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Swartacus [2017] MUSIC

 

The Rolling Stones - Emotional Rescue [1980] * * * *

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Swartacus' Best of 1980 (aka the 99 cent dust bin Barking Seal of Approval)
Found in the 99 cent bin at Mill City Sound, Hopkins, MN

One of the most interesting and underrated albums from their entire catalogue. It's beat to hell, but it still plays (kind of like the Stones themselves these days).

Recorded at the height of the disco era in '78 and '79 in Paris and the Bahamas... it is a wild amalgamation of scuzz funk disco (Dance, Pt. 1), reggae (Send It to Me), punk (Where the Boys Go), and odd Marvin Gaye falsetto (Emotional Rescue). These riotous stabs at a new direction for the band are fused brilliantly with traditional Stones staples: the country tinged ballad (Indian Girl), greasy Keef riffage (She's So Cold), and blues so dirty it's gross (Down in the Hole).

And to tie it all up in a perfect 10 song bow, a scathingly dark Richards solo jam (All About You)... which is either directed at his ex-wife or Mick depending who you ask.

For anyone looking for a deeper dive into the Stones other than the usual "Greatest Hits" fare, this is certainly a worthy toe dip into their weirder side... while still providing the hooks you know and love.


Link

 


 

Swartacus [2017] FILM

 

Knight of Cups [2015] * * * * *

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[*Spoilers*]

"Begin."

That's how this film ends. With one spoken word. How it begins is another story all together. If you've seen other "latter day" Malick films you may walk out before this film really even gets going (as at least three people did at the showing I was at).

Let's get started shall we.... Now there are a few things you will need to be able to tolerate in order to make it through this film:

1. Can you watch a movie in which 90% of the dialogue is voice-over narration?
2. Can you make it through the first 20 minutes of a film where the main character Rick (played by Hollywood superstar Christian Bale) does not say a word to any other character?
3. Can you watch at least 15 minutes worth of wordless scenes of Christian Bale either walking through a desert or on a beach?
4. Can you watch a stripper feed Christian Bale a giant cartoon-sized lollypop before she rides the fireman pole... and still take this film seriously as a work of art?
5. Do you enjoy the New Orleans graveyard acid sequence in Easy Rider? Because I would say 40-50% of this film feels like that did.

If you answered yes to 2 or 3 of these (or all 5 as I did) then this film might have a shot at being intriguing to you.

Entering Malick's world again was quite a shock to the system for me. It has been a few years since I watched any film of his other than Badlands or The Thin Red Line (his two most linear offerings). It took me quite a while to get my "Malick bearings", but luckily for me... that's about the same time the film cannonballed us into its tarot card vignettes. Which I loved! I wish The Tree of Life had these too. This really helped frame all the metaphorical layers for me. I said "cannonballed" above because there are an ungodly amount of submerged water shots in this film. Nobody but Malick can truly make you feel immersed in the "feel" of a film. Lately his films are like entering the hazy slices of another human being's memory banks. This film was even more in that Tree type vein... but now Chivo has taken to going mostly handheld and even working in what looks like GoPro footage. There is a nice injection of modern zest for a Terry Malick film. The wide angle lensed interior shots almost give off the feel of someone standing next to Bale wearing an undercover camera. It's quite unnerving at first... but as the film goes you want more of it.

This is Malick's "mid life" crisis film. This is fascinating to me because it's a mid life crisis film being done by a 72 year old man looking back on his own breakdown. The Bale character is obviously a young Malick and that puts him about to enter his 40s right around the time he was supposed to be in pre-production for a film called "Q" for Paramount (this eventually became Tree of Life) but then he mysteriously disappeared to Paris... ne'er to resurface again until the late 90s.

The Bale character is literally adrift in the desert of his life... furiously and helplessly flailing for water (or in this case Love - what did you expect, this IS a Malick film).

I particularly loved the transition from "The Hermit" section to "Judgment" section. If you are traveling through someone's memory I would imagine it would be very disjointed like this transition is. "The Hermit" section is the already infamous Tony Banderas party segment. Holy shit did this wail! I loved the randomness of the B level star cameos as Bale's Rick forlornly trudges through Tonio's opulent manor. Banderas is still incredibly charming even though a lot of his dialogue is quite dastardly. But again... if we are assuming this is to represent the Hollywood of the early 80s than his treatment of young starlets seems to hold water.

This surprisingly light (for Malick) segment then thuds into a dour Cate Blanchett "Judgment" segment in which we are jettisoned into scenes from a disintegrating marriage. The shift in tone nearly gave me whiplash and it felt very real to me. Malick even makes a guy with a leaf blower seem to resonate with the weight of the world.

**For the record, I do believe that inane memories like that do get seared into your brain when a traumatic life event is taking place.**

This film kind of plays like a greatest hits album of Malick and I am okay with that because the things he does well and the things he does poorly come in small doses. You don't get as annoyed with some of the pretentiousness because the following "card" will have strippers or a Michael Wincott cameo... or Brian Dennehy will wander and grumble his way into a scene. And the things Malick does well come in short bursts so they tantalize you and leave you wanting more. All of these things (even the so-called "boring" stuff) kept my attention, along with Chivo's masterful cinematography and the brilliant editing (I now understand why this took 3 years to finish). I feel like this one will be quite rewatchable because somehow Terry managed to edit himself under 2 hours in length. A small miracle in itself.

I don't necessarily believe in coincidence... I am generally a man of fate. I don't believe it was coincidence that this film happened to be released at this exact point in my life. I just turned 40, I am entering a mid life crisis phase myself... hell I even just went to Vegas. It was a bit eerie seeing Bale walking zombie-like through the 24-hour clown show that is Sin City and stopping at many of the exact same spots I did... gaping in awe and unflinchingly dumbfounded to the chaos surrounding him.

Malick chose to put in so many references to "leaving" - helicopters, birds, trains, planes, car joyrides, and literal "jumping off" points in this film. It's time for Bale's Rick to finally put his big boy pants on and join "reality". We don't see what comes next... but the wild journey to get there was as intense as it was merry.

What Malick nails in this film is not the fact that everyone goes apeshit when they hit their 40s or 50s. This is what I always was led to believe happens to men "of a certain age". In reality it goes more like this: "Why the fuck did I waste 20 years on that?" and then you move forward. You begin again.


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Chad S. Walsky [2017] FILM

 

Crimson Peak [2015] * * * *

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A living, breathing oil painting splashed across a silver screen canvas, Crimson Peak is a truly sumptuous film.

Old-meets-new in a beautiful tapestry of movie-making techniques. But that's not really surprising, is it? It's Guillermo del Toro making a Gothic horror movie set in 1887 with a $50 million budget. OF COURSE it’s going to be a visual feast - that's a given. But what I didn't expect was fierce emotional attachment to the primary characters and a bittersweet finale that really stings. A unique vision that proudly wears its old-school influences on its sleeve, Crimson Peak is equal parts period piece, trashy soap opera, and blood-stained horror show. I absolutely loved it.

In the opening moments, a young Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) is warned by the ghost of her departed mother to "beware of Crimson's Peak". She should've listened. Cut to fourteen years later and Edith is now a budding novelist who prefers thought-provoking ghost stories to tacky romance novels. These early scenes do a great job of establishing the world Edith inhabits, and the resistance she faces from most of the men around her. Enter Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), a dashing English Baron and inventor who happens to be in town to meet with Edith's father. And that's the moment del Toro starts turning the screws like the twisted puppeteer he is.

After a disastrous business meeting, Sir Thomas begins a courtship of Edith that's met with unease by her father and childhood friend, Dr. Alan McMichael (human wood block Charlie Hunnam - he reminded of Keanu in Dracula for God's sake). But the heart wants what the heart wants, and Edith is soon falling in love with the sensitive baron. I won't give away too much, but I had a blast trying to figure out everyone's motives - led by Hiddleston's uneasy mix of good and evil. His smile is a weapon, and he uses it to perfection here. But if there is one actor in this movie that impressed me even more than Mr. Hiddleston it's Jessica Chastain. Dear Lord, what a hoot. So campy, so cool, so fucking EVIL. I couldn't take my eyes off her. As the layers start to peel away and we see the rotten core of Crimson's Peak, it's Chastain who takes our hand and drags us further into the abyss. What a fun, psychotic performance.

Ok, let's stop here. I don't want to spoil any more than I already have. Just allow yourself to get lost in it - lights off, sound up, maybe a Pinot or a tumbler of Scotch. It's an absolute gorgeous feast for the eyes, mixed with a genuinely engaging Gothic love story that walloped this cold-blooded reviewer. And that's a rarity. Hell, I heard some people were disappointed because their expectations of a straight "ghost story" weren't met. Too bad. Your preconceived notions robbed you of an extremely satisfying experience. Plus, a dude gets his head caved in on a sink and someone is murdered with a shovel. I mean, it's still a Guillermo del Toro movie after all.

Watch Crimson Peak with someone special. Or by yourself. Or with some weird stranger. Just be sure you see it.


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Reviews by Morg [2017] FILM

 

Swiss Army Man [2016] * * * * *

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"Before the internet, every girl was a lot more special."

This is pure nihilistic philosophy masked in satirical gold, and if you dismiss it for achieving its laughs on fart jokes and masturbation humor, then you're exactly the kind of judgmental dad that this film is talking about in the first place. Dano and Radcliffe sell their characters better than just about any comedic duo I can think of, and Andy Hull's score is so rich and beautiful that I've found myself listening to it on my hour and a half long commute to school. I've seen this thing three times in the last year, and it's gotten better with each viewing. If you like the Coen brothers' more recent stuff, and are down for some quirky magical realism, watch this immediately.


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Isaak von Seggern [2017] FILM

 

Melancholia [2011] * * * *

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FACT: I have never gotten an erection quicker than when Udo said: "I'm at the end of my rope" in his beautiful stone cold erotic accent.

Imagine if Lars von Trier directed Michael Bay’s indie masterpiece: Armageddon, and you've got Melancholia???

Well, at least chapter 2 of Melancholia.

Well, at least the ending of Melancholia.

Ok, it's not really anything at all like Armageddon, but there is a looming space planet that is supposed to crash into Earth, so I mean it's sort of like Armageddon. And Udo is in it.

Udo really sells the first chapter of this movie. I don't even really know who he is or what his job is supposed to be, but whatever it is, he has long since stopped giving a single shit about lil angsty teen bitch Kirsten Dunst, and her 'merican sized depression. So much so, that after he gives that glorious line I mentioned above, anytime he walks past her in the movie, he holds up his hand to cover his eyes.

You might be asking, "Well the mansion they are in is pretty big, why doesn't he just walk completely around her?"

I don't know, I have no answer, however, it is a confirmed...

FACT: On the set of Melancholia, Udo was directed to hold up his hand to cover his eyes when he was in a scene with Kirsten Dunst. However, Udo being a method actor, would not stop doing this even when they weren't shooting, refusing to speak or even look at Kirsten, much to her frustration. Trier himself eventually took to the practice and encouraged the rest of the crew to do the same, scrawling her directions on notebook paper instead of speaking. This to make Dunst feel isolated and sad, thus giving a more natural performance on camera.

#kirstendunstisshelleyduvall

Yeah so Kirsten Dunst is all mopey, because ahhhh weddings are really boring, and ahhhh Kurt Cobain is dead, and she does stuff like take a bath, and urinate on the floor, and fuck Tim, you know just the usual events that take place at a wedding reception. I once saw a YouTube video of someone's wedding reception where a porn website made a sfw video to show specifically at the reception, and then gave the groom a free 1-year subscription. So maybe that can happen at my wedding. That would be cool I guess.

To be honest though, I would settle for someone urinating on the floor.

Alas, I have finished the Depression Trilogy, and it was just dandy. This was my least favorite entry, but I mean it's still great in my opinion. If I ever in some non-existent universe had to recommend someone who "wanted to get into Trier's filmography and didn't know where to start" I would say watch Melancholia because there isn't any genital mutilation or fly fishing.


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Isaak von Seggern [2017] FILM

 

Henry V [1989] * * * *

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Ahhh it has finally happened, and only an entire month off of schedule. If you can't tell, I got a commendation at my graduation for always turning in my homework on time in high school.

And thus with waaaaaaayyyyyy more Shakespeare than my little frail millennial body was ever prepared for, we begin hitting the Ken bran quan, and enter into a blissful reality where you can make a movie composed entirely of people talking like they just "ratcheted a Babylonian whore woman n' gusted oer the Misty knolls to the Furrowed crows perch to stick the dragon of Northumbercamblandshire and leather its hide" and it actually makes a profit in theaters.

Anyway, Kenny B gives a pretty great, borderline iconic performance as Henry/Harry (the movie can't decide which). He yells a lot + dresses up like Palpatine for a 1400s version of Undercover Boss. Didn't really understand the parts with Judi Dench and Hagrid, but this movie is like a better version of 300 in every way.

A great start to the Ken bran quan, and with hits on the horizon like Wild Wild West, it can only get better from here.


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Isaak von Seggern [2017] FILM

 

The Fog [1980] * * *

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Everyone brings their A game as far as the hotness goes in this film. Jamie Lee Curtis is hot, that old priest is hot, hell, even the undead leper sailors are hot. It's just a whole bunch of hot people in Northern California, running away from air, and it's almost as entertaining as The Happening.

The best character is the weatherman, who hears rhythmic knocking at his door late at night, and is like "lol homeless people amiright", and then all willy-nilly proceeds to open the door unarmed, like fist fighting a drunk homeless man is just part of the weatherman job.

I'm going to be that one asshole who dresses up like a zombie pirate at Halloween, and people will be like "Wow nice zombie pirate costume" and I will be like "No, I am one of the undead leper sailors from The Fog you uncultured pricks".

Then I will smite them with my fog machine and rusty hook.


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Isaak von Seggern [2017] FILM

 

Death Note [2017] *

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When Nickelodeon's hit show "The Naked Brothers Band" is the clear high point of your acting career...

¯\_(ツ)_/¯


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Biscoito18 [2017] FILM

 

The Sound [2017] *

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"The Sound" must be one of the stupidest and most contradictory films I've ever seen. It breaks its own rules all the time. For example:

- From a certain point, inside the abandoned subway station, you no longer have internet signal. A few minutes later, the protagonist is using her notebook to do searches on Google
- Any "infrasonic sound frequency" below 7 Hz is fatal to humans if exposed during a 4- or 5-hour period. The protagonist goes beyond this limit, at a much lower frequency and only feels dizzy and have some nosebleed, while another character explodes in jets of blood
- A character refers to the spirit that haunts the abandoned subway as "the woman in red", but the spirit always appears wearing white

Basically, 90% of the film comes down to Kelly (Rose McGowan) wandering the station with a flashlight, writing hashtags on twitter, looking at her sound waves meter on the computer and sleeping.

Yes, sleeping! Before she noticed the bleeding from her nose, she had already stopped to sleep twice. After she notices the bleeding and the "deadly frequency" that can kill her in 4 or 5 hours, she writes on twitter, starts counting time on a stopwatch, and... goes back to sleep.

She keeps saying she will NOT leave until she knows what's happening there, but the only thing she does is sleep and watch the frequency. Even after a character appears to help, she still sleeps once more (!) before continuing on the exploration.

There are plenty of unnecessary subplots that in the end don't make sense. Christopher Lloyd appears in some scenes to present one of them that only serves to create a small, weak and predictable twist before the big, weak and predictable twist at the end of the movie.

The directing and production are extremely cheap and the performances of some supporting actors are horrible, especially those of Michael Eklund, and Richard Gunn, the husband of director Jenna Mattison who makes her directorial debut launching this bomb. Gunn can only make a single expression throughout the whole film.

Moths coming out of mouths, scary old doll, the figure of a little girl running in the dark, flashing lights... If it was a competition to see who uses a bigger number of clichés in a single film, "The Sound" would be a very strong candidate.


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Biscoito18 [2017] FILM

 

Happy Hunting [2017] * * *

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If you've always wanted to see someone shoot a shotgun shell using only a knife and his own hand as a barrel, this is the movie for you!

This is just one of the creations of Warren Novak (Martin Dingle Wall), which looks like a mix of a junkie MacGyver with a classless John Wick without loaded guns.

Warren is an extreme alcoholic who can't spend a couple of hours without drinking alcohol otherwise enters "cold turkey" mode. When I say alcohol, I mean anything from tequila to mouthwash. Even pure ethanol.

"Happy Hunting" is directed by the Californian Joe Dietsch along with the Australian Louie Gibson (or Lucian Gibson) who don't waste time to establish the violent and at the same time quietly familiar universe of the film.

The nationality of the directors explains my surprise when I realized that the film is happening in the USA, because all its DNA, the whole style, is very similar to the brutal Australian slashers/splatters like the classic "Wolf Creek", the recent "Killing Ground", among others.

The quality of the footage is excellent! The direction is very inspired and manages to capture great shots. In addition, the moments of tension are well constructed with fast and bloody attacks and it keeps the feeling of constant danger. And for a movie of 91 minutes, the plot is quite comprehensive.

The characters falling like flies while the clock still marks 40 minutes of film!

The fictitious small town of Bedford Flats (filmed in the abandoned Bombay Beach, California) and its locals are very reminiscent of the little town of Sandy Shores in GTA V.

Just film Steven Ogg in Bombay Beach and you will have the most faithful video game live-action movie ever made!

The film embraces the protagonist's weaknesses, never turning him into a hero, but actually portraying him like he is: a bastard with an awesome creativity and stamina that never gives up.

Unfortunately, the end could've been a lot better, the CGI is weak (but that doesn't call attention until an ugly fire effect appears in the third act), the boring delirium sequences and some tired clichés of the genre should've been avoided, especially the old and happy songs playing during bloody action scenes. Urgh.

"Happy Hunting" has its flaws, but it's a very well made film with an interesting and resourceful protagonist, a fast and exciting storyline and a dose of black humor that is perfect to watch with friends while sipping a beer.


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Biscoito18 [2017] FILM

 

The Show [2017] * * *

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"This Is Your Death", also known as "The Show", isn't as superficial as the premise makes it seem. There is much less carnage than I imagined and the focus is always on the emotional impact that the show has on the people involved, whether they are participants, viewers, producers or their families.

In his second time as director, Giancarlo Esposito also takes the responsibility of bringing to life the best character of the film in a performance far above the rest of it. We watch all the suffering that leads Mason (Esposito) to decide to participate in the "show" and it's impossible not to hope for a happy ending.

In order not to appear weak to his children, he's always holding back his tears. When he finally lowers his guard, alone in the dressing room waiting for his turn, it's heart-wrenching.

Who also delivers a good performance is the wonderful Sarah Wayne Callies. In fact, the whole cast of this film is jaw-dropping and still has the muse Famke Janssen (I could watch anything with this woman), Josh Duhamel (handsomer than ever) and even a cameo by James Franco, something that's no longer so impressive, since he has done it in other recent films like "Alien: Covenant", but still.

Famke plays this funny, greedy and immoral CEO, who dominates the scenes in which she is present, but unfortunately she's forgotten in the third act.

There is even this scene, lost in the middle of the movie, where Sylvia, producer of the show played by Caitlin FitzGerald, doesn't accept dinner with Adam (Duhamel) for reproving his actions, and Ilana (Janssen) appears offering herself. The film never shows what happened and abandons this subplot along with Famke's character and starts to focus only on Sylvia.

It's as if she and Caitlin FitzGerald shared a single character: Janssen is the evil side and Caitlin is the good one. It would've been much better to have this conflict within one single character.

Famke even suggests in some scenes that she hides a good character under all immorality, as when she is saddened by Mason's participation in the show.

Also, the show itself isn't exciting or surprising. It's not a direct competition between the participants, who basically choose a way to commit suicide, whether to give money to the family or any other reason, and do it in front of the audience. As I said, the focus is on the impact of the show's proposal and the motivations for that, not on the show itself.

Josh Duhamel is perfect as this TV presenter who goes through some huge mental gymnastics to always convince himself that what he's doing is correct. And perhaps the most interesting thing about the film is that sometimes the proposal even makes sense and seems credible how something horrible like that could've been approved.

Honestly, the collective hysteria represented on TV today could easily accommodate the idiotic ideological explanations of the presenter and still praise him as a pioneer.

"This Is Your Death" (or "The Show") is an interesting and quite emotional film with great names and good performances but that fails to deliver something other than the same repeated moral lessons we've seen before in dozens of other films.


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Biscoito18 [2017] FILM

 

Jaws 2 [1978] * *

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"Jaws 2" maintains the connection to the characters, their characteristics and only presents a situation slightly different from the previous so that they can do what they know how to do. It's as if it were simply an expansion of the original, made without great ambitions besides pleasing the fans.

Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) carries the whole film. He allows himself to freak out and be paranoid, but, within himself, he keeps the certainty of being right and that he shouldn't stop.

He'll never again receive another slap from a mother who lost her son because he doubted himself.

He doesn't give a damn about being fired and is still acting as chief of police because he's the only one who really cares.

Again I like the interaction between him and ambitious Mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) who hasn't learned anything since the last film.

I love the scene in which Brody drives alone on a deserted beach and decides to stop the car to check a piece of a boat that floats towards the beach. The piece is close to the sand but even so, he has to face all his fear of water, which already existed before the events of the first film. It's such a simple scene but at the same time it creates an intimacy with the character.

An embarrassing moment, but also of overcoming, that the character passed only with us.

The water ski attack scene is fun and the young cast is charismatic and delivers good performances, especially Ann Dusenberry and Donna Wilkes. In addition, Keith Gordon makes his big screen debut before starring in "Christine", adaptation of Stephen King by Carpenter, and become a famous face of the 80's.

"Jaws 2" is a weak sequel that basically repeats the same points of the original without the same quality or intelligence (electrocute the shark, really?) and tries to attract a younger audience with much more adolescent characters, cool sports and very little blood.

At least it's an interesting film for those who like the characters and the little town with familiar atmosphere of the original that come back here for a second round.


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Biscoito18 [2017] FILM

 

Jaws [1975] * * * * *

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"Jaws" is deservedly considered one of the greatest classics of cinema and presents one of the best opening scenes of a horror movie of all time. A scene so well-crafted and striking that alone would justify the fame of the film.

The first rays of sunlight begin to illuminate the beach when the beautiful and not-so-innocent Chrissie Watkins dives naked, into the still dark waters of the sea, never to return in one piece.

The shark, which remains hidden by the water, drags Chrissie as if she were already just a corpse since the first bite, totally incapable of reacting to the force of the attack.

An interesting detail is that the sequence was filmed during the day and then turned into night with the decrease in brightness and contrast to be released in theaters because of the nudity. In addition, Chrissie's (the stuntwoman Susan Backlinie) screams and sounds swallowing water were made in a recording studio to have higher quality. People say she held her head upside down and then poured water down her throat to record the chocking sounds. In addition, it's also Susan's idea to begin praying desperately after realizing that she was going to die.

"Jaws" goes further and delivers a story that reaches for a realistic simplicity with charismatic characters, a well-built social structure, a broad analysis of the social impact of tragedy that develops good arguments to justify the plot's choices. In other words, in this movie the characters have brains and the city has life.

The film doesn't need excessive blood to give chills, as in the scene that Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) finds the remains of Chrissie's body covered by small crabs. I've never forgotten this scene and how horrified I was with the banalization of the human body reduced only to a piece of carrion, rotten and shattered as if it were just the remnant of an animal carcass thrown away.

When Brody is slapped by the mother of a boy eaten by the shark (in another brutal scene where the child disappears in a whirlwind of water and blood), we feel his shame and disappointment with himself. When Quint (Robert Shaw in a spectacular performance) tells his famous and disturbing monologue about the death of his comrades, the expressions of pure horror on the faces of Brody and Matt (Richard Dreyfuss) are a mirror of our own expressions.

I hate when people say that Spielberg was lucky or that his idea of filming through the shark's eyes was pure "luck". The correct name is CREATIVITY. Another person could've simply used a series of quick cuts, zooms and liters of fake blood to create a ridiculous attack scene and leave it at that (as they unfortunately did in the sequels). Spielberg preferred the hard way. If he couldn't show horror to people, he decided to create horror using their imaginations.

Perhaps this was the lesson that "Bruce", the most troublesome animatronic shark ever, wanted to give Spielberg by refusing to cooperate. It knew that his creator was capable of something greater.

Bruce, named by the film crew members in reference to Spielberg's lawyer named Bruce Ramer, also has its few appearances valued by the mystery, like when it comes up trying to bite Brody's hand. But there is another excellent jumpscare in the film when Matt is surprised by a disfigured corpse as he examines the wreckage of a boat sank by Bruce. I forgot about this jumpscare when I was rewatching and almost screamed at the time. In the third act, Jaws transforms all its atmosphere into something minimalist, apart from the rest of the film, to convey, to those who watch, the sense of detachment from the rest of the world that the characters are feeling. The experience becomes much more intimate, the characters open their hearts and you feel like a fourth member of ORCA's crew, Quint's old boat.

There's an intelligent plan with well-defined steps and options. The death that happens really shocks you because it's one of yours that is going and the final shot is iconic, extremely well filmed and seems logical, invoking more skill than luck.

"Jaws" isn't only the first blockbuster made, it's also the first "blockbuster with heart". A lesson on how to make cinema, dribbling the difficulties with creativity, without abandoning the focus on the details. Pure passion for the art of constructing sensations that will never leave the memory of those who watch.


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Reviews by Morg [2017] FILM

 

Blade Runner 2049 [2017] * * *

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What Blade Runner 2049 and I have in common:

- we're both grossly aware of our appearance
- we both have issues regarding women who aren't really there
- each of us had to come to the underwhelming conclusion that we're really just average Joes

What Blade Runner 2049 and I don't have in common:

- this movie lasted for a really long time
- it peaks exactly when it needs to
- actually good looking


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jmunky [2017] BEVERAGES

 

Perrier Lime * * * * *

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As much as I dislike the idea of water, Perrier Lime is a nice drop. For those who don't know, this naturally carbonated water is gathered by French virginlike maidens from an ancient spring deep in the bowels of a raggedy yet charming French mountain and bottled along with essence of Jamaican lime smuggled into France via body cavity by even more dedicated French virginlike maidens. Obviously what I have just described cannot be matched by its nearest competitor, an American water with a French name, gathered by hobos from urinals then carefully filtered through garbage cans and with a couple fruit peels thrown in. When I am forced to drink water - Perrier Lime it is.


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audreyv [2017] FILM

 

The Haunting [1963] * * *

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Now this is a film with personality! The main character, Eleanor, is an anxiety-prone woman whose inner monologue is featured as a voiceover as she travels to a supposedly haunted house to assist a paranormal researcher alongside another woman, Theodora, who possesses psychic powers. Theodora is the alluring and confident foil to Eleanor's skittishness. The two women are opposites in appearance as well, with the dark-haired Theo opting for black clothing while Nell is the blonde dressed in white. From the instant these two women meet there is tension in the air as they try to figure each other out.

The house itself has great character, with a confusing and seemingly unstable layout, spooky bumps and screams at night, and tasteful decor. There apparently wasn't enough of a production budget to actually show any ghostly characters or use costly special effects so the team had to work around this and double down on atmosphere. The focus is mainly on the interactions between characters anyway, but I did find myself wishing it was scarier. In terms of acting and directing style I found this movie to be traditional Hollywood through and through, and would mostly just recommend it to fans of older films.


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jmunky [2017] FILM

 

Wonder Woman [2017] * *

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I get my powers the old fashioned way. I drink cough syrup. And then I can see triple. It's like I'm the Six Million Dollar Man, with the eye, except my super power is useless, seeing triple doesn't help at all. I wanna save the world, but I can't.


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Reviews by Morg [2017] FILM

 

Lost in Translation [2003] * * * * *

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Woody Allen may have invented the pedo cityscape romantic film arc, but Bill Murray perfected it.


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Swartacus [2017] FILM

 

The Fan [1996] * * * *

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[*Spoilers*]

An absurd genre masterpiece with a positively demented performance from De Niro.

I enjoyed the many varieties of Bob D's bellowing "Bobbaaay" at Wesley Snipes (playing a very poorly disguised version of Barry Bonds).

You get the boisterous "Bobbay" at the Giants opening day. You get the quiet "Bobbay" when Snipes is swinging over breaking balls by five feet. You get the super slow-mo ultra sad "Bobbbaaaay, Bobbbaaaay" after angry fans repeatedly say "fuck you" to Snipes after a game. You get pompous "Bobbay" when De Niro gains the upper hand while playing beach baseball with Snipes in the ugliest pair of Zubaz I've ever seen. You get the scolding "Bobbay" in the rain-soaked showdown with Snipes and the cops. Oh did I mention De Niro kills former major leaguer John Kruk with a Rambo knife and then his mug is beamed on the Jumbotron?

This isn't even the weirdest tic De Niro has in the movie. My all time favorite thing he does is tell the entire crowd to fuck off literally every time he goes to a game. I chortled loud when del Toro's character came to the plate and De Niro stands up without any hint of irony and yells "Booooo let Bobbaaaay bat" then tells the crowd "fuck you" when he is told to sit down. I am totally using that at Target Field this year!

Another impressive character tic is De Niro's intense love of the Rolling Stones. His face after he kidnaps Snipes' kid and steals his humvee is one of the most hilariously bizarre of all. He sings the Rolling Stones' Shattered and explains to the boy that Mick is his good friend. This is frightening and over-the-top funny at the same time. It's like he has Rolling Stones Tourette's as he randomly yells out words from the chorus. He wails "TATTERS!" while making supreme De Niro face. Then he gets real spastic and just says "DAAT DAAT SHATTERED!!!" I am not embarrassed to say I rewound that 3 times and dissected the De Niro faces like it was the Zapruder film.

But wait there's more! Did you know that the theme music for Bobby D's kills are done by various Nine Inch Nails numbers? As in, Closer plays whenever De Niro gets pissed off and randomly throws a Rambo knife at a bug.... Or that Trent Reznor's voice grunts "I want to fuck you, I want to taste you, I want to feel you" whilst De Niro shoves a knife in a young Benicio del Toro's femoral artery?

This is a creepy fucking camp horror show of a film. It's The Natural being fondled by Seven and Taxi Driver. It is a glorious disaster. Tony Scott should have probably been put in prison for stealing $55 million dollars to film this monstrosity.


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Chad S. Walsky [2017] FILM

 

Fargo [1996] * * * * *

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[*Spoilers*]

Let's talk about the films we truly love.

Our absolute favorites.

That handful of movies we use as a barometer when judging other films and opinions. They don't have to be considered "classics" or win Academy Awards. They just have to remind us of why we love cinema in the first place. Joel and Ethan Coen's Fargo is one of those movies for me.

One big reason is the personal connection to the setting. Lifelong Minnesotan here, dontchaknow! And every detail in Fargo is a perfect little reminder of where I come from. A mother yelling "supper's ready" from the kitchen while the Golden Gophers light up the wooden console TV. The Old Dutch Potato Chips and Grain Belt Beer on the table of the lake house cabin, chimney smoke billowing into the sky. Tiny, fragile angel figurines surrounded by two dozen goofy pictures of assorted cousins and grandparents. It's all there. From the Minneapolis skyline, to the icy roads and drifted ditches of the rural Midwest, nothing is missed by local legends Joel And Ethan Coen. Throw in the fact that a main character is a sales manager for an auto dealership (I've been in the auto industry for a decade), and I think you can see why it resonates with me. Other than the kidnapping and murder, of course.

But it's more than just familiarity to the territory. Fargo also happens to be a perfectly crafted thriller and quite possibly the finest black comedy ever made. Funny, scary, tense, bizarre, violent, poignant, heartfelt, devastating - look at all those words I just used! Impressive, huh. Funny thing is, every one of them applies. For starters, few movies combine belly laughs and disturbing violence quite like Fargo. The Coens have an amazing ability to lull the viewer into a sense of calm (mostly using humor), only to bludgeon you with the harsh realities of the world they've created. The scene with the two kidnappers (Stormare and Buscemi) and the Highway Patrolman still makes my blood run cold. The way Stormare's character chases those teenagers down and executes them shows you exactly what kind of evil has been unleashed. He's like a nicotine-stained demon shark with the smell of blood in his nostrils. There is no going back once that happens. For the kidnappers, for Jerry and his wife, and for the viewer too.

Speaking of Jerry, William H. Macy's portrayal of bumbling criminal "mastermind" Jerry Lundegaard is one of my favorite supporting performances. That scene at the dealership screwing the guy on the TruCoat was funnier than 98% of the comedies released in theaters the last five years. But what could have been one-note joke performance becomes something layered and profoundly tragic. Even after all the terrible shit he does, I still feel melancholy when he's arrested in that dive hotel in his underwear. The man who threw a snowball and started an avalanche now has a murdered wife and lifetime of prison to look forward to. What a sad character. What an amazing performance.

But the heart of the movie is our hero, Marge Gunderson. I can be a bit of a hyperbole guy, but let me assure you I've given this next statement much thought: Frances McDormand's portrayal of Police Chief Marge Gunderson is my favorite performance by any actress. I truly love everything about this character - pure, warm, trusting, but never stupid. The disbelief in her scene with Peter Stormare is so earnest, so honest it just floors me. "And for what? For a little bit of money?" Gets me every time. In a sea of nefarious characters and duplicitous murderers she is our beacon of hope and light. Plus, she's a helluva shot. An all-time great performance. Alright, let's wrap this up. I need to get to a Pancake House. The Coen Brothers Fargo is a flawless modern classic. A true original. But I could care less if only 12 people on the planet knew what the hell it was. It means something to me, and continues to entertain like few films can.

And isn't that what we're all chasing when the theater goes dark?


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Chad S. Walsky [2017] FILM

 

It Comes at Night [2017] * * * *

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Mostly, yes.

Unless I have time before work.


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Swartacus [2017] FILM

 

It Comes at Night [2017] * *

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Ok I tried to restrain myself from reviewing this, but the bile just kept rising with each passing moment....

As an unabashed fan of Trey Edward Shults' film Krisha, I was rip roaring and ready to go here. And for large portions of this film there are heaping spoonfuls of Hitchcockian level suspense and Shining-esque insular claustrophobia. Even my wife was literally sitting on the couch mouth agape for at least the first hour.

However there is a barbed wire through-line of uncompromising bleakness and funereal sentiments that I just cannot get behind. Maybe this is the prevailing sentiment among millennial artists these days that we are completely fucked as a species with literally zero redeeming qualities. But I say fuck all that. Grow the fuck up. I get it... TES... you're new... you want to make a statement. You're born hard. You wear your Kubrick influence on your sleeves like the elbow patches on a velvet smoker's jacket (if you name the dog "STANLEY" you better bring the goods millenidude). But this doesn't work for me, asshole.

Even Kubrick at his MOST bleak always ended on some sort of winking gallows humor (the old timey Overlook pic in The Shining, the Mickey Mouse Club song in Full Metal Jacket, the last line from Kidman in Eyes Wide Shut, the look into Alex's unrepentant orgiastic id at the end of Clockwork, the goofy dark end to Redmond Barry, I mean... fucking Strangelove?).

The last 15-20 minutes of this film completely ruin any of the excellent craft which came before it. Banal homages and tacky, forced violence does not give your film a soul. But hey... if bleak is your bag... turn on CNN and watch the Rocket Man and the Dotard, hurricanes, floods, killer Mexican earthquakes, and the like. Just don't peddle me this weak sauce dreck on a Friday night.

Yay we're all gonna die!


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audreyv [2017] FILM

 

Ghost Story [1981] * *

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Let's face it you had me at Fred Astaire stars in a horror film. Ol Fred and his ol pals in this like to get together by candlelight and tell scary stories which is a pretty awesome hobby for 80 year olds. Well guess what, the stories start getting all too real and naked people start falling out of buildings and some dude shows up for an extended sexual flashback and by then I was pretty lost. (Admittedly I took a slight break in the middle to watch a 30s Fred Astaire musical.) Anyway, I did come back to this film eventually and it looked like the flashback was here to stay, revolving around a spooky seductress. Luckily it all comes back to the naked window-falling man, and in conclusion Fred does not even dance for one measly song, so frankly I would not recommend this to anyone at all!


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audreyv [2017] FILM

 

The Fly [1986] * * * *

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This is one of those films that my father is always referencing and I've wanted to see for years yet I've never gotten around to it until now! Everyone's favorite 80s couple, hairstyles and all, star in roles as everyone's favorite movie careers of Scientist and Journalist. The hair is truly so distracting but we all know the plot anyway and it lightens the mood. What I didn't expect was that Jeff would have an apparent endless supply of baboons around on which to experiment, while at the same time Geena would have to deal with a terrifying stalker boss/boyfriend. Once the transformation begins, Jeff is off and running and gives a wildly engrossing performance as the doomed man. It can get a little silly when the juices start flowing out and the body parts start falling off, but dear god this got a lot more horrifying than I expected. Man I can understand the hype now! What an ENDING; what an 80s TREASURE.


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Reviews by Morg [2017] FILM

 

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets [2017] *

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I learned something today, while watching this, about the Star Wars prequels: they're really not that bad. We compare them to the originals unfairly, and that standard is insurmountable. But they're really not that bad.

Conversely, this was atrocious. I feel like I just watched the campaign of a video game without actually getting to play. The plot is needlessly convoluted even though it ends up being an uninteresting reminder that we should care about the refugees, people we don't understand, people who inconvenience us, love is such a big deal, etc. We get it. Thanks for the political feels, I guess.

How anyone could deem this to be "visually stunning" while Interstellar exists is beyond me. It doesn't even look as good as 2001, and that thing is older than my parents. It starts out with some really neat sci-fi ideas, and then completely abandons its edge for the sake of its own plot convenience. And it is the most convenient, predictable, and overly convoluted story arch I've ever seen. And I've seen a lot of comic book movies.

And then there's the acting. I've watched high school plays with better acting. No seriously, I saw Shrek the Musical last year at a local high school, and it was fantastic. Way better than this. Dane DeHaan couldn't realistically convince Cara Delevingne to love him any more than I would by showing up at one of her fashion shows and holding up a poster-board of my DANK meme collection. Every time he went to say something "romantic" to her, I felt as though we were about step over the edge into a juxtaposition of her skin to the coarseness and roughness of sand (true SW nerds already know).

Rihanna shouldn't be here, and the director is a fool for trying to make me care about her personal struggle for identity after spending 5 minutes turning her into a piece of woman-meat. I may be a chauvinistic pig of a young man, but I'm pretty sure that's not how feminism works. Also, I don't understand how a movie coming out after Avatar could have worse CGI and special effects while basically copypasting the blue people into the war refugees. I should've just watched Dunkirk for the third time by myself instead.

I think it's time we remind ourselves that, while he may not be the best writer in cinematic history, George Lucas makes at least an interestingly plotted movie, especially compared to this garbage. For a source material with so much influence on the sci-fi film community, this is some good evidence that sometimes we're ok in taking the product of influences without necessarily needing their forms.


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Reviews by Morg [2017] FILM

 

Manhattan [1979] * * *

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About a guy who has a serious Woody for NYC (kill me). The long durations shots of dialogue are beyond interesting, especially compared to how much cutting between actors movies do nowadays. In my intro to film class, we talked about how the way films deal in their cutting and editing today really doesn't allow the actors to give as much as they probably could. We used the runway scene from Casablanca as a template example of doing it right, and there were a few fantastic moments in Manhattan where I was reminded of that whole lesson, which made me really appreciate Allen's full capability as a director.

However, towards the end, when they switch over to more of a back-and-forth (I'm sure real film buffs know what I'm trying to say), it loses that sense of authenticity we built on earlier. Also, the acting was stellar, for the most part, but I think Diane Keaton's character deserved more of an arch, and Allen may have given himself too grand of a scope early on for the end to really live up to its preceding heights.

I definitely enjoyed the experience, and it far surpasses any romantic comedies around right now, but I feel a bit let down. It's less of a complete film and more of compilation of really incredible individual scenes loosely strung together by what amounts to a pretty general theme in the end. Allen really could've hit me all the way home if he stayed on the whole comparison of people to the city itself, I was really loving that whole idea. Going with noir was a great choice though.


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Chad S. Walsky [2017] FILM

 

Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie [2012] * * * *

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You want to know what's worth more than a billion dollars? No? Well, f*ck you. I'm telling you anyway: it's friendship!

Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie is an inspirational story about two friends working together to battle the oppressive forces of corporate America. A classic "David vs Goliath" story if there ever was one. Alone, the odds are impossible. But as friends, they can accomplish anything. To complete this journey they need to rebuild the once illustrious S'Wallow Valley Mall. But first, they need to rebuild themselves.

It starts off like any other movie. Our heroes, Tim and Eric, are given one billion dollars by the Schlaaang Corporation to film their epic movie Bonjour, Diamond Jim. Tim and Eric deliver on their promise but the "the man" isn't satisfied. Sure, the movie was only three minutes long and most of the budget was spent on non-returnable diamonds, but it was the artists' vision. I bet van Gogh dealt with the same shit. I guess it doesn't fit with the cookie cutter mentality that so many Hollywood execs suffer from. Typical.

So Tim and Eric are threatened with death if they can't come up with a cool billion. After a much needed night of relaxation (hard drugs and penis piercings) the boys stumble across an infomercial in a urinal promising countless riches for simply running the S'Wallow Valley Mall. I think we've all seen ads just like that, but rarely do we follow through on them. Not our guys - this is JUST what they've been waiting for. And it's the moment that helps change Tim and Eric from struggling boys to confident men. And even better friends.

I won't spoil the wonderful places this movie takes you, but I implore you to go on the journey. It's packed with everything you want from your entertainment. You like rap tunes? No problem. There's a guy named Taquito who can spit dope rhymes all day. Oh, you're more of an action fan? Got ya covered. There is a fight scene between Tim and Eric that can rival anything in The Raid or The Raid 2. Wait, you like steamy movies with hubba-hubba sex scenes? Easy. How about a naked Tim Heidecker with a strap-on attached to his head? Done. But Chad, I like my movies to feature teenage boys spraying liquid shit on a guy in tub... can Billion Dollar Movie satisfy me too? You're goddamn right it can.

So if you're looking for a movie that can make ya chuckle and lift your spirit, try Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie. They're just boys doing business. Business Boys, if you will. But more than that, they're best friends.

And what's worth more than that? Nothing.


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Chad S. Walsky [2017] FILM

 

The Big Short [2015] * * * *

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So, I'm supposed to hate these guys huh? The big banks and American public sure, but these guys?? Whatever happened to self-responsibility and taking ownership of your actions. I guess I had more fun watching this than I was supposed to because I thought it was friggin' hilarious.

For starters, what a group of performances from the four lead actors. It's like a rock concert where each member gets a chance to show off their unique style. Bale brings a real pathos to Mike Burry in just a few quick scenes, and the awkward ticks and stuttering never feel showy. He's the most realized of the four. Mark Baum is the moral compass of the group, and watching Carell anguish over exactly what "the big short" will mean to Americans is fantastic. Gosling is flat out hilarious as brash Wall Street hotshot Jared Vennett who smells blood in the water and wants his cut (and a chance to stick it to his close-minded bosses). And Pitt, playing retired banker Ben Rickert, gets to throw cold water on everyone while sporting old man sweaters and a bushy beard. Just top-notch work by all.

As for the movie, it's a blast! I liked how McKay put the complexities of the American mortgage crisis in a blender and created creamed information he could spoon feed to the masses. Clever. I wish this guy taught when I was in school - my GPA would've been WAY higher. Additionally the movie just pulses with energy and (almost) never loses momentum. I found it oddly exciting waiting for the other shoe to drop, I'm not gonna lie. Impressive that the guy famous for Will Ferrell rubbing his ballsack on John C. Reilly's drumset made this inventive, Oscar-nominated movie. Welcome to the big leagues, Adam McKay.

I do have a nitpick though. I did NOT like the celebrity information dump scenes. Too showy, too silly. Of course I GET what the director was doing there, but it didn't make it any less annoying. The film was doing a great job of explaining everything through the four main characters (and the awesome supporting cast) and didn't need these tiresome sideshows. Now, I do have a little knowledge of finance through my job (on a much smaller scale of course) but it seemed like anyone with a working brain could've kept up without Selena Gomez breaking shit down. But maybe that's just me - I am pretty smrt.

That said, I really liked The Big Short. Funny, biting, topical, and different. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to an open house! The place is only $875K and the adjustable rate is only 7.9%! Sweet!


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