Howdy, Exiles! What a week! Another What’s On The Grill in which we get to share what we’ve watched, going to watch or had a close friend describe watching in painstaking detail.
With all the Comicon news and another great roast, it’s hard to remember how much else has gone on (from a film/TV viewing-stuff standpoint).
A usual, I’ve had a share of things going on, some old, some new. I’ll count ’em down for you!
1.Thir13en Ghosts: I don’t know if this movie qualifies as a guilty pleasure film or not. It has some remarkably solid world building, healthy cheese, great actor chemistry and some nice scares. I can’t call it a great film, but it’s rewatchable and fun could almost exist as part of the Ghostbusters universe, albeit a darker one. Like Ghostbusters, it’s based (loosely) on an earlier iteration, mostly forgotten. B-
2.Looper: I have to say, this movie has become immensely more enjoyable with a re-view. I wasn’t a fan of the first time I saw it, suspecting that the hook (as is for most time travel films) of finding out exactly how the convoluted mess happened, was insubstantial. People were making charts about the Rainmaker and this all seemed secondary to the point of the film, which was to step into a weird but grounded future with understated sci fi elements, all stuff that I hope Rian Johnson gets to really explore in The Last Jedi. Star Wars has always been stronger when it deals with a lived-in, functional universe, not the amount of Force backflips we see. B+
3.Con-Air: This movie is cinematic proof that Michael Bay can make fine, fun movies that go large on action but not at the expense of story. Casual racist and homophobic undertones remind one that this is a movie from a different era, you can either roll with them or not. Bay doesn’t apologize. He just makes you cheer for the good guy and hope the bad guy has his head flattened in a convenient rock crushing machine. Er, spoilers. B
4.Face/Off: Continuing the Nick Cage-athon, this movie is an exercise in epic-ness. There’s an operatic quality to everything; the bad guys aren’t just bad, they’re hilarious comic villains. The good guys are troubled heroes with dark pasts. People get their faces swapped. The gunfights (I’m just saying it: funfights) are of such a larger-than-life scale that they belong on the roof of the Sistine chapel. Which probably fits, with all the doves. Yet interwoven in the lunacy is some genuine moments of earnest performance from both Cage and Travolta. Woo tricks you into liking bad guy Castor Troy (as Travolta), then rips your growing admiration away like an involuntary Brazilian wax. The barely repressed insanity of Sean Archer (as Cage) gives way to a guy who seems to be kind of settling into his pretend-badguy role a little too easily. Perhaps unlike Bay, there really is some deft talent going on under all the bluster. It may be weird and misplaced and occasionally hysterical, but an artisan sculpted this particular monument to what-the-hell-did-I-just-see. A
I needed to chill out after this, but stay in the 90s for a while longer.
Beverly Hills Ninja: This movie happened and if you haven’t seen it yet, you probably should. I can’t guarantee you a laugh. You might even just make it through the whole thing without a chuckle. But it’s Chris Farley pretending to be a ninja, falling on his ass dozens of times and palling around with Chris Rock who does sneak in a few pretty hilarious gags that I’m not even convinced that the director heard right. I could say something along the lines of ‘anyone born after 2005 will find this movie funny in exactly the same way that you find old Charlie Chaplin routines funny’ and I probably wouldn’t be lying, but torture your kids with this anyway. They probably deserve it. C+
Agents of SHIELD season 4: Watch this if you’ve enjoyed (on some level) previous seasons of the same show. If not, disregard. Ghost Rider’s cool and all, but this show has well and truly found its rhythm and nothing’s going to change that tempo now. I got super excited about the final scene which teases next season, but then remembered that this show will be exactly the same, albeit elsewhere. Picture a handful of dirt. In this dirt are a dozen rusty thumbtacks and a few used band-aids, but also a nugget of gold. This show in a nutshell. C
Peepshow Series 1: Hey, you know how a lot of British comedies are all about the awkward cringing moment of a massive social faux-pas? Like that time you went to a job interview and farted loudly for a full minute and then tried to blame the interviewer? And then threatened legal action? This show is exactly the same with a gimmick that the Odd Couple flatmates see eachother through single camera, emulating their exact points of view. It’s not particularly effective, but the comedy’s solid. In that it’s a show about terrible people being terrible, it’s probably a reasonable British answer to It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Or vice-versa if you prefer, given that it predates Always Sunny by two years. B
The Lovely Bones: This is a first watch for me; I avoided the original screening because it didn’t seem to be something I cared to see but it’s funny what you’ll throw on Netflix at 2am. This movie did not disappoint on any real level other than the very end; Stanley Tucci was a memorable, horrific monster; Wahlburg demonstrated that he has fantastic range with the right script and youngster Saoirse Ronan bought the character of Suzie Salmon to believable life (and death). Nail-biting scenes give way to gorgeous CGI scenery of the afterlife. The final act definitely had a message to give the audience, but frankly it lost its way a little and the film just kind of tapers out in a fashion that is probably not satisfying to most viewers. But the road there was spectacular, vibrant, beautifully scripted and directed with earnest skill.
Not as new-agey than What Dreams May Come and less cerebral than Life of Pi, this movie is still a beautiful gem, albeit deeply flawed. Impossible to rate at this time.
What about you, brave Exiles? What have you seen this week? Any movie plans or favorite shows that have kept you on the edge of your seats?
Sound off below!