The Lobster

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Yo!!! What a cool interesting movie!! I think along with Nocturnal Animals, this is my favorite movie of the year.

This movie is set in an alternate reality where people have to be in couples. By the law, the police can come check your papers to make sure you are in a relationship and have a partner. If you are single for some reason (breakup, partner dies) you have to check yourself into The Hotel where you have a finite number of days to find a new partner (often through chance physical similarities like both getting nosebleeds or having a limp which seem to indicate that you are right for each other). If at the end of your stay (which you can extend by hunting single people in the woods) you haven’t found a partner, you are turned into an animal. You get to pick which animal, and you get to choose the activity you want to do on your last night as a human (kind of like a last meal). The hotel director (Mark’s love interest from Peep Show I can’t remember her name!!!) calmly explains, “It would be smart to pick something you can’t do as an animal, like reading a classic work of literature or cooking a gourmet meal. A walk in the woods would not be a good choice.”

Colin Farrell is our protagonist and I love the way the movie gently learns you these things I just stated. One of the first scenes is him checking into the hotel (I think his wife died?) and we see the registration process where a woman is asking him a series of questions that are so formal yet personal it’s unlike almost any exchange I’ve seen:

Hotel lady: “Are you heterosexual or homosexual?”

Colin: “Heterosexual. Well, I did have a homosexual relationship in college.”

Lady: “You have to decide now if you want to register as homosexual or heterosexual.”

Colin: “I think I should register as heterosexual.”

Lady: “Okay.”

He also has a dog with him that we learn is his brother, who came to the hotel and did not find a partner. All animals are single people. There’s also a renegade group of people who live in the woods who have rejected this mandated love and have their own community where love/flirting are forbidden and punishable with physical deformation. The leader of this group is the french lady from Blue is the Warmest Color, I’ll look up her name later. She’s wonderfully heartless. She has someone on the inside of the hotel, a maid who is part of the resistance but works there to get necessary keys and supplies for symbolic missions they pull to undermine the society’s ideologies. One of them involved going into the room of the two directors of the hotel, gagging the woman, asking her husband if he loved her then giving him the choice to shoot her, which he did. There were no bullets in the gun, but after proving that he would have readily killed her to save himself they left.

The french lady also visits her parents in the city with a fake husband (a man from the woods) so that they don’t worry about her/she can see them. This is where Colin meets Rachel Weisz (they meet in the woods but pretend to be married on these outings and are allowed to express affection openly) and they quickly fall in love. (They are both short-sighted). They soon devise a plan to escape the woods and go live in the city together as a couple. Unfortunately for Rachel Weisz, she writes this plan down in her journal which she accidentally drops while they are doing exercises in the woods (every day they do drills where they practice hiding, running, attacking. They also each have to dig their own graves that they will crawl to if they ever get fatally injured, because “it’s unfair to expect someone else to dig it for you”) and the maid sympathizer finds it and shows it to the french leader. She does not like this at all and that day brings Rachel Weisz into the city to an eye doctor under the guise of fixing her stigmatism but really he BLINDS HER. Rachel soon figures out why and is pissed and says, “you could have blinded him, it didn’t have to be me.” This coupled with the French lady’s private conversation with Colin where she’s instructing him to dig his grave and says, “If you are killed before me I’ll come visit you as often as I can, I promise” hints that she likes him she just can’t act on it. Also weirdly, the french lady brings the maid with them and Rachel stabs her, thinking it’s the french woman (who pretends to be dying) then after a few minutes gets up and says, “Well you can come back to the woods or I can leave you here, I don’t think you’ll make it” so Rachel comes back with her, but like, did the maid need to die for them to have that conversation?? I don’t think so Rachel!!

So Rachel is BLIND NOW which is nuts, and Colin visits her on this beach island she’s sort of relegated to. He brings her objects to feel and guess, but he quickly tires of this. He wants to kiss her but for some reason she thinks they can’t now? Maybe because she no longer is short-sighted and therefore not suited to him? Anyway, you can tell the situation is wearing on them both. Suddenly he suggests a plan in their secret physical language they developed (since they couldn’t openly show affection in the woods, they had hand signals and other body gestures that meant something. Weisz stated, “after a few months we could discuss almost anything without speaking at all”) by describing motions, “I put my hand behind my head, turn my face to the side three times, lift my arm and shrug” (something like that) and she’s like, “Would you really do that??” and he’s like, “I wouldn’t have suggested it if I wouldn’t.”

We obviously don’t know what this means, but apparently it means “kidnap the French leader and bury her in her own shallow grave and leave her to get eaten by wild dogs, then we escape to a cafe where I will blind myself in the bathroom in solidarity with you.” Love!

Yeah, the last scene of the movie is Rachel Weisz waiting at a table in a diner while Colin Farrell  has taken a steak knife to the bathroom with the purpose of blinding himself. It ends before we see what happens, so I guess it could be the spinning top of Inception where it’s left open for us to wonder, “Did he do it and come back or did he leave and abandon her there?” but I assume he did it, there’s no real reason why he wouldn’t, and cinematically nothing was indicated to support this choice. There’s just a big window by their table so it lends itself to that dramatic irony movies can’t help sometimes where we see someone running away through a window that the other character can’t see, you know because they’ve been blinded by a renegade French woman in the woods.

Another interesting scene I forgot to mention is that Colin Farrell thinks he finds a partner at the hotel, it’s this woman who’s the best hunter, who is absolutely heartless. She fakes choking to death in the hot tub they are sharing and he just watches her pass out, after which she lifts her head up and says, “I think we are a match.” So they move into a double room (there’s all these prioritized weird status symbols couples get, like better accommodations, a “yacht” is an option) but soon after he wakes up one morning to her telling him she killed his brother (the dog) by kicking him to death. Her leg is covered in blood and she describes the whimpering his brother did over the hours she was kicking him until he died. She then asks him to tell her the funny anecdote he had alluded to earlier. Colin goes into the bathroom to collect himself and starts trying to tell the story but starts crying a little and she comes in and catches him and says, “I knew you were lying” then she starts to drag him to the place in the hotel where they turn you into an animal (the offense for lying about compatibility traits) but he gets away, then stuns her with a dart crossbow with the help of the sympathizer maid (that’s how he finds the community in the woods, she brings him there after), and turns the heartless lady into an animal instead. We don’t know what kind though. Everyone gets to pick what kind of animal they would be, that’s why the movie is called The Lobster, that’s the animal Colin chose to be if it didn’t work out.

Hmm, other interesting things, John C. Reilly is in the movie for a little bit, as another guest in the hotel. Most notably he gets his hand put in a toaster for masturbating (you’re not allowed to- the maids come and grind on you until you cum) and almost shoots Colin in the woods when they cross paths again after he’s escaped but gets knifed in the leg by Rachel Weisz. There’s also a man who fakes nosebleeds to make a woman who gets nosebleeds think they are suited for each other and on one of the missions Colin enters their yacht houseboat and tells his partner that he fakes them, then leaves. Oh! Another funny thing is that if you and your partner are arguing, they give you a child to smooth it over, which, lol. Also in the woods they have silent dance parties where you can’t dance with anyone else, so they’re all dancing at the same time to their own music, there’s a wonderful short scene that shows one such party and it’s pretty great, kind of like the dance party in the mental hospital in Bronson, or the silent disco I went to in England when I studied abroad. Experience is limited!

I can’t think of anything else! I loved it very much, especially the music, which was a great example of something I would call “dynamic minimalism.” Really great. Everyone did a good job, all the elements were high quality and executed well.

9 out of 10 shallow manmade graves, would DEFINITELY masturbate again.

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I’m Still Here

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Not to be confused with I’m Not There, I’m Still Here is a documentary style movie made by Joaquin Phoenix and Casey Affleck that follows the actor in 2009 when he announces his retirement from acting, and begins a transition into “hip hop style music.”

I say “documentary style” because even though they have come out and said the whole thing was staged, and that it was a mockumentary, I’m not 100% convinced. I mean I’m like 90% of the way there, but I also just feel like they could have done it and when they saw how it tanked him and he was losing money, that was just a way to spin it to remain in control. I haven’t done much research, I’m sure with a few google searches I could be completely convinced but for now I will hold on to the few nagging doubts I have.

The only thing I can be completely sure of is what a smug piece of shit David Letterman is. Wow, is he awful. There’s a point in the movie (and pivotal point in the real life roll out of this hoax if we’re calling it that) where Joaquin goes on Letterman to promote his movie The Two Lovers (did anyone see that?) and it’s one of the first major public appearances where he looks like he looks and is withdrawn and a little testy. David Letterman doesn’t know how to interview people on a good day, so when this happens he gives a lot of snarky asides to “the audience” which is just him looking at the camera every few seconds with a simpering smile. After he tries to ask a few questions about the movie (his “questions” are him mentioning the women in the movie and repeating that they are “lovely” and/or “beautiful” then waiting) that don’t land, he just insults Joaquin’s appearance and personhood. It’s so infuriating to watch an old puppet of a man give a “this guy” look to the camera a million times, for refusing to laugh at things that aren’t funny and share an inane anecdote about something that happened on set just so they can both go “isn’t that zainy??” then plug the movie two more times. Maybe the only reason I don’t want the movie to be a joke is just so for fucking ONCE someone can acknowledge how stupid and fake late night TV is in general, and how incompetent and asinine David Letterman is specifically. But I digress.

I watched the first hour of this movie (it’s very long) at three in the morning because I couldn’t sleep because of existential dread, which I don’t recommend. Then I picked it back up at the reasonable hour of 2:00pm because I was getting sick and didn’t want to leave the house (which I totally recommend!). Sometime during this second viewing I asked my boyfriend if he had seen it and he mentioned that it was a hoax. Which I didn’t know at all, so I had the interesting experience of both pre and post viewings with this knowledge. Before I knew that, I hated it and it was sad and depressing. After knowing that (mostly) I think Joaquin Phoenix is one of the best actors of all time and it became way more interesting to me. But isn’t that interesting, why did I have to know the art wasn’t sincere for me to like it? I feel like that happens a lot lately and I don’t know how I feel about it. Where something is bad but then if you’re in on the joke of it being bad on purpose, somehow it becomes good? Why? Who knows.

The scenes with P.Diddy are really funny either way, (Joaquin wants P.Diddy to produce his album and he has this whole saga of trying to contact him, then waiting, then flying to cities to wait, then meeting with him, then bringing him a CD) P.Diddy is in the relatable position of knowing something’s bad but not being able to outright say that, and it’s fun to watch him maneuver those situations.

The knowledge that the scenes are staged makes sense that they could have Joaquin doing coke and hiring prostitutes in the film, and made the scene where he’s throwing up into a toilet less gross (I hope). There’s also a scene where Ben Stiller comes to pitch him a movie and that was great because I love Ben Stiller.

In general, the ruminations on “celebrity” and “reality TV” they’re pushing are interesting and they probed the conversation a lot further than had been done before, I guess my biggest question with art is always Why, and the answer here just seems to be “my friend and I wanted to play a joke on the world” which is cool I suppose.

This whole movie I just kept imagining Joaquin in Gladiator, like the way he looked and talked in that, wearing armor, doing the same stuff he was doing in this movie- like rapping or throwing up or chasing a bird with a sheet, and that was personally entertaining.

Joaquin Phoenix was a particularly interesting person to do this because I think so many people really like him and they don’t know why- people seem to route for his success just cause. Unlike with some actors where you think they do a good job but they seem like dicks or you secretly want them to fail (Tom Cruise, Chris Evans), I think people are sweet on him because of his cleft palate scar, people don’t know what he’s been through and they are routing for him. So it was interesting to see how many people continued to support him despite all the shit he was putting out, like people kept booking him to do club appearances even though they would hear about how bad the other ones were, and even though P.Diddy thought his music was bad he kept meeting with him and encouraging him. I think if someone less likable and talented had tried to do this same prank (like Ben Affleck for example) it would have been a much shorter movie and things would have turned on him way faster.

This was a movie I really wanted to see and I’m a little disappointed in what it was, but happy I finally saw it.

One and a half cleft palate scars, would not masturbate again.

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Manchester By the Sea

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Whoa!!!!! This movie was incredible. To get the first thing out of the way- I read an article that outlined two women who worked on a project with Casey Affleck and are suing him for sexual harassment cases. I read the article and his treatment of them sounded awful. It’s here if you want to read it. So, that definitely affected me going in because I hate hate hate supporting the work of abusers/bad people. But unfortunately I am not perfect and I do often consume art by people who have done things I think are reprehensible. My cousin invited me to go with him and we haven’t hung out in 15 years so I decided to go.

The movie was incredible. I know I already said that, but then I said some other stuff so I decided to say it again. Casey Affleck plays Lee Chandler, a stoic complicated man with pockets of emotional rage that sort of unearth themselves throughout. Normally I don’t like it when male characters express themselves emotionally through mainly hitting things, but it worked for me here. The first scene of the movie is him on a boat with a little kid, (Patty/Patrick) and he and the guy driving the boat (Joe/Lee’s brother/Patty’s father) are joking with the kid about how they’re going to feed him to sharks. It’s very funny.

Men: “You know a school of sharks is going to come up and eat their way through the boat. The only way you can get away is to throw a kid in there to get them off the trail”

Patty: “Sharks don’t even swim in schools”

Men: “Smart kid. You know, an intelligent kid is exactly the kind of balanced meal a shark craves”

And so on. The writing in this movie was very sharp and there were a lot of suddenly funny moments. Slowly, slowly, slowly, all the details of the situation come out. That was one of my favorite parts about this movie- the pacing and the way the story unfolds.

Lee is a maintenance man and a lot of the beginning shots are this montage of him fixing things in people’s houses/interacting with tenants. This one woman comes over while he’s plunging her toilet and she’s like, “I’m sorry this is so gross” then we hear her on the phone with someone asking, “Have you ever had sexual fantasies about your handyman? I have such a crush on mine. Like right now he’s literally cleaning shit out of my toilet but I want to fuck him” then she continues on for a while and hangs up then comes out to pay him being normal and it’s really funny.

We sort of watch Lee as people interact with him and deduce from context clues, something horrible has happened to him and that he is an intense person. Very early on in the film his bother dies. Through flashbacks that are actually more just like cuts juxtaposed in time, we find out that his brother had a congenital heart disease that is common enough in older people, but very rare in young people. But he has it, and it kills him.

A lot of the movie is guess work, figuring out what has happened/changed between the present situation and the scenes they show from the past. Very rarely do they show an incident actually occurring, it’s usually the build up or aftermath of it. In fact, only once do they actually show it and it’s horrifying. I’ll say what it is, but if you’re thinking about seeing this movie AT ALL, go watch it and don’t spoil it for yourself here because it’s amazing in the movie when you don’t know.

But Joe dies (that’s not the thing), and we watch as Lee goes to help out Patrick/figure out the affairs. All the scenes with Patrick (and there are a lot of them) are wonderful. He does such a good job of acting a full teenage emotional scale with subtlety and control. Lee and Patrick have such a cool relationship, they’re honest, and they joke sometimes. At one point Patrick has a panic attack over frozen chicken (we’ve all been there) and Lee just stays with him until he falls asleep, after kicking the door in. It’s that combo of violence and quiet support that’s so winning! Very Boston. Another incredibly Boston thing I appreciated was that everyone curses and no one apologizes for it, even the kid when he’s like eight is calling his Dad and Uncle motherfuckers, because it’s their culture.

Lee also has an ex-wife, Randi (Michelle Williams) and their dynamic is simply heartbreaking. There is one scene between them that makes Blue Valentine look like a light-hearted after school special. I don’t know how much I can say in this review because in looking at the IMDB page I realized that the movie didn’t even have it’s wide release yet, it’s only “select theaters” which means New York and nowhere else. But actually as I’m looking it up more, perhaps it opened on November 18th everywhere and it’s fine. Ok so here’s the big thing that we don’t find out until halfway through the movie (IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT AND YOU WANT TO STOP READING!!!!!!):

One night, Lee goes out for some beers. He has been drinking/smoking/doing coke and walks because he doesn’t want to drive fucked up. It is the middle of winter, and his wife has been getting these really bad sinus infections which the central heat in their house dries out and makes worse. Before leaving he puts some more logs on the fire to keep her and their three kids warm. Halfway to the store he can’t remember if he put the grate on or not. He assumes it’s fine and keeps going. When he comes back, the house is in flames and Michelle Williams is screaming through her restraints “I have three kids in there.” They all die. Later at the police station after he gives his statement, they tell him he can go. “You’re releasing me?” and he’s kind of aghast. Then as soon as he walks out of the interrogation room he grabs a cop’s gun and tries to kill himself. Whoa buddy!!

This whole movie is about loss and how complex it is. Everyone in the movie has lost something in some way and it’s about how often you have to figure out how your personal experiences interact with what other people that you love need from you, and the emotional balance that all takes. Did I cry during the movie? Yes. Am I crying now? Yes.

Michelle Williams was my favorite part, she has such control over her face. She holds it differently in every movie I see her in and the only other person I’ve ever seen do that is Daniel Day-Lewis and he gets so much credit for film transformations and she doesn’t at all. But seriously between Dick, My Week With Marilyn, Blue Valentine, Brokeback Mountain, Shutter Island, she holds her face differently in all of them. And I’m glad that she’s blonde in every movie, you tell’em Michelle!

In a hilarious turn of events the actor who plays Joe Chandler (the brother who dies) is Kyle CHANDLER!! (Remember Early Edition?) His real last name is also his fake name in this movie!!! Crazy. We didn’t get popcorn which was probably for the best because it would have felt bad to be eating popcorn while watching someone’s kids burn to death. The seats were red leather (well, probably not but close enough) and they reclined ALL THE WAY so I watched this movie LAYING DOWN in public and that was cool to me.

The kid was kind of a piece of shit? But loveable and sympathetic too. Mostly I say piece of shit because he had two girlfriends and seemingly just wanted to fuck them and didn’t care about their emotional well-being, and he keeps lamenting that one of his girlfriend’s mom’s always checks on them every few minutes so they can’t have sex easily while they’re lying to her and Lee lets them be in his house alone while he runs errands and they exchange this smile that makes it seem like Lee is giving her sex as a gift to Patrick which is creepy and gross.

OH MY GOD something I almost completely forgot- MATTHEW BRODERICK comes out of NOWHERE like 2/3rds of the way through the movie and is Patrick’s alcoholic turned clean mom’s Christian boyfriend who is kind of a controlling asshole and ends up emailing Patrick saying he should contact his mom through him. But it was so shocking to see him, all the older people in the theatre (everyone was older than us in the theatre) audibly commented/gasped. It was so funny to witness. And he’s wearing this blue pullover cardigan sweater thing and it’s really hard for me to imagine him and Sarah Jessica Parker having sex and I know no one asked me to but I try anyway.

The runtime of this movie was 2 hours and 17 minutes and when I heard that I was like, “Oh brother” but when you’re in there it’s actually perfect because they don’t rush through anything or have anything set to music as time passes. Things just happen and it takes two hours to deal with them and that was great. Also the ending is good because it’s an unfinished compromise which is the realest/best thing anything can be. IMDB is telling me that one of the girlfriends (Kara Hayward) is Suzy from Moonrise Kingdom. You’re welcome!

Only two complaints that a lot of white men are going to roll their eyes at (I bet they are already rolling them because I called them that!!!) but: lots of the women weren’t interesting or important or unique. They just kind of seemed like props for the men to act out stuff on/to AND I think there was one (MAYBE two) black people in this movie? One asian. LOTS of white people, lotssss of men. I think men get annoyed when you point that stuff out, because they’re like, “Why does that matter???” but it’s annoying to constantly always be identifying with men and giving them emotional allowances/hear their stories when they won’t/don’t do the same in return. Like if this movie was made and everything was the fucking same, same writing, same setting, same production value, same direction, but the main character was a black woman, half the men who are going to see it and think it’s “brilliant” (which it is) wouldn’t see or care about it and that’s annoying!

I can’t think of more to say. My thoughts are kind of scattered, I know I’ll remember more parts in time and I’ll come back to add any persisting thoughts I have. Overall really, really incredible. Casey Affleck is an emotional tour de force and will get a lot of acclaim for this role probably. Michelle Williams is a blonde gem and no one deserves her. The director, Kenneth Lonergan, gave himself a cameo in this movie just like Alfred Hitchcock and I like that!

5 out of 5 boat motors, would absolutely masturbate again.

 

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The Neon Demon

the-neon-demon

Y’all. What the fuck. Hi, I hated this movie. Have you ever wondered what it would look like if a man had carte blanche to create his idea of what he thinks women are and also wanted to make something he could masturbate to for the rest of his life? No? Because it’s been done so many times before and is most cinema? Fuck me? Ok.

This fucking movie. Basic plot: a nubile ingenue moves to big city to become a model. Men are enchanted, as are other women who want to fuck her but also murder her because of jealousy!! (You know how women are with their psychosexual murderous tendencies). There’s a bunch of glittery low lit surreal violence because art, and a couple poorly written monologues about “beauty.” Jessie, the girl, (Elle Fanning) goes to one casting call where some fashion gatekeeper (Christina Hendricks) tells her she’s going to be the next big thing and sends her to meet some photographer that everyone cares about. He borderline sexually assaults her (classic will they/won’t they chemistry!!!) but she’s cool with it because it’s advancing her “career!” The makeup artist, Jena Malone, (revamping her role as the “acclimated insider who shows hot new girl the ropes” from Sucker Punch) has offered to be her friend but she also participated in a public bathroom shaming incident so what even is friendship?

Two other models are REALLY jealous of Jessie (because they’re 21 and basically dead already) and they antagonize her throughout. There’s some surreal shit that they throw into the movie to separate it from a Sia music video, like a mountain lion getting into Jessie’s motel room, and her making out with herself inside a giant crystal.

There’s also a boy who likes Jessie for ‘who she is’ and keeps encouraging her to look inside herself/insisting that she has other talents even though she’s like, “I’m just pretty.”

Side note: I really wanted her to look him in the eye and say, “No, I’m just pretty and that’s fine. You’re just projecting these other things onto me because then it’s easier for you to convince yourself you like me for an actual reason and aren’t just shallow.” But alas. 

Then more stuff happens, until Jessie has a dream that her motel landlord (Keanu Reeves???????) put a knife in her mouth, then she wakes up and someone is trying to get in so she locks the door more, then hears someone murdering the thirteen year old runaway girl in the room next to her who Keanu has described virulently as “VERY Lolita-esque.” So she calls Jena Malone and goes over to her huge beautiful mansion house where Jena is like, “You were almost murdered? That’s so scary, let me brush your hair and try to have sex with you” and Jessie pushes her off. Then Jena (who is also a makeup artist at a morgue) draws a face with X’s for eyes and mouth in lipstick on a mirror.

Then the two models who have been awful the whole time start to chase her with knives until they corner her by an emptied pool (that earlier she stood on a diving board giving a monologue over) and then Jena comes up and pushes her in. The next day Jena waters the flowers, then reads a book in a shallow grave.

Then we follow the two girls as they go on a photo shoot and one of the younger models there is laughing about her friend who is old and not getting jobs. She then asks one of the models, “has a girl ever beaten you out for a job?” and when she says yes the girl asks, “What did you do?” and she replies, “I ate her.” Forgot to mention: earlier at a casting when Jessie got the job and the other girl didn’t she threw a huge blunt object into the bathroom mirror and it shattered all over the floor. Jessie came in to see what all the fuss was and found said girl upset. She seemed to try to comfort her then the girl kind of lunged at her and Jessie cut her hand pretty deep on mirror glass. Then the girl took her hand and started to look at it but just drank her blood for a while until Jessie ran out. Women am I right??? Always drinking each other’s blood!!

Back at the shoot- they are dressed up and in the sunlight and by a different pool when one of the girls starts feeling nauseous. She finally runs inside where she keeps dry heaving. When the other model/her friend comes to check on her, she vomits up an eyeball on the carpet, then says, “I have to get her out of me” and stabs herself in the stomach with a pair of scissors. The other model takes off her sunglasses (they have been on the whole time) and leans over and eats the eyeball.

Then I don’t even remember what happened after that even though I watched it approximately 15 minutes ago. To be honest I was ready for this movie to be over the second it started. The first shot of the whole movie is Jessie sprawled backwards on a couch with her makeup done and her throat slit. Then she’s gone and reappears at a makeup table wiping the blood off her chest and you see that it was for a shoot. Which just-ughhh. It scares me how much I would have liked this movie in high school. There’s this idea that coupling beauty and violence is edgy in some way but it’s so boring and tired. Also I think it should be illegal for men to write female characters.

Oh I remember what happens at the end. So after Jena Malone has sex with a corpse at her job, she wakes up in a bathtub covered in blood and her friends the two models are also covered in blood and are sensually taking a shower together and washing the blood off each other in a sexy way. Then I think it just ends? Idk my eyes were bleeding.

Other things: the makeup in this movie was great. Is a neck fetish a thing? If so that’s in here a lot. Umm I hated it? Is that a note?

This movie was so devoid of artistic value to me it’s hard to even know where to begin. All the women depicted were hollow shells of real people, obsessed with beauty and willing to do anything even kill each other to get approval in a male dominated world? The only character development we get from Jessie is that her parents are dead and that she thinks she’s pretty.

Instead of watching this movie I recommend you get the DVD, go to the “Scene Selections” menu option, appreciate the stills for the art that they are, then take it out and throw it in the trash.

Three out of ten blood-stained swimming pools, would NOT masturbate again.

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The Eyes of My Mother

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Well. It is Halloween weekend and instead of binge eating chocolate I have leaned into the darker traditions of the holiday-scary movie watching. Tonight before going out I started the first episode of Stranger Things (only months behind everyone else!) and interrupted it to go to an early screening of The Eyes of My Mother, an art horror movie that was debuted (or just shown maybe? Who even knows?) at Sundance this year.

The IMDB description of this movie is: “A young, lonely woman is consumed by her deepest and darkest desires after tragedy strikes her quiet country life” which, is a very euphemistic way to talk about what is basically a perfume ad for serial killing. The movie begins (well I missed the first three minutes because I was late, so my experience of the movie begins) with a little girl and her mother in a field outside their house. The mother is speaking a combination of Portuguese and English to her daughter as they navigate a filed of cows and flowers. Cut to them in the kitchen and a severed cow’s head on the table. The mother is calmly speaking to the girl as she slices into the cow (some close shots here of liquids popping and dripping) and removes both eyes.

Next we see (through the kitchen window) a man talking to the daughter. The mother rushes outside and calls the daughter to her. The man (Will Brill as “Charlie”) takes this as an introduction, “Oh, her name’s Francisca?” and smooth talks his way into the house by asking if he can use the bathroom. Once inside he murders the mother in a tub. The acting in this scene from Charlie is pretty stand alone in the film. The subtle dance (that’s right, I said it) between calm and unhinged that he weaves was engrossing and impressive and wretched. He was the DEFINITION of horror. Also apparently he had to leave this filming early to do a top secret David Fincher project so he will probably blow up in the next year or so!!

The father comes home in the middle of this killing (shown from a single continuous shot-like if the car scene in Children of Men was in a bumpy truck) and ends it with a bang. That last sentence isn’t euphemism, a lot of the action is not shown, so the audience is left to infer from noises they hear what occurred. As it turns out, the father didn’t kill Charlie, he simply beat him with something made of glass (a large cat figurine? an old window? Samuel L. Jackson’s cane from Unbreakable?? We don’t know!!) and chained him up in the barn. The daughter (who is around 10 at this point) goes into the barn to clean his wounds, feed him, and then remove his eyes (we all turn into our mothers!!!). We get a very satisfying question and answer session between serial killer and victim that I haven’t ever seen before where she gets to ask him, “Why us?” and he answers, “You let me in.” She probes further, correctly assuming that he’s done it before (affirmative nod) and then asks why. His, “Because it feels fantastic” answer is pretty on par for the course of most horror films- the scary thing is supposed to be that people are so different from us and they just do these horrific things because it’s good to them.

The daughter (Francisca) then goes back into the house, sits on the couch with her father and informs him, “He won’t scream anymore” (something to that effect) because she has also cut out his voice box.

The story is broken up into three numbered chapters, “Mother,” “Father,” and “Family.” There’s a whole bunch more horrifying things in this first chapter- the dad (after ignoring his daughter and watching TV the night his wife is brutally murdered), comes into her room, sits on the end of her bed and says, “I need help with your mother.” If we were anywhere else that phrase might mean, “She’s shopping too much again!” or even a little darker, some kind of addiction that needs to be addressed, but here in this terror farm, it means her dead body is heavy and I need you, her tiny daughter, to help me drag it into the woods.

Oh, in the barn before the daughter performed amateur surgery on him, Charlie asked if she was going to kill him and Francisca replied, “Why would I kill you? You’re my only friend.” And it must be clarified: it’s not in the singsong doll language that we often get from little kids in horror movies, it’s in the surprised realism of a person who is aware of a situation/so indoctrinated by isolation that her response to the man who murdered her mother basically in front of her is one of friendship. Somebody get this kid a Polly Pocket amirite??

The second chapter (“Father”) starts with him dead in his bed and the girl about 10 years older, moving his corpse around the house with her, doing things with it (dancing, bathing, watching TV, crying) and generally being creepy. After we see her do some house stuff (eating a meal by herself very slowly) and feeding Charlie in the barn (he’s also been chained up for about ten years now) she goes out. We see her pull up to a bar called Donna’s, but we never see inside.

This could have been because the filmmakers wanted the landscape of the film to mostly be in the barn, or because they didn’t have a very big budget.

Francisca has brought a woman back with her, Kimiko  (Clara Wong). They’re kind of flirting/ exchanging small talk and unfortunately for her Kimiko brings up Francisca’s parents. After Francisca says her mom was “killed by somebody” (way to keep the mystery alive Francisca!) Kimiko says, “And your dad?” and she says, “I killed him” which it’s unclear if this is a joke or the truth. Kimiko realizes she’s made a horrible mistake and tries to get out, but as we found out leaving Donna’s when Kimiko asks, “Are you from here?” and Francisca says “a few towns over,” they are absolutely in the middle of nowhere. Kimiko starts panicking and saying she needs to leave and Francisca keeps offering to give her a ride more and more frantically, then we cut to a scene of Francisca cleaning pooled blood off the floor.

Something I perhaps forgot to mention is that this movie is set a while ago. I’m not sure when exactly but there are only rotary phones/landlines. No cell phones/any technology besides running water.

Realization: I guess I shouldn’t go through scene by scene and describe what took place because we are like one fifth of the way through and it would take wayy too long. Basically, Francisca keeps lowkey murdering and one day she hitchhikes a ride home from the forest from a mom and her baby. She asks to hold the baby for one minute and the mom says no at first but then gives in, at which point Francisca takes off with the baby into her house. Once the mom finally gets in the house, she runs upstairs towards the sound of her baby crying from behind a cracked door. As she’s peering through it and finally opens it, Francisca comes up from behind and stabs her. Then she moves the mom to the shackle station in the barn (she murdered Charlie after she let him out to have sex with him and he tried to run away 😦 ) removes her eyes and voice box, and raises the child as her own.

When he’s like eight, one night he follows his curiosity into the barn and encounters his mom for the first time. Then a few nights later he goes in and sets her free. She escapes and somehow communicates to the police where the barn is. The cops come in the night while Francisca is in the woods hugging her dead father’s body that she dug up (you know how night is!). She runs back to the house to protect her “son,” and the police shoot and kill her. The End!

Ok so some general thoughts: I saw the movie at an advanced screening and there was a talkback at the end with one of the producers and two of the production designers where people asked questions that I feel gave me a lot of insight. First, the producer guy said the point (because my friend I watched the movie with was like, “What was the point?”) was that often when someone catches a serial killer, huge parts of their life become publicized and speculated on but there are a lot of other moments leading up to that point that contribute to those that aren’t thought about/considered and I think in this movie they tried to show the steps leading up to perhaps the more public ones in a serial killer’s life.

I don’t know- generally, I hate horror as a genre- it seems unnecessary and base? When horror movies are good they can be engaging and thought provoking and when they’re really good they’re called psychological thrillers (lol just kiddinggg). I liked some of the moments that were created in this movie- first being, when the boy saw his mother for the first time, and she looked so scary, she was this monster (it looked like) but for the audience to know that his “normal life” was the real nightmare, and what looked to be scary was actually his life, that was a mental punch I appreciated. From an acting stand point, Charlie (Will Brill) knocked it out of the fucking park, as did Clara Wong. The scene with Clara was my favorite because it seemed the most genuine and unique interaction (some of the other ones relied on horror tropes pretty heavily-the singsong voice, staring into space, talking slowly and with weird affect- I didn’t really think Francisca (Kika Magalhaes) was a consistent actor- some scenes were phenomenal, others felt very campy). Visually the film was pretty stunning, there was an aerial shot of Francisca’s dead father in a milky bath, a huge panned back shot of Francisca getting into the mother’s truck, lotta good tree/forest shots in general, a bird’s eye view shot of the house at the end when the cops shoot Francisca, etc. It looked great for the most part. It was also all in black and white which I stopped noticing really early on. It was like when you read a book in an old vernacular but then you get really into it and it stops registering to you as not normal.

The version I saw didn’t have subtitles for all the Portuguese but apparently that was a mistake. I kind of liked it, it reminded me of Mean Streets, where the audience has to work and sometimes you don’t “get” everything that’s going on but that’s okay.

There were some plot holes in the movie that bothered me a little as someone who does like psychological thrillers and wanted everything to be air tight. How did the woman (blind & without a voice box) communicate correctly to the police where the barn was? Why didn’t the father call the police in the beginning when his wife was murdered in front of his daughter? (That one I kind of figured out in the talk back- they’re just supposed to be really isolated/only rely on each other/be understood to be very insular) How did Francisca pay to keep the electricity on if she didn’t have a job? Where did she get the matching white lace bra and underwear she’s wearing under her sheer nightgown when she murders Charlie in the field? Does she eat the bodies after she packages them up and put them in the refrigerator? If not where does she get the money to buy food?

There’s a lot of those kinds of questions I have and I’m fine with things being unanswered/not the focus but I would like my movies to be thought through enough to at least have embedded hints to answers ya know?

While I was watching the movie I had a lot of “what the fuck” moments, where something just seemed unnecessarily violent just for violence’s sake. (And not the actual depiction of violence, because a lot of it was offscreen, but more so the plot points that relied on the knowledge of the violence). But when looking at the totality of the film and hearing the talk back I feel more centered in it’s purpose. I think a lot of the dad stuff didn’t need to be there? I wish it would have been witnessing her mom’s murder, normal-ish life with dad with some weird tendencies, then dad’s death (killed or otherwise) and then some psychological behavioral pattern stuff. I felt like there was a little too much being tackled and the movie felt slightly gratuitous and a little overwhelmed with plot/content.

Three out of seven severed cow’s heads, would potentially masturbate again if my boyfriend wanted to see it.

 

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Mascots

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Just finished watching the newest Christopher Guest movie which (if I’m not mistaken) he just released directly onto Netflix instead of showing in theaters at all, which if you saw For Your Consideration was probably a good idea.

This world was constructed a lot like Best In Show, a competition people have traveled to attend & compete in, except instead of showing dogs they are all mascots of some kind. I think the world was fun and gave them a lot to play with, there were lots of tropes/archetypal characters I saw: fighting husband & wife couple (also a lot like Best In Show), a son who’s carrying on a family tradition, a “bad boy” who doesn’t really care, a dancer type who takes everything very seriously and considers it all “art,” etc.

Um, overall I thought there were interesting and funny parts, but it just seemed to be following a formula and I felt a lot of people were underused. So many people who we’ve seen do amazing nuanced comedy acting in his films in the past seemed kind of shoehorned and lost in the shuffle. For example, Jennifer Coolidge who is such an interesting actress and pretty unlike anyone else was a trophy wife again (remember Best In Show?) and she really only has one speaking scene, an interview with her rich husband where they’re talking about why she doesn’t leave him (he bought her a baseball team!) and then the only other shots of her are crowd reaction shots during the final competition (which were very funny and she did an amazing job with what she was given, it just kind of seems like she was given scraps).

Aside from Parker Posey and Susan Yeagley (who was my favorite part of the whole movie!!) not that many women were really centered/utilized. Even Jane Lynch who has become (well really always been, she just got more famous) a comedy powerhouse in the years since the original Guest movies, was a pretty stereotypical snobby judge: vying for the spotlight, thinks she’s better than everyone else. I thought Parkey Posey and Susan Yeagley’s thread (sisters Cindi and Laci Babineaux) was the best part of the movie and yielded some really honest and funny moments. One of my favorite scenes was when they’re in an airport going to the competition and they’re telling how they found out they were sisters, and the interplay between the two actresses is really amazing- very supportive and quick, nuanced and funny. There’s also a scene later where Cindi came to wish Laci good luck and watch her (after Cindi got too sick from sushi and had to drop out) and Laci calls out to her, “I love that you came” and it’s not funny it’s just real. Writing this, I’m remembering so many more moments between the two of them that I loved (Cindi wants to go get food and Laci says “anything you want!” but balks at the mention of sushi, but quickly agrees after Cindi informs her, “they have fried stuff”).

The husband and wife pair (Zach Woods and Sarah Baker) were both individually very funny but didn’t really have chemistry together or interesting routes to take- all the jokes were kind of predictable. He cheated on her 5 years ago with Cindi Babineaux, and always looks at other women. At the end of the movie when they do the “One Year Later” checkup on all the characters, they seem to be changed and happy then he looks at the pretty young nanny (his wife specifies he hired) for a long time. It’s just kind of tired and old. I remember that actor from the later seasons of The Office and he was so interesting to watch, I really liked the stuff he was doing and this kind of felt like anyone could have done it and it would have been the same.

There were two black people in the whole movie, I know because I counted, including crowd scenes. So, that.

John Michael Higgins who is SO funny, and I just saw him be funny in Pitch Perfect 2, again had basically one or two scenes of talking, where he said some things that were funny? I just finished watching the movie 4 minutes ago and I literally can’t remember anything his character says. I know he’s some kind of TV exec? He had a protege (Maria Blasucci) and she was interesting, I wanted to see more of her. Her acting was really subtle and felt very dynamic in a quiet way. I’m excited to see her in more things.

Um, the performances in the Mascot competition were funny sometimes? There was an opening one with a pencil and a pencil sharpener from India that was funny in an uncomfortable way that I liked. They seemed to be trying to do something with race- there was a scene where Cindi’s participation was in question because her school’s mascot (The Leapin Armadillo) used to be the Squaws, then they had a whole scene where 3 white people discussed the use of the word squaw and if it was offensive or not. I liked that this angle was introduced, there was also a thematic side note of “Furries” who had infiltrated the hotel and were trying to have sex with the mascots? It’s interesting to think about all the plagues of the mascot community and some are truly interesting but they just weren’t presented in a full enough way to be successful in my opinion. Like, they could have really done something with either of these topics instead they just entered and exited with the same base knowledge we all had going in-just acknowledged that those things exist, then left them.

There was a man who was a hedgehog mascot which his father and grandfather had been before him and his whole storyline seemed to be about pushing the boundaries and getting acceptance from his father for doing so, and it’s just like, how many times have we seen someone in a competition who wants to buck their mentor to add a “new” element to their performance that clashes with tradition but then they do it because they believe in themselves and they win? Well, he did it and he won.

I don’t know, it feels like I’m being really harsh. I’m not asking him to reinvent the comedy wheel but when you have such a cast of talented actors who have been doing this for more than 16 years now, you should let them play more. It felt like the characters didn’t have room to play.

I’m glad I watched it, and it was definitely better than For Your Consideration, but overall, not the level that I would expect from him. Christopher Guest seems in kind of a slump and I want him to do a comedy with Darren Aronofsky. Wouldn’t that be fantastic? They’re both good at creating these worlds and I think a dark comedy from them would be cool. Can someone let them know? Thank you.

5 out of 8 sushis, would not masturbate again.

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Boyhood

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Damn. This movie. Even if it had no real artistic merit it would still be an amazing accomplishment just for the format/way it was made. Twelve years is such an endurance to commit to a project. I especially loved that they addressed the problem of people aging in a movie by just filming them aging. It added such a deep element outside of anything else constructed or scripted. It was amazing to watch the actors age in “real time” -not one of those sped up videos where someone takes a selfie a day, or looking at side by side photos of a president at the beginning and end of his term, or in the every day way we experience others-day to day changes on a microscopic level.

The film follows a family, focusing on the son (Mason) through many many years (twelve) and all the changes that happen during that time. I really respected how the storytelling was less expositional/narrative, but simply picked up in parts and let context clues tell the story for us. The focus wasn’t on making sure the audience saw exactly when something changed or necessarily how, only the aftereffects and how life settled in around these changes. There was also a very subtle escalation (over years) that revealed patterns in people, which is closer to how life is than most movies. For example, many of the men Mason’s mom (Patricia Arquette) dates after she and his father (Ethan Hawke) separate start out fine there are just tiny incidents that seem off, but then after time these problems heighten and become unbearable. For example, the first man she married after her divorce who seemed like a salt n’ pepper nicety (her college professor when she went back to school) for the first few years would occasionally sneak solo cups full of vodka and Sprite, but generally be a good father to them all, however in time he gradually became abusive and terrifying.

Speaking of the abuse, I liked how all of the life changes were given an objective equality- sometimes (most times) in movies, if a woman is in an abusive relationship that’s the ENTIRE movie, everything in her life after that point is related back to/colored by that in some way. In this movie, it’s horrifying certainly, but she also continues to have full experiences and goes on with life. Getting her degree, remarrying (and divorcing again), continuing to have professional and personal successes,  etc. which isn’t how it’s usually portrayed. There’s an incredibly difficult balancing act with certain subject matter where you must treat something with gravity to show how serious it is but also be careful not to let it consume the character’s life and become the one thing they are defined by.

Another situation handled with beautiful complexity was the relationship of the father to his kids once they got divorced. The “deadbeat dad” trope is too easily slopped into plot lines  where men who don’t live with their children/only see them every other weekend are horrible without exception but I thought they did a great job here to show how people can have separate lives but still care/try and succeed in having relationships. Ethan Hawke did a great job with this, having awkward conversations with his kids at bowling alleys or in the car, and it makes you wonder (if you’ve never had to do it yourself) what it’s like to try to create intimacy with someone as close as your own father, if they don’t just have it through the experience of living with you/being a daily part of your life.

We follow Mason as he moves (a bunch), goes through elementary school, middle school, high school, and eventually leave him on his first day of college. During all this I liked how the person he became was also the person he was the whole time. He turns into this challenging kind of disillusioned cynic (ish?) who is still thoughtful and open which is always how he was as a child- asking questions and trying to figure out the meaning of things or how they worked. Also there are occasional bad streaks but he’s mostly a good kid. Like one of the first scenes is him spray painting a wall, and on graduation he drinks in his car before heading into his house for a party, but these aren’t detracting from who he is. ALTHOUGH now as I’m writing this in such proximity to my other observations about the movie, what if these are his little hints and we’re supposed to assume as with everyone else that they will get worse and come to a head? But actually I don’t think that’s the intended takeaway because his mom and dad don’t have that happen to them, they stay good people despite minor slip ups in judgement or actions. His dad even mellows out a little (except not on his slight misogyny) but he’s mostly a good dude.

I was much intrigued by his sister, Samantha (Lorelei Linklater-related in some way to the director Richard Linklater I assume), who really fell out of the narrative as she got older. Maybe it was showing how it feels when siblings grow apart? When they were little she was a much bigger part of his life and we got to know her so much more compared to high school and college where she doesn’t talk that much and we don’t know almost any details about her life. But perhaps that’s just how it is when siblings grow up if they aren’t particularly close, or motivated to work on their relationship just then, or also it’s just that phase of a child’s life in general when they’re more sullen and withdrawn and learning their own personalities, creating boundaries for the first time, etc. The people in their lives kind of lose them until they have the Collegiate Confidence to be open again.

The ending of the movie was interesting- Mason arrives at college (after lots of discussions with people in his life about ‘compatibility,’ and a break up with Sheena (his high school girlfriend, the first person he truly felt understood him). His roommate, who it seems like Mason immediately likes, invites him hiking with two girls who are also roommates. They split up into boy and girl pairs and Mason is enjoying talking/tripping (they’ve also all eaten drugs- either mushrooms or weed chocolate I assume) with his new friend. They come to sit in a rock clearing so beautiful and expansive it looks like a screensaver. It looks like this new friend wants Mason to kiss her and at first he doesn’t get it, then it looks like he gets it he’s just nervous/shy/not ready yet. Then the girl says something about “moments” and he talks about living in the now and how everything just is what it is at present no more no less. Then the movie is over and a really great song called”Hero” by Family of the Year starts playing.

I’d give it 9/10 bowling lanes without bumpers, would masturbate again in 10 years.

 

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Sucker Punch

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So, this is another Zack Snyder main dish. A graphic novel spanning epic that he shot-for-shot recreates into a three hour ordeal.

The plot of this one is that Babydoll, a wide -eyed puckered lip petite blonde (true to her moniker), is committed to an orphanage/insane asylum after her mom dies and her stepdad comes after her and she tries to shoot him but accidentally kills her little sister.

Once there we overhear a conversation where her stepfather (who is also a priest?) is bribing the doctor (Oscar Isaac!) to give her a lobotomy. As they’re talking, Babydoll is watching Abbie Cornish on a bed on the stage (idk of course the insane asylum has a room with doll furniture on a stage) crying. Then, the color filters on the film change and all the women in the asylum are made up and dancers. Oscar Isaac has a mustache now. Babydoll is in a sailors uniform and gets a tour of the insane asylum which is actually now a brothel. There are revolving red satin beds and discreet visits from the Mayor. We meet the entire cast of girls, Jena, Abbie, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung and one more I think, in a huge ballet room where Carla Gugino has a pretty terrible accent. She is helping them get their dances ready for “the men.”

(This whole movie is the answer to the question, “Can you have a mostly female driven cast yet still perform entirely for the male gaze?” with a resounding yes! More to follow). 

Abbie, whose name in this is Sweet Pea, (everyone sounds like a Beanie Baby) isn’t putting enough heart in her dance for Carla, so she is dismissed and Babydoll is invited to the floor. She is instructed to dance and when she doesn’t, Carla tells her that she was brought here to dance. If she doesn’t dance, then she doesn’t have a purpose and things without a purpose don’t stay around very long and that she must dance to survive. So Babydoll closes her eyes and when she opens them she is outside of a Shaolin temple and it’s snowing. When she goes in there’s an old white man who says some wisdom-y things, gives her a sword and repeats some lines about survival. Then there are three straw samurai monster demons that she has to kill. After she does, by flipping in the air in a skirt a bunch of times and setting the temple on fire, she opens her eyes and she’s back in the dance studio and everyone is freaking out.

Just to pause for a sec here and debrief-now we are in a fantasy within a fantasy world, which is cool- because most likely all this is a hallucination and she is in the mental institution awaiting her lobotomy, so the whole dance brothel is one layer, but then within that there’s these fight montages that happen whenever she dances. So I liked that. It’s like inception but with mental illness and women.

So, then all the women accept her because she is a good dancer. They go back to the one room they all sleep in and Babydoll tells them she’s going to escape. They all want to come (which makes sense because they’re all trapped and exploited) except Abbie who thinks it’s too dangerous. But she is Jena (Rocket)’s sister so finally she agrees because she doesn’t want to split from her sister. So, Babydoll makes a 4 item list on the back of a chalkboard in their dressing room of the things they need to escape. It is: map, fire, key, knife. The general plan is that she will dance and when she does the men will be  mesmerized and that’s when someone else can steal that thing. Foolproof.

So then the rest of this movie is kind of just that formula, they set it up, she starts dancing, there’s a fight scene with some otherworldly mission that represents the item they’re trying to steal (when they’re stealing a lighter, they fight a family of dragons) then when she’s done, they have it.

The only problem is that Oscar Isaac isn’t all mustache, he’s got some brains and he starts to notice that things are missing, plus Jamie Chung (Amber) can’t keep her beautiful mouth shut and confesses the plan to their den mother/Carla. So then he confronts them all and Abbie says they should call it off, but some of them still decide to do it so she ends up helping them anyway. Oh also, lots of people play double roles, like someone in one world will be a different person in the fantasy world.

A few things go wrong and the radio that plays the music Babydoll dances to shorts out when they’re trying to steal the knife from the Cook. He stabs and kills Jena Malone then Oscar Isaac (Blue Jones, which would be a great porn name) gets mad and kills Amber and Blondie (Jamie Chung and Vanessa Hudgens. Some joke about fashion blogging here). So now it’s only Babydoll and Sweet Pea and they continue with the plan and Babydoll stabs Blue in the neck and takes his key. They are going to escape, but then when they get to the gate there’s a bunch of men in suits just standing around and Babydoll realizes she has to stay so Sweet Pea can escape. So she does, and Abbie gets out. We see her in line for a bus and two cops try to stop her but the bus driver lies for her and when we see him, he’s the old white man from the temple/every fantasy episode.

Then after she is captured, the colors change back to mental asylum colors and Jon Hamm performs a lobotomy by tapping an ice pick into her eye. He is incredibly startled by the look she gives him right before he does it, and he mentions it to Carla asking why she recommended the procedure. She says she didn’t, and he shows her the (forged) signature on the documents. So the police come and arrest Oscar Isaac and then the screen blacks out and Abbie does a voiceover about how we all have to save ourselves that ends with an imploring “Fight!” Rah rah sis boom bah.

Alright, so, it definitely had more depth than I gave it credit for, but overall- eh? There was too much of the “fighting fuck toy” trope that seems to be everywhere in these movies. And the ensemble cast of beautiful thin women with guns looked like Old Town in Sin City or the Bad Blood video, etc. etc. Also the main character Babydoll who’s literally in every scene doesn’t say more than a few paragraphs the entire movie. A lot of her emotions are conveyed through specific moans and grunts that the audience learns to decode. Fighting grunt, scared moan, triumphant grunt, distracting fake moan, on and on.

It looked cool? I guess? Just a lot of beautiful women being hurt for no reason. 3 out of 10 sailor skirts, would not masturbate again.

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Suicide Squad

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Just got home from Suicide Squad (which I paid money to see). A friend and I went to a small arthouse mom and pop kind of theatre (the Prytania for all you New Orleans theatre heads!) which I was happy to support and also was way closer than the movie theatre I usually go to (AMC Elmwood in Harahan!!). My ticket was 13.50. Thirteen dollars and fifty cents. For one ticket. And that’s a dollar less than the 14.50 it was supposed to be, I just carry my old student ID from 5 years ago and lie. It wasn’t until we were in the movie and the credits started that we realized it was 3D.

3D movies are the worst. The fucking worst. They cost more for poorer picture quality. There is no reason movies need to be in 3D, not a single reason. They only do it so they can upcharge you for “glasses” which are shitty pieces of plastic that you “recycle” so they can just charge someone else the same 5 dollars you just paid. A person who tells you they like 3D is also in 7th grade and thinks cheese you can squirt is “fun.”

So we got the glasses, they SUCKED like I knew they would, and the movie starts. There’s this kind of boring dossier type intro beginning where everyone getting recruited for the squad gets a 30 second rundown of their stats on screen next to their name in a hyper stylized neon rainbow font and then some clip of them showing how crazy they are while pump up music plays. This is all happening during a restaurant-meeting (that reminded me of Thank You For Smoking) between some peon and Viola Davis.

Viola Davis was the HBIC of the military/movie. They routinely have her demonstrating meaningless acts of cruelty to shore up this personality/status. There’s one scene where she just guns down like 5 people in a briefing room because they “didn’t have clearance” and she’s constantly casually shooting people or ordering people to be killed.The only problem with this (besides being heavy-handed & kind of lazy storytelling) is that it’s Viola Davis. So after they’re dead I just hear her saying, “You is dead, you is murdered,…” in her The Help voice.

The general idea behind forming the Suicide Squad was that now that Superman is dead (literally one of the only cool/original details about this-in an early shot someone is selling one of those airbrushed RIP shirts for him and that was awesome) the government is worried, “what if the next Superman is a terrorist?” So Viola proposes a contingency plan which is going into prisons and finding lots of unstable people who are good at killing, then ensuring their loyalty by putting bombs in their necks. (And killing one of them early on so they know she will). Viola also has paleontologist June Moon (Cara Delevigne) who is possessed by a witch that Viola can half control because she has her heart in a suitcase and stabs it with a pencil sometimes.

But the witch is a fucking witch, so she frees her spirit brother from inside some statue and abandons her military post to start a weird lightening storm in a subway station and kill/rule all of humanity. Suicide Squad, engage. The leader of this mission is someone named Rick Flag (a man who looks like he stepped out of an Old Spice commercial) who is in love with June Moon, and constantly seems like he needs a hug.

Everyone in the squad is ‘released’ from prison and reunited with their possessions to gear up for this mission, which allows for a slow camera pan over Harley Quinn’s entire body as she changes from her orange jumpsuit into a baseball tee and some two tone sequin shorts. This also allows for all the men to stop what they’re doing and watch her getting dressed, because why have a lead female character if you’re not going to exploit her sexual capital?

The basic group is Will Smith as Deadshot (an assassin who never misses), Killer Croc (a human crocodile), Boomerang (an Australian man who likes unicorns), a guy who can climb anything (he dies very early on), Diablo (a tatted reformed gangster who can create fire) and Harley Quinn (a psychologist who fell in love with the Joker, then into a vat of chemicals). There’s also a samurai lady who is Rick Flag’s friend and seems to hate everyone.

The squad (lol this movie would have been better if it was Taylor Swift and all of her friends trying to stop a witch) go to the platform where the electrical light storm is happening, and encounter all these oil lizards? We soon find out the witch can turn people into faceless members of her army and after this transformation their heads look like vats of bubbling oil. But they are still mortal, so that’s probably 30 minutes right there, lots of fight scenes that all look like high budget clips of people killing the Putties from Power Rangers.

There’s a part in one of these early fights where Rick Flag (I keep almost typing Rick Flair) is being dragged away to be killed and some of the Suicide Squad is like, “good riddance” and then Will Smith (who has emerged as the informal leader) yells, “He dies, we die!” so they save him and it feels like the characters might start to have complexity but it’s like at the beach when you see a wave start to form then it just melts back into the ocean a few moments later.

Diablo has refused to fight this whole time because he has sworn himself to a life of peace (only in prison because he turned himself in) because once he lost his temper and accidentally killed his wife and two children. Bummer! So he’s not fighting because of a personal honor code, but then when Will Smith eggs him on, and he does end up fighting, then that becomes honorable too. (It’s not a Zach Snyder movie without some vague speeches about justice!)

The squad is slowly making their way to where the witches are, meanwhile, Harley has been texting with the Joker (girl what plan are you on??) this whole time and he keeps saying he’s going to come for her. Then he does in a helicopter on the roof and she jumps onto a rope dangling from his helicopter even though she still has the bomb in her neck. Viola Davis tells Will Smith to shoot her (which is somewhat of an emotional cliffhanger because Harley and Will have gotten kind of close and if he was friends with anyone it would be her and so it’s sort of a test if he has a heart at all), he aims and shoots and Harley slumps dramatically but then characteristically pops back up and does some aerial poses and he shrugs and says, “I missed.” Which lets US know he’s letting Viola know, Fuck You, because earlier when they go to pick him up from prison she gives him a tableful of guns and says, “I want to see what you can do” and he gets every single bullet into a perfect headshot.

So Viola just tells some army person to shoot the whole helicopter down and Harley lands on a building but the helicopter crashes so she thinks the Joker is dead (Guess what! He’s not!) and so she gets not carefree for the first time in the movie.

Then more meaningless action for little to no payoff. Like, they go to the subway, then fight the witch but the whole time she’s a witch? I don’t understand why she can’t just kill them. They’re people, she can create lightening. It seems very simple.

So there’s just lots of pointless prolonged fighting until guess what, they kill her in the heart and they kill her brother by blowing him up? They are two supernatural demons who have survived every natural disaster for thousands of years but a homemade bomb in the subway is what got them? Lol, ok Suicide Squad.

Before they kill her, the witch tries to get in all of their heads by showing them images of their hearts’ true desires and GUESS WHAT they all just want to be normal and happy with a family. Harley Quinn’s was her in a pretty house with some kids, no dye job, and Jared Leto in a power suit and it just looks like they cut to Wolf of Wallstreet for a second, then back. This was a cool part of the movie because Harley looks like she’s giving in and she goes toward the witch and acts like she’s switching sides, but really is just getting close enough to kill her and that was cool and I like that the villain and the person who saved everyone were both women (lol women r so cray).

But overall, Jesus Christ. This movie was two hours and ten minutes long. TWO HOURS. With ZERO plot.The problem with this movie if I had to boil it down was a general lack of direction and stakes. Anytime Zach Snyder is attached to a project you can bet there are going to be amazing visuals and a bloated ass screenplay and good 45 minutes that needed to be cut out. Also, for all this talk of Jared Leto’s method acting, he speaks probably 6 times in the whole movie. He did not need to send a used condom and dead animal carcasses to speak 6 lines. Harley Quinn was the most interesting character to me by far but they never really explain what she can do, or what makes her so crazy, or really anything about her that isn’t sexually charged flippant comments or giggling at destruction.

There are some interesting character complications, Will Smith’s daughter, some speeches inside a bar about love and acceptance, some glimpses into Harley and the Joker’s relationship, but overall these are few and far between and not tied to the rest of the performances or the “plot.”

Really disappointed. 2 out of 6 vats of chemical poison, would not masturbate again.

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This is 1/5th of a Disaster Movie compilation pack that I got for winning a comedy game show. (Look out world!!). This one stars former porn star Traci Lords as FBI agent Amanda Foster who has been undercover for a year as a “computer specialist” and is brokering a deal between some Russians and a CIA man who is surrendering over some software that’s worth a lot of money because it monitors things in a new way? Who knows. But so, that kind of goes sour and she “arrests him” (handcuffs him to lots of different things) and they are running from everyone, the Russians, a double agent at the FBI, etc.

But this is set in California so during the whole thing earthquakes keep happening. Also Amanda has a daughter who looks like she is going for the coveted “most chokers” medal, who does gymnastics and has a lot of angst and a belly ring even though she’s like eight years old. Well I don’t know how old she is but she is very young. She and her mom get in a fight at the beginning of the movie where she tells her mom she looks like trailer trash (she is wearing a red wig which is the entirety of her ‘undercover’ disguise) then yells that she won’t drive her somewhere. Amanda is upset then goes to a strip club to meet the Russian gangsters.

The first scene of the movie was by far the best part, where it shows the guy (Nick Constantine) who steals the software from his government job (which he only did because he blames them for his wife dying of Leukemia somehow). He goes up to the security desk and the guard is like, “What’s this?” when he opens Nick’s briefcase and sees a walkman in there (this movie was made in 2000) and Nick’s like, “It’s just to listen to music, there’s not a law against Neil Diamond is there?” (the CD in the player) and here is where they missed a wonderful opportunity for the guard to say, “No but there should be!!!” and then them high five. Alas. He then picks up a pack of cigarettes and is like, “Since when do you smoke?” and Nick says, “I do a lot of things since Patricia’s gone” which clearly is the name of his dead wife but would be a WONDERFUL thing to say to people out of context if you don’t want to answer their questions.

Then he does all these gadget based betrayals, where he like uncaps a pen that he plugs headphones into? And the walkman actually has a DVD with security footage of him working at his desk so he can do illegal stuff and not be seen by the cameras. He then takes a smoke bomb out of the false bottom in the cigarette package (an off-brand made to look like Marlboro’s called “Morley’s”) and attaches it to the back of his watch (lotta old school electronics and analog clocks eveywhere) and sets it off in the bathroom so everyone has to evacuate the building while he downloads the software.

So then when they’re in the middle of the deal and they’re sending the software to the Russian guy, in the middle of it downloading all these rabbits in sunglasses just start hopping across the screen and winking and we hear the Russian man say between bites of his sandwich, “these are not codes, these are…bunnies! They are just hopping!” which was the funniest thing in the whole world. (Also way too many people eating in this scene, everyone was talking on the phone/giving orders with full mouths of salmon or whatever and it was weird). Then Nick is like, “yeah you need an encryption chip which I’m only gonna give you when I get my money” (a fun drinking game for this movie would be to take a shot every time someone says, “my money” or there is an earthquake). Then he and Traci (Amanda) escape somehow (I started painting my nails in the middle because I was kind of bored) but these two guys start chasing them. One is this Russian guy who “loves America” so he keeps yelling “come on!!” and trivia about San Francisco in the middle of the car chase. Then their car flips so they jump on the trolley which goes off the tracks and is just railing cars. You know how people will say “New York is one of the characters in the movie” if it’s set there? Well, gravity was one of the characters in this movie set in San Francisco. So many scenes of things falling down hills!

Also, even though she is a trained FBI agent Nick is the one doing everything, getting them out of trouble, so that was annoying. This chase basically lasts the rest of the movie, they stop to meet someone at a restaurant that Traci’s daughter happens to also be at and there is a shootout and an earthquake so Robyn (Traci’s daughter) and this dude she is trying to mack on (Brad) are stuck in an elevator with an old man who is pessimistic and is carrying around a stuffed parrot (why?) while Traci and Nick have to hide in this cellar that starts filling with water. There’s actually a surprisingly beautiful shot of produce floating underwater with shafts of light illuminating a glass window that they decide to shoot and break through. They turn the air duct into a water slide and it spits them out somewhere else. Traci says she needs to go to the mall, which is the place she and her daughter agreed to meet, because Robyn wants to move in with her dad and Traci’s like, “just give me one last chance.” But you would think if there’s a detrimental earthquake that levels half the city and catches the rest of it on fire, they would be like, “we’ll probably talk later” but no, they both still feel the need to uphold this coffee date.

So they get there, then the double agent is there and he wants the chip (everyone wants the chip!) and Nick finally gives it over (it was in his glasses the whole time!) then lots of people try to kill everyone then there’s another earthquake, and Traci, Robyn and Brad leave together and Nick leaves by himself “for my wife.” They also have this whole conversation about money???? Because he’s getting 15 million and Traci’s like, “most people could live on 2 million comfortably” ???? Then the last scene of the movie is her laughing to a newspaper because the headline says “Anonymous Donor Gives 13 Million to Leukemia Charity” and she’s alone in her kitchen laughing, then says “Oh Nick” TO THE NEWSPAPER and that’s the end of the movie.

Pretty bad, maybe if you like disaster movies it would be ok? There is another one in this compilation starring Kevin Sorbo so I’m definitely going to watch that, but honestly everything seems like garbage. They had some kind of budget because they were doing all these car/trolley stunts (I was like is someone gonna get Frida Kahlo’d in this movie??? But no one did) but unfortunately they did not spend that budget on good writers.

1 out of 5 AVN’s would not masturbate again.

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