Man of Steel (2013)

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It’s been a minute guys/bots/spammers. Sorry about it. I’ve been busy, lifein’ it up, making (not enough) money, meeting human beings. I’ve watched a lot of movies that I just haven’t even reviewed. We’ll see if I can get in some belated reviews sometime in the not-too-heinously-distant future.

Moving on. Man of Steel. Honestly? Mediocre. This is the thing about a lot of the superhero movies that have been coming out in the last few years: it seems the new thing is to make these complex, tortured superheroes that are more than just amazing abilities. They’re real and they have issues. The movies are always so moody.

But at the same time, they’re comic book characters. I think so many of these movies fall short because they spend so much time really trying to balance the two. I either want to have a super fun romp, where people get beat up and shoot laser beams out of their eyeballs or whatever. Or I want to see a story about a guy who has issues – family, love, personal, whatever – who happens to have super strength.

When it comes down to it, shouldn’t I be rooting for someone? When I was watching Man of Steel I just didn’t even care. I didn’t care if anyone died. I didn’t care if anyone lived. I didn’t care who won or who lost. It was just so incredibly predictable and mostly bland. I was most compelled with the young instances of Clark Kent dealing with his gift/curse.

(I take that back. I did care at one point. I was going to lose my shit if anything happened to that dog.)

Don’t get me wrong, it was fun to watch. Good effects, cool costumes, an awesome mini-Battlestar Galactica reunion, and Henry Cavill is painfully good looking. Otherwise? Meh.

People really seem to be raving about Michael Shannon’s portrayal of Zod. I wasn’t that impressed, which sucks because I like him and think he’s kind of a terrifying man.

And Lois Lane? It was just a bunch of bullshit. Don’t get me wrong, I’d want to jump his bones, too, but to expect me to believe that she was ~*~in love~*~ with Superman? What, because he saved her? It’s a fucked up, almost the opposite of Stockholm Syndrome trope. Immediately, I think of Lois Lane, Mary Jane Watson, and whatever Natalie Portman’s character’s name was in Thor. All these women just losing their shit because a man – or anyone – uses their superpowers to save them? Please.

** stars

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Olympus Has Fallen (2013)

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Why do I watch these movies? Oh that’s right, I love over-the-top gratuitous violence in movies. There was so much neck-breaking in Olympus has Fallen that I might have pulled a muscle!

The plot is typical and predictable (there should be a portmanteau for that – predictypical? Typictable? I’ll work on it) and that’s what makes it any good. Sometimes, I just want to see someone kicking ass and saving the day, no matter how many cheesy lines come with that. I especially liked Gerard Butler talking to the head of the terrorist group:

“Let’s play a game of ‘fuck off.’ You go first.” OH-HOH! He’s gonna need to get himself to the nearest burn unit – luckily the whole White House is on fire so it’s extremely accessible. Get that man some neosporin, some gauze, and an ibuprofen or it’s gonna get infeeeected!

(That’s how these jokes go, right? I’m doing it right?)

Well, this movie certainly doesn’t need an essay worth of a review. If you’re into that patriotic stuff, you might (legitimately) enjoy it. If you want to see gun-violence, some stabbing, some neck-breaking, and explosions, you might enjoy it. If you’re trying to see the next Oscar winner…well, I don’t know what to tell you.

** stars (that might be one too many but hey, I watched intensely for two hours. And I always believe Gerard Butler as a man who kills lots of people. Also, Morgan Freeman got to play President.)

Sleepaway Camp (1983)

Tonight was The Red Wedding on Game of Thrones and as someone who doesn’t read the books (yet), I was stunned to say the least. So, I thought to myself, “I’m trying to have my mind bent tonight.” And everyone says Sleepaway Camp is known for its twist ending. So, I decided to go for it.

15 minutes in and I don’t know what the fuck I’m watching. Dead parents, an open pedophile at a kid’s camp, a too-old camp counselor sporting the shortest, tightest shorts I’ve ever seen on a man…I am bemused to say the very least.

Some cult movies I see and I totally get why it’s a cult movie. Like Evil Dead. It’s over-the-top and it didn’t quite jive with a lot of people. But then there were quite a few people who quickly saw its merits. Sleepaway Camp…it could never be a cult movie for me but it was, well, interesting.

There’s an all-boys baseball game which is one of the most homoerotic sports scenes I’ve seen since Top Gun. And the fashions that these guys are sporting are odd, regardless of gender:

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The baseball scene also contains one of the funnier exchanges in the movie:

Ricky: No problem, Gino. This guy blows dead dogs. Just lay it in there!
Bill: Eat shit and die, Ricky!
Ricky: Eat shit and live, Bill.

There’s also a point in the movie where Meg, one of the camp counselors (who can’t be older than 16) gets the night off, so she goes up to the head of the camp (Mel) who has to be at least 55 years old and this exchange happens:

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Meg: Hey, guess who has the night off tonight?
Mel: Oh congratulations.
Meg: Listen, I was thinking. Remember that dinner you promised me? Up at your place?
Mel: Yeeeah. 9? 9:30?
Meg: You got it. See you then. (later, to her bunkmates) Got me a date tonight!

The ending was certainly a bit of a surprise and mildly disturbing. In a way, I suppose it’s essential viewing for horror buffs. It’s a movie that gets referenced a lot in the world of pop culture. But it isn’t a good movie by any means.

** stars

P.S. The whole movie is on YouTube so if you’re bored…

Dark Skies (2013)

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Phew, it’s been a minute since I’ve written anything here. Sorry, I’ve been busy MOVING TO SEATTLE. Ahem, pardon me. Yelling my personal events is a real affliction.

I made the mistake of buying an IKEA lamp, which apparently takes the most difficult to find light bulbs in existence, so I’ve been in the dark in my bedroom for two nights now. Annoying, but also, perfect situation to watch a “scary” movie.

So, I watched Dark Skies and it was…not great with a hint of potential. I’ll be real, it does not take much in a horror movie to make me feel weird and paranoid and creeped out. I don’t think there are aliens in my closet waiting to terrorize me – but then again, that’s the set up for the movie so you never really know.

Simply put, Dark Skies is kind of just Paranormal Activity with aliens instead of demon things. Strange things start happening, stranger things keep happening, skepticism and reluctance to believe occur, and then BAM! everything comes to a head and we get a small moment of enlightenment.

For some reason, a person standing completely still and not reacting to you saying his/her name is one of the more horrific things to me. If that happened to me? If I had a spouse and I saw him standing in the yard at 3 AM and I was like, “Hey! Roberto! Roberto!” and he didn’t move a muscle or say anything? I would just yell, “FUCK YOU,” lock all of the doors, call my attorney in the middle of the night and tell him to start drawing up the papers so that I could divorce my sexy Italian husband. You know why? Because that shit. Ain’t. Right.

The movie has a kernel of depth. You’ve got all this alien shit going on and there are a fair number of alien-horror movie elements but at the same time, you’re watching the “perfect” American family breaking down before your eyes. A husband let go from his job, a wife trying to make up for that loss at her job, an angsty preteen, and a weird but nice little kid who, at first, seems to just really need therapy but ultimately, is being fucked with by aliens.

You see this husband and wife simultaneously doubting each other and needing to depend on each other. Physically, these aliens are doing some messed up shit. But at first, there are no aliens. There’s just this stuff going on and it’s putting a strain on the marriage and the family. At one point, Keri Russell contemplates if her no-name husband has been hitting their kids. She yells at him if he’s beaten their sons. That’s heavy. And the aliens’ fault.

Was this an intended thing? Witnessing how outside influences can affect a family? I have no idea. I didn’t make this movie. But it was an interesting aspect and I’d like to give someone the credit of creating this metaphor. And if someone hasn’t taken the credit yet, they should.

** stars (cool metaphor also, kind of scared me in spite of the cliched going-ons. Oh, and J.K. Simmons is in this.)

Spring Breakers (2013)

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So I just saw Spring Breakers and am attempting to sort out my thoughts on this one. On one hand, I got it and can see where it has…merits. On the other hand, what the fuck.

Let me get the two parts I actually enjoyed out of the way: it was pretty okay to look at. Not perfect, but there were some nice looking scenes with some inspired lighting, some interesting angles, and some cool single shot scenes. Not consistent enough for me to full on commend it. And the score by Cliff Martinez? Quality, as always. Moving on.

Four girls from some college in the south (I think) are really depressed that they don’t have enough money to go on Spring Break. So three of them decide, “Let’s steal a car, grab a hammer and some water guns and rob a restaurant,” and boy, do they! It’s a rousing success. The three girls – who will undoubtedly be indistinguishable to those who aren’t pop culture junkies like myself – share their inspired plan with their friend, Faith. Faith is a somewhat devout Christian? Faith is Selena Gomez.

spring-breakers-picture01So they go on SPRING BREAK BITCHES!!! And it all starts out as fun and games. They’re drinking, sporting super cute bikinis 24/7, wearing neon trucker hats, hanging out in parking lots. And then they get arrested. Luckily, James Franco – a rapper who sports corn rows, a whole lot of metal in his mouth, some unforgivable tattoos, and a shameful Hawaiian shirt – shows up to the court room (where the girls are STILL only wearing bikinis. Really? What judge allows that in the court room!) and takes pity on them (re: thinks they’re some fine-ass bitches) and bails them out.

Suddenly, the four girls who just wanted to have a little fun on Spring Break are hanging out with a rapper/drug lord/thug. Selena Gomez is not into it. She says over and over that she wants to go home and her three “friends” are shitty to her. They basically say, “Uh…we’re kind of, like, having fun so…why don’t you just go ahead and get on the bus and we’ll see you, like, soonish. ‘Kay?” So she sadly gets on the bus. Leaving behind three blonde girls and scary James Franco.

The underlying idea about this movie? Not bad. It was a good idea and it was executed horribly. The movie was riddled with motifs and metaphors and symbolism and all of that shit to the point of exasperation. The whole point of the movie was a “satirical” look at youth and their view of freedom, of letting loose. Some critics are calling the movie “poignant” or some sort of deep look at what some might call a “lost generation” – which quite frankly I think is a bullshit title to give to any generation. In what era have any teenagers or twenty somethings really felt like they knew where their lives were headed? Who they really were? Moving on.

It’s a week or two of doing things you wouldn’t typically do every day. So the girls hanging out with scary James Franco? An exaggeration, a hyperbolic statement. The girls were playing, acting, just like they said they had to do before robbing the restaurant. They did some messed up shit and bounced. They were just “on spring break”, but as James Franco says over and over “Spring breeeak. Spring breeeak foreeeevaaaa,” what is playing to some people is real for other people. The girls could have made “spring break” their lives forever but they opted not to, all after experiencing varying levels of trouble-making behavior. They had their fun, their small bout of rebelliousness, a taste of crime and that was enough.

But it doesn’t really land. Nothing happens. No one gets in trouble, there are no real repercussions. So was Korine just saying “Hey. Kids do some crazy shit, am I right?” Or was there an actual point about kids doing crazy shit? It’s an empty movie. I was simultaneously bored and fascinated. How can a movie with so much going on be so…meh?

And the movie’s portrayal of women? There’s a scene of the one of the girls, seemingly the only female in a room full of males, clad only in a bikini. She’s drinking alcohol and also getting poured/sprayed all over her. She’s lifting her top up and then writhing on the ground. A whole crew of dudes are circling her – like fucking predators – while one of them tells her to “take it like a stripper.” I can’t even start with that bullshit right now. On one hand, a painfully accurate and uncomfortable depiction of things that actually happen, especially in a setting like spring break. On the other hand, how you gonna put that shit on screen like it’s okay?!

Spring Breakers is the kind of movie you want to deliver. You want to be pleasantly surprised by it’s depth. You want to leave thinking “Wow. I feel like that was a movie experience I could really spend some time talking about at length.” Instead, it’s a huge letdown. When the movie cut to the credits, I let out a monstrous sigh. Because it was obvious and ultimately, predictable. For all of it’s flashiness and loud music and insane amount of gratuitous nudity, I was just bored.

** stars (a star for visuals/score and one star for a good idea)

P.S. I know this wasn’t a particularly comical review. In all honesty, it’s one of those movies just begging to be analyzed, I just thought it was too shitty and obvious to fully do so.

P.P.S. I’ve been reading some people’s analyses of the movie and I will say that if what some are saying about the movie is what the filmmaker truly set out to do, then it was a well-executed scheme. All the same, I still thought that it was a boring movie. As a…work of art, shall we say, it was better.

Inside Man (2006)

I don’t have to be in to work until 3 tomorrow, I have cupboards full of delicious snacks, and the Internet. Because the world has bestowed upon me these perfect settings, I’m going to indulge in a god damn movie marathon. I’ll even have a little theme: heists. Well, that might get blurry. Crime/heists/thrillers. There, that broadens things. On the agenda are the following titles, none of which I have ever had the pleasure of viewing:

– Inside Man (because I love Denzel)
– The Italian Job (original, starring Michael fucking Caine)
– Ronin (I did not realize this movie stars de Niro, Stellan Skarsgard, and Jean Reno)
– Headhunters (I think this one might blur the lines. I’ve heard this shit is good, though)
– The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (original. If I like it, I might watch the new one. Purely for research. And by research, I mean Denzel.)

So there you have it and here it goes!

insidemanInside Man was okay. I don’t know. I really like Clive Owen, Denzel gets me every time, and Christopher Plummer is in this, too. I just felt very “meh” about it.

I like that a lot of the characters were in the grey area. Everyone was doing some bad things for good reasons and some good things for bad reasons. I liked that I wasn’t sure who to root for throughout the whole thing.

So there’s a bank robbery but the goal, what the robbers really want to steal, is kind of a mystery. And in all honesty, the reveal was kind of lame. It wasn’t exactly predictable but it wasn’t particularly climactic.

There was one good surprise that I quite enjoyed and I won’t spoil for you. It did make me say “whaaaaat?” out loud so that was nice.

This isn’t very coherent. Sorry, I just wasn’t especially impressed. I wasn’t uninterested in the movie but after finishing it, it felt kind of forgettable.

** stars

To Rome with Love (2012)

Admittedly, I’m a hipster douchebag who enjoys Woody Allen movies (I’m going to overlook his creep-factor and view him as an artist. Or whatever.) I let out a victorious “YES!” when Midnight in Paris won best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards and then quickly looked around to make sure no one was around to hear me. So yeah, I enjoy some Woody Allen from time to time.

Unfortunately, not such a fan of To Rome with Love. I don’t even know how to describe it – a romantic comedy that is both surrealist and realist? I guess that’s as good as it’ll get. The acting was okay, the stories were okay, the visuals were okay, the dialogue was probably the best part but only in some parts.

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Essentially the movie is four separate stories, all unrelated but all occurring in Rome. And really, only one of them was enjoyable and it was the one with Alec Baldwin, Jesse Eisenberg, and Ellen Page. Essentially, Ellen Page is a terrible manic-pixie dream girl that Jesse Eisenberg ends up falling for and Alec Baldwin is some weird real-but-not-real mentor that can sometimes be heard? I don’t know. Anyway, Alec Baldwin just comments on how terrible and pretentious and fake Ellen Page’s character is. At one point, she’s about to go into a shpiel about art or something and he goes “Oh God, here comes the bullshit!” and Jesse Eisenberg understands but doesn’t care.

I thought it was clever.

Otherwise, the whole movie was really “meh”. For a movie set in Rome, it wasn’t especially lovely to look at. Midnight in Paris was infinitely prettier and more relatable. All the same, I don’t regret taking two hours out of my evening to lay around and watch it. If you’re a mega-fan of either Woody Allen or anyone in this movie, go for it. Otherwise, probably don’t bother. That’s all I’ve got.

** stars