28.8.14

IHAO on ... Class of 1999



Sometimes you never know what you are really getting when you start buying things.  I've mentioned it many times before, but I'm a film collector.  I don't have so much of a collection as a library of film.  Well that's not true, because I recently decided to get rid of every movie I never wanted to either watch again or share with someone else.  That got rid of a lot of big name films, many trilogies in fact, that I just have no interest in ever watching ever again.  But that's neither here nor there.  I say all of that because sometimes, when I am looking for movies I want to own, the best and potentially only way to get them is to buy them in film-bulk.

Film-bulk is my term for when a movie is packed with a whole bunch of other movies so that the distribution company can make some money on their properties that they own but don't think will sell.  I bought one group of nine films specifically because I was looking for just terrible terrible nanar filled horror flicks, with Chopping Mall being the main reason I got the collection.  But there are eight other movies on the collection, some of which I know a little about, so late one night, we decided to throw one in.  The one I'm reviewing now.



As the gif above illustrates, this movie is dated.  Super duper uber dated.  It is filled with fashion from the late 80s and early 90s, all sorts of hilariously dated concepts, a bunch of great actors like Pam Grier, Stacy Keach, Malcolm McDowell and Bradley Gregg.  Here, check out this premise:  Gangs of teenagers have gotten too violent and drugs have gotten too rampant in most of the major cities of the USA.  They have taken over areas and neighborhoods, which have basically become lawless gang-states as the police refuse to enter them.  With all that happening for the past nine years, schools still run as martial states, as these kids still need an education.  A evil white mulleted, white eyed doctor has come up with a solution: three robotic teachers, masters of not only their fields of mathematics, history, and chemistry, but also built with a self-learning AI made for discipline.  And of COURSE the robots start learning too fast and go crazy, and the gang kids get killed off, and our lead character figures it out, so now he has to bring the gangs together to fight these rampaging robo-teachers of death.

Yeah, I know, it is glorious!  It really truly is!  It is fun, will some great acting, some real cool fight scenes and thriller-sci-fi-action.  It is just a super cool movie.  The costuming is all really creative and cool looking.  The special effects are awesome.  The pace is for the most part really great - there is a slow section between Act 2 and Act 3 that made my eyes glaze over just a bit before the enormous climax.  This is just everything you want in a movie with that ridiculous premise.  Evil robots, explosions, fire, one-liners, social satire, likable characters, evil evil evil dudes, awesome robot effects, cool car chase.  It is like the film had a check list of everything awesome you'd ever want in a movie and just made sure it clicked all of them.

It'll be hard to find, I'm sure.  But I highly recommend this one.  The dated-ness actually adds to the setting, making it feel more dystopian and sci-fi.  I've said it in the past, but I don't think "being dated" is actually a drawback to films.  Films exist in the time they were created.  Great films rise above it to become timeless, or they embrace it and become a time capsule that helps you just in headfirst and enjoy the themes even more.  Class of 1999 isn't a great film ... but it does everything right, and is totally worth watching.  There are minor quibbles that keep it from being a GREAT film, but that doesn't stop it from succeeding in every way it set out to.

Grade: A

27.8.14

IHAO on ... MacGruber



MacGruber is awful.  And I don't mean a bad quality, poorly made movie kind of way.  I mean in a lowest, grossest, most despicable "humor" in place of real comedy.  This is a movie that thinks that cursing is a punchline.  There were a total of two jokes the didn't involve cursing in this whole movie, and they were both the only funny jokes.  Bah.  I don't even want to write about this.  I should be writing my big ole wrestling article for this weekend.  But nope, I had to go and waste my money and my time buying this piece of garbage.

You see, I listen to and watch a lot of things to be able to find interesting films to talk about.  And for about two months, I kept hearing these little remarks about how underrated MacGruber is from comedians and critics that I like.  So I was looking around on Amazon, say it was pretty darn cheap for a blu-ray at 8.88, and I decided to order it.  I got the movie on the 23rd and put it in my blu-ray player.  The movie did not finish until the 26th, when I finally stumbled my way through the whole thing.  The whole 96 minutes.  96 minutes?  That's it?!  I have never felt like I wasted more of my time and money than I have on this movie.

MacGruber is a "parody" of 80s action tropes and the television show MacGyver.  It was a sketch on SNL, and it got made into an SNL film.  You know what, that should have been my warning right there.  I can count on two fingers the number of good SNL movies there are.  So you take an SNL sketch, put the least talented, least funny member of the Lonely Island/Digital Shorts crew to write and direct it, and money!  Well, not really, because there is karma in the world and sometimes crappy movies in fact do crappily, seeing as MacGruber never made back its budget.

Pictured above: Expression of a talentless comedian thinking "Haters gonna hate."

The plot is that a bad guy with a curse word last name (played by Val Kilmer) stole a nuclear warhead, and the US government gets MacGruber out of self-imposed retirement after the same bad guy murdered MacGruber's wife on the wedding day.  MacGruber gets a team together, kills them, gets a second team together, is one of the worst human beings ever put to film, constantly mugs and curses and is a huge ole homophobe for jokes, has sex with a hallucination of his dead wife after having sex with Kristin Wiig's character, doesn't actually know how to disarm the bad guys bomb, but the day is saved anyway because it is.

I hated this movie.  And I didn't from the beginning.  But there is a scene that ... ok, hold up, let me talk good things.  The film looks way better than it needs to.  It looks like a Michael Bay action flick, which is way too good for this movie.  Also, there are two good jokes.  One involves a montage of getting "the gang back together" of MacGruber recruiting a bunch of wrestlers and them doing the bicep hand-slap from Predator in different variations.



The second joke is MacGruber talking with the milquetoast no-character Ryan Phillipe and as he argues that Wiig's character has no feelings for him, he says "You're loco, man" to whit there is a subtitle that comes up and says "You're crazy, man."  Subtitle joke was funny.  The way the wrestlers were introduced in classic 80s style was funny.  Nothing else.  Literally nothing else was funny.  Even worse, nothing else was clever.  This movie takes every setup and always subverts it with something vulgar.

Here, here's an example of this that makes me just the angriest.  The entire movie, the whole time, MacGruber constantly tells bad guy that he is going to cut of the bad guy's penis and make him suck it.  He says that maybe 25 times over the course of the movie.  So in the post-climax, when the bad guy returns, MacGruber beats him up, says his non-pun catchphrase (which is also a "running joke" where he is just vulgar and curses at the guy he is about to kill) and then tries to cut it off.  But, subversion of the joke time, the bad guy's penis was blown up in the explosion from the climax, so he doesn't have one!  And we get a close up of his non-penis!  FUNNY RIGHT?

Please laugh!

This movie is irredeemably bad.  It is the only movie I have regretted buying since I started doing these reviews.  There isn't a single thing redeeming about it.  It is better than Get Him To the Greek, which is equally filled with vulgarity as a replacement for jokes, but at least that movie had small scenes where you see the Aldous Snow character have some of the heart he did when Jason Segal wrote him.  There isn't an ounce of redeeming quality in this "comedy."  Even the well-shot cinematography ends up just grating and absolutely not working, and even worse, when the cinematography is bad, like a terrible falling sequence with the bad guy after the no-penis reveal I mentioned above, it just makes the good cinematography look WORSE because it is so out of place.  Maybe, MAYBE if the film was actually shot like an 80s film, MAYBE that would help.  But nope, it is shot like a modern day action film, and it thinks it is clever to take all these MacGyver tropes like the hair and the gadgets and the no guns thing and just pointing out how lame and stupid they are!  That's what makes it funny!  Cursing all the time and being random and being the worst human being ever put to film.  ARG!

Grade: F---

26.8.14

IHAO on ... God Bless America



One of the most difficult things about watching as many movies as I do, especially now that I focus on bringing commentary and criticism to it, is that eventually, you find a movie that is pretty good, with some pretty interesting ideas, and it just ... already exists in a better form.  It brings nothing to the table above and beyond another film that touches on the same subjects but in a better way, with stronger script and stronger actors and a stronger director and just overall a better movie.  God Bless America is just ... not quite good enough.

Very few times can I point to two films and actually show the difference between objective ratings.  There is so much to love about film that many people cannot separate their love from what they are watching.  And that is a perfectly fine thing, mind you.  That is what makes film so great.  It touches us, sometimes privately and personally, just like all forms of art.  It speaks to the viewer, and even if a film just isn't as well made, that film can be "better."

Ugh, whomever it is that has the job of picking my gifs needs to be fired.

Now, I'm saying all this because this movie is just not as good as Super.  Both films are about rage and cleansing of our society by a man who wants to kill, and his young just-older-than-teenage girl that has a special relationship with him that is both semi-romantic and semi-familial.  The problem is, God Bless America focuses just on talk and character, and Super actually has things happen.  It has stakes, it has obstacles, and it really GREAT actors.  God Bless America has no stakes, no obstacles, and its actors just aren't up to snuff.

Those aren't the only issues.  It's lighting is odd, the music is filled with montages and very out of place choices.  The way the story unfolds is basically null of any consequences.  The big schtick is that everything goes wrong for our protagonist in his life, including finding out he has a brain tumor.  But OH NO WOWSERS the doctor totally messed it all up and gave him the wrong reading and the tumor isn't there!  Spoilers by the way, but this lazy plotting makes me so incredibly upset.  There just aren't any consequences to the actions these characters take, and ultimately it makes this whole film meaningless.

Ok, now that I've gotten all that out of my system ... this movie is pretty good.  Yeah, I know I just complained and fumed about how it wasn't.  But Tara Lynn Barr is a great little actress, even if the writing isn't all that great.  When the film is violent, it is really great; that said, it is very VERY sparse on the violence, which hurts the film.  And the film's emphasis on these characters relationships is a perfectly nice and enjoyable ride.  I am not against character-films that use their time to delve deep into characters as its form of growth and tension and conflict, despite what it might have sounded like above.  This all just ... I've seen it done better.

Oh, and the finale is bullcrap.  Just absolute and utter garbage.  A little more stupid trope-ic cliche, a whole bunch of preaching, and then the rug is just yanked out from underneath us as an audience.  Honestly, the finale makes me angry.  It took a film I wanted really hard to recommend to folks and just killed it for me.  I really just ... I'm almost speechless for how upsettingly bad it is.  It is shot crappily, has terrible music over it, is written just awfully and even worse, is convenient in every single way.  I hated every single ounce of Act 3 of this film.  I hated it.  I cannot recommend this film.  A better film exists.

Go watch Super.  That move is phenomenal, A+++.  This film just gets worse and worse until it ends in a sputtering garbled joke of what it could have been.  Ugh.

Grade: C--

25.8.14

IHAO on ... Lethal Weapon



Remember when I talked about Cobra the other day?  I mentioned a sports bracket of action films of the 80s.  One of them in there was Lethal Weapon.  I had at that point never watched a single Lethal Weapon film.  So I figured, much like with Cobra, I should fix that.  I found all 4 on a good deal, and I've decided I'm going to dole out some Lethal Weapon reviews over the next few weeks as I watch them and share my thoughts.

My first thought is that Shane Black gets way too much credit.  Like, across the board.  He wrote Lethal Weapon, as well as a bunch of other flicks, and is considered a really good action writer.  Or at least that's how he's always been presented to me.  And he is not really good at writing.  Last Action Hero I already talked about, and how uneven it felt.  Monster Squad I did a video review of a long time ago, it's around here somewhere if you want to see it, but that movie is just camp and not particularly well written either.  Iron Man 3 was not good.  The Long Kiss Goodnight is super not good.  And ... like, that's basically it.  Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is an outlier, and it is pretty good, but yeah, he is super overrated.

My second thought is that I don't believe Danny Glover.  Like, ever.  He is always "acting" for me.  Except for Predator 2, which is awesome and arguably better than the original.  And the same holds true here.  He is ... ugh, Murtaugh's character in Lethal Weapon is entirely liftable.  Nothing he does matters.  He's like the Christmas set dressing the movie has.  He adds nothing to the film but an unnecessary hostage and false character tension.  Lethal Weapon is about the Riggs character.

Third thought, Riggs is one of the best characters.  Just, at all.  Mel Gibson does awesome with him, Donner knows how to shoot a scene with Gibson and all the emotion in it.  The music almost ruins the amazing suicide attempt scene, which made me really made.

Fourth thought, this movie has nowhere near enough action to be an action movie.  It is a perfectly fine buddy cop movie, but an action movie it is not.  Action movies are full of tension and Lethal Weapon barely held my attention.  It was a great character drama for Riggs, but it did not have nearly enough action.  And the action it did have didn't make any sense.  Like Riggs' big fight scene at the end.  There are cops all over the place, just watching this slobberknocker.


Now, let me say something that is really good about this movie beyond Riggs.  This movie, I believe, created a whole bunch of the tropes we expect to see in action films and buddy cop films.  And that's important.  The film is an important film.  It created the tropes, the character archetypes, the pacing, the act breakdowns, all of that.  It still isn't a very good movie.  In fact, once everything balances out, it is basically just an average film, straight down the middle.  This first one does awesome stuff with Riggs, and that's about all I care about.  I hope the sequels amp it up a notch or two.

Grade: C

22.8.14

IHAO on ... The Reunion



WWE films do not have the best ... anything, really.  But the word I was looking for was "reputation."  I've made it a point to make sure I watch and buy a whole bunch of them.  Because if I'm going to buy crappy straight-to-dvd movies, I may as well support a company I like, despite what I said about my original thoughts on this year's Summerslam and my opinions on a bunch of the other PPVs.  The Reunion is the third John Cena film, after the surprisingly fun the Marine and the surprisingly good 12 Rounds.  So of course I want to see it!  And ...



You know what, it is pretty daggum good.  I am a sucker for WWE films, but it is pretty ok!  It comes across a little like a TV movie, though shot better, just in scope.  Like, actors wear basically the same thing and are on basically the same sets unless they are the lead three guys, the music is kind of generic though enjoyable, and the faces are ... well, they are all TV actors I've seen.  And liked, mind you.  They are all very good.  The biggest name is Amy Smart, who is barely in the film at all.  The movie is really about the brothers, probably why the original name was Blood Brothers.  Oh, hold up, plot, plus a little backstory.

Abusive drunk dad is a sex fiend.  Fathers four kinds with four different women.  He raises the kinds, with Cena as the eldest, and the youngest, Douglas, who the others never met and never grew up with.  Their lives are all shambles, with rage issues and other things.  Douglas is a thief, Cena is a cop who got suspended, and Ethan Embry (who I have always liked, and is pretty daggum good in this) is a not particularly good bail bondsman.  Well, movie opens with the dad dying, and leaving three million dollars to each kid, but all of it comes with a stipulation: Amy Smart, the sister, holds onto all of it until they can create a business together and work together for a certain amount of years, then they get their inheritance.  So the brothers all go looking for some bad guys who kidnapped a dude in Mexico.

The film is well acted, pretty well made, and is mostly all right.  It isn't as balls-to-the-wall action packed fun as the past two Cena films, probably because the budget is smaller, but it has some moments to really enjoy.  I liked it.  It isn't great, but I liked it.  Just a standard TV-style action flick.

Standard being the important word there.  There is nothing shocking or surprising or even great in this movie.  It is a great rental, and a super good watch for Netflix.  But in the long run, if it wasn't for the WWE being a part of it, this movie wouldn't matter at all.  And that just cycles back to why I like WWE studio films.  I say give it a chance.

Grade: C+

21.8.14

IHAO on ... Magicians



Judd Apatow is really good at what he does.  Now I'm not talking all the knock-off Apatow-STYLED films, I mean the comedy-dramas that he has become known for.  They are able to have all the heart, all the skill, all the deft handling of a drama about serious topics, and all the fun, all the mirth, and all the heightened reality of a comedy.  Not every Apatow-styled comedy works.  I talked about the Five-Year Engagement not too long ago.  It has this exact problem.  Best Man Down last week did as well, though it was much more indy-drama feeling than Magicians or Five-blah-blah-blah.

Magicians has a bunch of flaws.  But let me share the plot first, because it sounds like a comedy straight-up.  Check it: A magician duo get an assistant, who marries one of them but wants the other.  The husband catches his best friend and his wife having sex in the cut-the-girl-in-half box, but the show must go on.  But, oops, the cheating wife accidentally gets her head cut off.  Fast forward four years and the widower now is down on his luck and need money, and finds a magician competition.  The other magician, who has a gay manager who is into him, has been trying to brand himself like Blaine or Angel, and ends up doing the competition as well.  Hilarity ensues.

Except it doesn't.  There is not an ounce of mirth or funny in the whole film.  There are lines that could be humorous, circumstances that could be funny, and characters that could be interesting.  But instead, the film has decided to play everything straight.  EVERYTHING.  Every shot, every color, every scene, every music cue, every line, every expression, all of it.  The filmmaker must think that it is EXTRA hilarious to not be funny.  And not even in a Tim and Eric way, where they are at least inane.  No, this is just played completely straight, like a drama.

Every character is reprehensible because of that fact.  Every scene is just a slow grating.  It reminded me of Bad Words without any of the heightened reality that made it so funny.  If I cannot enjoy myself, these douchebag characters are just douchebags.

Except for David Mitchell's Carl.  He is enjoyable and likable.  Ish.  I say "ish" because he isn't supposed to be.  We are supposed to root for the other one.  *sigh*  Oh, and in looking up the actor's name, I have come to learn these two are a duo.  They have done a long standing British comedy show, the Peep Show, together.  With this director.  And these writers.  Oh man.  I can't ... I really want to know if that is any good.  Somebody lemme know.  Because I cannot imagine it being any good.

This movie is bad.  But it just isn't bad enough.  And that makes me angry.  I want this to be graded way worse than it is.  But it is fine.  It isn't funny, but it is fine.  The acting isn't great, but it is fine.  The plots (there is a B plot I didn't even feel like mentioning because it is 100% removable) aren't great, but they are ... fine.  Every time I saw the word it grates on me worse and worse.  Yet it is absolutely true.  But I would tell no one to see this movie.

Grade: C--

20.8.14

IHAO on ... Cobra



I recently watched a great video from a series I love on youtube called Screen Junkies.  Tell them I sent you, by the way, I've been trying to get them to send me a T-shirt for a year now!!  Anyway, they did a sports bracket for best action film of the 1980s.  It is a really cool video, and while I understand but don't quite agree with their choices, the thinking and conversations I had about it were awesome.  Take a gander here.  And share this post on there, too!  That'd be neat!

I bring it up because they mentioned a Stallone film, Cobra.  It is a movie I've owned for a long time but never sat down to watch, because I'm a movie collector and an idiot like that.  Seriously.  I have currently in my film library something like 250 movies I haven't watched yet, though some of that is inherited through my lovely wife's collection merging with mine.  Anyway.  Cobra!  With that video fresh on my mind, I wanted to give it a shot.

Heh.  I liked this pun.

Cobra is the story of a man, Marion Cobretti, who is the last line for a police squad in California.  He goes in and stops crooks.  That's what he does.  Well, we get a story of a serial murderer in town killing all sorts of people indiscriminately.  And Cobretti figures out it is a group after the only surviving witness comes to the cops.  But now, the group, a group of cultist-styled terrorists who want to kill everyone in the vague purpose of "survival of the fittest," is going to throw all of their members at Cobretti, the witness, and his partner until everyone is dead.

The film is written by Stallone.  And Stallone does lots of great things in there.  It is very 80s, but unlike Rocky IV, all the montages were used to further the plot and were not TOOOO distracting.  And we see Cobretti do detective work, and have small quite character moments.  The most hilarious was very early on we see him take scissors to a piece of pizza to cut it to a small size.  It is a little unnecessary piece of business, until we learn more and more about how health conscious Cobretti is, which tells us about him a lot.  We see him do police work and paperwork at his home, though admittedly not a lot, just enough to show he does it.  The movie rewards you for picking up on little things, making a deeper experience than an action movie has to.  And the action is pretty great too.  Lots of car chases and shoot outs and clever tactics and a hugely long finale sequence in an Ironworks factory.  It is a fun movie.  But ...

I like this pun, too.  It is also very much tonally different than what I'm about to say, purposefully so.  Thank you, Rikishi and Booker T.

The really crazy thing, and the reason I bring this movie up now, is how different our culture has become since this film was made.  The movies plot is basically "I'm a good cop, I do a good job, and I'm fed up of the court system screwing that up" and Cobretti treated like "villain" for shooting guys up and so on and so on.  The yuppie-hate fills this film, as a hindrance to good police work.  And now ... I don't bring up politics often here, or at all really, but just look at the Ferguson, MO stuff.  And mace cop that became a meme.  And the thousands of other cases similar to those.  Hell, even I've been hassled by cops because they thought it would be fun.  Me, as fat and white bread as can be, pulled over because a friend of a friend who was a cop thought it would be super fun to tail me home with their lights off, including headlights, to scare me senseless.

We do not live in a world where Cobretti is a good guy.  And that makes this film ... unfortunately less good.  You cannot divorce yourself from the themes within a film.  Themes are what a movie is really about.  There is always plot and story, but that isn't what a movie is ABOUT.  Its themes are.  And again, just like with most Stallone films, he wrote it himself, so he definitely had something he really wanted to say in this one.

I liked the movie.  I liked the little quirks and quips and good acting and well written dialogue and interesting, though two-dimensional, bad guys.  I get why others wouldn't.  And I get if the movie's themes leave a terrible taste in your mouth.  But I liked it.  And I think it was pretty good.  Never great, but pretty good, and always competent.

Grade: B+

19.8.14

IHAO on ... Stephen King's The Stand Miniseries



How?  How can this be this bad?!  HOW?!

*sigh*

So Stephen King is one of the greatest writers of all time, and certainly our current age.  His technical skill and ability to create plot, suspense, and use voice are all unparalleled.  Sure, there are some very specific tropes that King has in his own writing, but that doesn't diminish his technical skills.  He actually wrote the screenplay for this miniseries, too.

On top of that, let's look at the list of great/notable actors that are in this series: Gary Sinese, Matt Frewer, Molly Ringwald, Miguel Ferrer, Rob Lowe, Laura San Giacomo, Ossie Davis, Shawnee Smith, Bill Fagerbakke (Patrick Starfish).  I mean, that is a lot of really good actors (other than Molly Ringwald).

WHAT. WENT. WRONG!?

THIS. GIF. ISN'T. HELPING. ME. MAKE. MY. POINT.

This miniseries has one really entertaining episode, and slowly becomes boring, crazy, and ....  Ok, hold on.  I can explain this better.  Let's do plot for a moment.  A superflu created by the American government gets out somehow, and because of a man and his family running from it, it spreads across the country, maybe the world, and kills probably 99% of the populace.  Some, though, are inexplicably immune.  These people, the Dreamers, all start having dreams.  Either dreams of a lovely old black woman Mother Abigal in Nebraska beckoning them there or of Randall Flagg, a devil in denim surrounded by fire.  And the people pick sides, and in some cases are picked specifically by Mother Abigall and Randall Flagg.  We have a world, filled with rotting corpses, power going off, and a strange psychic vision making people pick sides for a war.

Ok, got those themes?  Post-apocalypse, war, very non-subtle religious overtones, horror.  Ok.

This miniseries is lacking in war, horror, and post-apocalypse-ness.  It is just non-subtle religious overtones and every now again some non-threatening dead bodies.  Now, the first episode actually works.  People dying, people getting fed up with the disease killing people, rioting, rape, murder, so on, so on, that all works.  It is thrilling and interesting.  And from that point forward the whole thing becomes just utter garbage.

Characters are two-dimensional at best, broad brushstrokes of an adjective at worst.  Dialogue is stilted.  We never see anything happening on screen, just people talking about things that happened previously or elsewhere.  And eventually we have the plot rear its head, and it doesn't make any sense.  Character motivations are completely senseless, and ... ugh.  This was chore on top of it all because each episode is film length.

Don't watch this.  Watch something else.  Avoid this.  That's the end.  Blech.

18.8.14

IHAO on ... WWE Summerslam 2014



I cannot emphasize how much I was NOT excited about this PPV.  After everything that happened at Battleground a month ago, and looking at the card for this show ... man, I just did not care.  I had very few hopes going, and the direction of the company for the past few months has been frustrating me to no end.  Thank goodness for NXT, because it is the only alternative.  But hey, I gathered all my friends and roommates and loved ones together to watch it anyway.  So let's get this show on the road!


Kick-Off Match: RVD beats Cesaro with the 5-Star Frogsplash

This may be a first, but we had a really fun kick-off match.  It warmed up the crowd, got them cheering and clapping and enjoying themselves, and these two performers, who have had many matches before, have an excellent working chemistry.  There were some foul ups, mostly on the part of Rob Van Dam, and I still hate that Cesaro is stuck working as a heel because they don't want to pull the trigger ... and the 'E doesn't have enough good heels in the midcard so great faces are stuck.  But it is a fun match.

GOSH they have nice chemistry.  Also, all wrestling gifs provided by wrasslormonkey.  Check him out.

Verdict - Fun and good


Intercontinental Championship: Dolph Ziggler beat the Miz to becomes the new champ

Hey, remember that battle royal at Battleground last year?  That was pretty great last time, second-best part of the show.  It was fun, and the Miz did the big jerk heel thing against the fan favorite face Ziggler.  Well, now we get a very competitive championship match.  The Miz is running high on his Hollywood gimmick, which is a nice change of pace from his stale reality star run he had been doing forever.  And Ziggler is finally getting a chance to shine!  He wins!  He wins this ... perfectly fine match that is perfectly fine.  It has a very nice finishing sequence that puts it above the kick-off match, and the crowd being so excited, it makes for a really fun opener.

Verdict - Perfectly fine!


Divas Championship: Paige defeats her frenemy AJ to become Divas Champion once again, on her 22nd birthday!


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Nothing to add.

She has been in the "main event" of the Divas division since Wrestlemania, and she has drastically brought up what the viewers think of Divas matches.  Hell, we have two on this show alone, and one is a huge main event and the other is a huge title match.  And not only that, fans are watching!  Divas matches were "bathroom breaks" and it sucks to say that, but it was the thought process.  But now, no one wants to miss them!  We have good storylines, and great competition.


Golly, I wish Orton and Cena worked as hard as these girls do.

AJ and Paige both do awesomely, really working hard.  Things were brutal, and fast, and exciting.  Paige used her third finisher, the Ram-Paige, which is a FANTASTIC looking cradle DDT she used to counter AJ's Black Widow finisher.  This match was fun, and while I still wish these matches could get some more time, neither of these women were willing to go slow.  They fought and fought, and the frenemy-ship was finished.  I personally am excited to see more.

Verdict - Awesome.  Makes me giddy.  :)



Flag Match: Rusev beats Jack Swagger unconscious

I haven't liked Rusev matches.  And I hate Jack Swagger.  And ...

This match was really great.  Like, really really great.  All because of both guys working crazy hard to tell a great story.  Rusev sells a broken foot the whole match, and Swagger ... ok, he doesn't sell the busted ribs well, but they do make sure the offense goes to the two troubled areas, which really upped the enjoyment level.  Back in the day, I loved Rusev when I was watching him in developmental.  That was when he was just a monster heel instead of this tired gimmick he currently is saddled with.

But my roommate saved me.  You see, he is the mark-est of marks.  He only likes characters he has connected to for ... some reason.  It isn't about skill or look in a conventional sense.  It is just one hundred percent ... whim.  I don't say all that to insult him.  In fact, it is nicely refreshing.  The group I watch PPVs with now includes some of the greatest combination of viewers I've sat with:

  • The Mark whose favorites are Bo Dallas, Ric Flair, and Dean Ambrose.
  • The Beard, my other roommate who basically likes dudes that wear pants, have beards, and flip around.  Kofi is his favorite, with Sami Zayn at a very solid number 2.
  • The Girlfriend, the Mark's girlfriend who has most of his tastes because of similarity ... but also just has a thing for some of the big burly guys, including Sheamus and Bray Wyatt.
  • The Wife, my wife, who was a lot of my tastes because I introduced her to wrestling, though she also tends to mark out for just story.  Oh, and anything French.  She hasn't found a FAVORITE yet, but once she does, it'll be great.  
  • The Lover, a friend who started watching on a whim and has fallen in love with wrestling in the strangest way.  She loves the pageantry.  The weirder and more ridiculous, the better.  Her favorite wrestler of all time is Dusty Rhodes, big ole fat polka dots.  And her next two are Goldust and Stardust.  
  • The Boyfriend, the Lover's boyfriend.  He used to watch wrestling, gave up when it started to really tank in 2006, and just recently came back to it.  He's old school attitude era style lover, with Rey Mysterio and RVD as his favorites. 
  • The Newbie.  A baffling find, a new friend who is going to college in just a few days, but he fell in love all because of the Brie/Stephanie storyline.  Yeah, I know, crazy, right?  THAT video package during the kick-off show made him exclaim with all his joy that he LOVED WRESTLING when Stephanie slapped Brie and called her a "bitch."  Also, this Rusev/Swagger match was his second favorite.
  • And then there's me, who I should call the Smark, but I think I can be more accurately called The Technician.  I want amazing ring work above almost everything, with strong personalities and character at number 2.  I hate signature spots and wrestler's whose ring work revolve only around those spots, like Kofi, Cena, and Orton, and I love great talkers.  I tend to like either the little guys, like Eddie Guerrero or Adrian Neville and Paige, the big personalities like Mick Foley, and old school monster power dudes like Sid Vicious and Ryback.  The personality has to be there, though, as Mr. Perfect, Bret Hart, RVD, those fellas do nothing for me.  Though Dean Malenko and Lance Storm I love, as they made their "no personality" become an actual gimmick, with the Iceman and Lance Storm's serious demeanor.
We are an eclectic group.  Oh right, why I even went through that. The Mark much like the rest of us, didn't care for Rusev.  Until his perspective changed all of the sudden when Rusev won a match by DQ and looked to Lana for instructions on an episode of Smackdown.  In that instant, he went from boring Russian USA-hater to being a "confused bear."  And THAT is exactly what makes Rusev so good.  Rusev did amazingly, his acting is just superior to the vast majority of wrestlers, and certainly more than most of the guys in the main events of the WWE.  He sold that foot injury so hard the whole match, every step, every maneuver.  The look on his face when he has to lock in the Accolade and it is absolutely killing him and he sits there and weeps as Jack Swagger passes out from pain.  Whoever finally beats Rusev for real is going to do real well.  I personally suspect we will be seeing a Sheamus/Rusev feud in the future for the United States championship.

Verdict - Real good, and better than it could have been, considering the crazy stipulation



Lumberjack Match - Seth Rollins beat Dean Ambrose with some shenanigans


Speaking of "better than it could have been," this match.  Wow.  Firstly, the stipulation made me cringe when I found out.  It made me want to just pack up my TV and stop watching.  Dean Ambrose is so unique.  But this fricking stipulation is garbage.  There has never been a PPV-quality Lumberjack match in the history of the WWE.

KABLOW!

Until now, because this match was GREAT.  It even did the stupid contrived "throw myself onto the huge pile of other wrestlers outside the ring" spot TWICE.  But it doesn't matter.  Dean Ambrose is hilarious, and is in complete control, finally getting his revenge on Seth ... until in the chaos, Seth is able to use his briefcase to blast Dean in the head and pin him.  I loved this match, it was super fun and just the best kind of huge brawl / cluster-I-don't-curse-on-this-blog-even-though-I-wish-I-did.  I look forward to the sequel.

Dean does his crazy lizard dance after knocking out EVERYONE.


Verdict - Fantastic, super fun, great, other adjectives



Grudge Match - Bray Wyatt beats Chris Jericho clean with the Wyatt Family banned from ringside


Chris Jericho is an incredible worker.  Future Hall of Famer, no doubt.  One of the best of all time.  Bray Wyatt is an incredible talent, unique with an aura of interesting.  Jericho is a returning legend, which means instant face.  Bray Wyatt is a heel who refuses to make the fans hate him which makes him a ... tweener, I suppose, but really, he's an inefficient heel with an incredible gimmick and lots of mystique.  Oh, and the two of these guys just do not click.  

Jericho's health bar did go all the way up, though.  So that's good.

Jericho can work with almost anyone.  Really, I can only think of ... one that he couldn't really have good matches with other than Wyatt, and that was CM Punk.  But these two just do not click.  I mean, the match is very good because they are both good workers.  But it doesn't go above and beyond.  It doesn't really ever get any better than TV quality.  Even worse, we are going to get this AGAIN next month before Jericho goes off away again.

Verdict - Predictably good, but I wish it was more



Grudge Match - Stephanie pinned Brie Bella after Twin Magic


I called the outcome of this match days ago.  I say that because it did not matter.  This was the best match of the show ... I think.  It is hard to say because the main event was ... well, I'll get there.  But this was really super duper good.  I forgot just how good of a heel Stephanie could be.  That natural McMahon blood runs through her veins.  But she's also been training and really can do the moves and do the work.  Brie is incredibly sympathetic as a babyface in this storyline, and the shenanigans finish was great.  It caused a collective gasp and yell with everyone watching it in me casa the first time around.  Not only that, but props to HHH for taking a fantastic bump for Brie.  

Wrestlemania 31 main event.  BOOK IT!

I'm not sure how this story will go, but this match proved that some of the main events on TV this match had setting it up were totally deserved.  Heck, with the Newbie loving it as much as he did, it reminds me that wrestling hits all sorts of fans buttons, and something that looked like it wasn't for me was amazing for others.  And even more so, this thing I thought was going to be terrible ended up being my favorite part of the night.

Verdict - Absolutely fabulous.

British Golden Girls is weird.  And flawless.

Since Divas matches are no longer bathroom breaks, we needed one.  So they shared all this stuff with some contest winner.  Good for him, but man did this waste time.

Future NXT champion.


Grudge Match: Roman Reigns speared Randy Orton

Hey, remember me mentioning above about how much I hate contrived, signature spots?  That's this match!  Let me go ahead and just give you a rundown of the match:

Bell. Brawl, brawl, brawl, rest hold, brawl escape, rest hold, rest hold, signature spot, signature spot, rest hold, signature spot, counter signature spot, signature spot, brawl, brawl, finisher, kickout, counter signature spot, finisher, pin.

I didn't like this match.  Not because it was bad.  It was perfectly fine.  For a television main event.  I just am not into these kind of matches.  Roman Reigns has learned the worst traits from HHH and Orton and is too green to be able to string things together more interestingly or fill in the blanks with some spontaneity, which was HHH's saving grace.  I like Reigns less and less the closer he gets to the main event.  He isn't ready.  Get him feuding for a mid-card title or something else.  He isn't as polished as Seth and Dean from the Shield, yet he's getting the rub.  

Whatever.  The most interesting thing was that HHH didn't screw Reigns, which I thought was a lock considering the rumor is HHH v. Reigns at Night of Champions.

Verdict - Good ... for TV.  Lame second-tier main event for a PPV.


WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match: Lesnar absolutely destroys Cena

The difference between a match like the last one, which was all brawls and signature spots, and this one, where a total of six moves were done at all, including punches and kicks, is the people involved.  I generally don't care about Lesnar.  I don't mark out for him.  He had a bad match at Wrestlemania.  He doesn't work anywhere near enough in my opinion to be as high up in the card as he is.  But man oh man does he know how to be a monster heel.  And Cena just took it all.  He wasn't given a chance to Super-Cena.  He was just destroyed with knees to the ribs, hay-makers to his head, 14 German suplexes (I counted), and 2 F-5s.  Lesnar destroyed Cena.

Leave this gif looping for 16 minutes and you get an idea of what this match looks like.

But that's not even what made this so good.  Lesnar taunted the crowd by doing the Undertaker's classic sit-up.  He yelled at Cena when he would kick out for not just laying down to die.  He yelled at the fans.  He yelled at the ref.  He laughed and snarled and sweat EVERYWHERE.  Paul Heyman, after almost every German suplex, yells out "Here comes the pain!" over and over, 14ish times!  Lesnar does all the things a heel needs to do.  I hated him for all the right reasons.  I even felt bad for Cena, which I NEVER feel.

Not only that, but this is going to be a huge deal.  Lesnar doesn't work every night.  He doesn't work every show.  I am a big fan of professional wrestling acting more like real sports.  And you don't see real boxing champs wrestle every month, or every week.  You don't see UFC guys doing that either.  You watch everyone else climb to the top.  You breed a company of competition to reach the top.  Yes, not having the champ on television every week will be weird, and potentially bad.  But we have two other titles, both held by BIG stars, in Sheamus and now Ziggler.  And the Divas and the Tag Division, which was sorely missed this PPV.  All those titles will be bigger because that is what we will see.  And whoever faces Lesnar will be a BIG deal.  And I hope they lose.  I hope Lesnar holds the title for a long time, even if he does only defend it maybe three times before Wrestlemania.  It adds credibility and makes the title important, even if he isn't on TV.

My biggest concern is "where does Cena go?"  For the longest time, Cena was treated as more important than the belt.  And we just might see that happen again.  And I really hope not.  It is the thing I'm most worried about.

Verdict - Awesome, and scary important, and just an amazing sight to behold



I'm super-excited.  Which is the exact opposite of how I felt coming into this PPV.  In three hours, I went from being a sad wrestling fan to an exuberant one.  I recently had a facebook discussion with someone worried about things, though.  And I think I'm just going to add that comment onto this, because I'm an egotistical writer, and I'm going to jam my words down your throat one way or another.

Look at NXT. HHH is the only hand on that tiller. There is no Vince, stuck in his old ways. Times they are a changing. It is slow, but it is happening. Kenta, Prince Devitt, Kevin Steen, all guys coming to be in HHH's developmental. Not the main roster, NXT. The future is bright, even if it may still be far.

Plus, we are currently in the slow season of WWE. Things will get weirder and more chances will be taken because the NFL is starting up. We may see some good things happen. Or we may see more utter garbage like Orton-Bryan-HHH nonsense we had to deal with for so long last year. 

But the future, it is bright! And in September we get NXT Takeover 2. Hell, NXT Takeover had two match of the year contenders on it. TWO. 

Also, with all the main event garbage, don't let that make you miss that we are seeing a strengthened Divas division, an emphasis on the tag division with some really GREAT tag teams waiting to come up, and the most talented midcard the WWE has had since the Invasion. And if you remember, the year AFTER the Invasion was the best year for in-ring work and storylines since 1998. WWE just ebbs and flows. We are in the ebb. Things are about to flow.

15.8.14

IHAO on ... Best Man Down



I think this might be the most average movie I've ever seen.  It has all the tropes you can think of for an indy film that isn't trying to be an art film.  It has a bunch of actors playing themselves.  It has a bunch of quirky unnecessary dialogue and shots.  It has really irritating acoustic music.  It's themes are about death and everyone that isn't a protagonist is a jerkoff.  It is just the most regular movie I've ever had to watch.

Tyler Labine plays a drunk party loser jerk who is the best man at Justin Long and Jess Weixler's wedding.  They rushed into their relationship and wasted a whole bunch of money, which is compounded when, after making a huge fool of himself almost ruining the reception, Tyler Labine accidently kills himself in a drunken stupor.  So now his friends have to learn about why he was like that as they try to make arrangements back home for his funeral.  And you learn he was a really cool dude, playing the redneck drunk with a heart of gold as Tyler Labine almost always does.  Specifically he was helping emotionally this super smart quirky girl that was bullied in high school for being smart and pretty and funny, played by Addison Timlin.  Addison Timlin, whose quirky name in this film is Ramsey, is blackmailing a priest who is homosexual, also.  And just ... *sigh* that's like the first fifteen or twenty minutes.

The rest is all the same.

The moving isn't "boring" or anything.  It just isn't interesting.  The acting is fine.  The plot is fine.  The dialogue is fine.  This movie is fine.  Some people will probably love it.  It has a charm, and if you like quirky indy dramas, this one will do you pretty ok.  But for me, it is just ... the most average movie I can think of.  Right down the line.  *shrug*  I can't even bring myself to like or hate it.  It just is.

Grade: C

14.8.14

IHAO on ... World's Greatest Dad (Rest in Peace, Robin)



I don't think I can think of a film that has such great acting, great directing, inventive hyper-reality aspects, incredibly well-placed and chosen music (for the most part), and such a corny, super-tired, boring script.  And I hate to say that.  Because the emotional journey of the film, the hyper-realism that Bobcat Goldthwait creates is excellent.  He does an incredible job in this film, with its cynicism and pain.  But the script ...

A failed writer and teacher at a prep school has a terrible son.  Just absolutely terrible.  He is the worst human being.  And his father, Robin Williams, doesn't know how to connect with his son, or even how to father him.  He has a secret relationship with another teacher, who is basically cheating on Williams with another more perfect English teacher.  Williams comes home from a date to find his son, dead by autoerotic asphyxiation accident.  Ashamed, Williams fakes his son's suicide, writing a suicide note for him.  And things snowballs out of his control as the suicide note becomes public and starts changing everyone around him as Williams continues lying and writing more for his son.

This plot is hackneyed.  There is no easier way to put it.  The "Liar Revealed" is one of the most basic conflicts and plots in film, and it is tired.  The thing that makes this film enjoyable beyond that is how Goldthwait treats the world of the film.  The school's team is the Pugs.  Everyone cartoonishly starts falling in love with Williams' writing, just fawning over it.  On a talk show, Williams is introduced with a graphic that says "Son Killed Himself."  There are long musical sequences, one very well done and very poignant, and the rest ... not.  Wait, I was saying good things.

Williams plays wonderfully.  This is his film.  And the emotions in this movie are perfect.  The comedy is ... not really worthwhile.  But the emotion and the acting is so great.  I wish this was a film I could recommend for anything beyond its acting ... but sometimes that is enough.  And ...

Grade: B+-



Robin Williams committed suicide three days ago.  It was inescapable.  And I argued with myself about if I should say anything.  I personally do not have a connection to Williams as a fan, not really.  I never found him particularly funny in his stand-up.  As a child I liked Genie ok, but carpet and Aladdin were my favorite characters.  Jumanji was fun, but I liked the world more than the characters, and I never really liked Hook.  As I grew older, I came to enjoy his more adult films, especially What Dreams May Come.  That is a beautiful and wonderful film.  But as I thought, I realized that I needed to say ... something.  My "job" as it were is to talk about films, television, wrestling, and other such things.  I just didn't know what.  And at that same time, I found this movie.  It was a perfect thing to talk about.  I didn't go easy on the movie, as you can see, but it allowed me to start thinking and sharing and writing.

Suicide is difficult.  Understatement, surely.  I've dealt with depression a lot, though I don't believe I ever did deal with suicidal thoughts.  It is foreign to me.  But I understand the pain it can create for those who survive it.  And my heart and prayers goes out to the Williams family.  I can say very clearly, Williams touched the hearts of millions.  While this film I found both good and frustrating, and I found Williams' career similarly, it isn't about that.  It is about the emotion we all have.  Emotion is pure.  Laughter and tears.  Anger and love.  Williams was at his best with emotion.  Its why his kids films always went just a little step more when he was the star.  They were always just a little more genuine with him in them.

I don't know.  I wish I had something more eloquent to say.  Sometimes the message may be flawed, it may not be as genuine and emotional as it could be from someone else.  But the emotion ... you know what, let me instead use Williams' words from this film:

"I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It's not. 
The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone."

Mr. Williams, we will never be alone because you have touched our hearts.  And despite the pain, depression, or whatever may have been going through your life when you tragically felt alone ... you will never be alone within our memories.

Rest in Peace.  I hope to hear you laugh in heaven.




13.8.14

IHAO on ... Rapture-Palooza



I liked it.



Ok, of course I'm going to say more than that.  You could clearly see the words after the gif above.  And I've never just done a short little review.  Plus, I got some interesting things to say about this one.

Rapture-Palooza is about the rapture.  Well, actually it is after that.  It is about life in the world after the rapture.  With all the crappy stuff that happens and the anti-Christ and all of that.  But much like a Seinfeld joke, the entire thing is observed through a lens of "Really? Really?"  A girl and boy, Anna Kendrick and John Francis Daley, are just trying to live their lives and continue.  But the Beast wants to have all the sex with Kendrick, so they have to find someway to save her from all the terrible things he is going to do to her.

This is a comedy.  And it made me laugh.  I liked it quite a bit.  There are some interesting themes in it as well, that even I as a Christian can enjoy from this clearly non-Christian comedy.  It doesn't offend, or even try to offend.  It is just trying to tell a simple story as our heroes try to just keep their life together.

This film has two major sins, and both are surprisingly similar.  Firstly, the budget isn't great.  They do a lot, and the scope is a perfectly fine size for this kind of tale, especially the way it is told.  But a lot of the costuming and make up are very cheap.  The camera work is very standard, and the color tinting in post is very obvious, at least for me, but that's become a thing that drives me bananas.  The script is filled with little improv breaks, and most are ok, but some are noticeable, and that's not the kind of thing you want to notice.  They work best when they are seamless.

Second, and this is a writing thing: our protagonists don't really ... do anything.  They don't grow or change.  They have obstacles, yes, and they get over them, but they do it in the same way a Seinfeld episode wraps up.  This ... Ok, I got a better way to describe it.

Let me talk about Dogma.  That is a Kevin Smith film that is brilliant.  Hilarious, heartfelt, great characters, interesting problems, shot wonderfully, huge scope, lots of philosophical questions about not just religion (Christianity in particular) but the little bits and quibbles and what it all really means.  Rapture-palooza does a LOT of the same thing, except it doesn't have that drama.  It doesn't have the real characters or skilled director.  It has all the hilarious, and lots of the creative.  But it is missing the thing that takes a movie another step.  It is a very shallow film, as opposed to the depth that Dogma has.  And that ... isn't necessarily bad, but it keeps it from reaching higher heights.

Honestly, I think this is a worthwhile watch.  Clever, enjoyable, with a very interesting point at the end about reality.  But it isn't great.

Grade: B+

12.8.14

IHAO on ... Killing Season



It's been awhile since I did a most dangerous game film.  If you need a brief refresher on that famous short story and its themes, it is about a man hunting another man for sport.  Now this film isn't exactly the most dangerous game.  It is more a revenge flick thriller version.  Oh, and it is mostly just two really good actors acting at each other while they do some pretty brutal things.

The plot goes like this: a soldier during the Bosnian war and a Serbian terrorist from the same war.  The terrorist gets shot in the back and executed by the soldier ... except he survives.  And spends the rest of his life trying to find the solider to get revenge.  Then it is a game of hunter versus hunter.  First they meet and they get to know each other, at least a little.  And then it all goes down hill.

The film is pretty daggum good.  It doesn't ever quite crank up into the next gear to be great.  But it is good.  And the war background for some viewers will very much be a huge bonus.  I personally wish there had been some more set pieces, some more intense thriller moments.  There are certainly some, and they are pretty good.  But I wish the film pushed those moments more.  Also, the dialogue between them is very poignant and well done, but for me not particularly engaging in the talky sequences which pace out the film.

Robert De Niro and John Travolta do a great job inhabiting these characters.  I don't feel like I'm watching these actors, but I truly am watching these characters and their struggle.  There's also some real nice symbolism, though it is a little ... well, it isn't light-handed, but I am unwilling to call it heavy-handed.  Noticeable and relevant.

The film could be better.  And that's really its biggest crime.  it aims pretty high, but nothing about the direction or cinematography really elevates the film, and the dialogue actually kind of hurts the film.  The acting is good (though I bet some have a hard time with Travolta's accent, though it didn't bother me) and the set pieces, though a little more spaced out than I would like, are memorable and enjoyable.  The film didn't do well with critics, but personally, I think it is pretty all right.

I must ask Sandy to go steady with me.  Those su-u-ummer ni-ights!

Oh, and the finale sequence is dumb.  Like, super dumb.  Absolutely bad dumb.  Well, not finale sequence, the climax moment.  There's a finale sequence that has more war dialogue.  Man, if I was into war stuff I'd really like this a lot more.  Oh goodness, and an epilogue on top of it that I personally find undercuts the film.  Sheesh.  You know what, despite all that, I do enjoy it.  Not enough to own it.  Not even really enough to watch it again.  So ... I guess I don't really like it enough for a plus.  But hey, if you like war stuff, which I know a few of you really do, this could be right up your alley.  

Grade: C

11.8.14

IHAO on ... Mr. Nobody - READER REQUEST

Requested by William Newman

Goodness.  The requester watched this very dense art film and just wasn't sure what to think.  So he requested I talk about it.  Because I, as a film critic, have gotten pretty good at being able to see the storytelling and artful techniques within films.  Or because we're friends and he was curious.  Or I dunno, he was bored.  I'm not sure the reason, but it was requested.  So I watched it, finally.  And ... goodness.

All right.  This film is an art film more than any other genre, which I said above and have tagged it with below.  It is the first art film that I've talked about on this site like this, where even the term "drama" doesn't fit.  So let me first try to explain the conceit.  Many folks probably don't really get art films.  Art films in general do not care for a lot of the storytelling aspects we've come to feel are standard in filmmaker.  It isn't about narrative in the rising and falling action sense.  There is narrative, but it is a symbolic and emotional narrative.  The purpose is to ask questions and to ... look, I'm just wasting time waxing on here about nothing important because I wanted to let you get a feel for this film.

This 2009 art film is about choices.  You see a man's life and every variation of his life he could have made at three specific points.  You see him have to make a choice between parents as they divorce.  You see him make choices in his important romantic relationships as a teenager.  And you see him make choices in his important romantic relationships as an adult.

The film is very dense.  Purposefully so.  Almost alienatingly so.  I think it is more ... hold on, let me take that back and try it from a different angle.

Oh, hello, I didn't notice you there.  Would you like a cup of tea?

This is not a new conceit, a film where we see the choices a character makes change.  Run Lola Run is my personal favorite of this narrative element.  But Run Lola Run works.  And Mr. Nobody doesn't.  Why?  Mostly because Run Lola Run is simpler and about more than just those choices.  Mr. Nobody is very much just about its philosophy, and forgets to actually engage the standard audience.  And yes, some films are not for the standard audience.  But unless you are purposefully alienating the audience, I feel a film does a disservice if they do not try to make the audience be able to grasp its purpose.

Let me talk about good things.  Juno Temple is wonderful.  I fall in love with her in each film I see her in, like the Brass Teapot I reviewed before.  That is an incredible skill.  It also means that the sequence with her in it is my favorite, and is also the sequence that gets the most time.  There is an actual dramatic and romantic and tragic story told there, and it gets the most uninterrupted, simple and ... no, not simple, it is a very interesting and thick sequence, but it is lacking in the artifice of symbolism and ART FILM that the rest of the movie has.

Unfortunately, that is all I really have good to say.  The movie isn't bad, or anything.  But I did ultimately find it not enjoyable, and fairly average.  It is shot perfectly fine, though it is dense.  And it is easier to follow than Septien, another art film that felt less arty than this.  But I find that I dislike this film because of its moments where it shines.  There are fantasy sequences that are treated like reality.  The "choice" the boy has to make isn't even a choice because the mother is an irredeemable [curseword]-blaster, and the way that scene is shot the child doesn't really HAVE a choice, or at least not a realistic one.

That's the film's biggest problem.  It's ideas are all perfectly fine, but when stapled to each other, you can see the holes, if you catch my metaphor.  Such as a sequence where for whatever reason one version of him has decided to make all choices based on a coin flip.  That is a GREAT idea for a film.  And it is about two minutes of screentime in an already dense film.  Much like the complication of the scenes with Juno Temple, which makes a great film all by itself without the rest.  This movie feels like the writer/director had seen Run Lola Run and other films like it and felt he had to one-up the conceit.  It works, but is ultimately mostly unenjoyable.

Grade: C-

10.8.14

IHAO on ... Netflix Lists

Holy crappers do I have a bunch of movies and tv shows stuck on my Netflix list.  I get a lot of requests and have a lot of whims, and I just throw things on there, not worrying about it.  It wasn't until last night when I went looking for Roadhouse because it was 4:33 in the morning and I wanted to kick something so I thought I'd watch Swayze do it ... it wasn't until that moment when I saw that it wasn't on my list any more.  Things don't just STAY on Netflix!

I know, I know, that probably shouldn't be as mind boggling as it was.  But in that instant, I realized that I had, not counting television shows, movies I've watched but want to remember so I can make sure I buy them in the future, or zombie flicks I only have on there to watch with my wife, that I have 36 flicks on there.

THAT A WHOLE BUNCH.

So, I'm going to ... watching something else instead for now.  But I am going to, starting tomorrow (MONDAY) go ahead and force myself to watch some.  Using handy-dandy random.org/lists, I've put all of the flicks on there and am going to randomize twice.  Then the first five films will be all next week's reviews.  So let's see what we got:

MONDAY - Mr. Nobody - Reader Request
TUESDAY - Killing Season
WEDNESDAY - Rapture Palooza
THURSDAY - Best Man Down
FRIDAY - Stand Up Guys

There you go.  That's next week.  I'll probably have to do this again, maybe even the NEXT week.  But for now, this is what I got.  See ya Monday for the Oscar-winning actor's flick about ... space?  I dunno, I can't figure it out from the poster image.

Ta ta.

8.8.14

IHAO on ... A Bit of Fry and Laurie



I mentioned in the MST3K review that I just do not care for Monty Python.  I thought I'd go into why.  It isn't that they aren't funny sometimes.  Sometimes, they are very funny.  But that is roughly one sketch in every episode, if that, or one section of any given movie.  Though to be fair, a lot of that is from having not very tight writing.

Let's look at Life of Brian.  The joke, the central thesis, is that another kid is born at the same time as Jesus, and basically all of Israel accidentally follows Brian as if he was the Messiah, and he hates it.  That is a pretty decent joke, and can go a whole bunch of places.  But the film wastes about 45 minutes of time staying as far away from those jokes as it can, instead focusing on whatever stupid thing John Cleese was doing.  And almost everything they do has that terrible pacing.  They either murder a joke by beating it to death, like the entirety of Holy Grail - which is, by the way, why the quotes are funnier than the film itself - or they take too long with the setup to actually get to the joke.

I highly suggest you keep your safety search on when searching for the term "beating a dead horse" on Google.

Monty Python just doesn't do it for me.  Anyone making jokes can throw jokes at the proverbial wall and eventually one will make a funny noise.  But in general, I find them boring and ultimately not worth it.  Now, some disclaimers to this opinion:

  1. I have not watched all of the show yet, but I have a large quantity of it.  I will eventually see it all.
  2. I have not seen every film.  I am missing And Now For Something Completely Different.  Which is just them redoing their best sketches.  Who knows how that'll go.
  3. I really really like Monty Python's the Meaning of Life, and find that movie genuinely funny, though just like a lot of Python stuff, some sequences go too long beating a joke to death.  But I do genuinely like that film.
Why do I bring all this up about the Pythons?  Because A Bit of Fry and Laurie is the other side of the coin. 


 Similar style, similar conceits, and absolutely bloody brilliant.  The best British comedy show I've ever seen.  Heck, one of the best comedy shows I've ever seen at all.  It is just brilliant jokes on top of brilliant jokes, great recurring characters and awesome work, all performed by two men and a small gaggle of supporting actors.  

Hugh Laurie (House, if you didn't know) ...


... and Stephen Fry (I cannot make a pithy quick character note to help you, but I bet you'd recognize him if you say him) ...


... have such brilliant chemistry and timing, especially with each other, and every episode I watched on Netflix is just some of the best content I've seen.  Laurie is just so wonderfully silly and dim and Fry is so incredibly dry and acerbic, they are just a perfect comedy duo.  A throwback to Laurel and Hardy or Abbott and Costello or Pinky and the Brain.  So yeah.  That's it.  I can't just tell you about jokes they do, because it will not be the same.  Heck, just the gifs above don't do the show justice.  So go watch it.  Go. 

It's great.