Friday, December 25, 2015

The BackLOG Reviews - Episode 8

Merry Christmas Everyone! Holiday cheer all around and it's a special cause for celebration as I hit at 10,000 views on this page! YESSSS!!! last I checked I only had 17 more views to go so help out! Share this around if you can, it would be awesome sauce! In the meantime though, enjoy the holiday! I'm going to enjoy a little Woody Allen and let you know what I think!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

EPISODE 7 REVIEW: The Secret of Kells

The Secret of Kells - 2009
Director: Tomm Moore
Starring: Evan McGuire, Brendan Gleeson

When watching a movie, I always enjoy the fun challenge of trying to guess where exactly is it trying to take me. Usually you get a pretty linear plot: you start with a problem, you work towards a solution and you drudge through the credits. Sometimes you get a little twist, a shocker, an unexpected moment, things not being what they seems and the whole film takes on a new meaning. And in rare cases you get a movie like The Secret of Kells which has random fits of “but you really don’t have to give a shit about all that stuff you just watched.”

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed The Secret of Kells. I just felt like it was three television pilots of three different series smashed into one movie that…sorta worked…I guess. On one pilot you have the adventures of Brendan, a spry, curious young boy reacting to the sudden discovery of the world outside the walls of his city. On another, you have you a gripping drama about dancing around the line where safety and security can go too far as the city of Kells prepares for an inevitable barbarian invasion. And on the last you have a religious propaganda piece on the creation of The Book of Kells, a very real book based on the four gospels of the New Testament if they were created by people practicing their psychedelic religious wallpaper designs at the same time.

Aisling, who you also really don't
have to give a shit about. But she's
a badass demi-god...who sings
to animals. Because duh.
The Secret of Kells is an absolutely beautiful movie. It took me back to the days of Don Bluth where parts of the frame that were not pivotal to what was going on it where allowed to shine because of the attention to detail paid to them. Visuals were stunning and the Celtic feel oozed through the watercolor backdrops highlighted with patterns and swirls and designs you usually see in those expensive books in the museum that you’re not allowed to touch. In a feat rarely seen in this age of digital animation (which this film mostly was), it was clear that there was an artistic direction that miraculously stayed true to itself through every scene. Director Tomm Moore has a style that is clearly his with the same kind of command seen from Studio Ghibli works.

The Secret of Kells is a kids film, though I only feel that is what we can call it because there are elements in it that kids would enjoy. The protagonist is a young boy and he has a band of silly misfit friends. He meets a magical creature as he ventures off into the woods. It’s animated. There’s a cat. We’ve pretty much met the standard here. But it didn’t feel like it committed to anything else other than making this an enjoyable viewing experience (of which it is a GORGEOUS one).

I don’t want to say “this movie is about…” because it changes focus a few times. We start in the village of Kells with Brendan who’s just being a young whippersnapper helping out a group of scribes getting materials to continue the writing of their texts. We care about this because the village is a few commercial breaks away from getting ransacked by a group of barbarians and the abbot feels the time and manpower would be better spent on building a wall. Trying, poorly, to fight the fight of “knowledge gives people hope,” the village is surprised with arrival of the great scribe Aidan who recruits Brendan to help fight the fight of “knowledge gives people hope.” This fight sends Brendan outside of the walls of Kells and into the forests beyond in your typical “this journey will probably turn you into a man” tale filled with metaphors and overcoming impossible obstacles in ways that only mythology can really make sense of.

Town builds a wall. Impending
doom takes the stairs. Classic.
So I’m going to stop there because at this point I have to accept this film for what it is, a beautiful telling of the origin of The Book of Kells. Most of that stuff above eventually qualifies for the “things you don’t have to give a shit about” because you aren’t supposed to care about Brendan, you’re supposed to care about the journey he took for the book. The “knowledge gives people hope” theme is what the message needs to be despite that we always have this fear of impending doom looming overhead and we’re focused on Brendan’s magical adventure. I admit I felt a little blindsided by that after committing so much time to what was quite a good personal story. I assume this is why the Bible skips 18 years of Jesus’s life too. Last thing a religion wants to do is confuse you into thinking you should be caring about people.

Ultimately this is where my reservation lies. It’s hard to appreciate this film completely because it doesn’t feel structured enough to really judge. It’s more like a bedtime story that you rush through a bit when you notice your kid is starting to doze off and won’t be asking “why” every damn sentence. I got hit with a sudden “aaaaand it’s over” and though I couldn’t really think of many lingering things I felt were necessary for the story, I felt a little cheated and unsatisfied when it was all said and done.

So yeah, I’m conflicted here. Though ya know? I was dazzled enough and not really frustrated per se… Would I watch this again? Eh…I might actually. I don’t know what kind of mood I would need to be in, but I can’t help but feel like there’s one out there. So in The Book of BackLOG, that’s at least worth 7 dustbusters.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

The BackLOG Reviews - Episode 7

After 7 reviews that were just ridiculous failures, it seems the box is giving me a break from this live action nonsense that's been so damn disappointing. So to the animated films it is! With a movie that I was only interested in because of the box art...and I still don't actually know what the hell this movie is about. I haven't even read a brief synopsis so The Secret of Kells is a secret to me! Looking forward to it! Have a safe Halloween everyone!

SPECIAL EPISODE REVIEW! The Human Centipede Part 3: Final Sequence

The Human Centipede Part 3: Final Sequence - 2015
Director: Tom Six
Starring: You don't care. You really don't.

You know those long meetings you have where half way through you realize that the whole thing could have been done in an email? That would be pretty much what I felt with The Human Centipede 3. On hitting the play button, Netflix should have just sent an email from director Tom Six saying “So yeah, the first movie totally could have happened. I checked.” There you go. I saved you an hour and 42 minutes. You’re welcome. Go watch something else.

I watched Human Centipede 3 because I’m a completionist and the idea is so twisted that I’m curious of the directions it can be taken in. If you want to see what I thought of the previous one, go here. This one is hailed as the “Final Sequence” so I had to say “after how crazy and ridiculous the second one was, where could they take this last one?” #ThatsHowTheyGetYou  I’m struggling because I’m not sure what this was supposed to be. I don’t know if it was supposed to be scary…or…sick…or…funny…or…released. It had all the makings of a porn parody about the movies (without any porn), and I still feel that porn writers would have been a little truer to the genre. This just made no sense and seemed to only exist as another way to pretend that movie characters are real!

I swear there is a resemblance here.
On the plus side, I can be thankful that not a single part of this film is going to stick with me. The first movie was just a twisted premise. The second movie was a disturbing and grotesque glorification of that twisted premise. The third movie just seemed like a desperate reminder that Tom Six…the great Tom Six…was the guy behind that twisted premise you all freaked about years ago, like a Family Guy “Like that time when…” flashback but the joke took an entire fucking movie to get through. M. Night Shyamalan is the only other director that dickish but he at least commits to his damn stories. I remember why I fucking hated The Village. There's nothing to remember here.

Human Centipede 3 takes place inside the walls of a big state prison where an insane warden (played by the villain from the first film) and his bumbling accountant (played by the villain from the second film) are in the midst of a budget crisis. I think (budget never actually seems to be a problem as guards and hospital staff pop up like video game sprites). Or they pissed off the Governor. Or…I don’t actually know. There’s a prison with dudes there. All-American-German-Nazi warden William Boss hates his job…or people…or the heat or…he hates something and has a knack for taking it out on the fresh air by screaming into it constantly. Disrespected by the prison inmates, he keeps trying to find demented ways to force that respect but finally gives up after he discovers that castration isn’t doing the job and that was as sick as he could go. Maybe he should watch the Human Centipede movie like they did in Human Centipede 2

Ha. Bet you didn't see this one coming...

Enter bumbling account who breaks the 4th wall and says “we should totally model our solution to our problem by building a human centipede like we saw in those movies that Tom Six, the great Tom Six, directed.” The movie goes so far as to have Tom Six (the great Tom Six…) have a cameo to explain to the warden that yes…it’s a 100% medically accurate procedure…he checked with some guy in Amsterdam. He brought pictures. They looked right. And Tom Six (the great Tom Six…) is so excited to be able to show the world and his skeptics that this is totally doable. Could somebody just fucking believe him so we can move on?

See? It works. said so.
Breaking the 4th wall is tricky, but can be done well (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Amelie, Spaceballs, American Psycho, etc.). I actually thought Human Centipede 2 was quite clever in breaking the 4th wall in using the first movie to justify the second one. But to do it AGAIN using the second movie also is basically crying wolf and turns the entire series into an ACTUAL joke instead of the one we called it when it was really trying. I wouldn’t be surprised 10 years down the road to see Human Centipede 4: Milking It Sequence when a bunch of kids desperately trying to get their hands on a (now, surely rare OOP) copy of the first film are forced to recreate the human centipede themselves because damn it, they’re just jonesin’ for that sweet, sweet plot line and this is the only way to satisfy that craving.

I can’t begin to describe how much of a waste this was. This movie was filled with unintelligible dialogue (it literally was half the movie screaming at nothing. Not out of fear, but just out of…hope that some sound might resemble English), C-list actors who I think were just desperate to be a part of something again, lazy cinematography like all they brought on set was the 50-200mm lens and figured that’d be fine, and absolutely no care to make things scary or gross as if Tom Six expected that “punchline” from 2009 to hold up just as well now ("What's scarier than a 3-person centipede?""I don't know. What?" "A 140-person centipede! Wakka wakka wakka!"). Human Centipede 3 isn’t just an embarrassment on its own, it embarrasses an entire series that at least had some notoriety attached to it, despite for a rather pathetic reason.

Spoiled the movie. I'm really not sorry.
However, all this bullshit aside, it has one good thing going for it. It’s really easy to rate a movie that basically tossed itself in the microwave. Don’t even be curious about this one guys.  I’ll spoil it for you. You get a human centipede. Just assume it works. Just be ok with that.

1 microwave out of 1 and once again, I encourage Tom Six (the great Tom Six…) to live by THIS movie’s example to get locked up in a desert prison, chop his balls off, swallow a jar of clits, eat shit and THEN die.

Sunday, October 25, 2015


Moon - 2009
Director: Duncan Jones
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey

You know that feeling when you’re chillin’ on the couch, relaxed, got a drink in front of you, it’s a perfect temperature in the living room and you’re just feeling good and then someone comes and stabs you in the eye? Yeah. That was Moon. A film that felt like it could be a cinematic masterpiece that you could just get completely wrapped up in, but instead decided to play out like a crappy television show that got canceled early and tried desperately to cram the rest of its entire story in the last few episodes. The first half and second half of this movie looked like the before and after of a writer’s strike and I’m not sure if I should feel sad or pissed off. Because it’s more fun, I’m going to pick pissed off.

Moon was written by Hollywood newcomer Duncan Jones, who’s also writing the Warcraft movie (suckers) and directed the absolutely amazing Source Code. I was excited for this movie. Everything about the trailer made it seem like I was in for some daring space drama about a man who’d been alone on the moon for 3 years with a talking computer all 2001: A Space Odyssey style. Kevin Spacey as the computer, Sam Rockwell as Crew Member #1. Now that could have made for a really gripping thriller especially when Sam finds a live body on the moon that looks exactly like him and interacts with it like it’s really there! Is something crazy going on? Maybe Sam’s suffering from dementia? Maybe there’s some company conspiracy going on from the mining company he works for? So much opportunity! So many questions! …That are all answered in a 2 minute exposition midway through the film. Fuck. You.

But I can play that game too and give away what should have been an ending and then continue despite the fact that from this point on everything is literally meaningless. 5 fucking dustbusters. You get half credit because half of your movie was worth watching.

Half of the movie was Sam alone with the computer (though, a completely wasted effort by Kevin Spacey that is along the lines of Peter Dinklage’s Dinklebot from Destiny. Nothing really fun or exciting, just read the lines and go home. Here’s a paycheck, thanks Kevin). Half of the movie felt desolate, isolated, like any change was going to be a great mystery, similar to how space exploration is now. I appreciated that! Effects were gorgeous, the all-white everything made the interior of the station feel bigger and thus, made Sam seem smaller. Sounds boomed through the speakers because there were literally no others there so it was almost unnerving. There were some good choices made here!

So many things you can say about this
shot! Pick your dumbest one.
That's what happened.
And Sam was perfect, exactly what I wanted. He can play professionally paranoid incredibly well. For a good long while, I felt like he was going mad. This film could have kept the mystery of why he was interacting with a likeness of himself and not given anything away ‘til the very end (in SO MANY WAYS) and the same exact performance that was given would have been able to sell it. I’m frustrated here because I’m not going to give it away even though your laziest guess is probably right. And if it isn’t and you watch this movie, there’s no doubt you’ll say “yeah, that would have been my second guess.”

I swear, if M. Night Shyamalan made a movie that wasn’t supposed to have an actual twist…this would be it. It was horribly lazy, explored nothing, baited you with this awesome trailer and switched you with this just…lifeless…crap that tried so desperately to leave you feeling like something good happened or there was some sort of closure to Sam’s story. Critics praised this movie because it apparently kept you guessing. They probably left when I wanted to turn this off.

GERTY just finished watching
Moon too.
And for those of you who have been reading and asking “why have I not given the name of Sam Rockwell’s character this whole review,” I’m going to spoil something for you. SHOCKER! Sam Rockwell’s character is named Sam also! Oooohhhhhh! Take that M. Night Shyamalan plot twist! Honestly though, like this review ends with something incredibly stupid and trivial, please know that Moon ended in way that was infinitely worse. This conclusion won’t be completely ruining someone’s life soon.

Goodnight Moon. You suck.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The BackLOG Reviews - Episode 6

Woooo! New camera equipment! That I hate. So I'm going back to the ol' Canon for Episode 7. Speaking of 7, that's what The Town got! YES! It's not mediocre! It's semi-decent! :) But I'm really excited for the next pick, which has shown up on my TV a few times and I've watched in pieces over the course of a few years but never all at once. Sam Rockwell in Moon!

Monday, October 19, 2015


The Town - 2010
Director: Ben Affleck
Starring: Ben Affleck, Jeremy Reiner, Jon Hamm

“No matter how much you change, you still gotta pay the price for the things you’ve done.” A line uttered by Ben Affleck’s character Doug MacRay who, at the time saying this, was literally not paying for anything. Under normal circumstances I’d be like “eh, whatever, he won,” but I’m fresh off of Sideways that was pretty much “No matter how much of an asshole you are, you won’t have to pay for any of it if you do it far enough away from home.” So I’m a little bitter.

The Town (sponsored by Budweiser…often…) is to bank-robbery heist movies what Rango was to westerns. A stupidly predictable film with an homage to just about every cliché in the book, just in case this is your first bank-robbery heist movie.

Lead character looking to get out of the business? Check.
Hot-headed moron that’s the cause for just about every job going wrong? Check.
Old guy ringleader saying “you can’t quit now. Rabble rabble kill your family rabble.” Check.
Psycho ex-girlfriend who has no business being in the movie other than to make you feel sympathy for the kid she’s taking care of? Check.
Chance at one final, crazy big score that will pretty much be the farewell to your career of bank-robbing? Check.
See every single thing coming and say “if everybody seriously wasn’t an idiot, this would have gone a lot better.” Checkity check check check.

Did I forget to mention the love interest
that is totally getting in the way?
Sorry. Check.
Now, let me be clear. This isn’t a bad movie. It’s just…kind of a there movie. I didn’t walk away saying “wow, what a powerful or unique or original or captivating movie that makes me stop and think for a moment.” My first thought was really “well, did that.” Ben Affleck’s directorial debut doesn’t do anything daring but really, the standard stuff that it does do…was done really well. I didn’t really notice any easy outs per se and never felt like “gaaaaah, this is all of the dumb!” It was a surprisingly enjoyable watch despite the fact that I still wanted to palette cleanse…though for some reason it was with Lucky Number Slevin and I can’t figure out why.

Anyway, it’s difficult to go over the plot because…I pretty much did with the cliché list. It didn’t deviate much from that and I know I keep going back to that because it’s really the only thing that’s sticking with me. Were any of the characters memorable? No…not really. The whole thing focused on Doug and Doug was kind of a whiny little jerk pretty much like Ben Affleck was during the start of the whole Jennifer Garner thing so…that was nice to relive. The only other characters with decent screen time were hot-headed moron James Coughlin (Jeremy Reiner, who also got plenty of Award nods for his performance) and hot-headed FBI agent Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm) who seemed oddly excited about a new robbery case coming up at the start of the film despite the fact that the gang in question had robbed 6 trucks and 2 banks in their recent history. I couldn’t tell if we missed a few scenes. I watched the Extended Cut. …Maybe newbie Ben Affleck thought he needed to make an extended cut FROM the movie. Wouldn’t put it passed him.

Old guy ringleader. Of course he's got
some retired dude job. It's basically
Jimmy "The Tulip" Tudeski
15 years after The Whole Nine Yards.
Since the plot is really out, let’s chat directing as I was really pleased with this movie’s tone and presentation. The color stayed kind of miserable and drab, but never hopeless. Moments of sunshine were slim, and the movie very smartly tied that along with a story that it was a sign of potentially bad things to come. Wasn’t always the case, but I definitely paid a little more attention. Sound direction was also awesome, there was a ton of depth in the sound effects and the use of music was also very slim and had great purpose. I appreciate that. It isn't done enough nowadays.

Despite the story being a little meh, all things considered, this was actually one heck of a showing from Mr. Affleck and I’m excited to see more. Now, before all 3 of you start commenting “you should see Argo” you should know that that is also in the BackLOG so…I will. And I’ll be paying attention. As for The Town though, based mostly on enjoyment factor and just being a pretty solid movie, it escapes scot-free (as in...not paying for anything) off to its coastal paradise with 7 dustbusters out of 10.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The BackLOG Reviews - Episode 5

Stuck trying to figure out if I enjoyed Sideways, I pull The Town, a movie that...from the back of the box appears to be ready to put me in the same damn position. Ugh, come on box, give me something that doesn't make me want to palette cleanse immediately! It's keeping me up late! Oy.

On the plus side, it's inspiring me to get through the box faster! Maybe I can still pull this puppy off by the end of 2015 (he says, knowing that won't happen. But...4 days off and I REALLY want to movie marathon...)