Posts Tagged ‘the conjuring’

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

SUMMER MOVIE AWARDS 2013!

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

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

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

MOST MEDIOCRE MOVIE I’M GLAD I MISSED

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

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

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

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

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

MOVIE I WISH I HAD BEEN DRUNKER FOR

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

The Fitzgerald is watching you...

Leo DiCaprio will ejaculate the American Dream on your face.

Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugh

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

MOVIE I ALMOST GOT INTO A FIST-FIGHT ABOUT

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

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

Most. Destructive. Fart. Ever.

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

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

MOST OBAMA

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

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

Yeah…not just women (*cross legs*)

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

That’s right. Fucking Napoleon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m coming for you, mutherfucker. Drunkenly.

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

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

MOVIE SERIES THAT MOST MADE ME SEE THE LIGHT OF GOD

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

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

It’s like a model call for douchebags!

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

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

MOST BATMAN

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

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

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

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

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

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

LEAST BATMAN

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

Yep. The Drunk Knight himself returns.

Yep. The Drunk Knight himself returns.

Sigh.

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

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

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

BEST MOVIE OF THE SUMMER I WROTE ABOUT

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

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

This is some epic poetry shit right here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Most Hateful Towards Women

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

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

This is how this award makes me feel.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My impression of me after Man of Steel.

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

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

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

This is how this makes me feel always.

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

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

Worst. Santa. Ever.

Worst. Santa. Ever.

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHAT THE…?

…CONSTIPATION CURED.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Godspeed, sir. Godspeed.

Summer Movie Preview

Part Two – Movies I Will See and Hate Myself

As Orpheus moved from the world of the living down into the depths of Hades, so too do we cross from the land of ‘interesting’ movies into the perpetual torment of ‘meh’. This is the section of the summer movie season that I despise for purely the reason that these films, if one can call them such, are not so much terrible as they are non-events. I love terrible. Heck, I adore terrible. I will purchase a midnight ticket, load up on whiskey, get dressed up in spanks and lycra and giggle until sun-up for terrible. But meh? MEH? What am I supposed to do with meh? I can’t laugh about Meh with my friends. I can’t even get angry about Meh. I just shrug, allow the experience to slip from my skin like some kind of soul-sucking, art-sucking, mind-sucking, suck-sucking oil designed to drive audiences to the point of utter wide-eyed non-beingness. They’re not candy. Candy is fun! Candy is delicious! Yes, it gives you diabetes, but that’s later. This, if this is candy, this category is filled with the Charleston Chews, the Werther’s Originals, and the Orange Starbursts of movies. These are the movies that if some old folk dumped them it in your Halloween basket, you’d make a face, ignore it for as long as possible but, once you’ve destroyed the M&Ms, the Twizzlers and Reeses, you’re going to stick your hand because, fuck it, you’re on a roll. So, if I can’t get angry about the movies then I’ll fucking get angry that I CAN’T get angry about these movies.

And, whew boy, we have a lot this year. Like way more than is acceptable. So many, in fact, that I decided to sort them all into thematic twosomes. That is how mind-bleedingly bullshit 2013 is. I want me money back, Hollywood! I haven’t even spent it yet and I already want it back! Well, let’s stop trying to stave off the inevitable and just chow down on these sugary pieces of digital entertainment destined for the bottom of the bargain bin. Here they are, the movies I will see and hate myself:

SCI-FI MOVIES TRYING REALLY HARD BUT FALLING SHORT

After Earth

No, it isn't a sequel to Dumbo. Their massive ears are simply a coincidence.

No, it isn’t a sequel to Dumbo. Their massive ears are simply a coincidence.

Will Smith is at it again! Not sated with fighting the apocalypse with a dog, he had to drag his son into the mix, bright-eyed and destined for stardom/cocaine addiction Jaden Smith. This is certainly one of the best of the bunch, I will admit. The concept of a journey back to a post-human Earth could definitely be interesting. Or it could be an exercise in Dinosaur-less Jurassic Park. I get that, over time, the creatures of Earth would evolve into human killing beasties…but they’re still just monkeys. I laugh at those things in a zoo. Ain’t no aliens burstin’ outta chests here. Just the well-worn tale of a boy getting stuck in a safari that is actually a planet. They’re going for the father-son angle. Fine. They’re even going for the ‘Fear isn’t real’ theme. Great. Now…wake me up when it gets interesting. I will say this, however, Mr. William “The Freshest of Princes” Smith is probably the only black actor (save perhaps for Jamie Foxx, on a good day) who would ever be cast in a movie on a color-blind basis. No other black actor can waltz into an A-list, multi-billion dollar Avatar rip-off and walk out alive. Which is ironic, because the trailers scream that he’s going to get fucked up in this movie. Just watch. Thems baboons are gonna themselves a jiggy-with-it Smith-skewer. It’s going to be like the first scene of 2001: A Space Odyssey except that it’s actually going to be the part in Congo where Tim Curry bites it…in that a gorilla bites him. So, sure, I’ll see it. And sure, it’ll be just like Oblivion, heart in the right place but, like a virgin on his wedding night, execution everywhere it shouldn’t be.

Pacific Rim

Is it me or does it look like the robot is peeing apocalypse?

Is it me or does it look like the robot is peeing apocalypse?

It pains me to add this to the list. Like, accidentally-slap-yourself-in-the-face pain. Mr. Guillermo Del Toro is an artist. He is. Unlike the rest of the talentless ass monkeys in Hollywood, this Mexican madman has a vision. And, like a director with an eerily similar name, Terry Gilliam, his movies tend to die before they even have a chance to be born. It’s like there’s some kind of artistic hitman out to destroy all that Del Toro touches. At the Mountains of Madness? Dead on arrival. The Hobbit? Stolen and morphed into Franken-Hobbit, a horrifying amalgam of misdirected children’s nonsense and self-importance. The guy can’t catch a break. But finally, he has returned from his dolorous slumber, once more allowed a shot at the spotlight. Sure, he was nominated for an Oscar for the amazing and life-changing Pan’s Labyrinth, and, sure, the Hellboy series has raked in a sickening amount of cash. So, will they allow him to adapt a beloved piece of literature into a horror film starring the still terrifyingly bankable Tom Cruise? Or will they let him adapt a book so fucking easy to adapt it’s almost written in screenplay format and based on a previous intellectual property that’s made more money than Bill Gates consumes for dinner every night (not because he must, but because he can)? Nope? Okay, how about fucking robots fighting Godzilla in the dark? Sound good? Good.

I mean, who thought this was a good idea? Steal the plot of Evangelion, a nonsensical Japanese tale of demons taking over the world and humans scraping together resources from their rectal areas to fight them? Because, you know what I think when the apocalypse is happening? I think, “Well, I sure wish I’d gotten around to building multi-trillion dollar pieces of ridiculous before we got attacked. Fuck it, even though civilization is destroyed, let’s put together the most expensive and complex construction project known to man since the mutherfucking pyramids.” Also, I’m half expecting, since Del Toro hired the voice of GLaDOS from Portal, that all of the robots will turn on the humans and begin ‘testing’ with a side helping of imaginary cake. Best case scenario, Idris Elba yells, things blow up, we cheer. Worst case scenario, it’s like 1998’s Godzilla all over again…except with somehow more Matthew Broderick.

FROM THE GUYS WHO RUINED HORROR FOR EVERYONE

The Conjuring

If they're going for the award for blandest poster, I think they're a shoe in.

If they’re going for the award for blandest poster, I think they’re a shoe in.

Ladies and gentlemen, a hand, if you will, for the glorious and generous James Wan! Who is that, you ask? Oh ho ho, he is the genius, nay, the mastermind behind the ‘New Wave’ of horror. And, no, I’m not talking about the highly revered French film movement in the late sixties. This guy is man responsible for Saw, Dead Silence, Insidious and all other silliness that has spawned from his offspring. Saw III? Yeah, that was because of him. No, he didn’t direct it, just like the Wachowskis didn’t direct those whorish excuses for action movies released the in obliterative wake of The Matrix; all obsessed with not just using ‘Bullet-time’ but overusing it to the point that audiences began puking in the aisles from motion sickness. Mr. Wan is basically the prophet of mediocre brutality tales from his hilariously un-directed and bemusingly acted Saw to Insidious, a movie so scary that it shits its own pants in the final act. Did I say scary? I meant mentally-deranged. It’s not so much that the movies Wan churns out fail on many levels, its that the floodgates he opened have caused horror to turn into the masticated mess it is today. Saw allowed Eli Roth to think Hostel was okay. And Hostel allowed Hostel Part II. And that shit is unconscionable. Even Insidious, which was pretty creative for the most part, spawned the yawn-filled Sinister. And whoever keeps making Paranormal Activity movies needs to suffer a bizarre ice cream accident wherein all of their movie-making limbs are irreparably broken. Nothing terrible. I don’t want to feel bad about it; I just want it to stop.

Now, let me be clear, James Wan isn’t so bad. Insidious, for all of its completely deleterious third act nonsense, had some genuine moments of creep-itude. That face showing up behind Patrick Wilson’s head?I jumped so hard, I think I administered the Heimlich maneuver to myself. Also, the mumble-core psychics were hilarious. His creature design, after the pant-wetting chilliness of the Jigsaw puppet, has been lackluster at best, looks-like-my-grandmother-after-a-perm-gone-wrong-bad at worst. It seems, from the trailers, that Wan has included some of the creepier and more human elements of Insidious (including the concept of casting actual ‘actors’ and not ‘meat puppets’, which is always appreciated) while cashing in on the diminishing returns from Linda Blair in The Exorcist. There will be jumps. There will be creepy stuff. In fact, it looks like a delicious pot of ‘not terrible’ until we see the words ‘Based on the True Case Files of the Warrens’. UGH. NO ONE CARES IF IT’S TRUE. In fact, in the land of horror, those words are the metaphorical katana for the inexorable Hare Kari that the movie will commit in the last act. Either the screenwriter will take some serious liberties with the ‘truth’ forcing me to have the same conversation over and over again with coworkers about the complete-bullshittude of the film’s purported veracity, or it will devolve into a special episode of Ghost Hunters. Well, Mr. Wan, good luck. I hope this is a decent blip on the radar before you return to the inevitable and insipid Insidious 2 (see what I did there?).

The Purge

If all crime is legal, then why mask your identity? I have questions...

If all crime is legal, then why mask your identity? I have questions…

While The Conjuring is a direct descendant of the Saw patriarch, The Purge is the random kid allowed over to the house for Thanksgiving Dinner. No one is really sure how he got there and no one wants to ask the grinning little bastard to leave. This bad boy was invited to the party by “The Producers of Sinister and Paranormal Activity“. Awesome. The guy responsible for me watching Ethan Hawke get drunk and make terrible choices and the security tape of two boring people sleeping. Fucking tits, man. Can’t wait! Not to mention, this is brought to you by a greenhorn director who is famous for writing the movie Jack. You remember Jack, the one where Robin Williams plays the kid who grows at 4 times the rate of other children? That absolutely absurd tale of…but then…he just wants to be a kid, but he’s forty and at graduation he’s like 80…don’t cry, Andrew, you can do this…

Ahem. Yes, it has Ethan “I’ll Try if I Really Want To” Hawke and Queen Cersei sporting a rather fashionable bob. It tells the tale of an America where there is no crime and unemployment is at a record low because of the titular ‘Purge’. It is one night where there is no law and people can do whatever they please. So, naturally, they kill every mutherfucker they can…because that’s…what people do…? I don’t know about y’all, but I just wish I could turn my life into the fucking Hunger Games once a year. Anyway, the Hawke-meister and his Queen (watch out for the backstabbing!) hold up in their super-fortress of a suburban home to drink away the night. But then their dumbass kid was audacious enough to show ’empathy’, the little bitch, and saves a man’s life. Then people try to kill them. Basically, it’s Assault on Precinct Ordinary People. Seeing as this guy also wrote the Ethan Hawke remake of Assault on Precinct 13, I find that both worrying and calming. At least he’s done this before…except, last time, it really sucked. Oh well. This movie could go one of two ways: 1) it could be a clever, if slightly schadenfreudistic, look at the interactions of the 1% and the 99% and the distance between the haves and the have nots in a time of crisis or 2) it could be a nihilistic piece of torture porn wherein every angry white kid from the suburbs can cheer as the parents get blunt objects shoved where the sun don’t shine. Who knows? I can almost guarantee we will forget it almost immediately.

COGNITIVE DISSIDENCE BETWEEN TALENT OF CREATIVE TEAM AND THE QUALITY OF THE TRAILER

The Lone Ranger

Is that a dead bird on Johnny's head? Yep. Nothing wrong here.

Is that a dead bird on Johnny’s head? Yep. Nothing wrong here.

This is possibly the saddest and most confusing segment of this post. This is the place where terrible people somehow create something decent and great film artists make choices that probably should have been left on the cocaine-dusted backside of the hooker where it was conceived. The Lone Ranger is the latter. I have had a minor-to-massive crush on Mr. Gore “Really, That’s Your First Name?” Verbinski, especially during his frequent forays with Johnny “Put It Back in Your Pants, Ladies” Depp, since the advent of his mind-bending blockbuster tour de force trio Pirates of the Caribbean and solidified it further with the trippiest-cartoon-to-ever-win-an-Oscar Rango. The pair of them have the most bizarre and tickling sense of humor I’ve ever discovered in a mainstream movie. Well, sometimes those giggle-butts go a little too far and decide to do The Lone Ranger. *FACEPALM* Okay, guys, you’ve already flaunted the fact that you can turn the most absurd basis of a movie, a fucking ride at Disney, into an amazing seafaring romp. Yes, you proved you can stick it to Wreck-it Ralph with bizarro Clint Eastwood references and Bill Nighy as a snake with a gattling gun (no fucking joke, you need to see Rango; it’s insane). But racism? Guys, seriously. Yes, I know, Mr. Depp is some non-existent fraction of Cherokee that, to real mathematicians would round down to naught. But it doesn’t count. That’s like Tiger Woods saying “I’m half Chinese so I can dress up in my red dragon-enbroidered robes, stick in some buck teeth (not that I need them) color my face yellow and squint while saying ‘me so sol-lee’ over and over”. It just…isn’t…kosher. (Disclaimer: Well, if a rabbi blessed his racist meat then technically, yes, it is kosher).

We’ve got the knucklehead writers of Pirates back (not the amazing and low-budget, midget-stabbing-men-in-the-face porno, the other one), Armie Hammer, the adonis with abs so nice, they cast him twice…in The Social Network, as well as a host of beloved character actors. The action will be awesome. The jokes will be weird. I just can’t get past the red-face. And I’m not talking about Rush Limbaugh after going up a short flight of stairs. I’m talking about the Wounded Knee, Trail of Tears, totem-touting “Kimosabe” faccent coming out of Depp’s mouth. I get it. The show wasn’t exactly the Rosa Parks of Native American mainstream artistic perception, but come the fuck on, it was the 50s. That was the time, if you were a white man, you could slap a black man in the face, a woman, of any race, on the behind and then call the local police station and claim that both assaulted you. You know, the golden age of America. Why couldn’t we cast an actual Native American in the part? Or, better yet, change the plot of the movie to not include Native Americans. Or, even better yet, not fucking make a movie of a television show whose last surviving fans are currently eating mushy peas through a tube while still discussing ‘The Negro Problem’ and make something fucking new, you lazy assholes. Ah, that felt good to finally get out in the open.

Man of Steel

Man-of-Steel-poster2-610x904

Superman, now equipped with portable backlighting!

And then…the other side of the coin. Here we have a movie trailer that actually, shockingly, looked kind of alright. From the operatic score, the heartfelt yet dour imagery and the haggard face of Kevin Kostner relocated to the unfairly manipulative setting of a farm (fucking Field of Dreams flashbacks!) to the slick and gritty fight scenes and the promise of Michael Shannon screaming the Superman equivalent of ‘cunt punt’, this thing hits every note a summer blockbuster requires. There seems to be a unified aesthetic for this next outing this, what the fuck is it, prequel? Sequel? Remake of Smallville? Prequel to the Superman Returns remake-quel? Perhaps we’re stuck in a brutal cycle of alternate Superman universes wherein the filmmakers and actors responsible are constantly losing careers left right and center? Whatever. If you have to replace Terrence “I Eat Bricks for Breakfast” Stamp with anyone, Michael Shannon is not only the perfect choice, he is the result of cooking Pinter-ian quiet fury, batshit second amendment insanity and a host of cartoon-cereal mascots in a paint tin for two days and then shoving it in a mixer for two hours. Mutherfucker is nuttier than squirrel turds. And he’s amazing. Well, turns out we have Christopher “Bat-Penis” Nolan producing, teaming up once again for the infuriatingly oxymoronic David S. “No, I Have Not Forgotten About Blade Trinity” Goyer after destroying the world with some damn good Bat-outings. Thus far everything about this movie, save for the fact that it includes the most boring superhero of all time (other than, of course, Board-Man…with the power to…well, who fucking cares. I think it has something to do with card tricks and Jenga. Eh), seems utterly perfect. I wonder who’s directing it…

Oh.

Zack. Fucking. Snyder. Some of you might not know, most of you might not care, but I have a box of voodoo dolls with that dumbass’s face plastered on each and every one. Yes, he made a wonderful, if bone-headed and paper-thin splash on the scene with the raucous Dawn of the Dead remake. But then his penis decided to meld with his brain stem. We next received the repugnantly and confusingly homophobic/homoerotic 300, the filmic equivalent of that guy who sits in the weight area of the gym with his legs spread wide in order for him to watch his own throbbing boner and shrunken testes as he pumps iron. Yes, this is if Arnold Schwarzenneger and Sylvester Stallone had a freak test-tube baby, it would have been 300. But with less brain cells. Whatever, it was funny. We laughed. We wept for humanity a bit. At least Mr. Snyder was only shitting on history, there’s no way anyone would ever let him do that to a beloved graphic novel with a fanbase more rabid than a dog pound after national ‘Dog-Bite On the Face Day’.

Oh wait.

My hatred of the Watchmen movie is so pure and unadulterated, it could be bottled to fuel interstellar travel. When I see that movie playing, even for a moment, blood begins rushing from my earholes and I begin spewing pee-green soup. There might be some mild crucifix-masturbation. It’s hard to tell after I blackout. Well, Mr. Snyder then tried to make amens, or something of the sort, deciding to craft the woefully misguided and unintentionally ultra-mysogynistic Sucker Punch. *HEADDESK* There aren’t enough curses in the world to describe how much I vitriolically despised that ‘movie’. Perhaps there will be an article down the line. It’ll be a Clockwork Orange-esque evening of rancid torture with an entree of  Snyder and a side plate of titties.

So, Snyder, the dullard who ruined Watchmen. The prick with the prick behind Sucker Turds. He’s taking on Superman? Well, take your best shot, buddy boy. Oh! And I see you’ve brought Russell “I Will Never Forgive You” Crowe for the ride! I hope he dies. And since he’s playing Jor-El, there’s a very good chance of that. Bitch is going down harder than a concrete porcupine soufflé. It’s a match made in Satan’s butthole.

Maybe I’m being unfair. Maybe Snyder has learned a little about filmmaking since Sucker MAKE-IT-STOP. Maybe Nolan has taken him under his wing and ceremoniously yanked the dick from his ear. Maybe not. This summer will show all. Bring it, Snyder-Meister.

THE PREQUEL AND THE SEQUEL TO A PREQUEL

Monster’s University

Wow, Oberlin College is far more attractive and less freakish than I remember.

Wow, Oberlin College is far more attractive and less freakish than I remember.

Oh Pixar. My dear, dearest, sweetest Pixies of the Ar. How glorious you once were, soaring above the plebeians, dousing us once a year with a golden egg seemingly sent from the muses of heaven. You made us weep like children, giggle like idiots, and feel all of the feels. You played our heartstrings like they were a fucking lute. Now… where have you gone? Other than the charming yet mildly mediocre Brave, you sprinkle us with sequels and prequels and pointless rehashings of worn out IPs. Finding Nemo 2? Check. Cars 2? Ugh. Check. Of course, the argument against this cynicism is the excellent Toy Story series. Sure. That charted the progression of childhood, from wide-eyed discovery, to fear of rejection, to eventual loss and the lessons needed to let go. It was fucking brilliant and, yes, I wept like a newborn child in the aisles, hugging my popcorn against my chest calling out the name of my lost teddy bear from my childhood crib (which was difficult, because I never actually named him).

Now, Monsters Inc., sweet as you were, you barely grazed the tip of the Up-ian iceberg of emotions Pixar has explored. Kids are cute. John Goodman and Billy Crystal are funny. Is that it? Is that where we’re headed? Now, it wasn’t quite as vapid as Cars, but, guys, it wasn’t Up. Yes, I know the execs want to boost toy sales and, shit, a universe of fluffy mildly threatening creatures is a toy maker’s wet dream. But can’t we have more? Can’t we have a new intellectual property? Can we eschew the fanboy cries for more Incredibles and a sequel to A Bug’s Life. Of course they want more! They’re fanboys! They’re like dogs, you can keep feeding them until their fucking nerd-guts burst open Seven-style. Look at Star Wars. They don’t know how amazing you can be.

Unless…the magic is gone? Maybe Pixar isn’t quite the soaring eagle I had always assumed. Perhaps they’re just the goose whose golden eggs have dried up. Well, if this continues, I say we have a good old goose-that-laid cook off! Michael Eisner, you get a wing. You asshat.

The Wolverine

This is how Hugh Jackman always orgasms. It's not pretty. Unless you have a pulse.

“WHO…TOOK…MY…JELLO…MOLD!?” ~ Wolverine has expanded his culinary aspirations.

Finally, and probably leastly, let’s be real, we have the surreal entry into this year’s ‘middling’ category. Poor Wolverine, he’s been through the grinder over the last decade, tossed from a great director’s hands into the butter-and-moron drizzled fingers of Brett “Yep, I’m Proud of Rush Hour. Come at me, bro!” Ratner to the utterly incomprehensible claws of whoever the fuck was responsible for the urinal-cake-esque X-Men Origins: Wolverine (in that you can keep pissing on it, but it ain’t going away), to the point that he was in a literal meat grinder at the end of X-Men: The Last Stand. So where the fuck are we now? Post-Singer-verse? Pre-Stuart? After the bizarre misappropriation of Three-Mile Island, but before he got seriously McKellan-ed (yes, that’s a sex move. Disclaimer: much like the eponymous, knighted thespian, it requires a three foot penis)? Where are we in time, space and X-Man-dom? Well, apparently Japan, that much is clear.

This film has been in the works ever since the turd-tacular Wolverine seeped its way across the silver screen all those years ago. You know, that one with Deadpool without a mouth, Taylor Kitsch before his career tanked faster than a Blitzkrieg on the Russian Front, and Will.I.am acting…or something of the sort. It’s skipped director to director, starting with the lethally odd and mind-bustingly delightful ex-Mr. Rachel Weisz Darren Aronofsky, and ending with James Mangold, you know the guy who did Kate and Leopold…and Girl, Interrupted. You know, action movies! Okay, okay, he also did 3:10 to Yuma, which was pretty decent other than Mr. Turd-Face Extreme Puke-asaurus Rex Russell Crowe in it. Did I mention I hate him and his stupid egg-shaped face? Sure, the movie will probably be utter crud. Its fight scenes seem bland and overly-cgi-ed, a hold-over aesthetic from its near-mentally-challenged predecessor. I’m sure it will yawn onto screens and then blah-blah its way out. I’m sure we’ll forget it as quickly as we forgot that one movie…from last year…you know, the one…with the people…and explosions? Whatever, I’ll figure it out eventually.

I think I would have enjoyed Aronofsky’s The Wolverine. After all, he and Jackman have worked together before on The Fountain. I can see it now: The Wolverine is a prequel, but it’s also a sequel in that the entirety of the film takes place in the moments before he kills Jean Grey at the end of X-Men: The Last Stand. We have Logan hurtling through space on a fragment of his own brainmatter, thrust through time, rushing after a lost love, never managing to catch her, unable to die and unable to rest, caught in between infinity and a flash of nothingness…and then Craig David appears out of nowhere with a double sided dildo and screams “Ass to ass!”. Oh, and he turns into a bird while dancing Swan Lake and stabs himself. With the dildo.