Sunday, March 27, 2016

Suddenly you need Oil of Olay

I was going to see this but then I wasn't going to see this. Then I was. Or I wasn't.

As I was going to tell the gentleman on Facebook in my comment when asked if I was serious about not seeing this film, before I realized this was better off posted on my blog: I'm afraid, Kris. So very afraid. Afraid to sit there after paying for the ticket, the popcorn, the soda, the candy -- all that to make the experience easier to sit through -- all that time and money and end up with the feeling that I've been had.

Because of the reviews, oh man, those reviews. I wasn't surprised, because in the comic book movie family, compared to goody-two-shoes Marvel Films, DC Comics is more like the fuck-up brother with moments of potential but mostly he needs a boot in the ass to help get his shit straight. But wow, these are particularly toxic, these reviews. If there were ever road signs telling me that there's rocky terrain and an unfinished bridge up ahead, the reviews for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice were it.

I kinda liked the last one, Man of Steel, even though I had some serious issues with it -- namely, for a "fun" superhero movie it was pretty goddamn gloomy. But then maybe I'm the asshole here and it was never supposed to be fun, maybe Snyder & Nolan felt like the kids today, they've had enough fun in their lives and it's time to smack 'em with harshness. Times have changed, bitches, and it's time to toughen up, knuckle up, and pull yourselves up by your bootstraps: You want Reading Rainbow to help you enjoy books? Kickstart it with your dollars, kid. You wanna go to Sesame Street? Subscribe to HBO, you little lazy bastard. And you want a nice Superman who stands for Truth, Justice, and the American way? Watch the old shit, you young fuck.

Where was I? Oh yes, this film and why I was torn between seeing it and not seeing it. If you are a regular reader than you see this coming much like I saw most of this film coming, even though I never watched a single trailer. You know what I'm talking about -- you know who I'm talking about.

Oh, Amy. Why do you have to be such a talented -- but more importantly, sincere and likable! -- actress who seems genuinely appreciative of her success and carries no airs of fakery? And if you're just that good at hiding the fakery, then you are in fact the greatest actor ever because even the best thespians of either gender fail miserably at doing that.

Meryl Streep is my jam, but man oh man is she suspect whenever she doesn't win something. And remember Anne Hathaway's shameless attempts when she was racking them up for Les Miserables? Or remember your co-star Melissa Leo winning Best Supporting Actress for The Fighter? Oh man, she was the worst at that. Her high/low point was singing along at the end of the Oscar ceremony to Over the Rainbow, holy shit, she thought we would buy that OMG DREAMS DO COME TRUE look on her face.

What I'm trying to say is that I'll follow you anywhere, but wow, it would've been so much easier for me to wait for the R-rated Blu-ray of this movie, rather than deal with the rest of the country going to see this at the same time when I already knew who was going win and lose between Batman and Superman: The studio over the audience. But you're in this movie, Amy! Anyway, sorry for using my one straight-up question as an excuse to mostly put down others. Sorry about that, Amy. That was very un-Amy of me and I need to fix that.

Take care and be well.

Signed, Me.

The Adorable Amy Adams returns as Lois Lane, but I wasn't that hot on seeing the sequel in the theaters and the reviews only made me colder to it. So then I'm in the position of only being interested in seeing this film because The Triple A is in it and even then, what if she isn't in it that much? What am I left with? Something so cynically put together then thrown at the great unwashed masses with such overflowing contempt towards us that it might as well have been directed by Transformers-era Michael Bay and titled Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice on the Fallen Dark Moon of Extinction Fuck You Dummy Dumb Dumbs Stupidheads We Love You As Much As Politicians Do So Go Get Fucked You Morons And Shove It Down Your Entrance And Shove It Up Your Exit And Thanks For The New Cars And Houses You Bought Us We'll See You Next Time With The Next Bucket Of Cine-Slop You Cuntfaced Pig Headed Sheep People?

I remembered feeling burned by the second Transformers garbage bin that was Revenge of the Fallen and I swore I was done with that series, but then people kept going on about how the third one was actually the one to watch. What to do, I wondered. Am I actually going to have to see this one? So I hedged my bet by taking some of that fine green herb with me and toking up like a muthafuckin' soldier in the parking lot. And you know what? The movie wasn't that bad. It wasn't that good, but it wasn't that bad either.

Since then, I've cut down -- way down -- on the ganja. Once upon a time I approached Wake & Bake levels and then I surpassed it, then I realized I was becoming one of those weirdo stoners that I can't stand and I started to exhibit behavior I loathed in my fellow pot-smoker. So now it's relegated to the occasional Saturday night/early Sunday morning nightcap, or the occasional legit bout of insomnia.

Or a movie I'm not too sure about.

And so, I got up Saturday morning and drove to the 9:00am IMAX showing of BvS: DoJ, playing "The Love Movement" album by A Tribe Called Quest, which turned out to be their final album. (RIP Phife Dawg!!!) I arrived at the theater by the time "Find a Way" was ending (it wasn't a long drive) and in the parking lot I busted out the vaporizer and got to work inhaling as much as possible in the short time window available, turning the greenery inside into a nice toasty shade of Fall leaves.

Then I ambled my way inside and you bet your ass I bought some nachos and a two-bladder sized Camelbak of Cherry Coke. I found a good seat and in a couple minutes I was surrounded by children -- kids to the left of me, kids to the right, and here I am stuck in the middle of a good-fucking high. I felt irresponsible but fuck it, these kids need to learn about this shit. I figured I was OK so long as they don't have some weird law I'm not aware of, like, I don't know, like if being stoned near children qualifies as a Sex Offense or something and next thing I know I'm locked up with Popeye from Blood In Blood Out except he has higher standards than my ass, so instead he just beats the shit out of me.

I actually watched the trailers, except for the Captain America: Civil War one, because audio can't really spoil shit for me, except for when the kid next to me screamed out the name of someone who pops up at the very last second; Suicide Squad looked interesting; Ghostbusters looked funny and as far as that movie is concerned, I'm good to go despite Melissa McCarthy being in it. The kids around me were pretty hyped up about it, and they were all boys, so take that you adult jagoffs who can't take females bustin' ghosts.

Anyway, for these ramblings on Beavis Dodge below, keep in mind that I was as high as Terence Herman Edward Dickens when I watched all of this.


The film begins for me with The Adorable Amy Adams and we're following her as she interviews an African warlord over there in the African Outback or whatever they call it, and it's a pretty awesome entrance or maybe it was a decent one but because it's Our Amy that ups it like 50 percent. So anyway, during all this it's revealed that her photographer's camera has a tracking device in it, so naturally the warlord does his thing (it's noon and he hasn't killed anyone yet) and puts a .45 slug into this photographer-about-to-become-a-corpse's head.

Now get this -- that guy who just got killed? I find out later that was Jimmy Olsen. No shit. Jimmy Fuckin' Olsen. I guess that was supposed to be a Holy Shit moment except, uh, I don't remember this dude in the last film and they didn't give you any establishment of his character here -- not even a hint or clue. So it's not really a Holy Shit moment, at least not until you look it up online because you saw Jimmy Olsen in the end credits but didn't remember seeing him in the movie. I honestly don't know if that was a Fuck You from the filmmakers or a We Just Don't Give A Shit from them, whatever the fuck ever; Lois ends up getting saved by Supes, so it's all good.

You know who also doesn't give a shit? Superman. Later on, Lois has an awkward conversation sitting in a bathtub while Clark Kent (played by The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) stands over her, and she talks about how Senator Holly Hunter is having press conferences featuring Stock African Townspeople saying Fuck A Superman, He Didn't Save Shit and Clark's like I Don't Care.

You sure don't, Clarky. I wish you did, I wish we saw more of you actually doing heroic stuff and not just the aftermath where Mexicans touch you like you're The Jesus, and I wish you were portrayed with the same vim and vigor that Henry Cavill brought to the U.N.C.L.E. joint, and I swear sometimes it felt like somewhere off-camera there was a gun being pointed in Cavill's direction, with some sweaty guy whispering "That's right, limey, you keep not enjoying yourself. If I see even a speck of light in your performance, it's curtains for you! Now jump into that bathtub even though you're wearing clothes, because that's as lighthearted as it's gonna get!"

Hey I don't mind seeing Amy Adams in a bathtub, but it's not you get to see much anyway, but if you're into hot dudes then you get Clark standing in his underwear and cooking eggs which didn't seem very smart given all that hot oil that could potentially burn him but then again, he's Kal-El, what does he care? He might as well crack eggs on those fuckin' washboard abs and fry 'em with his Evil Devil Eyes Heat-Vision and forget about ever washing dishes.

Meanwhile in Gotham City -- just located across the water a few miles away! -- Batman (played by Argo) is doing his thing saving people and branding a fucking Bat logo on the criminals before sending them to prison (where the identification will get them killed). I guess tattooing a number on them before sending them off to a place full of similar folk to be murdered would be too much work. Even Alfred (played by Dead Ringers) is put off by this branding shit; he tells him that he wasn't like that before and Bruce pretty much gives him some bullshit about how things are worse now so I guess he has to be, uh, worser. It's also kinda hinted that Bruce Wayne is a drinker, like Affleck in real life.

Ah, I kid the rich and handsome actor and director of Academy Award-winning films who wins at life while I just blog about it. Sorry for hurting your feelings, Ben. I remember when the news came out that he was going to portray Batman, and I never had a problem with it. If anything, my only complaint was that he should be directing the movie because he's a damn good director. As it is, in his actor-solo mode I thought he was really good and it kinda bums me out there isn't a solo Batman movie featuring Affleck doing some more stabbing and shooting and bone-breaking and setting people on fire.

It's a trip, man, it's like Snyder and company thought the already controversial Burton/Keaton Batman was a pussy. But love it or hate it, you gotta give points to this Batman for using an electronic voice modulator so he doesn't have to do that lame growl voice that Christian Bale had to do. One day, when I'm ready to die, I'll find Bale at a bar and walk up to him and give him sooooo much shit about that voice.

Or maybe I won't give him shit, because according to those e-mails that were leaked out of Sony, my man C.B. stepped in and gave a little of that Light Trashing magic to that niece-molesting actor-bullying fuckhead David O. Russell for making The Adorable Amy Adams cry. HE MADE HER CRY. This shitmouth has a history of this, and it takes a Bale or a George Clooney to ring this asshole's bell every once in a while which is not nearly enough. So I'm happy his ode to poor Stockholm Syndrome-suffering Jennifer Lawrence, Joy, underperformed at the box office, because the more of those he makes, the less The Powers That Be will throw dollars at him, and the sooner he becomes Yesterday's News -- at least until a decade or two later when when his old movies become popular again and he tours the revival cinema circuit to blah blah the packed enraptured crowds, the way we do with Former Hot Shit/Terrible Human Beings like William Friedkin. And I say this as a major, major, major fan of William Friedkin -- the filmmaker.

And I think you see a bit of where my crush on The Adorable Amy Adams comes from: the possibility that maybe she's a genuinely decent human being and yet she managed to find success in a business where nice people finish last and walking twats win awards and get away with terrible behavior. I can't help but cheer on those kinds of people. This blog entry will be hilarious to read after it comes out that Amy Adams is like a secret Nazi or something, or she does something stupid and open up a Twitter account and have an opinion. Then that will be the end of The Triple A.

Anyway, fuck those guys. As much as I think the movie really begins with Our Amy, it actually begins with this cool sequence that goes back and forth between Young Bruce Wayne at his parents' funeral and the night they were shot dead by Joe Chill (after Thomas Wayne makes the incredibly smart move of taking a swing at the handgun-toting Chill). Then it goes into him falling into that bat pit and getting all batted on and I guess he's the King of the Bats or something now because they encircle him and levitate him up towards the light.

It worked for me, and it made me think for a second that I was actually watching a straight-up new Batman reboot (which I guess it is, but it's also a Superman film, a Justice League film, etc.), but then it goes into the events of Man of Steel, when the World Engine is fucking up Metropolis and I guess it wasn't doing a fast enough job, so here comes Superman and Zod to speed up the destruction process.

While this is happening, Middle-Aged Bruce Wayne is driving his SUV trying to get his people out of one of his buildings, but hey, he's the star and they're just bit players. Doesn't take Neil Degrasse Tyson to figure out how that's gonna work out -- and that's because he's too busy making a cameo in this film. I gotta say, I thought all of that worked but that could be because 9/11-style imagery mixed with a soon-to-be-smooshed dude praying to God to save his soul is gonna automatically give me a case of the Strong Emotions. (I don't think this film is gonna play very well in Pakistan at the moment either. Sigh.) Call it cheating, call it good filmmaking, but mostly I prefer to call it bad-taste ballsiness. This film? This Batman v Superman film? It's actually kinda fascinating.

For example, check out Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, and then go nominate that dude for Best Supporting Actor or give him two in the back of the fucking head so he never does it again -- either way I'm fine with it. Because never have I felt like jumping at the screen and tearing it to shreds the way I felt while watching him, ruining my goddamn high, this fuck. His Luthor is an absolute shit of a human being in every goddamn way: the way he walks, the way he talks, the way his face will twitch. It got to where it was starting to hurt me watching him breathe.

His Lex Luthor is this super-rich kid with eccentricities upon eccentricities multiplied by many social anxieties and everybody puts up with it because he's a Master of the Universe. I guess that's why he has this hard-on for Superman, 'cause he's going on and on about how people see Supes as a God and this bothers him. Maybe the idea that someone could be on a higher plane than him really rubs Lex raw. So he disguises this player-hating as looking out for the world, because you can't have this being roaming around with the potential to burn it all down to the ground whenever/if ever he felt like it. That's why he has his people locate Kryptonite and that's why he tries to get Senator Holly Hunter to get with the idea of keeping Supes in check with the green shit. But in the end, he's setting up Supes and Bats to fight it out because Man Must Fight God, and if God Is Dead then ZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzz I really didn't care and plus I was too high to really pay attention to any scene that wasn't focused on the star of Enchanted.

Oh by the way, for those who've seen this film: didn't you think those Polaroids that Lex had of Martha Kent being held captive were a touch much? Poor Diane Lane, but I guess you take what they give ya. I mean, they were really freaky and looked like something out of some serial killer/rapist's collection. Again with the bad taste and insanity of the film -- and the filmmakers.

This may not be the most popular opinion, but I never felt so much hate towards any of the Marvel film villains, or any hate at all, compared with how I felt about Lex-Dog. So I'm giving DC the award for having the better bad guy in a comic book film. He was so cartoonishly evil and petty, he almost seemed like a real human being. In other words, Eisenberg's Luthor was absolutely Shkrelian.

There's a nightmare sequence where Batman is living in post-apocalyptic Wherever and he's searching for the last piece of Kryptonite or something, but it turns out to be a setup and suddenly he's surrounded by black-clad soldiers with Superman arm patches and they start beating the shit out of him -- and then! Then these winged devils or whatever the hell they were swoop in and start pulling bodies away and it's all so very insane.

It felt like something out of the most expensive Christian-exploitation movie never made (or if some billionaire asshole funded a film adaptation of a Jack Chick cartoon tract) where it's the near-future and the poor Christians are being hunted down for being down with G.O.D. (Happy Easter, btw) and they have to take the Mark of the Beast and they just got caught trying to smuggle The Last Bible In Existence, because all the bibles are being burned and crosses are being destroyed and then on television Dictator-For-Life Obama is talking about bringing our former enemies together and now abortions are mandatory (for men and women!) and our national flag is now the Islamic crescent moon & star and Oh My God The Poors Have Health Care! And the Homos Are Getting Married! And if only they let me keep my guns and my Jesus, this would've never happened!

By the way, The Poors Have Health Care! And the Homos Are Getting Married! sounds like the most fucked-up Andy Milligan film ever.

Speaking of fucked-up, there's also some disturbing undercurrents? and metaphors? or hidden messages? in this film. What I'm saying is that Lex's plan involves blowing up the Capitol Building in order to drum up more hate against Superman, and it got me thinking of the conspiracy theories about various False Flag operations like, well, like 9/11 and how it was done in order to justify going over to Fuckheadistan (thanks London Has Fallen!) and get that sweet sweet guzzleline, and I wondered if that was the purpose of Snyder and company or maybe I'm just falling into the stoner trap again, forgive me.

Oh, another thing about the Capitol Building scene; I saw a name plate for someone named "Sen. Purrington" and I decided that if I ever decide to get a cat, that's what I'm going to name it.

So what of the ultimate showdown? It was OK. Pretty much what I expected, with a couple cool gadget traps being used by Bats and Supes using his powers to punch him back about a couple miles. It's all technically awesome but I didn't really give that much of a care about who would win. All I could think about was the tagline to Alien vs. Predator: "Whoever wins...we lose."

You have the two comic book titans facing off against each other -- thankfully this time they're in an abandoned part of town, the better to lessen collateral damage -- and yet I was more into the scenes of Lois Lane walking around holding this Kryptonite-tipped spear and she looked awesome/adorable doing so. Where's that movie? Shit, I'll direct that spin-off, if they'll let me.

It's like Snyder read my ramblings about the last film and kept in mind that I really dug seeing The Triple A walking around with a space blaster thingamajig and thought "Hmm, how can I please ol' EFC with this one?" and he certainly did. So thanks, bro. See you at the gym tomorrow, where we'll bench press some heavy weight and laugh at the skinny flabby weaklings -- where's my high-five, broseph?

There are no stingers in this film, which I found out with my trusty RunPee app, which not only told me not to bother sticking around after the end credits, but also let me know that Kevin Costner's Pa Kent showed up to pep talk Clark while I was busying emptying the ol' bladder. So yeah, no stingers, but that's because there's a sequence late in the film that feels like all the stingers put together; this is where you see the rest of the Justice League like Aquaman, The Flash, some Black dude all chopped up and with wires sticking out of his body cavities looking like Murphy in Robocop 2, and Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman.

Almost forgot about her: Wonder Woman shows up to join in on the CGI-fighting shenanigans and it all looks good in a visual sense, and while the soundtrack was telling me DUDES! DUUUUUUDES! WONDER WOMAN IS HERE! SHE'S KICKING ASS WITH BATMAN AND SUPERMAN! AND SHE'S SMOOOOOOOKIN'! ISN'T THIS AWESOME! I nodded and said to no one "Hell yeah, this is awesome -- dipping the jalapenos that came with my nachos into the melted cheese was an excellent idea!" Don't laugh, lady and gentleman, these jalapenos went above and beyond the call of duty and I applaud whoever grew them and whoever was in charge of picking them for this movie theater establishment.

Say what you will, and I'm gonna say what I will: Zach Snyder is now an honest-to-goodness genuine auteur. Triple-feature this film, 300, and Sucker Punch and you'll know more about this guy than he probably even knows about himself. Among many things I learned from his two Superman movies is that Snyder's favorite Superman is the drunk & angry people-hating one that split from Clark Kent in Superman III, the one who will punch a hole into an oil tanker because Fuck The World.

Like I said earlier, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was a fascinating film to experience. If you're too much of a comic book fan or love the older incarnations of Supes and/or Batman too much, maybe you should stay away. No, you should definitely stay away. But on its own, the movie does a good job taking a long time telling a simple story, but it's redeemed by the whacked-out style and perverse decisions that I can only describe as...well, I don't know how to put it succinctly (he says after spending numerous paragraphs going on and on and on). Is it a train wreck? Um, maybe -- but it's more like a train derailed by gigantic testicles. People are dead and the train is destroyed but wow, look at the big balls on that guy, I didn't know they made them that big! Not for nothing, but Snyder's production company is called "Cruel and Unusual Films" -- which is right on the goddamn money, Zachy.

So I liked the movie, but not for the reasons that your average Batman and/or Superman fan would want to like it, let's put it that way. As it is, my commitment to this particular galaxy in the DC universe is probably going to last as long as Amy Adams is involved. But what do I know? The kids seemed to bounce around like crazy during the BvS stuff, and fidgeted like mad during everything else.

In conclusion, I hope Soledad O'Brien made it out OK.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

I should've known about this motherfucker the second he began reminding everyone around him that his birthday was coming up about a month-and-a-half in advance, on some Hint-Hint type shit.

My coworker loves to talk about his life and I don't think he minds that I'm wearing earbuds and listening to podcasts while he's venting because that's all he's really doing -- venting. Long ago, I used to talk with him and try to cheer him up by reminding him that it's a big blue ball we live on, and we, brother? We are legion. So you're never really alone, I tell him, because millions out there have had their worlds rocked in various magnitudes -- many higher than yours -- but they got through it and if they got through it, so can you! Then I usually cock my head to the side and give a big ol' smile and wave at him, with that gay shit.

OK, that's unfair and offensive, but you are reading the words of a man who last month watched his coworker tear up and fight back sobs before going up to him and giving him a hug because it seemed like the right thing to do. You are reading the words of a man who would occasionally bring his coworker a donut or a pastry or a fucking breakfast burrito in the morning in an attempt to brighten his day with a little kindness. You are reading the words of a man who used his personal time to fill up a flash drive with various movies that he felt the coworker would like and would help him get through this bad time, and instead gets to hear his coworker constantly bemoan being "bored as shit at home" as if there was nothing for him to WATCH.

In other words, you are reading the words of a schmuck.

And what exactly is the coworker's latest tragedy that even a daily dab of hash oil in the morning -- as is his daily custom -- will not cure? The coworker became friendly with a neighbor in his apartment -- a neighbor with kids -- and this friendship involved dinners at her place, rides to work, and nights out at the local craft brewery. Soon, this lady began to "catch feelings" for him and his response was that he wasn't interested in a relationship because he had just come from a bad one.

A few months later, he began to catch feelings for her, and when he told her this, she then informed him that she had a boyfriend/baby papa in prison who will be released in a few months, hence that's a No Go on replacing "friend" with "relation" on this ship. And that, dear reader, is when the tears began to roll.

I am going to open up a bit more and talk about something I don't really like to talk about -- yup, I'm bringing up Daddy again.

You see, I never brought up my father's death on Twitter or Facebook, not because I didn't want to talk about it, but because I didn't want to fuck with anybody's day. I only mentioned it here on the blog, because if you clicked on the link, then you are entering of your own free will knowing that whatever you are exposed to was a result of you being interested and may God have mercy on your soul. (I've since come to the conclusion that this was a terrible mistake. In addition to the blog, I should've shouted out the dearly departed old man on every fucking social media network that I was a member of, the same way I know all of you would do the same thing.)

And I never brought it up at work except to let my boss know why I was taking time off, and I never walked around all morose & moaning & wailing among my coworkers because we have to be fucking professionals and do our best as members of an ensemble cast in this fucking movie we call Life, motherfucker! This guy, on the other hand, not only thinks he's the star, he must've been busy smoking weed with his asshole friends in school when R.E.M. came out with "Everybody Hurts".

You know, he kinda reminds me of me, maybe that's what it is. Because I remember a couple years ago I responded to a friend's e-mail with this real fucking epic pity party because the movie I directed turned out to be such a piece of shit. I went on and on in such a Woe Is Me type way, and I was so far up into my own fat ass that I conveniently forgot that the person I was writing to had spent a long portion of her life UNABLE TO FUCKING WALK. She has since gotten better but it's still tough with obstacles like Cuntface in her way whining about a fucking movie. By the way, I actually had to take a break right now to literally smack myself in the face about three times in some weird kinda Catholic punishment for that bullshit. Anyway, where was I?

So I think maybe you understand why I might be feeling a growing resentment towards this coworker who is letting what is ultimately minor in the grand scheme of things affect him to the point that he'll literally moan/groan out of nowhere because he is soooo much in pain, this guy who shows little empathy to others but expects every bit of sympathy to be given. This is a man who in his current condition can be sullen towards everybody else at work, whereas I was still putting on a happy face and joking around with everybody while waiting to go home so I can cry alone about my recently deceased father. My coworkers are human beings who just want to make a living and go home and deal with their own problems -- why would I punish them for something they didn't do?

Whatever. I have my earbuds. And I have the knowledge that this is a man too hip to be happy. A man who subconsciously (at least) enjoys feeling terrible. While some of us had been exiled from contentment, he apparently sent himself away and is now possibly institutionalized from the experience. No man is an island -- except this one, and he evidently believes that his is the only island where pain can occur. This morning we spoke about the tragic events in Brussels for about 5 minutes, and then he changed the subject to the Same Ol' Shit for another two hours. So I now feel confident in rubber stamping Fuck This Guy on his file folder. I gave him a hug, I gave him my time -- now I'll just give him the impression that I pretend to give a shit.

On the bright side, I got two raises in the last year because my boss confided in me that I knew how to "handle" this asshole.

It's too bad my coworker is not at all like Christian Bale's character in Knight of Cups, the latest film from my man, Terrence Malick. I say that because Bale's character -- whose name I can't remember, nor does it matter, so then I'll call him "Fool" -- has had various relationships go south and there never was a moment in the film where he pulls any of that coworker shit with the other people in his life. No, he just mostly wanders around, the way people do in a Malick joint. And why is he wandering? Why is he here? Why are we here? Why is life so difficult? Why do people still give Malick shit for the kind of films he makes when it's pretty clear he is operating on his own level and doesn't give a shit about things like Story and Plot when he's got more metaphysical fish to fry?

These are all questions we have and Malick too has those questions (except the last one) because he is human like the rest of us. His career has been leading to these types of questions more and more since The Thin Red Line and it's been a real trip for those of us who signed up for the journey. His films used to be more classically composed in the visual department, but like most directors, Terrence Malick has slowly changed his style over the years; it started with The New World, because that's when things got more, I don't know, flow-y? Like, the camera started moving and roving about, following the subject like a curious angel observing this fascinating creation known as Man and Wo-Man. (Whoa, man!)

Then he kicked it up a notch with The Tree of Life, and while we were barely getting our bearings this motherfucker went even farther and further with To the Wonder and I guess he was going way too fast because he lost quite a few of us with that one. I managed to hold on and ultimately I liked it but I felt he'd done better work. But after watching Knight, I wonder if I'd like To the Wonder even more now. Why? Because I liked Knight of Cups very much, even though it's even more, uh, opaque and deals with something I'm getting kinda tired of seeing in movies (which I'll get to soon). Maybe To the Wonder goes down easier now?

FYI, the original title for that film was To the Wonder To the Wall Till the Sweat Drip Down My Balls Till All These Bitches Crawl (Skeet Skeet Motherfuckers, Skeet Skeet Goddamn).

But yeah, I wasn't sure at first about this one because when I read the synopsis -- knowing that it would probably tell me more than the film would, because Terrence Malick makes films that you don't have to worry knowing too much about before seeing it -- I kinda rolled my eyes when I read that Bale's character Fool was playing a screenwriter in Hollywood. But I also felt, hey, maybe now Malick will actually get a chance at winning Best Picture or Best Director, because you how the Academy loves movies that involve The Business They Have Chosen, right?

Well, you wouldn't really know that Fool writes movies, except for a line said by one of his agents, something like "All you wanna do is write big movies in Hollywood" and even then that line you could barely hear because Malick isn't really that interested in what these people have to say to each other, and is more into what they're thinking. Yup, just like his other films the characters have their own inner monologues on the soundtrack and some of it is on the nose and some of it only makes sense to the person saying it. No really, I don't even think Malick knows what some of this means and I think that's the idea.

What do I mean? I mean I think he came up with this idea for the film because the premise is more or less (I'm sure, or at least I think I'm sure) an autobiographical one, but used it as a springboard to delve into more personal shit for himself AND personal shit for we the viewers (but more on that much later); Fool the screenwriter goes to Hollywood to write movies and ends up doing that but also ends up doing a lot of partying and drinking and whoring and fucking around with Asian chicks in his classic Lincoln Continental on his way to the usual rooftop bacchanalia, and then spends the early morning after staring out to the horizon thinking about what it all means. What an asshole. If I were in that position -- and I'm sadly not, but not for lack of trying -- I'd spend that morning looking for somewhere to have breakfast, preferably with one of my fellow partiers, preferably a couple of them, and preferably of the female persuasion.

What are you saying, you ask: I'm saying that even though this takes place in the Here and Now, this is pretty much what Malick probably did back in the 60s and 70s when he was writing movies, before he stepped up to the bat and knocked it out the fucking park with Badlands. But he wasn't just banging and passing out on couches, he also had time to grow up a little and get himself into the occasional relationship with a lady. He even got married for a while, and then moved on to hooking up with a married woman which I guess was his way of compromising, like "I won't get married but I'll find a wife". I'm talking about Fool mostly, I can't say if Malick was fucking around with married women but I do know he's been married three times so he must like 'em hitched one way or the other, dig?

I don't know what kind of quality wool Malick was pulling, but Bale gets some pretty choice chicks in this film: Natalie Portman, the chick from Slumdog Millionaire, the chick from the Point Break remake that I actually paid to watch, a chick I don't remember from one of the Transformers movies because who actually remembers that garbage, Imogen Poots from the Society of People With Unfortunate Last Names, and Cate Blanchett -- but as regular readers of this blog probably already know, her full name is Cate Blanchett Who Held Open The Door For Me At The Arclight Hollywood At A Screening of Notes on a Scandal.

The biggest tip-off that this is based on his life back in the day is that it's kinda dated; for all of his Hollywood lifestyle, you never see the dude use a smartphone or a computer and as mentioned earlier, his car is vintage too. Plus, if this guy were an actual working screenwriter in the late '10s, there would've been scenes of this motherfucker holding court at the New Beverly Cinema or the Cinefamily, introducing movies he likes to packed crowds, all of them held in rapt attention to every word he says like he's Paddy Chayefsky or some-fucking-body, even though he probably wrote one well-received genre movie that wasn't even the director's best work and I guess that's why he has fans -- because he's a working screenwriter and that's closer to The Dream Achieved than most of his 50,000+ Twitter followers will ever get, and that's why he gets hundreds of retweets every fucking day for every passing thought he posts, and no, I am not the least bit jealous or envious.

I am every bit jealous and envious.

Anyway, the movie is like my writing here: all over the fucking place. But unlike my ramblings, I feel there is something substantial in all of this. The movie starts out with a narrator (Ben Kingsley, I believe) telling the Gnostic Gospel tale from "The Hymn of the Pearl" which is about a young prince who goes on a journey to find a pearl, which I guess is the Pearl of All Pearls considering all the shit he goes through to get it. Problem is, along the way the prince takes a drink and unfortunately this drink must've come from the Cosby Vineyard Selection because the prince then passes out and when he wakes up he's forgotten everything. He forgot who he was, why he was there, and his purpose. His butthole hurts, he doesn't know why.

So right there, the movie tells you what it's about. The movie basically spoils it all for you right there if you pay attention rather than question why the fuck we're looking at a satellite hovering over Earth, making you wonder if Malick is gonna get all 2 Tree 2 Life on us and take us back to Dinosaur Land immediately after.

But he's not, he takes us back down to Earth with some Go-Pro footage of a desert highway and then we see Bale looking all assed-out near the highway. He's on his way somewhere but he's taken a detour to wander around the desert and think of what brought him to this point. And that's when we go all over the place as his tale is told in various chapters, each with tarot card names like The Hermit, The Hanged Man, Judgment, Death, The Moon, etc. So it's kinda like The Tree of Life's Sean Penn sequences, except instead of some douchebag wandering around Dallas, we have Bale wandering around the desert. Ah, what am I saying -- Bale's probably a douchebag in real life too.

I'm bringing up The Tree of Life a lot because I love that film but also because, yeah man, there's elements of that brought up here too. I already brought up a couple but another one would have to be how Bale's character had a brother who killed himself a while ago, just like Penn's character in the aforementioned movie-joint. As mentioned in my ramblings about that film, Malick had a brother who killed himself, so yeah, I can't talk shit about that, that's some tragic stuff right there and of course it's gonna stick with you and you'll always try to work that shit out in your soul. And you see, man, that's the beauty of Terrence Malick's films, this guy isn't preaching, teaching, or reaching (take that, Cimino!) -- he's wondering. He's as lost as the rest of us snowflakes, he's getting older and he still hasn't figured it out but there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, he's inviting us to see his attempt to work this shit out but he's also giving us something to work our own shit out on too.

This film, more than his others, comes closest to a kind of Rorschach cinema (with a slight tinge of Godfrey Reggio and Ron Fricke); it gives us imagery, it gives us moments, and while they can be taken at face value (and enjoyed as such), it can also be something we can interpret in our own way based on our own baggage. The relationship stuff I'm not going to get into because I've already exposed enough about myself, so I'll just say there were a couple lines in there that gave me serious douchechills because of what kind of memories it brought up; basically all my past relationships I look back on with embarrassment (not against them, this is all self-hatred, son). And like, there's quite a bit of stuff involving Bale's family; his father is played by Brian Dennehy and at one point Dennehy's inner monologue is talking about how he thought things would make more sense as he got older but here he is as an old man and he's just as confused about this world as ever, and then there's stuff about Bale realizing that there's stuff his father was trying to teach him but he wasn't trying to hear it, and he realizes his father was right way after the fact and GODDAMN there I go thinking of my dad again.

Bale's bro is played by Creepo the Shopping Bag Filming Creep from American Beauty and Creepo is really good here, playing some dude who lives in the real L.A.; I'm talking about the downtown areas where the poor and downtrodden try to get by on a day-by-day basis, and it's also one of the few times you see people from the darker echelon and I'm grateful for it. I'm getting fucking tired of people putting down Los Angeles as being this super fake plastic town, when what they're really doing is generalizing the fuck out of the tiny portion they were exposed to. I want to tell these out-of-town fucks that just because you work in the film business and you only deal with film people, it doesn't mean that is of what the entire city is comprised.

The real majority will soon be made of minorities, and when you talk about how an earthquake should sink the whole fucking town you're giving me images of Latinos, Blacks, Asians, South Asians, Middle Easterners, everybody else I'm leaving out because this paragraph would be too long, the working class, the struggling, the poor, the hungry, the ones who take the fucking bus not because it's good for the environment but because they have no choice, the ones who used to shop at Grand Central Market before it started getting gentrified and expensive, the ones who are constantly late for work because of yet another fucking road closure (so they can film a fucking movie), everybody else who doesn't use valet parking, the ones just trying to get by, I see all of them drowning like another movie from that disaster porn filmmaking asshole Roland Emmerich and that's why I'm going to put this baseball bat across your fucking face until it looks like Garry's face when The Thing '82 got him.

I will say this about the downtown L.A. stuff; Bale is wandering around the streets and not once does a disheveled-looking gentleman approach him all polite-like, greeting him, asking him how he's doing and Man, how about this heat? and maybe compliments his outfit -- and then hits him up for a dollar or two. Because at least for me, I can't stand in one spot for more than 30 seconds in certain parts of the downtown area without least 2 instances of that occurring. To be fair, it used to be more like 4 instances of that, but the past few years they've been Giuliani-ing the fuck out of downtown so there's that too, I guess.

It's cool to see Malick and three-time-in-a-muthafuckin-row Academy Award-winning raza cinematographer (¡raza, güey!) Emmanuel "El Chivo" Lubezki work their visual magic in and around the Los Angeles area; they shoot in downtown, the Hollywood Hills, Koreatown, Venice, Santa Monica, Burbank with the fuckin' studios. Also lots of footage shot in freeways, looking at the road ahead, behind, or the sights beside it; man, it reminded me of when I was younger and didn't have a license. One of my simplest pleasures was looking out the window from the car, looking at the buildings, or the land, all that shit. I miss it, and whenever I get the opportunity to be a passenger, I take advantage. Because it sucks driving and not being able to glance over and enjoy the sight of Los Angeles at night. Not unless I want to then follow it up with me going "OH SHIT!" as I almost crash into someone's Prius.

They even journey out to the desert in Death Valley, making a stop in Palm Springs, and there's time left to make a stop over in Las Vegas, Nevada where it appears they managed to find the real Elvis Presley because this Elvis was old, fat, and looked nothing like him. They even shoot over at one of those massive concerts, the kind of laptop spinning affair where the DJs show their appreciation to the throng of sweaty molly-popping peeps by throwing cake at them and somehow he or she doesn't get a shotgun blast to the face for that rude shit.

Once again we are treated to the winning combo of Malick's penchant for roving handheld cameras and Lubezki doing the wide-angle lens thing and it looks wonderfully dreamy as always, but on this film they pull a couple new tricks from their bag; in addition to 35mm and 70mm, they shot this sucker on digital -- but not just your usual Arris and Reds, they also toss in some GoPro and even what looked to me like lower-end cell phone video. And it never felt gimmicky, it all felt...right. If for nothing else, Knight of Cups is good cinematography porn. I noticed I've said "porn" like three or four times already, and it's probably because I'm horny.

Speaking of horny, all you Quentin Tarantino types are gonna have your Hattori Hanzo swords standing at Full Attention with all the foot shots in this film. No joke, it got to where I thought that clearly Malick must have a thing for tootsies. I mean, he shoots a lot of footage for his films and you could probably edit three or four films out of them. So he easily could've put together a cut that had zero foot shots but I think he was looking out for his fellow foot fetishists, rather than keep that footage for himself in a hard drive reserved for spanking, labeled "Tax Returns".

But yeah, it got to a point where I thought to myself, "all that's left is for someone to stick her foot in some dude's mouth" and lo and fuckin' behold, here comes Natalie Portman sticking hers into Bale's mouth. Even though it's a foot, it didn't gross me out because I'm sure Ms. Portman is a clean woman. But what got me kinda skeeved out was watching a scene in a strip joint, where Bale talks up this stripper who then takes out this giant lollipop and sticks it into his mouth. I'm thinking "Jesus Christ, Bale, you know she does this for a living, right? You think you're the only one she's offered that same exact lollipop?" Man, imagine all the various Heps and Herpes and Desperation all over that candy, in addition to all those unnecessary empty calories. Eww.

Hey man, you like dogs? I love dogs and I love seeing a dog in this movie stumbling around after an earthquake among all the shaken & confused Los Angelenos like he's thisclose to saying "Is everybody all right? Why didn't any of you listen to me? Didn't you see me freak out a few seconds before the shaking started?" There's also this mini-montage filmed underwater in a swimming pool, where we're treated to awesome slow-mo shots of dogs in Hawaiian shirts and leis jumping in as they attempt to grab tennis balls; they all open their mouths all wide like AAAAAAARRRRRRR I'M GONNA GET YOU BALL but they all fail at being dogs, and the tennis balls go free. As true a metaphor for life and as true a beauty in cinema as only Terrence Malick can bring you. That's both a joke and a sincere statement. I'm as confused about it as you are.

Those dogs were part of a big Hollywood party thrown by Antonio Banderas, playing a version of himself named "Tonio". I almost kinda want the real Banderas to be like the one in Knight of Cups; he's an unapologetic pussy-hound ("They are like flavors. Sometimes you want raspberry and then after a while you want strawberry.") and I'd like to see a spinoff buddy film with him and Neil Patrick Harris from the Harold & Kumar films. There are lots of familiar faces at the party, and one of them is Thomas Lennon, formerly of "The State" and "Reno 911!" and currently mostly of writing many a shitty high-concept studio screenplay. Anyway, he has a pretty cool interview where he talks about working on this film and it's a great look into how Malick makes his movies.

Damn, man. I went on and on here, and the sad truth is I can keep going on but I think I've kept you for way too long -- and I ain't no Ariel Castro, you're free to leave whenever. But I guess that shows to go you that I really liked this movie, and the more I think about it, the more I like it. I don't do Top 10 lists but goddamn if this doesn't end up on the year-end Best Of that I won't make. As of now, it's up there with The Thin Red Line and The Tree of Life as the Malick films that hit me hardest while watching them for the first time.

I've said this before when rambling about his other films, but it bears repeating: The overall message in this film is a very simple one and it's often told and often heard, and maybe some of us are tired of hearing it. But it doesn't make it any less true, and sometimes we need to be reminded. But I totally get it if you see this film and don't like it at all. I mean, that's art for you: some will see beauty, some will see garbage, and some will just go "eh". And I'm not one to throw that word out so easily either, "art" -- especially in an industry filled with artisans who mistake themselves for artists. They see themselves as The Real Thing and then they try to convince others by constantly talking about how great they are. And that right there, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is Exhibit A through Z as to why they are not. But Terrence Malick? He ain't saying shit. He just does it.

In conclusion, my coworker needs to shut his bitch ass up.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Forget it, Jake. It's Oceania/Eurasia/Eastasia.

Girl, things are scarier now than ever on this increasingly fragile planet. If you go around and read the news or if you already all read'd up on the world theatre -- and I don't mean the American mainstream media bullshit that is all up on Trump's ballsack, reporting on its hairs' various shades and textures -- then you're probably wondering What The Fuck as well.

Once again you have North Korea and home-chingu Kim Jong-un with his usual Somebody Set Up Us The Bomb threats and rhetoric, and while it's usually lip-flapping, this time it seems like he's stepping it up a notch after some crippling sanctions, and it's a little too much of a coincidence that South Korea and the good ol' US of A (with some help from Australia and New Zealand) have now gotten together for the "largest scale ever" military drills that are a little too close to the Real Thing -- and the DMZ. It's all Seth Rogen's fault, the Bud Light-hawking fuck.

And if it's not one thing it's another; Russia's been stepping up and making moves like Jagger and Kasparov combined because their leader is a dude who misses the 80s almost as much as I miss the 90s -- my man, Mr. Don't Give A Fuck himself, Vladimir Muthafuckin' Putin, baby. Doing his thang in Ukraine, causin' mass hysteria in Syria (although as of typing time he's pulling troops out of there, which of course makes me wonder Where Next?), and as of my writing this, is currently setting up a test launch of sixteen -- sixteen!! -- SLBMs at once from a nuclear submarine for no other reason than to let us in the U.S. know that they (he) can wipe us out almost as fast & easy as I can wipe out a plate of nachos. I can count about 16 different ways that can go wrong and the way he's bending & breaking these rules of world conduct, you'd think this guy was an American!

V.P. reminds me of Jimmy Conway in Goodfellas; he's the kind of guy who cheered for the bad guys in the movies -- specifically in the 80s when those from the Soviet Union were the Top Baddies in Hollywood cinema. I bet he loved seeing Ivan Drago do his thing, and I bet you nowadays when he watches Rocky IV he shuts it off just as Balboa is about to go into his speech about how if I Can Change And You Can Change Everybody Can Change, preferring to end his film as a story about a Russian who gave his all in the name of Communism -- choosing to ignore the part where Drago specifically declared that he's fighting for himself, which is OK because everybody does that with at least one film, the way I chose to ignore Ridley Scott's silly statement about Deckard being a Replicant in Blade Runner.

Putin probably likes the Rambo films because the Evil Red Menace is so fucking scary bad in them, he likes the two sequels in spite of the shorty American and his magical killing powers making things right for Capitalism. You know what? He probably laughed his ass off watching Stallone lose Best Supporting Actor for Creed to Mark Rylance in Bridge of Spies -- and how fucking perfect was it that his performance as a dude who once brought the United States and Soviet Union together did not match up to a performance of a dude who spied for the muthafuckin' Russian government! Holy shit, I bet Putin stood his shirtless ass up and gave a hearty clap and laugh throughout Rylance's acceptance speech. Then he used one hand to aim a rifle out the window to shoot a bloodthirsty lion while using the other hand to do dumbbell curls with the heaviest weight possible.

See, honey, Putin wants to bring it back to the good ol' days when Russians were feared and not mocked on found footage fuck-up shows like "Ridiculousness" or "World's Dumbest" or the evening news. He wants to bring it back to when his Red brothers were represented in cinema as big, scary, and missing a sense of humor -- not big burly drinkers with hearts of gold given to stupid macho stunts.

Well in that case, perhaps he'd like to watch the film adaptation of the television series The Man from U.N.C.L.E., which is a step forward in bringing back the concept of the scary Russian to cinema but a step back in that it takes place in the 1960s (same time that the series aired), giving the impression that Scary Russians were a long time ago. But hey, at least moves were made. The Russian is Illya Kuryakin played by the Winkle-vii himself, Armie Hammer, and he's really good doing the whole Russian KGB agent deal, a dude who is mostly serious but occasionally will display pride when talking about how the Spanish Steps in Rome were really a creation of a Russian architect, but under all that steely resolve, the dude has some rage issues stemming from his disgraced father spending the rest of his days in a gulag and I think his mother was a whore or at least very friendly. If you catch Illya at the wrong time and you happen to be a piece of furniture, you're screwed.

He does his job for Mother Russia and does it well, and his latest gig involves dealing with Napoleon Solo, played by Henry Cavill (and who is as pitch-perfect in this film as Hammer). In a cool briefing montage, Illya finds out that Solo fought in WWII before working his military career into a hustle in a mostly successful career as a thief. I say "mostly successful" because then he eventually got pinched by the CIA and his life has become theirs to do with as they please, which in this case means doing the CIA agent thing with all the various spy-shenanigans involved.

The first 15 minutes are a cool -- I'm probably going to use that word a lot here, "cool" -- chase as Solo tries to get Ex Machina out of East Berlin (those were the days, eh, comrade?) while Illya is like a Russian Terminator in that he just won't stop coming after them, except this plays out far less scarier and far more chill. My favorite moment during this sequence is when Solo has a clear advantage and can just put as many bullets into Illya as he wants but doesn't because "somehow it just doesn't seem like the right thing to do", which makes sense when you realize that Solo is tripping out on this guy as much as we in the audience are tripping out on him. You just don't kill something that interesting!

And that's the attitude Solo has throughout the film after circumstances dictate that he partner up with Illya on a job that involves among other things: nuclear warheads, a computer disk that looks like half a VHS roll inside an old scotch tape dispenser, Italian mugger assholes, a Nazi rocket scientist, an Italian race car-driving asshole, Jared Harris doing a great job playing an English actor trying to play an American CIA dude, Italian assholes hogging up the men's room, and a striking tall blonde contessa (played by Elizabeth Debicki, for whom I shall now keep an eye out). Worst of all, they have to deal with that bitch-ass Joseph Goebbels from Inglourious Basterds opening his mouth to reveal partially chewed caviar and Christ, I wanted to shoot this motherfucker in the face for it.

You know who I don't want to shoot in the face? The lovely Alicia Vikander -- she of the recent Academy Award win -- playing the East German auto mechanic who can fix cars and she can drift them into parking spaces, and that's enough to get me to ignore her ignorance when it comes to risotto & truffles and I bet you she chews with her mouth closed. She's the daughter of the aforementioned Nazi rocket scientist, which is why the CIA breaks her out of the bad side of Deutschland, getting her out of those dirty overalls and into some very cute 60s outfits. Vikander also rocks the hell out of some pajamas and sunglasses, half-drunk and dancing and making me forgive her for stealing Jennifer Jason Leigh's Oscar.

Just so I don't completely come off sexist, our lead dudes are also looking good; Cavill with his American agent chic and Hammer with a more austere kind of chic. They both look smooth as all get-out and do the job of making guys like me want to up my clothes & grooming game. So it's kind of like the James Bond movies in that way, making some want to be like them and others want to be with them. (Yeah, I know that was an Austin Powers line, but you know what I mean.)

Solo is more of the Bond in this duo, pulling such slick moves like having champagne brought to his hotel room and then telling the attractive concierge that it would be a shame to drink it alone HINT HINT. Shit, only in the movies and even then, only in the 60s before these ladies found out that they were actual human beings and that's when all the fun ended for my fellow knuckle-draggers. Can you imagine pulling that shit in real life today?! Ay dios mio, there wouldn't be enough mace in the world for the lady you try to make that move with. She'd have to have two mace canisters taped together jungle-style so that once she's emptied the first one, she could flip over to the fresh one and give you the rest of the goods. And you'd still deserve a swift kick in the balls afterward.

Speaking of James Bond, have you seen Spectre? I have and I didn't like it. One thing I'm noticing with each new Daniel Craig joint is that they seem to get increasingly glum but at the same time it's like the filmmakers noticed this so they really tried with this last one to have some humor. Problem is, the humor really seems out of place, like they had no idea of how to blend it well or have it come out more organically. Instead it feels very thought out in a corporate sort-of-way, like they said "at this point we need to have a laugh, because according to our studies..." It feels as fake as when Christopher Nolan tried to become Mr. Warmth with some of Interstellar, which you know to a stiff-upper-lipped Englishman like Nolan is as alien as a Mexican Martian and there you go, I just reviewed two more movies in this one rambling.

But enough of those, let's talk more about this, this Man from U.N.C.L.E. here. I missed this movie last summer because last summer was the summer of Mad Max: Fury Road, and I kinda regret not catching it back then because it would've made a nice change of pace for a couple hours (in between Fury Road viewings). It's not a great movie but it's such a fun throwback, and the whole thing has a mostly chill and breezy tone throughout. It's kind of weird nowadays to see a big studio film released in summer that's meant to be a summer blockbuster with the hopes of starting a franchise, and it all feels very low-key in comparison to what usually comes out that time of year. It's a throwback in many ways; the retro style goes beyond the excellent costume & production design, and by the way, thank the maker that the filmmakers didn't go with some kitschy mocking OMG this is sooo 60s approach.

It isn't about the era so much as it's *of* the era -- and that includes the way the film was made; Steven Soderbergh was originally attached to this film and a lot of this film kinda has a Soderberghian flavor to it. Most of the movie has the restrained look & pace of a film from the time period in which it takes place -- granted, a film from that time period with a little more cinematic style and kick to it. I mean, yeah it's a Guy Ritchie joint, so that means there is the occasional camera trickery that honestly distracts more than adds to a tale such as this one -- or in the case of the final action sequence, totally detracts from the excitement with split screens galore -- but it's still kinda restrained compared to your usual summer fare nowadays. So even if it doesn't always look retro, it certainly feels retro more often than not.

One way that it's restrained is in the back-and-forth between Cavill and Hammer; there is little-to-no raised voices between them; somewhere along the way in filmmaking-land it must've been decided that the best way for odd couples to communicate was to have them yell at each other all the time. It only works half the time in these movies, and the other half it just feels desperate. It makes me think of other buddy movies of the past 10 or 20 years and I wonder if maybe today's audience didn't know what to make of the understated interplay between the leads in this movie.

So many filmmakers were attached to this at one point or another, so this could've gone so many different audience-pleasing ways. They could've had a Black comic relief character who wouldn't stop yelling and freaking out about everything or God forbid they could've gone with some douchebro type like Jonah Hill farting out one-liners while trying not to die of Fat Fuck Obesity every second of his life, turning everything he's in into some kind of almost-snuff film and maybe that's why he gets roles with quality directors like Scorsese and the Coens -- they want to make an almost-snuff film and become even more legendary for doing so.

Speaking of ways they could've gone with this, I remember way back when From Dusk Till Dawn was about to come out, there was an interview in Details magazine with Quentin Tarantino and Juliette Lewis promoting it. In the interview, Tarantino held court at the Hamburger Hamlet and he mentioned the possibility of making a film version of U.N.C.L.E. starring George Clooney as Solo and himself as Illya Kuryakin. I want you to take a moment to think about that, and whatever you think is whatever you think.

Thankfully we were spared all of that and we got Superman and The Lone Ranger instead. Rather than trying to over-yell each other, our CIA and KGB heroes each have their different approach; Solo is mostly amused/bemused by this hulking Russian, and Illya maintains a professional resolve even though he probably can't stand that this Yankee isn't kissing his superior Russian feet daily. Solo is cool because he wants to be, Illya is cool because he has to be. But make no mistake, they're both deadly when they need to be. They don't fuck around when shit's going down, dig?

It's fun to watch them with their constant dick-measuring in nearly all departments (except the actual measuring of dicks department). Speaking of dicks, Hugh Grant is in this movie, and according to former Daily Show host Jon Stewart, he was the biggest one he interviewed. Anyway, among the many non-penises measured is the various gadgets; I'm a sucker for old-fashioned doohickeys in movies used for spying and bugging and spy-bugging and bug-spying and all that stuff. The movie isn't filled wall-to-wall with them, but every once in a while when one popped up it never failed to make me smile. And if it's not gadgets they're tossing at each other with dismay for their partner's motherland technology, then they're giving each other shit about proper fashion choices -- in one case, one following directly after the other. I couldn't help but laugh. They also do something at the end that made me wistful for a time in my life when I actually thought everything was going to be all right between the world superpowers, it was actually kinda beautiful.

I also couldn't help but laugh at how certain big deal moments are pushed to the background, like when one of our guys takes a break from a chase/shootout by stepping inside an unoccupied truck, raiding the driver's lunch, then enjoying a quick bite with some tunes on the radio while chaos is reigning a short distance ahead of him. There's also a torture sequence that is probably one of the few genuinely intense moments in this film -- I feel that the dark stuff doesn't work as well as the light stuff here -- but let's just say that the way the filmmakers chose to close that chapter left me laughing and applauding -- much like Comrade Putin watching Mark Rylance win at the Oscars, except I kept my shirt on because I learned long ago not to do that to my fellow humans.

As mentioned way earlier, this film is based on a television show from the mid-to-late 60s but I couldn't tell you how this matches or measures up in comparison, because I only watched one episode in the middle of the night on Me-TV and even then I wasn't giving it my full attention. All I remember is that the episode only had Illya in it (played by David McCallum from Dogs or as I prefer to pronounce it, The Doggies) and Napoleon Solo (played by Robert Vaughn) was nowhere to be found. Maybe Vaughn was busy working on a movie or pulling some pay raise bullshit. So I can't tell you how close or far away from the source material this film is, but if I had to guess, based only on that one episode I sorta-watched? I'd say it's not very close to it at all.

Eh, that's Hollywood for you, taking source material and making something else entirely different. But because I don't carry the baggage of the old series and I took this film in as its own thing, I liked it -- it was a cool flick to spend two hours with. The bad guys are real motherfuckers who you want to see get motherfucked, and the good guys are likable and you want to see them motherfuck the motherfuckers, and the ladies are lovely -- but more than capable of their own motherfuckery as well.

This wasn't great shakes at the box office, but it did OK and maybe it'll do well enough on video to warrant a sequel, I mean, they blew money on a Zoolander sequel and the original didn't break the bank during its theatrical release either. If they do make a part two, I'd check it out for sure -- I wouldn't pay top evening prices for my ticket but it's definitely got my matinee money. Anyway, shout-out to a newlywed by the name of Kris Wallace who requested that I check this movie out and ramble about it -- so I have and I just did. Thanks for the rec, Kris, and congratulations!

In conclusion, if Putin is bringing the 80s back then that means the 90s aren't too far behind, and I for one am psyched about it.