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An Unhelpful Guide to the 2017 Oscars

I know, I know: We’re told we can’t trust the media and we should only trust the White House even as scientific facts are erased from all official documents.  We’re being told that some of the poorest but hardest working people of our Nation are evil and are trying to undermine American Life.  We’re being told that the left-wing is a bunch of violent terrorists who must be stopped to regain order in the universe.

It’s real easy to feel like we’re only being controlled by the whims of mad billionaires, but don’t worry there’s a silver lining: THE OSCARS!  With this singular event, everything will fix itself and Donald Trump will take off a mask and reveal that he’s Bernie Sanders!  He wanted a Best Costuming Oscar, and he won it!  WAY TO GO, BERNIE!

As always, so we can prepare for the new golden age as dictated by Hollywood Elite, I present to you a brief summary of the only three Oscar categories that matter: Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Editing.  Like I said, the Oscars will make everything better.

La La Land (Nominated for all three! There’s to the ones that dream!)

Mia and Sebastian are two attractive people who love to dance!  Things turn out to be not all they seem, though, as late one night when Mia goes to Seastian’s club with her anonymous husband and comes to a terrifying realization: THIS IS NOT HER LIFE.  What follows is a musical journey through a war between two universes: The City of Stars and the Days of Sun- as well as a quick trip through a pocket universe of flying telescopes.  In the end, Mia and Sebastian have to decide which universe to save and which to let crumble into the sea of the cosmos.

Arrival (Nominated for all three! I guess this movies truly “Arrived”!)

When Alien Pod lands on Earth, everyone panics.  “Oh No, This is going to be like Alien Movies and the Aliens are going to attack us and eat our skin because they are Aliens and they are different and they are Scary!” Says the Military headed by the Human Scowl Jeremy Renner.  But then Earth’s savior comes in the form of Language Woman!  Language Woman- played with aplomb by Amy Adams- draws pictures and makes language with the aliens. Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker frown at each other from across the Military Table “I don’t know, I think we should shoot guns at it” says Renner. “Well I think we should shoot bombs at it” says Whitaker.  “No! I have the answer!”, Amy Adams breaks through a wall waving her Language around, “We should shoot words at it!”.  Everyone claps, including the Aliens who have four hands to clap with.  Thank you Amy Adams for telling us what to shoot.  Don’t worry, the aliens still rip a giant space hole in the sky and there’s still a massive CGI battle against alien invaders.  I mean, otherwise this wouldn’t be a Science Fiction movie right?

Moonlight (Nominated for all three!  I guess they should have called this movie “The Professional Circuit”!)

Taking place over three different time periods, Moonlight follows Chiron, a black man growing up on the mean streets of Miami.  Chiron grows up being bullied because of his reserved nature and small stature and he only has one friend: Kevin.  Chiron’ Mother gives him little help as he navigates life- she is addicted to crack- and he gets what guidance he can from local drug dealer Juan.  Things take an unexpected turn, however, when it turns out that Kevin is a vampire!  Kevin turns Chiron into a vampire too, and the two of them become Private investigators.  This doesn’t sit well with Juan, who wanted Chiron to grow up and take over the Drug Business.  So Juan sends out his vampire thugs to hunt down Chiron and Kevin and turn them to dust, then collect this dust and put it into gel tablets which Juan can then sell as a party drug (SPOILER ALERT, the drug is called “Moonlight”). Flash forward ten years, Kevin and Chiron have moved to the streets of Los Angeles where the two of them have a run down detective agency called “City Angels”.  Unfortunately things take another bad turn when the Agency’s owner, Maudie Hayes (played by a young Cybill Shepherd) wants to sell the agency.  Instead she joins the Vampire Detectives on the streets and soon Chiron starts to develop romantic feelings for her.  That’s when Juan catches up to the two with a terrifying secret: He’s also a vampire now! A deadly game of cat and mouse follows, and by the end only two people will walk out of that detective agency alive (And the detective agency was renamed “Blue Moon”.  Also, Juan’s still selling Moonlight and Maddie’s younger sister is addicted to it and may be becoming a vampire herself because of it).

Hacksaw Ridge (Nominated for all three! That may just be a ridge too far!)

Desmond T. Doss is a World War II Army Medic in the battle of Okinawa.  He becomes the first person to win the Medal of Honor without firing a single shot, as he thinks that enough people are trying to destroy the world and he wanted to put it back together.  Along the way he bonds with his army corporals and sergeants and teaches them important lessons on nonviolence.  He also finds an attractive army nurse who he falls in love with and marries. The movie is narrated by an older Desmond Doss, and ends with the Elder Doss saying “In the end, I suppose I learnt everything I needed to on Hacksaw Ridge. And I can still see that sunset in my dreams”.

Hell or High Water (Nominated for Best Editing and Best Picture.  They almost made it to all three, but then came Hell or High- well you get it)

Cowboys!  In 1888 the chilly Colorado River was rising, threatening to drown the low-down cattle town of Diablo.  A shady developer rolls into town and tells the folks “Ya know, yer town ain’t gonna see the light fer much longer.  I could build a levee round here, but it’ll cost ya'”.  The Developer- Chris Pine in a career-defining performance as Toby Howard- makes more and more insidious demands on the townsfolk and bleeds them of all their money.  That’s when Diablo decides to take justice into their own hands, and hire a Cowboy! Morally-questionable antihero Cowboy Tanner Howard is hired to ride into town and have a shootout with Toby Howard who (surprise!) is his brother. “Pow! Pow! Pow!” Go the guns.  “Die! Die! Die!” Go the Cowfolk. “Neigh! Neigh! Neigh!” Go the horses.  In the end, someone will die… come Hell or High Water.

Manchester by the Sea (Nominated for Best Picture and Best Director.  It should have been Manchester by the Supreme Disappointment)

In the sleepy Massachusetts hamlet Manchester-by-the-sea is a lighthouse that the locals have blocked off.  Then, one day a child walks into town and up to the lighthouse.  The child, Young Patrick, knocks on the door and the haggard, forgotten Affleck brother Casey opens the door.  “Hello this isn’t Boston”, says Casey. “I know and I’m also your son” says Young Patrick.  Casey does a spit take, and then walks around in circles saying “Oh my I can’t be a father I’m not the Affleck playing Batman!”.  In the end, Young Patrick learns about Lighthouses and Casey learns that you don’t have to be Oscar-winning writer and director to be an Oscar-winning father (although Ben Affleck is up for the “Best Father” Oscar this year while Casey was snubbed. Poor poor Casey).

Hidden Figures (Only Best Picture?  It’s like this movie wasn’t even trying!)

Taking place from 1991 to 1993 and following an group of publishers, computer scientists, and magicians as they work to create Miru Miru Mega Yokunaru Magic Eye – the very first Magic Eye book to receive widespread popularity.  From there we continue to follow this ragtag team of misfits to their next big milestone in 1993: The release of Magic Eye: A New Way of Looking at the World, the very first Magic Eye book to be published in North America.  Drama happens, some of the computer scientists blame the magicians for forgetting what Magic Eye was really about, and the whole Magic Eye team looks like it will fall apart giving the world no more books of random points that people can lie about seeing a unicorn in.  Then, as if by magic, all conflicts are resolved and the team realizes that the only real magic is the magic of friendship.

Fences (Only Nominated for Best Picture. The other two categories already had plenty of fences)

Based off of the award-winning play by August Wilson, Fences is a tale about race, class, and the barriers between the two.  Since it was first performed at the Eugene O’Neil Theater Center it has, unfortunately, remained chillingly relevant and has caused some controversy because of it.  Most notably (and this is a fault also shared by the film, making it’s nomination for Best Picture surprising) there is only one fence in the entire piece.  It isn’t even there for most of the piece.  Also, adding to this upheaval of title conventions, the characters are not professional fencers (both in terms of people who install fences, but also in terms of not being professional sword fighters).  Had this been changed for the film adaptation, and Fences be about a group of sword fighters traveling around Pittsburgh and building as many fences as they can, Denzel Washington may have also been nominated for Best Director making the 89th Academy Awards Ceremony the first ever to have two black men nominated for Best Director.

Lion (Only Best Picture.  I’d be “Lion”  if I said this was an accomplishment)

One of the big questions surrounding Cartoon Network’s hit animated series Steven Universe is who and what exactly Lion is.  Is Lion pink diamond? Rose Quartz? Was that indeed an early form of Lion that we saw in the episode “Buddy’s Book”?  All of these questions and more are answered in the feature-length film Lion.  Taking place during the time that Steven and the Crystal gems are saving Greg from Blue Diamond and the Human Zoo and Connie and the Crystal Temps are running/ruining the car wash, the film follows the exploits of Lion who uses this time to reflect on his long and storied life.  For the sake of keeping this spoiler free I won’t go on, but let’s just say: Pink Diamond willingly shattered herself as Yellow Diamond had found out that Pink had been funding the Crystal Gem rebellion; Pink trusted Rose to use her healing powers to bring her back once the Diamond Authority thought she was dead, but Rose’s powers could only go so far.  In the end, Rose was able to transfer some of Pink Diamond’s essence into Lion, though to say that Lion is Pink diamond is like saying Steven is Rose Quartz. It may take a few months for the events of this feature length film to be proved canonical, but this is as true as the Uncle Grandpa crossover episode.

D for Durashadu, E for Epikris, and F for Forsberg

We’ve got a trio of mountain stories this month!  Starting with the first entry about one of the Gods of the Golden Ice-Cream city of Zard: A lobster that has diamond claws and made the moon.

D for Durashadu

Next up is the story about a city that was swallowed by a mountain, and more proof of Zeus being a complete jerk.

E for Epikris

Finally a tall tale about Ollie Forsberg, who met Zebulon Pike, the Unsinkable Molly Brown, and was even had a buddy cop relationship with Buffalo Bill.

F for Forsberg

An Unhelpful Guide to the 2015 Blockbusters

2015 is fast becoming the year of the colon, and this punctuational mark’s dominance will only grow in power this summer movie season until we need some kind of team of Punctuation-based superheroes to stop it from tearing the earth in two in order to make the world its colon.  Don’t worry, though, because the subtitle for 2016 is “Semicolon Rising”.

Enough of that, here’s how the colon will gain almost too much power for our team of intrepid heroes this year:

The Avengers: Age of Ultron (May 1)

Tony Stark/ Iron Man makes a robot named “Ultron” but doesn’t think it will become evil. Uh oh, it does.  He calls upon his best friends Thor, Captain America, and Hulk to come and shut down the robot’s mainframe, but it’s too late: The robot has become the internet!  Now they have to team up with Hawkeye (not from M*A*S*H) and the Black Widow (also not from M*A*S*H) to stop this evil robot-internet. BUT OH NO, the evil internet has now taken over a military satellite in space and will soon be blasting a hole in the Earth!  “Shoot, if only I weren’t such a loveable jerk, then maybe I’d have more friends!”, says Tony Stark/ Iron Man. “Ooga Booga” says the Hulk.  This gives Tony Stark/ Iron Man a great idea, and he builds another robot to help stop the other robot that is the internet that is the military satellite and will soon be Skylab.  This robot is Vision. Also, there is a really Quick boy who likes silver and a Witch that’s not a witch but is Scarlet (not to be confused with Scarlett Johansson, because she’s Black Widow, which also shouldn’t be confused with the Green Lantern because the Green Lantern is from the wrong Comic Book universe) and the two of them help the robot become the internet but by the time the robot takes over the time machine they decide to join the Avengers to stop them and be heroes.  Also Samuel L. Jackson shows up with an eyepatch. Also the robot is the guy from the Blacklist. Poor Tony Stark/ Iron Man, this is the worst birthday ever.

Mad Max: Fury Road (May 15)

Max is a guy who’s really tired and just wants to get home and rest, but there’s SO MUCH TRAFFIC. “Ugh, I have so much fury because of this road!”, Max yells at his windshield. He decides to park his car and walk home, because the traffic is moving so slowly.  Well, White Skull, the emperor of the highway, doesn’t like this and decides to send out all of his minions to wear crazy outfits and yell at Max.  Max responds by yelling at them.  Eventually he meets a girl. They probably yell at eachother while White Skull’s minions come and yell at them.  The fury becomes so great, that Samuel L. Jackson wearing an eyepatch has to come in and say “OK, tone it down guys. You just wait 10 minutes. It’s not a big deal. Or you could invest in a monorail system and alleviate this problem while also helping out the environment. I mean, I don’t want to tell you what to do, but investing in clean public transportation really is the responsible thing to do.  OK, well I got to go stop this robot from taking over the ISS with my good friend Black Panther. See you”. Max responds to this by yelling and getting back into his car. He’ll never get home now.

Pitch Perfect 2 (May 15)

The sequel to the movie that introduced us to the “Cup Song”, Pitch Perfect 2 begins where the last movie ended: Auditions for the next school year with Anna Kendrick’s Beca leading The Bellas, an  a cappella group that’s involved in the gangland of competitive singing. Unfortunately for Beca and the Bellas, a nuclear blast goes off during the audition launching the world into an apocalypse.  Lucky for the Bellas, the only survivors are a cappella groups (including the one that only sings songs by Survivor).  Beca now has to unite her new society and try to stop raiders and singing mutants, and worse of all: Samuel L. Jackson wearing an eyepatch is too busy telling that killer robot who is now the Moon how he’d save money and help reverse climate change if he switched to wind and solar.  The robot has none of it, though, the robot wants to destroy the world because he’s evil because he was programmed by that jerk Tony Stark/ Iron Man.  Anyways, Beca finds a way to get the group united again and singing the Cup Song, and soon they unite the disparate singing tribes (including A Tribe Called Quest) through a mashup a cappella jam of Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)”, “I Will Survive”, “Eternal Flame”, and “In Your Eyes” (in honor of her boyfriend Jesse who died saving her from a madman singing “Psycho Killer”). In the end, the moon is solar powered and the post-appocappellypse of the Earth is united through song.

Tomorrowland (May 22)

George Clooney is the king of imagination in this upcoming film by The Iron Giant director Brad Bird.  Clooney has to jetpack through a UNIVAC controlled city in order to stop the hit television show Lost from taking over reality, and in order to do so he has to team up with a plucky 20-something who was really into Lost.  Meanwhile the evil David Nix (Hugh Laurie), heir to the vile Nixon throne, has sided with the greatest evil Imaginationland, our world, and UNIVAC-City has ever known: The Blacklist robot who has now incorporated UNIVAC into his systems and has also taken over the imaginary Earth in this imaginary future.  With Samuel L. Jackson in an eyepatch no where to be found, Clooney must rely on his incredibly good looks to keep his magical teleporting imagination pin from falling into the hands of David Nix, because if Nix gets his hands on the imagination pin then he’ll use it to escape the land of imagination and bring forth 100 years of Nixon-darkness upon the world (It was assumed Richard Nixon died in 1994, but in fact he had been banished to the realm of imagination because he was planning on taking the White house by force from Clinton.  Clinton couldn’t allow that, as he had his own plans for the white house that factor into the creation of the UNIVAC jetpack city of the future and allocating fund to Tony Stark/ Iron Man so he can invent the evil Blacklist robot.  This is all explained in flashbacks with Hugh Laurie playing the elder Nixon as well, and Jeff Bridges giving a stirring performance as Clinton). In the end Nix is double crossed by the evil robot, but Clooney defeats everyone because he only watched the first season of Lost and couldn’t really get into it.

Insidious: Chapter 3 (June 5)

Before the spookiness of Insidious chapters 1 and 2 is the story of how a plucky 20-something psychic uses her powers to contact the underworld and save a teenager from being dragged down to an ultimate hell.  The teen, however, has a secret plan for the psychic, though, a plan that can only be described as… INSIDIOUS.  When the plucky psychic makes contact with the underworld (thanks to her sarcastic ghost friend The Man Who Can’t Breathe, played with gusto by Michael Reid MacKay), the teen forces the psychic’s soul to be taken over by a horrible trans-dimensional demon named Carl in exchange for not being targeted for possession and for her to go to prom with the most handsome boy in school.  Now stuck in hell, the psychic (who has only lost some of their pluck, but is able to maintain hope thanks to TMWCB) has to claw her way back to the world of the living by jumping into the body of a teen who is competing against the other teen for Prom Queen.  Carl- who is in the body of the psychic- then uses its evil demon-powers to give the evil teen mind control, and the psychic- who is in the body of a teenager- has to use her wit and psychic powers to win back the prom queen crown and her soul.  The big twist- SPOILER ALERT- comes at the end with the psychic, having banished Carl and the Evil teen to an extra-dimensional wasteland, finds herself trapped in the body of the teen she had to jump into in order to stop Carl who was in her body which is now lost forever.  And this teenager? Well she grows up to be THE BLACK WIDOW,  Avenger and assassin who helps to defeat the evil robot.  And the double-twist? THE ROBOT HAS BEEN WORKING FOR CARL ALL ALONG TO GAIN ACCESS TO THE INFINITY GAUNTLET AND GET REVENGE ON THE PSYCHIC FOR BANISHING HIM TO THE EXTRA-DIMENSIONAL WASTELAND.

Jurassic World (June 12)

SCIENCE? This question starts off young paleontologist Owen Grady on a quest to a remote island where dinosaurs walk and fly. This is Jurassic World. A hologram of park creator says “Welcome… TO JURASSIC [WORLD]” as you walk through the main doors and are greeted by a velociraptor with a clipboard . It screeches.  A translator around its neck, or perhaps just a robotic speaker, says “Please sign this liability contract saying that you will not hold Jurassic World parks and resort responsible for any injury or death acquired on the premises”.  Grady grudgingly agrees and is brought to the park owner: Judy, who (SPOILER ALERT) also happens to be the mother of the plucky 20-something in Tomorrowland (more on that later).  Judy is in a panic. “Owen, I know you and I haven’t seen eye-to-eye since Bangkok”, Judy Begins. “THEY WERE CHILDREN!” replies Owen with the fury of one thousand Samuel L. Jacksons wearing an eyepatch. “They wanted to ride a brontosaurus!  You KNOW the park wouldn’t have allowed that! But enough of the recent past, we need to talk about history. PRE-history”. Owen sombers up: No. No she couldn’t have.  After the events that set back the opening of the park 22 years ago? “You mean…”. “Yes, Owen, we created a dinosaur that combined the most terrible parts of all dinosaurs and now it is loose in the park and eating everyone and we need YOU to stop it”.  “But… WHY ME? I’m just a paleontologist from Ohio. I don’t know anything about hunting dinosaurs”.  “Because you have a long-standing employment contract with Jurassic World and its corporate subsidies which makes you the only person we can call”. Owen nods: “Okay. I’ll do it. But in exchange I want to ride a Brontosaurus”. Judy nods. “WITH, George Clooney”. Judy nods “That’s a given, Owen. Thank you“. “You can thank me after I’ve given you the disproportionally large head of this genetic dinosaur monstrosity. Adios, Judy, don’t let your corporate greed hit you on the way out”.  Owen then hops out the window and onto the back of a brontosaurus. He goes to fight dinosaurs.  Meanwhile, Judy smiles and calls her daughter.  “You can tell George that everything’s on track. We’ll get that prom crown even if it kills us… AGAIN”.

Inside Out (June 19)

Robots. Genetically modified dinosaurs. Superheroes. SO MUCH ANGER.  What is it like to live in a world like this?  What is like to live in a world of so much possibility and horror?  Inside Out takes us into the mind of Quinn Brenner, a plucky 20-something who has lived outside of Tommorrowland for most of her life and just got a decent job at the VHS tape factory.  However Quinn’s world is turned upside down (or should we say Inside Out) when she finds one of the magic teleporting pins and is thrown into our world.  She now has to navigate our world and get used to our customs, like: Why aren’t there large digital clocks showing countdowns everywhere?  What is “blu-ray”? Why aren’t there lens flares when I turn on the light?  As she goes through this, her inner world is in disarray when the embodiment of her Joy and her Sadness get sucked down a memory tube, and she’s only left with Fear, Anger, and Disgust.  That is, until a new emotion rises.  A dangerous emotion. One named Revenge.

The Transporter: Refueled (June 19)

Ed Skrien was just trying to take a truckload of Ben & Jerry’s to a corner store, but traffic became so terrible and everyone started yelling at eachother, and before he knew it he was running low on gas.  Skrien pulls into a gas station in the Outlands and watches as White Skull’s army of oddly dressed minions battle the Avengers who are also battling the horrible yellow monsters from the Despicable Me series.  The giant robotic eye that is the sun look down on Skrien, the gas meter slowly climbs up, and Skrien sighs.  At this point, he’ll never deliver this ice cream in time, and he may just have to eat it all!

Terminator: Genisys (July 1)

The Avengers failed. George Clooney Failed.  The Earth has been taken over by the evil Blacklist robot and its evil robot army, and it will soon be taking over the Milky Way.  There’s only one hope left.  Thanks to the hit television series Lost of centuries ago, a man named John Conner (Justin Clarke) builds a time machine and sends his best friend Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back to stop all this horror and cross-universal terror from happening.  Reese travels back to 1904 in Sherman Texas.  Although he over shot his desired year (time travel is tricky that way), he’s still able to set in motion a plan that will hopefully stop the robot revolution and prepare the Avengers for this terror.  It begins with him marrying Lou Birchie Ayers, whom he met in the past first out of obligation but grew to love her, and changing his name to William Jefferson Blythe.  Eventually he and Lou have a child who they would name William Jefferson Blythe Jr.  Kyle gives Bill Jr. a set of instructions, beginning with getting a job in the motor pool during World War II and working on Project: Rebirth before the start of the war.  Here, Kyle tells Bill Jr. that he will meet a man who would become known as Captain America.  It would be important for Bill Jr. to speak to Captain America before April of 1945 and tell him that eventually he will meet someone named Tony Stark/ Iron man, and that no matter what happens Captain America has to stop Tony Stark/ Iron man from making a robot.  Reese, though, also begins several backup plans, mostly in the form of a package to be given to his grandchild in 1978.  That grandchild? William Jefferson Blythe III, also known as Bill Clinton.  In his package to Clinton, Reese outlines the creation of a new initiative called “The Avengers” which is to be headed by a plucky Samuel L. Jackson NOT wearing an eyepatch.  Again: It is important for Tony Stark/ Iron Man not to create a any robots.  Thus, when Tony Stark is shot down and nearly killed by shrapnel, Clinton was going to step in and attempt to stop him from ever creating the Iron Man suit.  This plan, however, is thrown off course when Richard Nixon tries to take over the White House with his secret army.  In the resulting chaos, Samuel L. Jackson gets his eye gouged out, Clinton is unable to stop Tony Stark from creating his first robot suit, and Nixon is banished into the realm of imagination.  Clinton and Fury hope that they can still stop the robot future they fear is coming, but could it be too late?  Jeff Bridges returns as Bill Clinton.

Minions (July 10)

The horrible yellow monsters from Despicable Me are back in their own horrible yellow movie.  Here, they gain access to the time machine from Terminator:Genisys and decide to pull a Time Bandits and go around through time ruining EVERYTHING.  They do this, because they are horrible yellow monsters.  Eventually, Tony Stark/Iron Man and The Avengers have to come in to stop them, as they no longer battling the robot because Bill Clinton was successful in his attempts to fulfill his great-grandfather’s wishes (who was actually the original time-traveler from the Terminator world).  The horrible yellow monsters battle The Avengers, at which point another foe comes through the time stream: Robots. Thousands of them. The yellow monsters look up as the robots swarm out of the time-hole, and join together in a horrified chorus of “Ba-ba-ba. Ba-ba-Na-Na”.  Maybe it’s funny. Mostly, it’s horrible.

Ant-Man (July 17)

Paul Rudd is the Ant-Man: The Hero/Theif/Corporate Saboteur that the Bay Area needs, not the one it deserves.  Using his Ant-mobile which he keeps in his lair: The Ant Hill, he roams the streets at night stopping such memorable villains as: The Jokeman, Mr. Riddles, Sargent Snowstorm, and The Auk.  In this thrilling installment, Ant-Man’s mentor, former Ant-Man Hank Pymm, needs the new Ant-Man Rudd to sneak in and steal some evil documents that could result in Bay City becoming the nexus for World War III. Ant-Man is on the case, and using his super-shrink suit and the power of Ant-mmunication he kicks some ant.  Unfortunately evil corporation Nabisco has hired the merciless Darren Cross, AKA Yellowjacket, to put an end to the Ant-Man once and for all.  Meanwhile, noble district attorney (who has been trying to build up a case against Nabisco for quite some time) gets caught in an acid explosion, goes mad, and becomes the newest in the Ant-Man’s rogues gallery: Most-Face. Also, Meanwhile, it’s revealed that Nabisco has been working with Jurrasic World Parks and Resort’s head Judy in order to fund a High School prom.  Because the item that the Ant-Man and Yellowjacket are fighting over? It’s East Ridge High School’s Prom crown.  As the sun rises and the Ant-Man perches atop the golden gate bridge, he looks over Bay City and thinks to himself: “Thank God I’m not in New York. Those people have crazy robot problems”.

Mission: Impossible 5 (July 31)

Originally titled Mission: Impossible: 5, this one sees our favorite team of superspies going up against their greatest enemy yet: HIGH SCHOOL!  Ethan has to infiltrate East Ridge High School in order to weed out an evil Syndicate that is trying to take over the same way everyone in high school takes over: By becoming Prom Queen. “Ethan: I don’t care how great of a spy you are, you can’t become Prom Queen”, says Simon Pegg’s Benji Dunn. “I can do what I want! I am a golden God!” screams Ethan, mad with power after helping the football team beat state and go to Regionals.  “He’s in too deep!” screams Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye (not from M*A*S*H), over Skype of course because he’s currently in New York helping put the timestream back together and fight evil time-traveling robots and also The Red Baron, who The Minions brought back as a joke but now NO ONE IS LAUGHING.  Its Prom night. Ethan is nervous, he’s been able to get candidacy for Prom Queen and is going with Jimmy St. Horn, the most handsome guy in school!  He hopes his dress isn’t too unflattering for his broad, manly superspy shoulders.  Ethan’s also nervous because he has a biology test in the morning because Mr. Dilley is SO LAME and gave the kids homework on Prom Night. UGH.  It’s then that Ethan gets a superspy telegram: It’s worse than everyone thought. The Syndicate isn’t only out to rule High School, and it’s not out to rule the world, it’s out to rip apart our dimension. Remember Carl and the Evil teen  Well, they’ve escaped from the terror-dimension once again, and with plucky psychic Black Widow helping Hawkeye (still not from M*A*S*H) battle robots, they think there will be no one to stop them from getting the Prom Queen crown this time around.  Well, thinks Ethan, I’m just going to have to be the prettiest girl at the dance then. Will he make it? Will Benji be able to open up another portal into the terror-dimension to send Carl and the Evil Teen back? Will Ethan and Jimmy St. Horn kiss?! These are questions that mustn’t be spoiled.

Fantastic Four (August 7)

The cinematic universe is in upheaval at this point (which is partially good, we want there to be an environment of chaos for Semicolon to rise, and for a Civil War to break out): The Blacklist robot has successfully gotten back from being banished from time and Bill Clinton is too busy with his wife’s presidential campaign to help stop it, The Yellow Monsters have done nothing to fix the time rip, The Red Baron has found out that we’ve turned him into a Pizza Mascot and is now PISSED OFF, evil centuries-old demon Carl and the Evil Teen are close to winning the Prom Crown and fulfilling their evil quest to bring 1000 years of High School to the world, and the Dinosaurs from Jurassic World have hopped on the back of the giant aquatic dinosaur and are now on the mainland eating everything and destroying the ecosystem. Ethan from Mission Impossible can’t help, Owen and Judy (who has since turned good after finding out she was duped by a demon and NOT by corporate stooges who wanted to breed dinosaurs for profit) are doing the best they can but it isn’t enough, even the Avengers and Samuel L. Jackson wearing an Eyepatch can’t help (Also the Ant-Man can try to steal the Prom Crown, but he can’t defeat an entire crazy robot army with dinosaur demons).  The world is short on heroes.  In fact, it is short exactly four heroes.  In wlaks Sir Ben Kingsley “Good Morrow, I may have a solution for your quandary”, says Kingsley with the voice of a God.  Kingsley has created some kind of Dimensional Rift: This can send Carl and the Evil Teen back to Hell where they belong and it can also seal up the time-hole and any problems caused by that.  The dinosaurs?  Well it won’t fix those, but two out of three isn’t bad.  Judy, the most business minded of everyone, says “Okay. Go ahead. Do you need volunteers? I volunteer”. “No Judy, you’re not in this movie”, says Kingsley, but he sounds so good nobody questions it.  Kingsley enlists the help of Skrien, Quinn, George Clooney, and Bella from Pitch Perfect (who stumbled out of her time period into ours via the time portal. Sorry, that was way back in Minions and I forgot to mention it).  Kingsley starts up the Trans-dimensional modulator.  Whirr. Whizz. Bang. Lens flare.  Before dimensions are torn apart, Kingsley smirks “Oh, and I forgot to mention that you’ll each gain superpowers based off of the Four classical elements. Tah”.  Our Four Fantastic heroes are sent through. With the dimension hole opened, the table is set to hopefully stave off the Infinity War until 2018 and 2019. The Four Fantastic heroes come out of the rift.  True to Kingsley’s soothing words, they have been changed: Clooney now has super-stretch powers, Bella can now light herself on fire, Quinn can turn invisible and make forc fields, and Skrien is now a rock. Just a rock. Nothing special.  Now that the Cinematic Universe has enough heroes, it’s time to start eliminating threats.  “Let’s do this like Buddhists” says Kingsley. His voice is heavenly.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E (August 14)

What is the deal with Carl? We get a bit of that answered here.  In the 1960’s two superspies were hired to stop all-out nuclear war by the dashingly handsome Hugh Grant. They called this operation U.N.C.L.E, because we were young and we thought periods were cool in the 60’s.  U.N.C.L.E was successful at the start of the summer and stopped the nuclear war, however thanks to some horrible yellow monsters things went south real quick.  The last hope Hugh Grant had was to send his two top agents, Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and Illya Kuryakin (Armie hammer) through time using a prototype of Kingsley’s Dimensional rift (which is itself based off an idea from Lost, the same idea which would lead the ultra-robot future to create the Terminator machine).  Okay, but what does this have to do with Carl?  Well Carl began as an Occultist in Victorian England, fascinated with raising demons and accessing other dimensions in order to let out old Gods and begin a New Old World Order.  Now U.N.C.L.E didn’t land in Carl’s time, but Carl did open his dimensional portal on the exact same day as Grant opened his, and when you’re dealing with trans-dimensional portals that transcend time and space opening things on the same day means you’re pretty much ripping apart the same universe at the exact same time.  Carl was sucked through, and before he could claw his way out Hugh Grant closed the portal in the 60’s because Solo and Kuryakin had been successfully transported back into the 40’s.  Carl was now trapped in Hell, a Hell that existed outside of regular time and so- in fact- he did live there for centuries.  Thousands of years even.  Enough time for Carl to forget about ever being human and to embrace the Demon he had become.  That’s when he hopped a ride and blah, blah, blah Insidious. So what about U.N.C.L.E?  Well, once in the 1940’s they were able to work with the allied powers against the Nazis, nothing huge that would destroy time (because they’re smarter then those horrible yellow monsters) but enough that they caught the eye of one Captain America.  Solo and Kuryakin told the Captain about their mission: That they had to stop a horrible nuclear war that could very well end life on Earth, and that before they were sent through time Hugh Grant told them that he would hide the Nuclear launch diamonds (it was the sixties, we thought hiding secrets in diamonds was cool. We were young and naive) where no one would expect them: In a high school Prom Queen tiara.  So once the Captain, now in present day messy 20:15,  heard about the Prom election at East Ridge High school and all the superspy activity there (because the Mission:Impossible team?  Well that was originally founded by Hugh Grant back in the 70’s) he knew that Nuclear War was imminent.  So Captain America, Black Widow (who, as you remember, was the original psychic who banished Carl and the Evil Teen), the Ant-Man, and George Clooney head over to East Ridge to stop the Prom Queen elections.  In the end, Clooney uses his incredible handsomeness and powers of imagination to defeat Carl and the Evil teen, but also to show each of them their humanity again and give them a second chance, along with Nix, in the world of Tomorrowland. One down.

Straight Outta Compton (August 14)

Dinosaurs are ravaging the western seaboard, and to make matters worse The Red Baron has found a way to control the dinosaurs and create his own Kaiser-saurus army.  Owen and Judy do what they can, but it’s a losing battle.  But then a funky beat comes from Compton, California. It’s Bella and her supergroup NWA.  She saunters up to Owen and Judy. “Hey. I got my ticket for the long way round. Two bottle whiskey for the way. And I srue would like some sweet company, and I’m leaving tomorrow: What do you say?”.  Owen and Judy nod.  Together Owen (Chris Pratt), Bella (Anna Kendrick) and NWA (Keith Stanfield, Aldis Hodge, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Jason Mitchell, and Corey Hawkins) all punch dinosaurs while singing a capella versions of NWA’s hits: Because the true way to stop dinosaurs is through song.  Also that’s the only way to stop the Red Baron and send him back to his own time to be shot down by Snoopy.

Hitman: Agent 47 (August 28)

This just leaves us with the original villain:the Blacklist robot.  Since its puppet-master, Carl, had been defeated the Robot had been losing power.  Why, Tony Stark/Iron Man was even able to wipe out half of its evil time-robot army.  Things are bleak.  The Blacklist robot sings a song about it.  That’s when he gets a plan: Hire a hitman to wipe out Samuel L. Jackson wearing an eyepatch and destroy the group unity of The Avengers (The robot finds continuity as confusing as it actually is, and is still mostly concerned about destroying The Avengers, despite the fact that Bill Clinton (Jeff Bridges) and Quinn Brenner (who wants revenge on the Robot for destroying this world and causing so much upheaval in her mind-world).  The Blacklist Robot hires Hitman 47 for the job, the most ruthless destroyer of life there is.  So ruthless is Hitman 47 that it has forsaken its name, gender, its entire identity save for killing. “Ha ha ha! You may have defeated my robot army, but you’ll never defeat this very human single hitman I’ve hired! It’s curtains for you, Tony Stark/Iron Man! Ha ha ha!” cackles the Blacklist robot.  The Hitman approaches Tony Stark/Iron Man from behind: “I am 47, destroyer of worlds. I have no name, I have no life. My only purpose is to kill, and today my purpose is…”. BANG. Tony Stark/Iron Man shoots him. It’s not that Tony Stark/Iron man was listening to 47’s explanation either, he was just really tired that another villain was introduced this late in the summer when we still have no idea what happened to Richard Nixon who was banished in 1994.  Meanwhile, in the Robot’s lair, it tries to piece together a plan. It’s not very good at this, but it’s going to try. It’s a REALLY MEAN robot and a REALLY EVIL VILLAIN.  It’s not that Quinn approaches him. “Hey. You’re a robot”. “Yes, I think that’s obvious”, replies the Robot. “You travelled through time, even crossed into a timeline where you didn’t actually exist, and you did this all because some demon wanted a prom crown?” asks Quinn, vengeance seething inside of her. “Well, it sounds stupid when you say it like that”. Quinn nods.  This is it. This is the moment she’s waited for.  She take Skrein the rock and bashes the robot’s stupid motherboard with it. Again and again. Stupid Robot. Go back to being in The Blacklist. Once the robot is dead, Quinn looks at Skrien the Rock and, for the first time in a long time, smiles: “I was wrong, Skrien. You are something special. Now come on, let’s go watch reruns of Lost on Netflix.  I have a feeling I’m going to like this new dimension”.  And with that the sun sets, the day is saved, and we can safely go into the prestige movie season of the fall.  Oh, and those horrible yellow monsters from Despicable MeLet’s just say that the Hulk smashed them all and made a soup out of them and it wasn’t a very good soup but at least those horrible, horrible yellow things are dead and they will never, ever come back ever again until Despicable Three in 2017. THE END.

An Unhelpful Guide to the 2015 Oscars

As we all know, there’s a thousand year-old fire demon living beneath the Earth’s surface, and the only way to keep it from waking up and destroying our world is to have the best of the silver screen throw tiny gold-plated statues into a volcano.  Hence: OSCAR SEASON.  So, to make sure that we all vote right and get the correct people to throw their statues and appease the fire demon (if we get it wrong, then that’s it: no more Earth), I’ve compiled together this list of the nominees from the only three categories that matter: Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Sound Mixing.  I’ve also included a rating, and the film’s chances of winning.  You’re welcome, people of Earth. You’re welcome.

Birdman
Nominated for all three! I hope they make a stage musical of this soon, so that it can also sweep the Tonys and the Grammys, and then make a TV show based on the musical so it can win an Emmy, and then make a movie based on the TV show based on the stage musical based on the movie so they can win the Oscars all over again and achieve Nirvana.

The gritty reboot of the Hanna-Barbara cartoon, Michael Keaton stars as Ray Randall who is given powers by the sun god Ra in order to fight the nefarious Number One (Zach Galifianakis) and F.E.A.R as they attempt to take over a satellite and use it to spread a suffocating purple fog over the world.  [SPOILER ALERT] One of the additions to this film is a more fleshed out character for Number One whose daughter was killed by suffocation in a car (he refuses to admit it was suicide, he’d only blame himself).  Also, Keaton does a superb job at bringing in a real sense of doubt to Randall and Birdman as he discovers that sometimes the world doesn’t need a superman, they need a superBIRD.  I’m already looking forward to the teased sequel where we’ll meet Birdgirl (Emma Stone) and the Deadly Duplicator (Edward Norton), who has a pre-supervillain role here.  I give it 40 episodes and an Adult Swim spinoff.  Chances of winning: 190%


Boyhood
For Best Picture and Best Director (If they got Hans Zimmer for the score, they would have swept Sound Mixing).

Filmed over twelve years by director Richard Linklater, Boyhood follows young Mason (Eliar Coltrane) as he goes through all the steps of growing up: Playing with toys alone in your room, going to water parks, being really awkward and sweaty in Jr. High, throwing up at your cousins wedding, rushing to the emergency room because you got your arm stuck inside a tree and had to twist it out, going to the emergency room because you got your arm stuck inside a bicycle and had to twist it out, learning how to drive, going to the emergency room because you locked your keys in the car so you decided to try and smash the window with your head, trying out for the boys basketball team, having everyone on the boys basketball team laugh at you and call you “Gaggle Pen”, throwing up in front of the entire boys basketball team, going to the hospital for throwing up a whole bunch in front of the boys basketball team, being really quiet and awkward at another cousins wedding, having your entire family ask you why you’re not having at the wedding, playing trumpet in Jr. High, playing trumpet in High School and not really being that great at it, going to homecoming and standing around and being awkward, having everyone ask you why your not having fun at homecoming, throwing up at homecoming, going to the hospital because you really shouldn’t be this queasy sweaty and awkward.  Most importantly, though, it’s about eating cereal. And discovering that you throw up when you’re nervous. I give it 5 to 18 stars depending on where in the movie it is. Chances of winning: 111%


The Grand Budapest Hotel
For Best Picture and Best Director

Between the world wars a scarred soldier (Willem Dafoe) searches for the art thief who not only stole a priceless painting but also his fingers years before.  When the soldier find the now older thief (Ralph Fiennes) he discovers that the art thief now owns a humble hotel in the mountains and only wishes to be left alone with a child he adopted at a young age (Tony Revolori).  Will the thief find redemption?  Will the Soldier get his revenge? What does it mean to be a good person? These are the questions asked in this harrowing drama.  I give it 21 years and a thousand guests.  It’s chances of winning? 301%.


The Imitation Game
For Best Picture and Best Director

Chester Carlson (Benedict Cumberbatch) works at a patent office in New York city during the depression while being a part-time researcher and inventor on the side.  Carlson’s job required him to write endless copies of the same form, which inflamed his arthritis, and so he set out to do the impossible: To create a machine that would be able to make copies, imitations, from one original document.  Ending in 1949 with the creation of the Xerox corporation and the first Xenographic device (photocopiers, as they’re now known), this film explores how the dreams of one man, no matter how small those dreams may seem, can still change history. Jack Bannon co-stars as the head of the Haloid Corporation, the company that finally gave Carlson’s dream a chance.  I give it 159,000,000,000,000,000,000 possibilities.  Chances of winning: 1420%


Whiplash
For Best Picture and Best Sound Mixing

A fish-out-of-water comedy about a talented street drummer from Harlem (Nick Cannon) who enrolls in a Southern university, expecting to lead its marching band’s drumline to victory. He initially flounders in his new world, before realizing that it takes more than talent to reach the top. There is a small sub-plot where the director of the number one band attempts to “bribe” Devon to switch schools and come play for him. I give it 5.6 stars.  Chances of winning: 108%


American Sniper
For Best Picture and Best Sound Mixing

Bradley Cooper is Kyle, a sarcastic cynic who is traveling throughout Europe.  In London he gets really close to the guards at Buckingham palace and whispers “Farts and Boobs” then proceeds to yell, supposedly to “That Queen”, that “the food in this place stinks”.  In Paris he throws cheese at people and tries track down Nicolas Sarkozy (who hasn’t been president for two years) to tell him that he looks like a frog in a suit.  In Germany he says Coors Light is better, in Belgium he says Hershey’s has an easier to pronounce name, in Luxembourg he is somehow able to meet with Prime Minister Xavier Bettel (who plays himself!) what follows is a five minute insult monologue from Cooper.  At the end, Bettel sighs and says “I’m so sick of you Americans and your constant sniping”.  I give it 26 medals.  Chances of winning: 141%.


 

Foxcatcher
For Best Director

That guy from the office has grey hair! And he wears all these sweatshirts, and he owns a club or something.  Really I was just thinking about The Office the whole time.  Remember when Jim looked at the camera? THAT WAS HILARIOUS!  And what about when Dwight talked about living on the farm? I really wish they explored his spin-off more, it could have been really funny I think if they did it right.  I mean, maybe that episode wasn’t that great, but it could have been really funny. Oh, and Toby!  Man, this film would have been great if Toby just showed up halfway through and Micheal was all “It’s Toby! What are you doing here? Being boring? Yeah that’s what I bet”, and Toby’s just really nice about it.  Anyways, I think there might be some kind of death cult in this movie.  I give it seven stars, for how many seasons “The Farm” should have gotten.  Chances of winning: 89%


Interstellar
For Best Sound Mixing

BRAAAAAAAAAAHM. BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHM. POOM POOM POOM BRAAAAAAAAAAHM. shooshooshooSHOOSHOOshooshoo BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHM. BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHM. ohnoplanets BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHM. zzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZMEYOOOR! PEWPEWPEW YOyoYOyoYOOOOO. BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHM BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHM.  wwwwwwHOOOOSH shooo SHOOOOwhoooosh SPLOOOSHswishswish clackclackclackCLICK BARAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHM thisplanetstoowet BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHM time! BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHM. oooooOOOOOOOOOOOZZZZZZZZZZZzzzap clawclawcrewcrow BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHM BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHM beep. beeep. beep. BOOP. BRAAAAAAAHM thisplanetstoocold. BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAHM ZIPCRACKLEWHETWHET BRAAAAAAAAAAAHM BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAHM. This planet’s juuuuuuuust right!  I give this film three planets and the infinite expanse of time. Chances of winning: BRAAAAAAAAAAHM BRAAAAAAAAAAAAHM.


Unbroken
For Best Sound Mixing

A young couple gets a new puppy. One day the wife (Maddalena Ischiale), who works as an ad exec in downtown Chicago, comes home to find that the puppy has wet the carpet. “What?! Isn’t this puppy house-trained?” she asks her stay-at-home-and-play-video-games husband (Finn Wittrock). “No.” Says the husband, “This puppy is unbroken“. I give it a rating of 47 days.  Chances of winning: 167%.


Selma
For Best Picture

There was a guy named Martin Luther King Jr. He made a bunch of people walk around. Some guy writes his name on a paper. I guess it’s cool if you like walking.  I give it 525 to 600 stars. Chances of winning: 275%

WHO WILL WIN:

Best Picture: Grand Hotel
Best Director: Frank Borzage for Bad Girl
Best Sound Mixing: Paramount Publix Studio Sound Department and She Done Him Wrong

 

An Unhelpful Guide to the 2014 Oscars

It’s Oscar season again, when we all huddle in blankets and leave out milk and cookies for the Film Academy Grinch so that he won’t steal our children and leave copies of Grown Ups 2 in our Oscar Stockings.  Of course as we all know from the Bible, the only way to truly save ourselves from the grisly fate of the Film Grinch is to correctly guess the winners of the three most important Oscar categories (Best Picture, Best Director and Best Make-up and Hair Styling).  Also fortunately for you, I have a mole inside of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and so below I’ve included a brief synopsis of each nominee and its likelihood of winning the prized Oscar statue with a gooey chocolate center.

12 Years a Slave (Best Picture, Best Director for Steve McQueen)

12 Years a Slave follows the exploits of a Middle manager for a company that makes auto parts for Ford Motor Trucks, hence he’s a slave to the corporation, man.  Over the next twelve years he gets married, becoming a slave to patriarchal convention, man, and eventually he begins drinking, becoming a slave to alcoholism, man.  After twelve years he gets fired from the auto parts company and has to try and find a job again, starting from the very bottom and becoming a slave to the sagging economy, man.  Directed by Steve McQueen, actor in such films as The Great Escape and Bullitt I’d say the percentage of winning ranges from 1841% to 1980%.

American Hustle (Nominated for Best Picture and Best Director for David O. Russell)

This year’s prestige piece on racism in American politics, Russell posits that perhaps the greatest hustle hoisted on the American people has been the racial profiling in the ABSCAM fiasco of the 1970’s and 1980’s.  The film focuses on FBI agent Paco Fernandez as he attempts to shed light on the underlining racism of American politics in New Jersey as some white guy (played by Jeremy Renner) tries to become Mayor.  Fernandez’ pleas fall on deaf ears, however, and thus the film transcends racial politics and becomes about the futility of life and the Sisyphean struggle of it all.  I’d say it has 7% chance of winning, 50000% is Russell styles his hair in an elaborate comb-over for the awards ceremony.

Captain Phillips (Only Nominated for Best Picture, a loser for sure)

Tom hanks is on a boat! It’s so much fun, he’s getting tan and talking to all of his friends about how great it was to be in Big and The Terminal and Joe Versus the Volcano when suddenly a bunch of pirates hop on board (and not the fun Johnny Depp kind).  “Give me an autograph!” yells Pirate leader Barkhad Abdi, “I have a son back home who’s a big fan of the Toy Story series”.  “Oh, what’s your son’s name?” asks Tom, terrified but keeping cool just like he did back in Apollo 13. “Oh, you caught me. It’s for me. I love you Tom Hanks” says Adbi, ripping open his shirt to reveal a Tom Hanks tattoo. “That’s okay, EVERYBODY loves me!” shouts Tom, and the party resumes.  Although it stands a 71% chance of winning Best Picture, Tom Hanks is sure to win Best Actor through sheer force of charisma and will.

Dallas Buyers Club (Nominated for Best Picture and Best Make-up and Hair Styling)

Tumbleweeds scurry across the empty roads under the watchful eyes of coyotes and the setting sun makes the shrubbery seem on fire in the middle of West Texas.  Lights turn on in an old auction house, people flock in like moths drawn to the light.  The auctioneer quiets down the whispering men in suits as the auction begins “Ladies and Gentlemen, today we sell Dallas. Bidding begins at-” The Auctioneer is cut off, Matthew McConaughy stands and raises his tiny fan “Yes, Hello. I would like to buy Dallas”.  The rest of the movie is about McConaughy (playing himself) trying to out bid everyone for the ownership of Dallas, though, they all decide that the bidding and conspiring to own the city is more fun than actual ownership.  SO they set up a secret shadow club that meets and discusses how they’ll first buy Dallas, then the world.  1985% chance of winning, thanks to McConaughy’s thrillingly ambiguous performance (why exactly DOES he want to buy Dallas? We never know, and perhaps its best that way).

Gravity (Nominated for Best Picture and Best Director for Alfonso Cuáron)

A Woman Astronaut and a Man Astronaut are in space being astronauts. But Oh No! Space stuff flies into other space stuff which makes space stuff happen. IN SPACE. Eventually Manstornaut dies but comes back as a ghost (still in space), and Woman Astronaut has to fly through the atmosphere and fight fire monsters being held captive on a Chinese Spacecraft (still in space).  This is all rendered in thrilling 3D, so you can see space in space and experience what it would be like if you were an astronaut in space. 9.8% of winning. In space.

Her (Only nominated for Best Picture, directing robots doesn’t count as directing)

In a dystopian future robots have taken over the world and forcefully impregnate men to carry terrible cyborg babies which will then be sued to conquer the rest of the galaxy.  One such man is Theodore (Joaquin Pheonix) who is kidnapped from his home by a seductress in the form of a super-intelligent AI (Scarlet Johansson) and i lured into the horrific robot compound.  Theodore is kept away from his loving wife (Amy Adams) and his three non-cyborg kids and plots his escape from the compound along with some other prisoners/breeders.  Theodore eventually has to martyr himself for the future of mankind (it turns out he’s actually carrying a human baby who may turn the tides of robot oppression), and baby Joshua is raised by Theodore’s wife to travel back in time and stop Skynet. Unfortunately it only stands a 3-5% chance of winning due to the fact that Sci-Fi epics like this one never win Oscars.

Nebraska (Nominated for Best Picture and Best Director for Alexander Payne)

Will Forte and Bruce Dern play a son and father (respectively, although presumably the father was also a son, but we never really get that backstory which is a shame) who are on a fun bonding road trip south from Montana to pick up millions of dollars and see the Italian countryside.  Unfortunately first they have to drive through Nebraska.  They drive. And drive. And drive.  They run out of things to talk about and try to find a good radio station: No dice, it’s all country. Not even a good 80’s hit station.  Dern tries to think of something to say. He decides it’s best just to look out the window. Ugh: More corn.  “Are we still in Nebraska?” asks Dern. “Yeah, Dad. 80 more miles” replies Forte. “Oh. I don’t think I like Nebraska”. 1867% Chance for Best Picture, 77354% for Best Director.

Philomena (Only Nominated for Best Picture,  come on Judi Dench, couldn’t you have made your character have horns?)

Philomena (Judi Dench) is a woman who had to give up her only child years ago so she could live in a convent, and a journalist named Martin Sixsmith (played impeccably by Steve Coogan) take sup her story in order to regain his hope in humanity.  Sixsmith’s search for Philomena takes him across the British isles and eventually to America, and along the way he and Philomena’s daughter (Mare Winningham) discover that maybe the world isn’t so bad.  This all changes when it’s revealed that Philomena is a spy for the British government, taking over the mantle from the long dead 007, and she’s attempting to infiltrate the evil organization SPECTRE.  Sixsmith finally meets up with Philomena on a beach, right before a diamond-faced assassin attempts to take her life. BANG BANG BANG go the guns, and it’s revealed that Sixsmith’s adventure has just begun.  Part one of the four part spy series, Philomena will keep you guessing from start to finish. 4417% chance of winning, thanks to Dench’s Neeson-esque aptitude for violence and her “particular set of skills”.

The Wolf of Wall Street (Nominated for Best Picture and Best Director for Martin Scorsese)

Steps echo through the White House, Secretary of State john Kerry (played by himself) rushes into Obama’s office (Obama also plays himself). “Sir, it’s the economy, it’s… it’s NOT WORKING ANYMORE!” shouts Kerry. Obama lights a cigarette and stares out the window, “I know John. It’s Wall Street. No one’s there, and so the economy’s crashing”. “WHY?! WHY BARACK?!” weeps Kerry. “Because the entrie street has been taken over by a pack of ravenous wolves”. Kerry and Obama hatch a plan just crazy enough to work, they’re going to grant an insane prisoner known only as “The Wolf Hunter” (Leonardo DiCaprio) pardon from Gitmo if he can break into Wall Street and fight off the wolves.  The Hunter, who claims to be innocent of his crimes of murdering Cincinnati, teams up with the one person he trusts: Wildlife expert Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill) and together they learn that the only thing more dangerous than a pack of ravenous wolves are stock brokers who haven’t been able to walk into a room and shout numbers at computer screens.  714% chance of winning Best Picture, Millions upon millions of percent chances for winning Best Director.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (Only Best Make-up and Hair styling, it got snubbed for Best Picture)

Johnny Knoxville plays Irving Zisman who just got out of prison and is looking to patch things up with his estranged son, Greg Harris’ Chuck.  It becomes clear that Irving won’t be able to make amends with Chuck, but he finds out that Chuck has a son, Billy, and Irving and Billy instantly hit it off.  Irving takes Billy out for a day, against the wishes of Chuck, and tries to open up to this youngster (It’s difficult for Irving, his father beat him and to escape he had to go fight in Vietnam where he saw a lot of people get killed).  Unfortunately Irving falls into old habits, and by the end of the day he’s getting carted back to Prison. “I’m sorry, Kid, I guess I’m just a bad grandpa” says Irving, but Billy looks up with tears in his eyes and says “No Pep-pep, you’re the best grandpa”.  It should be an 86% chance of winning, but as Irving well knows life isn’t fair and so it probably only has an 8% chance of winning.

The Lone Ranger (Nominated only for Best Make-up and Hair Styling, living up to its name of being a Lone Ranger)

Agent John Reid works for the Texas Rangers and he’s hunting down an escaped fugitive who’s hiding out in a seedy hotel outside Marfa.  He guzzles sunflower seeds and pitch black coffee, the kind that’d wilt flowers, as he gazes at the door thinking that if he stares hard enough he might just be able to develop X-ray vision.  Then the car door opens, and Johnny Depp’s character (Known only as “Ski Mask” as he’s wearing a ski mask the entire time) holds a gun up to Reid’s head.  “Hey. You wanna hear me do a wacky high-pitched voice?” asks Ski Mask.  “Get away from here. I’m on a job, and I got to do this alone” rasps out Reid. “Waka Waka!” exclaims Ski Mask, flapping his arms like a bird, “YOU WANNA SEE MY HAT?”, Ski Mask takes out a large hat with a dead crow on it.  he proceeds to make loud bird calls.  Reid realizes that he’s got a long day ahead of him, in the most uproarious and outrageous buddy cop movie since Rush Hour. 221% chacne of winning every Oscar from now to eternity, all thanks to Johnny Depp and his hats.

So there you have it.  Good luck, these predictions should be accurate but just in case bolt your doors and turn off the lights, because the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will be roving the streets on Oscar night searching for those who have defiled this most sacred of traditions.  Good luck, may you make it through the night.

About Film, Time, and Pumas

I keep a log of my dreams. Most of them, anyways.  Well, okay, fine, a hefty handful of them.  The number’s not important, what is important is that my obsessive logging proved to be useful for once when I was given the assignment during my time at CU Boulder in 2009 to make a film exploring the dreamscape.  There are so many different styles and types of dreams, and I do think everyone dreams different as dreams are merely firings of electrical synapses (This doesn’t mean they’re meaningless, it just means that they’re not as nice and relevant as sometimes we’re led to believe), so I decided to focus on the filmmaker’s anxiety dream as well as my own experiences in semi-lucid dreams.  The result is below. Let’s watch, and stick with it because it gets pretty great:

About Film, Time, and Pumas from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

What to say about this film?  I still greatly enjoy it, even some three or four years and a lot of technical honing later.  I think it not only provides a good cap to my Basement and Colorado film years, but it also features some of my favorite quotes (“The Key is inside the Puma, here take my knife!” , “Candy Town Forest!”, and “Heidegger fails to incorporate cube time which makes him stupid and false and wrong” all spring to mind. I’d love to hear some of your favorites) and it encapsulates a lot of the vividness and mundanity of our dreams: Both with the candy colored lighting schemes, the strange and often sluggish editing, and especially the minute straight of watching an egg white drip down a sign.

In spite of all of this, there a few issues.  Although the pacing at times works, a lot of the line delivery can fall flat and there are some gaps where actors are searching for lines that could have been edited over.  Some of the filmic gags didn’t come through in part because of my own color correcting and in part because of the lack of light (Mostly I’m speaking about the Greeking gag with the coconut, which no one will ever be able to understand or see), and in general the demeanor of Mike never quite gets through (I blame myself and my directing of Mikhail for this, mostly because Mikhail’s performance as Milk is spot on).

However, in spite of all of the flaws, I do deserve a bit of a break.  After all, this is the movie that ends with a person fighting a puma that’s also themselves that’s also a goat. Oh, and the camera is falling asleep at that point. So, I think that at least helps cover for the lackluster beginning, doesn’t it? DOESN’T IT?!

Without the T’s: Star Trek Into Darkness

“Without the T’s” is my film review for both current theatrical releases and any release on home video that I may see.  I treat these as a way to discuss and understand a film for it’s merits and demerits, but unfortunately since it’s a review I hindered by two main points: A grade and a gimmick.  Therefore, the more I enjoy a film the more of the letter “T” will be included in the write-up of the film, with “lesser” film reviews becoming more and more incomprehensible.

Star Trek Into Darkness is a lot of fun.  Does it further the pursui of cinema as an art form, and does it push narrative boundaries? Oh my, no.  This is a popcorn movie, and it has litle if any cultural message or truths about humanity. However, it serves to further what Abrams’ first film in the reboo franchise set out: Spaceships, explosions, and two Spocks.  The questions of humanity and society hat have been present in most iterations of Star Trek have been removed, but in it’s place is a sense of advenure and exploration, which I feel still serves the Star Trek universe well.

Star Trek Ino Darkness follows James Tiberius Kirk and the crew of the USS Enterprise as they hunt down a fugitive into Klingon Space and back to Earth (SPOILER ALER: The fugitive is KHAAAAAAAN).  Along the way we find out about tha the head of Star Flee was behind the resuscitaion of this fugitive from cryostasis (again, SPOILER ALERT, this is KHAAAAAAAAAN) and now he’s trying to right his wrong by blowing up him and his entire genetically modified clone clan and stranding the Enerprise in Klingon space, placing the blame on Kirk and sarting a full on galactic war (SPOILER ALERT: Galactic wars never end well. Also Benedict Cumberbatch is KHAAAAAAAN). Also along the way Scotty gets fired and has a trip to Jupiter, we have the closest thing the film comes to a philosophical or cultural message abou the military industrial complex, and then a whole bunch of things explode and people get sucked into space and lens flares are so present hat I wouldn’t be surprised if the next movie revolves around lens flares asking for a seat in the galactic council (they’re home planet, Baybrahms 9, then gets atacked by the mysterious Chiaroscuro. It turns out to be V-Ger). Also, along the way both Kirk and Spock get to yell “KHAAAAAAAAAN”, alhough Spock gets the beter moment.

There aren’t many surprises, it’s general Blockbuster fare, and it doesn’t quite have the same core of Sci-Fi as the series and to a lesser exten the first Abrams film did.  But it still has a few merits: Firstly, this is a very prety movie (although you may have to take out a lens flare or five).  The art direction, the design of the future, even the softer lighting inside of the starships make for a light, enjoyable piece.

However, the true redeeming factor of Sar Trek Into Darkness is the acting.  In Abrams’ first film he gave us a wonderfully dynamic Enterprise crew, one much more fleshed out than they were throughou much of the original series.  Although many of the crew members don’t get nearly the spotlight they had in the first film, and Bones mostly exists as a vessel for one-liners, the core group of the Enterprise is still enjoyable to watch.  Anton Yelchin’s Chekov, in particular, gives every line he has such enthusiasm and gusto hat even when he’s info-dumping about how spaceships fly he fills you with glee.  Yelchin also gets the fine distinction of helping flesh out Chekov’s characer a bit more form the original series.  Finally, the tour-de-force of Star Trek Into Darkness, is Benedict Cumberbatch as the arch-villain KHAAAAAAAAN.  Cumberbatch gives the warlord an animalisic harshness hat wasn’t present in Ricardo Montalbon’s previous incarnation but help cement KHAAAAAN as a cunning and worthy adversary to the indestrucible Jim Kirk. It isn’t any surprise hat Cumberbatch is the highlight of the film, but it’s wonderful to see him geting work and playing a different type of anti-social behavior than Sherlock Holmes.

So, although it’s certainly not groundbreaking, Star Trek Into Darkness serves its purpose as a blockbuser and has a handful of performances hat tip it just over the average mark. Thus, for the arbitrary grade, we’ll give it:A "B" Grade

 

VATAS: Westisode 9

One of the criticisms I had for Episode 2 was that it tried to shoehorn a full video into the video-blog format.  It didn’t work in Episode 2 and I wanted to drift away from ever doing it again in a VATAS episode.  And yet, here we are in Westisode 9, where I not only put in a full video into the middle of the episode, but it somehow worked better than I could have imagined and it has become of the most viewed episodes of VATAS on my Vimeo.  Even stranger, is that even though I stand by my rule of not doing this, I largely feel that Wesitosde 9 works. In fact, I’d say that is has rightfully earned its place amongst the “Big Three” of VATAS episodes.  Also, in defense, the video inside of this episode (A re-edit of a Gunsmoke episode) couldn’t really be featured on its own due to copyright restrictions (although, because it was used solely for education and no money will be made off of it, I do believe that it falls under the umbrella of Fair Use).  Anyhoo, let’s go ahead and take a look at the episode before dissecting it further:

Westisode 9 on YouTube

This episode works, and I enjoy it.  So the question is: WHY does it work?  I feel it’s partially because the entire episode is centered around the nested video, and that after showing the video we have a bit of a discussion afterward about the assignment and my thoughts on it (Still not much of a discussion, but still a discussion).  The other reason this works, is because it’s ridiculously fun. After the previous apocalyptic news of my school closing in Episode 8, Number 9 is mostly just me playing “Cowboys and Indians” by saying things like “Let’s go plant a cactus farm!” and “I got to- I got to gather up all the chickens!”.  These interspersed bits of oddly understood genre conventions help cement this episode as “The Cowboy VATAS”, as well as help tie everything into the Gunsmoke project.  I also think it’s a good step into figuring out a way to talk about school projects that I otherwise wouldn’t have, while keeping it interesting and useful for supposed spectators.

I never again tried to nest a video into another episode, and I think that’s smart. But, Westisode 9 does show that it can be done much more effectively than in the scattered episode 2.  That’s what I think anyways, but what do you think seven readers? Does it work? Or I’m just too much of a cock-sure gunman?