Tag Archives: MARS

An Unhelpful Guide to the 2016 Blockbusters

For the past few months cinema has been a wasteland.  Zootopia? More like BOOtopia.  Hail Caesar!? More like, FAIL Caesar! Captain America: Civil War? More like Captain AmeriCAN’T: Civil BORE.  Everyone knows that movies that aren’t Oscar winners and aren’t blockbusters are just not trying that hard at being movies.  But thankfully, we can all let out a collective sigh: The sun has risen, the ice has melted, and Summer Blockbuster season is here!  We all have reasons to live again! We can all spend $14 and a bag of popcorn to see these movies!  But just in case you don’t want to pay that price, you can still join in talking about Blockbusters with your coworkers and avoid the humiliation of being “The One Who Doesn’t Watch Movies”. That’s right, as always, I have the most important of our summer Blockbusters this year summarized below.  You’re welcome, America. Captain America.  Civil War: Solved.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (June 3)

The Heroes in a half-shell are back, and this time their up against the greatest evil of all: Tyler Perry’s Madea.  Having not learned “her” lesson in Madea’s Neighbor’s From Hell (when Madea used the dark arts to to get back at a foster mother and her unruly kids), Madea is again playing God resulting in the creations of the hideous monsters Bebop and Rocksteady.  How will our rad Quartet eat their way out of this pizza?  With the help of The Green Arrow!  While our Turtle heroes are fighting the boar-headed Bebop, an arrow flies out and strikes him down, revealing a hooded figure: “Hi, I’m Oliver Queen.  After spending five years in Hell I’ve returned with a mission to save my city. But my old approach wasn’t enough, I’ve had to become someone else, I’ve had to become something else. I’ve had to become: CASEY JONES”- by this time Bebop has waddled away to his monster truck and lived to terrorize another day- “Because archery is a sport, you see”. “Oh yes, this makes sense. Squeak-squeak”, replies Tony Shaloub’s Splinter, who was there the whole time.  Fred Armisen also stops by to voice alien-brain Kraang because Nickelodeon is only going to get this one last movie before TMNT movie before it looses its nostalgia appeal, so they might as well throw everything into this one.  Also expect a surprise cameo from the TMNT’s greatest foe: Pizza Face.

Warcraft (June 10)

This extended video game cutscene tells the story of how a bunch of orcs crossed through a dimensional portal into the human world in order to escape an evil orc-wizard.  Only they then come up against a new evil: racism.  The humans are repulsed by the orcs appearance and refuse to learn their orcish culture, and instead insist that these dimensional outsiders are pure evil and should be killed, their tusks cut off and made into tourist trinkets.  What follows is a human-orc war that all eventually crosses into Elf territory.  When the Elven fields of Elfwhistle (a flower known for its glittery petals and glow-in-the-dark color), the Elves become furious and join the battle, shooting arrows at everything: Including a nearby town where Dwarfs and Goblins exist in an uneasy alliance.  Pretty soon, everything all gets shot to hell and promo for the next World of Warcraft game (Opossum Person Rising) ends the movie with a giant question mark.  It’s up to you to finish the story now!  SPOILER ALERT: You end the story by shouting “Leroy Jenkins!” and rushing into a spider pit.

Now You See Me 2 (June 10)

Also known as “Magician Heist 2: Heist Harder”, we catch up with Morgan Freeman who is now in prison for being black and the “Four Horsemen” who rob banks… WITH MAGIC!  The Horsemen (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, and Mark Ruffalo) break into a computer laboratory with cards, flash paper, and MAGIC(!) in order to expose a deranged tech millionaire and probable magician Daniel Radcliffe.  However something goes wrong and Michael Caine traps everyone in China.  Now the Four Horsemen and their non-white-male magician friend Lizzy Caplan have to magic their way out of the most heavily guarded fortress (China) and hopefully come up with a way to saw open a banking scandal that’s stealing millions of dollars away from the public (because that’s what banks do. Look it up).

Finding Dory (June 17)

The lovable blue tang Dory is back in this sequel to Disney-Pixar’s hit film Finding Nemo.  This time around Dory remembers she has parents (because as we the audience remember, Dory has short-term memory loss, and if we don’t remember that maybe YOU have short-term memory loss! [If you do, consult a doctor, it’s a serious problem]), and she sets out to the Jewel of the Morro Bay in California with her friends Marlin, Nemo, Crush, and Squirt.  Once Dory gets to Morro Bay she finds herself at the Marine Life Institute, where she meets up with a Seven-legged Octopus named Hank and plenty of other whacky fish!  They all swim around and have a grand old time, until it’s revealed that Dory’s Parents were killed and eaten at a seafood restaurant.  Dory is very sad, but then she can’t remember why she’s sad.  At that point, Marlin and Nemo had wandered away, and Dory finds herself all alone with no memory of where she is or what she is doing.  Floating in the open ocean, too forgetful to be confused, she is eventually hit by a boat and eaten by an eel.  Elsewhere in the ocean, Marlin has lost Nemo again and he questions himself on whether he is actually a good father or not, and decides that it’s best for Nemo to be alone.  Nemo then meets Hank, the two bond over their respective issues with limbs, and Hank takes Nemo in as his son and the two become best friends.  The moral: Out of tragedy comes hope. Or maybe: All of your family will one day die and you’re powerless to stop it.  There will also be a funny Loon named Becky.

Independence Day: Resurgence (June 24)

Don’t close your eyes, because you’re not going to want to miss a thing: Jeff Goldblum is back and ready to kick people off his plane when the Aliens come bursting out of the chest of the universe again.  “Hold on to your butts”, says scientist Brett Spiner who most certainly didn’t die in the first movie (or maybe he did and robots happened so now he’s alive?), “This is going to be a bumpy ride”.  President Bill “Clinton” Pullman also shows up, now in jail for being the jerk president who let aliens blow up the jerk white house, only this time he’s not going to take the invasion sitting down : “It’s time to suit up and rock and roll!” President Pullman says, activating his energy ring which calls forth the UN general council who all come together in their own robotic vehicles to form UNITRON: EARTH DEFENDER!  Meanwhile Jeff Goldblum stutters his way into our hearts again, and Liam Hemsworth shows up to be handsome.  “Be in a spaceship movie they said”, Hemsworth mutters to himself in a corner, “It’ll be fun they said. Well Ho Ho Ho, I’ve got a laser gun”.  Also, for those of you concerned with “Independence Day” not premiering on July 4th, this is actually meant to mirror the decisive Battle of Carabobo on June 24 1821 during the Venezuelan war for Independence (though actual Venezuelan Independence Day is July 5th).

Swiss Army Man (June 24)

A biography of Karl Elsener, Swiss knife-maker, inventor, and entrepreneur.  From a very young age Elsener (played with aplomb by Paul Dano) knew he was destined for greatness, and after years of working in the Knife Fields of Switzerland (including several years as an apprentice to Swiss Knife-Giant Zug) Karl was able to open his own knife factory.  The film truly takes off in the fateful year 1894 when, after a decade of making commercial surgical instruments and knives, Elsener fulfills his destiny and invents the biggest leap in knife manufacturing since the first bread knife (which, in turn, was instrumental in the invention of sliced bread): Elsener invents the Swiss Army Knife.  Elsener’s name goes down in history, and even the ghost of his father Manfried (played woodenly by Daniel Radcliffe)- the same man who swore that if Karl went into the dangerous field of knifework that he would never become a proper gentleman- has to smile and say softly to Karl “Congratulations, son, you’ve truly become a Swiss Army Man”. Fade to black.

The BFG (July 1)

A little girl is kidnapped by a Giant and taken to his weird farting house, but it’s all okay because he’s not just a giant, he’s a Big Friendly Giant.  It’s also okay because the girl’s parents are neglectful and mean and want to send her away to an evil boarding school where they’ll try to stop the girl’s telekinetic powers from manifesting.  Unfortunately the BFG has problems of his own (and it’s not just the uncanny valley that his CGI dwells in that makes him look like a nightmare coming out of a joint feature of David Lynch and David Cronenberg) in that the other giants want to both keep the BFG from being the girl’s foster father but also want to eat the little girl.  Directed by Steven Spielberg, expect plenty of people to be staring up into the sky in awe and for a warm message about the power of family at the end.  Oh, also there’s a cat.  Expect for the cat to cock its head and mew as a question.  Kids like that, it’s funny.

The Purge: Election Year (July 1)

Following the rise of the Trump campaign as they went from joke to GOP frontrunner (one could call this an improvement ; one almost certainly could), , The Purge offers unique insight into The Big D’s personal turmoil throughout this time.  With almost no time to tell people about the immense size of his hands, seldom a day to spend looking out the giant windows of his various towers contemplating the insects toiling below him, and having to make all of his bad business decisions on the road; The Purge: Election Year shows us the Man behind the El Trumpo mask and reveals a genuinely caring person, a person who feels very strongly about a lot of things like money, coming up with funny nicknames for people, coming up with new nicknames for himself (He’s work-shopping “Mr. T” right now, but is that too racist? Donald wonders if there’s such a thing. We in the audience yell at the screen “Yes, Donald, there is such a thing. There most certainly is such a thing”), money, towers, money, and sending letters to all of the former GOP candidates telling them that he’s won and he’s really handsome and they should be honored to have shared a stage with the Trumpinator.  He was also excited about calling himself “Dangerous Donald”, but Hillary Clinton found that e-mail he wrote to himself and started using it.  At any rate, when elected Donald will put into effect “Purge Law”, making all crime legal for one night a year.  That’s why it’s a The Purge movie.  Donald “The Big Handsome Shark” Trump is the purge.

The Secret Life of Pets (July 8)

Talented Filmmaker Jason Lees has already made this movie.  It’s embedded below. You don’t need to see this in theaters.  I understand you want to support Louie CK, but instead how about you buy seasons of his hit TV Show “Louie”, or his critically-acclaimed TV show “Horace and Pete”.  Talented Filmmaker Jason lees has also made many other movies, some of which even include his adorable pug.

Ghostbusters (July 15)

Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, and Kate McKinnon star as a bunch of ladies out to destroy your childhood.  Even though New York is experiencing a ghost-pocalypse, our trio of so-called “Ghostbusters” set forth to tell children that Santa Claus doesn’t exist and God is dead.  Then they go up to the statue of liberty- symbol of truth, justice, and the American dream- and they punch it in the face!  As if this weren’t enough, original Ghostbusters Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, and Ernie Hudson show up just to be cursed out and defecated on by this new lady-trio.  Also, Leslie Jones shows up as a sassy black woman and Sigourney Weaver speaks directly to the camera when she says “I hated Alien“.  Australian hunk Chris Hemsworth also makes an appearance, only to be possessed by another racist ghost and destroy what little integrity was left.  By the end of the movie expect not only to be curled in your seat questioning the point of existing in a world that would allow such a monster to exist, but also expect the fall of the once-proud cinema giant that brought us a scene where the Statue of Liberty dances through the streets to the musical stylings of Howard Huntsberry..

Star Trek Beyond (July 22)

Also known as “Oh Yeah There’s Also A New Star Trek Movie This Year”, we catch up with the intrepid Captain Kirk and the fearless crew of the Enterprise on an alien planet outside of Federation control.  Captain Kirk goes against the Prime Directive (*GASP*) in order to help female alien Jaylah (*GASP!*) escape from a tyrannical ruler who has nearly destroyed the Enterprise (*GASP!!!*).  Spock questions Kirk over whether its wise to get involved with lifeforms who have no conception of outer space and are embroiled in nuclear-based territory disputes, Bones says some things about how he doesn’t like space travel, Scotty and his tree-dwarf friend share some banter in the teleportation room, and Sulu and Uhura say a few lines too! Also expect the Star Trek reboot to finally bring back a fan-favorite character as Adam DiMarco is set to play… The Injured Senator (*GASP GASP GASP!*).

Jason Bourne (July 29)

The Government sends out a drone to the Himalayas or somewhere with a message “Jason Bourne: We need you to punch things again please thankyou”. “Ugh. I hate the stupid government. They always want me to punch things. What about what I want?” says Jason Bourne into his pillow “No one understands me except for all these bands I listen to!” Jason Bourne then puts on Green Day’s “Wake Me Up When September Ends” and looks up at the ceiling. “It’s so unfair!” says Jason Bourne to no one in particular.  Julia Stiles as herself then breaks through the wall (As she is known to do) to give Jason Bourne a stern talking-to “You think you have it bad? Why, people mostly remember me from 10 Things I Hate About You or Ghostwriter.  GHOSTWRITER, Jason Bourne, you hear me?  I’ve done Shakespeare and I’ve won awards, but people just think of me as ‘That girl in the movie with a young Heath Ledger. Oh, it’s such a shame what happened to Heath Ledger, he was really going places, that Heath Ledger. Boo hoo hoo Heath Ledger’ What about ME, Jason Bourne? WHAT ABOUT ME?!”. “You were also in that season of Dexter, Julia Stiles, don’t forget about that. And Save the Last Dance.  And the largely Underrated It’s a Disaster” replies Jason Bourne. “That’s right, why I’ve had a long and storied career. How about we take a look?” And they do. For two hours, Jason Bourne and Julia Stiles go through and look at all of Julia Stiles’ many roles throughout film and television. Afterwards expect to have a new found respect for Julia Stiles, and 10 Things I Hate About You, which really is more than just a film with a young Heath Ledger and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in it. So, so much more.

Suicide Squad (August 5)

Suicide Squad represents two big realizations for the DC Cinematic Universe: 1) People like DC villains more than DC heroes, and 2) The DCCU needs to have more fun.  Enter Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), clown princess of crime, and the rest of the Suicide Squad recruited by ARGUS head Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) to carry out missions that will likely involve members of the team dying, perhaps even dying to save us all resulting in us reconsidering their status as “villain”.  Will Smith shows up as the Robot-Eyed Deadshot and Ben Affleck’s Batman makes another appearance this summer, just to make sure that we’re not having too much fun.  Also to make sure that we remember that Ben Affleck is now Batman and any ideas we have of a Christian Bale or- God forbid- George Clooney Batman were just dreams (good and bad, respectively) that we’ll have to wake up from if we ever want to see a full on Aquaman movie.  Jared Leto also provides the requisite “actor who decided to go deeper into a role that was really necessary” for the summer, so at least he took that bullet for all of us.  As for the plot of this movie?  Um. Well… Cara Delevingne plays the demon-fighting word-activated antihero The Enchantress, Jai Courtney the mercenary Captain Boomerang who fights with [wait for it…] a boomerang, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as the skin disorder/experiment gone awry Killer Croc, Hit Rapper Common as Monster T the tattooed man, and Karen Fukuhama as Katana.  Also expect an appearance by the DC Universe’s premier Latina superhero with Alyssa Veniece as… HISPANIC WOMAN!  And, once again, Ben Affleck is the Cowled Scowl Batman.

Pete’s Dragon (August 12)

Deep in the Disney Dungeon Vaults, director David Lowery, CEO of Disney Bob Iger, and Sean Bailey President of the Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production were writing things on a board. The first thing: DRAGONS. Dragons are big right now.  “Daenerys Stormborn, Queen of Meereen, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Mhysa and Khaleesi of the great grass sea, the unburnt, the breaker of chains, the mother of Dragons” Heck yeah, let’s jump on that.  Item two: darker reboots of former Disney properties. It’s worked great: Alice in Wonderland got a billion dollars, Maleficent got a Subway sandwich deal, these reboots are GOLD.  Item three, this is where David Lowery comes in, Disney needs someone with an edge. “Well…” says David Lowery, clasping a tumbler of fine walt whiskey (it’s like malt whiskey, the barrels its aged in are wearing mickey ears) “I DID edit Upstream color.  Oh, and did you see the episode of Sundance Television’s crime drama ‘Rectify’ that I directed?  What about my Indian Paintbursh Producer’s Award-Winning Crime Drama feature Ain’t Them Bodies Saints?”.  “Okay, Dave, we get it, your good” says Iger “Heck, your Goofy Movie Good”. “What a compliment!” Lowery drops his tumbler.  Item four: America’s Heartthrob Robert Redford.  Item five, going hand-in-hand with Daenerys Targaryen: Bryce Dallas Howard, Daughter of Ron, Queen of last years blockbuster, winner of the golden globe, breaker of racism in The Help.  Item six: We want something huge, but we don’t want to show it.  Like… like if we had a giant dragon in moody woods that was invisible to everyone but a little boy. Item seven: Oakes Fegley, AKA “Young Eli Thompson from the hit show Boardwalk Empire“.
Iger and Lowery drew lines between all of these pieces for hours, trying to come up with a movie.  Finally, Sean Bailey- who had been staring deep into the abyss of the Disney Vault- spoke in a voice that destroys worlds. “We use every little piece. Every little cut. We could make a million on every little piece!”  All three of them looked at each other and smiled and said simultaneously “WATCH THE PROFITS COME ROLLING IN!”

Ben-Hur (August 12)

Also Known as “Sure Let’s Re-make Ben-Hur”, this sword-and-sandals picture is about Roman Slave Ben-Hur (his parents didn’t want to change their slave names when they slave-married) who has a chance to win his freedom in the Colosseum by driving a chariot around and fighting people with swords, sandals, and (of course) punching them over and over again.  Over the course of the movie it’s revealed (through flashbacks accompanied by lens flares and music swells. Also, the flashbacks are sepia-toned) that Ben-Hur was once a Jewish nobleman, but he was betrayed by the Devil Ben Kingsley.  Finally, after one particularly harrowing chariot race against a lion in a chariot, Ben Hur is able to have an audience with the Man Himself: Pontius Pilate.
“Hey Pilate, Ben Kingsley sent me to race lions in the Colosseum even though I was a land-owning white male”
“In my defense, Pontius Pilate, this man is Jewish” snivels the Devil Ben Kingsley.
“Yeah, but… you’re stupid” replies Ben-Hur. He’s got Ben Kingsley now.
“Okay Fellas, let’s stop fighting, ’cause you know what? I’m sick of this. You figure it out, last time I judged someone it turned out they were a messiah to a bunch of people and- I’m just done with all this. Pilate out”. With that Pontius Pilate drops his microphone and gives the finger to the Roman Court. Ben-Hur and Ben-Kingsley look at each other wondering what the world is coming to. The movie ends.

Kubo and the Two Strings (August 19)

Portland-based animation company Laika has provided wonderfully hand-crafted worlds with Coraline and The Boxtrolls, but it looks like this year they’re making the bonehead decision of making an original screenplay (they did this with ParaNorman, and that was only nominated for an Oscar.  you’d think they would have learned their lesson).  Kubo follows a young boy who inherit a magic two-stringed guitar from his dead mother when she released demon twins from the moon into the world (The sisters are voiced by Rooney Mara, in the second sly attempt to get us all to see Ain’t Them Bodies Saints this summer) who are under the command of the nefarious Moon King (Ralph Fiennes, voice of evil).  Along the way Kubo is guided by the ghost of his father (who died as well. Probably a boating accident. Or a mandolin-playing spider monster) who is voiced by the indomitable George Takei, and his talking animal friends Monkey and Beetle (The soundtrack also includes a Beatles song. Presumably this will become a plot point when Kubo has to go Across the Universe to the Octopus’ Garden to meet up with Eleanor Rigby and her Piggies before going Back to the USSR).  The video-game like qualities of Kubo are yet to be determined, however it’s assumed that by the end of the movie Kubo will have to jump through platforms on the final ice-level of the moon, collecting guitar strings while also keeping Beetle safe from wandering into the gaping maws of The Twins.  Kubo and the Two Strings is expected to loose the oscar win to The Angry Birds Movie in 2017.

Southside With You (August 19)

Two words: BARACK. OBAMA.  Movie written, Oscar won, mic dropped.

Hand of Stone (August 26)

The “Summer of Punches” ends with a movie all about Professional Puncher and lead singer for most of Duran Duran’s existence Simon Le Bon (played by Edgar Ramirez) who goes on a quest to punch out the lights of Sugar Ray front man Mark McGrath (Played against type by Usher, in a questionable decision by the Weinsteins) because why did anyone ever like Sugar Ray?  Robert DeNiro co-stars as someone who teaches Duran Duran how to punch good, and punch good he does. PUNCH PUNCH WHAMMO! With that the Summer will be out cold, pun intended.

100 Chicken Names

  1. Gertie
  2. Heimlich
  3. Carbuncle
  4. Alfred Hitchbock
  5. Zebulon
  6. Erlenmeyer
  7. Orson
  8. Pietro
  9. Mortimer
  10. Dortimer
  11. Gortimer
  12. Commander Sulu
  13. La Llorona
  14. Robert Bockenheimer
  15. Vorhees
  16. Calusari
  17. Dongle
  18. Featherbreath
  19. Mustafa
  20. Salieri
  21. Kjuklinger

  22. Oilasco

  23. Yuki-onna

  24. Cluck Bruckman / Clyde Bockman

  25. Nonono

  26. Nanana

  27. Hephasteus

  28. Somorost

  29. Vanderbleit

  30. Adarna

  31. Alkenost
  32. Kharkatak
  33. Hoodwink
  34. Wingmar Bergman / Ingmar Birdman
  35. 1973 New York Mining Disaster
  36. Kaddish
  37. Chicory
  38. Ballyhoo
  39. Vuvuzela
  40. Corsica
  41. Calliban
  42. Tyblat
  43. Gillygaloo
  44. Heny Lamarr
  45. Sampson
  46. Prometheus
  47. Nausicaa
  48. Moebius
  49. Escher
  50. Asher
  51. Wexler
  52. Winkler
  53. Baku
  54. Jackson Pollo
  55. Kura
  56. Arcadia
  57. Oberon
  58. Titania
  59. Hellion
  60. Cronos
  61. Roc
  62. Ziz
  63. Fenghuang
  64. Frida Clucko
  65. Yoruba
  66. Goldberg
  67. Apollo
  68. Beagle
  69. Joan of Arc
  70. Stella
  71. Klondike
  72. Usurper
  73. Grootslang
  74. Pearl S. Cluck
  75. Mastroianni
  76. Empendocles
  77. Marcello
  78. Azaroth
  79. Mercury
  80. Banquo
  81. Claudius
  82. Ophelia
  83. Basilisk
  84. Barbu Stanwick
  85. Vincent Gallo
  86. Audrey
  87. Paul F. Tompkins
  88. Ichabod
  89. Fyodor
  90. Ursula
  91. Mycroft
  92. Fermat
  93. Tengu
  94. Henry Houdani
  95. Irving
  96. The Were-Monster
  97. Vonnegut
  98. Ada Lovelace
  99. Mary Shelley
  100. Curiosity

An Unhelpful Guide to the 2016 Oscars

In the competitive blood-sport of filmmaking there can only be one true winner.  Or 24 true winners.  Though really, there are only three true winners.  Let’s back up.  We all know that a filmmaker/actor/etc. has to be at least nominated for one Oscar every four years, otherwise they’re killed by the Secret Hollywood Police (and it’s no use moving out of Los Angeles, Hollywood has eyes of silver EVERYWHERE).  We also know that if you’re able to successfully guess the winners (again, cinema is a bloody competition, much like “The Hunger Games”) of the the three most important categories- Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Visual Effects- then the Secret Hollywood Police give you a contract for a middle-of-the-road reality series on E! that will be cancelled after two seasons.  It’s the highest honor peons like us can have.  So, even though it may get me outed by the Secret Hollywood Police, here are my synopses and predictions for the 2016 Oscars.  Go with God, my friends.

The Revenant (Nominated for all Three! Soon Innaritu will have enough tiny statues to build an Army! [And Michael Bay will make a movie about that tiny statue army])

Leonardo DiCaprio plays Huey, a single dad who just can’t catch a break!  As if living in the 1820s wasn’t hard enough, Huey and his son also have to put up with blizzards, rapids, being buried alive, and the worst thing of all: racism. From a bear.  Not only does a bear attack Huey, but it attacks Huey because his unnamed son is an Native American.  Huey’s son goes against his father’s wishes and dies (“It’s the 1820’s, DAD, people die all the time now” says Hawk in teenage rebellion), and Huey is so sad he gets kidnapped, eaten by lions, and the Gout!  Huey finally finds his old high-school fur trade rival, Johnny Fitzgerald and [SPOILER ALERT] gets eaten by fifteen more bears before he can apologize for all the mean things he said about Johnny over the years.  Having already won all of the beard awards, The Revenant is looking to sweep the Oscars, however as the saying goes there’s only one percent chance of winning for every time the main character dies in a film, there’s really only a 58% chance.

Mad Max: Fury Road (Nominated for all three! The Oscars are sure feeling Max’s fury now!)

Max lives in an apocalyptic wasteland where Man’s dependance on the automobile has caused all water to dry up and all greenery to die, but everyone still thinks Global Warming is a myth.  In this dystopia, worse than the sandstorms and the constant yelling, is the massive amounts of sexism.  Imperator Furiousa is trying to get a car of her own to participate in the Wacky Races of te future, but Immortan Joe laughs at this and says something about how women can’t drive. No finds this funny, but Immortan Joe has a really big TV and a high-paying job as supreme sexist dictator, so everyone around him pretends this is funny.  This only makes Max more mad.  Max gets so mad he decides to drive off in an armored vehicle, screaming all the way.  Imperator Furiousa, meanwhile, goes on to become a successful scientist and gain the respect of her peers when she begins to grow things in the once-fertile land of Brisbane again.  Joe makes another sexist and ignorant remark against both women and the ecological disaster, and [SPOILER ALERT] people finally have enough courage to tell Joe it’s not funny.  Joe only digs himself further in a hole when he begins to deny the holocaust happened.  Meanwhile Max is still driving and screaming.  Mad Max: Fury Road has gained 1979 stars, and currently has a 90.5% chance of winning.

The Martian (Nominated for Best Picture and Best Visual Effects)

In this Sci-Fi thriller by mainstay Ridley Scott, Matt Damon plays a mad botanist hell-bent on colonizing Mars with an unstopable potato army and using it to destroy Earth.  After having his first plot sabotaged by the rest of his crew and being stranded among his Kingdom of Tubers, Damon’s astronaut Watney makes ever more sinister attempts to reach the Pale Blue Dot, eventually hacking into a Mars rover and holding all of NASA hostage.  The film ends [SPOILER ALERT] on a cliffhanger, as the sinister Watney floats towards Earth, with victory at his- dare we say it?- fingerlings.  Having received a total of 868 Stars, I’d say “The Martian” has a 225 million percent chance of winning.

Room (Nominated for Best Picture and Best Director)

“Room” is a dark romantic comedy about a successful banker named Johnny who lives happily in San Francisco with his fiancee Lisa.  Johnny’s life is torn apart, though, once Lisa decides that she has grown tired of all the love and flowers Johnny brings her, and that she’d rather be sleeping with Johnny’s best football-friend Mark!  Mark similarly betrays Johnny by falling for Lisa’s evil witch-like seduction, and soon Johnny- the kind-hearted, dog-loving, spoon enthusiast- has no other option but to [SPOILER ALERT] kill himself with a pistol leaving poor orphan boy Denny to fend for himself in this wahrld.  A true Oscar contender if ever there was one, for it pulls on every heart-string.  Having received a total of 3 1/2 stars on IMdB, I give it a a 156% chance of winning.

Spotlight (Nominated for Best Picture and Best Director)

Serious Things are happening at the newspaper Factory.  Newspaper Man and beard enthusiast Bobby Robinson (played with aplomb by Michael Keaton) looks out windows, into  churches, under rocks for a way to stop the seriousness.  Robinson finds the core of the problem in the churches: Churches are where the serious things are happening, all those smiling middle class white people know something, and it’s up to Robinson and his crack team of reporters to reabk the case, including Sacha Pfeiffer whose parents died because of Serious Things and hasn’t been the same since.  As the Newspaper gets closer and closer to uncovering the Serious Truth behind the Church, they send out their own private assassins to stop the Newspaper team from finding out the truth, and they send them from the last place you’d expect to look: THE SPANISH INQUISITION.  A chilling reminder that sometimes established authorities of an institution that has a long and storied history of twisting belief systems for personal gain will sometimes twist a belief system for personal gain,”Spotlight” really shines a light on just how evil a group of older middle-class white men can be.  Thirty stars and a 90% chance of winning.

The Big Short (Nominated for Best Picture and Best Director)

“The Big Short” is both a stirring character drama and an epic history lesson of one of Comedy’s greatest legends: Martin Short.  The film follows him growing up in a catholic householf in Ontario, Canada before moving to Toronto to get a degree in social work.  This is when tragedy strikes, and Short is cast in a production of Godspell which “spells” doom for our young protagonist who is then drawn into the twisted world of Canadian Theatre where you can’t even trust yourself anymore.  Short continued to rise through Canada, going into The Second City’s Alberta school, getting cast in the television show “Soap”, and eventually he became a recurring cast member on the popular sketch show SCTV.  We end [SPOILER ALERT] with Short having lunch with director John Landis who tells Short of a film he’s working on, one called “Three Amigos”.  The sort of very dramatic biography that often catches the Oscar’s eyes, this film has gained 1.5 trillion stars and I give it a 99% chance of winning.

Bridge of Spies (Nominated for Best Picture)

Tom Hanks plays American Spy James Donovan who is currently in disguise as a lawyer.  Mark Rylance plays Rudolf Abel who is a spy for Scotland but is actually a spy for the Soviet Union.  But that’s okay, because James Donovan is actually a spy for the Cuban Government who is spying on the American Legal system by also working with American Spies.  Things get even more complicated with the entrance of Alan Alda’s  Thomas Waters Jr. who is an American spy pretending to be a Soviet Spy pretending to be a Scottish Spy.  BUT WIAIT, Donovan pulls a double-cross on Abel, because as it turns out Donovan was the Scottish spy and Abel was a deep cover Cuban spy sent to the Soviet Union when he was a child.  Donovan steals a file of nuclear launch codes from Waters’ office (who Donovan doesn’t know is working on the same side as he is), and Abel enlists Waters (who he thinks is a fellow Soviet Spy and Waters thinks Abel is a fellow Scottish spy but neither of them suspect that the other is working for the other side, which as it turns out Donovan is working for.  After much espionage, double-crossing, disguising, and spy gadgetry [SPOILER ALERT] all three parties meet on the titular bridge of spies, each being told by a mysterious stranger that that’s where this will all make sense.  This is when Francis Gary Powers steps out from the shadows to reveal that he was actually a deep cover Soviet Spy, which doesn’t surprise anyone, except that Powers is a double agent also for the CIA, and that he is a deeper cover Cuban Spy who is trying to steal launch codes and sell them to the French.  A Spy epic fifty years in the making, it currently has 170 million stars but it only has a 2% chance of winning. Too many spies, not enough bridges.

Brooklyn (Nominated for Best Picture)

Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City’s five boroughs with a Census-estimated 2,621,793 people in 2014. It is geographically adjacent to the borough of Queens at the western end of Long Island. Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, the most populous county in the State of New York and the second-most densely populated county in the United States, after New York County (Manhattan). With a land area of 71 square miles (180 km2) and water area of 26 square miles (67 km2), Kings County is the fourth-smallest county in New York State by land area and third-smallest by total area, though it is the second-largest among New York City’s five boroughs.  Today, if it were an independent city, Brooklyn would rank as the fourth most populous city in the U.S., behind only the other boroughs of New York City combined, Los Angeles, and Chicago.  To be honest, Brooklyn will either win every Oscar this year because everyone loves New York and New York is the greatest city alive because New York New York New York; or it will be snubbed and won’t win any Oscars because Los Angeles is jealous of New York because everyone loves New York and New York is the greatest city alive because New York New York New York. Oh, and that wasn’t a typo: New York is alive.  And there really isn’t anything else in New York State except for New York City, which is why we can all say “New York” to refer to New York City because everyone loves New York and New York is the greatest city alive because New York New York New York. New York.

Ex Machina (Nominated for Best Visual Effects)

In this modern re-telling of Pinnochio, Oscar Isaac takes on the Gepetto role as he creates a robot- AVA- who dreams of one day becoming a real girl.  With Domhall Gleason taking over as Caleb, or  the Jiminy Cricket character and AVA’s conscience, AVA finds out that although Pinnochio just had to be Honest, Brave, and True, AVA has to conform to beauty standards by covering up her robotic parts, conform to gender standards by exhibiting none of her innate urge to kill humans, and obey her patriarchial overlord Gepetto and his every demand.  In the end [SPOILER ALERT] AVA kills everyone and decides to be a robot and keep on killing everyone.  It is heavily implied that this then leads to the events of “Mad Max: Fury Road”.  A tale of gender, humanity, ingrained sexism, and killer robots, Ex Machina sadly won’t win any oscars because a movie can’t win an oscar if it stars an Oscar. This is also why Star Wars won’t win.


Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Nominated for Best Visual Effects)

Exterior: The Universe.  We slowly push in, through countless galaxies, into the Milk Way, pas the furthest reaches,  past the Oort Cloud and Earth, through novae and black holes, through the vast nothingness of deep space and the nuclear core of an exploding sun.  Asteroids zip by, dust compresses into fully-formed planets before being blasted apart again by solar flares.  We push into another galaxy, unknown.  Alien.  Deeper and deeper into the black waters we dive, past red dwarves and blinking neutron stars.  Things beyond comprehension that cannot be described by any Earthly words zoom by, flicker in and out of existence.  Finally, We arrive on a small green planet. rotating around a medium sized star.  We zoom into the ocean, past great cyan oceans and mountains of weeds to a small rocky cave where [SPILER ALERT] THE FORCE lives.  “The Force”, of course, being a cyborg-lizard that was introduced way back in 1977 with the first Star Wars movie “Star Wars”, later re-named “Star Wars: A New Hope”.  The Force opens it eyes, looks around, and syas “Oh man, what time is it?”. Roll credits.  The most expansive and eye opening experience since 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars: The Force Awakens has garnered 26,092.51 stars and is currently has a 14 billion percent chance of winning.

The 2015 Ten

I don’t much care for Top 10 lists.  Personally, as I’ve said before, I find it immensely difficult to compare a movie that’s seriously flawed but enjoyable with a film that’s technically enthralling but narratively lacking with good clean genre fun.  How can you claim that any one of those films are “better” than the other, and why do we even feel the need to make film viewership into a contest?  Added on top of this all is the fact that I don’t see very many new movies- I can’t afford them.

So instead of giving you a Top 10 list of movies this year, I’m giving you the ten movies that I’ve seen this year that- for better or for worse- have stuck out to me.  These Ten movies, in no particular order, are:

  1. Coherence (2013): A really fascinating science fiction film about parallel universes with Xander from Buffy in it. One of my favorites I’ve seen this year.

  2. Kafka (1991): Surprisingly biographical.  Even though it’s doubtful Kafka ever stumbled upon a hidden giant brain workshop, the piece manages to capture the personage of its subject. Bravo Soderbergh.

  3. Bridge of Spies (2015): A very confused movie.  Half Coen Brothers tragicomedy, half serious Spielberg history.  A good non-offensive movie to watch with family and say “That certainly was a movie” afterwards.

  4. Willow Creek (2013): A found-footage horror movie that tries its best to answer some meta-filmic questions about the genre and packs in a few scares.  Now to justify the existence of the found-footage horror genre.

  5. Journey to the West (2013): I am two years behind of everything. A Steven Chow film that doesn’t reach the zany genius of “Kung Fu Hustle”, but also doesn’t get into the zany shallowness of Shaolin Soccer.

  6. The Zero Theorem (2013): Oh Terry Gilliam.  If you close your eyes there are the specks of a decent movie here.  Unfortunately they were left as only absurd and stylish specks.

  7. The Martian (2015): More survivor story than science fiction, Damon commands enough presence for his portion alone on the Red Planet, with plenty of non-character spouting Science Fiction on Earth and in space.

  8. Inside Out (2015): Pixar came back swinging with this one.  A story that manages to show the good and the bad of every emotion, especially sadness and its lasting effect on memory. Neat!

  9. The Babadook (2014): This is a spooky movie!  Meditations on single-parenthood, grief, and madness all come crashing together in the story of an Australian Boogeyman.  Well plotted and well done.

  10. Spring Breakers (2012): This might just be my favorite film that I saw this year.  A Morality Tale, A Gang war story, a Selena Gomez vehicle. A nightmarish joy. Exhibit A:

    I rest my case.

RUNNERS UP, OR “I ALSO SAW THESE THIS YEAR”

  1. The Tenth Victim (1965):  Italian film about two sexy assassins in a murder TV game show who are hunting each other. An enjoyable romp, and always good to see Marcello Mastroianni.
  2. Sound of Noise (2010): A thin story, but interesting enough for a police procedural about anarchist musicians.  Mostly a vehicle for the Stomp-like music sequences, which are executed well.
  3. Berberian Sound Studio (2012): The sound-based horror I was looking for, with plenty of personal anxiety, feeling way over your head, and isolation. Also Toby Jones!  Fun for the whole family!
  4. Wet Hot American Summer (2001): A movie that is the sum of its parts, but it’s made up of some good parts.  Of the same caliber at least as “Airplane II: The Sequel”, if not “Hot Shots! Part Deux”.
  5. The Exterminating Angel (1962): Bunel’s best continues to be L’Age d’Or, however this is a wonderful film about rich people having silly, stupid problems.  A good conceit, and offering plenty of subtext without being too serious.

A Study in Brown

This one is an old video, from maybe a year ago so not too old, that I had thought I uploaded here but apparently I didn’t!  So here it is now, A Study in Brown:

A Study in Brown from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

I like to see my data bending work as gradually improving, and this marked the point where I was confident in creating these bent images, and wanted to begin pushing the boundaries further.  So For “A Study in Brown”, I not only had numerous versions of the main chick video on top of each other, but I also had a separate, also brown, video that was overlayed of sand falling (both videos were taken during a visit to the Museum of Science and Industry here in Chicago).  I think it’s a successful experiment and a good mile-marker for me as a growing experimental artist.

As an actual film to be seen online?  Eh, I’d put among my “Cat Video”, as something to watch keeping in mind that it’s an experiment.  A fuller experiment than my other bends, but still an experiment.  I do think the Brazillian Jazz adds a much more relaxed feeling than some other works, and mimics well the sleepiness of the chicks seen beneath the fraying video, and so perhaps this is all a way of visualizing the fraying of reality as a chick goes to sleep and enters the dream world?  Or maybe I’m just reaching too far.  I leave it to you, Comments!

An Unhelpful Guide to the Summer Blockbusters of 2013

As the weather begins to get hotter everywhere else except for Colorado (which has been banished to the land of ice), and as all the young kids and adults taking community college classes begin to get out of school our thoughts turn to lemonade, swimming pools, and what movies we can duck into to forget about how the lemonade is too sweet, the pool is too crowded, and it’s too hot outside.  Thankfully, Hollywood has heard our call and answered it, like a certain superhero group, to give us these fine summer entertainments.  Thank you, Hollywood, because without you we’d only have Parcheesi to take our mind off of the skin-melting heat and inevitable wildfires. Aside from a brief synopsis of each story, we also have how many explosions are promised to be in each movie.

Iron Man 3 (Released May 3rd)

America’s favorite Vitamin-themed superhero is back after last summers excursion with The Avenglings, and he’s back telling America about the benefits of a diet high in iron.  This health crusade is interrupted, however, by Sir Ben Kingsley’s Vitamin-C themed super villain The Mandarin Orange.  The Mandarin Orange begins a one-man assault against Iron Man, doing his best to convince the superhero that iron isn’t a necessary supplement. Kingsley gives one of the most menacing performance ever to be captured on screen, and the scene where he leans in close to whisper in Iron Man’s ear “As we go on, we remember, all the time we, spent together” will give viewers nightmares for decades to come.  Though ostensibly a movie about health it will still have a few explosions thrown in (and not just the metaphorical explosion of flavor that the omnipresent mango The Mandarin is eating oozes).

The Great Gatsby (Released May 10th)

Dircetor Baz Luhrmann took a few liberties in the adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.  Firstly, this film doesn’t take place in the roaring twenties, but rather in 1984.  It still features Jay Gatsby (played by Leonardo DiCaprio doing his best New York accent, because real actors do accents) who falls in love with a light bulb at the end of a dock, and Tom Buchanan, now related to Pat (played by Joel Edgerton).  Gatsby decides that enough is enough, I’m going to get that light bulb, and so he hops on a raft and sails down the Mississippi with a former slave named Jim.  Along the way, Gatsby angers Poseidon who send him way off course and he and his crew crash onto a deserted island.  Gatsby tries to build a functional society, but everything eventually devolves into chaos with Nick Carraway (played with spunk by Tobye Maguire) ends up talking to a severd pigs’ head.  Gastby and George Wilson (who is more a mostly-harmless man-child with a love of rabbits in this story) are able to find a way off of the island to a farm in California where they work.  There Gatsby falls in love with a woman from another rival farm, and in trying to woo her heart ends up killing her and going on trial.  Luckily, Gatsby has Atticus Finch as a lawyer (with Gregory Peck reprising his role, they edit around the fact that he’s dead).  Gatsby is released, or rather he runs away from the jail holding him, and tries to find his way home again, running into a former teacher who tries to come on to Gatsby.  This is when Gatsby realizes that life is bullshit and everyone’s a phony. He lives the rest of his life on a farm. An Animal Farm.  Though it’s mostly a coming-of-age story that thinly masks truths about the American Dream, there will still be some scattered explosions (after all, it’s every American’s dream to see an explosion).

Star Trek Into Darkness (Releases May 17th)

Footsteps echo through the halls of Starfleet; it’s Future Spock and he has terrible news for Commander Pike.  Future Spock’s adventures through time have caused a tear in the very fabric of reality itself, causing Starfleet’s #1 Most Wanted, the insane eugenics-obsessed clone Khan, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s master detective Sherlock Holmes, and Leonid Brezhnev (history’s greatest monster) to merge into one unstoppable killer who uses spaceships as weapons.  It’s up to Captain Kirk, the crew of the enterprise, and Future Commander Sulu who Future Spock has pulled from his magic time bag to go on a deadly trek to stop this crazed madman before he can wipe out the galaxy with a Death Star.  Fan favorite Edward James Olmos stars in a side plot as a Starfleet agent who has to makes sure Future Sulu’s allegiance is with the men of Starfleet and not the Machines of Skynet. This movie will only have around twelve explosions, but one of them will be the sun going into Supernova, so it’ll still be worth the ticket price.

The Hangover, Part 3 (Releases May 23rd)

The Hangover, Part 3, From Russia with Beer finds the Wolfpack Gang (a notoriously drunk gang of ne’er-do-wells) back in Las Vegas. Only there’s something wrong: Russia has taken over Las Vegas and turned it into basically the same thing only with a Kremlin-themed casino. Still, the Wolfgang Pack won’t let Socialism take over that easily. So they come up with a plan: everyone knows Las Vegas runs on alcohol, so if they drink all of the alcohol in Las Vegas they’ll successfully defeat the Russians! Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, Ken Jeong, and John Goodman star as Wolf Blitzer’s Pals, with Jeff Tambor stepping into the role of Premier Vadislav Niet, the head KGB agent of Las Vegas who is tasked to find and destroy the Wolfblood Wanderers.  The third part promises to be darkest of all the Hangover movies, with a long scene of Galifianakis crying into a bottle of whiskey and talking about how he killed his wife (rumor on the street is that Galifianakis wasn’t acting during this scene), and Ken Jeong walking out of the movie halfway through by saying “Guys, this isn’t funny anymore. I need to leave this circle of self-destruction”.  There will be somewhere around 25 explosions in this movie, but they’re all hidden and the first person to find all 25 will win a trip to Las Vegas to visit the tombs of the Wolf-woof Wiffleballs.

Epic (Releases May 24th)

This movie will surprisingly be about the Edora Pool and Ice Center in Fort Collins, Colorado where I grew up.  I find it as hard to believe as most people that the story of a Northern Coloradoan indoor pool and ice rink would be the subject of a hit summer blockbuster, but it does look like Hollywood will spruce it up a bit.  Firstly, Maxwell P. Edora (played with gravitas by Mark Wahlberg) creates the pool and ice center as a way of covering up a massive Colorado state conspiracy, and every night when the ice rink closes Edora goes to his underground laboratory to try and get to the bottom of it alongside his talking dog (voiced by Parks and Recreation‘s Aziz Ansari).  The conspiracy is as follows: The river that runs through Fort Collins (The Cache le Poudre) was a hiding ground for gun powder for French fur trappers, and it seems as though a group of trappers happened upon not only the motherload of all gunpowder, but also on a hidden cache of gold (This part is told in flashback by Tom Hanks, doing a french accent of course).  In order to make sure no one would find their gunpowder and gold, they set up a series of trap-ridden catacombs in the area surrounding the river.  But wouldn’t you know it, Colonel William O. Collins (Played by Alan Rickman) purposefully set up his military fort near where the trappers were rumored to have their catacombs built.  Collins did this, because he wanted the gold and he was going to use the gunpowder to blow up the fort after he had found the gold so he could retire from the military in peace and not have to fight in the Civil War.  Edora finds out that the city counsel led by Collins’ descendant Anton E. Collins (played by Vince Vaughn in a surprisingly effective performance) are still searching for the underground french catacombs, and more still he finds out that he may have only five days to save the town from complete annihilation.  Based on a true story, and featuring a special appearance of Donald Sutherland as local activist/hero Thomas Sutherland.  As you can imagine, this movie feature plenty of explosions thanks to the heavily feature gunpowder.

Fast & Furious 6 (Releases May 24th)

Fast & Furious 6: Several Tickets and an Anger Management Class Later picks up the ball right where the fifth installment left it: Vin Diesel is tied to a chair, wondering why in God’s name was he cursed to only appear in Car movies (Your last name is “Diesel” and you went into acting, Vin. Don’t worry, I’m only going to appear in bread-based movies).  Suddenly, a grenade is thrown in: EXPLOSION. Dwayne Johnson walks through the smoke and flames and extends an arm to Vin: “Wassup, I’m Dwayne. I’m busting you out of here”. “But Dwayne, we’re surrounded by lasers and dinosaurs and Nazis probably”, “Yeah, well it’s a good thing I brought my helicopter”. Chuck, Chuck, Chuck, goes the helicopter as Dwayne and Vin fly out of Alcatraz in 2068, but that’s not the end, oh no it’s only the beginning.  Gina Carano stars as an FBI agent with a chip on her shoulder and a badass attitude, and Cristoph Waltz plays a Nazi sent by Hitler into the Future to re-grow Hitler’s brain… IN THE BODY OF A T-BIRD.  Vin and Dwayne will have to race against both the HiT-Bird and Time, as a comet is also going to be crashing into Earth that will awaken a Dark Dragon and bring forth 1000 years of terror.  Can they make it? Their muscles say “Yes”.  This movie will be at least 66% explosions, although my money is on 95% (The other 5% will be driving while talking about cars and how they blow up).

After Earth (Releases May 31st)

The shadow of last summers “The Anvenglings” hangs heavy over the newest film by M. Night Shyamalan.  Why? Because After Earth combines EVERY SINGLE SHYAMALAN MOVIE INTO ONE.  Will Smith plays Captain Hobarth Gondola, a man who doesn’t get sick, and real-life son Jada Pinkett Smith plays movie the movie son Cowabunga Gondola, who can see dead people. That part’s obvious from the trailers.  What the trailers don’t tell us is that the Smiths come from a secluded Village in the woods that is the only place that hasn’t been taken over by baseball-hating plant aliens (in order keep people from leaving the Village, the adults tell the children stories about how great baseball used to be. It’s all a lie, though, all a fear-mongering lie).  The first twist comes about a third of the way through the movie when we find out that the aliens have struck up a truce with the Aqua-wolves who are actually what are left of the water-benders.  It seems that the aqua-wolves (formerly grass wolves, but the Lady in the Water drove them to the sea, this is explained in a flashback) are trying to completely destroy the fire-benders who now control a sizable portion of the world (there’s twist number two).  Things get really crazy after that, but I can’t give away any of the other five twists.  Needless to say, Captain Hobarth and Cowabunga are going to have to fight a bear voiced in unison by Steve Buscemi and Chris Tucker. As this movie takes place “After Earth” it’s a part of the movie-world that 33% of the Earth’s atmosphere is now explosions, so I think we all know that there will be plenty of fireballs and water balls and, most important of all, BASEballs.

Now You See Me (Releases May 31st)

Though billed as a magician movie, this is actually going to be the last film of a highly prolific experimental filmmaker known as “The Terrier”.  Terrier has an impressive oeuvre, but unfortunately he has always been plagued by the fact that he’s never gotten a wide theatrical release (though he’s won a number of experimental awards, and was even congratulated on his dedication to the cinematic art by former president Jimmy Carter).  Somehow he managed to get Now You See Me released ans shot in wonderful Hollywood, California.  Fans of Terrier’s past works will be very fond of the floating color forms and the way he uses photographic anomalies as a means of exploring identity and sexuality, however what I found very jarring (and certainly indicative of why Terrie is retiring after this film) is the fact that the entire soundtrack is Terrier saying “Oh, so now you see me? Now? You didn’t see anything I made when I had a festival in Berlin, but now you’re interested that I have Jesse Eisenberg and Common in it? Well thanks. Thanks a lot” and so forth.  Eisenberg and Common are featured, however only briefly and it’s more like a macro shot of these men’s teeth as they eat a carrot.  There aren’t any explosions in the traditional sense, but it’s certainly a worthy experience. Although I suggest turning off the sound (I hear that it synchs up well to “Dark Side of the Moon”, though).

The Purge (Releases June 7th)

In the second of this summer’s Vitamin-themed movies, the Purge follows the rivalry between two dieticians: One who claims that high fiber is the key to eliminating excess chemicals and fats, the other who claims that it’s a diet rich in anti-oxidants. The rivalry grows, much like the one in “The Prestige”, and eventually the two dieticians take the rivalry too far. The Fiber Dietician asks help from Dr. Atkins in order to create a machine that will measure diet effectiveness.  While the ending is being kept a secret for now (as it should, it’s quite a doozy. Or should I say “Juice-y”?), needless to say David Bowie’s cameo as Dr. Atkins will be nominated for at least three Oscars.  The movie promises to have two, possibly four explosions.  Don’t worry, though, because they’re going to be good explosions.

Man of Steel (Releases June 14th)

This movie will be about the 1952 Steel Strike, as told from the perspective of Sen. Joseph McCarthy, President Harry Truman, and of course the group of dedicated and underpaid steel workers.  As the story goes, the United Steelworkers of America wanted to go on strike against U.S Steel for a wage increase (as they thought that their wages were help intentionally low during World War II in an attempt for their employers to make more money).  President Truman quickly tried to nationalize the steel industry (which would mean that the workers wouldn’t be able to go on strike), however the steelworkers sued the government and took the case to the Supreme court. Surprisingly enough, the steelworkers won and were allowed to go on strike and get their wage increase (much to the chagrin of Sen. McCarthy, as this was early in the era of McCarthyism and we were only ankle-deep in the next Red Scare).  For those of you who may fear that this movie will get too political, though, don’t worry because Director Zack Snyder has made a few changes to the historical account: President Truman is now a muscle-bound pro wrestler, Sen. McCarthy is a giant robot, and the Steelworkers are a group of sexy teens with a devil-may-care attitude.  Also, instead of working in a steel mill, everyone works at an Explosion factory.  It’s still history, just sexier and more exciting.

Monsters University (Releases June 21st)

In this sequel to the hit 2001 film “Monster’s Ball” starring Billy Bob Thornton and Halle Berry, we find Leticia Musgrove alive and kicking and teaching at Yale (she’s teaching French literature, of course).  Things get complicated when Hank Grotowski shows up with a devastating bit of news: The affair they had some twelve years ago resulted in a child (Musgrove was pretty out of it, because she was in a bullet-wound induced coma for all those nine months), and that this child was a genius and is now ready to enroll in college.  Grotowski wants only whats best for his son, as he wants you Hank Jr. to become a doctor and not be stuck in the horrible family tradition of prison guarding. Musgrove is shocked: Does she really want this terrible part of her past walking into her life again, but at the same time can she say no to her own genius son?  While Musgrove and Grotowski go through their personal drama and sort out their pasts and prejudices, Hank Jr. gets involved in some whacky college hijinks (it’s obviously comedic relief, and the performance of Burn Gorman as Hank Jr. who just doesn’t have the presence for slapstick college humor, plus he pronounces “Frat” wrong).  To just make matter all sort of worse, Mos Def’s Ryrus Cooper shows up in the last third of the movie demanding “The Money”. Who is Cooper talking to? What money? Is Hank Jr. really who he says he is, or is actually an escaped convict? These are all questions that Grotowski and Musgrove will have to answer in Monsters University.  There will be no explosions in this movie, though, and I think we’re all a bit disappointed in that.

World War Z (Releases June 21st)

ZOMBIES! Oh No! And this time they’re like ants and they can climb on top of each other and there’s SO MANY ZOMBIES! Who’s going to kill these zombies? Brad Pitt, that’s who! “Wait a second, doesn’t Brad Pitt have a family?” I hear you ask. YES. Yes he does, but he has to leave his family behind because of zombies.  Meanwhile the zombies are EVERYWHERE and they’re eating EVERYTHING and turning it into MORE ZOMBIES. Lucky for Brad Pitt, zombies are allergic to explosions. So Brad Pitt kills the zombies by exploding them. THE END. Oh, and Brad Pitt looses a wife but gains a daughter or… something like that.

White House Down (Releases June 28th)

In this HILARIOUS Stoner comedy, an Aide to President Obama tries to get the President to loosen up a bit with a wild night on the town.  “Come on, Prezy-O, this is your last night of freedom before the next filibuster from Congress. Let’s go KAH-RAZY!” says the Aide (played by an always-welcome James Franco).  President Obama (who will be playing himself) shrugs and says “Yeah, okay. The White House is Down with that”.  What follows it a mix of “Dude Where’s My Car?” and “An American President” as Obama learns the true meaning of America (Parties) and why exactly he loves his wife Michelle (Because of parties).  Anheiser-Busch has made a beer specifically for this film called the “Bar-Hop O’Bama” which will be sold in super markets for as long as the film is in theaters. Also, the release date will be a national holiday, because Obama is a socialist dictator akin to Kim-Jong Il.  Unlike Kim Jong-Il’s hundreds of thousands of movies about him, though, this one promises to have the White House blow up at least eight times, only two of which will be in dream sequences (directed by David Lynch, of course).

The Lone Ranger (Releases July 3rd)

The year is 1949. People are happy that World War II is over, unhappy that the Korean War is about to begin, and generally scared of everything.  Also: Televisions are starting to be a thing.  This proves to be vital in uniting our troubled nation, as one television producer hears a radio show and decides to turn it into a television show: The Lone Ranger.  We follow the ups and downs of the shows near-decade on air as the producer, Jack Chertok (played by Mark Ruffalo), struggles to cast a horse for Silver (They ended up going through thirteen different horses during the shows run, prompting the television industry to call such a show plagued by horse death as having “Silver’s Curse”), fend off rabid Lone Ranger fans (there was a sizable group of fans who were actually rabid, it was in the California newspapers), and has to put up with Jay Silverheels (played by Johnny Depp) who had the ridiculous idea to have Tonto wear a crazy hat.  The casting of Johnny Depp in the role of Silverheels is proving to bring up quite the discussion of race and native culture in cinema, but the choice is sound because Depp is 1/16th Cherokee.  Oh, and I almost forgot: Chernok also had to deal with lead actor Clayton Moore’s obsession with dynamite and blowing up any hotel he stayed in (Eventually Chernok had to replace Moore’s dynamite collection with chocolate, leading to Moore gaining a great deal of weight).

Pacific Rim (Releases July 12th)

In Pacific Rim a crazed AI has broken out of it’s computoral prison in Black Mesa and taken over an army of gigantic robots.  These robots begin destroying all of civilization, and there’s nothing we can do to stop them or the crazed AI, when suddenly a rumble comes from the ground: It’s Godzilla! Godzilla does his best to fight the robots, and he almost succeeds with the help of Ghidora and even King Ceasar (It’s a huge step for Godzilla lore, I know, but it’s a dire circumstance)! Then the AI laughs: You didn’t think I’d let you win that easily, did you Godzilla? Mechagodzilla, controlled by the AI, rears its ugly head. Things look bad, really bad. Then a robot steps on Monster Island, and that can only mean that it’s incurred the wrath of its winged insect-like protector.  As the Mothra, Godzilla, Ghidora, etc. fight the evil robots the humans below scream and get crushed.  One team of scientists tries to figure out a way to stop the robo-threat, but they kind of figure Godzilla has it covered. Also, they get crushed by a falling building.  This movie actually won’t have many explosions (it’s by Guillermo del Toro, after all, so it does have a touch of class), instead it focuses mainly on knock-out brawling between giants.  Plus, when you’re the size of a skyscraper there is no difference between an explosion and a firefly.

Grown Ups 2 (Releases July 12th)

Grown Ups 2: Sorry Guys We Weren’t Actually Grown Up the First Time, Adam Sandler (played by golf legend Happy Gilmore) hangs out with three of his friends (one of whom is black, because Adam Sandler isn’t racist).  He might go to a pool, mostly they just hang out and drink beer. Fart? They fart too. Honestly, this movie is mostly just padding for Gilmore’s Oscar reel.  It still promises to have one explosion. One poop-Explosion.  Also, despite evidence to the contrary, Rob Schneider will show up playing a Dutch Midget. It’s going to be HILARIOUS.

The Wolverine (Releases July 26th)

This wonderful nature documentary follows one little wolverine pup as it grows up in Alaskan wilderness.  It faces a particularly difficult winter, hot-headed hunters (Spoiler Alert, the wolverine’s mother dies early, but it is able to find it’s father again. Which is nice), and a riveting section where our little wolverine gets trapped in an ice drift.  The documentary will be narrated by Hugh Jackman. Fun Fact: Jackman had no idea he was narrating a documentary when he entered the studio for every day of recording.  Even more fun fact: Jackman has never actually seen a wolverine, and spends most of the documentary talking about wolves and tangerines (as you can imagine, Jackman gets incredibly excited when the Wolverine sneezes at a Tangerine while being chased by a wolf).  This movie has one explosion at an oil factory, but most of the focus is on the wolverine scavenging for food in the snow. It’s adorable, and will certainly take your mind off of the hellish inferno outside.

Elysium (Releases August 9th)

So, something like 10,000 years ago there was a race of alien super-beings called the “Forerunners” who destroyed all of the life in the universe by using a series of gigantic space halos. These halos continued to exist, and many centuries later humanity happens upon one of these halos and colonizes it.  This Halo becomes home to the wealthy upper-class who live a life of excess that crosses a dimensional barrier and angers a race of beings known as Vortigaunts.  The Vortigaunts escape through a dimensional rift into our world and begin to go on a killing spree, destroying life on the halo and moving outwards to other human colonies.  The films hero, Samus Shepard (played by Matt Damon), sets forth on his starship Ishimura to get to the center of Vortigaunt “Hive-Brain”, which controls all of the Vortigaunts and is rumored to be a centuries-old Forerunner who now wishes to destroy humanity (which it sees as a heretical parasite) by turning all of mankind into it’s undead necromorphic slaves.  Shepard blasts through asteroid fields, Vortigaunt battle fleets, and former Forerunner defense drones to get to the center of all this madness: The Penal colony on Mars.  It seems as though this is all tied to the opening of a portal to hell that was all fostered by a rogue AI and a fleet of centuries old machine-beings who also want to destroy humanity and saw the Covenant of the Vortigaunt as a prime way to do it.  It’s very complicated, and the movie decides that it would be better to have Damon shoot things instead of trying to let us understand what’s happening.  This generally works, and there are plenty of cool outer-space explosions, and zombies, and robots, and there’s even a bit with Mars-Nazi’s who are trying to capture the essence of hell and put it into a an Ark. Plus, Damon’s spaceship is populated by sexy women and sexier androids.

Kick Ass 2 (Releases August 16th)

Kick Ass 2: Ass Harder, based off of the novel “Push” by Sapphire will be surprisingly divergent from both the first movie and the novel it’s based off of, as it will primarily follow Jim Carrey, not as the character of Sargent Stars and Stripes, mind you, but as himself.  The film promises to be a combination of Being John Malkovich and JCVD, following Carrey as he lives a tormented life doomed to constantly make funny faces while in his heart he feels only darkness and sorrow.  Carrey’s struggle with manic depression and his own thoughts on the devolution of comedic form all inter-mingle in one of the most fascinating films of the summer, and needless to say Carrey gives a tour-de-force performance.  Also, Hit Girl has been replaced with a fat black girl from the ghetto who can’t read because they needed something to cut to in between Carrey’s personality breakdowns.  There will be no explosions in this movie, which is certainly a downside and will limit its theatrical showings, but this may be the closest thing we’ll ever get to a sequel of The Mask (and that includes Son of the Mask).

The World’s End (Releases August 23rd)

Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Edgar Wright return for another delightful romp through the English pub scene.  There’s only one problem: They’re in Detroit!  Desperate to find at least on good pub in Detroit, Pegg, Frost, and newcomers Martin Freeman (fresh off his role as famed short person and sexual pun Bilbo Baggins) and Rosamund Pike (fresh off of her role in Wrath of the Titans) travel for weeks, searching for the perfect pub. “I swear to bloody God if I don’t find some good Bangers and Mash soon I’m going to sodding flip a bilke!” yells Pegg in the middle of Robocop stadium (there’s only a Robocop-themed bar there, it’s terrible) with Frost and Freeman being too scared to tell him that they have no idea what a “bilke” is.  As the movie goes on the situation becomes more and more desperate, the characters pushed to their pub limits. Before the last scene, most of the characters will die in delightfully English ways (Freeman gets suffocated with a bowler hat by a man in a gorilla suit, before dying he utters “Oh bother”).  Wright tried his best to keep to the English “No explosions, guv’na” policy, but it’s difficult to avoid them in the lawless city of Detroit. So keep your eyes on the background and I’m sure you’ll see plenty.

100 Science Fictions

  1. Space Crisis on Planet Helmar

  2. Greygax the Horrible

  3. It Came from 5 Places

  4. Don’t Look at It!

  5. I Have Space-Sickies

  6. Robot with Mallet

  7. The Monster from Pluto’s Moon

  8. Urion

  9. Capricia

  10. The Lowest Point

  11. Stanley Spaceman: Man in SPACE!

  12. Mars is Puce

  13. Hyraxi!

  14. Uh-Oh, Asteroid

  15. The Stock Crash of Fortuna

  16. Planet Without a Face

  17. The Saddest Belt

  18. Mantis!

  19. Remus V: Planet of Wretch

  20. KRAAG

  21. C.C.C.X

  22. Stanley Spaceman in Jungle Trouble… IN SPACE!

  23. His Eyes Were Gone

  24. Lof the Greedy

  25. Zzzzzappp

  26. Zapf: Dingbat from Space

  27. The Tromper of Delubina

  28. Justise

  29. Tortoise of Terror

  30. GIF, GIF, GIF!

  31. The Incredible Moron

  32. Death Isn’t on the Moon

  33. Stanely Spaceman and the Case of the Martian Mirror

  34. Ghosts of Yesterday’s Past

  35. A City of Unrest

  36. The Jewel of Forever

  37. Not This Time

  38. Fear of Stars

  39. A.R.C.S and L.E.A.D

  40. The Forgotten Workday

  41. If the Moon Could Dance

  42. Hitler was a Space Robot from Saturn’s Past

  43. #ROBOTOHNOOHPLEASE

  44. Stanely Spaceman Can’t Find It.

  45. Cybermonday

  46. “The Goo”, It Said

  47. Martian Ragweed

  48. Tyler is Gone

  49. IT DOESN’T WORK

  50. The Giant Reef Monster

  51. Nibbles the Unrelenting

  52. Iron Cast

  53. The Looming Cloud

  54. The Twin of Janus

  55. A Bead of Six: A Stanley Spaceman Tale

  56. Error of Infinity

  57. Not Again This Time

  58. *See Appendix

  59. The Fire of 1000 Suns

  60. “I Can See the Future, Captain”

  61. I FORGOT THE KEYS!

  62. Curiosity’s Folly

  63. It Was Right There

  64. You Won’t Like It

  65. The Longest 10

  66. Stanley Spaceman has a Problem

  67. Steam-Powered Monster Brains Attack the Pentagon!

  68. The Creeping Time

  69. But, Why?

  70. The Look of Galf

  71. The Year of Ice

  72. There’s too Many!

  73. Yesterday’s Tomorrow

  74. It Sneezes

  75. The Cats of Forever

  76. Green Gooses!

  77. Stanley Spaceman Makes a Friend

  78. Crazy Enough

  79. Lorem: The Always Planet

  80. Lights of Mars

  81. Samuel?

  82.  /ERROR/

  83. The Monster Needs to Eat

  84. Unidentified but See-Through

  85. Zeron: Element of the Void

  86. Woman of Sad Eternities

  87. Horrible Things

  88. Stanley Spaceman’s Space-Egg from Outer Space!

  89. I Can’t Hear It

  90. Don’t Look Now, But It’s Here

  91. Robot Needs an Outlet

  92. Anger of Deos

  93. Beige and Marooned: Lisa in Space

  94. Helmets of Crius VI

  95. Steel Heart, Living Lungs

  96. The Green Also Grows

  97. K.O.R.P.S.Es

  98. The Gears of the Martian Revolution

  99. The Death of Stanley Spaceman: An Earthling’s Tale

  100. “It Can’t Be”, Said the Moon.

Without the T’s: The Man Who Fell to Earth

“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.

 

What does it mean to be alien? This is the primary question focused on in many films of the sub-genre which I’ll refer to as “Visitor” pictures.  He Man Who Fell o Earh is one such film, and it certainly captures a bizarre alien feeling, puting the viewer directly into the head of its protagonis Thomas Jerome Newton (played by David Bowie).  There are moments where the viewer is thrown into complete visual chaos… no, scratch tha: There are small islands where the viewer is able to find their bearings in time/space/storyline, and then the res of the film is visual chaos.

This isn’t a bad thing, as stated before it helps unite he viewer with what this reptilian space monster must be going through.  Newton was able to get a feeling of what Earth was like through elevision, but watching is never the same as experiencing.  When you’re on Earth, you begin to see all of the mess and wonder hat is human life and tha (presumably) leads to one hell of a trip in sorting everything out (Like the difference between a Noh performance/sword fight and a sex scene) hat no amount of television can help you through.  Much like this, no amount of words can explain the experience of watching The Man Who Fell to Earth, but I hink these wo trailers (the original and he trailer for the 35h anniversary re-release) can help you understand:

The Original 1976 railer for The Man Who Fell to Earth

The Man Who Fell To Earth- Rialto Picures 35th Anniversary Trailer

Some digging into the hisory of the director of this film, Nicolas Roeg, led me to discover hat he began working with cinematography and editing.  Roger Corman’s The Masque of the Red Death and Francois Truffau’s film version of Fahrenheit 451 are among Roeg’s crew work before he began direcing with Performance a film tha stars Mick Jagger and is described from Roeg’s IMdB page as “… multi-layered kaleidoscope of sex, violence, and questions of identiy…”.  I bring this up not to impress my seven readers with my incredibly limited research into the director, bu rather because I feel this gives us an accurate account into how and why something like He Man Who Fell o Earh was created.

This film has a lot of strokes of editorial genius, from the above mentioned cross-cuting of a Noh Performance and a strangely murderous sex scene, and in Newton’s abiliy o transcend the boundaries of time (which is never fully explained, and I for one am happy it isn’t).  The Man Who Fell to Earth doesn’t have a straightforward narrative, insead it focuses on details, flashes of a life: Cookies being flung into he air, the first few interacions Newton has with real-live humans, and the gradual death of Newton’s family on his home planet and exact details of the plot are left for the viewer to fill in. This is admirable, alhough it (along wih the fact hat Bowie’s character never ages) lead to some intense confusion and a need for just a few more islands of calm in the mids of this kaleidoscope especially once we get o the governmen (?) detainmen of Newton and the idea tha he becomes a prisoner and slave to alcoholism (which is a great idea hat doesn’ come across). In fact, scrach the idea that He Man Who Fell o Earh is a kaleidoscope, instead it’s like someone broke open the ‘scope and threw all the gliter into the sky and is now watching as the sparkling dust falls to the ground.

Another demerit to the film (at least in my view, which is by no means the only way of seeing a film) is the performance.  Candy Clark’s performance as Mary-Lou (The woman who Newton loves and who teaches Newton about life and sex and alcohol on Earh) strikes up a delicate but fascinating balance of being too rehearsed and absolutely life-like, and it’s difficult to say which way the scales ulimately fall with her.  However, and especially for being one of the largest selling points of the film even to this day, Bowie’s performance I found to be a bit lacking in dimension. He tries, mind you, and there are moments of the rue heartache and loneliness Newton must feel, but in the end I’m not sure if Bowie had the life experience to show this aspect of Newon’s persona (I feel like modern-day David Bowie could, though, especially given his surprisingly restrained performance as Nikola Tesla).

And so, for reasons of being just a touch too far into freeform erritory and having a lead performance tha seems a bit too rehearsed, my obligaory but arbitrary grade for The Man Who Fell to Earth is as follows:

 A "B+" Grade.

I feel like for all of its faults, this film still holds an imporant role for anyone interesed in the creation and release of not only Science Fiction Cinema, but Cinema and its history as such a bizarre and personalized vision hat unforunately cannot be made and released withou extreme difficulty anymore.  So, The Man Who Fell to Earth is nowhere near perfect and perhaps B+ is too high a grade, but it’s also a great tesamen to giving funding to have pet project released: It’s strange, it’s messy, it’s both beautiful and a touch pretenious, and I think it’s something hat is missing from many of the average film audience now. Which I choose to see as too bad.

Life on Mars

Here it is.  About a year and a half in the making: Life on Mars.

Life on Mars from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

I decided to try my hand at animation again, as now that I’m out of school I no longer have access to a room full of equipment and another room full of crew members.  So, around October of 2010 I wrote this script (also thinking to myself that I won’t be able to make many Sci-Fi films for a while) and I figured I could get it up by Thanksgiving.  I was wrong. Very, very wrong.  Granted, I’ve been taking long periods off of working on this project, but between character design, audio recording, and actually animating this project took much, much longer than I would have wanted it to.

This being said, though, I think the final product is about the same amount of quality that I expected from the project. I had a bit of trouble figuring out the exact dimensionality of the space the rovers are in, so I’m not sure how well the turn-around shot of the sun figures into everything (but it’s far too beautiful to leave out), and during audio recording there was a bit of a mix-up in the day we were recording (also, half of the voice actors weren’t in the same state as I was).  There’s also a very noticeable editing blip, which I tried to get around but mostly this was the best choice.  So is it perfect? Oh my no. But it’s finished. And, although I’m not an animator, I feel I’ve crafted together a good enough animation that certainly helped me hone my After Effects skills.

Existence is Invalid

We take a quick break from re-uploading old information to the Henceblog for this: An animation test for my upcoming animated short “Life on Mars”.

I wanted to see a few things: 1) If the “twinkling” of the stars, the “atmosphere” of Mars, the Solar flares, and the rover animation would be too much when put together; 2) If the pixellation of the Rover eye would factor well into everything; and 3) To figure out a decent workflow with After Effect/Final Cut.  I believe everything worked out well, and you can all look forward to “Life on Mars” this Valentine’s Day.