Tag Archives: Dave Franco

SXSW: 6 Balloons

Katie is having a busy day. She’s throwing a surprise party for her boyfriend and she’s got stuff to do: food, cake, balloons, the usual. Plus picking up her brother, Seth. Is this a good day for Seth to have relapsed on heroin? No it is not. Is there any right time to do that? Likely not. But it’s an especially bad day, seeing how Katie’s got a houseful of people waiting on her, and Seth’s 3 year old daughter Ella is along for the ride.

Yeah, I REALLY wish that last part wasn’t true. The thing is, Katie (Abbi Jacobson) has been down this road with her brother before. And she’d displaying the classic 6balloonsheadersymptoms of the caring sister who’s also sort of an enabler. Because instead of leaving him to get his shit together, she’s prepared to miss the party and spend the night driving around the dirtiest, sleaziest parts of L.A. to find her brother (Dave Franco) a detox facility, and barring that – well, something far worse.

This film accurately depicts the enormous toll that addictions take on the whole family – it truly is a family disease. Everybody plays their part. Heroin is no joke and someone withdrawing from it is in very sick, and possibly very dangerous territory. Any movie that has realistic portraying of drug use is of course going to be hard to watch, and for a lot of us, having such a young child along as a witness is just heartbreaking.

Sean left this movie quite mad at Katie, for her choices and her failures, but that’s what makes this movie interesting. Director Marja-Lewis Ryan allows us the space to sympathize with both characters and to come away with our own judgments – and it will be very hard not to judge. Addiction is a powerful disease and the truth is that most people will relapse. And it’s also true that drug addicts are judged far more harshly than, say, someone who has had a second or third heart attack – even though both diseases have genetic components, and involve some willpower over lifestyle. Nobody wants to be hooked on heroin, and no one wants to die coming off it. And Katie loves her brother but doesn’t know which choices will ultimately serve him better. Or when to say no. Or how to set boundaries. And of course drug addicts are infamous for pushing boundaries anyway.

6 Balloons is a mercifully quick ride at 74 minutes but it doesn’t let you off easily; it will pack enough horror into its short run time for 20 normal movies. But it’s not just horror, it’s also love. So much love. But is love what Seth needs right now?

You can decide for yourself: this movie will hit Netflix April 6.

 

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The Little Hours

What if nuns and priests were foul-mouthed and raunchy? Writer-director Jeff Baena apparently has these kinds of thoughts all the time, and he decided to write a whole movie about it, a 30-second punch line stretched to an agonizing 90 minutes.

Three young nuns are having an unhappy time in a convent in the middle ages. the-little-hours-still-1_31377951785_o-1200x520Alessandra (Alison Brie) was placed there by her father (Paul Reiser), because it’s cheaper than paying her dowry, but no amount of needle point can replace the touch of a man. Fernanda (Aubrey Plaza) is secretly a witch who thinks a nunnery is a great place to recruit vulnerable young women into the coven she shares with her her lover (Jemima Kirk). Ginevra (Kate Micucci) is generally pretty oblivious but when a sexy deaf-mute (Dave Franco) is brought into the enclave by Father Tommasso (John C. Reilly), it shakes things up quite a bit.

Despite a pretty talented cast, I think my review could have ended after the first paragraph. There’s just not enough here for a whole movie. I didn’t laugh once. You have to do more than cuss anachronistically to earn my praise. It seems to think that the genre is joke enough in itself but the farce has no target and the film has no point.

The LEGO Ninjago Movie

Sean has a video game called LEGO Dimensions. You buy character packs, build them out of LEGO, and then you can play them in the game. The character packs come in all sorts of cool recognizable shapes and sizes: Sean has the Simpsons, and Back to the Future, and Ghostbusters, for example. He builds a Marty McFly, and a Delorean, and then he can go through the plot of the movie using those characters. It’s pretty cool. But as a completionist, he’s also bought character packs that we have no experience with at all, like Harry Potter, Adventure Time, Portal 2, and Ninjago. And while we knew that Harry Potter were popular books, and a franchise of films, we didn’t know Ninjago at all. In fact, we didn’t even know how to pronounce it correctly until Sean called it Ninja-go in front of his 4 year old nephew, who looked at him like he was a complete sack of shit. It’s pronounced Nin-jaw-go, for your information. And apparently it’s a TV show used to sell LEGO sets. But whereas Bill Murray was a real flesh and blood person rendered into a cartoon version of a LEGO mini figure, the Ninjagos were always LEGO. LEGO has sold over 100 different sets of LEGOs based on that show, so you can see how it’s a big money maker for them. The movie is a cog in their money making machine.

AmazeThe gist of the movie: Garmadon (Justin Theroux) is the bad guy threatening the world of Ninjago. But every time he tries to invade it for good, he’s thwarted by a band of teenage ninjas trained by his brother, Master Wu (Jackie Chan) and led by the son he abandoned 16 years ago, Lloyd (Dave Franco) though none bear any familial resemblance. Being the son of a noted bad guy is hard, and so is being the vaguely named “green ninja” in a crew of ninjas otherwise named for the elements – Cole\Earth (Fred Armisen), Jay\Lightning (Kumail Nanjiani), Kai\Fire (Michael Pena), Zane\Ice (Zach Woods), and Nya\Water (Abbi Jacobson). They get to ride around in really cool LEGO robots that can shoot things and fly, and I can totally see the toy appeal. Lloyd’s robot vehicle is a dragon that shoots missiles from every body part imaginable – what kid could resist? But the genius is that that they all have something different, so the potential for you to spend money is almost limitless.

Anyway, when Garmadon makes his most successful bid to capture the city (and a monster threatens to destroy it), Lloyd will have to learn now to harness his vague ninja powers, pull his team together, and also bond a little with his bad guy dad.

Yes, it’s all a big ploy to get into your wallet. But like the other LEGO movies that came before it, it’s also shamelessly fun. But this one is the weakest of the three, in part because it only appeals to the kids who know and watch the show. The other two movies preyed on adult nostalgia and reminded them of the toys they played with as kids. The only thing this movie might remind you of is the sharp little buggers that get lost in your carpet and hurt like hell when you step on them at night on your way to the bathroom. LEGO knows what it’s doing: the butt joke ratio is extremely high, and the kids laugh every damn time. So go ahead and take them to it, as long as you understand that it’s likely to cost you more than just the movie tickets.

SXSW: The Disaster Artist

Before we talk about this movie, we have to talk about another: The Room. Not Room, the Brie Larson kidnap drama, but The Room, the worst movie ever made. Even better: the BEST bad tumblr_megxu99K4x1ry10fwo1_500movie ever made, the Citizen Kane of bad movies, a movie so bad it’s achieved cult status. Tommy Wiseau was obsessed with movies and had enough cash to get one made, so he did. And he did it with such earnestness and such a complete lack of talent that people love to watch it. Ottawa’s own Mayfair Theatre, one of Canada’s oldest surviving independent movie houses, an official heritage building in our fair city, champion of 35mm film, screener of indies and classics, has been showing it for 92 consecutive months now. Each midnight screening is a riot; this cult film draws fans that know the drill. Matt wrote a great review of it a while back, almost nothing about the movie itself, which defies reviewing, but about the experience of seeing, the rituals that go along with it, the things you yell at the screen, hell, the things you chuck at the screen, it’s all a wild ball of fun.

Greg Sestero, co-star in The Room and Tommy Wiseau BFF wrote a book about making this weird movie with its even weirder director. It’s called The Disaster Artist. Ever a sucker for a great Hollywood story, James Franco read this book one day and immediately got a boner. He brought the script to Seth Rogen on the set of their ill-fated movie The Interview, and the rest is history. Well, future history. I saw the one and only screening of The Disaster Artist at SXSW where it was still billed as a “work in progress.” Tommy Wiseau was in the house, and also seeing it for the first time. Big gulp.

Two things struck me about The Disaster Artist: 1. This film was made with love. It could easily mock The Room, as many have, but it doesn’t. This is a loving ode to The Room, and to the friendship that gave birth to it. 2. This film is fucking hilarious.

Even having never seen The Room, The Disaster Artist is still accessible and relevant. Tommy Wiseau is a goddamned character and James Franco is just the man to play him (although Wiseau pushed for Johnny Depp). Franco got into the part so deeply that he directed while in character too. He was in deep enough to fool Seth Rogen’s grandmother when she visited the set, and in more than deep enough to constantly annoy his little brother “Davey” who co-stars MV5BMjA4ZDZkNjEtNTFkZi00YjhjLWFjZTctNDZlOWVmYzZmZjhhXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTM2Mzg4MA@@._V1_with him.  James and Seth debuted Sausage Party at SXSW last year, and for me it was a disappointment. The Disaster Artist, however, gave me continuous giggles. They’ve amassed an impressive cast, some with just bitty walk-on parts, which only proves the love Hollywood has for underdog Tommy Wiseau. Or perhaps for James “I’ll try anything once” Franco. Or maybe James Franco as Tommy Wiseau. In any case, I laughed until I cried, and then I slammed some Diet Pepsi just so I could cry-laugh some more. And I did! This movie will make you rabid for The Room but it stands on its own, a complete movie that probably benefits from NOT being written by Franco or Rogen. It’s an affectionate behind the scenes look at Hollywood gone wrong, but it’s also a kind of heart-warming tale about outsiders who can’t break in so they plow their own field, and even if it’s bad, at least they have potatoes. Know what I’m saying? Oh, hi Mark.

 

 

 

p.s. Check out the comments section for a delightful Q&A with James, Dave & Seth.

Nerve

No one’s more surprised than I am that I liked this movie. It received mixed reviews and I’m normally allergic to anything young adult, but for some reason, I enjoyed this movie. I’m assuming it’s because I’m much younger and hipper than my driver’s license would have you believe. Sure I don’t take selfies or speak emoji or know what “on fleek” means. I don’t constantly change my Instagram picture because I don’t have Instagram on my “new” (a year old) phone and I forgot my password anyway. I don’t bicycle ironically or wear nonprescription glasses or use a “lip kit.” I’m not saying I’m 17. But maybe a mature 21?

roberts-franco-a-scene-for-movie-nerve-05Nerve is about cool young kids who no doubt do all of the above. Emma Roberts plays Vee, the wallflower of her group of friends until she’s suddenly motivated to be bold, and signs up to play a new online game called Nerve.

The movie seems a little prescient now that Pokemon Go has swept the world off its feet. Nerve, however, is a little more intense than chasing Pikachu around a park. It basically consists of players and watchers. Players are fed increasingly difficult dares by popular vote of the watchers. The dares are good for cash, but ultimately it’s the number of watchers you attract, and your willingness\ability to hang in the game in the face of ever-escalating dares. Every dare has to be recorded live on your phone, and people anonymously peep. Vee’s first dare is to kiss a stranger for 5 seconds, and she does. It’s heart-pounding fun, exhilarating for a normally shy young woman. She’s proven her point: she’s not so boring after all. She’s ready to go home except the stranger she kissed is Ian (Dave Franco) and it turns out he’s playing too. Attracted and intrigued, they stick together long enough for the watchers to think of them as a couple and to start doubling up on their dares.

As you might have guessed, Nerve gets out of hand. How could daring teenagers to do stupid shit for money ever go wrong? And the movie takes some wrong turns too. The themes quickly become a little too on-the-nose. Teenagers are sheep. People do cruel things while hiding behind the anonymity of the Internet. Culturally we have become accustomed to witnessing the world through the filter of our phones. When shit goes down, half the bystanders will be taping, but how many will intervene?

Stylistically though, this movie is kind of beautiful. It looks sharp. And the pacing is excellent. hqdefaultThe directors do a good job of pulling us into the action and the thrills are in fact thrilling, doled out at decent intervals. And I quite liked the soundtrack, although I have no idea who any of the artists are.  The characters, unfortunately, are not quite on fleek. They’re pretty reliant on some very broad stereotypes: nerd\slut\dreamboat\jock\hacker\ wallflower.

The movie also suffers when it asks us to take one giant suspension of disbelief. The game is played on your phone. Players are constantly recording. BUT NOBODY’S PHONE EVER DIES. I call bullshit. I also don’t want to be around the morning after when everybody’s parents are hit with INSANE roaming bills.

But Nerve is a cool concept for a film and well-executed. It’s meant for a younger demographic but I think you fuddy-duddies will manage to decode its youth-speak. Just remember that by the time you finish reading this post, “on fleek” will be old news. “Snatched” is the new “fleek.” As in: SnatchedDave Franco, your short-sleeved dress shirt and skinny tie combo is SNATCHED. And if you really mean it, you add “boots” to the end, for emphasis. As in: Emma Roberts, your Wu-Tang rap skillz is dope BOOTS. And if you super duper admire something, you say “Goals AF” (AF = as fuck). As in: Dave Franco hanging over New York City on one arm? GOALS AF. “Stan” is the new word for superfan. I’m assuming it comes from Eminem’s song Stan about his crazed letter-writing fan, but since that song is roughly the same age as the characters in this movie, I could be wrong. You could call me a Stan if I’m geeking out about how much I love Meryl Streep in Florence Foster Jenkins, or you could say I’m stanning on her. And finally, you need to know about OTP. OTP is One True Pairing, as in, the couple you’re super emotionally invested in and would be devastated to learn they broke up. Like Jim & Pam. Or Pacey & Joey. Monica & Chandler. Luke & Lorelai. Zack & Kelly. Goddamn I’m old AF.

Anyway. The take away here is that this is not a terrible movie. It’s superficial but fun, a perfect Netflix and chill opportunity (technically I think if a guy asks you to Netflix and chill, he’s not planning on watching any movie, but let’s take this one at face value for now). And also feel you should remember that I am young and cool and snatched or something. You can take notes, but do not get caught reading them by anyone born 1990 or later. You’ll thank me someday. Boots.

 

 

 

Let us know who you’re stanning on these days, and who your OTP is.