I’ve been busy, okay? I swear I’ll be putting out more stuff real, real soon, in fact, this post covers nowhere near the amount of movies and shows I’ve seen recently. Spoilers: Lynch Week began this past week, and will be completed just in time for another post next Saturday. We’re watching every single David Lynch movie and not one Lynch short film, because he’s made about infinity of them. Anyway, I saw 7 movies and a TV show in the arbitrary amount of time I chose, and I have a little bit to say about all of them, so here they are:
July 14: Beetlejuice (Amazon Prime Video)
Back when the name Tim Burton actually had a chance of being a box office success, he made his magnum opus, a movie about a couple who dies and want to haunt the people who buy their house. It’s mundane in concept, but bring in a smattering of Michael Keaton at peak insanity, some fantastic practical effects, not to mention Catherine O’hara, and you have an off-the-walls comedy that manages to constantly be fresh and exciting. Tim Burton has since lost his will to understand what made his older stuff decent, and can’t even direct a successful Disney movie. Disney. Slap that name on a movie and you’ve basically got a money printing machine unless Burton gets his hands on it. Do people really want to see photorealistic lion CGI that much more than big floppy Dumbo ears? I don’t get audiences, and clearly Burton doesn’t either.
July 14: The Blair Witch Project (Amazon Prime Video)
The expectation was that TBWP wouldn’t hold up against modern filmmaking, but I’d still respect it for ushering in an entirely new style of horror. People today discuss it like it was a terrifying phenomenon, that everyone was always talking about how scary it is; the tension and such. And I just have to wonder if we were watching the same movie. TBWP is boring from minute one to minute eighty. It’s a few twenty-somethings walking around in the woods, hopelessly lost, getting more and more distressed as the days go on. The problem is, nothing ever happens. After the intro, the movie consists of scenes in which the group jokes, then they bicker, then they fight, then there’s a house, then it ends. Nothing scary, nothing I could get invested in, and certainly no script. This was a phenomenon in 1999? Well, so were Pogs; I shouldn’t be giving the 90s so much credit.
July 17: Kick-Ass (Amazon Prime Video)
As much as I despised the second one, the original Kick-Ass was filed into the “somewhat fond” memory folder. What I remembered as a funny satire of superhero movies turns out to be just another shitty superhero movie that thinks it’s smarter than all the others. In 2010, I’m sure it worked on some level. The MCU had yet to fully take shape, so it didn’t seem as formulaic and traditional. It also coasts on the 2000s era teen movie faux grittiness; the notion that anything involving extreme violence is really cool and, well, kick-ass. It also involves a B-plot love story where our main character pretends he’s gay only to confess to this girl he’s been lying to for months to get close to her and immediately gets laid? Was that even okay nine years ago, let alone today?
The most egregious problem, though, is how they treat Red Mist (or The Motherfucker, as he’s known in the sequel). Christopher Mintz-Plasse plays the son of the main baddy, and he is initially very committed to aiding his father in his criminal endeavours. He gets to know Kick-Ass, though, and finds out he’s just another nerdy kid, and jumps to defend him. You have a somewhat interesting setup here, where an apparent villain realises the error of his father’s ways and ends up saving the day at the end. Generic, sure, but it’s some kind of character development. Instead, his entire character is thrown out the window along with his father and he vows revenge, becoming the irredeemable inhuman maniac main villain of Kick-Ass 2. It’s lazy to humanize a character over the course of 2 hours just to say fuck it, we need a sequel setup. And boy, do I ever hate Kick-Ass 2. I do not like Kick-Ass 2. It is a very, very bad movie. Sharks need to swim to live, dammit!
July 23: Jennifer’s Body (Blu-Ray, because as the box says, “She’s Even Hotter in Blu-Ray!”)
Let’s take it back a year, back to a time where the aforementioned teen movie faux grittiness was turned up to 11. 2009, what a wonderful year. You have modern classics like Coraline, you have modern abominations like Up in the Air, and then somewhere right in the middle of abomination and classic, you have Jennifer’s Body. I’ve said before that I don’t enjoy “so bad they’re good” movies, but I’ve been making more exceptions as of late. Jennifer’s Body is a hilariously terrible movie, and yet it has a charm to it that only the years 2005-2009 can possibly encapsulate. Could the word “freaktard” show up in any movie before or after that tiny time frame? No way. That’s what makes Jen’s Body so special: it defines a time. It captured the zeitgeist so pitifully that it became a part of the zeitgeist. That’s art. True art. And what’s the only thing better than true art? That’s right, true art on Blu-Ray. Get your copy of Jennifer’s Body on Blu-Ray today! There’s 5 EXTRA seconds of Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried kissing!
July 23: The Last Black Man in San Francisco (Theatre)
Was Endgame my favourite movie of the year before The Last Black Man in San Francisco came along? Either 2019 hasn’t been so great so far, or I really, really like Endgame. I think it’s a combination of both. Obviously, I really, really like The Last Black Man in San Francisco, it being my favourite of the year so far and all. It’s a beautiful looking and gorgeously written little A24 movie about two black men and a house. It’s a struggle of black identity, a love/hate letter to San Francisco, and a commentary on the racial divide ripping not only San Fran apart, but the rest of the US as well. There are some phenomenal performances here from Jimmie Fails and Jonathan Majors, relative newcomers, and from Danny Glover, the most veteran of veteran actors. And Thora Birch is in there for one scene? That was confusing, I’ll admit. TLBMISF may stick to a relatively traditional formula but it does so with such confidence and cleverness that it feels like something entirely new, fresh, and deserving of taking my top spot this year.
July 23: Clue (Amazon Prime Video)
Board game movies are gonna be more popular than the Marvel movies one day, mark my words. You heard it here first. First Clue, then Jumanji, then Battleship, then Jumanji again, and now there’s another Jumanji. It’s happening already. The Hasbro Cinematic Clue-niverse. Hire me, Hasbro, I’m all you need right now. Or Parker Brothers, or whatever, I don’t play board games, what am I, some kind of nerd? Excuse me a minute, I have to go to my job at a board game café.
I’m back, and ready to start my review of the first entry into the Clue-niverse. 1985’s Clue is both a decent murder mystery and an absolutely bonkers comedy. The first while teeters between seriousness and bonkersity, leaving me questioning what kind of movie I was getting into, and all of a sudden you have a bunch of board game characters running around a mansion at a wild pace while Tim Curry throws people around like potato sacks to reenact events. It features three different endings, all of which make sense if you don’t think about them too much, and each end in brilliant anti-climacticism. How many words did I make up in this review? Three. Now this review will end as brilliantly and abruptly as Clue.
July 25: Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood (Theatre)
Collage, that’s the word that made me finally understand and allowed me to somewhat parse my enjoyment of this movie. It has no true narrative, but it’s not some arthouse film, instead, it’s a collage of what 1969 Hollywood looks like through the eyes of our three protagonists. You have Brad Pitt and Leo DiCaprio at their absolute best, and Margot Robbie is also in this movie playing Sharon Tate, though I’m still not entirely sure why. It’s essentially a collection of scenes that happen to feature the same characters despite being only loosely related, and while mostly entertaining, I still don’t get it. There’s so much here that makes so little sense, and despite understanding it on a collage level, I don’t understand the overarching themes and meanings. It’s never felt more necessary for me to see a movie again. Luckily, you won’t have to wait long for a far more nuanced and fleshed out review…[It’ll be out next week. I had to edit this pretending I hadn’t seen it again already. Spoilers, I absolutely adore the movie and would totally see it a third time, but more on that later.]
July 27: Big Little Lies (HBO)
Season 1 of Big Little Lies gave us a fun cast of characters, the Monterey Five as they come to be known, and a clever buildup to a climax that could never live up to the hype the show created. [Spoilers for season 1 from here on] While having Skarsgard – the man born to play abusers and serial killers – turn out to be a horrible rapist husband was a great twist, I felt the show was held back a bit by having the entire plot hinge on a single moment.
I was initially skeptical of a second season [Spoilers], thinking the story had finished itself well and that there wasn’t enough room to escalate and improve. Instead, the second season brilliantly solves any issues the first season had while maintaining the writing quality and fantastic characters of the first season. Meryl Streep shows up and immediately shoehorns herself into the lives of the Monterey Five, and once again shows that Meryl Streep can do pretty much anything. I love to see her in less traditional roles like in Adaptation and BLL. What makes this season truly special, though, is Andrea Arnold’s fantastic directing, editing, and overall involvement behind the scenes – wait, what’s that? They effectively booted her off the project once they stopped filming? Despite her being a fantastic new director who had her own creative vision? Yikes. Regardless, this season is a masterpiece until the last episode, and even though it all ended far too smoothly and cleanly, I adored the journey to get there.
Every character is a complicated tangle of justified and understandable yet at times morally muddied, making the legal battle that defines the last couple episodes the most tense court session I’ve ever seen on television. While that’s going on, we have the battle between Laura Dern and her asshole of a husband, a hilariously entertaining yet upsettingly toxic relationship that explodes in some rather satisfying train set shattering. The only character that feels left behind is Reese Witherspoon’s, simply because the stakes are so low for her. She cheated and her husband found out, and her plot revolves around whether or not he stays. We as an audience care far more about a custody battle or disgraced multi-millionaires than we do about a potential divorce in an otherwise functional family, leaving the story feeling somewhat hollow in comparison, especially with the sappy-happy ending. These flaws don’t come close to ruining what I consider to be a near perfect season, and I hope someday Arnold can cook up her own perfect version.
I have so many more reviews for you, you don’t even know what’s coming. But if I were to write more than the already 2000+ word post, nobody would read the entire thing and get to this vital sentence, so we gotta keep it relatively short. This week’s shoutout goes to brunch. I like brunch, it’s like, what if breakfast and lunch were one thing? Wild, totally wild. Like, what kind of genius do you have to be to come up with something so versatile yet so rigid? I’ll never achieve the heights of some people on this planet.