Monday, October 19, 2015

Video Review 10/19/15

So here are some things I watched recently, probably none of which you've ever heard of.  But since you haven't, I decided I'll include where I watched it so you might be able to find it.  Of course that might be subject to change.  For HBO movies check HBO Go or your cable provider's on demand service.

Cop Car:  I heard of this movie in large part because it helped land the director the next Spider-Man movie.  It definitely has a Coen Brothers vibe established in movies like Fargo, Blood Simple, etc.  There's the same mixture of horrific violence and deadpan black humor.  It all starts when two little boys find a cop car in the woods.  They decide to take it for a joyride.  Unfortunately for them, the owner of that cop car is the sheriff, who was using the car to transport a couple of bodies.  Needless to say he doesn't take kindly to his car being stolen.  Oh, and one of those bodies isn't dead.  So while it starts innocently, it soon takes dark turns.  The only thing I didn't like is the end kind of leaves something unresolved. (4/5) (Redbox)

Tomorrowland:  I might have gone to see this in theaters but never got around to it.  Anyway, it's the movie based on the old Disneyland attraction.  What I like about the movie is how it questions our increasingly bleak worldview.  I mean when the most popular books, movies, and TV shows are all featuring apocalyptic and dystopian scenarios it's hard to believe in optimism. Where's that can-do spirit that was so pervasive in Star Trek?  Or in the earlier days of science-fiction?  The movie is good then at reminding us that we should try to solve problems instead of whining about them.  This was something good about The Martian too, in how everyone banded together instead of arguing and finger-pointing like what happens after every school shooting.  Anyway, the irony is the movie itself features an apocalyptic/dystopian plot in that the guy running Tomorrowland thinks we all need to die.  I'll admit I didn't pay attention through the whole movie, which was kind of a problem.  Something shallow is that the girl playing the teenager who teams up with George Clooney looked like she was thirty.  The intro got a little annoying too in "let's start here" "no, let's start here."  Just start somewhere!  Anyway, it was OK and if you really like old-timey sci-fi then it's fun for that too.  Probably a good thing Disney bought Star Wars for the scenes in the old toy shop where they have lots of Star Wars props.  (2.5/5) (Redbox)

Air:  If you ever read Wool by Hugh Howey, this is kinda like that.  There's a missile silo in which there are a bunch of frozen bodies who will eventually get up to repopulate the devastated Earth.  Taking care of those frozen bodies is the job of Bauer (Norman Reedus aka Daryl of the Walking Dead) and Cartwright (Djimon Honsou of Guardians of the Galaxy, Gladiator, and of course Amistad).  They wake up every six months or so to make sure the place is still functioning.  Except this time something goes wrong when Cartwright's chamber malfunctions.  Searching for spare parts leads them to shocking revelations about the world around them and their mission.  That in turn sets them against each other.  It's decent, though probably a little too slow for most people. (2.5/5) (Redbox)

The Canyons:  I watched this mostly because I read an article on what a pain in the ass Lindsey Lohan was when they were making it.  The movie itself is a bunch of stuff in search of a real story.  Basically there are two couples (and another chick) and everyone is sleeping with everyone and spying on everyone.  Interspersed in this are images of closed movie theaters--for some reason.  Sure the characters were involved in making a movie (though we never get to that) but otherwise I guess the idea was to illustrate the faded glory of Hollywood.  There's plenty of nudity (both genders), which helps pad the blow a little. (2/5) (Netflix)

Burying the Ex:  It's like Every Romantic Comedy meets Death Becomes Her.  Chekov from the Star Trek reboot works in a Halloween novelty shop when a "Satan Genie" shows up.  His annoying environmentalist girlfriend inadvertently wishes they could be together forever, so when she gets hit by a bus, she comes back to life.  Though only after Chekov has found a sorta of hot milk shake shop owner (because in movies something like that exists) who is a lot less annoying.  That puts new meaning to "it's complicated" for relationship statuses, right?  It was entertaining and not entirely predictable and pretty short too at just under 90 minutes. (2.5/5) (Netflix)

Bad Night:  This is an action comedy that's based on a case of mistaken identity.  Two teenage girls on a field trip get mistaken by a professional driver who's supposed to pick up two mysterious women who are art thieves.  Meanwhile the art thieves get picked up by the Uber driver the teenage girls hired.  So naturally mayhem ensues.  It's nothing special but it's funny especially if you liked 80s movies like Ferris Bueller's Day Off or Adventures in Babysitting.  BTW, 80s movie alum Molly Ringwald has a cameo. (2.5) (Netflix)

License to Drive:  Speaking of 80s movies, this was a crappy one featuring the two Coreys (Haim and Feldman).  I think it's Haim who's a kid trying to get his license but fails to do so.  He swipes his grandpa's Caddy to impress the hot chick.  At the time maybe it was pretty risque with all the underage drinking; the hot chick guzzles champagne until she passes out and then somehow Corey has to get her home.  (He doesn't go Bill Cosby on her because this isn't that kind of movie.)  Some lame mayhem ensues. (1/5) (HBO)

Coffee Town:  This movie hits close to home as it's about a guy (Dennis from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) who spends most of his time at a coffee shop using his computer.  He's some kind of Internet person not a writer, but still it's kind of the same thing.  Of course his struggles are exaggerated from real life.  I mean I've never met a barista who actually gave a shit about customers sitting around all day.  Maybe if you looked homeless and smelled really bad, but ordinary people they could care less if you're there five minutes or five hours.  Because, well, baristas are not the most dedicated lot.  Sometimes they've all gone out on a smoke break or to chat and left me completely alone in the store.  Anyway, another good reason for him to go to the coffee shop is the hot girl (Adrienne Panicki) who shows up every day for coffee.  So when the coffee shop is going to become a bistro like a TGI Friday's, the guy has to take action to prevent his life from being destroyed.  Which he does by staging a robbery one night, though since is a comedy things don't really go well.  It was good, though the end was a little random. (3/5) (HBO)

Kill Me Three Times:  Simon Pegg is an assassin in Australia who's supposed to spy on some chick with an abusive boyfriend who wants her dead but some dentist and his assistant also want to kill the same chick...none of this made sense.  This is one of those movies where the filmmaker clearly wanted to be Guy Ritchie or Quentin Tarantino but isn't.  The jumbled up timeline only makes the plot murky and it's really not that interesting to start with.  Pretty much a waste of Simon Pegg, but I guess he got a vacation to Australia out of it. (1/5) (Netflix)

Hyde Park on Hudson:  As far as biopics go for better or worse you really need to have a point of view.  Otherwise you get something like this, which is basically saying, "Here's some stuff that happened."  It's basically the bastard offspring of Warm Springs and The King's Speech as it deals with FDR and a visit by the stuttering king of England.  And FDR sorta having an affair with his 5th or 6th cousin, which isn't that gross since he married his 1st or 2nd cousin I think.  And he was sorta having an affair with his assistant too but when they got to any sex it was so dark and there was glare on my screen so that I couldn't see anything--which is probably for the best.  The whole thing was lifeless with too much useless voiceover.  And Bill Murray as FDR?  Not buying it. Go watch the other two movies I mentioned instead. (1/5) (HBO)

Secretary:  Long before 50 Shades of Grey was even a Twilight fanfic, there was this movie.  It is pretty much the same concept.  A girl (Maggie Gyllenhaal) goes to work as a secretary for a lawyer named Edward Grey (James Spader, before he got fat and bald).  When he finds out she has a thing for cutting and/or burning herself, they start doing kind of kinky things.  Surprisingly, there's not much nudity until the end.  It's like it waits until the end to bring out the big guns.  Anyway, it was OK and perhaps the secret origin of that lame other series. (2.5/5) (HBO)

Hide & Seek:  There are a couple of other movies with this title but this is the 2005 horror movie with Robert de Niro as the father of Dakota Fanning, who sees the aftermath of her mom's suicide and then goes catatonic for a while.  They move to upstate New York, where she starts doing weird things at the behest of someone named "Charlie."  But is Charlie an imaginary friend or something else?  Well I'd love to tell you how it ended but presumably with a few minutes left to go the channel I was watching it on went to commercial and never came back!  They started an episode of Friends instead; I guess they figured no one cared at 4am.  Anyway by that point the movie had gone all The Shining, though I'm not sure if there was another twist or not. It was OK, though hard to buy de Niro at that point as a little girl's father.  (2.5/5) (Amazon Instant Video)

Kill the Messenger:  This is the based on a true story movie of the San Jose reporter (Jeremy Renner) who exposed the CIA working with Central American warlords to get crack into the inner cities of America.  While at first the story makes the reporter a hero, soon the Powers That Be start besmirching his good name.  It's mildly interesting, though the most interesting fact is at the end, where it mentions that the reporter died IRL from two gunshots--it was called a suicide.  Maybe it's possible to shoot yourself twice, but I doubt it. (2/5) (HBO)

Survivor:  This one slipped through the cracks as I watched it a few weeks ago.  Anyway, there's a terrorist attack but Mila Jokanvich survives and tries to hunt down Pierce Brosnan, the guy responsible, while everyone thinks she did it.  It was pretty boring and lame, one of those that makes me sad Pierce Brosnan is having to go the Nic Cage route now.  (2/5) (Netflix)

The Skulls:  Yale has a secret society called the Skull and Bones but I guess for legal reasons they shortened it to the Skulls in this.  That guy from Fringe is a blue collar kid whose rowing prowess gets him an invite to join the Skulls.  Except his friend (the only black kid at Yale) is a nosy journalist who tries to expose the secrets of the Skulls and is killed, maybe by the late Paul Walker.  Or maybe it was the guy from Coach or the guy from CSI--the original one.  I didn't fall asleep but the next day I couldn't really remember how it ended.  Something about a duel.  (2/5) (Crackle)

The Skulls II:  By contrast I fell asleep on three different occasions while trying to watch this.  I think that's all you need to know. (0/5) (Crackle)

The Skulls III:  I keep trying to finish watching this but Crackle keeps kicking me out halfway through.  It is slightly better in that this time they have a girl trying to join the Skulls--until they frame her for murder.  I finally did watch the end and it was OK but not great. (2/5) (Crackle)

Alexander:  I know how much Tony Laplume loves this because OMG, Colin Farrell!  Anyway, the theatrical version reappeared on Netflix so I decided to watch it.  It reminds me of Mary Renault's The Persian Boy and two other books on Alexander.  I "read" them in my car last fall while traveling and they nearly put me to sleep.  The movie was not really any better.  It's a lavish production with a couple of decent battle scenes, though it mostly focuses on his fucked-up relationship with his mom (Angelina Jolie), strained relations with his dad (Val Kilmer), and the homoerotic relationship with his buddy (Jared Leto).  The latter I think is not toned down as much in the director's cut version.  The old man narrating scenes with Anthony Hopkins were pretty corny and there are way too many speeches.  And really could Colin Farrell have toned down the Irish accent a wee bit?  Alexander the Great really deserves a great movie, which this isn't. (2/5) (Netflix)

Angel of Death:  Written by Ed Brubaker, the comic book scribe behind Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Gotham Central (among others), this is a largely inert movie about a female assassin who is stabbed in the brain during an assignment gone wrong.  But hey, she gets better!  Sort of.  Then for reasons I didn't really understand she goes on a rampage against her handlers.  With how short this was (about 80 minutes) and the fairly low production values I wondered if it was one of those that was actually supposed to be a pilot for a TV series.  I certainly wouldn't want to watch any more of it since the main character has the charisma of a boiled turnip--and that was before she got stabbed in the brain. (1/5) (Crackle)

Hackers:  This was like someone in the 90s wanted to make a lame, soon-to-be dated movie about computers to give War Games a run for its money.  Watching it 20 years later it is so terrible on so many levels:  the totally dated computer technology, the awful clothes, Anjelina Jolie's terrible Vulcan haircut, Matthew Lillard's entire being...This was just suck incarnate.  It's really hard to make a movie about computers that doesn't suck because like writing, watching someone tap on a keyboard is pretty boring.  At least throw in cool gunfights and naked Halle Berry like Swordfish.  (1/5) (Netflix)

The Warriors:  I'd heard of this movie but finally got around to watching it.  It's pretty goofy in that it's about all these New York games, each one with some kind of stupid outfits.  Like one wears baseball uniforms and another looks like mimes and another wears roller skates and overalls.  (Seriously?  It was the 70s I guess.)  This guy who wanted to be like the MLK of New York gangs gets shot and the eponymous Warriors are accused.  (This was before he could find out that even if you have 60,000 kids with knives and baseball bats it wouldn't do much good against say the National Guard with machine guns and tanks at their disposal, which is who would be brought in if the gangs united and tried to take over the city.)  They have to try to get from Brooklyn to Coney Island.  Which they probably could have done if they'd taken off their stupid vests and gone incognito, but nah we can't do that.  As lame as I thought West Side Story was, it's less corny than this. (1/5) (Netflix)

Super Mansion:  There's a slightly interesting story behind this Crackle series.  Originally the pilot was created for Adult Swim as part of a contest where like Amazon has done they air a bunch of pilots and people vote for which ones they like and maybe that pilot gets picked up.  The pilot titled "Ubermansion" actually did win the competition but was never developed on Adult Swim for whatever reason, but now it has found a home on Crackle.  Basically the show revolves around a team of superheroes led by Titanium Rex (voiced by Bryan Cranston, aka Walter White), who is basically like Superman if Superman had aged normally since 1938.  There's also American Ranger, who is pretty much Captain America only he's married to the same woman as when he was frozen so she's like 90 while he's young; he also has a lot of trouble with today's more politically correct world.  Black Saturn is like Batman, specifically Will Arnett's Batman in The LEGO Movie.  Cooch is an annoying feline who's like Rocket Raccoon without the guns.  Jewbot is a robot who discovered his Jewish roots.  And Brad is...Brad.  Since the creators of the show also did Adult Swim's Robot Chicken it uses the same stop-motion animation.  It's nice that it's pretty much the length of a normal TV show not 11 minutes like Adult Swim shows.  Gives it more time to develop stories.  New episodes are added every Thursday, which is kind of annoying; I'd rather they did like Netflix and just put them all on at once. (3/5) (Crackle)

The Great Bikini Bowling Bash:  This is one of those "adult programs" HBO shows after midnight.  As you might expect it's about slutty chicks who try to save their bowling alley by staging a bowling contest.  Except they need to raise $3 million and as you'd expect such an idea raises a paltry $5,000, so they challenge the local bowling champion (who is a professional) to a bowling off for the money to save the alley.  Seriously though no bowling alley is worth $3 million; most of the bowling alleys in my neck of the woods have closed down.  Of course it's all really just an excuse for gratuitous sex scenes.  There's the traditional girl-on-guy.  Then there are a couple of girl-on-girl.  And even a guy-on-two girls.  Sometimes I have to wonder how much of that works in real life.  Does a girl jiggling another girl's butt really do anything for either of them?  The funniest part is one of the sex scenes is to a knock-off of Santana's smooth and then later another is set to a rip-off of the Mortal Kombat theme.  Anyway, I don't suppose there's much of a point in rating this. (HBO)


  1. Thanks for the reviews. I might check out a couple on this list.

  2. Cop Car sounds interesting. Will have to give it a try one of these days.

  3. I saw Tomorrowland, and I also enjoyed, like you said, how it tried to be optimistic. Coincidentally I also saw The Martian a few days ago, but I'll write about it in a couple of weeks. I actually saw Secretary the year it was released, I found it very entertaining at the time. And I also saw The Skulls ages ago, I only remember that the ending was quite disappointing. I'm not a big fan of Alexander, I've read way too many history books to enjoy an adaptation like that. I wrote a post about Corey Haim last year which stirred some controversy, so maybe it would be a good idea for me to see License to Drive.

  4. Hey Pat,

    I haven't seen any of the stuff you mention. Based on your reviews, I don't need to bother. Okay, maybe the last one......




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