X-Men: Apocalypse

“Another week, another superhero movie. Or at least that’s how it seems lately. It does feel particularly soon after Days of Future Past to have the next installment, but I love my X-Men so I won’t complain. I will admit to being a bit fuzzy on Past events (so many heroes and storylines to keep track of). Still, except for a few moments of pause while I tried to remember, it didn’t really detract.

Cutting right to the chase, my reaction to apocalypse is positive but slightly hesitant. As far as entertainment value goes, my most important grading criteria, certainly high marks. But after the recent awesome of their Marvel brethren in Civil War and Deadpool, I can’t help thinking that this could have been even better.

I think one of Apocalypse’s (the movie, not the baddie) greatest strengths is also its greatest weakness, and that being the sprawling cast of characters. It’s always exciting seeing new mutants added (Psylocke!) or returned (Nightcrawler!) to the mix. But when you have too many (without even going into the timeline confusion) some end up being underserved. I was particularly excited to see Psylocke since I’d been intrigued by her since I acquired her trading card in 4th grade (let’s not talk about how badly I mispronounced her name at the time). Add in Olivia Munn, and she’s prolly what I was most looking forward to. And then she didn’t do a whole lot. Minimal story. Hardly even sure what her powers are. She could have been anyone throwing in as horseman #3. Pre-Civil War I would have just shrugged it off, but now that we know that a sprawling cast can be well managed, I now expect better.

Still, X-Men have always been favorites. And while with Avengers I’m excited to learn about characters that are new to me, with these guys I’m excited to see characters I’ve known for a long time. On that front, it always delivers (yay Tye Sheridan stepping in as Cyclops). Oh and points for Evan Peter’s Quicksilver running away very very quickly with the movie again. Maybe not as surprising and unexpected as last time, but still very much welcome. Fun fact, his 3ish minute speed sequence required more time filming than any other part of the movie. Kinda ironic.

Yeah so coulda been better, or it coulda been BvS, so we still win.

X-Men: Apocalypse – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n”

Cosmopolis

“As my Memorial Day weekend-o-movies continues, I’m determined to quickly squeeze in this write up, lest I end up sitting at the cafe tomorrow for three hours catching up on everything. Shall we?

Cosmopolis comes to us from David Cronenburg. I was gonna say we recently talked about him with Existenz until I saw the date stamp says it was almost exactly two years ago since we spoke. Even earlier we had Eastern Promises. He’s one of the great directors of our day, excelling at dark dramas but standing out with some rather strange fare too. The former is his strength, the latter his signature. Cosmopolis seems an attempt to bridge the two, but at least for me, it doesn’t quite work right.

Robert Pattinson is a young billionare in NYC. We follow him for the day as he rides in his limo to get a haircut on the other side of town. Colleagues and companions join him at various points throughout the trip. And yes, it is a trip. It has a very dreamlike quality as it seems to take an endless amount of time to reach his destination, yet other characters keep cris-crossing his path along the way.

I’ve tried watching it a couple times and I just don’t get it. Midway through I kinda gave up on it and it served more as background noise than anything else. Part of me wants to read the book it was based on, just so I can make sense of the damned thing. But the other part isn’t convinced it’ll be a worthwhile use of time. Well as great as Cronenburg is, there hafta be some misses in the bunch I suppose.”

The Lobster

“I’ve seen a lot of weird movies to mixed results, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite so bizarre yet loved every minute of it. It’s almost a full day later and I’m still trying to process everything, but the smile comes back when I do.

Colin Farrell stars as a recently single man who checks into The Hotel, where he has 45 days to find a romantic partner. If he is unsuccessful, he will be turned into an animal.

Initially, I thought that his checking into the hotel was voluntary, a sort of last resort people, um, resort to when they’ve given up on more traditional methods of finding a partner. So that raised all sorts of questions about character and what my choices would be and all sorts of deep thoughts. But somewhere along the line, I realized that I had it wrong. Checking into the hotel is actually compulsory in their society. There are rules in place that dictate that everyone must be coupled off. Those that reject this notion, the loners, hide out in the woods, constantly being hunted. So then this raised a whole new larger set of questions about this world, and how their society came to this point. Yet I was so absorbed by this character and his world that the questions didn’t get in the way. If anything, they enhanced the experience, making it linger long after I left the theater.

If you think this is weird just from what I’ve said so far you don’t know the half. There was this strange tone to it, where everything was deadpanned and over explained. But it worked. I credit writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos for maintaining such a consistent tone throughout. It was kinda like a Wes Anderson movie crossed with the involuntary honesty of The Invention of Lying with the wit of Woody Allen, except instead of just feeling mediocre towards it as I do for each of those individually, they compounded each other into something unique and incredible.

Even the movie watching experience was bizarre. As I was fidgeting in my seat waiting for the movie to start, I noticed that everyone else in the theater was paired off. Everyone. All couples (unclear if romantic or platonic). Of all the movies to be odd man out. It wasn’t until just before the trailers started that two trios walked in. But then there was a problem with the projector (it was sorta stuttering) so after toughing it out thru the previews, we were shuffled over to the screening scheduled for 45 min later. So now by the time we reach the halfway point of the film, we’re nearing my bedtime. I’m getting sleepy and with sleepiness comes delirium. Moving on.

I should also say that if, like me, your favorite Colin Farrell performance is In Bruges, then this is definitely worth a watch. Here he has just the right mix of humor and sincerity that is truly nuanced an carries the film from absurdest to relatable. And ultimately, this film is meant to be relatable. It makes such a strong statement about the arbitrary rules in society and relationships by giving you a different perspective on it. A friend of mine is in a commercial where she likens choosing food by calories to choosing a spouse by height, to indicate how absurd the former is. This movie is effectively doing the reverse, pointing out how absurd it is that we often choose a partner for seemingly silly reasons, and it explores if it’s really so bad to make or not make those choices.

Okay now I’m getting all philosophical and introspective. My point is this is a weird movie, but I mean weird in the best possible way. It’s smart and clever, and unlike anything else you’re likely to see. It’ll get you thinking while entertaining you at the same time. In other words, if you think you can handle the strange, I think you should see this movie.

The Lobster – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/”

Shattered Glass

“I gotta be careful about these write ups that I email to myself, to post into LJ later. I hadn’t realized that the header info got pasted in onto my Pretty in Pink write up until I was sharing a screenshot of Jon Cryer liking my tweet (You guys! Jon Cryer liked my tweet! #teamduckie)

Moving on, how is it that Peter Sarsgaard keeps unexpectedly showing up in my home blog movies? Boys Don’t Cry, Jarhead and now Shattered Glass.

I remember exactly when I bought this movie. A couple years ago, a few days before my second knee surgery, I hit up Newbury Comics and came back with a stack of used DVD’s to watch while I was confined to the couch (I had yet to buy into this whole “”Netflix”” thing). Out of all the movies that I bought for the occassion, Shattered Glass was the only one I actively remembered afterwards. I was just fascinated by the story and completely drawn in to it.

This movie stars Hayden Christensen (filmed between Star Wars prequels) as the real life Stephen Glass, a journalist for a very prestigious publication who was caught having fabricated most of his work. As is often the case with a stranger than fiction story, the twists of this are really unbelievable.

We focus in on the story that got Glass busted, and the lengths to which he went to create his lie are mind boggling. Fake websites and phone numbers and locations and accomplices. You’d think that writing a true article would have taken much less effort. Even as its unraveling, you’re not quite sure what to believe. He couldn’t have faked that much, could he?

There’s a really great supporting cast here too. The aforementioned Sarsgaard along with Steve Zahn, Rosario Dawson, Melanie Lynksey, Hank Azaria, and Chloe Sevigny. I would have liked more Azaria (always cool seeing a funny guy in a serious role) but then again, anytime there’s an amount of Hank Azaria, I’m going to be wanting more.”

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising

“Some of what I’d been coming across on the internet in the past couple days had me really excited for Neighbors 2. I’m not just talking about the promise of shirtless Zac Efron, though I won’t lie that it was a big motivator. No what was really getting me going was the talk about how feminist the film appeared to be. If you’ve been reading lately, you know this is something I’ve becoming increasingly more and more sensitive to. Now don’t get me wrong, I do love a good raunchy comedy as much as the next twelve year old boy, but is it possible that we have a film that delivers that level of humor while still being respectful of the girls? And not just respectful, but fully inclusive? You mean, girls play dirty too? Girls can be funny? We can have fun at a “”guy movie””? Well I’d like to think that I’m exhibit A for most of those statements, but yes Virginia, girls can run with the boys.

If you remember the first time around, Rose Byrn and Seth Rogen are a young couple with an infant, trying to start their lives together in their first home. And then a frat run by Zac Efron and Dave Franco moves in next door, and it’s all out war between the two houses. On paper, it doesn’t sound like much, but with some comedic powerhouses and a smart script, it was about as good as you can get in the genre.

Now, the frat boys have moved on, only to be replaced by a group of off-beat sorority girls now led by a perfectly cast Chloe Grace Moretz (just watch her in Kick Ass if you doubt her ability to handle the typically “”boy humor””). These gals are tired of the disrespectful and frankly unsafe frat parties they’re subjected to or the strict rules of the sorority system, so they decide to form their own. And end up making an even bigger ruckus than the former occupants of their house.

The previous Neighbors was praised for their fair utilization of Rose Byrne, not just relegating her to the sidelines or a punchline. Instead she was an equal partner in the comedy, and was a big reason why it thrived. Now we’re doubling down with Moretz bringing the funny with a whole band of thoughtful gal pals. I very much appreciate how they head on tackle the problem with the gender dynamics in college. In my college experience, I managed to avoid most of it. Dorm parties were fine, and I hardly ever went to frat parties, except for those at the BFFF’s frat and they really were nice guys. But I know that this culture is a growing concern, and showing that there is a fun alternative is a good thing.

And the movie was just funny. Again, top notch comic cast. Great writing. Nothing but a good time. Oh and Zac Efron dances shirtless. You’re welcome, ladies. If you still weren’t convinced this film didn’t have you in mind, that should have convinced you.

Oh actually, one more girl power sidebar. Besides the multiple principle writers that the screenplay had, there’s apparently a practice in comedy writing where the screenplay is taken to a sort of roundtable or committee for more input on the jokes. Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and the rest of their crew made a point to include more women in the group than you would typically see. And look, we got a funny movie we can all get behind. Hooray!

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n”