Talk Shows – Variety Shows (Top Ten TV Mega Post Part Six)

The Mega Post continues with Part Six: Talk Shows

Most people, according to talk shows, get their news from talk shows. I don’t. I get my news from twitter like a sane person. But if you want to get a feel for what’s going on in the world all you have to do is listen to a late night talk show host try to make it into a joke. And then listen to the audience’s reaction.

Kristen Bell

I don’t watch TV live. More accurately, I don’t watch pre-recorded shows when they air. The only things I watch when they air are things that are LIVE when they air. I watch the news live. I watch sports live. I watch award shows live (and that’s about it). Everything else I record, Tivo, DVR (it’s a verb), wait for DVD, Download, find online and watch later…

Rhianna SNLHowever, the exception to this rule is the talk show. They aren’t really live. Most of them are taped in front of studio audiences in LA or New York at around 5 or 6 pm EST and broadcast six hours later. But what happens is, sometimes… sometimes a talk show is so juicy. A guest is so current or a news event is so interesting, that I have to watch a talk show when it airs. It just won’t wait.

Cher DeNiro Pfeiffer Saunders Norton

I grew up on Johnny Carson and I was into Letterman when I was in college. Me and my friends would smoke a bowl and watch Dave (it’s a cliché but there’s a reason it’s a cliché). However, even though a talk show is only as good as its guests, there are those rare shows that are even better when nobody good is on. The hosts and the comedy and the band more than make up for it.

So, here are ten talk shows where it does not matter to me who the guest is. I’m gonna watch it. And sometimes, if someone good is on, I even watch it live.

to the list…

First – my new favorite talk show…

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

1817836_CA_0407_oliver_01_CMC

Hosted by John Oliver

30 minutes

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver is the newest talk show on the list. He talks about current events. He does comedy bits. Shows some video clips. He has the occasional guest and even a band or two. But it is the host and the writers that make this show great. John Oliver is very funny. Very cute. And very likeable. His smile is infectious. And he doesn’t shy away from the big subjects. Hell, I think he’s tackled a major issue head on in every single show. Good job.

John Oliver

“In fairness, the world is pretty fucked up right now.”

John Oliver was one of my favorite correspondents on the Daily Show who really came into his own when he filled in for Jon Stewart who had left to make a movie. John Oliver was spectacular pinch-hitting. And even when Stewart came back, you could feel it. Oliver was different. He was just as good as Stewart and everybody felt it. They had to give that man his own show.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

And now that he’s on HBO, he doesn’t have to watch his language. He can go past the line of too controversial for standard cable. And since he’s only on once a week, he can pack a show with a weeks worth of comedy goodness. Recently he did a song about the prison crisis in the US with puppets that was pure genius dealing with rape and prison mortality and cost saving inhumane budget cuts and low-level drug offenses becoming a death sentence. It was amazing and he’s going to get an Emmy. Great show.

Watch it. Re-watch it. Share it. John Oliver does amazing work.

Next…

@midnight (Chris Hardwick/The Nerdist)

Chris Hardwick

Hosted by Chris Hardwick

22 minutes

I’ve only been a Chris Hardwick fan for maybe the last 3 or 4 years. But now I listen to the Nerdist podcast religiously. I like the questions Chris asks and the detail they go into with their guests. I really enjoy the “hostful” shows when they have no guest on and Chris and his two cohorts (Matt Myra and Jonah Ray) riff off of each other and talk about real life stuff. (Pretty much anything). A great set of guys.

The Nerdist

They did a show at the end of last year (2013) that some fans complained about because it was so serious and it dealt with loss and loneliness but I think it was the best hour of entertainment and information and emotional honesty I had experienced that entire year. I would love for them to take that show and transcribe it and bring it to the stage. I know there was a lot of “realness” there and it is hard to do that, but if great actors played the four roles (Chris’s GF joined in to the discussion) it would be a powerful and successful play about friendship, loss, love, and Christmas. (The feeeeeels… honestly I think I cried four times during that episode) Great stuff.

@midnight

But Hardwick also hosts talk shows (and that’s what this post is about). He had four at one point and now he has two and possibly a third. @midnight, a very funny show where comedians come on to make jokes about social media and pop culture. And also Talking Dead where cast members and other celebrities talk about The Walking Dead (One of my favorite shows). And most recently he hosted a Doctor Who after show called After Who which I hope continues all season.

Here’s a segment from Talking Dead with Lauren Cohan and Sonequa Martin-Green…

Watch him. Listen to him. Follow him. Chris does outstanding work and I think it’s because he comes across as genuine, egoless and pure hearted… and you can’t fake that shit.

The man is one of my hero.

Next…

The Soup Live with Joel McHale (E!)

Joel McHale

Hosted by Joel McHale

22 minutes

I don’t watch reality TV… but I love the Soup on E! (Now The Soup Live!). It shows the worst (or the best – depending on how you look at it) of reality and daytime talk and even news and niche channels. It condenses a week’s worth of the funniest clips and allows me to see and know the references that everyone talks about without having to watch those god-awful shows that are destroying society.

The Soup

Reality Shows are a big part of what’s destroying society. It’s the Glorification of bad behavior. So when Joel McHale rips them a new one for some outrageous act or racist comment or train wreck of an over-share. I laugh my ass off. I guess it makes me feel better about myself. Mostly because these people are so self-absorbed, superficial and short-sighted that I feel sorry for them.

Here’s a Soup short called Comedians in Cars getting Cocaine…

But even while adults like me pity them, kids want to be them. Kids who don’t see that these pseudo-celebrities are miserable people. That you can try to collect all the superficial crap and money and fame and stuff and it will never fill the hole left from having no personality, no self-awareness, no emotional maturity or human compassion, self-respect or a fucking soul. (end of rant)

The Soup - Season: 9

But watch The Soup. (Because these idiots are fun to laugh at)

Next – The Great One…

Late Show with David Letterman (CBS)

Robin Williams David Letterman

Hosted by David Letterman

62 minutes (with commercials)

I started watching David Letterman when he was on NBC after Carson. And I watched him for the band. David Letterman has the best band in late night TV history.

Late Show with David Letterman

I love it when Paul Shaffer and The World’s Most Dangerous Band (or The CBS Orchestra or whatever they’re calling themselves), plays with the musical guest. Because other than that we only heard them for the opening song, the end song and before and after commercial breaks and that was it. The band is amazing. The band was nasty from the beginning. The drummer; Anton Fig, and the bass player; Will Lee, are two of the best around. And they’ve had a host of great guitarists and then a horn section that’s just filthy. And frequent guests who would sit in with the band. Seriously, I started watching David Letterman’s show for the band.

The President with Dave

But I also enjoyed his interviews. Mostly because he doesn’t take shit from anyone. A lot of people don’t like him because they say he’s mean to his guest. But if you watch, he is professional and respectful until they cross the line or try to make fun of him and then he lets them have it. And I love him for that.

Here he is interviewing Emma Watson from 2009…

Watch him while he’s still here. (When I was in college it was a nightly ritual to roll up a fatty and watch Letterman. I am sad to see him go. End of an era)

Next – Let’s get stylish…

Fashion Police with Joan Rivers (E!)

Fashion Police Cast

Hosted by Joan Rivers with Kelly OsbourneGeorge Kotsiopoulos & Giuliana Rancic

60 minutes

I’ve been a fan of fashion since High School. And I know Fashion Police concentrates more on celebrity fashion but I love it anyway and I’m not going to apologize for it. I’m a big fan of award shows already, but the red carpet pre-shows (just showing the celebrities arriving) have become these amazing celebrity fashion shows and that’s just awesome.

Fashion Police Banner

I have never been a fan of runway models showing clothes. You could roll out the clothing on a hanger and it’s pretty much the same thing (sorry ladies but it’s very cookie cutter). I like seeing the designs on real people. Beautiful people – yes – but with real bodies. To me, award shows are the best fashion shows. Hands down.

Fashion Police

So every week Joan Rivers and friends cover every major fashion worthy event in the world and they critique the styles and the different celebrities and then Joan makes fun of them in that Joan Rivers way that some people call mean but I think is plain funny. At least once a show she makes me spit out my coffee. I like Joan (she should have gotten The Tonight Show after Carson… I’m just saying). She is very funny. Although she is better with writers than without them because she tends to repeat herself (I’m still just saying).

Here she is destroying Justin Bieber…

Watch it. (I love this show and I shouldn’t even call watching Fashion Police a guilty pleasure. It’s just a pleasure)

Next…

Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO)

Bill Maher

Hosted by Bill Maher

60 minutes

I love this HBO political chat show even if I think the host is a horse’s ass. Bill Maher is one of those guys who thinks he’s smarter than he is (takes one to know one).

Bill Maher and Dr Tyson

He is often overmatched in political discussions and allows his guests to talk circles around him. He is slow on the uptake (too much weed maybe) and even though I agree with many of his views, he has little idea on how to articulate them. It’s infuriating.

Bill Maher and Jay Z

But I still watch and on occasion he has a good panel, or just a panel that includes a smart liberal who can answer the repeated talking points on the right. And his New Rules segment can be really funny at times and always ends with a well-written rant. (Thank god for the writers… right Bill)

(Can’t embed your videos, Bill? Well screw you, sir)

Watch him anyway. (I’ll be over here yelling at the screen)

Next… Live from New York

Saturday Night Live (NBC)

Anne Hathaway

Hosted by a lot of very cool people through the years

93 minutes

I know it’s not a talk show. It’s a variety show. But there is a guest (sometimes more than one) and a musical act and a house band (a pretty good house band that was once led by the great Paul Shaffer) and comedy bits and jokes based on the news. So it has all the essential elements. I’ve watched SNL from the beginning.

SNL Original Cast

When I was a kid I would pretend to go to bed and then wake up and sneak watch it. Through the seventies and eighties it was all we talked about Monday at school. And though it has gone through some crappy periods. And shitty line-ups as well as writers, there were resurgent years and many great people who came through the cast and the writer’s room. Many many great people.

Saturday Night Live

The newest cast members (especially the women) are insanely funny and depending on the guest host, the show can feel just like it did when it was at the top of its game.

Jennifer Lawrence

But whether or not a show is good really has more to do with the host than anything else.

Here’s Louis C.K. on Black Jeopardy…

Watch it. It’s getting better. (Just no more Justin Bieber hosting… I beg you)

Next…

The Colbert Report (Comedy Central)

Stephen Colbert

Hosted by Stephen Colbert

22 minutes

In the last year of the Colbert Report (Stephen is taking over for the departing David Letterman) Stephen has softened a bit. His on-screen alter ego (with the same name) has gotten him into trouble and he has pushed the line a bit with his character’s uncomfortable views on race. However, he still has the best writers on TV. And he is one of the best deadpan comedians working. And no one is better at showing the absurdity of the right and the right-wing pundits on Fox News.

The Colbert Report

But for a talk show host, Stephen Colbert gives the worst interviews. They are the worst. The man is a genius (literally), so he is often able to use his persona to get his point across during the interviews (especially with right-wingers) but most of the time he fails and really only succeeds in being disrespectful to his guest. Because of this, I can’t stand his “Better Know a District” series. They are the most cringe inducing interviews of elected officials since The Ali G Show.

Stephen Colbert 2

And I love Stephen as a performer. I really love his voice work on Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law and on SNL (The Ambiguously Gay Duo). He is one of my favorite performers and I’m excited to see what he does with the Letterman time-slot and if people still like him once he drops the act. (Or if he even does)

Here he is addressing the #CancelColbert movement…

Watch his show while he’s still around. (He has the best writing staff on TV)

Next – we go across the pond…

The Graham Norton Show (BBC America)

Graham Norton

Hosted by Graham Norton

50 minutes

I love this British talk show because it throws a wrench into the one guest at a time classic talk show format and has all the guests come out at once and one by one Graham asks them a question each enabling the other guests to chime in on the discussion.

Depp Gervais

Graham Norton is an incredibly likeable host and the show’s open interview free-for-all is fantastic and even when I don’t recognize a guest or particularly like one, the other two celebs are always there to spice things up.

Lopez someguyidontknow Gillan

The Graham Norton Show is rarely if ever dull.

Graham Norton 2

The music guests are often very Britpop and most of the time I have no idea who they are. But then he ends the show with audience stories that are usually enjoyable and if they aren’t there’s a lever he can pull that flips their chair over and sends them away.

Here is a crazy conversation featuring Kylie Minogue, Russell Crowe, Cameron Diaz and Richard Ayoade that is hysterical…

Love it.

Lastly…

The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (CBS)

Craig Ferguson and Geoff the Robot

Hosted by Craig Ferguson

40 minutes

The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson features the funniest side-kick in late night, Geoff the Robot. And a host; Craig Ferguson, who doesn’t play by your rules, man.

Craig and friends

I remember early in the show’s run when the fire marshal told him he couldn’t light a sparkler without a fireman present and he thought that was ludicrous and ridiculous, so he lit it anyway and lost his permit to have an open flame on the set. So that he couldn’t have cooking segments for years. And the only reason he did it was because they told him he couldn’t. That’s Craig Ferguson in a nutshell. He does not give a fuck and it’s not an act. And that’s why I watch the show. (And he’s also a big Doctor Who fan… so there’s that)

Karen Gillan

But his sidekick, Geoff; a robot, is the funniest, quickest, most entertaining sidekick in late night history (sorry Andy Richter). And that’s why I love it. From the songs that they make up on the spot, to the voices, to the running gags, it is just plain madness.

Craig Ferguson

There’s no band. So Instead two guys in a horse costume come out and dance during commercials. It is the silliest and craziest thing I have enjoyed seeing on TV since the old UHF channel 68 (before cable) Uncle Floyd Show in New York. Craig says he’s leaving with Letterman at the end of the year. Say it ain’t so, Craig. We are going to miss you.

Here’s a Doctor Who themed show opening song that never aired…

Watch Craig while you still can.

And that’s ten…

Now you may have noticed that one of my all-time favorite shows is not on the list.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)

The Daily Show

I love Jon’s work. And I’m a long-time fan of his show. Though I get angry with him sometimes for trying to show both sides of an argument that doesn’t have two sides. He tries to placate his critics on the right and he gives too much credit to people like Bill O’Reilly and viewers who hate-watch his show.

But he’s fallen off of this list because of a noticeable drop in quality as he has lost many of his long-time writers and several of his best correspondents. (John Oliver’s departure left a huge creative hole in the show and it shows) And now with Colbert leaving the channel as well, I wonder if Stewart will be able to keep up even this reduced quality. Or if he will instead hand The Daily Show reins over to someone else… Chris Hardwick perhaps.

Points

But these are just my top ten. So don’t get me wrong, I’d still watch Fallon or Kimmel or Seth Meyers or Conan if someone interesting were on but none of those guys are breaking any new ground. They’re doing Letterman’s act. Even if you asked them they would tell you that they were all doing a fresher version of Letterman. Letterman Jr. And like I said I grew up on Dave and Johnny. So I already know what they’re going to do. I already know the punchlines before they deliver them. I already know the questions before they ask them. So guys, try to surprise me or I’m just going to be bored. (Okay? Good talk)

And in the end we’ve learned two things: A talk show is only as good as its host. And there are not enough women in late night. (News or Talk Shows). What’s up with that?

Drama is up next.

Bring on the drama.

- Mel

5 Quick Reviews August 2014 (Super Long Extended Suck Edition)

This is the super long extended suck edition of 5 Quick Reviews.

I’ve been stuck in the news cycle this month (A lot of crap going on) and I’ve been working hard on my dystopian, social feminist, sci-fi surveillance, alien crime novel, so I’ve kinda let my DVD folder get a bit out of hand…

Emma Stone

“Out of HAND? We’ve been stuck down here for weeks!”

Okay, WAY out of hand.

So… for August I give you 8 new DVD reviews of 8 new DVDs in August. And two rants. Only two. But be warned. There’s an awful lot of suck this month.

So… strap your browsers in, people. This is gonna be a big long one.

"That is NOT what she said."

“That is NOT what she said.”

Damn, Penny.

To the reviews…

First up – Sci fi… I guess.

Divergent (Lionsgate, Summit Entertainment)

Divergent poster

Directed by Neil Burger

Written by Evan Daugherty & Vanessa Taylor  Based on Divergent by Veronica Roth

Starring Shailene WoodleyTheo JamesAnsel ElgortAshley JuddJai CourtneyRay StevensonZoë KravitzMiles TellerTony GoldwynMaggie Q & Kate Winslet

Tris with knives

“Okay, Mel. Go ahead and take your best shot. Do your worse.”

Here’s a movie, Divergent, that feels more like two separate movies. Over-all it’s the beautiful story of a fractured factional society. Interesting and compelling. Divergent One (we’re going to call them Divergent One and Two) is an insanely good movie. Shailene Woodley plays a societal anomaly named Beatrice Prior (We call her Tris) that lives in fear of being found out because she is special. She is divergent and fits into more than one class of persons. More than one faction. She can use more of her brain than most people. She’s better. I bet the book is amazing

Divergent Factions

Anyone else notice how all the lines are straight except for Candor, who can’t help but lean in toward Abnegation just to tell them what they think.

I thought learning about the different factions and the people who lead them and about their place in the society was infinitely fascinating. And watching Shailene as she goes through her trials was gripping. The factions are as follows: Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Erudite (the intelligent), Amity (the peaceful) and Dauntless (the brave). She chooses one (because she fits in more than one) and she goes through training. And Miss Woodley is attractive and her instructor is attractive and you root for her against the bullies and the power structure and her own fears. Divergent One is an incredible movie. But then something happens to it. A plot happens to it.

Tris fighting

“Mel is gonna get such a punch in the head if he isn’t nice. SUCH A PUNCH”

Divergent Two is awful. It is sloppy. It is rushed. It is so very very bad. Divergent Two is an action movie that looks like it was made in somebody’s backyard and directed by their thirteen year old dim-witted cousin. The last half hour of this movie is pure garbage. It looks like a completely different creative team. It is – the suck. There are continuity errors and logistic problems and enemies that pop out of thin air and overwhelming odds that pave the way for bad fight scenes with one punch knockouts and instant technology advancements and leaps of logic and it ruins a really good movie. Just fucking ruins it.

Tris and Four

“He’s right you know.” “I know. But it’s just that I don’t want to hear it. And I don’t know where to go. This was supposed to be my Hunger Games.”

Divergent (the whole bloody thing) is a badly directed film. And the story is not to blame. The acting is not to blame. It looks like they ran out of money before the end or just blew it all on food. And it was promising. It had the makings of a winner, but there wasn’t enough time spent away from the main characters to justify the sharp change in tone the movie takes. There wasn’t enough time spent establishing the villain to justify their actions. There was no introduction to this new technology or even a feeling that it was being misused. If it was made for that purpose then who are the manufacturers? What is the manufacturing class?

Divergent Dauntless

Please stop. Mel. Think of what you’re doing to Shailene.”

And I get it. The director spent most of his time setting up that Hunger Games slash Harry Potter “feel” to the first two acts that it never occurred to him to use parts of the first two acts to make the third act make sense. And I bet that it makes sense to people who read the book. But I didn’t read the book and most of the people who see the movie didn’t read the book. The third act is so bad that it makes the first parts seem frivolous. Where were we that whole time.

Kate Winslet

“He’s right? I’m the villain of this film. Not you.” “I know. And we hardly ever see you.”

Divergent is a rarity. It goes from “OMG this is the best movie. I love this.” all the way to “This is a piece of garbage that I wish didn’t exist. Why do you torture me with this filth?” and it does that in seconds.

Shailene Woodley

“Is he done? Can I come down now?”

Skip it. (It’s obvious that the movie they wanted to make ends almost a full hour before the one they released to the world does)

Next up – Crime and a big dick

Dom Hemingway (Lionsgate (UK), Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Dom Hemingway Official Poster

Written and Directed by Richard Shepard

Starring Jude LawRichard E. GrantDemián Bichir & Emilia Clarke

Dom is out of prison

“Do your worse, Melvin.”

Dom Hemingway, the movie, is about a safe cracker who gets out of prison after 12 years and tries to get “rewarded” for his pain. Because he kept his mouth shut. But he’s a dick because he can’t keep his mouth shut. I have seen this movie before, this “guy gets out of prison and things have changed on the outside” movie, a bunch of times before. And I’ve seen it done much better and with a better lead.

Dom

“Don’t you know not to taunt Mel like that. He’ll grab you by the balls and squeeeze.”

I didn’t like Jude law in this. I would have preferred a young Michael Caine. Or any better actor. And I usually like Jude Law. He just didn’t do it for me in this. It always felt like he was doing a character and not playing a character. The whole movie feeels like a Jude Law vehicle but Jude Law just can’t carry the load.

Dom Hemingway

“You keep talking tough guy. I’ll be in my bunk.”

The plot is decent even though it’s familiar. He’s a horrible person that makes horrible decisions and gets horrible outcomes but there was really nothing more to it and without a good character actor and a better lead character this character driven movie is flat and lifeless and frankly lacks character.

Emilia Clarke

“It was sooo clever the way you repeated the word character like that. You’re such a good writer… I’m being sarcastic. I AM YOUR KHALEESI. 1 2 3 4!”

The dialogue is wonderful, however, although, again, Jude Law chews up the script so horribly, I had to watch it with subtitles on (Closed Captioning for the acting impaired). I’m getting used to good british accents. I watch a lot of Brit shows (a lot). But Jude Law’s Dom Hemingway is a bad british accent. It’s just bad.

Dom and his grandson

“When you grow up, don’t be like Mel. He’s mean.” “Okay.”

The main thing is that a better actor would have played the part better and made Dom seem more real (Brad Pitt or Christian Bale) and, to tell you the truth, I think that is really all that they would have to do to make this a pretty good movie. The rest of the cast is great. Emilia Clarke is fantastic as his estranged daughter. And Richard E. Grant is.. Richard E. Grant, which is always great. But because it relies too much on Jude Law and he’s so very bad. The movie is not good at all.

Jude Law is Dom Hemingway

“I’ll be back!! But with a better acceeeeeeeeeeent.”

Skip it. (The dialogue is fantastic but the movie is shit)

Next up – I feel the need…

Need for Speed (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Need for Speed

Directed by  Scott Waugh

Written by George Gatins & John Gatins  Based on Need for Speed by Electronic Arts

Starring Aaron PaulDominic CooperScott MescudiImogen PootsRamón Rodríguez & Michael Keaton

need-for-speed

“Do your worse, bitch.”

There are some really sweet cars in Need for Speed and it was good to see Aaron Paul in a different kind of role after Breaking Bad. And those are the only two positive statements that I can make about it. The makers of Need for Speed have no idea. They know nothing about cars. They know nothing about racing. They know nothing about geography and linear space and time. They know nothing about simple physics and logic. They know nothing about the rules of society. They know nothing.

Need for Speed Aaron Paul

“Haven’t you been paying attention, Aaron. It doesn’t end well when you taunt him.” “Yeah bitch, bring it! you heard me.”

At one point in the movie, a pivotal point, Aaron Paul’s character is racing the supposed bad guy for 2.7 million dollars. Well not really. The bad guy is risking 2.7 mil but Paul is risking about 750 thou. Money that he desperately needs to fix his business. Money he earned because the supposed bad guy gave him a high paying job and saved this man’s life. Money he has. Money he already has. Hurray! His business is saved. But in a moment of ego gone mad he agrees to race the much richer man for a much greater sum. And for some idiotic reason Aaron Paul’s young friend races along with them.

Need for Speed Cars

Oh look! Expensive cars going really slow but sped up to look fast. (no sweet rides were actually harmed in the making of this movie)

There is no earthly reason for his young friend to be involved in their race. There is every reason for him to not be in the race. He has no money in it or place in it. They can go two-wide without danger but not three-wide. The kid is nowhere near as good as the other two men. Tons of logical reasons he should be excluded. Except for the plot. The friend then proceeds to block the wealthy guy at every turn and not let him pass. Helping Aaron Paul’s character to win the bet and basically steal 2.7 million dollars from the man who just saved their business and helped them and let them drive his nice sports cars.

Need for Speed British Girl

“I’m out of here. I’m not going to be another of Mel’s blog victims.”

SPOILER ALERT The kid dies. OBVIOUSLY!!! (not much of a spoiler. It happens early in the movie) But I too would have bumped the kid. He’s cheating him out of almost 3 million dollars. It’s bad form. It’s not just bad form. It’s cheating. But anyway we’re suppose to see that differently and he’s the bad guy. But it proves the creative team knows nothing about racing. Or England for that matter. What’s with the awful British chick? Is she supposed to be smart or stupid?

Aaron Paul

“Mel, you son of a bitch, look what you did. Look at what you did. She was out. She was out! You bastard. YOU BASTARD!”

They run down homeless people. Cause traffic accidents. Cause police cars to crash and roll and burst into flames. They wreak havoc on the entire countryside and they’re supposed to be the good guys. Which would be cool if Need for Speed were made with the same silliness of say: The Blues Brothers or Smokey and the Bandit or even the Fast and the Furious movies. But no. Need for Speed takes itself way too seriously for how bad it is. And every aspect of this movie is crap. Ev er y thing.

Need for destruction

Oh look an explosion where a cop dies. And look a school bus… because… you know… why not. Why fucking not? Let’s race!

There’s another character who spots for them from the air. Who just somehow gets into planes and takes off and flies over populated areas. Finally, when they point out that he wouldn’t be able to do that, they switch him to helicopters. Like that’s different. Need for Speed is a very stupid movie. The absence of police presence is noticeable until they’re needed for the plot. Then they’re everywhere. Nothing in this movie makes logical sense. It is the worst written movie I have ever seen. And one of the worse directed.

NEED FOR SPEED

“You can’t affect me. I was in Breaking Bad, bitch.”

You say bitch a lot now, don’t you?

Then there are these other guys who are driving a tanker truck (a slow-moving vehicle by comparison to these foreign racecars) that not only keeps up with them but passes them. And the guy stealing the planes takes them back to their airports but then somehow is at airports further along the linear progression of the main character. Oh my god. This is why video game movies are so bad. Because they let people make shit like this.

Need for Helicopters

“Mayday. Mayday. We’re going down. We’re going down. The movie is terrible.”

Skip it. (If you rent this by accident, do us all a favor and run over the disc with your car)

Next up – Let’s get biblical

Noah (Paramount Pictures)

Noah Movie

Directed by Darren Aronofsky

Written by Darren Aronofsky & Ari Handel

Starring Russell CroweJennifer ConnellyRay WinstoneEmma WatsonLogan Lerman & Anthony Hopkins

Noah

“Hurry up kids. We’ve got to get out of here before Mel tears us a new one.” “Aren’t you gonna say do your worse, dear?” “No. I made that mistake with god.”

Noah begins with a lot of promise. And I was prepared for some Aronofsky goodness. It felt more like a sci-fi fantasy movie than a religious one and I was excited. Because if you throw out all the religious elements, it’s a decent fable. At least the watered down version they teach children in catholic school (pun absolutely intended). It’s a fairy tale story of magic, love, sorcery and revenge.

Noah's Ark

“It’ll hold. It’s just a blog and he’s just a blogger. It’ll hold.”

The movie starts like it will not be taking itself too seriously. Noah starts like it will be a cool fantasy adventure. But it abandons that whimsy somewhere in the middle. And ends like a sermon. Don’t preach at me, movie. I came here to be entertained.

Noah's Family

“Oh dear god. Mel was not entertained.”

And it’s too bad too. I wanted to like Noah. I like the cast. I like the effects. The animals and the stone giants. I thought the battle scene was awesome and I really identified with the king (supposedly the bad guy). Once again the only person making any sense was the bad guy. (But he loses my support when he shows his true colors later in the movie).

Noah Battle

“Run for your lives! Mel was not entertained! He was not entertained!”

Noah is still an interesting movie up until the end. But it ends like the worst thing this movie could be even as it starts like the best thing a Noah movie could be. It becomes too preachy. And quite honestly it seems more like God and Noah are the bad guys and the worse thing the humans did was eat meat. (Don’t get me wrong. They’re pretty bad)

Ark

Well I guess that ended well… Where is everybody?

But you know what I say… drown ‘em all why don’t you? Just drown ‘em all.

Emma

Not you, Emma. You’re still my girl. Let’s repopulate the earth baby.

Skip it (Starts good and then gets too serious and then ends too preachy)

Next up – the suckfest continues

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Sony Pictures Entertainment)

Amazing Spider-Man 2

Directed by Marc Webb

Written by Alex KurtzmanRoberto OrciJeff Pinkner and James Vanderbilt  Based on The Amazing Spider-Man by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko

Starring Andrew GarfieldEmma StoneJamie FoxxDane DeHaanCampbell ScottEmbeth DavidtzColm FeorePaul Giamatti & Sally Field

Andrew Garfield

“Do your worse, you bloody wanker.”

Better than the first one, but only slightly better. And that’s not saying much.

Green Goblin

“Ha ha. He hates you too, Spider-man. Mel hates you, too. He is my homeboy.”

If you can remember back when the first Andrew Garfield – Emma Stone Spider-Man reboot came out, I hated it. I hated the first Amazing Spider-Man with a passion. I hated everything about it. The plot was full of holes. The changes to the Spiderman (no fucking hyphen) origin story were unbelievably dumb. It was badly directed. Badly acted. The scenes where Emma and Andrew so obviously improvised were cute – at best. They do have some chemistry, those two. But I was in pain watching it. I love Spiderman.

Jamie Foxx

“Yeah, you could say Andrew and Emma are electric… or you could pretend that I didn’t just say that. You know. Go ahead and pretend I didn’t just say that.”

But in the second one, even the scenes with Andrew and Emma are awful because Andrew Garfield often drops his bad American accent when talking to her on camera. I think he forgets himself because it’s his girlfriend and they’re improvising and he drops his bad American. And the director, the same awful, but aptly named, Marc Webb from the first one, leaves it in the movie because… well because he’s horrible at his job. Just completely horrible at his job. Stop hiring this guy to mangle Spiderman.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2013) Jamie Foxx as Electro

“You got issues. You know that, son.”

However, this time around the Amazing Spider-Man movie has better bad guys and better effects. Some say there are too many bad guys. I don’t. The bad guys are the best thing about it. The effects were cartoonish in the first one. They’re a little better this time. But it has the same bad writing and bad directing. These are truly awful movies.

Spider-Man 2 Goblin

“Ha ha. I win Spider-man. I’ve got your girl and Mel hates your movie. Ha ha.” “You’re in the movie too, Goblin. He hates OUR movie.”

One day the world will reach a consensus and every copy of both of these films will be destroyed in less than spectacular ways. Sam Raimi’s much maligned third Spiderman movie is a thousand times better than The Amazing Spider-Man 1 or 2. These movies should not even exist. Horrible movies that are perfect examples of what not to do when making a superhero film. Stop making these movies! They suck.

Harry Osborne

“You are no longer my homeboy.”

Skip it (Better than the first. But again, that’s not saying very much)

Next up – a temporary respite from the suck

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

The Winter Soldier

Directed by Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

Written by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely  Based on Captain America by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby

Starring Chris EvansScarlett JohanssonSebastian StanAnthony MackieCobie SmuldersFrank GrilloEmily VanCampHayley AtwellRobert Redford & Samuel L. Jackson

Widow and Cap

“Mmm. Didn’t he already review this movie when it was in the theaters?” “I think Mel just needed to watch something good on DVD this month. I don’t blame him.”

I loved Captain America: The Winter Soldier and, on DVD, I still do. The relationship between Cap and Black Widow is worth the price of admission and worth exploring further. I love that their individual moralities are so diametrically opposed, yet they’re on the same side. Some of the best scenes in the movie are of those two interacting (Right after that seriously kick-ass elevator fight scene – god I love that scene).

Elevator Fight

“So, nobody wanted to get out, I guess.”

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is one of the best films of the year. Here is a list of my top five movies so far this year. And as you’d expect each and every one of them is a superhero type action adventure film.

Winter Soldier

“Pffft. Heroes. Who needs ‘em? I have my glorious hair.”

I really liked Edge of Tomorrow (at 5) and then Guardians of the Galaxy just a touch ahead of that. The Lego Movie (at 3) after Captain America: The Winter Soldier (my number two favorite so far) and X-Men Days of Future Past at the top of my list.

Black Widow

“Mmm. Number two huh? We’ll just have to see if we can change your mind.”

But really, to be honest again, all five of those films are just scrunched up together. Changing position on repeated viewing. There have been some good movies this year.

Captain America

“Yeah but you think the X-men was better than us. That’s just plain un-American, son. And I won’t stand for it. I won’t stand for it one bit. You hear me?”

Buy it (This is one for the permanent collection)

Next up – back to the bad

Mr. Peabody and Sherman (20th Century Fox)

Mr Peabody and Sherman Poster

Directed by Rob Minkoff

Written by Craig Wright  Based on Mr. Peabody and Sherman by Ted Key

Starring Ty BurrellMax CharlesAriel WinterLeslie MannStephen Colbert & Allison Janney

Peabody and Sherman

“Aren’t you gonna say, ‘Do your worse.’ Mr. Peabody.” ” No, Sherman. No, I am not.”

Mr. Peabody and Sherman is a horribly bad animated movie. First off, Ty Burrell’s voice as the undeniably perfect Mr. Peabody is incredibly annoying. And then there’s Sherman (yes I know he’s 7). He is the worst. He has no discipline and proceeds to destroy everything he touches. Like an unruly puppy. It’s like he was raised by a dog or something. But the “dog” theme throughout the movie, because Sherman is adopted and raised by Mr. Peabody; a dog, just made me uncomfortable.

Sherman and Penny

“Ooh ooh. I know. I know… It was the worst piece of shit you ever saw.”

Very good, Sherman.

I remember these guys from saturday mornings. They didn’t have their own full length show. They only had little educational interstitials between other cartoons. Along with Rocky and Bullwinkle. It was like a little joke with a punch line somewhere in history and then there would be a short cartoon.

Our heroes

“Hurry, kids. If we leave now, we can avoid the inevitable point where Mel says that we suck. I don’t know about you two, but I can do without that.”

The Mr. Peabody and Sherman animated movie is worse than any of the Rocky and Bullwinkle failed attempts. And those were pretty bad too. Wasn’t there a live-action one? Anyway, It’s a very bad movie. A very very bad movie.

Peabody and Sherman sidecar

“I think we’re gonna make it!”

It sucked.

Skip it (Another ruined childhood memory)

And lastly – The return of the great Terry Gilliam

The Zero Theorem (Stage 6 Films (United Kingdom), Amplify (United States))

zero theorem poster

Directed by Terry Gilliam

Written by Pat Rushin

Starring Christoph WaltzMélanie ThierryDavid Thewlis & Lucas Hedges

The Zero Theorem, Terry Gilliam’s most recent film, is vintage Gilliam. It’s like a cross between 12 Monkeys and Brazil with a little less nihilism (just a little less). And I loved it.

Zero Theorem

“We’re already partying because there was no way Mel was going to hate this movie.”

The only problem I had, if there was one, was with the film’s star; Cristoph Waltz, who tends to mumble his lines. In his past films, with Tarantino dialogue lines, that would be fine. They are perfect. They are well-written. They are short. They are cool. You know what he said. It was something badass. It’s Tarantino. But here, his angst moves the plot. His dialogue is important and it is so difficult to hear him sometimes. So, except for the need to turn on Closed Captioning again, in order to hear another bad accent (at least this one is his own), I loved it. I fucking loved it. The Zero Theorem is an exceptional film.

The Zero Theorem - Ben Wishaw

“Exceptional, you say? Go on.”

Just like in Brazil, the main character is a corporate number cruncher in an administrative factory. Except that this factory is a lot more colorful and little more sinister. He suffers from a number of phobias. The worst of which being his agoraphobia (remind you of anyone). He just doesn’t want to go in to the office. He wants to work from home. Why can’t he just work from home? (no really, doesn’t it remind you of someone?).

Management is always watching

“We get it. You saw yourself as the main character. When does that not happen? Go on.”

I’m not going to give too much away but there are a number of great characters and interesting themes. The ultimate search for meaning, for love, for confidence… It’s a real thinker. It reminded me of a cross between the Coen’s Barton Fink and Pi (directed by Darren Aronofsky [Noah]). With an art direction that’s like a cross between Blade Runner and Tim Burton’s Batman. I loved this movie so much. And I’ve only watched it once.

The-Zero-Theorem

“Oh stop lying. I know for a fact you watched one scene more than once. But go on.”

The Zero Theorem is not Gilliam’s best film by a long shot and it leaves some things unanswered. (I think by this point I expect Terry Gilliam to tell us the meaning of life in cinematic brilliance. Is that too much to ask for?) And it is so sad that the studio is dicking him around with the release of this one. Look for it on VOD. Or wait for it to hit theaters. But definitely see it. It’s funny. It’s sweet. It’s deep. It’s cool. It’s interesting. It’s Gilliam. Not his best. Not even in the top five, to be honest (for the last time). But it’s really good.

Christoph Waltz and Lucas Hedges

“Is it safe to come out yet?” “He liked us. He liked everything in the movie but your accent.” “Do your worse.” “It’s too late. It’s over.”

Rent it (I will be adding it to my collection. I own them all. Terry Gilliam is one of my filmmaking and comedy heroes. My presciption: watch Brazil, 12 Monkeys and The Zero Theorem and call me in the morning)

So to recap…

There were two movies about fathers who are not the best parents in spite or because of their humongous egoes; Dom Hemingway and Mr. Peabody and Sherman, One of them is starring a dog and the other one is a cartoon. Both are pretty bad.

There were two movies about rebelling against the horrors of a dystopian society that thinks it’s utopian; The Zero Theorem and Divergent, Both of them start off strong but only one of them ends that way.

There were two movies about the destruction of life and property by good guys who act like bad guys and bad guys who aren’t really that bad; Noah and Need for Speed, Neither of them with much good to speak of but at least one of them had Emma Watson.

And there were two movie sequels from Marvel superheroes that featured a good-looking couple with strong chemistry; The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, But first I want to apologize for including those two titles in the same sentence, because one is one of the best movie of the year and the other’s the worst.

And that’s all 8.

I can’t do no more.

Widow, Cap and Hill

“I think we killed him. I think we killed Mel with DVD reviews of bad movies. Oh the humanity.” “He was a good soldier. But this month was the worst.” “It really was.”

C’mon guys! I’ll be back in September with more reviews. And those studios better put out some good ones (they usually do in September. so… fingers crossed).

See you guys on the couch.

- Mel

Photos from Around the Block (The Return of the More)

Previously on Photos…

The Lizard is Back

The Geico plane is back and so am I.

Here are some more pics from over near my doctor’s office. I had to go back for my test results today. No surprise. I’m healthy as fuck. Of course I am. I eat right. I exercise. I try my best to remain stress free. And I haven’t seen any of my relatives in almost a decade. You know the drill.

It was nice out, so I did a little people watching. Train watching. Took a few pics. And yes, I need to post them to my blog or it’s like it didn’t happen.

Woman asked me, “Debit or credit?”

And I accidently said, “Facebook.”

I seriously need to log off.

To the pics…

By the way guys. It's August 19th.

By the way guys. It’s already August 19th.

A bit of the abstract.

A bit of the abstract.

A little still life.

A little still life.

A big bike.

A big bike.

A big truck.

A big truck.

... and this guy. Where is going?

… and then there was this guy. Where is he going?

What's he waiting for?

…and what’s he waiting for?

He's not waiting for her

Well, he’s not waiting for her.

The Iceman Cometh

The Iceman Cometh

Finally! Where you been? I'm hot. I need ice.

“Finally! Where have you been? I’m hot. I need flavored ice.”

... and so do these kids.

“…and so do these kids. Everybody needs to stay cool.”

That's not my plane. Got more pics.

That’s not my plane. Not cool. I got more pics.

A message from a message board.

A message from a message board with sunflowers. STAND OUT. That’s cool.

Towering Crane

Towering Crane is cool

This guy is not afraid of heights.

Towering crane guy is not afraid of heights. Very cool.

Cool building. Cool sky.

Cool church. Cool sky.

Cool apartment building.

Cool apartment building.

Through the stairs 1

Through the stairs (a series)

Through the stairs 2

Through the stairs 2

Through the stairs 3 (with sex)

Through the stairs 3 (of sex)

Through the stairs 4

Through the stairs 4

Reflections 1

Reflections (a couplet)

Reflections 2

Reflections 2

I can't drive 25

I can’t drive 25. (too cool)

Through the abstract

Through the abstract

Through the abstract 2

Through the abstract 2

The elevated one

The elevated one

The train platform people

The train platform people

Church Rules

Church Rules.

No Church

No Church. No Rules.

Have a Candy

Have a Candy. That’s cool.

My plane? nope

That’s not my plane.

I'm on a train.

I’m going home on a train.

That’s all I got.

See you guys next time.

- Mel