The Florida Project


2017 movie

Rating: 17/20

Plot: In the shadow of Cinderella's Castle (or is Snow White's Castle in Disney World?), the hidden homeless spend a summer in a magical motel.

Baker didn't shoot this movie on an iphone (not all of it anyway), so it's got a different look from Tangerine. And that look is stunningly beautiful. Baker shot this in a gaudy, cheapo tourist area with Magic Castle and Future Land motels painted garishly. There's this artificial magic all around, and it's sharply contrasted with the situations these characters are in. The constant taking-off and landing of a sightseeing helicopter, touristy gift shops, Mickey Mouse's fireworks splashed across the sky at one point, snack places in the shape of giant oranges. They're all visual reminders that we're dealing with the have-nots in an area that the haves like to come and spend their money.

And it would all be pretty depressing if it wasn't for a couple of things. First is Baker's eye and his use of color in this movie. So many shots in this are just gorgeous, all that capitalistic vulgarity and luridness. Pictures in this movie are worth thousands of words as the backdrops represent so many unspoken ideas. Shots of the kids walking past that aforementioned building shaped like a giant orange. A magical shot of Dafoe lighting a cigarette at dusk as the lights of the motel suddenly flicker on. A rainbow arcing over the lavender (Note: I don't know if this is the right color word or not, and my wife will not help me.) motel. It's possible that rainbow was CGI, but I'm going to die knowing that it was a happy accident instead. I just loved the look of this movie, and if you take away the stories and the characters' situations and those characters' interactions, the visuals Baker gives us might have been capable of creating emotions in me all by themselves. There's an impossible amount of everyday magic in each shot.

What this really has in common with Tangerine is that it shows the director's ability to empathize and really connect with the movie's human subjects, people who are kind of on the fringes of society. I didn't always like what these characters were doing. With the kids, it was general mischief making--spitting on cars, trespassing, light arson. Sharing the questionable decision-making of the adults would get into spoiler territory. But despite not liking what the characters do or how they treat each other in this movie, I found it impossible to dislike them. In fact--and I'm aware that this is going to sound cheesy even before I type it--I really fell in love with these characters and kind of miss them. At the very least, I really want to know what happened to them after the movie and know whether they're all OK or not. I know they're characters in a movie and not real people in a documentary because I'm not a child, but Baker does this remarkable thing where he has created a group of characters who will, for me at least, exist outside of the movie. They're as real as movie people can get, and there are certain joys and certain sadnesses that come from that. Baker's not really even making a statement about the "hidden homeless" here; he's just giving these people who a lot of Americans either don't know about or don't want to think about a voice.

I've got to say that I'm stunned by the acting in this movie. I had concerns because I knew going in that the majority of the movie would focus on these children, and if they were typical child actors, that could make the whole thing almost unwatchable. The kids in this were delightful as these resilient little human beings. I was touched by their performances, and I have no idea how Baker did it. I assume tons of footage was shot of these kids just playing in these different locations with the best bits edited together. But there was just something so soothing and refreshing about watching these kids--Brooklyn Pierce, just so perfectly a little kid; Valeria Cotto; Aiden Malik; Christopher Rivera--transforming what could be portrayed as the most dismal situation in the world as something magical and joyous. These kids, like Dafoe's character's loving paint job, are capable of bringing color into this bleak world. The kids in this recall the performances in Beasts of the Southern Wild or Little Fugitive in how they manage to be like real kids and not kids trying very hard to be real kids in a feature film.

Baker, by the way, says he was influenced by The Little Rascals. I'm guessing that's the television show and not the movie that was made that has a Donald Trump cameo.

The adults are more hit and miss. I don't think all of them are professional actors and actresses. The one big Hollywood name is Dafoe, and he's great. He is probably more fun when he's playing a character who isn't very human, but here, he gives this perfectly subdued and nuanced performance as a guy who is limited in his heroism and tortured by his role as a patriarch. You don't get much backstory with Dafoe's Bobby, but you know a backstory is there.

There's one moment in this that suddenly has music, and that's when it occurred to me that the rest of this movie doesn't have music. It was startling to discover that, and I thought about it later. The music of the movie really is provided by the naturalistic dialogue with these kids and the colors of the film. It's musical without any music at all, and I think it's a better movie for it.

I teared up throughout the movie as I thought about the futures of these kids and how they lived so well in the present. And by the end of the movie, I was bawling, just a complete mess. However, I thought it was one of the most beautiful movies I've seen in a long time and inserted it into my top-five for 2017, a very strong year for movies. I wish it had been nominated for Best Picture.

Oh and that line about the tree? The topless woman by the pool? The heroic expelling of a creepy pedophile? God, I feel like I could watch this again and write about it all day. I loved this movie so much!

Fifty Shades Freed


2018 climax

Rating: 6/20

Plot: These boring people get married, but their honeymoon is coitus interruptus'd when a figure from their past pops back into their lives. Following that, a whole bunch of other things happen, some which involve ass slapping and/or bondage.

Since I'm such a rebel, I almost always sneak in a water bottle with water, tea, or an alcoholic beverage when I go to the theater. I know what you're thinking. Man, this guy's a total bad ass! For the completion of the Fifty Shades franchise--and God, I hope this really is the end of this thing--my plan was to take my laptop, sit in the back row of a likely-near-empty theater, and type out an A-Go-Go entry as I watch. I had done the same with the other two, and I really didn't see the point in watching this thing without doing a Movies-A-Go-Go entry. (Note: That's where I watch a movie and type out my stream-of-conscious thoughts for my blog post.) I wasn't sure if the movie people would want me to take a Chromebook in there and didn't really feel like having a conversation, so I shoved it down the front of my pants and got it in that way. Yeah, I know. Total bad-assery.

When I walked in, there was a couple already in the theater. And--you guessed it--they were in the back row. So I just had to be a guy watching the completion of this steamily stupid all by himself and hiding his erection with a closed Chromebook instead of a professional movie blogger furiously typing away blistering criticism and reflective notes on a film.

I could have easily opened up the computer and typed away though. The couple behind me wouldn't shut up. I almost turned around and gave them a stink eye, but they wouldn't have been able to see it. They'd just see that guy who wears his bathrobe to the movie theater turning around.

It would have given them a story though, one that is arguably better than the story arc of this trilogy. "Yeah, we were making fun of that Fifty Shades movie and this guy in a bathrobe who kept sneaking drinks from a water bottle like anybody would actually see him or care turned around because we were distracting him from enjoying this stupid movie. You know he would have started Pee-Weeing himself if we weren't in there."

A tagline for this is a clever pun about not missing the climax. Do you get that? I think the main problem with these movies--other than the sloppy storytelling, the terrible acting and writing, the lack of chemistry with the leads, sex scenes that are more depressing than they are arousing, painful soundtrack choices, general shallowness--is that they are movies filled with too many climaxes. The sheer amount of traumatic or at the very least exciting events that happen with these characters in what doesn't seem like all that much time boggles the mind. At the beginning of this one, they get married, and I'm not sure about the women these books and movies were created for, but I'm shaking my head and thinking, "No! These two should not be getting married right now!" Early arguments about whether Anastasia should be topless on a beach and whether or not they should have children help prove that these two--a spoiled manchild with some severe psychological issues and a women who has the intellectual prowess of your typical Disney princess (the early ones)--A) have not really taken the time to think things through, B) know about as much about each other as the audience learns through the movies' weak characterization, C) are very likely not emotionally compatible, BDSM) are probably not even sexually compatible, and E) should never have gotten married.

The movie's events, just like in the other two, are kind of a blur. And we're probably in spoiler territory here, so you should stop reading now if you're planning on seeing this. Actually, you probably never should have started reading, and just like me, a middle-aged man in a bathrobe watching this movie, you should probably start questioning your decision-making. There's helicopter crash revelations, attempted abductions, suspected infidelities, explosions, surprise pregnancies, blackmail, thrilling car chases, and renditions of Paul McCartney songs on the piano. It's a lot of excitement for a pair of honeymooners, isn't it? But just like what this movie does with sex, it manages to make it all very dull. You come out the other side of this thing not caring about the characters at all and wondering what the hell was supposed to be learned from the whole thing.

What is learned from the whole thing probably isn't good. I'd have to devote a bit more brainpower to figure that out, and I feel like I've devoted enough time and energy to the Fifty Shades franchise. I'm done. And a little embarrassed.

I really need to wash this bathrobe, by the way.

Everybody Wants Some!!


2017 comedy

Rating: 14/20

Plot: A baseball team enjoys their time together in the weekend leading up to the first day of their college fall semester.

Look at those exclamation marks! Linklater's ballsy! I mean, sure something like Boyhood could be considered ballsy, but is it ballsier than going to studio executives and saying, "I don't want just want exclamation mark at the end of my movie title. I demand two!! I'm getting two exclamation marks or I'm walkin'!!"

I bet he was inspired by DeCoteau with A Talking Cat?!? or Neil Breen with I Am Here. . . .Now.

Curious, I just looked it up to see if it has a name. It's apparently called "multiple exclamation marks," which is disappointing. I mean, a question mark and an exclamation mark together is called an interrobang. So that gets a cool name, but two exclamation marks is just "multiple exclamation marks." I don't know if two question marks on either side of an exclamation mark has a name, and I'm not going to look it up because I know I'll be bummed to find out that it isn't called a DeCoteau. And if a four-period ellipsis is not called a Breen, I will stop using all punctuation marks entirely as a form of protest.

That title led me to believe that I'd get some Gucci Crew II on the soundtrack, but this takes place in the first year of the 80s or last year of the 70s depending on who you ask and how pretentious they are. You do get some hip hop, however, and I'm not sure how believable it is that a group of white college students and one black student in Texas are going to know every word of "Rapper's Delight." Stick around during the credits, by the way, because the actors get a chance to rap again, and it's delightful.

I've never felt whiter than I do right now, by the way. I just referenced people rapping and called it delightful.

That "Rapper's Delight" song comes early in the movie, a sing-a-long while the characters are riding in a car and checking out girls or something. So that's not a spoiler. Actually, I'm not sure there's anything I can say that would spoil this because there's really not a plot. It's a series of non-sequitur sequences that blend together to characterize this crew. Individually, they aren't well-defined characters. They're like a little more than a dozen guys who all live in the same house and sort of become one goofy character. They're raunchy and obnoxious, the type of people I don't think I'd want to be around in a public place for too long, but at the same time, I kind of wanted to be one of these guys and engaging with other guys (and gals in late-70s jeans) the way they were.

Linklater really has a way of creating this nostalgia even though I never had any experiences like these characters and don't even really believe that these characters could actually exist. Well, at least they couldn't all exist in the same time and place like this. It's really a neat trick he does as a writer/director.

One character says, "We came for a good time, not a long time." That's a perfect description of the whole thing. The movie and its characters exist in a very specific time and place, one that can never exist again. And although I can see some people being annoyed by their antics and unrealistic banter or underwhelmed because of the film's lack of depth, I think it's at least a pretty good time.

I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore


2017 Netflix original movie

Rating: 14/20

Plot: After a depressed nurse's house is robbed, she and a new friend with his own Chinese star start their own investigation and end up way over their heads.

Daring and unpredictable with a whole lot of Coen-esque hijinks and a gnarled sense of humor, this movie has parts that fit in perfectly with what 2017 was all about, at least in America. A lack of awareness of both the self and others and a sickening apathy have pervaded American soils, and although it's been happening for a while, it really seemed to emerge in 2017. The main character Ruth, played with a nice mix of stoicism/resolve and fear/disgust, is seen at the beginning of the movie running various errands and running into all these situations (people cutting in line or spoiling the plots of books she's reading, for example) that show a world inhabited by people who just don't give a damn about their fellow human beings.

That intensifies when Ruth is robbed, and it intensifies even more once we meet the trio of crooks who robbed her. They're a little filthier and less polite than Coen criminals, but they've got that same sort of nihilism and helplessness and apathy that shows what happens to a world of people when God goes on vacation for a hundred years or so. Each of this slimy trinity is creepy in his or her own way, more so because their relationships with each other are only vaguely hinted at or not explained at all. One of them, played by Devon Graye because I'm guessing that DJ Qualls wasn't available, was especially menacing, especially when he pulls off this slow-motion smile in a mirror. The first time we see him, he's performing an act that puts Home Alone's Wet Bandits to shame. Jane Levy and David Yow play the other two low-budget criminals, the latter especially effective as the patriarch of the crew. They prove that you don't have to be especially skilled, have any resources whatsoever, or even an idea that is any good to bring a little chaos and bloodshed into the world.

It's a chilling thought.

Those guys--especially Yow--become cartoonishly monstrous at the end, contrasting sharply with the protagonist who seems like she could be a real person. Elijah Wood, Ruth's sidekick in this whole thing, is a walking hyperbole, but although the comic and more desperately sad parts of his personality don't really ever feel real, it's still a fun character. He gets a great action moment when he shows off his ninja skills.

I'm not sure it all adds up to anything but the well-paced and breezy sort of ugliness is entertaining enough. It's not the Coens, but I think it's capable of scratching that sort of itch and is one of the better Netflix features.

The title is from a great song (hymn? folk song?) done by the Carter Family and others. I'm singing it now, and if you heard it, you'd be moved.

Bad Movie Club: Terror in Beverly Hills


1989 action movie

Bad Movie Rating: 3/5 (Josh: 2/5; Fred: no rating)

Rating: 5/20

Plot: The president's daughter is kidnapped in Beverly Hills by Middle Eastern terrorists, and only Hack Stone can save her! Hack Stone!

Frank Stallone may be the "star" of this, but he really wasn't in it all that much. I guess this was a troubled production (not having film for the camera, etc.), and Stallone stopped showing up until they agreed to pay him every morning for his work. So he's missing from a large chunk of this movie. Not that it matters all that much because he's interchangeable with any C-level action star from the late-1980s. Any hack could have been Hack Stone.

That's right--his name was Hack Stone in this.

The real star of the movie--and somebody who could not have been replaced--is the great Cameron Mitchell as a surly police chief. You know this type of character from countless B-movies that you've seen. He finds any excuse to yell and curse, throws down phone receivers instead of hanging them up, and snarls a lot. A lot of his lines seems improvised to me, and he really stands out in a movie that desperately needed somebody to stand out.

Pacing was a problem in this one. It takes forever for this one to find a plot. We start with the terrorists on their home turf and then follow them to the airport and to America, seemingly in real time. They lackadaisically scheme and then finally carry out this kidnapping. The kidnapping and ensuing car chase depended on a whole lot of people being terrible at their jobs, and then they're shut up in some sort of defunct bean storage facility for the rest of the movie, one that is easy to find because they traveled via white limousine there. It seems like a no-win situation to me. Normally, I would root for the terrorists when the good guy is a Stallone, but I couldn't support this kind of buffoonery.

There are two great death scenes in this. One is the main bad guy--oh c'mon, did you really think the bad guys were surviving this movie with Hack Stone coming after them?--who makes a baffling decision after a really dull bit of fisticuffs and then is disposed of in what has to be considered overkill. The other is during this ten minutes of movie where the sound is all screwed up and only the dialogue can be heard. Now that might just be an Amazon issue. But a barking dog, the music, the gunshots. It was all very muffled while the dialogue could still be heard, probably unfortunately. Anyway, a character is shot, makes a barely-audible splash in some sort of fountain, and then is shot several times

Watch this for the great Cameron Mitchell performance and the gratuitous nudity.

Hey, wait a second. Cameron? Mitchell? That's the gay couple on Modern Family. Somebody must have been a fan.

Lots of Pepsi product placement. I hope they didn't pay for it.

Early Man


2017 animated feature

Rating: 12/20

Plot: The Bronze Age collides with the Stone Age, and a soccer match ensues.

Despite my love for everything Aardman Animations has ever done, I wasn't all that excited going into this one. Cavemen had already been done with The Croods, and the second preview I saw made it seem like the type of movie that has been written again and again. Nevertheless, I kept the faith. And if I had just gone into this wanting the clever stop-motion animation, the terrible puns, the grotesque human caricatures, the anthropomorphized animals, and the slightly-askew humor that you can expect with Aardman, I would have been pleased.

But the storytelling is so derivative here. The beats are predictable. As soon as one character is introduced, you know exactly how that character will factor into the story later. As soon as one character is being underrated, you know exactly what character will end up doing later. As soon as one bit of dialogue is shared, you know exactly how the end of the big climactic soccer match will go.

Is it a spoiler to tell you that everything in a movie is predictable? It probably is. I apologize.

These Aardman movies work when they throw the unexpected at you. Their blend of charming animated characters and unpredictability work so well in Chicken Run, Wallace and Gromit, and the Shaun the Sheep movie. Here, there are still a few laughs and a few likable characters and a few really beautiful animated sequences that put a smile on my face. But that unpredictability is completely gone and replaced with something almost offensively generic.

There were only five people in the theater with me for this one, and they were all adults. One couple, a lonely person, another lonely person, and me.

Black Panther


2018 superhero movie

Rating: 14/20

Plot: Power struggles in the African nation of Wakanda as T'Challa inherits the throne after his father's passing. Meanwhile, Wakanda struggles with its isolationism.

My plans were to see a less-crowded Early Man, but the theater was having technical difficulties and canceled the last showing of that. Then, I bought a ticket for Fifty Shades Freed, but the movie had already started. So I ended up watching this instead. I had planned on seeing it a few days later.

During the previews, I was overcome with this feeling that somebody was going to come in with a gun and shoot up the movie theater. I was in the last row and felt better after realizing that if a gunman did come in, I could drop to the floor, scoot to the end of the row, and squeeze myself behind the seats to hide. Nobody ended up coming in to shoot everybody though. You probably would have heard about it on the news had that happened.

I realize the importance of this movie to the black community, and I liked the messages below the surface of this movie. The surface, unfortunately, was the same kind of tired Marvel superhero movie stuff that we've seen many many times before. Sketchy CGI fight scenes, flashy action sequences, uninspired storytelling. The black community deserves a better superhero movie than this just like women deserved a better superhero movie than Wonder Woman. Bizarre action set pieces distract from some pretty good performances, and pedestrian storytelling can't distract from a hero who just isn't all that engaging.

I really wanted to like this movie, and I did enjoy pieces of it. I liked the role women played in the story, and I liked that almost every important character was black. I liked the look on kids' faces when watching a cool spaceship. I liked a lot of the costumes and music.

I did not like seeing Stan Lee again. I'm really tired of these cameos. This one wasn't as dopey as others, but it was still pretty dopey.

I enjoyed how this is Marvel's Bond movie. These individual superhero stories all get their own sub-genres, and I kind of hoped this one wouldn't be blaxploitation. It's totally not! It's a Bond movie, and that's pretty cool.

The theater was packed. I haven't looked at weekend box office numbers for this, but I know it did very well. I'm thrilled about that, and I was happy to see how happy people were when leaving the theater. Their experiences, both in everyday life and with this movie, are different than mine.

I chuckled when looking for a poster image to steal for this blog entry and finding this one of Martin Freeman:


I thought for sure it was a fake poster, but apparently, it's real. 

Edit: I've let this one marinate a bit. Based on a few different things, I've decided that I liked this better than I thought I did.

First, is Michael B. Jordan's villain. A lot of what I didn't like about this was how Marvelized it was. And I didn't really think the villain was all that engaging. However, I now like that character because of how non-Marvel he was. Killmonger (cool name, too) is driven by things that are very real, and I think that adds real depth and emotion to the whole thing.

Another theme emerged as I was thinking about this, too. A lot of this has to do with things being hidden. Hidden powers, hidden technologies, entire hidden civilizations. And as the story progresses, the importance of storytelling and things not staying hidden becomes important.

Good Time


2017 crime thriller

Rating: 14/20

Plot: After a pair of brothers botch a bank robbery scheme, the mentally-challenged one winds up arrested. The other brother attempts to free him.

Gritty and hyper-modern, this movie definitely doesn't suffer from a lack of propulsion. It's filled with all sorts of twists and turns that keep this thing zigzagging even as it thrusts forward. Drenched in neon and urban grease, Robert Patterson brings this flawed but likable little twitchy jerk to life as he wades through a nightmare of his own construction. I'm not sure there's anything novel about any of this, and the score and some implausibilities were a little distracting, but I still ended up liking this enough.

The Beguiled


2017 drama

Rating: 13/20

Plot: During the Civil War, a wounded Union soldier recovers at a school for girls in the South. His presence stirs up things in the women and girls remaining at the school.

Two movies in 2017 had a lot to do with mushrooms, and this was one of them. 2017 was all about mushrooms and the music of John Denver.

A lot of this movie was really dark. Sofia Coppola really wanted to remind the audience that there was no electricity back then, and she did a great job with that.

Lucky


2017 swan song

Rating: 15/20

Plot: Lucky faces off against old age and worries about David Lynch's turtle.

Is there a better send-off for an actor like Harry Dean Stanton than to show him on the big screen doing yoga in his boxers at the age of 90? I don't think so.

Stanton's performance is just about perfect. He could have just showed up with his bones and wrinkles and watered that cactus like he does on the movie poster there and it still would have been perfect. I'm not sure I always like the things his characters say as it's hard to figure out whether this Lucky fellow is supposed to be as wise as those wrinkles might indicate or a guy who can't even complete a crossword puzzle by himself, but the character is too likably-cantankerous to not care about. And when he bursts into a spontaneous song late in the movie, it nearly brought a tear to this unlikably-cantankerous viewer's eyes.

David Lynch plays one of Lucky's friends, an eccentric guy who owns a turtle. Actually, I'm not sure if anybody told David Lynch he was in a movie or not. Maybe he just stumbled in and started talking to the characters as himself.

Touching, ornery, and as incomplete as a human life, this has a little to say about mortality and both higher powers and lower ones. It's profound in a naturalistic and minimalistic ways and is a great swan song for an acting legend.

Fantastic final shot in this one, too!

The 15:17 to Paris


2018 true story movie

Rating: 5/20

Plot: Three bros stop a terrorist attack on a train.

Clint Eastwood has completely lost it. Whatever "It" might be, he's lost it at the age of 137 or however old he is. This movie is an embarrassing perfect storm of terrible writing, bad acting, and inept directing from a director who should know better.

I was offended pretty much from the beginning with a pointless attack on public schools and a heroic "My God is bigger than your statistics!" mic drop moment. I groaned loudly enough that the two old people with me in the theater (the only two others) both half-turned to look at me. A second reference to the evils of statistics, Jamba Juice product placement, a Flags of Our Fathers poster, a cliched training montage, and lines like "This isn't good bye; just a see-you-later" had me rolling my eyes more than I've ever rolled my eyes while watching a movie in a theater. In fact, I'm pretty sure eyes have never rolled this hard in the history of eyes!

The biggest issue is probably the performances. I thought the child actors were pretty bad, but then I saw their adult counterparts and realized that the casting director had to find kids who could act as well as the real-life guys playing themselves in this movie. Alek Skarlatos, Anthony Sadler, and Spencer Stone might be real-life heroes, but that doesn't mean they should be acting in feature films. I'm not even sure they should appear in Snapchats or home videos of birthday parties after this actually.

Other legendarily-bad moments: Lots of God in this, mostly delivered by Jenna Fischer who reads her lines like she's being forced to in some sort of hostage standoff;  CPR dummy that manages to out-act Stone in one scene; two moments when Clint Eastwood, or his cinematographer, get a little randy and linger on the posteriors of college-aged gals for a little too long; an utterly pointless tour of Italy where the characters crack bad jokes, talk about their selfie sticks, and order and consume Gelato; a scene where kids are admiring a firearm that was obviously put in the movie to give the NRA folk something to masturbate to.

And I know what you're thinking, defenders of 15:17 to Paris: those scenes, like the extended Gelato scene, only showcase that these are regular everyday guys who had no intentions of ever becoming heroes. Showcasing the mundane was Eastwood's way of emphasizing the Everyman-aspect of this trio. Maybe so, but you can't do that and have them engaging in conversations about how they're going to be heroes or how life is pushing them toward some big moment.

Eastwood played with narrative structure with Sully and American Sniper, and he seems to want that to be his thing now. It's so awkward here, and combined with all the other embarrassing sequences and bits of terrible dialogue and cliches, it shows that Eastwood probably needs to retire and just concentrate on talking to chairs.

OK, that was a little mean. He shouldn't retire, I guess. Sully wasn't awful. It might have been if the real Sully had played the lead instead of Tom Hanks though.

Garbanzo Gas

2007 lo-fi gunk

Rating: 5/20

Plot: Two guys shack up in a hotel, but their planned suicide at checkout time is interrupted by a vacationing cow.

I'm glad that I don't have anything better to do with my time.

I didn't recognize the name Giuseppe Andrews, but I did see one of his movies before--Period Piece, which reminded me of a less-talented Harmony Korine after he had been clobbered in the head by a more-talented Harmony Korine a few times. You can check the review above, but I'm pretty sure I said something about how nobody should watch that movie.

As I get older, my tolerance for this sort of stuff should be less and less, but I actually kind of got a kick out of this. Andrews has an absurdist humor that can't quite make up for his lack of filter, what has to be a lazy work ethic, and technical ineptness. I laughed a few times, and I groaned a few more.

There are some terrifically bad performances, probably by people who were also in Period Piece. Miles Dougal attempts to channel Jack Nicholson as Leon and gets a great death scene. Walt Dongo (Walt Dongo?) plays his pal. Both of them wear ridiculous wigs. Bill Tyree plays Dingles Davenport, who I believe is the orthopedic shoe killer, getting great lines like, "Hey, can I stay in your trailer? Me and my orthopedic shoe need a place to fuck." Or "I need skirt and spuds before I pound my puds and fill my ortho shoe with the crud from my bunny dud. Nut sacks! Nut sacks!" That's something else. As is his "I got a groin" soliloquy which makes me weep just thinking about it.

And then there's the performance of Vietnam Ron, the guy who plays the cow. He gets a great dance sequence, after which he apologizes for not knowing how a cow dances and then laughs. I'm not sure that was scripted. In fact, I'm not sure any of this was. He also says, "Yeah, my udders look dazzling" at one point, and he attempts to milk himself. It's wonderful!

With random words ("Udders" or "High five") appearing on the screen, multiple plot twists involving flatulence, cuckoo clock sound effects, groin goulash, a ventriloquist dummy with added breasts, several instances where the cameraman can be seen in a hotel room mirror, and an odd ending showing a bunch of actual cows, nobody's going to accuse this of being uninspired. It's lunatic fringe material, and I almost want to like it. . I just wish it wasn't so juvenile.

Bad Movie Club: Boggy Creek II: The Legend Continues


1984 sequel

Bad Movie Rating: 3/5 (J.D.: 3/5; Josh: 3/5)

Rating: 4/20

Plot: A professor and three students go hunting for the elusive Boggy Creek monster. They have no business doing any sort of thing.

Charles B. Pierce decided he wanted to star as an action hero in a horror-adventure movie, and this was the result. You have to love how he wrote himself a character that is not only tough but really smart. I mean, he's a professor and all. He's not an action hero who knows how to change the inflection in his voice (though that might be part of what makes him so tough), and he's definitely not an action hero who knows how to pace a movie's narrative. A large chunk of his movie shows the characters driving around. Intermittent flashbacks are often more comical than scary, especially one where a guy is attacked in an outhouse. That flashback climaxes with the character having shit hosed off his pants. One student likes to go shirtless, a wardrobe choice that I'm pretty positive was Charles B. Pierce's.

This movie kind of has its own unique rhythm, and it very nearly put me under its spell.

The monster is never really all that frightening. Honestly, that's part of the point. That's probably a spoiler though. The mad dog which comes along and has Marty Nipples screaming, "Mad dog!" and Pierce transitioning into full-on action hero mode is more threatening than the monster ever was. Of course, try telling that to the dude in the outhouse.

Favorite character: Old Man Crenshaw, played by Jimmy Clem. As Josh said, he was sort of like a Duke boy ancestor. This was Clem's final movie after just seven roles.

The Cloverfield Paradox


2018 sequel or maybe prequel

Rating: 9/20

Plot: I really don't feel like doing plot synopses anymore.

Netflix has done it again!

I was intrigued by the marketing for this, but the movie is nearly incomprehensible and the whole thing feels like it was halfway completed before J.J. and company decided it was a Cloverfield movie. It feels shoehorned into that burgeoning-but-somehow-already-tired cinematic universe.

Maybe I'd care about some of these characters in another alternate universe? The characters in the two or however-many they inhabit in this movie didn't do it for me.

Some surreal sci-fi imagery--worms, a disembodied arm, Chris Dowd--and a pretty cool gyrating space station weren't nearly enough to keep me interested in this mess.

Whereas the first Cloverfield movie and the John Goodman thing were successful--though I didn't care for 10 Cloverfield Lane--because of their simplicity and quiet foreboding, this one is sprawling and incoherent and far too ambitious.

Movies-a-Go-Go: Fifty Shades Darker


2017 sequel

Rating: 6/20

Plot: Who the hell really cares?

To ready myself to see the climax (no pun intended) of this steamy trilogy, I watched this middle installment. As with the first, I Movie-a-Go-Go'd this one. I'm not sure if they'll let me type in the movie theater to do this with the third movie--Fifty Shades Blander--or not, and I'm also not sure if I'll be able to see the movie in a bathrobe. Thoughts and prayers.

Here are my unadulterated thoughts while subjecting myself to Fifty Shades Darker:

Theatrical version or unrated version? Hell yeah, I’m watching this unrated version!

Christian is spanking it to some child abuse fantasy? What?

OK, that was a nightmare. I’m ten seconds into the film, and I’ve already proven that I may not be smart enough to watch the thing.

I must confess that I can’t really remember how the last one ended. I checked my own Movies A-Go-Go, but it didn’t really make much sense. This one also, I’m afraid, won’t make much sense.

Danny Fucking Elfman! What are you doing, man?

This feels like some sort of alternate dimension or something. I’m having a really difficult time interpreting the looks these people are giving each other.

Hmm...I wonder who could have possibly purchased these photographs of Anastasia?

And. . .here he is. And. . .they’re staring at each other indeterminately.

You can’t do this, Anastasia? What do you mean? After he just grabbed at your throat and slammed you against a brick wall? How could you possibly resist?

Christian’s sweater is a shade of gray.

“I’d like to renegotiate the terms.” Yes! That’s what I came here for! Term negotiation really gets me going!

“Okay, well, um...generally a key part of good communication is that both parties be conscious.” Well, you should have gotten a pair of leads who could actually appear conscious.

No punishments? This is not what I signed up for, Fifty Shades Darker!

No strings attached, Christian? And no pun intended!

“This is spiky.” If she keeps saying things like that, the terms may need to be re-renegotiated.

Apple product placement.

I’m seeing more and more of text dialogue appearing on the screen, and I don’t think I like it.

I’m not sure I like the cut of this Jack character’s jib.

I don’t know what a “jib” is exactly, but I bet Christian Grey would enjoy whipping it.

“I’m the boyfriend.”
“I’m the boss.”
"I'm the disgruntled audience."

Ben and Jerry’s product placement. Blatantly placed.

I know it’s early and I know there’s a sequel with both of these characters in it, but during this scene where they’re cutting vegetables, I’m really hoping one of them cuts himself or herself and bleeds to death.

Hugs from behind are off limits? Also not what I signed up for, Fifty Shades Darker!

“I’m too dressed.” I just want to point out that somebody had to write that line.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is some vanilla sex on the horizon.

I may have to use my safe word sooner than expected because of the song that’s playing during this scene.

Christian Grey butt cleavage.

On a personal note, I’m not sure I’ve ever had sex with my pants on. Am I missing out on something there or not?

“I was being romantic and then you distract me with your kinky fuckery.” Did Anastasia suffer from a traumatic brain injury or seven between movies?

This breakfast is slightly hotter than that sex scene.

Why is Kim Basinger in this movie?

They’ve had about four fights in the two or three days since they’ve gotten back together. I’m not sure these two are compatible at all.

“All of this is wrong.” Anastasia just wrote my review for me.

I can’t claim that I’m an expert of romantic relationships, but I’m seeing all sorts of warning signs here.

This lipstick drawing scene is pretty intense. I’m really not sure if he’s enjoying this or if it’s causing him discomfort. He’s not a great actor.

“No, you’re not putting those in my butt.”

What do the balls you just inserted into yourself do? I don’t know, but I really hope they jingle when she walks.

I’m hoping for an Eyes Wide Shut type party here. I mean, they have masks.

Mr. Nomad Paul?

Are there typically auctions at balls? I’m not sure how the wealthy operate, but that doesn’t seem right.

Now she’s open to being spanked? You should have forcibly shoved metal balls in her vagina earlier, Christian!

Three spanks is enough.

I think the crazy girl is admirable. She makes things happen!

The lipstick is still on him? Wasn’t that from a few days ago?

So many shots of this fucking boat! This seems endless, but Anastasia just said, “I’m the captain!” and made me laugh, so it’s all good.

And the award for the Most Boring Scene Taking Place in a Kinky Sex Room goes to. . .

Ironic that Christian talked about running with this device because there’s no way anybody could actually run with that thing shackled to their ankles.

That move to flip Anastasia onto her front probably gave her a wryneck!

“I hate it when we fight.” It’s half your relationship!

Her dream job? I find it hard to believe that anybody’s dream job is working as an assistant to this total asshole.

“If you’re going to fuck your way to prominence, you should at least do it with somebody who is gonna make you smarter, not just richer.” That’s actually pretty sound advice.

Jack’s got a total Matt Lauer vibe going on here.

That knee to the groin needed stunt doubles. She missed, and he reacted slowly.

“Christian, you know I love working [it].”

Van Morrison gets me going, too.

If I had a dollar for every time I rode an elevator with somebody who said, “Don’t come”. . .

I have a feeling this pool game is going to be the most suspenseful part of the movie.

Does a lack of panties affect one’s pool game?

He’s putting it in the back pocket, if you know what I mean.

Be careful, Christian. From personal experience, I can tell you that it’s tough to get jism out of red felt.

The pool game was about 30 times longer than the subsequent sex scene.

The way Leila said “Master sleeps in your bed” made it seem like she’s a descendant of Torgo.

OK, now I’ve decided that I’m definitely not smart enough for this movie. I have no idea what’s going on with this Leila subplot.

Prediction: They’re going to fix Jack up with Laila and manage to spank two birds with one stone.

Whoa! Her hand is in the lipstick zone!

I’m thinking that entire pool scene was the only thing this has that the theatrical version was missing.

He’s got a pommel horse?

I can’t believe this movie isn’t over yet.

I’m curious. If you start this movie and Gymkata at the exact same time, do the pommel horse scenes occur simultaneously?

More texts. This time, it’s revealed that Anastasia can spell “persistent.”

Ros is worried about Mount St. Helens blowing. I’m kind of hoping it does.

Mayday! Mayday! Our CGI helicopter is going down!

“My, you’re so tan and glowy.” Anastasia has a way with words.

That helicopter stunt was going a little far to get her to say yes to your marriage proposal, Christian.

“It’s after midnight.”
“I’m not tired.”
“It’s your birthday.”
Christian: Really confused look.

A keychain with the word “Yes” on the back. Christian’s question: “Does this mean yes?” Now I’m wondering which is the dumb one.

OK, I think I need to point out that he actually asked if it meant “yes yes.” That’s a little different.

The Red Room! Fuck, yeah!

I think he’s dumping lighter fluid on her chest now. This thing’s about to heat up!

How much time has passed in this idiotic movie?

“He’s the one, Mom. He’s got a Red Room, and his own helicopter! Oh, wait. . .”

And the movie is still going on. You’d think the engagement and Red Room would be the climax of this.

When does the auction start at this birthday party?

Christian’s brother seems like he could be a Trump.

By the way, this movie still isn’t over.

He’s proposing again? Did the makers of this forget that they’ve already gone through this?

I need one more Red Room scene before bed.

What the hell? Jack’s actually still a thing?

CGI fireworks. Nice ribbon on this movie.