Sunday, August 17, 2014
Brad's Week in Dork! (8/10/14-8/16/14)
Why hello there. Miss me? This has been one of the busiest summers of my life. Traveling to France with my 93 year old grandfather so he could be showcased on Brian Williams' Journey To Normandy, road tripping to Memphis with The Wife, devouring my fourth San Diego Comic Con, and having just experienced my first ever Business Trip...to the glorious state of Ohio. I've been ignoring you guys. If you've been following my Twitter & Instagram accounts then you know that I haven't ceased on the cinema consumption. But I have abandoned ITMOD. Matt's been keeping the fire burning, but it's time for me to get back on board. No more lazing about.
Yeah, that's right, I met Andy Serkis. Just one of the many cool moments from this year's Comic Con. That photo was taken around 1:00 AM in the Hall H Saturday Line. Spent nearly 20 hours on the grass & concrete and was granted various strange encounters during the wait. I wish I had slapped a post together about this year's Mega Dork Event, but I figure I'll just sprinkle in the relevant photos as we move through the rest of the year. For right now, you'll just have to settle for a typical Week in Dork. Of course, being stuck in Ohio away from friends and family meant that there really wasn't much to do other than go to the movies. Every night I was in the West Chester AMC. Not the widest selection of movies, so forgive me if I had to settle on a couple of stinkers.
Lucy: The set up is dumb. The execution is dumb. The performances are often silly. But I can't help but think the movie was one or two kickass sequences away from being a great film. Scarlet Johansson is snatched off the streets of Taiwan by Korean gangster Min-sik Choi (Oldboy himself!), and for about fifteen minutes there is some genuinely uncomfortable terror at play as they pack her belly with bright blue super drugs & prepare to ship her across continents. When rape turns to a beating, and the drugs burst inside her, Johansson is gifted with enough brainpower to join The Uncanny X-Men. The Black Widow has a couple moments to Matrix it up, but before you know it her cranium needn't bother with roundhouse kicks or gun kata. The film races to its climax as Lucy taps into the universe, and the film attempts to pass beyond Stanley Kubrick's infinite. I dig the ambition. However, the film is too quick, too slight, and too obvious to actually be good. A solid attempt, but a swing and a miss.
The Purge - Anarchy: Man, I rally want to love these Purge films. The idea of a government sanctioned night of violence & debauchery is both ridiculous and rather terrifying. Yet, these Purge films are just stupid bullshit (Ha! Put that on the poster, "Stupid Bullshit!" - In The Mouth of Dorkness), and worst of all they are boring. The first film took the Kill Crazy Rampage plot & dulled it into a snoozer of a home invasion story. The sequel thankfully expands on the universe by taking its characters to the streets, and introducing us to Frank Grillo's Punisher. If the film had committed to a solo film for Grillo then just maybe we would have had an entertaining horror/actioner. Instead we've got the usual stupid cliches bumping into each other and falling prey to the spooky masked folk. Can they possibly get it right for the third outing? I'll be there to judge.
On Wednesday night I went wandering the back roads of West Chester, Ohio. Not much to see. Found the hole in the wall shop Queen Comics & Card Company, and then stumbled upon a White Castle. In my thirty four years on this planet, I had never had the pleasure of consuming Harold & Kumar's most desired slippery treat. Now was the time. I ordered the number 1 Slider combo with cheese and few extra packets of Dusseldorf Mustard. The bun was greasy, the meat was gray, and the flavor was rank. I guess I can see the appeal of these tiny burgers, but don't dare rank this drunk food alongside In-N-Out or Sonic Burger.
The Hundred Foot Journey: After choking down the White Castle and drowning it down with a bucket of soda, The Wife & I synchronized our texts so that we both sat down for The Hundred Foot Journey at the exact same time. No new ground here, but it was fun to watch this cute little film knowing my better half was enjoying it several states away. The basic premise of two opposing cultures finding kinship via culinary perfection is scientifically proven to warm the heart. With the added bonus of Helen Mirren there is no way you can come away hating this movie. It's sweet. That's enough.
Sex Tape: This film pretty much exists to showcase Cameron Diaz's side boob. It certainly doesn't succeed on the laughs. Jason Segel better be careful or these slumming it paychecks will result in a career of barely passable comedies. A bored married couple attempts to rekindle their spark by adapting the Joy of Sex via their plethora of product placement iPads. Rob Lowe pops up to snort cocaine & bizarrely reference Disney movies. Sure, I chuckled once or twice, but I mostly sunk deeper into my seat at the thought of Diaz's inevitable future blunders.
Let's Be Cops: Well it doesn't get much better here. At least with Let's Be Cops you have two leads with genuine chemistry. Jake Johnson and Marlon Wayanes Jr are a couple of failing thirty somethings (don't know what that's like???) desperate to recapture their dreams of youth by playing dressup. What starts off as a quick pickup line swiftly transforms into hardcore vigilantism. This not-so-high-concept lets its plot get in the way of the funny as villainous gangsters cockblock the jokes, and Johnson & Wayans have their improv stifled by a who-gives-a-shit narrative. If you laughed at the trailer then you got the gist.
A Most Wanted Man: This one crept up on me. On the surface, it's a rather routine bit of espionage in this post 9/11 world. But as the script ekes out its plot, the futility of the situation reveals itself and the dread ratchets from disgust to outrage. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is exceptionally quiet in the film. "Subtle performance" is a term that gets bandied about quite a bit, but I can't describe Hoffman in a better manner. His stillness, his tiny control over his physicality allows for a final scene that I found absolutely devastating. The man was one of the greats. It irritates and bums me out that we'll never get to see an Old Man Hoffman character. He could have done a Touch of Evil to melt our faces. Of all the films I watched in Ohio, this was my favorite.
The Infinity Revelation by Jim Starlin & Andy Smith: A few weeks ago Marvel published a one-shot Thanos Annual from Starlin & artist Ron Lim as a means of previewing this Original Graphic Novel. That single issue was a trippy mindbender in which an Infinity Gauntlet era Thanos traveled back in time to save his past self from the clutches of Mephisto, all done within the context of Thanos' current failings during Jonathan Hickman's Infinity event. I LOVED THAT ISSUE. It was wild, weird, and plunging in batshit Marvel continuity. It had me totally pumped for this book. Yet...The Infinity Revelation is not bad, but it is nowhere near as good as that floppy comic. This story centers around Thanos attempting to reconnect with Death by recreating the universe in his image. The trouble is that his arch rival Adam Warlock has to tagalong and pester him with mumbo jumbo philosophy. After the joy of this summer's Guardians of the Galaxy, I have been all about Marvel's Cosmic Comics. Some are good, some are great, and some are ok. The Infinity Revelation falls somewhere in the top of the OK category.
First Blood: "It can be confusing sometimes." For Saturday night's Late Show, The Alamo Drafthouse had Stallone's first Rambo adventure on the big screen. Not the silly killfest that the franchise would eventually become, First Blood is probably more relevant today then it was in 1982. A traumatized Vietnam vet hitchhikes across America in an effort to reconnect with the men he served with during the war. Brian Dennehy's Korean War veteran turned proud local sherif sees a longhaired vagrant and attempts to run him out of town. PTSD flashbacks send Rambo into a frenzy and the damaged soldier makes a run for it after humiliating the chucklehead cops. Dennehy can't take a hint so he escalates the situation into a small town apocalypse. First Blood is another cinematic bandaid on the festering wound that was Vietnam War, but Stallone's John Rambo could easily be roaming the country today, attempting to bury the trauma of Mission Accomplished. It's a tough movie. A sad movie. A great movie. Do not dismiss it because of the later films' taglines.