Monthly Archives: August 2017

Cinema Dispatch: The Glass Castle

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The Glass Castle and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate

Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton

Based… on a True Story.  Ugh… is there any other phrase in the English language (other than Starring Jai Courtney) that sends a bigger chill down my spine?  Trying to parse out which decisions a film makes that are due to the source material is not an easy task (especially when you don’t KNOW the true story to begin with) and it makes judging a movie with a well-rounded opinion THAT much harder to pull off since it works on different levels.  Sure, ANY adaptation is gonna have some changes when going from one medium to another, but adapting something that ACTUALLY happened by its very nature practically begs to be judged on merits that are different from any other movie.  So does this family drama manage to be enjoyable in its own right, or am I gonna have to read the book and do a whole bunch of research after the fact to TRULY understand what it’s going for?  Let’s find out!!

The movie is an adaptation of Jeannette Wall’s memoir of the same name and we follow her as an adult (Brie Larson) as well as a child (Ella Anderson and Chandler Head); discovering how the latter is informing the former and learning about the pleasant as well as not so pleasant aspects of growing up with an abusive alcoholic father Rex (Woody Harrelson) with big ideas but too many personal demons to follow through on any of them.  Along for the ride are her siblings Lori, Brian, and Bridgette (Sarah Snook, Olivia Kate Rice, Sadie Sink, Josh Caras, Iain Armitage, Charlie Stowell, Bridgette Lundy-Paine, Eden Grace Redfield, and Shree Crooks) as well as their mother Rose Mary (Naomi Watts) who all deal with their father in their own ways; though none of them come out of their life with him unscathed.  Still, they all turned out well enough I guess, especially Jeannette who’s working for a big New York magazine and is engaged to a super-rich guy!  Everything’s going great, right!?  Well… maybe not, especially when Mom and Dad show up in New York and start squatting in an abandoned building.  Will Jeannette be able to make peace with the way her father behaved when she was growing up?  What exactly are her parents even doing in New York in the first place?  Is Woody Harrelson able to NOT be likable, even when playing a total jerk!?  Heck, he managed to stay at least SOMEWHAT charming in Natural Born Killers!

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“The demon lives in here. It feeds on your hate.” “Oh daddy! You’re so funny!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Annabelle: Creation

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Annabelle: Creation and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by David F Sandberg

I’m gonna let you all in on a little secret.  I absolutely HATE The Conjuring.  Seriously, my hatred for that movie may not be on par with something as dreadful as Incarnate, but I was completely miserable while watching it.  Even if you ignore the rather gross way it tries to legitimize (or at the very least sensationalize) a pair of “paranormal investigators” who have been bilking people out of money for decades.  I mean sure, this is true of ANY of those assholes who purport to be super natural experts (outside of those groups that dress up as Ghostbusters) but it just irks me how a talented cast coupled with a talented director were being wasted on what is essentially propaganda for fraudsters because SPOILER ALERT, GHOSTS AREN’T REAL!  I can suspend my disbelief for a movie or basically any work of fiction, but The Conjuring crossed that line by not only claiming to be BASED ON A TRUE STORY, but by doing so in a way that would only boost the supposed validity of people that clearly didn’t deserve it.  Anyway, rant over.  My hatred over the first movie kept me from seeing the sequel which got GOOD reviews as well as the Annabelle movie which… didn’t.  Seemingly realizing the hole they dug themselves into, Warner Bros is trying to pull a Ouija: Origin of Evil; not just because they got the same actress from THAT movie, but by creating a retro prequel that looks to have nothing to do with the other film.  Sounds like a good movie as far as I’m concerned.  ANYTHING to get us as far away from The Warrens as humanly possible!  Does their gamble to distance themselves from the first crappy movie manage to pay off, or was this a bad idea then and an even worse idea now?  Let’s find out!!

Back in the good ol’ days before polio vaccines were widely available, there was a little girl named Annabelle (Samara Lee) who got the Pet Semetary treatment, i.e. she got hit by a car that REALLY should have been going a lot slower!  Her parents Samuel and Esther (Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto) get very depressed with the latter even suffering from some sort of degenerative disease, but they eventually open their doors to a group of orphans who have nowhere else to go.  The two main orphan girls Janice and Linda (Talitha Bateman and Lulu Wilson) soon realize that weird stuff is going on with the former even finding a mysterious doll in Annabelle’s old room.  Okay, not so much her room but what looks to be a War Room that’s been secretly carved into her wall… for some reason.  Anyway, we eventually find out that the doll houses some sort of demon that was passing itself off as the ghost of Annabelle, but the parents found out and locked it away!  I figure they should have BURNED the damn thing instead, but I guess locking it behind a not-so-secret door and leaving the key out so that practically ANYONE could find it was a good option too!  And so Janice spends the rest of the movie trying to convince her fellow orphans as well as Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman) that something weird is going on, but no one other than Linda seems to take it seriously which can only mean that things are gonna get worse and worse in the house as Demon Annabelle is free to roam the halls and I guess extract its revenge.  Can Janice and Linda survive the near constant onslaught of spookiness brought about by the demon?  Will everyone else wise up to what’s going on before it’s too late?  How does someone make this doll and the NOT expect it to be a demon magnet!?

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“The secret order of Cute Things Gone Bad has come to order. Cujo will read the minutes from our last meeting.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Kidnap

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Kidnap and all the images you see in this review are owned by Aviron Pictures

Directed by Luis Prieto

TWO YEARS!  This movie has been sitting on a shelf for nearly two freaking years due to the financial troubles of its original distributor Relativity media before being picked up by its current distributor and finally getting a release.  I mean, I guess it’s better than the cinematic limbo that Amityville: The Awakening is stuck in (wrapped in 2014 and STILL hasn’t been released) but it still doesn’t bode well considering how little this movie is being promoted.  Hell, I thought this thing came out last year which is when I saw the first trailer, and I only found out like a week ago that it was only now coming out!  Still, Halle Berry is a really great actor (Catwoman non-withstanding) and I do tend to like a decent car chase movie.  Does this have a chance of rising above its troubled and awkwardly handled release, or was shelving this thing the best anyone involved could have hoped for?  Let’s find out!!

Karla Dyson (Halle Berry) is the clichéd single mom who’s got a crappy job but is trying to make it work as well as make time for her son (Sage Correa).  Being the perfect mother figure though, it was only a matter of time before dramatic irony rears its ugly head and the ONE FREAKING MINUTE she walks away to take a very important phone call, some scumbags (Lew Temple and Chris McGinn) manage to swoop in and take her son.  Why did they take her son and what do they hope to get from this working class mom?  Who cares!  THEY’VE GOT HER FREAKING KID!  Time for Karla to do the only sensible thing which is to be a total bad ass and chase after them in her minivan and try to get SOMEONE’S attention long enough for them to help her stop these crooks from keeping her son for any longer.  It’s too bad that her phone died AND she accidentally left it at the park where her son was kidnapped, but that’s beside the point!  COME HELL OR HIGH WATER, SHE WILL GET HER SON BACK!!  Does Karla have even the slightest chance of stopping the criminals before they do any harm to her precious son?  How far will she need to go and how much collateral damage will she cause in her mad dash not lose sight of the kidnappers?  Just where the heck did she learn to drive like that!?

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“Grand Theft Auto, don’t fail me now!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Girls Trip

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Girls Trip and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Malcolm D Lee

I am so not looking forward to this one.  They just kept playing that trailer over and OVER again in front of everything I saw, and I never once found it funny; especially that joke (and I use the term loosely) about infectious diseases NOT being spread through the rectum.  Are we supposed to laugh because it’s ignorant?  I don’t know, but all that said it’s got a decent enough looking cast and trailers don’t ALWAYS accurately reflect the finished product.  Maybe there’s a chance this will turn out fine!  That’s possible, right!?  Well let’s find out!!

The movie is about four friends who were besties in college, but then life happened and they started to drift away as they found love, careers, and other things that kept them busy.  We’ve got Ryan Pierce (Regina Hall) who’s a self-help celebrity married to some dude named Stewart (Mike Colter), Lisa Cooper (Jada Pinkett Smith) who’s a divorcee as well as a helicopter mom, Sasha Franklin (Queen Latifah) who was going to be a great journalist but is stuck writing about celebrity gossip on her blog, Dina (Tiffany Haddish) who’s… well THE WILD CARD I guess.  Anyway, the titular trip of the movie happens when Ryan has an opportunity to get a TV show and is meeting up with the TV executives in New Orleans while she’s ALSO giving a speech at a women’s conference of some kind; both of which by the way are happening over the same weekend as the Essence Music Festival.  Given this once in a lifetime opportunity, she decides to call up her friends and invite them for a wild weekend which will surely be filled with shenanigans and wine coolers!  Of course, things don’t go as planned as all four of them have issues that bubble up to the surface during the trip and Ryan is at risk of losing that TV show deal if things get too far out of hand.  Can Ryan keep things under control between her wild friends and even her husband long enough to get what she’s always wanted?  Will Sasha betray her best friend once she gets her hands on some juicy gossip about her and her love life?  Will the other two resolve… whatever story arcs THEY have!?

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A selfie stick is the PERFECT accessory for any occasion… IN BED!!

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Cinema Dispatch: The Dark Tower

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The Dark Tower and all the images you see in this review are owned by Columbia Pictures

Directed by Nikolaj Arcel

2007.  That’s when the first rumblings of this movie’s production started to surface which it’s been LANGUISHING in cinematic limbo for a decade now. Remember when Ron Howard was gonna turn the Dark Tower into a simultaneous Television/Film experience?  I sure do!  Now I love me some Stephen King, but The Dark Tower was one of those things that I just let pass me by and it seemed like for a while there that Hollywood was going to do the same, but Sony decided to take this ball and cross it over the finish line in whatever state it ultimately ended up in.  With so much going against this movie, from the hit or miss nature of Stephen King films, the troubled production which included three directors working on this over its ten year gestation, to even the fact that releasing a high concept fantasy movie in the modern cinematic landscape that ISN’T tied to a comic book, video game, or eighties cartoon is pretty much flirting with disaster at this point, is it possible that a GOOD movie managed to come out of all that strife and discord?  Let’s find out!!

Despite what the trailers may tell you, the movie is ACTUALLY about a boy named Jake (Tom Taylor) who’s waking up every morning in a cold sweat due to his recurring dream about a man in black (Matthew McConaughey) and his horrifying sciencey magical experiments on children in hopes of destroying some giant tower.  A DARK tower, if you will!  He’s drawing images of what he dreams about every day (presumably in hopes of winning an Eisner once he puts all the pieces together) which along with his less than stellar coping skills over the death of his father has made him somewhat ostracized at school and has his mother very concerned.  Too bad for them that his stories about evil wizards, rat people wearing human skins, and dead children turn out to be COMPLETELY TRUE as he finds a portal to another world where all this very odd stuff is happening.  Gee, a misunderstood creative type who gets proven right in a Stephen King story!?  WHO’D HAVE THOUGHT!?  Anyway, from there he meets up with the GOOD GUY in his graphic novel who is Roland; THE LAST GUNSLINGER (Idris Elba).  Now Roland wants to put a few right between The Man in Black’s icy blues eyes (mostly due to the whole making him THE LAST GUNSLINGER thing)and this kid with seemingly psychic powers (where have seen THAT before in a Stephen King book) might just be the key to finding the sneaky bastard once and for all!  Can these two unlikely allies manage to stop The Man in Black from his evil schemes before he destroys THE DARK TOWER and the universe along with it?  What does The Man in Black have in store for them once they find his EVIL lair?  Could Idris Elba look any more BAD ASS than he does in this movie!?

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“Good. Bad. I’m the guy with the gun made out of Excalibur. Which is a thing, apparently!”

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Jumping the Soapbox: Angry Joe’s Baadasssss Vlog and the Realities of Producing Content Online

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The images you see in this editorial are the property of their respective owners

With a video game media landscape full of ANGRY YOUNG MENTM screaming about women trying to take their toys and Ethics in Bullshit, Joe Vargas, (AKA Angry Joe) is one of the few voices out there I genuinely respect that positions themselves in the TRUE GAMER archetype; one that is filled to the brim with toxicity to which he’s somewhat of an anathema to.  Sure, I can’t say that I’ve agreed with EVERYTHING he’s said and done (and being THE LEAST AWFUL in that field is a pretty low bar to clear), but for all his faults he’s never come off as a bad guy or a hateful reactionary like so many of his peers; not even when he gets into ANGRY RANT MODETM.  What I’m here to talk about though, whether you like the guy or not, is bigger than this specific case and it’s an important conversation we need to have  regarding the drastic shift in the last few years of how we consume content and interact with their creators.  Okay, I PROBABLY won’t be breaking a lot of new ground here, but considering how bad Joe has gotten it in the last few months, it’s clearly a lesson that many of us could use a refresher course on.  Before we can get into that though…

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WHERE’S MY REVIEW!? – The hiatus that broke the internet

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So Angry Joe has been making videos on YouTube pretty much non-stop for a decade now, but in the last two years his channel has blown up significantly as has the content he’s producing; uploading Let’s Plays, first impressions, and (GASP!) movie reviews, to go alongside the Angry Reviews he’s known for.  Now while the production of Angry Reviews hasn’t slowed down in any significant way (2014 had thirteen reviews, 2015 had fourteen, 2016 had thirteen, and 2017 has had ten so far with the only real outlier being the twenty three reviews done in 2012), he was getting quite a bit of backlash from his subscribers about the rate at which he was releasing them and eventually he had to take a break for his own mental well-being so he can recharge his batteries and come back stronger than ever.  Now I don’t know the dude personally and really only have his own videos to go by, but considering how many reviews he’s made and the way he describes his work hours, the dude has been living on a Crunch Time schedule for the last decade and we’ve been reaping the benefits of that endless grind, so the idea that people will get upset that he’d go on vacation for a bit (even though he’s STILL producing content during it) seems ludicrous… but here we are.  He’s published four videos since December of 2016 about the growing frustration coming from this segment of his fanbase1, but none of them have done much to mollify the situation; one in particular seemingly making it worse.

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