Posts Tagged ‘queue’

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Odd Thomas is not your typical thriller. This unique movie is a whimsical horror mystery that engages the audience with a great story and also dazzles the eyeballs with interesting imagery and effects. Odd Thomas ages better with each repeated viewing, and it’s a super share with fellow friends.

Don’t hold it against Odd Thomas that this movie is based on a novel by Dean Koontz.

Give it a chance and go add Odd Thomas to your Netflix queue. I’ll fight you if you don’t.

Odd Yelchin

Even if you don’t like Anton Yelchin, you’ll have to admit that he is perfect for the character. The only other actor I could have imagined as Odd Thomas is Jay Baruchel. But Yelchin does a fantastic job embodying the role and grounding a character with psychic ability in reality—a fucked up reality, but one nonetheless. Yelchin’s face always looks like he’s awaiting something terrible around every corner.

And he has reason to believe that since Odd Thomas can see dead people. Also, there are invisible creatures called bodachs that creep around and feed on carnage. Only Odd can see the bodachs, but they can’t know that or else they’ll kill him. Whenever bodachs are lurking around, evil is sure to follow.

Willem Dafoe

Odd’s mission is to try to prevent harm from happening as much as possible and help those lingering souls he can see. Living vampire/human bat Willem Dafoe is cast as Chief Wyatt Porter—who helps keep publicity away from Odd while catching the bad guys. Willem Dafoe is at his best in everything. His weird demeanor adds another dimension to this movie with a good cop/bad cop dynamic between Chief Porter and Odd Thomas. Bad casting could have easily tanked this movie. Thanks to the cast, it has a heart.

Since movies need to have romantic tension, Odd Thomas introduces Odd’s girlfriend Stormy Llewellyn—played by Addison Timlin, you might remember her boobs from her arc on Californication. While Stormy is easy on the eyes, her character is there to really give Odd a reason to live and fight these evil forces. Thanks to his inane abilities and some good ole fashioned detective work, Odd Thomas finds his first lead when he sees bodachs swarming a particularly gross dude they nickname Fungus Bob.

Fungus Bob

There are some fun twists and turns in the story that slowly put the pieces of the puzzle together.

Doing anything he can to prevent an impending disaster in public, Odd Thomas is appealing because it has a little bit of everything for everyone. This movie has elements of horror, mystery, romance, and sci-fi with its paranormal slant. For some reason, Odd Thomas did not garner a good critical reception as it currently stands at 35% on Rotten Tomatoes—although the 65% audience rating is more favorable.

Stormy

Some may call it a jumbled mess, but I would say that’s unfair. While Odd Thomas is uneven at times, it delivers plenty of odd and weird. What else did you expect? I can’t point to any particular weak link. The shifts in tone are random, but not jarring. I certainly didn’t feel any aspect of the direction barred my enjoyment of the story. Surprisingly tense, Odd Thomas moves at a swift pace building your interest until breaking your hopes and dreams. Although this is not an M. Night Shyamalan clone, you can see some similarities with The Sixth Sense—a breakthrough success when released back in 1999.

Odd Thomas sees dead people and tries to do something. As a result, his job is never over and you can see how the novel structure and ending would have left the door open for a sequel.

Evil is always ready to strike and the danger must be defeated.

Scream

4.5 out of 5 stars

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Truth or Die is a terrible title. Then again, Truth or Dare wasn’t exactly imaginative either.

This British horror thriller isn’t a great movie, but it does deliver some tense moments and disgusting deaths. Currently streaming on Netflix, Truth or Die is difficult to discuss because there are particular details that move beyond spoiler alerts that define the movie. Don’t worry, I’ll do this delicately.

Even the movie description doesn’t do it justice. Yes, it takes place in a cabin in the woods and there’s teenage drinking involved, but this is barely in the horror category and certainly not that type of cabin in the woods movie. The opening of the movie is a big house party among friends that turns sour with a mean game of truth or dare that embarrasses one friend, Felix, and causes him to flee in horror.

Party

A year later, the friends get invited to a big dinner party at Felix’s rich family estate. There doesn’t appear to be any other guests at this party, which has been relegated to a secluded cabin in the woods—off from the mansion. Presumably, this setting was chosen primarily so no one can hear any screaming. The superfriends group of douchebags seems completely unaware of what misfortune awaits them. Felix is spared from the action because he’s apparently out of town, but his brother is there in his stead.

Details are scarce and painfully explored in this movie. Don’t expect too much until the end.

Eventually, the slow build of the story turns violent as you learn the reason why everyone is there.

Truth or Die is dark, mysterious, and brooding. Even for a horror movie, that’s not always a good thing.

I feel like that’s the case with this movie because it takes itself way too seriously. A little dark humor would have provided much needed comic relief. The way the truth or dare aspect is utilized isn’t all that inventive, but there was plenty of room to twist that around for some sick fun. It’s happy just being sick.

Spin the Bottle

With no likeable characters, it’s hard to stay invested. I imagine anyone who didn’t feel invested in the inevitable reveal already pressed stop a long time ago. Those daring souls who stuck through are rewarded with an interesting twist when you finally found out what happened. Some people don’t seem satisfied with the story’s resolution, but it’s an appropriate ending suitable for a horror movie.

Saying anything further would be peeling back the onion too far. While unremarkable in most aspects, Truth or Die is entertaining enough to be a worthwhile watch for a horror mystery.

In the end, I felt dirty and a little disgusted. I’m sure that was the intention.

Smirk

2 out of 5 stars

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Does the story of a dead girlfriend who comes back to life sound familiar?

Burying the Ex is Joe Dante’s take on the theme. If you wanted more laughs from Life After Beth, then you’ll likely enjoy Burying the Ex quite a bit. Joe Dante is best known for bringing the world Gremlins and he also directed The ‘Burbs—this movie is not up to the same quality as those two titles.

While certainly flawed with its sophomoronic humor, Burying the Ex has some genuine comedy and it’ll also earn some love from horror fans because of some obvious homages, name drops, and even clips of genre classics. The main character works at and one day hopes to own his own horror makeup and props shop. Anton Yelchin plays the main character, Max, while Ashley Greene is the girlfriend, Evelyn—virtually serving the same roles as Dane DeHaan and Aubrey Plaza, downgrades on both parts.

In Burying the Ex, the inciting incident actually happens later in the movie whereas its counterpart started at the outset. It’s an interesting choice to try to introduce and establish the characters first since Life After Beth gave us a look at everyone in the aftermath of the death. Unfortunately, the characters are all unlikeable so it doesn’t matter how well you get to know them. Ashley Greene’s character Evelyn is an annoying environmentalist, vegan blogger trying to inflict her lifestyle on her boyfriend, Max—but Anton Yelchin is too busy being weird and doing Anton Yelchin things. Y’know, the usual.

Oliver Cooper

But the worst is Max’s half-brother, Travis (played by Oliver Cooper). I don’t remember Cooper from Project-X because my brain tried to erase that movie from my memory, but I assume he was the loud douchebag annoying kid. That role is Cooper’s bread-and-butter. I will not forget or forgive Oliver Cooper for single-handedly ruining what turned out to be the last season of Californication. David Duchovony’s turn as Hank Moody on Californication deserved a better death. Oliver Cooper smothered everything with his flop sweat and aggravating, grating personality. Sadly, Cooper’s character in Burying the Ex, Travis, is basically the resurrection of Levon from Californication—complete with over-the-top misogyny.

The rude and crude behavior of Travis is probably supposed to be funny. Instead, those scenes garner unfortunate cringes because it comes off as just plain gross and borderline disgusting. There are some character actors who can pull off intentionally annoying with a tolerable twist. Adam DeVine (of Workaholics fame) is one such actor. I love to hate Adam DeVine. Oliver Cooper doesn’t belong in the same category. I just fucking hate Oliver Cooper. Get this man off my screen, please.

Anton Yelchin

I think whether or not you like Burying the Ex hinges on whether or not you like Anton Yelchin. He’s a poor man’s Jesse Eisenberg. For some reason, I enjoy Anton Yelchin. His scratchy voice and itching demeanor make him perfect for this particular type of role—not a leading man, but capable enough to pull off being an underdog. Unfortunately, I don’t know how many years Yelchin has remaining. Anton is desperately trying hold onto whatever hair he has remaining. In Burying the Ex, I was so distracted by how they attempted to use bed head seemingly as an excuse for his bad combover. It’s pathetic at this point.

And in typical Hollywood fashion, we’re supposed to believe two bombshells (Ashley Greene and Alexandra Daddario) have fallen for Anton Yelchin. One of the saving graces of this movie is Alexandra Daddario—probably most known by men for going topless on True Detective. They are real and they are spectacular. No such excitement is to be had in Burying the Ex, but Daddario brightens the screen just when things are starting to slow down in the second act. Her adorableness kept me watching.

Gratuitous Tit Shot

The gratuitous tit shot doesn’t hurt either. C’mon, I’m a human being, not a zombie.

Ultimately, the slapstick humor wears out its welcome and there isn’t much else to this movie.

Considering the story, I can’t help but compare Burying the Ex to Life After Beth. Burying the Ex is the lower cost, lesser version reliant on repulsive makeup and over-the-top comedy to carry the movie. There are some aspects to enjoy, but the absurdist elements fall flat and it handicaps the actors.

Ashley Greene

Although I didn’t love Burying the Ex, it helps me appreciate the nuance to Life After Beth and recognize how depth adds to a story. Burying the Ex remains on the superficial level and that makes it half the movie of Life After Beth. This cinematic effort of Joe Dante is cheap and harmless yet an empty meal.

If you’re not a fan of this gross-out humor, go gobble down some brains for a more highfalutin reward.

Open Wide

2 out of 5 stars

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Shia LaBeouf is not an artist…even if he was raped for the sake of art during his stupid exhibit.

Regardless of what you think about LaBeowulf’s antics, there’s no arguing that he’s capable of a great acting performance. There’s something deep down in there. Shia LaBeouf rises to the occasion in Charlie Countryman—currently streaming on Netflix. With a certain undeniable charm and charisma, LaBeouf plays the titular character dealing with the devastating loss of his mother in the beginning of the movie.

Charlie is a weird fellow. After his mother dies, a grieving Charlie envisions her spirit so that they can have one last conversation. When he asks what he should do now, his mother (played by Melissa Leo) tells him to go to Bucharest. It’s an obvious hallucination, but it reveals Charlie’s rather fragile mental state.

Shia LaBeouf

But there’s a beautiful message hidden in that interaction between Charlie and his dead mother. The lasting image in Charlie’s head was his mother sick and suffering with tubes running through her in the hospital. No one wants to remember a loved on that way. Instead of that painful memory, his dead mother replaces it with a happier time when they were fishing off a dock and having fun during a bright summer day.

It’s a lesson we should all learn: don’t dwell on the bad and truly treasure the good times.

From that moment, I was hooked on this movie.

Charlie Countryman is somewhat unconventional. In a classic sense, this movie is about a budding romance between Charlie and Gabi Ibanescu (played by Evan Rachel Wood). But make no mistake, this is not a romantic comedy. Why? Because there’s a dark, dangerous presence looming over Gabi.

And he goes by the name Nigel (played by Mads Mikkelsen).

Unbeknownst to Charlie, Gabi is still kinda married to Nigel—a dangerous gangster that gives zero fucks about anything. Mads Mikkelsen is magnificent in this movie and everything else I’ve ever watched him in—namely, the TV version of Hannibal and what should have been last year’s Foreign Film winner, The Hunt. Words cannot do justice to Mikkelsen’s performance in Charlie Countryman.

From his fucking eyes, you instantly feel the intensity burning inside Mads Mikkelsen. The rage is right there simmering under the surface and waiting for an excuse to release its ferocity. Even as an audience, you’re scared of him. Nigel is a brutal man and his presence makes this movie great.

Public Beating

“Enjoy your new mates and your recreational drugs and the rest of it while you can. God knows it can all turn into blood in a blink of an eye.” – Nigel

Amazingly, Charlie doesn’t blink. Despite several warnings from Gabi, Charlie doesn’t back down from Nigel and impending peril. Both Shia LaBeouf and the character Charlie are putting their hearts out there. Undeniably, this is LaBeouf’s greatest acting performance. I am appalled that Zac Efron was briefly given this role—thankfully, LaBeouf returned after initially dropping out. You feel everything that Charlie feels because of Shia LaBeouf, and I wish he would just get his shit together once and for all.

Shia LaBeouf and Mads Mikkelsen certainly elevate Charlie Countryman, but there’s an entire supporting cast of characters that are also worth mentioning. On his way to Bucharest, Charlie is unknowingly sitting next Gabi’s father, Victor Ibanescu (played by Ion Caramitru). Victor’s character and Ion Caramitru’s performance are very memorable albeit very brief. Darko (played by Til Schweiger) is another menacing gangster—though of the Russian persuasion. At the hostel where Charlie is staying, his two roommates are Karl (played by Rupert Grint) and Luc (played by James Buckley). During the middle of this movie, these two characters provide much-needed comic relief as Charlie’s friends. Melissa Leo is good as Charlie’s crazy mom, Kate. Even Vincent D’Onofrio makes a cameo in the beginning as Charlie’s stepdad, Bill.

A movie is that much better when the supporting cast actually fulfills its role to support the movie.

Mads Mikkelsen

Charlie Countryman was written by Matt Drake and directed by Frederik Bond in his debut.

If there’s a downside, it’s that the movie doesn’t feel polished. The pace wanes a bit in the second act and the ending isn’t handled as well as it could/should be, but it still doesn’t detract from your overall enjoyment of the movie. Sadly, it doesn’t seem like Charlie Countryman will find the audience that it deserves. Hopefully, this review will lead some people to put it in their queue (My List or whatever the fuck Netflix is calling it these days) and enjoy the experience that is Charlie Countryman.

Even if this movie is forgotten by most, I’m convinced there will be a movie in the near future where Mads Mikkelsen gets an opportunity to once again shine as a vicious, menacing character. If you learn nothing else, learn that you don’t want to cross paths with Mads Mikkelsen in a dark alley.

Cool Way to Go

4.5 out of 5 stars

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Frank is a weird fucking movie full of unbridled Michael Fassbender fun.

Some movies are made for mass consumption—dumbed down to the lowest common denominator. Frank is not one of those movies. Many will not enjoy Frank. I am not one of those people.

Even in a paper mache head, you feel Michael Fassbender’s presence as Frank. I cannot imagine any other actor pulling off this insane performance. If you only know Michael Fassbender as Magneto in the recent X-Men movies, I have immense pity for your miserable existence. While Fassbender is the driving force, Frank is a phenomenal movie because of Domhnall Gleeson and the supporting cast.

Domhnall Gleeson

Domhnall Gleeson is an Irish actor who is the son of Brendan Gleeson—probably most known for his role as Walter “Monk” McGinn in Gangs of New York. It’s not a stretch to say that Domhnall Gleeson is already the greatest ginger actor of all-time. His recent stretch of ridiculously good performances in Black Mirror (a British television show), About Time, Frank, and Calvary have propelled his career into more mainstream movies as he’s slated to appear later this year in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.

In Frank, Domhnall Gleeson perfectly plays the part of Jon Burroughs. From the opening scene, you can see that Jon is supremely ambitious, but he completely lacks talent. It doesn’t stop him from trying. Jon’s hilariously awful attempt at composing music resulted in a song titled “Lady in the Red Coat.”

As Tom Waits would say, he’s got the sizzle, but not the steak.

You can’t try yourself into being a good songwriter.

While Jon is relentlessly hopeful of creating something great, it’s obvious that his pursuit is hopeless. Jon is searching for inspiration at the beach when people are rescuing a man trying to drown himself. The suicidal man is the keyboardist for The Soronprfbs, who are in town for a performance. By happenstance, Jon ends up with a new job as the band’s keyboardist since he can play C, F, and G. That moment changes Jon’s life forever because he meets Frank, the eccentric lead singer of The Soronprfbs.

Dancing

Although Jon can’t manage to write a song about anything, Frank can write a song about everything. Frank even writes a song about a little tuft of carpet. And it’s fucking fantastic. Michael Fassbender’s voice is also an incredible fit for this freaky, eclectic electric folk music. At times, Fassbender’s voice is emotionally haunting. Fassbender should be applauded for his giant balls to star in this small independent film while wearing an oversized, creepy paper mache head. “Flattered grin followed by a bashful half-smile.”

In terms of the secondary characters, Scoot McNairy is superb in his limited role as Don—the band’s manager and former keyboardist himself. Don fucks mannequins. It’s a fetish of sorts. François Civil isn’t asked to do much, but I enjoyed his role as the band’s guitarist, Baraque. Without speaking a word of English, he manages to induce laughter in a few scenes. François was the best part of As Above, So Below, which was a rather unremarkable and mostly forgettable horror movie from last year.

Maggie Gyllenhaal puts forth the best performance of her career as Clara. Without her to guide Frank and collaborate in the creative process, The Soronprfbs would cease to exist. Don’t mistake Clara as a motherly presence. No, she’s a cold-hearted crazy bitch. Clara will fork-stab you without blinking.

The Soronprfbs

It’s easily the most range I’ve witnessed from Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Along with amazing acting performances, Frank is an in-depth character study that surprisingly touches on thought-provoking themes. What does it take to be an artist? What does it mean to be an artist? Are all artists troubled? You don’t necessarily have to go down a particular path to be a creative genius.

But you do have to accept that not everyone can be a creative genius. We all can’t be Frank.

Currently streaming on Netflix, I hope you will give Frank a chance. I’ve now watched this movie several times and each viewing goes down smooth. Like a nice scotch, it is not for everyone. If you are someone who enjoys Frank, then odds are we would be friends. Except you hipsters with your ironic t-shirts.

Frank proves there is surreal beauty in the wonderfully strange and weird of this world.

“Stale beer. Fat fucked, smoked out. Cowpoked. Sequined mountain ladies. I love your wall. Put your arms around me. Fiddly digits, itchy britches. I love you all.” – Frank

Surprise

4.5 out of 5 stars

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Watching improv is typically a brutally uncomfortable undertaking. If you don’t trust me, try watching an episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway? and tell me I’m wrong—Wayne Brady singing about random shit will never be funny. But the improvised comedy in High Road works surprisingly well.

Matt Walsh is the writer/director of this effort, and he’s no stranger to improv/sketch comedy as a founding member of the Upright Citizens Brigade. With a bare bones script providing the rough structure, the cast of High Road is unquestionably the highlight of this unique comedy. Just because High Road is a movie about a low level weed dealer doesn’t necessarily make it all about marijuana or a stoner comedy.

Remove that element of judgment.

If you’re looking at High Road for the oddball comedy that it is (think of something along the lines of Saving Silverman with some drug humor sprinkled in), then there’s plenty of innocent silliness to enjoy.

High Road opens with Fitz (played by James Pumphery), Richie (played by Matt Jones), and Tommy (played by Zach Woods) playing a gig with their band Tor Eagle in a dive bar. Shockingly, the music isn’t awful and it has enjoyed a little life in my head beyond this movie. But after the gig, Tommy reveals that his new promotion will leave no more time for the band, and Richie and his girlfriend Sheila (played by Lizzy Caplan) have a headline gig as a White Stripes cover band. Just like that, Tor Eagle is no more.

Uncle Creepy

All Fitz ever wanted was to play in a band. Although Fitz has his girlfriend Monica (played by Abby Elliott) to lean on, his life quickly spirals out of control. Fitz works from his “office” in the garage selling pot, and he somehow bonds with an unruly, stubborn teenager named Jimmy (played by Dylan O’Brien). The friendship that blooms between Fitz and Jimmy is the highlight of High Road.

I cannot say enough good things about the entire cast.

Dylan O’Brien is so fucking charming and funny as the fucked up teenager of Rob Riggle’s character, James Malone Sr.—a widowed father trying to do his best. Good luck finding a more likable person than Matt Jones (best known as Badger from Breaking Bad) because he seems like such a genuine human being despite what character he portrays. While there are a handful of hilarious moments, I was most impressed by High Road’s ability to actually tell a believable story with character development despite being largely improvised. Ultimately, Fitz is someone afraid to deal with his own daddy issues, but potential trouble with the law leads him out of town to Oakland to spend some time with dear ol’ dad.

Jimmy and Fitz

Unless you’re a stuffy old white person or completely lack any personality/semblance of humor, I promise you that this movie will not be a waste with a scant runtime of 83 minutes. And I’ll forever remember Sandwich Diplomacy and Triangle Theory after watching High Road. This movie may not be instant streaming forever so place it in your queue and eat a nice sandwich while watching it on Netflix.

Sandwiches fix everything.

3.5 out of 5 stars

“Your friends think they’re better than me, and if I thought real hard, I’d have to agree. I smoke cigarettes and too much weed, and I cuss a lot when I drink whiskey.

I want to give you what you need, I got a lot of flaws and no money. There’s not much that I believe, but I swear to God I got the Devil in me. Thanks for wasting time with me again. Thanks for wasting time on me.” — James Pumphrey

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“I watched Signs again last night. It keeps getting better every time I see it. It’s funny, the first time you watch it, it’s kinda hard to understand what it’s about. It just sort of meanders. And then, everything comes together in this one perfect moment at the end.”

Jeff, Who Lives at Home is a great slacker comedy. For what it is, this is a perfect movie.

With a scant runtime of only 83 minutes, you should place this in your Netflix queue or just watch it streaming online right now. Jason Segel is the clear-cut star of this film as Jeff, the title character and it wouldn’t work without him—threatening to teeter on the brink of being a chaotic mess.

But there’s a certain authenticity to Jason Segel that creates an emotional core for Jeff, Who Lives at Home. As a viewer, this is a slice of life movie that provides an insight into Jeff’s life, which involves watching him try to connect the dots of seemingly random events in the name of a higher destiny or some sort of cosmic order. Everything happens for a reason—regardless of how random these events may appear.

Aside from spoiling Signs within the first few minutes, the beginning of this movie serves as an ideal introduction to Jeff’s character. All it takes is a wrong-number call looking for someone named Kevin to put Jeff’s day in action, which inevitably becomes intertwined with his brother, Pat (played by Ed Helms). Unbelievably, Ed Helms has turned into a steady, reliable actor, and he does a great job bringing this unlikable, slightly douchey character to life.  Judy Greer is great as always as Pat’s wife, and their rocky relationship is the impetus for the action of this story—you may not know Judy Greer’s name, but I guarantee you would recognize her from something in her catalog. Susan Sarandon also provides a great performance to round out a surprisingly strong supporting cast as Jeff’s mother, Sharon.  All of these parts work together to create a cohesive, somewhat crazy whole that miraculously makes sense.

Brothers

Set adrift after the death of his dad, Jeff is lovable loser with a heart of gold living at home with his mom—the only other likable character. However, this movie works so well because it is a comedic character study with just enough emotional investment setting up the drama. It’s the right amount of sappy context.

Everyone knows the manchild angle has been done to death in movies, but Jeff, Who Lives at Home brings a unique perspective in that it’s actually touching. Not many comedies manage to make you care about the characters. If you’re anything like me, then the room may suddenly become a bit dusty near the end. And I would pay the price of admission to see Jason Segel’s giant awkward ass sprinting as fast as possible.

Just like with the movie itself, you won’t know whether to laugh or cry. I did both.

I can’t talk much about the story without ruining some surprise laughs and interesting turns in this solid script. Remember that there’s a beauty in the randomness. Everything comes together in the end.

Perfect Moment

5 out of 5 stars