RATHER DIE THAN RIDE

21 Jan

the_four_jack_ryans

 1. Ride Along/Universal                             Wknd/$  41.6            Total/$   41.6

 2. Lone Survivor/Universal                       Wknd/$  22.1            Total/$   72.9

 3. The Nut Job/ORF                                    Wknd/$  19.4            Total/$   19.4

 4. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit/Par           Wknd/$  15.6            Total/$   15.6

 5. Frozen/Disney                                          Wknd/$  11.9            Total/$ 332.5

 6. American Hustle/Sony                            Wknd/$   9.9            Total/$  115.7

 7. Devil’s Due/Fox                                         Wknd/$   8.4           Total/$     8.4

 8. August: Osage County/Weinstein         Wknd/$   7.4            Total/$    18.0

 9. The Wolf of Wall Street/Par                   Wknd/$   7.1             Total/$   89.8

10. Her/WB                                                      Wknd/$   4.0           Total/$    15.0

 

IT’S A MOVIE, NOT A SOCIAL STATEMENT

Ride Along opens at number one as Kevin Hart’s star continues to ascend.  He’s just one solo film away from the comedic flavor of the month which will include a book according to Chris Rock’s book which came out he was the flavor of the month and he was told this by Jerry Seinfeld who knew for obvious reasons and I’m sure someone told him. While I enjoy Hart he’s one of those comedians where a little goes a loooooong way and second lead behind Ice Cube is still too much of him for me. Maybe third or fourth behind some kind of cute talking pet will work. Or better yet the voice of the villain’s sidekick in an animated movie. That I’d see. This, not so much. And if anyone says it’s an accomplishment for this to open at number one on Martin Luther King’s birthday, I’m gonna punch them in the fucking dick.

 

THE SPOILER’S IN THE TITLE

Lone Survivor drops to number two and this is a minor all-star cast behind Mark Wahlberg, starting with Hollywood’s Miss-It Boy of the last few years Taylor Kitsch (big movies, big bombs), Emile Hirsch (the guy you call when you can’t get Elijah Wood), Ben Foster (the guy you call when want a darker, less attractive Ryan Gosling) and Eric Bana (the guy you keep wondering why he didn’t become a star). No one is really a star, but when you see them you know them and this helps you to care about characters you otherwise wouldn’t. Especially when a film is called “Lone Survivor” and you know the name above will probably play that role.

 

FUNNY ANIMATED ANIMAL MOVIE #2488

The Nut Job opens at number three which is an accomplishment given how little promotion this thing got compared to the films of Disney and Dreamworks. I have no idea what this is even about and I think I saw one commercial.  Shows you just how much parents need these animated films to babysit their kids.  They don’t have to know or care a thing about it. They just need 90 minutes of peace.

 

SCREENWRITERS ALSO MISSES THE COLD WAR

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit opens at number four and this is the second time Chris Pine has stepped into the shoes of a franchise (Star Trek being the first) and the second time, sadly, he pales in comparison to a predecessor and this is coming from someone who was not a fan of Harrison Ford’s painfully self-righteous Jack Ryan.  I’m comparing him to Alec Baldwin, who was the first and remains the best Jack Ryan. All I can say is that he’s better than the milquetoast Ben Affleck reboot (does anyone even remember he did it?).  I think it’s telling that the best one was a Cold War story and clearly someone else felt the same as Russia returns as a America’s “big bad” for this one.  Set in a post-9/11 America the new Cold War is conducted in the money markets and director and co-star Kenneth Brannagh is the latest Hollywood stock villain, the Russian Oligarch, who is set onto America because didn’t help Russia stop a Turkish oil pipeline. And that’s your first problem right here. Ryan isn’t even fighting the real bad guy.  He’s just a guy following orders.  At the very least Brannagh should have been a rogue Russian businessman setting off to do this without his government’s approval. The other problem is for an action thriller it’s not that thrilling and there’s very little action.  A good 20 minutes is wasted giving us the origin of Jack Ryan. You, know that 2-minute speech from Hunt From Red October?  Yeah, they heard the cries of absolutely no one and decided to show it complete with meeting his future wife.  Now, one of the best scenes from Hunt For Red October consisted of Alec Baldwin giving a briefing and you saw why Jack Ryan was good at his job.  No jumping, shooting or fighting and was still fun to watch.  Here he’s an analyst on Wall Street tracking terrorist funding and it’s as thrilling to watch as it sounds.  We’re not really shown why he’s good, but simply people keep telling us that he is and he spouts some technobabble that apparently no one else in the CIA can understand so he has to go into the field. Previously it was because he was expendable and no one believed him.  Here he’s clearly believed and supported which robs it of some drama as he’s not the underdog. He’s not even alone to fight for his life in Russia, where a dozen CIA show up to help in gunfights.  In sad way it compares to Pine’s role as Kirk where basically he just falls into command rather than earning it. Even the scene as we watch him putting information together doesn’t come off as all that special so much as common sense. In that respect it reminds you of TV shows were everyone is made a little dumb to the hero cop can seem smart.

 

A ROSEMARY’S BABY FOR THE CELL PHONE GENERATION

Frozen falls to number five followed by American Hustle at number six and Devils Due, which opens at number seven. It’s yet another “found footage” about a woman who gets impregnated with the Anti-Christ while on her honeymoon.  Aside from my general disregard for these movies, the trailer strongly suggests that basically they were drugged by Satan’s minions and it’s captured by the camera, which means that if they’d just bothered to check their vacation footage all of this could have been avoided. I mean it’s still horrifying to be drugged by Satan’s minions then presumably raped by Satan himself, but then it could be dealt with early and not eight months later when a priest bleeds from his eyes.  And why does Satan need minions to drug a woman anyway? Seducing people is his job description. Probably the most horrific part of The Devil’s Advocate was that Al Pacino uses his satanic power to seduce Charlize Theron (thank god it’s offscreen, but just imagining the his tiny, creepy, old body climbing on top of her still gives me chills). In a truly more terrifying movie making use of the found footage, Satan would have assumed the husband’s form but they don’t know this happened until they see a honeymoon sex tape where a) it’s the husband, but clearly he didn’t shoot it, or b) either Satan’s true form is captured by the camera, or c) nothing is captured but you see her responding to something.  Though that’s still not as creepy as Al Pacino on top of Charlize Theron.

 

HA IS ONLY TWO LETTERS. SEE?

August: Osage County is down to number eight followed by The Wolf of Wall Street at number nine and I finally subjected myself to yet another overlong Scorsese paean to a sociopathic anti-hero who rises and falls yet rises again.  While on one hand, Scorsese is still obviously a great director and the story told is done well and interesting, it’s done for far too long and many of the techniques become tiresome. I realize the mantra of film is “show, don’t tell” but some things could just be told. I don’t need to see them all, least of all pretty much every single female in the cast doing full frontal nudity (the 13-year-old in me feels utterly betrayed at those words). Yeah, I get that the world of Wall Street is hyper masculine in a weird sort of overcompensation given they really don’t do anything we associate with actual manhood, like being a construction worker or athlete or a soldier, but does that mean you have to show every single instance of this especially when it’s sexual?  I got it when you graphically showed me hooker #1. I really didn’t need to be graphically shown hookers #2-500.  This movie seems to be for people who wanted another, longer GoodFellas but without all the violence.  Emphasis on the longer. There’s a scene where Leonardo DiCaprio, finally beginning to circle the drain on his lifestyle, has to get home on while on an overdose of Quaaludes, which while funny goes on for-freaking-ever and you wonder if that scene were just completely deleted how does the film change and what do we lose. It doesn’t and we don’t and the film is filled with many such scenes that don’t move it forward or tell us anything we don’t already know about the characters. Part of it is obviously Scorsese’s unfamiliarity with comedy It’s a common mistake for someone to overdo it. It makes an odd sort of sense because it took his usual partner in crime, DeNiro, years to learn restraint in comedy. Now he won’t freaking stop making them.

 

I’M BIG ON PERSONAL GROOMING

Finally, Her rises to the top ten and I have different reasons for dragging my feet on seeing different movies. For example: I love the Coen Brothers, but haven’t seen Inside Llewyn Davis yet because honestly I freaking hate folk music. Hate. It. I don’t care how good the movie is because it will subject me to that.  I know it’s crazy, but it’s me. Similarly my crazy reason for not having seen this is Joaquin Phoenix’s horrible porn ‘stache.  I cannot bring myself to look at that thing forty feet wide for two straight hours. I know I have to now, given it’s been nominated for some Oscars, but it may be the morning of the ceremony before I finally get around to it.

 

SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW

So Friday was the quarterly edition of our karaoke get-together and because somewhere down the line I was saddled with not just the organization but declaring a theme I decided this time it would be duets, which seemed like a good idea at the time and allowed me to make a poster based on the movie “2 Guns”, also mandated a lot of slower stuff which gets old fast so I opened it up to include rap duets. Again, this seemed like a good idea at the time until your realize just how frequently the word “nigga” is used and either your white friends feel awkward saying it or a little too comfortable saying it.  My own issues had nothing to do with tempo nor lyrics but the fact that a fucking cold hit me literally the night before. That my voice gets blown out by the end of karaoke is a given, but now it was seemingly over before it started. The final nail in the coffin: ½ price drinks ended with the summer. How the fuck are you supposed to sing without being a little looped!?! Well, I never found out given I’d ordered my two drinks before realizing the happy hour was no more and for some reason I thought if I just got beers from then on I’d be budgeting wisely.  I had…a few (I had no idea how much I’d consumed until I tried to get out bed in the middle of the night and failed miserably in my attempt to stand).  Of course karaoke is always fun, no matter how you limit your song choices or how weak your voice is so it turned out okay, but I can’t believe I forgot “Promiscuous Girl” which was perfect for the lower register. I always invite upwards of thirty people, but it always winds up being the same 7-8, though this time we actually hit 9. That we’ll actually get 10 people into the 10-person room remains on my bucket list. One of the guests is The 25-Year Old. She has a name but that’s what I call her to my therapist so it’s good enough. She may not even be 25 any longer, but still that’s what I call her.  She was a horrible mistake I half-heartedly tried to make for a while and I was nothing but amused to later learn where she once tended bar in Brooklyn, she had quite the fan club of bruthas. In any case she’s a geek girl so we still hang out occasionally and so she invited me to a show she had to attend for work on Saturday night. I only accepted because I was drinking and not thinking, because god knows leaving the house on Saturday night is not something I do, much less something she described as “like David Sedaris.”  When she texted me the details later I was amused to learn that the person’s name was Sam Harris, as I remembered the Sam Harris who was the first winner of Star Search with an over-the-top rendition of “Over The Rainbow” and whose career never took off after producing an abysmal single called “Sugar Don’t Bite.” It was in fact that Sam Harris.  Apparently he had a career doing theater after “Sugar Don’t Bite” and 3o years later he’d written a book about his life and had created an act around it, which was playing at Under 54, a dinner/lounge space under the Studio 54 Theater.  The 25 Year Old was surprised I knew so much about Sam Harris, but then again I was alive when it happened. She was not.  The show was entertaining, though his mannerisms and even the timing of his jokes were the exact same as Will’s from Will & Grace so the whole show had an air of familiarity about it.  He read selections from his book “Ham” interspersed with musical numbers. He reaccounted his first ventures into theater, his growing ambitions, his realization that he was “different” being gay and his resulting suicide attempt which was derailed by needing to help his little brother who’d stepped on a knitting needle. He was fortunate enough to finally encounter a teacher whom he could talk to and when he confessed he was gay, he [the teacher] reassured him there was nothing wrong with him. The climax was the adoption of his son with his husband and reconciliation with his father who apologized for not being there for Sam when he was a boy. I’m not crying! You’re crying! (one reason The 25 Year Old and I get along is that we’re not quite as moved when he cries onstage knowing that he does it every night, twice a night at the same passage)  But oddly enough there was nothing about the great recording career that never was, much less “Sugar Don’t Bite.” Now I always thought “Papa Don’t Preach” ripped off its main hook and The 25-Year-Old sent me a link to an interview where in addition to Sam Harris saying a lot of stupid shit about how he’d kill himself if he had to sing “Like A Virgin” for 30 years (we all know he’d kill for a hit like that) but he also mentioned the writers of  “Sugar Don’t Bite” felt it was similar as well, sued and got paid.  While the minimum cover of $25 for a less than impressive dinner was annoying, it was a nice night out and I think frees me from any future obligations to be social at least until spring.

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One Response to “RATHER DIE THAN RIDE”

  1. turafish January 21, 2014 at 6:16 pm #

    Um…. I know you won’t give a crap, but it’s Branagh with one n…. Just sayin. By the way, nicely done as always.

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