Month: February 2017

Movie Trailer – Song to Song

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Terrence Malick

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender

Release: March 17th, 2017

Screw you, Malick, you can’t just toy with our emotions like this.  I know he’s a horrible director, or else, his movies should be wonderful but they always turn out to be horrible.  And he tricks me time and time again, always casting delicious celebrities, always presenting a beautiful story, and then making us sit through nine hours of dazzling light playing on water and volcanoes erupting.  Fool me once, right?

Movie Trailer – Bethany

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: James Cullen Bressack

Starring: Stefanie Estes, Zach Ward, Shannen Doherty

Release: April 7th, 2017

Nope, no thanks.  First off, this looks terrible, and definitely not worth being scared for.  And secondly, Tom Green is in it.  I had no idea that guy was still around, and I have no clue what he might be up to, but he should do whatever that is instead of appearing in crappy horror movies.

Movie Review – I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore

Category : Movie Review

Director: Macon Blair

Starring: Melanie Lynskey, Elijah Wood

Year: 2017

This film’s title is too long, so I would just call it IDFAHITWA, but that’s too long too, so I guess we’ll just refer to it as “this film”.  I believe the title comes from a song played during the movie, and it sums up the general feeling behind the story, so I won’t knock it completely, it’s just long.  The film itself is not, and won’t take a ton of effort to watch, coming across as Tarantino-lite, which has a certain enjoyable quality to it, especially when the violence picks up.  And it does, don’t be lulled to sleep by the beginning, this is a heist/robbery/comedy at its core, it just takes a minute to get there.  If you’re confused now about exactly what kind of film this is, you’re probably not alone; it’s a mixed up movie in a mixed up world, which is basically what makes it fun.

Ruth doesn’t enjoy her life much.  An assistant nurse, she often sees people die and afterward wonders whether there’s really a point to living.  Everyone around her is an asshole, her neighbor’s dog poops in her yard, no one is polite anymore, she lives in a shitty part of town, and really, why even get up in the morning.  To top it all off, one day her house is robbed.  It’s not the actual theft that bothers her, it’s the principle of the matter, the fact that someone cared so little about her possessions and her home, that humanity is slowing circling down the toilet.  So Ruth decides to do something about it, to find the guy who broke into her home, no matter how dangerous the mission might become.  With her new friend Tony and his trusty dog Kevin at her side, she’ll try to do her small part to make life a fairer, if not necessarily better, place.

It’s a kooky premise and a nutty movie, there’s no denying that, but there’s fun to be had at the expense of the characters, and that’s worth something.  What starts out as silly quickly become violent, but that just adds to the surreality of the whole journey, the intensity of Ruth’s search for some semblance of decency in a fucked up world.  Melanie Lynskey is one of my personal favorites, and she kills it (pun intended) here; basically she can do no wrong.  And Elijah Wood is a nice surprise, a crazy little guy with a morning star who isn’t afraid to stand up for his friends, even if they are brand new and make him go to scary places.  You’ll be surprised by the amount of odd humor hidden within the script, but I can’t say that the film was a success when taken as a whole.  It’s a little unpolished, a touch amateur, and tends to fly around in multiple directions at a whim.  But give it a chance if you like dark comedy and bungled burglaries; there’s enough here to enjoy that I wouldn’t want to steer you away.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆


Movie Trailer – The Wedding Plan

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Rama Burshtein

Starring: Noa Kooler, Amos Tamam, Irit Sheleg

Release: May 12th, 2017

I didn’t know that this was an Israeli rom/com.  Finding that out was a bit of a shocker; I guess I just assumed it was an American movie, another in a long line of throwaway cheeseballs.  But, surprise, it’s a Jewish cheeseball instead, which does not help the quality at all, apparently.  I actually really liked Fill the Void, Burshtein’s only other film, but it was a drama, not a comedy, and I think that will make all the difference.

Movie Trailer – Maudie

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Aisling Walsh

Starring: Sally Hawkins, Ethan Hawke

Release: 2017

I’d watch this movie based on the leading pair alone, without any knowledge of what it was going to be about.  The fact that it looks dramatic & interesting is only an added bonus.  It also looks a little heavy & slow, but I think these actors can make it work, I trust them to do the job.  Hawkins is magically more often that not, and Hawke is getting better with age.  I’m cautiously optimistic about this film.

Movie Review – Life, Animated

Category : Movie Review

Director: Roger Ross Williams

Starring: Owen Suskind, Ron Suskind

Year: 2016

Nominated for Best Documentary at this year’s Oscars is Life Animated, an open window into the walls of autism, and the story of one family’s magical method of reaching their departing son.  Only parents of children with autism and those who work with them every day can understand the enormity of the diagnosis, but we who are on the outside can, at the very least, learn and empathize, which is why this film is so important.  My kids both attended an autism spectrum school as peers, had incredible success there, so our family has a slight understanding of the work that goes into charting courses around the barriers that these kids’ minds have thrown up, but a movie like this makes the situation all the more real.  It’s something that I can’t recommend enough, if only for a small amount of perspective in a world that so often pushes us to internalize, self-preserve, and to ignore the myriad of differences all around us.

When Owen Suskind was born, the second son of a intellectual family, his course seemed set, his success already assumed.  But when he turned three, he began to retreat into himself, become non-verbal, and appear as if his age was regressing.  His parents couldn’t find their son within Owen anymore, it was as if he had been kidnapped and replaced with a copy of himself.  Doctors diagnosed Owen with autism, and so began a 20-year struggle to find him a school that met his needs, to find him a life that he could enjoy.  But it wasn’t until the family realized that Owen could speak using Disney animated movie dialogue that the personality hidden deep inside him began to shine.  Owen’s obsession with Disney became a therapy, a way to communicate, a method to understand human emotion, and a path to overcoming the strongest defenses his brain could erect.

There are a ton of elements to touch on when talking about this film, too many perhaps, but we’ll try to focus on just a few.  Owen’s story is incredible, how he completely stopped talking, how Disney movie lines became a way for him to verbalize, how copying emotions from characters taught him so much about humanity.  We all love Disney, but perhaps this film shows us another reason why, a reason we can’t even put into words, but Owen can show us through his own life.  There’s a lot to learn about autism here, though it isn’t a clinical documentary by any means.  It’s a story about life, with an autistic man at its center.  The film is short, under 90 minutes, but the filmmakers did still have to fill in some gaps with what could be deemed unnecessary; animated drawings of Owen, many Disney clips, interviews with his brother that didn’t really add much.  The essential message could be boiled down to 45 minutes, but that message is so important, I didn’t mind the rest.  An impactful documentary with so much heart and so much to say, Life Animated definitely deserves its Academy Award nomination.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆



Sports – MLB

Category : Sports

MLB, presented by

Spring Training has begun, and the 2017 MLB season swiftly approaches.  Last year saw an incredible comeback from the Chicago Cubs in the World Series, breaking a curse that seemed insurmountable, setting the stage for some wacky postseason finishes across the world of sports.  This year should be no less exciting, as the Cubs attempt to hold on to the trophy, while every other team in the league nips at their heals.  Let’s take a look at how teams finished last season, as we look ahead to how they might fare this year.

AL East

  1. Boston Red Sox: 93-69
  2. Baltimore Orioles: 89-73
  3. Toronto Blue Jays: 89-73
  4. New York Yankees: 84-87
  5. Tampa Bay Rays: 68-94

AL Central

  1. Cleveland Indians: 94-67
  2. Detroit Tigers: 86-75
  3. Kansas City Royals: 81-81
  4. Chicago White Sox: 78-84
  5. Minnesota Twins: 59-103

AL West

  1. Texas Rangers: 95-67
  2. Seattle Mariners: 86-76
  3. Houston Astros: 84-78
  4. Los Angeles Angels: 74-88
  5. Oakland Athletics: 69-93

NL East

  1. Washington Nationals: 95-67
  2. New York Mets: 87-75
  3. Miami Marlins: 79-82
  4. Philadelphia Phillies: 71-91
  5. Atlanta Braves: 68-93

NL Central

  1. Chicago Cubs: 103-58
  2. St. Louis Cardinals: 86-76
  3. Pittsburgh Pirates: 78-83
  4. Milwaukee Brewers: 73-89
  5. Cincinnati Reds: 68-94

NL West

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers: 91-71
  2. San Francisco Giants: 87-75
  3. Colorado Rockies: 75-87
  4. Arizona Diamondbacks: 69-93
  5. San Diego Padres: 68-94

The Cubs were, by far, the MLB‘s hottest team last season, and they don’t seem to have lost any momentum heading into 2017.  They’ll look to repeat their amazing performance this October, and should be the odds-on favorite to grab another World Series Championship.  The Indians, their opponents last year, were a big surprise, but perhaps should not have been, given the time manager Terry Francona has spent improving his club, preparing them to rise up from obscurity into the ranks of the best teams in the league.  Can they return, or will other clubs make a bigger splash this year?  Major League Baseball is never static, free agent moves and emerging talent always playing a big role in underdogs becoming division winners, so don’t count out your favorite team if they had a quiet 2016.  This is a brand new season, an empty slate on which will be written a new chapter of hardball history.

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Movie Trailer – Mine

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Fabio Guaglione

Starring: Armie Hammer

Release: 2017

That was a terrible trailer.  I’m not exactly certain that it will be a terrible movie, but whoever made that trailer should be fired immediately.   How many times did they show a sandstorm, hoping that we’d get chills with each shot?  That’s not how it works, and I’m not sure what professional thought that these scenes in this order would make us all say “hey that looks great, I’m going to pay $10 to see it.”  Armie Hammer I actually like, the survival storyline is really compelling, I want this to be good, but either it just isn’t or someone did an awful job representing it in a 2-minute span.

Movie Trailer – 47 Meters Down

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Johannes Roberts

Starring: Mandy Moore, Matthew Modine, Claire Holt

Release: 2017

First off, this movie is just piggybacking the success of The Shallows, which isn’t shocking but is still disappointing.  Secondly, the title it so dumb it hurts my brain, could they not think of anything else to call it.  And thirdly, I cannot possibly be expected to watch Mandy Moore trapped in a cage for 90 minutes.  She’s such a terrible actress, just so specifically terrible, that casting her in anything, let alone this, is a complete shocker.  She’s bad enough in This is Us; she’ll be exponentially worse here.

Movie Review – Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

Category : Movie Review

Director: Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone

Starring: Andy Samberg, Tim Meadows, Sarah Silverman

Year: 2016

SNL meets Justin Bieber is this irreverent but oddly accurate farce/comedy extravaganza.  Directors Schaffer & Taccone are SNL alum, mostly on the writing side, and Sandberg was, of course, once a regular.  He’s tried his hand at bizarrely over-the-top comedies before, like Hot Rod, trying to capitalize on his mild fame, but this film might be his “shining moment”, as much as that’s possible from a movie about boy bands, rappers, and groupies, set to a mockumentary beat, cast with standup comedians.  I’m just saying, at least the guy got one right, after a career of awkward jokes and fuzzy hair.  Popstar isn’t the next Christopher Guest masterpiece; even Guest himself can’t capture that lighting in a bottle any longer.  But it is an enjoyable bit of absurdity, and one with a hint of truth.

Once upon a time, the Style Boyz were the hottest group in music, with rhymes to blow your mind, skills to cure your ills, or whatever.  Connor, Owen, and Lawrence were an inseparable threesome, friends from boyhood, and were taking the world by storm.  When Connor became the uncontested leader of the band, the trio broke up, and Connor4Real was born, a rapper with a smash album that shook up the entire industry.  Now, Connor is on tour promoting his second solo album, and it isn’t going so well.  His songs are offensive, his friends are dropping off one by one, his opening act is better than him, and everything is headed downhill.  Perhaps a reunion with the Style Boyz could save his career, but Connor isn’t ready to say he’s sorry, and taking a step backwards can be the hardest step to take.

Of course it’s ridiculous, Andy Samberg as a pop mega-star, but that’s what makes it work.  No one is safe from becoming the butt of a joke in this movie, from celebrities to consumers, from award shows to product placement.  There are some sharp digs here within the farce, making the music industry look like one big sell-out and pop fans seem like morons.  They’ve got a few points and the balls to craft them into metaphors, so more power to the cast & crew for not holding back.  Aside from that, the comedy is extremely silly and the cameos overtake the plot fairly quickly.  Maya Rudolph, Joan Cusack, Imogen Poots, Seal, Carrie Underwood, Nas, Usher, 50 Cent, Ringo, Simon Cowell, Adam Levine, Akon, Mariah Carey, Pink, Kevin Nealon, Mario Lopez, Will Arnett; the names just keep rolling.  It’s a jump-the-shark film from the very first, but that’s to be expected, and those looking for a little silly entertainment won’t be disappointed.  There’s even a touch of heart & story behind all the balls & weed, so there you go, just try not to judge it too harshly.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆