Friday, December 23, 2016

Review of 'the Lobster'

Glib Reviews of Movies people have been telling me to watch all year.

The Lobster
- Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos

Since this came out like a year or so ago, everyone who has seen it, and knows me has been telling me how much I would like it. Thus as a master Contrarian, I haven't been arsed to watch it. Really just have not been in the mood for it, or something. But after watching the Super Hero filled Captain America the night before, I needed an art film palate cleanser.

The Lobster was as tasty as an actual lobster. I'm a pretty big fan of director Yorgos Lanthimos' previous film Dogtooth, which was one of those pictures where the absurdity is what is riveting, it real but it's not, it's mundane but it's not. Like the best Fassbinder films, this film is about nothing, sort of.... a middle aged guy whose wife leaves him, and because of the particular dystopian society he lives in, he's forced to go live in a hotel an find a new partner. If he doesn't do so, he gets turned into the animal of his choice to live out his days.

The creepy as heck conceit of this conceptual sci fi movie is that everyone must be coupled, or face this harsh system where you either find a mate, or in some unexplained and never shown way, get turned into an animal. Farrell's character David, has his brother Bob, recently turned into a dog, with him as the real proof of this.

This movie is so delightfully twisted, everyone is desperate in their own way, most of the people are so damaged from living in this scary to any of us who have accepted being alone world, that they don't really know how to 'couple', focussing on things like both of them being short sighted, or liking certain foods, as enough proof they they should be together.

The movie is the mutant offspring of Bunuel and Fassbinder. For many folks, I think that qualifies the film as silly and pointless. For myself and those who love those directors this is a welcome change of pace from paint by numbers blockbusters and Woody Allen-esque rom-coms. I don't want to give away any of the smaller plot points or turns, other than to say there are some great twists and turns as David finds out that people are worse than the systems they choose to live in. That 'freedom' is pretty frigging relative. Great picture, that writing about makes me want to watch again.

9.3333 dance parties where everyone is an awkward wallflower outta 10

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Movie Review of Captain America: Civil War

Glib reviews of movies finally on the Netflix

Captain America: Civil War
- Directed by the Russo Bros.

Now this is an Avengers movie. Everyone is petty, even when they are owning up to civ casualtiesYes it's a very paint by numbers but extremely well paced comic book story, that makes the most of it's two and a half hour running time. The Story would be over in two issues of a comic, maybe three or four with certain modern writers more prone to giving their artists quirky dialogue and sex jokes than punchy punchy scenes.

So much punchy punchy in this movie, and better choreographed than most super-movies, with the jump cuts that make the fighting seem fake (ask Jackie Chan about this, wide shots are best for good solid action that makes people wince in pain. jump cuts just scare you.) Any who, like all good comic book team ups, the heroes spend most of their time either having a punchy misunderstanding, or they are tricked by a villain. this movie has both. Most of the heroes get in some good zingers, which is also half of what makes a typical comic book, zingers. fun dialogue.

And as is proper and true all the best zingers come from your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man. Spidey is and always has been the best of the zinger tossing heroes. And in the big fight scene at the airport, he steals the show. He also benefits from the best single decision ever made in any Marvel movie, Spider-Man or not.

He has a Queens accent! Genius, and something that wouldn't work in the comics really, but of course Peter has a nice New Yawk, accent... he's no character in a Woody Allen movie mind you, but unlike everyone else who isn't a the film except the android, who sounds like he from London, Spidey sounds like he is from somewhere. Every other hero including the Russian spy, sound like they are from television accent land. flat. This brings a whole new dimension to Spidey, who has been my fave character since I was 5 years old. That does not happen every day.

Which brings me to a point they reinforce, but don't use to advantage with Cap and Bucky (Winter Soldier) these are guys frozen in time after being native Brooklynites beforehand, without the exposure of television, not even a trace of old school 30's 40's Brooklyn accent, just a hint would be all you need, not a caricature, just subtle, like Tom Holland achieves with Spidey. Holland btw looks like Tobey Mcguire, and Andrew Garlield made a clone from their dna. just sayin.'

Oh and a shout out to how The Black Panther was brought in, and hints given about his upcoming movie. Great addition to the movies, I think if it can be as cool as his character is in the film, it will be another winner.

An enjoyable romp of a movie, that gave me lots of nerdgasms, and took the right kinds of liberties with characters i love to translate them from comics to movies, which really are different mediums. No comic book inspired movie will ever live up to my favourite comics, but they don't have to.

9.3323 Giant Ant Men falling on airplanes like At-Ats outta 10

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Three words: Vikings On Skis!

Glib Reviews of movies recently available on Netflix (and other sources most likely)

The Last King
- Directed by Nils Gaup

Are ancient Norwegians technically Vikings? I don't know or care. As far as I am concerned these fur and armour wearing bros who look like Thor, Loki, or Odin, are Vikings.

Ahem... indeed, they are 'Vikings on Skis'. I am tempted to stop the review there, because what more impetus to watch this fast moving generic plotted but with awesome Vikings on Skis. In typical fashion with these sorts of historical action thingies, the King is killed. everyone thinks it a blonde haired ambitious (Marvel's Thor) Thor type Earl, but it turns out to be his evil Loki haired (aka Tom Hiddleston-y looks) bro. Anyhoo, the real evil guys are of course the church bros. Hint: you know the Bishop is evil when he demand that you being him the head of a baby.

I don't see these points as spoilers, just fun things to watch out for. Have I mentioned the Vikings on Skis! Of course the baby needs to be protected, and is by two Thor types, one blonde, one red. there is lots of need for vengeance to go around. Also the ski chases/fights are super well choreographed. The plot, dialogue is pretty rote, but it all moves quickly, and there are zero sexy montages!

In the end all the right things happen, and at the right time, it's a reasonable less than two hours long. Not terribly bloody, groundbreaking or anything, but fun, in a lovely snowy setting (Norway) and well.... Vikings on Skis!!!!!!

8.00001 arrows to the shoulder that don't stop your Olympic level skiing whilst carrying a baby outta 10

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Review of The Girl With All the Gifts

Glib Reviews of New Movies

The Girl With All the Gifts
- Directed by Colm McCarthy

What a refreshing zombie movie is not something I have ever considered writing or saying before. But this film merits that ‘accolade.’ From a novel & screenplay of the same name by a writer whose comic book writing I dig very much, Mike Carey. (he wrote the great Vertigo comic Lucifer which is an okay tv show at the moment, but was a glorious comic book) 

Director McCarthy sets a really good pace, the music is over the top, but well suited. There are lots of frightening and uncomfortable moments in this film, before anything even really happens. The zombie-fied world presented without too much long winded exposition is kind of unique as it look s past just oh look infected zombie horde. Also fast zombies are the best zombies.

The acting is pretty top notch, especially from the young lead, Sennia Nanua, and Glenn Close looking rather like a slightly younger Dame Judy Dench, and being maybe the toughest character in the film, as a very restrained mad scientist. 

Ol’ Paddy Considine, does what he does best, looking worried, barking orders, well cast little film with a good pace, until the very end. My only real quibble is that  they stretched the natural ending out, going for a bit of a 60’s, 70’s maybe things will be okay at least for some kind of ending. I wished they’d ended it at the first natural ending, which I won’t spoil here.

I am not a big zombie movie fan, but I will be watching this entertaining and seriously well acted film again.

9.2138 Beyond Thunderdome-esque feral zombie children gangs outta 10

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Deadpool review

Glib Reviews of Movies on the Netflix

 - Directed by Tim Miller

The very first movie I have watched on Netflix in 6 months.....You know given that I’m such a big superhero comics nerd, you’d think all the super-movies out there would thrill me. They are okay. And occasionally they are good, sometimes not very good at all. But I’d say we have enough in this recent wave of them to say the average is pretty average, really.

I enjoy watching them, even the crappy ones just because they are my comic books sort of come to life. But mostly I’m disappointed when they aren’t animated. I like comics because of the form more than anything. Graphic narrative storytelling aka comics have always been my first love, go to media to entertain myself. Something about real life versions of super folks though irritates me. Is it the cheesy dialogue? I read and love lots of comics with cheesy dialogue. Really, for me each comic book (or graphic novel) whatever the style of dialogue, good or bad has to mesh with the art, the design, the flow both physically on the page, and in your imagination has to be right, has to work. 

Deadpool for me works on some levels, it made me like the character slightly more than I do as a comics character. Wade Wilson is actually one of my least favourite characters. He’s no less ludicrous than any other anti-hero superhero. It may just be all the guns, I’ve never been much for those kinds of ‘superheroes.’ Not a huge Punisher fan either, though I have a soft spot for the dorky Punisher movies, in a they are so bad they are good kind of way. I put Deadpool in that category. It had  some laughs, but I didn’t find any of the 4th wall breaking to be that funny, or revealing or whatever. I did like it as a narrative device jumping between origin, and present day in the story. But it’s the aspect of the character in comics that I’d rather see downplayed too. I don’t want the fourth wall broken by anyone who isn’t a Marx brother, not really.

The fights were well designed, and fun to watch. I liked the Strong lady who could go toe to toe with Colossus, whose CGI-ness was not up my street as much as I’d hoped. I think I kind of need my superheroes to be brightly coloured and killing as little as possible. I mean there is no such thing as a realistic superhero. I really do wish all these movies and shows were animated. 

A dark creepy atmospheric animated Daredevil? Yes please. The show is okay, but. Same with this Deadpool movie for me. It was relatively entertaining, I chuckled at Ryan Reynolds more than Deadpool, he definitely is a better fit here than in that Green Lantern role. I am sure I will watch the sequel when it comes out on netflix or blu ray or what ever, and I’ll watch all those other superhero movies, then sit down with some comic books and forget the movies.

6.969 Deadpool would find that rating funny, because childish tittering at 69’s outta 10

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Double Post from going to the Movie theatre

Glib Reviews of Recent movies (and not so recent)

- Directed by Annalise Ophelian

In the last few days I actually got my butt out to see a couple of films, that couldn’t have been more different, but were both quite satisfying in their own ways. It’s summer, and festival season. Right now there’s the Queer Film Festival, aka Out On Screen, as well as one of my favourite local cinematheque yearly series, their Film Noir series.

On Thursday after work I wandered down to the getting slightly easier to find SFU Goldcorp Theatre at SFU Woodward’s on Hastings Street, for the Vancouver Queer Film Fest presentation of ‘Major!’ A wonderfully uncliched in structure and tropes documentary about the legendary trans icon and elder, Miss Major Griffin-Gracy. Known mostly as Miss Major, or Mama, or Grandma to those in the community she has known, loved and helped. Mostly she has spent her life helping others. From being a den mother to young trans, and queer folks for decades to the last 15-20 years she has spent advocating for trans women of colour in the US prison system.

The doc starts with this part of her life, “Justice,” the chapter is titled; and the narrative of Major’s life bounces in time throughout similarly named chapters.Miss Major is someone who I have followed through news stories and mentions in queer/trans histories that I have found in my years of obsessively reading any remotely trans related articles or books I could find. Once Youtube came along eventually I was able to see videos of her speaking at conferences and so on. 

Truly, she is one of my biggest heroes of the community. A true elder, but a feisty as hell elder if ever there was one. At the Q&A after the screening, she spoke with the audience on skype answering questions, someone asked her if she had ever met Rosa Parks, she retorted that she wasn’t that old! I had been racked with happy sobs and tears all through the film as her story much of which I didn’t know despite all I had read.

 But I shakily put my hand up and commented rather than asked a question, that; “This 50 year old trans woman see you as one of her biggest inspirations, now more than ever, and that I love you.” She thanked me, and moved on to sassy yet informative answers to almost anything anyone asked her. 

I have no real criticisms of the film. It was so refreshing to see real Trans women, who you know don’t look lie 1990’s fashion models talking about their (our) lives. Miss Major herself goes in front of the camera and talks candidly whether she looks glamorous or at death’s door due to her recent very ill health. She is the same woman all done up in makeup and wig as she is teeth out, hair on her chin, and tears in her eyes. Such strength, she has, and charisma. Unflinching and nothing gets glossed over. If you have even a vague interest in Trans folks, or even just biographical Docs of any kind, I recommend this film very highly

9.9 outta....(because I don’t give 10) out of 10.

Underworld U.S.A.
- Directed by Sam Fuller

Then on Friday, I went to the Cinematheque to see a film noir as part of their annual film noir series. I had planned to go twice earlier in the series but twisted my ankle badly and was only up and out for work. But I had to go see at least one flick I told myself, with my friend Audrey who always sees a bunch of noir every year, but is moving away for a year or so. Our last chance. We went to the latter of a double bill. Fuller is one of my favourite directors from the fifties and sixties. Straight ahead storytelling with a great dark twisted sense of style and design.

The film follows hard luck kid Tolly Devlin, son of a low level gangster, who he sees get beat to death in shadow form on a brilliantly alley brick wall. Hard boiled scene after hard boiled scene turns this kid into a hard luck recidivist Cliff Robertson, who while he is no Swede Knox, has some pent up naiveté and creepiness of his own. He proceeds to find out through a series of chance encounters, who the men were that killed his father. 

They all of course turn out to have risen near to the top of the local Chicago rackets. Some wonderful performances from all the familiar stock players doing their turn at mob boss, especially Robert Emhardt, the Big Boss, who brings a Laird Cregar-ness to the role that is welcomed and fresh. Richard Rust does a great job as the slick only gangster in town who can wear a suit properly, but also doesn’t mind mowing down children with his Oldsmobile.

Robertson shambles along with an oddball intensity of the loser who has faith that one of these days.... The women in the film may play cliched parts structurally, but they have lots of the smarter things to say as well. Making out with Cliff Robertson seems creepy as heck in this film, but Dolores Dorn who is only known as ‘Cuddles’ in the credits does a great job of falling for the big lug, who rumples every suit he’s in. Typical of Fuller, the pace of the film is bim bam boom, not a lot of messing around with montages, everything moves the story forward, especially the awkward moments.

8.5 Houndstooth suits made in prison and the polka-dot ties that go with them outta 10

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Bone Tomahawk Reviewed

Glib reviews of recent-ish DVD and/or Blurays

Bone Tomahawk

This is one weird movie, or really maybe it’s two weird movies or three. Weird western definitely, of the more bookish Jonah Hex kind of tales. Not the movie, the 70’s version of the Comics is my touchstone. Ol’ Jonah was grizzled as heck and dealt occasionally with some spookier creepier western elements, in a very pulp western type of way.

The first few minutes of the film were all about Sid Haig’s ode to Slim Pickens in his portrayal of a deeply cynical murderer and brigand who stumbles across into a burial ground and horrors unseen but seared in your brain in a very verite styled opening. Maybe there are a few short films in this movie that I like more, the more I write about it, defomitely more than when I sat down, to give it a middlin’ review, but thinking about it in review as opposed to the more visceral vibe of right after the movie ends, literally with a thud.

If you are a fan of slow moving westerns that deconstruct a lot of macho tropes, and make the viewer have some empathy for these schmucks who are trying to live up to the biggest of them all, the ‘doing of what must be done.’ There are no antagonists but the protagonists at first, then we find out the ‘bad guys’ are nigh mythical beings, who eventually seem to be some sort of offshoot of orcs or something, more than they do Native Americans. The movie’s last half or third or so takes a quickly dark and violent turn after a seeming endless Gun totin’ Bros learnin’ stuff about humanity, and each other as they bond to save the one interesting character from town; the ‘Lady Doctor’, who goes from interesting tough voice of reason and humanity to offscreen princess to rescue in one simple cutaway to ‘the next morning.’ 

The one really gruesome thing near the end is the one part of this movie, other than how the Doctor goes from vital to victim a little too easily for the plot, which is denser than it needs to be; which makes this movie fun to recall. The scenes are maybe better recalled, than experienced. Kurt Russell was maybe the only actor in the film who was recognizable, adding a beard to his Tombstone styled ‘Stache that he abides whilst shooting Westerns. There are maybe some problematic parts to this movie, cliche wise, but as a film that sits with you, it seems to be one that I could revisit, which makes it a winner. The beginning and the end, for me really made the film, homage to the past, and the end with the abruptness of a film with a higher calling than a revenge oater. Thud.

8.00001 Creepy Blue dudes living in a cave outta 10

Sunday, April 10, 2016

I Finally review Star Wars VII ( a few spoilers in review.)

Glib Reviews of recent DVDs and Blu Rays.

Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens
- Directed by JJ Abrams

I might be the only person I know who didn’t see this in the theatre, at least of those I know interested in it. Not everyone is a Star wars fan. Anyway, for vague lazy reasons, I never bothered seeing this in the theatre. And I probably still could, despite it being on disc/streaming already, it’s still playing in theatres here and there I think.

While I enjoyed it quite a bit, I found my expectation that most of my enjoyment would come mostly from nostalgia, (something you can’t underestimate in terms of cinematic pleasure;) to not quite be the case. A film that reminds (in a good way) of other films that energized and inspired you goes a long way to a positive review. I was more interested in the new characters, and the fact they fit the vibe of Star Wars whilst being actors of a far greater calibre actors than the old fogeys in this episode who in my opinion, really phoned it in.

The characters new and old, fit really well in the mould of traditional Star Wars universe characters, phoning it in or not. It does have an authentic Star Wars feel that the prequels had moments of, but never capitalized much on for me, except for the third one. This film hits most of the notes, and the action scenes are fairly well choreographed. 

Rey and Ren’s final showdown, I liked quite a bit, though the stage fighting was a bit rushed. The characters and the way they make decisions, by just bullshitting their way through everything is the most realistic thing about Star Wars in general, in my opinion. No one really ever has much of a ‘plan’ despite most saying so over and over, “I have a plan.” 

The vibe of this movie is more that of ‘the expanded universe’ of the comic books and the novels, more so than the so called  ‘Star Wars Canon,’ that it actually is, which is fine with me. I have always been a bigger fan of Star Wars comics, games and novels, than the movies. The thing it lacks though, is gravitas. We get a glimpse of real danger perhaps from the new ‘Emperor figure of Snoke, and a touch of it in the coda with beardo creepy robot handed Luke, whose appearance is too much of a token cliffhanger, even, for this particular serial. 

I think you can only have so many planet killing weapons that are easily destroyed before such a huge plot device loses it’s lustre. The overly familiar plot, the terrible acting of all the elder characters is kind of painful. I love Carrie Fisher to bits, but she has never been so wooden. Ford was only happy it seemed in his (spoiler) death scene. 

The new younger characters though had lots of moxy and I hope that the future films have less cameos from the old gang and more of Finn, Rey, and Ren, who nails the whiny aspect of being a Sith. Like all conservatives, or fascists, he’s really not much more than a whiny child with far too much power, and no real idea of how to utilize it, other than wrecking shit, and making people feel bad, or embarrassed. ) One of the best moments in the film is whilst Kylo Ren wrecks an expensive torture chamber off screen, with the old light sabre, and two troopers go to see what the commotion is; when they realize it’s just Ren wrecking shit (again) in an infantile rage, they just quietly go back the way they came.

Criticisms aside, I found it to be mostly a fun ‘carnival ride’ kind of film, and I think I would have enjoyed it more in the theatre, with all the dogfights and what not, which were kind of exciting, if a bit dully choreographed. 

I am hoping Rogue One has a bit more pilot/plot driven action. The new generation of young Star Wars actors are every one better actors than most of the old guard, whose characters should be put to rest in my opinion. Daisy Ridley is this trilogy’s Ewan McGregor, in terms of action, impetus and well, being a decent actor. The most innovative thing in the film is having a faceless Storm trooper be the soul of the film. The moment Finn unmasks changes the entire series, and to me in the best possible way. Boyega’s infectious in his performance of someone who realizes he can be a free being. 

Let the new kids have the sandbox, and please Episode VIII, we could use a film without a giant planet or planets destroying weapon. There has got to be something else really evil that this Sith 2.0 ‘First Order’ can come up with. 

Star Wars is always at its best with Light Sabre, and or X-Wing/Tie Fighter dogfights, punctuated by cheesy adventure yarn dialogue. There is quite a bit of that in The Force Awakens, but even more would be appreciated by this 50 year old kid.

8.141414 Bromantic relationships that get short shrift, due to heteronormative impulses outta 10

Monday, February 15, 2016

Entourage the movie? almost a movie, I guess.

Glib Reviews of DVDs and Blu Rays

Entourage (the movie)
- Directed by Doug Ellin.

Wow, this is a show whose humour has not aged nearly as well as it’s cast might have in real life. I had no idea that this had been made, until it hit dvd, months ago. I have avoided it because the show itself had already run out of gas when it ended a few years ago. It ended right around the time I started transitioning from male to female. Why is this relevant? Well, simply as a parallel to the decline of my patience for sexist backslapping bro-humour mirroring a concept that hasn’t aged well in my eyes, nor I think in general, like me pretending to be male.  The coincidental timing really struck home as the movie started. 

I think back when the show first aired, I was still trying so hard to be a bro, zinging my bro-pals in those cliched sexist ways. it was fun, or seemed to be fun that I could be a part of. slagging your own masculinity, or that of others was such a huge part of humour among male friends, or at least every circle I have ever been a part of. an opportunity to zing someone, to poke through their masculinity were hunted for, and hopefully verbal sparring would occur. Ugggh. So glad that I participate in that crap as little as possible now. It's still an impulse sometimes though, I will admit. so ingrained into our brains.

A great part of the humour in Entourage has always come through bro-shaming, and yawn, the 90’s called and they think it’s tired to be calling folks pussies, or inferring that to be feminine is to be weak. Something that I think reinforces that the bros have overstayed their place in my heart, is that the only relatable characters in the film for me were Rhonda Rousey playing herself, and Sloane, Eric’s on again off again baby mama. Rousey was possibly the most human of all the characters we were given, maybe because she never seemed to be playing at anything. She was far more charming and interesting to me as an actress than as an ultimate fighter, or whatever they call that beating each other up for money now... as I loathe that crap.

The movie is a passable extra special long episode from the final season. Jeremy Piven, the politically incorrect black heart of the show seemed pained to be saying all these homophobic things again. His character, Ari, is trying to be better, and Piven seemed distracted and had none of the naughty appeal of 10 years ago Piven, none of the manic energy  was there, except in timed bursts. He seems to be saying horrible things to people, only because he is supposed to be ‘that guy’, not because of anything they said or did. Turtle, looking thin, still gets fat shamed, and skinny shamed, and gets the girl anyway. Same old same old.

Sigh. I for one and kind of glad that shame based humour isn’t funny to me anymore, except occasionally as a visceral reaction to discomfort. I thought I might have some nostalgia for these average actors who used to get these great scathing monologues demeaning each other, but um no. Not really. The best thing I can say about this movie is that if you still find the kind of bro-humour that tickled you 10-12 years ago funny, you might like this quite a bit, If not, as usual there are a few clever cameos at the very least, which I won’t spoil (much )for you. 

3.967 Andrew Dice Clay cameos where he’s the tolerant guy outta 10

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Two Movie Reviews from surprisingly good but icky movies

Glib Reviews Of Recent DVD Releases

Matinee Double Feature Edition, kind of.

I recently watched a couple of DVDs based on the recommendation of one of my former co-workers from my video store days, which ended in 2014, but seem like ages ago somehow. Both films were pretty disturbing, and despite the very big differences in style and sensibility, had the same kind of message, that ‘regular’ people do very bad things sometimes, and sometimes they pay a karmic price, but sometimes not at all.

Nasty Baby
- Directed by Sebastian Silva

An interesting double bill, which in my case means I watched one of these each over two afternoons. It’s been ages since I did an afternoon movie watch, let alone two days in a row.

Nasty Baby came first, directed and starring Sebastian Silva as a queer artist named Freddy living with his boyfriend Mo in what seems to be Brooklyn. He has some pretentious video art installation ideas using adult babies. All the characters are intriguing and odd, including Kristen Wiig’s ‘Polly, quirkier than usual even turn as the gal pal trying to have a baby for the gay couple. The film meanders as a typical mumblecore dramedy, using some low key hand held cinematography that is always framed to show the stresses these too old to be hipsters, hipsters are imposing on each other, while mostly having some very NYC interactions with the supporting players, especially a local ‘character’ named Bishop who helps folks park their cars whether they want to or not. 

Reg E. Cathey deftly treads the messed up elder street hustler - ‘The Bishop,’ with emotional issues with pathos and creepiness. Despite the importance of all the other relationships in the film, Freddy’s stress and anger over the Bishop’s 7am leaf blowing and guileless homophobia threatens to constantly boil over, not to spoil the picture though, other than to say things take a dark and fairly uncomfortable turn, and not the one I was expecting really, which makes me rate the film higher than I might have, just because I thought they were going one way, and they went the other, which was more uncomfortable as you watch the interesting end credits, after getting thunked with the ending.

The ending of the film makes you not want to ‘like it’ as much as you were, or maybe as little. It’s rare that I am as frustrated with the characters actions and karma as I was with this film. I felt bad because I wanted a more cliched ending, maybe. This was definitely the case again though with the much simpler but unflinching female revenger, ‘Knock Knock,’ which I watched the next day.

8.134 30-something gals riding foot powered scooters through Brooklyn late at night outta 10

Knock Knock
- Directed By Eli Roth

Knock Knock is a straight up revenge flick, home invasion flick, that is super well paced and has a tighter script than I would have imagined. It’s a Keanu, this movie, starring a shaggy haired Dad-Keanu, an architect who started out as a DJ lives in a wealthy neighbourhood of the kind where everyone who could hear you scream is conveniently at their lake houses or beach mansions. An improbable California rain storm delivers to short skirted twenty-ish looking soaking wet women to his late night 3D CAD work pot smoking, and KISS listening. Their phones are wet, not working, they had the wrong address.

The gals are more than friendly, and suggestive in ways that make Dad Keanu (Ethan) grimace and wince in Keanu like ways. The dialogue is pretty hokey throughout, and you now pretty quickly what is going to happen. The way it gets rolled out though is pretty fun, some supporting characters get some nice bits of things to do, but in the end the winners of the mind game more than anything else are the young girls, who pretend to be young enough to get Dad-Keanu in trouble, the dark side of that sexy girls seducing you, who are young enough to be your daughter fantasy. Keanu strives to be a good husband, and not give in to the sex, but well he’s just one Keanu.

One of the refreshing things about the film is how uncomfortable it makes us (well made me) to see these heteronormatively beautiful women being kind of evil, destroying Ethan’s life and possessions like a couple of loose sociopath ids with a chainsaw. Their reasoning and the ending are also discomforting, and then you feel weird because you don’t want them to completely get away with it all. Think of poor Dad-Keanu! Were they justified in their revenge, weren’t they. 

I think most folks will come down one way or the other, me I am just uncomfortable, but more upset at my own deep seeded stereotyping, and expectations being reflected back at me. Very effective, and not as violent as it might seem at first glance, this movie is very effective and far more entertaining in its emasculation of Every Dad, Keanu Reeves than most movies that do the same thing.

7.5 penises drawn on the family photos outta 10

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Mississippi Grind Review!

Glib Reviews of Recent DVD/Blu Ray releases

Mississippi Grind
Directed by Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck

Decent buddy flick/road picture from directorial tandem of Fleck and Boden. Ben Mendelsohn and Ryan Reynolds have some real bro-chemistry, as an older/younger gambling team. Mendelsohn’s Gerry really personifies someone who rarely knows when to quit while he’s ahead. His desperation and addiction to one more hand, one more dice roll, is palpable in pretty much every decision the character makes. Why Reynolds’ obnoxiously charismatic Curtis gloms onto Gerry as much as Gerry gloms on to him, is a bit more of a mystery, that is perhaps simply, their chemistry. He seems to like hanging out with Gerry, as much as anything, but both characters are self destructive and complete committment-phobes.

There is a dynamite Blues soundtrack, and the montages of neon and nightlife from cities along the road from Iowa to New Orleans are well done, if a bit touristy. I really dug the more complicated than they seem relationships that everyone has with each other in this film, and the pace keeps it from feeling too long or stretched out, though there is some ineffable something missing from this film that constantly seems to be referencing Robert Altman’s ‘California Split’ which follows a similar sleazy card sharp journey with two unlikely buddies in George Segal and Elliott Gould. It doesn’t quite have that patina of New Hollywood of the 70’s, this picture though. Entertaining with some interesting characters, but it lacks the oomph to put it into the top tier of buddy or gambling pictures.

I enjoyed the film and would recommend it, but with the caveat that it’s a good film, not a great film. It has all the elements, but fails to quite capitalize on them at all. The ending, mind you, paid off really nicely, and elevated the film a bit for me, by avoiding several cliches while fulfilling itself. It can be hard to know where to end a picture like this, and here they got it right on the nose.

6.9768 times you went ‘all in’ and lost everything you owned including a tiger outta 10

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Review of Tangerine!

Glib Reviews Of Recent DVD Releases

- Directed By Sean Baker

Tangerine is one of those films that ‘feels like’ it was shot chronologically. The first few scenes are a bit rough, the acting is a bit iffy, but as the characters of Sin-Dee and Alexandra walk endlessly through their drama filled Christmas Eve Day in L.A. The picture gets more gripping, the cinematography, the acting and the script all get better, more polished in a low budget way. The locations give a nice grimy seventies feel to the whole thing. Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) is especially unlikeable at the beginning of the film, her single mindedness in finding her pimp/boyfriend and the girl he ‘cheated on her’ with while she was doing a month in jail, is not terribly nuanced. The buffer of the her best friend Alexandra (Mya Taylor) trying to keep her from all the drama she is creating, while trying to hustle tickets for a show she is doing that night keeps the whole thing from being one note.

The cinematography, aside from the initial few minutes is outstanding, especially when you realize it was shot on an iPhone. It makes you realize that a well composed frame brings more to a shot than an expensive lens.  

As a transgender woman, myself, (as much as I know it is the reality of a lot of trans women, especially Trans women of colour,) I would love to see a film about Trans women who aren’t sex workers, or tragic doomed to die failures. Is there such a film? At least the trope of Trans women being sex workers is muted somewhat in the film by there being very little sex, or sex working depicted, very much by the end, in a lovely shot, the film really is all about two friends and their friendship, that they strain and push at with each other, but in the end, no matter what they are there for each other. The sex work depicted has a grimy and sometimes humorous reality to it, that you won’t find in a Hollywood take on the same topic, despite this film being filmed on location in West Hollywood.

The Trans loving taxi driver Razmik adds a male gaze that should kind of creep you out, and does, yet he is a fairly sympathetic character in many ways. The editing makes the script sing more than the words do. Shots of people walking or driving, riding the bus have a sense of urgency that is easier to miss than to hit. Aside form the performances by actual Trans women, playing Trans women; the best thing about the picture is this sense of movement, urgency that reflects the urgency, the insecurities of these characters, all of whom pretend to be brassier and tougher than they really are. In the end I felt pangs of empathy and sympathy for pretty much everyone, Trans and Cis. A glimpse at people living with who they are, who they want to be, and the drama that that schism creates through their own inability to see who their friends really are, who really loves them, until push literally comes to shove. 

I really hope to see these Trans women playing other roles in the near future, they prove themselves capable of playing women with dreams, goals, and who face the struggles everyone, not just prostitutes, not just Trans women, have to deal with in order to even attempt to get where you want to go. A solid low budget drama, that sometimes evokes John Waters or Alan Rudolph, but without being quite so self consciously outrageous. I think that’s what makes this film relatable, even the characters like Sin-Dee who at first seem kind of ridiculous end up having actual humanity and nuanced friendships and self awareness.

8.5647 times you dragged that blonde woman by the hair who was sleeping with your boyfriend across town to confront him in a donut shoppe outta 10

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Review of The Revenant

Glib Reviews of Recent Movies.

The Revenant 
- Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu

Like Iñárritu’s last film, “Birdman,” I was sucked in early, then spit out just before the ending. I feel like going back and seeing if his early films fail me in the third act as much as his last few. The film as a whole was quite good, cinematically, the actors were amazing if occasionally too mannered. I mean maybe Tom Hardy’s incoherent mumbling was supposed to be incoherent? Even if that is so; it still took away from an interesting character’s arc.  The cinematography, as usual in Iñárritu’s pictures is astounding. Though, I found the Argentinian shot scenes a bit jarring with the much more haunted looking forests than the stuff done in the Rockies, that was supposed to match up. Quibbles though, that. Some stuff was done in a studio in Burnaby also.

For me the simple story gave way to non-story, with the prolonged chase at the end, which was much more paint by numbers than the rest of the true but hardly believable story, as I predicted each moment a few minutes before it happened. Only the final shot of the film, a bold choice that I won’t spoil, kind of makes up for the predictable final battle between people who should be or maybe are already dead. That shot too, is as much an Oscar-bait shot for Leo, as it is a solid Nouvelle Vague-ish choice of ending.

I seem to have a lot of quibbles, but only because otherwise I thought the film which is 2 and a half hours was well paced and conceived. Except for these few areas, the end, and some of the over indulgent acting, purposefully artsy establishing and thematic shots. It could have been a tighter, tauter, more riveting drama than it was. The outstanding cinematography slightly dimmed by self indulgent story telling, and Tom Hardy’s mumblecore performance. Which maybe comes down to the terrible sound mixing that is the norm in Hollywood these days. So many films, you can’t hear the dialogue but are overwhelmed by the rest of the soundtrack. For me this took me out of the film several times, as what the characters were saying seemed to be important, but you couldn’t catch it.

DiCaprio gives a nomination worthy performance, aka he is in an immense amount of pain pretty much throughout the film, and I will be shocked if he doesn’t at least get an odds on nomination for an Academy Award, if not come out with a little golden man statue. If the film were a bit shorter, and a bit less predictable I would be giving it a higher rating even than I do. 

There is a better tenser picture in there wrapped in the Director’s self indulgence, and predictable plotting. Very entertaining, and highbrow for current Hollywood: very much worth seeing on a very big screen with a good sound system, but know that Leo goes through a worse arse kicking than Daredevil or Batman, and survives with an equal kind of vengeful drive as any ‘superhero.’

7.8657 Taun-Taunings of your horse to survive the cold, outta 10