A nearly unforgivable prank was played on me over the weekend when I was asked by my lovely lady if I wanted to go to the movies after work. It was a particularly tough workweek and I couldn’t think of a better way to unwind that didn’t involve copious amounts of alcohol and/or guns. The two rarely mix well so I said ‘sure’, without thinking to ask what it was we were going to see.
Knowing that we were going to the Alamo Drafthouse, I may have been too distracted to ask for any details about the movie. You know, important little details like ‘what’s it about?’ or ‘who’s in it?’ or, as I learned that night, ‘who wrote and directed this film?’ The fact that The Alamo serves my favorite beer (Yonkers IPA) and has unlimited refills on popcorn, was enough of a reason to sit through just about anything for 2 hours.
The fact that The Alamo serves my favorite beer (Yonkers IPA) and has unlimited refills on popcorn, was enough of a reason to sit through just about anything for 2 hours.
We order our drinks and popcorn just as the last of the previews are finishing up. I’m only slightly more informed about the movie because I walked past the poster as we were entering the theatre… “The Visit.” Never heard of it. In my head I hoped this wasn’t a documentary about menstrual cycles. I’m just basing that on the title…meh, it didn’t matter if it was. Yonkers IPA. I see our server with our drinks. Cue the libations. The lights dim to a dull glow. Cue the opening credits. What appeared next on the screen let me know that I should be afraid for the next 2 hours. I should be very afraid. “Written and Directed by M.Night Shyamalan” Cue the WTF?! HOW DID I LET THIS SHIT HAPPEN?!
Never, in the history of movie going, has such an audible “AW SHIT!!!” been let out by audience member that the people 3 screens over could hear it. Was that out loud? Sorry, it was supposed to be in my head. It wasn’t the kind of “Awwww SHIT!!” you bellow out when your favorite song comes on in ‘da club’. No. This was the other kind. The kind of “AW SHIT!” you yell out when you step in a big pile of ACTUAL shit. In this case, it was a big pile of what I thought was going to be eye shit. That’s right. Shit. Just for your eyes.
If I gave you a million guesses as to what the last watchable M.Night movie was, you’d probably guess it on the first try. Go ahead. I’ll wait. That’s right, it was The Sixth Sense. Since then it has been a downhill slide of shit. That’s right a slide made of shit. Built specifically for M.Night movies to ride on before they hit movie screens and shit in your eyes. With that being said, you would be surprised to know that this film was surprisingly enjoyable.
In my head I hoped this wasn’t a documentary about menstrual cycles.
If you know anything about M.Night films, there are two things you can count on. 1. It’s not going to be scary but there will be a few cheap scares in there. 2. There will be some kind of plot twist. He doesn’t disappoint with either though, the plot twist was pretty weak and predictable. What I was surprised about was how entertaining the two teen actors were and how many laughs there were throughout the movie. Ed Oxenbould steals the show hands down as aspiring white rapper Tyler and Olivia DeJonge is not far behind with a exceptional performance considering who wrote the script.
This is easily, for me at least, M.Night Shyamalan’s second best movie. Was it a great movie? No. I don’t even know if I’d call it a good movie, but it was certainly worth the price of admission. Go see it.
The Mandalorian Gets Star Wars Right
Star Wars is pretty silly, and that’s okay. If we want Shakespeare, we already have it. I don’t expect some fantasy silliness to ever take the place of nutritious art. Still, I like candy, too, and that’s what we get from those films whittled from the paper-thin mythologies of the original.
Enter The Mandalorian, like some nameless Sergio Leone anti-hero through a planked saloon door, stopping the piano player and all conversation in its tracks. There’s a stranger in town. Could be Clint Eastwood, could be Charles Bronson. In this case, it’s Pedro Pascal, a Chilean actor best known for Game of Thrones and Narcos. You’d never know it, though, since as of episode 7 we’ve yet to see “Mando” sans helmet. This only adds to a coolness originally displayed by another famous Mandalorian, Boba Fett. Boba actually debuted between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back in a hastily produced Christmas cartoon.
Not everyone likes it when silly wants to be taken seriously. Still, there’s a way to do it that’s not as jarring as Adam West v. Christian Bale.
Jon Favreau, whose Iron Man truly kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe, acts as executive producer and showrunner of The Mandalorian, and he knows just how to balance the whole thing with an aesthetic more Alex Ross than Jack Kirby. As head writer, Favreau successfully walks that tightrope between nostalgia and the now. He tempers seriousness with one of the most adorable little puppets you ever did see. I’m talking about “The Child,” better known via recent memes as “Baby Yoda.” In the same way that the Mandalorian isn’t Boba Fett, the Child isn’t Yoda – yet both have those original characters baked into their DNA.
At 15 million clams an episode, you get some excellent production value. Cinematography, music, and special effects are all on point, as are cameos from the likes of Amy Sedaris, Bill Burr, Werner Herzog, Nick Nolte, Carl Weathers, Giancarlo Esposito, and Taika Waititi. Waititi also directed the final episode of Season 1, to be released December 27th.
The Mandalorian may be the best byproduct of the original series. Check it out on Disney+.
Aaron Paul Breaks Bad Once Again
Vince Gilligan brings us the further adventures of Jesse Pinkman as only he can, and the results are pretty entertaining.
Released on Netflix and in theaters on Friday, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie steps back and forward in time to resolve Pinkman’s story in two tension packed hours. Thankfully, Gilligan doesn’t bite off more than he can chew, and manages to pack more action into this story than in four frickin’ seasons of Better Call Saul.
You know that feeling you get when an episode of Saul ends and you feel like you’ve just been tricked into watching lawyers talking for an hour? You won’t have that with El Camino.
Now, if they could just spin off Jonathan Banks the same way.
Some familiar faces show up here and there, and they thankfully don’t chew up too much of the scenery. Worth noting that Robert Forster does a fine job in El Camino, and he unfortunately passed away the day the film was released. Peace out, Mr. Forster.
No villain in comic book history has been more praised, dissected, and interpreted than the Joker. His enigmatic past has given several authors opportunity to give their take on his origins, yet never stapling him down to any legitimate background. This film is another folklore to add to the potential rise of a mad man.
If you’re expecting a superhero movie, you have definitely come to the wrong place. This film is a character study of a man suffering from trauma, abuse, and mental illness. It relates less to the Batman comics and more to a blend of Martin Scorsese‘s Taxi Driver & King of Comedy which ironically both star Robert De Niro. It dives deep into the descent of a delusional man pushed to his absolute limits as he begins to find his ultimate self in the bowels of a maddening society.
Joaquin Phoenix was spectacular in the role, embodying the look and characteristics of the villain we are all familiar with, yet adding a twisted perspective that humanizes his actions and roots it in many forms of anguish. His body twisting in macabre movements added to a tone which conflicted its viewer between rooting for him or slowly separating ourselves from his bizarre antics.
The environment of the movie is perfect for this character: New York City in the early 80’s, which is how we’ve been conditioned to stereotype Gotham. It’s dirty, dreadful, ugly, and cultivated all the elements needed to allow sickness to thrive.
The supporting cast added value to the movie without standing out more than Joaquin, who is impossible to outshine.
Only two big flaws I found with the movie:
1. It was very slow-paced. Just surpassing two hours it felt like it dragged during certain scenes and some tighter editing could’ve cured some of that.
2. I would’ve love to have seen more of the clown make-up. Even though Arthur Fleck was interesting on his own, there was a certain level of superhuman strength he dawned with the clown paint. He was evil, he was scary, and inhuman, and that would’ve been just as intriguing to observe.
Other than that. It was a pretty solid movie.
Overall Grade: B+
Joker was more fascinating than I anticipated, and strikes a good balance between comedy and tragedy. I recommend it to anyone that is happy cringing through some really foul human behavior.
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