Monthly Archives: November 2015

Pixar Twofer

For the first time ever, Pixar is releasing two movies in a single year. You’ve already seen Inside Out (I hope) and today The Good Dinosaur is roaring into a theatre near you.

the-good-dinosaur-story

To celebrate, we want to send someone a prize pack including a copy of Inside Out  on DVD.

To enter: pick an emotion – ANGER \ JOY \ FEAR \ SADNESS \ DISGUST – and leave us a comment telling us which one you’re feeling today.

m_fwb-inside-out_20150504

Gain additional entries by:

  1. Reading about why Jay thinks Inside Out is a bit racist, and leaving a comment.
  2. Tweeting a picture of your best angry\sad\happy\scared\ disgusted face @assholemovies #assholeemotions.
  3. Sharing an “emotional” story or picture on our Facebook page.
  4. Commenting on our review of The Good Dinosaur.

Multiple entries welcome as long as they’re all different.

And congratulations to Ashley at Syncopated Eyeball for winning our Assholes Reading Movies contest!

Creed

This is shaping up to be a rough movie season for Jay.  First, she got dragged to SPECTRE (which by all accounts is a spectacular movie).   Second, she’s been dreading Star Wars: The Force Awakens since it was a twinkle in J.J. Abrams’ eye.  And third, a whole other Sean-approved franchise makes a return and potentially gets rebooted into a whole new series of movies.  Dun Na NAAAAAA, Dun Na NAAAAAA!

That’s right, Rocky is back again, for the seventh time.  It seemed over after IV, V, and VI, but some studio exec decided we could handle more!  And it was clearly the right decision because I think MGM/Warner Brothers now has a whole new franchise on its hands, featuring Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Creed (Apollo Creed’s son).

I have always loved this franchise.  From the moment I saw Rocky III, I was hooked (yes, I started with III and have never regretted it – as recently discussed in my defence of SPECTRE, plot and character are pretty much unnecessary in franchises and here’s more proof that’s a good thing).  Based on my love for the franchise, I had high hopes for this movie but I was also nervous at how this would all turn out.  After seeing Creed, I am happy to report that this franchise’s record is still unblemished as long as we agree that Rocky V never happened.

One of my favourite things about Rocky VI (a.k.a. Rocky Balboa) was how much love it showed to the franchise as a whole.  Creed takes the same approach.  There are a number of nods to the past and they’re great to see.  The best part is that Rocky, as trainer, takes all that history and imbues Adonis with the style of boxing we’ve grown to love in these movies, namely trading head shots until both boxers’ faces look like ground beef.  Head trauma be damned, these boxers just have so much heart that they have to leave it all in the ring.  And do they ever!

As for the cast, Michael B. Jordan is great as Creed and Stallone is better than ever as Rocky.  The two characters come together naturally and it’s a great relationship to see play out, as uncle and nephew take on the world together and give us some classic Rocky moments along the way.  Especially Stallone, who really plays the old man well the whole way through (although at this point he’s almost 70 so it may not even be acting).  Either way there are some very funny moments to be found as the two leads interact with each other.
CARL

Overall, the only way this movie could have been any better is if they had worked in some Carl Weathers flashbacks where he got his stew on. I can see how that was tricky to work in to Creed since Apollo died before Adonis was born, but still, it would have been a nice touch.

Rocky-III

Want to know who won this fight?  Creed has the answer!

Other than that one shortcoming, Creed is perfect.  It delivers a great story, feels like a natural extension of the Rocky franchise, gives us a ton of nice call-backs to past events, and even answers some burning questions (including who wins the fight at the end of Rocky III).  Those fan-service moments were definitely my favourite aspect of the movie and they added so much to it.  They’re not just winks and nods, they are tools used successfully to remind us of Rocky’s mindset as he tries to pass on his winning ways to a new contender.

As the credits rolled, I reminisced about all the other great Rocky moments (see my list HERE but be warned, it contains tons of spoilers) and at the same time was excited for Creed II.  And mark it down, there will be a Creed II.  The seeds are sown here for at least two more movies and I hope they come to pass, because Creed is not just a great addition to the Rocky franchise, it is an excellent movie in its own right.

Creed scores a knockout: ten triumphant underdogs out of ten.

 

Dope

You might not know Shameik Moore yet, but you will.

He’s not the only reason why I was grabbed by this movie: the script is smart, the soundtrack is awesomesauce, and the angle is fresh. dopeBut Moore, unknown to me, turns in an A+ performance while writer-director Rick Famuyiwa is making choices I’m quickly becoming addicted to.

The story: Malcolm is a good student in a bad school, a good kid in a bad neighbourhood. He dreams of Harvard and 90s hip hop but on his way to his admissions interview he winds up with a bookbag full of dope. He’s got two friends, Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) and Jib (Tony Revolori – the little bellhop from The Grand Budapest Hotel), and though this charming trio is made up of teacher’s pets and band geeks, they resolve to navigate the dark web and treat their reluctant drug dealing like a 21st century enterprise.

This movie is tonally inconsistent, but it’s not because the film doesn’t know what it is, it’s because it aims to be a bit of everything, and I kind of liked that about it.  Famuyiwa means to challenge our dopebandnotion of what a drug dealer looks like – or what a Harvard applicant looks like, for that matter, but even the film itself defies expectations. It manages to seamlessly integrate these 90s throwbacks into a world where these kids have never bought nor owned a CD. They idolize rap but they play in a punk band. Welcome to 2015. Pharrell Williams and Sean (Diddy) Combs are listed as producers, so you know that shit is solid.

The cast is exceptionally good, and you need them to be to make this story work. Comedy-drama-crime: the film covers a lot of ground, but at its heart it’s an identity crisis, an acknowledgement of our many selves. Famuyiwa is not a newbie but this is his first film where I feel like I actually know him. You can’t infuse a script with this many pop culture references and not reveal yourself. Famuyiwa, I think I’m on to you.

The Night Before

This is the most easily swallowed holiday movie I’ve ever seen. Maybe that reveals my inner Grinchiness, but the truth is, no matter how magical the season, my threshold for the trite & schmaltzy is painfully low. Every time a family literally gathers around a piano to sing carols, I want to slit my night-before-featwrists and douse all the mistletoe and twinkle lights in my eggnog-infused blood.

Ethan’s (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) parents died 14 years ago, and his two buddies Chris (Anthony Mackie) and Isaac (Seth Rogen) stepped up to the plate to make sure he’d never be alone at Christmas, establishing an annual tradition of getting right ripped the night before.

This movie is really just a Christmassy version of Rogen’s usual raunchy fare, but it’s worth it just to see Rogen and New York City all dressed up for the holidays – he in a garish Jewish version of the ugly-Christmas-sweater.

Chris is a rising star and Isaac’s about to become a daddy, so they’re hoping that this will be the grand finale on their Christmas obligations; Ethan, however, is stuck, and much less inclined to let go.

Isaac’s very pregnant wife has bestowed him with the penultimate holiday gift: a treasure box filled with drugs. It’s his last chance to go hog wild screen-shot-2015-07-29-at-15-20-21before the baby, and this is Seth Rogen at his best: manic, sweaty, trippin balls, panicked, and awkward. This wires their adventure with the kind of wacky energy we want and need in a film that dares to ask: how much r-rated nastiness can we possibly cram into the holiest of days? And may I just say: how refreshing to see the wife encouraging her husband to spend time with his pals instead of the usual wet-blanket cliche.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is charming as always, but cursed to play it straight in this movie (except for his elf face, which may be worth your $12 ticket alone). Anthony Mackie is the charismatic one who pinballs between the straight arrow and the hot mess, clearly having fun with his strut.

This movie isn’t as laugh-out-loud funny as the trailer led me to believe. Some of the bits bog down the hijinks, but you never have to wait for long before the next chapter unfolds (my favourite bit being when Isaac attendsnightbefore3 midnight mass high as fuck – I may have accidentally punched Sean in the balls during that scene – may god, and Spencer, forgive me). This movie is both template-following in terms of Rogen stoner comedies, and refreshingly irreverent in terms of holiday fare: a weird mashup, but what else do you expect from a movie that worships both Run-DMC and Miley Cyrus?

 

Paprika

paprikaIn the near future, a device called the DC mini will allow a new kind of psychotherapy, whereby a person wearing the device during sleep will allow his or her therapist to view their dreams. The DC minis aren’t quite ready yet, but Dr. Chiba is already using them outside the facility to help her patients, like Detective Konakawa, who has recurring nightmares, by assuming her alter-ego Paprika in the Paprika japanimation dream analysisdream world, and guiding him through the source of his anxiety.

Despite secrecy, the lab is broken into, and the DC minis fall into the wrong hands. Still in their early stages of development, the devices lack access restrictions, so when they’re stolen, they allow anyone to enter anyone else’s dreams. Soon the scientists at the lab seem to be falling prey to dream invasions – bad dreams being implanted by the thieves of the device – whimageich have real-world consequences.

As dreams and real life start to merge, does the film get confusing? You betcha: kind of like the best dreams do. It’s surreal, of course, fresh and fantastic, but trippy, and rife with the problems of translated-from-Japanese dialogue. You might get a brain bleed trying to make sense of this movie, which I suspect is meant to be experienced more than understood anyway. If it Paprika_07sounds a little like Inception, you’re not wrong. Christopher Nolan was influenced by Paprika, but while Satoshi Kon’s film is able to play with the fluidity between dreams and reality more recklessly, Nolan’s film irons out the incongruities and presents something a little easier to follow and swallow.

Satoshi Kon is not just a film maker, but a film lover as well, and he Paprika (4)uses the dream sequences in Paprika, now watchable and movie-like, as an homage to his own favourite films. There’s a parrallel between dreams, movies, and how we use both to construct narrative in our own lives. The imagery is truly like nothing you’ve seen before, and paired with a very unique soundtrack, it lifts you out of, and beyond, the usual movie going experience.

In Defense of SPECTRE: A Review For the BEST of Us.

You may have read Matt’s review of SPECTRE.  He seemed to like it but still called it the “dullest, most phoned-in Bond movie” since Casino Royale.  That’s a bit ambiguous but I think he liked SPECTRE and Casino Royale and just hated everything that came between Sir Sean Connery and Dr. Daniel Craig.

Sir Sean Connery

Real knight.

Daniel Craig

Not a real doctor. As far as I know.

You may also have read Jay’s review of SPECTRE.  You probably should read it just for context.

Jay and I have been together for over six years now.  She’s the smartest person I’ve ever met and that’s one of the things I love about her.  But it also drives me crazy because I have never been able to prove her wrong.  Until now.

Jay is right that she was never going to like this movie.  She hates everything I like on principle.  But that doesn’t make it bad.  Obviously I have fantastic taste in movies.  Exhibit A: The Rock.  Exhibit B: Transformers.  Exhibit C: Bad Boys.  Not coincidentally, those are all Michael Bay movies and two of them turned into franchises precisely becnicolas cage the rockause they were so good (the Rock probably would have been a franchise as well if not for the curse of Nicholas Cage).  Because people loved them.  You don’t get a franchise any other way, and everyone knows that sequels always live up to the original movie.  That’s just a fact.

Score: SEAN 1, JAY 0

Jay also hates franchises on principle.  But franchises make action movies better!  With franchises, we don’t have to worry about plot, or character development, or other boring things like that.   We can get straight to the action!  So when we open with the awesome Day of the Dead sequence, we don’t have to have title cards or anything to let us know that the guy who pulls off the mask is the world’s best spy, because the preceding five decades of Bond movies have already set that up.  Thank you, franchises, for simplifying our lives.

Score: SEAN 2, JAY 0

And okay, the helicopter sequence in SPECTRE is terrible.  Absolutely terrible.  But to say it’s worse than a bucket of army guys?   That’s just hyperbole.  And that’s a logical fallacy. So therefore Jay’s dislike of the helicopter sequence(s) is invalid.

Score:   SEAN 3, JAY 0

Jay also hated the train sequence.  Because it got destroyed.  But that’s actually entirely realistic when you consider who was doing the destruction.  Dave Bautista a.k.a. Drax the Destroyer.  Just look at how strong he is in the WWE (six time champion) or in Guardians of the Galaxy (where he singlehandedly fought a guy who later survived a spaceship crash).  That train was not only real, it was probably very well built, maybe even German.  It just didn’t matter because of how hard Bautista can punch.  If you want some sort of arthouse surrealism that’s fine, Jay, we can go to the Bytowne this weekend and watch a movie where two people can’t get out of a shed.  But don’t blame SPECTRE for your weird preferences.

Score: SEAN 4, JAY 0

Another criticism Jay made was that James Bond had different jackets all the time.  Well, that’s the whole point!  He’s not just a spy, he’s a fashionable guy with a watch that blows up and a car with an ejector seat.  Obviously he also has some sort of flying or floating wardrobe machine as well.  They probably covered that in one of the earlier Bond movies, so there was just no need to explain it this time.  Again, thank you franchises!

Score: SEAN 5, JAY 0

I think I’ve proven my point.  I’ll even give Jay the sockless loafers, Christoph Waltz in general, and the weirdness/creepiness/wasted potential of the whole Monica Bellucci thing, since I’m feeling generous.

Score: SEAN 5, JAY 3

And as for Michael Bay, you already have all the proof you need (The Rock, Transformers, Bad Boys) to rest assured that he’s Hollywood’s greatest living director.

Case closed.

Winner:  SEAN

 

HOLD THE FREAKIN PHONE, MISTER!!!

It seems our math doesn’t quite agree. Over at MY post, there’s a lot more nodding going on. I think we can count Mark, Joel, the other J, and Hammy as all #TeamJay.

A SPECTRE Review For the Rest of Us

Has enough time gone by yet that I can write this without being burned at the cross for heresy?

I didn’t like it. Worse still: I was completely bored by it.

I probably wasn’t ever going to be blown away by it, I was mostly along for the ride, because I sort of naturally abhor “franchises” – I just can’t watch thDaniel%20Craig%20steps%20out%20of%20DB10-largee same thing happen to the same person over and over and be entertained by it. At work I might call such a person pathological, or emotionally stunted, or incapable. At the movies, we call him Bond. James Bond.

007 and I parted ways long ago, but I’ve at least felt the past few movies were diverting, or at least they passed the time. This one actually slowed the clock down. And as soon as the creepy guy in the paisley shirt and twirly mustache sitting next to Matt stopped taking pictures of himself with the VIP waitress, andStephanie-Sigman-2_3482079b himself with his chicken wings, and himself watching a movie, I got bored.

The day of the dead parade was actually promising. Really promising. Wasn’t it beautiful? The colours and the energy and the tension in the long take? But then that opening helicopter scene. Shit. They obviously ran out of money. That thing looked horrendous: completely fake. I’m pretty sure I could spectre-featurette-01-600x350rig up something more convincing with my Samsung Galaxy and a bucket of plastic army guys. It was laughable – and the script is so lazy they use the helicopter stunt twice. You know, because it worked so well the first time.

And then the train. Seriously? I know they don’t make trains like they used to, but if you want people to take your set seriously, and to believe that it’s not just spit and cardboard, then don’t make it crumple every time Bond sneezes. Every time he threw an elbow the whole thing wobbled. I know Daniel Craig is soooo tough and everything, but I’m pretty sure some walls can withstand him some of the time.

And speaking of travel. James Bond is a spy, no? I always had this notion that a spy would travel light. But this spy has a goddamned different suede jacket for every occasion! And he changes sunglasses more often than he changes underpants (presumably).

And I still had less of a problem with Craig’s wardrobe than Christoph Waltz’s. Here is a free piece of advice to any and all of you Hollywood typeJames-Bond-Spectre-trailers, feel free to write it down: nobody looks threatening in sockless loafers. Nobody looks good in them either, but that’s besides the point. The loafers aren’t even the biggest problem with bad guy accessories. Let’s talk that octopus ring. Bond gets it from Sciarra but when Q scans it for DNA, all 3 previous bad guys have also spilled their DNA on the thing. So what, there’s a big mutual bad guy jewelry box, and when all the baddies are getting ready to go out to the club, Le Chiffre is like, “No you wear it tonight, Raoul. It looks so darling with your evil polka-dot pocket square.”

Not that I’m ready to let Blofeld off the hook yet. Because first, why the artifice when heO8AlDuLX-600x399‘s first introduced? His face is literally in the shadows when in fact, Waltz’s name was in the opening credits. There’s no surprise here. Waltz was announced as the villain months ago and the internet has already talked it to death. But now we’re all going to pretend we don’t know? Surprise! It’s Christoph Stupid Waltz! Playing my least favourite Bond villain maybe ever. I mean, spectre-still03how weird is it that he somehow raced back to the empty ruins of MI6 in order to set up a “James Bond, this is your life”  funhouse display (is there some sort of Evil Pinterest I don’t know about)? And then he reveals himself behind bullet proof glass, a move we all know he stole from Ethan Hunt. I’m beginning to think that Quentin

Mandarin collars: all the rage in evil pret-a-porter this season

Mandarin collars: all the rage in evil pret-a-porter this season

Tarantino fooled me into momentarily liking Christoph Waltz. Have I liked him in anything since? I definitely abhorred him in Big Eyes. He was less cartoonish here, but that doesn’t mean he was good. Aren’t villains supposed to seem…evil? Ruthless? Blood thirsty? This guy just came off like someone’s jaunty if letchy, grabby uncle (and p.s., “Cuckoo” is the lamest villain catch phrase EVER).

And speaking of letchy! Confidential to James Bond: it’s fucking 2015, dude. You don’t get to act this way anymore. I was so excited to learn that Monica Bellucci was in this – I love her. Loved her. I’m sorry, but after watching that super weird “makeout session” (?) in front of the mirror, I can’t even look at her the same way. I don’t know if they do it different in Italy, but usually kissing involves…the touching of lips. Not just open-mouthed hoveringSPECTRE-summ-image-xlarge. It felt…well, almost non-consensual. Like, when on earth did she decide this was going down? That it was okay? Because I totally missed that part. And was totally grossed out by the, um, foreplay. And boy did he drop her like she was hot. Literally the script forgot she ever existed as soon as he left her boudoir – her only raison d’être was to look fleetingly luscious in European lingerie (which she apparently put on after sex, as people do – since her back was BARE when Bond unzipped her dress), and she’s goddamned Monica Bellucci! If you’re lucky enough to have her, you use her! But no, by all means bring in a younger version to offer NEKNYq3qRGnHOQ_1_bromance, a doctor so we know she’s not just going to stand around looking cute in her nightie (although, come to think of it, we did get a look at her in her nightie…which she was not wearing when James put her to bed, and yet…WAIT A MINUTE! Is James Bond’s kink to dress women in their lingerie? And is he possibly also wearing women’s lingerie under his relentless supply of suede desert jackets?).

And is it just me, or did things take a turn for the Michael Bay toward the end? When Blofeld declares that the thing about brothers is they always know “which buttons to press” – he then actually presses a button. It’s the kind of cheese I expect from Michael Bay but that line made me cringe for real. Is this really what it’s come to? And now this film has left us with a bad taste in our mouths. James Bond is outed as the exact opposite of the badass superspy we’ve built him up to be – apparently he’s just been a hqdefaultpawn manipulated by Blofeld this whole time. When we thought he was digging up villains in the previous films, it was actually Blofeld cleverly orchestrating the whole thing. In fact: James Bond is terrible at his job. Not only did these villains want to be found, THEY were coming for HIM. A monkey could have done his job, and would have probably worn less suede jackets.

 

Sean thinks he can outBond me? I don’t think so! I’m recruiting more members to #TeamJay – let’s let him know what we think! I’m calling out yet another Jay, and Ben, Kenny, Ruth …maybe even Peggy?