• Masterminds (2016)

    With an all-star cast and goofball premise, you can’t really expect anything less than hilarious. It’s also directed by the Napoleon Dynamiteand Nacho Libre director.

    The plot is based on a true story about a bunch of rednecks who successfully rob an armored car company and the ensuing high jinks.

    The movie isn’t what I’d call a perfect comedy or anything, but it really gives you plenty to laugh at. The bizarre characters and their oddities are more than enough. There are also some funny situations and oddball antics. I particularly liked how the actual bumbling robbery scene played out. I was laughing out loud and that is rare for any movie these days.

    Where it kind of lost me is how the story took various obvious turns and delved away from the unpredictable and settled for the cliches. I would have preferred to see something radical and hilarious toward the end.

    Before watching this movie, I watched another recent Zach Galifianakis movie called Keeping Up with the Joneses. That movie was a total piece of shit and possibly made this one seem better.

    If you like Napoleon Dynamite-esque humor and you like these actors being wacky, then you will get some enjoyment out of this movie. IT’S FUNNY ENOUGH.

    Rating:


  • Yule Love It!

    Now that it’s December, the Christmas season is upon us. Gifts and movies and eating and decorating and putting kid presents together and white elephants and Christmas lights and freezing nuts off and cookies and egg nog and gingerbread houses and hot chocolate.

    Having worked in retail for a few years, I hated Christmas music that seemed to start earlier and earlier each year and often would just recycle the same 30 songs.

    I’ve gotten over that and Christmas music is a fun part of the holidays again. I’ve put together a playlist with some classics and a few lesser known tracks.

    Have yourself a merry little listening party!


  • Ghostbusters (2016)

    ghostbustersnewWhen there’s something strange and it don’t look good…

    I have been a huge Ghostbusters fan since the first time I removed an Ecto Cooler juice box from my lunch bag as a young lad. The original movie is such a classic that it can be watched at any time and still kill with the laughs. And if I’m feeling ghosty, but I feel like something a little goofier, there is always Ghostbusters II.

    After the announcements started rolling out about this reboot/remake/re-imagining, I got excited that there would be some new ghost action mixed with a fresh new cast of ladies. Yes, there were a lot of naysayers who couldn’t imagine women ghostbusters. I don’t like those people.

    What we got was a sometimes funny, sometimes ghosty mix with a not-so-imaginative story. I wanted to like this movie so much that I’m reviewing the Extended edition in the hope that it is maybe better with 15 minutes added.

    Let’s start with the characters. What characters? There is nothing dynamic or interesting about these characters. The Ghostbusters themselves are really undefined. What makes them who they are? Why do they do the things they do? The only thing propelling them forward, I guess, is Erin (Kristen Wiig) and Abby (Melissa McCarthy) trying to return to BFF status. That and they seem to want to fight ghosts. The villain guy is great, but he isn’t used all that much. Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) is the dumbest dolt hired to be the GBs’ receptionist. It sort of works, but doesn’t hold a candle to Janine’s subtle wit with attitude.

    As the plot opens up, the Ghostbusters assume their roles and the villain works toward opening a vortex to bring about ghoulish armageddon. In typical formulaic fashion, the climax is a big battle with ghosts and then the good guys win and BFFs live happily ever after.

    The Extended edition added some extra character building and funny moments, but it was not enough to save this awful mess of a film. It could have been awesome and a worthy successor to the original, but instead it’s like Sony just caved to all the negative buzz.

    Rating:

    ratingrating2


  • Suicide Squad (2016)

    suicide_squad_posterDC Comics bad guys take on one of their fellow bad guys that was unleashed by the government intelligence officer who assembled the team of bad guys to stop other bad guys. This is pretty lame, even for an anti-superhero superhero movie.

    I watched the “Extended” version and I think I would have liked the un-Extended one better, simply because it would have been shorter.

    Something went very wrong with this movie. The idea itself is not terrible, but the execution went way off track. I love Will Smith, but he should not have been the “main character” in a massive cast of main characters. The whole first act of the movie is spent introducing all the squad members. I honestly don’t care. It should have been focused on Harley Quinn and The Joker with the rest of the squad being backdrop. In fact, I would have been extremely happy if this movie were called Suicide Squad: A Harley Quinn Story. Margot Robbie was great and if this had been her story, it would have been incredible.

    The also had Batfleck peppered in at the beginning to tie this movie to the Batman v. Superman/Justice League movies. Why didn’t they just make the movie the opposite of a Batman movie? Have the squad go after Batman as soon as they are released and have circumvented their control mechanisms. How bad are these bad guys when they just do whatever they are told?

    There are a lot of ways the movie could have been enjoyable, but this is not one of them. DC/Warner Bros is going to have a tough time getting their massive cinematic universe off the ground to compete with Marvel if this is the best they can do.

    Rating:

    rating


  • The Jungle Book (2016)

    junglebookHere we go again with the remakes/reboots/re-imaginings/re-living-the-past/’member-berries. It’s not a bad movie. It’s got some well known characters and the production is top-notch. I loved Bill Murray as Baloo. It’s a classic story that probably was due for an update. Probably.

    At the same time, I can’t say it really captures the essence and free spirit of the animated Jungle Book. I know it’s a different way to tell the story and certainly the live action approach is going to add the realism that the animated one could ignore. But along with the real comes the harsh and there are too many dark scenes. Snakes are fricking terrifying when they aren’t cartoons, OK?

    As I was watching it with my 3 year-old son, I kept wondering how all these remakes would shape the psyche of the new generations. This Jungle Book felt more for adults than for kids. I’m not saying that’s bad, but it seems like the movie studios are shifting from making kid’s movies that are fun for kids to kid’s movies that are targeting man-children.

    I liked the scenes with Mowgli and Baloo: the bare necessities and getting the honeycomb.

    I guess it just reiterates the fact that the classics are still classics and if you want to have fun, stick with the old stuff. It’s where the warm and fuzzies are.

    Rating:

    ratingratingrating


  • I Think We Need A Bigger Boat

    upgradesIt was becoming apparent that our home network was a bit under-powered for all the stuff we stream and the plethora of devices connected wirelessly. The cable modem (Motorola SB6121) was from 3 years ago and the wireless router (Cisco E1200) wasn’t that fancy 4 years ago. The ISP keeps modifying how they pump data through our cable, so older modems, even DOCSIS 3.0 ones, can’t do the full speeds advertised for the upper tiers.

    Thanks to a wicked deal on Amazon, I picked up a Netgear Nighthawk R7000 and CM500 modem. After several hours of configuring while watching the Arizona Wildcats clobber ASU, I now have a modern high speed network. I can now get the full speed available to me from the ISP and I can achieve the same speeds on newer wireless devices.

    In addition to the performance boosts, I’m really liking the new features available: remote access, VPN access, bandwidth usage logs, and robust parental controls.

    After all that, my PS3 Media Server software stopped working. Then I found Plex and it’s about a million times better. It allows me to stream movies and music to my PS3 and other devices.

    Now, I just need to upgrade to a PS4. 🙁


  • Yeasayer – Amen & Goodbye (2016)

    Yeasayer has been one of those bands that you find and you continue to wonder how their fan base never grows any bigger. They have infectious pop songs and crazy world music-infused rock electronic. They’ve done straight rock and reduced synthetic sounds, while maintaining a consistent originality that is hard to find these days.

    I saw them in a little club in 2010 and then again in the same little club this year. Both times, I was blown away at the mastery of their craft. I also loved how some of the songs took on a very different feel when played live. I gained a new appreciation for the bassist, Ira Wolf Tuton, who played almost the entire set on a semi-hollow body fretless bass. At one point, he played the bass solely by fretting with one hand while shaking a maraca with his other hand. Another part had him doing a high up solo that I had always thought was played on keyboard or guitar from the recording.

    Live music digressions aside, this new album is an excellent addition to their body of work. There are some serious gems, from the lead single I Am Chemistry to the dance-inducing Silly Me. What they do best are the harmonious chorus arrangements on songs like Half Asleep and Gerson’s Whistle and I Am Chemistry. This time around, they’ve also added a female vocalist to fill in the frequency gaps and it works very well.

    The instrumental interludes are a bit of a weak point, but otherwise, I think this is a solid album and serious contender for year-end best lists.


  • Frustrated, Incorporated

    imageThe original title of this post was going to be: Thanks A Lot, Shitheads

    I’m trying to stay positive and hope for the best, though. I’m trying to remember that I have kids and I need to set a good example for them. Going off the rails right now would not be good for anyone.

    I’M. FUCKING. PISSED. OFF! There is no silver lining. No happier days on the horizon. The people that thought this was a good idea are selfish, delusional pissants who think that they have been left behind. Well, guess what? You left yourselves behind. You didn’t want to be a part of the system when your team lost 8 years ago. You alienated yourselves. The American dream is there for the taking and if you are going to be lazy, whining complainers who wait for a demagogue to promise the world, then you get what’s coming to you. You get nothing. You’ve been lied to. I can’t fathom how a nation of nearly 320 million people sees only 125 million of them being bothered to participate in their own democracy, and less than half of them picking the winner. That’s less than 20% of the total population, and I’m not even that good at math.

    I’m going to keep an open mind, and I’m going to offer some words of hope in the form of two quotes:

    When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it–always.

         –Mahatma Gandhi

     

    Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “The world’s a fine place and worth fighting for.” I agree with the second part.

         –William Somerset

     

    I also made a playlist:

    https://play.google.com/music/playlist/AMaBXynFnjXWpxFZDDlFp9HxGKK1l8kbT5eN3S_bMaZapzA7VitE5dME0WQwarcm0oR4MtbhOXhEimc-bEG3OPUDY4mldZ9jQw==


  • Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

    halloween5I kinda feel like this one should be called Halloween 5: The Final Night He Came Home. Or Halloween: The Final Revenge.Otherwise, I have no idea that the series was supposed to be done for a 7 years.

    It’s a direct continuation of part 4. Michael Myers is almost killed but gets away and then starts stalking his niece, played by Danielle Harris, who has a telepathic connection with Michael.

    Donald Pleasance as Dr. Loomis is also back, because we always need the guy who can stop Michael Myers, but never actually does.

    This is such a “paint by numbers” horror movie. None of the characters are interesting or worth saving. The telepathic girl says nothing and spends most of her scenes writhing around or being scared. Danielle Harris is not the best actress, but she was young so we’ll let it slide. She’s really good at seeming upset.

    By the time this movie came out, Michael Myers had lost all of “The Shape” menace and hidden danger. He had become a little too iconic.

    Anyway, snore. It’s only a Halloween movie by name. The atmosphere and suspense is nowhere to be found.

     

    Rating:

    rating2


  • Tales From The Darkside The Movie (1990)

    tales_from_the_darkside_the_movieFrom horror masters George Romero and Stephen King comes this horror anthology. The movie starts with a kidnapped boy (Matthew Lawrence) being held by a housewife (Deborah Harry) as the intended main course of a dinner party. The boy attempts to stall the cooking process by reading some stories to the housewife from a big book called Tales from the Darkside that he was given to occupy himself.

    Story 1 – Lot 249

    Graduate student Steve Buscemi reanimates a mummy for revenge against two classmates who framed him for theft. Julianne Moore delivers an epic performance of mediocrity in her first movie role. Christian Slater is also great as the brother of Julianne Moore, who tries to do his own revenge after finding out what his roommate, Buscemi, has done. I like how the mummy kills people with methods explained early on as part of the mummification process.

    Story 2 – Cat from Hell

    An old geezer hires a hit man to kill a cat he thinks is an agent of the devil sent to exact revenge for his pharmaceutical company killing cats during tests. The hit man thinks it’s weird, but takes the $100k payment to do it. You would think it would be over, but the predator becomes the prey and the hit man doesn’t make it, nor the geezer. I like the minimal horror parts, but this story could have been better.

    Story 3 – Lover’s Vow

    James Remar plays a troubled artist with no money, named Preston. After a night of drinking, the bartender is brutally murdered in front of Preston by a gargoyle creature. The creature tells him to promise not to divulge what happened to anyone in exchange for his life. He agrees and picks up a girl (Rae Dawn Chong) as he’s running away. Seriously. They fall in love and have two kids and he becomes a successful artist. Then years later, he tells her about the gargoyle incident and she turns into the gargoyle, as do the children. She rips his throat out while she tells him she loves him but he broke his vow. What a metaphor for marriage. The gargoyle creature FX were laughably hilarious.

    Everything wraps up in glorious fashion and it ends up being one of the better horror anthologies of the olden days. Still, it suffers from the middle story crapfest. I don’t get why someone doesn’t say, “Hey, this one is not that good, let’s do a different story.”

    Rating:

    ratingratingrating2