Spared or Spoiled Reviews: Anomalisa

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

Anomalisa (Paramount Pictures)

Anomalisa poster

Directed by Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson

Written by Charlie Kaufman  Based on Anomalisa by Charlie Kaufman

Starring David Thewlis as Michael Stone, Jennifer Jason Leigh as Lisa & Tom Noonan as Everyone Else

This is a weird film. Anomalisa is a weird animated film. It’s Charlie Kaufman to the max. And I love his writing. This is no exception. Anomalisa is a beautifully written story of a man stuck in a monumentally existential and comical rut. A world where everyone is the same. They all sound the same. Until one day he meets someone else. A woman named Lisa. An anomaly. Anomalisa. Someone different. It is a beautiful story of love and pain and the relationship between self and others. And it’s weird. It’s just really badly directed. And Charlie Kaufman is wholly responsible for this as well. In the end I did not like Anomalisa. I didn’t appreciate all the weirdness. There was just too much weird.

Verdict: SPOILED

Anomalisa

SPOILER ALERT

Right off the bat you can see that the cast of voice actors is short. There are three. There are many more characters but only three actors playing them. David Thewlis is our hero, the author Michael Stone, Jennifer Jason Leigh is his Anomalisa. And then there’s Tom Noonan, who’s listed in the credits as playing Everyone Else. And he does. Every other character in the film speaks with his voice. Regardless of age or gender. They all sound like Tom Noonan. This is disturbing. But at first it’s really funny and interesting. Less so after a while. And then it just gets creepy.

Anomalisa 2

Anomalisa begins with a conversation on a plane and the general weirdness is comical. What a great idea. To show this bland world and our hero’s relationship to everyone else, Mr. Kaufman makes everyone sound the same. And look the same, in a creepy as hell sort of way. Tom Noonan is an excellent choice here because he has long been one of my favorite artists (actor, director, screenwriter). But not only does everyone sound like Tom Noonan. They’re all assholes. They are all annoyingly passive aggressive.

Anomalisa 3

Every other person has this dickish quality mixed with sardonic wit and sarcastic condescending asides. Like when a married couple has been together too long. They just hate each other but don’t come right out and say it. Everyone else talks to our hero like they’re an annoyed spouse. And it itself is annoying to say the least, but also very funny. Charlie Kaufman is an immensely creative person and talented writer and this idea is amazingly disturbing but successful in relating to the audience the main character’s view of the world and its aggravating sameness. He wants to leave his wife.

Anomalisa 4

And then he meets the girl… Lisa. The only other person in the world. And she is uncomfortable with herself, and with her looks, and her education, and her voice. She hates her voice. But Michael immediately recognizes what he’s found when he hears her in the distance. The sound of her voice resonates through the walls of his hotel room and he runs to track her down. Only to attach himself to her in an awful and needy death grip. But she is self-conscious and self-defeating and she already had a case of hero-worship because he happens to be one of her favorite authors. So they form a duo that is incredibly uncomfortable to watch. But it’s great. It really is.

Anomalisa 5

And Anomalisa would be a fantastic movie if not for directing choices. The animation style. The journeys off into weirdness. He takes off his own jaw at one point for absolutely no reason. He takes his face off. It’s another disturbing breakage of the animated fourth wall. The animation style is puppetry but there is no reason for him to let us know that he knows that he’s a puppet. Instead of the lack of variety in voice actors being a metaphor, it makes it seem like it’s just something he finds himself trapped in. Like he’s trapped in a badly-directed and under-cast animated film. And so are we. And I just wanted to get the fuck out of there. It was no longer enjoyable. Just weird for the sake of being weird.

Anomalisa 6

So in the end Charlie Kaufman takes the idea way too far. He needed a completely separate director. Someone to take his ideas and show them to us with confidence. Not bury them and make them even weirder with weird visuals and weird choices and that Charlie Kaufman claustrophobic weirdness that he’s famous for. And we’re trapped. And he’s trapped. And I’m trapped. And I just don’t want to be stuck in a hole with Charlie Kaufman in a Charlie Kaufman world filled with Charlie Kaufman weirdness.

Anomalisa 7

I just wanted to visit.

Anomalisa is an extremely creative and very interesting idea. It was funny and creepy. And bordered on enjoyable. But then you made it weird, Charlie. You had to make it weird.

– Mel

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Spared or Spoiled Reviews: The Last Witch Hunter

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

The Last Witch Hunter (Lionsgate)

The Last Witch Hunter Poster

Directed by Breck Eisner

Written by Cory Goodman, Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless

Starring Vin DieselElijah WoodRose LeslieÓlafur Darri ÓlafssonJulie Engelbrecht & Michael Caine

It was obvious going into this, my two hours set aside to watch The Last Witch Hunter, that it was not going to be a movie of substance. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks watching Oscar nominated films (It’s that time of year again). So I was looking at it as a sort of palette cleanser, you know. But as it turns out The Last Witch Hunter is a pretty decent story. The movie has a nice cast with Michael Caine and Rose Leslie (Ygritte from Game of Thrones) and Elijah Wood. I mean it’s unbelievably lacking in substance to the point where it’s a rather shallow film… like a puddle after a light rain. And it’s like the film-makers were more concerned with having Vin Diesel say something cool to end a scene or have him pose or look good with a sword than with telling a good story that the movie has extraordinarily little depth. But sometimes after so much Oscar nominated heaviness, you can use a little shallow. Something light. And honestly the film had its moments.

Verdict: SPARED

“There’s something missing. I’m not sure what it is.” “My sword’s not on fire.” “That’s it.”

The Last Witch Hunter tells the story of an ancient hunter of witches (hence the name) who is condemned to live forever by the witch queen. Vin Diesel is that Hunter. So the movie starts off with this cool ancient battle between him & his boys and the witch queen & her brood. And then continues into the present. There are lots of cool visuals. And by that I mean things and situations that are set up to look cool. Or to make Vin Diesel feel cool. Here he is with a flaming sword. Here he is as an ancient warrior. This is Vin’s fantasy (he’s a big fantasy gamer) and we’re just lucky that he’s let us watch.

Rose-Leslie-in-The-Last-Witch-Hunter

“So you like to watch, do you?”

But then Ygritte from Game of Thrones comes into the picture and I don’t have to tell you that I have a huge crush on this girl. “You know nothing, Jon Snow” She’s so fucking awesome (she shows up in the last season of Luther [far too short a season if you ask me] and kills it). And you know she’s cool in this as well. I definitely want to see more of her. In The Last Witch Hunter she plays a young witch (a good witch?) who grew up hearing scary stories about Vin’s immortal witch hunter. Bedtime stories designed to make a young witch follow the rules.

The Witches Council The Last Witch Hunter

The Witches Council

You see there’s this uneasy truce between the hunter and the witches. They don’t involve humans in any of their shenanigans and he doesn’t kill them all with a sword. Because not only is he The Last Witch Hunter but now that he’s immortal they have no chance. It’s a great back story to a movie that totally lacked any substance whatsoever. But was still a pretty decent movie… considering.

Vin Diesel is The Last Witch Hunter

“My sword is on fire that makes me a bad-ass.”

There are many things in The Last Witch Hunter that are borrowed from other series and other movies. Or maybe we’ve reached a saturation point with fantasy ideas. And everything new is a little derivative of everything else. I don’t know. There’s an order of priests who pass down their knowledge from generation to generation like Fifth Element. And there are other things that leap out that remind me of Harry Potter or The Mortal Instruments. But I think maybe I’m expecting originality where there’s little room for it.

The Last Witch Hunter Witch Queen

The Witch Queen

In the end, the movie was not that bad. It held my attention and Ygritte was hot (and you know how I like redheads) and Vin Diesel does his best Sly Stallone impression and Michael Caine played Alfred from Batman Begins and Elijah Wood was Frodo (I almost called him Elijah Frodo) and the movie was alright. Not that bad. The Last Witch Hunter is not Citizen Kane or even Citizen Kane goes to Hogwarts but it was also not a complete waste of two hours and I could even stand a sequel.

Rose Leslie and Vin Diesel in The Last Witch Hunter

“What would we even do in a sequel?” “I don’t know. I could get another flaming sword.” “Again with the sword? What is it with you and that sword?”

The Last Witch Hunter is a movie without substance but some pretty cool style and some interesting bits stolen from other things but it wasn’t half bad. Not that bad.

The Last Witch Hunter Vin Diesel

“Swords on fire look cool. Just ask Manjushri or Avalokiteshvara.”

And yes Vin Diesel looks cool with a flaming sword. So what else do you need?

– Mel

Spared or Spoiled Reviews: The Big Short

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

The Big Short (Paramount Pictures)

The Big Short poster

Directed by Adam McKay

Written by Adam McKay & Charles Randolph  Based on The Big Short by Michael Lewis

Starring Christian BaleSteve CarellRyan Gosling & Brad Pitt

There are no words. There are no words to describe how much I love this movie. I loved everything about it… everything but the plot. However that’s not the movie’s fault. The Big Short is about the housing crisis of 2008. More accurately it’s about the people who saw it coming. But not just saw it coming they bet on it happening and then made millions and billions and billions of billions while millions of people lost their homes and their jobs and their lives and their minds and their money. This is a movie about the real villains. Except with varying degrees of villainy, they are all evil. The Big Short deftly handles the amazing feat of making you root for the end of the world. Making you root for the bubble to burst. Making you root for the villains. We all know it happens. This movie makes you want it to happen. It made me feel sick to my stomach. I fucking love this movie.

Verdict: SPARED

Steve Carrell in The Big Short

“I have a question please. When you say the movie made you sick to your stomach and then you say how much you loved it, do you know how crazy that sounds?”

The Acting

Steve Carrell is astonishing in The Big Short and I had no idea he could act. This is the first movie I have ever seen him in that was good. Christian Bale from Batman Begins is his insanely great self. But he always does great work. And the movie includes beautiful cameos from some of my favorite TV actors like Karen Gillan from Doctor Who and Max Greenfield from New Girl. But each and every one of these people are dirt-bags. They play finance and real estate douches and assholes. All of them. There is this fantastic scene where they’re leaving Las Vegas and they all get into different types of cars. Into different sizes and kinds of transportation and it is amazing. You see the different levels of villainy. And then the celebrities who play themselves like Margot Robbie and Selena Gomez and I’m guessing some other people.

Margot Robbie in The Big Short

“Really? Some other people? There’s just me. I’m in a bubble bath. Margot Robbie in a bubble bath. What else do you need? Now stop all this nonsense and loofah my back. Now please!”

The Directing

Adam McKay’s direction is phenomenal. The Big Short is fantastic. He handles several narrators from several different pods and throws in a paper-thin fourth wall that anyone can break through at any time. And they do. They all do. And it’s wonderful. He allows for far-in-the-weeds economic exposition by having different celebrities in strange situations describe the various banking and mortgage jargon and laws and stuff. And it’s amazing. This is a disaster movie. This is The Day After, Earthquake the movie, The Towering Inferno and it’s funny. Even though it’s not really funny at all. This stuff killed people and ruined lives but here it’s very fucking funny. And as it turns out nobody wants to hear about banking and real estate unless it’s got tits & ass and it’s making them laugh.

Brad Pitt in The Big Short

“Am I laughing? Do I look like I’m laughing? This is serious business. Am I a joke to you? Am I a clown here for your amusement? Ahhhh I’m just kidding. Have a drink.”

The Writing

The Big Short is a great script based on a book by Michael Lewis. I love the metaphors and the language. The characters are bigger than life. And while sure they’re based on real people. These are all real people. But nobody talks that cool. Come on. This is like if Quentin Tarantino wrote about bankers. This is great dialogue. And I learned so much about credit swaps and sub-prime mortgages and CDO’s but that’s real banking. All this shit really happened. But again, and I need to keep saying this, while these guys are making a mint, many more people are losing their shirts… to Short, you see, means to bet on something to lose. To bet on people losing their jobs and their homes. This was the biggest crash since the big crash. There was a lot to lose… and a lot to gain from it.

Christian Bale in The Big Short

“You’re not gonna try to talk banking are you? Because there’s no way this is gonna turn out well. Or politics. Please don’t talk politics. It’s not gonna work without Margot Robbie in a bubble bath.”

The Banking

In my opinion, there is a real devil here. And it’s money. The love of money and the love of making money. They say what we needed back then were better regulations. But more than that, what we needed was better mental health care and screening for bankers and hedge fund managers. We needed to weed out the psychopaths and sociopaths who, no matter what rules we create, would always find a way to game the system for their own advantage. Because when you lack compassion, then the things that others would deem unthinkable become ways to win. Schemes implemented that destroy people’s lives in order to make money are set into motion with a smile. And that’s not going to end people. We’re not going to regulate out the ability for the evil to rob the innocent. You don’t stop wolves with a fence. You stop the wolves by getting a dog. Something to spot those people and prevent them from getting anywhere near that much power. Just like psychopaths shouldn’t be allowed to have guns, they shouldn’t be allowed to have hedge funds and they shouldn’t be allowed to run banks either.

“Wait… you can’t… no… there’s no way you could… that’s not something that… he knows that’s crazy, right? Mel’s blog is so weird today. Wasn’t this a movie review a minute ago?”

The Politics

And we keep electing these same sociopaths to public office. Sociopaths and career politicians. You can say we need to reward honesty, except the truth is subjective. And language is used against us to justify all manner of abhorrent behavior. Remember when the first thing on a politician’s resume was how honest they were. These days we allow people to feign sincerity and promise the world. And again and again they prove themselves unworthy of the office we give them. Because those who are worthy don’t want it. Our nomination process is horrible at all levels. Wanting to be in office should be evidence enough that these people should not be. They can say anything as long as it sounds like something that we want or that we fear. When someone comes along and tells you the brutal truth, not some wish list of what the world would look like in your particular ideological fantasy but the brutal truth about what can be done and what can not be done, then that person, that unpopular truthful person, should be nominated for office. But it seems we’d rather be lied to. And we need to stop rewarding this behavior.

The Big Short movie

“Wasn’t this supposed to be a movie review? Can you tell me what happened to that? Now we’re getting political platitudes from a guy with a blog.” “Um. I hate to tell you this. But that’s what blogs are used for. Like all the time.” “I did not know that.”

The Award Season

The Big Short is an important movie. It is an important lesson in a financial system run amok. But also a lesson in reality. There are laws and rules and regulations but because we have a system that is far and away a monster of our own creation, we have little hope of reining it in. The Big Short is a fun and funny movie about a financial disaster that actually happened and will happen again. But instead of pretending that there will be a way to control this monster. We should all stop feeding it. Divest completely. No matter what your financial planner tells you, he or she is lying or being lied to. No matter what a politician promises you, he or she knows that it’s not possible or they’re too naive to know. But either way, we need to starve the beast before it kills us all.

Christian Bale from The Big Short

“What we need is more artists in office and less bankers and lawyers and rich kids and thieves.”

How do we do that you ask? I don’t know. I’m just a guy with a blog.

The Big Short is one of the best movies of the year. But it’s also an important film that everyone should see. If it wins the Academy Award then maybe more people will.

The Oscar race is heating up this year… at least in my house it is.

– Mel

Spared or Spoiled Reviews: Creed

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

Creed (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)

Creed Poster

Directed by Ryan Coogler

Written by Ryan Coogler & Aaron Covington  Based on Characters by Sylvester Stallone

Starring Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa ThompsonPhylicia Rashad & Anthony Bellew

Creed is a pure Rocky film. One of the best of the franchise in fact. However it takes a while to get going. Which is weird because in the beginning I was thinking it was moving too fast. But they were just in a hurry to get to the good stuff. The Rocky stuff. The training and the fighting. And the, “I can’t do it.” “You can do it, kid.” “I can’t do it.” “You can do it!” And Creed turns out to be a really good Rocky film. Not the best dialogue. Not so very original. But with great performances. Especially Sylvester Stallone. This is his best performance since the first Rocky. Nice work all around.

Verdict: SPARED

“Someday, Rocky my friend, all this will be yours.” “Eh. This is Philadelphia. I don’t want this crap.” “Oh yeah I forgot. Mel’s a Met fan. Someday, Rocky, all this will be NYC parking.”

You know that one movie that always makes you cry… like waterworks. Every time you watch it, it still makes you cry. With other movies you might cry the first time but if you watch it again… nothing. No tears. That’s the way it is usually. But there’s always that one film that gets you every time. For me that film is Rocky. Because watching Rocky for me, and I’ve seen it more times than I can count, is like turning on a faucet. And it’s always at the same point. At the end, right after the big fight. He gives Apollo all he’s got and then the bell rings, the camera pulls out and then those motherfucking strings kick in. And my eyes open up like a fire hose. But that’s the part that gets me. Then he starts yelling for his girl, “Adrian!” and she starts yelling back, “Rocky!” and he’s yelling, “Adrian!” and I’m weeping like a newborn. It’s disgusting. Every. Single. Time.

Creed

“Adrian. We did it.” “That’s so funny. You’re really funny. Now who the fuck is Adrian?”

So what I’m trying to say is this movie, Creed, had a lot to live up to because Rocky I is sensational. Rocky II is like an exorcism. Rocky III, Rocky IV. They’re all good. The series loses me after those. So I really didn’t expect Creed to even rate with the classics but it does. It actually does. And that was a pleasant surprise.

Rocky and Creed Speed Bag

“Real men don’t cry at movies, do they Rocky?” “Everybody who can feel cries at something. But only real men can admit it.” “Yeah but real men don’t blog right?” “Shut up and hit the bag.”

This is the Rocky story with a twist but they’re all the Rocky story with a twist. That’s what it is. Just like The Force Awakens is the Star Wars movies with a twist and Fury Road is the Mad Max story with a twist. No one’s asking you to reinvent the wheel. It is what it is. Just give the people what they want.

Creed Movie Rocky

“You see that guy? That’s your worse enemy.” “That’s you, Rock.” “Nah. Nah. I meant the other…oh shit that is me. I look good.” “You need to lose that hat.” “Never!”

We want the underdog. He’s mad at the world. We want the old veteran. He takes the kid under his wing. We want the training. Good god do we want the training. Can we get some cool training montages up in here. We want the build up. We want the villain. And we want the big fight. Creed delivers. Creed delivers wonderfully. Great Rocky movie.

Tessa Thompson and Michael B Jordan

“Tessa. I know for a fact that Mel likes you.” “No he doesn’t. He’s hated every movie I’ve ever done.” “Maybe? But he liked YOU in them.” “You messing with me, Michael?” “I’m serious.” “Then what the hell am I doing here with you?”

Michael B. Jordan is good as the young Creed, son of the former champion. And that boy’s body is in another class altogether. Good lord. And Tessa Thompson plays his love interest. Someone needs to write an amazing character for my girl to sink her teeth into. I’m thinking a misunderstood villain would be nice. I see her in everything and she’s got this amazing presence. And I’m thinking she’s gonna be big. She just hasn’t had the script that she deserves yet. But it’s coming. And then there’s Sly. Believe the hype. He is wonderful in this. This is Stallone in his element. This is the character that made him famous. Like Schwarzenegger returning to Terminator, he returns to Rocky with the best performance of his career. Hands down.

Michael B. Jordan as Creed

“If you drop your hands. You get punched in the face. So keep your damn hands up.”

The writing is so so. Full of clichés. Rocky is a cliché at this point. Rocky means an underdog with a shot at the title. To train like Rocky is when someone uses unconventional methods of training like chasing chickens or beating on sides of beef. So there was not a lot of heavy lifting in the script. The direction is good. It takes a while to get really going but once it is it’s full throttle all the way. Ryan Coogan is proving to be a talented young film-maker. This is a good movie. Creed goes right in there with the other Rocky’s. I would say it was my third favorite Rocky film. Nice work.

Sylvester Stallone and Michael B Jordan

“His third favorite?” “Yeah Rocky.” “Well, how many have I been in?” “I don’t know. A hundred.” “Can we win this one?” “Wrong movie, Rock.” “Oh yeah. That was Rambo.”

And yes. In answer to your question. Yes. The bell rings. The fight ends. And the music kicks in. And yes I cried. The tears streamed down my face. I’m like Pavlov’s dog now except with weeping like a little girl after a boxing match in a movie. It’s awful.

They got me again.

– Mel

Spared or Spoiled Reviews: The Revenant

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

The Revenant (20th Century Fox)

The Revenant poster

Directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Written by Mark L. Smith & Alejandro G. Iñárritu  Based on The Revenant by Michael Punke

Starring Leonardo DiCaprioTom HardyDomhnall GleesonWill Poulter & Forrest Goodluck

The Revenant is a revenge fantasy. Beautifully photographed and superbly directed, it is gorgeous. The movie is raw and violent and untamed like the early midwest. Leonardo DiCaprio is fantastic but he isn’t the stand-out performance in the movie because Tom Hardy is amazing as the focus of Leo’s revenge. This is the bloody and savage wilderness. And it is brutally savage. This is the beginnings of the slaughter of Native Americans and the raping of the land. But it is as lovely as it is grizzly. And believe me, it is grizzly. I kid you not. The Revenant is fucking awesome.

Verdict: SPARED

Leo DiCaprio in The RevenantFirst things first. Alejandro Iñárritu is an incredible artist. I have searched far and wide for the next Stanley Kubrick and I think I’ve found him. Like Kubrick his movies are astonishing and beautifully animated epic photographs. His actors give performances that are head and shoulders above everything else they’ve done in their careers. And his stories are complex and intricate tales of the deeper and darker sides of the human experience. He’s just insanely good at his job.

The Revenant chase

Leonardo DiCaprio is sensational. He may finally win that Oscar after all. And like Matt Damon in The Martian, he finds himself alone in a harsh environment and must summon the will to survive against incredible odds. But unlike Damon, he doesn’t spend the time alone talking to himself. Actually Leo has very few lines in the movie (Like Charlize Theron in Fury Road, or Tom Hardy in the same movie) but DiCaprio makes you feel his pain. Every last bit of it. And there’s a lot to go around.

The Revenant

However for me, Tom Hardy’s is the truly astonishing performance. This is the best I’ve ever seen him. And looking at his credits, he’s consistently good in everything. He is not just the villain of this piece. He is all the negative emotions. He is fear. He is impatience. He is ego. And he is greed. He is amazing in the film. You can hate him sometimes and you can feel sorry for him but you can still fucking hate him. There are two fantastic performances in The Revenant. And while I can possibly live without DiCaprio getting an Oscar, Tom Hardy is the best I’ve seen. He really deserves one.

Tom Hardy in The Revenant

Trigger warning. The movie treats women badly. It’s a testosterone fest. The French and European and early American adventurers didn’t bring their wives with them. They instead raped (or sometimes fell in love with) the Native American women they stole from the tribes that they sacked and pillaged along the way. The Revenant is a cruel movie, racist and sexist and awful. Everyone is awful. But so is the land and the weather and the animals. Everyone talks about that bear scene. It’s as bad as they say. But who ever said it was a rape scene is mistaken. The bear is female for one. She’s just protecting her cubs. Again, the movie is very cruel to everything and everyone. No animals excluded.

The Revenant starring Leonardo DiCaprio

And while I’m not a big fan of revenge movies, I do love a good survival flick. So to me, The Revenant is less about revenge and more about survival. (survival in order to get some revenge). And there’s some pretty cool survival fantasy shit in this movie. While Matt Damon had his science to help him, Leonardo’s guy has just his will to survive. And he’s a little superhuman at times. And it’s at those times where they lose me. So that’s why I think The Martian is a better movie. But as a fantasy survival revenge western, The Revenant is a gorgeous throwback to the good old days. This is the best gritty western movie since Eastwood’s Unforgiven.

Tom Hardy The Revenant

The Revenant is a beautiful movie. Brutally unforgiving and emotionally draining. And even though I want The Martian to win best picture this year, I kind of think The Revenant will beat it by a whisker. The whiskers of a very large and pissed off grizzly bear.

– Mel

Spared or Spoiled Reviews: The Diary of a Teenage Girl

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

The Diary of a Teenage Girl (Sony Pictures Classics)

Diary-Poster

Written & Directed by Marielle Heller  Based on The Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures by Phoebe Gloeckner

Starring Bel PowleyAlexander SkarsgårdKristen WiigChristopher MeloniAustin Lyon & Quinn Nagle

I saw The Diary of a Teenage Girl a few days ago.

Verdict: SPARED

The-Diary-of-a-Teenage

“Yes. I know. He’s gonna review the movie now. No. I haven’t read it yet but I was… what do you mean he wimps out? How do you wimp out on a movie review?”

You know me. I try to be as honest as possible at all times, because I believe it’s a waste of energy to lie to someone. If I need to lie to a person then I must not respect them or know them and then why the hell am I talking to them. And that’s my general view on conversation. I try to do the same thing with my blog. To be completely honest. But being honest doesn’t mean everyone needs to know everything. Take sex for instance. I talk about sex all the time but not about my own sex life or my sexual experiences, unless I think it makes a good story and my experiences might help someone.

Alexander Skarsgard and Bel Powley in The Diary of a Teenage Girl

“You know. When I’m 50, you’ll just be turning 30.” “Yes. And when I turn 30, you’ll still be in prison.” “Wait… What?” “Just kidding.”

But here is a movie, The Diary of a Teenage Girl, that is ostensibly about sex. An incredibly well-made Indie film told from the point of view of a teenage girl. A film that I took so very personally, I didn’t even want to write a review of it. Hell, I didn’t even want people to see it. I wanted to cover it up with a blanket and tell you people to stay out of my room. STAY OUT OF MY ROOM.

Diary of Teenage Girl comic book collector

“I’ve got the weirdest feeling like someone’s in my room screwing up my comic book collection.”

I saw The Diary of a Teenage Girl a few days ago. The movie is so good it felt like I was watching myself at that age. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned this, but when I write these reviews, I write them straight away. That’s why they’re always so emotional. I don’t give myself time to think about the movie. I just right down my first impressions. Although, I don’t usually post them. I go back a couple of days later and edit and ease back on the hyperbole or my general disgust or the cursing. But I watched The Diary of a Teenage Girl a few days ago and I’m still not sure, even after all this time, if I can write my thoughts on the film and post them where people can see them. I’m still not sure I want to.

diary of a teenage girl Kristen Wiig and Alexander Skarsgard

“I think it’s the clothes. Do you think it’s the clothes? I think it’s the 70’s clothes reminding Mel of his childhood and it’s freaking him the fuck out. Do you think it’s the clothes?” “Yeah. Yeah. Sure. It’s the clothes. You got any more of that cocaine?” “It’s gotta be the clothes.”

And it was hard to watch at times. The Diary of a Teenage Girl was hard to watch a lot of the times because I felt uncomfortable from the first scene to the last. With the drugs and the sex and the relationships. And I love that. If you’re a regular reader of my blog then you know I absolutely love when that happens. I like when a film challenges my world view or my self view and this movie did that. I just took it so personally. And obviously I was never a teenage girl. I was never a girl. I was never a white girl. I wasn’t even a teenager in the 70’s. But this fucking movie felt so familiar and so personal and so much like an invasion of my own sexual identity that… I don’t want to talk about it.

diary-of-a-teenage-girl

“Do you think you might be bisexual?” “Maybe.” “Well, do you think you might be a sex addict?” “That’s possible too.” “Do you want to kiss me?” “Ya damn right I do.”

The Diary of a Teenage Girl was titillating. And that made me uncomfortable because I’m a grown ass man at this point. And again the main character’s a teenage girl and it was provocative. The film takes place in the seventies but if it were made back in the seventies it would have never gotten anything less than an X rating. And not because it’s porn. It’s not porn by anyone’s standards. But because it’s about this teenage girl, portrayed superbly by Bel Powley, who is in charge of her own sexuality. And that’s definitely something that would scare the shit out of people in the seventies.

the-diary-of-a-teenage-girl

“Do you think this movie would have scared people in the 70’s?” “I think my haircut would have scared people. I think your parenting would have scared people. I think my relationship with…” “Okay I get it. Eat your sandwich.”

The Diary of a Teenage Girl was creative and artistic and not just sexually but socially and politically and graphically with bits of animation and flights of fancy that fit the fantasies of the young subject and narrator. And still the sheer amount of ways I identified with the main character are far too many to mention. And like I said, I don’t really want to.

The Diary of a Teenage Girl

“Is this an inappropriate relationship?” “Yes.” “You’re still very hot though.” “I know. It’s a curse.” “Should I even be in a bar?” “It was a different era. Drink your beer.”

I saw The Diary of a Teenage Girl a few days ago. It’s a really good movie. I mean, one of the best films of the year. It’s an indie gem for sure with a great cast. Well written and directed with fantastic performances. Kristen Wiig is impressive. Alexander Skarsgard is still smoking hot but kind of creepy in this one. And Bel Powley is a revelation. She’s amazing. And I highly recommend it. I just don’t think I’ll be able to write a review of it. And I’m sorry. The movie was just too personal for me. I feel like I’ve let you all down.

Dear Diary of a Teenage Girl you rocked

“Dear Diary, Has Mel lost his damn mind? This was a review. A pretty good one. Also if this old bitty keeps giving me side-eye I’m gonna have to cut a bitch.”

But you know me. I’ll make it up to you guys somehow.

– Mel

Spared or Spoiled Reviews: The Intern

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

The Intern (Warner Bros. Pictures)

The Intern poster

Written & Directed by Nancy Meyers

Starring Robert De NiroAnne Hathaway & Rene Russo

The Intern is a funny and cute and fairly enjoyable movie with two of my favorite actors. I thoroughly enjoyed the first ninety minutes or so. I laughed a lot. I smiled through most of it and laughed more than I thought I would. The Intern was so good for an hour and a half. I kept asking myself why this movie didn’t do better at the box office. This is a fun movie. And then something happened. I don’t know what happened. It just lost all sense of joy. The last thirty minutes of The Intern is like a completely different film. It’s so bad. I can’t tell you how bad the movie gets without spoiling it. So… Here we go.

Verdict: SPOILED

The Intern Anne Hathaway Robert DeNiro

“I think he likes it. He calls us whimsical. That’s good.” “Keep reading.”

SPOILER ALERT

The Intern is the whimsical little story of retired widower Robert DeNiro who takes a job as an intern at an online start-up. A clothing company run by Anne Hathaway. Well not Anne Hathaway but a character she’s playing. And the intern isn’t actually Robert DeNiro. You know what, I’m just going to assume from here on that you know how movies work.

The Intern Robert DeNiro

“Dear Mel, That was a whimsical little joke.” “Oh my god. You’re so bad, Bobby.” “Not so funny when the shoe’s on the other foot is it, Mel ?” “You’re a wild man.” “Signed, not Robert DeNiro.”

I really liked the story. I really liked the rest of the young cast and of course Robert DeNiro is extremely likable and cute as the retiree. Anne Hathaway, who I seem to like more than most people, is great here too as the overworked CEO. Everything was going well. The movie was fun and funny and all the characters were evolving nicely. Minor characters. Major characters. All good. It was like watching a full season of an award-winning workplace sitcom. (this story would make a great sitcom)

“Where are you going, Anne?” “I don’t like the way this review is developing. I’m gonna give Mel a piece of my mind.” “There is no Mel. He’s a made-up internet persona.” “That can’t be right.”

Then depression sets in. It’s like Nancy Meyers didn’t know what hurdle to put in her heroes way. And what she decides comes way out of left field. All of sudden Anne Hathaway is crying (I have no problem with tears). Her husband is cheating (I have no problem with cheating). DeNiro and her are in a hotel in their robes on a bed. (That kind of bothered me). It’s a really awkward scene. What the hell is Nancy doing?

The Intern Adam Devine

“That’s an honest question.”

The movie feels like a Romantic Comedy except that the two romantic leads are not compatible or destined or even attracted to each other. And they aren’t going to fall in love and we all know it. They’re falling in friendship. And I thought that was amazing. A beautiful twist on the RomCom genre. Loved the cast. Loved the plot. So enjoyable… for a while.

the-intern Robert DeNiro Rene Russo

“I just want to commend you on your joke from earlier. It was really funny.” “Thank you. I worked hard on that.” “Who’s sending me dick pics?”

It feels like Nancy Meyers used a RomCom template to write The Intern. She’s written enough really good Romantic Comedies that she probably has a formula. But this felt like she was writing blind. It’s like she needed to have the two main characters end up in bed together even though it made no sense. So she created this stupid trip to California and a straight out of left field infidelity story and all of a sudden this wasn’t the movie we were just watching. And why are Robert DeNiro and Anne Hathaway in bed?

The Intern Anne Hathaway

“Find out what movie Mel was watching. Pick up my dry cleaning. Send Mel a thank you letter for all the times he said I was hot. And look up the world record for balancing on a bike.” “Got it.”

The Intern is straight up bait and switch. And at the end, after all the weirdness, it feels like the writer just runs out of steam and ends the movie in a huff. In a sort of – I don’t know. Whatever – the end. Leaving the audience with nothing changed since the San Francisco melt down. The CEO stays with her husband. She stays with her job. The Intern stays an intern even though he should be running the place. Nothing happens. Nothing changes. Nobody learns anything. The End. Roll the credits. Thank you for your money.

The Intern

“Thank you for your money.” “No. Thank you for your money.” “Say thank you for your money, Marcy.” “No. Because I don’t make nearly as much as the two of you. And my name’s not Marcy.”

The Intern is a good idea for a movie that didn’t have an ending so writer and director Nancy Meyers just decided to annoy the audience for the final half hour with a conflict that came out of nowhere and went nowhere.

But man the first ninety minutes were pretty damn good.

– Mel