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Showing posts from March, 2015

Quickie Review - The Theory Of Everything

James Marsh manages to take one of the few living enigmas and turns his story into a scandalous TV movie. What worked for Man on Wire, doesn't work in the traditional film medium, because we want to be dazzled. Spending 30-40 minutes showing us Hawking's brilliance and human side, all literally and figuratively comes crashing to a halt and the movie then becomes nothing more than an episode of Mad Men without the drinking. There is no doubt Eddie Redmayne has joined a long list of method actors who transformed himself into a character, but it can't hide the fact that he doesn't add much to the last hour of the film, other than to show that he's a man. The final few scenes are filled with every gimmick possible to hide the fact this based on a book that calls him out for his indiscretions, while showing the real power and why we have his mind today, was and always will be Jane's doing.

The movie is really about Jane Hawking and that isn't a bad thing. While …

Free Writing - Take 79

When things dawn on you, they are usually positive things. A glimmer of light in a dark day or maybe a minor epiphany. Recently a lot has dawned on me and I am not sure if they are positive things. I used to laugh at how everyone I've ever had a relationship with, was still a friend. As recently as a year ago, I used to talk to everyone I'd ever dated after the age of 21. Today, it dawned on me that I speak to one and the reality is, it's been years since we've actually spoken. It's also dawned on my that when I moved, I spoke or texted weekly to about 20 people. Within a month or two that had dwindled to eight. Now it's about three. This past month, I made 35 minutes worth of calls and had 200 texts. I used to make 1500-2000 per month. Sure I use other means of social media, but there's still that feeling that I don't belong in the place I called home for almost 30 years, which at times become hard to take, for no other reason than I don't feel at …

Review - Birdman or (Why is this so difficult for everyone?)

As I make my way through the best film nominees on DVD, I came to Birdman, the actual winner. I went into this with mixed emotions, as I love Stone and Watts, fine Galifinakis incredibly likable, miss Norton's power and have always felt rather negatively about Keaton. Ironically, the tone of the film plays into Keaton's every man demeanor. As I would find out, the actors chosen for each role, in many ways mirrored their fictional counterparts. This works and it doesn't.
As I repeat always, I don't read or watch reviews before seeing a movie, but afterwards, I try to pour over as many as I can. I also like to read about what might have inspired the director, which in this case was a Raymond Carver short story. The movie plays out, much like the story, which is somewhat confusing, because an adaptation of the play is what the movie centers on. The first thing I noticed when reading reviews and especially interviews, is that the director, the highly talented Alejandro Ina…

Quickie Review - Berberian Sound Studio (Is this the greatest in-joke ever?)

Berberian Sound Studio is being lauded by critics as a masterpiece. An homage to the horror thrillers of the 70's and 80's known as Giallo. It has quietly become the one film you're not allowed to say anything negative about, because it was inspired by the genre, you're not allowed to dislike and keep your credibility in good standing. Sounds a little too Williamsburg/coffee shop/college radio for you? Well it is.

Here's the great thing. It's not gaillo or anything even close. It's also not really a good movie, in any way. The acting is shoddy, the script is poor and the lighting is abysmal. Here's the main problem with these factors...this might simply be what the writer/director Peter Strickland thinks are the main components of giallo. Here is where I differ from all the glowing reviews and high praise; I think he knew exactly what he was doing.  I think he was poking fun at the whole ridiculous praise of the giallo genre. What we know as giallo is s…

Free Writing - Take 78

I thought about writing an in depth entry about this, but might need a little more research or at the very least have a handful more examples to point to, but it seems to me there is a trend among the people I know. The people who exude happiness publicly are all into some sort of fitness craze. Whether it be the fad of the month of the older varieties, all of these people are nothing but smiles and sunshine. What I've also noticed about this group is their one common trait. Money. Whether through hard work, inheritance or sheer dumb luck, they all have disposable income. This also means they are granted time. Free time. What I have gathered, mostly from direct interactions is that all of these people were at one time financially strapped or at the very least, struggling to have what they personally needed to feel "one" with the world. But here's where it gets tricky. When they stop talking about their exercise routine, their jobs or whatever it is they do to pass th…

Snowy Sunday Morning In Late March

The sun must have risen somewhere. I can see out the window, but despite being the third official day of Spring, it is snowing; very hard.  I don't mind the snow, but it seems like the entire world does and that has a horrible effect on me in many ways. Why are summer people so open to suggestion, whether it be a place to go for a drink or a meal, but in the winter, these people stick to such a rigid routine? They gaze out the window, seeing the pinkish grey sky atop the white ground and their minds become numb. Even when given the opportunity of making a choice, their minds shrivel up, like a frightened armadillo and they go with what is safe. Obviously, I'm being cryptic, because I don't want to offend. How many times can the same friend write about the weather? How often can I read about the cold? Why do they think we care, if they don't even care? Why is it I see pictures of the journey to work from some in the winter, every single day, but never in the summer when…

Eight Thoughts For Spring (Almost All Positive)

I know for some it is mason jars, books, sneakers or jewelry, but for me it is my Netflix queue. Between a typed out list and movies I've added recently, not to mention all the one's available instantly, I have about 370 movies on my current list. This is the reason why I'll never sleep and why I'll never delve into Breaking Bad or any other elongated drama.

In other news, I'm thinking we need to rethink the thought process behind random acts of kindness. Not the act, but some of you don't understand what the worn random means. If it's part of your job...not random. If it's donating to a charity...not random. If you go above and beyond, while doing something you had already planned on doing...not random. I'm not saying they aren't well done with the greatest of intentions and thoughtfulness, they simply aren't random. Seriously, think about the last time you did something purely altruistic without an inkling of planning.

By this time next we…

Quickie Review - Fading Gigolo

Yes, I know, you haven't seen it, but you know you don't like it. It's not realistic having John Turturro as a sex symbol. How are we to believe people who look like Sharon Stone and Sofia Vergara will pay to have sex. What's with all the Jewish stuff? Wait, Woody Allen is in it? No way.

These are all the reasons I've read for why this movie is terrible. What they missed was a cute story about connections, a funny story about friendship and an ode to NYC's quirkiness. Oh yeah and an award worthy performance by Vanessa Paradis, who has officially twice as many stellar performances in the past three years, as her ex-husband, Johnny Depp, has in the past decade (or more).

If you're a true New Yorker, you'll get the egg cream reference and see the proper way to make it, the Brooklyn/Queens bond, but only Manhattan for business and baseball in the park....sort if. You'll see Jewish humor, which some might find offensive, but I loved and you'll witnes…

Making Life Easier...Really?

I have a curse. I notice stuff. I notice things constantly that drive me crazy. People say life is short and while I disagree, I can't stand wasting it. I'm not talking about things like sitting in traffic. That shit doesn't bother me for a second. I figure there's nothing I can do about it, so enjoy the view, the music and the solitude. How often can we be forced to enjoy our own company? I'm talking about the things people do that makes no sense. Things like these are what bother me, because people don't see the silliness in it.

Setting the table with bowls when you'll be serving the soup, stew, etc, directly from the pot. So basically you're saving time by setting the table twice?

Backing into the driveway, so it's easier to get out in the morning. The time it takes to back into most driveways is about twice as long as it takes to back out in the morning. Don't believe me? What someone do it.

Leaving early to get somewhere on time. Now there …

Feeling Green: The Morning After

I'm sure many of you are fumbling for your snooze buttons, feeling the results of a job well done. The amount of booze for some of you was more than your normal share and for most I know, it was probably less as you made your way through a sea of what some of us call amateurs.

I've always gotten a kick out of St. Paddy's Day. It's the day when 6'4" 220 pound Irish lads are screaming at noon about their legendary drinking prowess and by 4:30, you're standing next to them in the toilet as they call you pussy for drinking a Coors Light, wiping vomit off of their shirt and acting oblivious to the fact they pissed themselves two hours ago. Slainte! Then there's the girls who seem to be so reserved at 3pm, when they walk in, prim and proper only to be the muse for some guy's friends, as they take pictures of him trying to get her pants off in a full bar. It's a lovely scene and one I've always had a little disdain for, but over the years, learned…

Random Thoughts On St. Paddy's Day

Last year, I drank more shots of Jameson in a 30 minute period than should be legally allowed. This caused me to order a second dinner, because I didn't realize I hadn't eaten my first dinner, which was about 18 inches from my face. Yes, I ate both and woke up feeling fine.

Having a blog can be depressing when scrolling back and realizing the same hopes and dreams I have today, the same aches and pains I suffer from and the same critiques, all apply as much now, if not more. Change is so much harder than we think and not inspirational meme is going to change that. Direction, devotion and luck all need to be present. Determination is fine, but most who have lost wars were more determined than those who won. Remember that.

I hope I never become a person who needs others to see what I own. Whether it be to point out how rich or how poor, I simply hope that a brand never defines me as it does others. One "friend" in particular is so concerned with what others think of he…

Free Writing - Take 77

The saying goes, walk a mile in one's shoes, before judging. If yours are barely broken in, yet feel comfortable, because you've been taken care of like a child for your entire life, it's best not to judge someone else.  If you want others to feel your grief, put down the tough guy/girl act and show compassion and sincerity when it isn't expected, not only when it is. If you have a huge issue in your life you feel the need to share, share it, listen to the advice, bathe in the warmth of comfort and take solace in knowing you matter, but please, don't add to your list of woes, by adding something as silly as your child's sniffle or the restaurant you wanted to go to being booked. Your serious problems then just get added to your list and most of us don't have time for your daily woes, as we have our own. Don't over thank people for niceties, but never ever neglect their efforts when they aren't warranted. Those are the ones that matter most and need …

Quickie Review - Session 9

This movie is an absolutely incredible eighty-five minute roller coaster for the mind, but there is a huge problem with this. The movie is ninety-five minutes and the last ten is a complete derailment.
I was loving this movie. The atmosphere, the acting, the setting, I mean everything. I was loving the craziness of the recordings and everyone sort of going their own way and even the obvious parts with Gordon. I mean I was taking this hook, line and sinker. Then, out of nowhere the final ten minutes comes and it felt like someone came in and yelled, "OK, ten minutes and that's a wrap." The final ten minutes felt like we had been suckered into thinking there would be this big payoff, but we're left with the worst possible outcome. The entire thing hinged on one of two ending that blew us out of the water or a simple explanation and a scene where we see the result. What we're given was a somehow drawn out conclusion that took what we knew for fact and th…

Quickie Review - Rosewater

Stewart manages to fall into every pitfall I'd given him credit for being to smart to do. He generalizes so many things, pokes fun at the usual suspects to create inopportune levity and drags on incessantly with silly make believe flashbacks and visions. In the end, he tells a story, he nails nightly in six minutes in 100 and loses everything we care about. The true genius of Stewart is to make us care about the person he is interviewing, whether they be a former hostage or pushing their new rom-com. He fails miserably in this, reflecting so often on his own show biz insecurities, instead of on the story. His interviews with his movie's subject were brilliant and that also adds to my disappointment. Like I said, I'm a true fan of this man and I feel completely let down. An important story and one I wish was told by someone capable, not just driven.

Quickie Review - The Station Agent

I had never heard of this movie until two days ago, when reading an article about an actor's five favorite films, I saw this title. Almost as unusual as this film was the source of the tip, Method Man, yes, that the one from the Wu Tang Clan.

The films doesn't have any unnecessary scenes and the three main characters are truly perfect in every scene. Michelle Williams ads beauty and pain, as she always seems to do, as the cutesy, yet "troubled" young librarian. Dinklage is perfect and it is no surprise to read that the role was written for him, as was Clarkson's and Cannavale's. Clarkson, I've grown to realize, is great in any role, no matter how large or how small, she gives it the care each film needs. She plays a character here that is so simply stated, but so mentally complex, without ever coming across as generic. The real hero of the film is Cannavale, not simply for the much needed levity, but for the portraying that loneliness doesn't have a t…

Question For Anyone

From the outside looking in, you have it all. You have a loving husband. You have beautiful, healthy kids. You have a good job, decent benefits and stability. You have a home. You have family who loves you and friends who are there at the drop of a hat. You have pets that view you like you're a god. You have a social life and you have hobbies. You have what everyone used to call "The American Dream."

You post pictures of all of this on Facebook for others to envy or maybe simply just appreciate. You tell us daily of your little ones achievements and we praise them. You tell us of your family's ills and we send out concern. You tell us of sadness and our sympathies come faster, with prayers from some and just love from others. Everything about your life that is positive, we embrace as you doing well and we're sincerely happy for you. We see you in the street and you and your family is smiling and it just cements our thoughts. You tell us you're happy and we fe…

Random Thoughts

Been a while

OK, this might sound nuts, but I didn't realize you can completely shut off people's posts and stay friends with them. Whoops, sorry racists that I unfriended. JK, I'm not sorry.

In other news, The Grand Budapest Hotel was great and Nightcrawler sucked.

Some poll listed Tina Fey as "America's Choice" to replace Jon Stewart. I double and triple checked, but surprisingly, this poll was not taken in 2004 when Fey was still funny. I like her, because she's smart and cute, but she's not funny. Her sidekick is hilarious and she just plays off of her, but alone, ugh. She's as drab as the decor in the Shining.

While I'm all for marijuana legalization, I find it very odd that now that is legal, 20-somethings are retiring to follow their "path." Hmm, guys in the NFL giving up potentially tens of millions to "find themselves." That shit is the Gateway drug alright. Gateway to poor choices.

I know most of you are thrilled …

Quickie Review - The Grand Budapest Hotel

Message boards, social media and personal conversation and I still don't get it. Why does anyone watch a Wes Anderson film if they don't appreciate his vision? The movies are all the same, in the sense that they will dazzle you visually and bewilder you if you're not accustomed to his style of dialogue, much like many of our youth who simply can't grasp those "silly B&W films."

While I wasn't trying to be philosophical, someone who also likes Anderson, asked me to explain in simple terms what his films are an why they work. I had just seen Jaws the night before and this is what I could offer. "Imagine Jaws, if the movie was told by Hooper and Brody, from the perspective of Quint, sometime many years after it happened." Just as the greatest scene in Jaws is Quint's telling of the USS Arizona, Wes Anderson allows time to turn the tales into memories and we all, nobody who we are, tend to embellish. All his movies are doing is embellishing …

Quickie Review - Nightcrawler (or Funny Games for Dummies)

When I first saw Funny Games I realized immediately that the movie wasn't the glorification of violence, but the condemnation of our own craving for it. The movie leaves you feeling so awful about the unaffected violence that it works without explanation. I found Nightcrawler to be the opposite. It spoon fed us how to feel and it did so by making nobody likable. There's not a single character we feel even an ounce of sympathy or empathy for. Yet, at the end, we're given a very different outlook. Is this because one was European and one was American or was this because the direction lacked the experience to tell the story without the suddenly common practice of, telling us how to feel?

Those Friends You Connect With

Everyone has those friends. Not the ones you spend the most time with or even like the most necessarily, but those friends you have a different kind of bond with. It's on a different level. because it's partially a shared personality, but it's also value, morals, ethics, but not across the board mind you, just random topics. There are times when these agreements seem to pop up just to remind you of their importance to you and you hope, you to them.

The last few days, I've been feeling guilt over the crisis in the Middle East. It was eating away at me, because I knew lives were being taken, but it seemed secondary. I was more upset about the art, the relics, the statues and other artifacts that had survived hundreds of years and were enjoyed by many generations. It bothered me that I felt that they were in some way more important than human lives, because they were a symbol of perseverance.

As with anything that is old, we tend to value it, not only for it's value, …

Quickie Review(s) - Horror Fest - 11 Films

It's been a while since I've bothered mentioning my feelings on horror flicks. I usually don't write much about them here, because horror films seem to be so incredibly subjective.  If find some men love the T&A slashers of the 80's, while women deplore them, instead craving the revenge flicks of the last ten years. I've always gone for more of the cerebral films, maybe not even true horror to be honest. Psychological thrillers, with gore are fine, but the horror films that turn me on are the ones that appear to be about one thing, but are about something completely different. Wes Craven's The People Under The Stairs, might be one of the greatest examples....unless of course, you want to get back into Martyrs again. So I'll keep these quick and to the point...unlike most of the films.

ABC's of Death 2 - Absolutely horrible, with the exception of four segments. S and X are absolutely chillingly brilliant. J and T are definitely above average. The res…

Free Writing - Take 76 (Speed Round)

You ever see something that someone writes or hear something they say and realize that something is wrong? Something is seriously wrong. Not life or death, but quite possibly, that things will never be the same. Sure, you probably have all seen it in summer romances or at work, but when it hits closer to home and it sticks out, it changes everything. Sometimes it's a friendship, a relationship, family or maybe just something you've grown accustomed to being lost. The mailman waving each day around the same time or the neighbor who slams their door shut. It might not even be something you like, but you grow accustomed to it and it becomes part of life. And then it is something small, that you know is the beginning of something bigger and it's that very minute you feel pain.

Quickie Review - The Judge

Weighted down by a formulaic Hollywood plot and absolutely nothing original is a black eye on this film, but in the end, you don't care one bit. Watching Robert Duvall work is worth the price of admission and I must admit, it was quite enjoyable seeing Robert Downey play Tony Stark sans the Iron Man outfit. Everyone else plays just above the bar, to lift their blah characters and the film to a passing grade. The real magic is, as expected, Duvall, who plays a curmudgeon to a tee. The courtroom scene might make you run for the hills, but their are enough scenes littered throughout, especially those with Farmiga and the little girl, that make this a little better than your old TV courtroom drama. Did I mention Duvall is in it?

Foxcatcher - When Creative License Changes History

All I had heard about Foxcatcher, was how three vastly different actors, came together to give performances that should have won awards. I was told by some that despite the "depressing" ending, the movie was one of the best of the year. What I also heard, was the guy who the movie is about, the man who wrote the book, was disgusted by how this film ended up. As someone who followed this story as it unfolded, I feel like the participants were wronged.

Mark Schultz is a simple man. He's not the smartest guy in the world, but he's hardly the mentally challenged character, that Tatum plays. His brother Dave, was a gregarious man. Fun-loving,  intelligent and nothing like the sad sack he's portrayed like in the film. He was also the buddy to du Pont in real life, not Mark. Then there is du Pont, who despite quite possibly being clinically insane, wasn't nearly as outwardly odd in interviews and footage, until he snapped. All this doesn't come close to what tru…

Quickie Review - Finding Vivian Maier

While I thoroughly enjoyed the film, especially the first 15-20 minutes, I was a little bothered by the way the film played out. The interviews with the clearly disturbed brother, sister and the mother, who obviously, was in for a cut, didn't need to be in the film. Then the woman who suggested abuse, yet seemed to have her life defined by Maier, as she tried to muster every ounce of emotion and fake guilt. Her friend, more than happy to be party of the charade. People who talk about abuse for the first time, usually don't do so on camera. The fact these scenes were so prominent, shows that they felt wronged that they were not rewarded. Maloof on the other hand, seems to disappear from the documentary during this part, almost hiding away from the fact, he went from complete praise, to even making money off of her, to destroying her personal legacy. He almost mentions the family of boys taking care of her rent, as an afterthought. Her burial spot, never shown, yet a video of he…

Free Writing - Take 75

This will be a short one, I promise. If I am on edge the next six weeks, please don't be offended.  I might not be my normally chipper self and there may be times I may lean towards the side of sarcasm or plain old crassness. I do sincerely apologize. I'll admit, that the public version of Facebook is making me truly despise some people I genuinely like. It's not my place to condemn those who feel it necessary to boast about their activities supporting things I want the world rid of or to constantly tell us all what we can see by stepping outside or maybe even gazing out the window. It's winter folks and this is what winter was when we were kids. Our parents didn't complain and we didn't know it was bad, because we went to school. Our parents weren't assholes like we are. They didn't sue the school when the bus skidded into a tree and they didn't pay others to shovel their walk. Hell, we reveled in this weather as teens, as it paid for our underage …

February Movies

February's List. #30 was actually movie #63 for the year.
The Town That Hated Sundown - Remake or Sequel? Solid start, but completely fizzles.Boyhood - Long-winded tale of growing up with a very misogynistic angle.  Filth - Scottish film with James McAvoy as bad cop. Heavy, but not the Bad Lieutenant.Trance - Great cast flounders in another Danny Boyle debacle, but words.Odd Thomas - Yelchin and my new bae Addison Timlin shine in Koontz adaptation. Detention - Cross between Easy A, Scream & Hot Tub Time Machine. Good fun!Fighting Express Trilogy - I'm counting this as one, because I watched it in FF. Awful.Under the Skin - eerily though provoking with Oscar worthy performance by Johannson. Killer Mermaid - aside from a tiny bikini and shorts, this one is as bad as it gets.Gone Girl - Wonderful acting can't help poor script and silly premise. Ending is a mess. Virunga - Documentary on the preservation of Congo's Mountain Gorilla's and so much more.Th…

Free Writing - Take 74

The clock ticks the weekend away, but it doesn't matter. This was a vacation for one, but a realization for me. A realization that I'm in more pain than I care to admit. That the simple act of sitting is becoming an issue. People laugh when they hear me complain, but they don't realize what this time last year was like. Wincing in pain as I walked over to demonstrate some sport for my kids, collapsing in sweat as I got home. I'd trade that pain for an hour a day with those angels. No beers and buddies to bounce my woes off of. Deaf ears surround me, both literally and figuratively. Even those on the other side of a phone, whether it be voice or text, seem uninterested in my plight. I can't say I blame them, as it's not a very exciting story. Movies, always dear to my heart, have taken the place of Friday and Saturdays laughing over shots of Jameson or whatever my friends poured me. I don't watch movies like I used to. They are no longer simple entertainment…