Tag Archives: Netflix and chill

I Am Not An Easy Man

Damien is a chauvinist and a womanizer. He’s developed an app to enable his douchiness, and that of others: it tracks how much sex you’ve had, and an ever-growing penis marks the progress. It will not surprise you to know that Damien is disgusting to all the women in his life – personal and profession. He’s such an irrepressibly flirty bitch that one day he walks straight into a pole, incurring a head injury that’s going to send this film straight into Freaky Friday territory.

When Damien wakes up, it’s in an alternate universe – one in which women have always been the dominant sex. Suddenly women are treating him the way he treated them – and he doesn’t like it! Not one bit. Everything is backwards – his colleagues are mostly female, and it’s not even fun because they talk openly about periods and don’t shave and are condescending, and the men have to eat quinoa and watch their figures.

At times I could hardly tell whether this film was subversive or offensive, and I suppose i-am-not-an-easy-man-2018they were toeing a very thin line. Still, it was hard for me not to be offended by some of the stereotypes, and I’m sure that men would feel the same. But it’s not until you’re fully submersed in this alternate world that you start to appreciate how ridiculous it all feels, and how the inverse, which is the world in which we live every day, must be equally ridiculous. Except we accept it because it’s what we know. It’s not just about income equality, or splitting household chores – it’s both bigger and smaller and more all-encompassing than that.

The movie is occasionally quite funny, the satire intelligent and well-aimed. But it’s not always so successful. And the truth is, neither protagonist is likeable or even sympathetic. Damien has woken up in a different world but it doesn’t change him, and he doesn’t seem to learn from it. He’s appalled to be treated like the weaker sex but has no sense of irony regarding his previous (and frankly, current) behaviour. In fact, he has the gall to reminisce about being the oppressor. Of course he does.

Je ne suis pas un homme facile is a French film streaming on Netflix right now, and besides the laughs it’s got a pretty blatant message – let it hit you like a penis slap to the face. As if you needed one.

 

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The Titan

30 years from now, the earth and its population are collapsing because we’ve used up all the resources and the habitable areas are diminishing because of the effects of global warming. As humans so often do in science fiction, and in true life non fiction, instead of fixing it, we’ve left it too late and aim to abandon it, looking to the stars for relief.

In this case, we’ve got our sights set on Saturn’s moon, Titan. Only instead of terraforming it, we’re terraforming ourselves. Or rather: an ambitious doctor is leading a military experiment to genetically enhance humans to make them more suitable for Titan’s harsh living.

Joel (Sam Worthington) is one of the chosen few, so he and his family, including wife Abi MV5BYmZlMGExOTgtNDg0Yy00ZjY0LThiY2YtZjhjM2Y3NzMyZGE2XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzI1NzMxNzM@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,999_AL_(Taylor Schilling) and son Lucas (Noah Jupe), move to the military base where he and his fellow soon-to-be-super-humans will undergo the medical procedures and training necessary to get them into Titan shape. Professor Collingwood (Tom Wilkinson) fearlessly leads them into battle, but you can probably guess that this review doesn’t end with “and then they all lived happily ever after…on Saturn.”

Of course not. Because messing around with the human genome, with evolution itself, is always, always, ALWAYS a cautionary tale. What normally takes millions of years should never be rushed through in a couple of days. It’s weird that scientists, the very people who patiently explained evolution to us, seem not to have internalized that lesson. So poor Joel is subjected to way more than he bargained for, and yeah it has some pretty scary repercussions for his family, but if you think about it, also for the whole of humanity.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t really seem as though anyone in the film has really thought about it. There’s a really interesting premise but the film fails in its identity. It doesn’t take enough risks, or ask the brave questions. And Sam Worthington is the blandest, most unremarkable actor ever – so much so that Sean wondered if he was possibly watching Joel Edgerton, who is the guy Sean is specifically blind to. But neither Worthington nor Schilling (dyed brunette, so she’s more believable as a doctor) are charming enough make us give a damn. Just about the only worthy thing in the whole movie is its location – beautiful Gran Canaria, Spain, which will make for a lovely holiday destination, and deserves to host nervier speculation on its picturesque island.

Happy Anniversary

On their third anniversary, Sam and Mollie realize the biggest excitement of their lives is pushing the limits of their garage door opener. Are they happy together or just habitually together? Either way, a couple who starts asking themselves that is bound to find some flaws.

So then we get to witness them fight and watch a long term relationship disintegrate because they’re just not sure. And I feel like I’ve been watching a lot of movies lately in which the couple just aren’t sure. When my grandparents got married, there was no ‘sure’. They were the same religion, their families didn’t hate each other, and they were inline_0000s_0001_happy-anniversary18 and probably horny. So they got married, and thanks to the religious belief in never, ever getting divorced, they’re still together today. When my parents got married, there was no ‘sure’. He thought she was pretty and she thought he’d be a good provider so they waited for her to turn 18 and married. That was enough. Today, there’s no telling what’s good enough, or even if good enough is good enough.

Sam (Ben Schwartz) and Mollie (Noël Wells) are practically the every-couple. Whether or not you find them funny probably depends on how secure you are in your relationship. I sure found it relatable, sometimes embarrassingly so. But that’s what love is: baring your worst self to someone else and hoping they don’t leave you. We’re all assholes. Finding someone who will put up with it feels like a kind of miracle.

I’ve rarely seen Schwartz in non-obnoxious mode. I didn’t even realize he was capable. It’s kind of nice. And Sam and Mollie are kind of cute together, in a way that makes you want to pull for them, even when it feels like the wrong horse to bet on. Flashbacks reveal both the good times and the bad – because no relationship has ups without downs. Perfection is a fallacy, although it’s exactly that kind of perfection that’s usually sold in rom-coms: guys who aren’t afraid of intimacy, who don’t struggle to communicate, who convey their passion with grand, romantic gestures. But Happy Anniversary is the kind of rom-com we need: one that teaches us to value the idiosyncrasies that make a couple special, perfectly imperfect for each other. “Knowing” is hard. Trusting is hard. Having in faith in someone else is hard. Forever is hard. So good fucking luck.

 

The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards

Seven stories. Self-contained, based on short stories from Robert Boswell’s collection. They have some commonalities, I suppose: toeing the line between fantasy and reality, or the gray area between memory and what really happened. Inventing shit when we’re young and have no experience. Blurring reality when we’re old and looking back. Life is bittersweet. We’re all bastards sometimes. It just depends on the day.

Conrad (James Franco) identifies his father’s dead body and is comforted by his death, comforted by the fact that he wasn’t the only one his father wanted to kill.

Paul (Jim Parrack) goes home to visit his father, whom he barely recognizes. Dementia has taken him further and further away from the man he used to be. All that seems to be left is his meanness, and even knowing it’s the product of disease doesn’t quite mitigate it. It cuts particularly close to home when it involves Paul’s ex wife (Natalie Portman) and the kid who looks disturbingly just like him.

Monica (Kristen Wiig) is a single mother who works as a maid. She gets through the day by fantasizing about using her wealthy clients’ lives as inspiration for the writing that will make her rich and famous one day.

A huge cast, including Kate Mara, Amber Tamblyn, Thomas Mann, Matthew Modine, Rico Rodriguez, Tony Cox, Jimmy Kimmel, and Keir Gilchrist assembles to pull this thing together, along with more than 7 writers and more than 7 directors. The stories are not uniformly good, or uniformly  memorable, and though I enjoyed some, I don’t think they really mean much as a whole.

 

 

People You May Know

It’s hard to describe someone as a “luddite” when their profession literally involves photoshop, and yet the synopsis of People You May Know boldly do just that to their lead character, Jed. Jed simply isn’t interested in social media. But a stranger in a bar tells him she’d never date someone she couldn’t Google, so he throws all of his values and deeply held beliefs out the window and we’re treated to a tension-filled scene in which he hovers his cursor over the sign-up button of several social media sites. The next day he proudly tells a millennial in a coffee shop that he’s on Facebook and she welcomes him to the future. Already I’m cringing: a film about social media obsession doesn’t even know that Facebook is so 2008.

Jed puts his photoshop skills to good use and his friends are impressed by the people-you-may-know-ss2.jpgglamourous lifestyle shots he’s faking. But the millennial offers to do for him what she does best – make people famous on social media. It’s weird that a guy who prided himself on “keeping things real” is now spreading lies and watching them go viral.

This movie stars people you don’t know – Nick Thune, Halston Sage, Kaily Smith Westbrook. They’re okay. None of them are charismatic enough to transcend the fact that they’re playing people who actually eat Hawaiian pizza. Don’t worry. The actors may not be heavy weights, but what is quite heavy is the handedness with which the message here is preached. Just be yourself, guys! Don’t compare yourself to others! Nobody is their real self on Facebook! But in the end they save the world with a hashtag. A hashtag! #truthfultuesday. Get with it.

Actually, the lesson learned is quite embarrassing. He forgets to photoshop his arms back in and his dirty little secret is revealed. Of course an angry mob of Instagrammers comes at him with pitchforks. It’s pretty cringe-worthy but the film doesn’t pause for one second to really consider these lives lived online. It’s very superficial, which in theory is what they’re yammering on about, but clearly have not internalized. Swipe left.

 

Game Over, Man!

First of all, I don’t like punctuation in movie titles.

Second, it’s possible that I both consciously repressed having watched this film on Friday night and unconsciously blamed Sean for having made me watch it all weekend long. And I’ve only just made that connection in the cold, cold light of Monday morning.

Alex, Darren, and Joel are members of the self-styled “dude crew” – which is just 3 weird guys who are hotel maids. Which, since we’re on the topic, in what universe does it take 3 maids to clean one room? Well, the same universe that employs 3 white men instead of 1 brown woman I suppose. But anyway, with Daniel Stern running the hotel, I suppose this flimsy premise isn’t the most unbelievable thing that’s going to happen in the next hour and a half.

So anyway. Bae, some billionaire’s son, is visiting the hotel which means two things: a) the stoner maids are going to pitch him their video game idea because they sure aren’t busy cleaning any rooms or anything, and b) Bae’s own security team is going to hold him and a whole bunch of other hotel guests hostage for money and the love of explosions. Will Alex (Adam Devine), Darren (Anders Holm) and Joel (Blake MV5BNzQ5YmQxZDMtNjEyNi00MmVhLWFkMTQtMTk0MjQzNWQwOTc5XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMzcyNDk1NTk@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,999_AL_Anderson) step up and save the day? Haha, no. Not even close. Not even unintentionally. I mean, they’ll mistakenly believe in their own hero potential at times (I extrapolate this from the slow-motion hero walks they do down dingy hotel hallways) but they’re never sober enough, smart enough, or organized enough to get shit done. But don’t worry for a single second that there won’t be enough bone-headed antics to go around: there will be blood. And guts. And digits and limbs and pieces of face sprayed all over this damn hotel.

These are the same idiots who brought you Workaholics for 7 agonizing seasons, so if you think that’s funny, this movie will provide you more of the same. But if your tolerance for lowbrow bro humour is as nonexistent as mine, and you like your movies to make sense, and baffling b-list cameos don’t impress you  much, and you’ve never been all that curious about human cheek prosciutto, then Game Over, Man! should be a hard pass for you as it should have been for me.

 

The Vault

Two sisters (Taryn Manning, Francesca Eastwood) agree to pull a bank heist in order to save their brother. The siblings are split up, some guarding the hostages while others go in search of money. The bank manager (James Franco) sends them downstairs to a creepy subterranean bank vault that’s haunted as shit.  The stuff happening down there makes the bank robbery seem like a cakewalk. Those hostages don’t know how good they’ve got it! And the bank robbers don’t know what they’ve gotten themselves into.

MV5BNTUyMjlmZmEtNjIzMC00NmI5LWE1YTEtNjc5YTg1ZGFjOWMwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyODU3NTQxMw@@._V1_The criminals are surprised how south this has gone, and how quickly. How are the cops already here? The tellers reluctantly tell them: the bank is haunted. The ghosts are the victims of another bank heist, an extraordinarily bloody and cruel one, and they’re not about to let another one go down if they can help it. Of course, you can warn the people in a horror movie all you want; they never listen. They never listen!

A known and admitted chicken shit, I can attest that some of this got to me. But some of the horror also struck me as downright silly, and I do not believe this was remotely intended as a horror-comedy. Horror-heist, perhaps, but it clearly fails at both of these at the same damn time. I started this movie two months ago (before James Franco was even on the #MeToo hit list) and abandoned it, too freaked out to keep going. The quick editing is the most effective – flashes of evil do more to prey on my imagination. I only took it up again in broad daylight, with 4 dogs cuddling me, and Sean wall-papering nearby (dogs pick up on tone – do you think the score of a horror movie is as disturbing to them as it is to me?).

The truth is, this movie wasn’t worth the extraordinary measures I’m forced to undertake just to survive it. I tend to stay away from scary movies because I know my limitations and I’m generally not good for anything worse than say Shaun of the Dead, but preferably ParaNorman. However, some exceptions must be made. Last year I knew that Get Out was one of the ages, a movie that transcends its genre. I saw it in theatres and kept myself from hyperventilating to death. Before that, I somehow managed to sit through The Witch at the New Hampshire Film Festival. It didn’t kill me but it sure as hell tried; its eerie atmosphere made for an incredible film but for me, it was just too much. My panic was so intense that for most of the movie I was simply eyeing the exits and praying for escape.

Now I’m on my way to SXSW where the opening film is a horror called A Quiet Place, directed and co-written by John Krasinski, whom I cannot believe would do me like this. The movie stars both himself and his lovely with Emily Blunt and they play the parents of a family forced to live in utter and complete silence, or else some unknown but terrifying thing will hunt and kill them. The trailer made me pee a bit. So how, dear readers, am I going to get through this one? Please, send your tips and tricks for surviving this movie. The gore doesn’t bother me. It’s the anticipation, the quiet moments, which this film will be filled to the brim with, fuck you very much John Krasinksi. I’ll be the one doing lamaze-type breathing, with or without a paper bag over my head. But don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll write a totally objective review!

The Bachelors

Bill’s wife died suddenly and quickly, and left her husband and teenage son devastated. She was the love of Bill’s life and the emptiness without her is unbearable. Trying to outrun his pain, he packs up his son and moves cross country to beautiful California where his son Wes attends and Bill teaches at a private school.

There, Wes (Josh Wiggins) will meet Lacy (Odeya Rush), a student haunted by her own searing pain, and Bill (JK Simmons) will meet Carine (Julie Delpy), the beautiful andsmart French teacher who couldn’t possibly fill the hole left by his dead wife. These women are the jolt of electricity they’ll need to venture outside their mourning and start to admit that life goes on. Sadly, though, it’s not quite that easy. Grief is complicated, and depression lurks behind it, ready to steal away one’s remaining parent.

This sounds like a downer but actually that doesn’t tell the whole story. There’s laughter coupled with the sorrow, and the two co-exist quite comfortably for two reasons. First, it’s a good script, grounded in reality where nothing is black and white, where even 121024depressed people can retain a sense of humour, where sadness and happiness often coincide, are two sides of the same debit card (who carries coins anymore?). Second, there are some very humane performances, particularly by JK Simmons. Writer-director Kurt Voelker manages to respect each of his character by giving them each an arc of their own. He manages to traverse some shaky ground by transcending the genres and making a film that is uniquely his.

There’s a stirring masculinity on display, showing grief and depression in their many forms, which are sometimes more difficult to identify in men. The emotions are no less visceral and Voelker keeps them accessible, making sure that honesty is at the forefront, and that no one is identified solely by their loss. Sean will love the Pacific Coast Highway views from a Mustang convertible, and the rest of us can enjoy a naked performance from a great actor unafraid to be vulnerable in his tightie whities.

Burying The Ex

Max, an inveterate nice guy, moves in with his girlfriend Evelyn, who turns out to be a bit of a bitch. You know, classic manipulative, controlling stuff that makes you wonder what kind of a nitwit Max is to have sold his gas-guzzling car and given up delicious, delicious meat for her in the first place. But anyway, eventually Max grows a bit of a backbone and decides to break up with her…but before he can do the damage, a bus obliterates her to hell. Evelyn is now his dead ex-girlfriend.

Which is the next best thing to a breakup, I guess, in that he can now make a move on the hot girl at the ice cream place. They’re so well-suited because she has streaks of fake purple hair, and they both like monsters and cemeteries and stuff! Unfortunately, Max Photo by Suzanne Tennerhad made a promise on the devil-genie to love Evelyn forever, and she takes that shit seriously. So seriously that she digs herself out of her cold, dark grave and returns as a horny little zombie. Which may sound appealing until you account for the slipping flesh and her commitment to making Max’s life a living hell. And that’s before her cravings for brains start!

Anton Yelchin plays the nice guy, which makes sense. I miss Anton Yelchin. Alexandra Daddario plays the hot ice cream girl, which sort of makes sense, except she’s not a convincing princess of darkness or even just a goth. But she’s got big, pillowy breasts so I guess if I just keep my eyes where the director wants them, I’d have less to complain about. The crazy dead girlfriend is played by Ashley Greene and this is where I really must object. Nobody who’s ever hired her has truly been serious about their movie. There are certain women in Hollywood whose inclusion in a cast signals to the rest of us that this is not going to be a quality movie and is probably not even going to pretend be.

Max and Olivia share a passion for horror, but this movie doesn’t really fit the genre, despite the whole zombie thing. I think it’s supposed to be a comedy, as evidenced by the annoying, low-rent-Jonah-Hill half-brother character who doesn’t even have the decency to be played by actual Jonah Hill. Anyway. I couldn’t take this thing seriously, it sure as heck wasn’t scary, but it wasn’t funny enough (or funny at all) for me to even acknowledge it as a comedy. The makeup and effects are sub-par and the story is so unimaginative to call it derivative would be to give it respect it doesn’t deserve.

 

 

Mute

mute.jpgFor me, the most memorable scene in Mute was a few-second long callback to director Duncan Jones’ debut, a marvelous little movie called Moon, starring Sam Rockwell, that you should track down immediately if you haven’t seen it yet.  Apparently, Mute is intended to be the second entry in a very loose trilogy, an approach that Netflix seems to be very keen on at the moment (as evidenced by The Cloverfield Paradox along with Mute).  Come to think of it, we saw this same thing happen with Split not so long ago, where two movies really have nothing to do with one another except that they happen in the same “shared universe”, with that link often seeming to constitute a big reveal.

I have asked before and, thanks to Mute, have to ask again: why is it becoming a thing to tie movies together in this way?  What is the point, when Mute is a totally separate story not at all influenced by the events in Moon (and vice versa)?  Why does it matter that these movies occur in the same world at the same time if the events of one film do not impact the other in any way?  Why are we even mentioning this link and including a scene with Rockwell in Mute (other than the fact that he is so hot right now)? sohotrightnow Are people being drawn to Mute because it’s related to Moon?  Did anyone choose to watch Mute because of that link who otherwise would not have?  Is Rockwell such a big box office draw that his inclusion got Mute off the ground?  I have a hard time believing this one little throwaway scene helped Mute and yet, why else even bother?

Really, the only benefit of Rockwell’s inclusion was that it made this review easier to write, because Mute is otherwise forgettable even as you are watching it.  Visually, it is for the most part a shameless ripoff of Blade Runner only it’s bereft of any philosophical discussions about anything meaningful, with the only takeway being that parents should not make friends with pedophiles, a point which, much like the movie itself, did not really need to be made.