Tag Archives: MOVIES

Adam Sandler: 100% Fresh, No Really

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Bygone days of the Opera-Man and Lunch Lady Land we remember with a fondness for simpler, lighter times. Though fame, movie deals and questionable scripts have perhaps tainted our perception of Adam Sandler, Stan and Judy’s kid still has some of the old, stupid magic in him.

‘100% Fresh’, a title tipping the middle finger to the abundance of terrible reviews his most recent film ventures have garnered on the infamous Rotten Tomatoes, is truly a delight throughout, by design.

Directed in part by Steve Brill, with Paul Thomas Anderson (Yes, that one) as Director of Photography for an evening of shooting on film and segments directed by Nicholaus Goosen. ‘Fresh’ is a constructed pastiche of Sandler back out on the road. Sometimes in a cramped New York club, sometimes in huge sold out arenas, the footage collected gives us a taste of the Adam Sandler that captured our filthy little hearts and minds, leaving us gasping in the aisles.

In between anecdotes and short jokes that bank on either a strange image or something to cringe over, we are privy to similarly constructed tunes that take on the minutiae of life (Slow, old folks crossing the street, an unhygienic Uber driver, the dangers of candy) and colors them with familiar apt silliness.

The structure of the hour plus is one made to remain consistent and there is rarely a moment where the joke doesn’t quite work. It appears as though hours upon hours of footage was rifled through for the best takes and with those in tow, a solid (100% fresh) special was crafted to be all killer no filler. This is a neat (and sneaky) trick, but the sentiment is the same. Despite inflated movie premises that bank on weirdly heavy product placement, the Sandman (a name he drops several times in self reference), is back, or rather, never left.

The hysterics wind down in the last 20 minutes or so for some reflection on the past, culminating in a tear-jerking tune dedicated to the departed Chris Farley.

Without giving it all away right here, it’s easy to see the ease at which Sandler can craft jokes, tell stories and sing songs remains. Let’s hope to see more from this side of the Sandman in the future.

You can watch ‘100% Fresh’ on Netflix right now.

Venom, Anti-Heromantic

 

venom-movie-trailer-release-date-tom-hardy-castThe newest iteration of the infamous symbiotic Spider-Man villain, Venom, as portrayed by the seasoned Tom Hardy, is one I am definitely now keeping tabs on.

The film, a standalone anti-hero origin story, has gotten a lot of mixed reaction amid seemingly bizarre shifts in tone and clarity, but this comes, I think at a misunderstanding what this movie is supposed to be.

Symbiotes from space? Check.

Unwarranted human testing? Check.

Nosy, down on his luck Eddie Brock? Check!

Brock takes on a lot of flack as an investigative journalist meddling often where he is unwelcome, as one would expect in such a line of work. After covertly snaking information from the Life Corporation via his girlfriend, Anne Weying, Brock sets out to expose the under-handed dealings underway at Life Corp.

It does not go well, as one might expect, or does it?

Losing her job, Weying ditches Brock. Alone and also out of work, Brock eventually finds himself back at Life Corp and this time he does not leave alone.

The symbiote known as Venom latches on, and they slowly become one.

How’s that for a meet-cute?

From here on out, Venom follows Brock as he adjusts to his parasi– er symbiote, never quite getting the hang of it, stumbling around sick and afraid.

Coming to ‘Venom’ I expected what most might, an extra-terrestrial evil come to seek vengeance against those that have displaced it in order to return home, or cause further damage.

What I did not expect was the love story.

If you have not seen Venom, you can stop reading here and go right that wrong.

As Venom wraps up, we see Brock meet with Weying in a post-breakup, post-chaos touching base, he is calm and yearning, they share a kiss and ultimately part ways, leaving the chance for reuniting on the table (sequel fodder, no doubt).

This is not the love story I want you to notice.

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Venom, having found a perfect host in Eddie, comes to take a liking for him, a comfort in the knowledge that there is safety and sustenance on this unfamiliar planet in the form of a man.

Eddie too comes to grow an affection for his symbiote, accepting his fate and reveling in the power it brings him.

Venom and Eddie, quite simply, are falling in love. Fans of the comics will see this as no surprise, as it is well documented the characters share an unconventional romance, essentially becoming partners in their time spent together in their symbiotic revelry.

I, not being as familiar, found this delightful and refreshing in an age where sex and gender is finally beginning to be seen for its fluidity and many facets.

I couldn’t help but feel a warmth in my heart as we watch Eddie walk away from Weying down a San Francisco street asking Venom what they would like to do next?

No declaration of love, no wild strange sex encounter (yet), but simply a man asking his symbiote what they might like to see or experience in the expansive, sunny city.

Whether or not they stick to this aspect of the Brock/Venom relationship remains to be seen, but god-damn it I’m rooting for them.

Venom is in theaters now, go see it.

‘Eighth Grade’ About as Bad as You Remember

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Comedian, and now writer/director Bo Burnham has released his first feature Eighth Grade, starring Elsie Fisher as awkward, in-between Kayla Day.

Kayla is trying like almost anyone her age to be cool and fit in in the fast paced, technology-laden world of teens today. We watch, many times, as Kayla creates videos for her YouTube channel: advice on things like being yourself and fitting in. These videos highlight the ways in which Kayla makes an effort to find these things in life and within herself.

Throughout, we are privy to awkward conversations with Dad (Josh Hamilton), the muted sharp glares to and from ‘popular’ girl Kennedy and a handful of awesomely socially tragic clashes with equally awkward and removed teen boys. Everyone in their own world amid a sea of extremely thick atmosphere that feels all too familiar, compressed and leaves you gasping.

A note here on the score: It comes far too often, too loud. The chosen songs sound hastily made and are in such jarring contrast with the film itself, it further warps whatever is left to be gleaned from on screen. There is no matching of emotion or intention, merely blaring beats better used elsewhere.

The direction style doesn’t favor glamour shots, opting instead for a well lived-in feel. The costumes and scenery are muted, everyday colorful: very grounded in reality, glittered with iPhones and punctuated by so many uhms and ahs.

Burnham clearly has an adept feel for the material, but this is also his downfall. The strangest bit comes during an active shooter drill (yes, of course) followed almost immediately by an earthquake preparedness drill. This evasion tactic practice leads to some reaching attempts at innocent flirting tinged with a hint of the salacious, terrifying trouble it could bring. On many occasions we are set up with something that pushes beyond the grainy film of the movie into interesting and gripping territory, only for it to be deflated moments after; this uneven rise and fall gives the movie a meandering feel that never quite reaches the apex of understanding it needs to drive home just what is important here.

To say this movie has merit is to say a lot, outside of style and deadly accurate tone, the structure crumbles in on itself and the message, if there is one, is lost. Moments of reflection and success are muddled through and perhaps that is the point, however, this makes for a trying and very painful watch that doesn’t seem to know which audience it wants to pull in.

Is this meant to be a burdened nostalgia cringefest for those that have grown through the struggles of young adulthood? Or is there a message amid the noise for the ones coming up in the now? This film is rated ‘R’, so the latter seems a stretch at best. Presenting the dredge of middle school without resolve is certainly bold, but this film stumbles more than it strides.

If the idea of a mostly accurate depiction of the slow ache of growing pains sounds intriguing, give this one a watch when it comes to DVD or the streaming service of your choice.

A24, highly regarded production company, and noted comedian Bo Burnham have taken us to school, and it isn’t pretty.

 

Check out Zachary Levi as Shazam

This week marks the beginning of San Diego comic-con. the one time every year where nerds gather in droves to celebrate their favorite pieces of pop culture. This year is expected to be one filled with a lot of things DC. We have an Aquaman trailer or teaser potentially dropping. There are rumblings of a new, crazy story comic to DC Comics, and now we have Shazam.

Shazam is looking to be one of the more lighthearted films in the DCEU. It’s hard to see Zachary Levi as a down and dark superhero. Shazam has always been the noble, cheery type, and hopefully this translates well into a live action film.

This shot right here might give us a glimpse into what the Shazam film might turn out to be. A fun-filled romp to bring the DCEU back on track. It’s too soon to say of course. Keep your eyes and ears open when it comes to news out of SDCC. We might be getting a sneak peek at what can be a real refreshing move in the DC cinematic universe.

Han Solo Spinoff Directors Quit Over “Creative Differences”

Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy has announced that Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have officially left the Han Solo spinoff. Kennedy says the grounds for the departure were over “creative differences”.

Here’s what she said in a statement:

“Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are talented filmmakers who have assembled an incredible cast and crew, but it’s become clear that we had different creative visions on this film, and we’ve decided to part ways. A new director will be announced soon.”

This is troubling news for the film which began filming in January of 2017. What sort of “creative differences” could cause the duo of directors known for writing The Lego Movie, and 21 Jump Street?

Here’s what Lord and Miller said in a statement:

“Unfortunately, our vision and process weren’t aligned with our partners on this project. We normally aren’t fans of the phrase ‘creative differences’ but for once this cliché is true. We are really proud of the amazing and world-class work of our cast and crew.”

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This is a very troubling development. Changing directors after a huge block of the movie has already been filmed can result in some very damaging shifts in tone, and well, direction. How substantial are the differences that would cause two very well respected directors to opt-out of filming what is set to be a huge step for the Star Wars franchise?

It’s possible that we will never know what the Lord-Miller film will have gone. So let’s hope Disney and Lucasfilm find a director that aligns with their vision while also being conducive to the creative mind, and vision of whichever director they decide to bring on.