Tag Archives: Idris Elba

TIFF20: Concrete Cowboy

Fifteen year old Cole (Caleb McLaughlin) isn’t exactly happy to be suddenly living with his estranged father Harp (Idris Elba) in North Philadelphia. He’s even less pleased to be sleeping on the couch. Harp isn’t much of a traditional parent or even a provider of many necessities, but he does have one card in his back pocket, and it’s a pretty good one.

As a father-son drama, it leans pretty heavily on some overly familiar tropes. There is nothing about this relationship or its journey that will surprise you. It’s a tolerable watch because the acting is strong but it’s corny in all the expected places, with some sentimental stuff thrown in for good measure. But I’m still going to tell you to watch it; there’s that ace in the back pocket, and in this case, it’s called setting. The father-son stuff is just an excuse for writers Ricky Staub and Dan Walser to tell us about Philadelphia’s strange but true subculture: Black urban cowboys.

Inspired by the real-life Fletcher Street Stables, Harp is part of a century-long tradition of Black horsemanship. Poverty and violence may surround their neighbourhoods, but the stables are a safe haven for the community youth, where kids can learn to care for and ride horses, and no one has to leave the city to do it.

Cinema has the power to show you places and lifestyles and choices that are different from your own, but these Black-owned stables aren’t halfway around the world, they’re in a city much like my own, not too far from my own, a city I’ve actually visited, and yet I’ve never heard of or even dreamed of such a thing. In 2016, Antoine Fuqua showed me my first Black cowboy: Denzel Washington in The Magnificent Seven. It was the opening night film at TIFF that year and there was lots of talk about the casual color blind casting. Four years later, I’m back at TIFF and learning that Black cowboys really do exist, not just some starry-eyed invention of Fuqua’s, but a real, lived experience that proves the breadth of Black stories is as diverse as it is vast.

Concrete Cowboy is at its best when it’s saddled up and ready to ride, not because audiences love horses almost as much as they love puppies, though they do, but because this was always the real story here – the craft, the pride, the honour, the sense of community, the skills and wisdom passed down through generations. There is a deep vein of authenticity here, and a story that deserves to shine bright like a diamond.

Cats

I knew Cats was bad. It was unanimous and what on this big blue planet is ever unanimous? People love or they hate Rise of Skywalker. They love or they hate The Witcher. They love or they hate Henry Cavill. They love or they hate Popeye’s spicy chicken sandwich. But Cats has united us, just in time for the holidays: everybody hates Cats.

I’ve never seen Cats the musical because in my house growing up, cats (little c) were verboten. My mother was viciously attacked by one as a child and held a deep-seated fear. Although I’m not afraid of them, I’m extremely cautious and skeptical of them. Being very firmly a dog person, I’ve never seen the appeal of a cat: they’re not friendly or loving. It’s not just that they don’t return your affections, they spurn them. Sean, however, grew up in a cat house. And a Cats house as his entire family took in the show when he was a boy, although I dare say they missed the point as they named one of their cats Macavity even though he’s the villain (and all this time I thought they were being clever because Sean’s dad was a dentist. nope) and another Mistoffelees even though their cat was female whereas the Cats cat goes by Mister.

Anyway, we both knew Cats was going to be bad but I thought it might be funny-bad or entertainingly bad or even meme-able bad. Instead I just prayed for a sudden and nasty plague of feline AIDS and tried not to audibly gasp when the movie was once again not over but churning into yet another song about the exact same thing.

The movie (and very likely the show, but I haven’t seen it) is about a “group” of cats called the Jellicles. I don’t know why they’re a group or why they needed to name their group. Are they a gang? A mafia family? Do they commit hate crimes together?

One night a year they all get together to participate in a Suicide Pageant. They each sing a song, and judge Old Deuteronomy (Judi Dench) decides which one will die. Naturally I assumed Old Deuteronomy was the villain of the film, but not so. Apparently it’s a real honour to be chosen for cat-on-cat euthanasia; all the cats talk about ascending over to the Heaviside Layer like it’s the greatest thing. Which I suppose confirms what I’ve always believed about cats: they’re a miserable bunch, angry at life itself, waiting impatiently for it all to end. Which also describes a Cats audience.

Victoria, the lead cat, newly abandoned and adopted by the Jellicles, undergoes some pretty ambitious white-washing considering its actors are covered in fur. Francesca Hayward, the ballerina who plays her, is Kenyan-born and black, but you wouldn’t know it or even guess it to look at her cat. Although I suppose that’s a fairly minor insult compared to how dirty they did Jennifer Hudson, who plays Grizabella. Grizabella is a down-on-her-luck cat roundly rejected by the asshole Jellicles and by Cats director Tom Hooper who knows she’s a star but decides to bury her in a mound of garbage. Grizabella looks inexplicably terrible, which is particularly sad because when Hudson sings that one Cats song everyone knows (Memory, and damn right she sings it twice), it’s the only time the audience willingly faces the screen. But Hudson is so moved by the lyrics, she’s constantly got lines of snot running from her nose to her mouth, glistening in the movie lights, making sure we gag to the fullest extent of the law. Considering how much money was spent to digitally alter away any trace of male “bulge” you’d think a CGI swipe or two under her nose would have been wise, but no.

Cats is 7 hours long, so maybe think about bringing some knitting or a crossword or a roast beef with you to the theatre. Technically the run time is just under two hours and that’s all that will have passed outside the theatre. But inside it’s a marathon shit show. As I said before, the Cats story takes place over one fateful evening, a time conceit which usually gives a film a nice sense of urgency but in this case it feels like the movie never goes anywhere. We just stand in one spot singing about the same thing over and over until somebody dies. Literally! And there’s a slideshow of celebrity cameos – Taylor Swift, Rebel Wilson, James Corden, Ian McKellan – who show up for a song and then disappear again into the night, perhaps to form their own real-life career suicide club for having appeared in 2019’s biggest flop.

And Cats had that distinction before it was even in theatres; even the trailer creeped people out. The cats are weird human-cat hybrid. Human faces and human hands poke out of fur and CGI ears and tails twitch as though they have a life of their own. Everything in the movie is scaled up so the cats appear…well, not quite cat-sized but definitely weird. Everything about this movie is off, never mind the fact that they walk on two feet, except when they don’t. And they’re all naked and barefoot except when they’re not. A couple of them wear sneakers, one wears pants, another a sparkly jacket. Rebel Wilson’s Jennyanydots unzips her fur to reveal another fur pelt wearing a jazzy ensemble…that she’s kept hidden under her skin this whole time? Doesn’t that get hot?

Cats’ greatest sin is of course that it’s boring. It’s got one memorable song and a bunch of filler. The numbers are repetitive. The dancing is a big yawn. Cats, making its London debut in 1981, needed some updating. Perhaps the kindest thing would have been to lose the ballet in favour of something a little more modern. Nobody wants a musical overstuffed with songs that drag without moving the plot forward coupled with dance that struggles to connect with anything current or relevant.

People have hated this movie so universally that director Tom Hooper re-edited it furiously, and a new cut, with yet more CGI effects, is being rushed to theatres as we speak. But unless Star Wars is sold out, you won’t be seeing it, right? Because you value your time and money? And because Cats sits in your belly like a hairball you can’t wait to go home and hack up.

p.s. Since the only good thing about the movie is Jennifer Hudson’s 4 minutes, here she is for free on Youtube singing Memory:

Marvel’s 10th Anniversary: A Yearbook

I feel a little bit dirty even saying this, but Marvel Studios has recently celebrated its 10 year anniversary, which began with Iron Man back in 2008 and culminated with Avengers: Infinity War only recently. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has comprised 19 films in the past decade, which has made it the highest-grossing film franchise, bar none.

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For those of you who maybe got a little lost along the way:

Phase One – Iron Man (2008), The Incredible Hulk (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), Thor (2011), Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), and Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)

Phase Two – Iron Man 3 (2013), Thor: The Dark World (2013), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Ant-Man (2015), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Phase Three – Captain America: Civil War (2016), Doctor Strange (2016), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017), Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Black Panther (2018), Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Nineteen! Anyway, Marvel thinks 15 billion dollars is worth celebrating, so they’ve gathered all the actors responsible for our comic book fetish into this class picture, which you’ll need a magnifying glass in order to appreciate (luckily, with not one but TWO Sherlock Holmes among the cast [Robert Downey, Jr and Benedict Cumberbatch] those should be easy to get your hands on).

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In order to do a little celebrating of our own, the 3 Assholes got together to vote on yearbook superlatives for our favourite super heroes.

Best Eyes:

besteyesHey, we all picked from the same movie!

 

Best Dressed:
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 Class Clown:
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Most Athletic:
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I wondered who really had the edge here, so I took to Twitter to find out what popular opinion is. Out of 41 people surveyed, an overwhelming 76% agree with Matt. 12% side with Jay. Nobody sided with Sean, as usual. And the rest wrote in Black Widow, Spider-Man & Black Panther.
Quietest:
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By unanimous decision, and likely unsurprisingly, we’ve got Groot!
Cutest Couple:
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Most Ambitious:
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We probably should just concede the point to Matt, as Thanos clearly wants to rule the entire universe – but Nebula wants Thanos, so isn’t that one better?
Teacher’s Pet:
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Matt went with the ultimate brown-noser, Sean went with the know-it-all, and I went with the guy who seems like he’s still living in his parents’ basement, working on his 3rd PhD just to avoid the real world for another decade.
Best Smile:
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Honestly Matt, if Googles Images is to be believed, Black Widow has NEVER smiled!
Best person to be stranded with on a desert island:
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Sean says: “Because he’s a magician! He could get me anything i wanted!”
Biggest Gossip:
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Most likely to be found in the library:
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 Biggest Drama King/Queen:
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Who’s the most fun at recess:
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Most likely to have perfect attendance:
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We all know Captain America’s a real goody two-shoes, but I think War Machine is just a little insecure, and he wants it more. Poor Rhodey.
Most likely to get the teacher off topic:

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 Best bromance:
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Worst driver:
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Sean, I have a feeling  you’re being very literal with your pick. Too soon? Matt’s vote is actually for “the driver in the first scene in Iron Man that gets Tony captured.” And I went with Hulk because they don’t let people drive if they have seizures…surely whatever Bruce has is worse.
Most Likely to be catfished:
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Biggest Flirt:
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Most likely to be late to graduation:
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I realize that his chronic lateness is part of Peter’s charm, but may I remind you that a) it takes time to look as good as Valkyrie does and b) she woke up hungover.
Most likely to star on a reality show:
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Life of the party:
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Ned & his party hat!
Biggest Nerd:
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Most likely to own too many cats:
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He just seems a little lonely to me.
Best Hair:
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Really, guys?
Most changed since freshman year:
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Talk about a glow-up!
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I’m definitely into the haircut. Thanks, Taika!
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I was feeling more inclined to remind us of this.
And finally, which character in the MCU would we personally most like to eat lunch with:
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There’s little doubt you’ll find we go a lot wrong, so be sure to correct us in the comments!

 

Molly’s Game

I resisted watching this because of a distaste I have for Molly Bloom, the real Molly Bloom. She’s extremely self-involved and remorseless. So damn you Aaron Sorkin for getting nominated and forcing me to watch this. Well, okay, since it stars Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba, it wasn’t a total boycott, but still, I was reluctant. Especially reluctant after being subjected to the trailer numerous times in which Molly asks a little girl “Do you know how many witches were burned at Salem?” and when the kid shrugs, she says none – they weren’t burned, they were hanged or drowned or stoned. But something in me rebelled angrily at this line; the answer is right, none were burned, but that’s because witches never existed. It was women who were burned or hanged or stoned.

Anyway, you may or may not know that Molly Bloom ran a bunch of illegal poker games, made oodles of money, and then get raided, her cash seized, and she was indicted. Facing court, and jail, she wrote a book about it, and named names.MV5BMTU2NjY4NjM2OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDcyMzIyMzI@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1498,1000_AL_

Molly isn’t particularly likable. She thinks she’s smart and she tells you she is constantly. She could have gone to law school, you know. And probably should have. But the money was so easy, and so plentiful! And movie stars played the poker (and the Russian mob, but never mind that). She’s guilty and she’s greedy but she’s also tough as hell. Chastain taps into her resiliency , her intelligence, her strength. Idris Elba plays her “not a little bit shady” lawyer, and he’s a perfect sparring partner. Aaron Sorkin’s scripts are meaty and lesser actors may be felled by them but Chastain and Elba are not just equal to it, they master it. It’s impressive.

Aaron Sorkin isn’t just the screen writer on this, he also steps into director’s shoes for the first time. Swinging for realism, he stacked the lesser roles with real poker players, wanting even the way they handled cards to look authentic. In between takes, the actors would play poker with the real players. Extras, usually paid about $90 a day, would often leave the set the best paid people there.

Sorkin is a smart guy with a lot of famous friends; he asked for and received great advice and support from David Fincher (a Social Network collaborator) and from Kevin Costner, who stars as Bloom’s father. The story is intriguing and well-suited to Sorkin’s abilities, but the movie runs a little long and isn’t terribly cinematic (there’s a lot of sitting in a lawyer’s office, which, not coincidentally, is located in the fictional firm of Gage Whitney, which fans of Sorkin’s will recognize from The West Wing, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and The Newsroom.

The movie didn’t change my mind about Molly but it certainly cements Chastain and Elba as razor sharp, a cut above. If you like Sorkin’s zingy TV stuff, you’ll like this just fine. It’s not a best picture contender but it’s got some damn fine performances.

 

 

So, was Molly Bloom a witch, or just a woman?

Pacific Rim

Some sort of portal opens up in the ocean’s floor, and the aliens that flow through are immense monsters called Kaiju. A war ensues that humans seem poised to lose until they develop humongous robots called Jaegars controlled neurologically by two synched-up pilots. The world’s resources are devoted to these specialized weapons, but the Kaijus only up the ante. Now, with resources dwindled and the world seeming defenseless, we’ve got one last chance, with a fallen, washed up pilot in Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) and a complete novice in Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi).

Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) runs the last-ditch program but even he doesn’t have confidence in the only option they’ve got left. And two wacky scientists (Charlie Day, Burn Gorman) on his team are devoting their time and energy to connecting neurologically to the Kaiju, which is either a brilliant idea that will reveal the Kaiju’s plans or a terrible idea that will spoil the only thing the human race has going for them – the element of surprise.

Pacific Rim is a send-up to the fantastic monster movies of yore with the benefit of tumblr_mgeodlgqPl1qcga5ro1_500.gifmodern effects and technology – and yes, it looks slick as hell. It’s basically Transformers fighting dinosaurs, which appeals to the little boy that exists surprisingly near the surface of nearly every man I know. This movie was released just before my dear sweet nephew Ben was born, but it strikes me now as made especially for him. I know one day we’ll watch it together, and my old bones will creak for the next six months as we painstakingly recreate every battle scene without the benefit of CGI.

I may prefer del Toro’s smaller films, but his visionary genius means that when  you give him a pile of money to make a monster movie, he’s going to make you feel every inch of the enormity on screen. The scale is astonishing. Del Toro likes to create huge sets, giving his actors plenty of real stuff to react to, so though this movie is of course effects-heavy, it’s probably not as heavy as you think. There’s loads of practical stuff in there too – miniatures, and models, whole sets built on hydraulics so things will jostle exactly as they should when a mega monster stalks by. Guillermo del Toro is a world builder, and Pacific Rim has a lot of his usual hallmarks, just swathed in the gleeful fantasies of his inner 10 year old child.

This is likely the movie that keeps Michael Bay up at night, eating too much Häagen-Dazs: it’s the movie he always means to make but never knows how to.

You may have heard that a new Pacific Rim sequel (“Uprising”) is about to drop – without del Toro at the helm. He’s still producing but declined to direct in order to make The Shape of Water instead (good call, Guillermo!). Charlie Hunnam isn’t returning either (opting to do Pappillon instead, with Legendary’s blessing), so instead John Boyega fills his shoes as Stacker’s son and Mako’s new partner. Are the monsters back? Substitute director Steven DeKnight will attempt to answer – but as a noob, he seems at an immediate disadvantage. I mean, he did direct one episode of Daredevil and 2 of Smallville, so as a white male, that more than qualifies him to have a go at a $150M project. I can’t imagine that he’ll replicate anything like Guillermo’s instinct and soul, but we’ve not got long to wait: Uprising drops in March 2018.

 

The Mountain Between Us

You know that snooty, fake, half-pouty smile an airline employee gives you right before they tell you the bad news?

Ben and Alex are both trying to get home – he’s got an important surgery to perform in the morning, and she’s got a wedding to attend (her own). The snow says no. The goddamn airline employees deploy their sorry-not-sorry smiles. So Ben and Alex, 620x349strangers in an airport, devise their own workaround: they’ll hire a small plane to get ahead of the storm and deliver them to their destination. But as you can probably guess, this was not the cleverest of plans. Their plane goes down, and thanks to some handy plot devices, no one even knows where they are. Help isn’t coming. They can either stay where they are and starve\freeze to death, or they make the mountain their bitch.

I read and enjoyed the book and then I watched the movie and didn’t quite know what to make of it. This is a story of survival. Of two strangers becoming dependent on each other, knowing they will most likely die and having to make really tough decisions together. Kate Winslet is good and Idris Elba is good but together they have the chemistry of two half-wilted house plants. The movie takes an against-all-odds story and turns it into romantic schmaltz, but these two characters (and these two actors) don’t pull it off – and it’s an insult to humanity anyway. I mean, yes, IF I have to get into a horrific plane crash where my injuries make it difficult to escape but do not in any way mar my perfect looks, I HOPE it’s with Idris Elba and I HOPE we fall in love despite the fact that I have a perfectly good husband at home and I obviously haven’t shaved my legs in days or weeks or months or whatever. I’m just saying it’s not exactly probable.

The film isn’t a complete waste of time because it is Kate and Idris and even when they’re at their worst they aren’t half bad. And there’s a lot of frozen Canadian landscapes to keep your eyes busy and your mind hopefully engaged elsewhere, because if you stop to think about this plot for even a second, it all turns to mush.

 

 

 

Thor

thor-movie-theme-song-1I finally saw Thor and to be honest, I’m not entirely sure what happened. I know Thor got hit by Natalie Portman’s car a couple of times after being banished to Earth for being a dick. Then he learned a lesson and could pick up his hammer again, so he smashed a rainbow bridge to save a planet. But then he couldn’t see Natalie anymore because he wrecked the bridge.

Except I know he got back to Earth somehow in time to appear in the  Avengers but he didn’t bother to check in with Natalie. That doesn’t bode well for them and yet she’s in Thor: The Dark World so I guess she didn’t hold much of a grudge.

Thor felt different than the other Marvel movies, which is sort of a good thing except in being different it felt much less super-heroey than the others. Then again, that might be my anti-Thor bias showing. I never cared much for Thor in the comics. I always found him snooty and boring. He’s no Spider-Man, that’s for sure.

So while kudos may be due to Kenneth Branagh for trying to put a fantasy spin on Thor’s cinematic debut, I guess I would rather have seen him fight the Hulk than some random fire-breathing robot. The good news is that I might get my wish now that Taika Waititi has been handed the franchise’s reins!  November 2017 can’t come soon enough, as Thor: Ragnarok is arguably my most anticipated Marvel film yet.

While I’m waiting, I suppose I could take in the other Thor movie between now and then. After being underwhelmed by Thor, I’m in no real rush to take in Thor: The Dark World. I’m far more likely to rewatch Hunt for the Wilderpeople instead. Because unlike Thor, Ricky Baker is definitely my kind of superhero.

 

Finding Dory

As soon as you hear the voices of Ellen DeGeneres (as Dory) and Albert Brooks (as Nemo’s neurotic dad, Marlin), you realize how much you’ve missed these two. It’s been 13 long years since the original was in theatres but only a single year has elapsed in the ocean where they make their home.
all-trailers-lead-to-finding-dory-check-out-brand-new-footage-in-this-japanese-internat-941918Writer\co-director Andrew Stanton had no desire to revisit Nemo’s world until he rewatched it in 3D and realized how many unanswered questions peppered Dory’s storyline. So good news, folks: those burning questions that have been keeping you awake the last dozen years finally get their time in sea – Why does Dory speak whale? How did she learn to read? And does her disability make for a lonely life?

Dory convinces Nemo and Marlin to embark on yet another oceanwide journey, this time to find her absent family. Eugene Levy and Diane Keaton voice her parents in various flashbacks (Dory was a SUPER cute young guppie!), but with a spotty memory and so much time gone by, is it even possible to find them? How to put this delicately…just what is the life expectancy of even a vegetarian, non-smoking, yoga-adhering blue tang?

The magic of Finding Nemo is safely recaptured in Finding Dory; the story makes room for both old friends and new. Hank, the cranky octopus (or technically a septapus, if you bother to count) is a definite break-out star, voiced by Ed O’Neill. He helps Dory navigate hank-octopus-finding-dorythe exhibits of an aquarium where she believes her parents live. Ty Burrell, who plays Ed’s son-in-law on Modern Family, voices a beluga whale with dubious echolocation abilities but a willingness to play “guide whale” for his visually impaired friend. In fact, the nice thing about this new world presented in Finding Dory is that the marine rescue centre in question rehabs sick fish – everyone’s got some sort of disability but they’ve got plenty of ability too, even Dory. Or especially Dory. My favourite new character is a bird named Becky, who, okay, maybe has some mental health issues, maybe is a little intellectually challenged, maybe isn’t as finely feathered as some, but MY GOD. The minute she was introduced I had a mini meltdown, wracked with laughter.

Finding Dory can’t surprise you in quite the same way the first one did, but it makes up for 107c86e0-155e-0134-fd5e-0e31b36aeb7f.pngit in laughs and heart. Last week on our podcast, Matt hoped that the sequel would make him cry as the first one did. The verdict’s not in on his tear ducts, but mine were a leaky mess.

A memory-challenged fish sets out to find her blue family and along the way remembers that she already has an orange one.  I’ve seen a lot of sequels lately that stink like 13 year old fish, but Finding Dory is a sweet and satisfying cuddle party with old friends, serving up something fresh that everyone will enjoy.

The Jungle Book

I hate being right.

Haha, okay, no I don’t. I love it. I knew I’d hate this movie, I avoided it like I feared it might give me Zika, and when I finally did break down and watch (because it was the fare being offered on the first night of drive-in season), I hated it even more than I’d anticipated. That uptick is maybe partially your The-Jungle-book5fault. It’s received some fairly positive reviews so I had hope that it wasn’t as bad as my gut was telling me. But now I know the truth: either the movie-going public are idiots, or they talk up a bad movie in order to trick others into paying to see it too, thus assuaging their guilt and annoyance at having sat through it themselves.

Self-righteous, much? Yes, I enjoy being that too. But I truly did loathe this movie. I had little to no interest in seeing this movie and was relieved when Matt said he’d cover it for us (being a boy scout, he felt he had some personal connection to the material). But guess what? Matt never saw it, the chump, and he’s left it to me to attack people’s childhoods. I can only assume that’s what it’s about. I don’t have any warm fuzzy feelings attached to the 1967 animated version of this one. I could have hummed some of the bars of the more popular songs, but couldn’t have told you the plot. But the minute  I heard it was live-action, I was out. Forget it. Realistic-looking animals that still for some reason talk? I couldn’t fathom how this would be done well.

Neither could Jon Favreau, as it turns out. And the thing about realistic-lookingThe-Jungle-Book-Special-Shoot_SHERE-KHAN_max-620x600 animals is that they’re still cartoons. They’re very accurate, very expensive cartoons, but it’s just some fancy animation that makes it harder for me to anthropomorphize but doesn’t stop them from breaking out into song. The tiger is so menacing looking you can practically smell the rotting meat caught between his yellowed 3-inch teeth, yet he has the velvety smooth voice of Idris Elba. Bill Murray was a nice choice for the more playful Baloo, but let’s remember that Baloo is still a bear. A sloth bear, sure, but a bear’s a bear. Sloth bears are usually known to be docile for a bear, but they’ll still attack humans who encroach upon their living space, and Mowgli doesn’t just encroach, he fucking rides him! And thejunglebook56b918f52fcee+%25281%2529then there’s King Louie, the big-ass scary mother fucking ape. Modeled after Apocalypse Now’s Colonel Kurtz, King Louie is a gigantopithecus, an ancestor of the orangutan, who in real life would have been about 10 feet tall and over 1000lbs. He’s hostile AF but he’s oddly voiced by Christopher Walken. Now, I love Walken almost as much as his mother does, but it was a weird and jarring choice. King Louie is scary, but Walken’s voice is far from it. He’s got the voice of a stand-up comedian or a jazz band leader, it’s one of the most recognizable voices out there, and it didn’t belong to this ape. And then he breaks out into a show tune, which is NOT something Colonel Kurtz would be caught dead doing, so the tone of the movie just falls apart like the chain falling off of a bicycle, and the whole thing just stinks. Stinks! And not just because it’s a temple full of monkeys.

So why bother making a “live-action” version of the movie when there’s only a single live thing about it? Neel Sethi as little Mowgli is pretty charming, but he never met a single animal during the filming of The Jungle Book – which is a good thing, because seeing a small boy in the arms of how-the-beautiful-visual-reality-of-the-jungle-book-was-made-on-an-la-sound-stage-954479a black panther makes most adults want to scream “Run you little idiot!” In fact,  Jim Henson’s Creature Shop was brought in to make puppets for Sethi to act against, but those were completely replaced with CGI versions later. And as for the lush Indian landscape, it’s 100% phony too. The whole thing was filmed on a back lot in smoggy Los Angeles with a blue screen and some Styrofoam painted to look like jungle.

Tonnes of people loved this movie and I’m not one of them. If you’re going to maxresdefaultgive me talking animals, that’s fine, but they’d better also have careers and pants and fart jokes. If an animal looks real and normally eats people, I don’t want to see him dancing around with a man-cub. I have zero tolerance for this movie and as far as I’m concerned, King Louie can kiss my ass.