Netflix, I’m leaving you

Netflix, I’m leaving you

Dear Netflix,

You were the one.

You were the scrappy upstart, the daring pioneer, the one who put established movies, TV shows and  unique content together, showing me that life without cable didn’t have to be all about streaming movies and shows off of dicey websites and downloading files under threat of jail and insidious malware.

You were the one. I went legit for you.

Oh, you delivered. Some of my happiest times were spent on the couch with you and take-out food. We were good together, you and I. We were happy in each other’s company. You were a part of me, knowing what I wanted before I did, keeping a list for me. You never forgot anything and were always solicitous, suggesting things I might want to see based on something I’d already seen before. We were perfect. We were beautiful.

Netflix, I’m leaving you.

It’s the bajillion movies and TV shows you’ve come up with in the past two years, 90% of which are kind of … garbage.

It’s all the comedy specials I don’t think I’ll ever find the time to see.

It’s the suggestions that make no sense.

It’s the enthusiasm for auto-play, which I didn’t mind at first, but slowly began to resent.

It’s my dwindling attention span.

It’s not you, it’s me.

It’s inflation.

It’s the unjustifiable price increase.

Netflix, you put She-ra in shorts. Shorts.

It’s not me, it’s you.

It’s both of us.

Netflix, I’m leaving you. I’m leaving you for Crave. Crave has HBO, and movies I want to see. Movies I want to see right now, anyway.

Thanks for the memories, Netflix. Le Hubs thanks you for the complete seasons of X-files (before you pulled it) and the complete seasons of The Office. I thank you for the complete seasons of House, M.D. (that I never got around to watching again, damnit), the first three seasons of Orange is the New Black, the awesomeness that used to be House of Cards, the first season of Daredevil, the gloriousness that is The Crown,  and finally, for introducing Jo Koy to the world.

In closing, we both thank you for Black Mirror and Stranger Things. It’s been fun, and a helluva lot of bandwidth. I have no regrets.

All the best,

Me

Gratuitous and Meaningless

Gratuitous and Meaningless

I watched Outlaw King for Chris Pine’s peen.

There, I said it.

I’m sorry, but if a big part of the buzz surrounding your movie is that its lead actor drops trou and goes full frontal, that’s going to be the main reason people will flock to see it, especially the ones who otherwise wouldn’t care about a band of scrappy outlaws fighting to regain control of their own country. Like me. To be fair, I’m not the biggest fan of war movies. There’s only so much men, muck and dying that an easily bored consumer like me, up to my ears in possible content to watch, can stomach.

So yes, I spent most of the two hours and one minute runtime waiting for my reward. I don’t know what it is about movie star peen, but an episode of Bojack Horseman does come to mind. In its latest season, Bojack plays a noirish PI a la True Detective McConaughey, who, through a series of machinations gone awry, somehow ends up doing a scene where he is required to be stark naked as he changes a light bulb. It’s supposed to represent an honest look at the character, flaws and all but instead is obviously gratuitous and meaningless. Which is where Chris Pine’s peen comes in. Thank you for your bravery, Chris Pine, but it is gratuitous and meaningless. Not that I don’t appreciate it, or the guts it took to let it all hang out.

And yet. And yet. When the benchmark for a medieval Scottish highland fling such as this is Braveheart, the seminal Mel Gibson-helmed movie that masterfully combines romance, catchphrases, fantasy, shady backroom deals and noble men with stout hearts riding forth for glory and honour, expectations are going to be high. It’s got to be more than a Chris Pine peen (Chris Peen?) movie. It’s got to encapsulate the wonder, the magic, the determination of early Scotsmen and one man’s drive to unite the warring clans of Scotland.

What we get are bad haircuts, duels staged for unknown reasons – just as gratuitous and meaningless as random peen – and (for me, anyway) a distracting cast. As a hardcore Thronie, the sight of Stannis Baratheon, Jeor Mormont and Brynden Blackfish Tully in medieval Scottish drag is jarring. I know, I know, actors are more than the parts they play, but HBO succeeded in pushing these actors to inhabit their parts so well, it’s difficult for me to separate them from the characters they have played in Game of Thrones. Pine, Taylor-Johnson and Pugh do give powerhouse performances and it’s hard to look away when they are on screen.

While Netflix’s Outlaw King has manliness and nobles riding out for glory, it is sadly short on the romance and the backroom deals aren’t so much shady as they are desperate. It’s unfair to expect real life events to always be glamorous and fantastical, but too many things go unexplained. Why are there so many pointless duels? Why do all the old kings dying take place so suddenly and with barely any lead up? Why aren’t the Scots sufficiently shocked when their future king kills his rival in a church? Why does the hair on Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s beard not match his hair? Why are all the wigs so bad? What does it mean to raise the dragon and why does that sound like a euphemism for getting a boner?

Netflix gets a few things right – the quartered body of William Wallace nailed to a post in the town square, for one. It’s such an effective prop, it makes you believe the sight of it is enough to raise the ire of the Scots and incite riots. I had heard of the phrase “hanged, drawn and quartered,” but I’ve never really seen a fourth of someone’s body on display and I thought I had plumbed the depths of gore with The Walking Dead. There is also a scene that involves the swift punishment of Robert the Bruce’s younger brother c/o a sadistic Prince of Wales, which turns the stomach. Unlike Braveheart, which focused on Mel Gibson’s facial expressions and let the viewer’s imagination do the heavy lifting, this particular scene, scored by the wails of frightened women and children, is a searing punch to the gut. Lastly, the Battle of Bannockburn is claustrophobic, messy, chaotic and amazingly shot, giving the Battle of the Bastards a run for its cinematic money.

Still the story of Robert the Bruce and his fight to regain Scotland is too complicated by far for a two-hour movie. While the cast is able and the premise honourable, ultimately it falls far short of the standards set for movie epics. Too many questionable decisions and not enough concrete answers, and events that obviously took years and could’ve lent a lot more gravitas to the piece are skimmed over or compressed into minute sound bites. The performances are good, and the backdrop of Scotland is beautiful, but a movie is not based solely on crazed performances and an exotic locale, no matter how convincing the madness of the Black Douglas is. Neither can it be carried on the strength of one man’s peen, unless the peen belongs to Ron Jeremy, but that is another story.

Mary Poppins Returns, and so do the Nineties, Yay!

Today is a pretty good day for trailers you guys, even if it does seem rather early in the week for Flashback Friday. But never mind all that, there’s things to see, starting with the nanny we all wish we had…

Mary Poppins Returns

The Banks children are all grown up and overwhelmed by the stresses of adulting, so naturally their former nanny comes back to add a spoonful of sugar into their dreary lives. It seems slightly sacrilegious to admit I’m probably going to throw money at this thing, especially when we all know there can only be one Mary Poppins, and that’s Miss Julie Andrews. Forgive me for going, Miss Julie, but it looks… interesting? Fine, it looks like a boatload of fun, with re-imagined themes that bring us right back to the original, from the nostalgia-inducing kite and giant clock to escapist adventures replete  with old-timey technicolor animation. While I’m sure a number of Hamilton fans are plotzing over Lin-Manuel Miranda, I’m in this for Ben Whishaw and Emily Blunt, who always seems to  make everything better with that posh British accent. Also, Colin Firth, who does makes everything better, but is not in…

Captain Marvel

Never fear, Jude Law is there to represent the Brits. Speaking of nostalgic 90’s movies, Marvel Studios wastes no time going all-in on the best decade ever (the nineties rules and everything else is trash, I’m clearly biased, don’t @ me!) by having the titular heroine crash land into a Blockbuster in the first official trailer for Captain Marvel. More than just a big Flashback Friday moment, it could also be a cheeky reference to how all the Marvel movies have been blockbusters. Kevin Feige, you sly dog. Anyhowitzer, here’s hoping that bit becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, because it does look sorta/kinda/maybe boring? I’m not sure how I feel about this trailer.  I do know it didn’t make me scream and abuse the replay button the way I did for Avengers: Infinity War. I also know zilch about Captain Marvel, and in the interest of not spoiling the experience, have resolved to avoid further research. We shall see what we shall see.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: the Stinging Sequel

Ant-Man and the Wasp: the Stinging Sequel

I saw a joke about The Wasp that was floating around Twitter a few weeks ago involving Armie Hammer. Specifically that Armie Hammer should play The Wasp because he’s a WASP so he should be The Wasp.

*crickets*

Well that fell flat and it read better as a Twitter post which I can no longer find the link to, so let’s just shrug it off and move on, shall we? Ant-Man is back and this time he’s brought a partner! But before I get into the whys and wheretofores, a quick multiple choice doubling as refresher course:

Paul Rudd is:

  • an ageless vampire
  • the guy who played Josh in Clueless
  • the winner of the same genetic lottery as Keanu Reeves
  • all of the above

I used to think aging like fine wine was only limited to Sean Connery, but Paul Rudd, who is just a year shy of fifty, is still hot, still funny and just fiiiinnneee, girlfriend.  Paul Rudd can. I would let Paul Rudd, but Paul Rudd would definitely not let me, and neither would my lawfully wedded spouse if we’re being entirely honest here, so I’ll just have to settle for crumbs by paying the entry fee at the local Cineplex to see him as Ant-Man. Who says money can’t buy everything?

I loved the first Ant-Man movie. It sits right in the top five of my mental list of best Marvel Studio offerings, next to the first Iron Man and Thor: Ragnarok. So I came prepared to be amazed and left the theatre a trifle disappointed, which made me sort of wonder: is Marvel losing its touch? Is Ant-Man and The Wasp a victim of the dreaded sophomore slump?

Now that I’ve had some time to ruminate,  I realize it doesn’t quite feel like a Marvel movie because the stakes are refreshingly small. In Thor: Ragnarok, Asgard was at stake. In Black Panther, it was the future of Wakanda. In Avengers: Infinity War, it was the existence of Earth and everyone who lives in it. After that crazy collision of galaxies, superheroes and mystical jewels/ingots/McGuffins, we’re suddenly in San Francisco, where the only things at stake are a magically shrinking building and an electronic part available on the black market. (Cue the always arresting Walton Goggins as one of the baddies: “I got the lab!”).  It’s peanuts. And that’s the genius of Ant-Man as a superhero.

Ant-Man is all about scale. It’s life viewed from the perspective of someone who can grow and shrink at will, and it’s the little things that make it funny, like blowing up a Hello Kitty Pez dispenser and using it to wreak havoc through the streets of San Francisco. At it’s core, Ant-Man is really a story about an ex-con who really, truly, wants to make good and be a good dad but somehow life keeps getting in his way.

Slight spoilers ahead, read at your own risk!

Continue reading “Ant-Man and the Wasp: the Stinging Sequel”

The first fifteen minutes of Infinity Wars, in a running commentary that’s as spoiler-free as I can make it

The first fifteen minutes of Infinity Wars, in a running commentary that’s as spoiler-free as I can make it

And he went through so much to save them.

Noooooo! 

Sige, Taylor Swift pa more.

Is it over? Is the Gwyneth gone?

Ha! These two with their zingers flying. 

(No, that was not a euphemism.)

These zingers are fun. 

Who wrote these zingers?

Zingers. Zingers everywhere. 

“We’re all gonna die!”

New York City bus drivers, they’ve seen everything.

 

I’m seeing this movie again.

A quick run-through of my initial reaction to the official trailer of Avengers: Infinity War

The official trailer for Avengers: Infinity War has been released, and I just realized I feel  the way I used to feel catching a featured music video from an upcoming movie on MTV. Why? because I’m old and music videos used to function as unofficial trailers. Anyway.  It’s here!

I have no idea how many times I’ve hit replay because that thunderous Avengers theme is so emotionally manipulative, I don’t know where to begin. Or maybe I have all the feels because I’m revisiting how much money I’ve spent on the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the past ten years and this April I might end up spending even more. If the movie is as great as its trailer, I just might watch it a couple more times. Or five. It’s like the MCU is a goddamn annual subscription or something, you guys.

(It is.)

So, a few things:

Are we 100% convinced that Thanos is Josh Brolin and not Bruce Willis in Smurf drag?

thanos.gif

Teen Groot!

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Rocket Raccoon and the fervent hope that Pepper Potts doesn’t appear anywhere in this movie!

rocket raccoon

Doctor Strange as the 1% who want to know where the hell Hawkeye is and his adversary as the rest of us who don’t give a rat’s arse!

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And lastly, but not leastly, I expect the mandatory Marvel superhero heaving beefcake shots to be on a strict 1:1 ratio.  Or this happens.

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Sorry, paying customer here. It’s only fair.

Sleeping With Swamp Thing

Sleeping With Swamp Thing

I was looking forward to The Shape of Water, something Le Hubs and I have been planning to go see, but through a combination of factors – chief of them being apathy because it’s winter – didn’t really get to see until yesterday.

The Shape of Water, which, by del Toro’s confession, came from his obsession with the Creature from the Black Lagoon, is the story of what would happen if the girl ends up with the creature. It doesn’t help that the creature – referred to as “The Asset” – looks so much like Abe Sapien from Hellboy, it’s hard to silence the voice in my head screaming “origin story!” (For the record, I wasn’t the only one doing this.)

Set in the Cold War era, Elisa (Sally Hawkins, here a soundless tour-de-force) is a cleaner who works for a top-secret government institution whose main goal is to outstrip the Russians in the race for space dominance. She’s mute, lives above a movie theatre and has friends who are full of spunk: a gay BFF (Richard Jenkins) and a sassy black woman (Octavia Spencer, earning every inch of that Oscar cred) at work. Her life is a routine, and she seems content. Well, content enough. Whatever frustrations she may have are exorcised in her bathtub  before her morning even begins.

A story isn’t a story unless something happens, so of course something happens to Elisa, in the form of a mysterious tank brought in one day by Strickland (Michael Shannon, channeling that intense menace as always) who turns out to be the worst sort of alpha male. Twisted, racist and brutal, Strickland is dismissive of and yet inexplicably turned on by, imperfection.

The tank holds The Asset, an amphibious humanoid (Abe Sapien!) caught in the wilds of the Amazon and dragged to America for dissection because scientists need answers for allowing astronauts to breathe in space. Elisa meets The Asset (Abe Sapien!) and feels sorry for him. She decides to keep him company during her lunch break, and their unlikely bond is formed by  hard boiled eggs and classic oldies. Despite The Asset (Abe Sapien!) having a bulge as unobtrusive as a Ken doll, there are clearly sparks which lead to the inevitable.

Other things happen of course, as they must, because stories have to have beginnings, middles, and ends. There’s a beautifully evocative scene involving some towels and taps that are allowed to run. Stripped of everything, The Shape of Water celebrates love in its purest form, where looks don’t matter, shortcomings are overlooked and physical barriers are swept aside, the way humans have improbable sex with dinosaurs in those crazy erotic fiction novels that actually exist.  But having effectively silenced “Abe Sapien Origins!” the voice had popped up again, squeaking things like “monster porn!” and “slimy, slithery, splendid!”, the possible mechanics of this particular scenario so distracting, it messed with my ability to appreciate the movie  for how visually striking and remarkably tender it really is.

Maybe this was because I didn’t go in expecting a love story. That’s on me, for ignoring every obvious marker and breathless movie blurb. To be fair, I never expect a romance when it comes to Guillermo del Toro. Not even when it’s marketed as one. (Exhibit A: Crimson Peak.) To watch a Guillermo del Toro film is to surrender to the clutches of the visionary equivalent of Edgar Allan Poe, even when he goes full-on Technicolor with something like Pacific Rim. It’s the dance of the dark, and the sinister, everything imbued with the sweet scent of rot that seeps through his work. If there’s any sort of romance to be had from del Toro, it’s the deep and abiding love he has for the macabre.

 

Artwork by James Jean, by way of the official website of The Oscars