Kicking Two to the Curb: Dead Pool, Pop Star

This should be a New York Times Op-Ed in itself, but if you don’t think our country’s current violence problem has anything to do with the constant barrage of violent images, from the news media replaying fights over and over, to the lunatics at Facebook allowing live stream of the same, to 90% of television programming showing hostility to movies like Dead Pool showing brains coming out of someone’s skull, you are sooooo very naive.

The upside, if there is one, is witty writing and one of my favorite funny men, TJ Miller. Even Ryan Reynolds is great, giving 110% enthusiasm to his leading role, but this was Quentin Tarantino level violence which doesn’t need to be in a super hero movie, accessible to adolescents due to ignorant adults.

Emerson said it a a century ago, and I’ll paraphrase: be careful what you take in folks. One of my seventh graders bragged that he manipulated his aunt to take him to Dead Pool and bragged to me how sexual the film was (he used 12 year old words “dirty”). after viewing the film this weekend, I realized how trivial the 5 minute sex montage was compared to the hour and 45 of man on man, woman on man super hero on super hero gore fest. The French have it right folks, hide the violence and allow the sex, as long as it’s loving of course.

Pop Star, the Andy Samburg farce wold be great as an SNL farce, but it lost it’s giggle appeal after about 45 minutes. and if you’re going to use Sarah Silverman, give her something to do! She’s a talented comic for goodness sake. The film is worth watching if only for his funny tune “Not Gay” and a hysterical scene in a limo where the fans outrageous behavior keeps ramping up to a hilarious crescendo.

Maggie’s Plan, Nothing Novel

Maggie’s Plan (written and directed by Rebecca Miller) was nothing novel, though the film did have a few highlights.
Let’s get the disappointment out of the way first. Actually, no, let me change that view to optimism since I could have written this easily (sorry Rebecca). In fact, my screenplay Buck Up has more laughs and wittier dialogue, covering roughly the same territory. So given the right eyes and ears, even I could be a screenwriter. But wait, I just remembered, my dad wasn’t Arthur Miller. Oh, I’m blessed, fear not.

I have enjoyed Greta Gerwig, first seeing and loving her in Greenberg. Here, however, she seemed like marshmallow fluff and when she cries at one point, I felt the emotional pull equivalent of a mannequin crying. Not that she didn’t have any grand moments, in fact, there was a truism I could relate to when she said, “Is it true that the squeaky wheel gets the grease and the cactus gets nothing?” Julianne Moore, same story, fake German accent plus histrionic personality equals zero audience empathy.

Bill Hader, should have his romantic comedy license revoked, being a repeat dud offender (first in Trainwreck and now this). Bill is at his best in the humor zone, though I know full well this cold be debated with Skeleton Twins. Chalk it up to quality writing. (Again, sorry Rebecca.)

Ethan Hawke, I’ve already revealed in previous blogs, I’m a sucker for. Even when he seems to be reaching, he’s good. This role possibly strikes closest to home (man who commits affairs and winds up with younger wife and more children) and the pinnacle of the film is his rant at being manipulated. Though watch out Ethan, equally as strong was a minor character, the pickle factory owner Travis Fiimmel. Let me call it now, he’ll win an Academy Award in the next 5 years. Take it to Vegas. He was the most realistic character of the entire film, vulnerable, yet masculine. Someone give this man a role beyond Warcraft (major eye roll).

Eye in the Sky: Not Your Average Military Movie

Dear Reader

I recently heard a celebrity say on a podcast how she cries during films on airplanes more often because the altitude opens up tear ducts. I believe this, though don’t want to bother researching a scientific topic right now. Why am I trusting?
When I returned from a long weekend in Sarasota Fl, without ingesting any depressants, I experienced an emotional response unlike any I usually experience. Sure, I am retiring and have cried about this bittersweet event, but this catharsis was more profound. It probably results from ending a long journey like LeBron James’s reaction to winning the NBA playoffs. I have a feeling though, altitude plus a hearkening back to pivotal moments and decisions in my life were the cause.

The beauty of ageing is you learn to feel less embarrassment about expressing sentiments, and so I have no regrets about emailing from a horizontal position on my Kindle (which if you are a constant reader, you know how the typing looks). I meant what I wrote, altitudunal (new word) tear duct influence or no.

And speaking of emotion, what’s better than a Dad who likes to see movies with his daughter on Father’s Day? Dad’s choice was Eye in the Sky at the discount theater. While I held out hope that the all star cast would live up to the Rotten Tomatoes rating, I also was my usual cynical self. I haven’t seen a military movie worth anything since Zero Dark Thirty and even that was lacking…see how cynical I can be? Tear ducts closed!

Gavin Hood, the director, actually appears in the film, and does a great job as the fatherly ‘get some rest son’ type military leader.

I was pleasantly surprised by not only great story telling through economical dialogue, but even more refreshing, a concept of military leaders making decisions based on more than an automoton mindset. Helen Mirren, can’t beat her, Alan Rickman, God Rest His Soul. Even the typically smarmy Aaron Paul played against his typical exaggerated machismo. Definitely worth a rental. Now I want to know how realistic the drones were (bird and giant fly shapes), yet another science tech idea that I don’t have time to research….I’d rather go to the movies:)

Why the lobster screams: The Lobster

I pulled an Anomalisa with The Lobster, expectations being through the ceiling. I mean John C. Reilly in a bitter satire about couples and the single shaming that occasionally happens to me? I hadn’t heard ‘smug marrieds’ since the original Bridget Jones Diary book (the movies look like schlock) and I was ready for action and laughs.

But oh Yorgus Lanthimos, is it your name that makes you so damn sad? As lonely as I am some days, I’m never The Lobster lonely! Maybe I’m misremembering Dogtooth, maybe that was equally dismal, yet I gave you a pass because I was with a person who’s company I enjoyed. Or maybe because Dogtooth was so different than any other movie I had seen. Certainly there must be a story in your past about being hit in the nose with blunt force (NOT a spoiler, trust me).

But on the positive side, the actors were all amazing. Colin Farrel, who normally plays a tough Irish lad (except for the mermaid movie which I didn’t think i could take), actually played a pudgy, rejected fragile man. Rachel Weisz also was virtually unrecognizable (a poor mans Julianna Marguelis-spelling to be checked later) as Colin’s last attempt at love. And John C Reilly, he might be the most lovable actor of all time. Yo just want to give the guy a hug and make him feel better. He’s the guy in the movie we feel the most empathy for, whether it be Magnolia or Step Brothers.

The movie had the right idea, coincidentally the same idea I had in a ten minute play two man play I wrote called “Matt Ramoney”, but my play didn’t send anyone of the 25 people who watched it in to a deep depression. Goodness Yorgus, lighten up. Though I now know why the lobster screams!

The Bigger Splash-A Must See!

A Bigger Splash is a must see, partly due to Tilda Swinton who plays a muted (due to her character’s vocal injury) rock and roll singer. And while seeing this in my new home town of Sarasota, I felt a little like Tilda, muted in my won way by a stress fracture due to running, a clipped bird, but trying my best to move on. Tilda Swinton has always been a beauty who leans toward masculinity, and I, too felt this too, with my clomping fracture boot topped off with a flowered sun dress. Goofy yet oddly elegant. i
I’m neither arrogant nor masking insanity. I’ve just decided to embrace life and pray that my deep loneliness due to decades of rigid independence be finally relinquished.
And Ralph Fiennes is enough to rekindle desire. He owns this film and hasn’t been this good since The English Patient. I’m glad he’s come out of the shadow of Wes Anderson kookiness.
Dear reader may I explain that this beautiful Kindle has the sound of an old typewriter and seems to want to put periods in between words like Morse code. But I persevere.
And after a lackluster start in 50 Shades of Backwash, Dakota Johnson is jaw dropping.
The fourth actor in this tangled quadrant, Matt Schoenhaerts, more than held his own. Astonishingly, M.S. was also in Far from the Madding Crowd, and even though I loved that movie, he seemed like a completely different person. Which I believe is probably the highest praise an actor can receive.