Black Mass

“Well established by now that I live in Boston (technically Cambridge, but I’m just two stops away on the Red Line or just a mile and a half down Mass Ave on the #1 bus). There’ve been lots of movies made about my town and lots of movies filmed in my town. Some of them only hold the city’s attention during filming, others only during its theatrical run or in a sort of cult status post release, and even some none at all. Black Mass has had Boston’s eye on it from the moment it was announced. But that comes as no surprise seeing as how James “”Whitey”” Bulger has had this city’s attention for much much longer than that.

Now, of course, as an adopted Bostonian (native Texan), I didn’t find out about him until the time of his capture in 2011. Or at least, I didn’t know anything else about him besides knowing that Jack Nicholson’s character in The Departed was based on some infamous Boston mobster guy. However, it was his trial a couple years later where I actually started to hear some of the details of his story. It was all over the local news, and a hot topic for discussion. I remember reading thru the article delivering the verdict, speechless at all the listed offenses.

As far as the movie, there were whispers about it when it was officially in the works. Actually, there was talk about two versions, one starring homeboys Matt and Ben (which thus far has not materialized), and a second one that seemed to be moving faster towards production. Then Johnny Depp was announced in the lead role, and no one seemed to think that was a good idea. Keep in mind, this was in the current dark period of Depp’s career, where much of his early skill and success was shadowed by his increasingly more and more ridiculous characters and the unabashed spectacle of those films.

Filming started, and you’d hear the occasional snippet about a well known location they were using or someone seeing crews nearby. And then, something else started happening that changed opinions around. Depp was spotted on set in full costume. As pictures started circulating, people realized that he had nailed it. Maybe this was a good idea after all. Those who knew Bulger have said that he looked exactly like him.

So now, as the movie is out, it’s one of those that everyone has to see. Every theater in New England is showing it, and related stories are littering the local news sources. Watching the film, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like seeing the movie anywhere else, not across the street from the Boston Common. It’s probably just an ordinary movie, with mixed responses like any other. Would I have been so absorbed in it if I wasn’t saturated in its atmosphere and history? Probably not. But it is a pretty cool experience to see something you’re at least moderately close to on film.

The movie only scratched the surface of who this man was and what he did, and that’s how it sort of felt. I don’t really know any details other than those presented (I have a copy of Kevin Weeks’ book that I was loaned some time back that I never got around to reading), but I could feel how stretched out it was. Similar to how I often feel when I see a movie based on a book that I haven’t read, I could tell things were being cut out and re-stitched together. I didn’t know what was missing, but I knew there was something and felt slightly cheated. You saw almost everything thru Whitey’s (creepy contact lensed) eyes, which gave a mostly high level view of things. Exactly what all his schemes were or how they played out was rarely gotten into. The focus was on his relationship with the FBI agent who made him an informant.

I can’t speak to the accuracy of Depp’s portrayal, but I can speak to the performance itself, and he is back in top form. He’s fantastic enough for you to forget about Mortdecai and Tusk and Dark Shadows and the later Pirates films and Transcendence and The Lone Ranger. He may not be entirely recovered from all of those, but there’s hope.

Black Mass – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n”

The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

“I saw the first Maze Runner because I’d scored free tickets to an advanced screening. It had looked intriguing, but wasn’t high up on the list. I recall enjoying it, and liking some of the mystery of the maze itself, but not being too impressed with the bigger picture. Not having read the book, I could tell we were getting a very thin slice, and lots of detail was left out. It was just enough to nag at me, but not enough to make me wanna read the book.

And now we’ve got a sequel. It’s release date fell in a kind of crunch time period, so it was lowest on the priority list. I would have had no problem waiting until it was in a bargain bin or on netflix. But the stars aligned (mostly because one of the week’s musts was IMAX only). I give it a big overwelming eh.

Without the puzzle of the maze, there wasn’t much I really cared about. Kinda like how the latter parts of Hunger Games lose my interest without the games themselves. There wasn’t even a big mystery like with the first one. It was mostly run -> survive -> find others. Yes there was still some overarching conspiracy from the big baddies, but not with the urgency of the first installment. It was all one long and drawn out action sequence, and a jr one at that.

Do I want to see how this all concludes? Eh. Oh dear God, Wikipedia just told me there’s 5 books, not 3 as I arbitrarily assumed. Well, let’s put it this way. If the film series continues, and watching this wouldn’t prevent me from seeing something higher priority, and the scheduling works out, sure what the heck. But I will not think twice about dumping it if it’s a crowded weekend.

The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials – \m/ \m/”

The Green Inferno

“It has been eight years since Eli Roth has released a movie. Sure, he’s worked on a bunch as a producer/actor/writer/etc during that time period, but Hostel II in 2007 was the last one that was his baby as a writer/director. Since my admiration/fascination/obsession with him only started in the past 5 years or so, Green Inferno would be the first one that I’d get to watch in the theater.

I was certainly more than prepared for this exciting event. Ya’ll might remember, three years back I blogged thru his previous films across his various job titles, and even included a list of films he once called out as favorites (hashtag Rothtober). In that list of Eli’s favorites was Cannibal Holocaust, which was his biggest influencer on Infero. Holocaust is about a group of anthropologists who go down to South America to find their missing colleagues who disappeared while filming a documentary about a native tribe. It doesn’t go well.

In The Green Inferno, a group of bright eyed idealistic college activists go down to South America to protest the deforestation that is occurring which threatens the lives and culture of the natives. On their way back, their plane crashes and they are taken captive by said natives. It doesn’t go well.

In my excitement, my brain has like 5 different directions in which it wants to go next. Let’s stick with the Cannibal Holocaust route. I don’t want to necessarily compare the two, but there is one point that I want to make, which is that both serve an underlyling purpose of providing social commentary. Holocaust posed the question of who really are the savages? Us or them? It also gave a pretty bold statement about sensationalism in film. Yes, I’m pretty much paraphrasing from my previous blog entry since much of the details are fuzzy. By contrast, Inferno was about this current trend of social activism, where you have people superficially supporting causes they don’t really care about to make themselves look good. Roth has explained that the idea was born out of Occupy Wall Street, and the various other hashtag based activism that followed. What happens when you realize exactly what it is you’re risking for a cause you’re not passionate about?

And that level of subtext is what I feel makes Roth stand out from other horror directors today. True, he’s the master of gore and creates scenes that give the audience a visceral reaction. But he pairs that reaction with a message, driving the point home further, even if you’re caught up in the blood and guts. Speaking of which, brilliantly executed effects as well. Old school practical effects made to catch you off your guard and terrify and/or disgust you. Horror god Stephen King has tweeted his enthusiasm and support for the film, saying that it brought him back to the cannibal movies he loved in his younger days. Because oh yes, it wasn’t just Holocaust, there were a whole bloody mess of them in the late 70s-early 80s.

But what would a movie about cannibals be without the natives themselves? For this film, which was primarily shot in Chile, Roth enlisted a tribe that, like the ones in the film, had been isolated from modern society. These inhabitants had never been photographed or filmed, so they didn’t even have the concept of film. In order to get them up to speed on the subject, they screened a movie before asking them to vote on their participation. Now, if you were to show a film to a group of people who had never seen one before, what would you pick? Probably something classic like The Godfather or Wizard of Oz, that is regarded as a timeless masterpiece and shows the beauty of the art. What movie were the villagers shown? Cannibal Holocaust. Of course.

Here’s the funny part, though. They thought it was a comedy. I’m sorry what?!They all enthusiastically agreed to participate, and they also saw Green Inferno as a comedy. Again what?!?! I actually tried to keep this in mind while I was watching Inferno, and I kinda get it. Much of comedy is based on absuridity. The thought than an idea is so unusual and unexpected that it comes off as humor. Think about Charlie Chaplin or the Looney Tunes getting into mischief. Especially here in Inferno, much of the gore is so over the top that it does bring a level of humor, even if you’re cowering into your hoodie. Not to mention the fact that subject matter you’re closer to tends to be funnier. It’s why I tend to find jokes that make fun of Hispanic culture (in a laughing with you not laughing at you way) to be funnier than those poking at other cultures that I’m less familiar with. For these guys, it was that extreme absurdity in their familiar environment.

Much fun was had by all. Roth has said that because they had no frame of reference for movies, they were some of the most natural and easy to work with actors he’s ever worked with. The children in particular were having a blast. He’s shared anecdotes about them playing with the prop limbs and coming to him with ideas (some of which made it into the film). I could see the joy on their faces, and nothing is creepier than happy kids doing something evil.

Blah blah blah, enough with the backstory and trivia and history, etc. How was it? Of course as a Roth groupie (Roth-head?) I loved it. He had a chance to show off what he does best and hasn’t had a chance to do for a while. So what if you’re not on my level of fandom? First off, don’t see this if you think you’re too squeamish to handle it. Secondly, I think there’s a certain brand of folk that enjoy these type of films, and for us, it’s fantastic. For the others, there isn’t likely to be a film in this genre good enough to convert you. It has strengths and weaknesses. The non-native cast, who were fantastic at being scared and emoting terror, were maybe not so good with the dialog that wasn’t given under duress. There were some stretches in the plot, and some events that tested the suspension of disbelief moreso than the bloodfest. However, it had the strengths where it mattered, standing out as a winner in the genre. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m getting a lil hungry over here….

The Green Inferno – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/”

Waitress

“Instead of moving back to the movie wall, I took a step back to the video store DVD’s for a rewatch. Don’t know if you’re aware, but Waitress has been adapted as a musical that’s playing here in the Boston area (just a mile away from me in Cambridge!). It’s directed by Tony winner Diane Paulus, starring Tony winner Jessie Mueller, featuring music by Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles. I was fortunate enough to see it earlier this month, which made me want to revisit the movie. I’d only watched it for the first time when I specifically picked it up at the video store because of the musical.

Even since before the musical, I knew that this movie had a fairly good reputation, partly due to respected actress/writer Adrienne Shelly (who I just now learned played Dawn in the movie). It was Shelly’s final film before her untimely death. I’d held off on watching the film because it seemed too chick flick-y for my tastes. If only someone had pointed out that Nathan Fillion was in it, I would have seen it much much sooner. Also, it is really good.

The stage show tracked pretty well with the screenplay, so writing up one sorta writes up the other. True, the biggest flaw in the musical was the lack of Fillion, but he did go see it, even though I doubt he sat as far back as my cheap seat at the rear of the theater.

Stopping myself from diving into a tangent. The story is about small town waitress, Jenna, who dreams of leaving her abusive husband and starting her own life somewhere, where she can bake pies all day and be happy. She unexpectedly becomes pregnant and ends up forming a, let’s go with “”close””, relationship with her doctor, as she plots her escape to freedom.

I think what I love most about this story is how realistic and strong Jenna is. Pretty much any movie ever, if the woman is pregnant, that’s all she’s about and she’s this gushing mother. Well unless she’s unwed and underage, but that’s a whole other deal. Jenna was not happy about it, and her stoic stance on the matter was so refreshing. Yes, much of the film was about her relationship with the doctor, but that wasn’t the important thing. She was not defined by him (or her husband), and the real story was in how she was living her life.

And it’s so funny too! I love her co-worker waitress friends. The musical especially gave them a chance to shine and borrow the spotlight for a bit. Just everyone is well thought out and important to the story. No one’s there to be a cipher or a punchline. On stage, the music just heightens everything. It was just beautiful, and a near perfect show. Most of the time, I leave a musical thinking that the cast was great, or the book was clever, or some other specific piece that stands out as to why the show was great. Waitress was one of those rare ones where you can’t pick one thing because everything is equally effective. Kinky Boots is another recent example of that for me.

I watched the film again after the show and loved it even more. Both complement the other wonderfully. Hopefully I don’t have to wait until too long after it’s upcoming Broadway transfer for a cast album, because I’m dying to hear those beautiful songs again.”

Sleeping With Other People

“I was in NYC for one of my infamous day trips of Broadway binging. Caught a matinee of Spring Awakening (the new revival that incorporates ASL, so beautiful) and an evening showing of Hand to God (irreverent and hilarious). I know midtown well enough that I can typically stay pretty busy throughout the day. Go to the comic book store, maybe theater bookshop, grab various snacks throughout the day. On rare occasions, I even manage to squeeze in a movie. It’s actually pretty tough to pull off because it has to fit just right into the schedule. Since the BFFF who lives in NYC wasn’t gonna be around, and since I didn’t wanna fall behind on my movie watching, a movie made sense. Especially when I realized that one of the movies on my list for this weekend, Sleeping With Other People, wasn’t playing in Boston.

Spring Awakening got out around 4:30. The AMC at Lincoln Center was about a 15 min trek via walking and subway. Movie started at 5:10. You’d think that’d be ample time, but you forget about my stage door obsession. I could only give myself until about 5:00. I’d initially thought there wouldn’t be anyone I really cared to stage door stalk, but as always, I got so caught up in the show I had to. The crowd was far bigger than I would have expected for a cast of mostly unknowns, which first deterred me. Wouldn’t be worth the effort and time crunch. Oh who am I kidding, I’m doing this. I gave myself an arbitrary deadline. If no one’s out by 4:45, I’m gone. At 4:45 we actually had a couple. Okay, I’ll leave after these first few–hold up there’s the guy who played Morritz, I need to get him. Got him (sadly was too far back for the selfie I really wanted with him). Okay I can go–hold up there’s Marlee Matlin. Absolutely need the Oscar winner’s signature. Okay we’re coming up on 5–oh wait one more, need the Glee girl (one maybe two episodes only). Now, haul butt.

Dashed in, grabbed a hot dog, and found a seat just before previews were over. Awesome. What are we seeing again? Ah yes, Sleeping with Other People. Sidebar, the email I got from Fandango asking about how I liked the movie didn’t quite work (or maybe worked too well) with the movie title…Right Alison Brie and Jason Sudeikis run into each other for the first time in a long time at a sex addicts meeting. The two form a very close friendship that they try hard to keep platonic, but of course it’s a movie, so we know they’re eventually gonna fall for each other, or something.

I know. Romcom ew. But this was on the Trainwreck end of the spectrum, where the rom takes a backseat to the com, very irreverent and honest com. These are two actors that I enjoy very much, so I was willing to put up with the potentially sappy story to see them bring the funny. And it was worth it. Certainly beats aimlessly wandering Times Square at peak hours, that’s for sure. Doesn’t feel as groundbreaking as it thinks it is, since it is coming in on the heels of Amy Schumer’s summer flick, but I very much like that it’s keeping the momentum going, aided by some clever comedy and wonderful performances. Clearly, this is very much a if-you-liked-that-youll-like-this situation, but as someone who did like this, I liked that as well

Sleeping With Other People -\m/ \m/ \m/”

Swing Kids

“Hey so something amazing happened last weekend. I finished watching the last of the DVD’s from that video store? You forgot about that already? In June (and the tail end of May), I bought about 100 movies for cheap from a video store that was closing. For those keeping score at home, it took a solid 3.5 months to get thru ’em, so now we know. I still have some DVD’s of Big Love (only done with season 1 of 5 so far), but that’s not a movie, so they don’t count.

The movie that ended up in the last spot (until I soon bought more) in my inventory, randomly assigned as I grabbed things was Swing Kids. I’d kinda decided that I would blog the last movie I watched, and this seemed like a good candidate, so I kept it on top of the pile while it was hidden in a Whole Foods bag. That way, I could reach in and pick something blindly rather that staring at 100 DVD’s trying to pick what was next.

Swing Kids stars an itty bitty Robert Sean Leonard (though less bitty than in Dead Poets Society) and an itty bitty Christian Bale (slightly less itty than Newsies). They are very close friends growing up in Nazi Germany who have a fascination with American swing music. The boys live for the secret dance clubs and record stores where they can listen and dance and have fun like young boys are wont to do. But, of course, this is Nazi Germany and such frivolous and un-German things are frowned upon. Things get complicated and the boys find themselves drifting in different directions amid the conflict.

It’s a pretty powerful film and an interesting look at an unexplored subculture. So many stories and films have come out of this era, and it’s surprising to find that there are still so many untapped angles. The kids are incredible (it’s no wonder they’ve found success in the bigger and better they went on to…Leonard will always be Wilson to me, and I’m sure I don’t have to remind you what Bale went on to. They’re so good here, that costar Kenneth Branagh (yes that Oscar nominee and Shakespeare expert, and somehow director of Thor) refused to accept billing for his role, rather than being listed above the kids.

This also has to have one of the best soundtracks for this style of music. It’s not the sort of thing I’d listen to regularly, but most of the tunes were so familiar from various sources (many of which may have been DWTS routines). I texted the BFFF, who is big into swing dancing, and told him he had to watch this movie. He replied that it’d been on his list for a while and that the film’s version of one particular song featured prominently comes up often at many dances.

Actually, yeah let’s talk about the scene where Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen is featured. For me, that was the most powerful scene. Leonard’s Peter has basically hit bottom, and he’s frantically dancing his feelings out. Okay, that sounds hokey. But as a dancer, I connect with him and I’m moved by him. The way he expresses his frustrations with his movement says more to me than any dialog could. I also know first hand how cathartic dancing can be. One of the single best dance classes I ever had was on a night when I was royally pissed off about something (which doesn’t happen to me often), so I just danced angrily and quickly and harder than I ever have, and just felt such a release from it. I love how beautifully that’s captured here.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got that clip on repeat, and I think I’ll watch it a couple more times”

The Visit

“I put waaaay too much thought into figuring out this weekend’s two movies. See, the thing is, Sat is gonna be spent at NYC, which means that I’d have to get my movie fix in Thur or Fri evening (skipping yoga one of those days) or on Sun, cutting into my chill-and-do-nothing afternoon that I’ve grown so fond and protective of. Then I found that I should be able to make a movie in NYC if I hustle getting from place to place. Then there were all the inner arguments about whether that was worth it, and do I opt for the one that’s only playing in NYC that I’d need to haul butt to get to? Or the one with better times, that I could also see in Boston, and hope that the other won’t be missed or try to catch it on an upcoming crowded weekend if it does release wider. These are the things that control my life. The struggle is real.

I ultimately went with the Thur option to get in both movies. I stupidly realized later that decisions should have been much much easier because this option was the Shyamalan movie, and for most of his films, the less you know, the better. I remember making a point to see The Village on the afternoon it opened because I’d been spoiled for every other one: Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs. When The Happening came out, I assumed I’d be safe waiting until Sunday. Nope, it was discussed at dinner with friends on Saturday.

I don’t think I need to explain the (mostly downward going) rollercoaster in the quality of Shyamalan’s films. Somewhere along the lines, they went from brilliant to laughable. May have shared this story before, but I still remember seeing a trailer for Devil, which he didn’t even write/direct, just had credits for story and producing. No one in the theater is really going with what’s happening on screen, but when M Night Shyamalan’s movie flashed on the screen, the place erupted in laughter. Kind of a low blow for someone whose work was Oscar nominated just ten years before.

As for me, I’m more accepting of some of his lesser ones. And by that I mostly mean that I did enjoy The Village. And I can see what he was trying to do with Signs. The others I would have a hard time defending. So I was willing to give him another chance with The Visit, and that was totally the right decision. It might not be on the same level as Sixth Sense, but it’s a step in the right direction. Shyamalan is taking things back to basics with a simple story and simple scares for massive effect. From what I’d read about it, he was also taking back artistic control, something he lost long the way with the bigger studio films. Sure, you may call that an excuse, but given some of the stories coming out of Hollywood lately (Josh Trank with Fantastic Four, Joss Whedon with Ultron), it really does kinda make sense that studio interference could have been a major factor in creating those clunkers.

The story here is pretty simple, possibly the simplest story we’ve seen from him. We have a single mother (the glorious Kathryn Hahn) estranged from her parents. Her two kids are invited to spend a week with these grandparents they’ve never met. Once the kids arrive, things start getting strange, especially at night, making them think that something is not right with their Nana and Poppop, and does it have something to do with the mysterious events of the day their mom left home?

Shyamalan borrowed a lot from the current trend of post-Paranormal Activity horror, the first thing being the found footage format. I sometimes complain about how gimmicky and nonsensical it is, but I think it worked here, mostly because it was framed well and created a more intimate feel. The older of the children Becca (an incredible newbie Olivia DeJonge) is filming the whole ordeal as a documentary about her family. She’s hoping to learn as much as she can about her mother while trying to reconcile her with her family. So it actually did make sense that so many things were caught on film, and the camera angles used lined up correctly.

Continuing that thought, so we’ve got a current genre trend in the hands of an expert in the genre, which made for an excellent combination. I spent the last act of the film terrified. Admittedly, some of that comes from actively allowing myself to get a little scared, instead of consciously resisting. I feel there’s a lot of cheap horror films that I can enjoy in the moment at the theater, that I later dismiss once I think thru them more carefully. There’s some of that at play here, but it was still pretty clear that this was in the hands of a master.

Fair warning, gonna talk vaguely about the last act. I won’t actually spoil anything, but if you really want to feel the film in its full effect (which I would recommend you do), please skip ahead to the next paragraph. Oh so you’re still with me? So what were the parting thoughts as I was recovering on the way home? My main impression is that I should have seen the famous Shyamalan twist coming, but I didn’t. Once it was revealed, I could play thru the earlier parts of the film in my head and confirm that they did match up. It wasn’t some tacked on ending, but something that was sufficiently supported. Awesome. I think the main reason I didn’t anticipate it was because I was staying present in the moment. My mind wasn’t wandering trying to solve it rather than waiting for it to unfold. For one, that’s just a testament to Shyamalan’s strengths in being able to keep my attention throughout. It’s also because I loved our two kids. More on them later, once we clear the spoiler-ish-but-not-really zone. We probably didn’t need the final sequence, which just put too nice a bow on things. Given what happened in the climax, I feel like the last mystery no longer mattered and didn’t need to be solved. By that point, it was unimportant, and the result was never going to be as satisfying or interesting as the myriad of things my imagination was running with.

With me again? Cool. One last piece to comment on is how much I loved the kids. Becca was this precocious little film prodigy, with a vocabulary that rivals the Dawson’s Creek kids, and she had a far better grasp of the nuances of film than I even come close to. She was truly strong willed and unique, and the type of young female character I’d like to see more of. IMDB trivia tells me that from DeJonge’s first audition, Shyamalan knew she was the one, and I can absolutely see it. Then her was her brother Tyler (Ed Oxenbould). So much energy and charisma. In other films, his character could have been annoying or just a caricature, but he was far more than comic relief. He had his vulnerabilities and his strengths, and he was funny and sincere. Reminded me a lot of Shia LaBeouf back in his Even Stevens days. Let’s hop that this kid gets more work and a higher profile, but doesn’t turn into a crazy. Oh and points on the casting side for Broadway starlet Celia Keenan-Bolger. And for Kathryn Hahn, who maybe didn’t do too much, but it was fun to see her branch out from comedy.

I think that about sums it up. I feel like if Shyamalan can get some momentum from this, he can create another masterpiece like his earlier films. And I for one, really hope that he does.

The Visit – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n”

Hitman: Agent 47

“In what initially felt like a very poor decision on my part, I decided to double up on cheap and poorly reviewed action movies, pairing Hitman with Transporter. At some point during the day, I realized that these were exactly the kind of action movies my Daddy raised me on, that he would have chosen to watch. And when I do watch one of these cheap thrills flicks, it feels like he’s watching with me. And as has happened before when it was his turn to pick the DVD’s at Blockbuster, the movie was lacking to the point of being kinda boring.

This movie was just a giant hot mess. For one, their attempt at being clever was utterly confusing. They set it up at first to look like our Agent (Rupert Friend) was the bad guy, and Zachary Quinto’s dude was the good guy. Except while the first movie was completely unmemorable (except for solidifying for me who Timothy Olyphant is), I was pretty sure he was a good guy. And much of the publicity talked about ZQ returning to his villainous roots, channeling the likes of Sylar and the rubber man. And then OMG twist (not really) perspective is shifted and Agent is the goodie and AQ the baddie. By this point, I’d mostly stopped caring.

So you’ve got a girl trying to find out about her past, and an Agent trying to stop his from repeating itself, and a baddie who’s trying to kidnap the girl for science or something, and if none of those seem like coherent thoughts, I’m right there with you. Also not helping was that our Agent is supposed to be void of emotion as part of his special engineer or something (because science). That now means that we really can’t connect with our leading character.

Okay, but it’s an action movie, right? Which means none of that really matters if the action is good? Turns out that’s a pretty big and important “”if””. Except for one cool sequence involving cables, hooks, and an Audi (again Audi>-?), the action sequences were just as forgettable as the rest of the movie. This one really does deserve to be fished out of a bargain bin, and one where it’s not just five bucks on Black Friday, but where it’s price is quickly reduced to that (or less) year round. I’m so sorry ZQ. You know I adore you, especially when you’re being bad (case in point, my boy kitty’s middle name is Sylar), but let’s just pretend this one never happened, ‘kay?

Hitman Agent 47 – \m/ \n”

The Transporter: Refueled

“I was ready to start this blog with a couple of anecdotes about my history with the franchise, when I realized that I shared them when I blogged the original. The main takeaway is that I really do love this franchise and this character. However, Jason Statham is a huge part of that for me, so already the new fuel (or actor) was starting at a disadvantage.

So we’ve got a newbie, Ed Skrein, stepping in as the dashing driver, Frank. Much of the basis of the character was still there. The flawless suits, the tricked out vehicles, the rules, the attitude. Except to me, he still wasn’t quite Frank. It was a kid trying to do his best Jason Statham impersonation, nailing the cadence but otherwise a cheap imitation.

Let’s be real for a second here. The other movies, don’t have too much going for them in the way of plot. But what they lack in substance, they more than make up for in style. Statham has the opportunity to show of his moves, there’s some of the best vehicular chase sequences this side of the Fast franchise, and you’ve got the witty banter with his cop friend. This time, replace the friend with his father (a choice I support, as they had good energy between them), have one so so fight early on to reestablish that Frank can fight (replace the tshirt with a shopping bag to tie up the baddie), and don’t even try to get too creative with the chases because we’re not gonna be better than Fast.

Overall, it just felt like a cheap knock off. Something that goes straight to DVD that I pick up for five bucks on Black Friday, along with one starring Liam Neeson and/or John Cena. I’d be curious to have seen what Statham would have done if the studio agreed to his salary demands. Well if Matt Damon can return to Bourne, maybe there’s hope for a triumphant return behind the wheel of a custom Audi. Until then, I’m just gonna stick with the first movie.

The Transporter: Refueled – \m/ \m/”

Bullit

“Up until recently, the only Steve McQueen I knew was Dr House’s pet rat. Clearly I knew that he was referencing someone that I didn’t know anything about. Not too long ago, I saw The Great Escape for the first time, and was sure to pay extra special attention to McQueen. And I thought he was pretty cool. From there, I came to know the Bullitt poster as something iconic, that I was curious about. So when Best Buy had a sale on 4-pack movies, including a Steve McQueen 4-pack that featured Bullitt, yeah you what happened.

Pretty simple story. He’s a cop assigned to protect a witness. Witness goes dead. He goes after the baddie. For me, it feels like some aspects of the film haven’t aged all that well. The scenes with character action and interaction were interesting, but the various chases and such didn’t grasp my attention so much. Guess I’m too used to today’s ADD action sequences. And they populated a pretty big chunk of the film. Maybe I need to sit down and watch it with a better attention span, but I can’t guarantee my mind won’t wander. Still, McQueen is pretty bad ass, so maybe I’ll connect better with one of the other movies in the 4pack”