Cinema Dispatch: Good Time

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Good Time and all the images you see in this review are owned by A24

Directed by Ben Safdie and Josh Safdie

Oh boy!  Is this another movie that I walked into with no idea what it’s about or even what kind of movie it is?  IT SURE IS!  It’s called Good Time, so how could it be anything but a barrel of laughs!?  Then again Robert Pattinson isn’t known for his comedy work, unless we’re talking UNINTENTIONAL ones.  Who knows?  It’s certainly been getting a lot of praise and was even one of the big hits from Cannes this year, so maybe it’s at least worth a shot!  Is this the kind of film that we’ll be talking about at the end of the year come award season, or is this yet another example of a festival darling being overhyped and underperforming once it takes a shot at mainstream audiences?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with Brothers Connie and Nick (Robert Pattinson and Ben Safdie) leaving the office where Nick sees a social worker that is assisting with his situation (he has a mental disability) and going to rob a crappy bank in Queens.  Sadly their skills at robbing the bank are even crappier and Nick ends up getting pinched by the cops while Connie just barely escapes with very little money to show for it.  From there it’s a series of blunders as Connie tries to find a way to get Nick out of jail; either through scrounging up enough money to post bail or through more creative means.  Each plan he comes up with is somehow worse than the last and the number of victims he leaves in his wake starts to build up as his methods become more and more desperate the longer he goes on without a legitimate solution to his problem.  Can Connie survive this night long enough to get his brother out of the big house, and will his freedom be enough to justify the ever increasing cost Connie is paying to get it?  What colorful and wacky characters will he meet along the way, and will any of them turn out to be the answer he’s been seeking?  Is there a chance that he can LITERALLY run away from his problems!?  Hey, when all else fails it’s worth a shot!

 

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“Running, Running, Running, RUNNING!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Birth of the Dragon

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Birth of the Dragon and all the images you see in this review are owned by BH Tilt and WWE Studios

Directed by George Nolfi

Now I’ve always been more of a Jackie Chan guy myself (sorry, but the guy has a much larger filmography and basically reinvented the genre by incorporating vaudevillian slapstick into the martial arts) but Bruce Lee is a dude who earned all the respect that he gets by being the first big Asian star in cinema and defining a genre of film for generations to come.  There have been plenty of Bruce Lee films since his death in 1973, almost all of which were in pretty poor taste, but there hasn’t been one in quite some time so maybe now is the time to remind everyone just how awesome and badass he was with a brand new and super slick Hollywood production… or at least something approaching that.  Can this film bring the man back to the forefront of action filmmaking one more time, or is this yet another example of how to pay tribute to him in the worst way possible?  Let’s find out!!

The story begins in 1960s San Francisco where Bruce Lee (Philip Ng) hasn’t quite made it as a star but is certainly building up a following as the country’s greatest martial artist and a potential star of the silver screen.  Of course, with this brazen attitude and willingness to teach anyone of any race the secrets of Eastern martial arts had gotten the ire of some of the more traditional masters back in China; including Wong Jack Man (Yu Xia) who’s come to San Francisco as some sort of journey of self-discovery and repentance for his own misdeeds.  One of Lee’s students Steve McKee (Billy Magnussen) goes to greet Wong Jack Man at the port and they soon form something resembling a friendship with the latter still not happy with what Lee has been teaching to people like Steve which has always been a sacred practice as well as Chinese one.  Eventually Lee’s pride and arrogance (and to a certain extent Wong Jack Man’s as well) leads the two to eventually meet and have a rather public standoff that may someday lead to the fight to end all fights.  Oh, and there are Chinese gangsters in this movie somewhere because what kind of martial arts movie would this be if there WEREN’T Chinese gangsters hanging around?  Will Bruce and Wong find a way to hash out their differences, even if they have to face each other in combat to do so?  Will Steve be able to save his girlfriend from those Chinese Gangsters we were talking about because OF COURSE that subplot has to be in here somewhere?  Is it just me, or does the guy in this movie look more like Moe Howard than Bruce Lee?

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“Why I outta!  COME HERE, YOU!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Wind River

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Wind River and all the images you see in this review are owned by The Weinstein Company

Directed by Taylor Sheridan

It’s always fun to go into a movie COMPLETELY blind; knowing nothing more than the title and MAYBE a poster.  While I would never decry trailers which in and of themselves can sometimes be MORE entertaining than the movie their advertising (*cough* Suicide Squad *cough*), they invariable lead to expectations which can be either a good or bad thing for the finished product.  This is one that I went in without knowing the slightest bit about it aside from Jeremey Renner’s face and cowboy hat being front and center, so hey!  How bad could it be!?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins in the harsh wildness that is Northern Wyoming where we follow Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) who’s a US Fish and Wildlife Service agent that serves the Wind River Indian Reservation.  During his regular duties of hunting predators in the snot freezing cold, he comes across the body of a local girl named Natalie (Kelsey Chow) who not only froze to death in the snow but seems to have been raped as well.  With the help of the local sheriff Ben (Graham Greene) and a rookie FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) the three of them try to do what they can to find out what really happened to the girl and to bring her parents Martin and Annie (Gil Burmingham Annie Hanson) at least some degree of closure.  Of course Cory, being a hunter, might have other plans that Jane or even Ben wouldn’t be aware of.  Will Cory find the person responsible for the death of Natalie, and does he have a personal connection to this case that could be clouding his judgement?  Will Jane survive in this harsh world long enough to realize how much she still needs to learn?  Wait, why are we focusing on these two?  Something seems a bit off about that…

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Sure looks like a lot of white stuff is trying to get in the way!

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Jumping the Soapbox: Top 20 Episodes of Aqua Teen Hunger Force – Part 2 (10-1)

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Welcome back to my list of the best Aqua Teen Hunger Force episodes of all time!  We covered some great episodes last time, but the best is yet to come!  Well, at least what I think is the best, but then I’m always right about everything and my opinion should DEFINITELY be taken as fact!  Anyway, let’s get to it!

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10) Space Conflict from Beyond Pluto – S1 E6

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Frylock establishes contact with alien lifeforms and is invited onto their spaceship to barbeque and share a six pack.  However, the nefarious Plutonians have other plans in mind once he arrives!  Not fully thought plans, but they tend to involve melting people!  Frylock, realizing that the life he’s come into contact with may not be intelegent, beams off the ship but not before Master Shake somehow finds his way aboard; giving the Plutonians a much less perceptive target to unleash their evil schemes upon!

As I’ve said before, the incompetent conquerors from Pluto are two of the best characters the show ever came up with and this first appearance of them is one of the high points of the entire series.  It’s not just great for establishing the Plutonians and their shtick with the show concept being the melting room which also serves as some sort of holo-deck for Master Shake to explore the wonders of a sea filled with pizza as well as a horse’s anus, but it’s also a fantastic Master Shake episode on top of that with the scam he tried to pull on Carl being sharply written and laugh out loud funny.  The only thing I can say negatively about this episode is that it is in fact an early episode of the series and is at a point where Carl didn’t quite sound right which is a bit distracting, but other than that it’s a great deal of fun and a wonderful introduction to these villains.

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“Pepperoni!?  I wanted pineapple!!”

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Jumping the Soapbox: Top 20 Episodes of Aqua Teen Hunger Force – Part 1 (20-11)

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Aqua Teen Hunger Force and all the images you see in this editorial are the property of Adult Swim

If you were growing up right at the turn of the millennium, Cartoon Network was probably as influential to you and your taste in entertainment as YouTube is to everyone else nowadays.  The ingenious thing about that network is how seamlessly it managed to keep its audience intact for YEARS after you’d think they’d drop off simply for having such good transitional programming for those who were getting older.  It started with Toonami which brought anime and somewhat serious drama for those who were getting tired of silly stuff that the likes of Gendy Tartakovsky, Craig McCracken, and Maxwell Atoms were churning out (not to say those shows weren’t substantive; just that tweens aren’t exactly looking to those kind of shows to feel grown up), and then it led seamlessly to Adult Swim which had the naughty shows on that you craved when you were getting old enough to stay up that late.  The greatness of Adult Swim and its monumental effect on animation really cannot be underestimated, and while it’s shine has faded somewhat in recent years, we’re gonna reach a point where it’ll end up with a whole generation of animators inspired by those shows the same way that many of the creators OF those shows were inspired by Warner Bros, the Fleischers, or even Ralph Bakshi.  I really could go on about Adult Swim and so many of its shows, but today  we’re talking about probably its most enduring creatin; Aqua Teen Hunger Force.  Now sure it wasn’t among the FIRST run of series for Adult Swim (it’s somewhat a spinoff of Space Ghost Coast to Coast), it’s one of the shows that gave the programming block its identity and made it a cultural phenomenon.  In fact, it’s such a massive series with so many great episodes under its belt that I couldn’t simply make a list of the ten best episodes of the series!  No, I had to do TWENTY, and we’re gonna start with the first half that list right now!!

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20) Bible Fruit – S5 E9

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Frylock makes some new friends online and invites them over to the Aqua Teen house.  When they arrive however, he is surprised to learn that not only are they fruits but  that they have a dark past that they are trying (and failing) to overcome.

What better way to start this off than with the most disturbing fruit since those Claymation California Raisins?  In an episode that’s actually quite ahead of its time considering Sausage Party wouldn’t come out for another eight years, this hilarious and often unsettling episode looks at three fruits compensating for their problems with drugs and alcohol by having faith in a higher power.  Now the big guest star here is David Cross (along with Kristen Schaal and H Jon Benjamin) under the pseudonym Sir Willups Brightsly Moore who previously had a guest spot all the way back in season one as Happy Time Harry in the episode Dumber Dolls.  While that episode is really good and was just barely cut from this list, I feel that Cross’s performance as Bert Banana in this one is by far the better of the two.  He may have done a great job as that sad and useless piece of shit Happy Time Harry in Dumber Dolls, but the character didn’t have much depth to him and so Cross’s performance is somewhat one note.  Here, he’s given SO much more material to work with as someone TRYING to hold it together but is quick to succumb to his worst instincts.  Now I’m not sure if Cross himself has a history of alcohol dependence (his first book is called I Drink for a Reason which may just be titled that way for a goof), but his feelings on religion have been made VERY clear in his standup comedy and it almost feels like the role was written with him in mind because of that.  It may not be for everyone as making light of people with SERIOUS addition is not the kind of humor that everyone can enjoy, but it’s easily one of the best episodes with a prominent guest star and manages to find that right balance between tragedy and hilarity.

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“I did THREE of those God Damn chipmunk movies!  I’VE EARNED THIS, right Mr. Wrench!?”     “That’s right Mr. Banana!!”     “Burt, you’re talking to yourself again.”     “You know what will help with that?”     “Is it booze-”     “GET THE BOOZE!!”

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Super Comics: Sonic the Hedgehog 10-11

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Sonic the Hedgehog and all the images you see in this recap are owned by Archie Comics and Sega of America

We’re back with another look at the comic books that came out right around the time that Sonic Mania is so DESPERATELY trying to recreate! Now if the NEXT Sonic Mania introduced the Freedom Fighters, you might just hit MY nostalgic sweet spot as well, so get on that SEGA!!  Anyway, let’s go ahead and make this recent resurgence of Classic Sonic complete with a look at two more issues of the comic!!

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Issue 10 – (May 1994)

The issue begins with Sonic doing something that’s actually pretty awesome and is a very useful application of his speed; namely, detonating land mines placed by Robotnik’s robo-minions.

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“Batman’s got nothing on ME!”     “Sonic, I think that’s in pretty poor taste-”     “Death of Innocents? More like Death of Good Comics, am I right!?”

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Cinema Dispatch: Ingrid Goes West

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Ingrid Goes West and all the images you see in this review are owned by Neon

Directed by Matt Spicer

Everyone likes Aubrey Plaza, right?  I mean sure, she played Grumpy Cat that one time… and she was in Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates… but even those can’t take away from her amazing work in Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Parks and Recreation, even stuff like Legion which I haven’t seen yet but have heard good things about.  Though, she doesn’t have to push it with stuff like Dirty Grandpa.  Anyway, this film seems to be quite a departure for her, at least as far as the stuff I’ve seen, and seems reminiscent of stuff like The Cable Guy or One Hour Photo where you take a famous comedian and have them go SO far against type that it’s practically the key selling point of the movie.  It’s not ALWAYS a winning formula, but it can at least make for an interesting movie which this certainly looks to be at the very least!  Does Aubrey Plaza have what it takes to branch out of her comfort zone and blow us all away in a completely different genre, or are we stuck watching the same old shtick over and over again to diminishing results?  Let’s find out!!

Ingrid Thorburn (Aubrey Plaza) has had it rough as of late.  Not only did her mother just die, but her best friend had a wedding and didn’t even bother to invite her!  Okay, TECHNICALLY they were FACEBOOK friends and her way of handling the situation wasn’t the BEST show judgement (mace is usually not the best tool when trying to express your disappointment in someone), but hey!  She got some help at a nearby hospital and she even got a decent amount of money from her mother’s insurance policy!  This is the perfect chance for her to start fresh and find someone NEW to stalk!  But the million dollar question is… who!?  Well, she finds out about a photographer named Taylor (Elizabeth Olsen) while reading a magazine and follows her on Instagram; immediately falling in love with the life that Taylor leads and decides that she wants a piece of that.  She ends up going to California (oh NOW I get it!) and rents a pool house from some dude name Dan (O’Shea Jackson Jr) who’s writing an unsolicited spec script for the new Batman movie, and proceeds to find a way to ingratiate herself into Taylor’s life.  She manages to do so (I won’t spoil how here!) and soon becomes close friends with both Taylor and her husband Ezra (Wyatt Russell), but how long can this charade go on before the two find out just how obsessive Ingrid is or are on the receiving end of her wrath?  Well Taylor’s brother Nicky (Billy Magnussen) might just have something to do with it who seems to be able to see through Ingrid’s bullshit.  Probably because he’s manipulative and evil in just the same ways that she is; or perhaps even worse!  Will Ingrid find the connection with people she’s so desperately seeking, or will she find a way to ruin everything once her façade starts to crack?  Will Dan realize that Ingrid is up to no good before he gets sucked into her world of lies and impulsive violence?  Is it just me, or is this an unnecessarily dark turn to take a Parks and Recreation spin-off!?

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“Miss Ludgate! Where did you hide the bodies!?”

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