Category Archives: Sucks ass

Jay says; seriously, don’t even bother.

Dear Dictator

Tatiana is your typical punk high school student. Her boots are high, her tights are ripped, her hair unbrushed, gnarled like the barbs she constantly throws at her mother, who is doing her best to lure a man at any cost.

Tatiana (Odeya Rush), as you might imagine, has trouble fitting in at school, and has even more trouble convincing her Christian crush to commit some mortal sins with her. Her only solace is the dictator with whom she exchanges pen pal letters from his beleaguered British-Caribean island nation. His country is undergoing an uprising and they’re pushing the old guy out. So General Anton Vincent (Michael Caine) flees to the one place no one would ever think to look for him: Tatiana’s house.

Is she a little surprised to see him? Yes. Is her mother (Katie Holmes) a little perturbed to find she’s been harboring a fugitive? Sure, though maybe not as much MV5BNjhiOTc1YTctODllNC00ZTEyLWFiN2MtMjM1MGMwYzI4Yjc0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTgyNDk1OTY@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1498,1000_AL_as you’d think. It turns out, having a disgraced General around the house is almost as good as having a man. And when the lawn is cut and the garage door no longer sticks, the complaints are scarce. But teachers at school begin to suspect something is up with Tatiana – and it’s not just the rebellion she foments against the ‘mean girls.’ Although that is probably a bit of a red flag.

Anyway. This movie is innocuous enough if you find the switch in your brain that has taste and standards, and turn it off. It’s too tame to be a satire and not actually funny enough to be considered a comedy, unless you consider the fact that someone convinced Academy Award winner Michael Caine to be in this heap of crap, and to grow a Castro beard and everything. But at this stage in his career, he’s more convincing as Santa Claus than a blood thirsty dictator. He’s not exactly intimidating. The twinkle in his eye keeps giving him away.

Now, there is a fourth character in the film, and I don’t mean Seth Green or Jason Biggs, though both get their name in the credits. I’m talking about Subway. This movie is not subtle about who owns their asses. The chips and candy eaten are generic as hell but the delicious sandwiches they consume CONTINUALLY are branded AF. As in, every time they sit at the table to eat, every logo on every cup and wrapping is pointing prettily, and centrally, at the camera. Not even Katie Holmes having her toes sucked is featured as prominently. So if you’re looking for some teen angst and an ousted fugitive dictator and a pathetic single mother and a dentist with a foot fetish and sandwiches so tasty they could unite them all, dear lord, this movie is made just for you. Colour me floored.

 

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Stealth

The other day, Sean rolled his eyes at a bumper sticker on the car in front of us. “9-11 was an inside job” it loudly proclaimed. And I get why Sean’s annoyed, but I love this particular bumper sticker, and many like it. I like when stupid people label themselves. I wish more would think to do it.

Stealth puts Jessica Biel in the middle of its marquee, and like the above bumper sticker, it’s as good as a warning not to take anything about it seriously. Biel is joined by Josh Lucas and Jamie Foxx, and the trio make up a team of fighter pilots running some top-secret missions for the military. The newest project is a fourth wingman, MV5BMTY3ODg0NTQxOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjE4MjMyMDI@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1534,1000_AL_named Eddie, who the stealth pilots would roundly reject just for being the fourth wheel on a tight little tricycle, even if he wasn’t purely artificial intelligence. Eddie represents a future in which war won’t cost human lives, but also where human jobs  (not to mention human judgement) will be replaced.

Now, we all know that we have invented robots so that they may kill us. I mean, I don’t believe that’s the outcome we’re hoping for, but it is inevitable. And we all know that super-smart computers quickly outsmart us, and things go horribly wrong. ‘Predicable’ doesn’t begin to describe the direction in which Eddie takes us. He’s the poster boy for everything the U.S. Navy should not do, and yet he’s also kind of the poster boy for delegating script-writing to robots, who surely could not intentionally produce something half as robotic as this.

First of all, I’m mad at any movie that makes me feel bad for Jessica Biel. Come on man, don’t do that to me. I want to be able to luxuriate in classic lines like “Pardon my C-cup” with all the bluster I can muster, then rage-eat Cheetos until my heart gives out and I die with a poof of orange dust.

Speaking of which…when Jessica Biel ends up in North Korea, it’s kind of a big deal. “Enemy lines” and all. Except I suppose now North Korea is less problematic, because for some reason the American President gets along better with dictators and despots than with respected, democratic world leaders who believe in gender equality and wear snazzy socks. But back in 2005, before the world was turned upside down, Jessica Biel was in big, ginormous trouble, and Stealth had no problem turning a badass fighter pilot into a damsel in distress – how else can her love interest go to her so that she can say to him “You came for me” in a needlessly breathless way?

And while I’m halfway on the topic, I suspect that Hollywood has commissioned some secret experiment to learn the exact right way to apply wounds for maximum sex appeal. I mean, the woman fell like 50 000 feet but only suffered a couple of scrapes – one ever so tantalizingly placed across her cheekbone, where the makeup artist might otherwise apply highlighter to better contour the beautiful angles of her face. With men, I believe sexy cut placement is above the eye. I bet there’s a lab in a Hollywood basement, where some poor gal in a white coat is remembering how when she grew up, she wanted to cure cancer.

 

I digress. In fact, this review has been nothing but digressions. But I don’t think you deserve much better when you attempt to cross Top Gun with 2001 and wind up with a hideous monster. Stealth is nothing but nosedive.

Early Man

A tribe of bunny-hunting cavemen has a sudden clash with bronze-age humans a little further up the evolutionary ladder. This strikes me as very fertile ground for interesting and tragic stories despite the language difficulty, but Aardman Animations took it another way. The bronze boobs are all set to enslave the cavemen and steal their land when Dug, a plucky, dreamy caveman, proposes a deal: neanderthals vs homo sapiens in a football match for their lives.

Yeah, I mean obviously it makes no sense. But that’s it, that’s all you get in terms of story. This may be the early bronze age, but plot is in as short supply as dinosaurs in this film, who have just been demolished by a comet that seems to have spared the people, an opening sequence suggests. I love stop motion animation as a rule, and Aardman has had a string of successes, which have fooled me into thinking I might like Early Man. I didMV5BMWQ3MTVjZGItNGFhNC00NzllLWFmMjEtNjk0NjgyMWZhNTRjXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTc5OTMwOTQ@._V1_ not. There is little room for imagination, and too little of the gentle humour I’ve come to expect. I suppose a lot is lost on myself, a North American dwelling in a country where soccer is the #1 sport played by children under the age of 8, and the #0 sport for all other humans and dogs. So you can imagine that a historically inaccurate (I’m guessing) origin story featuring a sport that already bores me out of my gourd is not exactly championing its cause. And I’ve actually got plenty of soccer in my life – played by a couple of 4 year olds. Their version of soccer is agonizingly slow, uncomplicated by rules, embellished with dandelion picking and popsicle breaks. And it’s still boring as shit. Thank goodness the players themselves are endearing as hell, in t-shirts down to their knees and wearing shin pads that just shout optimism, as if any of them are actually going to get near the ball, which spends most of its time looking forlorn.

And yet watching children’s soccer is still more entertaining than watching Early Man. Plus it tends to be mostly pun-free, which is something I only wish I could say about today’s movie, which was replete with the fuckers. Featuring voice talent such as Eddie Redmayne, Timothy Spall, and Tom Hiddleston, you’d think they would have spent at least as much time on character building as the average United player spends crying on the pitch, faking an injury. Early Man is another kind of painful, a kind that made me miss Volvo-driving soccer moms and orange slices. And you can guess how many times I’ve said that in my life.

Pacific Rim Uprising

It’s been 10 years since the conflict ended. Jake was born when the world was still fighting the Kaiju monsters, and his father, Stacker Pentecost, gave his life to help win the war. Jake is not his father. He lives in a coastal city that never recovered from its attack, in half a mansion that was destroyed by the creature whose skeleton still adorns the property. He steals to make a living, and nothing pays more than stole jaeger tech (jaegers being those massive, two-pilot robots used to win the war against the giant monsters).

When Jake (John Boyega) is inevitably caught, he’s sentenced to teaching kids to be 21-pacific-rim-uprising.w710.h473jaeger pilots where he immediately meets and dislikes fellow pilot Nate (Scott Eastwood), who resents him for having the special privileges granted him by his last name. Of course, Jake and Nate must become co-pilots of a new flagship jaeger meant to reassure people that the world would forever more kept safe, but its designers should have perhaps heeded another movie’s admonition – if you build it, they will come.

And when the Kaiju do attack, it’ll be Jake & Nate & a bunch of kids standing between alien monsters and the earth’s destruction, which is a discomfiting thought. But the most important thing to know about Pacific Rim: Uprising is that it is not directed by Oscar-winner Guillermo del Toro, who gave us the first one, and this one lacks the conviction and subtlety that made the first so special. Guillermo’s movie about gigantic monsters and robots fighting each other still managed to have a greater message and a lot of heart. The sequel is its empty shell. It’s got all the parts, and plenty of punchy action but it’s missing the movie magic that connects with audiences and transcends the outward trappings. Uprising is intent on being bigger, louder, dumber, and never, not once, equal to, let alone better. It’s content with ticking boxes: one liners, big hunks of metal, migraine-level sound effects, frantic Japanese people. And most egregiously, it sets itself up for a third installment, and if it comes to that, I hope the Kaiju fucking win.

Super Troopers 2

In the 17 years between the first Super Troopers and its sequel, you’d think one of the guys from Broken Lizard would have written one half-decent joke. Even plagiarized one accidentally. And you’d definitely think that if, between the 5 of them, they hadn’t written any new material WHATSOEVER in 17 frickin years, they would agree that they did NOT have enough to make a movie and thus would not have made a movie – ha. You give them too much credit.

It is incomprehensible that any of these buffoons would be gainfully employed in any capacity, but it is no surprise that after being inexplicably handed back the very jobs they were so very deservedly fired from in the first movie, they would spend the whole of the sequel abusing their power in childish, unoriginal, and unamusing MV5BN2Y1YzM2YTMtNGViMy00NzYzLWJkYWUtZmZmNDkyYWEyNmEzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDg2MjUxNjM@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,948_AL_ways. I’m normally pretty hard on sequels that are content to ride on the laurels of their predecessors, but in this case, Super Troopers 2 only wishes it could attain the very attainable, very modest heights of the first movie, a movie that could only dream of laurels in the first place.

In this iteration, the boys are back in beige because the Vermont border is moving north, into territory that used to be Canadian. So this movie exists for the sole purpose of making fun of Canadian stereotypes made up by, and existing only in the minds of, stupid Americans. This movie feels so out of touch with 2018 that I almost felt sorry for it – in the way that you almost feel sorry for Roseanne, who was fired from the show that bears her name, for just being her on-brand, normal, ignorant, racist self, in a world that has evolved to no longer reward such puerile, unenlightened behaviour.

We saw this movie as the third in a triple feature at the drive-in two weeks ago and I’m still not over how offensively bad it was. Of course, I didn’t really like the first one either. Too juvenile for me, but I said that, Sean was quick to jump on me: “But you own it!” he said, sure he was catching me in some sort of lie. And he’s right in that it does reside in the DVD collection in my garage. Which is why, on the quiet 3am drive home from the triple feature at Port Elmsley, I had to have The Conversation with Sean. You know, the one in which I confess that he isn’t the first boy to force me to watch movies against my will. He is shook. Not that we needed another reason to vehemently dislike Super Troopers 2, but boy did we get one.

Ibiza

Harper gets sent to Barcelona on business, and I believe that her boss intended for her to do some actual work but instead her give-a-fuck meter is pointing to zero, which should have been evident the minute she invited her two best friends on her very important, very serious business trip.

Things that Harper (Gillian Jacobs) and besties Leah (Phoebe Robinson) and Nikki (Vanessa Bayer) do in Spain instead of work: sun tan, sun burn, rate nipples (Bilbo Baggins, Little Bo Peeps, Honeydews, Rhi-Rhis, and Daniel Craigs – which are you sporting?).

And that’s before they skip town entirely, chasing after a hunky DJ because Harper felt a “connection.” Hence, Ibiza.

This movie is almost entirely drugs, beats, black lights, confetti cannons, and naked sushi. Have you ever risked your career and future to get high and get dick, not necessarily in MV5BNjE3MDk1NTQ3MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTMzODI0NTM@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1491,1000_AL_that order? Priorities, people! Now imagine, for a moment, being the HR lady back at Harper’s PR firm in New York. Imagine being Harper’s mother. Imagine being Harper’s urethra! Imagine being Harper: putting yourself in a series of really sketchy situations, and then having the privilege to call it “adventurous” and “risk-taking” because you had the good fortune not to get raped. Netflix wanted to dip its misshapen little toe into the raunchy comedy genre, and it did it EXACTLY as you’d expect it to.

To say this film is loosely structured is to loosely blaspheme structure. Twenty five minutes in, I still didn’t have the foggiest what this movie was going to be about. Ibiza puts a lot of faith in Gillian Jacobs’ ability to carry a film, to truly be its star, and as you can tell, I have absolutely no chill for this entitled character and her complete disregard for her colleagues, her clients, her dignity, her vaginal health, and worst of all, for me and my time and my vaginal health. Just kidding, about that last bit. My vagina is the only part about this with any genuine charisma or girl power, so go me, and also, don’t watch this movie.

Winchester

As a widow, Sarah Winchester has inherited majority share of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. The other stakeholders get together to hire laudanum-addicted Dr. Price to assess her and find her incompetent to run their business. It shouldn’t be too hard: she’s a crazy, reclusive old lady who is constantly remodelling her home, round the clock, to better suit the ghosts and spirits who inhabit it.

It sounds bad on paper, but once Dr. Price (Jason Clarke) arrives, he starts to share in her hallucinations. Sarah Winchester (Helen Mirren) was a real person, and she really did believe that anyone killed by one of her guns may visit her home in death – seeking revenge or otherwise – and it was her duty to house them and try to find them peace. To appease them, she employed a work crew, round the clock, day and night, 7 days a week for 37 years, until her death, building new rooms, tearing down old ones, resulting in a 7-story house with more than 100 rooms, staircases that led nowhere, and twisty, unnavigable hallways. But some ghosts were not content with her efforts. Some ghosts demanded more.

I have no problem with the cast, and as you might guess, Helen Mirren is of course a gothic gem. But this movie was all wrong. All wrong. It should never have been a horror film. This is actually a very interesting story that deserved a much better treatment. Sarah Winchester is the kind of character you instinctively want to learn MV5BYmQ0YTZjNzctNWI0MS00ODBlLTk3YjUtZTUwMGY0MjM1N2FjXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjEwNTM2Mzc@._V1_SY1000_SX1500_AL_more about, but this movie would have you on Wikipedia rather than provide her any backstory or context. Instead the house is the most compelling character, and all the walking, talking, sentient characters, both alive and dead, are badly neglected. But even the house sort of loses its charms after the film makers’ limited imagination is maxed out. It just feels like all directors Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig are concerned with is shoving as many jump-scares into one movie as humanly, or demonly, possible. And it’s a lot. There will be something terrifying in EVERY corner, in every mirror and reflection, under every bed, in every attic, behind the curtains, and inside the body of every ginger man and boy. They’ve used a very interesting story as the mere setting, and then completely spoiled it with misuse.

Winchester needed to be a drama with supernatural elements, like Sixth Sense, but instead it’s bottom of the barrel horror. I was prepared to be frightened by it (Sean and I even “worked up” to it by viewing Peter Rabbit first) but I wasn’t expecting to pity it, and it’s hard to sustain suspense for a thing you feel sorry for. And I felt bad for Helen Mirren, who would be too good for the tripe even if she herself were a long-dead ghost merely haunting the set. The good news, though, is that she looks terrific in a widow’s mourning veil, so let’s get her in a Guillermo del Toro film, stat!

The Kissing Booth

Oh my god I want to kill myself.

 

The movie made me say that, and actually I said it more than once. Sean thought it was a sufficient review.

Is it though?

I’ll give you just a touch more:

A girl and a guy, both virgins and best friends, have a couple of strict rules to their friendship, the most important one being don’t fall in love with each other’s siblings, so oh my god guys, guess what happens!

MV5BYjJlOTk2ZDctY2U5Mi00ZmJjLTk0YTAtMGY4NjNmNGI1OTE3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzI1NzMxNzM@._V1_.jpg

She totally falls in love with his hunky older brother, and a lot of the plot revolves around a kissing booth at their high school carnival, but I’m struggling to tell you why this was important.

Anyway, there was some dialogue so bad it still wasn’t good but I did laugh, in a gaggy, kill me now, can we turn this off kind of way. It feels written by someone who never even went to high school, and who doesn’t care if they damage female self-esteem for an entire generation. The stuff that happens is infuriating and improbable and I’d rather pull out my own toenails and eat them than watch this again.

Are You Here

Ben Baker (Zach Galifianakis) is a bipolar man-child who dabbles in the consumption and dissemination of weed. His friend, Steve Dallas (Owen Wilson), a moderately successful local weather reporter, is outwardly more put together but his womanizing makes for a pretty superficial life. It’s hard to say why these two are still friends, but their shared childhood has clearly bonded them, and when Ben learns his estranged father has died, Steve makes the trip home with him.

There are two problems with waiting for Ben at home: 1. his ambitious, uptight sister Terri (Amy Poehler) and 2. his hippie “step-mom” Angela (Laura Ramsey) who’s the same age they are. Terri and Angela don’t get along and Ben hasn’t seen either of them in quite some time. So yeah, it’s a bit of a problem when the will is read and almost everything, including the family business, is left to him, a known loser and eternal fuck up.

MV5BMTY0OTE2ODg2OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjUxMDI0MjE@._V1_SY1000_SX1500_AL_First off, I sort of hate this title. Actually, I definitely hate this title. It’s too vague and it doesn’t mean anything, and without a question mark, it’s a question that doesn’t even ask itself let alone demand an answer.

I don’t know what this movie was really about, and I am confident that writer-director Matthew Weiner doesn’t either. I’m not 100% sure this movie wasn’t accidentally made from 2 or more disparate scripts. It kind of feels like a few rough-draft ideas were quilted into a half-baked script that never should have seen the light of day. And though there are a few good moments, mostly thanks to a talented cast, Are You Here is a forgettable mess. So I guess in that way, the title is actually quite representative of the film – and it should have been enough to warn me the hell away.

Wonder Wheel

25 years ago, Woody Allen sexually assaulted his 7 year old adoptive daughter, Dylan. “Allegedly.” He has continued to make movies and has continued to be rewarded for them while his young victim has grown up in a world that protected bullies and made excuses for monsters.

Not anymore. For too long we have separated art and artist – but at whose expense?

Last year Allen released Wonder Wheel, starring Kate Winslet and Justin Timberlake, just as the #metoo movement was gaining ground. For the first time, actors were being put on the spot, forced to justify their work with him (and others, to be sure), and to actually be accountable for making a career choice over a moral stand. Some of his past collaborators were quick to jump ship:

“I did a Woody Allen movie and it is the biggest regret of my career.” – Ellen Page

“I wouldn’t work with him again.” – Colin Firth

“[It] made me realize that I increased another woman’s pain, and I was heartbroken by that realization.” – Greta Gerwig

Kate Winslet had some early Oscar buzz for her role in Wonder Wheel, but seemed to sink those chances by refusing to condemn Allen in the months leading up to its release. Now, obviously it’s a tricky situation when this is your work and you’ve signed a contract and you have some obligations. But also she’s a millionaire with a shelf full of awards who could probably spare a little of both to stand up for her fellow woman. And, you know, do the right thing.

Griffin Newman, who is a more modestly paid actor from Allen’s upcoming film, A Rainy Day in New York, wrestled with his conscience and decided to donate his salary to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. That prompted some of his more famous costars, Rebecca Hall and Timothee Chalamet, to do so also. Hall wrote “I see [now] not only how complicated this matter is, but that my actions have made another woman feel silenced and dismissed. That is not something that sits easily with me in the current or indeed any moment, and I am profoundly sorry. I regret this decision and wouldn’t make the same one today.” She donated her salary to Times Up, the legal defense fund to support victims of workplace sexual harassment. Chalamet has said “I don’t want to profit from my work on the film. I want to be worthy of standing shoulder to shoulder with the brave artists who are fighting for all people to be treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.”

f50690e00877dc00ee5218bfa40af334--woody-allen-hollywood-actressesMeanwhile, Justin Timberlake got some deserved flak for daring to wear a Times Up pin but refusing to so much as comment on his willingness to work with Allen. Both Selena Gomez and Elle Fanning have been unapologetic about working with him on A Rainy Day, a troubling trend for young women. Jude Law and Liev Schreiber have also remained mum. Scarlett Johansson, who has positioned herself at the forefront of the Times Up movement and has publicly criticized James Franco for his creepy sexual advances, has failed to comment on Allen’s though she’s worked with him repeatedly. And Alec Baldwin has of course been stupid enough to support him – I suppose abusive men have to stick together.

Will Woody Allen continue to work in Hollywood? Who knows – he’s actually mostly been working for Amazon lately, and that’s a questionable future since he was brought on board by – guess who! – Roy Price, the guy who has since quit amid sexual harassment allegations. Sigh. I guess the better question is Who cares? He can continue to write and produce, but it’s going to be a lot harder to secure financing without big-name stars, and it’s going to be an awful lot harder for a big-name star to sign on without backlash. And in the meantime, his movies are nothing if not a good excuse to talk about a movement that’s been a long time coming and to thank the brave people like Dylan Farrow for speaking up and reminding us all what’s important.