Friday, February 13, 2015

Sunshine Rainbow Doggy Kitty or (Dr. Kübler-Ross Was Probably A Wildcat In The Sack)

Sometimes I find myself driving or idling behind a car with one of those decals on the rear windshield representing the driver's family, you know what I'm talking about? They're usually like cutesy cartoon drawings of the mother, father, kids, pet(s) with their names below them. It's either that, or it's the downer version where it's just someone's full name on it and below that would be a date of birth/date of death and something like "In Loving Memory" and I'm like Great, thanks for bumming me out, stranger.

So I'm not one to put one of those decals on my automobile but if I were one of those decal types, I'd have the balls to put a big X over any family member who is no longer with us. Were I one of those decal types, well, as of two weeks ago I would've put a big X over the drawn figure representing my father.

Yeah, so that happened. My father passed away (sorry, Arnold, it was indeed a too-mah) and I've had an...interesting time dealing with it -- if, in fact, I've actually dealt with it, I'm not sure. I'm still waiting for The Big Cry which hasn't happened yet -- at least I hope it's "yet" and not "never". Maybe I need more time. Or maybe I need to run into some little kid and his llama in the woods, have him singing "Red River Valley" to get me to that point. We'll see. Or I can always just start watching the news again, that'll probably do it. No it won't. I'd just laugh like usual. So it goes, and all that jazz.

Taking the place of The Big Cry, I have discovered new peaks of RAGE that I thought were never possible. Didn't ask for it, but there it is.

At least I'm not coming from some kind of WHY OH WHY kinda deal. At least it doesn't feel that way. I mean, for the longest time my POV on all things worldly and existential has been one that, well, isn't the most sunny or mature, and therefore I don't feel my dad (or me and my family) are the only ones to get a raw deal; everybody dies therefore everyone gets a raw deal. Some die accomplished and/or loved, but hell, "deserve's got nothin to do with it" most of the time.

Yeah, I know, if I went head to head with Werner Herzog in negativity, I'd leave that fuckin' Kraut running away in tears with his uncircumcised tail between his legs -- I'll never be anywhere near as good a filmmaker as him, but when it comes to worldviews, he is a fucking choir boy compared to me! A CHOIR BOY!!!!

(Yes, I know that's two Schwarzenegger references already. Three, if you count "raw deal".)

One step I'm taking in not becoming a permanent Darkman when it comes to unchecked anger/adrenaline (oh, you should see how psychotic fun I am right now on the freeways!) is in deciding to ramble about this current state. You see, for a while, I didn't want to talk about this online and bum out the 2 or 3 people who occasionally read this, but you know what? Fuck that. What would I get out of not sharing this? I know exactly what I'd get: growing resentment every time someone else posts anything remotely personal online, like how good their bagel was that morning. I've got way too much negative energy rotting my insides right now as it is, you know? Whether that is coming from heavy emotion or too much garlic in my diet, I've no idea, but I don't want to add to it.

Anyway, this past weekend I finally went back to the movie theater, only instead of going with a film in mind and a specific time to see it, I just went and watched whatever was about to start. Blind escapism. I'll ramble about these flicks and then, I don't know.

I was hoping my first theatrical visit post-No More Old Man would've been Taken 3, because it seemed like the kind of flick my dad would've dug, but that had already started a half-hour ago when I arrived, so instead I went to Black or White, starring Kevin Costner as a grumpy old man made grumpier by his wife's hot and fast affair with an automobile. Now he's left with his big mansion, Latina housekeeper, lots of money, and granddaughter left over from his deceased-after-childbirth daughter.

The granddaughter is half-Black and the father is nowhere to be seen, but the paternal grandmother (played by Sassy Help from The Help) is looking out for the kid's best interest and wants to introduce Costner to the concept of Shared Custody. He's not cool with the idea for some reason though -- but it might have something to do with grandma living in South Central Los Angeles (film is set in L.A. but was shot in LA, as in Louisiana) or maybe he doesn't want his granddaughter to keep in touch with her roots because he's a racist or something.

Costner insists his refusal to have his little girl's little girl go visit relatives of the darker persuasion has nothing to do with race. He has more of an issue with the possibility that his granddaughter will eventually hook up with her father, who does show up from time to time to ask for money or do drugs or ask for money so he can do drugs. There are a few scenes where we're supposed to see the irony or hypocrisy or whatever the fuck you want to call it, because he's always going on about the father being a druggie while he himself has been hitting the sauce more and more. I don't know, man, I mean alcohol is a motherfucker but I don't think I've seen a straight-up alkie get so desperate for booze that he offers to suck your dick for a sip of Night Train. Guys like that usually just start downing vanilla extract like my man T-Hanks on that Very Special Episode of "Family Ties".

Anyway, Costner and the grandma have a shaky relationship as is, and eventually she decides to take his white ass to court and upgrade her request to straight up Full Custody. Now, that wouldn't be so bad, because to be honest, Grandma's life over in the Hood doesn't look that bad. We're introduced to her side of town with one of those driving montages where we see shots of Check Cashing places and liquor stores, and downtrodden shopping cart pushers, and worst of all, Mexicans loading up their pick-up trucks DUN DUN DUN. But then we see the neighborhood and it's remarkably lacking in Doughboys or O-Dogs, just the occasional layabout doing something shady in the house across the street. But Grandma is a hard-working lady supporting something like two families with her six businesses, like she was some Chinese video store owner/dry cleaner/piano teacher/real estate agent* or something.

* - based on the owners of a video store I used to frequent. 

So yeah, they go to court, and I gotta tell you, I really liked the courtroom scenes; they're not your usual show-off theatrics you see in these films, it's all done in a rather low-key and more realistic manner. Now I'm not saying people don't get cute every once in a while in these scenes, but it's pretty damn convincing for a movie, you know what I mean? No you don't? OK, what I'm trying to say is people don't raise their voices to make a point and nobody applauds or faints or tells the entire courtroom to close their eyes and imagine that the little girl is White or anything like that.

In fact, the judge in this film is probably my favorite judge in a film EVAAAAAAR because she seems pretty "real" and notice that I just used "real" in quotations because, well, because this is still a movie. At one point Sassy Help from The Help interrupts the proceedings and the judge calmly-yet-firmly tells her that will be the last time she does anything resembling an outburst, lest she get her ass kicked out. I give points to the actress playing the judge and I give points to writer/director Mike Binder for that.

Unfortunately, the rest of the film is pretty much a "movie" in a more negative sense, in that it all feels like shit that happens on the planet Make Believe. Most of the shit that happens here can be solved very easily had this situation played out with human beings who talk to each other and not inscrutable aliens created for the silver screen. But, for what it is, it's not bad. It's watchable for sure, in a Sunday afternoon kinda way, and most of the performances are all damn good -- most surprisingly from comedian Bill Burr, who is pretty solid as Costner's buddy/lawyer and while he has some funny lines, he comes off like an actor who is good at comedy rather than some comedian playing at being an actor.

I say "most of the performances" because Gillian Jacobs is in this film and I'm a fan of hers, but holy hell in a fuckin' handbasket, her role in the film, Jesus Fuckin' Caviezel, her role! It's pretty fuckin' funny how Binder tried so hard to make a film involving the idea of not judging people by the stereotypes associated with them and yet he had this huge fuckin' blind spot when he wrote Jacobs' role as The Dumb Blonde. And Jacobs plays it so close to parody, I expected her to have a scene where she is having trouble walking and chewing gum at the same time. She's barely in it, but she does enough damage for me to point it out, and I understand if Binder's intention was to have some comic relief for what is a relatively serious film, but GOD DAMN Binder, talk about erring on the side of Yukking It The Fuck Up.

Like I said, it's an OK film on the corny side but hey what can you do? and it was absolutely worth it for the scene where Costner tells the no-good father that he's acting like a "street nigger" because at that moment a Black usher stepped into the lily White theater (with the occasional brown speckle) to check on things and he froze like WHOA WHAT IN THE FUCK DID HE JUST SAY? IS THIS THE AMC OR THE KKK? #YesAllBlacks

In conclusion, I really liked Mike Binder's second film, Indian Summer.

I walked back out to the ticket booths to look for another movie and noticed Jupiter Ascending, the latest film from the Wachowski Siblings, on the digital marquee. Wow. Had no idea this movie was even out, I remembered it was supposed to come out last summer but it was pulled at damn near the last minute for whatever reason. I caught the trailer early last year but hadn't remembered a goddamn thing about it except for a shot of Mila Kunis falling from a great height in slow motion. But there it was, playing in 3D, and after a quick smartphone confirmation that JA was indeed shot in 3D, I bought a ticket and hooked my shit up with a large popcorn and Cherry Coke because I had a feeling it was that kinda movie -- the kind of movie where you load up on the junk food and get ready for some good ol' Saturday matinee escapism. Just what I needed, just what I got.

Kunis is married to Punk'd the Douchebag, which makes her suspect in real life, but in this film, I was totally on her side because here she plays a cleaning lady working for her uncle and working with her mom and aunts, and she lives with all of them plus other relatives. The sleeping arrangement looks like a bitch, but they have daily meals where they're grubbing on a gang of homemade goodness so it's not all bad, either. Mostly she has to get up early in the morning and go to various rich assholes' houses and clean rich assholes' toilets, so like most of us who don't know what it's like to be a winner in this world, she figures that buying something expensive (like a telescope) will at the very least work as a distraction.

But hey, who needs a telescope when you have the muscular slab of beef known as Channing Tatum swooping in to sweep her off her feet (via gravity-defying jet boots) to save her not just from her daily toil with her fellow resident aliens, but from genuine outer space aliens looking to kidnap her and shanghai her ass to outer space. (He saves her from this fate by shanghai-ing her to outer space.) This all has to do with some drama involving 3 cunty humans from outer space (long story) who come from money and you just fuckin' know they've never worked a job in their lives, so let's all boo these assholes, these rich assholes with English accents, so you know they think they're better than everyone else.

Anyway, these 3 Brit aliens are like, super-rich in that they own worlds, literally they own worlds, and they also dabble in genocide for reasons I won't reveal because that would be telling. All I'll say is that they have a hard-on for Mila Kunis, but not for the reasons that I have a hard-on for Mila Kunis (which immediately goes limp upon remembering that Punk'd the Douchebag infected her with his seed, thereby infecting the world with another useless lump of flesh/brain/entitlement), no, these 3 Brit aliens have it in for her for reasons I won't reveal because that would be telling.

One of these interstellar Limeys is played by Eddie Redmayne, who at this time of writing, is about ten days away from finding out whether he wins or loses the Best Actor Oscar for his role as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, a film that reminds me of The Imitation Game in that I will most likely never watch either of them because I honestly have no fucks to give. I can only assume Redmayne is fantastic in Theory but here on Jupiter he's faaaabulooooussss. His performance is one of those awesomely fey-but-threatening evil types and I love his delivery, sounding either like an elderly James Mason whispering you a secret, or a hammy/screaming Actor doing a movie for the paycheck.

It's played mostly serious, but there's the occasional humorous moment and most of the time it didn't work on me. Kunis has this douchebag cousin played by an actor named Kick which for some reason that name annoys the shit out of me and makes me want to punch Kick in the fucking face for having that name. I remember this name, this actor, I remember it all from Speed Racer, he was in that film too. Anyway, I think we're supposed to find this asshole funny, but as I already said, I didn't laugh. But I did smile and/or chuckle anytime Kunis said something amusing like "I love dogs" after Tatum's character tells her how they can't be together because he's part wolf or something like that. Trust me, she said it in a hopeful/needy way and I think that's why it worked, rather than some lame oversexed I LOOOOOVE DOGS YOU HOT MAGIC MIKE LOOKING MOTHERFUCKER NOW GET ON MY BODY come-on. They were cute, her "funny" lines.

Tatum is kind of dull in the movie, he's super serious and I don't remember him saying anything remotely comedic, but you know what? That's OK, he does well as a hero-type and he certainly doesn't say anything annoying and he doesn't act like some douchebag either. Because he looks like the Alpha Male Frat-Bro of All Frat-Bros and yet he doesn't act that way in this film, or any of his other films (the ones I've seen, anyway; I'm not gonna watch those fuckin' comedies he does with that fat asshole fuck Jonah Hill who will not go away and who will probably die at the age of 150 and he'll die loved by all because God exists and He is a fuckin' sadistic petulant child who will wish you into the cornfield if you don't worship him unquestioningly and yet he does fucked up things like giving Jonah Hill a successful career and award nominations and if that's how God rolls then I'm all about The Devil, bitches).

What was I talking about? Oh yeah, I liked that for most of the film, he's kinda subservient to Kunis' character. He's there to save her, but as we find out later in the film, he has his reasons as to why he doesn't feel equal to her. His character is a badass but he's also a decent dude, and I can get behind that -- and by that, I mean his tight behind AMIRITE LADIES? LADIES! YOU KNOW WHAT I'M TALKIN' ABOUT!

(I'm talking about his sweet ass.)

There is one sequence that I got a kick out of in a comedic sorta way, and that's the part when Kunis has to deal with this space station or planet that is basically every red tape bureaucrat's wet dream/dry nightmare. It's all about having to get the proper forms and signatures and it just keeps going and going and going and it's all very Brazil-esque -- there's even an early reference to a "27B/6" -- until it concludes with a cameo from Terry Gilliam himself, which I guess is kind of like an endorsement from him.

The action sequences are pretty cool too; Tatum gets around on these jet boots and that was pretty awesome to watch, and there's a long chase involving him carrying Ms. Mila around as he jet-boots all around Chicago while aliens go after them, doing a lot of structural damage in the process. Later, we find out that the aliens have Men in Black neuralyzer technology and use it to wipe the memories of the entire city after repairing all the damage, that way no one ever knows that a cool destructive jet-boot chase even occurred. I can only assume that all the exploding cars and buildings didn't have people in them, or maybe the aliens wiped the memories of the deceased from the survivors. So now we have some Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind shit going on. These aliens know their flicks.

I've since gone online to see what The Internet thought of this movie, and it looks like everybody is more than happy to step in and gleefully give this flick a good old-fashioned geek dick-whipping. This is the latest mega-budgeted spectacle that The Internet has given the HAHA YOUR MOVIE IS BOMBING AND IT'S THE WORST MOVIE EVER!!! award, which like most recipients of that honor, is not deserving of it. Which isn't to say that this is some kind of underrated masterpiece, because I don't feel it's anywhere in the vicinity, or even in the same state. I liked it and I'm glad I saw it because it was two-hours-plus that entertained me and it went down well with buttery salty popcorn and Cherry Coke. But I don't think I'll ever watch it again, except maybe if it pops up on television, then I'll watch some of it to take in Kunis' hotness or Redmayne's eeeevil character or Tatum's sweet, sweet ass.

(His ass, ladies, it is so sweet, is it not?)

I would recommend catching it on the big screen in 3D on a matinee price or at a discount house, but if you can't catch it that way, then maybe you shouldn't bother at all, because unlike, say, Guardians of the Galaxy, which had engaging characters and honest-to-goodness emotion to fall back on, this one only has cool visuals and nifty action sequences that need to be taken in on the biggest screen/loudest sound system you can find. It reminds me a bit of movies like Krull or Flash Gordon, or The Last Starfighter, fantasy sci-fi movies that came out in the early 80s and did OK or bombed and weren't exactly critically acclaimed but are fondly remembered by people who saw them back then as kids; I can see some 12-year-old kid watching this and then I can flash forward 25 years later and see this grown-up kid bitching to Shout Factory that they fucked up the transfer to the 25th Anniversary Edition, because his life didn't amount to much either and that's all he has to make himself feel like he matters. Or she, if she's gonna be that way.

(Haha, just kidding, that'll never happen because we'll all be dead by then from some major catastrophe.)

Anyway, Joe Bob says check it out. Me, I think it's worth a gander if you have the cash and time to kill.

OK, well, I guess that's it for now. I rambled a bit, ranted a bit, feel a tiny bit better. But I'm still waiting for that Big Cry or some kind of non-destructional emotion purge that will take me to the next step of this grieving process and out of this current one. For the longest time I thought I was King Angry Motherfucker Of The World, but it turned out that I was merely a pretender to the throne. But now, shit, now, I've been crowned the real thing  -- and to be honest with you, lady and gentleman, the weight of the crown is making my knees buckle and I'm so ready to abdicate.

In conclusion, go call your parents, you lovely sons of b's.