Tag Archives: full frontal

The Overnight

If you’re one of those people who love Adam Scott because he’s so boyish and charming, and maybe you fell a little in love with him on Parks & Rec – well, maybe this movie isn’t for you. There’s lots of Adam Scott on display here, but really ask yourself if you’re ready to see him, warts and all.

The movie is about a couple, Alex (Scott) and Emily (Orange is The New Black’s over1Taylor Schilling), who move their young family to L.A. and find it a challenge for making new friends. A fortuitous meeting in a park leads them to the swanky home of mysterious hipster Kurt (Jason Schwartzman) and his French wife, Charlotte (Judith Godreche).

Alex and Emily are thrilled with how the dinner party is going – this couple is interesting, funny, and tantalizingly European in their mannerisms and taste. The attention they receive is flattering, until…wait – does something feel off? Yes, something is definitely off here. Alex and Emily are exchanging increasingly worried looks, the old married shorthand, and the night is overnight14f-2-webunraveling. Can it be saved by drugs?

Maybe yes, maybe no. I won’t spoil the movie by telling you what happens, but here’s a little game: one of the following does NOT appear in the movie – masturbation, threesome – no wait – foursome, is that even a word?, prosthetic penis, bologna sandwich. Can you guess which one?

I’m not exactly a movie prude, but there’s decadence, and then there’s thumbnail_21444debauchery. You start to get the sense that writer-director Patrick Brice is just trying to shock us, and is relying on an onslaught of unpredictability to do so rather than any true wit or edginess. I guess I’m supposed to think it was cool and naughty but the next day I’m just feeling like I’ve got a bad comedy hangover. Like – did that really just happen? For me this was a great big no thank you, with a side of please, sir, put your pants back on.


Whistler, Day 2

This day ended up being nothing like the one we had planned. It was supposed to have been crazy in a 4-movie kind of way, but as you’ll see it ended up being crazy in an unanticipated kind of way.
The Life and Death of an Unhappily Married Man: This ultra-indie (made for less than I have in my bank account on any given day), a dark comedy written and directed by Josh Hope, tells the tale of Riley (Tommy Beardmore), perpetually irritated by his wife and miserable at his job. The opening scenes of the movie don’t exactly make you sympathetic to his plight, however – could it be that Riley himself is the architect of all his pain? If every single facet of your life is going wrong, the only common denominator is you, Riley. It’s hard to watch a movie having no sympathy whatsoever for the main character; it’s even harder to do so when the man who wrote and directed the film, based on his own real-life experiences, is sitting next to you in the theatre. Matt and I agreed afterward that we couldn’t decide if it was bad writing or bad acting that made whole scenes fail. It felt like it was trying too hard to be a quirky movie while actually being ridiculously unimaginative. Sean had a slightly kinder outlook, but here’s what it boils down to: nobody died. And I think there has to be a rule that if you announce in the title there’s going to be a death, you bloody well better go through with it. And furthermore, if you’re going to create a character this irritating, then you’d better reward us with his destruction. Anyway, we’re very happy that the director got to exorcise some demons in the making of this film, while also convincing lots of young actresses to remove their tops (needlessly, sure, but there is no balm to the divorced man’s soul like young, nubile, goosepimply tits). Kudos to him.


How To Plan An Orgy in A Small Town: Like the previous one, thisMV5BMTUzMjU2NzA4Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzM0MTg5NjE@__V1_SX214_AL_ independent film was crowd-funded, made on a teeny budget, and vied to be crowned ‘Most Awkward Title 2015’ . It’s about a “town slut” turned successful sex columnist who has to go back home for her mother’s funeral only to encounter the awful people who chased her away, who are now begging her to organize an orgy for them. This little Canadian gem is written and directed by Jeremy Lalonde and I’m happy to report that while there’s also heaps of nudity in this one, the whole thing was pulled off an awful lot better than the one we saw before it. It’s probably  not fair to compare them, but we’re at a festival, we’re watching movies back to back, and it can’t be helped. We rated this movie better on every score: the writing was better, the acting better, the score was better. The jokes landed. In fact, the jokes were funny to begin with, and then well-executed. The scenario was a bit of a stretch but it asked you to go along with it, wink wink, and so we did. Matt thought it was a little “low-brow”, which is frankly probably what won Sean over. It’s not arty. It’s not putting on airs. It really is the kind of weirdos you’d expect to show up to a small town orgy, and you kind of love it for that. If you’re familiar with small towns at all, you’ll find something to relate to in this movie. The lead actress, Jewel Staite, looked awfully familiar to all of us without any of us being able to say why. She must be one of those Canadian staples that just floats around in everything, but I can tell you this: we’ll be deliberately looking out for her from now on. I loved her sarcasm, her cynicism, her naiveté. This character is interesting, and she pulls her off with a wry, shy charm. The cast as an ensemble was actually very solid, and we had fun discussing our favourite characters over dinner – and nearly all of them were mentioned at one point or another. So this is how you assemble a successful indie film: you work and rework the script; you find great talent. And you don’t start filming until you have done both those things. And when it comes time to film the nude scenes, you film quickly, and without permits. Is it weird that the director of both these movies told about illegally filming public nudity? Should we be worried about our film selections? Nah. I think we’re cool.


7d3340a1d2d14c92b1137e346b554afeLe Mirage: This one garnered some controversy when it was released in its home province of Quebec earlier this year. It’s about a 30-something man who seems to have it all – a successful business, a beautiful wife, an impressive home, great kids. But things aren’t as swell as they seem and instead of telling his wife about the trouble they’re in, he turns, instead, to her best friend, newly implanted with ginormous tits, the new object of his fantasies. It doesn’t sound all that out there, but there’s … an aggressive kiss. A kiss aggressive enough that some people were calling sexual assault. I’d like to give you my take on it, but the truth is, for first time in Asshole film festival history, we missed a screening. Entirely our own fault. Sean decided last-minute that in fact, he could not come all the way to Whistler and not ski the mountain. But he’d in no way prepared for this, so we scrambled around to rent all the necessaries, and that cut into our movie-going time. I’m sad to have missed it, but not sad that life got in the way. We love movies, but they’re only a portion of our happy lives, not the entirety.


The Wave: This is Norway’s official entry for Oscar consideration inMV5BMjI2NDUyODgyMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTM5NDY1MzE@__V1_SX214_AL_ the foreign film category, and it’s Norway’s first disaster movie. The mountain pass of Åkneset is constantly moving and could fall out at any time. This movie imagines that it does, and creates a huge tsunami that’s going to threaten the lives of anyone who gets in its way. Sean and I were very excited to see this one but alas, we were told that there were “technical difficulties” and it would be delayed by at least 90 minutes. People dispersed to kill time alcholically (I’m assuming) but we stuck around long enough to hear that in fact it was cancelled altogether and so we parlayed our useless tickets into another screening.


Gaspar Noe’s Love: What better way to end the day than with NoeLovePoster-thumb-630xauto-51550graphic, unsimulated sex. That’s right: it’s not porn, it’s not acting, it’s just sex, up on the big screen (and possibly in 3D, if you’re lucky – just watch out for that money shot!). Murphy is an American studying film in Paris who hooks up with unstable,erotic Electra. Their sex life is turbo-charged, and then one day they get the very good idea to invite their pretty neighbour to join them, because why not? So yeah. If you thought our day was jam-packed with sex and nudity already, let me tell you, that was only a little light over the clothing petting compared to this. Two and a half hours of graphic, penetrating, relentless sex. You don’t even realize how unsexy sex is until there’s such an onslaught of it: every inch of Murphy’s constantly turgid penis, the sloppy wet noises of fervid humping, the moans of ecstacy, the sighs of agony (or were those just mine?), the slapping of balls, the scrunched up orgasmic faces, the curled toes, the semen. Oh, the semen. There is literally a cum shot that will make you flinch as it spurts toward your eye. No detail is spared when it comes to Murphy’s cock, but only dark, hairy triangles of mystery where the women are concerned – and why is that? You haven’t seen this much hair on a woman since 1974 so I can only assume its point was to obscure. And while we clearly see every last bit of Murphy’s erection as he plunges balls-deep into one woman or another, we never get a single glimpse of anything pink and glistening while he eats her out, or fucks her with his thumb. The vulva is a beautiful flower but apparently not worth showing. So I hated this movie for its singularly male experience, but since I hated this movie for many reasons besides, it seems unfair to dwell on this one thing. But since my laptop reminds me that it’s 4:06am back home, I might save those other reasons for another day. We have to attempt some sparse sex acts of our own now before dreaming in 3D.

Under the Skin (is Under Mine)

Under the Skin is described as a science-fiction-horror-art film. I hardly know how to talk about Scarlett Johansson as this alien seductress but what I can’t help talking about is the thing that’s still haunting me three days later: the score.

It was composed by the brilliant Mica Levi (and produced by Peter Raeburn, who recommended her to director Jonathan Glazer). Mica primarily used the viola to write and record the music, deliberately seeking out the most “identifiably human” sounds the instrument could make. She

Insert creepy music here

Insert creepy music here

then altered the pitch and sometimes the tempo of these sounds to “make it feel uncomfortable” which she accomplished with crazy amounts of success, I tell you what. It made me monumentally, UNCOUNTABLY uncomfortable.

Glazer had her writing music to express Johansson’s feelings as her character experiences things for the first time, with the music following and reflecting her in real time, so to speak – “What does it sound like to be on fire?” he asked of her, and oddly, she had an answer. Another scene where the alien Scarlett attempts to eat cake is a stand-out for me, but is actually accompanied solely be the normal clatter of a popular family diner. The stark absence of scoring is as jarring as the creepy, otherworldly music can be.

The greasy, sinister sound of the viola is accompanied by percussion whenever a new man (victim?) follows Scarlett into the abyss. This music is unrelenting and aggressive, and it repeats with each new conquest. In an article for The Guardian, Levi wrote: “Some parts are intended to

Mica Levi, photo by Steven Legere

be quite difficult. If your life force is being distilled by an alien, it’s not necessarily going to sound very nice. It’s supposed to be physical, alarming, hot.” Well, I’ll give her alarming. And unnerving. The sound is experimental, but at times she can get a whole orchestra in on it and it gives you the shivers.

Pitchfork wrote that “the strings sometimes resemble nails going down a universe-sized chalkboard, screaming with a Legeti-like sense of horror.” There’s nothing hummable or toe-tappable in this soundtrack, but it’s filled with innovative sounds that your body reacts to on a visceral, immediate level, leaving your mind racing to catch up.

I still can’t get those strings out of my head. They contribute to an audio-visual experience that’s unequal parts tension, perversion, anticipation, anxiety, and a big ole dose of the willies. The willies! Oh man, tonally and aesthetically this movie is disturbing. I’m disturbed, guys. There’s no going back.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

For a blow-by-blow account, read Jay’s live blogging of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.


“I’ve gone and done something again. Wish I could remember what”.

Marv (Mickey Rourke) has gone and done it again. It’s bad to forget your medicine when you’ve got a condition. This opening, based on Frank Miller’s short story Just Another Saturday Night, does not bode well for the rest of this sequel that I’d been anxiously awaiting for nearly 10 years. The first scene of Sin City, where Josh Hartnett plays a contract killer who completes a contract that a woman apparently put out on her herself, was not like anything I had ever seen. Sin City 2’s opening felt so much like a movie that I’d already seen before that, when watching it with Luc, it took me five minutes to convince him that we weren’t accidentally rewatching the first one. This had better get better fast.

“Poker. Savage power in gentlemen’s hands”.

If you’ve read my other reviews, you might have noticed that I have a bit of a Joseph Gordon-Levitt bias that I might as well come clean about. With that kept in mind, this next segment of the film, an original story by Frank Miller written for the movie, is the strongest by far. JGL plays a gambler who wins more than he should have against the beastly no good Senator Roark. He’s cocky but with more than his share of demons and if there’s one thing JGL knows, it’s cocky with more than his share of demons. Plus, movies like Brick and Looper have prepared him for lines like “Sin City’s where you go in with your eyes open. Or you don’t come out at all”. It isn’t just him that makes this the best of the four stories though. Everyone involved seems to be having more fun, especially Powers Boothe as Roark, who seems to get hard with every ruthless word.

“It’s another hot night, dry and windless. The kind that makes people do sweaty, secret things”.

This is really the main segment of the film, a nearly panel-for-panel adaptation of one of Miller’s more popular graphic novels, A Dame to Kill for. Eva Green plays Ava Lord, a damsel to kill for who seduces men into doing horrible things, including our old pal Dwight (this time played by Josh Brolin). The almost constantly naked Green is even more wicked than in Miller’s 300: Rise of an Empire earlier this year. She seems to relish playing her, even if she never seems sure what to do with her accent. Everyone else is phoning it in though. Brolin growls through all his lines like he’s trying to out-Marv Marv. Rourke, as Marv (over-used in the sequel) sounds like he showed up to the ten-year Sin City reunion only to find that it wasn’t nearly as much fun as he remembered. And Ray Liotta, in a short cameo, uses the campy dialogue as an excuse to go full Liotta. This story might have been a better fit for the first film, when the novelty was still there.

“I don’t use the stripper logic anymore”.

We end with another original story, this time focusing on Jessica Alba’s character. It gets off to a pretty good start. Nancy starts to fall apart after the death of Bruce Willis’ character in the first movie and Alba plays it better than I would have expected. The segment itself starts to fall apart very quickly though with more skull-crushing from Marv and a crossbow-wiedling Nancy. It ends with the death of a character that may kill the possibility of a third Sin City, which I would have been disappointed by 9 years ago. After watching this sequel though, it’s probably for the best.

Gone Girl, Starring Ben Affleck’s Penis

The bad news is that you have sit through pretty much the whole entire movie just to see it. And don’t be distracted by his ass. That was a fine tactic by the filmmakers and I respect it but we should rise above. You can see ass in almost any movie. You came here to see dick.

See that thigh? Keeeeeep going…almost there. Penis! Side peen, but peen just the same.

Jennifer Garner, proud wife of Ben and owner of said penis, shocked Ellen by saying Fincher needed a “wide lens” to shoot that glorious thing.nph

I believe this movie is 2-for-1 in that we also get a glimpse of Neil Patrick Harris’ cock as well, but that one comes at the exact moment that the whole theatre is recoiling in horror and looking away.

So. Big Ben. Thumbs up or thumbs down?

Gone Girl

I didn’t like the book. It was too slick. You see it coming a mile away. It felt like an airport book done up in a fancy dust jacket so we’d mistake it as “lit”. It wasn’t.gonegirl

The movie? Trash. But exquisite,moody, sexy, noir trash that you can almost picture in a fast-talking, black and white, Hitchcockian way. Which is maybe what it should have been. Or maybe what it aspired to be.

It’s juicy and entertaining. The who-dunnit aspect is over surprisingly quickly, which is probably for the best since the book relied on the reader being really really dense and the movie gives us a bit more credit.

The movie succeeds with its portrayal of the media coverage of the disappearance of a beautiful blonde woman. Of course they’re going to jump allll down Ben Affleck’s throat, and of course Ben Affleck is a pretty good choice to play someone being hounded viciously by press (not to mention the brilliant casting of his chin!). The woman who does the Nancy Grace impression is spot-on. Rosamund Pike is also well-cast, and both she and Affleck handle their ever-evolving characters with subtety and competence. As an audience, we are constantly asked to re-assess what we feel about them as we learn more and like them less. Affleck excels at smug; Pike does chilling with panache. You can believe in the polarity of the characters, and that’s the hinge of the movie.

There’s a creepiness lurking about in this movie, even during the flashbacks to better times. They’re flirty, but they’re also just playing a game, and then that game gets serious, and then it gets out of control. Enter NPH, a slimy character if ever there was one. As much as I love me some NPH, I could have done with less of him in this movie, and more of Tyler Perry, playing a suave and yummy lawyer who takes the reins  and steers Affleck confidently into manipulating the media.

The questions in this movie will make you squirm (although, the sheer length of the movie may already have had you squirming anyway). Do we ever really know our spouses? Can we? And what is “true self” anyway – if we present ourselve very carefully and consistently one way, isn’t that what we mean by “identity?” And if nothing else, the movie’s ending will leave you in agony. Sweet, sweet agony.

Welcome To The Men’s Group

A bunch of overgrown boys have a monthly man meeting to sit around grunting and eating meat. This time, Larry (Timothy Bottoms) is hosting at his beautiful, newly completed house. His mentally unstable wife is missing but after years of being her caretaker, he keeps that information secret as he hosts his friends.

Friends? Is that the right word? At times they hardly seem to know or like each other, and don’t often meet up socially outside the monthly meetings. The men’s group is very serious. It even has a manifesto, usually recited to a beating drum. It promises all kinds of things, but most if not all of those things are broken in this one meeting that I’ve witnessed, so it’s hard to say

The men’s meeting is assembled: Michael (Joseph Culp) is a recovering sex addict and likes to control the meetings. He’s brought along Tom (Mackenzie Astin), a men’s meeting newb and insecure stay at home dad who not everyone is receptive to. Neil (Phil Abrams) is a weirdo hippie with a rat tail who talks on the phone with Mohammed’s wife. Mohammed (Ali Saam) is a restaurateur with a bone to pick with Neil. Fred (David Clennon) is an old guy about to move in with his girlfriend and lose his freedom. Eddie (Terence J. Rotolo) is a macho healthnut war veteran about to become a father, and he’s terrified, but more comfortable criticizing everyone else. And Carl. Oh Carl. Carl (Stephen Tobolowsky) is in the throes of a serious meltdown. His wife has left him, all his get-rich-quick schemes have failed, and now he’s wondering if setting himself on fire isn’t the best way out.

No matter their intentions, these men are horrible at supporting each other. A mixed bag of divas and dicks, the men’s group is the opposite of a support group, more like a trigger-each-other and fist-fight group. Everyone brings shit to the table but tensions only escalate as they “check in” and discuss them.

This is the kind of movie where literally, they just sit around and talk. That’s it. So if you can’t handle that. If you’re not up for The Big Chill-My Dinner with Andre-Book Club for men, with less wine and no literacy, well, it’s not for you.

Welcome To The Men’s Group is a complex ensemble comedy that often fails to be funny. It sometimes succeeds in being both sexist and homophobic. And occasionally it even gets something right. But it’s overlong and felt to me more like a chore than a fun way to spend time. Not everyone will want or be able to spend quality time with this bunch of jackoffs, so consider this a healthy, full-frontal warning.