Beasts of No Nation

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Idris Elba.  You are one sick fuck.

For all you lazy ass movie lovers, you have no excuse.  This movie was released day in date with the theatrical release (only grossed about 90K in a one week limited run since all the big corporate theater overlords like Regal refused to show it…snobby bastards).  It’s been on Netflix since right after TIFF, in the fall, and the omission of Idris Elba in the acting category is obviously cuz #oscarssowhite.

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The little boy Abraham Attah in his breakout role is also commendable, and believable.  It took me a while to watch this movie, you gotta be in the right FIGHT-THE-SYSTEM-FUCK-THE-SYSTEM-FUCK-WAR-LET-ME-FEEL-TERRIBLE-FOR-ALL-THE-SHITTY-THINGS-HAPPENING-IN-THE-WORLD-ESP-FUCKING-CHILD-SOLDIERS mood, which can sometimes be hard to get into.  To prepare, I suggest watching a shit ton of Fox News and then afterwards unwinding by going to a Krav Maga session and writing to your local senator or writing a blog, whatever makes you feel like you are making a difference in the world.….$10 (but you’re so fortunate, it’s free on netflix!)

If you heart Beasts of No Nation

Recommendations from …:
Blood Diamond

Kony 2012
Kite Runner

 

 

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The Muppets

In an age of dumbed-down action overblown Hollywood busts that should make the average American enraged, there is a soft glow of nostalgia and self-deprecating campy humor.  Oh Jason Segel, I love you.  True story: Jason Segel pitched the idea for the Muppets to Disney immediately after the success of Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  Their reaction: Hell No!  Disney was not excited about having a dude in his 20s who just exposed a full frontal of his long schlong to all of America helm a project about the resurgence of a beloved troupe of talking puppets.  However, he came back and somehow convinced them, through his passion of the Muppets, that he was the right guy for the job.  Pretty damn amazing if I say so myself.

But enough about the backstory, what about the movie itself?  Adorable, witty, charismatic and thoroughly enjoyable.  The film plot begs a question I oftentimes think of myself on nights that I find myself unable to sleep, tossing and turning, staring at the ceiling: Where are the Muppets now?  Turns out, Kermit is living a lonely bachelor life in a huge Bel Air mansion, Gonzo is making millions off of toilet manufacturing, or was it doorknobs?, Animal is at an insane asylum with none other than Jack Black, Miss Piggy is off being the Devil Wears Prada in Paris (with Emily Blunt reprising the same role as the aforesaid film), and Fozzy Bear, poor old Fozzy, is performing with Muppet knock offs in some tawdry casino in Reno.  Enter plot twist: an evil Rich Guy is trying to buy up the Muppets stage for the cache of oil beneath it.  And so begins the journey to try to reunite the Muppets once again, get money back in order to buy back the old venerable Muppets stage.

Besides the talented cast (Jason Segel wrote the screenplay and stars with his co-star Amy Adams, Jack Black) there’s a generous dose of random well-placed cameos (Sarah Silverman, Emily Blunt, her husband John Krasinski, Whoopi Goldberg, Serena Gomez, Zach Galifianakis, Donald Glover, Dave Grohl, Ken Jeong, Neil Patrick Harris, that Columbian kid from Modern family).  With the lovely backup musicals provided by Brett MacKenzie of Flight of the Conchords, you can imagine that this is a film that you wouldn’t want to miss.   I even stayed through the credits.  The Muppets are Back! $9

If you heart the Muppets

Recommendations by …
Toy Story 3
Shrek
The Muppets in Manhattan

p.s.  brilliant

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/05/jason-segel-gets-date-invite-chelsea-gill_n_1185748.html

Real Steel

Shawn Levy wants to fornicate with Ron Howard. Or maybe just his Oscar.  Or maybe try to procreate a baby Oscar from his fornication with Ron Howard that will be the baby half-brother to Ron Howard’s existing Oscar. You see, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, Real Steel, is a Hugh Jackmanification of John Nash, without the economics, plus a dash of Iron Man.  The over-the-topness and Hollywoodishness oozes like cheese whiz through every bolt and every joint of the poor abused robot Atom.  I shall elaborate about how Shawn Levy wants Ron Howard through providing a good deal of evidence that shows, at the very least that Shawn Levy is trying to get you to ooze with cheese like his idol does.  This is his vain attempt to replace Ron Howard in the eyes of the US media consumer.  I say don’t fall for it!  Shawn Levy is only about 70% of the heavy handed cheesiness of Ron Howard, so don’t give in!  Ron Howard may be bald but he is far from dead!  Plus Levy doesn’t have a porcupine-shaped sidekick like Brian Grazier, so not even a competition.  I mean the dude doesn’t even use classical orchestra to definitely hammer in his give-away standing ovation moments….

Evidence ONE – The plot: The movie draws you in with promises of cool effects with ultimate fighting, rampant injury (and possibly death!) and  machines and robots from the future, but REALLY it’s a manipulative plot to get grown men into the theaters to see the tale of an estranged father re-connecting with his emotionally retarded son and emasculate them into puddles of tears.  Yes, you will cry.  Unless you have a heart of steel like mine and laugh in the face of the cheesiness.

Evidence TWO – The kid’s name is Dakota: Ok so, not Dakota Fanning, but similar in the sense that the kid is  freckly fresh faced little boy named Dakota Goyo with a spunky attitude and you quickly get the point of his role.  To get at your heartstrings.  HA! Only if you are a pathetic sucker

Evidence THREE – The robot looks like WALL-E:  Now who is the most beloved robot of all (with a possible exception of Rosie from the Jetsons, Vicki from Small Wonder, oh and R2D2 and C3PO of course, and I also really do love my Roomba, but yeah, you get the idea)?  WALL-E!  the cutest mute robot in the whole darn universe.  Not only does Atom look like WALL-E, but it even has this slightly eerie smile…slightly eerie potentially cuz it’s always there…

Evidence FOUR and possibly the most compelling evidence – The dialogue: I don’t have all the dialogue with me here, since I don’t have the script but the ones I remember are the following (BTW Charlie Kenton is Hugh Jackman and Max Kenton is the kid, Dakota Goyo):

Charlie: I know I’ve done all kinds of wrong by this kid. I’d just like to do one thing right.

Charlie Kenton: What do you want from me?
Max  Kenton: I want you to fight for me.  That’s all I’ve ever wanted.

Max Kenton: I need you to teach him to box.
Charlie Kenton: Are you kiddin’ me?
Max Kenton: You know this fight game inside and out. He needs your moves, your commands!
Charlie Kenton: I can…I can’t!
Max Kenton: Yes, you can!

I hope you will see, ladies and gentlemen, that this is clearly an attempt to be and be with Ron Howard.  I say NO! Don’t let it happen.  No one can replace Richie Cunningham in our hearts and minds….rest easy Ron, I’ll stand by you.

And does anyone complain about robot-abuse in this movie?  All the poor robots, beating up on each other like a page from Michael Vick’s private playhouse but do I hear any complaints?  NO!  and why?  oh the infamy….$4

If you heart Real Steel:

Recommendations from Bernard Liptenstein LLC:
Iron Man
A Beautiful Mind
Apollo 13

Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon

Transformers: More than meets the eye.  Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon, also known as a very very long action sequence.  Man, I had to pee like 1 hour into the movie and almost died as I tried to hold it almost 2 hours later.  Enjoyable, not really much to talk about except the 3D portion almost made me pee in my pants, partly because it was exciting and realistic special effects, probably also mostly because I just really had to pee and the movie was ridiculously long.

Shia LeBeouf seems like an ass, not so different from the over-pumped teenage twerp he plays in the first two movies, and well the transformers are machines so did you really expect any character development there?  he gets a new girl, blond ex-Victoria Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whitley, who is actually, if you can believe it, even more flat of a 2 dimensional character than Megan Fox was in the first two, and not half as hot, but still way hotter than you’d think a dude like Shia LeBeouf could score.  AND he’s supposed to be her American sex toy or something……?!?!?

The twist in this movie is a giant American cover-up of the moon’s landing, which is a smidgen more cleverer than the first two movies that highlighted just explosions and destruction, but similar to the previous two, the main reason to watch is for the special effects, not the character development, plot, or dialogue cuz there really isn’t any to speak of.  That said, special effects are cool, I have a special place in my heart for Transformers in any case…

If you want to watch a movie, not have to think, and just drift away with the onslaught of action-packed 3D sequences and not hate the movie, this movie is for you, I just suggest visiting the restroom before the movie.  If you’d prefer to be wowed and intrigued by the movie, go elsewhere…$4

If you heart Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon:

Recommendations by…
Fast Five
Inception
Transformers

Bridesmaids

Funny movie.  I laughed out loud a few more times than I expected to.  Judd Apatow strikes again in his Superbad and 40 year old virgin style of raunchy comedies with Bridesmaids.  However, was it really as good as female version of Superbad or 40 year old virgin?  not quite….I agree with the other review re: Rotten Tomatoes.  There’s something wrong with the methodology of just allowing for Yes-Fresh and No-Rotten out of all the reviewers, then compiling them to figure out what the percentage is.  I mean, nearly 90% fresh for fast five in the first week?  even 89% fresh for bridesmaids? really?

Oh the genius of Kristen Wiig.  She can be so charming and believable and awkward and funny all in the same 20 minutes.  I really liked her as a character even with all her crazy-person flaws…..You know Loren Michaels, who produces Saturday Night Live, once said she was the one of the top 3 or 4 performers of all time for SNL.  Don’t believe me?  Check it out here.

Favorite parts of the movie were actually Melissa McCarthy, who plays Megan, one of the bridesmaids, and Rebel Wilson, Annie (Kristin Wiig)’s insane roommate.  Incredibly funny, definitely stole some of the best moments of the film.

All in all, a good enjoyable flick, probably the best comedy I’ve seen in a while….$7

If you heart Bridesmaids:

Recommendations by …
Pineapple Express
40 Year Old Virgin
Superbad

Justin Lin’s Fast Five

I have discovered the key to watching and enjoying the fast and furious series is to go in with no expectations.  Because I had no expectations going in, it blew them away. Of course, I was comparing to the previous Fast and Furious, and this was head and shoulders above those, but that’s not terribly hard.   Granted you absolutely have to maintain suspension of disbelief, as tiny cars overturn giant armored buses and haul enormously heavy steel encased safes across miles of city road, but if you believe that Vin Diesel and Paul Walker somehow have the capability of doing that without accidentally killing anyone, then you’re set.

Justin Lin has come a long way from Better Luck Tomorrow.  This movie is jam packed with nitrous filled  large moving vehicles inexorably and inevitably crashing into each other at explosively high speeds, hot girls being able to drive AND tune up/tear down vehicles and master incredibly complex military-grade software and beefy big guys slamming on brakes and getting into fights.  Oh yeah, and tons of gun fights with ridiculously large weapons.  In rio.  In other words, it’s a teenage boy’s wet dream.  But, it’s actually also strangely enjoyable for many of those not in that particular target demographic.

You know, one thing I was surprised about was the lack of high speed car chases that were in the other films.  And yes, in order to do research and prepare myself for the movie, I watched the first two movies.  I realized afterwards it would have been helpful to at least watch fast and furious (number 4) in the series as well.  It’s not 100% necessary, but it helps in terms of understanding the background of the story.  And know the characters.  Cuz fast five is all about the all-star cast getting together for a dumber, more violent. ghetto-er version of Ocean Eleven-style heist in Rio de Janiero, with Vin Diesel and Paul Walker as the George Clooney and Brad Pitt characters respectively.  Yeah, it wasn’t so believable to me either.  They even have the pair of dumb squabbling brothers who liked to do more of the technical stuff.

That said, it did have a number of redeeming factors that were maybe a notch better in this version of the elaborate heist.  First of all, eye-candy.  Paul Walker and Tyrese….HOLLAH!!!  I’m not a Vin Diesel/the Rock type of gal myself, but if you’re into that, there’s a lot of that action goin on too.  Secondly Vin Diesel and the Rock square it off, which to me, was the best part of the movie.  I always kinda thought they were the same person, and to see them duke it out on the big screen was just kind of trippy honestly.  I kept saying to myself, wait which one is winning now?  They’re both just so big!  Like Vin Diesel’s arms are like tree trunks, but then standing next each other gives you an idea of exactly how MASSIVE the rock is.  Gianormous.

So in other words, if you can ignore the obvious inconsistencies with the laws of physics, plot holes, predictable story-line and 2-dimensional characters, and focus just on the incredible action-packed sequences and on-screen eye candy, it can be an enjoyable experience and in all honesty, probably one of the better action films for the summer….$5

Recommendations from …:
Oceans Eleven
Fast and Furious Series
Bourne Identity

P.S. In addition to making sure you watch Fast and Furious 1, 2, and 4 before watching Fast Five, I recommend staying through the credits if you do watch Fast Five.  I don’t necessarily know if it’s worth it per the press about it being a big surprise, but it’ll probably help if you ever plan on watching Fast Six.

Hanna

Hanna kicks ass!  Well, the movie was pretty good, but literally, seriously, scary little kid.  Saorise Ronan does an admirable job portraying an albino-esque girl who has essentially been raised by her dad in the wilderness and taught how to survive in a coming of age type of film amidst government conspiracy.  Can I say, I really like Saorise Ronan.  What a talented little girl.  She was good in Atonement too.

Anyhow, besides the predictable social errors Hanna makes while trying to reintegrate into society, a ploy that has been done numerous times in the past that serve as a kind of comic relief to the concept of a killer adolescent girl, Hanna, the movie has a pretty zingy soundtrack and a fairly good pace.

I also love Cate Blanchett in pretty much any role she does.  Whether it be this hard-as-nails, mannish Southern bitch, or as the regal Queen of England learning how to rule, I always am astounded by how well she does with what she has.  Eric Bana was also alright.  It’s hard for me to assess because it seems he always has to play this emotionless, accented, detached character, but he does have a nice scene of swimming half naked across what seems like the Arctic Ocean.

Hanna was fun, enjoyable, forgettable…$5

Recommendations from …:
Salt
Bourne Identity
Tarzan

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