Blog Archives

Netfix: Yoga Hosers

Roughly a year ago, Kevin Smith released Tusk into the world. Though it was not received kindly, behind the scenes of the grotesque adventure  was an entirely different scenario – a time of family bonding and friendship, as it were. After seeing his daughter and her best friend behind the clerk’s counter, Smith was inspired to weave a new story just for them.

And what a tale it is.

Yoga Hosers stars Harley Smith and Lily-Rose Depp as Colleen McKenzie and Colleen Collette, respectively. These two sophomores love to hang out, jam, and practice yoga. The only thing spoiling their precious youth is their part-time job at the local convenience store Eh-to-Zed.

 

yoga-hosers-movie-image

Glamthrax is an awesome band name.

One fateful day, everything changes for the Colleen Coalition: they are unexpectedly invited to a Year 12 Party! OMG! 😂

Frankly the first half-hour of the movie is pedantic teen nonsense with some Smodisms tossed in – but when Guy Lapointe (Johnny Depp reprising the role) steps in, things get really weird, and so much more fun. What begins as a teen romp snowballs (heheh) into a cascade of B-movie mayhem, with bratwurst Natzis. Bratzis.

bvmz_rxieae1xez

Justin Long as Yogi Bayer

The Good
This film was a family affair – chocked full of cameos (including both the girls’ families), references and easter-eggs. It’s obvious everyone was having fun on this one. Needless to say I am still looking forward to the final chapter of the True North Trilogy, Moose Jaws (which is like Jaws, but with a moose).

The Bad
Though the intentions were good, this portrayal of teenage girls was painfully pandering, to the point of being embarrassingly condescending. Also are undergrads trying to get into senior parties still a thing? (Was it ever a thing?)

Considering this was aimed towards modern teen girls, but features 80’s/90’s references, it’s hard to figure out who this movie’s really aimed at.

The “What the f*ck?”
Is it weird that I thought the bratzis were strangely adorable? …Did you know that is the same voice he uses to speak to his dogs? (Coincidently, Smith’s dachshund, Shecky, also makes a cameo.)

In all, this movie’s pretty fun. Dumb, but fun.

yoga-hosers-johnny-depp

Two gals, a Guy and a sausage party.

Kubo and the Two Strings

Just look at this trailer.

At first glance, I fell in love: the stop-motion mixed with a gorgeous cover of one of my favorite songs made my heart and imagination soar. Not to mention the hype in more recent ads, commending the film’s beauty and depth – I was stoked, to say the least. Alas, I left my seat feeling …well, underwhelmed.

maxresdefault

Even with these spooky badasses.

It’s strange to have a Japanese story with a predominately white cast – well, maybe not strange, after all, this has been happening for decades, why stop now? (Despite his appearance in the trailer, George Takei had maybe five lines.)

Though I do have to say that the film is objectively lovely – an absolute spectacle, but suffers under the weight of its own mythos; I found myself begging for more mysticism and lore, but I was only met with the same run-of-the-mill lessons of the importance of story-telling and familial commemoration. Not that these things aren’t important, but maybe I was expecting more depth or at least some deviation of some sort – or hey, maybe some sort of recognition of the shamisen’s significance and history?

kubo-and-the-two-strings-theatrical-trailer

More on Kubo’s mom would have been fantastic.

Speaking of the shamisen, the score and tonality was gorgeous. I’m not sure if it was an issue of time or studio restrictions, but I would have appreciated this film a lot more if it revolved around more myth and magic – I want to know how Kubo learned about his gifts and if and how he was taught these abilities.

And as I mentioned, this is a spectacle – especially in 3D. Director Travis Knight and Laika are no strangers to the third dimension, and they work to capture the potential of this extra space. After all, this is a physical, hand-crafted medium, and I think that deserves some extra respect.

I felt pretty divided at the end of this one. It was lovely, but needed a lot more oomf. There’s a lot of heart to be had, but stops short of definition.

Ghostbusters

Yeh know… it wasn’t that bad.

For starters, I was born in 1991. I saw the original Ghostbusters probably after I saw Space Jam, if you want to put things into perspective. Yes, I loved it and continue to love it, but it did not impact me like those who grew up in the ’80s (or so it seems). And of course, when I initially heard about a remake (reboot?), I was annoyed – because why fix what ain’t broke? Then there was the lady news – I thought that would be kind of cool, but I was still more hung up on the idea that a remake wasn’t necessary. Now, did this movie deserve the outrage it received so early on? Absolutely not.

ghostbusters-full-new-img

I think they look pretty rad.

I’ll skip on the synopsis because it’s pretty straight forward, also spoiler alert.

It’s really hard not to harp on the gender issues here because frankly, all the tv spots about this movie are straight-up girl power – and again, this was one of the biggest public gripes. So let’s talk about, for a bit at least.

If I were 9 and saw this, I would love it to pieces. It’s fun and colorful and funny – and there are chicks kicking phantasmal ass. This is a movie I would need as a young girl, because goddammit, representation is important.  Anecdote: I was a ghostbuster for Halloween last year, and resorted to an ill-fitting men’s suit because otherwise, I had this. Much like skirts and baseball, skirts and ghostbusting don’t mix. (That was a loose League of Their Own – oh nevermind.)

As a young adult viewer, yes, this movie was very entertaining and enjoyable. I felt that the only time the gender-swap dynamic was shoved in your face was with Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) the receptionist, and Rowan (Neil Casey), the creepy villain. Well, I’m only adding Rowan as a devil’s advocate, because I’m sure some folks out there were all like “THE ONLY MEN IN THIS MOVIE WERE A DUMB HUNK AND A SMART CREEP – HOW DOES THIS REPRESENT MEN”

Screen-Shot-2016-06-07-at-8.07.02-AM

I also wasn’t digging that he was just Stay Puft mk II.

If you are one of these people…well, maybe we could speak directly, civilly, but please leave capslock out of this – and of course, keep in mind that this is a comedy film that attempts to deviate from the norm. But frankly, working in a big city, I come across at least one Rowan daily, so he didn’t really stand out to me. He kind of bored me, to be honest. I would like to add on the aforementioned deviation note, it would be great of the villain wasn’t defeated with a crotch-shot.

 

 

585197_4

So cerebral.

Anywhoo, back to Kevin. I’m sure that some people, probably dudes, were miffed that the main dude was dumb eye-candy. Well, you best get used to it, because ladies have been putting up with this for way. too. long. Also you forget that Kevin’s a cerebral graphic artist as well as a model.

Sometimes he gets a little over the top, but I was still surprised by the directions they took with him. With the exception of the possession-angle, I suppose. Like I said, I just wasn’t impressed with Rowan.

Speaking of over-the-top, let’s talk tech! Who doesn’t love cool gadgets? Definitely not this movie! There was so much technobabble – so much unnecessary technobabble – and on top of that, the devices hardly made sense. It would’ve been cool to see where the line would be drawn between phantasmal and corporeal – the ghost and the goo, so to speak. I mean, Patty’s wood-chipper was brutal and all, but what stopped the ghosties from popping back out of the goo-pile? Is the goo just liquid ghost? Do we just become ooze?

ghostbusters-official-trailer-hd-youtube-mp4_snapshot_01-02_2016-03-03_19-43-26

Merchandising! Merchandising!

And then Abby’s punchie-glove-thing just made no sense at all… You just can’t beat proton packs. I know I shouldn’t do this, but you have to give credit to the original on this one: the gadgets were established, and there were rules – and there was continuity with those rules. Sometimes rules suck, but most of the time they help enrich world building.

 

DF-13648_r-cp3_rgb

Holtzmann even looks like animated Egon.

In the end, Ghostbusters did do a great job paying homage to the original(s) (I loved the cameos), but unfortunately lost a lot of definition in the process. Part of me feels that the story may had been better if it were an indirect sequel where the citizens of New York at least acknowledged the previous events – or maybe more direct,  passing of the torch or something while incorporating these new technologies. Maybe then less time would be spent with babble and more time for busting.

Final thought: I enjoyed this movie. I think if you go in with an open mind, you’ll do just fine. Lighten up.

 

 

Finding Dory

Thirteen years ago, a generation was taught when things get tough, just keep swimming. Now we learn of the origin of these sage words – yes, the truth is finally revealed about our favorite forgetful fish. Turns out she just kept swimming.

Dory’s search for her family lands her (joined by Marlin and Nemo) at California’s Marine Life Institute, home of a bunch of new merchandisable characters, namely a grumpy Pacific octopus (sorry, “septopus”) named Hank (voiced by Ed O’Neil). With the help of new and old friends, Dory finally finds the answers she’s always been looking for – at least, when she remembers.

finding-dory

Finding Dory : Hank :: Mad Max: Fury Road : Imperator Furiosa

Amidst the overbearing sentimentality is genuine fun and sweetness – though it’s hard not to see that Finding Dory and Toy Story 2 are pretty much the same movie. In fact, every Pixar film is just the hero’s journey, isn’t it? Well, whatever works, I suppose – it’s not like it’s a bad thing…it just gets a little underwhelming.

finding-dory-whale-shark

Also I like the little sound Destiny makes when she bumps into her tank.

Despite what could be considered a hindrance, I think the mentioned sweetness pulls through on this one. I mean, sure I also mentioned it’s over-sentimental, but this quality is presented in a manner that is neither annoying nor pandering.  It’s a lovely tale about family, friends, forgiveness, and of course, disability advocacy.

On that last note, I discovered that some audiences took umbrage with the treatment of some certain characters – namely a sea lion named Gerald.

Gerald-Finding-Dory

On the left.

I guess the thought is that though some of the characters were teased for their disabilities, they ultimately proved a greater point – namely Becky the loon – Gerald was a simpleton who was no more than the butt of some jokes. (And surprise surprise people were offended.◔_◔ I only learned about this when I was trying to find a picture of him.)

Personally, he unnerves me. And ultimately, my opinion is as follows: we don’t know Gerald. He could be a vicious baby killer or the sweetest sea critter since those cuddly otters. We also don’t know his relationship with Fluke and Rudder (the other sea lions). Heck, we hardly even know Fluke and Rudder. So what I guess I’m saying is please just calm the frack down.

In summation, Finding Dory is as charming and sentimental as one would expect, so if you’re a fan of Nemo you’ll probably really dig this as well – just be sure to stay after for some extra closure. Personally, I found the preceding short, Piper, to be much more charming – after all, less is more.

the-director-of-the-great-new-pixar-short-piper-reveals-the-painstaking-3-year-process-to-make-it

Adorable and gorgeous.

 

 

Hail, Caesar!

It’s 1951 and the world of entertainment is on fire: the studio system is falling apart, television is on the rise, and the second Red Scare is running full-tilt. But during these times of great duress, Americans still turn to the silver screen for an escape – dramas, musicals, and of course, epics.

 

maxresdefault

Clooney-meets-Clancy epic.

It’s no secret that Hollywood itself is a hot mess of internal drama, and during a time when actors a literally owned by studios, it is of utmost importance that everything’s up to status-quo. Enter Capital Pictures’ key producer and “fixer,” Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin). When Hollywood’s biggest star (George Clooney) goes missing, it’s up to Mannix to step in before the tabloids catch on.

screen-shot-2015-10-10-at-14-42-50

Tilda Swinton as a pair of twins with rival columns, Thora and Thessaly Thacker (Thessaly pictured).

 

Hail, Caesar! is a delightful mix of Lebowski/Burn After Reading hijinks met with the some bizarre meta qualities reminiscent of Barton Fink (not to mention the Fink references in themselves). There is also an underlying solemness to this film, especially considering our hero deals with personal dilemmas of both future and faith. After all, he’s a man who takes his sometimes dubious orders from a faceless voice, but also charmed by a future of nuclear proportions.

97ada5f71f1f60f7a264ed6ede1d54

Lady top, fish bottom, sailor’s mouth.

Of course, when things begin to get dour, we lighten up with a water ballet or a musical number – as I mentioned, this was a time of spectacle, so naturally as an audience we get to take part as well.

In all, Hail, Caesar! is a cynical love letter to old Hollywood. It’s a weird sort of folly with socio-eco-idiological ties. It’s masterfully shot, wonderfully designed, and the performances are fantastic (just the exchange between Ralph Fiennes and Alden Ehrenreich is worth it alone).

Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that the nature of god is portrayed with a sort of heavy-handed whimsy: we never see their face, but will still blindly follow their orders, no matter how questionable they are. Sometimes things work out – alas, would that it ’twere so simple.

gif_hail_caesar_channing_tatum_3

I’m not even the biggest Tatum fan, but I desperately want this to be a real thing.

 

 

WYSHW: Mary and Max

You know how I feel about stop-motion.

You know how I feel about stop-motion.

This is a film I came across some time ago. It stuck to the back of my memory and never left. Sadly, it is no longer streaming on Netflix, but you should see it if you get a chance; Adam Elliot’s Max and Mary– an animated tale of isolation, second-chances, and condensed milk. Among other things.

Mary Daisy Dinkle (Bethany Whitmore/Toni Collette) is a lonely Aussie girl who lives with her alcoholic mother and removed father. Max Jerrry Horovitz (Philip Seymour Hoffman), is an obese 40-something with Aspergers living in New York.

After a mishap with her mother at the post office, Mary reaches out to Max on a whim, with the hopes of gaining a pen pal. Max obliges, and the two strike a friendship which spans years, complete with misunderstandings and ups and downs – without ever meeting face-to-face.

What struck me most about Mary and Maxis it’s odd combination of charm and crudeness – the same sort of traits found in Elliot’s Oscar-winning short Harvie Krumpet. Additionally, there’s something wonderful, magical even, about the heaviness and intangibility of depression and anxiety crossed with such tangible media as clay figurines. Personally, I’m also a fan of more adult-themed stop-motion films (the more that disbands the thought that all animated features are for children, the better).

Perchance this film is not for everybody, but I think that Mary and Maxis at least worth a glance for the dry wit and dark humor.

Next time on What You Should Have Watched, let’s get some Julie Taymor in here.

Netfix: I Know That Voice

movie+posters+21Voice acting could easily be one of the most over-looked arts in the TV/film industry. It’s one thing for a well-known actor to provide a voice for a character – they’re mostly playing themselves. But for a person to hide themselves completely and be utterly unrecognizable amongst us common-folk, that takes talent.

I Know That Voice exposes and pays tribute to such talent as June Foray, Jeff Bennett, Daran Norris, Pamela Segall Aldon, Billy West, and many, many more. (Did you have to google some of those? I don’t blame you in the least.)

As far as documentaries go, you really can’t get any more cut-and-dry than this one. I Know That Voice goes into a brief history of the establishment of voice acting, talks about some industry pioneers, and carries on about recent happenings and new kinds of media. Plus it’s chocked full of all sorts of talent and trivia.

The Good
Now, I’m a total dork about this kind of stuff, so I really enjoyed learning about the history of voice acting as well as methods of the craft. I’d recommend this to anyone who loves learning about filmmaking – or loves cartoons.

The Bad
Nothing dates a documentary like bouncy, animated text. I’m not going to hold that against it, though.

The Just Plain Neat
Corey Burton illustrates his process for performing as Porky Pig – it’s pretty impressive.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Why I’m Stoked for ‘Tusk’ (and you should be too)!

Aw yeah

Aw yeah

Oh man, I haven’t been this geeked out over a movie since my prime fangirl days in 2007. Now why, of all the splendorous upcoming titles, am I so excited about Justin Long and his hideous mustache turning into a walrus? Well, I guess this starts to roughly a year ago, and my introduction to podcasts.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve known about podcasts and all of their RSS glory, but it wasn’t until I found myself in a boring office until I had the need to give them a try. Naturally, it did not take long for Kevin Smith and the barrage of SmodCo shows to hit my radar. And like that, it was love at first listen.

Oh the memories, from the first time I heard Smith’s bic lighter, to the last utterance of the phrase “tickle your ear pussy.” Together on SModcast, Smith and producer pal Scott Mosier regale listeners with tales of the past past, chat about weird news, or just shoot the shit through weed-tinted glasses. More recently, they’re all over weird Canadian news, but we’ll get back to that.

These guys.

These guys.

On June 25, 2013, SModcast’s world was rocked upon the discovery of one strange roommate request on Gumtree (aka Brit Craigslist). Together Smith and Mosier built a world around this story, and it is goddamn funny. No really, listen to it, please. Here’s the link, you have no excuse.

What’s so magical about this episode is you can hear those little cogs starting to turn in Smith’s head, and that passion is totally there – that twentysomething who was like “Yeah, I’m going to shoot a movie about my friends” – he’s still in there! The best part, he did it.

He actually did it.

Yes, I am pumped. Not only because I love freakin weird stuff, but I feel a sort of connection with this movie – I was there to witness its conception, so to speak, and now the baby is on its way. Given this newfound enthusiasm as well as love of Canada, two more projects are on the way, given us a weird Canada trilogy – Yoga Hosers and Moose Jaws.

Sure, many medias spout yarns about audience/consumer connectivity, but this is so damn palpable – this is what we need. Kevin Smith asked if we, his audience, wanted a walrus movie, and we responded. Granted, I heard this before I had the Twitter to vote #WalrusYes, but since then I have been active with the hashtags (admittedly a couple days late). Nevertheless I think this is a great way for immediate response in the film community. (Well if not any – gee, who knew Twitter could actually be used for connecting people!?)

Though it is fantastic that this kind of exchange can occur between artists and their audiences, I just wish this trend could be set forth with more kinds of media – and I’m not just talking about American Idol. Alas, until DC execs will accept input about grit versus realism, I will happily accept the way of the independents and bask in their strange splendor.

Clerks for the new generation.

Clerks for the new generation.

And speaking of strange, I just am loving all over the Tusk cast – have you seen the IMDB page? They got the Epic Meal Time guy in there! Awesome. And welcome back Haley Joel Osment! What is most charming about this cast is the addition of Harley Quinn Smith and her bff Lily-Rose Melody Depp – who originally were simply cast as cameos, but Kev Smith is planning on having them star in the second film in this Tales of Canada trilogy, Yoga Hosers – you guessed it, based on another episode of SModcast.

How sweet is that? A daddy-daughter project of weird Canadian delights! And yes, Johnny Depp is in on it too. Feel the love!

God I hope it’s good. My hopes are high, but yeh know, all things considered, I think I’ll be enjoying the ride. If this much passion and humor is going into this feature, I’m sure it’ll be a hell of a thing.

See it September 19th!

Guardians of the Galaxy

Oh the buzz! People who have never heard of this bizarre Marvel series are suddenly flocking to the nearest novelty shop of their choosing for plush raccoons! Madness! Not gonna lie, after watching this, I was soon browsing Amazon for my own Rocket plush – but that’s besides the point. Guardians of the Galaxy has charmed the nation with its weirdness, and for a good reason – it’s pretty damn good, minor irkables aside.

This is the story of Peter Quill (a buffed up Chris Pratt), a space rogue who stumbles upon an ancient relic – the very relic desired by a warlord hell-bent on revenge (glad to see you again, Lee Pace). With everyone either after Quill or the magical deus ex machina ball, Quill manages to scrounge up a motley crew to fight against the baddies, and save his own hide in the process.

Space shenanigans!

Admittedly, I haven’t read the original material or its successors, and I’ve heard things here and there about Guardians being a Star Wars ripoff, or just like another Pratt film. Sure I can see the similarities, but this no way hinders one’s viewing experience.

Aw yeah.

Aw yeah.

This ensemble, well, this cast, is incredibly enjoyable – practically each character brings charm and originality, even the tree who can only say “I am Groot.”

In my opinion, the main weak link is Gamora (Zoe Saldana). Why can no badass female in an ensemble not hook up with anyone? Okay, technically it’s a “will they/won’t they” scenario, but it’s just so vexing. I also felt that she was the least defined out the group, like a green Black Widow.

On the note of bothersome things, I really did have a problem with the deus ex machina ball. I felt as if they overlooked exactly how it works or how it’s controlled – because I thought I knew how it worked, but then they lost me. But I guess everything can be written off as space magic, so I guess that’s okay.

Amy was never the same after meeting the Doctor.

Amy was never the same after meeting the Doctor.

Furthermore, I don’t want to spoil anything this time around, but due to my misunderstanding, and perhaps my cold, heartless nature, I kind of found the climax cheesy. But none-the-less fun to watch.

Frankly, I found myself with a doofy grin throughout this movie, even with the annoying things – not unlike Pacific Rim. We have amazing visuals, the pacing is great, the soundtrack is well, awesome, and the one-liners are just icing on the cake. Treat yourself and go see this movie.

Final Grade: A-

The Grand Budapest Hotel

In the heart of Europe lies the Republic of Zubrowka, a fictional  land of provincial villages and ski resorts, that is threatened by a looming war. A beacon of escape and repose still remains despite this trouble: the Grand Budapest Hotel.

Pure, unfiltered, Wes Anderson.

Pictured: pure, unfiltered, Wes Anderson.

When debonaire and devoted concierge M. Gustave H. (an amazing Ralph Fiennes) is charged with the murder of an elderly hotel guest (Tilda Swinton), it is up to his faithful lobby boy Zero Mustafa (Tony Revolori, later F. Murray Abraham) to rescue his beloved mentor from certain death. Many years later, a young writer (Jude Law, later Tom Wilkinson) learns the story of Zero and Gustave, and now the tale is bequeathed to us, the audience.

And of course, Bill Murray.

And of course, Bill Murray.

Of all the Wes Anderson movies, Grand Budapest is easily the most Wes Anderson-est: we have the costumes and the actors (an incredible ensemble, I might add), every multi-layered set and centered shot, all wrapped up in a color-scheme that makes your sweet tooth squirm with delight.

A new convention utilized in this film is the multi-framing of the narrative. Not only is the story told to us from the Author’s perspective, but we’re given M. Mustafa’s iteration as well. Anderson conveys this to us by switching up the aspect ratios, one viewpoint at a time – thus fitting the dialogue and visuals to suit respective needs.

Personally, I would have loved to see this concept challenged more often throughout the film, but it is understandable not to do so, being that the narrative could have easily been disturbed otherwise. Additionally, by keeping this meta-perspective in mind, the visual spectacle we’re subjected to is completely understandable, if not expected.

"She's charming. She's so charming."

“She’s charming. She’s so charming.”

The other issue to be taken is that the relationship between Zero and Agatha (Saoirse Ronan) is more implied than experienced. But because Zero himself is telling us about their adventures, the very mention of Agatha is pained and in a sense, neglected – unless their interaction is directly related to the main plot.

I’m not going to spoil anything this time around, but there is a reason Zero does not want to talk about her – and thanks to the genius of F. Murray Abraham’s Oscar-winning story-telling ability, we as an audience understand his hesitance completely. More so, this tonal shift compliments the underlying theme of combating loneliness – a trait carried by both Zero and M. Gustave.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I love Wes Anderson movies. I understand that for those unfamiliar with his work or style, watching something like Grand Budapest is like witnessing an inside joke. Similarly, I obviously carry a favorable bias. Despite these possible barriers, I find these facts to be certain: The Grand Budapest may be a character profile film, but below its colorful candy shell is a core of loneliness and longing. While these darker matters are often distracted by shenanigans, there is a resinating desire for closure while not being totally bogged down in the process, resulting in a tale of whimsy and well, humanness.

Witty, colorful and shenanigans abound, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a satisfying reminiscence of love, loss, mystery, escapism, and most importantly, etiquette.

Final Grade: A