Personal Shopper

personal shopper

SO, THIS is a story all about how a twin medium’s life got flipped turned upside down, so I’d like to take a minute just sit right there, I’ll tell you about how KStew became the ghost of a town called short hair. *Instrumental break* Did I lose you? I know it was a stretch at the end but I needed something that rhymed with Bel-Air and that was the best I could do. If you can do better, let me know and I’ll change it.

The first like 10 min of the movie is Kristen Stewart opening glass french doors onto bleak nothingness, and then pushing her hair around to let us know she’s upset. Phones and hair-pushing are like 80% of how information gets conveyed in this movie and as an audience member lemme just say, the phone is my preference. (More on this later!!) It makes me go back and revisit in my mind all the movies where we just had hair-pushing, and what a disaster those were. Kristen Stewart relies on certain sections of her head and face a disproportionate amount to convey emotion: top and sides of the head (where the hair is), bottom lip, and middle of the eyebrows. Any avid KStew fan knows, these three areas are where all the acting’s happening. You don’t even need to look anywhere else. You can, and you probably will, but you don’t need to.

So we’re kind of invested, because clearly she’s got a lot going on, but then the plot goes all the way to hell about 15 minutes into the movie. At the beginning you’re like, oh interesting a movie about a personal shopper that isn’t vanity driven or shallow but seems to be complex and she has stuff going on (not that personal shoppers can’t be complex but in movies they’re always chewing gum and saying something caustic about sweaters- it’s never a personal shopper discussing applied ethics in between dress fittings) and we’re curious about what that stuff is, until this monologue where we find out the stuff she has going on is: GHOSTS.

In this movie not only is Kristen Stewart a personal shopper, she can also sense “presences,” NOT GHOSTS SHE DOESN’T KNOW IF SHE BELIEVES IN GHOSTS OK JUST LET HER WEAR HER BEANIES IN PEACE. And wow does she have a lot going on. Her twin brother Lewis died 95 days ago of a heart attack caused by a congenital heart defect she also has. (We learn this in quite the shocking topless scene where her boobs tell their own story). Her brother was also a medium. Not at Old Navy, like with the dead.

KStew, “Maureen,” is waiting for a sign from her brother because while they were both alive they made an oath that whoever died first would give the other a sign. Did you know a vague pact with no clear or discernible meaning can provide momentum for 105 minutes of plot? I didn’t either! So, she’s waiting in Paris for the sign because that’s where he died. She’s American, I assume her twin brother is American, she lives in Paris but zips around to London a lot where her brother’s partner lives-I’m just saying they seem very cosmopolitan for two mediums? Is there a thriving medium community overseas? They’re kind of made fun of here (Mediums here are either from Long Island or a 1-800 number) but I would love it if it’s really well-respected other places. Like being a dentist, but for ghosts.

So there’s also this other thing where Kristen/Maureen seems to have a sexual relationship with the clothes she picks up for her boss (celebutante Kyra). Every time Kristen goes to a fitting, or a shoot, people ask her to try on clothes and I just don’t think that’s part of it? Why would they? It seems odd. (It’s sort of implied it’s because they’re the same size so they don’t have to bring it back to be fitted because that’s what it is for shoes, but when Kristen’s taking a selfie in a mirror in Kyra’s dress later she’s gathering it in the back because it’s too big, and we already saw a fashion week photo of Kyra in it and it fit, sooooo no dice!!). Kristen sort of has this, “I know I shouldn’t, but I want to” look in her eyes every time they bring out a tank top that is usually reserved for when someone wants to fuck someone who is married, but here is used for when she wants to try on a pair of shoes.

Then she’s texting with a spirit? An “Unknown” number texts her phone and keeps saying ominous weird things and asking her questions and first she thinks it’s Lewis but then it just seems like some guy from Tinder (“I want you. I will have you.”) You know when you think you’re texting your dead brother but really it’s just some dude trying to fuck?? So annoying! This texting conversation lasts throughout almost the whole second half of the movie. She travels between two countries and is still keeping up this conversation. It’s a long conversation is what I’m saying.

I will say a few things about Kristen’s texting grammar since we spent a lot of the movie watching her text (suspenseful!). She puts a space in between a sentence and a question mark and I APPRECIATE THAT because I do that too. When the question mark is right there next to the words it feels really urgent but when you type your thought then a space then the question mark, it feels like your words can be considered on their own, then the question mark adds tone, like, ‘what did you also think about this?’ Something I did NOT appreciate was that she’s either all or nothing with punctuation which is really extreme and off-putting. Either a sentence has nothing, or it has TWO question marks which is so aggressive! Her texts looked like 2 different people, both with mood disorders trading the phone back and forth. That’s probably enough about the texting grammar.

Her boss gets murdered at some point. After KStew tries on her clothes and masturbates in them, and she finds the body. She’s freaked out and runs away but then comes back and tells the police. In the middle of all of this she neglects her spirit text penpal which upsets it, so it comes after her/decides to frame her? But then tells her to got to a hotel, where we see some elevator doors open and close and it looks like the camera is following a ghost? Then Kyra’s illegal boyfriend (she’s married) comes out and the cops go for him and he tries to get away/shoots at them, but they arrest him. While this hullabaloo is happening, Kristen feels unsafe alone (because ghosts) so she goes and stays with her brother’s alive girlfriend who is now dating someone else from work. Kristen talks to him and tells him he has nothing to feel guilty about, which is cool and understanding of her.

Then her brother appears on the patio and breaks a glass but she’s not looking out for signs right this second and leaves the country to go visit her boyfriend (Gary) in Marrakesh or wherever he is (he’s been traveling this whole time and I really thought the writing was on the wall for him to be cheating on her but I guess not) and then she thinks her brother’s there because another glass breaks, but it’s not? Then it’s her?? She was dead the whole time? This movie ends with her saying, “I guess the ghost was me” and a white out. A WHITE OUT. What!

The medium thing was honestly out of control, to the point where people in the theatre (me) were laughing. At one point Kristen Stewart looks at a faucet that was on and goes, “I’m gonna need more from you.” Which was absurd and very hilarious. I did not believe her as a medium, mostly because it was such an afterthought? They gave her way too much going on I think- she’s doing these cross hatch drawings of a door, then cumming while putting on shoes, then deciding which 500$ belt would go with being rich, then riding her moped to another country, honestly the dead probably couldn’t get a word in edgewise. I bet her brother has been trying to give her signs for like 45 days she’s just too busy watching videos of prescient abstract female artists on her phone or doing weird hand things to notice. (She did SO MANY weird hand things. She would like, rim cups she was drinking or play a mini invisible piano while looking in the fridge or stretch one finger out before opening doors, it was a lot).

The only scene we see Kyra in other than the one where she’s lying in a pool of her own blood is her and her lawyer on a conference call and they’re going back and forth very seriously with someone about some gorillas?? Where they can and cannot be, and a lot of other specific details about a group of gorillas for some reason?? It was really a funny choice to make, I appreciated that. I wanted Kyra to start talking to Kristen after she died, that would have been ironic since she didn’t really talk to her in life, but I think this movie wouldn’t have liked that, too much of a bow. No one can accuse them of that!

Oh also the man who murdered Kyra encouraged Kristen to follow her dreams? What are we supposed to take from that? Kristen Stewart’s makeup in this movie was phenomenal though. The subtlety of her eyeshadow is something her acting aspires to.

Some stuff didn’t make sense to me-the beginning of the movie Kristen goes to this house to try to hear from her brother (but it’s actually someone else, a mad lady who vomits “ectoplasm”) but why are they doing a ghost appraisal on this house? Who are the people buying the house who she’s giving the spirit reports to? No clue.

Overall, incredibly odd, and not in a fascinating new kind of way, in a, “that’s what you did?” kind of way. Eh. 3 out of 6 neutral pullovers, would masturbate again if I’m still thinking about it in a year.

 

 

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The Fate of the Furious

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Hello, hello, hello. What is this the 8th movie in this franchise? And I am going strong. I didn’t even learn the title I just said I wanted a ticket to The Fast & The Furious and she knew what I was doing. (It’s also my birthday today and she gave me free birthday popcorn!!!)

These movies seem like they would be bad just because all the trailers are people saying stupid things then explosions but they’ve actually been consistently SO GOOD. This one is a classic pit of Family vs. Justice- there is an evil cyber hacker named Cipher (we all watched The Matrix ok you could have stretched on that name a little bit) played by Charlize Theron. Number one let me just say, to make the villain of the movie a white lady with dreads is perfect. A chefs kiss. (They’re more twists? Idk what she was doing- it looked like the dollar store version of Angelina Jolie in Gone in 60 Seconds) They could NOT figure out how they wanted this lady to dress, in some scenes she looked like the floor manager of a Linens n’ Things and other times she was wearing Metallica t-shirts with blazers. BLAZERS. What in the world.

But so she’s this hacker (both computer mavens were women!! Yay casting and representation- ALSO this franchise is the only franchise with a majority non-white cast that continues to make hundreds of millions of dollars with each release) and she’s trying to get nuclear codes and a submarine just to threaten the world? She gives this weird speech about the end goal but it’s very vague and meandering. Dominic (Vin) is like, “You did all this to start a war?” and she scoffs, “It’s so much more than that” but then never really says what it is. She says it’s so she can do whatever she wants for the rest of her life- but like are you gonna detonate them? Just say that you have them? What?

Dom is in Cuba on his honeymoon (if it took Dom & Letty seven movies to get married there’s hope for you girlfriend!) and Charlize pretends her car is broken down and when Dom stops to help, she shows him something on a cell phone that makes him try to kill Hobbs (Dwayne The Rock Johnson) and turn on everyone. He also kisses Charlize Theron after they set off “concussion bombs” which alter your sensory perception for up to an hour and looked really cool, and I almost cried. I love Letty & Dom and I don’t care who knows it!!!

Also happening, Hobbs goes to jail since the mission got fucked up when Dom went rogue (they say “went rogue” like 50 times in this movie and I get it, but it was still too much. You get to say it one time and that’s all) and he runs into Jason Statham in prison. They have some history, I don’t remember what it is because the last movie came out a year ago and I did not store its every detail in my brain, but they don’t like each other. They do this weird machismo taunting fight bragging through their glass cells at each other, then Hobbs pulls a cement table out of the wall & starts bench pressing it, they agree that if they run into each other outside the cells they will fight a lot.

Almost immediately, the doors to Hobbs’ cell open because there are rich men with vested interests in stuff. But he’s trying to play by the book (he’s just a good cop trying to get it right for his daughter!!!) and all these guards with tasers come to apprehend him even though he’s not trying to get out but Deckard (Jason Statham) chokes one of the guards, makes him tase himself, then uses it to electrocute his locks and open his door. Then a truly excellent prison-wide fight scene happens with a GREAT song playing (I would like to purchase this soundtrack because I liked it very much) and eventually the suits come (Kate Hudson’s dad and Clint Eastwood’s son) and bring them to a warehouse to explain that GASP they actually need to put aside their feud and work TOGETHER because they share a goal (Cipher corrupted and abandoned Deckard’s brother).

Everyone is working together to try to track Dom and Evil Gas Station Barbie and there are some GREAT chase scenes. A personal fave was when Charlize hijacked all the smart car driving mechanisms so she made hundreds of cars in the cities drive against traffic, into stores, whatever. It was a really cool visual to see all the driverless cars causing havoc. Additionally she said, “make it rain” right before making a bunch at the top of a parking garage drive off the edge onto the street (they were trying to get nuclear launch codes from a Russian limo, typical) and that was sweet!! Also every time I’m on the upper level of one of those the death impulse kicks in and it was very very satisfying to watch.

They travel all over the world trying to track them and everyone ends up in Russia (the names of the places are superimposed over the landscape for the first shot of a new destination and I really liked that choice, it looks cool like a video game). Everyone was wearing FINGERLESS gloves in Russia and that took me out of it for a minute because that’s just not right. I’ve done winters in New York & Massachusetts which I’m pretty sure don’t have shit on Russia and you would NEVER wear fingerless gloves outside in that, so I know you wouldn’t if you were hundreds of miles further from the Equator. But oh well. The lady who did the costumes was named Marlene and this was her only mistake and I forgive her.

Letty punches a man off a railing into a moving submarine blade to kill him and people are driving over ice dodging torpedos- there’s a lot going on and it’s all wonderful. Jason Statham is doing a full fight scene with a baby because that’s what was on the cell phone- Dom has a son and Charlize got him and was blackmailing him with it. But they get the kid and then all bets are off. Dom immediately kills the bodyguard person who was with him and outdrives a submarine. Everyone saves the day, they end the movie with the CLASSIC Fast & the Furious dinner scene where people give meaningful toasts and eat corn, Letty meets the baby and you know she’s gonna help raise it cause she’s an angel on Earth.

The beginning of the movie has a really great race scene in Cuba where Dom races some guy with a nosering using a busted up old car that catches fire halfway through the race and he drives backwards through the flames and wins and the car crashes into the ocean and then all these Cuban children crowd around him and cheer for him like he’s a national hero, which he basically is. Helen Mirren has a cameo as Jason Statham’s mom, and we get a true gift of a scene where Dwayne The Rock Johnson is the coach of his daughter’s soccer team and he teaches them some sort of tribal intimidation chant and they do it on the field and it’s very wonderful and great.

Loved this movie, 4 out of 6 nuclear subs, will for sure masturbate again (especially when Dom is teaching his hot young son the ropes in the next one)!! Peace & blessings upon you and your racing family.

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The Boss Baby

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Y’all. I went to go see this movie because I could NOT figure out what the teaser of the conceptual plot even revolved around in the trailer. It’s a baby and he’s a boss? I don’t understand. So I paid my nine dollars like every other child in Kenner today to find out. And WOW.

So, first of all, this movie looked like one of the fake ones Adam Sandler did after he sold out on Funny People. You know the one where he’s a little merman that can talk? When I saw that I was like, “Do they really make movies like that?” They do, and apparently I am the type of person who goes to see them.

This movie never ends up making sense. It has all the pieces of a movie that makes sense: conflict that turns into personal growth through adversity, lessons learned, visual and thematic callbacks, character archs, opposing desires that come to a head, opposing characters joining forces, pirates, famous people doing voices, etc. etc. But it’s like when I saw Blue Velvet for the first time. You’re not gonna get anywhere by focusing on why there’s an ear on the ground. You just need to accept that now you’re in a world where there are ears on the ground. It’s almost exactly like that.

Basic plot: there is a child (Tim, voiced by Tobey Maguire, yes it’s weird) who loves his parents (no names, Jimmy Kimmel and Lisa Kudrow, less weird) and he loves playing with them all the time (he’s still very young). We open on a scene in the Congo with a white man beating up a gorilla and a narrator saying, “There’s always someone who wants to take what you have” and I was like, Does Dreamworks understand irony?? But I don’t think they do. It ends up being the kid and his dad (his imagination is like a character in the movie!) and they are playing. His parents play with him all day, when they’re not working at their job at the pet company, “Puppy Co.”

Oh also lol, before this movie there was a preview for a movie that started out “Two orphans have a dream” that was very odd and uncomfortable seeming. But, back to this.

So, it’s a wonderful life, then a baby in a suit comes in a taxi. Tim sees him pull up in a taxi with a briefcase and little leg suspenders (what are those called? To hold your socks up when people cared?). Then the parents present the baby like they gave birth to it and Tim is suspicious and hates it. That happens for like a week then there’s one night where he hears a telephone ringing outside of the home line. He goes to the baby’s room and finds him on a conference call and ambushes him. The baby (Alec Baldwin) has a speech that’s supposed to be a big breakdown but nothing actually gets explained. We just know now he’s on a mission that has to do with the parents and getting information. And he likes sushi and throwing money.

The opening credits scene was all these babies on an assembly line getting diapers and pacifiers and powder-puffed butts, then when they get to the end most go down a chute labeled “Family” and others go down one named “Management.” Which, initially without any context is hilarious. But then like 30 min into the movie when you still have no clue, it’s like, “We get that it’s cute that he’s wearing a tie but is there ANY semblance of thought someone put into this?” I think the answer is kind of no.

The haphazard explanation we get way later is that there is just a baby management world where babies drink a special formula to stay young forever and control…they never really get to that part. All things baby? Who knows. But in the middle of their cubicles (this could also be read as the most depressingly capitalist piece of art in the entire world where someone in their wildest imagination only could dream of integrating work and productivity into life earlier) there’s this big screen that has a pie chart breakdown of all the love in the world (because there’s a finite amount!) and it only goes to like 5 things and all of them are young things (babies, puppies, birds, goldfish, Lisa Rinna after her first marriage) and puppies have most of the love.

That ends up being the mission. The Puppy Co. is debuting a new type of puppy that stays young forever, so no one will love babies anymore. (Ears on the ground! Ears on the ground!) The Boss Baby was sent to find out about the puppy and alert the other baby managers so they could…? They never really had a plan, they didn’t get that far. Tim hates the baby and wants him gone. The baby explains that if he completes his mission he leaves the family and Tim can have his parents to himself again. If he FAILS they leave him with the family and stop sending him the special formula that keeps him young forever and he just grows up and stays with the family as a normal baby. So Tim decides to help him, so the baby will leave his family forever. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!

They go to Las Vegas because that’s where you go to unveil a new puppy type, duh. Tim & Boss Baby are on a plane of only Elvis impersonators (*huffing unidentified gas from tank*-I am just realizing that if you haven’t seen Blue Velvet this review is going to make NO sense) and they make it to the puppy convention. They try to find the secret file and run into Francis Francis (Steve Buscemi) who is the head of the Puppy Corporation and the Babies’ rival. Come to find out he USED to be one of the Big Boss Babies in Baby Management but they kicked him out because he was lactose intolerant. Everything I’m saying is in the movie and true.

All this rigamarole happens with the puppies and a rocket and the formula and Tim’s parents getting locked in a huge stage heart and symbolic pirates and a crossdressing body guard brother, it’s a lot. Eventually Tim saves his parents, rescues Boss Baby from his own mind, thwarts Francis Francis (who is turned back into a baby somehow) and they all go back home. Boss Baby takes a cab to get his “promotion” in baby management heaven or wherever and the parent’s memories are erased. But Boss Baby and Tim miss each other and Tim sends a letter in crayon to the sky and Boss Baby gets it and comes back to live with the family and they grow up then they tell the story to Tim’s daughter in the hospital while her little sister is being born. Then the little sister wakes up and is wearing a business suit and winks. END OF MOVIE.

????? Normally I have some reaction or opinion on a movie but this one was just barely a cohesive mental experience, I don’t even think I have any reactions. My friend Anthony and I were the only ones in the theatre without kids and I think they were confused too. After one part a kid yelled out, “How are they doing this?” and it was like hearing rain in the desert.

It’s just such an odd concept with almost no logical mooring, and nothing else substantial about it. I think it’ll become a cult classic and film dudes in college will take shots every time Alec Baldwin sighs or takes a pager out of his diaper or something. Truly odd, certainly the David Lynch of animated movies. Just missing Laura Dern!! Get her in there! Anyway.

1 out of 5 abacus beads that represent emotional resources, would not masturbate again.

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The Age of Spin: Live at the Hollywood Palladium (Dave Chappelle Collection 1: Ep. 1)

Dave Chappelle At The Hollywood Palladium

!!!!!!! This special was fantastic. I’m never more sure than after watching this that Dave Chappelle is my favorite comedian and my favorite person to watch and hear speak about anything. He’s so brilliant and funny, the way he sees the world and can convey it is so skillful and enchanting.

This special was really interesting. He talks ONLY about things that matter: race, gender rights, OJ Simpson, concepts of masculinity and how they integrate within a global context, intersectionality, the police, his son liking Kevin Hart more than him, (which made me hear “Daddy Nick Cannon is hiLARious” over and over again in my mind!!!) Flint, Planned Parenthood, Carebears, etc. etc. I don’t need to agree with him on each of these things (and I don’t all the time!) but great standup isn’t about people agreeing with you it’s about showing someone a perspective and being funny.

Getting someone to laugh/see something as funny when they DON’T agree with you, I would argue is one of the most difficult social interactions that exists and he does it over and over and over again for an hour. Nobody in that audience agreed with every single thing he said but every single person was laughing and trusted him the whole time.

He has a way of making his truth undeniable and making the joke about something bigger than the part you don’t agree with. And I’m focusing on this because I feel like someone’s gonna write some piece about how he said he doesn’t like his wife’s gay friends or that “man and woman” should remain in the verbiage for marriage licenses but he’s being honest about who he is. No one has perfect opinions all the time. They might try to project that to not offend anyone or more likely, to garner favorable impressions in a contentious social climate but that simply isn’t true. Everyone has bias (to deny that is insane and unrealistic) and he’s exploring his honestly. Chappelle says of trans people, (The ‘T’s’) “They have the toughest road ahead of them because they have the biggest mental gap to bridge.” That’s true!! It’s not something many people intuitively understand. You can chose to believe someone about their own identity or you can fight them on it, but it can be genuinely confusing if someone is raised to strictly believe in the gender binary and/or so many other social constructs that are in direct conflict with the nature of gender fluidity. If you’ve ever tried to have a conversation with your 64 year old dad about trans women being real women even (especially!!) if they haven’t had surgery, you get where I’m coming from. There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging your biases, it’s what you do after that. Chappelle is acknowledging his bias in the best way possible-publicly and honestly.

Now there’s a lot in that: the locus of education shouldn’t fall on the marginalized/oppressed groups, at a point proclaiming your inability to understand something becomes a choice, in no way should action or progress hinge on certain people’s understanding of an issue (although unfortunately often it does and that needs to be addressed) and do celebrities normalizing certain attitudes on a large scale translate to violence for certain groups? I believe it can. But first of all, I don’t think (and everyone’s entitled to their own interpretation) he was saying anything negative or hateful about trans people, just saying he doesn’t understand. Also, let’s say you do think he was being both those things, you have to decide what to do with that. Correlation doesn’t equal causation and I don’t think the answer to transphobia is comedians and their Netflix specials.  I don’t think not letting people say any opinions that might be problematic is the key to bring about progressive change. I think it’s more productive to have conversations about them and use people’s public forthcoming to educate (again, not the oppressed groups but the rest of us). I personally wanted my dad to watch this special so we could talk through some of these things through the accessibility of humor but he doesn’t have a Netflix password 😦

And can people can hide behind a lot of these things and wield the concepts I’ve just said exploitively? Of course. There’s judgement involved in discerning that. BUT there’s good people who don’t have it all the way yet and I (maybe optimistically) think that’s most people. And this special is for all of us (I readily include myself in this group).

There’s a lot of layers and I understand how this can sound apologist and ultimately I’m not trans and if trans people are saying something is violence to them that’s valid and real and should be treated as such. But in this instance I think that realization needs to be rooted in a dialogue of what is the role of comedy in society and to who, because that’s the heart of where this all lies. I also think there’s comorbidity here, a trans person can say, “this special is going to make my life harder” and that can be true but I don’t think then it makes his special wrong.

I’ll use an issue I can speak with authority on instead of trans rights because I’m not trans. In this special, Chappelle probably says the word “rape” over thirty times. It’s a punchline, it’s an explanation, it’s a reference, it’s a preposition, it’s everything. It’s basically that scene in The Wire where they solve the crime by only saying fuck but it’s “rape” and nothing is solved at the end. But just as good!!! So, one of his bits is him making up movie pitches to Hollywood producers at the Oscars. There’s two guys, one is gay and one is a big guy from Texas. He’s throwing out ideas he thinks they’ll like. This is key, because in the next breath when he proposes a superhero who rapes people (which is brilliant as a layered concept) there’s a satirical element that it’s not what he, Dave Chappelle, likes and thinks is funny, he’s trying to appeal to/make fun of this misogynist producer. He goes on to explain that this superhero is stronger than Superman and saves people, but he can only use his power if he touches a woman’s vagina. “Doesn’t have to be for long, just a few pats.” But so he paints this scenario of a building burning and people dying, and this man running up to women around the city pleading with them to let him touch their vaginas “just for a few minutes” (which felt like a political parallel to the Brock Turner defense that it was “only 20 minutes of misconduct”) then all the women say no and Chappelle pauses and says, “So he rapes them.” Which ALSO defining any unwanted physical contact, even a few ‘pats on the vagina’ as rape seems political and wonderful to me because there’s so much language surrounding “legitimate rape” (there’s some right there!) and a lot of women don’t feel valid in claiming rape if it wasn’t a violent act from a stranger, even though “gray rape” (a term that has been coined for nonviolent rape) by an acquaintance or friend is overwhelmingly the majority of rapes.

So he’s presenting this situation where the superhero is raping, but it’s ‘for good’ and it ‘saves more people than it hurts.’ (And yes, yes, why is violence against women always the go to and one of the reasons it’s able to be presented in a humorous context so easily is because it’s generally not taken as seriously or believed, I know, but come with me here) Anyway, he ends this anecdote and moves on. Then later at the end of the special (after he’s talked about Bill Cosby a lot) he ties it back in and does a loop de loop with all the things Cosby accomplished for black people (first black actor to win an Emmy, partnered with a clinical psychologist to make sure there wasn’t even a single negative portrayal of black people during the entire 8 seasons it was on) and does an echoed speech thing to tie these two together. The Superhero Who Rapes and Bill Cosby. And again, is it a false dichotomy? Yes of course but he’s speaking on a larger concept of legacy and the complex, nuanced perspective that lies within. Which is totally valuable and honors how so many people feel, especially older people of color by emotionally contextualizes them/their responses to the whole thing .

Also, to leave this topic for a while (and never return!) he tells this story about taking his son to see Kevin Hart and it is truly hilarious and he is a funny genius and I love him more than the sun. At the end, he leaves and everyone stands up and applauds him (he also entered to a full theatre standing ovation) then he runs back out and says, “I forgot!! The fourth time I met OJ Simpson…” because in the beginning he said, “before the night is over I will have told you about all four times I met OJ Simpson” and I can’t decide if he really did forget? Or orchestrated it that way to have a different pace? To look spontaneous? I don’t know, it really does seem like he forgot, but then that would be amazing that he’s structuring an hour not knowing how it’s going to end, just going. But I’ve seen him do an hour where he is just talking and I believe he can do that I guess I just assumed if you’re filming a special you’d plan it out a little more but maybe he didn’t! That’s honestly even more impressive to me. And he does tributes at the end to Garry Shandling and Phife and it reminded me of his show where he would have a musical guest at the end (because he left on a song playing) and ughhh it was so good and I can’t believe there’s another one (and then another!) and I want to buy these on tape so I can go to sleep listening to it every night he really is so fucking incredible. It’s even more incredible when you hold it up to all the other Netflix specials that have come out over the years, they fucking churn them out like butter but unlike butter they’re all bad and this was really really good and we’re lucky to have him and I hope he continues to create.

Oooh! And he rags on Key and Peele a little bit and I heard a radio interview with him where he talks about it a little more and I could listen to him talk about that forever. I don’t really have an opinion on that (nor do I need to) but I just think he got fucked over and rightfully is a little bitter that someone else got to do what he wanted without that.

Love him, love the special, loled. 8 out of 9 Kevin Hart jerseys, would/will DEFINITELY masturbate again.

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Beauty and the Beast

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I liked it! Just went to go see this Disney reboot at 11:00am on a Sunday, and was shocked to find children there. So many children. A whole birthday’s party worth of children. There was a cake and everything. I thought about getting a beer to cope but we got nachos instead. Why did I assume everyone at this princess movie was going to be in their late 20’s? Because I assume the world revolves around me, that’s why.

So we go find three seats amidst a sea of infants in ballgowns and the mothers who dressed them. The opening scene (“Bonjour”) is shot for shot like the original. Just to recap, in case somehow you haven’t seen the original, Beauty and the Beast is the story of a literate girl (the whole town thinks she’s STRANGE because she can read) whose father gets captured by a cursed Prince. She goes to save him and ends up taking his place. There is a magic rose that sheds petals as time passes and if all the petals fall before the Beast has convinced someone to love him in his form, the spell will last forever and all his servants turn into furniture. It’s an oddly dark and specific curse but he was vain and shallow as a man and only a death flower will get him to see that.

So Belle trades places with her dad (Kevin Kline!!) and resigns herself to eternity in the tower prison. But since she is young and beautiful, all the furniture is nice to her because she might be able to break the spell and set them free. (Wouldn’t it be funny if the Beast was gay and into older guys and everyone just eschewed Kevin Kline out never knowing he was their only hope??). They sort of make her dinner (she never gets to eat it!!!) but are mostly just showing off and singing. Belle is both bemused and delighted (the number of times Emma Watson shakes her head and smiles at an inanimate object is this movie is overwhelming) and is kinda taking it all in, but clearly also wishing she wasn’t a prisoner in a haunted mansion.

Someone (Ewan McGregor as Lumiere) has let slip about the West Wing (it’s a fast paced political drama with a bevy of interesting and well-written characters and you can never go there Emma!!!!) so Belle sneaks over there and sees the rose. She reaches out poetically but the Beast comes in right at that moment and yells at her, which is completely understandable because if she touches it they could all die and everyone told her not to come here anyway. But white women don’t like being yelled at (boy can I attest to this one!) so she runs out of the castle, gets her trusty horse named Felipe, and they ride. *Cue the Rihanna.* Unfortunately there’s a lot of ice and wolves on the path out of the forest and they sort of get trapped and it looks like Belle’s going to be mauled to death by a wolf (a different feminist story) but right at the last minute, the Beast comes to save her. He gets hurt (wolves) and she takes him back to the castle on the horse.

Belle nurses him a little but he’s still kind of being a dick but the teapot explains it’s because he never knew his mom and his dad’s an asshole. Belle’s like, “My dad’s cool as hell but I know about dead moms and that sucks” and she starts to contextualize his emotional responses.

She recites Shakespeare to him in bed (if you don’t have Advil, go for rhymed verse) and he wakes up and finishes the couplet. She’s like, “that’s my favorite play” and he’s like, “Lol girl, Romeo and Juliet? That’s basic as hell” and she’s like, “I’ve only read seven books because everyone in my town makes bread for a living and hates progress” and he’s like, “Lemme put a fancy coat on and show you something.” So he takes her to this HUGE library and she gets mentally wet for all the books and he’s like, “If you like it so much, it’s yours” which doesn’t make ANY sense because it’s a room inside a house, she can’t separate it from the house and there’s too many books to physically move anywhere especially when she only has one horse and is forbidden to leave, but hey. Romance!!!

Then they bond over reading and eating soup and they are starting to fall in love. Meanwhile, Gaston (Luke Evans, great) tried to kill Belle’s dad because he wouldn’t give him her hand in marriage. The Beast shows Belle the magic mirror so she can see her dad and she sees her father being sent to the insane asylum by the whole town. The Beast lets her go to him even though the flower is almost out of petals and they’re super close to a moment of some kind.

Aside: I know it works out that they fall in love but wouldn’t it be really funny if the when they’re on the last petal he’s like, “So?” and she’s like, “Oh I don’t really see you that way” then he says “Friendzoned again” and while she’s saying, “that doesn’t really exist” he dies. 

Belle goes to get her dad and shows the townspeople the Beast in the magic mirror so they know her dad’s not crazy but the mirror gets highjacked by Gaston (classic white dude) who decides that they have to kill the Beast and Belle is “under his spell” since she disagrees with him. Interesting commentary about who society trusts and the detriments of that here if anyone’s into looking at that. Also lol, while all the townspeople (who are mostly white) are lighting torches and yelling based on one man’s rash decision, the one black man’s face has “Y’all crazy” written all over it.

The whole town goes to the castle and gets in a fight with all the enchanted objects while Gaston goes to find the Beast. The Beast is depressed because he thinks Belle left forever and the spell is going to be permanent so he’s kind of letting Gaston kill him but then he sees Belle came back so he gets back in it but he’s already been shot three times at this point and is hanging off the side of a building.

(Observation: earlier when the whole tavern is singing his song to Gaston LeFou asks Gaston’is that fair’ after he implies that he shoots animals in the back when he hunts and Gaston’s like ‘I still do it!’ which foreshadows him shooting the Beast in the back three times at the castle). 

The classic movie murder of a bad guy happens where they are out of the picture but none of the main characters have to get blood on their hands or deal with any complicated moral queries later-he falls off a building that crumbles beneath him.

Then the Beast dies and everyone turns back into furniture and Belle is crying and says, “I love you” and AGATHA who was the shunned town spinster disrobes and really is the enchantress (proving all single women over 40 really ARE all witches) and reverses the spell.

Everyone turns into people, the Beast turns into the Prince (my friend Addy was like, “wouldn’t it be funny if she was like, ‘You’re white?? then doesn’t want to be with him anymore”) and they all have a ball (literally) at the end.

Another funny thing: during the townspeople’s fight with the decor LeFou is trapped under a table and he calls out to Gaston for help and Gaston said he couldn’t cause “it’s hero time” and my friend Jade leaned in and whispered to me, “that’s also what he says before he cums” and I wish the birthday party could appreciate what a good joke that was.

Overall it was fun. It was a lil frustrating that an acceptable love interest for women can be an upright horned centaur but female love interests can’t even have normal size torsos. They added two songs that weren’t in the original and I didn’t need them, but they seemed to serve some point for plot progression? I don’t know.

3 out of 5 talking cups, would masturbate again in a few years.

 

 

 

 

 

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Logan

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Logan Logan Logan Logan Logan. !!!!!! I liked it. I liked it a lot. You don’t know you have a need to watch a nine year old girl claw a bunch of men to death until it’s happening, but you do. This movie fills that need for all of us.

This movie is set in 2029, where the adamantium in Logan’s body is starting to poison him. Professor Xavier has dementia and lives in a metal grain silo in Mexico, and Stephen Merchant is his albino mutant hospice nurse. In the future Logan is a suicidal Uber driver and he and the Professor have some sort of end dream of living on a boat together.

This dystopian Norman Rockwell vista is interrupted when a nurse finds/keeps trying to contact Logan for his help. She wants him to drive her and her “daughter” to the border (of North Dakota?) so they can get to a place called Eden and be safe. He shrugs it off and doesn’t want to do it, but she gives him 20,000 dollars then gets murdered so he decides to help.

Aside: Whose funeral was he at when she first found him? Who was the woman he was putting into the car? Did someone take an Uber to a funeral and make him stay?? 

The girl, Laura (Dafne Keen), is the one Professor Xavier has been talking about/communicating with telepathically for a few days, but no one believed him because he’s almost 90 and has a degenerative brain disorder. WHICH BY THE WAY he’s supposed to keep taking these pills to suppress his seizures because when he gets them he commits psychic terrorism and kills/paralyzes anyone near him up to hundreds of people and it’s happened before. Fun!!

Laura comes to the metal farm (do I mean a farm that’s main export is metal or a farm that seems to be constructed entirely of metal? Somehow it’s both!) Logan and the Professor and Stephen (Caliban) have been living on/at. Pretty soon after, a whole cadre of military people come to collect/kidnap her. She is a genetic experiment, the government was using mutant DNA to make child soldiers with special powers they could raise and control (yawn if you’ve ever seen Dark Angel), but as it turns out people don’t like to be forced to kill for the government even (especially?) if they are children. So all the kids started rebelling. The govt decided to scrap that project and make instead “something without a soul” that would be better at taking orders, and give the go ahead to kill all the kids. But the nurses who had been taking care of them/being lied to, figured out what was going on and tried to get the kids out and save them (women of color are the only ones doing the right thing and risking their bodies to do so? Sounds like a realistic future to me!).

Logan is pretty meh on the girl and leaves her in the trailer house to be taken by these military dudes, one of which has a throat tattoo and a metal arm, (Boyd Holbrook as Pierce) but when she comes out with a severed head and metal claws he becomes very on board with her. They (Logan, Laura, the Professor) flee and vaguely make their way to the coordinates given to them by the dead nurse. (They also find an informative video on her phone that shows the experiments on the children and the plan to kill them). I say vaguely because Logan saw the exact coordinates of their secret rendezvous destination in the X-Men comics Laura had in her bag (lotta levels here!) so he thinks it’s made up and pointless to go.

Many trials and tribulations interrupt their path, most notably a black family with a horse trailer gets run off the road by some racist country folk and they stop to help them. Logan’s ready to get back on the road but the Professor (in his new role as Logan’s old dad Chuck) accepts their invitation to dinner and to stay the night.

These scenes are different from the rest of the movie, there’s some casual ribbing going on over biscuits (about the past in front of biscuits I mean) and this is the first time we see Laura smile. There is an interesting and weird scene where she follows the son of the family (Quincy Fouse as Nate Munson) into his room and gets way too close to him as he listens to his headphones and explains pole-vaulting to her. It’s sweet. But alas, all good things must come to a violent an unexpected end, and soon the dad Will (Eriq La Salle from ER!!!!!) needs to go into the corn fields because someone (either the racists from before or new ones!) shuts their water off, which he explains happens from time to time.

Aside: There were some subtle, and some not so subtle social commentaries snuck into this mostly gore action movie that I appreciated. The evil people in the movie were Border Patrol and “walls” were a big factor/barrier for everyone good. Also the thing that starts the big conflict with Will’s family is water access (#NoDAPL/Flint). The doctor who made and wanted to kill the children even mentions “my good friend Donald” in one of his meandering narcissistic speeches about “justice” but idk it could have been a coincidence, but it’s also only 12 years in the future and it’s possible it could be him too. Anyway. 

So Logan and Will go to turn the water back on and there’s a bunch of dudes with guns out there. Logan does his thing (being intimidating in a tank top) and they flee. They go back to the house but there’s a clone of Wolverine there who has killed everyone and stabbed Professor Xavier in the chest. The clone has Laura in a metal whole body handcuff thing and is carrying her to the military hospital van where everyone else is, including Caliban who they tortured into helping them. 😦

But then lots of trucks pull up and the racists are back with reinforcements. They mistake the clone for Logan and go after him but he kills all of them which is incredibly satisfying to watch. Meanwhile, the Professor dies in Logan’s arms so he goes a little nuts and stabs his clone a billion times. Then Will comes back from the dead (almost) and pins the clone to some farm equipment with his truck through the chest. Then Will dies. He almost shoots Logan before going and Logan is all about it, he’s really ready to die at this point, but Will does it first.

So now it’s just him and Laura, and she’s spoken for the first time (like an hour into the movie) and it’s Spanish and she insists on going to her friends/family at this camp in North Dakota. Logan is very weak and near death. Laura tells him to let her drive, he refuses, so she just waits until he passes out and does it. (She also drove him to an Urgent Care in a car she stole earlier) . They get to the camp and there’s a bunch of mutant children that look like a United Colors of Benetton ad. They give Logan this green serum medicine (only a little bit!!) to nurse him back to health. It’s the same thing the military doctor gave his clone to grow his eye back after it was blown off with a shotgun.

Logan gets better-ish (he’s really old and busted in this movie and I KNOW they said it was because the adamantium is poisoning him but I don’t think that’s right!!! Did anyone read the comic books? Did this happen in there? It seemed like a gimmick to address the fact that Hugh Jackman the actor is getting older despite playing a character who is a REGENERATIVE IMMORTAL, but maybe I’m wrong. Where’s my brother when you need him??)

So he goes to sleep. Laura wanted him to come with them (they’re crossing some border that’s in North Dakota that they will be safe beyond) but he doesn’t want to and that makes her mad/upset because he’s her dad technically and she wants to be with him but he’s like, “Everyone I care about gets hurt” and she’s like, “So I’ll be fine then” WHICH WAS A REALLY SICK BURN!!!!!! The next morning the kids are all gone but then Logan sees drones and military trucks heading towards the woods path they took. So he runs for 8 MILES (you only get one shot) then shoots the whole bottle of green serum. He goes ham on the soldiers and his clone but takes a BEATING in the process, like a tree trunk through the chest beating, (not enough kids used their powers??? They were just running and being captured?? Even though one of them can literally can control trees??) and finally Laura shoots the clone in the head with an adamantium bullet that Logan was keeping for suicide purposes.

Logan dies (WTF) and Laura buries him and does this weird funeral poem I didn’t understand that was a short story that also had no context? Maybe someone else understood that part. Then as all the kids are leaving Laura picks up the stick cross they made for him and turns it on its side so it’s an X!!! Which was visually really cool!! Then the movie is over. And there’s not even a scene after the credits!! I looked it up in the theatre to see if I should stay even though I really had to pee and there’s multiple articles about why there ISN’T a scene after the credits. Which I didn’t read because I really had to pee but I’m curious!

Overall I truly loved it, the little girl was cool as fuck. She also got these sunglasses halfway through that she wore all the time and she looked like Lolita a little, but if Lolita had wanted to kill men instead of fuck them. The whole time I really wanted Hugh Jackman to be young and hot again instead of aging and slow which I know is a curse of movies that they put into you. I was satisfied in this wish for a minute in his young clone but I just wanted Logan to be the best. I can’t believe he died- are they not gonna do anymore with him? I do want to see more with the girl and the other kids but I’m not ready to give him up yet. I just need to ask a comic book person what the end of his arch is and if this is permanent or not.

Like I said, I liked the hints at social commentary, I thought the acting was solid on most everyone’s part. Love a hot villain with a throat tattoo, that was a plus. I also really liked how Patrick Stewart (as the Professor) was fundamentally the same and different than who we know his character to be because that’s exactly what dementia does to a person-makes them virtually unrecognizable at times while they’re still themselves. Like, he was cursing which he would NEVER do when he was with it, and generally pretty snappy and cranky, and refused to take his meds. But he also still pushed and filled a leadership role and made judgement calls and held his same core beliefs even if they were articulated differently and I really appreciated that. It made his brain disease seem very real. At first I was a lil mad that the main character was a woman but they didn’t even let her speak the whole first half of the movie, but then they addressed it and she was bilingual and it was cool to me. Lol they also managed to wedge gender in there talking about the METAL IN HER BODY because she has feet claws and the Professor is like, “in the wild female lions use front claws for hunting and back claws for defense blah blah blah” and I was like, let her be non-binary dude!! But they couldn’t hear me. But Jesus.

5 out of 7 Ungendered Lions, will definitely masturbate again.

 

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Get Out

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Loved loved loved loved this incredible work. Where even to start? The brainchild of Jordan Peele (co-everything for Key & Peele and haver of a white wife) this psychohorror/thriller follows an interracial couple, Daniel Kaluuya (the American Idol episode of Black Mirror) and Allison Williams (Peter Jennings’ daughter) as Chris Washington meets his girlfriend Rose Armitage,’s white family for the first time.

The intersections between very real dangers for black people and a more exaggerated science fiction/horror element blended to settle perfectly in the in-between of believable and not.

The first scenes establish Rose and Chris’ relationship dynamic. Rose seems woke-ish, she understands some basic boundaries and is aware of racism in general but also does some things that I felt were fucked up/belying a fundamental misunderstanding of certain elements of the situation, like not telling her parent’s he’s black because “it doesn’t matter,” and insisting her dad’s not racist because he loves Obama. Also on the way there (of course they drive to this suburban middle of nowhere forest for rich white people) they hit a deer and the cops come. The cop asks to see Chris’ ID even though he wasn’t driving and he’s complying and Rose starts saying, “this is bullshit” and challenging it. The cop decides to give the ID back without checking it and leaves. Chris ended up thinking it was “hot,” I was annoyed at her because it felt like she was putting him in danger needlessly.

They get to the house and things are intensely fine, and by that I mean the smalltalk and little jokes are turned all the way up and there’s a house tour that the dad (Bradley Whitford!!!! Josh from The West Wing!!) insists on doing immediately. The house tour reveals some things, namely the black servants/groundspeople the family has (Georgina & Walter, played by Betty Gabriel and Marcus Henderson respectively) and that Rose’s mom is a psychiatrist whose office is in their home.

They have lunch outside and the mom whose name is Missy (Catherine Keener-The 40 Year Old Virign) offers to help Chris quit smoking through hypnosis. Dean (the dad) is pushing it a little hard and she tells him to back off. Chris has a “what the fuck” look on his face in about 40% of all these scenes but is being very cordial and has a sense of humor about the weirdness.

They go to sleep and that night Chris gets up to go smoke a cigarette outside (only bad things come from smoking cigarettes, you heard it here first!!) and a couple things happen. Walter (the black dude who is a groundsman and has been ominously chopping wood for the majority of his time on screen so far) comes sprinting out of the woods towards Chris and only diverts his path at the last second, running away into a different part of the woods. Then Georgina is in a lit window seemingly watching the whole thing, but when we look back she appears to just be admiring her face and hair in her reflection in the window. Chris goes back in the house and Missy is sitting in her psychiatrist’s chair and invites him in “for a minute.” He sits down and she starts asking him questions that are getting more and more uncomfortably personal and when she asks him where he was when he found out his mom died he says, “I don’t want to think about that right now” but she keeps stirring her tea (lol- the irony of TEA being his hypnotic trigger is so layered and funny to me) and HYPNOTIZING him into telling her until he’s mind trapped and can’t move. She fucks with him until he is paralyzed and crying and she tells him to “sink into the floor.” Then he falls into his own mind, this black abyss of stars and at the top is the square of reality that he can see but now can’t interact with.

He wakes up gasping and maybe crying a little and it seems like it was a dream but later on the lawn Walter confirms that he was up at night and did spend a lot of time in Missy’s office with her. Chris tries to tell Rose and she’s like, “omg MOM I can’t believe she did that lol so embarrassing” and brushes it off. This is also the day of some big party where all their white friends and family (I think it’s her grandpa’s birthday?) come and he is subjected to endless micro (and macro) aggressions. Lots of old white people making comments about his “genetic makeup” and listing all the black people they know.

Oh also something I forgot is they have dinner with Rose’s brother (Caleb Landry Jones as Jeremy) who gets into town and he is an intense lacrosse player or something, he really likes MMA and intimidation and drinking and having freckles. They have sort of a charged interaction and he almost puts Chris in a headlock (but jokingly? Not really) but it gets diffused before that happens.

The casual picnic racism becomes even weirder when there’s another black dude there who’s not The Help and Chris goes over to him.

Something I forgot to say is that the very first scene of the movie is Lakeith Stanfield (from Atlanta!!)’s character, Andrew Logan King, walking through the suburbs, muttering to himself and scared to be in this all white neighborhood. He’s looking on his phone for a house when this white car starts to slowly follow him and he goes,”not today” and turns around but then someone in a knight mask STABS HIM and drags him into the trunk of the car. Then it’s the title credits and we go into Chris & Rose’s stuff. But I loved this because for so so so long, lots of horror movies (and regular movies and TV) have been casting and broadcasting irrational white fears based on stereotypes and reinforcing them over and over again, like white women being raped by aggressive black men or gangs of angry black teens assaulting/killing someone for no reason. And it was so refreshing to see instead black people’s very RATIONAL fears of white violence served in the same way, on a big screen and without contest or context. 

Chris tries to talk to Andrew Logan King and says it makes him feel comfortable to see another black person there, then Andrew answers him but he talks like a white narrator in a Crisco commercial from the 50’s. He’s also wearing a straw hat and suspenders and is there with a white lady like thirty years older than him. Chris (who is a photographer) tries to take a picture of him covertly but the flash ends up being on. When the flash hits Andrew’s eyes he CHANGES and his nose starts bleeding and then he runs towards Chris yelling (in his normal voice now) “GET OUT Get the fuck out of here!!” and then quickly gets ushered inside by many white people to get some “rest.” Which is also what the mom said Georgina needed when she convulsed a little pouring the sweet tea at lunch earlier.

Rose and Chris take a walk in the woods (Perhaps if you go back and read that book thinking about the bear as an allegory for racism, it holds up and perhaps Bill Bryson is woke as fuck. I’d certainly like to think so) and Chris says he needs to leave and first she’s annoyed and Turns Her Back On Him to face the lake, but then he tells her stuff about his mom’s death and says she’s his family and he doesn’t want to leave without her. She is happy and crying and they decide to leave together. While they are on this emotional journey, everyone back at the party is betting ON CHRIS to own him with Bingo cards.

Aside: The man who “bought” him in cards was this blind man who was the only person at the party to talk to him like a real person, about art, and his work and the world. BUT later after you see how they choose men for Rose to bring back it becomes very clear, she probably chose him at the wish of this man who wanted his eyes. This knowledge in hindsight brings their interaction to a whole new level of fuckedupedness. 

This is when everything starts to shit the fan (sometimes there’s not enough time and you need to combine idioms!!). Rose and Chris separate to get packed and Chris sees this open door to a hideaway cupboard/little attic. He looks in and sees a red box. Earlier, when he asked Rose if she told her parents he was black he also asked if she’d ever dated a black guy before. She said no but that it wasn’t a big deal or something. But THEN in the red box, after a few pictures of her in high school plays and some old black and white selfies, there’s SO MANY pictures of her with black boyfriends, like eight or nine. The second to last one is Walter, the groundsguy and the one after that is Georgina!! Then Chris is like, Oh Fuck, because it’s also when Rose comes back in the room. She can’t find the keys but he’s outta there and down the stairs. The whole family is positioned downstairs like creepy dolls just waiting and the brother is in front of the door, brandishing a lacrosse stick, his white weapon of choice.

Tensions keep rising and Chris keeps saying, “Rose. Rose. Rose!” like, bitch you need to find these keys and she keeps crying she can’t until all of a sudden her face clears and she holds them up and is like, “You know I can’t give you these right?”

WHAT THE FUCK!!! Then the whole family conspires to trap him and they hypnokidnap him and strap him into this armchair where he has to watch a video that basically shows that they’ve been neurologically enslaving black people for over 20 years, who knows how long. A calm white man in the video explains they cut out the motor functions part of the brain and connect it with someone else’s so the black people are trapped in their own brains unable to speak or act (but aware) while some white person uses their body like a car.

In the most ironic twist in the whole world, COTTON saves him, (I really want to read all the dissertations about racial symbolism in this film that I both assume and pray are coming) he balls some of the armchair stuffing and puts it in his ears so he can’t hear his hypnotic trigger, then takes out the brother with a Bacci ball (classic white death) and kills everyone else except Rose. She is in her room eating Froot Loops out of a glass with a STRAW (what in the WORLD), researching NCAA players, looking for a new victim. She eventually hears her family being murdered and comes out with a shotgun. Chris puts the pedal to the medal but accidentally hits Georgina and then has a PTSD flashback because his mom got killed in a hit and run and was left to die. So he scoops Georgina up and brings her along for the ride but after Rose yells “Grandma” and we see the scar on Georgina’s forehead, and Georgina tries to kill Chris when he’s driving, it’s very clear that the white lady’s mind is in there. Which makes sense why they kept saying the whole dang movie their black servants were, “like family,”(Walter is the grandpa) even though white people also say this all the time when there’s no brain-swapping involved. (White guilt is a helluva drug). Rose catches up and is going to shoot Chris, then Walter is like, “let me do it” so Rose gives him the gun, but she doesn’t know Chris flashed a light in his eyes so he’s himself again for a minute. He kills Rose then kills himself, which was devastating to witness.

Chris is trying to kill Rose some more when a cop car pulls up and it’s HORRIFYING because you KNOW they’re going to side with this bleeding white girl and not the black man but then it’s Chris’ friend Rod who’s been looking for him and is in the TSA!!! Rod is played by LilRel Howrey who is hilarious and provides some much needed comic relief throughout.

That’s basically the end. This movie was incredible and everyone should go see it even if you don’t like horror. It’s beyond that. Jordan Peele gave some interviews about his influences and that he just wrote down everything he liked about those movies then tried to recreate what he loved and I forget what the others were but one was the original Stepford Wives and that vibe is very strong and great. The performances were all around INCREDIBLE, especially Betty Gabriel as Georgina, Lakeith Stanfield as Andrew Logan King, LilRel Howery as Rod Wiliams, Allison Williams, and Daniel Kaluuya. Phenom.

The movie is incredible, and watching it in the theatre was especially incredible because people were laughing, clapping, gasping, it really is a whole experience. I loved it.

Five out of five hypnotic suggestions, would masturbate again.

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The Visit

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My sweet boyfriend has gotten me more into horror, so when I was at the library and saw an M. Nigh Shyamalan movie about possessed grandparents I was like, “Oh what a fun thing for us!”

Now, a couple of red flags right off the bat: never hearing of an M. Night Shyamalan movie is a very bad signs (pun intended!!!!!!!). When he hits, he hits big but OOf when he misses. (The Happening???? The one with the devil in the elevator???). Also, no one I’ve ever heard of is in it (except Kathryn Hahn for a few minutes but she’s basically on a Sandals cruise the whole movie). Big name director and no name actors usually means that that script is terrible and I mean, TERRIBLE.

The premise of the movie is that the mom (Kathryn Hahn) hasn’t spoken to her parents in like 15 years because of an incident that happened when she decided to elope/move in with her older boyfriend that she won’t talk to her kids about. She won’t tell them exactly what happened, just that she hasn’t spoken to them since, and that it was terrible.

Since that time the older man and her had two kids (he also left her, but we’ll get to that later!). A boy, Tyler, and his older sister Becca. Lemme say a couple of things right here about these kids. Number one: the writing was atrocious. The definition of atrocious is, “of a very poor quality; extremely bad or unpleasant” and boy does it fit in here.

Tyler is a nine year old white rapper who is always saying PAINFULLY outdated/lame/trying too hard “slang” like calling girls hoes, or saying “shiznit” or something. There are MANY different times in the movie where he expresses his feelings about a situation/event by RAPPING INTO THE CAMERA for more than a minute. MORE THAN A MINUTE. It is TERRIBLE. He has no flow or an understanding of sounds that rhyme. Often he wears things like a baseball hat that says “I heart haters” or a ripped denim vest, or graphic socks or something. It is terrible and so is he. I say he is too because I can have a soft spot for little white kids who haven’t learned about the world yet and are very cringe inducing. That’s alright. I cut my own bangs and was very self-righteous about D.A.R.E., we’ve all been there. But this kid, (Ed Oxenbould) is also one of those child actors who’s too rehearsed in his emotions so he just seems like a tiny serial killer. There is a very fine line with child actors between extremely talented and tiny murderer. How do you know how to be smarmy already?? Can you even read? I really hated him. He also was supposed to have this thing with germs but most of it got edited out so it seemed like they just put it in one scene to make a point later. He also had this gross “poignant” monologue about freezing up at his football game and not tackling someone who needed to be tackled. His dad wasn’t mad at him for that and that’s why he’s not mad at his dad now that he abandoned their family (yikes Tyler!) and it was truly painful to watch.

Becca is older and “into filmmaking” that’s why she’s making this documentary (oh yeah the whole thing is supposed to be found footage kind of-so it has that against it as well-like everything we see the camera has to be explained why it was put there, or someone chooses to bring a camera with them while they do a task that it makes no sense for them to, etc). Becca is supposed to be really smart and the way we know that is she talks like a smug adult for the entire film and references things she wasn’t alive for and uses words I studied for the SAT. It. is. so. annoying. when. writers. try. to. make. kids. sound. really. smart. by. just. having. them. say. big. words. UGHHH. I don’t think any of the writers of this movie have ever met a kid. Becca is constantly having these little sardonic soliloquies and acting world weary and generally being terrible.

Anyway, so after many years of not speaking, the grandparents write their daughter and say they want to meet their grandchildren by hosting them for a week at their house. The mom doesn’t want them to go, the kids want to go, so they end up going. After a few raps on the train (in the presence of a very patient black attendant) they arrive in somewhere that is indistinguishable from anywhere in Connecticut (the land of grandparents).

The kids get settled in and weird stuff starts happening, mostly at night. The grandma is scratching at the wall naked, or running around naked, or hitting herself, or spacing out, etc. It is explained by some weird disease that only happens at night and the grandpa suggests, “it might be easier if you just stay in your room after 9:30.” So, they do but over the course of the week weird stuff keeps happening in increasing frequency and also during the day too. Some creepy highlights: the grandma keeps asking Becca to clean the inside of the oven (“really get all the way in there! Get the back!”) that allows for some good tension. The grandpa tells them to stay out of the shed so of course Tyler goes in there and finds a lot of the grandpas’ soiled diapers (it’s really funny how much of the weird stuff in the beginning of the week the kids chalk up to them just being old), the grandma has a really intense game of hide and seek under the house where it seems like she’s trying to eat them?

So, this stuff keeps happening and the day the mom comes back from her cruise with Miguel (she deserves this!!) the kids are like you need to come get us, Nana and Pop-pop (white people) are being weird. Then they show them just staring blankly at the barn outside on Skype. The mom kind of freaks out and is like, “you’ve been with them all week? They aren’t your grandparents.” Also, throughout the week people have been stopping by the house to check on them because they keep missing obligations they have, all relating to this hospital, which we find out later is a mental hospital. Basically two people from the mental hospital escaped, killed the grandparents and were pretending to be them to have this week with the kids. The man wanted his wife to feel like a grandmother again because she murdered her kids and drowned them in the lake.

There’s this whole other plotline about their psychosis that gets revealed through “stories” Becca encourages her grandmother to tell for the documentary, but basically they believe in aliens and that the aliens spit into the water which fills in with drugs that make people sleep for a long time and they keep them at the bottom of the lake asleep until they can bring them back to their planet (which had an INSANE name, Synmorphia maybe?).

They start a game of Yahtzee (which is hilarious. This movie had some moments of sheer comical joy but I don’t think ANY of them were on purpose) but then halfway through Becca excuses herself to go look for her murdered grandparents in the basement. She finds them, then the fake grandparents try to kill them. Becca stabs her “grandma” to death with a shard of broken mirror and Tyler tackles his fake grandpa to death (meaningful because he couldn’t do it in the football game! And his dad!) but not before getting a dirty diaper shoved in his face, which was too much by any estimation of what is too much. The kids successfully kill both fake grandparents and the cops show up with the mom one second later.

Then later back at the house for the “final interview” (wouldn’t you just scrap the movie if you got kidnapped and had to murder your way out????) the mom FINALLY says what happened to make her not talk to them for 20+ years- the real grandmother got in her way when she was leaving and she hit her mom, then her dad hit her. Then they read this letter that Tyler intros by saying, “shouldn’t we say we found this in the house under some gasoline?” and Becca goes, “don’t spoon-feed the audience Tyler.” (Which, YOU JUST DID! When someone writes in a deprecating joke about something they also wrote and decided to do, UGH I hate it, I told you they were the worst). There’s also an alternate ending in the bonus features that’s EQUALLY as terrible and Miguel’s in this one. God, this whole movie was truly terrible in a specifically egregious way. I will say, I like the concept and if there had been completely different script with completely different actors, I think it could have been better. I also liked the title cards that announced how much time had passed. That was probably my favorite part of the movie.

One out of seven sleeping alien lake babies,  would not masturbate again.

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Midnight Special

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For something that sounds like a Wendy’s promotion this movie was oddly artistic and science fiction-y. But still incredibly disappointing, exactly like a Wendy’s promotion!

This is a weird lil one-off about a magical boy who was raised in a cult and worshipped as the voice of God but ACTUALLY he’s just an alien who belongs to another world! The FBI finds out about him and tries to chase him, but since he has powers and is telepathic, they don’t get him. The whole movie is one long chase. Like if a normal action movie took a muscle relaxant and Signs was playing in the background.

All the actors were fine (and white!) they were just acting in a very slow burning fuse of conceptual dynamite that relied on the viewer to love something like “conceptual dynamite.”

The boy Alton wears goggles most of the time because the special effects people saw X-Men and liked it. (It makes NO sense how when he opens his eyes without goggles there’s this white light that can upturn trucks and blow holes in walls BUT behind simple every day swim goggles the light is rendered harmless). His parents, Michael Shannon (bae) and Kirsten Dunst (opposite) are trying to take him somewhere-coordinates he predicted in a dream?-but they are being chased by the FBI who saw something powerful and weird and immediately decided they need to confiscate & weaponize it . Joel Edgerton helps out because he knew Roy (Michael Shannon) as a child and he thought this movie would get him something at Sundance. Sorry Joel!! 😦

Adam Driver plays some kind of FBI person and it’s the first role he doesn’t seem like a complete asshole in, so I guess he really can act.

I’m sorry, I’m just so full of hate right now-this movie has taken me about three weeks to finish and I keep renewing it from the library because I’m a psychopath and I didn’t want to return it until I was finished but I’m also a horrible procrastinator so now I have fines on it and resentment built up towards it. But also it wasn’t a very good movie.

It looked cool and people you know are in it which might fool some but no great artistic depths are being plumbed here. Also Kirsten Dunst has a long braid as a character choice and in the end she cuts in off in the mirror as some kind of V for Vendetta lite which was derivative to me. ALSO there’s a scene where Alton is finally going up to his rightful world (where everyone has light coming out of their eyes and they don’t even NEED goggles), and she’s left on the ground and there’s just these bright flashes and she “lets him go” and just, HOW MANY more movies do we as a society need where Kirsten Dunst is bathed in symbolic light before nodding meaningfully?? I know I personally don’t need any more! Not even one more!!

I think I felt bad for Kirsten’s braid because you could tell it had a lot more to give, but it just didn’t get a lot of airtime or emotional consideration to be honest. First of all, she’s in this cult where everyone lives on a farm and there’s a few hundred other people so right from the jump that’s a LOT of braids to compete with. Also I do think it got out shined (pun intended) by Alton’s goggles because they were always in scenes together and you know what they say-never do a scene with babies, animals, or goggles that defy the laws of time and space because no one’s going to pay any attention to you! Then she just cut it off at the end and you KNOW she didn’t donate it to locks of love or anything, even though it was definitely long enough. That braid just screamed wasted potential to me. Maybe it’ll get a spinoff where the braid goes out in the world looking for a kid with cancer but finds love instead. We can only hope.

Usually in these I talk about some of my favorite scenes but this whole movie was one long scene that just kept stopping different places. A gas station here, a motel there, an all white FBI interrogation room, a clearing in the woods that’s really a portal to another world, blah blah, you get it.

I truly genuinely have nothing to say. That’s a specific kind of failure of art when it doesn’t even elicit bad emotions, just nothing. An all blank expanse of feeling and thought.

I think they made this movie for people who love cults, who love action movies, who love science fiction, but who have very very serious heart conditions, who need everything to be calm and boring all the time so their blood pressure doesn’t go up. If any of that is true, this movie was a huge success and I hope they’re all eating pudding and blinking at it happily.

I however, as a person living in the world, felt very very bored and underwhelmed and truly wish this movie didn’t exist at all because then I wouldn’t have had any hopes for it and checked it out of the library, and then I wouldn’t have wasted three weeks of my life and two dollars in library fines that I’ll never get back. The good thing though, the silver lining if you will (and I will) is that the writer and the director are the same person so we know EXACTLY who to blame. Sometimes there’s confusion and it’s hard to tell what specifically was at fault but in this case, they are the work of the same man, Jeff Nichols, and that work was not good to me.

All Jeff Nichols’ movies sound like Urban Decay lipstick names: Mud, Take Shelter, Loving, Midnight Special. For that, and that alone, he has my respect. 

One and a half out of three zip tie handcuffs, would NOT masturbate again even if under extreme circumstances.

 

 

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Both Steve Jobs Movies

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So, I just finished Jobs (the Ashton Kutcher one) and a few weeks ago I watched Steve Jobs (the Michael Fassbender one). I compared them the whole time and wanted to write a post comparing them because art doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it exists in a bowling alley where a bunch of dads meet to eat popcorn and blow off steam and discuss the competing merits of art.

So, there’s really not much of a debate here in my mind, I really really liked Steve Jobs (the Michael Fassbender one) and did not like at all Jobs (the Ashton Kutcher one, and I promise I won’t do that again in the post, but I might again actually because it’s very confusing).

Steve Jobs (Fassbender) takes an unstructured approach that I’ve never seen a biopic do before. They split his whole life up into all the major product launches of his career. Then they only show us the ten minutes or so right before each launch. We get filled in on the details that have happened over the years through context clues or flashbacks but most every scene and all the information they contain is through these hectic/intense moments before a huge unveiling. This version focuses on his relationship with his daughter Lisa, his personal assistant Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet), his partner/oldest friend Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogan) and a bunch of others that kind of come in and out over the years: the mother of his child (Katherine Waterston), the Pepsi CEO (Jeff Daniels), and other notable people he’s worked with.

Through this we learned lots and lots about him, especially the difficult balance between genius and asshole that he seemed to ride with ease (Kanye is right, he is exactly like Steve Jobs and anyone who can’t see that just doesn’t want to). Fassbender’s  Jobs is so frustratingly callous at times to his daughter, people he’s worked with for over 10 years, friends, etc., you just wonder, what the fuck is wrong with you Steve?? Take a chill pill, pull the turtleneck out a bit! But you come to accept it’s just who he is.

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In DIRECT contrast, the Ashton Kutcher one plays like an inspirational football movie but with computers, where Steve seems like a tough guy but he also gives and has rewarding moments where he learns from others, and at the heart of things is just a curmudgeonly billionaire who’s just a little too hard on his employees at times but can still laugh over breakfast about eggs or something. In this one I never got a feel for a unique personality, it just seemed like Ashton Kutcher acting the same role he kind of always does, a lovable but stubborn whomever.

In Jobs (Ashton) there were parts of his life that it seemed like the filmmakers had to include (for example that he didn’t want to sign the visitation rights document, or that he said that there were 1.5 million people in California who could be the father of that child besides him) because it’s public knowledge/very famous information, but it doesn’t quite fit with the rest of his personality in the movie. In this version, first they present him as this asshole who denies he’s Lisa’s father, then a few years later without any explanation suddenly he’s a normal family man and he and Lisa are just paling around the house, having repartee and eating toast.

In Steve Jobs (Fassbender) they show all the ups and downs of Lisa learning about his very public refusal of her, navigating how hard love and a relationship are for him, differing opinions about money, her mom, ideas-it’s a fully fleshed out relationship. In Jobs (Ashton) she’s more just like an afterthought that they kinda had to squeeze in there. Also in Jobs, Steve Job’s secretary isn’t even in there at all! Not even a non-speaking part, she just isn’t a character in the movie. (According to IMDB she’s in there but I watched it and was looking for her and didn’t find her). In Steve Jobs (Fassbender), she’s the other main role. That seems an odd discrepancy that I would be curious about the politics behind. I’m curious about a lot of the different choices between the films.

A lot of the things Jobs (Ashton) cover are similar to the answer to the question, “Why did Leelee Sobieski leave Hollywood for good?”-no one cares. (I spent a lot of time on IMDB today). It seems like they just took a chronological approach, like when you are five and you draw a story map. They found all the major plot points in his life and just went through them in order. Whereas Steve Jobs (Fassbender) figured out who he is as a person and crafted a film that could present moments where he showed that the most.

The irony about the Ashton Kutcher one is that they’re presenting him as some kind of radical outside of the box innovator but they present it in the most uniform, boring, tired way. I think Steve Jobs would respect how unique a storytelling structure the Michael Fassbender one is. Also Kate Winslet does a phenomenal job, she’s so subtly layered and it’s really interesting to find out her boundaries and motivations as the movie goes on.

After doing the most surface level research I found out that Aaron Sorkin wrote the screenplay for the good one and Dany Boyle directed it, so, that makes sense. The director of the other one is Joshua Michael Stern and the “Known For” movies on his IMDB page are all things I’ve never heard of that look bad. He’s also a writer on all of them, maybe this was his first big directing role. I’m sure his mom would tell him otherwise and she can, but he did not do a good job. There are scenes where soft music plays as someone says something inspiring and then Ashton Kutcher looks down and smiles and then it cuts to him doing something inspirational. Also in Ashton’s he at many different times asks other people their opinions on one of his ideas and if I believe the Michael Fassbender one at all, I don’t think Steve Jobs would EVER do that. He was just a boss ass bitch who knew what he wanted and was a complete asshole to everyone around him to get it but it brought us these true wonders (ipod, iphone, mac) that changed how we think of and use technology.

I guess one of the biggest differences in approach and execution is that the Ashton Kutcher one tried to make him likable but he ultimately he didn’t need to be likable because he was right.

Theory: Maybe when there’s two biopics that come out around the same time about the same person there is always one that’s clearly better, like what we’re seeing here and with both those Truman Capote movies. Capote was clearly better and I bet you never even saw Infamous. Well I did and I saw both of these as well and I’m gonna save you the time. Although once you watch Steve Jobs (Fassbender) you’re so curious about him you’re gonna want to see the other one, then you’re gonna be disappointed and then you’re gonna be exactly where I am right now. (Alone in my room).  

Anyway, would masturbate again a bunch to the Michael Fassbender one (four out of five perfectly square black cubes), never again to the Ashton Kutcher one (two out of seven ipod shuffles), which is not what I would have predicted at all!!!!

Thank you for bearing with this very confusing breakdown where often I refer to a whole movie as “the other one” and try to talk about two things with basically the same name in a very confined ideological space. Bowling lanes, you get it.

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