Sunday, December 29, 2013

Inside Llewyn Davis

The Coen brothers are arguably the most consistent American directors of the last 2 decades. They have a tendency to make fantastic movies about individuals who are complete underachievers. We've seen it in Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski, and A Serious Man. The Coens have now given us the pleasure of seeing another spectacular underachiever with Inside Llewyn Davis.

Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is a struggling folk singer living in New York City in the early 1960s. His singing partner, Mike, has recently committed suicide and left Llewyn to pick up the pieces of his struggling career. He is a freeloader of epic proportions, bouncing from couch to couch across the city, preying on the giving nature of his “friends”. He is a jerk to everyone around him and scrapes by on performing a couple of gigs here and there while trying to promote his solo album, Inside Llewyn Davis. He desperately wants to succeed at his craft but he is constantly sabotaging himself by only focusing on the short-term rather than the long-term.

This movie is an experience, we get to see and feel the full array of emotions over the run time of the film. The Coens give us a glimpse into one man’s seemingly crappy existence and we get to see his ups and downs, and it is magnificent. There is no main goal to the story, no maniacal villain, and no damsel in distress. It is a movie about a man struggling with his dreams and his inability to make good decisions. I think the reason that I loved this movie so much is due to the fact that Llewyn’s life seems incredibly relatable, with his lack of direction and the cyclical nature of his life. He loves being a musician but is completely unwilling to bend in his beliefs to become successful and lacks the decision-making skills to counter his lack of adaptability. He is simply doomed to make the same mistakes over and over.

Oscar Isaac gives a breakout performance as the titular character, and handles singing duties to go along with his incredible acting performance. I believe the greatest aspect of his performance is his ability to make a mostly unlikable character and turn him into an endearing character that you constantly root for, but he is still a massive asshole. He is a dick to almost everyone that he comes into contact with but the people around him continue to love him, no matter how horribly he acts towards them. Oscar also has some serious singing chops and he infuses each performance with a staggering amount of emotion, and makes you feel the pain that come out in his character feels.

The supporting characters are solid as well with Justin Timberlake and Carey Mulligan playing a singing duo, Jim and Jean, who are Llewyn’s closest friends. Mulligan spends most of her time being completely pissed off at Llewyn but also has some touching moments with him as well. Timberlake’s character just exists in the movie and is not given a ton of scenes to fully develop but he isn’t the focus of the movie. The real scene stealer is John Goodman, returning to the Coens after 13 years. He plays a jazz musician, whom Llewyn hitches, a ride with to Chicago. The jabs that his character and Llewyn exchange are some of the best in the movie.

Inside Llewyn Davis revels in its main characters misery. There are no over the top situations or a huge dramatic conclusion. We simply get a magnificently filmed glimpse into the life of a chronically underachieving artist. The low-key tone of this movie was done perfectly by the Coen Brothers and continues their string of masterpieces that hopefully lasts for decades to come.

Verdict

Inside Llewyn Davis doesn’t have the memorable lines of The Big Lebowski and Raising Arizona, or the memorable characters of Fargo and No Country for Old Men, but it is masterpiece nonetheless. This is another masterful addition to the Coen Brothers’ movie resume, I can't wait to see what they have up their sleeve for us in the future.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Walking Dead- "Miles Behind Us"



Now we move onto the second arc of The Walking Dead, Miles Behind Us. For people just beginning to read the series after watching the show, this arc is the basis for the second season of the AMC show. Just keep in mind if you plan on reading "Miles Behind Us", that it is completely different than the show. You will realize how superior the comic series is after you read this arc.

This arc leaves us with Rick and the group of survivors searching for a new place to live. They find what they think is a safe gated community, that they quickly realize is infested with zombies after one of their own is taken down. While in the community, a new set of survivors is brought into the mix. We are introduced to the badass known as Tyreese, as well as his daughter and her idiot boyfriend. The group then moves onto a farm after another near tragedy and shacks up with Herschel and his family for a few issues.

The interesting thing about this arc is that there is no villain or any real presentable danger to the group. After being chased out of the gated community, they find Herschel's farm and then spend the rest of the time getting to know each other. I have seen where this series goes and this portion of the series really serves as a calm before the storm. Most of the pages are spent getting the characters more familiar with each other. There is also a sizable jump in time from the first arc to this one, with several months passing. There is still the weight of the deaths from the first few issues on the group, and it is examined a few times. That is what makes this series so special, it is not just about zombies but how people are affected by this crazy situation.

 I thought Herschel had a hard time in the TV series accepting that there was no cure for the zombie virus, but in the comic series he seems like a belligerent idiot at times. You have to keep in mind that a large portion of his family is still alive at this point and he has several more children. His idiocy leads to the death of more than a few people. He is not the moral center of any group in the comic series and the only reason people love this character is because of the TV show. Most of the time in the comic he is just a pile of uselessness with a shit attitude.

This arc was a way for Robert Kirkman to get us acquainted with the cast before he brought them to the prison, which is where the series really begins to take off into greatness. I never got the sense that any of the main cast of characters was in any real danger. This is a necessary evil when a writer has a long term plan in place, and seeing where this series goes just reaffirms my belief in my previous statement. Keep picking up the graphic novels until you catch up with where the series is currently. The series just keeps getting better and better. With no endgame in sight, I am excited for the series every single time a new issue comes out.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Walking Dead "Days Gone Bye"


If you are not a fan of The Walking Dead, you may want to skip this article. 

I have been meaning to write about The Walking Dead comic series for some time. Of any series that I have read, this is by far the best in terms of long term quality. At this point, we are nearing 120 issues and there has not been a noticeable drop in quality. If anything, the series has gotten better with age. Days Gone Bye, is the opening arc to the series and is the most recognizable to mainstream audiences, as it is the basis for the first season of the the wildly popular television adaptation of the same name. This is also the only arc to feature the artwork of series co-creator Tony Moore, and the arc is worth reading for the artwork alone.

Days Gone Bye details the beginning of Rick Grimes' journey through the zombie apocalypse. Rick is a small town sheriff in Kentucky, who is injured in a shootout and lapses into a coma due to his injuries.He soon wakes up to a disheveled hospital room, and as he ventures into the hospital he learns that there is something definitely wrong with the world. His motivation for surviving is to find his family and make sure that they are safe. His journey leads him to Atlanta and that is where all the fun begins.

The thing that I truly love about this arc and the series in general is that the writer, Robert Kirkman, always focuses on the characters rather than the zombies. The zombies are still a huge threat but humans are the scariest creatures in this story. Zombies have no motivations and are simply there to find their next meal and devour anything in their path. The human characters have their own motivations, histories, and the most dangerous of all, the need to survive. Shane is more unhinged than ever and you can see him breaking from the first moment that we meet him. He might have had a larger role in the television series but his impact in the comics is more effective. The subsequent arcs really delve into the fact that humans are the real danger when society begins to breakdown and I'll get to that as I start breaking those arcs down in the future.

People need to keep in mind that this arc is before Rick is the leader of the group of survivors and fan of the television show are going to have to forget everything that they have seen before, because the comic series is a whole other beast. There are more characters of importance in the comic than in the TV series and they each play a pivotal role in the series. It is also strange that the character sin the series are written in a more realistic manner than in the comic series. Once Lori finds out that Rick is alive there is no more romantic feelings with Shane. It is completely over in her eyes, but not in Shane's eyes, which leads to him being the series' first villain. Rick is singularly focused on finding his family and only when he does, does the full effect of what is going around him affect him. The whole thing with the first arc is that it is slowly world building, we get a sense of how the zombies function and how this group has been surviving in the world.

Most of you reading this are either fans of the TV series or a fan of both the TV series and comic series. The differences between the two, even in the early stages are drastic. Characters such as Andrea, Lori, Shane, Dale, and Carl are vastly different in each medium. Andrea is not a weak character and she only gets one shining moment in the first arc but it is vastly different than her lesser television counterpart. Lori is not caught in a love triangle and is simply happy to have her family back in one piece. Shane snaps much earlier than in the TV show and is not as well developed as his TV counterpart. The one character that the TV series really did a disservice to is Dale. They made him into this overprotective father figure for the group and never allowed him to really develop as a character. His comic version is a father figure and moral center for Rick more than anyone else, and that only starts in later arcs. In this arc he is one who jumps into action to save Lori from a zombie attack and also is there to comfort Andrea after she has to kill her sister after she is bitten. There opportunities were wasted by the writers of the TV series because they were more interested in having the group seek a cure for the zombie infection, which was dumb decision. What makes the series compelling is the human reactions to the situation that they have been thrust into.

This is essential reading for any comic fan and for anyone that loves the TV show. If you are a fan of the show and have never read the comic, you are going to be in for a treat. This arc, even as a standalone story, works incredibly well. Read this anyway that you can, buy it at your local comic shop, download it from Comixology, or torrent it.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Walking Dead- "Dead Weight"


Would the real Governor step forward, please.

About time this happened.  These last two episodes that were focused on him solely felt like a time-out in the progress of the season.  I understand why the show did this, but his arc was so quick I could have used more time seeing him portray Brian.  Alas, the man is back, in charge, and wanting revenge on everyone.

The episode starts with a back and forth between Meghan and The Governor, and Martinez and The Governor.  His initial talks with Martinez are tense and show anger between the two.  His talk with Meghan though gets his brain moving towards making the next move in life.  This was the first sign that he was back and ready to make moves.  After a supply run that some good walker deaths they were back at camp.  Martinez made a joke while using the golf clubs from Woodbury about sharing leadership with The Governor.  Needless to say The Governor didn’t find it funny and that was all she wrote for Martinez.  It was a beautiful death and words will do it no justice.  The acting was superb and the scene was great.

The Governor tried to leave before anything else happened.  He gathered up his new family, including Tara’s new girl fling, and they all drove out in the middle of the night.  Soon enough they were stopped by a slew of walkers stuck in quicksand like mud in the middle of the road.  Some great make up work here as the walkers have only been getting better as the season has gone on.  Having to go back to the camp, The Governor decides it is time to take charge.

With a brutal death to Pete and a decision to see if he can get Mitch on his side, Pete’s brother, The Governor takes full reign of the camp.  The theme again has been can you ever come back from something and still be who you once were.  The Governor clearly can go straight back into his all-out crazy mode of controlling everything and being the leader again, despite the look of him not really wanting to take the mantel.

Of course he knows of a place to keep everyone safe and we get a great ending to the episode with him secretly spying on the prison.  With a raise of his gun, the episode cuts to black in a great cliff-hanger to the last episode of the year.  It seems as if he will do everything in his power to keep Meghan, Tara, and Lily safe.  I think the last episode of the year is going to be explosive, exciting, and see many deaths from some of the regulars we have come to know and love.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Innkeepers



The Innkeepers harkens back to the classic ghost movies of yesteryear, such as Poltergeist, and modern marvels such as Insidious. Director Ti West has become of the best young independent horror directors in the industry, and this is another feather in his cap. The Innkeepers doesn't overly concern itself with over the top gore or jump scares, it is a slow-burning haunted house tale.This is a very different movie from all of the gore fests that have come out over the past decade, The Innkeepers concerns itself with the story and characters first rather than worry about the way the ghosts will look of the effects it will have in it. This is a style that is sorely lacking in Hollywood for the most part because it doesn't necessarily sell to the masses.

The Innkeepers tells the tale of Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy), who work at The Pedlar's Inn  which is on it last weekend of being open. There was a woman, Madeline O'Malley, who hanged herself in the inn in the 1800's and many of the people in the inn have seen her ghost. Claire and Luke are very interested in "Ghost Hunting" and try and document all of the different events that go on in the inn. From little things such as a piano playing itself or even doors closing on their own there are little things that support the notion that there is a ghost in the inn. Claire starts to become overly paranoid after she starts to witness things that she attributes to the ghost of Madeline O'Malley.From that point forth it is a tale of trying to find the truth about what happened in the inn and how they can make it out of there alive.

This is exactly the type of horror movie that I loved as a kid. There is almost no gore to speak of and it uses all of these small scary events to set the mood and establish fear in the viewer. The two main characters in the movie, Claire and Luke, are also extremely likable because they seem like just normal people. They both seem like outsiders and are never at odds with each other and they both like each other. You can tell that they like each other on a deeper level but they never act on it. This is one of the better ghost stories that I have seen over the last few years and it is a step blow movie like Insidious or Poltergeist. The only thing it doesn't do that those other movies do is create an iconic or long lasting villain. It is also a tad slower than most movies which takes its toll on the effectiveness of the movie because it take such a long time to get to the meat of the movie.

This is a very good haunted house movie and is a great little independent movie. Sara Paxton also does a wonderful job of carrying the movie on her shoulders. She is extremely beautiful in every movie that she is in but they manage to make her look like a plain Jane and just like a normal person. Her chemistry with Healy is great in the movie and really carries the movie along. This is a very good ghost story and deserves to be seen by horror movie enthusiasts.

I am a huge fan of haunted house movies/stories and have really grown to appreciate the skill needed to make one successful. Anyone can take a group of people, throw them in a creepy setting, and add ghosts. It doesn't mean that the movie is going to be scary but that is why over-the-top gore is used heavily to compensate for shit stories in many cases. West has become a modern master in horror storytelling and you can see that first hand in this movie and in House of the Devil. He has made these movies scary by using setting, story, and having the ability to use these to fill every frame with a sense of dread. The bottom line is that if you are a fan of horror movies, you should be watching this movie right now. If you are not a fan of horror movies, you should still give this one a shot.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Walking Dead- "Live Bait”



Ah, the return of The Governor.  Only took about half the season, but it was a grand return.  The episode saw him kill off two sides of his persona while creating a mix of them in a brand new terrifying, yet lovable new version.  Let’s see how long he can keep this going through the rest of the season, or if the darkest version of himself will come back to haunt Rick and the others at the prison.

A great beginning showing exactly what happened to The Governor and those in his car after the killing members of Woodbury.  The Governor was in shock and couldn't or wouldn't even defend himself from walkers as they camped for the evening.  After waking up in the morning he was by himself and a never ending journey wandering past walkers started.  With a voice over by The Governor himself, we saw Woodbury burn and a beard grow.  He was of course talking to Tara and Lily, people who would become new family to him by the end of the episode.  He told them his name was Brian, clearly for the fans of the graphic novel “Rise of the Governor,” and would only tell them that where he came from, the leader lost his mind, with “Brian” barely getting out.

We eventually see how he hooked up with Tara and Lily and it was a great moment.  The Governor had fallen on the ground, and he needed a glimmer of hope to even stand back up, and at that perfect moment he saw Meghan, looking very much like his dead daughter Penny, in a window inside a building.  Starting off Tara and Lily do no trust him right off the bat, having him sleep in another room and trying to gather what information about him that they can.  After they talk to him, they wanted help with moving their ailing grandfather, David, so The Governor helps them and at the request of David he gets a game of backgammon to play with Meghan from a person upstairs from them.  When he gets upstairs he finds the game without a problem, but he finds the man it belongs to in a tub and mercifully kills him.  He looks very uncomfortable doing it, which is very unlike him.

This is a man who is broken.  He is not the ruthless man who we knew from last season.  Most of this season has been how far can the characters, which we have come to know, go and still be the same people.  It seems as though The Governor has changed forever.  This was best exemplified in the next scene where he travels to a nursing home to get oxygen for David, at Lily’s request, and is so startled by all the walkers that he runs away from the home with only 2 canisters, where he had a whole cart at first.  He doesn't seem to want to deal with walkers anymore after his actions in Woodbury.

Another great screen occurred with him and Meghan.  As David is dying, he starts to warm up to the girl, seeing his own daughter in her, and the feeling of wanting to keep her safe brings out a nice side of The Governor.  The whole episode dealt with trying to get the audience to see this man in a different light.  I don’t know how I feel about it yet, because I still think, and hope, the horrific man is in there so another battle can take place, but I like that they are giving him more dimensions.

When David dies, The Governor takes it into his own hands to kill him.  He does it quite horrifically in front of the 3 women, but it had to be done.  After the killing is done, he buries David, with a little help from Lily, and then burns the picture of his own family.  He doesn't want to be reminded of the hurting anymore and realizes that that part of his life is over and will never come back.  The Governor wants to leave, but Lily doesn’t let him without herself, Tara, and Meghan.  As they drive towards an unknown destination they stop for the night.  Lily decides to get some and The Governor and her hook up as the other two sleep right next to them.  In the morning the truck doesn't start and they have to travel on foot.  A horde of walkers is nearby and they have to make a run for it.  Meghan freezes, still in shock from what he did to her grandfather, but eventually goes right into his arms, and they run.  The Governor trips into a pit that has walkers inside, like he used to keep.  He kills the walkers brutally and says he will keep her safe no matter what and then Martinez shows up on top of the pit.

We don’t know how this is going to work out.  We haven’t seen him in a long time and so much has changed.  The Governor know has this family that he is taking care of and is at least seemingly trying to redeem himself for all of the terrible actions he has committed.  I thought overall this was a great episode, even though we only had one main character in it.  David Morrissey easily carried the episode and I hope we get more of him every week from here on out until the season is over.  It will be interesting to see if he has to play second banana to Martinez, as the preview suggested, or if that will be short lived.  The Governor has had a great reintroduction, hopefully the writers can keep it going now.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Hanna


This movie was flat out entertaining from beginning to end. I really can't say that about a lot of movies that have come out in the last few years. Movies can be shot well, have good stories, and great characters but if they don't fit together correctly the movie is rubbish overall. In this movie everything works perfectly together. Stellar performances, unbelievable soundtrack, great cinematography, perfect editing and an amazing story allow this movie to be almost perfect in every way. I'm pretty amazed that the producers and director of this movie were able to secure such a talented cast for what could be considered an art house spy thriller. Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett, Olivia Williams, Tom Hollander, and Jason Flemyng round out the cast that does an amazing job in bringing the characters and story to life.

The movie at first seems to be a very generic spy movie. The plot starts with Eric Bana's character training Hanna in the wilderness. We see her in the harshest of conditions and how she is trained for every situation in order to give her a chance to survive in any situation. They are training to go after Eric's former handler who betrayed him and Hanna's mother. This is where the movie turns into a type of revenge movie, because Hanna goes after this woman with the full force of all of the skills that her father taught her. Throughout the movie we see how Hanna evolves through the different experiences that she has and the different people she meets. The family she encounters shows her what love and friendship are and the German man that is friends with Eric shows her music and trust. These are lesson that Eric did not show her because he was so focused on training her for combat and survival. This is a tale of spiritual growth and revenge. These are both showcased to perfection and deserves you as a viewer.

The character of Hanna is obviously the focal point of the entire movie and Saoirse Ronan's performance does not disappoint. The innocence of the character is put on display in many of the film's scenes, be it her first real interaction with a boy or her first interaction with a family. Almost everything she experiences in the movie is a first and at times you can see it physically overwhelms her. Things like this let the viewer know that she is not an unstoppable killing machine but a young woman experiencing the world from a somewhat distorted and mutated perspective. For most of her life she was trained and taught only how to kill and survive at all costs, and all the time we see her in the movie all she wants to do is experience the world with her own eyes. Ultimately this is what truly brings the film to life and gives the story its weight.

There is also a fairy tale like feel to the movie because you see Hanna go through all of these trial and tribulations, and all she wants to do is be a "real" girl. What I mean by that is that she just wants to be a normal teenager and have friends but all she know is combat and survival skills. Through the course of the movie she is shown by the people around her what a real life can be and she has to fight in order to obtain it. It is a sort of twisted fairy tale but that is how I interpreted the story and that may differ from your opinion but that is why it is my opinion. 

The soundtrack for this movie is also worth mentioning, because it is easily on of the best soundtrack I have ever heard. The Chemical Brothers truly did something special when they crafted the score for this movie. It definitely rivals Daft Punk's score from Tron Legacy in every way. Each track is expertly crafted for the scene it was written and composed for and each track adds a different mood to each scene. The opening and closing tracks are very soft electronic tracks while most of the middle tracks are very heavy and lend to the tension and overall tone of Hanna's mission and the story as a whole. One of the main henchmen in the movie even whistles one of the tracks every time he is on screen and it adds a certain "creepy" factor to the character.

VERDICT

One of the best movies that I have ever seen. 

Even though this movie is definitely not for everyone, if you happen to like revenge/spy movies I really feel like you owe it to yourself to watch this movie. It is truly one of the only movies that I feel executed everything that it set out to and that is truly a great accomplishment for everyone involved.

The Walking Dead- "Internment"


Walkers were prominently featured in this episode in their biggest spots of the season.  Our cast had a tall order this week to survive the attacks, but they made it out for the moment.  A big character return at the end also highlighted this week’s installment.

So we've seen that the overall arc this year has been how far you can go for survival without losing who you are.  Carol, in the eyes of Rick, went too far and was not allowed to come back with him to the prison. What I was surprised with was how easily Maggie accepted this.  Herschel on the other hand almost passed out from the news.  He was having a hard week to begin with, but we'll get back to that.  Rick brooded, as he always does, on the ride back to the prison and that it is pretty much what we come to expect from him.  The angry have I made the right decision face is Rick’s go to for anything.  I wish they would change this, but it seems they have come to like it.

Herschel this week was in rough shape.  He was trying to keep everyone alive in the contaminated area, while also trying to keep spirits up.  This is a tall order in the world that they live in.  Herschel refused to let Maggie in to help, even though he clearly needed it considering how sick Sasha and Glenn both are.  Neither of these two would have made it through the episode were it not for some amazing medical skills and walker fighting from Herschel.  This week’s MVP by far, saw Herschel finally break down and not only stab, but also shoot walkers to help everyone else.  By episode’s end, he was trying to read from the bible only to breakdown in tears.  I believe Herschel has lost faith completely that walkers can be turned back into humans, something he has been holding on since the beginning.  Herschel stepped up big time though and I’m happy to see that when needed, he can be a complete badass.

On the other side of the prison walls, Rick and Carl were having some father-son time reinforcing the outer fence.  It was nice to see them working together, but then all hell broke loose with the fence coming down and walkers coming right up to the prison walls.  Rick took Carl to get some high power gun and the two of them mowed down all the walkers as the Herschel was taking out the ones inside the prison.  These two scenes were very powerful in showing just how dangerous the walker threat has been this season.  It could easily have gone much worse for everyone, but they all lived to tell the tale to Daryl, Michonne, Tyreese, and Bob, who all came back at the tail end of the episode.

Maggie made a great save for her father and Glenn this week, while Lizzie also risked her life to save Glenn.  Good job on the writers to let this flu or whatever they are calling it take Glenn out.  This would have been such a lame way for a great character to go out.  Glenn has an epic arc throughout the comics, and I’m hoping he gets a chance to do at least some of the things on the show.  Next week looks to be fun with Daryl and Tyreese most likely at odds with Rick and each other once they find out about Carol, and then the return of a missed character should add some wonderful fun for our group.  Keep on rolling season 4, you’re doing alright.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Suspiria

This is one of the few classic horror movies that I have not had the chance to see up until a few days ago. I have seen a few of Dario Argento's newer movies but have never gotten the chance to see any of his older works. Suspiria has been universally hailed as one of the greatest horror movies ever filmed, as well as one of the scariest. It is kind of hard to see if you don't own a physical copy of it, seeing as it is not available to stream on any of the major streaming websites such as Netflix or Amazon. This week I picked up a DVD copy of it and sat down and watched it as soon as it was delivered to me in the mail.

Suspiria is the tale of a young American ballerina, Suzy Bannion, who is going to a prestigious ballet academy in Germany. She arrives in the middle of a volatile storm and sees a young woman in a panic fleeing from the school. That night, the young woman that Suzie saw flee the school, is killed in her friend's apartment. Strange occurrences begin going on in the school and soon more deaths begin to occur. Suzy's friend, Sarah, has a theory about what is going on and tries to get Suzy to go along with her theories. Are all of these occurrences a coincidence, or is there another force at work?

This movie is a complete assault on the sense, and it is magnificent to witness. The bright colors, over the top deaths, and the score, combine to create one of the most unique horror movie of all time. I can see how people could be on either side of the love it or hate it scale. The story may not make sense to everyone and you have to realize that it is not the primary strength of the movie. The strength of the movie is the way that it involves all of your different senses, so it is more of a style over substance situation. I appreciated the story because it didn't treat any of the characters as dumb, as so many horror movies do. Most of the characters in the movie are students concerned with their dance careers, so they really don't concern themselves with the strange things that happen.Another thing that I loved was that the main character learns along the way and thankfully never does anything overtly dumb.

The kill scenes are brutal and very limited in number, when a death is happening on screen there is no doubt about what is going on. The first death is one of the most memorable scene from any horror movie and shows how crazy Dario Argento was willing to go with the deaths in this movie. Argento does use kills like other directors today do, for quantity to appease the masses. He shows every kill as an up close and personal act and it makes the deaths more brutal and you actually feel slightly uncomfortable witnessing the killings. One death involves a room full of barb wire and a throat slitting, and it was one of the most graphic deaths I have ever seen in a movie.

Goblin isn't really the first word that comes to mind when thinking about awesome music, but the band Goblin kills it with the score that they created for this movie. The score is creepy, atmospheric, and infinitely re-playable. The use of the score throughout the movie adds dread and even foreshadows major events in the plot. If your score can enhance the dread and add to the viewer's immersion into the movie, it is a resounding success. Even if you are not interested in seeing this movie, you should at least check out the score to the movie. It easily ranks with the best movie scores of all time. Goblin also created the score for the movie, Zombie, and has influenced the scores of dozens of movies. The latest movie that its influence was seen in was The Lords of Salem, which borrows heavily from it.

VERDICT

Suspiria is a fantastic horror movie that prides itself on assaulting all of your senses. Dario Argento is a master of the horror genre, who created one of the most revered movies that the genre has to offer. If you are a horror fan, you need to see this movie. There is no other way to put it, this is simply a classic. If you want to see this movie, you are probably going to have to buy it or torrent it. Just keep in mind that this movie is worth it.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Walking Dead- "Indifference"


A shorter review this week as your weekly walker lover has much on his plate.  This episode saw 2 groups away from the prison, and each other, figuring out ways to stock up on much needed supplies for everyone in the prison.

On one side you had Tyreese, Daryl, Michonne, and Bob making their way to their destination looking for medical supplies from last week’s episode.  First the group finds a new car, while Tyreese is still acting crazy from last week’s brush with walkers.  He seems to have lost his will to live and go on as everything in his life is crumbling around him.  As the episode goes on though, he seems to come to his senses and is now using his anger on all the walkers, with some beautiful hammer strikes to head I may add.  Bob also openly tells Daryl about his alcohol problem and that it was his fault Zach died earlier this year because he just wanted some alcohol.  Bob though does it again and gets some booze which almost causes the Daryl to almost send Bob into a pile of walkers.  Bob is officially on thin ice, and I won’t be surprised if he is the next to go.  Michonne also admits that she doesn’t know why she keeps going out for The Governor and by the end of the episode she says she won't go out anymore.

The other story saw Rick make angry faces all episode at Carol, while Carol continuously says that she did it for the good of the group.  I think Carol’s heart was in the right place, but she most likely could have waited until they were dead to burn them.  She didn't have to do the actual killing.  Rick in his heart knows that Carol wanted to do the right thing for everyone, but he also has to protect Carol from Tyreese, because it is a guarantee that he would tear her to shreds if he were to find out.  The closing of this episode was very sad as I think this may be the last we see of Carol, hopefully only for a little while.  Rick has to stick to his guns about the right path and everything else he preaches to the group, but I think they could have kept this a secret.  Carol has been great this season so far and it was nice to see a woman kicking major ass on the show.  I do hope she comes back.  Cheers Carol, it’s been a blast.

One last thing, kudos again to the make-up and effects crew this week.  They have been doing damage this season with each week having at least one major battle between walkers and humans each episode.  I hope this continues this season.  I also hope The Governor comes back soon as well.  Now that Michonne has given up her hunt, hopefully he’ll come back now with a vengeance.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Walking Dead- "Isolation"

“Isolation” was another good installment to an already impressive season for the show.  The disease that is going through the prison is really taking a toll on everyone.  Opening up with an angry Tyreese this week was great.  To finally see him be more like his comic book version has been very fulfilling as the weeks have gone on this season.  The fight between him and Rick was beautiful and shows just how bad ass Tyreese can be.  He only got stronger as the episode went on and brought the hammer down on some beautiful walker deaths.  Keep it up Tyreese, we're all counting on you!

The disease has been wiping people out left and right on the show, and this week it took a hold of two very important characters.  Sasha and Glenn have both come down with the deep ugly cough that has been spreading.  Sasha is important due to the fact that it makes Tyreese step up and finally show what he is made of.  Glenn obviously has bigger implication since he has been a part of the group since the beginning.  I don’t think Glenn is going to kick the bucket with this, as he is too important to the show, but Sasha might be the next one to go.

A lingering plot point from last week was the burning of the bodies at the end of the episode.  This is what got Tyreese worked up at first, but this was all Carol’s story.  We have seen her become a quiet alpha in the group as the show as moved forward.  From teaching the children they have to be strong to showing them how to fight walkers, she really is mother hen of the group.  To hear her confess to Rick what she did, with no remorse and it being all for the safety of everyone else, was amazing.  I think she has earned a new level of respect from Rick and this should play out nicely moving forward, as Tyreese is still out for blood, but there is no way Rick is going to just hand Carol over.  Carol was MVP this week, except for the fact that she was hugging a child who is sick before quarantining her.  I understand the emotional aspect, but if the disease spreads as quickly as the show has been portraying, the one thing you do is not touch someone with the cough.  Poor form writers, poor form.

Herschel also had an outstanding week.  From a talk with Rick, to not wanting to just sit around anymore and having Carl go with him to the woods for peace and quiet and plant picking, he stepped up big time.  The fact that he was enjoying himself prior to the walkers coming for Carl and him was wonderful and shows that even in these times, peace can be nice.  Also he has seen enough bloodshed that he can’t do anything about, so Herschel decided to take it upon himself that things need to change.  His speech to Rick and Maggie was stunning.  Everything about the speech was perfect and there was no way he was not getting his way.  Keep on moving to the beat of your own drum Herschel, its treating you well so far.

 The final major part of the episode was Michonne, Daryl, Bob, and Tyreese going for a run for supplies for those who were quarantined.  Michonne and Daryl had a good back and forth about The Governor, who should be showing up soon, but then a muffled voice came on the radio.  This was startling to the group and the viewer, as this means the world is bigger than they know and hopefully we’ll be meeting this voice soon.  The walker horde they ran into was also amazing.  We have yet to see a horde like this one on the show and the fact that they had to abandon the car was great.  Some good walker deaths again this week from the group and then it was off to the woods.

Next week’s episode should be interesting as it seems Rick is going out on a run with Carol and the other group is still looking for meds.  Who will be the next to succumb to the disease?  Will they find the voice?  When is The Governor coming back?  Keep it coming Walking Dead, this season is your best yet.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Walking Dead- "Infected"

So a strong start to the season for Walking Dead this time around and it shows no signs of slowing down. The mere fact that walkers are now the main threat is tremendous. For the past 2 seasons it didn't seem like they were a dangerous threat, but they have reared their ugly decaying dead faces around in vengeance so far through the two episodes this season and I hope it continues from here on out.
Patrick, our death at the end of the first episode, decided to go on a human picnic spree in the beginning of this week’s installment and it was pretty good. The walker deaths have been beautiful this year with the make-up department knocking it out of the park each time. Back to Patrick though and his assault on D Block with what felt like half the prison and a bunch of unknowns getting killed. The terror though that took place was something we haven't seen in a while from our group. Racing in was Daryl, Carol, Glenn, and Rick, ready to cut loose on the walkers and they did just that.
This episode saw the death finally of Farmer Rick. I have had enough of his dream world he thought he could get back into when it was clear that the farming situation was not going to work, nor does it suit him. We also finally get to see Carl get his gun back, after saving Michonne, and stand up to his dad a little bit. He let it spill that Carol is training the kids, but told Rick to let it continue. I think Rick respected that Carl would tell him this straight up, causing a nice little moment for the father and son who have been through so much over these past few seasons.
This week also saw Michonne show her emotions like we have never seen before. From feeling terrible about putting Carl and Maggie in danger at the gates when she hurt her ankle, to everything about her conversation with Beth, Michonne opened up and I think it’s going to come out what her life was like pre-outbreak. The scene with Judith in her arms was just beautiful and you could see so much pain in Michonne, it almost was hard to watch her breakdown. This new layer of Michonne should be very rewarding for everyone and I really hope they get into it.
Carol working with the kids was a good subplot to show how much she has hardened over the course of the show and wants the kids to be ready for anything. By the end of the episode it seems she has gotten through to the kids. The infection subplot, which should turn into a gigantic thread this season, was also nice, but it seemed they connected things way to easily for my liking. I understand the reason to do it so quickly, but it seemed far fetched. I'm also hoping Tyreese gets a backbone in the next episode or so. It’s nice to see him being this sensitive man, but I want the bad-ass we all know he is to come out.
Overall great episode and with the fence looking to come down every moment as well as this mysterious disease looking to take the cast down, I think the tensions are going to keep rising for the show. See you next week when Tyreese hopefully beats the crap out of someone for torching some bodies!

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Walking Dead- "30 Days Without an Accident"


Welcome back to another season of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and out reviews here at God Can’t Fix Dumb. We’ll be here giving you our take week to week and at the end of the season have a full wrap up of arcs, characters, and whatever else we can think of. It will remain as spoiler free as possible for your enjoyment. Sit back, grab your axe, and get ready for Walker madness!
Last season saw ups and downs like previous seasons, but the last few episodes showed hope for a show that was having trouble finding the correct way to script a show of humans in a zombie apocalypse. The last episode especially was very strong, tying up some loose ends, killing off many characters, and ending with everyone now living at The Prison. We have jumped forward a few months here to start season 4 and the episode was pretty good.
The Walkers were really an integral part to the whole episode. After straying away from them being the main threat to life last season, it was a nice welcome back for the show to have them front and center. From the gathering of many at the fence of the prison to the ones who fell through the ceiling of the shopping center, it was beautiful. Not only were they around, but they looked great. The make-up team did a great job individualizing each walker, as well as their specific deaths. Hopefully the keep this up all season.
The story is taking place a few months after last season’s finale and it has been, as the title suggest, 30 days since the last incident with someone who has lived at the prison. It seems while on runs, the group we have come to know has brought more and more people back to the prison and now there is a thriving community. With all of these new people coming in, the leaders of the community are now known as the council and it is the core cast of characters. Daryl seems to be not be embracing his new fame that he is getting from all of the new people, which led to a couple of funny moments. This is a show that needs its little bits of humor from time to time.
Rick again is poorly used at points of the episode. Using a MP3 player while farming seemed a little silly as well as his willingness to follow this woman in the woods to her campsite when she clearly looked and acted crazy. She proved my assumption correct and brought out the super crazy. It seems a major theme for the season is going to be can humans reclaim themselves after living in this horrible world. The sacrifices that people have to make to survive are going to continue to take a toll on people’s psyche and the constant hope is that they do not completely lose it. Let’s hope none of our main players succumb to insanity like Rick almost did last season.
One aspect that was enjoyable was watching Carl interact with the other kids in the prison. Carl has seen and done some terrible things and doesn’t fit in with the other kids. There is a story time for all of them that he feels is beneath him so he doesn’t go at first, but Carol, who has been a beautiful character to watch develop, runs it and waits for the other adult to leave until she teaches them self-defense. This is right up Carl’s alley, but when he sees it he can’t believe what is going on so he runs away, like a child would. This dichotomy should be good for Carl throughout the season as he is trying to survive in this world as well as grow up.
Beth was the other big player this week. I think this is going to be her break out season. With her growing up, having a boyfriend, and then coming to terms with the accident that takes place very easily, I think she is really going to shine this season. Glenn and Maggie didn’t get too much screen time, but when they were on it was beautiful. Michonne and Tyreese also didn’t have too much to do, which was too bad. These three will definitely get more screen time as the season goes on. A big detail this week was that there might be a virus that is going to be going around that makes a person bleed from their eyes prior to dying. There was an eyeless zombie and when a new member of the prison also seems to have the same fate it brings up a great potential for a side story to follow this season.
This was a bright premier with some great effects and big scenes. If each episode this season can focus on the walkers as well as the relationships between the living, I think this season shows a lot of hope. It will also be interesting to see when The Governor decides to rear his ugly head back to the show. Bring on the dead AMC!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Top 50 Favorite Movies of All-Time

This is a list of my top 50 favorite movies of all-time. These are my choices and mine alone. If you don't agree with them, you can post your own favorite movies or STFU. Going to write a quick sentence for each movie about why I love them.

50. Dredd- This is the best of the comic book movies and one of the best action movies that I have ever seen.

49. Seven Psychopaths- Sam Rockwell and Colin Farrell are funny as hell in this movie and it had one of the best stories of 2012.

48. Insidious- A refreshing take on the "haunted house" movie and was one of the only movies of the last few years to make me jump in the theater.

47. Let Me In- One of the few remakes that was actually better than the original, and stands as one of the greatest vampire movies ever created.

46. The Town- The movie that solidified Ben Affleck as one of the best directors in Hollywood, and features some intense heist sequences.

45. In Bruges- A quiet tale about paying for your sins that features an excellent performance from Brendan Gleeson.

44. End of Watch- One of the best cop movies that I have ever seen and one of the few movies to make me tear up.

43. Out of Sight- A slick crime thriller featuring awesome performances from Jennifer Lopez and George Clooney.

42. The Fountain- One of the most beautiful movies that I have ever seen, hampered only by strange jumps in time.

41. The Goonies- Sloth and Chunk, that is all.

40. Animal House- The movie that motivated generations to get wasted in college.

39. Iron Sky- Any movie that features a Nazi moon base and ridiculous space battles is awesome to me.

38. The Incredibles- One of the best superhero movies of all time and one of the few animated movies that I can watch repeatedly.

37. Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle- There is nothing like an awesome stoner comedy.

36. The Sandlot- The was nothing better than playing baseball when I was younger, so this one holds a special place in  my heart.

35. Severance- Is it weird that one day I want to live out the story of this movie?

34. Training Day- Denzel kills it in this movie and Ethan Hawke even shows his range in this one.

33. Goon- A hockey movie with heart coupled with foul mouth humor is a win in my book any day.

32. Attack the Block- A fresh take on the alien invasion genre with aliens invading the ghettos of London.

31. The Fifth Element- This is the movie that made me a huge fan of Bruce Willis and is one of the best Sci-Fi movies of all time.

30. Evil Dead II- As a horror fan, this is one of the best horror comedies of all-time.

29. (500) Days of Summer- This is a romantic comedy for guys and it hooked me from the beginning.

28. Looper- JGL and Bruce Willis made a killer sci-fi movie that made me want more original sci-fi in the world.

27. Night of the Creeps- An awesome B-movie about space slugs.

26. Tommy Boy- One of the funniest movies of all time and one that cheers me up whenever I have a shit day.

25. Tucker & Dale vs Evil- A reversal of the killer redneck horror trope, with an awesome cast and genuinely funny moments.

24. Predator- Arnold + Jungle + killer alien = amazing.

23. Spring Breakers- A beautiful film that showcases what is wrong with the youngest generation.

22. Hot Fuzz- A hilarious buddy cop movie from the creators of Shaun of the Dead.

21. Videodrome- One of the trippiest movies ever created by David Cronenberg, this is a must see.

20. 28 Days Later- The first of the new generation of zombie movies and still holds up as the best of the bunch.

19. The Lost Boys- The quintessential 80s vampire movie.

18. Aliens- This movie contains some of my favorite characters of all time and is simply great.

17. The Evil Dead- One of the first horror movies that I had ever seen and is one that is special to me.

16. Kill Bill Vol. 1- Some of the most brutal action ever put on screen and features one of the best protagonists in film history.

15. The Last Dragon- Best Kung-Fu movie of all time.

14. Inglourious Basterds- An alternate reality look at World War 2 and it is great in every way.

13. The Warriors- Anabasis w/ street gangs and is the basis for one of my favorite video games.

12. Drive- A twisted superhero tale with a breakout performance from Ryan Gosling.

11. Old School- Frank the Tank

10. Sunshine- A beautiful movie that showcases the best in humanity and the worst.

9. Ghostbusters- Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis.

8. Wayne's World- The funniest movie that I have ever seen.

7. 50/50- Oddly enough, it made me face one of my fears and made me cry in the theater.

6. Dawn of the Dead- The greatness of George Romero is on full display in this one.

5. The Thing- Kurt Russell and the story make this one infinitely rewatchable to me.

4. Hanna- A twisted version of Pinocchio disguised as a spy movie. Near Perfection.

3. Shaun of the Dead- Funny, scary, and heartfelt all at the same time. A win.

2. Blade Runner- It is really hard to not love this movie as a huge sci-fi nerd.

1. Children of Men- Beautifully shot, engaging characters, all-time great plot, and one of the best shots of all time. You add those things up and you get my favorite movie of all-time.



Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Comic Reviews for 08/14/2013

Every week in the comic book world lately seems to be the equivalent of the release of a summer blockbuster. Marvel and DC continue to churn out event book after event book, and it might be burning some people out. I am definitely one of those people, so this week I focused mostly on the great creator owned titles being put out by a number of different companies.

Deathmatch #8

This is very under appreciated book and it truly deserves a bigger audience. Paul Jenkins is killing it with this series right now, he takes all of your favorite characters from DC and Marvel, changes their names, tweaks their powers, and then puts them in 1-on-1 deathmatches. That is the basic idea behind the series, but reading to this point I can't help wondering what happened in the past of this wonderful world that Jenkins has created. He packs a ton of character development into a series that kills off a couple of characters in every issue.

In issue #8, we are down to the remaining 16 heroes/villains, with the Superman clone, Meridian, going head to head with his nemesis, Anti-Meridian. It is a lot cooler than it sounds, believe me. There are limbs ripped off, guts ripped out, and a bunch of other shit goes on that is crazy. The whole time you read this series, you can't help but put characters from the Big Two in the places of the awesome characters that Jenkins has created. His Dragonfly character, the Spider-Man of this universe, seems to be much more interesting than Peter Parker is at this point in time and I am actually pulling for him to make it out of this series alive.

This is an awesome series that is accessible and easy to read. Check it out at your local comic shop.


East of West #5

This is along with Lazarus, my favorite title that is currently being produced by any company. The story that Jonathan Hickman has created if fantastic and the world he has created is fascinating. He has managed to make the Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse, Death, a sympathetic character that you actually root for. He is out to kill anyone who is willing to get in his path and seeing his back story slowly unfold has been incredible to this point.

In this issue we get to see him actually interact with his long lost wife, Xiaolian, who also happens to now be the ruler of New Shanghai. This has been the moment that we have been waiting for since the first issue and now we see that she holds a bit of a grudge against him. You can feel the tension in their interactions with each other come right off the page. He is expressing his love for her, and at the same time she is voicing her utter contempt for him. Hickman is masterful in these smaller moments away from the brutal action that has dominated a large portion of this series. We also find out what the item Death was searching for is, and you won't believe what it is. Don't worry, I am not going to spoil it for you.

Loved this issue. The art is just as stellar as ever and Hickman seems to be getting a better hold of the world and characters that he has created with each new issue. This is a must add to any pull list in my honest opinion. Keep in mind, if you are not a comic fan this series might be a tad overwhelming.


Saga #13

I might be the only comic fan in the world who is no longer enamoured by this series. After a 4 month hiatus, I thought Brian K. Vaughan would bring something new to the series, but we get more of the same. I remember reading the first couple of issues of this series and being completely on board and 100% in with whatever they were going to throw at us. But the series seemed to stall pretty quickly, for me at least. It just doesn't demand to be read every month, especially when it reads better as a trade.

This issue picks up where we left off with Marko and Alana are still on the run with their newborn baby. They find a new planet to check out and will probably get into another wacky adventure. I done with them. The most interesting character in this entire series is The Will, a badass bounty hunter chasing after the couple and their kid. He is not above killing for money but he has also taken in a child, who used to be a former sex slave. He sees visions of his dead ex-girlfriend, who is seemingly acting as his subconscious and trying to guide him on a path out of his current life. Did I mention that he had a giant cat that can tell if a person is lying. BKV really needs to start showing him and his adventures a bit more.

At this point, I might drop this title from my pull list in a few months. I'll give it until October to pick it up or I going to have to drop it. It is a really well done series and I recommend that people try it out. The good thing is it doesn't take very long to realize that you either love or hate this series. Read it in collected form for a better reading experience.


The Walking Dead #113

To round out this week's reviews, we have old reliable, The Walking Dead. This is a series that I love and credit it with getting me back into comics after a long hiatus from them. There has never been a time where I wanted to drop this series and Robert Kirkman always finds a way to rebound from a lackluster issue or arc. The art may be inconsistent from month to month but that is forgivable when you are in the midst of one of the most exciting story arcs in the series' history.

This is issue focuses on the direct aftermath of Rick trying to assassinate Negan. Let's say that things didn't really work out in Rick's favor this time around. Negan seems to be the one character that manages to get the best of Rick at almost every turn more so than even The Governor. Negan also bit off a bit more than he could chew when going after Andrea. I think someone forgot to tell him that Andrea been through a ton of shit and has come out better and strong each time. Sending one guy to kill he simply was not going to work but Kirkman still had me shitting in my pants throughout the entire fight scene. For those of you that are new to The Walking Dead, Kirkman isn't afraid of killing off any of his characters at any time, no matter what readers think. Great issue can't wait to see the war between the groups begin in a few months.

This is an awesome series and I am sure a lot of you already read it. Some of you might have only been exposed to the series through the television show, if that is the case, go to a bookstore and pick up some of the collected editions. It will change your perspective on the TV series and it is an awesome read.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Existenz

I wanted to start this article by stating the fact that I am a huge David Cronenberg fan, he has crafted some of my favorite movies of all time, so his movies generally "speak" to me. Existenz was one of the few Cronenberg movies that I have not watched to this point in my life. The name turned me off to the movie itself, which is dumb on my part, considering I've seen movies with titles such as Hobo with a Shotgun and Shocker. This has been in my Netflix queue for well over a year and I finally decided to take the plunge and watch it.

Existenz tells a story about the near future where electronic game consoles have been replaced by "game pods", which are organic devices that jack into "bio ports" in people's spines. Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh), the world's most famous game designer, is unveiling her newest creation to a test group, when she is attacked by a terrorist. She is saved by Ted Pikul (Jude Law) and is whisked away to the country to hide from the various groups looking to take her out. She soon convinces Ted to play her new game, Existenz, because she needs to play along with a person she can trust. The movie then spirals into a jumble of lies, deceit, and multiple realities.

If you are not a fan of complicated, thought provoking movies, you may want to stop reading this review right now. Cronenberg has a tendency to mess with the viewer's perception of what is happening on screen but here he takes it to a completely different level. When going into this movie consider it as a more complicated version of The Matrix but with a much lower budget. The movie centers around the idea of what reality actually is. If something feels real and seems real, but isn't real, does that take away from your experience. We see as the main characters transported into the game, Existenz, and how it seems just like real life to them. At first, they acknowledge that they are in a game, but as they get more immersed in the game their hold on reality starts to slip away.

As the movie progresses, we get games within games and Allegra completely comes undone and we see that she loses all understanding of what is "real" and "not real". She seems to be in a daze and is letting the game mechanics guide her. Her exposure to the game while developing it has tainted her perception of reality because it has caused her to find reality boring when compared to the more exciting game world. Ted is a newcomer to the game world, so he is much more resistant to the effects, and he shows how you still have to hold on to reality no matter how invested you are in a fake world. Cronenberg was way ahead of the curve with this movie. The movie serves as a metaphor for social network addiction and people being obsessed with video games. People get so invested in a world where they don't have to have actual physical interactions with people and they forget how to function in the real world.

The effects in this movie are disturbing and Cronenberg doesn't shy away from his trademark gore and ultraviolence. In a movie filled with gore and gums made of mutant lizard bones, the most disturbing effects involve the "game pods" The gaming systems in this movie are made of harvested animal organs and are actual living organisms. They can bleed and catch colds just like you and me. They are temperamental and need to be treated with care by the people developing the games in order to function properly. They are flesh pods with tentacles that come out of them, that connect with people's spine to show them the game world. They were just fucking creepy, and the last thing I would ever want from a game system is it hooking into my spine with a fleshy tentacle. Cronenberg also created a bone gun that uses teeth as bullets, so that gives you a good indication of what you are getting into if you choose to watch this.

I loved this movie and it was just the right amount of weird where its weirdness didn't detract from the overall movie. Some movies are weird just to be weird, such as The ABCs of Death, where it just destroys any chance of me enjoying it. Existenz is a perverted version of The Matrix and I could definitely make the case that it is a superior movie as well. A couple of weird facts about this movie: It was passed on by a couple of studios because its plot was "too complicated" and it was originally conceived by Cronenberg as a story about "a Fatwa against a virtual reality designer". Pretty interesting if you ask me.

I tried to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible due to the complex nature of the plot. Existenz is one of the most complicated and engaging movies that I have seen in awhile. It is overly ambitious, as most David Cronenberg are, but it never gets bogged down and is excellent from start to finish. Check this out on Netflix and don't wait a year like I did.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

We're the Millers

I saw the trailer for We're the Millers a few months ago and the only thing that stood out to me was Jennifer Aniston’s striptease. Everything else seemed pretty generic at the time. So when more and more trailers were released showing the full cast, which featured Nick Offerman and Ed Helms as supporting characters, I was pretty much sold on seeing this. This has been a year of mediocre comedies and this is the first one that showed any real promise in the trailers.

In this movie we follow a small time drug dealer, David (Jason Sudeikis), who needs to smuggle a huge amount of weed back into the United States to pay off a debt to his boss (Ed Helms). David knowing that going over the border by himself and then trying to come back over would look suspicious, he enlists a rag-tag team to pose as his family for the trip. He brings in Kenny (Will Poulter), a dork that lives in his building, Rose (Jennifer Aniston), his stripper neighbor, and Casey (Emma Roberts), a runaway teenager, to pose as his wife and kids. Everything goes off without a hitch until they realize that they are bringing over a lot more “product” than they originally thought.

The cast in this one is actually really funny and exceeded my expectations in every way. Sudeikis and Aniston have great chemistry and share some of the funniest moments in the movie. Newcomer Will Poulter, stole pretty much every scene that he was featured in with his goofy naivety in almost every situation he was placed in. All I can say about this kid is, Spider + Balls = Hilarity. I am a sucker for “stupid” humor and this movie featured a ton of it, so the comedy worked for me on every level.

Nick Offerman shows up and steals every scene that he is in, which continues the trend that started in Parks & Recreation. Offerman is hilarious in everything that I have ever seen him in and his straight-laced character in the movie is a great counter to Sudeikis' portrayal of David. A minor appearance by Ken Marino as a greasy strip club owner was one of the funniest moments in the movie. He is one of those underappreciated comedic actors who do not get a ton of screen time in movies but certainly deserve it.  The Aniston striptease was the main reason that I wanted to see the movie in the first place, and I am happy to see that t did not disappoint. It definitely made getting through some of the weaker points of the story worth it and showcased why she is still one of the hottest actresses in Hollywood.

This movie is incredibly formulaic and you get a real sense of how everything in the movie is going to play out about 15-20 minutes in. I am not saying that the story took anything away from the movie but it certainly didn't make it better. I am certainly not expecting high concept storytelling in comedy but a few curveballs could have been thrown in to mix up the plot a bit. The over the top performance by Ed Helms as David’s boss was a bit wonky, and he played it way over the top. His character stuck out like a sore thumb at points for me and he just fell flat in every scene that he was in. Also for a comedy that is about smuggling drugs there was a surprising lack of drug use in the film. It didn't take anything away from the movie for me, but it was kind of weird that the weed they are transporting was only used for some physical humor. Come to think of it, maybe that was one of the curveballs that I thought was missing from the movie.

We're the Millers is a solid comedy that gives audiences plenty to laugh at. This is one hilarious movie but if you don't like to laugh at least you'll get to see an awesome striptease by Jennifer Aniston.



Drinking Game

Take a Shot- Every time you hear "boner garage".

Take a Drink- Every time David or Rose says "We're the Millers".

Chug a Beer- When Jennifer Aniston does her striptease.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

All Good Things Must Come To An End: Breaking Bad

With the first of the final 8 episodes of Breaking Bad premiering tomorrow night, I thought it would be a good time to discuss the journey so far. The past few years have been a crazy one for Walter White and Jesse Pinkman as they try and become players in the meth trade in the Southwest United States. The whole thing started out innocently enough, Walter was trying to find a way to make enough money so his family could get by after his death, keep in mind he had just been diagnosed with lung cancer. Throughout the first season, we see Walter as he struggles with finding a place to cook and make connections in the underworld. Jesse is in his element the entire time, he loves cooking meth and Walter gives him the tools to make the best of the best. This is when they are at their most naive and wide eyed. But towards the end of the season we start to see flashes of how ruthless Walt can be when he is backed into a corner.

Over the course of the next two seasons, we see as Walter White starts to transform into "Heisenberg". He feels like he is superior to everyone around him and it drives him away from his family and starts to puts cracks in his partnership with Jesse. Jesse is extremely trusting in Walter and seems to look u to him as a father figure, so it is very difficult for him to go against Walt at any point. The moments that made me realize Walt was a true monster were when he let Jesse's girlfriend choke to death on her own vomit and when he convinced Jesse to kill Gale. With Jane and Gale, we see how Walt is willing to kill people who are threatening his livelihood, Jane was blackmailing him and Gale was his replacement. With the death of Jane, it seems to me that all hope for Walt had been lost. His web of lies has to keep expanding as a result, it pushes Jesse into a drug fueled depression, and inadvertently leads to a plane crash. He also offered up Hank as a sacrifice to the cartel when they found out that Walt was connected to the DEA through Hank. This led to Hank being crippled for a good portion of the next season. His set up of Hank is probably the worst thing that he has ever done due simply to the fact that he was ready to sacrifice a member of his family to save his own skin. 

After the events of season 3, the writing is on the wall for Walt. He is squarely in the crosshairs of Gus, and Jesse is being groomed by the cartel to take his place. Walt sees this and starts to formulate a way to kill Gus and "free" Jesse. His relationship with Jesse gets more and more twisted as the series goes on. In the beginning they are partners and then as the series goes on he thinks of Jesse more as an underling and less as an equal. Jesse is more about cooking and could really do without the violence that comes with their business. He seems to be the only one who seems to have regret over the people that have died as a result of their business and it weighs on him in every frame that he is in. Walt seems to carry no feelings for the countless dead bodies at his feet. His poisoning of a child is probably the last straw in a lot of people's minds, from that point on there is no hope for redemption.

The first half of the fifth season showed Walt and his aspirations of building an empire. Jesse convinced Mike to come in on the venture to run the business side which left Walt and Jesse to run the "cooking" side of the business. This is the point at which there ceases to be external danger: and all "threats" come from the inside of Walt's own organization. Don't get me wrong, there is still plenty of danger of get caught by the DEA, who are closer than ever to catching Walt and Jesse. But there is no other organization looking to murder them and wipe them from the face of the Earth.

Walt is in full monster mode in this season, not blinking an eye at the murder of a child and doesn't really hesitate when it comes to killing his business partner, Mike. As soon as he saw Mike as a threat, he knew he had to be eliminated and he was willing to do whatever was necessary to take him out. Jesse is willing to let everything that he is accomplished go when he sees that Walt is willing to kill anyone that gets in his way. The only thing that makes Walt quit in the end is having too much money. It wasn't him being threatened, but it was simply having too much that led him to quit. Knowing him, it won't take much for him to get back on the horse and start cooking again. Everything also clicks for Hank, while taking a dump no less, and he is going to be coming after Walt with everything he has.

Jesse is my favorite character on the show and one of my favorite characters of all time. He just wants to make a couple of bucks while cooking meth. He thinks of it as artistry at first and then it turns into a way he can make a good life for himself. He isn't naive to the dangers of the job but he also knows when it is time to call it quits. He is really defiant early in the series and we have seen a huge transformation in him the past few seasons. He is the responsible one, questioning some of the darker and riskier of Walt's plans. He has a little family with his girlfriend and her son and he doesn't want to jeopardize that anymore. When Walt poisoned the kid, Jesse was willing to kill Walt, until Walt convinced Jesse that he was not the one who did it. His guilt over not stopping the death of the kid during the train robbery is what ultimately makes him quit. I wish he could see Walt as the monster that he is. My prediction for Jesse is that he is going to kill Walt in the final episode of the series to save Walt from having to go to jail.

Walt is no longer a sympathetic character, in the beginning he was a cancer patient trying to leave something for his family and then he became a ruthless kingpin. He is a scumbag in every way and even had the balls to try and convince Jesse that he was to blame for Brock getting sick. Walt is able to twist and manipulate people to do his bidding and when he isn't able to do that, he has no problem killing the people that get in his way. He took out Gus, Mike, Tuco, Jane, a couple of witnesses to his crimes, and 10 guys in jail who could have connected him to Gus. The blood on his hands can never be washed away and everytime he tries to redeem himself he ends up sinking further into darkness. My prediction for Walt is that he is going to indirectly cause the death of one of his children or his wife. Anyone remember the ricin vile that is hidden in the light socket in his bedroom? Mark my words, the vile will come into play again. I also believe that Jesse is going to be the one who finally knocks Walt off, and if that doesn't happen, he is going to land in jail at the hands of Hank. 

I am a huge fan of Game of Thrones, Justified, and Sons of Anarchy, but Breaking Bad is the best show on television. The mix of drama, dark humor, and impeccable acting makes this a must watch for me on a weekly basis. It is sad to see the show coming to an end but at least the show didn't overstay its welcome. Hopefully the creators can resolve all of the plot threads in a satisfactory way while keeping us all guessing at the same time. If you haven't started watching this show yet, you probably should not have read this article and I am sorry I have ruined most of the show for you. For those that do watch the show, leave some feedback on what you think is going to happen in the final few episodes. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Aftershock

Aftershock is a movie that I have seen trailers for on the internet and in the previews of a few Blu Rays, and I really wasn't impressed with what I was seeing. It looked like another bland horror movie with Eli Roth's name attached to it, just like many horror movies since the release of Hostel. But I am usually inclined to give Eli Roth productions a chance, no matter how shitty they look. This is one that had a mix of really good elements and fucking terrible elements, so keep that in mind when considering this movie.

In Aftershock, we follow two groups as they party their way through Chile. The first group we are introduced to is Gringo (Eli Roth), Pollo (Nicolas Martinez), and Ariel (Ariel Levy). Gringo is being shown around Chile by Pollo and Ariel, with the main goal of the trip to get wasted and laid. The second group consists of Kylie (Lorenza Izzo), Irina (Natasha Yarovenko), and Kylie's overprotective sister, Monica (Andrea Osvart). They are visiting Chile with the same intentions as the group of males, get wasted and bang some dudes. They meet up one night and start going to parties together, until a massive earthquake interrupts their good time. What follows is the ultimate fight for survival across the streets of one of the major cities in Chile.

This is one of those movies that is good for 75% of the movie and then just utter shit for the last 25%. For most of the movie we get to see how the characters are having a great time partying in Chile, which seems fantastic by the way. but then we see their struggle for survival after the earthquake strikes. The early earthquake sequences are actually pretty well done and we see how the groups work together to save each other. The movie shows how people are willing to help each other in time of disaster, but all of these solid elements are quickly thrown away in the last 30 minutes of the movie. Such a waste of potential and it just bothered the shit out of me. It didn't bother me that characters that I liked got killed off, it is a horror movie for fuck's sake, but it did bother me that the writers introduced a group of criminals that are looking to murder and rape everyone in their path. It was a dumb fucking decision by a writer that made a mostly competent movie. I understand society breaks down a bit during time of great distress, but there was really no need for the pointless rape and murder. The movie played down the earthquake element at that point and became a fucking chase movie. So fucking dumb.

Eli Roth need to cool it with attaching his name to every goddamn horror movie that is released from overseas. He must get a stack of scripts sent to him daily and he must say "fuck it" and attached his name to each one. The man showed so much promise in the beginning with Cabin Fever and Hostel, then everything just fell apart. We got to experience the shittiness of Hostel II and the abortion that was The Last Exorcism after his first two solid efforts. He didn't even direct The Last Exorcism, but you could have fooled me with the fact that his name was on every poster and in every trailer promoting that piece of shit. Go back to directing films within films like you did with Thanksgiving in Grindhouse and Nation's Pride in Inglourious Basterds. Stop producing and get back to directing, do what you are fucking good at.

This is a movie that should only be seen if you are desperate for something to see. This is Netflix horror movie quality and I can see why it was released straight to VOD. Eli Roth should be disappointed with this one and should just stop producing, because he is terrible at it. Movies need to be consistent for 100% of the movie not 75% solid and then 25% dog shit. I really cannot recommend this because it just flat-out sucks.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Punk Rock Jesus

This is a series that I have wanted to write about for some time. I kept seeing issues for this series every time I went to my local comic shop but I never thought of picking it up. After a few people recommended it, I decided to take the plunge and pick up the series. what I found was that Punk Rock Jesus is one of those special series that comes along every few years. The story, art, and writing of the series is incredible, and Sean Murphy is quickly becoming one of the great talents of the modern comic book age. He has the uncanny ability of effortlessly building a believable and engaging world through his art and writing ability. Sean's work on Punk Rock Jesus and The Wake perfectly showcase how incredible of a storyteller he is.

The series takes place in the near future where a company, The Ophis Corporation, claims to be cloning Jesus from DNA from the Shroud of Turin. They have a reality show following the doctors and the surrogate "Mary", as they deal with this high profile pregnancy. The show, J2, is the most popular show on the planet and the research facility where the show takes place is on a heavily guarded island. We follow the head of security, Thomas (an ex-IRA operative), as we navigate this world that is very similar to our own. Once the clone, Chris, is born, we get the sense that the Second Coming may be one of the most dangerous events in human history.

This is a series that isn't so much about the actual event of the Second Coming of Christ, but how it could possibly affect the world at large. We see how groups see the cloning as an abomination and violently assault the compound at every turn, and other see it as a blessing. The majority of the world is sucked into the luster of the reality show and see the mother of the clone, Gwen, as some ultra celebrity. You see her struggle with the pressure of being the mother of Jesus Christ and being a huge celebrity, and the huge toll it takes on her over time. the NAC, a radical Christian group, tries to stop the cloning at all costs and will not stop until their goal is accomplished. The cloning is handled by Ophis more as a PR stunt than an event that could shape the future of the world. The whole story a commentary on how religion can be this beautiful thing and can also be the source hate at the same time. Punk Rock Jesus was also envisioned by Murphy as a commentary on politics and the media as well, showing how dangerous both can be when used in the wrong hands.

The character of Thomas was the main reason that I kept reading this series to the end. He is this mountain of a man that once believed that his sole purpose in life was to deal death to those who needed to be punished. He is a former operative for the IRA and certain events led him to leaving that life. Thomas is the security chief of the J2 programs but is very detached from everyone involved. Eventually he becomes close with Gwen and we start to see him truly evolve as a character. Serving as Chris' loyal protector as Chris grows up, he promises Gwen that he will not kill another person which is in direct conflict to what was his main purpose in life for a very long time. There are many times in the series where Thomas is tempted to kill and decides to use less lethal force but he is always brutal with the justice he deals out. His arc is by far the most interesting of all of the characters in the story, and he is very high on my list of top comic characters of all-time.

Of all of the mini-series that I have read over the last few years, this is by far the best one. Sean Murphy crafted a layer world that is ripe for other stories. His ability to tell a craft a fully fleshed out world using both his ability as a writer and artist. Murphy's art style is an offshoot of anime style, not the cartoonish style but a grittier style. It is a very unique style that I feel will be considered to be iconic in time. The Wake and Punk Rock Jesus has solidified him in the top tier of artists and storytellers in the comic industry.

This is easily the best mini-series to be produced in the last few years. Punk Rock Jesus is one of the most socially relevant pieces of media to come along in the last few years. It lost some impact due to the fact that not everyone reads comics and it wasn't heavily publicized but it is a powerhouse story. Even if you are not truly interested in the story, at least check it out for the artwork which is simply incredible. Punk Rock Jesus is available at your local comic shop in individual comic form or in collected graphic novel form. Go buy it.