Avenging Angel

tn_avengingangelAVENGING ANGEL takes place 4 years after ANGEL. Lieutenant Andrews (now played by Robert F. Lyons) has become Angel (now played by Betsy Russell from DELTA HEAT and SAW III-VII)’s guardian and paid her way to leave the streets of Hollywood for a college somewhere a few hours away, where she’s studying law and excelling at track and field. She goes by Molly again and has a preppie boyfriend named Terry (Richard DeHaven, NIGHT OF THE CREEPS) who doesn’t know about her past as a gun-toting teenage prostitute.
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Lee Daniels’ The Butler

tn_thebutler“I always loved servin’.”

LEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER by Lee Daniels is the new one from crazy fuckin Lee Daniels, and I know what you’re thinking: thank God a Warner Brothers claim with the MPAA forced them to include “LEE DANIELS’” in the title at 75% the size of THE BUTLER, because otherwise I would’ve assumed that this modern movie with Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey on the cover is the lost silent short from 1916 THE BUTLER. I mean, who wouldn’t? It would be an easy mistake to make.

Also I know what Lee Daniels is thinking: that’s pretty cool that some crazy corporate bullshit that makes no sense caused me to get my name in the title like WES CRAVEN’S NEW NIGHTMARE or JOHN CARPENTER’S VAMPIRES.
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Angel

tn_angelANGEL is a story about a young girl named Molly (Donna Wilkes from JAWS 2 and GROTESQUE) who lives near Hollywood Boulevard and buses out to the North Oaks Prep School. She gets straight A’s, she seems very innocent, and when a super nerd at school (who looks easily 35, but it’s okay because she’s 24 in real life) asks her on a date she turns him down by saying her mom says she’s too young to date. I thought she might be telling the truth, but after school she goes back to the boulevard, where everyone calls her Angel, she puts on makeup and starts walking the strip. Yep, our little angel is a teenage prostitute. It quickly becomes clear that she’s paying her own way through school, and that there’s a reason she’s not letting anyone into the room where she says her paralyzed mother is holed up.
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The Act of Killing

tn_actofkillingBTISLMan, I don’t know how long this will last, but when I finished watching THE ACT OF KILLING I had a strong feeling that not only did that have to be the best movie I saw from 2013, it might be one of the best I’ve ever seen. It’s an amazing, one-of-a-kind documentary that achieves a whole bunch of things: it shows me fascinating, outside-of-my-experience human beings in crazy situations; it’s a stunning visual portrait of places and people in Indonesia; it is deeply upsetting and shocking and yet at times horribly, uncomfortably funny; it tells my ignorant American ass a few things about a major human tragedy I never heard of but also, it sounds like, helped the people of Indonesia start to address a deliberately whitewashed part of their history. When you hear the subject it sounds like a message movie, but aside from that it has what I think is always more important in a documentary: it captures some incredible human moments that you can’t believe you’re actually seeing, including a monstrous war criminal coming to realizations about what he did.

It accomplishes this all without a single talking head, no narration and very little explanatory text. It plunges you into this world of war criminals and their supporters who are amazingly comfortable with director Joshua Oppenheimer (and un-named Indonesian co-director – at least half of the names on the credits are listed as “ANONYMOUS”). Oppenheimer is barely seen or heard but sometimes they address him by name like a trusted friend. (read the rest of this shit…)

Her

tn_herHER by Spike Jonze – his fourth feature film in 14 years – is a completely unique movie. It’s a touching relationship drama mixed with light sci-fi and cultural satire that’s somehow brutally accurate and gently affectionate at the same time. It’s the story of this depressed writer Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) who’s in the middle of a divorce, and he meets someone who he really connects with… only it’s not a person, it’s the artificially intelligent voice in his computer (Scarlett Johansson). Yeah, he thinks it’s weird at first too, but it just happens. You can’t argue with your heart I guess.

Spending his life with his operating system has its share of challenges. He has to carry a little camera around for her to see the world. It’s awkward introducing her to people. They can’t hold hands or take a picture together and when they get it on it’s basically phone sex. They’re dealing with alot of handicaps here.
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Oscar nominations

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The Oscar nominations are announced Thursday morning at ridiculously early o’clock a.m. This will be a good place to discuss nominations, snubs, how much you don’t care about the Oscars, etc.

Most of the contenders are obvious, but I really don’t have a feel for what’s gonna end up winning. AMERICAN HUSTLE seems like a possibility for best picture but a poor choice. 12 YEARS A SLAVE might get it but I still have a hard time imagining a majority of the old white voters being okay with such a non-uplifting look at slavery. WOLF OF WALL STREET would be deserving but seems to have upset and confused alot of normal people. Interest in GRAVITY feels like it’s peaked. But then again I saw ARGO on opening day thinking it was the one to beat for the Oscars and then when it was over thought well, obviously that’s not gonna happen. So I’m not good at this.

Anyway, there are two long shots that would make me very happy if they happen tomorrow morning: 1) James Franco, supporting actor for SPRING BREAKERS, 2) THE GRANDMASTER, best foreign language. (It is Hong Kong’s official entry, and since it’s released by the Weinstein Company it is possible.)

The Hobbit 2: The Hobbit Goes To Some Places Where Sometimes More Shit Happens

tn_hobbit2Well, I guess waiting a month to see DESOLATION OF SMAUG shows you how excited I was for it. To be honest I still didn’t have any urgency but figured that since I did intend to see it eventually I wanted to see it while 3D was still available. It seems to me like the movie ended its brief flirtation with the public consciousness at least 2 weeks ago, but I heard a group of grey-haired gentleman in the theater questioning why it was mostly empty and there were no “young people wearing costumes.”

I learned my lesson from part 1 and skipped the High Frame Rate version playing at the Cinerama, usually my preferred theater. On Imax 3D there was some ghosting but it looked like an actual professional movie, an immediate advantage over my experience with part 1. For that reason it’s hard to really compare fairly, but I think I enjoyed this a little more than the first one, despite having the same flaws. (read the rest of this shit…)

Lethal Weapon 4

tn_lethalweapon4LETHAL WEAPON 4 is a family affair. In part 1 we just had suicidal widower Riggs becoming friends with ol’ Murtaugh and his family. We still have them, but also their friend Leo (added in part 2) and Riggs’s girlfriend Lorna (added in part 3) who now he’s thinking about marrying and they live together so now he has two trailers next to each other instead of the one. And he still has his dog from part 1 plus the dog guard he stole from the bad guys and rehabilitated in part 3. And Lorna is pregnant and Murtaugh’s daughter Rianne is also pregnant and also Chris Rock is in this one and also a Chinese family called the Hongs. There’s even four new writers on this one. The cast just keeps getting bigger, like how in a long running sitcom like The Cosby Show or Roseanne they have a bunch of new grandkids and spouses and shit added on by the end.
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Captain Phillips

tn_captainphillipsCAPTAIN PHILLIPS is a tense and well made thriller based on a simple real life incident: a small band of Somali pirates board an American cargo ship to try to hold the crew for ransom, the crew tries to not be held for ransom. I remember when this happened. I mean, I’m sure this sort of thing happens all the time, but this was the famous one because of how things ended up. So that’s all I really knew about the story, so I was in suspense about how things ended up how they ended up.

Tom Hanks (HE KNOWS YOU’RE ALONE) plays the titlional captain, portrayed as an ordinary sorta schlubby working man married to Catherine Keener (in a part only slightly bigger than she had as the dead body in BAD GRANDPA). There’s a sense of inevitable doom as he takes his boat around the horn of Africa. We’re not the only ones who know he’s gonna get hijacked. He spends the first part of the movie suffering from an acute case of That Sinking Feeling until sure enough a suspiciously close skiff shows up on the radar. (read the rest of this shit…)

Lethal Weapon 3

tn_lethalweapon3LETHAL WEAPON 3 is the third one in the series in my opinion so it brings with it certain baggage, but also certain strengths. On the negative side, it feels more concerned with satisfying sequel expectations than with actually telling a good story. Even more than the other two it feels more like a list of ideas strung together than a story. Oh, we gotta bring Leo back, he should be bleach blond and act all Hollywood and stuff, that would be funny. And Murtaugh should be trying to sell his house and they try to not mention to prospective buyers that a bunch of deadly battles took place there! Oh yeah, Leo could be the real estate agent. That’s it! And Murtaugh should be retiring soon so he’s all worried he’s gonna get shot, ’cause he realizes how it works in movies! But then it’s Leo that gets shot, he’s okay but he gets all high and mighty about it, saying he got shot in the line of duty. You know how Leo is. Murtaugh should bond with a son this time, not just Rianne. Something about guns in the black community. Oh, and explosions. Bigger than before. One of those “the red wire or the green wire?” scenes could be fun. Who should be Riggs’s new girl? How ’bout a girl cop? You think she’s uptight, ’cause she’s internal affairs, but then she knows how to kickbox!
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