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.”
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. 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.
“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 Elba, Richard Madden, Charlotte Le Bon, Eriq 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.
Addicted to Fresno (Gravitas Ventures)
Directed by Jamie Babbit
Written by Karey Dornetto
Starring Natasha Lyonne, Judy Greer, Molly Shannon, Fred Armisen, Ron 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.
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.
Bad Moms (STX Entertainment)
Written & Directed by Jon Lucas & Scott Moore
Starring Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Jay Hernandez, Annie Mumolo, Jada 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.” “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.”
The Accountant (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Directed by Gavin O’Connor
Written by Bill Dubuque
Starring Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J. 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.
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.
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.
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.
and lastly… we revisit Harley & Company
Suicide Squad Extended Cut (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Written & Directed by David Ayer
Starring Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Ike Barinholtz, Scott 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 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.