New month, new reviews!
Bob, Cody, Tony, and Kim all watch far too many movies and TV shows, read too many books, meddle with the time-space continuum just too many times to be safe any longer, and conduct just one too many mad science experiments just for funzies.
Welcome to Short Takes! Allowing us to post shorter reviews to media we consume without having to make a video or write a lengthy take. As short and sweet as “No.” to whatever we feel like putting down. New or old, good or bad, this is the space to jot down on anything we watch. Thus, these are more like immediate thoughts rather than longer more thought into it pieces.
This should be updated just about daily as best we can, possibly multiple times a day, so keep it bookmarked and see what we’re up to.
Support the Girls; drama/comedy, 2018; Written and directed by Andrew Bujalski; Starring Regina Hall, Haley Lu Richardson, Shayna McHayle; R, 93 minutes; First time watch; Library Disc; review by Bob.
Newly Oscar-winning Regina Hall fronts an impressive cast including Five Feet Apart‘s Haley Lu Richardson in a peppy scene-stealing role and Shayna McHayle in a very impressive first screen role. Hall is the “we’re all family” type manager of a local Hooters rip Double Whammys. While it has it’s funny moments, this is mostly a solid-written drama of Hall’s character in a single day (outside of a coda) as she tries to balance her optimistic support of her girls with her falling-apart non-work life (which of course includes the non-work lives of the women she manages. There are some hiccups in the way some scenes are written and pacing is off but the performances are enough to jump these hurdles. Support the Girls is a strong film deftly talking of latent and direct sexism, how women are treated in workplaces though an overtly objectifying place such as a Hooters-like place. Highly recommended
Velvet Buzzsaw; horror drama; 2019; Written and Directed by Dan Gilroy; Starring Jake Gyllenhall; Rene Russo; Toni Collette; R; 1h53m; Netflix Original; First time watch; Review by Bob
Dan Gilroy’s 2014 film Nightcrawler was one of my favorites of that year. Sadly, Velvet Buzzsaw may end up on the opposite end of that spectrum for 2019. Shallow, draggy, and incredibly unfocused, the film is a fuck you to the art world that occasionally remembers it is a horror film too. There are moments of sheer brilliance in between the long, drawn out nothings of art-people sniping and squabbling with each other. The shallow art world is an easy target but it never gets much more than “hey, these people are awful.” The plot, when it has one, is about gallery owners and artists involved with a few hundred haunted paintings – the artist cursed them when he killed himself saying they should be destroyed. At seemingly random moments, the curse comes up to kill a few supporting, then main characters in climax. These scenes are well done but don’t match. On the whole, it was a thoroughly unpleasant watch.
Climax – full review
Captain Marvel- full review
Izzie Gets the Fuck Across Town, comedy, 2018; Written and directed by Christian Papierniak. Starring Mackenzie Davis, Carrie Coon, Alex Russel, Lakeith Standfield, Annie Potts. 86 Minutes; From the library; Review by Bob; First time watch
Mackenzie Davis is an actress to watch. Always Shine, Tully, Blade Runner 2049; Davis is a commanding performer. Even if the movie the performance is in has issues – this film, Always Shine, and I’m one of the few who disliked Blade Runner 2049 – she’s been amazing in each. BTW, to see Tully; holy shit. While Davis is fantastic, Izzy Gets the Fuck Across Town is a messy film. Davis is Izzy, and why must she get the fuck across town (LA); her ex-boyfriend is getting married and she wants to get him back. Too bad for her she’s a continual fuck-up. She has negative 50 bucks in her bank account, her car is broken, and everyone in her life is mad at her and needs to hell her how much she fucked up before they help her. These people are often recognizable names, and we usually only see them for one scene before she continues on her way. This gets rather repetitious, and honestly Izzy isn’t a likable character. Davis’s considerable charm gets her a long way. Papierniak does have a keen ear for dialog and character moments, but by the end I felt overdone and stretched out.
Carsick (Audio Book); comic memoir with some fiction, 2014. Written and read by by John Waters. 334 pages. Audiobook from the library, although I own a copy of the book.
The Pope of Filth hitchhikes across America, from his Baltimore home to his San Francisco apartment. John Waters is a great story-teller. No matter how you may feel about his movies (me, I love ’em), if you’ve never read his books or seen his yearly speaking tour, you’ve missed out on the full Waters. Cody and I have seen him a few times when he comes by Seattle and he’s always a blast. The way he builds and weaves his stories, filled with sardonic wit and an oxymoronic classy filth, he is a pleasure to listen to. Those poor ASL interpreters at these events. The stuff they have to sign. I make mention of this as he did in last year’s tour. He lovingly poked at them to see how the sign the worst of what he could come up with. Anyway: Carsick.
Car Sick is a joy. A view of middle America through the eyes of John Waters is surprisingly endearing and heart-warming. Despite the trash cinema he revels in, Waters himself is by all accounts an incredibly friendly, warm man; his worldview if as full of optimism as it is kitch. He’s a man who can find joy in any situation, who loves to meet and experience new people and ideas. And he finds it on the road, with the amazingly nice and kind people he meets. For a world we are continually warned of danger, it’s a surprise and relief those Waters encounters as he heads west are the gentle and kind, reaching out to help those in need. The trip is without it’s downs but the ups are just that. I won’t ruin the details of the journey but I can’t help but share the unexpected joy of his trip. I will admit the trip isn’t as crazy as one would expect for Water’s but that’s fine. Sometimes that’s life.
It does take a moment to get to the trip itself, which was a little annoying. Before embarking on the hitchhiking journey, Waters writes two novellas of the Best Possible Trip and the Worst Possible Trip. Both are very entertaining (and the “fiction” of the genre listed above), but as we crossed the half-way point of the book (in Audio CDs anyway) without starting on the actual trip, I was ready for the real thing to start. The two trips are well-written with wonderful characters, good and bad. I love seeing the world though Water’s eyes for the best, people who could easily be in his films who share the wild outlook. He also gives himself a bittersweet closure with a long gone friend of his life and films (not Devine, but another).
Water’s writing has an amazing ease and wit; and as I listened to 8 hours of his voice, I never grew tired of hearing him. It felt like he was there in the front seat telling me about other drives he’s been on, like an old friend.
Suicide Squad (theatrical cut); Superhero Action; 2016; written and directed by David Ayer; Starring Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Viola Davis, Jared Leto; 125 minutes. PG-13; Second watch. From 4k Disc owned by reviewer Bob.
What a mess of a movie. Easily the worst film of the DCEU, Suicide Squad tonally all over the place, features lackluster action, annoying characters, and is an assault on the senses with its style. My biggest annoyance: none of them need to be there. Of the team, Diablo is the only one with real powers. Amanda Waller wants to put a team together to fight metahumans? Okay, let’s get the guy who shoots real good and a crazy woman with a bat as the head of the team. Okay, I admit Hawkeye and Black Widow have no actual powers but that doesn’t really hit home so much while watching their movies, here it sticks out like a sore thumb. Also on hand is Killer Croc who does havea power… thick skin; Captain Boomerang who.. um… throws boomerangs?, Slipknot who can climb anything!, and a woman with a soul stealing sword (that’s all we know about her, and the soul stealing doesn’t matter in to the plot). Here’s the thing with them, any or all could be removed from the movie and not change anything.
The plot is senseless, another sky beam and a CGI characterless godlike being (you’d think they’d learn before Steppenwulf in Justice League), along with the Entrandress stupidly dancing across the frame. Fuck Walker for setting up her own villain for the movie. This film needed a big edit. Did anyone realize scenes repeated? We have three introductions for deadshot, two for Harley, scenes tell us over and over again what Waller is trying to do. This short attention span is obvious through the film as it repeats the action sequences again and again. There is so little cohesion for the product as a whole, it’s infuriating.
I will say Smith, Robbie, and the rest do try for good performances, but they don’t have a lot to work with. (fuck the filmmakers for the leering eye on Harley) For a better film with Smith and Robbie, see the underrated Focus (or at least the first 2/3 of it). Yes, I spend this whole rant without mentioning Jared Leto’s Joker. On purpose, he’s a distraction to the film and to this review; unnecessary and useless to the whole. And this is a short take not a full review.
Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle; fantasy adventure; 2018; written by Callie Cloves from the Rudyard Kipling stories; Directed by Andy Serkis; Starring the voices of Christian Bale, Benedict Cumberbatch; Cate Blanchett; Andy Serkis; Streamed from Netflix (exclusive to the platform); 104 minutes; first time watch; Review by Bob
While this much delayed alternative to the similarly CG Disney version of The Jungle Book is closer to the Kipling written tale (you won’t find King Louie here), darker and less jovial, it unfortunately pales to John Favreau’s 2016 take. Like the Disney update, Mowgli uses living people for the humans and CGI motion-capture for the animals (usually voiced by house-hold names). While the actual motions and performances as well done, as one would expect the MoCap super-star Andy Serkis, the final versions of the CG itself doesn’t look done. With the multiple delays to finish it, it almost feels like Netflix bought it from WB and said “we’ll take it as it is.” Perhaps I’d give it more of a pass if I didn’t know it was meant for the screen. As a DTV, it is passable, but if I had paid to see it in theaters, the effects would be very disappointing, especially compared with the other production.
The story is the same we’ve seen before in the other versions, albeit closer to the orignal stories. I mentioned no King Louie – a Disney addition- but Baloo is the tough trainer again, and not all the animals speak. The tone is less jazzy and more danger, which is appreciated, but plots its way through the plot points, becoming a bit muddled.
All in all, it’s enjoyable enough as a Netflix release, but misses the spectacle, story-telling, and tension of the just as available alternate.
12th – Captain Marvel will be up soon, we promise. Busy weekend for all of us, thus the delay between reviews here – but getting one a day even if grouped! Hey, also check out the first episode of our new Stephen King Retrospective.
Cool as Ice; I think this was supposed to be a comedy?; 1992; Written and directed by Satan. Starring Vanilla Ice, Pain. First time watch, via Rifftrax; streamed from Amazon Prime (they have a large rifftrax collection; check it out). 90 minutes. Review by Bob
Wow. Finally seeing one of the notorious bad movies of the 1990s. Coming out just after his fame shriveled up when his novelty wore off, Cool as Ice would be a failure of a film even with anyone else but Vanilla Ice in the lead. It’s so 90s it hurts. This is one of the worst scripts I’ve ever heard regurgitated by bad actors. Vanilla Ice (aka Rob Van Winkle, who has made a living now flipping houses – he even has a show about it because why not) has negative charisma. His character is so damned unlikable, and he blasts through his lines with unearned confidence and zero skill. He break dances into this high school senior’s life and demands she changes her life for him. Sure, her boyfriend is a tool box who would be expected to ski against Ice to save the youth center if this was the 80s and Ice was John Cusack. But it’s such a grating narrative with an annoying lead. Oh, and add in some villains who should be 3rd string lackeys in other movie. They are also annoying. Everyone’s annoying in Cool as Ice, down to the Pee-Wee’s Playhouse reject weirdos attempting to to be comic relief and fix one of Ice’s friends’ bikes. Oh, and the camera and editing; suddenly jumping to music video style for no real reasons. As the Rifftrax points out, the cinematographer just two years later did Schindler’s List. But a jobs a job right? The skills there are not here. Ultimately Cool as Ice is a wholly bad flick, but not quite the “holy shit, you gotta watch this” bad, although parts of it head that way. Definatley enjoyable with the Rifftrax but not a top bottom movie.
On the plus side- the movie did actual video game sounds when Lead Chick’s little brother was playing Mario 3 (and dying a hell of a lot).
My Neighbor Totoro; fantasy animation; 1988 Written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki; First time watch; From Library DVD; review by Bob. 88 minutes
Yeah, this is one to take off my List of Shame. Coming in, I had no idea what to expect. I know Totoro is a a giant cat-like creature and there was a cat bus. The actual plot? Somehow I’ve missed it until now. It’s about two girls who move with their father into rural Japan in 1958 while their mom is at a nearby hospital. They cope with the gone mom and the new home – which the locals say is haunted. In a mystical woods nearby live some fantasy creature. It’s a delightfully simple movie. There is heart and emotion but nothing is over-wraught or too heavy. An adult can see implications of the world and the situation, but on the surface it’s a small, fun adventure. It’s damned sweet and funny I can see why it’s beloved for 30 years. Solid animation, Totoro is so loveable with that smile, strong characters, and pitch-perfect story telling make this a classic. It may have taken until now to watch for the first time, but I can’t wait for the next.
The Breaker Uppers; Comedy 2019; Written, directed, and starring Madeleine Sami & Jackie van Beek. Executive Produced by Taika Waititi; 82 minutes. Review by Bob. Streamed from Netflix
This New Zealand import, exclusive to Netflix in the States, is crude and hysterical. Sami and Van Beek (Deacon’s familiar in What We Do in the Shadows), write, direct, and star as a pair of adult-children with an odd business. They are hired by people to perform the break-up for them. Expect hilarious montages of these actions as the pair do their job in a wide variety of ways from simple phone calls to costumed musical numbers. Of course as a adult-child narrative, the platonic pair is forced to confront their own arrested development, fall-out, grow, and become one again when Sami becomes attached to a few of the clients to the anti-social I-Hate-Everyone van Beek’s chagrin. Especially when their schemes and disguises start to back fire (such as pretending to be police).
Van Beek and Sami have a strong, natural chemisty – as one would expect if they are writing and directing for themselves. Their timing is perfect, and the build to pay off in the more gag based scenes is perfect. It’s hard to explain why I love Kiwi humor – there is a rthym to the humor I have seen in films such as this, the best horror-comedy of all time What We Do in the Shadows, Housebound, Black Sheep, Hunt for the Wilder People and others. I dunno, but I love it. and I loved this movie. It remained funny past the basic concept which would have worked as short. It helps keeping a short run time of 82 minutes. Timing!
Highlander; fantasy action; 1986; Written by Gregory Widen, Peter Bellwood, Larry Fergurson; Directed by Russell Mulcahy; Starring Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery, Clancy Brown, Roxanne Hart; Third (Rifftrax) and fourth (commentary) watch. 30th Anniversary Director’s Cut Blu-Ray; 116 minutes. Review by Bob
THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE! Or an endless series of movies, TV shows both animated and live action, a bunch of novels, etc. But that’s too long to say so let’s keep it short at ONE, eh? (the last entry in the franchise was actually 2011 with a second season of a Big Finish Audio Plays). I fuckin’ love this movie, more of the 12 year old in me loves it. It’s big, brash, silly, and such fun. Sure, the direction is all over the place. Lights and cables are visible. Christopher Lambert is not a good actor, although he has a solid look. You got him and his Wiseau-accent being a Scotsman, sharing scenes with Sean Connery playing an Egyptian-Spaniard who somehow has a thick Scottish Brogue. Clancy Brown is having the time of his life as the villainous The Kurgen. The better use of Queen songs than Bohemian Rhapsody. LOVE IT.
For the uninitiated – Connor MacLeod is an immortal, living in 1986 New York when an evil immortal finds him after four-hundred years of searching. Ya see, when they behead the others, they gain more power. Eventually there CAN BE ONLY ONE. (this statement is required to be YELLED). We also cut back to the 1500s in Scotland as MacLeod is trained in the ways of the immortals by Connery.
Mulcahy made a good choice in treating the material with a serious take, as silly as every aspect it. If tongue-in-cheek or purposely goofy, it wouldn’t have worked as well as it did. While the film we got was a little silly and weird, it gets it just right for a viewer willing to watch something that is technically bad, but damned entertaining.
Apollo 11; Science documentary; 2019; Directed by Todd Douglas Miller; 93 minutes; First time watch. on IMAX screen; review by Bob
I wrote about this new moon landing documentary in last week’s This Week in Theaters column. Holy hell, if you have any interest in Apollo 11, you need to see this. While the IMAX screens are being replaced by Captain Marvel tonight, it will be in regular screens. Not quite as impressive as IMAX but you should still seek it out when your Captain Marvel showing is sold-out.
Yes, you know this story. Americans have learned it our whole lives. Many documentaries in the last fifty years have covered the space program. Last year’s First Man covered the same story from a more personal point of view. But you haven’t seen it like this. Like Peter Jackson did last year for They Shall Not Grow Old (mini-review here), Miller was able to get his hands on unseen footage, restore it, and present it anew. Seeing the largess of his mission on a giant screen is breathtaking. I never realized how BIG it all was until now. The sweeping shots of the rocket is one thing, but the more mundane dolly back across the control room as line after line of computer banks roll onto frame, and the sheer number of people involved (again showing no conspiracy – no way these HUNDREDS/THOUSANDS of people kept a secret). Thought his room of super-nerds would never end. So Many Nerds (I say with love). Then of course, the moon landscape.
Miller makes fantastic use of the footage at hand to tell the familiar story. No talking heads, no new voice-over, only the conversations, radio-chatter, and news-footage. Yet in telling a story we all know, it still is remarkably tense. The heartbeat placed on the soundtrack in these sequences certainly helps. Ultimately, the film is a sheer force of importance and hard work of science. It’s amazing the insane amounts of minute math equations these people had to do to make this work. The moon-shot was a long shot and it paid off. Seek this out, trust me.
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of of a Family and Culture in Crisis; written by J. D. Vance. First time read; audiobook from the library, read by the author. 264 pages. 2016.
“You can take the boy out of the South, but you can’t take the South out the boy” goes the old phase. For Hillbilly Elegy, it’s for a whole family and culture. Vance, a Yale Law School graduate, traces the history of his family and his life in a dying steel town in southern Ohio. His grandparents saw the sliding culture of the poor South in Kentucky and moved to Ohio, just far enough way. Unfortunately, the same cycles they left reared up again. Vance traces the stories of his life; his loving but tough grandparents, his addicted mom with her endless string of husbands and boyfriends, and the failing economy as steel collapses. His personal story highlights the bigger issue of the region, of the country, creating both a deeply personal memoir and a wider non-fiction of a culture.
Vance has a great voice and spins his stories well for the majority of the book. However, there are times where information that should have been presented earlier comes up and feels like it would be better earlier on to create the fuller story instead of waiting. Other aspects are brought up and then never followed up (like when Vance becomes young earth creationist for a while). Or sometimes it wasn’t sure if the facts and figures given in regards to a particular instance are for the past or reflect to now. But these are minor quibbles in an overall strong story.
Fifth Element; sci-fi action; 1997; Written by Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen; directed by Luc Besson; Starring Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich; Gary Oldman; PG-13; 126 minutes; seen a good half dozen times; Owned 4k Disc; Review by Bob;
It’s a good thing there is a great deal of scenery because everyone’s got a bunch to chew – Chris Tucker’s Ruby Rhod, Ian Holm’s Priest, and the loudest chewer – Gary Oldman as the villainous Zorg. I love this goofy, pulpy, big science-fiction cult-favorite film. Luc Besson is said to have been writing a form of this flick for over twenty-years before making it, just as long as he’d been reading Valerian. It shows as a big influence, along with so much other sci-fi he grew up watching. (When he did get to make Valerian a few years ago, it didn’t come out nearly as well). Like the Wachowski sister’s underrated Jupiter Ascending (I honestly love that flick), Besson’s film is a love-letter of the science fiction he loves.
I appreciate how much Fifth Element just goes for broke with its worlds, its designs, and hell even the jokes. It’s great mix of still evolving CG (it’s rough but nothing is glaringly awful) and wonderful practical effects. Milla Jovovich bursts onto the scene, setting herself up a coming action star and with since underutilizaed comic timing.
Besson moves the film with a quick energy pushing through the over two hour run-time creating a multitude of iconic characters,sequences (the opera for one), and lines (I am a meat popsicle, Multipass).
If somehow you’ve missed Fifth Element in the last 22 years; seek it out. The rifftrax, the second from the company, is solid too.
Nurse; 2014; Written by Douglas Aarniokoski and David Doughery; Directed by Douglas Aarniokoski; Starring Paz de La Huerta, Katrina Bowden (Cerie on 30 Rock), Judd Nelson. 83 minutes. R. First time watch. From Netflix Disc; Review by Bob
Talk about male gaze. Fuck. The movie is all about how awful men are – leering, cheating, fucking up everything, being shit head, etc – and the nurse that kills them. So a movie that is men are awful – what is continaully doing? Leering at all the women, espcially those who spend much of the movie either naked or nearly so. Really. Who showers in the public showers chest out standing like a comic book cover?
At seventeen minutes, I was done with the nudity. Really. What the hell happened to me?
It doesn’t stop, and gets tiring. I do get the feeling Aarniokoski and Loughery felt like they were making purposefully trash cinema. I’ll be honest, if this was an Italian flick made on cheap stock with bad dubbing and one scene in Time Square, the rest in back-alleys of Roma… maybe I’d dig it. Just lean into the leer and we’d be in a different. But for a 2014 film with good production values (although the actual cinematography is pretty ugly), it doesn’t come off that way outside of a twinkle of an idea.
Ultimately, I found Nurse to be thoroughly unpleasant and I can’t offer any sort of recommendation outside of the gore-hound in me loving a blood-soaked finale.
Artemis by Andy Weir. 2017. 320 pages. Listened to Unabridged Audiobook read by Rosario Dawson from library. First time.
Andy Weir’s The Martian took readers and movie-goers by storm. A fantastic thrilling book became an just as enjoyable movie – one that I was still holding my breath the end even though I knew how it ended; although both versions did have some issues. Artmemis is Weir’s follow up sophomore novel.
Moving the action from a single person on Mars (okay, and those off Mars trying to help get Mark Whatney home) to an established, populated moon colony (Artemis); the novel follows Jazz a young ne’er-do-well smuggler who gets involved in a heist. Of course, she gets in over-her-head and has to science the shit of everything to get safe.
Ultimately it’s a mixed bag, but still very enjoyable. The novel is strongest when Jazz has to science her way through things, breaking down what’s happening, dealing with troubles that come up, and getting out of them. As one comes out of The Martian feeling like they’ve learned about Mars and the astrophysics of life there, one feels the same with Artemis. If Weir is making everything up I couldn’t tell you, but it feels heavily researched and thought through in this aspect. He makes a livable moon base and didn’t feel like over-done Sci-fi style. Except maybe thinking for whats’ described 2000 people seemed low. But eh, whatever. The break-down of life in Artemis and the planning, working, and follow up of the science/heist elements really drive the book and this is when it works.
The story, character, and dialogue around these bits are not as strong, by a moon mile. Jazz is essentially Mark Whatney, with all descriptors changed to 26-year old Saudi lapsed-Muslim woman. Outside of these descriptors, she essentially has Weirs/Whatney’s voice. No one really talks like people. Weir tries, but it comes off stilted and overly on-the-nose. The plot for the heist is pretty boilerplate and any noir fan will tell you the beats from the basic set up; rich man hires Jazz to sabotage another business so he can take it over; also people want the Goober he’s working on. Jazz herself often veers dangerously close to Mary Sue territory. She knows exactly what to do in any situation, has just what is needed, and even though she bounces up against aren’t that much of a threat to her.
If this book is adapted for movie or TV, Rosario Dawson would be a fantastic choice. Maybe it’s just that I heard her reading it to me for 9 hours, and she did a great job. Bu the character is one she could play very well – likely why she was chosen for the reading. I don’t think much will transfer over well; with a sixth of the gravity everyone continually bounces slowly. This would make the adaption hard to take seriously, and the rote of the plot will show more.
Warts and all, I did enjoy the book and don’t regret giving the listen. The science-heist is enough to drag through the rest. Just go in for that and you’ll be fine.
All eleven Pink Panther movies – here.
Oh, Hello! on Broadway; Comedy/Filmed-Theater; Written and Performed by John Mulaney and Nick Kroll; Filming directed by Michael John Warren, Stage show directed by Alex Timbers. First Time Watch; Via Netflix streaming; Review by Bob; 104 minutes.
Since hearing him voice Spider-Ham in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (review), I’ve been wanting to jump into comedian John Mulaney’s work. In the past week and some, I finally have. I viewed his previous stand-up specials, and now watched Oh, Hello!, his Broadway play with Nick Kroll – filmed and released by Netflix in 2017. The specials are wonderful, I see why he’s received accolades – the story builds with multiple payoffs and the relativity to being slightly weird. He’s a great story-teller who knows his craft. I haven’t’ watched Kid Gorgeous yet, but soon but as each special has gotten better I expect it to be grand.
Oh, Hello! isn’t a stand-up special straight up although aspects of stand-up are mixed into the grab bag of stage-show deconstruction. Mulaney and Kroll play George and Gil, two septagenerations – a failed author and actor, respectively, who are mounting a Broadway play. The play-within-the-pay itself is only a portion of the runtime due to the numerous rants, one-offs, interruptions, and musing of the crass old cocaine users. In doing so, they create a hilarious and brilliant deconstruction of a stage play – breaking down and tearing up the expectations, structure, and messaging of plays. I’m not sure how many of the jokes will land for those not familiar with theater as much but as a Theatre Kid, I was all in. Other jokes are mined from the changes of New York and the stereotypes found within the decades of New York on stage and screen. Carol Kane’s Lillian from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt would get along great with George and Gil.
Both Mulaney and Kroll have exuberant energy as George and Gil and it’s fun just to watch them interact. They break character, throw out new lines as it comes to them, and you can see them laugh at the new jokes or when something lands. Some may grumble that two seasoned comedians on a Broadway stage would be so loose, but it fits the play itself and it brings out more fun for us to watch.
It’s also good to see Steve Martin not in Pink Panther after sitting through those.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice; Superhero action, 2016; Written by Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer from DC characters; Directed by Zack Snyder; Second time watch, although first time for extended cut; R; 3 HOURS 2 Minutes.
So as much as I like and will defend Man of Steel warts and all, Batman v Superman is an awful mess. There’s so much to rant on, as I have verbally in the past and others have done in many forms. The nonsensical plotting of Lex Luthor, and Jesse Eisenberg’s gratingly annoying performance (eat that Jolly Rancher! EAT IT!… it’s cherry); the out-of-character actions of just about everyone (no complains about Batman killing – he’s done so his entire existence); stopping the movie mid stream to try to set up upcoming movies – Batman’s dreams, the LexCorp files of the other metahumans, etc; Granny’s Peach Tea; MARTHA!; etc; the incredible dour nature of the film itself, and it’s ugly ugly look.
I was hoping the ultimate cut, adding 30 minutes to an already overlong film, would fix some of the issues. Sadly, not really. A couple logic leaps in the original cut are given throw-away explanations (and those leaps can be pieced together with a little thought); new characters and subplots don’t really add anything but padding.
This isn’t a complete shit show though. The casting is great. When Affleck was announced as Batman, I was thrilled. He’s a great pick and I wish he wasn’t’ bowing out already. Jeremy Irons is a great foil for him as a sardonic Alfred. Gal Godot steals as much of the movie as she can and her introduction as Wonder Woman elevates and excites the movie. Love the riff every-time she does something as Wonder Woman. (Generally disliked the score otherwise).
Next up is suicide squad. Prepare yourself for a rant next week.
Man of Steel; Superhero Action; 2013; Written by David S. Goyer from the DC Comics; Directed by Zack Synder; Starring Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon. 2nd watch, first since theaters. Review by Bob; from Blu-Ray Disc owned by Bob. 142 minutes
Expect a mini run down of the DCEU during this month as I rewatch the series in preparation for Shazam! on April 5th. I’ve only seen each of them once, all in opening weekends in the theaters, unlike the Marvel films which I’ve seen many many times. That’ll be the last mention of Marvel as we go through this short review, it’s been beaten to death; plus, gotta save that for Justice League in a few weeks.
It may be an unpopular opinion, but I like Man of Steel. Although I am not jazzed as was in the first viewing (My review at APEX FAN back in 2013) The casting is spot-on. Most importantly there, Henry Cavill is a great choice for play Clark and Superman. The action beats are large and well designed and although they get shit for sliding up against destruction-porn, I appreciated the largess. The large scale destruction of super-powered aliens going toe to toe was something not able to do believably in the Christopher Reeve series, even Superman Returns seven years before would have looked silly.
Silly is not what this movie it is. It’s weird for a Superman film to be deadly serious. I think this may have been one of the things that turned people off, after 75 years of the “aw-shucks” Superman, the DCEU version doesn’t feature the levity people are used to from the Big Blue Boy Scout. It’s true, he feels a little more Batman than Superman (something more obvious in BvS). In Man of Steel, it works with the look and feel of the world – it’s more cynical and judging than the worlds of Superman past. Thus, setting the much grieved “Dark and Gritty” DCEU.
The main gripe I have with Man of Steel is the structure. The flashbacks are dropped in with little regard to where they are put. Renegade Cut has a great 50 minute video on this whole concept. There is a large portion of the film where Amy Adams’s Lois Lane is hunting down information of Superman. Wouldn’t that have been an interesting way to re-introduce Superman? It seems this might have been the focus at one point. Think of when she arrives in Smallville and talks to the IHOP manager. It seems like it’s about to cut to flashback that features that guy. No. Any of them could be picked up and shuffled around with little difference to the full story.
Man of Steel has remained my favorite so far in the DCEU, inching out Wonder Woman (it’s third act is a huge issue). B+