Winter Movie & TV Roundup

In case you haven’t read my review of Deadpool, since it is wintertime and my balls immediately try to recoil inside of my body cavity as soon as I set foot outside while touring bands tend to slow their roll in inclement weather, I have decided to post some of my less boring reviews of TV shows and movies that I have recently seen. But Negadave, you might say. Isn’t this a music blog? Well, if you want my mediocre writing to get better for when bands start rolling through the greater Triangle area this summer, maybe you should just humor me.

The rating scale remains the same. Nothing has changed other than there is no real rhyme or reason to the movies I have reviewed, let alone their order. I watch something, I write something. If what I have written does not immediately make me want to shoot myself in the face with a large caliber handgun, I post it alongside its like-minded brethren. Let’s light this candle and bask in TV’s warm, glowing, warming glow.

Rating scale:
*           = fart noise
**         = meh
***       = good
****     = great
*****   = excellent


Up In The Air (2009)

Hardly any of the films nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards strike my interest. Let’s take last year’s Best Picture nominees. I’m not going to lie to you: I only saw the winner. And I wasn’t impressed. [Editor’s Note: Birdman = 2/5. Beautiful but boring. If I were judging based solely on cinematography, I would have awarded 4 stars in the first 20 minutes alone, along with another star for Naomi Watts. I defy you to name a more under-appreciated actress in Hollywood.] Sure, these may be great films to “The Academy,” but I tend to reside in that twilit realm between art and enjoyment. I can appreciate great cinematography and maverick film-making but those lofty aspects of cinema don’t outweigh the fact that I want to “enjoy” a movie. Sure, I may act like an elitist prick, but I put my pants on like everyone else: One leg at a time.

I’m sure a large portion of film enjoyment comes from personal experience. Steven Patrick Morrissey said it best: “Hang the DJ because the music that they constantly play says nothing to me about my life.” I have acquiesced the fact that there will always be films that do not speak to me directly or, at a more basal level, there will be films that I do not “get.” I didn’t go to film school. I didn’t finish college. Hell, I didn’t even take college seriously. I only showed up to math class to see if I could scam my way into Rachel’s pants. [Editor’s Note: So close, yet so far.] All I know is that when a film, or any form of art, strikes a chord with me, I take notice. It leaves a mark, a trace in the essence that is me. That is the point of art: To pin down the ethereal wisp of a particular human emotion for even the briefest of moments. Such diaphanous elements are by nature fleeting and unable to be pinned down. That is why we try. I didn’t know what fleeting, ethereal emotion was attempting to be pinned down by Up In The Air, but they succeeded on all fronts.

In the interest of full disclosure, I only deigned to watch this film due to my massive, heart-wrenching crush on Anna Kendrick. Little did I know that it was to be Vera Farmiga that I was to fall in love with this time around. Also, Clooney may portray “Clooney” in every film he has ever starred in, but he has definitely mastered the art of “being Clooney.” He is just so goddamned likable.
The only other Best Picture nominee from 2010 that I actually saw was Avatar because you couldn’t swing a cat in 2010 without hitting James Cameron’s colossal piles of money that he received for plagiarizing Ferngully. [Editor’s Note: Avatar = 4/5. A gorgeous thrill-ride.]

Cinematographically speaking, nothing made Up In The Air stand out above the rest of the Best Pic noms but the crew did manage to hint at the feeling of an unending life of air travel without ramming it down the viewers’ throats. The subtle art of pointing it out without pointing to it, if you will. From the get-go, I felt a connection with Ryan Bingham. Not because I am handsome or charming, but because I could relate to his “cast off your shackles” philosophy on life and how it is almost at odds with his desperate need to cling to his routine and solitary lifestyle. The fact that a chance encounter with a beautiful, age-appropriate woman shook him to his core is one of the reasons why life is (mostly) worth living: There is something unexpected around many a corner in this world. It simply took Ryan the better part of 10 million air miles to find it. And then it turned out to be a mirage. Thanks, life. Jerk.

5/5 stars = Excellent


Ted 2 (2015)

This movie feels like an episode of Family Guy, for obvious reasons. There are many legitimate laugh-out-loud moments but the plot is so thin that it is extremely hard to become invested in watching the plight of a raunchy teddy bear who gets high and talks about dicks for two hours.

The first Ted film actually had heart and touched on some universal themes of love and friendship. The sequel tries too hard to force the civil rights angle. Yes, I understand that this is a movie that got Jay Leno to actually appear as himself solely for a throwaway joke about how he sucks strange cocks in a dive bar bathroom, but trying to compare Ted’s “human” rights to those of Dred Scott is, dare I say, borderline offensive. Good thing I had Jessica Barth to look at. Dear God, she is magnificent.

It was also a little insulting to my intelligence that the writers lazily shoehorned into Ted 2 the identical conflict as the first movie: A creepy Giovanni Ribisi tries to steal Ted. But then again, I shot Mt. Dew out of my nose when Google kept thinking they wanted to search for “black cocks,” so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

2/5 stars = Meh


Unfriended (2014)

Modern “horror” films are a mélange of overacting and overused tropes, coalescing into little more than hot garbage. Especially one that takes place entirely on a MacBook. And is about a ghost. A ghost that haunts social media. And there aren’t even any boobs. Despite those nigh insurmountable odds, this movie wasn’t entirely terrible. I realize that I am old and out of touch with today’s teens and their hip lifestyles, but do kids today really act like this? Are they all fucking each other on the sly and have an incessant need to always be online? Back in my day, well, we didn’t know what “online” was so we just did drugs. We didn’t give a shit about Facebook ghosts either.

2/5 stars = Meh


Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt S01 (2015)

I wanted to like this show. I really did. Maybe it was the lingering effects of my unrequited love for Liz Lemon or the hopes that Jack Donaghy would show up in a tuxedo to save the day (“It’s after six. What am I, a farmer?”), but Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt simply fell flat in its inaugural season for Netflix.

The show’s premise is unique. I can see how it didn’t find a place on the networks. It is just too quirky. That is a good thing in my book. Ellie Kemper is adorable perfection in the lead role but is left hanging by her supporting cast. Titus Burgess (simply reprising his 30 Rock role of D’Fwan minus a stint on Queen of Jordan) is the only saving grace but is really the only decent male lead in the entire show. Dong feels like an afterthought. [Editor’s Note: Phrasing.] That is okay though. This is a show with a predominately female cast. Except Jane Krakowski’s Jacqueline is simply Jenna Maroney had she married rich and given up her love of being on “CAM-er-ah” while Carol Kane’s entire legacy is tarnished by the writers using her as a mere delivery medium for crazy things an old lady might say.

Maybe I am being too hard on Fey & Carlock by trying to cram their Kimmy square peg into 30 Rock’s round hole. [Editor’s Note: Are we still doing “phrasing?”] It is just so hard not to look back fondly on perfection. [Editor’s Note: 30 Rock = 5/5. Consistently the best comedy on television during its run.] That is why I marathoned Kimmy one Saturday afternoon. I smell promise. I have high hopes that S02 of Kimmy can bounce back and earn some more stars on its own without having to rely on the Fey/Carlock pedigree.

2/5 stars = Meh


The Prestige (2006)

I defy you to find a director that had a better 15-year run than Christopher Nolan. From Memento through Interstellar, there is not a bad movie in the bunch. In fact, most are excellent. The Prestige is the film that removed all doubt from my mind that Nolan was the greatest filmmaker of the new millennium. And he hadn’t even released The Dark Knight yet.

The Prestige is a film about love, loss, obsession, fame, rivalry, cleverness, mystery, betrayal, sacrifice, and, most importantly, in every possible context and meaning of the term, sleight of hand. Which Nolan employs against you, the viewer, at every possible turn. The real magic though, the reason this film is so powerful, is that he lets you win sometimes. You might catch how a trick is done here or there. You might be able to rationalize someone’s actions. You might even be able to see what’s next. But you’ll never get it all. I am writing this review ten years after I first saw The Prestige. It has earned my highest rating because even after I know how he does the trick, I’m still amazed.

5/5 stars = Excellent


Girl House (2014)

Not much actual “movie” here but it was surprisingly well done. It was shot well, full of suspense, and the killer’s rampage was impressive and unnerving. If Girl House had a better script, it could have been one of the better modern slasher flicks, but it lacked any real substance. And what’s with the lead actress NOT appearing nude? She showed her cans to Jason “Pie Fucker” Biggs but wouldn’t appear nude in a movie rife with nudity in which she happened to be the lead actress?!? Not a great career move, Ali Cobrin.

2/5 = Meh

Movie Review: Deadpool (2016)

Much to Shameburger’s chagrin, I received an invite to see an advanced screening of Deadpool at noon on Thursday, replete with formidable-looking and dapper security guards supplied by Fox. [Editor’s Note: They also gave me a little toy souvenir because I was such a good boy.] Therefore, in my infinite wisdom as Editor in Chief of this fine publication, I decided to add a new category and start posting some of my TV and film reviews. What better choice for my inaugural edition than the current, most popular blockbuster in the world?

I thought that the 4th-wall breaking would grow stale alongside Ryan Reynolds’ extreme Ryan Reynolds-ing, but he really is quite good at being simultaneously silly and charming. Though I will manage to hate with a fiery vengeance all of the people who will inevitably try to poorly emulate his portrayal of Deadpool’s comedic style and delivery for the next year. Seriously, you have to be 10/10 handsome for this to work. If you are a normal person, just don’t do it. [Editor’s Note: #friendsofstretch.] And Morena Baccarin is one in a million. The average gutter skank, not fit to lick Vanessa’s bootheel, will only find you more repulsive. Just stop. No one likes you. Re-evaluate the life decisions you have made that caused you to wind up the person you have become.

One complaint about modern “superhero” movies is that the best interests of the target demographic (those of us old enough to have bought the comics as kids) are overlooked by studio execs in favor of a PG-13 version that has zero boobs and no brain splatter, all in the hopes that mom will load up the minivan and bring ALL the kids to the theater, not just surly teen boys with raging erections for violence. Deadpool jizzes in the face of that mentality with mega-gross-out one-liners and egregious gore. Some might call this approach sophomoric, but those detractors simply lack the appropriate sense of humor for this film. Sadly, the script has to constantly remind the audience that Mr. Pool is not a hero. So much so that it almost feels like they were trying too hard to come out ahead of the backlash from parental groups.

Now I know that I was supposed to fall in love with Morena Baccarin, and I did. In fact, I’ve been in love with her since Firefly, but by the end of the film, I found that my loins were yearning for Gina Carano. What can I say? I like ’em thick. Her monosyllabic portrayal of Angel Dust was an unexpected bonus to a film that was already worthy of the “blockbuster” moniker.

Overall, I liked this movie enough to see it again the very next night. If that isn’t a glowing recommendation, what is?

Deadpool (2016)
4/5 stars = Great