Posts Tagged ‘russell crowe’

Man of Steel (2013) – Zack Snyder (Dir.), Henry “The Howitzer Show” Cavill, Amy “More Pantsuit Than a Hilary Clinton Cosplay Convention” Adams, Michael “I’M NOT YELLING, THIS IS THE WAY I TALK” Shannon, Russell “Fuck That Guy” Crowe, Diane “Silver Fox” Lane, Kevin “The Silverier Foxier, Well More of a Possum” Kostner and Laurence Fishburne.

It seems as though Snyder signed up for JJ Abrams's master class, "Lens Flare and You: How to Give Your Audience Epilepsy"

It seems as though Snyder signed up for JJ Abrams’s master class, “Lens Flare and You: How to Give Your Audience Epilepsy”

Here we are. Finally Chicago has figured out it’s insufferable mood swings and delivered us some weather worthy of the word ‘Summer’. And, as every Chicagoan is like to do, I have begun complaining about the heat and the sweat-where-sweat-shouldn’t-be almost immediately. So, instead of delving into my fickle meteorological tastes, let’s complain about something else. As the perturbed (and probably pretty drunk) carnie says, “Oh look, another fucking tentpole”. Yes! Tis the season for a metaphorical filmic circus. What kind of tentpole is Man of Steel? Is it the big ring? The freak hut? Where they store the elephant dung? Keep reading, because the answer might surprise you!

Or the answer might not! It probably won’t. Let’s get that out of the way. This movie was quite safely on the “Movies I will See and Hate Myself” list for good reason. For every excellent sign of its quality, there was an equal and opposite red flag. This thing is the Newton’s Third Law of films. Every point counting in its favor has an exact opposite measure pulling it inexorably into the harsh no man’s land of bland BS. It becomes the worst possible thing a summer blockbuster can be: boring.

Alright, the basics. Our director treats us to an absurdly overlong prologue in which we learn far more about Kryptonian politics than anyone has ever wanted. Jor-El (Russell “The Muscle” Crowe) and his wife Lara give birth to the only naturally born Kryptonian in hundreds of years (well, the wife gives birth, he just creepily watches. Because, you know, Russell Crowe). Oh, and the world is falling apart due to energy harvesting. Oh, and it’s also apparently Pandora after the humans win in Avatar 2 and strip it of all its resources. Oh, and there’s a council with more funny hats than a Tarsem hat-a-thon. Then, Michael Shannon enters, without any insane yelling or creepy laughs, as the curiously monikered ‘Zod’. He, in the essence of some kind of space Hitler, wants to eradicate the weaker Kryptonian bloodlines by way of a thing called a Codex…a knock off of the Crystal Skull that can be read by a computer with…um… And there’s a fight… And he’s arrested or…uh…well…

I imagine this is the contraption Dick Cheney uses to suck the youth out of virgins.

I imagine this is the contraption Dick Cheney uses to suck the youth out of virgins.

Bored yet? That’s only the first twenty fucking minutes. In all seriousness, there seems to have been a great effort to realize Krypton to the fullest degree, from the organic Dune-esque costume design to a Game of Thrones-ian definition of the Krypton Houses. I have no doubt that one day a Krypton Wiki will find its way into existence and we’ll be able to examine every inch and frame of the homeworld in the way that only single people who are more connected to their ISP than to any other hum-on beings can do so. Here’s the problem: everything gets fucking destroyed. All of that detail is adorable and all…but we are fine with it in the background and not chewing up precious screen time. The kicker is that the entire prologue is retold by Russell Crowe in a later scene. It was reminiscent of the infamous “Underwears” story from Tommy Wiseau’s shitter-piece The Room. But I’ll return to that gripe later.

The rest of this 2.5 hour behemoth follows the more-ripped-than-my-curtains-after-pissing-off-my-cat Henry Cavill as the titular Man of Really Difficult to Kill Stuff. He wanders through this feature a removed observer, keeping his cool better than a bored jedi. By way of increasingly redundant flashbacks, we get to see the man find his way through these powers that, at first, scare the ever loving shit out of him. Finally, he finds an old ship haunted by the electronic ghost of Russell Crowe (who found the wrong end of a sword when Michael Shannon fulfilled the dream of everyone who saw Les Miserables). From there, he gets his shiny mesh suit and begins just kinda flying around and not giving a fuck about anything. I appreciated that. Seriously, if I could fly, that’s all I would do. Ever. It would never get boring. Ever. But then, Zod comes looking for the Gentleman of a Hardened Exterior and then the movie begins the grandest exercise in tedium since I downed too much pinot noir and decided to organize a ten-year collection of random change.

Is it weird that I find this actress incredibly attractive in a Joan of Arc of Satan kind of way?

Is it weird that I find this actress incredibly attractive in a Joan of Arc of Satan kind of way?

Firstly, let’s be clear, I had a number of overwhelming prejudices when waltzing into this particular multiplex. Zack Snyder is at the helm, a man who, like Achilles as a child, was dipped into a steaming vat of liquid testosterone to the point that his brain is more testicular than neurological. He is a walking, breathing example of why you can’t leave AndroGel around your children. He gave us the delightful, yet hollow Dawn of the Dead, the my-homophobia-radar-is-going-haywire-yet-my-eyes-are-bleeding 300, the horrific letdown of a comic ‘masterpiece’ Watchmen and, the pies de resistance, the spine-tinglingly, mind-numbingly, jaw-droppingly horrendous excuse for a waste of megabytes that was Sucker Punch. However, here Mr. Snyder has an unseen hand guiding his work. Mr. Christopher “Buzzkill” Nolan watches over this movie like some kind of dark knight, making sure that dick-for-brains Snyder doesn’t hurt his loose plans for the Justice League and topple his attempt to show Joss Whedon that there can be two versions of The Avengers, except in his, nobody will have any fun whatsoever. We have a darker Superman. One with ‘feelings’. This movie is dotted with some incredibly tender moments, all carried by that muscly machine of stoicism Henry “Dreamboat” Cavill. His relationships to his earth ‘parents’ and his budding love with the heavily pantsuited and thankfully likable Amy Adams are legitimately compelling. They lay a groundwork from which some true character development can occur. Much like X2 and The Dark Knight considered the ramifications of these superheroes in the real world, a dose of needed humanity is offered to this alien immigrant.

But then…Zod arrives.

It was as though, during this process, Nolan was the Miyagi to Snyder’s Ralph Maccio. The wizened filmmaker is constantly correcting form and style, helping the arrogant young student through the pitfalls of blockbuster storytelling…until he looks away for one fucking second and turns back to see Snyder punching himself in the face. The pair get so much of the movie right and yet Snyder ruins it with his constant “More is Awesome” mentality. From the get go, we are offered too much. From the extended prologue to the gratuitous shots of Cavill’s finger-lickingly good ab muscles to the why-is-this-here demonstrations of the hefty CGI budget. Nothing compares, however, to the drawn-out and exhausting fight scenes that make up the last hour of the film. The second Cavill punches Shannon in his inexplicable goatee (it wasn’t there at the beginning of the film, where the fuck did it come from?) I knew I was in trouble. And here we arrive at the problem with Superman. Our heroes in this, I think we’re at the Bronze Age of comic books, are a darker sort. They are vulnerable. They have weaknesses. You know who doesn’t have any weaknesses? The Man of Invincibility. While Bryan Singer tried (and failed miserably) to craft a Superman with some level of killability, Snyder, in his style, decides to amp up the competition. We won’t have Lex Luther and his intelligence; we’ll just have another Superman. Thusly, the end result is a game of human ping pong, just with buildings in the way. People punch and punch and punch and yet do no damage. And it goes on forever.

Like, seriously, did he look in the mirror and think, 'Mustaches are silly. But half-bleached chin pubes are seriously thug'?

I believe he looked in the mirror and said to himself, ‘Mustaches are silly. But half-bleached chin pubes are totes thug’.

I think I finally realized what bugs me so deeply about Snyder’s excess-ad-extremum style. Watching his fight scenes is like watching porn. At the beginning, everyone is having fun. But then, it keeps going. You get the same shots of the same body parts. You finish, but it keeps going. You sit there, on your couch/desk chair/bed/bouncy castle with your tissues filled. You’re done. You got what you wanted…but it keeps going. Suddenly that initial excitement transforms into shameful fatigue and moral introspection. How many times do I need to see someone fly through a building before they finally decide to end the movie? How many trains can be thrown at one person? We all know what’s going to happen. There are no twists or turns. The novelty wears off and we, the audience, are left waiting for Snyder to stop punching himself in the face and finish off that asshole from Cobra Kai.

Even his actors, save for Cavill, seem ready for the film to be over. While Shannon, who is so delightfully bat-shit in every movie in which he appears (everyone needs to see Premium Rush or “JGL Rides a Bike” RIGHT NOW), looks bored. It’s as though he’s been directed to death. Every inevitable insane impulse he had during rehearsal was evidently left on the cutting room floor and all we have as a signifier of his mental instability is that ridiculously stupid goatee. Also, there needs to be a shout-out to Mr. Laurence Fishburne who I don’t think finished reading the script before signing up. He starts as his no-BS, strong CEO character he honed in Mission: Impossible 3 and ends as some poor human guinea pig caught in a sadistic Roland Emmerich wet dream. Every scene with him, the guy from House of Cards and the crying lady caught amongst the rubble as Metropolis is transformed into urban mulch made me want to personally apologize on behalf of their agents.

Lawrence: "Hey Amy, I didn't finish reading the script. What happens to my character?" Amy: "Um, oh, nothing much. Just some mild, you know, pulverizing."

Lawrence: “Hey Amy, I didn’t finish reading the script. What happens to my character?”
Amy: “Um, oh, nothing much. Just some mild, you know, pulverizing.”

Perhaps, one day, they will figure out a way to make Superman vulnerable. Perhaps one day we will see a sequel. Perhaps the “Man of It’s Like Iron, But Less Rusty” is destined for relegation to the back of the Justice League along with Wonder Woman (you know, because she’s a woman and absolutely NO GIRLS watch comic book movies). I give Snyder and Nolan credit for honestly trying, but all good will they build in the first half is utterly obliterated in the second. That is, in essence, what made this movie so painful. It gave the promise of potential and then shot itself in the foot. It seemed, if momentarily, like this could have been Snyder’s redemption and reprieve from the dark side of misogynistic inanity. But then things go boom and the AndroGel claims its victim once more. *Le sigh*. There might be talent hiding deep down in that shell of a creepster and its waiting to break out and bloom. This is a marked and great improvement over his recent forays. Let’s hope Snyder continues down the road of Nolan and stops the self-inflicted facial malefaction.

Also, I’m suffering from a severe lack of Michael Shann-sanity. I need my fix. I think I’m going to watch Premium Rush again. AND NOBODY CAN STOP ME.


Les Miserables (2012) – Tom Hooper (Dir.), Hugh Jackman, Russel Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Sasha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter, Samantha Barks

This poster brought to you by the monosyllabic factories of Stuttgart, our motto: "GOOD"

This poster brought to you by the monosyllabic factories of Stuttgart, our motto: “GOOD”

Alright, let’s get this out of the way. Deep breath…




*pant, pant*





*pant, pant*



Hugh Jackman as Daniel Day Lewis as Hugh Jackman as Orson Wells as Valjean

Hugh Jackman as Daniel Day Lewis as Hugh Jackman as Orson Wells as Valjean

Holy fuck. Thank you, disembodied internet-hand. I needed that. Yes, it is true, I’m almost not ashamed to admit, that I am a Les Miserables fan-girl. From the moment the score swelled and the chain-gang took to their turntable on a lonely stage in New Haven, CT, like a fish too stupid to tell the difference between a worm and a piece of sparkly plastic on a string, I was hooked. My little highschool self became drunk on Thenardier’s bombast, Valjean’s strength, Javert’s straight-laced don’t-fuck-with-me-fuckery. The next year, we performed the show, fresh off of the touring stage. Our budget was nothing! Our talent was limited! Our cast was mainly boys who were too afraid to play sports and girls who were trying to sleep with all the hot gays! But what we lacked in pretty much every department required to put on one of the most over the top productions since Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Michael Bay’s Transformers! The Musical, we made up for in heart. And, you know what, we kicked ass. At least, that’s what my mother said. (But she’s british so it was more, ‘It was the dog’s bollocks!’)

So, now, years later, I am confronted once more with my deepest of demons, my darkest of secrets, my squealiest, most infuriating, most utterly weepy self: Les Mis Mooney. *Facepalm* Try as I did to stave it off, every fucking time that fucking trailer with Anne fucking Hathaway came on the fucking screen and sang I Dreamed a Fucking Dream I’d become a weeping sack of musical theater nerd mush. I was excited for this film. So excited that I did battle with my mother for a solid month before finally convincing her to make this our ‘Boxing Day Movie’ (Mooney Family Tradition, we don’t fuck around). So, the question is, did Tom Hooper pull it off? Did I spend 3 hours squirming with sappy glee in my theater seat? Was I launched back into post revolutionary France to stand atop the barricade and fight with all my might against the coming horde of the Parisian military?


Was the movie terrible? No. Was it good? No. Did I cry? Kinda. Was Russell Crowe a rotting sack of shit that rained over everyone’s parade and completely ruined every modicum of film that he marred? Abso-fruitly. But I’ll get to that.

"Come, my darling, let me eat your soul."

“Come, my darling, let me eat your soul.”

First, let me say, that when attempting to corral the Mooney clan towards a movie theater, grandmother in tow, on the day after a massive film release in the middle of Connecticut, buying tickets early isn’t enough to guarantee seats. When we arrived five minutes before show time, the entire place was literally bursting at the seams with autumnal-yeared bourgeoisie. My lady friend and I were relegated to the only seat in the house with ‘restricted view’ and the inability to hear any dialogue seeing as this craphouse hadn’t figure out how Dolby works. Finally, we conceded, after I decided to sit on the floor to get a semi-decent view, to sit in the second row aaaaaaall the way to the left. We were probably 10 feet from the screen so every frame, every second was a wash of dour color and beads of digitalized sweat. Bear that in mind; I’ll come back to it.

So, who has the brass balls, the iron-clad testicles, the Steely Dans, if you will, to take on the task of adapting this emotionally-rich and utterly over-the-top display of operatic theater-nerd crazy from the West End and adapt it for the silver screen? Enter Mr. Tom “Fish-Eye Lens” Hooper. You might remember him from the 2010 Oscar-Grabby Old-Man-Acty-Acty Royalty Porn that was The King’s Speech. Now, for months I staved off the horde from forcing me to sit down and indulge in all two hours of Mr. Darcy being taught by Bellatrix and Captain Barbossa to speak right. But, in the end, I broke down and scoffed on the mass of royal toe-sucking that makes up the highest grossing revenues of all British exports. And it was good. Like really, fucking good. Suddenly, all preconceived notions of its shrewd award begging evaporated and I was offered a heart-warming tale of small victories and family issues. Now, let’s transport that grimy and realistic view of Blitzed London to post revolutionary France. Mr. Hooper, during that import, seems to have loaded up on the HD close-up cameras, Steady-Cams and fish-eye lenses (OH THE FISH-EYES!). Because, honestly, how does one transmogrify a play that, beside the fact that everyone’s singing, attempts with its very core to convince you that it is anything other than a play, into something that is a movie that doesn’t want to be a movie but wants to be a movie? Apparently, the answer is close-ups. SO MANY CLOSE-UPS. Seriously, if I had a migraine for every close-up that happened…oh wait, I fucking did. It got to the point, only ten feet from the screen, that I almost attempted playing a game of ring toss with the fake wrinkles around Wolverine’s eyes. Yes, Hooper does an excellent job of fucking up peoples’ teeth, spreading the grease through their hair like they just returned from a New Orleans deep-fry off, and covering the extras in so many topical diseases you’d think they were all going to a Keith Richards costume party. In retrospect, that was my favorite aspect of the movie. Out of all the Les Mis adaptations, including the hilariously truncated but eminently watchable Liam Neeson/Geoffrey Rush Fugitive remake in the mid-Naughties, this is the only one that actually has shit in the Parisian sewer. It was gross. It was vile. And it was a delightful touch.



Here is the biggest issue. Film is a medium that avoids Suspension of Disbelief like the plague. It offers levels of realism unparalleled by any other form of artistic expression. And so, when you have this sprawling epic in vibrato forced into ultra-realistic cinematography, peppered with spoken lines to help fill in the blanks that the stage play just doesn’t give a fuck about, you have to ask yourself…why are you singing when you can talk? Surely that’s an easier form of communication? Thus, we have the patented Square-Peg Conundrum. Les Miserables is a wonderfully square peg, beautifully constructed and soaking in the loins of teenage fans in heat, but Mr. Hooper is attempting to force it into the round hole of cinema. No matter how hard you lean on it, it ain’t gonna fit, buddy. What you get is a higgedly-piggedly mish-mash of actors not knowing what movie they are in (is it an understated comedy? A romance movie? A jailbreak? A concert film where all you do is stand still and sing because you are contractually obligated to at least show up? (Fuck you, Russell Crowe)). Honestly, there are only three stage musicals that have been adapted into film that I think work. First, West Side Story because one, duh, it’s Sondheim and Bernstein and two, it knows it’s a play. It has the sets, it has the dancing, it has the everything. It defines its rules and it sticks to ’em. Second, is Reefer Madness because, well, it’s fucking ridiculous and I love it and never-say-anything-bad-about-it-ever-or-I-will-come-to-your-house-in-the-night-and-let-a-bear-loose-in-your-bedroom. Lastly, and probably leastly, Chicago. It’s not my favorite musical nor is it my favorite movie. BUT. It understands why the play is a musical and why it loves the format in which it was crafted. It’s about over-the-top sizzle, sazzle, jazz, pizzazz and other misuses of the letter z. When people sing, they are teleported to a disembodied stage in the middle of MUSICAL-TOPIA and it becomes clear that these songs are more inner-monologues, thus weaving it together in a sensical package. Sometimes it really works in Les Mis. Pretty much everything at the barricade and involving the lovers makes sense and is fucking great. Sometimes it really, really, really, really doesn’t (I’m looking at you everything-Hugh-Jackman-does). So…speaking of Wolverine…

Oh the cast. There is a wonderful paradox when it comes to casting a movie musical. Anyone who doesn’t really give a shit is waiting to see what Hollywood starlets believe they can belt and so they charge forth to witness either their edification onto the fast-track to Oscardom (Renee Zellweger has an Oscar Nomination. I ask you, is there no other greater affront to humanity than that?) or the complete and utter dismemberment by way of unrelenting ridicule. Those who do give a shit demand Broadway stars who only the most nerdy of the nerds might recognize. It’s naive and incorrect to think there is anyway a no name will be installed into the lead role of any massive budget shit show like this, so the argument never, ever holds water, disregarding talent altogether. So, here we have Catwoman, the enervating and delightful Anne Hathaway, with a widescreen camera almost lodged in her vocal cords, plugging away and sealing up an Oscar faster than Meryl Streep can say, “I think I’ll make another movie”. She hits her notes, she cries her tears, she dreams a dream of days gone by. Good job. Then we have the chilluns and the clowns. Amanda “Light of God Encapsulated in Human Form” Seyfried plays Cosette, the role she was literally concocted in a lab to play, and kills it. We even having the surprisingly buxom Samantha Barks trouncing those solos as Eponine because, well, she’s famous for singing things well. Next, Borat and Ms. Lovett create a love story that makes you question French dentistry with completely unexpectedly underplayed performances. Seriously, I played Thenardier in high school with a gusto that would have made Roger Ebert cry blood, but this is so absolutely opposite and hilarious that it provides something that you wouldn’t expect…a reason for this movie to exist. Bonham Carter and Baron Cohen, these dually-surnamed beasts of comedic timing, create characters you wouldn’t see on stage. Thank the Jesus. Finally, on the ‘good’ side of things, we have the otherwise blissfully unknown powerhouse that is Eddie Redmayne playing Marius. Where the fuck did he come from? Did he crawl out of some kind of secret lab where the Brits are trying to construct the perfect man but accidentally hit the ‘freckle-icious’ button? I have always hated Marius, the wimpy, whiny little sod. This is the first fucking time ever that he comes off as a warrior, believably smitten, and a PTSD survivor. Holy shit. When he sings ‘Empty Chairs at Empty Tables’, redundancy of the title aside, he delivers a solo that would make Orpheus rethink

The Thenardiers, shockingly good hosts, if you don't mind Syphilis.

The Thenardiers, shockingly good hosts, if you don’t mind Syphilis.

his profession…and that’s even with a fucking steady cam assaulting his esophagus.

But then, oh man, then there’s the other half of the cast. Mr. Jackman, Wolverine, bubby, I love you. You’re the sweetest little stardust of a human being to ever flit its way out of Aussie-land. You’re a great singer, a charismatic actor, an uncompromising delight. Jean Valjean, you are not. You try, you try so hard…but there’s only so much a make-up artist can do to make you age from 30-something to 60-something with High Definition Dolby Digital Chromatic-Asshattery sucking on your flaring nostrils. You don’t have the voice, the presence, the age or the latter-day Orson Wells look to play this role. But it isn’t your fault…you’re just miscast. I feel like I should send you a card and beg you to continue what you’re doing. Be Wolverine. Be likable. Be the most charming host the Academy Awards has pulled out of its ass since Johnny Carson died and everyone got sick of Billy Crystal.

There is another card I wish to send. Well, it’s more of a package. It has no writing. Just poop. Stinky, stale, maggot-ridden, I-might-have-had-curry-last-night feces. And it will be addressed to Mr. Russell “Cell Phone in the Face” Crowe (yeah, no one has forgotten that one, bucko). Now, I’m fully aware that if I ever met Mr. Crowe, this next paragraph will earn me a punch in the face because, you know, he does that. I don’t give a fuck. So, here goes:


Good paragraph. But seriously, when I auditioned for this show, when I fell in love with it, when I sang it all alone in my room and my parents quietly questioned my sexuality, I wanted to play Javert. I don’t know what it is about his character, but he spoke to me. He’s a man who lives by a code, much like Batman. He fights bad guys, like Batman. Sometimes he talks about stars and jumps off of high things, like…Batman? His quest to destroy the virtuous Valjean is the emotional through-line that weaves this thousand-fucking-million page novel into something edible for the illiterate public. He is so stalwart in his view that bad is bad and will always be bad, while Valjean entirely undoes his basic understanding of existence. The only option? SPOILERS. Suicide. You know what I just described? A character arc. A tale of emotional growth and destruction that makes sense. Have you seen movies recently? You’ll be so lucky you get anything so worthy. Mr. Crowe, you stumble into this film a blank piece of wood. You sang badly. You look as though this was court-ordered community service. What the fuck? Do you not know what a musical is? What about singing? What about acting? I know you got your Oscar early so the rest of your career is just coasting on fumes, but come the fuck on. Don’t just piss on my favorite character! You are the worst. Just the worst. You know what? Hitler did a lot of bad things (Holocaust, World War II, painting, vegetarianism), you know what he didn’t do? RUIN LES MISERABLES. That’s right, in this specific case, you are WORSE THAN HITLER. You know what? From now on, everything will be judged on a Russell Crowe scale of terrible. Level 1 is Gladiator, where, yes you kill people good and make some speeches, but every scene of you talking to another human being is about as interesting as me scratching my balls for two days straight. Level 5 is Robin Hood. I went through the entire movie thinking you were Little John because, goddammit, lose some weight! Level 10 is going to be the probably terrible Superman remake because, let’s be real, it’s directed by Zack “DERR-I-LIEK-BOOBS” Snyder. Level fucking 50 is Les Mis.

And the award for best Keanu Reeves impersonation goes to..."GO FUCK YOURSELF."

And the award for best Keanu Reeves impersonation goes to…”GO FUCK YOURSELF.”

So, in conclusion, did I enjoy Les Mis? Yes and no. Was it agonizing to sit there for 3 hours? Yes. Will I buy it on DVD? Absolutely. Will it be in Blu-Ray so I can literally count every single pore on Hugh Jackman’s face? You fucking know it. The second it comes out I’m going to have a Whiskey and Swearing at Russell Crowe Party. You’re all invited.