Solar Eclipse Review

As August trudges into its third week, it’s becoming more and more clear that any semblance of quality has long left us behind for the summer. This rings true in yesterday’s Solar Eclipse, the latest from the sky, which has given us monumental classics in the past, such as clouds. But this new phenomenon from the above atmosphere rehashes elements we’ve all seen and attempts to package them to the masses as something new and exciting.

The Moon (whom you may remember from night) makes a rare, and dare I say unwelcome, daytime appearance in this spectacle which this reviewer found to be out of character for the C-Grade celestial body. This Lunar hasbeen then proceeds to inch its way in front of the Sun and remains there for what feels like an eternal two minutes and forty seconds. The result of this over-hyped anomaly being a shroud of darkness that covers American soil.

Of course, the Solar Eclipse has already amassed a sizable amount of interest from the hoi polloi. Slack jawed mobs couldn’t be more excited by the prospect of of everyone’s second favorite sky-ball receiving some day play. It might be just under three minutes of novelty air time for the space rock now, but what next? Five minutes? An hour? As far as we know, this may be a marketing ploy to boost the reputation of the Moon and gauge public interest. Would Millennials care if they did away with the Sun all together? Not likely.

When I was a child the Sun was admired – treasured. The Sun represented good, American ideals. It’s a star that pulled itself up by its bootstraps and worked hard to make it in this industry. And how is the Sun portrayed in this Solar Eclipse? Why, as the villain, the evil tyrant, only there to be stomped out by the Moon. Yes, the Moon is certainly the satellite of the new generation, justified in taking that which he hasn’t earned: the position of our dear friend, the Sun.

So keep your fidget spinners, your dabbing, and your Moon, kids. I’m sticking with America’s Sun, thank you very much.

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Why Ash Ketchum Never Ages

“Why does Ash Ketchum never age?” is the most burning question on the internet pertaining to the Pokémon anime, right after why Ash never has a girlfriend and why Ash never  wins.

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I came across a few theories in my research for this post that attempted to give explanation to the character’s fountain of youth: One being that Ash was blessed with eternal childhood by Ho-Oh because of his childhood awe of the Pokemon. Another theory is that thing where the character is actually in a coma and imagined their entire adventure, which is a really boring and unimaginative idea that can be applied to any narrative and I’m still shocked whenever I see people still bring it up.

But I actually have the answer to Why Ash Ketchum Never Ages: Because… he’s a cartoon character.

Alright, maybe that’s sucking all the fun out of the question, but it’s true. If you look at other decades spanning animated TV shows like The Simpsons, Arthur, South Park, Scooby-Doo, the characters don’t age. Or they revert in age, if you count A Pup Named Scooby-Doo.

But then why do people only wonder about the agelessness of the the famous Pokemon trainer? Bart Simpson never ages and I’m not inundated with a YouTube homescreen of videos wondering why.

We want Ash to age because we’ve aged. We’ve all taken the exact same journey he has through the video game, which does an excellent job of making the player feel like they’ve grown.

As you progress your Pokemon get stronger and they physically change in appearance, you become better and catching and battling Pokemon, you leave a small town and discover big cities and caves and forests and mountains, and when you reach the end you feel like you’ve grown beyond the small town boy you were at the beginning. Ash’s eternal pre pubescence feels out of place in a story that intrinsically is about growing up.

“Why Ash never wins?” follows the same logic. We’ve become the Pokemon League Champion a handful of times and Ash regularly forgets type advantages. Although I think he has a better chance of becoming a Pokemon Master than actually reaching eleven. If he’s never going to have a birthday at least give the kid a win.

Top Ten Favorite Movies of 2016 (Feat. SpongeBob)

The movie season doesn’t end until the Oscars air, making my 2016 Top Ten list still super relevant and topical. So here’s my list and a few words about each film. And maybe some real mild spoilers for some of the films.

10. Kubo and the Two Strings

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The beauty of this film is obviously the first thing that anyone will talk about because maybe it’s not the strongest narrative, but it is one of the best movies I’ve seen take on the scope of an epic in the average running time of an animated film and pull it off. It’s a very simple story existing in this massive world the audience feels a part of. It’s also a film that follows your basic good and evil storyline and delivers a wholly creative and satisfying end.

9. Hell or High Water

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A “get in, get out” straightforward neo-western that’s too much fun to actually win best picture. While it at some points haphazardly swings at a theme, it does strike gold on occasion, really legitimizing what had every right to be just a fun cops and robbers flick.

8. Manchester by the Sea

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Manchester by the Sea plays its drama like mystery, making the audience the detective and offering amazing performances as lil’ clues. It’s a simple story of grief, and characters moving through life after loss, expertly written. A conversation about selling a boat becomes as intense and captivating as any thriller.

7. Moonlight

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Moonlight feels like a classic, and is my pick for pretty much every category it’s nominated for. Every shot in this film you see and feel from the protagonist’s perspective, which is no easy feat as the movie takes place at three vastly different stages in his life. It tells a love story that you feel every moment of through every person who worked on this flick. This is the kind of movie that already feels like a classic. A film people will go back to and ask, “How did Moonlight do it?” Because Moonlight does it all.

6. Elle

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This movie is so good it makes me think about everything I do. It’s a tough movie to talk about as a man, but it’s certainly one to reflect on. Every man in Isabelle Huppert’s life displays aggression, some broadly and others in simple actions. Everything is different in the world of a rape victim. Every interaction and decision is different. It’s this realism combined with the well played “who done it” elements that really make this movie.

5. Zootopia

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I don’t think I’ve seen a mystery film as succinct and relevant as Zootopia. Disney builds upon its ability to construct great stories, memorable characters, brilliant world building and weaves it all into a genre film. I’ve rewatched this one the most partly, I think, because of the perfectly fast pace and partly because I just want to be back in Zootopia.

4. Don’t Think Twice

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I think I laughed as much as I cried while watching Don’t Think Twice. It’s rare to find a film with an ensemble cast where you care just as much about every character and their story plus the larger story all these characters play into. It forces you to fall in love with this group and then understand why it must be destroyed.

3. Hunt for the Wilderpeople

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I became a massive Taika Waititi fan right before this movie came out and my love was only enhanced. I guess you could describe this movie as an action buddy comedy, but that genre doesn’t have very good association. It’s like those old, old trailers, “You’ll laugh! You’ll cry! You’ll be on the edge of your seat!” I don’t think there are many films that can pull all of that off anymore, but if there is Hunt for the Wilderpeople is the shining example.

2. Swiss Army Man

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Swiss Army Man is the weird movie I wish more people were recommending. The Lobster is a movie I heard a lot about this year, but while The Lobster makes its weirdness alien, Swiss Army Man invited you into its weirdness, paying off its more than fair share of farts in a meaningful and heartbreaking manner. You will cry at a fart.

1.Sing Street

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I’ve heard Sing Street described as a “feel good movie” so many times, even though this movie does not end on the happiest note and I think it’s because you can strongly compare it to another musical that came out this year about making it in an artistic field. But what Sing Street does is perform this fucking magic trick, where the weight of success seems to be heavier and at the same time less important. The characters in Sing Street might actually die if they don’t Make It, but all we care about at the end of the movie is the love we feel between the three characters on the screen. This other musical posits that you can choose love or success, but Sing Street knows that our relationships make us better artists.

I Watched a Fast & Furious Movie Everyday for a Week

It was starting to feel like something I was missing out on. It wasn’t until the sixth sequel was released until I found out this was a huge blockbuster franchise that people saw and talked about and shared opinions like, “Oh, it really doesn’t get good till the fifth one.” I wanted to have opinions like it doesn’t get good till the fifth one, too! And the more I heard about Fast and/or Furious the more I realized I needed to dive deep into this tritan of summer cinema nouveau (AKA Vin Diesel’s pecs) and rub my greasy pop culture addled op-ed (AKA my penis) all over it.

Day 1 – The Fast and The Furious (2001)

Going in I didn’t know much. I could tell that the cars went fast and that furious was personification. I knew Vin Diesel was in the series, and that he probably got the job based on his name alone. And I was pretty sure The Rock showed up at some point but I wasn’t sure.

The flick starts by reminding us it’s 2001 with flying chrome graphics and generic hip-hop. Every scene is bathed in reds and oranges, giving it that hottest day of the year vibe.

I previously knew Vin Diesel from The Iron Giant and Guardians of the Galaxy, where he shows off a specific set of acting skills, but The Fast and the Furious is where he sets himself apart, since every character is the exact same and he plays that character the best. Diesel plays Dominic Toretto (it should be the other way around, right?), a tough guy who loves street racing. There’s his sister is Mia, a tough girl who loves street racing. His girlfriend, Letty, is crazy about street racing, but watch out she’s pretty tough. His best friend is Jesse, he’s a street racer with a bit of a tough guy edge.  And finally Brian, the undercover cop who knows a thing or two about racing cars, but can handle his own in this underground world of crime due to his overall tough demeanor.

Continue reading “I Watched a Fast & Furious Movie Everyday for a Week”

M-I-C-K-E-Y-M-O-V-I-E: Why We Don’t Have a Mickey Mouse Feature Film

A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine sent me text:

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Which is the kind of question I usually pretend someone asked me and then enthusiastically explain it to the corner of my bedroom.

But now I have a blog, so we’re all in on this mild insanity. Continue reading “M-I-C-K-E-Y-M-O-V-I-E: Why We Don’t Have a Mickey Mouse Feature Film”

Spider-Man Does Nothing: Let’s Talk About Marvel’s In-Movie Trailers

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I think I created this blog at one point to talk about movies and that never really happened, so let’s give it another shot.

Here’s a thought I had on Captain America: Civil War that was a bit longer than a tweet, and yes there will be spoilers below this point.

One of the bigger criticisms of the Marvel films is that the studio no longer lets them stand on their own. Civil War being the latest example of this which feels less like Captain America 3 and more like Marvel Adventure 13, with each new movie relying more and more on the ones that came before it and giving you preview of future movies to come. These bits used to be relegated to a post credits sequence and were always looked forward to.

But then, Avengers: Age of Ultron happened, featuring a now infamous scene of Thor taking a quick vacation from the plot to lay pipe for some other Marvel movie (Thor 3? Avengers 3?) we’ll be seeing a few years down the line, which involves Thor grabbing his buddy Stellan Skarsgard and heading to a remote cave where he takes a bath and sees the infinity stones, then hops back into Age of Ultron.

My 100% guess for why this scene exists is that Marvel realized they couldn’t make two to three more movies with a rock McGuffin and so put it on Joss Whedon’s shoulders to quickly give some infinity stone weight and explanation to Earth bound Marvel characters.

There were rumors that one of the reasons Whedon left Marvel was because of his lack of control over Age of Ultron. And with scenes like Thor’s bath time it’s clear why. But it didn’t have to be that way and Civil War gives us a look at what we could have had in place of the exposition jacuzzi.

Spider-Man adds nothing to the story of Civil War. He doesn’t affect the story, he doesn’t affect the characters and he doesn’t go through any significant change of his own. He’s introduced for a fight and then he’s gone. Everything he does is clearly a setup for Spider-Man: Homecoming, but now I really want to see Spider-Man: Homecoming. Every scene he’s in is fun. The character is charming and the way he interacts with the other MCU heroes is exciting. When Marvel charged the Russos with the task of setting up future Marvel films they made it fun to watch.

Black Panther, too! Ultimately does not add much to the story as a whole. His goal is to track down Bucky, and when he finally does, he overhears some stuff that changes his mind. But was interesting as hell, well performed, had an original fighting style that looked like nothing else in the MCU. These characters are essentially back door trailers, but they’re effective trailers.

Since we don’t know the payoff to the Thor/infinity stones set up yet, it’s hard to suggest a better way it could have been done. But Whedon did know the end goal, and instead of working out something better, he shoved the Marvel sanctioned scene into a space it did not belong and then stood behind confused and upset viewers going, “I know, right?”

This is how Marvel is going to be making films now. Setups and payoffs overlapping each movie. You’re going to have to eat your vegetables without getting dessert for a few years. So, you can be Whedon, shoving the broccoli down our throats, or you can be a Russo and make such a well thought out meal, you don’t even realize you’re getting your veggies.

 

Thanks, Osborne.

After thinking I had hit snooze on my alarm, I woke up an hour later than I wanted to and then found out if I didn’t catch the bus in one minute then I would be late for work, and I really didn’t want that half point so I threw on my costume and ran out the door. It must have been the first day in years I didn’t shower and I could feel it. The sweat from the previous day and the night before covered my layered my skin and my hair, matted and greasy, only got worse as the eleven hour work day went on. At some point in my morning I realized I had forgot my invitation for the Osborne Dancing Lights launch party which started an hour after my shift ended. I took the bus home after work, met Nora and Anastasia at Vista, took the fastest shower and caught an Uber to Hollywood Studios.

And then my bad day was over. Standing in the middle of the Streets of America, where all you can see is Christmas lights that cover every inch of every building and fill every peripheral was an incredible experience. I’ve never seen anything like this display that dances to songs like Little Saint Nick and What’s This. I spent the night staring up and the colors and the snow and drinking hot chocolate and running into friends I saw. It was a sudden and welcome jolt of full body holiday spirit, and my only regret is that Marina wasn’t there to share it with me. I saw a couple holding each other and watching the show and the snow and hearing the music, I said out loud, “Fuck, this is romantic.”

When people ask me about my DCP I will bring up the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights. They truly warmed my cold frozen heart. It’s Christmas now, mother fucker.