Category Archives: Uncategorized

GE Meet-Up: Vegas, Baby!

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There was a Gone Elsewhere Meet-Up last night as our old pal Nick was in Las Vegas and had enough time to quaff a few adult beverages at the city’s premier dive bar, The Double Down Saloon. We had a great time, and Nick has promised to post again. I think that he must be the only man in Sweden who has been to both Double Down locations (see the last meet-up in New York City).

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AGEBOC X – Week 12

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Deadline is Thursday, July 19th at 11:59 pm (EST)

    1. What will Mama Mia! Here We Go Againearn this weekend? (+4 for closest prediction. +2 for second closest. Additional +2 for prediction within 500k)
    2. What will The Equalizer 2 earn this weekend? (+4 for closest prediction. +2 for second closest. Additional +2 for prediction within 500k)
    3. What will Unfriended: Dark Web earn this weekend? (+4 for closest prediction. +2 for second closest. Additional +2 for prediction within 500k)

Current Rankings:
James: +77
Jackrabbit Slim: +59
Marco: +33
Rob: +24
Juan: +16
Nick: +4
Joe: +4

AGEBOC X – Week 11

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Deadline is Thursday, June 12th at 11:59 pm (EST)

    1. What will Skyscraper earn this weekend? (+4 for closest prediction. +2 for second closest. Additional +2 for prediction within 500k)
    2. What will Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation earn this weekend? (+4 for closest prediction. +2 for second closest. Additional +2 for prediction within 500k)
    3. What will Ant-Man and the Wasp earn this weekend? (+4 for closest prediction. +2 for second closest. Additional +2 for prediction within 500k)

Current Rankings:
James: +63
Jackrabbit Slim: +59
Marco: +27
Rob: +24
Juan: +16
Nick: +4
Joe: +4

AGEBOC X – Week 10

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Deadline is Thursday, June 5th at 11:59 pm (EST)

    1. What will Ant-Man and the Wasp earn this weekend? (+4 for closest prediction. +2 for second closest. Additional +2 for prediction within 500k)
    2. What will The First Purge earn this weekend? (+4 for closest prediction. +2 for second closest. Additional +2 for prediction within 500k)
    3. What will Sorry to Bother You earn this weekend? (+4 for closest prediction. +2 for second closest. Additional +2 for prediction within 500k)
    4. Will Sicario: Day of the Soldado fall UNDER or OVER 65%? (+1 for correct answer)

Current Rankings:
Jackrabbit Slim: +54
James: +52
Rob: +24
Marco: +18
Juan: +16
Nick: +4
Joe: +4

Review: Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World (2012)

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When ‘Seeking A Friend For the End Of the World’ came out in 2012, I was eager to see it as ‘end of the world’ plotlines have always intrigued me for the potential scope they have and perspective they can take. You could make a dozen films with that concept (dramatic or comedic) and they could all potentially be interesting viewing.

Alas, it never arrived in Australian cinemas as despite Steve Carell starring, it was a box office flop and had a lackluster critical response. I eventually saw it recently because, in a funny sort of way, the film’s failure made it more intriguing to me as I was curious to see where the film misused its premise.

As is often the case with these types of films, the film begins with an official pronouncement that all attempts to prevent an incoming asteroid colliding with the earth and ending all life on it have failed and only weeks to live remain. In New York City, middle-aged Dodge (Carell) is understandably lost as to how to react to this situation. While friends around him devolve into debauchery, Dodge initially sticks pointlessly to his dull daily routine (his wife having left him when the end of the world was official) until a chance encounter with British neighbor Penny (Keira Knightley) who is grieving over her breakup with her boyfriend. While polar opposite personalities, they develop a friendship bordering on romance but will it survive the end of the world?

SAFFTEOTW can be analysed in two sections; as a broad comedy and as a melancholy take on romance in the worst possible situation.

As the former, the film is a failure. Its attempts at comedy fall consistently flat as they either misfire through poor execution (a workplace meeting where new job opportunities are discussed with weeks till the world ends sounds a lot funnier in concept than it does here) or scenes that just go nowhere. A scene where Dodge attends a party that turns into drug-taking and orgies (off-screen) drifts on aimlessly forever without even a mildly funny moment.

While the writing and direction (both by Lorene Scarfaria) are to blame, Carell’s performance doesn’t help either. He plays his character so inert and passive that he gives nothing to the other characters around him who then tend to overact as a result and any comedy possibilities are largely snuffed out.

Another issue is that there’s a seemingly endless array of fairly prominent TV/movie personalities in minor/cameo roles (Adam Brody, Connie Britton, Rob Corddry, Melanie Lynskey, Gillian Jacobs, William Petersen amongst others). This has become a bit of a trend in modern comedy to cast like this and it often is distracting more than entertaining, especially when they try to ‘steal scenes’. Most of them don’t work here.

But as a melancholy take on romance when the world is ending (which takes up most of the film’s second half), the film is much more substantive; Scarfaria is clearly more at ease with the romantic and melancholy aspects of the film and perhaps felt obliged to put the comic elements in to make the film more appealing to potential audiences.

As well, Carell’s performance is much more suited to this part of the film as someone who transforms from a dull sad-sack to one who is reborn by finding love and challenging himself. Knightley is OK in her role although the rather forced quirkiness of her character (especially how much the film hammers home her love of vinyl records) is somewhat tedious.

What the film gets right is seeing a couple enjoying and getting to know each other so that basic scenes like them spending an afternoon at the beach is deftly charming. And a brief bit where Dodge sits on the floor of his apartment listening to Penny’s vinyl records is quite effective as well. These seemingly simple scenes work much better than the forced effort of the comedic scenes.

Also working well is the segment where Dodge visits his father (Martin Sheen) who he’s been estranged from for decades. The concept – a father and son reconciling at their final opportunity – seems somewhat unpromising as a rather cliched concept, but thanks for the sincerity of how it’s filmed and the performances of Carrell and Sheen it works surprisingly effectively.     

Even in the second half, the film isn’t perfect. There’s a segment where Dodge and Penny spend a night in jail which feels unnecessary and filler material. And it never really gets its timing right as a comedy.

But by its moving finale SAFFTEOTW has despite its flaws become a worthwhile viewing experience, quite touching and sweet in its own way. It’s easy to see why the film failed critically and commercially upon its release, but there are rewards for those who seek it out now.

Movies Opening June 29, 2018

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Sicario: Day of the Soldado: Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin and writer Taylor Sheridan (Hell or High Water, Wind River) return for this sequel to Denis Villeneuve’s excellent 2015 film. Stefano Sollima (Gomorahh) directs.

Despite less favorable reviews from critics, this appears to be opening quite well. Sheridan has said he intends to make a third picture (with Emily Blunt’s character from the original back in the mix) and he should get to do it as long as it doesn’t fall off a cliff box office-wise over the next couple of weeks.

Uncle Drew: Basketball comedy. Surprisingly decent reviews given that the trailer was legitimately torture.

Movies Opening June 22, 2018 / Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Review

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Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom: This past weekend’s sole new release was the fifth installment in the Jurassic Park franchise.

This series has had enormous difficulty with sequels in the past. The problem is that once you move away from the terrific central concept of a dinosaur amusement park gone wrong, there’s really not much you can do beyond “characters return to depressing, abandoned island for ________ (MacGuffin)”. It’s difficult from both a storytelling and marketing perspective. There’s no easy hook for general audiences.

Unfortunately, the first half of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom falls into the same trap as The Lost World and Jurassic Park III. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard return to a decaying Jurassic World in order to rescue the island’s dino population from an impending volcanic eruption (and of course things doesn’t go as planned). This section is just lame and tiresome and terribly written. We’ve seen it all before.

Things pick up significantly in the last hour as the dinosaurs rampage through an estate in Northern California in true horror movie fashion. It’s dopey and fun and different enough that it satisfied me. The ending positions the series for a whole new direction that does not feel right at all, but we’ll see how far they go with it.

The direction (from series newcomer J.A. Bayona) is fine. It looks nice and I appreciated that he made the third act a gothic horror film with dinosaurs.

Chris Pratt is just a void in these films. Dull as dishwater. His character clearly doesn’t exist on the page so he ends up playing it as “generic action hero” with his Guardians of the Galaxy charisma dialed back to 25%. He seems emotionally detached from everything that’s going on around him. Even the comedic scenes that should be a lay up for him fall flat. Howard is ok, even if she’s essentially playing a completely different character in this one.

I’d recommend it with reservations based on the last act even if it’s the dumbest non-Michael Bay blockbuster I’ve seen in a long time.

C+

Review: The Incredibles 2

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The Incredibles, from 2004, is considered one of Pixar’s finest films (I rate it behind Toy Story 2, but reasonable people can disagree). Fourteen years later, we get a sequel, again written and directed by Brad Bird, who has won two Oscars for Best Animated Film, and just might win another for The Incredibles 2.

This is not to say that the sequel is as good as the original. At many points the film feels like it’s trying too hard. The action scenes are so fast that I felt a little numbed by them. And the plot seemed recycled from other superhero films, including the original: what is the place for superheroes in our world?

The film picks up right from the end of the last one. Superheroes are illegal, and when Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) and Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) attempt to stop a bank robbery, they are admonished for wreaking destruction, and told the money is insured. Their funding is cut, and they are living in a motel. They seem resigned to getting regular jobs until a billionaire who loves superheroes wants to get the law changed. He needs just one hero to prove his point–Elastigirl.

So the film bifurcates. Elastigirl has adventures involving stopping a runaway train, saving an ambassador from a helicopter attack, and unmasking the Screenslaver, a villain who hypnotizes his victims through a screen. Elastigirl thinks it’s been too easy, and savvy viewers will agree and have this figured out beforehand.

The other half of the film is the family’s domestic life. Mr. Incredible has been reduced to taking care of the kids, and he discovers that the baby, Jack-Jack, has superpowers. Many superpowers. He can shoot lasers out of his eyes, erupt into flames, travel through different dimensions, and multiply into several Jack-Jacks. Much of this is shown off in an amusing fight with a raccoon.

The baby stuff is very funny, and I enjoyed hearing the little kids giggle at it around me. The action scenes, as I said, seemed old hat, though the animation is breathtaking. A whole new bunch of superheroes are introduced–my favorite is Reflux, who has such severe heartburn that he can vomit lava.

If there is an Incredibles 3, I hope they veer off in a different direction where the debate about the legality of superheroes is resolved.

One more thing: I haven’t heard too much about this, but Elastigirl, in her costumes, has the kind of body that women have spent decades complaining about. She has a figure more ridiculous than Barbie, with possibly 44-18-44 measurements. The New Yorker’s Anthony Lane did write about dads possibly feeling a little awkward getting turned on at a kid’s animated movie. Of course, she is elastic, so maybe that’s just the dimensions she wants to be.

AGEBOC X – Week Nine

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Deadline is Thursday, June 21st at 11:59 pm (EST)

    1. What will Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom earn this weekend? (+4 for closest prediction. +2 for second closest. Additional +2 for prediction within 500k)
    2. What will Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom earn from Thursday PM / evening shows? (+4 for closest prediction. +2 for second closest. Additional +2 for prediction within 500k)

Current Rankings:
Jackrabbit Slim: +48
James: +46
Rob: +24
Marco: +18
Juan: +16
Nick: +4
Joe: +4

Movies Opening June 15, 2018

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The Incredibles 2: Long-awaited sequel to the Pixar classic. Director Brad Bird and the core cast (Holly Hunter, Craig T. Nelson and Samuel L. Jackson) return along with franchise newcomers Bob Odenkirk and Catherine Keener.

It’s an enjoyable film, but it plays it safe and does not deviate from giving the audience exactly what they want and expect. Kids will love it. Adults will probably forget about it by the time they hit the parking lot. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%, Metacritic: 80%

Tag: Ed Helms, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Hannibal Buress and Jake Johnson star as childhood friends who have been playing the same game of tag for decades on end. It’s earning slightly better reviews than I expected, but the only thing that interests me are Renner’s CGI arms (the result of an on-set accident that broke his real ones early in production). RT: 56%, Metacritic: 57%

Side note: the number of Bad Movie Signs in this (Helms! Hamm! Johnson! Isla Fisher!) = overwhelming.

SuperFly: Remake of the 1972 blaxploitation classic from the annoyingly named “Director X.”  RT: 54% Metacritic: 64%

Review: Hereditary

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A recent article in The New York Times talks about a renaissance in horror films–never have their been so many character driven, adult-oriented horror films. Get Out, The Quiet Place, and now Hereditary are all getting adults into the theaters for horror, which was once the province of teenagers.

I’ve read more than one article by someone who states that Hereditary is the scariest movie they’ve ever seen. I can’t go that far (I think I still have to go with The Exorcist) but it is one of the most disturbing films I’ve ever seen, and two days later it’s still sticking with me. The ending, which everyone will be talking about (go see it before it’s spoiled) is borderline silly, but director Ari Aster turns what could have caused giggles into gasps.

As with these recent sophisticated horror films, Hereditary has grander themes. You could call it Ordinary People with ghosts. A well-to-do family that lives somewhere in the mountains consists of mother Toni Collette, father Gabriel Byrne, older brother Alex Wolff, and little sister Milly Shapiro. Collette’s mother has just died, and she has mixed feelings. They were estranged until mom moved into her daughter’s house with dementia. At the funeral, Collette reads a eulogy that talks of her mother’s “private rituals and private friends.” And how.

I don’t want to give too much away, but there is a gruesome accident that further unstrings Collette, She runs into someone at a grief group that shows her how to conduct seances. Pawing around in her mother’s things she finds books on spiritualism and the occult. One page that’s focused on is about King Paimon, one the kings of Hell. I think he’ll become quite popular this summer.

The first half of Hereditary is somewhat slow, but not boring. Collette is an artist who makes miniatures, much like dollhouses. A sly edit in the opening credits suggests that the family lives in a dollhouse, which is open to all sorts of interpretations. The film also does not sentimentalize family attachments. Collette awakes from a dream where she tells Wolff that she never wanted him, and tried to have a miscarriage. Shapiro is an odd child that makes things out of cast-off objects. She finds a dead bird and calmly cuts its head off with scissors. That’s only one of many decapitations, be warned.

Hereditary got a D+ from CinemaScore, which may mean it’s too much for average audiences. But for those who pay attention and understand cinema, Hereditary should rank among the best horror films ever made. Collette deserves an Oscar nomination, and Alex Wolff is terrific. Shapiro is a very unusual looking child–I’m sure Aster probably saw a lot of children for the role and stopped dead in his tracks when he saw her.

AGEBOC X – Week Eight

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Deadline is Friday, June 15th at 11:59 am (EST)

    1. What will The Incredibles 2 earn this weekend? (+4 for closest prediction. +2 for second closest. Additional +2 for prediction within 500k)
    2. What will Tag earn this weekend? (+4 for closest prediction. +2 for second closest. Additional +2 for prediction within 500k)
    3. What will Superfly earn this weekend? (+4 for closest prediction. +2 for second closest. Additional +2 for prediction within 500k)

Current Rankings:
James: +40
Jackrabbit Slim: +36
Rob: +24
Juan: +16
Marco: +16
Nick: +4
Joe: +4

Opening in Las Vegas, June 9, 2018

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The big opening this weekend is Ocean’s 8 (61), the distaff version of the Steven Soderbergh heist movies. I must admit I didn’t think this film would do well, but it opened to 41 million, proving that with the right circumstances, a female driven action film can succeed. I don’t have much interest in it, though, and will wait for home video.

The real sleeper this week may be Hereditary (87), which is getting great reviews and, after Get Out’s success last year, may be in the running for best ten lists and Oscars. I may see this tomorrow, but I usually like to watch horror films at home alone, it’s scarier that way.

Hotel Artemis (57) looks intriguing, but is not getting great reviews. Starring Jodie Foster (playing an old lady–where did the years go?) as a nurse tending to a hospital for criminals. I’ll see this on DVD.

In limited release is First Reformed (87), with Ethan Hawke as a minister at a small church. Directed by the venerable screenwriter Paul Schrader, who has a checkered career as a director. I’d like to see this if time permits.

 

AGEBOC X – Week Seven

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Deadline is Friday, June 8th at 11:59 am (EST)

    1. What will Ocean’s Eight earn this weekend? (+4 for closest prediction. +2 for second closest. Additional +2 for prediction within 500k)
    2. What will Hotel Artemis earn this weekend? (+4 for closest prediction. +2 for second closest. Additional +2 for prediction within 500k)
    3. What will Hereditary earn this weekend? (+4 for closest prediction. +2 for second closest. Additional +2 for prediction within 500k)

Current Rankings:
James: +34
Jackrabbit Slim: +28
Rob: +20
Juan: +16
Marco: +14
Nick: +4
Joe: +4