Free Association or Limited Connectivity

Here are four items that have nothing in common except that I watched them this past week. Enjoy.

Beginners (Mills, 2011)

The best movie of the week (not a whole lot of competition there) for me was Beginners. It stars Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, and the beautiful Melanie Laurent most notable for her role as Shosanna in Inglourious Basterds (Tarantino, 2009). The story follows Oliver Fields and takes place at three different times in his life: as a young kid growing up during the 70’s (just guessing by the outfits and sets) observing his parents externally dead relationship and being taught life lessons by his peculiar mother, then many years later and sometime after his mother’s death when his father announces that he is gay and dying of cancer, and then two months after his father’s death while he is trying to find a lasting relationship avoiding at all costs his parents mistakes. Directed by Mike Mills who also did Thumbsucker (2005) starring Lou Taylor Pucci who was also in The Chumscrubber (Posin, 2005), I have nothing to say about either person or either movie I just like the way Thumbsucker and Chumscrubber sound together. Christopher Plummer won best supporting actor for his role which looking over the other nominees seems justified. Warrior (O’Connor, 2011) was a more favorable movie in my opinion but I don’t think Nick Nolte out performed Christopher Plummer. Jonah Hill gave a surprisingly good performance in Moneyball (Miller, 2011) but again most likely not better than Plummer (although I would have liked to see Jonah Hill win an Oscar to really drive home the theme last year that comedic actors can win at the Academy Awards). Kenneth Branagh and Max von Sydow were obviously great but neither role stood out nearly as much as Plummers. The movie is pretty quirky and fun while simultaneously dealing with some serious and dramatic problems. Nothing else to add really.

Birdemic: Shock and Terror (Nguyen, 2010)

I can’t tell if I have a lot to say about this or nothing at all (turns out a lot). I want to assume quite a few people did exactly what I did this week – saw Birdemic 2: The Resurrection (Nguyen, 2012) on the front page of IMDb, wondered what the fuck it was doing there, found out that the first one was on Netflix instant play, and then got a pretty good 90 minute laugh out of it. I am still a bit skeptical on whether or not it is intentionally or legitimately bad but after looking at the directors previous work, the most likely outcome I can imagine is that he has unwittingly done humorously horrendous movies in the past and now this Birdemic 2 is his payoff to let people laugh at him one last time. Complete speculation of course, I have not and will not look into it further. I have put a fair amount of time into watching bad movies and overlooking the recency (pretty sure it’s a real word, Microsoft is telling me I mispelled ‘regency’ but dictionary.com tells me it’s a related form of the word recent, don’t know which one to trust) bias, I want to say this is the best worst movie I have ever watched. And that, in turn, is what makes me so distrusting about its legitimacy, it hits every box on the bad movie checklist without overdoing it to an obvious effect and with so many examples out there already, the truly good bad movie genre seems an inevitably dying breed. The would-be terrible directors will no longer be able to go through life without seeing one of these and have the sense not to make one of their own, or the niche will become exploited and everyone will try their hand at it to make a quick buck until people are no longer interested, or the line will be so blurred between intentional and unintentional that the two will become indistinguishable. None of that can be for certain, of course, because that is giving people’s intelligence as well as their ability to sense the obvious the benefit of the doubt and assuming that people will easily lose interest in terribly overdone ideas which is actually more unlikely than likely. So never mind, the good bad movie genre will continue on in perpetuity I just hope that I lose interest soon.

Bad Teacher (Kasdan, 2011)

Now I have been choosing my Netflix DVD queue at random recently otherwise it would have been quite some time until I saw this movie but my prediction was that it would fall in the mediocre R-rated comedy area. I was very pleasantly surprised not only at how funny it was but also at how dirty Cameron Diaz was willing to be, I mean she was in There’s Something About Mary (Farrelly, Farrelly, 1998) but that was like ~14.125 years ago, I figured those days were behind her. So to be as brief as possible: Cameron Diaz and Phyllis Smith (Phyllis Vance from The Office (Daniels, Gervais, Merchant, 2005)) perform better, and by better I mean funnier, than expected. Jason Segal, Thomas Lennon, and John Michael Higgins perform at their usual levels of hilarity. Lucy Punch proves again that she has a lock on the crazy woman character (only ever seen her in Dinner for Schmucks (Roach, 2010)). Eric Stonestreet is severely underutilized but funny nonetheless and the only one who comes in under the bar is Justin Timberlake and that’s only because he sets the bar so damn high with his outstanding performances hosting Saturday Night Live (Michaels, 1975), I was hoping for him in The Social Network (Fincher, 2010) but I got him in The Love Guru (Schnabel, 2008). The movie is made even more impressive after finding out that the director hasn’t done much besides Orange County (2002) and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007) while the writers only have a handful of The Office episodes and Year One (Ramis, 2009) under their belts. I think they made a conscious effort to just make this as dirty as possible and pray for laughs and they succeeded. Of course if you are watching the movie after only reading this article I must disclaim. It is not actually that dirty, not even close to the dirtiest comedies out there, just dirtier than it needed to be, and certainly dirtier than I was expecting what with all those kids around and stuff. I suppose a summary couldn’t hurt, Cameron Diaz plays a gold digger who is moonlighting during the day (sunlighting?) as a teacher while she waits for Oscar award winner Nat Faxon to marry her, he doesn’t, and she is forced to continuing teaching while she searches for a new mark.

The Guild (Day, 2007)

I am trying to clear up some space in my instant queue by finishing off the shows I have watched most of but never quite finished so I decided to power through the last season of The Guild which is an internet series created by and starring Felicia Day about a group of gamers playing an MMORPG. I don’t want to overdo it but I also don’t really want to underdo it on this one. For being made for the internet, it certainly is the best I have seen but that would only be drawing from a pool of one so it sort of wins by default. If it weren’t an internet series though, it is still quite good and completely original. It limits itself by being aimed specifically at a small group of people (instead of spraying it everywhere) which I really enjoy. I don’t consider myself to be a member of the initiated but I did play WOW for a couple of weeks in high school so I can for the most part at least grasp what they are talking about. I thought the reviews would be split on this show but it has an 8.6 on IMDb, 12 mostly positive user reviews, rottentomatoes doesn’t do TV, metacritic has nothing, and that’s all the places I go to for other people’s opinions but anyway I figured they would be split because although I did not personally find it annoying there were a number of instances where I could see how people would justifiably hate on it, I guess they chose not to. Either way, this is a great show and a wonderful precedent I hope that more high quality internet shows like this start cropping up or perhaps they have and I am just not on the lookout for them, might have to look into that.

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About DonnyBagg

Doin' some movie reviews...
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