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Isaak von Seggern [2018] FILM

 

The Incredible Hulk [2008] *

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The amount of times that Edward Norton gets tranqed by the military who thinks that THIS time he won't go full Hulk because someone just gently shot a giant needle into his neck is astounding, but what is even crazier is how the twist at the end isn't that Liv Tyler turns around as the music swells and falls into Edward Norton's arms with like 70 tranquilizer rounds in her back because she is like the deadest dead corpse body man woman person thing I have ever seen.

"I have never seen a dead body, but I have seen Liv Tyler act" would make for a great t-shirt.

Approximately 15 out of the 10 scenes in this movie start with Liv Tyler over dramatically whisper yawning her line out like,

"I really need to... go to the bathroom."

And then Edward Norton replies with fervor,

"I'm gonna eat this thumb drive and hulk shit it out in like 8 hours because I have the metabolism of a leaky fire hose"

and she mumbles in return,

"lol I am so asleep dude wake me when you got animal crackers cuz that is my SHIT bitch"

and then he complacently yells,

"Oh my god I have been injected with sleep juice for roughly the 12th time in the last 30 minutes but I ain't sleepin I'M HULKIN."

And then he fucks the United States military on someone's lawn for like four hours and Tim Roth is doing all these crazy flips like he's Yoda but Hulk just kicks him into a tree and the movie still manages somehow to be only halfway over and it's like wow 2008 Hulk is literally the worst thing since Armageddon and Armageddon is the worst thing since 10 Hebrew Virgins were sacrificed in the ritualistic blood birth of Satan.

The only thing I give this movie credit for is that it's like The Shape of Water except it hurt my feelings AND it's somehow even greener. We even get this scene that I think is supposed to be sad where Liv Tyler and Edward Norton are having sex but his heart rate goes too high so they have to stop, but then I couldn't stop thinking for the rest of the movie about what would happen if he went full Hulk while he was inside of her.

That would probably wake her up for sure.

R.I.P Liv Tyler's rib cage after she gets HULKED.


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Biscoito18 [2018] FILM

 

Mom and Dad [2017] * * *

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"Mom and Dad" kicks off the Nicolas Cage revival in 2018. This year we'll probably have "Mandy", another good horror movie starring him, that's being shown at the Sundance Film Festival and is already receiving good reviews from fans of the genre.

This time, Cage's exaggerated and cartoony style is valued by the plot and blends in perfectly with the film's proposal: a horror film mixed with dark humor where parents begin to kill their own children.

I love the fact that the film only quickly pinpoints possible causes for this outbreak of violence, while spreading little clues here and there.

It's as if the maternal/paternal instinct, one of nature's most powerful forces, was reversed by some kind of terrorist attack. It's not clear, but you can see in one of the most tense scenes of the movie (involving a newborn) that this attack occurs through a sound signal emitted by TVs. In that aspect, it reminded me of the premise of "Cell", a horrible movie from 2016 based on a novel by Stephen King.

From love to pure hatred directed exclusively towards their children (or occasionally to anyone who gets in between them).

The film makes an efficient and frantic mix between the savagery, black humor, and even some great dramatic flashbacks involving the family members, which helps to develop the characters at the right time without having to spend a whole first act for that.

Certainly some people will be annoyed by these constant disruptions in the action, but I think they work flawlessly most of the time, mainly because the main draw of the film is the comparison between the middle-aged crisis and this crazy unmanageable urge to kill the children, who are the biggest symbol and reminder of their parents' aging and decay.

As Selma Blair's character (also spectacular in her role) says, it's as if, at some point, she's no longer Kendall, and her husband is no longer Brent, and both have just become "Mom and Dad". This is a common drama, but here it is treated in a complementary and entertaining way that fits perfectly with the premise.

Some negative points are:

- The soundtrack is repetitive, boring, and doesn't value the scenes or the constant changes in the film's tone
- Several violent scenes have their bloodiest moments not shown and some others have their consequences reduced (or ignored) to continue the plot
- The abrupt end doesn't work, and as much as I understand (and enjoy) that the director's focus is only on what really matters in the story, it still seemed to be something incomplete or poorly planned

"Mom and Dad" knows how to use its time well, with quick and fun editing, committed performances from Cage and Blair, and a plot focused only on what matters. Perfect for watching with friends.


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Biscoito18 [2018] FILM

 

Insidious: The Last Key [2018] * * *

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Never before has a dead character starred so many sequels in a franchise. In fact, one sequel and two prequels.

Some feel that the screenwriters still regret the tragic fate they gave Elise Rainier (played by scream queen Lin Shaye) in the first film. It may even be true, but the important thing here is that they recognized the power in her character and brought her back, as the center of attention, without betraying the movie's own rules.

I love the fact that these prequels aren't just some random old cases investigated by Elise. They're also heavily tied to events of the first two films and help explain some of their plot/character details while consequently increasing their rewatch value, by playing with time and space.

Now, speaking about this specific entry.

First it's important to note that several scenes that appear in the trailer simply aren't in the movie. And it's not just details. Scenes you could swear that would be big sequences were just cut. A pity because one of those scenes had the participation of model Melanie Gaydos that caught my attention in the trailer.

Usually Elise's clumsy helpers, Tucker and Specs, are more annoying than funny, but here, surprisingly, they have some good scenes. They even made me laugh a few times.

The plot this time is more personal, and perhaps because of it, the film is a little more sentimental and clichéd in the final part.

The exploration of the "further" took second place. In fact, even the main creature, "Key Face" as called by fans, is treated as a supporting character in a plot that is more concerned with resolving Elise's past family problems.

The main scenario is horrifying by itself (an old dark house next to a prison in the middle of nowhere, where prisoners are constantly executed in the electric chair, and their troubled souls become trapped there), and the film manages to create tension very well.

Even so, in the end, there's a feeling that the whole structure could've been much better explored.

The plot explores very little of the terrible souls that walk around the house, and prefers to create another reason for the disturbance there, as if it were not enough.

Anyone who has watched any of the previous films, knows what to expect from the jump scares. However, unlike the others, "The Last Key" fails to create a single strong horror image that is memorable.

The final part, in a "further" themed as an infinite corridor of cells, is presented in a hurry, without concern for the atmosphere, displaying the monster without giving it due prominence...

Even the color palette this time crossed the line with the shades of blue.

That said, the performances are great, the creature's design is super interesting, there are some good connections with the previous films, some well-planned surprises, and Elise's story, even if it's a bit tacky, has some truly heartfelt moments.

Like the weak second chapter, "The Last Key" is another low point in the franchise.

Excessive focus on a character's personal plot eventually affected the other elements of the storyline. Perhaps it's time to abandon the past and move on, focusing more on exploring the franchise's glorious "further" and its wonderful entities/demons.


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Curtis Loves Movies [2018] TV

 

Wormwood [6 episodes, 2017] * * * *

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[*Spoilers*]

The story of illegal CIA bio-weapon and LSD programs was interesting enough, but what fascinated me the most was the story of the evolution of an obsession.

I wasn't bothered by the inconclusive ending to the mystery of what happened to Frank Olson and why. By that point I was fully engrossed in the psychology of obsession that destroyed his son Eric's life. I believe that was Morris's true subject of this documentary.

I really enjoyed the way this whole viewing experience unfolded for me. From the very first reenactments, I was wondering how the hell they knew what was said or done in hushed conversations and locked rooms? Were they taking artistic liberty and scripting fictitious events to fill in the blanks? But then Morris would show testimony from one of the real people that confirmed everything in the reenactment.

It became a game for me. I'd see something in a reenactment -- like the phone call Lashbrook makes after Olson falls/jumps/drops from the window -- and think, "Okay, there's no way they could know that." Then Morris gives us the testimony from the operator who heard the whole phone call and reported it to the manager. You got me again!

By the end though, I came to interpret the reenactments as Eric's personal fantasies of the events as he learned more and more through his investigation. Which gave them all a deeply poignant sadness, helped tremendously by Peter Sarsgaard's truly tragic portrayal of Frank.

Did the CIA conduct biological warfare in Korea, and did they execute Frank Olson to cover it up? Sure. Why not? I mean, the atomic bombs dropped on Japan before Korea and the illegal bombings in Laos after Korea are all part of the historical record. Clearly, killing civilians is not a problem for the United States government and its agencies of war. Had Morris concluded this story with proof or a greater sense of resolution, would that have moved me very much? Not really.

What's much more interesting to me is exploring the devastation we cause on ourselves by seeking control over the uncontrollable and knowledge of the unknowable. That's something everyone does in small or big ways. For me, Eric Olson's life is a cautionary tale; a mirror to help reflect back to me my own unhealthy obsessions.


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Curtis Loves Movies [2018] FILM

 

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle [2017] * * * *

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I'm convinced that seeing this movie with my 12-year-old niece made all the difference in me liking it than not.

First plus: My second Bobby Cannavale movie in two days!

Second plus: Turning Jumanji into a video game so that characters could actually die -- brilliant!

Most importantly, the jokes made Lily and me laugh. The character bonding was just the perfect amount of Dawson's-Creek-cheesy to make me tear up. The action was fun.

Basically "The Breakfast Club 2: Welcome to the Jungle" -- who's not gonna like that?


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jmunky [2018] APPS

 

Google Keep [Android] * * * * *

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This li'l sucker is a life saver. I can't live without it. A great lists app, and I have lists for everything. Some of my essentials:

- Get out of bed options
- Shots of vodka
- Books to read at work
- Milf ratings
- "Medicine" schedule


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Reviews by Morg [2018] FILM

 

Phantom Thread [2017] * * * * *

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[*Spoilers*]

A friendly reminder that Daniel Day-Lewis is the greatest actor, maybe to ever live.

Phantom Thread is as elegant as the dresses featured throughout the film. It's easily the most fashionable movie I've ever seen. I love how well Anderson understands visual language along with the clothing. I don't know if it has been mentioned or not, but the scene in which Reynolds proposes was absolutely stunning in this regard. He's been bedridden by his lover's poison and looked after by her over the course of what feels like one night. In that time, a wedding dress is woven alongside his love for this woman, whose care he comes to need more than anything. In the morning, with the finished dress perfectly in focus in the foreground for its full on-screen appearance, Reynolds proposes in the background, thus fulfilling a magnanimous foreshadowing that was executed in mere moments primarily through visual artistry. This is high art in the most gentle and caring hands.

The story, as usual in PTA project, borders on Shakespearean. It's nasty and hard to swallow, but I felt completely confident in validating the featured relationship in the end. The girl I watched this with was shocked at my response. But think about it this way: though her poisoning him is certainly not a moral choice, he puts himself up to it. It's consensual, and why wouldn't one affirm a consensual love-pact? It's a complex story that demands to be debated and discussed in all its weighty themes, and the fact that people could disagree on the health of such a wonderfully portrayed relationship adds value to the text of the film.

Among other lenses through which to watch this would be that of an artist's relationship with his muse. Reynolds needs Alma because of her figure for modeling. She is the canvas on which he paints his masterpieces. And though he loves her at some level, it's an emotionally abusive relationship. The muse needs to be validated along with the art, maybe even above it.

Anderson, Greenwood (the score was phenomenal), and Lewis have given us a masterpiece, and among the Oscar hype around other great 2017 projects, I see Phantom Thread far and away ahead of everyone else.


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Nickodemus [2018] FILM

 

Me Before You [2016] * * *

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[*Spoilers*]

My sister got married in France in late 2016 and my mom and I were on an eight hour flight to Paris. I had been taking care of my soon to be roommate, who is a quadriplegic, for about 6 months. When we started on the in-flight movies, my mom chose the romantic dramedy "Me Before You" and I decided to watch the comic book movie "Deadpool". About 15 minutes into our respective movies, my mom turns to me and says "Nick, you should watch this movie. It's about a quadriplegic." I turn off Deadpool and look at the summary, noticing it features Emilia Clarke, my cinematic crush. After thinking it over a little bit I figured that I was probably not going to learn anything new from watching Deadpool and opted to give "Me Before You" a chance, if only to compare notes.

The movie begins with Will, our protagonist, involved in a motorcycle accident (as he gets hit by a motorcycle walking on foot). When he severs his spine, the audience feels awful because he has so much potential and everything is going right and blah blah blah. He is rich and handsome because why wouldn't he be? Already I am asking myself, if this same movie was made about my client breaking his neck, would anyone care? Not only is he not rich or handsome, he is slightly overweight, aging and washed up, also an alcoholic felon meth-cooker with no money. Obviously that would be a different kind of story but even from the beginning "Me Before You" left me wondering if the Hollywood treatment was what spinal cord injuries really needed. In having something to compare it to I felt like I had an advantage. I decided to venture further down the rabbit hole.

Enter Lou, played by Emilia Clarke, a frumpy English villager in dire need of a job. The first thing that really annoyed me about this situation was that the quadriplegic character was rich enough to hire an attractive woman to just sit and spend time with him. The vast majority of quadriplegics would be living off the government and basically fending for themselves in terms of adequate care. However, this is a rom/com so you can throw reality out the window. They might as well call this movie "50 Shades of Quad". The thing that I will give them props for is that they were absolutely spot on with the irritable and dickish nature of Will at the beginning of the movie. I was immediately reminded of my client and really enjoyed seeing him being a complete jerk to Emilia Clarke, because that's how it actually is (sorry Emilia). Of course she begins to grow on him because of plot and reasons.

During this time we are introduced to some supporting characters, namely Will's ex-fiancé and Lou's boyfriend Neville Longbottom, or at least the guy who played Neville Longbottom in Harry Potter. Will's former lover's engagement throws gasoline on the fire of his bitterness and rage while Lou's boyfriend pushes her away in favor of trying to become a mediocre marathon runner (at best). First of all, a former lover leaving a quad is 100% realistic. Neville Longbottom ditching Sarah Connor to go for a jog on the other hand? Not so believable. Sure they play her up to be chubby and unattractive, sort of like Rachael Leigh Cook in "She's All That", but let's face it, Neville is in no way comparable to Freddie Prinze Jr. Will is hardly comparable to FPJ but he plays the part nicely. Obviously I am a little biased because Emilia Clarke is my imaginary girlfriend (please don't tell my actual girlfriend). I am down to get dirty with any of her potential suitors at this point in the movie, including Will. Nobody does the Mother of Dragons wrong in my book and gets away with it. But, I digress. As these relationships collapse down around the two heroes, the plot conveniently sets the stage for romance.

Somewhere in between relationship building montages we discover that Will is applying for assisted suicide and his parents are desperate to stop him. Lou is the last ditch effort to "save" Will. This plot point is also spot on because pretty much every person that I have ever met who is a quadriplegic has wanted to kill themselves. Lou catches wind of Will's plan and in turn schedules a series of adventures to show him that life is worth living. They go to see an orchestra and go to the horse races. They even attend Will's ex's wedding, culminating in a trip to a tropical island where they finally confess their love for each other.

As a caregiver this point in the movie is really what saves it from being overhyped, emotionally driven rom/com drivel. Or on second thought, maybe it is what solidifies it as emotionally driven rom/com drivel. Despite Lou's best efforts to commit herself to Will, even after she pours her heart and soul into making him feel loved, he STILL wants to kill himself and follow through with his original plan. As much as I hated this movie for being completely stereotypical, mainly that all quads live like Christopher Reeve, it comes through at the end and shows that not even love can change their desire to die. It seems like a tearjerker that is cleverly written to toy with the emotions of middle-aged housewives but it is actually revealing a very simple truth: It doesn't matter how much money you have, how handsome you are, if Emilia Clarke loves you or not, if you are an able-bodied person who becomes a quadriplegic later in life, you want to die regardless. As soon as I saw this movie I told my client about the premise, and he immediately dismissed it as crap, but then when I told him the ending involved assisted suicide, he loved it!

So, in short, this movie is a very stereotypical love story. The only reason I am giving it three stars is because it has Emilia Clarke in it and they make SOME effort to show the struggles that come with quadriplegia. It isn't the hardcore quad down on his luck movie that I would make but it is a start. If anyone is interested on working on that one drop me a line.

I suppose it was ironic that like Lou, I ended up in Paris at the end of the movie. Seems fitting. Still looking for those bumble-bee tights in purple and gold.

Thanks for reading.


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Isaak von Seggern [2018] FILM

 

Iron Man 2 [2010] * * *

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This is no doubt a polarizing movie, but I think we can at least agree that Bill O'Reilly is the best Stan Lee cameo in the MCU.

I like how even in a fictional and scripted world, Bill O'Reilly's only function on television is to be muted.

I actually like this movie quite a bit. People seem to think that the first Iron Man movie is infinitely superior in quality, but if we are really being honest with ourselves the only difference is that this movie doesn't have the G-Rated Taliban and Obadiah Stain giving people severe constipation with his laser pointer and yelling TOOONNNEEEEEEEE every 5 minutes of the runtime.

As a kid, my mom told me Jeff Bridges disappeared so far into his role of Obadiah Stain in the original Iron Man that something snapped in his head and one day he just showed up to work as Obadiah Stain, and now when you see him in movies, it's just him doing an impression of Jeff Bridges.

I made that up, but if I ever asexually reproduce (as I secretly am a Hammerhead Shark) I will tell that to my kid to keep them up at night. Though then again, the fact that their father is literally a Hammerhead Shark might do that all by itself.

Maybe when Stan Lee passes away, Obadiah Stain can just take up the mantle and make cameo appearances in Marvel movies as Stan Lee making cameo appearances.

How does the saying go? Legends never die, they are just reborn as Obadiah Stain in an Oscar Baity movie. We can even include a scene where Obadiah Stain (as Stan Lee) falls on his knees and lets out a scream, but all the noise drains from the movie and it's super emotional because the audience knows he's screaming "Tonnee" but Tony can't hear him because he is a fictional character.

Tragic

Oh also Terrence Howard is now Don Cheeto, and his character is I think part of the Air Force this time around instead of just being his own fourth branch of the government like in the first one.

This movie kind of plays out like the MCU stand-up comedy hour and I suppose that is why I enjoy it so much. I don't even mean that in a cynical way either, the humor in this movie I think is easily the best of the whole series. I don't want to be one of those guys that makes whining noises and complains about how vanilla Disney is, but there is something that feels so corporate about the new Marvel movies that really irks me. It's like walking around a Walmart for however long the runtime is. Even though this is a $160 million dollar movie it still feels at least like a human being (Justin Theroux) wrote it and Jon Favreau directed it. The Spiderman Homecoming script was essentially crowdsourced by 6 people. I suppose there is nothing wrong with that, but I really dig Justin Theroux's humor and Swingers you know? They pushed the boundaries of what a superhero movie could be, and in the age of every Marvel movie being a funee spaceman adventure, I can appreciate that.

Regardless of my irritable opinions, tune in next week till the end of time when Disney finally stops baby burping more funnee spaceman movies out of Kevin Feige's asshole.


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Swartacus [2018] FILM

 

Wind River [2017] * * * * *

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The set up isn't new. There are strong whiffs of "Thunderheart", "Fargo", and "The Pledge"... as well as countless western motifs at play here.

However... this film is so meticulously crafted, framed, paced, and acted that it rises well beyond pure mimicry or standard genre fare.

Renner gives one of the best performances of 2017 in this film. His Fish 'n Game "hunter" is the unsheathed razor sharp edge of a coiled serpent... achingly, but patiently awaiting its prey.

Elizabeth Olsen (yes, the sister of the infamous Olsen Twins) has a spunky breakout performance here in the traditionally male role of the "fish out of water" honky cop. It can't be understated how tricky this had to be to play, as it could have easily gotten away from her, floated away into ugly parody territory. I'm no fan of the Avengers stuff, but between this and her unheralded role in the Hank Williams biopic "I Saw the Light", you cannot say she isn't at least attempting to dabble in more interesting projects.

I cannot recommend this film highly enough, and I am eagerly awaiting the next film from director Taylor Sheridan.


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