What’s Good?

April 2015 edition.

This post is gonna be a mixed bag… A mixed bag of candy.

unbreakable-kimmy-schmidt-3

I had an old friend who used to greet everyone by asking, “What’s good?” but it wasn’t a question so much as an accusation the way she said it. I never had an answer for her. Not once. It was always annoying when she asked it; What’s good? I think the most she ever got from me was a head nod. We’re no longer friends (something I would point out if she asked again)

“Yo, Mel Rook. What’s good?”

That you and I are no longer friends. What’s good with you?

But I am going to answer her question now. And name my new blog series in her honor.

What’s Good? A top ten of things I’m enjoying or have enjoyed recently. In TV and Movies and life and junk. You get the picture.

To the list…

WHAT’S GOOD?

I’m glad you asked.

Community Season 6

Community Season 6 on Yahoo! Screen is good: The same Community, with a lot of the same faces, getting into the same sorts of trouble, I even like the new people. So happy they found a place to land. Thanks Yahoo.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netfilx is good : It’s funny, zany, impossibly cute and colorful, yet still a bit raunchy, silly, oh so very silly. I loved this show. Although a month later I still can’t get the damn theme song out of my head.

iZombie

iZombie on the CW is good. iZombie is really good. Part Buffy, Part Veronica Mars, Part Walking Dead. A murder mystery of the week type show with a zombie twist. Love it.

Better Call Saul was good. It’s over for now but it was very good. Bob Odenkirk is gonna at least get a nomination for best actor. This is like an origin story… two of them actually. This is the beginnings of the Saul Goodman and Mike Ehrmantraut we knew from Breaking Bad. Great writing and great directing.

Daredevil

Marvel’s Daredevil is incredibly good. Just all kinds of good. Brutal, violent, very cool, faithful to the comic and… it’s just really fucking good alright. So good I had to savor it. Can’t take all that awesome at one sitting.

Death Cab for Cutie – Kintsugi is a good album

dcfc-kintsugi

 

Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly is a good album

kendrick-lamar-to-pimp-a-butterfly-12-homies-at-white-house-full-cover

Baseball Season is here and Spring, and it is good. It’s getting nice outside here. I’ve made plans to get out more. Maybe even get out to the ballpark.

Matt Harvey

Making Plans is good… I guess. The problem with plans is that The Fates (those guys) always have a way of saying, “Fuck Your Plans.” somewhere between my making them and my executing them.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

But I’m still planning some museum trips and going out to the ballgame and taking more pictures and getting outside in the sun. Maybe even taking my bike out. Wish me luck.

And finally… What’s good?

This girl right here. That’s what.

Conway – Attack

Love this song. Attack! Attack! Attack!

And now… for everything there is a dark side.

WHAT’S NOT so GOOD?

…or 5 things that recently sucked.

Powers on Playstation Plus is NOT good. The acting, the writing, the whole damn thing is just so very cheesy. I watched 4 episodes and I couldn’t continue. The effects are so bad. The acting is so bad. The show is not good. It stars the guy who voiced Chappie…

Speaking of which.

Chappie is crappy

CHAPPiE was not good. I wrote a review for this movie but decided not to post it because it was all just curses and screaming about how shitty the movie was. The cutesy robot and the bad acting, the horrible accents, the horrible AI. The robot acts like an infant when it’s turned on. Why is this? Why does he keep wiping his nose? Robots are for Science Fiction not Fantasy. They might as well have spilled Coca Cola on his motherboard or chanted an incantation to bring the robot to life. CHAPPiE was not good.

House of Cards Season 3 on Netflix is NOT good. It feels like they ran out of stories. Season one was amazing. Season two was even better. But I feel the quality dipped substantially this last season. Snooze-ville.

bart-simpson-revision

The Second Draft of my novel is not good. The First Draft is better than the second draft. Now I don’t know if I should throw out the second and work from the first again or try to improve the second with a third. I’m going in the wrong direction. It’s supposed to get better not worse.

My Landlord & Owner Fighting is not good. The agency I rent my apartment from and the building management are in a “heated” legal battle. I’ve been told it wouldn’t affect me but the games are annoying. I complained about the heat once last year because my cat was sneezing and so this winter the landlord cranked the boiler up so high that the hot water was boiling out of the tap and the pipes scorching, like they’re trying to smoke me like cured meat. I feel like beef jerky. It was so freaking hot this winter. It warped my acoustic guitar to the point where it’s practically unplayable. Somebody owes me a guitar.

But so as not to end this first What’s Good installment on a bad note, here’s Conway’s new song Attack again. This time the album version from the video.

I can’t stop playing this song now. I can’t stop playing this song LOUD. Crank it up.

Coming Soon to What’s Good: Avengers Age of Ultron, Game of Thrones Season 5, Mad Men’s final 8 shows and The Mets winning in April. 

Coming Soon to What’s Not so Good: Justified finale (depending on how it ends), Person of Interest (If they don’t get their shit together) and Me not leaving the house.

Until next time,

Mel

The Fast 7: A Furious 7 Inspired Car-Loving Mega-Post

In honor of the seventh (and final) The Fast and the Furious movie, (RIP Paul Walker), arguably the most successful driving movie franchise in film history, Mel Rook & The Seven Deadly Sins presents: The Fast 7: A Furious 7 Inspired Car-Loving Mega-Post.

This will be 7 lists of my 7 favorite car & driving pop culture… things. The Categories: TV, Movies, Video Games, Fantasy Cars, Batmobiles (Batman gets his own category), Sports Cars and ending with my 7 favorite Movie Car Chase Scenes.

To the list(s)…First up television…

Driving Shows

My 7 favorite driving TV shows that really know how to cut to the chase.

7. Knight Rider (1982-86)

Created by Glen A. Larson

David Hasselhoff and Kitt

David Hasselhoff and a talking car. What’s not to love about this cheesy 80’s driving show? KITTs voice. I didn’t like KITTs voice. He should have sounded more like a Cylon.

6. Transporter: The Series (2013-Current)

Based on  Transporter by Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen

Chris-Vance-as-The-Transporter

A decent adaptation of the Transporter movie series (with Jason Statham). At least for one season. The second season of this show was a bit rough after a big cast shake-up. But the first season was so good it should be renewed for a third.

5. Wacky Races (1968)

Produced by William Hanna & Joseph Barbera

Wacky Races

Wacky Races was an animated version of the movie The Great Race (1965) with Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood. It was always fun, funny and wacky.

“And they’re off… to a standing start. And why not. They’ve been chained to a post by shifty Dick Dastardly, who shifts into the wrong gear.”

4. The Dukes of Hazzard (1979-85)

Created by Gy Waldron and Jerry Rushing

The Dukes

Two pretty cowboys and their little sister (with the long lovely legs) outrun the local corrupt sheriff (Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane) and his deputies. Waylon Jennings did the narration and sang the theme song. I was not the biggest fan of this show but I loved the car chases, the jumps, the stunts, the bad guys and Daisy Duke.

3. Starsky & Hutch (1975-79)

Created by William Frederick Blinn and Ryan Matthew Blinn

Starsky and Hutch

So many alleys to speed down while chasing the crooks. It’s a wonder they didn’t run-over more homeless people than they did. Starsky & Hutch were always jumping on cars and chasing down bad guys. And Huggy Bear was somehow always involved.

Poor Huggy Bear. It’s hard out there for a pimp.. or snitch or whatever he was.

2. CHiPs (1977-83)

Created by Rick Rosner

CHiPs

Yeah, I know the main characters were on motorcycles and not in cars but this show was one big car chase scene… seriously. And every couple of weeks or so there would be a huge 20 to 30 car pile-up on the Interstate highway. Ponch & John. California Highway Patrol… CHiPs.

But my favorite driving show will always be…

1. Speed Racer (1966-68)

Written by Jinzō Toriumi (adapted by Peter Fernandez)

Speed Racer

My favorite cartoon growing up. I wanted a Mach 5 so bad… and a monkey. I wanted a monkey to hide in the trunk. (Fishbone dedicated an entire album to the little guy called Chim Chim’s Badass Revenge… one of their best). This show is dated and awful but when I was little it made me happy. And there weren’t a lot of things that made me happy.

Next up…

Driving Games

My 7 Favorite Driving Games: The seven best and (most fun… for me) driving and racing video games (I go for realism. So these are all about the real cars and not cartoon cars)

7. Gran Turismo (1998 – Playstation)

Developed by Polyphony Digital

Gran Turismo

The licenses. The music. The mechanics. The best racing franchise and driving simulator of all-time hands down. This is the one that started it all. And these guys were just getting started. I remember having the old beige PS1 and marveling at how pretty this game was.

6. Grand Theft Auto IV (2008 – X-Box 360)

Developed by Rockstar Games

Grand Theft Auto IV

Sure there’s shooting and running around and stuff but the driving was the best thing about it. You could just drive all night listening to the radio. The radio stations were the best. Speeding through the city late at night. Why even play the story. Just get in a car and drive. Or in a truck. Or a motorcycle.

5. Grand Turismo 3: A-spec (2001 – PS2)

Developed by Polyphony Digital

gran-turismo-3

One of the best-selling video games of all-time, Gran Turismo 3: A-spec featured incredibly gorgeous graphics (for that generation) and realistic cars with the opportunity to tweak every aspect of your car’s performance. And the dual-shock controller so you could feel the engine humming and feel every bump on the road.

Gran Turismo-3 A-spec

I would spend hours and hours trying to cut tenths of seconds off my track time, all to the sound of another fantastic soundtrack featuring great songs by The Cardigans and Soul Coughing and Foo Fighters.

4. Burnout Paradise (2008 – PS3)

Developed by Criterion Games

burnout_paradise

Street racing gone mad. This game was a lot like Grand Theft Auto but without the shooting and with a multi-player mode so you could race other players online.

Burnout Crashes

Not to mention the insanely fun crash mode where head-on crashes are rewarded with points for the more you roll and the more other cars you get involved in the wreckage. So much fun. And a pretty decent soundtrack.

3. Pole Position (1982 – Arcade)

Developed by Namco

pole_position

The first racing game worth a damn. Pole Position was an arcade favorite of mine. I could spend twenty dollars in quarters just trying to qualify, make pole position and leave my competition in the dust again and again.

2. Pole Position II (1983 – Arcade)

Developed by Namco

Pole Position 2

I loved this game so much. More tracks and better graphics this time around. It’s just a better game. I can still hear the beeps that started every race. BEEP (red light) BEEP (yellow light) BEEEEEP (green light) Go.

But my favorite driving game is still…

1. Gran Turismo 5 (2010 – PS3)

Developed by Polyphony Digital

Gran-Turismo-5

I guess there’s something about the odd numbers in this franchise. This game is great. Winning new cars by racing online. Buying used cars. Collecting different drivers for your friends to race against while you were offline in the cool B-spec mode. Coming back online to collect your winnings. This game is awesome.

gran-turismo-5-inner-2

Not to mention the addition of NASCAR and more difficult licenses (How do they drive those heavy-ass cars?) and more downloadable tracks. Gran Turismo 5 is still my favorite racing game. Perhaps the greatest racing game of all-time.

Gran Turismo 5 Graphics are sickI don’t have a PS4 yet but if I were to get one it would be because I wanted the newest Gran Turismo game when it comes out. But for now I’m still playing 5. (I skipped 6 because there was nothing new). So Gran Turismo 5 is still my go to game when I feel the need for speed. My favorite.

Next up…

Driving Movies

My 7 Favorite Driving Movies.

7. Drive (2011)

Drive Poster

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn

Written by Hossein Amini  Based on Drive by James Sallis

Starring Ryan GoslingCarey MulliganBryan CranstonAlbert BrooksRon PerlmanOscar Isaac & Christina Hendricks

Ryan Gosling

It’s in the title. This movie is like a meditation. Great cast. Lots of tension. Good driving scenes. The best Ryan Gosling in my opinion. Great driving throughout.

6. The Fast and the Furious (2001)

The-Fast-and-Furious-2001

Directed by Rob Cohen

Written by Gary Scott ThompsonErik Bergquist & David Ayer  Based on “Racer X” by Ken Li

Starring Paul WalkerVin DieselMichelle RodriguezJordana BrewsterRick YuneChad LindbergJohnny Strong & Ted Levine

The Fast and the Furious

The first one is the best one (actually it’s the only good one). Hot girls and fast cars and street racing. What else do you need? Well… A better plot for one. Better acting for two. Better directing for three. But for a car and racing fan it’s still a lot of fun.

5. The Transporter (2002)

The Transporter

Directed by Louis Leterrier & Corey Yuen

Written by Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen

Starring Jason StathamShu QiFrançois Berléand & Matt Schulze

Jason Statham

Great driving. Yes. But this movie is all about Jason Statham kicking serious ass. And he’s very hot. There’s something about Jason Statham that is very very hot.

4. Bullitt (1968)

Bullit Poster

Directed by Peter Yates

Written by Alan R. Trustman & Harry Kleiner  Based on Mute Witness by Robert L. Fish

Starring Steve McQueenRobert Vaughn & Jacqueline Bisset

Bullit

You can’t list the best driving movies without including Bullitt and his bad-ass Mustang. With one of the best car chase scenes of all-time (maybe even the best), Steve McQueen and Bullitt comes in at number four on my list of great driving movies.

3. Gone in 60 Seconds (2000)

Gone in 60 Seconds

Directed by Dominic Sena

Written by Scott Rosenberg  Based on the movie Gone in 60 Seconds (1974) by H.B. Halicki

Starring Nicolas CageAngelina JolieGiovanni Ribisi & Delroy Lindo

eleanor-1967-shelby-mustang-gt-500

I love this movie because while Nicholas Cage is Nicholas Cage-ing, Angelina Jolie is Angelina Jolie-ing. And a lot of cool cars.

gone-in-sixty-seconds-cage

Everybody is stealing cars and out-running cops and looking cool while doing it. I love Gone in 60 Seconds. It’s one of the coolest movies of all-time.

2. The Cannonball Run (1981)

The Cannonball Run Quad

Directed Hal Needham

Written by Brock Yates

Starring Burt ReynoldsRoger MooreFarrah FawcettJackie ChanDean MartinSammy Davis, Jr. & Dom DeLuise

the-cannonball-run

Classic driving comedy with Burt Reynolds and a cast of hundreds racing across country. It was kind of raunchy for its time but tame by today’s standards. Still loads of fun if a little dated and a tad bit racist and sexist and.. we were crappy people back then. But you know… it was the 80’s. We were all on coke.

Adrienne Barbeau Cleavage

With the added bonus of both Adrienne Barbeau and Farrah Fawcett in the prime of their hotness, The Cannonball Run is what you get if you took Wacky Races, The Fast and the Furious and the Burnout Paradise game then threw in every famous actor from the 70’s.

Jackie Chan

A young Jackie Chan, Dom DeLuise, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Roger Moore and cameos galore. This is one crazy movie. They made two more but they never came close to matching the magic from the first one.

However my favorite driving movie is…

1. Speed Racer (2008)

Speed Racer Movie

Written & Directed by The Wachowskis

Based on Speed Racer by Tatsuo Yoshida

Starring Emile HirschChristina RicciJohn GoodmanSusan SarandonMatthew FoxBenno FürmannHiroyuki SanadaRain & Richard Roundtree

Speed Racer cast

Incredibly campy and colorful, the Wachovski brought the Speed Racer cartoon to the big screen with unapologetic enthusiasm. Maybe a little too much. But the racing scenes are some of the most exciting and acrobatic racing ever on film. I usually go for realism but these races are anything but real. The laws of physics need not apply. The cars skid around on impossibly shaped tracks that look like they were built from Matchbox and Hot Wheels tracks welded together by… well… by me as a kid. They look like they were put together by me. I love this movie so much. The cars don’t so much as race. The cars battle each other like high-flying martial artists on wires. Which, as far as I can remember, was the spirit of the original Speed Racer cartoons. Pass the cereal.

speed-racer-movie-01

I love this movie. And it got such a bad rap. I saw a review on-line that was just a picture of a plastic Mach 5 with a dog turd on top of it (seriously). The Wachovski’s say this was a movie for the Speed Racer fans. And they are correct. Because I am a Speed Racer fan. And this is a really bad bad bad bad really bad movie… that I loved. Don’t judge me.

Next up…

Fantasy Cars (Non-Batmobile Division)

My 7 Favorite Fantasy Cars: The seven coolest fictional cars that aren’t the Batmobile. But no hovercraft. If it doesn’t roll on the ground at some point, it ain’t on this list.

7. KITT (Knight Rider 1982)

KITT

I didn’t like the voice of the original KITT. It sounded kind of whiny and too human but I loved the controls and the special gadgets and weapons.

Inside KITT

I loved that the steering wheel looked like a game controller for a flight simulator.

6. DeLorean Time Machine (Back to the Future 1985)

Back to the Future

One, it was a DeLorean. Two, it was a time machine. And three, that baby could fly. “Roads? where we’re going we don’t need roads.”

Flying DeLorean

But the best part about it was that it was a freaking time machine… in a DeLorean.

5. Aston Martin DB5 (Goldfinger 1964)

aston_martin_db5

The classic Aston Martin. James Bond’s first tricked out car. Still one of the best. And you can’t beat the classics. You never forget your first car. Revolving license plates. Bullet proof shields. The tire slashers in the wheel hub. Smoke screen. Oil slick. Machine guns in the front. And say it with me people… Ejector Seat on the passenger side.

Bond: Ejector seat? You’re joking!
Q: I never joke about my work, 007

4. Lotus Espirit (The Spy Who Loved Me 1977)

lotus-esprit

I put the Lotus above the Aston Martin on this list because It’s part car, part submarine… all bad-ass. This was the coolest James Bond car because of how the dashboard changed to the submarine controls and the periscope when it submerged.

lotus-esprit-the-spy-who-love-me

And of course the torpedoes in the front were handy for dealing with those sharks with the freaking lasers on their freaking heads..

3. The Mach 5 (Speed Racer 1967)

mach-5

You were expecting something else?

Mach_5_Steering_Wheel

Look at these buttons. Look at them! Eat your heart out, James Bond.

Mach Mechanics

The Mach 5 was the best. My favorite one of its gadgets was the auto jacks underneath that made the car jump over obstacles. I know. I know. It wouldn’t be possible in real life. But it was still cool to me as a kid. The laws of physics be damned. BOING

2. Lola (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D 2013)

SHIELD Flying Car

Lola is a Chevrolet Corvette C1 already a cool classic car but Agent Coulson had it modified so that she can float like a hover craft and fly like a jet..

Lola_(Car)_001

But Coulson takes pains to remind everyone that she’s still the same Corvette where it counts; underneath… and don’t touch her. Don’t touch Lola. Flying cars rock.

So my number one favorite is…

1. Blade Runner Police Spinner (Blade Runner 1982)

blade-runner1

There have been many movies with flying cars in them. Fifth Element had flying cars but they weren’t really cars they were hover vehicles shaped like cars. Others have had what were essentially airplanes that looked like cars. Harry Potter made a car fly but was it designed to do that? The Jetson’s flew but they never rolled so that’s not a car. Luke’s car was a land speeder. So just another freaking hovercraft. And we’ve already seen Lola.

Spinners

The best flying cars were the Spinners from Blade Runner (quite possibly the best film ever made). This is how you do flying cars, people. Gorgeous design. Function, form, realism. If there were flying cars today, you know only the police would have them. Police, Fire Department, EMT… no one else would fly.

Next up…

Fantasy Cars (Batmobile Division)

My 7 Favorite Batmobiles

7. The Batmobile (from Batman Forever 1995)

Directed by Joel Schumacher

Batman Forever

Say what you want about the movie but at least The Batmobile was pretty… pretty phallic. Form over function in every single way. And most definitely penis shaped. Am I right?

6. The Batmobile (from Batman the TV Series 1966)

Created by William Dozier

Batmobile 60's

“Atomic batteries to power. Turbines to speed.” I loved this show growing up. Almost as much as I loved Speed Racer. (Didn’t think I could sneak in another Speed Racer reference did you?) A bunch of cool gadgets including a saw blade in the front to cut tow cables, a car phone and computer terminal. (This was in the 60s people)

5. The Bat Tumbler (from Batman Begins, The Dark Knight & The Dark Knight Rises 2005, 2008 & 2012)

Directed by Christopher Nolan

batmobile-Tumbler-2005-the-dark-knight

Function over form. I love it. An all-terrain tank with a low center of gravity. Definitely the most practical of all the Batmobiles. Speed, weapons and armor.

4. The Batmobile (from Batman: The Animated Series 1992)

Developed by Bruce Timm & Eric Radomski

Batman The Animated Series

Art Deco gorgeousness. The best Batman series by far was Batman: The Animated Series. Some of the best writing of the Batman universe. And the artwork had a classic cartoon feel like something from the 40s. This was close to Tim Burton’s Batmobile but with sleeker lines and that gorgeous Art Deco style.

3. The Batmobile (from Batman & Batman Returns 1989-92)

Directed by Tim Burton

Batmobile Tim Burton

More function than form but still very pretty. Part tank, part sports car. The grappling hook for sharp turns was a nice touch. This car was hot.

Batmobile Armor

And of course the voice-activated impenetrable shielding for when Batman had to get out.

2. The Batmobile (from Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice 2016)

Directed by Zack Snyder

batman-v-superman-dawn-of-justice-batmobile-official

Speaking of tanks, tumblers and sports cars that double as Swiss army knives… The new Batmobile is sick. Deadly and sick. More of a Mech than a mobile. This bad boy is ready for battle. I predict some serious destruction.

Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice

Outstanding. I just hope the movie lives up to the hype this new Batmobile has generated.

But my favorite Batmobile is not a mobile at all… I’m sorry. I have to cheat here because this thing is bad-ass. Absolutely bad-ass. It’s the…

1. The Bat Pod/ Bat Cycle (from The Dark Knight & The Dark Knight Rises 2008 & 2012)

Directed by Christopher Nolan

Bat Cycle

Everything about it is appealing. The way it turns. The front-mounted guns. The controls. The suspension. The way Catwoman looks when she’s riding it. The way Heath’s Joker looks when he’s jousting with it. The Bat Pod rocks.

Catwoman Cycle

This thing is amazing and I want one. I want one now. Right now.

But it’s not real. So let’s talk about real cars that I still can’t have…

Sports Cars (Real Cars)

My 7 Favorite Real Cars: The seven coolest cars I would own if I were obnoxiously wealthy, juvenile, in the midst of a mid-life crisis and doubted my sexual prowess.

In other words… Penis mobiles.

7. Ford Mustang Mach 1

Ford-Mustang-Mach-1

I love a Mustang. If I owned this I would never drive slow. Never. ‘I’m going to the store. I’ll be back in exactly 5 seconds.”

6. Shelby GT500 Cobra

2013-Ford-Mustang-Shelby-GT500-Cobra-2

Not as penis-y as the others but just as powerful and gorgeous.

5. Corvette Z06

2015-Chevrolet-Corvette-Z06

Sweet ride and I even like the color. Sing it, Prince. “Little Yellow Corvette…”

4. Jaguar E-Type

Jaguar E-Type

If that’s not a penis mobile. I don’t know what is. It’s a Jaguar.

3. Tesla Roadster

tesla-roadster

I had to include a Tesla on this list. They make electric sexy. I want this one in black.

2. Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR-X

Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR-X 2010

Hell yeah. Hell fucking yeah. Hurry up and build that highway between Alaska and Siberia so I can drive around the world in this. From cape to cape… Yeah baby.

1. Porsche 918 Spyder

Porsche

The kind of car you jump into while wearing driving gloves and a scarf.. because, you know, it gets cold when you’re driving fast. Porsche. There is no substitute.

And the last category in my car loving mega post…

Car Chase Scenes

My 7 Favorite Chase Scenes (from non-racing movies… because in racing movies every other scene is a car chase. The whole damn thing is a car chase)

7. Matrix Reloaded (2003)

Super exciting motorcycle chase from another Wachovski film that gets a bad rap.

6. Die Another Day (2002)

An amazing car battle between James Bond’s tricked out Aston Martin and an equally tricked out Jaguar.

5. The Blues Brothers (1980)

They drive through a mall. ’nuff said.

4. The Bourne Identity (2002)

I love the European car chases because the streets are narrower and every so often there’s a flight of stairs in the way.

3. Ronin (1998)

This tunnel chase is off the freaking chain.

2. The French Connection (1971)

This is one of the best chase scenes ever. This blows me away every time I see it.

But at number one with a bullet…

1. Bullitt (1968)

Arguably the best car chase ever. But on this list it just beats out The French Connection by a car length. The French Connection comes in second only because there is just one car in the chase. But that William Friedkin subway chase is incredible.

I hope you enjoyed my Car-Loving Mega Post. And I hope you enjoy Furious 7 in theaters on Friday. (or not. Honestly, I’ve only seen the first one… and I love cars)

What’s your favorite car chase? car game? car movie? car show? Did I miss yours? Let me know in the comments.

Catch you later,

– Mel

Spared or Spoiled Film Reviews: The Disappearance(s) of Eleanor Rigby

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

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby (The Weinstein Company)

The-Disappearance-of-Eleanor-Rigby-poster

Written & Directed by Ned Benson

Starring Jessica Chastain & James McAvoy

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is a two-part cinematic concept piece about love and loss. It is the story of a couple dealing with the death of their infant son. Well-written and well-acted. But as much as the concept of giving both parents their own film helps to convey the emotional state of each, it also becomes a crutch for lazy directing. Not everything has to be a trilogy. Here there are three films when they should have stopped at two. There are two people. There need be only two movies; one for each. But even then The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby gets caught up its own ass. Enjoying the smell of its own flatulence. Because in the end this is the story of self-involved and entitled artsy archetypes that seemingly believe no one else in the world has felt the pain of loss before them. Created by the most pretentious of creatives that seemingly believes no one else in the world has made a movie before them. Great cast. Great performances. Interesting concept. Horrible execution. I wrote down my thoughts between each stanza of this epic poem and yes there will be spoilers. But then again, since these movies don’t really have much of a fucking plot, there isn’t that much to spoil.

Verdict: SPOILED

James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain

SPOILER ALERT

editor’s note* From everything I’ve read about this project, I believed this was a trilogy. There were three films. But after looking at the posters, I’m thinking this was originally a two film concept that was “dumbed-down” and edited into a third film. Him & Her are two pretty good films. Or more accurately, separated parts of one film. A nice concept. Them, the third one, is horrible and ruins the experience. I watched it as a trilogy and I’m just going to post my original thoughts unedited. I got really mad. It’s not pretty.

Him (The Weinstein Company)

The-Disappearance-of-Eleanor-Rigby-Him

Written & Directed by Ned Benson

Starring James McAvoy, Bill HaderCiarán HindsKatherine WaterstonNina Arianda & Jessica Chastain

In Him, we meet a young couple who have just experienced a tragedy. They have lost their infant son. We never learn how or why. We just see what this event has done to their relationship. In Him, the husband, played masterfully by James McAvoy, is coping with this loss by trying to move ahead with his professional life.

James McAvoy

He owns a small bar slash restaurant in the village. But like most restaurants, his is slowly losing money. His father, who owns a much more successful restaurant in almost the same area, has offered his son the job of running that one when he retires. Ciarán Hinds plays the father, while Bill Hader gives a fine performance as the main character’s best friend and the chef at his restaurant.

Bill Hader

Him is a good movie. Kind of depressing because of the mysterious loss of the child, but well-written and with some great performances. However, Him is kind of infuriating because of the way it portrays the mother. She is not a real part of the story. She is a force of nature. Unhinged and untamable and virtually unseen. Inconsolable and unconscionable and nearly unnecessary. Jessica Chastain is amazing as this woman who leaves our hero in a lurch to grieve on her own, to grieve on his own, only to come back into his life again and again at loose intervals just to leave him again and again and again, to leave him in a twisted mess, without his child or the love of his life.

James McAvoy & Jessica Chastain

She wants to grieve alone, while he wants to be with her. It’s like they’re two different people who each lost a child and not a couple who lost one together. And because all we see is him and not her (she barely exists in his movie), it is so easy to hate her for the way she treats him. The way she leaves him. This is his story. And from my point of view, she is the villain of his story. We’ll see what I think of her after watching her in Her.

“A shooting star only lasts a second, but isn’t it better to have seen it?” 

Her (The Weinstein Company)

The-Disappearance-of-Eleanor-Rigby-Her

Written & Directed by Ned Benson

Starring Jessica Chastain, Viola DavisWilliam HurtIsabelle HuppertJess Weixler & James McAvoy

In Her we finally get to know the title character. The enigmatic Eleanor Rigby; The disappearing one (sorry Chris). The mother, the wife, the daughter, the pain… THE PAIN. Her opens on a suicide attempt and instantly all the blame placed on her for his torment (the first film) is forgiven. It was easy to hate her in Him. We knew she was in pain. That was a given. But all we saw was the back of her. All we saw was her running away from him. We saw his pain but we never saw hers. And by the end of the first half hour of Her, we realize there was far too much pain there for one movie. They each needed their own.

Jessica Chastain

After watching Jessica Chastain act her ass off, I feel like my heart just ran a marathon. I must be a glutton for punishment because I’m going to watch the third movie after the pounding my heart took in Her. Another stellar cast in this one with Viola Davis and William Hurt and other amazing actors as her friends and family.

The Rigby Sisters

Her is the story of a woman trying desperately to be someone else. Someone other than the new mother who just lost her son. Someone other than the wife who left her husband. Someone else. Her is not a whole movie however. Not a complete story. It is nothing without him. Him is a whole movie, but one where the title character is incomplete. She’s more of an idea than a character. Her becomes a companion piece for the first one. A character study. An entire film dedicated to one character’s development. It is, in fact, what was missing from the first movie. But it is not an entity in and of itself. Without Him, Her is merely a personality test. A description. A snapshot of loss… but so fucking painful.

Jessica Chastain in The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby

At one point in this movie I felt like poking my own eyes out. Jessica Chastain is incredible. There’s this firefly motif that runs through both films. And at one point, after her young nephew gives her a “lightning bug” in a jar, she wakes with a desire to set it free. But when she gets to the place she wants it to fly, It doesn’t. And she begs it to wake up. And I didn’t cry. I didn’t cry as much as scream and want to poke my own eyes out. It was so painful as she begs it to wake up. We never see the child. Or the death. It isn’t even discussed in the films. All we get is her begging a firefly to wake up and it’s excrutiating.

Jessica Chastain and Viola Davis

Not much happens in Her. She goes back to school. She goes to France. She walks around aimlessly. But we see how much she loves him. And we see how much she wants to go back to a happier time. A good place. And we see this all through Jessica’s eyes and her amazing performance. The woman is a goddess.

So I feel like my heart has been ripped out of my chest but I’m going to watch the third movie now and trust that they do something to stop this feeling.

“Tragedy is a foreign country. We don’t know how to talk to the natives.”

Them (The Weinstein Company)

Them

Written & Directed by The same dude that made the other ones

Starring All of the people from the first two films

FUCK!!!! What a waste of two hours. They don’t even add to the narrative. In fact they don’t even edit the stories together. They take scenes from the first two movies and show them back to back. There is nothing new. Even scenes that are in both movies but are seen from different POV are taken from one movie or the other as is. A scene from Him. A scene from Her. A scene from Him. A scene from Her. No real attempt is made to merge the two stories or even resolve the conflict.

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby

Them is an exercise in lazy filmmaking and I had high hopes for this one. The first movie ends with her following him through the park. The second one ends with her catching up to him in the park and getting his attention. (see the progression? The promised resolution?) The third movie ends with her following him in the park. The same bloody scene from the first movie. I thought that at least they would show a conclusion to that last scene. What a sham. Not only is Them a monumental waste of time if you’ve seen the first two movies but if you haven’t seen the first two movies it makes no fucking sense at all.

The Happy Couple

Most of the energy from the other movies is edited out to keep the running time down to two hours (because we have such short attention spans, I guess). And it serves to lessen the emotional impact of the first two parts. Them is a film that makes Him & Her shittier by its existence. Way to ruin a concept with lazy film-making, guys. I mean if you’re going to edit the movies together then do that. Fucking do that. There are scenes in the first two movies that are different interpretations of the same thing and instead of reconciling the differences they just choose one of the scenes (I’m guessing with a coin flip) and they only show that. Nothing new. Nothing learned. Nothing. A waste of my fucking time with nothing to show for it. A WASTE OF MY FUCKING TIME. Them, the third Eleanor Rigby film, is a fat and steaming pile of stinking garbage.

Fireflies

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, as a whole, is a fat and steaming pile of stinking garbage. Unfinished and unresolved. But if you have to watch it, stop at the second one. For the love of god, stop at the second one.

– Mel

Photos From Around the Block: Mostly Naked Trees

I went outside today. Took my camera but forgot to charge the battery. I got some pics of the mostly naked trees, and birds, and planes, before the battery went completely dead.

These are kind of bleak. The end of winter is always bleak and grey… but beautiful.

I like these pictures. They show the space between the seasons. Between winter and spring. Between death and rebirth. This is another reason I moved back to New York… seasons. The seasons don’t change in Los Angeles. And the days between Winter & Spring (and the ones between Summer & Autumn) are the most beautiful days of the year here now that Summer and Winter have equally brutal and extreme temperatures.

But enough talk. Here they are…

Danger

You are entering the danger zone. Please wear your hat.

The worst part...

The worst part.

This is a picture of the moment when the panic is overwhelming. When I want to go back inside. I wanted to take a picture of my fear. But I guess you guys can’t see it.

I can see it.

You must be this high to ride this ride.

You must be THIS high to ride this ride.

Nature Triumphant

Nature Triumphant

Money Trees is the perfect place for shade...

Money Trees is the perfect place for shade and that’s just how I feel…

Little Bird

Little Bird

"What the fuck are you looking at?"

“What the fuck are you looking at, human?”

Mama Bird

Mama Bird on her perch

Naked Neighborhood Trees

Naked Neighborhood Trees

Tasteful Nudes

Tasteful Nudes

This used to be my playground...

This Little Playground by Wham-o (some assembly required).

Little Flag

Little American Flag

It's big. It's heavy. It's wood.

It’s big. It’s heavy. It’s wood. It’s better than bad. It’s good… It’s log.

Roof Trees and Airplanes

Roofs, Trees and Airplanes

Nearly Naked Bushes

Nearly Naked Bushes

Jet Streak

Jet Streak Across The Sky

Naked Trees in the Park

Naked Trees in the Park

Tree Against the Blue Sky

Tree Branches Against the Blue Winter Sky

Winter's End

Spring waits patiently as Winter’s battery slowly dies.

That's my plane.

And that’s my ride.

I’m out of juice.

Until next time.

– Mel

Spared or Spoiled Film Reviews: Top Five

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

Top Five (Paramount Pictures)

Top Five Poster 2

Written & Directed by Chris Rock

Starring Chris Rock, Rosario DawsonGabrielle UnionJ. B. SmooveRomany MalcoCedric the Entertainer & Tracy Morgan

Who are your top five rappers all time? It’s okay, I know you might have to pick six. Everybody does. Chris Rock’s Top Five movie is a study in celebrity, addiction, celebrity addiction and the celebrous addiction to celebrity. Chris Rock may know funny but he doesn’t know dialogue. Anything in Top Five that isn’t meant to be funny is a painfully horrible example of bad dialogue. Top Five is very funny at times and the casting is off the chain but where it fails is in the writing and the directing; just the two most important parts of making a movie. However, for a director like Chris Rock the most important part of making this movie was putting all of his friends in it. Have we learned nothing from Ishtar? It’s not about how much fun you have on set. It’s never about that. In fact, the most important thing about a movie is whether I’m going to spoil it or not. Well guess what? Top Five was horrible, casting or no. So lets spoil this motherfuckaaahhhhh!!!

Verdict: SPOILED

CAUTION: I curse a lot in this review. Also I’ve seen a bunch of bad movies in the last few weeks, so it’s time to vent. You’ve been warned. How’s that for stank?

Chris Rock and Rosario Dawson

SPOILER ALERT

Top Five is a failed attempt at the quintessentially pedestrian and annoying Hollywood celebrity pseudo-bio-pic. Bad writing. Bad directing. Bad premise. But good casting (I can’t say enough about the casting and the cameos because it almost saves this piece of shit) Because Chris Rock, at this point in his career has a lot of cool and funny friends. And to be perfectly honest, at times Top Five looks like he just threw his friends into a room and rolled the cameras. Which sounds good, but he also wrote them a script. So… the nigga can’t even do that right. He plays a fictionalized version of himself, mixed with Kanye, mixed with Eddie, and he can’t do that right either. Gabrielle Union plays his reality show starring fiancée (the Kim to his Kanye) and Rosario Dawson plays his interviewer and love interest, (who also happens to be his worse critic but he doesn’t know it yet).

Chris Rock on Stage

Sadly, Chris Rock is only good in Top Five when he steps on to the stand-up stage at the end. You know, the old Rom-Com trope where his love interest gets him to go back to his roots. “You have to get back to your roots, boy.” Rosario Dawson plays this annoyingly cliché and two-dimensional female role to perfection. She has an awful lot of experience with these types of roles. The last time I can remember seeing her in something this bad was that Kevin Smith movie where she spends most of her screen-time talking about doing ass to mouth… or not doing ass to mouth. No really. That was her entire part.

Gabrielle Union and Chris Rock

And I loves me some Rosario Dawson. Truly I does. And it’s not just about her genetics (the woman is genetically blessed) but I love her style, her presence, her heart and everything she brings to a role. And she’s from my old neighborhood, so there’s that. And I just plain like her because she’s never been shy about doing indie films from cool people in between blockbusters and action flicks and I love that. But Top Five is really bad (So was that Kevin Smith movie… Clerks II). What I’m trying to say is that I may love me some Rosario Dawson but she can pick some really bad movies sometimes.

Top Five Living Room Scene

So in Top Five, the Rom-Com parts fail because of the dialogue and the boring and obvious premise. The main guy falls in love with the person he hates most in the world but doesn’t know it. (That shit was already old when Shakespeare did it) This is Rock’s third or fourth time directing. And he’s written some seriously funny comedies in the past. But romance is not his thing. And also acting is not his thing. Chris Rock can’t act to save his life. He practically giggles every line. Every fucking line is a giggle take. He’s worse than Jimmy Fallon and Adam Sandler combined. There is very little to like in Top Five and Chris is responsible for most of it.

Rosario Dawson and Chris Rock

Top Five is only bearable when the main character walks on to a stage, either at the comedy show at the end, or in the funniest scene from the movie; his ex-girlfriend & friends reunion with Tracy Morgan and Leslie Jones. And other than for those two moments, those throw away the awful script moments, those let’s just roll the camera and have fun moments, other than for those, the movie is incredibly bad. It’s a bad movie. And it’s all because Chris Rock has no fucking idea what a regular person sounds like, talks like, loves likes or acts like. So that what Top Five becomes is a study in crappy movie dialogue and worn-out Rom-Com clichés between shots of Chris giggling his lines. And it looks a lot like Chris Rock just tried to take on too many jobs and did them all poorly. He can’t act. He can’t write. And he can’t direct. But let me state here at the end (for those who got this far) that Chris Rock is still one of the funniest and smartest people on the planet and I love every thing he does… except for this. This is garbage. Top Five is a bad bad movie. (And why are the cast wearing tuxedos in the poster?)

Top Five Poster

Top Five is awful.

– Mel

My Top Five are:

1. Jay Z, 2. Chuck D (Public Enemy), 3. Rakim (w/ Eric B), 4. Eminem, and 5. KRS One. and my sixth pick would be… Melle Mel (from The Furious Five)

…later.