Movie Reviews: The Nice Guys

Nice-Guys-web.jpg

The Nice Guys directed by Shane Black

The movie was watched after 4 beers and a belly full of food on a Friday night after a long week of work. I was tired and just wanted to zone out for a bit and watch something new. I had seen the previews and didn’t quite get the hijinks between the two main characters. One is a little too tough and gruff and the other reaches deep in the ambitious underachiever trope.

The first fifteen minutes confirmed by suspicions, however, somehow, someway, the movie elevated itself out of trope-dom and actually was smart, well made, with a unique plot that had me actually wanting to see more.

The buddy cop or buddy detective plot has been done in so many ways that it is very difficult for something to really be considered “new.” Part of my point of view was inhibited by a little alcohol, yes, but it still takes a ton to really surprise me nowadays.

With this film, I was surprised. I had little idea what direction the movie was going once Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling linked up.

Then, there was the Matt Bomar introduction. I laughed my ass off for a good 30 seconds at the scene. You can read my past movie reviews; I don’t think I’ve ever written that in a review for any film so far, even comedies. This is because when the delivery is a surprise, and people don’t expect it coming, the scene is absolutely nailed. Shane Black has a knack for writing dialogue, and the screenplay shows his talents off. The interplay between Crowe and Gosling grows with each scene so much that even Kim Basinger can’t torpedo the movie.

There is action.

There is nudity.

There is partying.

There are gunfights.

There are comedic lines.

There are subdued comical reactions.

There was a kick-ass villain.

The ultimate compliment I can for a movie is for me (the one who hates sequels/reboots/requels/reimaginings/prequels/tv adaptations) to say I want to watch a sequel.

Let’s hope for a “The Nice Guys II” by 2019.

Movie Rating: 8.5/10

 

I Lost 100 Story Outlines

iphone-248906_960_720.jpg

The biggest setback in my writing happened 3 weeks ago. I took my iPhone 5S into a Batteries Plus to get the battery replaced and the technician messed up my phone. It began going into a perpetual reboot cycle every 3 minutes. After a few days with my phone, including a trip to another location for another technician to fix it, the phone was determined to be broken by the “trained technicians.” At first, the they blamed it on not being updated to the newest version, however, after updating it, it didn’t work. They then said if I did a hard reboot, it would correct itself.

Oh shit.

I lost all my story pre-draft outlines.

Since the phone was constantly rebooting, I couldn’t download all the data. It would only get ten percent in the process or so each time.

You see, as a writer in 2016, I have a ton of ideas, but very few drafts. This is because I go through a pre-draft stage of outlining details of 3 act stories, and then constantly refining it on my phone until it reaches an insatiable stage of needing to write the first chapter, which results in very quick beginnings to stories. I almost never have writers block. Sometimes I change my mind with characters and have to figure stuff out halfway through a book, but more often than not, I follow “writing to an end.”

I had maybe a 100 outlines on my phone. Some of them were garbage, some of them were so-so, and a few were good. Luckily for me, some of the good ideas will always be in my mind. Unfortunately, all of the 2am plot ideas formed before I fell asleep in bed don’t always manifest itself again. Some of the quick lunch time notes I get while people-watching is gone forever.

And this is ok.

I’ll come up with another 100 fresh ideas soon. I can probably do it in a week. I could probably write 1000 outlines in a few months.

Outlines don’t matter. Spending the time to write full drafts do.

I’ll keep pressing forward, as should you.

We can’t dwell on the fast, only focus on the future and imagine the possibilities.

I now have a new iPhone with a bigger screen.

And my notes page on my iPhone is empty, but not for long.

Movie Reviews: The Last Boy Scout

the-last-boy-scout.18701.jpg

The Last Boyscout directed by Tony Scott

This movie was a disappointment when it came out. People wanted Die Hard, but Shane Black’s script was more like Lethal Weapon. In a way, you would have almost thought Richard Donner directed the film the way it was shot and scored.

Even as a kid, I was disappointed with it. Bruce Willis played a stereotype of a detective. Boozy with personal problems of all orders. He basically acted like he just didn’t give a damn about anything. Life had already churned him inside and out.

Twenty years later, I understand. Some athletes sometimes have drug problems, even star quarterbacks. Cops have a shit ton of problems ranging the entire spectrum. Maybe people had it all wrong.

This was a case of art reflecting life.

Football is a business that doesn’t truly give a shit about the players. It takes a ton of legal action and scientific research to get the business to admit that it is a brutal sport that takes physical and long lasting tolls on human beings. It is big business not only because of fandom, tv marketing potential, but because of the gambling that goes alongside it. Just go to a sports book in Las Vegas and you can see why. Billions are wagered legally and illegally. And now, we even have the online “fantasy” versions with draft kings and yahoo getting in on the deal.

Twenty years ago, the sport seemed a little more pure. This was the era of Joe Montana, Dan Marino, Troy Aikman, Steve Young, and Warren Moon. These were icons and role models unlike today, with Tom Brady and deflategate, Peyton Manning and steroid/stem cell accusations, and Big Ben and sexual assault allegations.

And then, Colin K and disgracing the national anthem and flag in a selfish act. Send me hate mail, I don’t care. Just because a few people agree with you doesn’t mean it is right. Instead of using a platform for good and work towards actually causing positive change in america, he speaks of obvious issues America has. Yes, there is freedom of speech, however, in the eyes of many he has zero class. Riddle me this, where was Colin K speaking of social injustice and donating money to charity when he had a platform as the Superbowl to talk? Why does he only have “courage” to speak when he is benched? Funny that a guy who’s trademark dance is kissing his bicep really stands for anything but himself.

Where are the boyscouts today? America sure needs them.

Back to the movie. It’s decent. Go check it out again.

Movie Reviews: Hail, Caeser

hail-cesar.jpgHail, Caeser directed by the Coen Brothers

There are good Coen Brothers movies and annoying Coen Brother movies. In a rare feat, some manage to step toes in both categories.

Hail, Caeser has it’s ass squarely in the annoying category.

The previews pretty much sum up the plot. George Clooney is a star actor who is abducted in a convolutedly boring plot that is more a setup for visuals rather than entertainment, humor, or intrigue. In many ways, it reminded me of Burn After Reading and a little of Barton Fink (without the cerebral ending).

Like with many Coen Brother films today, critics and reviewers are too afraid to give their true opinion. Even if utterly confused and bored at spending an entire movie trying to read between hidden meaning and allegorical double takes, they give it a pass.

There a bunch of dancing from Channing Tatum (huge stretch).

A bunch of confused looks from George Clooney (huge stretch).

Francis McDormand speaks fast and is neurotic (huge stretch).

Scarlett Johansson plays it sultry with an accent (huge stretch).

Jonah Hill plays it boring and straight (Huuuuuge stretch).

And Josh Brolin essentially plays the same character that he did in Inherent Vice. (Big Whoop).

The big mystery was seeing how the new Han Solo acted (why oh why would they make a damn original prequel?????) He was ok.

I went into the film with little hopes, and left thankful they haven’t gone back to make a sequel to Fargo, The Big Lebowski, or Raising Arizona, and for that, Hail the Coen Brothers.

Movie Rating: 4 out of 10 Russian Submarines

Fresh Finds of the 80s: G.I. Joe

Hero-Envy-gi-joe.jpg

Got to get tough, yo Joe!

Every generation had a toy that defined their youth. Mine was undoubtedly dominated by the world of G.I.Joes. In fact, I was the “G.I. Joe kid” on my street, with an obsessive collection that topped 130 or so action figures, including a few dozen vehicles, including some of the larger, more expensive ever to be sold.

Only if I knew how much they would be worth today, I wouldn’t have built dirt trenches in my front yard and used a hose to simulate a cobra trap. I mean, the movie was based on the mythical Cobra-La so how could a kid not totally decimate the value of all their toys?

I recently went on ebay and found out exactly what my toys would have been worth. Some range from a hundred bucks new in the package and peaks around $700 for the more rare figures. Well, I wouldn’t say rare, but the figures that people managed to not open and keep in a climate controlled place out of view of sunlight.

The same phenomenon could be said for the original Star Wars set. For anyone that has ever watched Toy Hunter with Jordan Hembrough, you know just how much those toys have skyrocketed in value.

I guess I would have a hundred grand or so in toys, but I wouldn’t trade the experience of being young with no problems during the dawn of the video game age.

We traded baseball and football cards in the late 80s.

We rode bikes.

We built forts.

Played war.

Lost all our accessories to our action figures.

And didn’t give a shit. Our parents didn’t give a shit.

In essence, we were built to not live in the past in contrast to the kids today. There are a billion special editions on toy shelves each year that the meaning is lost. Funko Pops are meant to be saved in their pristine boxes. Every TV and movie show needs a line of toys, mostly marketed toward adults of the 80s who remember collecting. The value of all the crap today will be very little in 20 to 30 years because Funko Pop armies are not being lined up in trenches in the front yard ready for war. The “pristine” supply will always be high.

The same phenomenon happened in the 1980s boom of baseball cards. All the kids of the 50s grew up and had money 30 years later and started bidding up stuff from their childhood. They wanted to get the cards they never found. They wanted the best condition. Prices shot up and companies over produced baseball cards.

The same shit is happening today. All current toys will crash in value. There is a reason why The Phantom Menace toys sell less today than they did when the movie came out. There is simply too much of it. Add in Disney over producing Star Wars each and every Christmas from her and forever and what you have is basically the end of collecting. G.I. keeps releasing different lines of toys, confusing new collectors and annoying the old faithful.

But hey! People collecting for fun, right?

Bullshit.

People like both. The same goes for car collecting and vintage comic books and fine art. People want their rare stuff to go up in value. People speculate. They commiserate with friends. They take trips to conventions around the world for the thrill of the hunt.

The prices of the original line of Star Wars and G.I. Joes will always go up in value, even as the original kids grow old and die. The franchises will continue.

I just look forward to when trenches are built in yards again.

As for me, this all started because my wife found for me a 1992 G.I. Joe still sealed in the package, purchased for $3 at a thrift shop. I guess it’s worth a couple Subway Sandwiches more, but I don’t care, I’ll keep it. Hopefully someday, I’ll be able to get the toy I never got; An original B.A.T.S sealed in the package.

In the end, I have the memory, and that’s all that counts.

Movie Reviews: Now You See Me 2

t-now-you-see-me-2-poster.jpg

Now You See Me 2 directed by Jon Chu

aka “Now You Can See the Casting Change”

What happens when Hollywood has an unexpected surprise hit with a relatively low budget cast?

Sequels happen.

What happens when the token hot girl doesn’t agree (likely over compensation) to appear in the sequel?

Hello Lizzy Caplan.

This seemed like the first 10 minutes was focused explaining this in some awfully written dialogue as if the audience needed to know the play by play. We’ve seen this plot device at the beginning of Karate Kid Part II and practically any sequel where there are casting issues. We have had 3 different Hulks in films, and Captain America was first part of the Fantastic Four. In Speed 2, Sandra had to take a cruise with someone else because “things simply didn’t work out.”

I call this cinematic weak-sauce.

Here is a hint Hollywood. Movie-goers can be smart too. They go to movies not because it is believable canon. (They put up with bumbling and unwatchable Finn in the new Star Wars) They want escapism, or want to fit in with friends, or take a date there, or have to watch over their kids. Nobody needs so much intro to explain why Robin William’s voice isn’t in The Return of Jafar. Reminding them someone isn’t there has the opposite effect!

I thought it would be a throwaway line. Nope. The first act is essentially trying painstakingly to make Lizzy Caplan to be likable by giving her all the clever lines and reactions.

They simply should have renamed the movie “Now Can You Please Like Her?”

On to the plot.

Nonsensical plot to try and link it back to the first one and come up with reasons for cast to return. The fun and cleverness and discovery in the first film is completely lost in this plot. It isn’t as if the first film was a masterpiece, but I hoped that with confidence in a franchise, and a larger budget, they could be bolder and expand what was started.

So what’s the plan for the third one? Gonna bring back Michael Caine once again?

On to the main question at hand; Did I like Lizzy Caplan?

Yes, but not for any reasons to do with the film.

Movie Rating: 3 Card Monty’s out of 10.

 

Movie Reviews: The Last Kiss

51RAE4KGM8L.jpg

The Last Kiss (L’ultimo Bacio) directed by Gabriele Muccino

This is a movie review of the real thing, not of that bullshit Zach Braff wannabe copycat/remake in 2006. It is about a coming of age crisis with a man faced with the prospect of fatherhood and settling down. It’s a movie most men can relate to in their mid life crisis years and reflect back on choices they made in their respective lives. I would like to think most accept the battle with time, however with the divorce rate in America, especially predominant with men with successful careers, I fully acknowledge men pursue the last kiss partly out of a quest for regain something lost.

This film explores this and more, and at the time, I watched it more with the “love the one you’re with” theme so didn’t get the main character at all. His decision making is flawed and he only gets himself in worse situations. Fifteen years later, I totally understand this is how “adults” act.

People are foolish.

People are rash.

People make mistakes.

The film reveals the consequences of his mistakes (and the film revealed the consequence of a poorly adapted copycat/remake).

Put on some reading glasses and get ready to read some subtitles; this film is worth it. If you want to watch it with your girlfriend of wife, just take some advice from me; just shake your head in disgust at this guy’s decision making and say only idiots would do that. Maybe as a result, you’ll get a last kiss yourself to end the night.

Movie Rating: 8/10 Kisses