Monthly Archives: March 2019

Movie Review: Law Abiding Citizen

Image result for law abiding citizen movie poster free use“I’m gonna pull the whole thing down. I’m going to bring the whole f****** diseased, corrupt temple down on your head. It’s gonna be biblical.”

This film’s aggressive.

Law Abiding Citizen is not for the people who see the world as black and white but rather a collection of grays. It is for those who seek the values of justice and understand the moral quandaries of the system, the choices professionals have to make every day for the greater good. What if those decisions weren’t made for the correct purpose? What if those compromises were made for personal gain, for their own self-preservation? What if the whole system was corrupt and if it was, would you want to see it torn down?

Director F. Gary Gray starts this one suddenly. Clyde Shelton’s family is torn from him. He survives the attack but lost his life.

Life is often who we surround ourselves with. It loses meaning when they’re gone.

Clyde was just like one of us, a law-abiding citizen. He put his faith in the institutions we surround ourselves with, to see justice done but justice is not blind. The system fails Clyde. Clyde is back to make it right.

I finished Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix yesterday and many of the themes there are present here. The criminal justice framework is a structure put in place to keep people calm, to give them the illusion of safety, to keep order but they don’t have control anymore than you or I. They are schemers, as an infamous man once said. The foundation is corrupted with politics and outside interests. It is no more a sanctuary than anywhere else. You can buy your way out of it. There are those who are above the law.

Someone needs to hold them accountable. Sometimes, vigilante justice is justice. Rogue agents cannot be controlled, cannot be bought, cannot and will not waver. They are ardent disciples of virtue. Their methods are not condoned. They will be hunted but sometimes they are the heroes we deserve.

Clyde takes on that mantle and a lot of what he believes I believe to be true. The path to correctness, to punishment for the wicked, should be straight and clear. It is not and I don’t believe that makes me some terrible person to buy that. There are always outside forces at play. Those who practice the law should be in it for the right reasons: to see things made right. Many are not and we see that in prosecuting attorney Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx), a man motivated by his own portfolio and cushy conviction rate. His priorities are in the wrong place and his arrogance is insulting. He has lost his way. He has misplaced the role he is meant to play. He has bought into the politics and forgotten to keep his eye on the ball.

The film paints Gerard Butler’s Clyde Shelton as a villain, a man capable of horrid cruelty, but also makes sure to highlight his principles and what he stands for. This is not a madman. This is a dedicated individual who intends to teach Rice a lesson. Gray revolves his production around the right character. Many before and after him will write a similar script and dampen it by highlighting the wrong facets.

Shelton is well-prepared, methodical and precise. He is by far the picture’s principal member and when he leaves the eye of the lens for too long, you can feel the film drop a little. He’s intriguing and debating a proficient argument, making us consider our longstanding beliefs. Rice is a pawn through which the lesson is taught but our interest is not in the pupil. Students don’t pass on education. Teachers do. Rice is there to show the transformation, to show an educator’s finished product.

We get to see the fusion of Clyde, mere mortal and puppet master. He’s behind bars, locked in a cage and still pawns are being moved off the board. He can’t be stopped. He’s on another plane. What is it he knows that we don’t?

Law Abiding Citizen has a lot to say and sadly not much time to say it. If I was going to lay a critique at its doorstep, it would be a grisly, principled film ends too neatly. The third act really leaves much to be desired. A villain who at times seems effortlessly written struggles to keep the seesaw balanced with such an obnoxious counterweight in Rice on the other side. Not much time is spent on his moral dilemma. In fact, he seems stubbornly obtuse to even considering he made a mistake. There just isn’t a lot of mental activity going on when Butler leaves serve and that leads to periods of stagnation that temper what could have been a much stronger resonance.

I do not critique television (yet) but just to give you an idea of what I’m talking about, I’ll briefly discuss Marvel’s Daredevil.

The first and second seasons are strong, both showcasing capturing antagonists in Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin and Jon Bernthal’s Punisher. However, the show is limited due to a lack of character immersion in Daredevil himself. This is not on Charlie Cox, nor is it on Jamie Foxx in this production. An actor can go off script, sure, but can rarely demonstrate unrestricted range without a story which gives him an opportunity to. Daredevil ends up being the least interesting character in his own show.

The third and final season is easily the best because the studio and crafters introduce Daredevil’s own inner turmoil in a more expansive way, filling up a canvas that was half beautiful, half lightly trodden, perfecting a balance that was never quite there in its two previous predecessors. Daredevil was more a plot pusher than a fleshed out enigma and finally witnessing the studio add that last evasive piece does bring fulfilled resolution.

And it’s possible Rice doesn’t feel guilty about anything that transpires. After all, he didn’t kill anyone but the idea that any of the moral quandaries associated with the situation never arise in someone who is portrayed as rather intelligent is a bit of a headscratcher. I can think of three specific scenes where the opportunity was scratched like someone might poke at a lottery card but not investigated further, only hinted at. I’m all about hints. Hints are for the wise, for those who pay attention, who notice the details. Some things should not be hinted at and this is an example of someone and something getting too clever for their own good or perhaps not clever enough.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (HerTakenCaptain America: Civil WarDeadpoolAvengers: Age of Ultron)

80-89  It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The WorldThe 40-Year-Old VirginThe ConjuringSinisterOlympus Has Fallen)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Ip Man 2Ip ManKong: Skull IslandThe InvitationHush)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (2 Fast 2 FuriousDoctor StrangeJohnny MnemonicJason BourneSuicide Squad)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The Fast and the FuriousBrooklyn’s FinestDeath RaceWind RiverTommy Boy)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No TalesPower RangersUnderworld: EvolutionBatman & Robin)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (High-RiseMost Likely to DieIndependence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturion)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The SnowmanAvalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe Visit)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotage)

My score for Law Abiding Citizen: 80.

Law Abiding Citizen is easily my favorite Gerard Butler role and it’s not close. I don’t watch a lot of Butler’s productions, mostly because many of them seem to involve a continuous character that doesn’t require a lot of expertise. Butler essentially plays B-role action hero, like Jason Statham and with similar results: good for some chuckles and lighthearted fun but not particularly lasting.

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Where Are You?

I sense you every day

Sneak a peek at every smile, knowing it might be yours.

I can feel your auburn hair brush past, watch as it flows behind you, riding along the speed of your step.

You always have a place to be.

I just wish I was one of them.

Your laugh, that splendid melody, that joyous sound.

I rehearse it in my head daily

‘fraid I’ll lose it like I’ve lost everything else.

If happiness was a sound, it would be you.

I sense you in the brisk wind when I run, your sweet voice softly in my ear

“Don’t quit on me.”

I imagine your fingers under my chin, reminding me to keep my head up

Your hand on the back of my neck, a rush in my shoulders

A soft, glacier blue in your eyes

A blizzard that goes right through me.

There is a snow-covered paradise in there

A whirlwind, an oasis.

They’re mesmerizing.

There’s no shade of color which can command like that.

They go right through me.

I can’t hide from you

And I don’t want to.

I remember the wit of someone I’ve never met

Deja vu.

Clever, sharp and whimsical

Endlessly endearing, a passion unmatched.

You are my North Star, my compass

My guide, my love.

I know everything about you

And also nothing at all.

I long for sweet nothings in my ear

But I hear only emptiness

An echo chamber of my own making.

I pain for luscious key strokes from the parlor

To see the Steinway roar by your hand.

You create in ways I can only dream of.

I try to find the path

But it evades me, as you do.

I yearn for the blossoms to bloom.

I never had a green thumb.

The American red maple stands strong year after year

Stubborn, patient and reliable as me.

We’ve gone through a lot of seasons together

That tree and I.

But I cannot grow a flower.

You are my rose.

I feed the deer every day.

I know how much of a Snow White you are.

Each time he comes around, I ask Jack if he’s seen you.

He looks up from his grub and in his eyes I see the same trust and faith I see in yours.

He has no answers for me.

Jack is a deer.

I’m asking a deer if he’s seen my wife.

Each night, I look up in the sky for you.

You’re always there, the one place I know you’ll be.

I wonder if you dwell in the stars in the twilight

Looking for me

Or if all I do

All I feel

And all I dream

Is a wisp of a life I wished I’d lived

And something that will never be.

Sincerely,

Yours Truly

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Movie Review: The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

Image result for fast and furious tokyo drift movie poster free use“Can I get a copy of that?”

This film sucks. Just want to get that out of the way.

You can shut this one off approximately ten and a half minutes in. It doesn’t get any better after that. When a film’s best scene comes that early, it spells bad news for the rest of the journey. So is the case here.

Shipped to Japan for his constant entanglement with the law, Sean is now living with his military father in a cubbyhole and being taught in a language he can’t speak, but don’t worry, we got fancy cars here, too.

I will give The Fast and the Furious series this: the more you watch these, the more you want to go out and do some of this stuff. Think I mentioned this in one of my previous critiques but it’s something that needs reminded. It has marketed an adrenaline rush, essentially, and I think most viewers are here for the thrill more than anything. I doubt anyone is coming to these for theme or dialogue.

Coming with one card to play isn’t a great strategy, no matter how great the card is. Yes, this card fulfills the need of the production studios, getting those precious greenbacks, and I suppose at the end of the day that’s what keeps these things going. If people pay, we’ll keep doing this, I guess. You guys keep making them and I’ll keep telling people why they’re a joke.

Tokyo Drift is by far the worst thus far and three films in, the same problems persist: writing, character and tone.

This franchise is a very stubborn, strong-headed kid: difficult to teach and a tough learner. They’d rather run their head into the wall than listen to what you have to say. It’s hard to empathize with such a person.

The writing here is so, so awful. It is painful to listen to, a horribly out-of-tune guitar. It hurts my head to think about. I’ve never had a tumor, so I can’t speak to the validity of this claim, but hearing Nathalie Kelley speak makes my head feel empty and twice its size at the same time. Attractiveness does not qualify you as an actress. Exhibit A.

My brain feels bloated with nonsense and starved for nutrition. Maybe I’m just hungry. Garbage thrown in your face for two hours has a way of making you feel depleted. I don’t know how much the writers were paid for this script but it was too much. There are people in high school in this country who are capable of putting together more thorough work than this. This is sellout material if there ever was any. I would not be surprised if they threw this together in a day or two. Art conjured in this way is not worth showing to another living thing. Part of creating art is editing. Rarely does a first draft become a finished product on a dime.

Art is like parenting. The initial conception and birth is miraculous, awe-filled, sometimes life-changing. It hasn’t learned to walk yet and you don’t know much about the idea, you only just birthed it, but you’re immensely excited by the potential. Then come the basic details, molding a more round-out figure. It can be very frustrating at times, this part, because you’re so antsy to get to the next stage, to see what comes next but with time you learn this preliminary work is part of the process. They’re not full-grown but you have the responsibility to shape them into who they will become. Your idea is in your control. You will make decisions and second-guess yourself. You’ll see multiple ways this story could go, write drafts, experiment with color, edit design, compose harmonies and bass lines you’ll end up scrapping. You’ll do this because you have to. You’ll do it because you won’t settle, because acceptance of standard isn’t an option.

It will challenge you.

It will grind you.

It will push you.

But it will reward you.

The building process matters.

This is art.

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, specifically, the writing section, does not qualify. Such dreadful discourse, it is.

Underneath character growth, we read: learns how to drift. Yes, drifting is very cool.

Sean sounds like he came straight out of Alabama’s womb. Surely shadowing his transition into a country on the other side of the globe might come up. Family dynamics, perhaps?

Director Justin Lin gives us none of it. Mr. Hickster is just coming to Japan to race streetcars in parking lots. School and parents are for losers.

What about our antagonists? One is associated with the Yakuza, the famed criminal syndicate. Introduce some brutal elements here, scratch some sinister lingo in there. Should be easy enough.

Also a nope from Mr. Lin.

This was enough for producers though. Lin was given the chair for episodes four, five and six of the series and is currently penned for even more sequels. Would love to hear the rationale from the money men.

Lastly, tone. Tone says a lot about a person. Tone is a good talker. It communicates emotion quite well and can also differentiate someone or something in a way few other things can. Three films in and still seemingly no interest in deciding if The Fast and the Furious saga should have a tone of its own.

“We’re sticking to the copy machine here at this institution. Holding ourselves to some moral high ground is for the silly losers over at Disney.”

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (HerTakenCaptain America: Civil WarDeadpoolAvengers: Age of Ultron)

80-89  It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The WorldThe 40-Year-Old VirginThe ConjuringSinisterOlympus Has Fallen)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Ip Man 2Ip ManKong: Skull IslandThe InvitationHush)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (2 Fast 2 Furious, Doctor StrangeJohnny MnemonicJason BourneSuicide Squad)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The Fast and the FuriousBrooklyn’s FinestDeath RaceWind RiverTommy Boy)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No TalesPower RangersUnderworld: EvolutionBatman & RobinBloodsport)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (High-RiseMost Likely to DieIndependence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturion)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The SnowmanAvalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe Visit)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotage)

My score for The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift: 47.

Glad to have this one over with. It was not a fun watch. Hopefully we’re on the upswing now when I get to Fast & Furious.

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Movie Review: 2 Fast 2 Furious

Image result for 2 fast 2 furious movie poster free use“Verone pay ya’ll to keep a straight face like that? ‘Cause If I was makin’ money, shit, I’d get that mole removed off my damn nose.”

Earn that paycheck, Tyrese.

Did we need a sequel? Did we really? I get the dollar sign part of the equation, I do, but did we really need this? Did The Fast and the Furious establish a tone I was missing? A memorable setting? Cinematic shot? Enveloping score? Distinguishing character? Isn’t the answer to all of these questions no? I’m pretty sure it is.

I’ve got to work in a few hours so I need to be pedal to the medal myself here. 2 Fast 2 Furious is actually an improvement from the original, shocking as that is to say. Who would have thought taking Vin Diesel out of something would improve the product?

That was a shot at Vin Diesel I needed to have. You would have taken it too if you had the opportunity. Quit your judging.

This installment brings a genre and feel that the first material lacks. It’s not an unique aroma but the buddy cop treatment does this film well. Paul Walker and Tyrese Gibson have some chemistry here, even if at times the writers do their best to thwart it. Some of this dialogue is pushing C level cop-out territory and given the quantity of these productions, I don’t know if I look forward to how bad it gets. Writing, even in a metal mash, holds a premium. Words have a chance to be the seasoning for the cut. A good steak can be ruined if you overdue it and left bare if you don’t spread enough. You also can overcook the steak and all the seasoning in the world won’t fix that. Feels like both happen here and it’s not very appetizing. The dialogue is especially burnt and a few sequences in particular make ya cringe. You can taste the ash in your mouth. As you might expect, it takes a while to wash that out.

2 Fast 2 Furious has a similar punch to its elder going down the palette, a bitter, watered down vitriol, a drink from a so-called brewmaster operating out of his garage. He’s got a couple of the tricks down but is still missing on quite a few key elements, flavor being top of the list, consistency following. Nothing about it is particularly sharp or prudent. Despite not having much of a kick, it carries the personality of a scatterbrained drunk, a slight if meager improvement. Boring people tend to get a little more interesting after a couple drinks.

But all the alcoholism in the world won’t hide an obvious dilemma: 2 Fast 2 Furious, like its predecessor, has no idea how to create a universe.

There’s always the chance that wasn’t a goal. Perhaps the big wigs over at Universal were enamored with rehashing things already produced. A consistent tone doesn’t seem to be on their scouting report two films in. They seem quite settled with a world of fast cars. Forgive me if I’m not entertained.

Dialogue clunking with gobs of metal doesn’t do it for me. A lot of clattering and jingling under the hood. My ears are sensitive. Such a ruckus doesn’t offer much of a melody. A glossy paint job doesn’t cover rust underneath. Ruins the aesthetic you’re trying to implement. Worn tread on the tires doesn’t lead to a smooth ride. Not the Hollywood image I recollect. The stereo blares like an artist in a haze, verbose and ill-focused.

And what of the driver? What of the man behind the wheel? A pretty boy, naturally, but what else? He’s not articulate or well-spoken nor does he have any deeper meanings to divulge. Diluted and destitute of desire, drive or dedication, drowned in the dire drains of degradation and demonstrative of a damning decree: dereliction of duty. Those who create hold an obligation to art itself, to manifest their best selves in their work. 2 Fast 2 Furious is not the best available. It feels like the punching out of a time card on a 9-to-5 by a member of the team that should have been deposed years ago for checking out.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (HerTakenCaptain America: Civil WarDeadpoolAvengers: Age of Ultron)

80-89  It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The WorldThe 40-Year-Old VirginThe ConjuringSinisterOlympus Has Fallen)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Ip Man 2Ip ManKong: Skull IslandThe InvitationHush)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (The RoadDoctor StrangeJohnny MnemonicJason BourneSuicide SquadBatman Forever)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The Fast and the Furious, Brooklyn’s FinestDeath RaceWind RiverTommy Boy)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No TalesPower RangersUnderworld: EvolutionBatman & RobinBloodsport)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (High-RiseMost Likely to DieIndependence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturion)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The SnowmanAvalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe Visit)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotage)

My score for 2 Fast 2 Furious: 60.

I’ve watched this film twice and will not make it thrice. Again, it’s an improvement somehow. It has its moments but at times, it’s offensive, borderline cinematic malpractice. The camera work is nauseating, from angles to transitions, holding on a shot for seconds too long. It’s not artistic. It feels robotic. Gibson and Walker’s chemistry holds this sandwich together but to take a bite of the whole thing is gross. Would have been better to throw away most of it.

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Run In The Sun

It’s hot.

The Florida sun has never been kind to me.

I think God wants to remind me of the burn for later.

I run along the beach all the same. I run until I can’t feel my legs.

It’s a surreal feeling, not having any lower extremities.

Down

Up

Down

Up

Simply cogs in a machine, they are. They’ve been given simple orders and will continue to do so until they can no longer.

I’m just racing. Time is winning. Always does, it seems. Think it’s fixed but I’ve never been one to quit easily.

It’s at this point that life slows down for me.

Her grasp is digging into my shoulders.

Comforting cause I feel it, painful because I know it’s not real.

If it was, I’d feel the prick of her nails, the feline she is.

The ocean breeze is sweeping salt into my face like an obsessive housemaid

But all I can smell are the roses and my lady’s perfume.

It smells of cinnamon apple, or maybe a citrus blend.

When she’s trying to be fancy she goes to lavender.

Sometimes she’ll throw something lavish on when she’s trying to be naughty.

I can’t help but grin.

Rarely on the outside but always on the inside.

Got to play along with the facade.

Have to play hard to get.

Must keep the mask on to hide what’s underneath.

I’ve tossed my shades to the side but everything demonstrates clarity

The colors blurred into an artistic spread.

Blues like a clean river, sunsets like marigolds

Vivid splendor.

Right now, it’s just me and her.

My brain shuts off with her hands in my hair.

She knows my thoughts, mine hers

Our heads together.

In that moment, I feel…

Fulfilled.

Evolved.

Transcendent.

 

But it’s just a memory

A shutter from something invisible to me

Because she’s not there.

I’m alone and racing

Pacing about the dance floor with my arms outstretched for someone who’s never showed

And curtain call seems to get closer by the day.

I practice religiously

Obsessively glancing through a window to a courtyard where I know she won’t appear.

Looking through faces on my way back home, looking for my mademoiselle.

I’d recognize that glance for sure. I’d only need a glimpse.

But no.

Not today.

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Or next week.

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Or next month.

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Or next year.

Maybe never

And the idea that’s even remotely possible puts me in a malaise.

She can make my world.

She, without knowing, can put it in a standstill.

Time stops for her

Perspective revolves around her.

And so on I run

Run with fire in my lungs

Charging ahead, looking for my Belle.

Maybe she’s on the edge of the world

Waiting for me

Just over this sandbar

Or maybe the next wave.

I know when I find her

The world will slow.

Seconds will feel like hours.

I’ll have a greater understanding of everything.

Beauty has a way of doing that.

Sincerely,

Yours Truly

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Movie Review: The Fast and the Furious

“I live my life a quarter mile at a time.”

The Fast and the Furious isn’t that bad.

Pfft, guess it’s gonna be one of those reviews, huh?

Yeah, ‘fraid it is, fellas. Gonna be one of those days where Tim watches a bunch of trash and takes that trash to the curb. This trash has been waiting to be taken to the street for a long time.

The Fast and the Furious saga takes braindead to a whole new level. Transformers gets criticism, and in some instances. rightly so but The Fast and the Furious series is the cream of the crop, cherry on top.

It’s pandering car porn and scantily clad ladies. Pretty simple equation, not much processing involved with understanding this one and yet I have to admit this one feels more natural than that. It still loves sipping on that metal fixation but there’s an attempt at actual storytelling here. It’s not good but, ya know, effort.

Shame that’s the standard we have to go to these days, isn’t it?

“Well, did the crew try?”

Yeah, actually, I think they did.

“Oh, well that’s a good start.”

It’s mostly a film that is by no means suggesting you drive at dangerous speeds and put other people’s lives in danger but is possibly hinting to tap the gas just that little more next time you’re on an open stretch and have a chance to feel the need for speed. Whoops, wrong franchise.

There is that adrenaline rush that they’re playing with. The more you watch these, the more that little voice in the back of your head says breaking triple digits on the highway might not be so bad before the rest of you tells that part to sit in the corner until it decides to stop being stupid.

But maybe you should go free. Maybe you should just let it go, burn rubber and get to take the definition of freedom to another level. For some people, as is said in this picture, the car and the road are where they feel life is at its fullest.

And as stupid as it is, and trust me, it’s pretty stupid to even be discussing this, there is a part of you that remains curious, afraid you might be missing something. What if you were? What if you reached a whole new plateau of enlightenment when you fought the political establishment and tore through a fabric of reality, reaching another echelon of understanding? There is something surreal about defying everything around you, isn’t there? Flying 120, weaving through the pawns of the world. Maybe we’re missing something.

Only we’re not. Everything I just typed is something The Fast and the Furious wants you to think about but, unfortunately for them, it’s not something most of us has to think about very long if at all. No, we’re not missing anything. Driving with a death sentence doesn’t open your eyes to possibility. It’s how you get on The Darwin Awards.

I wish I could say The Fast and the Furious had more to offer but I’m not sure that it does. It is really playing that adrenaline chord hard on the strings and doesn’t seem to know any other tunes to play, at least not very well. It does have the family thing going on and creating a sense of community, like these drag racers have their own niche in society and so on but doesn’t focus on it too much before getting back to those sweet drifts, man.

I’m sure gearheads just love this stuff though. This is their baby, the thing they run home to work on every day. I don’t have an appreciation for cars the way mechanics do and that’s because I don’t understand how the parts all come together and form this master thesis of metallic art but I do know film and I know the focus on the cars is what this film is highlighting. It’s not character.

I will give the film credit for attempting to explain the thrill of racing. I can think of one scene with Mr. Diesel in particular that nibbles at that before someone on set must’ve yelled, “Shut up! Back in the cars!”

Before I head out, I need to mention this: this is a film made for stunt drivers. I can bash this film for its disinterest in character but I can’t bash the stunts. The film takes pride in that. At least they take pride in something.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (HerTakenCaptain America: Civil WarDeadpoolAvengers: Age of Ultron)

80-89  It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The WorldThe 40-Year-Old VirginThe ConjuringSinisterOlympus Has Fallen)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Ip Man 2Ip ManKong: Skull IslandThe InvitationHush)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (The RoadDoctor StrangeJohnny MnemonicJason BourneSuicide SquadBatman Forever)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (Brooklyn’s Finest, Death RaceWind RiverTommy BoyDeath Note)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No TalesPower RangersUnderworld: EvolutionBatman & RobinBloodsport)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (High-RiseMost Likely to DieIndependence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturion)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The SnowmanAvalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe Visit)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotage)

My score for The Fast and the Furious: 57.

At the end of the day, I feel like The Fast and the Furious is a movie that’s already been made. It’s called Point Break. Both have corny dialogue, both are riding the fumes and vapors of adrenaline and both want the protagonist to break out the norm and join the cool kids. Difference is one of them has Keanu Reeves. I just don’t know if that makes it better or worse.

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Movie Review: Brooklyn’s Finest

Image result for brooklyn's finest movie poster free use“Well, it’s not a matter of right and wrong. It’s a matter of righter and wronger.”

Winners and Losers is coming back with the new year and a director edition is in the preliminary stages. Solid chance Antoine Fuqua’s name gets picked from the pot.

I’ve talked about Fuqua on this blog a few times already. Most of what I’ve said about his style remains true: Fuqua always wants to hit a deeper meaning. He just never seems to fully connect.

Brooklyn’s Finest is an ironic header because the film centers around the dysfunction and underground happenings of the boys in blue. This isn’t a hit piece on police officers nor is it a glamour op. Fuqua entertains an objective look at police precincts and those who work inside the cogs.

It is a disjointed piece, however, one surgically severed into three distinct slices. An entrée of state corruption would be a pleasant supper, as would a sampling of salacious sins or perhaps a late night dessert of deserted values and devilish intent but none of those things will be served during tonight’s presentation. No, this evening’s specialty is…word salad!

Richard Gere”s Eddie Dugan is Act One, the least interesting and most repugnant of our three samples; a cop near the final days of his career who is motivated by getting through the period until he can skip out of the place like a schoolgirl, presumptively. He looks the other way, feels no guilt and postulates that the world is a terrible place and once you realize that fact you will become the same. The film, after dragging this character through the mud, will then try to redeem poor Mr. Dugan from being an irrevocable tool.

Let it be known that I understand what Fuqua was going for here. Police officers are not all good people. We know this. Social media educated those that weren’t already in the loop. There are men in uniform like this and they should not be respected. They should be shamed and treated like the falsities that they represent. It’s that the character is painted so one-sided that makes it hard to buy into. That and Dugan just isn’t that interesting.

There’s nothing quite like a flat character, especially in film. In novels, it’s much more difficult, in my experience, to make a character bland. A lot more happens, generally, in a book than in a script but once an audience has decided that a persona isn’t interesting, it’s hard to get them to buy back in. Even a quip of dialogue can keep a man afloat, ya see, but a man without words, without principles, without vice or pretense, without snark or pleasantries? That’s just uninviting.

Mr. Dugan is a boring man and so anything that involves him is generally boring and should’ve been cut from the picture without a second thought.

Act Two stars Don Cheadle as Tango, an undercover cop long embedded in the enterprise of drugs, a man who was likely told it would be a short stint, he’d get out, get promoted and get to continue his life. Already far more interesting than Act One, yes? One might even want to see what happened before he got into the business, maybe put his character transformation under a microscope, be able to get a full view of his transition. Watch as he builds connections with drug dealers who maybe aren’t the worst people imaginable but are stuck in their circumstances, creating a gray situation from what was originally black and white, clean as day. Look as the man’s life is torn apart and the only existence he now knows is drugs and the people who he now keeps, to the point that he doesn’t even feel like a cop anymore but yet another hamster on the wheel, stuck in his current predicament and unable to get out.

That last paragraph would have made a solid film, wouldn’t it? Hell, I might even be amicable to write under the right prodding. I’d imagine that would likely be the right causation for the ends Fuqua would have wanted: a dissertation about how gray justice really is and how the concept of the world being black and white is a myth that we put together to try to justify our actions, to make things right in our own minds.

But I’m just a critic, a man with ideas.

Act Three stars Ethan Hawke as Sal, a man with too many kids and not enough money to support them. The gravity of a situation can wear hard on a man, wear him to the tires are burnt off and he’s gliding on rims and that’s when a man gets desperate and will start doing whatever it takes. Sal’s story is the best written, not that that’s saying much in this production.

Brooklyn’s Finest suffers from lack of ink, a film chronically underwritten. Fuqua does tend to be known more for his action pieces but this isn’t an action piece and therefore shouldn’t be known for action pieces. Good thing is that it isn’t. Bad thing is that it isn’t known for much of anything.

So we see Sal’s cards at the table and the cards that he’s holding aren’t helping him and the 2’s aren’t gonna change to aces anytime soon. That piece in his pocket starts to feel a little heavier after the dealer deals another card and soon a man gets convinced that life, God even, is out to get him. Time for old Sal to start winning.

The shadows lure ya in like that, ever so kindly. Soon, the only thing to do is win and nothing else matters, no matter what it costs you, even if it costs you everything because even if you lose what you once had, you won and you finally stuck it to the guy upstairs and the system and the dealer. You finally had your say and told them all to shove it.

I have to say I’m pleased with this review. I can say it’s better than spending two and a half watching this.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Her, TakenCaptain America: Civil WarDeadpoolAvengers: Age of Ultron)

80-89  It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The WorldThe 40-Year-Old VirginThe ConjuringSinisterOlympus Has Fallen)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Ip Man 2Ip ManKong: Skull IslandThe InvitationHush)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (The RoadDoctor StrangeJohnny MnemonicJason BourneSuicide SquadBatman Forever)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (Death RaceWind RiverTommy BoyDeath NoteTrue Memoirs of an International Assassin)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No TalesPower RangersUnderworld: EvolutionBatman & RobinBloodsport)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (High-RiseMost Likely to DieIndependence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturion)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The SnowmanAvalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe Visit)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotage)

My score for Brooklyn’s Finest: 55.

I have always been a fan of crime dramas. Have been for a very long time. Brooklyn’s Finest does not belong in this category. It’s a waste of space. I could have spent two and half hours of my life cranking out a Tarantino film or catching up on DiCaprio’s filmography. Instead, I got stuck with this.

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Movie Review: Her

Image result for Her movie poster free use“Sometimes, I think I’ve felt everything I’m ever gonna feel, and from here on out, I’m not gonna feel anything new.”

Her is a truly marvelous work of art, something filled with awe, laughter and the most passionate of emotions.

The 2013 film, directed and written by Spike Jonze, was nominated for five Academy Awards, including a win for Best Original Screenplay, a well-deserved honor. It demonstrates the want to be connected in a world further disconnected each and every day. People don’t interact with each other anymore, it seems. Do they?

I feel I’m a hamster on a wheel. I think a lot of us, if we step back and take a minute, would recognize the sensation. And it feels like a waste, doesn’t it? It appears like we’re missing out on something, like maybe everything we’ve been taught to understand at this point in our lives wasn’t even the important stuff.

Her has a lot to say. When you watch it, it feels natural and unrestricted, a tone hard to convey earnestly in Hollywood. Too many productions showcase their knowledge of company time. They often seem rushed to spit out their lines in a timely fashion, efficient but not effective.

Perhaps that is why Her feels like such a genuine partner, one who makes time slow and everything else seem blurred and impartial. Life is your partner, at least for us romantics; it revolves around him/her and without him/her it’s empty, null and void. He/She’s your everything. You weren’t living before him/her and you won’t be able to after he/she’s gone.

Love pains you in ways you didn’t know you could hurt. It can make you never want to get out of bed, make you want to smash all your mirrors on the staircase. It can cause an unquenchable hunger and an exhaustive desperation worse than any marathon. Attachment rips you down to depths you didn’t know existed but love teaches you to breathe in ways you didn’t realize you could. It grants you vision you didn’t recognize you could possess, ascends you to a sense of wonder, joy, fulfillment. Love is life’s best drug. The pursuit of connection, in a place where it seems impossible to do so, will lead to unorthodox avenues but those streets are what grow us into what we become.

Her, and I suppose more specifically, Spike Jonze, have such a thorough grip on emotion. The penmanship on this cover is delicate yet brutal in its execution. The dialogue is dynamite. Her‘s got that Soul Power.

Joaquin Phoenix’s Theodore is a ship in a bottle, with tides of heart but a narrow channel through which to expel them. He desires love again but he’s paralyzed from a breakup with the love of his life. His being is meaningless.

He writes love notes for a living, scribes for those without the vocabulary or leisure to do so. His occupation is ironic, given his inability to feel at the present time but through those letters he gets to live, or at least he used to. It’s scary what paralysis can do to you, what your heart can do.

The purchase of an operating system provides a new catalyst, a fresh ingredient to his daily recipe that he’s not sure how to best utilize. Of course, the voice of Scarlett Johansson probably has that effect but it’s her capacity to empathize with sentiment that catches him off guard. Computers aren’t supposed to do this. Better yet, how can this computer know me better than anyone else? And why would it want to?

Over the course of the next two hours, Theodore and Samantha take us on an emotional roller coaster that goes unmatched in my memory. This is a gut puncher. It hurts real good, as they say. It hurts because you know how good what you’re experiencing is but somewhere deep inside you, a voice reminds you it’s not real. Relationships like this don’t exist. Mutual understanding, loyalty, honesty, hope..you’ve just been slighted too many times to believe it.

But there’s another voice, one that tells you you should. Fairy tales exist after all. How could you recognize the pure qualities if such a thing didn’t? This voice wants you to dive in and you find yourself wanting to. I think that’s because we all wish to, even the cynical pessimists such as myself.

This is a film made for romantics. If you are one, you’ll fall in love the same way I did. Its writing is near faultless and its palette of emotions is diverse, a classical pianist who knows all the right keys to push. It is a beautiful tune, a dance with highs and lows, a concerto with bravado. Just a splendid work of art.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (TakenCaptain America: Civil WarDeadpoolAvengers: Age of UltronThe Avengers)

80-89  It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, The 40-Year-Old VirginThe ConjuringSinisterOlympus Has Fallen)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Ip Man 2Ip ManKong: Skull IslandThe InvitationHush)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (The RoadDoctor StrangeJohnny MnemonicJason BourneSuicide SquadBatman Forever)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (Death RaceWind RiverTommy BoyDeath NoteTrue Memoirs of an International Assassin)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No TalesPower RangersUnderworld: EvolutionBatman & RobinBloodsport)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (High-RiseMost Likely to DieIndependence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturion)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The SnowmanAvalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe Visit)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotage)

My score for Her: 97.

Her lingers long after viewing, which is the most sincere compliment I can give a great film. You could spend a whole day, perhaps multiple days, thinking about all that’s explored here and what went unexplored but the best thing you can do is apply what you have learned. This film calls for you to discover yourself and you owe it to yourself and those around you to do that.

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