Friday, January 13, 2017

Stuff I Watched 1/13/17 🎬

It's stuff I watched since Xmas!

War Dogs:  The trailers made this look like two doofuses (fat Jonah Hill and Miles Teller) have to get weapons into Iraq through the "triangle of death."  This is actually about the first third of the movie.  The rest is about these two college dropouts as they build an arms business and try to arrange a big deal selling AK-47 bullets to Afghanistan.  They get screwed by fellow arms dealer Bradley Cooper when he sells them Chinese ammo that is prohibited to sell to American allies.  So the guys come up with a great idea that I thought of right away:  take the Chinese bullets out of their cases and put them in plastic bags and cardboard boxes!  But soon enough there's a falling out between Hill and Teller and things go sour.  It's an entertaining movie and illustrates some of the craziness surrounding our wars in Iraq & Afghanistan that allowed this stuff to happen.  Not quite as good as the Nic Cage vehicle Lord of War though. I think in one of his Tweetstorms Trump blathered about having companies bid to provide medication for Medicaid/care; this movie helps illustrate how corrupt government contract bidding usually is, thus making that a pretty shitty idea.  (3/5) (Fun Fact:  This was directed by Todd Phillips, better known for directing comedic fare like Old School.)

Hell or High Water:  Two brothers (Chris Pine and Ben Foster) in Texas are about to lose the family ranch and so they turn to robbing banks.  The banks they rob are all from the chain that's going to foreclose on them.  Then they essentially launder the money through a casino and pay it back to the bank.  A pair of Texas Rangers led by Jeff Bridges is on their tail.  It's kind of like No Country for Old Men only without the great antagonist.  Jeff Bridges essentially reheats his Rooster Cogburn from True Grit; his lazy performance is the biggest drawback to an otherwise really good film. (4/5)

Striking Distance:  A lame early 90s action vehicle where Bruce Willis quits the Pittsburgh PD after his dad is killed and joins the city's River Rescue, where he gets partnered with Sarah Jessica Parker.  A serial killer from a couple years ago returns to leave bodies in the water for Bruce Willis to find.  It's chalk full of cliches that wastes a decent cast.  I slept through a lot of it but watched the end; I was wrong about the killer, so I guess there was that. (1.5/5) (Fun Fact:  Bruce Willis's character is named Tom Hardy, like the actor who played Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, which was largely filmed in Pittsburgh.)

Vacancy 2:  I barely remember Vacancy 1, which was about Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson being terrorized in a shitty motel.  This is a prequel of sorts where a couple and their black friend are terrorized by two rednecks and a serial killer who want to make snuff films to sell.  (Hilariously at one point a character says they should make snuff films because "no one pays for porn anymore.")  It doesn't really seem to sync up that well to the first movie.  I looked back at the first movie and it didn't seem like the motel staff was the same, which it really should have been.  And why didn't they close it down after this first incident?  Even if the local sheriff didn't do anything, the survivor could have gone up to the state level or something.  It would have made more sense to just have another motel.  I mean it's not like anyone really cares, right? (1/5)

In the Heart of the Sea:  This is supposed to be the story that inspired Moby-Dick.  I fell asleep before it even got to the white whale. (1/5)

The Magnificent Seven (2016):  A robber baron is taking over a small town so he can bulldoze it and mine for gold there.  When her husband is killed by the robber baron, a woman goes to a bounty hunter (Denzel Washington) who then recruits a team that includes Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, and Vincent D'Onofrio.  It feels pretty generic as they train the town how to fight and then take on the robber baron and his minions.  There are by now probably hundreds of other movies that use that same scenario:  Robin Hood (several of them I think), Dragonheart, Hercules, and so forth.  With Denzel Washington in the lead it actually made me think of Blazing Saddles, only not funny.  I never watched the original so I don't really know how it compares.  Anyway, it's an OK Western but not a Best Western. (Boom, motel slam!) (2.5/5)

Sneaky Pete:  This Amazon series is created and produced by Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad and David Shore of House.  Giovanni Ribisi is a con man who is getting out of prison and needs a place to hide from a gangster (Cranston) so he decides to assume his cell mate Pete's identity and go to his Pete's grandparents's farm.  They apparently haven't seen the dude in 20 years so they fall for the ruse.  Ironically the grandparents have a bail bonds business. Giovanni Ribisi then helps a woman in the family track down a different gangster who has skipped bail.  It reminded me of TV Land's Impastor last year about a con man who assumed the identity of a pastor who died, only of course this isn't played for laughs.  It was good for a pilot, leaving you to wonder how long he can play this game of pretending to be his cell mate while dodging the mob.  The rest of the season drops today on Amazon so I can watch more of it. (3/5)

Shoot Em Up:  Clive Owen is a mysterious guy who likes carrots and kills a lot of people while trying to protect a baby.  Owen and Paul Giamatti chew up a lot of scenery while the stunt coordinators are the real heroes with all the ridiculous action sequences.  Should have spent a little more on the CGI during a sequence when Owen bails out of a plane and battles hired goons in the air. Overall it's fun, over-the-top action and not much else.  (2.5/5)

Simon Sez:  All you need to know is this stars Dennis Rodman and Dane Cook. (-1000000/5)

Batman: The Killing Joke:  The "graphic novel" for this was really about the size of two normal issues so to make it long enough for even a short movie they had to add some extra material.  Which means the first 28 minutes of this is a prologue that focuses on Batgirl chasing down a guy who gets in her head and has a sexual thing for her.  And for almost no reason she and Batman fuck.  None of this really has much to do with the main plot, which is that the Joker escapes and for...reasons decides to cripple Barbara Gordon (formerly Batgirl) and kidnap and torture Commissioner Gordon to prove that anyone will crack like he did after "one really bad day."  The parts actually taken from the graphic novel are fine, though to be honest this was never one of my favorite Batman stories.  If they really wanted to add something, why not add more of a motive for the Joker deciding to "prove his point?"  And/or some more material to his origin story.  Batgirl was never even in the graphic novel (except as Barbara Gordon) so that whole prologue was pretty much a waste of time. (2/5) (Fun Facts:  Like the Watchmen movie Alan Moore does not have his name in the credits.  This time I think it's a pretty good decision.  The Killing Joke was largely the basis for Jack Nicholson's Joker in the first Batman movie and might have some influence on Jared Leto's in Suicide Squad.  The movie was written by Brian Azzarello, who wrote the graphic novel The Joker that was more closely tied to Heath Ledger's Joker than this one.  The Joker is voiced by Mark Hamill and Batman by Kevin Conroy, reprising their Animated Series roles.)

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