Requiem for MoviePass

moviepassphoto

This is no longer true. Sad face. Wait, there’s a sad face picture thing you can use instead of writing ‘sad face’? (Looking) Are you sure? (Still looking) I can’t find it.

The way I see things, it’s mostly my fault. I bought into Moviepass last September and proceeded to see 67 movies in the next 11 months. It would have been more, but I was traveling here and there, plus the state of Hollywood sometimes pushes even my limits of acceptable fare now and again. Moviepass got $104 of my moderately hard earned money up front and by my calculation the value of the tickets (to date) comes to approximately $940. I still have a couple months left on the deal, for whatever it will be worth, so the final tally is yet to be laid bare, but the glory days are gone, and as the saying goes, they ain’t coming back.

So, anyway, this is my apology for ruining Moviepass for the rest of you. Now we’re down to 3 movies a month, the selection of movies/showtimes is extremely limited, the app doesn’t work very well anymore and seemingly every week the deal gets a little worse.

Wait, I don’t like that one as much as the Robot Chicken one.

Skip ahead to the 2 minute mark.

Anyway, Moviepass in its current bastardized form is still a good deal if you live in a big city on a coast, which just goes to show what a shitshow the 10 buck all you can eat business model was from the start. Seriously, people at Moviepass, did you not understand that people who go to movies enjoy going to movies? And, really, what else am I going to do with my time? Contemplate eternity? Work?

Now it’s gone and dark days are ahead when I can no longer justify going to see the latest in the Purge franchise. In loving memory, here’s a list of the movies I functionally saw for the change in my couch cushions along with my quickie recollections on the quality of the feature presentation. And again, my apologies for ruining it for everyone.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

Not good, exactly, but not awful. Meh, one might say. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Meh.

It

Fucking hell, I hated this movie. They changed stuff from the book to make it much, much worse and much, much more stupider. There’s a part two coming because it made boatloads of cash and fuck that movie.

Machete Kills

This movie is glorious, despite the queasiness of watching Mel Gibson be enjoyably evil in a Star Wars speeder. At least he’s legitimately evil in this, which feels appropriate, as opposed to that most recent Christmas family monstrosity sequel he did.

The Man with the Iron Fists

It’s exactly what it promises and the promise ain’t half bad.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Meh. I mean, Julianne Moore is pretty funny, and it has its hamburger moments, but still, meh.

Blade Runner 2045

It never finds its footing, the story doesn’t really work, and it looks incredible. Glad I saw it in the movie theater.

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

Solid movie.

Lucky

Zero plot and extremely engaging. Really liked it.

Thor: Ragnarok

Story and antagonist were perfunctory at best, but this was a very funny movie. I liked it so much I saw it twice back when Moviepass would let you see the same movie more than once.

Loving Vincent

More than its visual aesthetic, which is pretty engaging in and of itself. Really good movie.

Hostiles

Clunky and pretentious. What a waste of everyone’s time and talent.

Happy Death Day

A bizarre confection that never works but often threatens to. Could have been a lot worse, so you know, it has that going for it.

Marshall

Solid but unspectacular.

Jigsaw

This one was bad. Still way better horror movie than It. If I had to rank it amongst the Saw movies I’d say it is probably pretty much the same as all of the sequels but better than the original, which is another way of saying that I’ve seen all of the Saw movies despite none of them actually being good from beginning to end. What can you say? Mine has been a life…well, lived.

The Foreigner

Bleak and Jackie Chan was in full-on dour mode here, but Brosnan was great as the bad guy. I liked this quite a bit, but maybe that’s because my expectations were nil going in.

Thelma

So, so good. A great movie.

Coco

Okay movie by Pixar standards, good movie by any other. My wife fell asleep, so I got to tell her all the characters died in the end, which wasn’t entirely a lie, and that made it more fun at the end of the day. She still doesn’t know what happened in the movie and I refuse to tell her because otherwise she’ll think it’s okay to keep falling asleep in movies because I’ll be there to tell her what happens.

Ballad of Lefty Brown

Bill Pullman in grizzled veteran mode here. Solid movie, but it helps to have a soft spot for westerns.

Mudbound

Very engaging, but it didn’t really know how to wrap things up. Falls flat by the end.

The Disaster Artist

Not bad, but felt like it missed opportunities to be a much more interesting film.

All the Money in the World

Meh.

The Shape of Water

I liked it more than my sister, but it didn’t meet my expectations for a Guillermo Del Toro movie. Perfectly adequate though.

Darkest hour

Not bad.

Phantom Thread

Pretty good movie until the end, which was rushed and didn’t really work. In another downside, not the film’s fault, but still, now my wife refers to me as her grumpy tailor.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Better than it had any right to be, but keep those expectations low people.

Breadwinner

So, so good.

Call me by Your Name

Glacially paced and more impactful as a result when things do kick into gear.

2018 Oscar nominated Shorts

To shock nobody, the best of these did not win.

Lady Bird

Very good.

Black Panther

Painfully meh.

Early Man

Look, it’s not an insult to say this movie ain’t no Chicken Run. And yes, I know Mel Gibson does the voice of the rooster in that movie. Goddammit, why do people have to be awful and why do I have to know anything about them?

Annihilation

Blech. Story is crap, nothing really makes sense or connects. Looks great in stretches, but overall, pretty blech.

Game Night

Not too shabby.

I, Tonya

Excellent film.

Beirut

Great in spurts, not all that much when taken as a whole.

Isle of Dogs

Everything you’d expect and slightly disappointing for it.

Gemini

Not just bad, although it was bad, but boring.

A Quiet Place

It was okay. The big emotional beats mostly fell flat, but it was okay.

Rampage

This movie is a tonal disaster, it felt like the actors were performing in different films, but it somehow manages to be kinda fun. I don’t know how, because it’s not good, in any objective measure, but yeah, kinda fun. There’s a Pauline Kael line about movies so rarely being great that if you can’t enjoy trash there’s really no reason to be interested in film at all. That’s Rampage.

Solo

The most thoroughly blah movie you might ever see, but it’s so blah, it’s impossible to even be angry about anything in it. Makes you appreciate The Empire Strikes Back, so there’s that, I guess.

Deadpool 2

A little like watching an episode of Family Guy. If you get the reference, you might smile for a moment, but there’s nothing actually to any of this save for one glorious sequence in the middle.

Avengers: Infinity War

As good as it could possibly be, I suppose. But really, who gives a shit?

Revenge

The lead actress shares screen time with her ass in the first half of the movie, and the gonzo slapstick of the finale is, well, let’s just say, interesting. Taken overall this was pretty entertaining stuff.

Upgrade

Pretty good, all things considered.

Hotel Artemis

Meh.

The Gospel According to Andre

Meh.

Tag

Not particularly funny at any point and an obvious but still depressing descent into maudlin, saccharine horseshit by the third act. Seriously, character who is obviously suffering a terminal illness, just fucking die already and save us from the life lessons.

Ocean’s 8

Shockingly stupid. The requisite twist we know is coming in heist/con movies is so awful here it can’t be believed. I was embarrassed for everyone involved with the movie. Please God let the next of these take five extra minutes to work out a plotline/characters that makes some semblance of logical sense.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Ugh. You just wanna go to the movies sometimes, but yeah, you pay a price for it.

Incredibles 2

Good enough, I suppose, but familiar territory.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado

Painfully dumb and insulting with some finely choreographed action sequences. It stomps on the first movie, which was problematic in its own right, but still, why make a sequel with the same characters if you don’t want to continue the story? Oh, right, money.

Antman and the Wasp

Funny throughout, but the main antagonist’s progression is a tonal disconnect from the rest of the film’s bounciness.

Skyscraper

Not as bad as you might think. Not good, obviously, but still, take your tiny victories where you can.

Whitney

Engaging at times, but little below the surface.

The First Purge

Subtlety be damned, this wasn’t terrible.

Hereditary

Pretty good. Not sure the movie tracks, but whatever, Gabriel Byrne is always watchable.

The Equalizer 2

I actually liked a lot of this movie, which surprised me given how little this movie needs to exist, but it had no idea how to work its third act and holy fuck was the bad guy bad, and not in ways you want your bad guy to be bad, but in ways that make zero sense.

Leave No Trace

Engaging character stuff that neither slams you in the stomach with overwrought emotion nor lets you off the hook at the end.

McQueen

Handles the ending exceptionally well, always tough in documentaries where the subject’s life ends in suicide.

Mission Impossible Fallout

Meh. Look, nobody runs like Tom Cruise, but the plot in this movie is nonsensical, absurdly complicated and the run time grinds you down. Some fantastic set pieces, though.

Sorry to Bother You

Very, very funny in spots. Solid satire, clever story progression.

Blindspotting

Very funny and engaging, not sure the ending really worked for me.

Blackkklansman

One of Spike Lee’s best films. Handles the tonal shifts exceptionally well.

Slender Man

Borderline incompetent. We’re at the end of MoviePass at this point, and I just wanted to see a movie while I still could. Any movie. Literally anything. And this was my option. So you know, it was technically a movie, I guess, in that there were images on the screen and sound to accompany it.

The Meg

Not good, exactly, but it was both intentionally and unintentionally funny at various times throughout. That’s not easy to do. What the hell, let’s give it a thumbs up.

 

 

Advertisements

Page Ten

Page Ten

Page Ten


I generally hate Inside the Actors Studio, the interview show with actors on Bravo. I don’t dislike the host, the guests or the concept, and maybe it’s the edited version that fails rather than the in-person experience, but the end result on television is more often than not a series of questions that overwhelmingly eschews any actual insight into the craft itself or the life of a working professionals in place of celebrity chit-chat. Fair enough, but I don’t care what working alongside Brad Pitt was like. I’m sure he’s delightful. What does that have to do with the work? With the life? Who would actually go on screen and say that working with Brad Pitt was a gut-wrenching experience barely preferable to that of a good old-fashioned leeching?

Anyway, I’m interviewing screenwriters in Page Ten, the Hollins University Screenwriting Podcast. Take a listen with the link below. I don’t know, maybe it’d be better if I asked more questions about movie stars. Previous episodes can be found on iTunes and over at the Hollins Screenwriting site.

https://publisher.podtrac.com/player/ODQ4NDY1/NA2

iTunes

Hollins University Screenwriting Blog

The Greatest Lines in B-Movie History

theylive
The line of dialogue almost pales in comparison when brought to light against the backdrop of the absurd fight sequence between Rowdy Roddy Piper and Keith David, as the former tries to force the latter to put on a pair of sunglasses in a last-ditch effort to save the world from evil aliens. This is the simplest, clearest description I could provide of the scene and is a fairly accurate summary of the movie as a whole. So yes, to answer the obvious question, They Live is an absolute must-see.

The joys of the film have everything to do with dark humor, satire and piles of genre fun. Directed by John Carpenter, whose exceptional body of work rivals the greatest American film directors without all the pesky corresponding critical acclaim, They Live is nowhere near his best effort (The Thing, Halloween, Assault on Precinct 13) but it practically defines the term ‘cult favorite’, which is praise enough. Aside from the forthcoming line, the highlight of the film is the aforementioned six-minute long battle royale in the alley that defies description. Here it is in its entirety.

Frankly, and I’m not saying Mr. David was right or wrong in his decision making during this scene, but for me, I probably would have put the glasses on.

Anyway, once the two men have settled their differences as scholars are wont to do, the story kicks into high gear, as we learn the aliens have slowly taken control of the Earth through subliminal messages delivered through a powerful signal broadcast from high atop the city. A plucky band of freedom fighters will try and disrupt it, which leads to a pretty cool ending. Before that, however, Rowdy Roddy Piper stumbles into a bank, for some reason that escapes my memory or perhaps because it simply happens for no good reason, and there he delivers one of those perfectly awful lines of dialogue that make movies so damn great.

The Greatest Lines in B-Movie History

Yor: The Hunter from the Future

Yor: The Hunter from the Future

As a child barely seven years of age, I saw this delightful and highly influential piece of trash in the theater when it was released out into the world in 1983. It’s one of my earliest movie memories and gives proof to the notion that there is no film so awe-inspiringly awful that it will not still beat the pants off the outdoors during an Indiana summer. Attendance wasn’t by design, mind you. My mom was out running errands and had made the classic mistake of taking her young children with her instead of leaving them alone in the house to fend off potential burglars, and she was desperate to get out of the heat. The timing was fortunate, in a way, I’m not even sure air conditioning had been invented before the 80’s.
Continue reading

Hitler Hates Esquire Magazine

esq-megan-fox-cover-0213-lgNothing has made me laugh harder in recent memory than Esquire’s February cover story on Megan Fox. It’s spectacularly awful in every way. Here’s a link to the full article – http://www.esquire.com/features/megan-fox-photos-interview-0213

If the myriad of funny responses excoriating the piece that are easily found with any Google search containing ‘Esquire Megan Fox’ does not entertain you on a slow day at the office, please enjoy Hitler’s spirited defense of a young actress who used to think very highly of Marilyn Monroe.

Once Again, You Can’t Have It Both Ways.

Zero-Dark-Thirty__121106175531Zero Dark Thirty is a decent movie whose depiction of torture in the search for Bin Laden has touched off a series of accusations/protests against the film. Here is one such example, a letter from Senators McCain, Feinstein and Levin directed to Michael Lynton, chairman of Sony Pictures: “With the release of Zero Dark Thirty, the filmmakers and your production studio are perpetuating the myth that torture is effective. You have a social and moral obligation to get the facts right.”

This is a flawed argument in a number of ways. First and foremost, movies are under no obligation, moral or otherwise, to get the facts right. This is silly. Movies are at their core, Adam Sandler and otherwise, art, and art knows no obligations save for itself. That’s what makes it art. The marketplace determines whether the movie will sink or swim, critically and commercially, so encouraging filmmakers to censor themselves for the social good is an idea on par with letting Tim Tebow start at quarterback.
Continue reading