Thursday, August 31, 2017

Bird on a Wire

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  A movie from the 90s, 90s kids!




Bird on a Wire – 2 out of 5

I’m not sure what really compelled me to revisit this film after having not seen it since it came out in 1990 but I recently decided to check out Bird on a Wire.  To be honest, I really didn’t remember much in this movie beyond the fact that it starred Goldie Hawn and Mel Gibson and it had that famous scene where the two of them are climbing a ladder and her skirt is blown up by the wind and Mel’s character comments about how she’s now wearing underwear.  Literally, that’s all I remember about this movie.  With that being said and essentially watching this movie for the “first time” (since I don’t remember anything of substance), how is this 90s action comedy?  Well…it’s kinda meh.

It's funny because it objectifies women.

After a crooked DEA agent (David Carradine) is released from prison, he sets his sights on the man who put him there.  Rick Jarmin (Mel Gibson) is in hiding in the witness protection program and one day runs into his ex-fiancĂ©e; Marianne Graves (Goldie Hawn), and accidentally pulls her into his mess.  Now the two must escape the killers after them but matters become worse as it seems other corrupt agents are in on the plan.

Things don't start well with David Carradine's character as the movie opens with him
giving the bird to the jail he was just let out of.  It's hard to take him seriously
as a threat with this movie because that's about as badass as a teenager
trying to rebel against his parents by getting an earring.

When you need to aim your weapon and work on
tightening your tush at the same time.
Well, one thing that definitely stands out with this film in 2017 is that it feels dated on certain social aspects.  Now, this is where I get all SJW in my review but there are moments in the story that are a little problematic to see in this day and age.  Hawn’s character is pretty much 100% the damsel in distress and the woman who can’t control her emotions and there’s a homosexual character that feels a tad like a stereotype.  Granted, these elements aren’t terrible nor are they outright homophobic or sexist.  Hell, I was surprised the film didn’t go for broke with the gay character and make him the punchline of a lot of bad jokes.  While he is a hair stylist, he’s actually a fairly down-to-earth character and that was pretty rare when it came to the gay community’s representation in films in the 90s.  Bird on a Wire does kinda deserve a little leeway because it does present Mel Gibson as the level of stud that women absolutely lose their minds over and it’s so over-the-top that it makes the rest of the film a little hard to take seriously.  Still, these elements are noticeable enough that when watching it now, they stand out and are kinda laughable since we are moving away from these types of outdated representations. 

In fairness, they did do A LOT worse in the 90s.


That shower seems very impractical.
The rest of the film is pretty serviceable but kinda forgettable.  The plot and story feels like it spends a lot of time wandering and with no real focus on where it is going.  The basic idea is there and you understand what it is going for but it never really feels like it has a destination in mind.  There’s a few moments of some fun action but none of it really stuck with me after the film was over or really made me take note when it was taking place.  Finally, the antagonists of the film are pretty uninteresting and don’t really feel that threatening.

This scene takes place in the China Town portion of Racine, Wisconsin.
I live in Wisconsin and, trust me, there is no part of that town
that can even be remotely described as "China Town."

As forgettable as I found this movie (even during its second viewing) there is one thing the film does have going for it and that is the pairing of Gibson and Hawn.  These two have such a fun chemistry together on screen and they make even the most mundane of scenes in this film pretty fun.  Both players are talented in their own right (and get to show it in this one) but when they are together, there was no denying that they worked well.

Watching this now and remembering Gibson's love of the sauce and his hatred
of God's chosen people really shines this film in a different light.

Revisiting Bird on a Wire led me to a movie that is mildly entertaining in the moment but something that just isn’t that memorable.  Like I previously stated, I have memories of only small elements in this film and, if I decided to revisit it again in another 27 years, I doubt that much will change.  So, that being said, visit me here again in 2044 (lord knows, I’ll probably still be doing this) and it will probably be the same review…only updated to say I watched it in 2017 and only remember the leads and when Goldie Hawn’s skirt blew open.

Lemon

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  When life gives you lemons...be thankful because you just got free fruit!




Lemon – 4 out of 5


I’m quite the listener to podcasts.  My subscription list is long and sometimes they are the only things that get me through a long day at my day job.  One of those podcasts is Comedy Bang! Bang! and one of the guests that I really enjoy hearing on the show Brett Gelman.  The antagonistic comedy stylings that he has with host Scott Aukerman always has me laughing like a madman—and then coughing while I’m sitting at my desk to try and act like I wasn’t just laughing out loud.  While on a recent episode, Gelman promoted his latest project; a film that he and his wife co-wrote that starred him and was directed by his wife.  Gelman literally could have stopped right there because that was all the information I needed and I was immediately sold to watch this latest project; Lemon.

I'm seeing double, four slightly balding men with beards and glasses!


After his girlfriend of ten years (Judy Greer) leaves him, Isaac (Gelman) starts to find himself on a path that is constantly winding down.  His career isn’t working out the way he wants, he’s getting angry and jealous over his friends’ success and even when he agrees to help colleagues out with a favor, he finds he ends up screwing them up and causing more trouble.  However, after he meets a woman named Cleo (Nia Long), it becomes a possibility that he can turn things around…but only a small possibility.

Greer's character is blind but it was Isaac who didn't see the breakup coming!

I'm sorry.


I have a habit of screaming in my car, too.  Also, crying.
I'm lonely.
After watching Lemon, I really had to take some time to process what I watched because it was so unique and an animal all its own.  The film with its writing was somehow able to be sad, off-putting and humorous all at the same time.  Smaller budget features like this are no stranger to having both drama and comedy mixing in ways that a lot of bigger budget films just can’t pull off but this movie was beyond your run-of-the-mill dramedy.  Lemon isn’t exploring the depths of human interaction and emotion with times of comedy and times of drama that culminates in an ending that is uplifting or, at the very least, an ending that brings about understanding; this film just didn’t do that.  We’re literally just watching a guy who has his world unraveling around him while he just flops around fumbling in an attempt to maintain control but ultimately is just making things worse.  It was an interesting experience to say the least.

Play "Staying Alive" so you get the full effect of this pic.


After I had my time to fully process Lemon, I realized it’s quite the remarkable film.  The movie presents a story that offers up moments of amusement and comedy but never fully felt like it was diving into drama.  Instead, what is happening to Isaac feels more akin to a car accident and you’re just a spectator that is on this metaphor’s highway and you’ve taken the time to slow your vehicle down to see if anything else is going to happen.  Isaac isn’t a very sympathetic character but I never found myself feeling completely apathetic for him either.  Yes, there are moments that I laughed at his trauma and I never really felt sorry for him over what was occurring but I was captivated with him and his downward spiral nonetheless.  It’s a testament to Gelman’s performance and his writing with Janicza Bravo that they were able to present a story that centers on a pathetic man that has his life coming completely undone and with no sign of an upside or victory in sight and still be completely engaging to watch.

Also, did I mention the film's sex appeal?


Coming alongside the excellent writing and stark presentation is the performances.  Everyone from Gelman to the supporting cast of Greer, Nia Long, Michael Cera, Gillian Jacobs and Jeff Garlin are really nailing it and helping craft a tone for this film that feels uncomfortable, sorta bleak, but also kinda otherworldly and odd—sorta like it was a play existing alongside the real world.  This film, additionally, is just overloaded with talent as you also have Rhea Perlman, Jon Daly, Martin Starr, Fred Melamed, David Paymer and Rex Lee all along for the ride and each and every single person feels so right for the role and fitting in so effectively for the overall odd and uncomfortable tone this film holds.

Cera's hairstyle makes me want to watch some episodes of The IT Crowd.


Lemon is an example of those one-of-a-kind movies that just sorta appears without warning and leaves an impact after it’s gone.  There’s no spectacle or flash to it, there’s just a simple story of a man losing everything and there’s not a happy ending in sight.  The film won’t resonate with everyone who sees it but its dry wit and the fact its default setting is for maximum discomfort will leave an impact, good or bad, on those who watch.  This fact alone speaks volumes about what a piece of art this film really is.

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Fate of the Furious

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  Even if this franchise goes to space, you can guarantee that I am going to watch it.




The Fate of the Furious – 4 out of 5


My palate for movies is pretty dynamic and quite vast—which is the same for most of us.  People get mad at me for my reviews all the time and act like all movies can be judged equally and all on the same terms, even if they are two different stories from two entirely different genres.  Commenters will see me like a big budget summer blockbuster and say I have “bad taste” but then other commenters will see me like a low budget, indie artsy film and say I’m a “snob.”  The reality is I am a person and movie-lover with so many dimensions and I am capable of enjoying one film on one level and another on a completely different one.  I can enjoy an emotional human drama just as much as an explosion-rich action feature or even a movie that is so painfully bad but is a blast to watch.  With that being said, I am a HUGE fan of the Fast and the Furious franchise because these movies are just badass fun.  So, when I need a break from the depth of rich and complex storytelling and just want slick and exciting action with a dash of humor, these movies have me covered and this 8th installment is just another excellent example of how entertaining these features are.

And not a single one used their blinker.


Oh shit, Tormund Giantsbane is in this!
The family is in a lot of trouble after Dom (Vin Diesel) betrays them while on a mission.  The effects leaves Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) in jail with a familiar face across from him; Deckard (Jason Statham), and it has Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) broken but convinced that this isn’t what it seems.  Now the crew must once again rev their engines and come together as Dom has joined forces with a criminal mastermind by the name of Cipher (Charlize Theron) and she has a plan to get her hands on some nuclear weapons.  Can the gang stop them and bring Dom back into the family or did he really turn against them?

I guess Dom isn't going back to Olive Garden anytime soon.
You know, because where you're there you're family.  Eh?  Amirite?
I'm sorry.


"Hi, I'm The Rock.  The world's most badass, charming,
and charismatic man to ever exist."
The Fate of the Furious (despite having a goofy sounding title) continues the standard the franchise has taken once it course corrected and moved away from its straight street racing roots.  Taking the crew into missions of utmost importance really helped solidify the film’s fun factor and constantly adding new faces to the cast doesn’t hurt either (adding The Rock was the best decision this series made).  Like the previous films, this one doesn’t let up on the gas pedal (sorry for the pun but it’s pretty much a legal requirement in these reviews) and is delivering exciting and extremely memorable action.  There’s an incredibly sequence that involves auto-drive cars that is amazingly fun to experience and the final act of the film is pretty much an hour long action sequence that is cutting between fast pace vehicle craziness and a ridiculously amusing and super badass shoot ‘em up/fist fight scene aboard a plane.  This franchise delivers the goods with the action in a big way and this film is keeping that tradition moving.  Never does anything feel like it’s been reused or recycled from previous films—instead, you get all new greatness to absorb and it more than satisfies the action itch.

This one had to have been the movie with the most destruction to various vehicles.
They are destroying them like it is going out of style...and it's awesome!


Everyone wants in this franchise!
As much as I like these films, I won’t try to make the argument that their stories are deep, dynamic and meaningful.  No, they are about some colorful and fun characters going on adventures that include hot cars and lots of collateral damage.  This one does offer up something new as it sees a good guy go bad and a bad guy go good.  I was insanely curious on how they would make Dom do a heel turn and the reasoning is sound.  I won’t reveal what happens for SPOILERS sake but It works.  However, what’s more functional is how fluid the change is for Jason Statham’s character as he goes from the antagonist in the previous film to a member of the family in this one.  The film doesn’t try to bog itself down with trying to make too much out of the situation and, instead, just uses the character’s (and actor’s) natural charisma to do the work.  Through the use of teasing and ribbing with Hobbs to integrate himself, Deckard quickly becomes a member of the team…and it is so effective.  So easy and so natural was Statham’s turn that I barely even remembered that this was the guy who killed the character Han—he made me forget he was a murderer!

This dude used to annoy me but now I've fallen under his spell!


Another drawback?  Theron's hair.  It reminded me
of playdough being pushed through that
squeezy thing.
The only drawbacks I found for this film is the story is a bit slow at the beginning as they are establishing the cause for Dom’s betrayal and a new addition to the cast.  It’s not surprising that the feature had to take some time crafting the why for Dom going against his family (and, like I said, the reason works) but it does feel a little against the grain for a franchise that is built on break-neck speed.  Finally, I really didn’t enjoy the addition of Scott Eastwood to the cast.  When you have a crew of very over-the-top and charismatic characters, it’s going to be difficult for a newbie to jump right in and be memorable.  With that in mind, I harbor no ill feelings towards Eastwood and his character but when you have his just kinda serviceable performance style factored in, he’s way too bland and forgettable.

Still, I find him easier to stand than his father.


Even with these minor setbacks in The Fate of the Furious, I found this latest addition to the series to be extremely fun and entertaining.  The action is exciting, the cast is fun, and the film, once it gets going, never slows down on the thrills.  It’s damn impressive that a franchise can remain this engaging and continue to be a blast when it gets to its eight films but, damn it, they did it!