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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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Two gals, a Guy and a sausage party.

Netfix: Frank

I should not have waited as long as I did to see this.

I should not have waited as long as I did to see this.

Bored with his dull suburban life, aspiring songwriter Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) stumbles upon a grand opportunity when an experimental indie band, Soronprfbs, is in sudden need of a keyboardist. Though the gig does not go particularly well, Jon earns the attention of Soronprfbs’ masked frontman, Frank (Michael Fassbender). Jon is invited to join the band, much to the chagrin of Frank’s girlfriend and band theremin-player (thereminist?), Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal).

As a film, Frank serves almost as an inside look as a achieving art, or perhaps more of the perception of becoming of artist. Throughout the quirks is a story of anguish and expression, with Jon as an apt creative everyman. This is a story of fame versus respect, combined with the internet celebrity zeitgeist – wrapped up in a musical shell. From Jon’s perspective, his venture with Soronprfbs is not unlike a trip to Oz – even with the ending, but I won’t spoil anything.

The Good
Pretty much everything. I’m thinking about getting the soundtrack, even.

The Bad
…I’ve got nothing. Maybe the use of social networking will age terribly in the next few years, but that’s about it.

The Best
It goes without saying that Michael Fassbender is fantastic (as if that’s a surprise anyway); his performance as Frank is wrought with sincerity and a sort of delicate tact. Really the whole ensemble works wonderfully – I really just enjoyed watching them play together and jam.

Birdman (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Let’s take a moment to get this out of your heads and off your minds –

Oh you have no idea what that was all about? Well, Google on your own time (please do, that show was fantastic) because we’re going down a road dredged with madness, mayhem, and really, really cool effects.

Riggan Thomas (Michael Keaton) is a former blockbuster hero attempting to revitalize his career by producing a play based on the Raymond Carver story “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” After a rogue spotlight leaves Riggan without a supporting actor, Broadway prima donna Mike Shiner (Edward Norton) steps in and sends Riggan down a spiral of self-doubt and denial. Fortunately, Riggan has his alter-ego, Birdman, to by his side – that is, until one is destined to take over the other.

You wanna get nuts? C'mon, let's get nuts.

You wanna get nuts? C’mon, let’s get nuts.

From the very beginning, Alejandro González Iñárritu casts us into Riggan’s mind, driving each movement home with a raw, disjunct score and gorgeous composition. Each moment of mania and fragility is captured as the camera almost seamlessly sweeps through the story. We’re witnessing an introspective journey, gliding along the spectrum of self-deprecation and egomania – like Black Swan, but really, really fun.

What I found most refreshing about this film, though a midlife crisis story, can easily appeal to Gen-Y folks as well. We’re dealing with existential crisis brought on by our own design, as Sam (Emma Stone) points out, this is a time when everyone’s screaming for attention as loudly as they can – and if you don’t exist online, you hardly exist at all. More so, this story takes place on Broadway – an industry struggling for relevancy. And if that wasn’t heavy enough, what kind of professional is more fragile than an actor?

I really dug Stone's wardrobe, though.

I really dug Stone’s wardrobe, though.

Unfortunately, when one character is followed from the get-go, it feels as if the story strays when it’s time to focus on other characters. These dialogues do offer some context for the characters, but retrospectively feel more superfluous in the grand scheme of things.

Despite this gripe, I think Birdman might be one of my favorite films this year. It’s dark, funny, daring, and downright unforgettable. Pure essay fodder. Plus Michael Keaton’s still got it.

Final Grade: A

Oh yeah, still got it.

Oh yeah, still got it.

Filth

Bruce Robertson (James McAvoy) is a misogynistic, alcoholic cokehead with a penchant for kinky sex and sick mind games. He’s also a police officer. Usually tormenting his friends and coworkers, he now focuses his energy on the chance at a promotion on the force, with only an unsolved murder standing in his way. Naturally, chaos ensues when the twisted web he weaves inevitably collapses on him, forcing Bruce to finally come to terms with himself.

Sort of.

Thank you.

Thank you.

This was probably one of the best McAvoy performances I’ve seen – he’s just this raw psychotic force, and you just love to hate this character. And then when those tender moments hit, they hit hard, but not in a way unbelievable for the character.

However regardless of the strong character study, Filth seems to be suffering from an identity crisis – most noticeably, throughout the film there are numerous references to A Clockwork Orange (with an explicit 2001: A Space Odyssey reference thrown in for good measure). What perplexes me about this choice is that though I appreciate a good reference, I really don’t understand why they chose to use them so continuously.

"Awake at last, yes?"

“Awake at last, yes?”

It’s neat for trivia and I suppose it helps frame Robertson’s mental frailty, but on the whole it feels like reference for the sake of reference – Alex DeLarge and Bruce Robertson are very different people, and both stories have very different commentaries (and it’s not like the film/book are on Robertson’s mind or in the background).

I mean, I guess some points could be argued, but I better stop myself from diving further into an infinite Kubrick loop. I bring this up because I feel by using these references so overtly, it draws away from the real originality (as if it already wasn’t fighting away from being another Trainspotting).

Overall, I felt that Filth was a raunchy good time, despite the identity crisis. Sure it gets really dark fairly quickly, but that’s what I expected, and wanted. After seeing this movie, I actually want to read the book. So I say come for the McAvoy and stay for the ride.

Final Grade: A-

This is the Way the World Ends

Where to begin...

Where to begin…

Personally, I feel as if cult classic Donnie Darko has received more than enough recognition as that, a cult classic. Not that it doesn’t deserve it. However, I feel that its all-grown-up cousin film Southland Tales deserves similar cult status. Much like Darko, we’re dealing with the time paradoxes and end of the world – only this time with sex, drugs, and government conspiracies.

After twin nuclear attacks in Texas in 2005, the country has fallen into disarray, and World War III has begun. Our story focuses on three men: an actor, Boxer Santaros (Dwayne Johnson) and identical twins Roland and Ronald Taverner (Sean William Scott) and their collision between government agencies, neo-Marxist groups, and a new energy source known as Fluid Karma – thanks to an ex-porn star called Krysta Now (Sarah Michelle Gellar). Confused? That’s okay, because we have reciting vet Justin Timberlake to talk us through everything by means of allegory.

"Scientists are saying the future is going to be far more futuristic than they originally predicted."

“Scientists are saying the future is going to be far more futuristic than they originally predicted.”

It’s understandable that a film like this can easily fly over a person’s head. It even took me a couple of watches just to get the full picture. This does not mean that I wasn’t the least bit entertained. The performances are earnest as well as over-the-top, creating caricatures of everyday media icons while simultaneously mocking the infotainment industry of our time. On the other hand, some of the situations and dialogue are just too ludicrous – but that’s okay! We’re given a reality that allows us to accept these things. I mean, we’re dealing with the end of the world here – I think a little suspension of disbelief is not too much to ask.

As mentioned, there is a massive ensemble of actors in this picture, and about twice as many cameos – many are beloved SNL alumni. Even Frank the Bunny makes a couple appearances. Additionally, these performances are equally matched by fantastic videography and a score by Moby, creating a most electric atmosphere for this confusion and chaos.

Southland Tales did not receive much recognition…or positive reviews for that matter, but I believe that there’s some sort of oddball charm to this feature. It may not capture the youthful, withdrawn nature of Donnie Darko, but it also doesn’t deserve to be held back by such a comparison. A genuine sci-fi for our time, complete with Orwellian undertones, Southland Tales is a cult classic waiting to happen. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.