Sunday, February 22, 2015

The 2014 Oscar-Nominated Animated Short Films

The 2013 Oscar-Nominated Animated Short Films

Me and my Moulton: What exactly was the point of this thing? This Norwegian day-in-the-life film about three sisters and their parents has a few nice slice-of-life moments (the parents' modern-archetecture stools are a pretty good idea), but if there was actually a point to all this, I managed to miss it. These characters exist, and then we're done. Nothing much to it, really.

The Bigger Picture: A strange British piece done in a very odd art style (stop-motion chalk drawings on a wall), this film seems to be about nothing but the fact that two brothers are trying to take care of their elderly mother until she dies, and then they no longer have to do so. I can't really claim I hated this movie, but the more I thought about it, the less I liked it. It seemed to be about nothing more than the fact that your loved ones will die and you will let them down as they do so. Have fun.

A Single Life: And speaking of dour stuff (what the hell is with all the death in the animated shorts this year?), this quick little piece about a magical, time-traveling LP record is actually kind of cute. It doesn't overstay its welcome, it gets the idea across without dialogue, and its ending, dark though it is, is actually kind of funny. I don't know if larger points are on offer here and I just missed them or something, but I didn't mind it overmuch. This year's crop did not cause me to say that terribly often.

The Dam Keeper: Longest of the five offerings, this sweet little Pixar offering is done up in a very memorable art style of artwork-within-artwork, and like the previous short, works entirely without dialogue. There's not a whole lot on offer from the story here, with a pig who is picked on by his schoolmates and a fox who befriends him, but the style and design are enough to pull the movie through, along with the strange, ethereal qualities of the film's danger, a wall of shadowy darkness that spills over the town like fog, kept at bay by a windmill. Someone commented that this design might well have been inspired by the water-pumping windmills in Golden Gate Park, and the more I think of it, the more I think they were probably right. Not one of the great classics, perhaps, but still a nice little film.

And the award for Best Animated Short Film goes to...

Feast: Disney wins again. This rotoscoped short film that I first encountered in front of Big Hero 6 is a lovely, cute little piece about a dog and his owner and the many foods that the dog savors over the course of the film. Maybe I just have a soft spot for dogs (the dog movie won my award last time too), but this film's emotional core is as strong as anything Disney makes. The music, the animation, the storytelling by means of a dog's expressions and actions, this film gets everything right. Sometimes you simply have to reward the obvious heartstring-tugger. Animation is good at such things. And I just really like dogs.

The 2014 Oscar-Nominated Live Action Short Films

And now for something completely different

I didn't go to see the shorts last year, just couldn't find the time for it, and yet I found I missed them. It's useful at this time of year to remember that the Doldrums too shall pass, and that there are good movies on offer even when one has no reason to suspect as much. Top that off with the fact that I have a strong suspicion that next week's venture will be godawful, and I thought I ought to take in some lighter fare before facing up to just what Hollywood has wrought this year.

And so, I offer:

The 2014 Oscar-Nominated Live Action Short Films

Parveneh: It doesn't count as having a surprising plot when you don't have one at all, guys. Parvaneh, an Iranian-Swiss offering, is about an Iranian immigrant in Zurich trying to find a way to send money home to her family without a valid ID card, and the hijinx that befall her along the way. Of course by hijinx, I don't mean a hell of a lot, as she meets a local girl and is dragged around the city all night by her to no real end. The film is interestingly-shot enough, and I suppose in a way it's nice to see movies about immigrants in Europe who aren't met with pure, distilled hostility. But even for a short subject, the whole thing just seems a bit lightweight.

Butter Lamp: By far the weirdest film on offer in the showcase, this French-Chinese collaboration (short films seem to invariably also be foreign, for some reason) consists of a traveling picture studio setting up local people from a village in what I assume is supposed to be Tibet and taking their pictures in front of enormous matte-painting-style backdrops of everything from Disneyland to the Forbidden City. Rather than have a plot, this film relies on atmosphere and the interplay between characters to paint a picture for us, and even has several moments of hilarity, particularly when an old woman begins prostrating herself to the image of the Potala. Most of those I saw this showcase with picked this film, of all of them, as their favorite of the bunch, and while I didn't quite agree, I do admit there's something intriguing about this plotless little piece.

Aya: To quote Roger Ebert, this film is like being on a long bus ride with someone who has needed a bath for a long time. Short subject or not, this lengthy Israeli film about a woman who impersonates a limousine driver and picks up a classical pianist from Denmark feels like it simply will never end, like some dark bastardized cross between Locke and Under the Skin. Boring as all hell and riven with obvious efforts on the part of the cast to ape "meaning" without ever finding any, this thing is the longest of any of the shorts on offer, and should have been the shortest.

Boogaloo and Graham: A charming, if insubstantial little piece from Northern Ireland (who always seems to have an entry in the live action shorts), this film takes as its subject Belfast during the troubles and concentrates on two boys who are given pet chickens by their father. Not much is really done with this concept, but the idea is cute, and its harmless enough, even if the movie seems to be about as consequential as a home video from the 70s.

And the award for Best Live-Action Short Film goes to...

The Phone Call: Yeah, sue me. This is the most "Hollywood" of the films, with recognizable actors in the form of Sally Hawkins and Jim Broadbent (or at least his voice). So be it. A quiet, dour piece about an old man calling a suicide hotline and talking to the woman who works there is, in my mind, the most well-done of all of them. The movie is nothing elaborate, but both of the leads, particularly Broadbent, capture the desperation of such a conversation perfectly well, all without ever getting overly "scripty". It's a close call here, but I thought this movie's capture of the way that conversations like this actually go, the awkwardness and strange asides that come with complete strangers speaking candidly to one another on their worst days, that leads me to give the award here.

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Alternate Title:  Mr. Darcy Kills Everyone

One sentence synopsis:    A poor kid from a council estate is recruited into an international organization of gentlemen-spies to stop a megalomaniac from destroying the world.

Things Havoc liked:  Pickings tend to be slim this time of year. We all know this. We've been through this dance now four times, and entering a fifth, we have all seen what disasters can lie in wait in Doldrums season. Last week alone we encountered the second movie of the year, a shoe-in for the worst of the year list already in the form of a Mila Kunis snore-fest masquerading as a space opera. I do not, as a rule, see movies that I expect to suck, but with the inflexible requirement of a film a week bearing down upon one, it can be necessary at times like these to take risks one might not otherwise take, see movies that smell bad because of a stupid-looking trailer or a formulaic plot. Sometimes, in the darkest periods of the movie calendar, it becomes necessary to take what few glimmers of hope are on offer, the pedigree of a director with a fine record behind him for instance, one like Matthew Vaughn, of Stardust, Kick Ass, and X-Men: First Class, or perhaps the opportunity to see actors one adores, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Michael Caine, Samuel L. Jackson, regardless of the evident idiocy of the project they are appearing in. Sometimes, in a time like this, on the heels of a terrible movie and a disappointing Oscar season, one must take a risk that the film one is going to see may well be garbage, but hold onto the hope that it may, at least, have some entertainment value as garbage.

And when one takes this risk, though I do not recommend trusting to it, one should also bear in mind that there is always, no matter how unlikely, the possibility that the film you have selected under such protest may actually turn out to be something amazing.

Kingsman: The Secret Service, is a living argument against cynicism. It is a stunning, explosive, horrifyingly-violent action-comedy madhouse, filmed with wit and charm and the same grotesque lack of restraint that Vaughn has become a byword for, a movie I had absolutely no expectations for, which left me literally gushing in its aftermath. Maybe Doldrums season broke me, and maybe it's just that I haven't seen a movie this unabashedly fun in more than six months (that's twenty-five goddamn movies, bear in mind), but if this is the sort of thing about which I am wrong, I do not care to be right! Kingsman is a revelation and a masterpiece. I adored it. What the hell else do you want?

I love Colin Firth, though he is not someone I think of when it comes time to cast irreverent action comedies, or at least he wasn't prior to this film. Playing Harry Hart, codename Galahad, a middle-aged James Bond analogue in a five-thousand-pound suit with a cut-glass posh accent and impeccable manners, Firth brings all his Kings Speech/British Reserved charm to a role that involves him, at certain points, performing some of the most showy and violent action sequences I have seen since The Raid 2. If this sounds like something you cannot envision, then you are on the same page I was on not long ago, as I presumed, erroneously, that any action scene involving Colin Firth would have to be some sort of Taken-2-style bad-stunt-double-editing work. And maybe it was here too, I don't know, but the illusion at the very least is perfectly compelling. Firth is on fire in this movie, making his turn in last year's wretched Railway Man feel like a distant memory receding blissfully into the past. The insanities he gets up to over the course of this film would not be out of place in any one of Matthew Vaughn's previous works, all without once letting his veneer of old-world charm drop. It's one of those roles that causes you to never look at an actor the same way again.

Not so Samuel L. Jackson, who has made a career out of roles that fit that very description. Here he plays Valentine, a cross between Steve Jobs and Mike Tyson, a billionaire environmental philanthropist who intends to destroy the world as a solution to global warming. Jackson always livens up the screen no matter what he's playing, but here he plays a lisping martinet seeking world domination and mass death in the best tradition of a Bond villain, a comparison made explicitly several times over the course of the movie. Jackson's character is absurd, but it's consistent across the film, which is a rarity in cases like this, as many actors think that their villains have to continually dial up the crazy to absurd levels to make these kinds of things work. Jackson, a veteran of hundreds of movies good and less good, knows better. Another man who knows better is the incomparable Mark Strong, whom I love dearly, and who takes on a role as "Merlin" that is one part Q, one part drill instructor, and another part crusty-old-badass-who-knows-it-all. If the notion of spending several hours in the company of Mark Strong doing these things does not appeal to you, then get the hell out of my reviews, you tasteless snob.

But while Firth and Jackson and Strong are always awesome, movies like this always fall apart because of their leads, the inevitable unknown young actor who has to play the central role in the coming of age stories that these sorts of things always take the form of. And yet for once, that isn't what happened, because this time, Vaughn somehow found newcomers Taron Egerton and Sophie Cookson, who are given the task of playing Eggsy and Roxy, two newly minted recruits for the shadowy secret service, whose task it is to try and prove themselves against their peers and the usual rote steps movies like this take on. And yet both Egerton and Cookson, particularly the former, are spot perfect in the role. Egerton manages to do the near-impossible by playing a likeable chav (think about that), successfully walking the tightrope between a wide-eyed youngster overawed at his present circumstances (which is usually boring), and a smart-mouthed wise-ass who claims to have seen it all (which is always insufferable). Egerton nails everything he's given, both before, during, and after his transformation into a Kingsman, be it action scenes, drama, humor, or simple quiet dialogue. I have literally never seen anyone pull off a role like this, save perhaps for Chris Pine's turn as Kirk in the new Trek movies, and given that that performance anchored the entire film, it's only fitting that this one does the same.

Kingsman, like Kick-Ass, is based on a comic book by legendary asshole Mark Millar, and yet while I have few good things to say about the man, his insistence on working with Matthew Vaughn ever since the debacle that was Wanted is certainly one of them. Vaughn is in his element here, producing a movie that is grotesquely over-the-top without ever losing a sense of fun, an expertly shot and crafted film that relies on the contrast between good old-fashioned ludicrous ultra-violence and British reserved humor to stage its strongest moments. Stuntwork is flashy and inventive, including multiple sequences of all-out crowd-brawls, and battles involving a female assassin (Algerian Hip-hop dancer Sofia Boutella) named Gazelle who fights with a pair of "blade runner"-style prosthetic legs whose name is taken literally. A thunderous soundtrack featuring everything from Lynard Skynyrd to Edward Elgar, and a colorful visual style that richly paints the scenes of bloody slaughter and allows the audience to drink up every last detail polishes everything off alongside a whole series of hilarious stunt castings and cameos (try and ID the scientist in the opening scene. It took me five minutes to be certain I wasn't hallucinating).

Things Havoc disliked:  All of this is necessary, of course, to cover up the fact that the plot of Kingsman is as generic as it comes, a plot that is no doubt engraved somewhere on a plaque in the old-screenwriter's-home in Beverly Hills. A young kid who has fallen in with the wrong crowd and failed to live up to his potential because of challenging life circumstances must finally "make something" of himself, growing up and becoming a man. I have only seen this particular plot done about six hundred times before, in everything from the aforementioned Star Trek to Millar's own Kick Ass and Wanted. So repetetive is this plot, to be honest, that I could predict, beat for beat, what was to happen in largely every single act of the film, who was to die, at whose hand, and what the results of that death were, who would win what competitions, what characters would turn out to be truly heroic deep down, and which ones would fall by the wayside. Vaughn and the scriptwriters use every trick there is to try and disguise the fact that this plot is entirely derivative of roughly a third of all movies ever made, but there is simply nothing for it. We have all seen this story before. Many, many times.

Final thoughts:   But then again, doesn't that fact make Kingsman all the more impressive? After all, if I wanted to go see original works, I would watch nothing but the most obscure, foreign, indie cinema and leave Hollywood and its directors to rot. That would, however, mean I would not get to have seen Kingsman, the finest pure action movie I have seen in a good long while, and one of the biggest surprises I have ever encountered at the cinema. So well-crafted, so vibrant, so much fun is this movie that the presence of what may quite literally be the oldest story on earth does not detract from it a whit. I adored this film, to the point where I was babbling incoherently about it for hours thereafter, and even saw it a second time just so that a friend of mine would get a chance to bear witness to its awesomeness.

I do what I do because I love watching good movies, but a good movie that comes about where I had not thought to find one is perhaps the best surprise of all. So it was with Cloud Atlas, with Suckerpunch, with Real Steel and Cabin in the Woods and Pain & Gain. I understand if one might be inclined to dismiss Kingsman as a cheap ripoff of Bond or any one of a dozen YA books as that's precisely what I did before I went to see it, but the reality is simply, gloriously, else. Kingsman flat out rocks. Go forth and bear witness. If you've any appreciation for the sheer joy of cinema, you will not regret a minute of it.

Final Score:  8/10

Next Time:  Vampires!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Jupiter Ascending

Alternate Title:  What Goes Up...

One sentence synopsis:    A girl from Earth is kidnapped into a universe of dynastic politics after being identified as the re-incarnation of an interstellar queen.

Things Havoc liked:  Back in 2012, I saw one of the greatest films I have ever encountered, a sweeping, epic opus that went by the name of Cloud Atlas. I loved Cloud Atlas so much that I broke my own review structure when it came time to talk about it, gushing in barely-coherent ramblings about the tapestry of history and the connections between people, or some such. So much did I adore this film, in fact, that I swore then and there that whatever its creators, the Matrix-directing Wachowski siblings, created next, I would, without question, see it, for they had earned as much by presenting something that filled with amazement and wonder. And now here we are, two and a half years later, and what have they given me? Jupiter Ascending. And true to my word, I have seen it.

So what can be said in this movie's favor? Well for starters, the film is absolutely gorgeous. The term "visual director" is one that I've never had much use for (are there non-visual directors out there somewhere?) but if ever it applied to anyone, the Wachowskis would be a strong candidate (as would Wes Anderson). Space in this film is on display in its full Kubrickian majesty, with spaceships and space stations comprised not of the customary phallic or gun-encrusted fare from many modern space films, but spires and sails and organic-looking spindles that waft through the void like the fins of some enormous interstellar whale. The effect is so over-elaborate as to become almost hypnotic, a design archetype that seems to be drawn less from standard movie science fiction, and more from the mysterious and fantastical side of the genre, from sources like Dune or the Barsoom cycle or Warhammer 40,000, with cathedrals of light embossed and imbued with every conceivable enhancement and artistry. The effect is not restricted to outer space either, as scenery, costuming, and everything else positively drips with opulence, hinting at the power, the age, and the decadence of the immense world that the Wachowskis are trying to set before us.

Things Havoc disliked:  As such, it's a great pity that the movie sucks.

Do not mistake, this movie sucks. Hard. It sucks for reasons both familiar and alien, but it sucks all the same, a massive, bloated, festering pile of a movie that despite some interesting ideas, is nothing more than a waste of time. Why is it a waste of time, you ask? Well that answer is rather unfortunately complicated, but it's probably best to begin with Mila Kunis.

You see, Mila Kunis can't act. Irrespective of the circumstances, the project, the tone of the film or the quality of the actors you surround her with, Mila Kunis can't act at all. I can't claim this comes as much of a surprise to me, having watched Black Swan and Oz the Great and Powerful and Book of Eli and half a dozen other things, but I don't believe I appreciated until now just to what degree Mila Kunis' inability to act actually reaches prior to sitting down and watching this movie. Here, playing Jupiter Jones (the name is given a rather handwavey explanation, but still), a Russian immigrant who works with her family cleaning the houses of the wealthy in Chicago, Kunis is tasked with playing the standard fish-out-of-water archetype as she is swept up in events of galactic importance. I don't object to this archetype at all, of course, it's used as often as it is for a reason, but the entire point of the archetype is that the character must grow to master his/her surroundings and seize back control of their own destiny. Kunis plainly doesn't know what to do with this character, reciting her dialogue as though reading it off a cue card, and emoting to the astonishing sights and sounds around her with all the passion of a patent attorney preparing a deposition.  But the biggest problem is that her character remains completely useless throughout the entire movie, bubble-headedly wandering from planet to starship to cathedral to space station like an oblivious extra who got lost on their way to the casting call and stumbled into the middle of a Star Wars knockoff. I can abide many things in a movie, dear readers, if I couldn't I would have lost my mind long ago. But one thing I simply cannot abide is a useless protagonist, and Kunis' Jones is one of the most useless characters I've seen in this entire project, to the point where tertiary characters without names actually accomplish more in the course of the plot than she does.

But while Kunis can't act, and therefore has no idea what to do about this predicament she finds herself in, there are a number of actors here who can, and whose coping strategies at being dropped into a movie this stale are... interesting. Channing Tatum, who has been in his share of bad movies, plainly knows what kind of film he's in this time, and looks and sounds completely uninterested in his surroundings, mumbling his lines as though he's recovering from an all-night bender, and lapsing into half-understandable exposition at the drop of a hat. Given that we have no idea what he is actually talking about, as he throws out casual references to objects, people, and locations we've never heard of, Tatum's dead-eyed mumbling renders it actually quite difficult to understand what in the hell he's saying. Tatum is also tasked with the unenviable duty of trying to portray a romantic relationship with Kunis, with whom he shares absolutely no chemistry, save perhaps for soporific gas. Sean Bean meanwhile, he who always dies (spoiler alert?), does his best playing a character whose motives and relationship with everyone else I was entirely unable to understand, being as the film consists of him being introduced by throwaway comment and then engaging in a lengthy series of about-faces wherein he sheds what little motivation he has in favor of new, equally-confusing motivation. I suspect his hope was that if he confused the audience sufficiently, they might forget he was in the movie. But taking the opposite approach is Eddie Redmayne, a fine young actor who, according to this film, has taken leave of his senses. His character, Balem Abrasax, serves as the primary antagonist (sort of), and Redmayne plays him like a cross between Emperor Palpatine and Al Pacino as Lucifer, alternating between a strained, throaty whisper that sounds vaguely orgasmic, and screaming unbridled madness in the style of Sting-in-Dune. The effect is not precisely menacing, but perhaps Redmayne is taking the Lee Pace approach, reckoning that the only method to survive the movie is to overact to the point where anyone who criticizes you risks being devoured along with the scenery.

That said, Redmayne does at least liven the movie somewhat, something I appreciate when the rest of the film is such a leaden chore. Perhaps Tatum's lack of enthusiasm tainted the whole mix, but for an eye-watering spectacle film that is also a space opera, Jupiter Ascending drags for long stretches of its run-time, as the plot meanders from one meaningless confrontation with one of the evil, self-serving Abrasax nobles to the next. At one point in the middle of the film, Jupiter and her retinue must go to a bureaucratic planet to get her claim recognized officially, a sequence which consists of her visiting department after department (in a clear reference to Brazil) before finally stumbling upon a helpful bureaucrat (played by Terry Gilliam himself, see above) who manages at last to get her papers processed. What is the purpose of this 5-10 minute section? What lessons does the heroine learn or meaningful events transpire? Nothing. We get to watch her watch robots watch bureaucrats shuffle paper, until at length the movie allows us to watch something else for a while. Similarly, an entire wasted series of plotlines concerning the antics of Kunis' extended Russian family back home on Earth feels like nothing more than filler, in the vein of the parents' antics in the Transformers movies, a series of meaningless sequences in which people complain about not having enough money to pay for their video game equipment, which we are being shown in preference to the staggeringly vast galactic civilization that our "hero" is supposedly being enmeshed in. The main villain doesn't even get a moment's screentime for 2/3 of the film, as Jupiter slowly gets hoodwinked by other, lesser nobles, for plots that have nothing whatsoever to do with the main threat, and which afford her neither the skills nor the lessons, nor even the equipment she will need to finally confront the bad guy. And by confront, of course, I mean stand around and watch other people confront him, because Mila Kunis cannot be allowed to take any goddamn action in a movie in which she's supposedly the star!

Final thoughts:   I can't pretend that I didn't know Jupiter Ascending was going to suck. The trailers for this movie looked awful in that wonderfully YA/Twilight-in-Space sort of way that graces a lot of movies released around this time of year, and neither the announcement that it was being pushed back to February, nor the casting of Mila "Needs an Acting Coach" Kunis, filled me with hope as to its qualities. That said, even with that, I remain surprised at just how awful this movie was, a turgid slog of a film, albeit one with pretty pictures, that feels rather like the Wachowskis' dumping all of the characterization and plot details they weren't able to use in the third Matrix movie, due to the need to include seven hundred thousand references to Neo-as-Jesus. If nothing else then, this movie can teach me a lesson about the risks entailed in following directors blindly, even when their last project was as monumentally good as Cloud Atlas was. My policy with this project has been only to see movies that I believe honestly have a chance of being good, and I believe it should stay that way. Lord knows I see enough crap as it is.

And as to the Wachowskis? I would simply suggest next time that they let someone else write their film, as that seems to have worked for them in the past. Otherwise I'm worried their next project may literally include Space-Jesus, save that in this rendition, he will be forced to watch uselessly as other people sacrifice themselves on his behalf before returning to Jerusalem and becoming a carpenter again.

Final Score:  3.5/10

Next Time:  All the King's horses...

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Black Sea

Alternate Title:  Nope Nope Nope Nope Nope...

One sentence synopsis:    A group of jobless submarine engineers try to recover a cache of Nazi gold from a wrecked submarine at the bottom of the Black Sea.

Things Havoc liked:  By now, if you've spent any time following this project of mine at all, you know that I tend to have pretty solid opinions on many of the actors that cross our list. Idris Elba is a pimp. Vincent D'onofrio can't act. Liam Neeson kills people in a growling monotone way too much. While I have not yet had much of an opportunity to opine on the subject of Jude Law, this seems to be as good an opportunity as any to remedy that fact. By and large, and with one or two notable exceptions (Gattaca, Sherlock Holmes), Jude Law sucks. He sucks for the same reasons that a lot of actors suck, not that he has a lack of talent, but that his talent is often misplaced, in Law's case in a series of unwatchable leading-men roles (Cold Mountain, A.I., Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow) where his instructions from the directors seem to have been "be as bland as humanly possible". However, I've seen actors suffering from Leading-Man-Disease (Matthew McConaughey and Ben Affleck for instance) recover with the application of time, eventually no longer young enough to play bad roles and forced, by process of elimination, to play good ones. Usually this changeover is accompanied by the actor in question spontaneously playing roles filled with grit and dirt and lots of stubble, and so it was that while I didn't see 2013's Dom Hemmingway, the trailers for it alerted me that it was probably time to take a look at Mr. Law once again.

Captain Robinson (Law) is a Scottish (I think) deep-sea salvage expert, veteran of many years' employment, now found redundant and sent home with an impressive resume for a skill that nobody is demanding any longer. Fuming angry at having been cast aside, Robinson contracts with a number of other middle-aged-and-older engineers and experts in the field to go after a semi-mythical treasure nestled in the Black Sea, a German U-boat sunk carrying millions of dollars in gold bullion from the Soviet Union back to the Reich. In the time-honored tradition of caper/heist films like this, a crew of misfits and colorful characters must be assembled to accomplish this task, played in this case by a horde of character actors, including one of my favorites, Ben Mendelsohn (Place Beyond the Pines, Animal Kingdom), and the best thing from last year's Most Wanted Man, newcomer Grigoriy Dobrygin, he of the intense, fiery stare, and terse, laconic dialogue. Law, Mendelsohn, and Dobrygin (as well as a host of actors I don't know) all do a fine job with the material, snarling at one another through thick Scottish, Irish, Yorkshire, or Russian accents, exuding both shady behavior and cool professionalism, even as the film goes through its obligatory course, the natural one in this case for hard men trapped in a submarine under any conditions.

And indeed, the best quality this film has is professionalism. Kevin MacDonald, of One Day in September and The Last King of Scotland (and of my first-ever bad review, The Eagle, though we'll forgive him for that) handles this movie with a sure and competent hand, ensuring that the audience knows enough at any given moment as to what's going on without the need to stop and exposit. Everything is well-grounded in enough realistic-sounding engineering and science-talk, true or not, to keep us on track, some of it seemingly thrown in just for atmospheric purposes. Paradoxically, a movie that plays its material this straight can actually wind up being very hard to predict, as the iron-handed foreshadowing of most films that opt to let the audience understand just enough to catch onto the important plot beats, and thereby wind up highlighting exactly what's about to happen (Star Trek Into Darkness had a particularly bad example of this). In this film, a character will mention in a throwaway line that the air inside a wrecked submarine has long-since turned into chlorine gas, or that a cargo sledge being hauled in by a winch has to keep moving or the suction of the bottom sediment will fix it in place, and we simply don't know if these things are going to be important or not. And yet at the same time, unlike films such as Interstellar, the movie doesn't grind to a halt just so the filmmakers can impress us with their homework assignments, be they relevant or not. All the information we receive seems like something these men in this situation might say to one another. This is not as minor an achievement as it might seem.

Finally, submarining is simply one of those professions I will never do under any circumstances, and like the great sub films of yesteryear (Das Boot for instance), this film gets across very, very well why this is so. A nice twist on the old stories told in these films is that there are no depth charges raining down on our heroes from hungry destroyers up above, but all that means is that some of the other 9,816 things that can go fatally wrong when one is in a submarine are finally given some time to shine. Things go badly (it's a suspense movie, did you think everything was going to go smooth?) in the blink of an eye, generally with horrible consequences for all involved, and the crew must deal successively with everything from undersea cliffs and canyons to fire, electrical explosions, and of course, the omnipresent crush of the sea around them. Most thrillers like to pretend that they are keeping the audience in some suspense as to how things are going to turn out, while simultaneously doing all but screaming at them with megaphones that this character or that one is going to make it or die. This film takes the time to build up a character as important only to axe them in a nearly random fashion, simply to show you that it's willing to do so. You kind of have to respect a filmmaker whose approach to making a thriller is that of a hostage-taker trying to prove his willingness to kill to the police. Joss Whedon would be proud.

Things Havoc disliked:  Straight technical drama like this is fine, only someone churlish would ask for more than a good movie about an interesting topic, and yet filmmakers can get greedy sometimes, and this time I'm afraid to report that's just what happened. It's not good enough, you see, for the men to be trapped on a submarine where things start to go wrong. We also have to have conspiracies and psychotics to tide ourselves over.

I mentioned Ben Mendelsohn a moment ago, who is one of my favorite character actors, and like many such character actors, often gets typecast into specific kinds of roles. In Mendelsohn's case, it's usually someone on the edge of a psychotic break, or who perhaps has already had one, but is not letting it show. So it is here, as Mendelsohn's character, Frasier, is a violent maniac, who picks fights with the Russians for what seems to be no reason whatsoever, and is willing to murder people at the drop of a hat. That such people exist is not the point. The plot does not revolve around Mendelsohn being a killer or a psychotic, he simply is established as such, and then we go on our merry way as though nothing happened. I recognize that psychos do not need good reasons to kill people, that's a staple of film if not reality, but unlike every other element of the film this one is telegraphed waaaaay too directly, as Mendelsohn practically paints a message on his shirt in earlier scenes stating "I am an unstable element on this crew who will balkanize everyone by committing wholly unnecessary violent acts." A little setup isn't so bad, but the problem here is that the audience is made aware of this trait quite a long while before anyone on the crew is, meaning we have to spend a good portion of the film simply waiting for the characters to catch up with us.

And then there's Scoot McNairy, of Argo and Gone Girl, who here plays a character I can't even fathom the reason for. A "company man" sent by the organization setting up this little shindig, McNairy's role in the film is to be the obligatory stick-in-the-mud saboteur who complains at every opportunity that everyone is going to die and insists on doing the one thing that the main characters (and the audience) do not want them to do, preparatory to initiating hammer-weighted conspiracies with the rest of the disgruntled crew so as to force the main cast to play along. These sorts of characters (Burke in Aliens being the ur-example) usually serve as walking-comeuppance machines, designed to make the audience feel good whenever something bad happens to them. Fair enough, but in a crew of dedicated hard-asses already established as being willing to kill for their share of the gold in question, all of whom are inside a submarine beneath the ocean where nobody can tell what they are doing, why does anybody put up with this douchebag? Because the plot requires it? Because if they simply off him in the first hour (as I was hoping they would), then the further disasters he will be responsible for cannot occur? Filmmakers take note: you''re not going to lose the audience if the film allows the hard-assed killers to kill in a hard-assed fashion when the circumstances are appropriate. Their very ability to do this without losing the audience is the whole reason you cast hard-assed killers.

Final thoughts:   Like many films on this project, Black Sea is a movie of limited horizons, simple story about men attempting to perform a complex task, no complications, no Gordian plot-knots. I always feel bad not giving these sorts of films better grades, but I'm required here to tell you all what I actually think, and not what I wish I had thought so as to earn more credibility. Ultimately though, I did like Black Sea considerably more than I expected to, despite manifest issues with characterization and over-complicating the plot. Solid submarine films that do not involve World War II or deep-sea monsters are hard to come by, and good ones harder still. If that's your thing, I'd suggest giving it a look.

And even if it's not, trust me, in Doldrums season, it's best to take what you can get.

Final Score:  6.5/10

Next Time:  The chickens from my favorite movie of this project come home to roost.

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Worst Films of 2014

... I have no explanation for what happened here. Perhaps it was that the act of watching these rancid wastes of my valuable time has driven me completely mad, or perhaps I felt the need to counter the lack of effort proposed by these films with some actual effort of my own. Or perhaps I just wanted an excuse to troll you all. In any event, you have all been asking where my worst-of-the-year list is, and now you shall receive it. God have mercy on your souls.

The Worst Movies of 2014... IN SONG!!!

Immense thanks due to Benjamin Allen for his unflagging assistance in coming up with these over the last couple months. And way to live the stereotype.

Note:  Since there seems to be some confusion on this subject, there are links to the music for each song located just beneath the title.  The titles themselves will link you to the reviews in question.

Sung to “Don’t Stop Believing”

Just a movie fan,
Tryin’ to do the best I can.
Although the trailers lied to me all year long.

There was a lot of good
From indie films or Hollywood
But there’s a handful still where it all went wrong.

A critic in a darkened room
Watching films in mounting gloom
Endless piles of cinematic blight, running on and on and on and on...

Bad films
All year
Made me question God’s benev’lance
Left me
Screaming in the niiiiiiiiight

One list
Of ten films...
What the hell let’s do eleven!
Make their
Authors learn to write!

I saw these films, of my own free will
And each one raised an urge to kill
They ranged in quality from useless crap, to film-based crime.

Some made me mad, some made me snooze
And some were just too damn confused
A bad film just never ends, it goes on and on and on and on...

Praised them
Called them all ‘robust and daring’
Is all that I can ciiiiite

But I won’t
Permit them
To get away with audience torture
Time to
Set this year to right!

Don’t stop, Believing!
Just avoid the screening!
Trust me, I would never lieeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Don’t stop! Believing!
Listen to my screaming!
They’ll make you gouge out your eyyyyyyyyyyes!

Don’t stop! Believing!
Hold onto your reason!
Every film here went awryyyyyyyy!
Don’t stop! Believing...      11: Godzilla

Poor Unfortunate Fans
(Sung to “Poor Unfortunate Souls”)

I admit that in the past these films were awful
They weren’t kidding when they whined in ‘98
But now that Emmerich’s gone
We can lead you all along
And use some grainy trailers as our bait. True? Well…

Yes it’s true that I don’t have a lot of filmcraft
It’s a talent that I never have possessed
But I’ve got a lovely staff
Who have shown me on a graph
How to hoodwink money out of the obsessed

Poor unfortunate fans!
In pain! In need!
This one wants to see Godzilla
That one wants to wreck Japan
And do I help them?
No indeed.

Those poor unfortunate fans!
So sad! So true!
They come flocking to the movies
Crying “Kaiju, Toho, please!”
And do I help them?
Why, would you?

We use monsters as a spice
And we’re really quite precise
Seven seconds every hour, that’s the plan
See the trailer’s just a feint
So we can kick them in the taint
All those poor unfortunate fans!

“Come one, come all! See the latest Kaiju film!”

“If I go see your movie, Mr. Director, will I get to see Godzilla?”

“Well there’s certainly a chance that you will! Life is full of surprises! Oh but there’s one more thing. We haven’t discussed the subject of Extreme Digital Cinema!”

“But I don’t want to - “

“We’re not asking much! Just a token, really, a trifle. You'll never even miss it! What I want from you is ALL YOUR MONEY!”

“But without my money, Mr. Director, how will I…”

You’ll get a job. Perhaps a loan?
And don’t underestimate the importance of

Directing films requires lots of cheddar.
And bilking you is what our job is for
So we feel you must be spurred
After all, you’re just a nerd.
And if we pissed upon your face you’d ask for more.

We only shot enough to make a trailer
We’ve got less than ninety seconds in the can
Even if you think it’s wrong
We’ll still treat you as a pawn
Giving people what they want is not the plan

Come on you poor unfortunate fans
Scream and cry! Write a blog!
I’m a Hollywood director
And I haven’t got all day
For I have a piece of crap I have to flog

You poor unfortunate fans!
It’s sad, but true!
I would show you more Godzilla in the 90-minute span
But the film needs human interest if it’s going to show at Cannes
If it’s monsters that you wanted, you can find them in Japan!
You poor unfortunate FAAAAAAAAANS!

10: The Taking of Tiger Mountain

The Same Old Film
(Sung to “A Whole New World”)

China’s banner’s unfurled
Shining, shimmering, splendid
Tell me, readers, now when did
We last make a film this bad?

I will open their eyes
Take them blunder by blunder
Tear this movie asunder
Warn you all to run and hide.

The same old film
A 1950s point of view
Nobody told them no
Or where to go
To find a muse worth stealing

The same old film
Without a single thing that’s new
But as I’m sitting here
It’s crystal clear
That they just made The Green Berets anew
They just made the Green Berets anew!

Unremarkable sights
Indecipherable screaming
Nothing slightly redeeming, just a bad film Sinicized

The same old film
You should just close your eyes
As lively as a cup of tea
No it’s not getting better

I s’pose it’s not bizarre
To see how far
They go to glorify the PRC

The same old film
Not a single surprise
It’s propaganda through and through
Every moment dead letter

Nothing but opera glares
At which to stare
Don't let them share the same old film with you

The same old film
The same old film
That’s where you’d be
That’s where you’d be
To it you’d race
And be debased
If not for me…

9: Draft Day

One Giant Turd
(Sung to “Part of Your World”)

Look at this film
Doesn’t it suck
Who did they think would
Be giving a fuck
Didn’t they know football fans
Don’t care about all this crap

Look at this script
Fifty years old
How many cliches
Can one movie hold?
Watching this film you would think
Wow, it’s a piece of shit.

We’ve got one Jenny Garner too many
And there’s family drama galore
You want football in this?
Go watch cable.

Cause who cares?
No big deal!
Who's this for?

I wanted Hard Knocks in movie form
I came to see, Dennis Leary cursing
Hoping I’d get to see - What do you call those? Oh - Games
‘Will they or won’t they’ won’t get too far
Writers are needed for decent scripting
Making a movie with - What’s that word again? - Skill

Was Reitman drunk?
Faced with a gun?
Did he just spend too long in the sun?
Couldn’t he see?
This film would be
One giant turd

This movie skimps, gives us one glimpse, of Arian Foster
Burstyn and Frank just walked to the bank, with nothing to do.
They thought we could stand, even demand, to see more Kevin Fucking Costner
What you’re hearing
Isn’t cheering
It’s cries of the damned.

There are some things I just have to know
How did the Ghostbusters guy make this shit?
What did they do to make Reitman - What’s the word - Fail?

Fetch me my flail!
For I would love
To rain down blows on them from above
Laughing with glee
Finally free
From this great Tuuuuuuuuuuuuurd.

8: The Expendables 3

I Saw Some Films
(Sung to “I Dreamed a Dream”)

There was a time when films were great
When the shots were crisp
And the action awesome

There was a time when Arnold ruled
And Stallone was the man
And their films were exciting

There was a time.

Then it all went wrong...

I saw some films in times gone by
Films full of gunfire, fights and killing
I watched a thousand villains die
In manners awesome and fulfilling

But over time the movies strayed
Bad films were made and talents wasted
There were no refunds to be paid
Effects and actors both grew dated

Now these films are just a blight
The whole genre torn asunder
They no longer have a heart
Make the actors die of shame.

Expendables once had some pride
The second film was full of wonder
But this time round they barely tried!
And can no longer duck the blame

It seems that Sly just cannot see
That some things just don’t go together
You cannot make these films PG
And then expect them to get better

I had a dream this film would be
A spectacle well worth reliving
A masterpiece to reign supreme!
But this film killed that dream I dreamed.

7: The Monuments Men

The Monuments Men
(Sung to “The Candyman Can”)

Monuments Men! Monuments Men!
Alright everybody, gather round! The Monuments Men are here!

What kind of movie you want? Realistic drama? Slapstic-heavy comedy? War crimes? Anything you want!
We pushed it back to February, and now here’s the Monuments Men!

Here’s a shitty movie
(Here’s a shitty movie)
Yes, we’ve seen a few
(Yes, we’ve seen a few)
With Clooney, Damon, Murray, and a Ballaban too
It’s all a scam
(It’s all a scam)
The Monuments Men
(The Monuments Men)
The Monuments Men is a wretched sappy film that turns your brain to wood
(Turns your brain to wood)

Nazis stole your artwork
(Nazis stole your artwork)
Right out of Versailles
(Right out of Versailles)
But don’t tell anybody, certainly not the allies
Cause that’s a plan
(Cause that’s a plan)
The Monuments Men
(The Monuments Men)
The Monuments Men are a bunch of thieving dicks who’ll fuck your artwork good.
(Fuck your artwork good)

The writers are flakes
Who took too many breaks
None of them at all ambitious
Such a total mess I got suspicious
Wonder if it’s not malicious

Did they find it funny?
(Did they find it funny?)
This malignant team
(This malignant team)
Or was it all a drama meant to tug at the heartstring
Who gives a damn?
(Who gives a damn?)
The Monuments Men
(The Monuments Men)
The Monuments Men was an awful crappy film, that makes Godzilla look good
(Makes Godzilla look good)

Background shots are fakes
And there aren’t any stakes
It all just gets repetitious
Trailer shots were all fictitious
Starts to feel like it’s pernicious

What a total trainwreck
(What a total trainwreck)
Makes me want to scream
(Makes me want to scream)
You might want to run away and pray its all a dream
I’ll understand
(I’ll understand)
The Monuments Men
(The Monuments Men)
The Monuments Men made me doubt a loving god as anybody would.
(Anybody would)
The Monuments Men wasn’t made with any care or even understood.
(Even understood)

The critics ran
The critics ran
The critics ran
(And you all really should)

The critics ran
The critics ran
The critics ran
(And you all really should)

6: Interstellar

(Sung to “Be Prepared”)

I know Nolan's powers of illusion
Are as strong as the Man of Steel's hide
But here in this film, an intrusion
Of plot holes a half-parsec wide.

It's clear from their vacant expressions
The audience is saying their prayers
Were these physics written by children?
And the editors all locked downstairs?

Interstellar, a film made of saccharine
Filled with writing that fails to amuse
A monstrous error, a physicists' terror
Should trigger a seizure, but here it's a feature.

Now Nolan's been thwarted
By a screenplay so torpid
It requires assistance from booze.
Thus a film without question declared:

"Unprepared? It's not unprepared! What's wrong?"

"How about that crop blight they go on about?"

"What's wrong with that?"

"They forgot about it halfway through the movie! And never resolved it in the climax!"

"Who cares?! It's science fiction, we don't need logic! You're just a hater! Hater! Hater! Na na na na na!"

"Idiots! Did you even listen to them talking about quantified love?"

"But love is - "

" - NOT AN ASPECT OF ASTROPHYSICS! It's decisions like this that ruined Dark Knight Rises!"


"Well the haters can hate all they want to.
But at least this one won't leave you bored!"

It's true, they found some shots worth showing.
But five minutes of Cosmos has more.

And speaking of Neil deGrasse Tyson,
I know he's a space devotee.
But given his praise I must ask him
'What part of this film did YOU see?!'

So prepare, for a script full of corn cobs
Be prepared, for a science-free sham
Disastrous pacing,
Illogic embracing,
Calamitous writing,
Chris Nolan inciting
A flop, undisputed, rejected, refuted
By legions of pissed would-be fans!
Interstellar: Stupidity squared

I’d be more mad if only I cared
      5: Snowpiercer

Let Them Know
(Sung to “Let It Go”)

The light shines bright in the screening tonight
Not a viewer to be seen.
A movie brought from Korea
And without one decent scene

The critics howl about its virtues from on high
What was it they saw? Or did they just lie?

Dont let them in, don’t let them see
This shitty movie, this cultural debris
Warn everyone, they all must know
That this film blows!

Let them know!
Let them know!
They can’t lie about it anymore!

Let them know!
Let them know!
Lock and barricade the door!

I don’t care
What the critics say!
Let the curtains fall.
Snowpiercer should not see the light of day

Its stunning how bad writing
Makes Hurt and Evans suck.
Though the film has pretty pictures
I just couldn’t give a fuck!

The plot’s as flimsy as bamboo
The pacing sucks, the sound mix too.
The editor’s an absentee
Kill me!

Let them know!
Let them know!
Bong Joon-Ho made this while high

Let them know!
Let them know!
There can be only one reply

Lock it up
Throw the key away
Ship it to Iran…

The bad guys sound like stupid versions of Ayn Rand
They watch their soldiers slaughtered all while screaming “Just as planned!”
The critics think this challenges our sense of Class.
They mean this earnestly. They all can kiss my ass!

Let them know!
Let them know!
It’s like watching the second Tron.

Let them know!
Let them know!
The whole film’s a monstrous con.

I’ve had more
Fun with Michael Bay!
You can mark my words
If this wins awards there’ll be hell to pay.

4: Gone Girl

(Sung to “Paparazzi”)

It drew in a crowd
And the critics were loud
Got an A+ review
So what else could I do?
Paid the ticket price
Hoping to see something nice.

Affleck and Pike
Were as good as I’ve seen
Even managed to like
Tyler freaking Perry
It looked awful nice
Calculated to entice
Pulled the wool over my eyes

Would have been a fan, but then you pulled this bullshit on me:
Raving misogyny!
Every single woman in the film is batshit crazy
Raving misogyny!

I might not even mind
But when the men are saints, I draw the line
Faking rape and framing men for murder: oh how edgy!
Raving misogyny!

And the newswoman shrew
Psychotic in-laws
What’s a poor man to do
But find jail-bait
Cause Affleck’s just too nice to hate

The media’s dumb
As I’d never have guessed
And they make his life hell
As do all of the rest
Of the imbeciles
Hypocrites with brittle smiles
And then there’s the psycho wife!

Masterwork of acting wasted on this bullshit hackneyed
Raving Misogyny!
This movie’s so bad, it reads like MRA fantasy
Raving Misogyny!

You’d have to be blind
To not see what this movie has in mind
It’s enough to get me talking about patriarchy!
Raving Misogyny!

This script reads like AM radio
Yet critics performed felatio
Called it - 'second to none'
Some even ranked it number one!

I’m not sure this film is bad so much as makes me angry
Raving Misogyny!
I can’t praise a film where every woman is a harpy
Raving Misogyny!

The one girl who is fine
Gets promoted to guy and told to whine
I don’t go to films so 4-chan can get dropped upon me
Raving Misogyny!

3: The Judge

Don't See The Judge
(Sung to “The Mob Song”)

You’re not safe while this film plays
It will stalk you in the night
Set to rend your brain to putty like a flesh-consuming blight
It’s a film whose very presence gives you Hepatitis B
So it’s time to listen to my blog, it’s time... for... you... to... flee!

In the dark, in the night, in the basement of a studio
The writers had an orgy with Cliches

In their lair, of despair, they wrote teenage-level screenplays
Filled with symbolism they thought would amaze

It’s The Judge! It’s a film, made of stupid
One that smashes your brain to a smudge

Hear the audience groan
As they whine, bitch and moan
Till they’re dead! Good and dead! Don’t see The Judge!

“No! I won’t let you make Duvall look this bad!”

“You just don’t understand art! Lock up all the negative critics! We can’t have them running off to warn the audience, now can we?”

“Let us out! And stop casting Vincent D’onofrio!”

“We’ll draw the audience in with Robert Downey Jr! Who’s with me?!”

Find a rock, catch a plane
Keep away from any movie house
That dares to play this awful pile of shit

Run and hide, pray to God
Hope the trailers never find you
If you have to stoop to arson, we’ll acquit

It’s a film twice as bad as The Eagle
Filled with trope-laden hack-written sludge

Heed my words, do not go
Or you shall, come to know
Just how much a film can blow

“We’ll blind the critics with symbolism and rake in the box office receipts!!!”

“No! I have to warn the viewers! This is all my fault! I praised Wedding Crashers and now Dobkin’s gone completely mad!”

I don’t like, when a film
Treats me like a mental patient
One that shits on me and tells me that it’s fudge

All the trailers were lies
And if I ever see these guys
I’ll re-enact Lord of the Flies!
Don’t see The Judge!

“I knew it… I knew it was foolish to get my hopes up. It would have been better if Duvall had retired after Crazy Heart.

“My god, this film is awful! Embarrassing! And they wasted Billy-Bob Thornton! Warn the audience! If it’s crap like this they release, then I’ll give them a piece of my mind! Who’s with me?!”

“Write whatever crappy dialogue you like, but remember, MORE SYMBOLISM!!!”

I will not stand aside
While they peddle films this rancid
Call me crazy or just say I’ve got a grudge

It’s the same, tired song
And it’s two hours too long
A film where everything went wrong!
Don’t see The Judge!

2: The Railway Man

I Will Make Railway Man Just For You
(Sung to “I’ll Make a Man out of You”)

Let’s get down to business
To distort the truth
Make the Killing Fields
As done by, Don Bluth

It’s the saddest script I’ve ever read
But you can bet before we’re through
I will make, Railway Man, just for you.

Saccharine as soda
And no truth within
Lure them with the trailer
And we’re sure to win

We’re a spineless, hack, pathetic lot
And we haven’t got a clue
But we’ll make, Railway Man, just for you.

The writers don’t know what to do
Just a pair of guys who blew me
Now they wrote me up a script that’s dull as sin

The audience is half-asleep
Already demanding refunds
Box office receipts are starting to look grim

(The Railway Man!)
Our history just will not deliver

(The Railway Man!)
It makes the characters great buffoons.

(The Railway Man!)
We watered down everything that happened
You’ll find better acting with Rocket Raccoon!

The critics are all coming
Soon they will arrive
Can’t we pay them all off?
So we might survive?

All we did was buy cocaine and whores
With this flop, we might be through
Cause we made, Railway Man, just for you

(The Railway Man!)
Who knew this film would make critics shiver?

(The Railway Man!)
We thought the subject made us immune

(The Railway Man!)
This movie wasted Firth and Sanada
It could have been written by drunk, stoned, baboons.

(The Railway Man!)
We promised things that we can’t deliver

(The Railway Man!)
We wrote this script in an afternoon

(The Railway Man!)
We couldn’t handle a god damn war crime
There’s been better plots in Daffy Duck cartoons!

And the number one worst movie of 2014 is...

1: Under the Skin

(Sung to “Hellfire”)

Oh great Roger Ebert
You know I am an Indie fan
Of my ventures I am justly proud

Et tibit pater

Oh great Roger Ebert
You know my tastes are better than
The common vulgar weak licentious crowd

Quia peccavi nimis

Then tell me, oh Ebert
Why I saw this horrid film
Why ScarJo did scarify my soul?


Not film but, a war crime
the editors were barely there
the run-time spiraled out of all control!

Like fire
Why did I sit therein?
There’s no plot
Or acting

Its not my fault (Mea culpa!)
I’m not to blame (Mea culpa!)
Its that Johansson girl. Avengers set the stage (Mea maxima culpa!)

Its not my fault (Mea culpa!)
T’was casting’s plan (Mea culpa!)
They made me hope so much, I paid the ticket maaaaaaaan!

Protect me, Oh Ebert!
Please tell me that my cellphone works
Don’t let time stop and imprison me here
Destroy John Glazer!
And let him make Asylum Films!
Or else annihilate his whole career.

“My General, the reports are in, the critics loved it.”
“They called it absorbing and mesmerizing. Said they wanted to cheer. Best film of the Venice festival!”
“But… but how? It… Never mind. Get out, you sycophant! I’ll show them! I’ll show them all if I have to incinerate Great Britain and hang Glazer from Big Ben!!”

Dark Fire!
Please say it can begin!
Send me to
The pyre
Just not Under The Skin

(Kyrie Eleison)
Have no mercy on him
(Kyrie Eleison)
Save your mercy for me

I do not fear Hell
I fear

Thank you, everyone, for reading along with this lunatic project.  I hope you've found something useful over the course of these reviews, and that just maybe I've been able to provide a bit of amusement here and there.  Next week, we'll start the process all over again for another year at the movies, a year of Star Wars, Avengers, of Indie darlings and thunderous disappointments.  Another year full of promise and hidden danger.  Another year of the movies.

I'll see you all there.

The General's Post Summer 2018 Roundup

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