Spared or Spoiled Movie Reviews: La La Land

The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.

La La Land (Summit Entertainment)


Written & Directed by Damien Chazelle

Music by Justin Hurwitz

Choreography by Mandy Moore

Starring Ryan GoslingEmma StoneJohn Legend & Rosemarie DeWitt

La La Land is a straight-forward musical romance that is not as good as people are making it out to be, but much better than it actually should be. It is excruciatingly cute and cuddly and smile-inducing. I nearly hurt my face smiling so much. The choreography is whimsical and the songs are passable. But the ending… the ending is sensational. Go see La La Land before the bloom is off the rose.

Verdict: SPARED


I really liked La La Land. I think I smiled all the way through from the 2nd musical number until I started crying at the end. It is your very basic boy meets girl yada yada yada story. And because there is not much to it, besides your basic romance formula, it made me wonder what people were seeing in it. Seriously, why so much hype?


But I’ll tell you what I think they were seeing… Emma Stone’s amazingly graceful dancing. Ryan Gosling’s surprisingly good singing. And two incredible performances. But mostly the second film in a row that Damien Chazelle has knocked it out the bloody park. Whiplash was fabulous. And La La Land continues the string.


Ryan Gosling is surprisingly good in La La Land. I have never been a fan of his. Here he plays a Jazz Pianist who refuses to sell out his art for the money (or success for that matter). His character is a frustrating look at the artistic purist.


And Emma Stone… She gets better with every role she takes. Here her dancing is the primary element. Her movements are sublime. I hope she dances in everything. She’s always had this commanding stage presence but who knew she could move like an angel. And glide like a… totally different angel. She plays an aspiring actress and writer who gets no respect at auditions and in her day job on the Warner Brothers lot.


These two, young artists, start an on-screen romance. And there’s not much else in terms of plot. La La Land is pretty straight forward. Romance, relationship, conflict, resolution. But the ending is magical. I cried. I won’t tell you what kind of tears for those of you who haven’t seen it. But they were very salty.


La La Land brings to mind Woody Allen at his early 80’s romantic best. Billy Wilder in his 1950’s funniest. And Old Hollywood at its late 20’s musical finest. And I would be surprised if it isn’t on Broadway in about 10 years. Even though the music isn’t the best part, La La Land would still make a good Broadway show. Because of the dancing. The choreography is outstanding. And like I said before, Emma Stone glides across the screen making us fall in love with each angelic step.


La La Land doesn’t completely live up to the hype. I still don’t see the big deal. It’s a rehash of the depression era musical. A great escape from these degenerate times. But I loved it. It’s fun and magical and romantic. And I enjoyed it profusely.

– Mel

Random Thoughts About Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (after multiple viewings)

I am catching up on movies I missed from last year but I’ve done this thing where when I buy a ticket for a movie I haven’t seen, I buy a ticket for Rogue One on the same day. I saw Passengers and I also saw Rogue One. I saw Arrival and I also saw Rogue One. I saw La La Land the other day (that review is upcoming) but I also saw Rogue One on the same day.


Rogue One: A Star Wars Story L to R: (Felicity Jones) & (Diego Luna) Ph: Film Frame ©Lucasfilm LFL

“Spoiler Alert. I repeat Spoiler Alert. All pilots please report to your fighters. This is not a drill. I repeat. Spoiler Alert.”

I love this movie. And after four times Rogue One is just as good, if not better than the first time. So I have thrown some random thoughts into a folder after each viewing and I’m going to post them here. (I did the same for Force Awakens after repeated viewings)

Cassian Andor and K2

“Cassian? Your accent?” What planet did you say you were from again?” “I didn’t.”

So these are random. And they’re weird. And… I’ll just show them to you.




Choppers Cameo before boarding the Ghost and going off to fight at Scarif.

And The Ghost.


You can see the Ghost off to the left. I wonder if General Syndulla still commands her.

Star Wars Rebels Easter Eggs Rock!!!

But I never see them. I have never seen them while watching the movie. I have seen the pics people post showing them but I have yet to see them in the movie. My favorite is still when you hear, “General Syndulla, please report to the briefing room.” Hera makes it to general!!! That’s so cool.


The back of the Ghost-center left down toward the bottom.

Mind, Soul and Body Couplets:

Bodhi and K2 (mental) Both the droid and the pilot were once with the Empire and suffer from mind invasions that cause them mental problems

Jyn and Cassian (physical) Both the rebel assassin and the (just plain) rebel have lost family and friends at a young age and seek revenge by violent, physical means.

Baze and Chirrut (spiritual) Both the Guardians of The Whills, Keepers of the Kyber crystals The monk and the Mercenary, are servants of an ancient religion but constantly check their faith as the empire seeks to destroy it.


“She really should have kept this in the original packaging. This is a collector’s item. Not a toy!”

The Stormtrooper dolly that Jyn Erso has when she’s a kid is some really fucked up imagery as the troopers come to take her father away. She called it “Stormie.” Throughout the movie she uses the term Stormtrooper as an insult.


The real one is on the left. I know. It’s hard to tell.

CGI gripes need to shut the hell up. It’s great animation. You can tell the difference between it and a real person. Good for you. I’m sorry we can’t create life on a computer yet. Chill out. It’s fake. Everyone knows it’s fake.


Scarif was the first victory for the Rebel Alliance.

The Title: A New Hope now actually means something (and it’s not about Luke).

The plot of Rogue One is the first two paragraphs of the Episode IV A New Hope crawl.

And Luke’s squadron in Empire and Return is named after the Rogue One (since most of his Red Squadron get blown up at the first Death Star) Rogue Squadron is their designation on Hoth and Endor. Since there is no Rogue designation before Bodhi makes it up on the spot. I guess they honored them by taking the name.


Alan Tudyk is always flying the ship. He’s a leaf on the wind.

Now we know why Vader is so mad at the start of Star Wars. Captain Antilles lies to his face. Also Leia lies to him without missing a beat, knowing that he knows she’s lying. And he’s having none of it making those opening scenes even better.


“Lord Vader. You really should learn to hold your bong hits, sir. THIS is amateur hour.”

Vader sleeps in a vat of some fluid making me think that every second he is out of that stuff he is in pain. Darth Vader is in constant pain. His personal base is on the planet where he lost his limbs, Mustafar. That guy is fucked-up in so many ways.

“These are some REALLY random thoughts.”

Here’s a Random Thought:

Since they’re bringing Saw Gerrera back to Star Wars: Rebels (he was actually in Clone Wars not Rebels), I wonder if he’ll have little Jyn in tow (he didn’t). That would have been so cool and just a little heartbreaking. Maybe next time.


“Perhaps they’ll bring us back.” “Don’t count on it old man.”

Some say there’s no romance in Rogue One. Personally I think they just fail to mention Chirrut Îmwe and Baze Malbu. The Guardians of the Whills. Maybe it was just a bromance, but I choose to believe that it was more than that. There was no kissing because they were at war and it would have been inappropriate.

I told you these were random.


Here we see Jyn Erso, lost on her way to the final cut of the movie. She never makes it.

Every time I hear about alternate cuts and re-shoots it fills me with pain. I don’t want to see them. I don’t want to know about them. The past is the past. The movie is perfect.

“May The Force Of Others Be With You”


When we meet Jyn, first she’s in prison, angry with her sleeping cellmate. Then she is trying to beat up the people who are rescuing her on Wonabi (Obi-Wan anagram).

When we meet Cassian he is shooting a colleague in the back without hesitation.

Neither of these broken people can trust anyone because both lost their families to the Empire when they were very young.

So Cassian just follows orders and Jyn just follows no one.


“I’m not tragic. I’m just drawn that way.”

The monk and the mercenary, The Guardians of the Whills, dedicated their lives to protecting the Jedi temples but when Jedha is destroyed their missions are over and all that is left is the echoes of a dying religion. This too is heartbreaking.


“In space no one can here you scream and then suddenly silent.”

The film-makers take pains to tell us that all the Rogue One volunteers have checkered pasts and have done bad things in the name of the rebellion. Assassins, Smugglers, etc. We get it. Their deaths are a form of redemption. It’s still fucked up.

“This some random shit. WHO SENT YOU? Have you come to kill me?”

Saw Gerrera is a lot like Darth Vader. Limbs missing. Can’t breathe without help. Angry at the galaxy. Except Vader has the resources of the Empire and Saw lives in the remnants of a rundown Jedi Temple. Vader has the top of the line replacement legs. Saw has some makeshift legs he threw together from spare parts. Vader has a state of the art breathing apparatus. Saw has a breathing tube affixed to a gas mask that doesn’t always work.

Darth Vader should be more thankful for what he’s got, if you ask me.


They really should have started synchronized dancing here.

Jyn has some heroic tendencies. She saves the little girl on Jedha.

Cassian has some heroic tendencies but only when it comes to saving Jyn.


Obi Wan Mountain

The statues on Jedha must have looked amazing. Tall Jedi with light sabers drawn guarding the holy city. (Like the Buddhas of old that were destroyed by jealous Muslims or ignorant Christians). The large statue above looks like Obi Wan Kenobi but you can see it was blasted to hell (probably by Vader).

I wasn’t angry at the Empire before I came to Jedha!

“Are you IP Man? Can I have your autograph? My kids are never gonna believe that I got my ass kicked by IP Man. This is so freakin’ cool.”

If Rogue One Characters Were Star Wars Characters:

Jyn would be Leia. Angry and self-righteous.

Cassian would be Han. Doing awful things for a noble cause.

K2 would be 3PO. Smartest guy in the room but no one’s listening.

Bodhi would be R2. Always plugging into strange computer consoles, flying ships and sending secret messages.

Chirrut would be Luke. Untrained but wants to believe in the ways of the force.

And Baze would be Chewbacca. Blowing shit up with his big ass guns.


“Jedha, the holy city. And you blew it up. Damn you all to hell.” – Charlton Heston

The main bad guy in Rogue One, Orson Krennic, is just plain evil. He loves the destruction of Jedha (a little too much). He jokes with Galen about his dead wife’s last words. Smiles when Vader nearly kills him, I’m guessing out of respect for how evil the guy is. He’s just an awful person.

I would have preferred an ending where Jyn stomps on his face until she’s certain he’s dead. But sure, the irony of getting killed by your own creation… blah blah blah.


“Is this evil enough? Or should there be more sinister lighting?”

Admiral Raddus (Or as I call him Admiral Bad-ass) wanted to fight so badly during that Alliance conference that as soon as he hears about Rogue One’s attack on Scarif he takes the fleet in and starts shooting up shit. He also doesn’t make it out, I guess, after Vader disables his command ship. Another hero of Scarif.

Pour a little out for Raddus: Hero of Scarif.


“Call up a Hammerhead Corvette.” (one of the ones that the Ghost crew stole in Star Wars Rebels “A Princess of Lothal”) Rebel Easter Eggs!!!

And finally, the way the end of Rogue One blends seamlessly into A New Hope is still the best thing about the year 2016. Even if Arrival is actually a better movie than Rogue One (it is). That last scene is still the best thing I saw all year.

Until next time,

May the force of others be with you.


6 Quick Reviews of 6 DVDs I Kinda Liked in 2016 (Luke Warm Edition)

Hello again.

We’re going to do another Five Quick Reviews post except plus one more. We have two movies featuring three of my favorite comic actresses in each (for a total of six funny female actors). Two Warner Brothers movies that both have Ben Affleck in them. And two movies that have absolutely nothing in common no matter how hard I try to rack my brain. One takes place in Paris where the Nazis invaded and the other has kids playing Nazis. Nope. I’ll think of something.

"Making the clever connections is the hardest part." "I feel you."

“Making the clever connections is the hardest part.” “I feel you.”

But before we get started on the reviews, I would like to address a criticism I received that irked me somewhat. Where someone mentioned that my reviews are too “self-referential” or some such nonsense.

"Have you been criticizing Mel's blogging technique?" "It wasn't me."

“Have you been criticizing Mel’s blogging technique?” “It wasn’t me. I swear.”

This is not a review site. This is a journal. This blog is about me. You see at the top where it says Mel Rook & the 7 Deadly Sins. I’m THAT guy. But more importantly you see underneath where it describes what this is: The Journal of the Man in the Box (a Woody Allen reference by way of Alice in Chains).

I am the maaaaan in the box.

"The second song off of their first album. Did I win?" "Did we win?" "We just won two tickets to Mel's blog party."

“Yes. That’s the second song off their first album. Did I win?” “Did we win?” “We just won two tickets to Mel’s blog party!” “Wait. Block party or Blog party?” “Blog.” “Hang up.”

On this blog I write about stuff I do, stuff I see and stuff I think. When I review a movie I go out of my way to make it personal. To bring it back to my own experiences. To my life story. This is not a bug. This is a feature.

Suffice to say, if you do not like me, you will not like my blog. (The inverse is not necessarily true. You can like me and think my writing is crap). I recently read a comment by a blogger I respect where she said she doesn’t read her own posts. I am the total opposite of that.

I am my biggest fan.


“Maybe he is too self-referential.” “You shut up, Kat. He loves us.” “He loves YOU, maybe. I was in Jupiter Ascending.” “Oh my god, I forgot about that.” “He’d rather fuck Ashton.” “So would I.”

I have read every post on this blog at least a dozen times. I write this shit for me. And if someone else is entertained in the process, that’s the cake. That’s the cake and the frosting and the motherfucking cherry on top.

So for anyone who didn’t need to hear this, I apologize, but at least one person did. And if you’re one of the people who has liked any of my “self-referential’ reviews in the past several years that I’ve posted to this blog site, thank you very much.

Thank you for the cake.

To the reviews…

Six Quick Reviews of Six DVDs I Kinda Liked in 2016

Not loved. Just kinda liked.

Bastille Day (High Top Releasing as The Take)


Directed by James Watkins

Written by Andrew Baldwin and James Watkins

Starring Idris ElbaRichard MaddenCharlotte Le BonEriq Ebouaney & José Garcia

Bastille Day (or The Take) is a pretty decent action, buddy, spy, thriller with Idris Alba and Richard Madden looking hot on screen and playing off each other surprisingly well. There’s not a lot of heavy lifting. It’s straight forward international intrigue. Terrorists and spies in Paris. You know the drill. Madden plays a thief who stole the wrong bag… in a big, you could say “explosive” way. (he finds a bomb in a bear in a bag) Add Alba as an American spy operating illegally overseas and from there it just takes off.


“I loved that car.” “The North remembers.” “You know nothing Jon Snow.” “That wasn’t me. That was the other… Never mind.” “Winter is coming.” “There you go.”

I would have preferred it if Bastille Day had a little more of an international flavor, with trips to other countries. Over borders. That’s my favorite thing about Jason Bourne and James Bond; the travelling. But even though Bastille Day stays in France, in Paris, it still supplies good action and good espionage.


“Outta the car and into the boot. I mean trunk. Did I say boot again?”

Both leads do their best American accent and offer your two basic flavors of masculine; tough guy, cool guy. Idris Alba as the tougher than average CIA agent and Richard Madden as the cooler-than-you criminal. The plot is interesting and really so are the characters, if not a little too familiar. Bastille Day is a good rental. Worth a movie night. Entertaining and action-packed and fun.


King of the North (in my pants)

My only problem with the movie was the end title song. It’s jarring and disturbing because it’s sung by Idris Alba’s extremely recognizable voice and after an hour and a half of watching him play this character, he starts singing over the credits in his British accent. It’s awkward. It’s a small thing but it threw me.


“Elephants have trunks. Cars don’t have trunks.” “Shut up and get in the car before I put you on top the bonnet.” “The what?” “Playing American is hard.”

Bastille Day is a good movie. Not too ambitious. Not too violent. Not too long. They changed the title to The Take for dumb Americans who wouldn’t know what Bastille Day was or even care. But don’t let that confuse you. It’s a good movie.

Rent it


Addicted to Fresno (Gravitas Ventures)

Directed by Jamie Babbit

Written by Karey Dornetto

Starring Natasha LyonneJudy GreerMolly ShannonFred ArmisenRon Livingston & Aubrey Plaza

Addicted to Fresno is yet another good movie about addiction. This time sex addiction (yes lord. somebody ’bout to get self-referential up in this piece). This is a difficult disease to do in comedy because few people think of it as a serious thing. It’s a nasty fucking disease like the worse heroin addiction except instead of needles sticking in everywhere, it’s dicks (toys, fingers, tongues). (and no it’s not as attractive as it sounds)


Sex Addicts Anonymous is a great place to meet your next crazy stalker ex. (If that’s what you’re into… too self-referential? I agree with you there)

Hi I’m Mel and I’m a sex addict.

“Hi Mel.”

But as it is with all my addictions, it never stood a chance against my massive ego. Once the thought, “I’d rather be masturbating than hooking up with random people.” appeared, un-ironically, in my head… I was done. (Damn it. I’d better get back to the movie before I lose more of that judgmental woman’s respect).


“Looks like someone needs to clean out their closet.” “I agree.”

Addicted to Fresno is pretty funny at times and it’s also pretty boring at times. But I really liked the themes and the way it handled sex addiction and I loved the ending. The movie mainly deals with the relationship between two sisters played by Natasha Lyonne and Judy Greer (two of my favorite indies). The latter’s sex addiction causes chaos in both of their lives and they handle the subject superbly.


“Kiss me as if it were the last time.” “Wait. You want me to kiss you like I did last time?”

I had a (yes I’m talking about me again, woman) an older brother and I know the head space that tells you that you are better off just being you and having nothing to do with the other. You don’t get to choose your family. But you do get to choose whether you want them in your life.


“You know I’m not really gay. I just needed a place to live.” “Great. Let that be the last thing you ever fucking say to me.” (too self-referential?)

Addicted to Fresno is a pretty good movie about addiction and screwed up sibling relations. It has a big old plot hole… but whatever. It has a few scenes that were just watching paint dry… but whatever. It has a few really big laughs and a great cast, story and central theme. So on my blog that makes it a good movie.

Rent it.


Bad Moms (STX Entertainment)


Written & Directed by Jon Lucas & Scott Moore

Starring Mila KunisKristen BellKathryn HahnJay HernandezAnnie MumoloJada Pinkett Smith & Christina Applegate

Bad Moms is a funny, if a little too by-the-book, bad behavior comedy. In it a group of young moms decide not to stress their mom duties and instead have some fun. It’s a decent movie but where it excels is in its casting. The lead trio are three of my favorite comedic actors… male or female.


“Mel likes us!!!”

Bad Moms is Mila Kunis at her best. This is her type of comedy for sure. Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn don’t give bad performances. I don’t think it’s in either actor’s DNA. I enjoyed these three a bunch. Bad Moms is very enjoyable. Not amazing but still enjoyable. Just a good movie. Nothing special.


“Nothing what now?”

However, the end credits (Yes we’re going to talk about end credits again “your reviews are a little too end-credits-referential.” Shut it.) During the end credits, the actors, good guys and bad guys, sit down with their real life moms for interviews and stories from their childhood. Honestly, it’s the best part of the movie. It’s so sweet. Brought me to tears.

"Did he just get through a whole review without saying how hot the three of us are?" "I think so." "Well that's depressing."

“Did he just get through a whole review without saying how hot the three of us are?” “I think so.” “Well that’s depressing.” “And so unlike him.”

Bad Moms is a decent, mildly funny but very entertaining film about mothers behaving badly. But seriously the end credits cast member mom interviews are the best thing about it. They are worth the rental cost.

And these three women are so fucking hot.


“Aw, he remembered.” “Damn right he did.”

Rent it.

Next up…

The Accountant (Warner Bros. Pictures)


Directed by Gavin O’Connor

Written by Bill Dubuque

Starring Ben AffleckAnna KendrickJ. K. Simmons & Jon Bernthal

The Accountant is a great story that has to make up for how poorly it’s directed. The narrative is disjointed because of flashbacks used to tell the back story of minor characters during the film’s climax. Which boggles the mind. How you gonna stop your climax to tell a non-central story about a minor character?


“The math is clear. Stopping the climax is in fact anti-climactic. Numbers don’t lie. Take it from me. I’m a better director than I am an actor.”

But that being said, The Accountant is a story about a kid with autism who becomes an emergency accountant for corporations and illegal organizations who have major bookkeeping mishaps, like embezzlement or other things they wouldn’t want the authorities to find out about. It is sensational writing.

“I like it better when he talks about himself.” “Me too.” “Writers write.” “Amen brother.”

Ben Affleck is fantastic as the title character. A socially awkward bad-ass. And you know how much I love those types of characters (oops we’re talking about me again). The movie is funny. It’s exciting. A little romantic. It’s a fascinating story and subject. It’s just that the direction and pacing decisions left a lot to be desired.


“I see the problem. I’ll take care of him.”

The Accountant tries to mirror the criminal world with glimpses into the lives of the law enforcement officers chasing after our hero. That entire part of the movie is mishandled. But I still liked The Accountant because of the interesting premise, story, characters and situations. And for some truly kick-ass action sequences with gun fights and martial arts and car chases and general bad-ass-ery.

“Don’t shoot me. I have an Oscar, for Christ sake.”

The Accountant is a very cool movie.

Rent it.

Next up…

Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made (Rolling Boulder)


I’m not a documentary guy. Much like fiction, in so-called non-fiction features, it’s way too easy to manipulate the audience and tell whatever story suits the film-makers fancy. So the truth ends up buried under clever editing and voice overs and Michael Moore’s gigantic ego and waistline. It’s like watching reality TV (but done better).


“Nerds. Why did it have to be nerds?”

However, if it’s a good story that they happen to piece together from true-to-life parts then I can forgive them. You just have to always remember that you’re being manipulated by clever storytellers. Nothing is true.


Movie Magic

Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made is a good story about the making of an epic fan film that spans decades. A shot for shot remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark. It’s pretty cool from an obsessive-childhood-endeavor-that-gradually-becomes-an-adult’s-obsessive-need-for-closure point of view.


Movie Magic

You can’t help but root for these kids and then these adolescent-ly stunted adults. And Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the best movies if not THE best movie ever made. So I was a little jealous because this was totally the type of thing I would have wanted to do had I been born in different circumstances. But as it is these are the kind of guys I would have made fun of for not doing something original. My loss.


Selfies on set because… that’s professional.

Raiders! is a good documentary about a band of underdogs trying to finish their dream.

Rent it.

and lastly… we revisit Harley & Company

Suicide Squad Extended Cut (Warner Bros. Pictures)


Written & Directed by David Ayer

Starring Will SmithJared LetoMargot RobbieJoel KinnamanViola DavisJai CourtneyJay HernandezAdewale Akinnuoye-AgbajeIke BarinholtzScott Eastwood & Cara Delevingne

“I like that there’s more Harley.” is the first thing I thought after sitting through the extended cut of the much-maligned Suicide Squad. The Harley/Joker story is the best thing about the original movie (theatrical release) and this one adds to that story-line. Also showing off some more of my girl’s fearless acrobatics and obsessive desire to prove herself to the psychopath she was tasked with treating but fell in love with.


“Extended cut? Is that some kind of Aussie-moron?” “I don’t get it.” “Because Oxymoron is when a term uses two words that mean the opposite of each other and you’re from Australia.” “Still don’t get it.” “I’m a brilliant doctor that talks like a little girl. Get it now?”

The movie is still out of whack. And these added scenes only prove that DC and Warner should put these two in everything. You know how the infinity stones connect all of Marvel’s features? Just like that. But with The Joker and Harley Quinn.


“Do YOU want to see more of Harley?” “I feel like this is a trick question, my man.” “WRONG ANSWER! Tell him the right one, baby.” “You’re supposed to say, ‘Where da white women at?’ Am I right Mr. J?” “Right you are, Harley. Now tell him what he’s won.”

When I heard about Gotham Sirens I was excited because this too could be a chance to explore more of the character without the eight or so others getting in the way. I really hope they do Gotham Sirens well and I’m actually looking forward to seeing what Affleck does with his Batman.

"I know it was you, Frodo. You broke ma hart." "I think you mean Fredo, baby." "Gandalf sleeps with the fishes."

“I know it was you, Frodo. You broke ma heart.” “I think you mean Fredo, baby.” “Gandalf the Grey sleeps with the fishes.” “Nope. Carry on.” “Look what a mess they made of my hobbits.”

Justice League will probably be a mess and Wonder Woman as well, but everybody knows that you can save even the shittiest action movie with a good villain. And Batman has the best villains. And honestly, DC heroes are kind of lame. So you know… bring on the bad guys. And of course the bad girls.


“Who you calling a girl?”

Suicide Squad Extended Cut is a little better than the theatrical release but not enough to justify its existence. Batman v Superman Extended corrects nearly all the errors of that release but Suicide Squad never needed more stuff. It needed less stuff.

Still worth a look.

So to recap…

We had two DVD thrillers about bad-ass bad guys who do good things, The Accountant and Bastille Day. Both had their problems but both are worth a rental.

We had two DVD releasses that were new versions of previous movies, Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made and Suicide Squad Extended Cut. Both add a new dimension to the original without improving it but both are worth a rental.

And we had two DVD comedies featuring three of my favorite funny ladies, Bad Moms and Addicted to Fresno. Both could have been funnier, and both could have been better. But both are worth a rental.

And that wraps up these luke warm offerings that are worth a look.

Don’t go anywhere. I got more coming.

– Mel

Eight Songs That Make Me Happy

This is a public service announcement… with guitar.

When I suffered from depression music was always my escape. When I was little it was silly songs. There was this Flintstones album in the public library that I wore out. When I was a teenager it was angry songs. Rock, Metal, Punk. Gangsta Rap. By High School and University I was wallowing in depression with dark songs, moody songs, or just some good old blues. But we’re not going to wallow in it today. Not getting angry. Or being silly. We’re going straight to happy.


“Woo hoo!!”

We do this meditation in the Buddhist traditions where we wish for people to be happy. We think about people we know being happy. How everyone, all over the world, wants to be free from suffering. And why everyone has a desire to be happy. And then we form the resolution in our minds that we are going to make them all happy with our thoughts, with our actions, with our wishes, with our words

And with our blogs.

Yes Buddha does mention blogs in the Sutras. You just have to find the right translation.


January 20th, 2017 is fast approaching and we all know what that means. President Donald Tr… I still can’t say it. So it’s easy to let it get you down. But I say screw that.

These songs are my surefire depression busters. I’m calling it my eight-fold path to dancing in your underwear before the world burns.

It’s a temporary fix. But it’ll help you take your mind off of it.

So these eight songs (lyrics included) are designed to put the happy back where it belongs. In your feet. In your butt. And in your face. And none of them are by Pharrell.



Here we go…

First up… Crooning with a smile.

Feeling Good by Michael Buble

“It’s a new dawn. It’s a new day. It’s a new life. It’s a new life for me…”


Next… Some Attitude.

Troublemaker by Weezer

“I’m such a special guy.”


And now a personal favorite… I love this guitar riff and this video and Morrissey’s dance moves alone make me very happy.

What Difference Does It Make by The Smith

All men have secrets and here is mine
So let it be known
For we have been through hell and high tide
I think I can rely on you…
And yet you start to recoil
Heavy words are so lightly thrown
But still I’d leap in front of a flying bullet for you

So, what difference does it make?
So, what difference does it make?
It makes none
But now you have gone
And you must be looking very old tonight

The devil will find work for idle hands to do
I stole and I lied, and why?
Because you asked me to!
But now you make me feel so ashamed
Because I’ve only got two hands
Well, I’m still fond of you, oh-ho-oh

So, what difference does it make?
Oh, what difference does it make?
Oh, it makes none
But now you have gone
And your prejudice won’t keep you warm tonight

Oh, the devil will find work for idle hands to do
I stole, and then I lied
Just because you asked me to
But now you know the truth about me
You won’t see me anymore
Well, I’m still fond of you, oh-ho-oh

But no more apologies
No more, no more apologies
Oh, I’m too tired
I’m so sick and tired
And I’m feeling very sick and ill today
But I’m still fond of you, oh-ho-oh

Oh, my sacred one…


Now here’s a song about self -love and just being a good neighbor.

Satellite Mind by Metric

Hold it I’m about to drop off
Let me tell you my last thought
Drift into a deep fog
Lost where I forgot to hold it
I can feel you most when I’m alone

Coming home cause I want to
Hang out with a starlet
Stare out at the ceiling
Preview of a screening
Flashback of a feeling
Sixth sense of the call and
I heard you fuck through the wall
I heard you fuck

When I’m bored
I send vibrations
In your direction
From the satellite mind

I’m not suicidal
I just can’t get out of bed
I drift into a deep fog
Lost where I forgot to hold it
I can feel you when I’m alone
I can fell your ghost when I’m alone

Coming home cause I want to
Hang out with a starlet
Stare out at the ceiling
Preview of a screening
Flashback of a feeling
Sixth sense of the call and
I heard you fuck through the wall
I heard you fuck

When I’m bored
I send vibrations
In your direction
From the satellite mind

When your voice
Became vibrations
From the satellite mind

It sounded like mine


Next… A happy tune about getting everything you could ever want for just one dollar. (make sure to read the fine print)

Step Right Up by Tom Waits

“Only a dollar. Step right up.”


Next… Denial (but with an infectious melody)

Everything’s Just Wonderful by Lily Allen

“Oh well I guess I mustn’t grumble. I suppose that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.”


Next up.. a little more self-love (of the less erotic kind)

i (love myself) by Kendrick Lamar

“The world is a ghetto with big guns and picket signs. But it can do what it want, whenever it want, I don’t mind.”


And lastly… The happiest bass-line in the world.

Feel Good Inc. by Gorillaz

City’s breaking down on a camel’s back.
They just have to go ’cause they don’t know whack
So all you fill the streets it’s appealing to see
You won’t get out the county, ’cause you’re bad and free
You’ve got a new horizon it’s ephemeral style.
A melancholy town where we never smile.
And all I want to hear is the message beep.
My dreams, they’ve got to kiss, because I don’t get sleep, no
Windmill, Windmill for the land.
Love forever hand in hand
Taking it all in on your stride
It is sticking, falling down
Love forever love is free
Let’s turn forever you and me
Windmill, windmill for the land
Is everybody in?

Laughing gas these hazmats, fast cats,
Lining them up like ass cracks,
Ladies, homies, at the track
Its my chocolate attack.
Shit, I’m stepping in the heart of this here
Care bear bumping in the heart of this here
Watch me as I gravitate
Yo, we gonna go ghost town,
This motown,
With yo sound
You’re in the place
You gonna bite the dust
Can’t fight with us
With yo sound
You kill the INC.
So don’t stop, get it, get it
Until you’re cheddar header.
Yo, watch the way I navigate

Windmill, Windmill for the land.
Love forever hand in hand
Take it all in on your stride
It is sticking, falling down
Love forever love is free
Let’s turn forever you and me
Windmill, windmill for the land
Is everybody in?

Don’t stop, get it, get it
We are your captains in it
Steady, watch me navigate,
Don’t stop, get it, get it
We are your captains in it
Steady, watch me navigate


I love you guys.

Remember to smile even when you don’t feel like it because it will probably make someone else smile and then someone else… traveling from person to person and before you know it you’ll see your original smile on someone else’s face.

And then you’ll smile for real.

– Mel

Spared or Spoiled Film Reviews: Passengers

The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.

Passengers (Columbia Pictures)


Directed by Morten Tyldum

Written by Jon Spaihts

Starring Jennifer LawrenceChris PrattMichael SheenLaurence Fishburne & Andy García

I actually enjoyed Passengers (wait for it) in a weird way. I liked the love story. And the two leads have an insane amount of appeal (sexy, funny, smart). Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt are so fucking lovable. I kind of liked the science fiction story, in theory, even though there really wasn’t much to it. Passengers is mostly just a character study of a seriously screwed-up romance that just happens to have a science fiction backdrop. The effects are spectacular. And the stars are beautiful (human and celestial). I enjoyed watching Passengers. The movie is like that pretty football player who has all the girls do his homework or the hot girl who cheats off the nerds who have crushes… except, you know, without the help. This movie is so dumb. And there are WAY too many things wrong with Passengers for me not to spoil it. I have to spoil the shit out of this Swiss cheese of a science fiction monstrosity – Oh my god the massive plot holes.

Verdict: SPOILED


“Wait. What? That can’t be right.” “What is it?” “It’s just that Mel’s never not liked one of my movies before. There must be some mistake.” “What about X-Men:Apocalypse?” “Shut up.”


What’s wrong with Passengers you ask? Well it’s dumb as fuck. It’s not smart writing (This ain’t Arrival). There are scores and scores of plot holes, I don’t know, it’s like the movie went through an asteroid belt that it didn’t see coming. I want to forgive some of the holes because Passengers made me smile. And both actors are amazing people. When you watch them in interviews they’re smart and funny and nice. And they bring a lot of themselves to these characters. It’s a very pretty film. The effects are stunningly beautiful. It’s just that there could have been more to its plot. It could have been less predictable. And there could have been a lot less massive plot holes.


“You think it’s me don’t you, Jen?” “I mean come on. It can’t be ME. I have like three Oscars.” “You have ONE, Jen. You have one Oscar.” “Shut up.”

Passengers is about the deep space voyage of a completely automated vessel. Humans in the future travel to inhabitable planets in suspended animation or some shit, while the insanely large computer takes care of EVERYTHING. It never fails (or so the plot suggests). But this time something goes horribly wrong, supplying our first plot hole very early in the movie. The thing that happens to the ship is extremely predictable and should have been solved by waking the entire crew (tell me why is there a crew again?) or changing course several years earlier (all that equipment and they can’t see asteroids). Movie ends. Roll credits. Over look this plot hole, if you can. I’ll understand if you can. I could not.


“Have another whiskey, Chris. After Jurassic World and Magnificent Seven, this makes three bad reviews. I’m just saying.” “You know I’m a Marvel superhero. And Mystique is just a minor villain that Fox gave a bigger part to because the actress got famous, right?” “Shut up.”

But it’s just so pretty to look at. The ship is gorgeous. The tech is gorgeous. The stars are gorgeous. The movie is gorgeous. And you can tell that the people who edited the trailer saw this humongous plot hole and tried to hide it by teasing that something nefarious was going on. Just look at the poster tagline. “There is a reason they woke up.” Um… no there isn’t. The trailer even includes fake dialogue suggesting Chris Pratt’s character finds out why he was awakened from cryo-sleep too early. But no. It was just the asteroids. Just dumb luck. Accent on the dumb, underlined, bold.


“Why are you being so cruel, Mel? Look what it’s doing to Chris. You’re killing him. He was in Guardians of the Galaxy. Now help me get him into the sick bay that will bring him back to life but couldn’t save the deck officer. And YES I heard it when I said it. Shut up.”

Then of course the character decides to kill another passenger because he’s lonely and she’s pretty. Another major plot hole. Also there’s just one sick bay for 5000 passengers and 300 crew. The cheapest cruise ship today has at least a half-dozen for far fewer numbers. A large elementary school has more than one bed. This is yet another hole when they decide to use this pseudo-romantic plot device “One of us could go back to sleep. We could use the sick bay bed.” The ONE sick-bay bed for 6000 people? I don’t care how advanced it is. That’s like five too few. Star Trek’s main sick bay had like three beds and that was just in the Chief medical officer’s bay. There was more than one. There should be more than one. Hell, the crew should have had their own. It’s a deep space vessel with paying passengers.


“What about the computer waking me up but having no way to put me back to sleep? And if you say I should have taken the blue pill, I will fucking hit you.”

Okay, now I’m getting angry. Let’s go back to saying how pretty the film was. The film was really nice to look at if not more than a little dumb. And the actors are pretty. They both have sensational personal trainers and there’s some “getting it on” to be seen (if that’s your thing… not judging) But the writing leaves so much to be desired. The dialogue and performances are light-years better than the story and that tells me the actors rewrote a bunch of crap. I enjoyed it for the actors, their chemistry, their relationship, their performances, their bodies and the beautiful special effects.


“You hear that? Mel likes it when we’re getting it on.” “No Jen. He may want to fuck me. But the things he wants to do to you would violate… ordinances, human decency, the laws of physics… god… man. It’s not the same.” “Shut up.”

Whatever you do just don’t think about how the computer wakes up the deck officer but has no way to put him back to sleep. The deck officer could have awoken an engineer. Trees don’t grow up unless the roots can grow down as well. Food for 5000 people for 4 weeks can’t feed two people for 90 years (do the math). Even with one cryo-bed they could have prolonged both of their lives by sleeping in it. They are travelling at near light speed but get hit by slow-moving asteroids. They’re travelling at near light speed but they can space walk off the ship. He gets un-tethered, the ship would be miles away when he blinked (and he’d be dead at less ludicrous speeds). Sling-shot around the what now… you’re already travelling at… nope that’s just dumb writing. I could go on and on. And some of these can be explained or over-looked but if you have to explain later then you didn’t do your job. And you can only ask an audience to over-look so much.

Chris Pratt; Jennifer Lawrence

“It’s okay. I mean if you read between the lines, he liked the movie because of us. He didn’t like X-Men: Apocalypse but he liked you in it. He didn’t like this movie but he liked us in it.” “So maybe I WILL win another Oscar.” “Shut up.” “I was jus…” “No. Seriously. Shut up. This is Amy’s year.”

After all that’s wrong with it, I still enjoyed Passengers. Because the pictures and the people in it are all so pretty. I just turned off the part of my brain that needs things to make sense because of them… And because I had already paid 20 bucks.

– Mel