July 2015 Movie Round-up

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That horse has eaten and shat out things that would entertain me more than some of these movies.

Just a heads-up, I know that Mission: Impossible is coming out this weekend, and that’s a huge deal, and Fantastic Four (Quick prayer) is coming out next weekend, but I may not be able to see either of them. MI5 is more likely to be missed, unfortunately, but I’ll try to see it some time this weekend, even if the review comes out later than I’d like. Same goes for FF, but… Well, we’ll see.

Whatever, let’s get into this shitshow.

Spy

“I look like someone’s homophobic aunt!”

Directed by: Paul Feig

Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne, Jason Statham, Jude Law, Allison Janney, Miranda Hart, Bobby Cannavale

Plot: Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) is a CIA agent, but not one of the cool ones, who get to steal state secrets, make quips, assassinate world leaders, and the such. Instead, she is desk-bound, guiding her partner (Jude Law) on his missions through his earpiece. However, criminal heiress Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne) steals a nuclear device, and all field agents are unable to go after her, as she has learnt all their identities. In a last-ditch effort to stop The Bomb from getting into the wrong hands, Susan is sent after Rayne. Hilarity ensues.

Before this movie, Melissa McCarthy was struggling to get out of a rut. After a hilarious, Oscar-nominated turn in Bridesmaids, she kind of became a more talented, female version of Kevin James. Identity Thief was awful and The Hangover Part III  didn’t exactly help matters. The Heat was pretty good, but she followed that up with Tammy. I would rather watch somebody getting a needle slowly stuck into their eyeball than watch Tammy again.

After that arid wasteland of a comedy, McCarthy turned in a great dramatic performance opposite Bill Murray in the solid dramedy St. Vincent. Now, in Spy, she gets to join Charlize Theron as one of the biggest of the notable female asskickers this year. Who would’ve thought that?

And guess what Bryce Dallas Howard? She had the foresight to kick all that ass after TAKING OFF HER FUCKING HEELS.

What I loved about this movie is that it doesn’t fall into the trap of making fun of McCarthy’s appearance for the entire runtime. When I compared McCarthy to Kevin Fucking James earlier, I didn’t mean in terms of talent and acting ability, because the best performance that Kevin James has ever turned in is in goddamn Barnyard.

Alternate tagline: “It’s like if the plot from Lion King didn’t want to live!!!”

What I saw in Tammy that worried me was the growing resemblance to a movie like Paul Blart: Mall Cop in terms of story, character and humour. I’m sure you know what I mean. It’s one of those movies that appeals to the lowest common denominator, who just want to see a movie about stupid people who don’t meet societal standards of body image falling over and generally not being funny.

In Spy, McCarthy is not only very funny- She’s extremely capable, highly intelligent, frequently the most capable person in the room and, get this, a legitimate action star. We live in a world in which Melissa McCarthy can be an action star. That is so goddamn awesome.

  • + As awesome as McCarthy is, my favourite performance in this movie that isn’t the guy in the next bullet point is Rose Byrne. After this and Neighbors, we should probably get her a part in Ghostbusters and be done with it.
  • Jason Statham. That is all.
  • This movie single-handedly proves that insult comedy is an art form. I would murder truckloads of people for the ability to write insults half as funny as these ones.

Only for me to still probably forget them in an actual real-life confrontation.

  • – Miranda Hart is really funny, but she kind of gets old the minute her character gets upgraded to a major supporting role.

Rating: 8.5/10

The Boy Next Door

Oh lord, here we go…

Directed by: Rob Cohen

Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Guzman, John Corbett, Ian Nelson, Kristin Chenoweth

Plot: Claire Peterson (Lopez) is having a rough go of it, going through a separation with her cheating husband (Corbett) and being left with custody of their oft-bullied son (Nelson). All appears to be going better after a new neighbour, Noah,  moves in next door (Guzman) to help his elderly uncle, who only exists as a story device and, without explanation, does not appear again once his story purpose is served. Good job writers! That isn’t infuriatingly bad writing at all!

Anyway, the Boy Next Door (Wank-off motion) helps the son stand up for himself and becomes good friends with him, as well as Claire, who is to be his high school English teacher. One night, after a date gone wrong with a stock asshole character, Claire allows herself to be seduced by Noah, and has a one-night stand with him (But  don’t worry, the movie insists that he’s nineteen, so it’s not technically pedophilia!).

Claire tries to put this behind her, but, surprise! He’s completely insane!

Can’t you tell that from how, uh… Expressive he is???

I expected more from the director of The Fast and the Furious.

  • While Lopez wouldn’t be confused for a good actress, at least she’s not awful in this movie. Just kinda bad. Yes, this is the kind of thing that qualifies as a positive when talking about this movie.
  • – I find it amusing how, in awful thrillers like this, nobody ever has the idea of calling the fucking police. Or, at the very least, trying for a restraining order against the violent stalker.
  • – There’s a scene where Noah gives Claire a “first edition copy of The Iliad” as a present. THis wouldn’t be a big deal… If the first copies of The Iliad weren’t written three thousand years ago in Ancient Greece. Of course, it’s possible that Noah was referring to the first English edition of The Iliad… But in that case, why does it’s condition look like that of something that I would find on a Bestsellers shelf at Indigo?

And for that matter… How the fuck does a nineteen-year old get his hands on a “first-edition” copy of the goddamn Iliad?

  • – Ryan Guzman peaked in the Step Up movies. Awful thing to say about somebody, I know, but… Yeah, he’s pretty horrible.

Rating: 2/10

When Marnie Was There

“You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?”

Directed by: Hiromasa Yonebayashi

Starring (Japanese cast): Sara Takatsuki, Kasami Arimura

Plot:  Anna Sasaki (Takatsuki) is a lonely, depressed 12-year old girl, tormented by feelings of self-loathing, who suffers from asthma attacks, because apparently, she angered some petty god who decided “Fuck her! Here’s all the bad shit!”. After a particularly bad asthma attack, her parents decide to send her to spend her summer in Kushiro with her aunt and uncle, hoping that the clean air of the Japanese countryside will do her some good.

While in Kushiro, Anna discovers an old, dilapidated mountain on the shore of a salt marsh. While investigating the mansion, she discovers a mysterious blonde foreigner girl named Marnie (Arimura) who only appears at certain times, and who strikes up a close friendship with Anna.

The tough times that Studio Ghibli was going though after the retirement of Hayao Miyazaki a few years back culminated in the legendary animation studio finally going on hiatus in August of last year, but not before releasing their last film, When Marnie Was There. And it’s a damn shame, because When Marnie Was There may be one of the better movies to come out of the studio.

  • + Computer-animated movies can be awesome, but it’s nice to see that there is (Or “was” rather), a studio that still has/had faith in hand-drawn animation. there’s really no good reason why that style of animation appears to be in the middle of being phased out in the West, at least in movies.
  • I hate the cliche of critics guaranteeing that “You will cry!” while watching a movie, but yeah. If you have any semblance of a heart, you probably will cry.
  • I haven’t seen the English dub, but the Japanese version is version is well-acted, for all I know. Who knows, it could be acted by the Japanese equivalent of Rob Schneider, and I wouldn’t know.
  • – If you pay the faintest semblance of attention, it’s pretty easy to figure out the big mystery of the movie on your own. I figured it out about halfway through.

Rating: 8.5/10

The Loft

Captain Cold, Cyclops, Bones and the gay dude from Modern Family, all gathered in one place for your…uh…Amusement?

Directed by: Erik Van Looy

Starring: Karl Urban, James Marsden, Wentworth Miller, Eric Stonestreet, Matthias Schoenaerts. Rhona Mitra, Rachael Taylor, Isabel Lucas

Plot: Five awful, awful people who the movie would have you believe are friends (Urban, Marsden, miller, Stonestreet and Schoenaerts) are co-owners of a loft where they all take their mistresses behind their wives’ backs. One day, they discover a dead woman in the bedroom of the loft, and deduce that one of them must have done the deed, as they’re the only people with keys. Hilarity ensues.

The Loft is based on a Belgian movie of the same name (And same director) that is almost certainly a million times better than this piece of horseshit.

  • – Karl Urban and James Marden do the best that they possibly can with an atrocious script, and do enough to make themselves not unwatchable, at the least. The other actors are fucking terrible, though. Wentworth Miller tries to be crazy, and ends up just staring blankly at everything, occasionally screaming when the plot remembers that he’s supposed to be mentally unbalanced, and not a member of the Walking Comatose. Schoenaerts (Who was actually a cast member of the original movie) plays a fucking caricature, and Eric Stonestreet- Wait, no, Eric Stonestreet gets his own paragraph.
  • – ERIC STONESTREET’S CHARACTER IS THE FUCKING WORST. It’s one thing to present a character as being an obnoxious loudmouth, but this… This goes well beyond that. I felt physically and mentally violated every time this turd opened up his garbage-spewing mouth. I wish that his character got thrown off a fucking building.

I like Eric Stonestreet, though.

  • – As awful as the male characters are, at least James Marsden is a semi-redeemable human being. Wanna find a female character that isn’t a mean conniver, nymphomaniac, or stereotypical jealous, shrewish wife? Good. Fucking. Luck.
  • – If you still cared about the mystery by the time the movie was a quarter of the way through, then congratulations! This is probably the first movie you’ve ever seen! May you look forward to much, much, much better things in the future!

Rating: 1/10

’71

Belfast, 1971 looks an awful lot like San Salvador, 2015. That’s probably not good.

Directed by: Yann Demange

Starring: Jack O’Connell, Richard Dormer, Sean Harris, Sam Reid, Charlie Murphy, David Wilmot, Paul Anderson, Paul Popplewell

Plot: Private Gary Hook (O’Connell) is a young British Army recruit whose squadron is sent to Belfast, Northern Ireland, during the Troubles (Google them). When a routine firearm inspection in a Catholic neighbourhood goes horribly, horribly wrong, Gary finds himself stranded alone in hostile territory, solely dependant on his wits and on the hospitality (Or lack thereof) of the Irish civilians.

I can’t exactly speak to having any personal insight about the Troubles. My Irish ancestors got the fuck out of Dodge (Dodgederry?) the second the Potato Famine struck.

That’s not a racist joke, by the way. That’s an actual thing that happened. Look it up.

That’s why this movie was so interesting to me. Not only because of the tense, pulse-pounding action and suspense, but because of the political intrigue between the various factions vying for power and the civilians, just trying to get by, regardless of ideology.

Also, I could listen to Irish accents all day.

  • Jack O’Connell is really terrific. I’ve heard he’s good in Unbreakable (Which I haven’t seen) and I can attest to his talent after watching ’71. Good on ya, kid (Said the 18-year old to the 24-year old).
  • When a movie’s ending has you reeling at the injustice of it all, that’s a good friggin’ movie. Ditto when the movie has my eyeballs drying up, because I’m afraid of missing something if I so much as blink.
  • There’s a small child in this movie who’s legitimately excellent. Hard to believe, I know. Maybe it’s just America that has all the shitty child actors.
  • Belfast during the Troubles was fuckin’ brutal, holy shit.

Rating: 9/10

Hot Pursuit

The tagline is the funniest thing about the movie. And the tagine is total shit!

Directed by: Anne Fletcher

Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Sofia Vergara

Plot: … No.

No. I have spent way too much of my time on this round-up. Two thousand words’ worth. My family hasn’t seen me all day (I work slowly). I am not wasting any time talking about the plot to fucking Hot Pursuit. I HAVE TOO MUCH FUCKING DIGNITY, DAMMIT!!!

Sigh.

Reese Witherspoon plays an uptight, by-the-book Texan cop who’s tasked with escorting the wife of a drug lord, played by Sofia Vergara, to Dallas, in order to get her spirited away by the F.B.I. into the wonderful ether that is Witness Protection. When that goes wrong, a distinct lack of hilarity ensues.

  • The guy who plays the main villain is alright. Too bad he’s only in it for, like, a minute.
  • – Reese Witherspoon is a great actress. I love Reese Witherspoon. She was terrific in Wild last year. What does she bring to this project? A god-awful accent and a grating performance of a cliched character that I want to punch in the face every time I see her. I don’t care how cute she looks in a red dress, I wanted her dead.
  • – Sofia Vergara, while better than Witherspoon, believe it or not, is really, really terrible. There were a couple times when her dialogue consisted of nothing but nasal screeches. That’s not a slight on her latino accent (Shit, I’m half latino myself, what grounds would I have for that?), but, how do I put this, her accent doesn’t help the fact that her dialogue is mostly nasal screeching.
  • – As one would expect, two terrible performances does not lead to great chemistry between the two performers. It also doesn’t help that this humour is fucking nonexistent, being written and directed extremely awkwardly.

Here’s an example: There’s a scene in which Witherspoon tries breaking into someone’s car. The way that Vergara tries to get them out of it is by, uh, claiming that they’re veterinarians who are also lesbian lovers? What? How is that supposed to get them out of trouble (In Texas, especially!)? It’s like if a thirteen year old boy was handed the script for rewrites, and decided that the fact that these two women are randomly lesbians is somehow funny, because lesbians are hot and homosexuality’s a joke to them, I guess. Whatever. It’s not funny, and anybody who thinks that it is funny should be ashamed of themselves.

Rating: 0.5/10

I wanted to blow my fucking brains out at this part. If you’ve seen the movie, you know what I’m talking about.

Gone Girl (Movie Review)

That cat has seen some shit.

So, who else  is getting tired of me writing about baseball? I sure as hell am! Let’s just sit back, relax and settle down to watch a nice popcorn flick. Let’s see what’s in theatre right now…

Oh…. This is gonna be weird as fuck, isn’t it?

 Gone Girl

 Directed by: David Fincher

 Produced by: Leslie Dixon, Bruna Papandrea, Reese Witherspoon, Ceán Chaffin

 Screenplay by: Gillian Flynn

 Based on: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

 Genres: Thriller, Mystery

 Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Carrie Coon, Kim Dickens, Patrick  Fugit, Casey Wilson, Missi Pyle

 Music by: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

 Plot: In a sleepy town in Missouri known as North Carthage live former writer and current barkeep Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) and his wife, Amy Elliott-Dunne (Rosamund Pike), another former writer and, weirdly enough, the inspiration for a series of children’s books known as “Amazing Amy”, written by her parents. They are celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary, but unfortunately, it isn’t quite being celebrated under the best of circumstances, as they have grown distant from one another, ruining what used to be quite a lovely marriage. On the morning of, Nick returns from the bar he co-owns with his sister, Margo (Carrie Coon), to find that his wife is missing from his house with no prior warning, and there are signs of a struggle in the living room. Understandably, he freaks the fuck out and calls the cops, and the whole community rallies behind him.

However, things are shaken up a bit when Nick’s facade of being the perfect, worried husband starts to slip and what was once perceived as being a shy, awkward, kind person starts to look more and more like an angry, remorseless sociopath. It doesn’t help his case much when evidence gathered by the police starts to shift the blame in his direction, and even less so when the media jumps all over his case, all but screaming for the governor’s office to fry this man for murder. Did Nick Dunne kidnap, or even murder his wife? Or is there another explanation?

Weirdly enough, the first people that I want to praise for this movie are not the actors, director or writer, but the marketing team. Whoever green-lighted the decision to only use scenes from the first third of the movie or so in the trailers for the film. I was completely oblivious to the whopper of a twist that was to come, and for that, I thank them.

Before I get into some of the numerous stuff I really loved from this movie, I’ve gotta get the one thing I didn’t like in the movie out of the way, so here goes: I thought some of the dialogue from when Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike’s characters were meeting for the first time was kind of annoyingly pretentious.

Well, now that that’s out of the way, it’s time for me to voraciously kiss this movie’s ass.

Holy crap, was this movie ever the definition of perfectly cast. I heard that some people, mostly fans of the novel that the movie is based on, were bitching about Ben Affleck being cast in the main role. I, personally, have been a huge Affleck supporter ever since he came back onto he scene in a big way with The Town, and I was one of what seemed to be the few people who weren’t losing their minds over him being cast as you-know-who.

“What, are you dense? Are you retarded or something? Who the hell do you think I am?”

Well, it puts my ever-worrying mind somewhat at ease to know that Ben Affleck absolutely brings it to this movie. His character is not always shown doing the nicest things on-screen. In fact, I probably should have hated him at one point, but throughout the whole movie, he displays a type of charm that makes Nick Dunne irresistibly likable. He’s a nice guy (Or he seems to be), but he also most certainly is not a perfect person., rather a very complicated human being who’s dealing with a lot of crap, some of it it brought on by himself.

Affleck’s co-star, Rosamund Pike is…Well…..I don’t know if I can say too much about her or her character without spoiling the movie, but I will say that she is fantastic. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that she delivers one of the best performances I’ve ever seen. No joke.

The supporting cast is perfect as well. Carrie Coon (From The Leftovers) is funny at times and has some good lines. Neil Patrick Harris is very good as a slightly unhinged ex-boyfriend of Rosamund Pike’s. Tyler Perry is also in this movie, in his second appearance in a movie not directed by him since his cameo in the 2009 Star Trek movie (His first was 2012’s Alex Cross, and the less said about that, the better). I’ve never been a Tyler Perry fan, not because I don’t like the guy, because he seems nice enough. I just find Madea unfunny,  the Madea character insufferable, and religious movies in general to be incredibly preachy, bad pun intended. Eh, different strokes for different folks, I suppose.

But hey, Tyler Perry was excellent as well as Nick’s somewhat morally ambiguous defense attorney.  The dude can act! Now, Hollywood just needs to get him into some better movies and the world may soon forget…Well, anything that wasn’t Precious, Star Trek and Gone Girl.

We have a lot of forgiving to do, folks. A lot of it.

Much praise is deserved by the director as well. David Fincher, director of such masterpieces as Se7en, Zodiac, Fight Club, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Social Network (As well as the hunk of shit that was Alien 3)  and probably one of the best directors working in Hollywood today, really, creates a very dark, unsettling nature in direct contrast to the idyllic suburban setting of the story. It also helps that he brought his frequent collaborators, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (Who had previously done the soundtracks to The Social Network and Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), along to do the music, which is, in a word, eerie. Eerie, eerie eerie. Electronic buzzes and drones aren’t that much fun to listen to on their own, but holy shit, did they ever provide the perfect atmosphere in this movie. If this movie isn’t at least nominated for a “Best Original Score” prize at the Oscars, I will be very, very angry.

Kudos to writer Gillian Flynn as well. It’s not very often you see the author of the source material write the screenplay for the script. The only author I can think of who really makes a point to write the movie adaptations of his work is Frank Miller, and everything he’s done that isn’t 300 or Sin City is utter shit. Flynn, on the other hand, writes a pretty fantastic script, aside from the minor gripes I mentioned in the beginning. She also does a really good job of incorporating elements of black comedy into the movie, which was a pleasing surprise.

Overall: Sure, it’s a long movie, clocking in at over 140 minutes, but it’s such a wild ride that you don’t care. If you don’t have a weak stomach, this is a must-see movie. I sure as hell loved it.

Rating: 9.5/10

“Oh, shit, it was the cat who did it, wasn’t it?!?!”- A thought that I’m ashamed to admit crossed my mind multiple times during the movie.