Monthly Archives: October 2014

Christmas At Pemberley Manor

Let me get this off my chest right at the top: this movie stars the same woman I accused of being inappropriate for Hallmark girl next door roles in Magical Christmas Ornaments. I still don’t like her, but they seem to have toned down her pornographic look. But aside from a brief stint on the revived 90210, her career seems to consist solely of made for TV Christmas roles, and a short called Silicone in Stereo.

Anyhoo, the leading lady’s plastic parts are the least of our worries when Hallmark is taking a stab at Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. And yes, I did have to shower after writing that.

Anyway, Ms. Fun Bags plays Elizabeth Bennett, a New York event planner who has to organize a holiday event in a small town. The only suitable venue is Pemberley Manor, owned by and soon to be sold by the persnickety billionaire, William Darcy. Elizabeth employs the full force of her charms to land the manor anyhow, and though they had a rude first encounter, their work together has them falling for each other!

For my money, the guy who plays George (Cole Gleason) is MUCH hotter, so you know MV5BMTAwMDIxNzE3ODheQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU4MDU0MDI1OTYz._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_that no one at Hallmark was literate enough to get a good read on even the Cole’s notes of Pride and Prejudice. Of course, I would never want hipster George hooking up with bawdy Elizabeth, so I guess I can’t complain too heartily. Now I know that readers of Assholes Watching Movies are, on average, about a kabillion times more astute than what passes for programming executives over at Hallmark, so if you’re at all familiar with Austen’s work, then you know some serious bumps and misunderstandings are coming the way of Miss Bennett and her beau Darcy. Why, the small-town holiday festival itself is at stake!

Michael Rady (Darcy) is no slouch, but he’s acting like he’s in a much better movie. Act for the job you want? Hallmark is pretty loyal to its actors, and I guess it’s a nice steady paycheque, so who am I to judge? Oh, right, an Asshole. It’s kind of my thing. Bitch for the job you want! And not since the shoe addict’s tribute to Charles Dickens have I been so insulted. And maybe I was wrong about George vs. Darcy. They’re both very cute. And they both deserve better than a Bennett. And you know what? So do you!

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Ian

A 9-word synopsis for a 9-minute film: Even in his wildest dreams, they laugh at him.

A 9-word review for the 9-minute film: Inclusivity shines brightly through innovative animation and powerful story-telling.

You can watch the short and see for yourself here.

Frightfest 2015: Halloween (1978)

Co-writers John Carpenter and Debra Hill couldn’t believe that there had never been a horror film simply titled “Halloween”. Taking advantage of everyone else’s missed opportunity, they produced a film set almost entirely on Halloween night that captures all the thrills and chills that we’ve come to expect from our favourite halloweens.

 

When he was six years old, Michael Myers stabbed his big sister to death. Dr. Sam loomis (Donald Pleasence) tried to treat him but saw nothing but limitless evil in his eyes. fifteen years later, Myers has escaped from his institution and is headed back to the quiet street where it all began.

As Laurie, Jamie Lee Curtis earned the title Scream Queen and has never really been dethroned since. Working with director John Carpenter, she strikes a delicate balance between being scared shitless and being a fighter. Myers is still scary today, sporting a mask which was in reality nothing more than a Shatner mask with white spray paint and wielding a really big knife. the concept is simple enough to be ageless.

Halloween has some good scares but there is no blood so it’s perfect for those who love a good spooky story about a serial killer on the loose but can’t stand the gore that is so typical of these kinds of movies today.

License to Wed

I know that watching movies sometimes involves a certain about of suspended disbelief, but this movie would require a lobotomy.

Robin Williams plays Reverend Frank, the man in charge of preparing Sadie (Mandy Moore) and Ben (John Krasinski) for holy matrimony. Ben wanted to elope to the Caribbean, but Sadie’s always dreamed of getting married in the family church, and to do so, they have to pass Reverend Frank’s marriage prep course.

Now, let’s take a minute to appreciate the absurdity of an unmarried man assuming any kind of authority on the subject. I mean, really. But Reverend Frank’s particular brand of marriage counselling is made just for movies. It involves ridiculous group activities and the deliberate baiting of in-laws. This is why we say in my business that no counselling is preferable to pastoral counselling. They don’t know what they’re doing, they push the god agenda above anything sane or healthy, and they’re grossly unqualified. Frank is all of these, yet the Sadie blindly accepts everything he says, because he’s her beloved minister. And that might be fine if this was a satire, but it’s not. It’s just a vehicle for Robin Williams to shock and awe – say all the naughty things that a man of the cloth most definitely should not. Sadie doesn’t blink an eye when he bugs their apartment, asks her what she likes in bed, has her drive into traffic blind-folded. Nope, just normal pre-wedding stuff, nothing to see here!

Are there a couple of chuckles to be had? Sure there are. It’s Robin Williams. But to be honest, it looks like a much better time in the blooper reels than in the film itself. On the plus side, the last 20 minutes of the film are a commercial for the Sandals resort in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, so at least everyone got tan while making this piece of crap (the same one that Michael Scott visited in The Office; there are 4 series regulars in this film, and director Ken Kwapis directed several episodes). I am 100% certain that John Krasinski hates that this is on his resume, and he regrets even more saying “Do you wanna walk the midget?” It may have been 2007, but that was never okay.

Frightfest 2015: The Babadook

Amelia (Essie Davis) has never had the chance to grieve the death of her husband 7 years ago. Because her beloved Oscar died in a car carsh while Amelia was in labor, processing her trauma had to take a back seat to raising a newborn all by herself. Now about to turn 7, Samuel (Noah Wiseman) is having some trouble fitting in, unable to shake the feeling that his mom will one day leave him and develops an obsession with protecting him and his mother from monsters.

Oh, and there’s a monster in his closet.

babadook

What starts with a creepy children’s book that mysteriously appears on his shelf, (“If it’s in a word. Or if it’s in a look. You can’t get rid of… The Babadook”), escalates into a full-blown assault on Amelia’s psyche. The more The Babadook gets under her skin, the more dangerous Amelia becomes to her terrified son.

babadook 2

The Babadook, the feature debut from director Jennifer Kent, is a supernatural thriller in the tradition of The Shining. Kent’s film, however, separates itself from Kubrick’s classic in two important ways. First, the dynamic between mother and son and the themes of trauma and loss are more psychologically astute here, with character arcs that would still be satisfying even without the horror element. Second, with Amelia, Davis- as she herself has pointed out- has to play both Shelley Duvall and Jack Nicholson to Samuel and she plays them both perfectly. Her descent into madness is is captivating and played with a restraint that- as much as we all love Jack- has never been his strong suit.

The Babadook will get under your skin. Filmmaker William Friedkinhas apparently stated that he has never seen a movie more terrifying. And he directed the Exorcist, so…

The Angriest Man in Brooklyn

Henry (Robin Williams) is angry. Crazy angry. Sitting in his car he can think of no better way to pass the time than ranting. Henry hates a lot of things. Henry rants away his commute until something he can REALLY get angry about happens – he hits a cab. Then he really unleashes.

hero_AngriestManinBrooklyn-2014-1A precautionary trip to the hospital reveals a problem that his doctor hadn’t told him about yet: brain aneurysm. Yikes. But his usual doctor’s out on vacation so Dr. Sharon (Mila Kunis) fills in, but she’s not exactly having a great day either. How bad is this brain aneurysm? It’s pretty bad. Like, 90 minutes to live bad.

What would you do if you had 90 minutes left to live? For most of us, it would be squeezing the last drops out of joy out of life, phoning loved ones, making sure people know how we feel. For Henry, who has destroyed his marriage and is estranged from his son, this is about to be a difficult 90 minutes.

It’s an interesting concept that fails in execution. I never believed Henry. Henry’s anger was out of control and over the top. Robin Williams does a untitledterrific stand-up rant so I know he’s capable of playing a deeply disturbed individual. However, ever time Henry got going, I was always expecting it to end up somewhere funny. It was just too much to be taken straight. The writing is really weak – Henry’s anger just doesn’t seem genuine. Tonally, The Angriest Man in Brooklyn flops around like a fish out of water, gasping for a last breath.

It turns out that Henry has some good reasons for being angry, and these 90 minutes would have been better spent redemptively.  The closest he comes is in remarking that his tombstone will read 1951-2014, and that the dash is where it’s at: a true but oft-repeated sentiment. Sadly, this would be Robin Williams’ last movie. I hate to see his brilliant career end on this note. I’m also sad to report that his own tombstone reads 1951-2014. I hope he lived his dash to its fullest. As for this movie which lacks the language to efficiently say “don’t waste the time you have”, I can only caution you to include this movie in the waste of time column. Life is too precious for bad movies.

 

 

Laurel Canyon

Sam and Alex are on their way to a picture perfect life. He’s a newly minted psychiatrist about to start his residency in L.A. She’s a brilliant academic finishing up her dissertation. All Alex (Kate Beckinsale) needs is a little peace and quiet, and Sam (Christian Bale) has the perfect place in which to star their new life: his mother’s house in Laurel Canyon. The only problem is that his mother hasn’t cleared out yet. Jane is still there, producing an album for her latest boy toy. She’s a successful record producer whose rock n’ roll lifestyle wasn’t exactly conducive to raising a son. Now that they’re all trapped in a house together, our straight-laced couple is going to clash wildly with Jane’s wanton ways, and they might even be corrupted…

There’s something to this movie about self-discovery, freedom of expression. It’s non-judgmental by 2003 standards and it’s a little wet 17-CTEK-1908-LC_McDormand2-613x463and wild, in a having a threesome with my mother-in-law and her skeevy boyfriend kind of way. Don’t think about that too hard. Christian Bale is doughy and passive but ultimately more believable as a psychiatrist than Kate Beckinsale is as a nerd. Which, granted, is not saying much. But man, is she a bad actress or is she a BAD actress? In this she whispers and slides her glasses up and down her nose, and confuses that with a character.

Fine. The real reason, the only reason to go back in time 15 years, is to watch Frances McDormand do her thing. She does all the things! We genuinely do not deserve her, how could we, but until she figures that out, we must hoard all of her performances and allow movies like this to just become another car on the runaway, unstoppable, Frances train. Toot toooot, all aboard!