Oklahoma City

We’ve all got points of history that fix us to a certain date and time: maybe you remember where you were when JFK was shot. Maybe it was Prince Charles marrying Diana, or the day the Challenger blew up, or baby Jessica down that well. Certainly 9/11 is fixed in our public conscience. For me, the first news event that really hit me was the bombing in Oklahoma City. I was young, but even in Canada the coverage of this tragedy was electrifying and horrible. I remember learning that there was a daycare in the building, and that feeling in my stomach, a hard pit that formed in my inability to fathom the kind of person capable of this.

MV5BYTJmNWRkYmEtMmU5MC00YzczLTk5NjEtODg3NjFmZTNiNjI0L2ltYWdlL2ltYWdlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjc5MTQ1ODY@._V1_SY1000_SX675_AL_This documentary places the bombing in Oklahoma City within the context not just of Waco, but of a growing movement within white “christian” “patriots” – white supremacists who distrusted government and valued guns, apparently above all else. The aryan nations held their head quarters of hatred in northern Idaho and things went bed. Of course they did: that many guns in the hands of that many idiots always does.

Meanwhile: who is Timothy McVeigh? Anti-government, conspiracy theorist, sure. But also a soldier, one the government was willing to promote. McVeigh was a loser though, and when he flunked out of ranger school, he hit the road and traveled gun show to gun show. Unsurprisingly, he met with white supremacists, distilling and reinforcing his craziest notions. He washed up in Waco during the siege, selling racist bumper stickers to other lookey-loos, and raged against the government holding its own people hostage, as he saw it. It’s easy to dismiss him as a crackpot, but he’s a crackpot who built a bomb that he knew would claim innocent lives, the lives of children, and felt justified doing it.

When he was arrested and America got their first glimpse of the terrorist behind the atrocity at Oklahoma City, people were astonished to find that this was not some sort of “foreign threat” but one of their own. Fuck.

Over two decades have passed but it’s still hard to look back. Director Barak Goodman offers a restrained, though not bereft of emotion, look at those events, and it’s still hard not to flinch.

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Tomorrow

Greetings, Earthlings!

Today is Earth Day. This year’s campaign is all about environmental and climate literacy. Historically people have “celebrated” Earth Day simply by shutting off their lights in the evenings, perhaps playing a board game rather than watching TV, which requires electricity. The Earth actually needs us to do more. This year there is a March For Science in Washington, DC, a rally and teach-in to defend the vital public service role science plays in our communities and our world. Is it crazy sad that such a rally is necessary? Yes it is.

In 2012, Nature published a study led by more than 20 researchers from the top scientific institutions
in the world predicting that humankind could disappear between 2040 and 2100. Like, extinction! But it also said
that it could be avoided by drastically changing our way of life if we take appropriate measures right now. Scientists are always telling us this and we’re always not listening. Well, listening maybe, but not really willing to change our lifestyle. But a bunch of French film makers got together and decided to try to rattle our cages a bit.

Tomorrow is a documentary that doesn’t just hit us over the head with the problem but rather offers solutions. For the coming food MV5BNzc5MzVkZTQtNmU1Yy00YTQ3LTk3ODMtNjY5ODc0MzU0MGE2XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMzMwODMxMTQ@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,936_AL_shortage, they explore urban agriculture, microfarming, and permaculture. As to our reliance on fossil fuels, they visit places that are moving successfully toward renewable resources, cities declaring themselves carbon neutral. They also tackle some of the big things holding us back: economy and government. Since democracy runs on the steam of big business, how can we ever move away from consumerism?

There are lots of important questions to consider in this work by Cyril Dion and Melanie Laurent, but the greatest takeaway is that of hope. If the documentary is a little too ambitious to keep laser focus, it at least presents viable solutions , things you and I can do in our very own communities that will make a difference.

Tomorrow is in theatres in New York and L.A. in time for Earth Day, and a wider release will follow. It’s required viewing for those of us who want to leave this planet in better condition than we found it.

Penis in the Popcorn

Urban Dictionary defines the ‘Popcorn Trick’ as: If one is at the movies with one’s date, proceed to buy a extra large bucket of popcorn and place it on his lap during the movie. Cut a hole in the bottom of the bucket, and proceed to stick your bare penis in the hole (preferably bonered). When your date reaches in to grab popcorn, she will be delighted. Will she, Urban Dictionary? Will she?

Everyone knows about this “prank”  but has anyone actually encountered it? Perpetrated it? I mean, if the only way a girl is going to touch your penis is to offer savoury snacks and then pull the world’s most disappointing bait and switch, I’m going to go ahead and call this NON-CONSENSUAL. And if that’s the first time your lady meets your penis, I’m popcornbetting it’s also the last. I mean, has this ever resulted in a handjob? Wouldn’t it be easier, less greasy, and more hygienic to simply ask politely? Sure you’ll probably be rejected, but that’s a probable rejection vs a definite rejection, along with third degree burns from movie popcorn “butter.”  And you haven’t wasted $37 on a popcorn combo. You could probably find some derelict alley and purchase a handjob for roughly the cost of an extra large bucket of popcorn at the movie theatre. And a regular handjob will be a heck of a lot quieter. I mean, popcorn bags seem deliberately noisy. What were theatre owners thinking? Every handful of popcorn means a crinkly, wrinkly, rustly noise for the rest of us. But the tell-tale rhythmic rustling of a popcorn handjob is a dead giveaway. Popcorn handjobs are so indiscreet! How can you call more attention to this illicit act? Oh right, make it look like some sort of popcorn monster has grabbed hold of your date and won’t let go…and you’re somehow deliriously happy about it. Plus you’ll get salt down your urethra.

If you can picture any single man pulling this trick, who would it be? Mickey Rourke? Yeah, me too. Possibly because we HAVE seen him do it, in the movie The Diner. Boogie’s movie date reaches into the popcorn box on his lap and is horrified to discover his penis poking through the bottom of the box into the popcorn. To get an authentically shocked response, Rourke hid a dildo in the popcorn, which is a sweet touch. What a thoughtful colleague. But that’s kind of the thing: when would this ever be welcome? “Oh sweetie, your coercing me into accidentally touching your dirty popcorn penis really turned me on and now I realize that waiting until we care about each other is silly and we should just have a hot, buttery tug-n-pull right now.” IS THAT YOUR END GAME, MICKEY ROURKE?

Now, the above definition suggested that an extra large bucket of popcorn be used, but I suspect the truth of the matter is that most guys could do with a small. I mean, if you have to poke your erection through the bottom, then you’ve probably got six inches worth of popcorn for her to get through before she’d even graze the tip. Ideally I suppose you have forgone buying her supper to make sure she’s good and starved during the film. But how do you stay erect until she digs down far enough? Is the anticipation enjoyable? Is the slight friction of the kernels kind of kinky? Or do you eventually just become a flaccid inchworm lining the bottom of the bag, never to be discovered. I’m not sure how you discreetly took out your pocket knife, cut a dick-shaped hole in the bottom without a cascade of popcorn falling out, whacked off til you were hard enough to insert, quietly withstood the burning pain from the too-warm popcorn and the faux-butter that collects at the bottom, and I sure as hell don’t know how you’ll discreetly pull it back out. You’re probably looking at the mother of all paper cuts, with salt readily available for rubbing in the wound.

Now imagine that you’re sitting in a dark theatre with popcorn in your lap. And your dick stuck through a hole in that popcorn. Offer some to your date. You obviously cannot move the popcorn at all, so you have to offer it to her without moving it toward her, which seems like a dick move. Makes it seem like you’re hogging the popcorn, in fact. Not moving it at all, keeping it trained exactly on your crotch is probably…suspicious. And what’s your role in this? Do you eat popcorn out of your own dick bag? I mean, you’re probably pretty motivated to reduce the level of popcorn. But is this getting weird? Masturbatory?

Apparently I’m not the only one wondering about this. A couple of years ago, Playboy published an article featuring Redditors who’d copped to trying it out. The results:

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Do you have any good stories to add?

Tower

August 1, 1966: a gunman opens fire from the clock tower of the University of Texas. No one can get near him. He’d hold not only the campus but much of the surrounding city of Austin hostage. Bodies lay in an open court yard, a pregnant woman bleeding out, but no one could risk rescue. The sniper had vantage and advantage, and the shooting went on forever – 90 long minutes in real time, but a lifetime for those who lay bleeding, and those who watched in fear from the sidelines.

towerThe documentary Tower tells of the people there that day – the students, the injured, the reporters, the cops, the citizens. Those listening on the radio knew that the local police didn’t have weapons that could reach the clock tower, so lay people took up their rifles and rushed to the scene. When a couple of cops finally did breach the clock tower, they had to duck not only the shooter’s bullets, but those of all the well-meaning “helpers.”

It’s a beautiful documentary. My words will fail me. If you have Netflix, only watching it can do it justice. Director Keith Maitland uses animation to bring the events to life, to put us in the shoes of survivors. Tower is a portrait of courage. It’s also agonizing in its recriminations, doubts, and guilt. It’s very human. The story is told with grace and sensitivity, with new perspective and the benefit of time. But no amount of time has erased the trauma of that day, and this documentary reveals how many have buried the worst memories of that day.

I doubt if the shooting at UT was the first U.S. school shooting, but it certainly wasn’t the last. In that kind of historical context, it’s uncomfortable to measure just how long it’s been since this, the most American of crimes, has been allowed to gain epidemic proportions, virtually unchecked. The fact that there is still today no memorial for those who died, or those who survived, that day at the University of Texas, reminds us of the lurid headlines school shootings inspire, but within days, weeks at most, the tragedy is swept under a rug, not to be revisited until the next shooter opens fire. Perhaps a little remembrance is exactly what is needed. Tower remembers.

Collateral

It’s probably never a good day to be a cab driver, but Max is having an exceptionally bad day: he’s just trying to put in his time until he can get his own limo business going, minding his own business, when by a stroke of bad luck, Vincent climbs into his backseat.

Vincent (Tom Cruise) turns out to be a contract killer. We know this because he intends to use Max (Jamie Foxx) as the getaway driver in a series of murders across L.A. The first collateralunlucky victim takes Max by surprise when he crashes through his windshield. That fearsome windshield crack will be a thorn in Max’s side, but it’s just a small obstacle in a rather wild ride. Max is a hostage but under surveillance by the cops he looks rather like an accomplice. Good thing Detective Fanning (Mark Ruffalo) is on the case! He’ll save him!

But not before Max realizes he’s the only one who can save Annie (Jada Pinkett Smith), an attractive lawyer who coincidentally gave him her number earlier that day. Turns out she’s working the wrong case, and her name is on Vincent’s hit list. Yikes.

Director Michael Mann once drove cabs; so did his father before him, and his grandfather owned a taxi company.

600px-CollateralUSP-45-3Considered to play the role of Vincent: Russel Crowe, Edward Norton, John Travolta, Leonardo DiCaprio, Colin Farrell

Considered to play the role of Max: Adam Sandler, Cuba Gooding Jr, Robert De Niro, Johnny Depp

I’m glad we got the Cruise-Foxx combo because they made such a great pair. It’s refreshing to see Cruise as the villain and he channels sinister very well. I’m sure Foxx felt it, particularly in those tense scenes in which Cruise is sitting right behind him, leaving Max vulnerable and twitchy. Collateral may be a but formulaic but it’s a highly polished thriller with some great performances. Michael Mann stylishly serves up heaps of tensions, and the performances are great, never overcooked.

 

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn_monroe_as_an_infant_brightenedBorn Norma Jeane Mortenson June 1, 1926, Norma Jeane was not her mother, Gladys’s, first child, but she was the only one in her care at the time. Norma Jeane’s father is unknown as her mother would never reveal his name. Norma Jeane was raised by foster parents as a baby, though her mother also lived with them. Feeling strong, Gladys bought a small home for herself an90b3020fb6c5cac8599b74b35e21e038d for Norma Jeane and they lived there happily for a time. Gladys had tried her hand at acting but was now working at a movie studio as a film negative cutter. She was schizophrenic and had a very bad crack up, leaving her permanently hospitalized and Norma Jeane back in foster care. She bounced around from home to home, even spending time in an orphanage.

As a ward of the state she was sexually abused. She married just days after her 16th birthday as a way of avoiding going back to the orphanage, a factory worker 7415193named James “Jim” Dougherty. It wasn’t a love match and though she wasn’t unhappy, she wasn’t happy either. The two had little to say to each other, but Norma Jeane dropped out of high school and seemed to enjoy being a housewife. In In 1943, Dougherty enlisted in the Merchant Marine. When he went over to the Pacific a year later, she moved in with his parents and went to work for the war effort at the Radioplane Munitions Factory.

The Munitions Factor was oddly where she was MarilynMonroe_-_YankArmyWeekly (1)discovered. David Conover, taking ‘morale boosting’ photos of female workers came across her dark curls and brilliant smile. He persuaded her to defy her husband and her in-laws: she moved out and became a model. Her voluptuous body unsuitable for fashion modelling, she was featured instead as a pin-up in men’s calendars and magazines. She was told to straighten her hair and dye it blonde to be more employable.

Paramount Pictures didn’t want her, and 20th Century Fox wasn’t bowled over either, but signed her to a standard contract just to keep rival RKO from getting her. She was given the name ‘Marilyn Monroe’ and in 1946 divorced Marilyn_Monroe_postcardDougherty, who was against her having a career. She took acting, singing, and dancing classes, but had only a couple of roles with almost no lines between them. After the end of 2 terms, the studio dropped her. But the guy she was sleeping with, a Fox executive, persuaded someone over at Columbia to give her a try, and eventually they did, styling her after Rita Hayworth. Her hairline was raised by electrolysis (!) and her hair lightened even further, to platinum.  She starred in a low-budget musical called Ladies of the Chorus, which was released to no fanfare. She had an affair with her vocal coach, who paid to have her overbite corrected. Her contract was once again not renewed.

She then was taken under the wing of Johnny Hyde, vice president of the William Morris Agency. They too had an affair, though she repeatedly refused his marriage proposals. He paid for a silicone prosthesis to be implanted in her jaw, and for a nosejob.a9d314b03280df54b73375ab8324f20a

Finally, a breakthrough: she appeared in six films that were released in 1950. She had bit parts in Love Happy, A Ticket to Tomahawk, Right Cross, and The Fireball. She had minor roles in a couple of critically successful films as well: John Huston’s The Asphalt Jungle, and Joseph Mankiewicz’s All About Eve. Her 5 minutes of screen time in The Asphalt Jungle merited a mention in Photoplay, and that moved her from model to actress.

Based on this success, Hyde negotiated a seven-year contract with 20th Century-Fox for her in December 1950 but died of a heart attack only days later, leaving her devastated. Despite her grief, 1951 was a big year for her. She presented at the Academy Awards, and had supporting roles in 4 films: Home Town Story, As Young As You Feel, Love Next, and Let’s Make it Legal. She played the same role in each: sexy arm candy, but The New York Times called her “superb” and the Los Angeles Daily News called her “one of the brightest up-and-coming [actresses].” She dated director Elia Kazan and had brief affairs with Nicholas Ray, Yul Brynner, and Peter Lawford.

A scandal broke involving nude photos she’d posed for in 1949, broke and needing money (she got $50). This should have derailed her career but Fox got on top of it by having her reveal it in an interview, stressing her dire financial straits. This not only BmWrbVCCIAE4WXJgained her public sympathy but cemented her status as a sex symbol. She followed it up with a very revealing dress as the Grand Marshal at the Miss America Pageant parade, and by telling gossip columnists that she wore no underwear. Joe DiMaggio saw pictures of the “it girl” and insisted they go out. She tried a couple of meatier roles that year: a fish cannery worker in Clash By Night, and a mentally deranged babysitter in Don’t Bother To Knock. Her other roles were more typecast: a beauty pageant contestant in We’re Not Married! served as an excuse to film Marilyn in not one but TWO bathing suits; a dumb blonde secretary opposite Cary Grant in Monkey Business; and a prostitute in Full House. 

Monroe had a reputation for being ‘difficult’ on set – being late, or not showing up, not knowing her lines, demanding re-takes. She depended heavily on acting coaches: she was a perfectionist with low self esteem, a bad combination in Hollywood. She was also f882d7ac58494cfaecd3420ab7a4673bterribly bullied and harassed by directors and male colleagues. This is when she started using barbiturates and amphetamines.

In 1953 she starred in Niagara, in a hyper-sexualized role: a 30-second long shot of her swaying hips while walking away was used in a lot of promotional material. She and her makeup artist had perfected her look: dark arched brows, pale skin, wet-looking red lips, and a beauty mark. She showed up at the Photoplay awards to accept the “Fastest Rising Star” award in a skin-tight gold lame dress that prompted Joan Crawford to describe her behaviour as s “unbecoming an actress and a lady.” Her next movie, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, would tumblr_mjh2ksCUZO1rgd1tuo1_500.gifclinch her on-screen person as the “dumb blonde.” That role was supposed to go to Betty Grable, Fox’s previous blonde bombshell, but Marilyn had eclipsed her. How To Marry a Millionaire was more of the same, and a huge box office success.

Hugh Hefner featured her on the cover and as the centrefold in his first issue of Playboy; Sem títulohe used a photo from that Miss America Pageant on the cover, and one of her 1949 nude photos as the centrefold.

Monroe was listed in the Top Ten Money Making Stars Poll in both 1953 and 1954, but note: money making, not money earning. She was a great asset for Fox, but still under contract, she wasn’t making much. She couldn’t even choose her projects. When she refused to do yet another “dumb blonde” comedy, the studio simply suspended her, in early 1954. This was front page news, so to counter the bad publicity, she married her sweetheart, Joe DiMaggio. The honeymooned in Japan (a business trip for him) and from there she traveled alone to Korea, where she performed in USO shows for the troops. By the time she got back to Hollywood in February she was Monroe_DiMaggio_Weddingpicking up Photoplay’s  “Most Popular Female Star” prize. She settled with the studio in March; she got a new contract, the starring role in The Seven Year Itch, and a bonus of $100,000. To generate buzz for this movie, they staged a filming of a scene on Lexington Avenue in New York. You know the one: she’s standing on a subway grate with air blowing up her white dress. She did that for several hours, attracting a big crowd with lots of professional photographers. The stunt infuriated DiMaggio, and they split just 9 months after marrying.

When filming wrapped, Monroe decided it was time to go to battle for control over her career and left Hollywood for the East Coast. She and photographer Milton Green founded their own production company, Marilyn Monroe Productions, which would later be called “instrumental” in the collapse of the studio system. She was “tired of the same old sex roles. I want to do better things. People have scope, you know.” She went to court about her contract with Fox, asserting the studio had not fulfilled its duties, such as paying her the promised bonus for The Seven Year marilyn-monroe-seven-year-itch-1955Itch. The press brutally ridiculed her for this move, and she was parodied in Itch screenwriter George Axelrod’s Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, about a Monroe lookalike (played by Jayne Mansfield) dumb blonde actress who starts her own production company.

Divorce proceedings didn’t mean she stopped sleeping with DiMaggio, but it did mean she also slept with Marlon Brando, and with a playwright she met through Kazan – Arthur Miller. Things between them heated up when her divorce went through and he left his wife, but this also meant the FBI opened a file on her. The studio panicked and begged her to end the affair, fearing she’d be blacklisted. She would not.

She and the studio came to an agreement: she would do 4 films for them in 7 years, be paid $100K for each, be allowed to choose her project, her director, and her cinematographer, and would be free to make a film with MMP for every film she did for Fox. Suddenly the press was calling her a “shrewd businesswoman.”

She married Miller, and converted to Judaism (Egypt then banned all of her films). She chose to do Bus Stop next, earning respect from her director, and legitimizing herself as Monroe_Miller_Weddingan actress and box office success despite its departure from her sexy comedies. She won a Golden Globe for her performance. For MMP she did The Prince and The Showgirl, with Laurence Olivier starring and directing. He’d originated the role on the stage, opposite Vivien Leigh. Monroe and Olivia clashed on set: he wanted her to take Leigh’s lead, and condescendingly told her all she had to do was “be sexy.” Her drug use escalated; she miscarried during filming. She took an 18 month hiatus to concentrate on marriage but had two more failed pregnancies.

She came back to Hollywood in 1958 to star in Some Like It Hot. There were problems on set but it was a box office smash and it earned her another Golden Globe. She did Let’s Make Love for Fox yet, and it was kind of a flop, despite Miller re-working the script. She had an affair with her co-star Yves Montand, which was publicized for the movie’s sake. Awkward. This means that when Truman Capote lobbied for her to star in Breakfast At Tiffany’s, he was overruled, and the part went to Audrey Hepburn instead.

Miller wrote a dramatic role for her in The Misfits, which would reunite Monroe with director John Huston. She played Roslyn, a divorcee who befriends 3 aging cowboys, played by Clark Gable, Eli Wallach, and Montgomery Clift. Monroe and Miller were basically finished, and he was already moving on. She didn’t love the role, which she felt inferior to the male ones. It was a difficult production, with her drug use so serious that she had her make-up done while “asleep” on barbiturates. Production was halted for a week while she detoxed. It was the last film she would ever complete.

When filming wrapped, she got a quickie divorce from Miller. The movie was not a article-2065939-09EFCC65000005DC-148_468x470success at the box office, though more recently it has earned critical respect. In 1961 she had surgery for her endometriosis and a cholecystectomy, and spent 4 weeks in hospital, including a sting in the psych ward for depression. DiMaggio helped her out, and she dated Frank Sinatra for a while. In 1962 she was back on set for Something’s Got To Give, but came down with sinusitis, delaying production. Despite having several doctors corroborate the illness, Fox alleged publicly that she was faking. In May she sang Happy Birthday to JFK at Madison Square Garden. Back at work, the studio invited photographers on set for a scene in which she would swim nude. The photos were published in Life magazine, a major shift from the studio’s earlier policy about nude pics. But when she got sick again, Fox fired her from the movie and sued for $750 000 in damages (they were barely afloat making marilyn-in-poolCleopatra, which was way overbudget). Fox told the press that she was mentally unstable. Of course Fox quickly realized this was a stupid idea and re-opened negotiations to get her back onboard the film. She tried to repair her image by posing for a Vogue photographer – those photos would be published posthumously in a spread called The Last Sitting.

Monroe was found dead in the bedroom of her Brentwood home by her psychiatrist, Dr. 177874721Ralph Greenson on August 5, 1962. The housekeeper had woken up during the night and when no one answered when she knocked at Marilyn’s door, she summoned the doctor. Her death was ruled a suicide, the drugs in her system several times over the lethal limit. Joe DiMaggio arranged her funeral service.

Marilyn Monroe: never dumb, and not even actually blonde. She was, and is, an icon, and never stopped being magical on screen.

 

 

What’s your favourite Marilyn moment?

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Monsters Vs Aliens Vs Megamind

Susan (Reese Witherspoon) is a blushing bride-to-be until she’s struck down by a meteorite on her wedding day and mutates into a “monster” – a giant who’ll be called Ginormica. She’s transferred to a government “hotel,” the kind with bars on the windows, where she’ll be kept locked away along with other monsters like her – namely, BOB, a gelatinous type who eats\absorbs everything in his path (voiced by Seth Rogen); Doctor Cockroach, now an actual cockroach after unfortunate experimentation (voiced by Hugh Laurie); The Missing Link (Will Arnett); and Insectosaurus, who’s, yes, a giant bug.

Susan is adamant that she will get better and return home, to her “normal” life, but it seems like life has already moved on without her (I of course refer to her scuzzy, self-sMonsters-vs-alienserving prick of a fiance, Paul Rudd). So the monsters basically sit around playing cards until Doom arrives. Planet Earth is threatened by an evil alien by the name of Gallaxahr (Rainn Wilson), so the government reluctantly calls on the very monsters they’ve imprisoned to save them from certain death. This being a kids’ movie, you can be pretty sure that Good will triumph over Evil, and even better, Susan will start to feel empowered in Ginormica’s skin. It’s colourful and rapid-fire so kids will  be entertained. For adults, though this Dreamworks effort lacks the depth of better animated movies of late, it’s got some great satirical references and a stellar voice cast, including Stephen Colbert, John Krasinski, Ed Helms, Kiefer Sutherland, Julie White, Jeffrey Tambor, Amy Poehler, and Renee Zellweger, in addition to those already named.

If the monsters feel familiar to you, they are indeed inspired by classic monster movies: Ginormica and Attack of the 50 Foot Woman; BOB and The Blob; The Missing Link and Creature From The Black Lagoon; Dr. Cockroach and The Fly; Insectosaurus and… Godzilla? Mothra? The T-rex from Jurassic Park? Some delicious hybrid, is my guess.

Megamind is another Dreamworks animated film with its own references, this time to Superman. The whole movie seems predicated on the question: what would happen if Lex Luthor defeated Superman? Not stepping on any toes, the hero in question is here called Metro Man (voiced by Brad Pitt), and he’s been keeping Metro City safe from inept villain 960MegaMind (Will Ferrell) since they were kids. With an undeniably familiar origin story and a beautiful ace reporter on the scene (Roxanne Richie, voiced by Tina Fey) and a bumbling camera guy (Jonah Hill), you’ll find a whole new appreciate for Superman and his plight.

On a day when the entirety of Metro City is gathered in adulation of Metro Man, Megamind is finally (surprisingly) victorious. Metro Man is dead. The city belongs to Megamind! Everything goes to hell – Metro City is in ruins, but so is, curiously, Megamind’s mental health. Why? Because a villain isn’t a villain without a hero as his counterpoint. In his infinite wisdom, Megamind thus decides to take awkward camera guy and turn him into Metro City’s new superhero, Tighten.

There is no new ground tread in this film, and it’s not as funny as the excellent voice cast will have you believe – Ben Stiller, David Cross, Justin Theroux, and JK Simmons included. Benignly diverting is the best I can say about it – supposedly Guillermo del Toro lent a hand in editing to make it more exciting, and it is that, but for most, I think it will end up being a little forgettable.

 

Sandy Wexler

Sandy Wexler is the latest Adam Sandler comedy to hit Netflix; it’s the third in his ground-breaking four-movie deal with them, and in fact, it has just been announced that he’s re-upped his contract for four more: eight movies total. Like him or not, Adam Sandler’s movies have been consistent money makers. His first two tries on Netflix were absolute garbage so it’s weird to me that Netflix was so eager to extend him. It can only mean one thing: people are watching.

sandy-wexler-teaser-still-510x0And here’s the thing: Sandy Wexler isn’t awful. It’s not great, but it’s way more watchable than his previous Netflix efforts. He plays a 1990s-era show business talent who has a bunch of misfits for clients: a vantriloquist, a contortionist, an actress who never gets hired, a third-rate stand-up comedian who only got one star on Star Search. But then he discovers a woman singing her heart out as the ugly duckling\beautiful swan in a children’s play. Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson plays Courtney, a singer so talented that even her weirdo manager Sandy can’t hamper her rocket to stardom.

Sandler does an annoying Sandler voice for Sandy, but he’s otherwise an interesting character. Socially awkward? Too mild: more like socially clueless. Socially backwards. Adam Sandler has a LOT of famous friends in Hollywood, and they all gather in this movie to say crap things about Sandy Wexler, and it’s kind of hilarious. But as we get to know him, we understand that it’s all true. We laugh at his misfires, and we laugh at the easy, time-period-related jokes (example: Arsenio Hall pops up, quite confident that he’ll be famous forever). There are fantastic 90s-era cameos in this film, and if you have any love for the decade, you’ll no doubt have some appreciate for this. The comedy is cheap though. Bargain bin. If you aren’t a fan of Adam, this is NOT the movie that’s going to change your mind. But if you have a soft spot for his trademark juvenile humour, this is a step in the right direction.

 

The Fate of the Furious

1488423016_80f557346e9c57a769fa41a2b284345aAs a movie franchise adds new instalments, we expect (and even demand) that the stakes get higher, that the setpieces get bigger, and that the payoff be greater when our heroes win in the end. Normally, the need to maintain some level of realism constrains the film in some way. Not so with the latest entry in the Fast and Furious franchise.

The Fate of the Furious is absolutely ridiculous from start to finish. There is only one law of physics in this world, and it is this: our heroes must succeed.  So if for Vin Diesel to win a race, a car needs to go faster in reverse than in drive after doing a 180, then that’s what is going to happen. That is always part of the pact that action movies (and action sequels in particular) make with their audience: accept the rules being bent now and again and in exchange, receive that elevated payoff I mentioned earlier. By and large, we are willing to accept that sort of thing in service of those higher stakes I mentioned. What sets the Fate of the Furious apart from most movies is that it doesn’t bend the rules at the climax; rather, it breaks them in the opening sequence. Right from the start, we know that absolutely anything goes, and it just gets more ridiculous from there.

If, like me, you can accept that in the service of entertainment  then you will enjoy this movie. On the other hand if, like Jay, you have no tolerance for big, loud, dumb action movies then you will want to choose some other form of entertainment. Because Fate of the Furious is among the biggest, loudest and dumbest movies ever made. It is also among the most gleeful, and I thoroughly enjoyed every over-the-top set piece, each of which is spectacular in its idiocy.

The Fate of the Furious is exactly what it aims to be, no more and no less. It was never going to reach the emotional heights of Furious 7, and it was never going to bring something fresh to the genre. It is a fun experience (especially in 4DX, which made this movie even more of a rollercoaster ride) but ultimately it’s a flashy, forgettable movie. Which may otherwise have been enough if I had not just seen Baby Driver at SXSW and been reminded how great an action movie can be when it is truly innovative instead of a formulaic eighth entry in a franchise that was all style, no substance right from the start.

The Fate of the Furious gets a score of six Lamborghinis on ice out of ten, with the caveat that if you have a time machine then jump to June 28 and see Baby Driver instead.

 

Top 10 Movie Scars

Scars are a movie shorthand. Bad guys often have visible scars, gruesomely healed. Austin Powers’ Dr. Evil has a huge scar, from the corner of his right eye down to his jaw. Freddy Krueger from Nightmare on Elm Street is extensively scarred. Staff Sergeant Bob Barnes in Platoon has a face meant to tell you how crazy he is, right from the start. Most but not all of the scars on this list are found on villains, but in real life scars can criss-cross the bodies of all kinds of people, even, occasionally, good ones. Scars are portraits of courage and bravery, reminders of stupid decisions, the markers of time and change. My left arm was left completely scarred after a car accident; oddly, it is NOT the arm covered in ink (okay, it’s partially covered in ink). They make me a little sad, but also a lot grateful: scars mean you’re still alive.

tumblr_inline_nt3aoaZFge1tpfg2f_500.gifThe Joker: I suppose there are probably dozens of back stories as to how The Joker got his scars, but I love how Chris Nolan approaches them in The Dark Knight. The Joker himself tells several vastly different tales involving their provenance, which reveals nothing about their true nature, but tonnes about his sanity. The way he accents the scars with makeup makes us think he’s proud of them. He wants them to be noticed. Perhaps he wants us to believe they’re self-inflicted. Perhaps they are.

Tony Montana: It’s inevitable that a character nicknamed  ‘Scarface’ will make this list. tonyTony is blase about his scar, laughing it off, attributing it to his youth but never getting specific. It’s obviously a reminder of the past he left behind, and it’s a focal point to his enemies, something that makes him look scary and intimidating, perhaps warning them that he’s capable of violence. But in true Tony spirit, he addresses his scar only thusly: “You should see the other kid; you can’t recognize him.” I bet that’s true.

20110713_scars-1-harrypotter.nocrop.w375.h670Harry Potter: Harry got his distinctive lightning-bolt scar in a failed murder attempt, when Lord Voldemort put a killing curse on him (his mother’s sacrifice saved him from death, but he would bear the mark of the attack). The scar is legendary among the magic set, and it tingles whenever the Dark Lord is near. It wasn’t just a warning system, but a link to what Voldemort was thinking and feeling – actually a small piece of his soul, yearning to escape. Which is pretty crazy.

Edward Scissorhands: Edward’s face (and not just his face) is covered with fine scars, 350191the obvious result of learning the hard way how to live with scissors for hands. They aren’t terrible to look at, and actually give him a sympathetic look, reminding us of his hardships. Since the movie skewers conformity, Edward’s scars are just another thing that set him apart.

Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson: Randy shows stripper Cassidy some of the many scars he’s accumulated over his years in the ring as ‘The Ram’ in The Wrestler. His broken body is a good indication of his mental state as well, beat down and tired. “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” Marissa Tomei quotes from the Old Testament. But his worst scar is yet to come: he undergoes bypass surgery on his heart, leaving the tell-tale scar down his chest, a constant reminder that his heart can no longer take the stress of his career. He’s forced into retirement, but can’t quite commit to it.

90f7a43a2555ef092a3825e3a5574878Marv: Sin City’s Marv puts Mickey Rourke on this list twice, ironic considering his own not-insignificant scars. In the 1990s he took up boxing, and had to have lots of reconstructive surgery as a result – two broken noses, a smashed cheekbone – but admittedly went to the wrong doctor to put things right. Finally, after massive amounts of plastic surgery, he’s starting to look good again. Regardless, in Sin City, Rourke’s face in prosthetic scars. Marv is supposed to be too “ugly” to attract the opposite sex, which is why his relationship with Nancy is so pure and good, and highly cherished by him.

Scar: In Lion King, Mustafa’s brother is marked for evil by eye-skimming scar that leaves him disfigured. The movie doesn’t tell us how he got it, but we do kn1000px-Gill-FindingNemo3Dow he’s defined by it, bearing its nickname.

Gill: Gill has terrible scarring to his face and fins after an escape attempt left him badly
wounded by dental tools. Voiced by Willem Dafoe, Finding Nemo’s Gill seems dark and brooding because of his scars, but we come to understand that they’re a symbol of his fight for freedom, and what the fish are willing to risk in order to be free.

tumblr_mlg4d5SRte1s3oe2qo1_250.gifInigo Montoya: “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” A mysterious man with 6 fingers attacked Inigo’s father, and presumably Inigo’s scar is from that same fight. His greatest wish is to avenge his father’s death, and he spends much of The Princess Bride pursuing the man who left so many scars in his wake.

Darth Vader: Vader’s scars represent his turn from annoying emo brat to pure evil. As main-qimg-b22185b5f56500fa08f9e8b3a426e005-c.jpgthe ghost of Obi-Wan tells Luke: “When your father clawed his way out of that fiery pool, the change had been burned into him forever – he was Darth Vader, without a trace of Anakin Skywalker. Irredeemably dark. Scarred.” Those scars are kept underneath a menacing helmet for much of the series, but when that helmet comes off, oof: impact.