Doug Stanhope: Miserablist Triumphant!

I don’t quite know why it is, but I find myself listening to a lot of Doug Stanhope lately.  I first heard of him from his concert, Beer Hall Putsch–available on Netflix–and from there I found a lot of his podcasts and concerts on Youtube.

He’s hilarious, though more importantly, he’s a comedian with an actual point of view.  You may not agree with a lot that he says–I know I don’t–but his observations are always interesting (and even enlightening sometimes).

Another thing is that, with many comedians, you can tell that while they may walk the walk, they don’t talk the talk.  In other words, their day-to-day lives have relatively little bearing on their comedy, except in an irritatingly observational way.

Not in the case of Stanhope, though I am not sure how much of what he says stems from a love of misery or if suffering only amplifies his humor, like sunlight through a magnifying glass.

He’s also done some commentaries for the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), and all that I have seen are pretty hilarious.

His podcasts are also educational, after all, I didn’t know what the ‘Beer Hall Putsch’ referred to prior.  I also didn’t know that ‘miserablist’ was a real word (it is).

 

Beer Hall Putsch is on Netflix, and it’s definitely not meant for children.

The Interview – Review

The Interview movie poster

 “The Producers Of The Interview Should Consider The Sony Hacking Fortuitous Because There’s No Other Way Such An Otherwise Middling Movie Would Receive So Much Attention.”

When I first learned of all the hullabaloo over Sony Pictures’ The Interview, the first thing that came to mind was that if it weren’t for the hack, there’s no way the movie would warrant all the attention its received.

And I was right, though what’s I found more interesting is despite the movie being only intermittently funny it was at its best when it referred, directly or indirectly, to homosexuality (such as the bit about Eminem coming out, “honeydicking,” or using tiger blood as an anal lubricant) which can perhaps be interpreted as how infantile the movie, at heart, is.

And at the same time it’s almost anti-homosexual because there’s no other way to think about a movie that contains moments of Seth Rogen semi-nudity.

James Franco’s buys into the premise wholeheartedly, and his ‘Dave Skylark’ is pretty interesting in a vacant, opportunistic kind of way though I get the feeling that Seth Rogen as a producer aching to be taken seriously is probably the most outlandish thing about the movie.

And while Randall Park, who played Kim Jong-un, is pretty engaging as Kim Jung-un, and considered to be a rising star by some, I am willing to bet The Interview will be the most noteworthy thing on his resume.

Which wouldt be a bit disappointing.

And the movie ending with Winds Of Change, by The Scorpions is a bit…obvious.

The Interview is currently on Netflix

Serial Killing 101- Review

Trace Slobotkin‘s 2004 movie, Serial Killing 101 (otherwise known as Serial Killing 4 Dummys) is a shockingly–”shockingly” because it looks relatively cheap– entertaining movie.

Visually, the problems are due to the cinematography of John P. Tarver, who’s lighting seems to wash out virtually everything it touches.

Which is a pity because once you get beyond that, the movie is actually pretty clever, even witty, at times.

Events revolve around Casey Nolan (Justin Urich) an actor that actually looks like a high school student–which very well might have been the case at the time–casting that’s appreciated when filmmakers are too often quick to pass off twenty-somethings as teens.

He’s a bit of a slacker, and bored with school, which results in him writing a paper about his desire to be a serial killer, which  doesn’t go over too well with his teacher, Mr. Korn’s (Rick Overton), who’s intervention sets into motion a whole series of unfortunate–for Casey–events.

As I said earlier, the movie is more clever than you’d think, and shockingly fun.

Serial Killing 4 Dummys

Whatever the guy (in red circle) is staring at, it’s not Casey

It also has some big name actors, such as Thomas Hayden Church (as an tad overzealous gym teacher), a virtually unrecognizable Corey Feldman (prior to the credits, I had no idea he was even in the movie, though after a second viewing I wondered how I missed him in the first place) as a store clerk, Lisa Loeb as Sasha Fitzgerald as a serial killer enabler (?) and eventual love interest and the great George Murdock as Detective Ray Berro.

I mentioned how clever the writing of this movie was, and there was an interesting payoff of an earlier scene in the movie that’s particularly well-handled (some of the practical FX, not so much).  It shouldn’t be so surprising to see a bit that’s set up in the beginning of the movie pay off at the end, but there you go.

Things wrap up a bit too neatly–all that was missing was a bow–as Casey’s fortunes begin to turn, but that’s a small gripe.

It’s also worth mentioning the winning performance by Stuart Stone (Amil) because once you get used the character, he threatens to steal any scene he turns up in.

Serial Killing 101 isn’t a great movie; it’s barely good, though what it is fun and doesn’t take itself quite so seriously, which is an okay every once in awhile.

 

Serial Killing 101 is currently on Netflix.

 

Frank – Review

Frank movie poster

“”Frank” Is Thematically Reminiscent Of “Boyhood,” Except Stuff Happens.”

Lenny Abrahamson‘s Frank in some ways reminded me of Boyhood, in the sense that both movies are about change and growing up, but what I find most interesting how the former film is at times touching, sad, funny and irritating, as opposed to the latter, which–particularly after the second hour–became a test in audience endurance.

Frank revolves around a band, Soronprfbs, and their enigmatic lead singer, Frank (Michael Fassbender) who wears a huge paper mache head everywhere.  And I mean everywhere.

In fact, you don’t see the character without it till the last fifteen or twenty minutes of the movie.

Frank shower scene

Did I mention he NEVER takes off the fake head?

What makes Frank, the movie, though the individual is pretty interesting as well, so fascinating is that any other movie that revolved around a guy who who wore a huge paper mache head everywhere you could be relatively certain that it would be the crux of the entire movie.

Instead the movie is about growing up, and understanding that sometimes to build something beautiful you have to break it down.

I wish Boyhood were nearly as succinct and profound; though mainly succinct.

 

Frank is currently on Neflix.

Unfriended – Trailer

Gotta say, I like where this trailer is going.  Levan Gabriadze’s Unfriended looks pretty interesting and very much in the vein of The Den (if you haven’t seen it, it’s on Neflix, so check it out!).

We’re also lucky that someone decided that the original title of Cybernatural was pretty hokey–that may not have been the primary motivation for changing it, though it is–unless you’re taking about a sequel to Johnny Nemonic or something.

Unfriended seems to revolve around cyberbulling–a very real problem–among a small circle of friends, which causes one of them to kill themselves.

Or did she?  The group receives messages from the Facebook account of the dead person, which seems to indicate that whomever is on the other end of the account not only knows that one of their number instigated a suicide, but they’re willing to kill to find out which member of their group did it.

Unfriended looks like it’s relatively low-budget, in the vein of Blumhouse productions.

Though anything that makes Facebook interesting, I’m game.

Z Nation: Not Nearly As Bad As It Should Be

When Syfy premiered Z Nation a few months ago, the only thing that I was curious about was what took them so long.  The Walking Dead has been breaking ratings records for AMC for years now, so that it took so long for someone to premiere another series that revolved around the undead was a bit of a surprise (and I don’t mean high-concept pseudo-zombie series like The Returned).

If we forget for a moment the insane idea that Syfy, a network so based on science fiction that it’s actually in the name, was so late to the party and that the series is made by The Asylum (known for schlock like Sharknado, Atlantic Rim and American Battleship), it’s actually not terrible.

Trailers Somehow Possess the Magical Ability To Make Things Less Pathetic

The series revolves around a zombie apocalypse, with a rag-tag group of survivors trying to make their way to California.  The twist is that a member of their party includes a person who is apparently immune to the virus that creates zombies, which means that they have to protect him as best they can as they make their way to the West Coast.

The FX is pretty spotty, character development is just about nil, but for an Asylum feature, it’s actually pretty good.  Now, if it weren’t so lacking in logic–which is saying something considering that we’re talking about a series about the walking dead–and flimsy characterization, it could give critical darling The Walking Dead a run for its money.

What bugs me–beyond that which I already mentioned–is that everyone works way too hard not to use the word “zombie”(as if The Walking Dead has it copyrighted–and they very well may) or something, despite the fact that it’s the first word someone would use under such conditions.

 

Z Nation is currently on Netflix

Jarhead 2: Field Of Fire – Review

Jarhead 2 poster

“Jarhead 2 would be a better movie if it weren’t called “Jarhead.””

Don Michael Paul‘s Jarhead 2: Field Of Fire is a fascinating movie–which shouldn’t be mistaken for good, though it’s by no means terrible–that revolves around a platoon in Afghanistan and a mission circumstance forces them to undertake.

What makes the movie so interesting is that it’s as if the makers had never seen the original film that their movie is (supposedly) based upon.  The original Jarhead starred Jake Gyllenhaal and was based on the story of Anthony Swafford, and the American response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

Though most importantly Jarhead was less a war movie than one about the nature of war, which was depicted as long lengths of time either doing nothing or doing things that appeared on the surface to be pointless, punctuated by an occasional bout of violence, till everything was defined by the same monotonous routine.

Field Of Fire takes an opposite tack, as Josh Kelly (Chris Merrimette) and his platoon are forced to fight to defend the life of a mysterious woman who’s being transported by Navy Seal Fox (Cole Hauser).  There’s no pointlessness of violence here, though the movie does try to adapt the somewhat cynical tone of the original film, for the most part unsuccessfully.

This pointlessness extends to the rest of the movie as well, which besides conflict has little in common with the original film.

Jarhead 2: Field Of Fire is currently on Netflix