-to-Look-up-How-To-Spell-it-Cus-Fuck-That-Guy-bakov would have been praised in my review for creating Inception-like complexity within his work. Instead, I had to watch it with a shitty Starbucks Latte in one hand (sorry for the redundancy of ‘Shitty’ and ‘Starbucks’) and my crumbling self-worth in the other. At least I had candy, but that can only do so much.

The runner-up here was Men in Black III solely because, if I had created a drinking game where the only rule was ‘Drink every time Will Smith is purposefully non-threatening to white people’ I might have been so drunk by the final scene that I might have involuntarily slept through the utterly hackneyed, inorganic and confusingly weep-tastic conclusion. But, hindsight is 20/20.

Movie I’m Really Upset I Missed

Winner: Beasts of the Southern Wild, Runner-up: Battleship

Come back! I can see Battleship another weekend!

So, I heard Beasts of the Southern Wild was one of the coolest, prettiest, most exhilarating films of the year. Its trailer had me crumpling my blanket in shoving into my mouth in fear that I might swallow my tongue due to a sudden wave of Cute-Black-Child-itis. Of course, I can’t really write anything about it and I don’t have a good reason for why I didn’t see it. I suppose time simply slipped away from me. Hours flew by, days even, and soon the only screen in Chicago playing its beauty allowed it slip away, quietly into the cinematic aether. And here I am, complaining about pieces of shit portraying presidents as Sarah Michelle Gellar’s only claim to fame and missing movies starring Rihanna as, well, a human being. Here I am missing true art and complaining that everything is decomposing into a massive stew of imaginative fecal matter. Here I am. I wish I had seen it, experienced it, written about it. Perhaps I’d be a different person, instead of a bitter jerk fuming over Michael Bay’s legacy. Perhaps. Lessons for the future, I suppose. A cautionary tale how lamenting about the terrible clouds our understanding of the good. Aye me.

The runner-up is Battleship. All pathos aside I REALLY WANTED TO SEE BATTLESHIP.

Most Hilarious Response to One of My Reviews I Have Ever Received

Winner: Fahrenheit 451; Runner-up: Batman Returns

So, this is the Internet. Though it is filled with wonderful things such as my blog, the blog of Raving Mad Scientists (check those ladies out, they are awesome), Netflix and every porn site ever, it is also home to less savory things. Like Goatsie (google it) or /b/ or every porn site ever. In expanding my writing to the World Wild Web I have braced myself for accidentally tapping into the vein of anonymous hatred that sneaks surreptitiously between sites, and allowing a deluge of trolling and nastiness. Luckily, I have not actually experienced any of this…yet. I have had a couple of amusing moments. My favorite of which was in response to my severely uninformed (and openly so) analysis of Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451:

“Well….I guess you gave it a good college try. You missed it on some of the facts (Wikipedia isn’t the end all and be all of information). Actually, Truffaut had originally set Werner to play the role of the captain (eventually played by Cyril Cusack – father-in-law to Jeremy Irons). When Stamp bowed out, Werner did not want to take over the role of Montag — but Truffaut pleaded and cajoled (they had worked so well together in Jules and Jim). Werner (in real life) experienced Kristalnacht in Vienna and saw more than his share of book burning. He had a hard time with the way he felt Truffaut ‘triviliazed’ the book burning scenes. Half way through filming, the two would not even talk to each other and had to use go-betweens to get their messages across. Werner wanted to add more sympathy to the character of Montag than Truffaut did, etc. etc. I completely agree with you about how miscast Julie Christie was. Unfortunately, at that time, she was the biggest thing in box office and the film would not have been funded without her in it.” ~film fan

Thanks for the info, ‘film fan’! I do take your criticism about lack of research beyond Wikipedia and offer, in return, a gif!

And in not quite close second, after my Batman Returns piece:

“Burton himself has said that Catwoman wasn’t meant to be supernatural but ambiguous and have that whole 9 lives vibe and motif going on. When she is pushed out the window (a brilliant scene “actually, it’s a lot like that!”) she hits at least 2 awnings and falls into a mount of snow. And she only falls about 6 stories (Jackie Chan did a similar stunt for real in Project A). After this she has a pyschotic break and develops a new personality not bound by morals or society. A force of nature. The cats wander around her as they live in the alley and are suspicious and hungry. The backflipping and martial arts skilled are explained in an earlier draft when she tells Bruce about how she was a gymnastics champion as a kid and took many self defence classes but her teacher told her she wasn’t any good as her mind wasn’t clear. She replies that it’s clear now.

But a great review, I enjoyed the read.”

That was from the enigmatically monikered ‘G’. Thank you for the compliment, it will not be forgotten. But seriously, that is some serious Burton-Knowledge. All I can say is:

In all honesty, thank you for reading, all of you. I love comments. Of all kinds. I met my internet friends that way. And seriously, we all know these blogs are an attempt to find people throughout the universe that aren’t related to you who might like something you wrote. Fleeting passes of digital connection, helping us avoid feeling the crushing weight of loneliness if only for a moment.

Also, if you want to call me on my shit, bring it. I HAVE SO MANY GIFS TO WHIP OUT.

Well, now we must wait for the Oscars to collectively jerk off our tear ducts in an attempt for studios to garner those self-congratulatory golden dildos. Get ready for movies with Abraham Lincoln not fighting vampires. Movies that make you cry, though you keep telling yourself that you’re watching trite nonsense. Also, The mutherfucking Hobbit. I’m only entirely excited. And now…a contentious list of megachiroptean action movies from best to worst.

All Batman Movies Ranked from Best to Worst with Comparisons to Things that Get you Drunk

The Dark Knight – Like an aged Scotch, smokey, mysterious and surprising. With a dead guy in it.

The Dark Knight Rises – Hendricks Gin. Solid, delicious and makes a summer night worthy of enjoyment.

Batman Returns – Maker’s Mark. Makes you say hilarious things and surprisingly delicious. With hints of Walken.

Batman BeginsA wine. Not fine, but tasty and good with a helping of Neeson. You drink it before it’s done breathing. Like an idiot.

Batman: The Movie – Tequila. Gets you fucking drunk. And maybe a little homosexual.

BatmanAbsinthe (sans Wormwood). You think it’ll be more fun than it was and it tastes vaguely of something made in the mid-eighties but without the fun.

Batman ForeverAbsinthe (con Wormwood). Should be illegal in the States and makes you feel like you are tripping balls. Jim Carrey might appear wearing all green and torment your worst nightmares.

Batman and RobinHomeless Person’s Vomit. Self-explanatory. And it might give you a staph infection.