Porcelain Peak 2

Hello, Weirdos. Episode 2 of Porcelain Peak is out tomorrow. Episode 2 has a special guest cohost. We get into the first chunk of our October countdown, which includes discussion on  Splinter, Hell FestThe Nun, It FollowsVeronica Annihilation, and Hell House LLC. After, we share some real life accounts, and set listeners up with our next 7 movies.

Take a listen and follow along! Feel free to share your lists with us. We love hearing what other’s are into. And if you dig the podcast head over to Apple Podcasts and rate, review, and subscribe so we can move up the podcast ranks and reach the masses. 

At the end of the episode I challenge my cohost to write a 2 sentence horror story. We'll be sharing those next week. If you have a 2 sentence story of your own share it in the comments below and maybe we’ll read them on the episode.

 Keep on Creepin’.

New Podcast and October Happenings

Hello, Weirdos. I have some great news. My producer Randy and I had such a blast talking about The Endless we decided to start a new podcast in the same vein. The podcast is titled Porcelain Peak and will consist of all things horror and science-fiction. We’re shooting for weekly episodes with the first being released on October 1st.

Episode 1 consists of a creepy story from H.P Lovecraft. We also give the first 7 movies we'll be tackling for our 31 Days of Halloween list. For the month of October each episode will consist of a discussion of what we watched and various other segments. 

Other episodes will cover movies, shows literature, games, and anything else regarding horror or science-fiction. You can expect readings, original work, andlysis & review, and a bunch more. 

Look out for episode one coming October 1st. In the mean time Keep on Creepin’ .

Beyond Black Star—The Endless

Hello, Weirdos. This last week I had the pleasure of being featured on another Hyper Forge Alpha Network podcast—the Black Star Audiobook podcast in a segment titled: Beyond Black Star. The podcast itself is an audio drama with a full cast and production. The Beyond Backstar episodes feature Randy, the host and creator, sitting down with various quests discussing various topics. This week Randy invited me on to discuss The Endless—an eerie Lovecraftian science fiction film starring Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead. The Endless is about two brothers who are mysteriously called back to a cult they left as kids. Upon their return, they begin to understand why they left to begin with. Check out the episode through the link below, and shoot Black Star a rating and review.

While you're clicking links, don't forget to head over to Apple News to follow Words For Weirdos to get live updates on all new posts. Keep on Creepin'

Where Have I Been?

Looking at the post previous to this it seems that I’ve been absent for 2 months. I figured I’d share why. Avid readers may notice some changes in site layout. All the creative writing pages have been condensed into 1 page. Movie reviews will no longer be on a separate page, but instead included right here on the main feed. A new page has been added, simply titled Podcast.  This has been one of my new projects taking up a chunk of my time. The podcast is titled Passion Project and it is an exploration of what people love. There are 4 epiosodes out with the 5th arriving this week. Topics our guests have covered include sound design, photography, content creation, and Nintendo, with Jazz guitar soon to follow. Pop over to that page and check it out. 

Another project which has taken up a lot of my time is woodworking. I know this isn’t my typical area (the website isn’t called Wood For Weirdos) but I figured I’d share what projects I’ve been up to incase anyone is interested. 

In the past couple months I’ve done 3 wood working projects. The first was a custom picture frame I made from old shelves I had around the house. I needed the frame for a puzzle. 

Not sure the type of wood. Used a table saw and a mitre box for the cuts. To fasten the pieces together I drilled holes for dowels, hit it with some glue, and hammered it all together. I hit it with a coat of gray wash stain and rubbed some of it off to give it a slight rustic look.  No bevels because I didn’t want any of the puzzle images covered. The puzzle sits within the the frame, held in place with a backing.


Using that same old shelf, I made an address sign with a planter box for my house. One of the old numbers fell off so I figured I’d take the opportunity to create something new and different. 

This piece was a bit easier to make, and the process went smoother now that I had some practice. I used a kreg jig and screws to fasten the parallel back pieces together, and to secure the frame of the planter to the back. This was my first experience with a kreg jig, but I found it simple to use and helpful. Once those pieces were settled, I used some glue and finishing nail to secure the face of the planter to the frame. Once all the wood filler settled, I sanded everything and gave it all a coat of dark stain. After that, I spayed it down with spar urethane. For the numbers I followed the directions on the packaging. The hardware for the float mount was a tad longer than the wood was thick (should have checked that before), but I made it work. To hang, I used heavy duty, outdoor 3M strips, and haven't had any issues. Grabbed a few small plants and popped them in there. I got the basic design idea from Shanty 2 Chic, but modified it to work for me.


My last project was a mantel for my fireplace. The previous owners painted the wall and the centered fireplace all a chocolate brown. Which was fine, but it needed an update. Along with changing the wall color and using a separate color on the fireplace, I decided to create a new mantel because the old was…well, old. I headed to the internet for ideas and came across Addicted 2 Decorating. Again, I used a modified version of the design to fit my fireplace and style. Unfortunately, I didn't think to take a before picture (aside from the old mantel) until after the project was in progress. Here are some photos of the mantel in various stages.

Top left was the original mantel. I was going to refinish it, but the sanding process proved more arduous than anticipated. Top center was the wood I picked up from Home Depot. Nothing special—3 cheap pieces long enough to create the new mantel. Top center shows the completed frame of the mantel during the assembling process. The frame was made of two side pieces topped with the face and nailed in place. Again, I used a table saw for all the cuts. Those pieces, and all the others, were attached using finishing nails. Once the "u" shape was settled I measured and cut pieces to fill in the sides—essentially making a lidless box. After all the glue and wood filler was dry, I sanded the entire thing using an electric hand sander using 60, 120, then 400 grit sandpaper to make it as smooth as possible. To give a solid piece of wood look, I covered both ends with a sheet of wood veneer to hide the seems; I sanded that as well to look more concise. The bottom left picture was the mantel stained. I did two coats with the same stain I used for the address planter because it matched preexisting shelves around the fireplace. After the stain, I did two coats of polyurethane. That was it! I used the system already in place from the old mantel to mount this one. You can see the finished product in the last two pictures.


Overall these projects were a fun learning experience. Each one presented new challenges, and opportunities to practice techniques I learned along the way. Although it has always interested me, I've never done any woodworking before, so this was a completely new experience. I don't have any new projects lined up, but I definitely have more ideas.

That being said, expect more classic Words For Weirdos content coming soon and regularly. Passion Project is roughly a third of the way through the first season, so keep a look out for new episodes every two weeks. Let me know what you think of the projects below, and head over to Apple Podcasts to rate, review, and subscribe to Passion Project. Thanks for reading, and Keep on Creepin'.

Franchise Fever: DCEU Part 1

Hello, Weirdos. As promised, next up on Franchise Fever is the DC Extended Universe! Last week I dove into the first two films. This week I'll be watching Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman, followed by Justice League the week after for those following along. For the remainder of this installment each movie will feature Lasso of Truth (the good), Kryponite (the bad), and The Riddler (questions). Here are my thoughts on the first two movies...

Man of Steel:

Director: Zack Snyder.

Lasso of Truth: This one I have seen multiple times. I still enjoy it. It is realistic and grounded. MOS is shot in a way that makes you feel like you're there. It feels like it could be a part of Nolan’s Dark Knight universe. They picked the right name for the film, Man of Steel  , because this movie isn’t about the alien superhero, it’s about the man, about Clark, and what it takes for him to become the hero we all know. It’s a piece about what it means to be human. Cavill and Adams kill it. It’s a movie about adults for adults. They aren’t trying to appeal to kids in the way other superhero franchises might. 

Kryptonite: The pacing is a bit slow. And the product placement is terrible. They go to an IHOP at least 3 times and crash into a Sears and 7/11. 

The Riddler: Does Martha Kent work for Sears? In a scene she is wearing a Sears laniard and a Sears polo shirt. Why? How much time passes after Zod’s defeat and when Clark goes to work at the Daily Planet? Because Metropolis got destroyed, including the Planet, yet Clark is at work by the end.

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (Ultimate Edition):

Director: Zack Snyder.

Lasso of Truth: I heard different opinions about which cut of this film to watch, so I took it to folks over at the DC reddit. Unanimously I was told to watch the Ultimate Edition. I did just that. When I saw the theatrical cut in theaters I remember never caring to see this film again. After seeing the Ultimate Edition I enjoyed this film. Lex is great. He is the conductor of the Wayne/Kent orchestra. I grew up with Smallville so I’m used to a different portrayal of Lex. Eisenberg’s performance reminds me to the Ledger Joker in his brilliance as a mastermind. But take that Joker, give him a ton of money and make him high strung like he’s on cocaine and you have this Lex. I dug it. 

Kryptonite:  I think the title is misleading because the two heroes hardly fight, which is what people were expecting. When they do it’s great, but it happens twice briefly. They stop because their moms have the same name. What? After 2.5 hours the quick hero smash up ends because mom names, and now Batman suddenly doesn’t hate Superman? Weak. This movie feels like 3 hours. It focuses on political issues, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but does bog the film down. The last weak bit for me is the superfriends gifs Wonder Woman watches. I like when they show the hero symbols—a hint, a tease to keep it interesting. Then they overdue it showing the little clips of each new character as if audiences don’t know The Flash is fast or that Aquaman swims.

The Riddler:  I honestly don’t know the answer to this, was Wayne’s mom always named Martha? Is Superman’s true identity easy to discover or is he terrible at hiding it? Two movies, two people find out who he is, except Bruce Wayne (but then he’d have found out about Martha too early).

Look out for the new installment coming next week featuring the next two films on the path to Justice League  . Keep on Creepin’  .

Franchise Fever: DC Extended Universe Announcement

Hello, Weirdos. In the shadows of the pale moonlight a series of movies lurks. Films shrouded in darkness, luckily a bat is involved. Up next on Franchise Fever is the DC Extended Universe! Currently there are 5 films in this franchise, with the 6th slated later this year. For those who want to follow along the 5 films are: Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman, and Justice League, with Aquaman arriving December 21st.

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Share your feelings toward the DCEU and check back soon for my thoughts on the beginning of this franchise! Keep on Creepin’ .

Tully Review

In order to discuss the meat of this film, there will be spoilers

In 2007 Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman released Juno—an indie look at teen pregnancy with a killer soundtrack. Their next outing together was in 2011 and starred Charlize Theron in Young Adult—a forgettable film about an author attempting to home-wreck. Seven years later Cody, Reitman, and Theron are back with 2018's Tully—an exploration of the beautiful and ugly side of motherhood. With tight dialogue, strong performances, and boldness from all parties involved, Tully succeeds as a realistic dive into complacency, stagnancy, and parenthood in a modern society.

Charlize Theron's performance as Marlo makes Tully as good as it is. She is a mess as a mother, wife, and person in general. Theron takes a role, which is often idealized and angelic, and turns the role into something grounded and authentic. One scene in particular worth mentioning is when Marlo has an altercation with the principal (Gameela Wright) of her son's (Asher Miles Fallica) school. In this scene Theron showcases her full range as the character. She is disheveled and exhausted, but attempts to remain calm and civil. Finally, something snaps, and she unleashes a mother's ferocity on Principal Laurie, while begging for honesty. Theron does not overdo it by one massive explosion, but instead presents her anger in bursts throughout the scene. She knows when to give more and when to pull it back, making for a scene full of boiled-over authenticity. Scenes as that demonstrate the confidence Theron brings to the role.

Confidence is also present with the writer and director duo of Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman, respectively. For starters they have enough confidence to release a low-key drama/comedy film in the first week of May, following Avengers: Infinity War and preceding Deadpool 2 on the 18th. Why try to compete? Because Tully is something different, something fresh. Cody and Reitman are giving the nitty-gritty side of marriage and motherhood. They are not saying adult life is detestable; they are saying adult life is difficult in particular for a middle-class mother attempting to keep up with the Joneses. What Cody has done is provide juxtaposition between gender, economic class, and age by demonstrating the differences between Marlo and her husband, her brother, and Tully. Cody's dialogue elevates the actor's performances. When Marlo is visiting her rich brother Craig (Mark Duplass), Craig is excited to show off his new bar. Marlo immediately takes a dig at him to which he warmly responds telling her to shut-up. From there the dialogue builds naturally to the conversation regarding the night nanny. Much of the dialogue goes that way. Cody starts small and allows conversations to unfold. Reitman does the same with the scenes. As a scene appears to be ending, Reitman will let it linger longer, leaving the audience uncomfortable with awkwardness. Marlo and her husband Drew (Ron Livingston) feel inadequate to Craig and his wife Elyse (Elaine Tan). Reitman establishes the inadequacy during a dinner scene filled with revealing conversation and uncomfortable silences.

Duplass and Tan play a rich, eccentric couple who are at times over-the-top and oblivious, but never become arrogant or obnoxious. Duplass uses a large, creepy smile to show his enthusiasm for his position in life. Tan goes for a quiet, minimalistic approach to demonstrate her class and comfortableness, often skipping over what people say to avoid tension. Livingston portrays a typical, overworked husband who does not spend enough time taking care of his wife. His performance is detached, and he is more or less fodder. The standout supporting cast member is Mackenzie Davis who plays Tully—the wise, insightful, free-spirit night nanny. Davis also shows confidence with this role; her character calls for it, and she exudes it through subtle bits of comedy and authoritativeness. Once she arrives onscreen she takes control of the situation, often acting as the foil and inspiration for Marlo. That being said, the Tully twist is the biggest problem with this movie.

Throughout the film, there is an eerie sense of similarity between Tully and Marlo. As the picture progresses, the similarities begin to add up. At the end it is revealed that Tully does not exist in a corporeal sense. Tully is Marlo's younger self (Tully is Marlo's maiden name) who has come back as a part of Marlo's nervous breakdown. There are plenty of hints throughout the film, so the problem does not come from the twist itself. Instead the problem is how the twist is handled. After an accident, a doctor walks up to Drew and asks if she has had a history of mental illness. But why? As an audience member there is no indication that the doctor witnessed Marlo talking to herself or even mentions Tully to the physician, so why does she bring that point up? From the outside it looks as though Marlo got into a drunk driving accident. Drew replies to Dr. Smythe stating, no, but she did have a bit of depression after her last child. And that is it. No repercussions from the drunk driving nor the supposed mental illness, and no explanation to the husband why the doctor believes Marlo might be mentally ill. Marlo says goodbye to Tully, Drew apologizes for being an absentee husband, and the film ends. It felt as though it needed a resolution after the journey.

Tully is clever in its execution. Even the poster for the movie has more to it beneath the surface. Upon first glance the poster appears to be a close up of a zoned-out Charlize Theron. But after watching the movie, the poster details everything. The pizza is a reference to Marlo making frozen dinners; the stroller and blocks are a reference to the children; the mermaid is a reference to the surreal visions Marlo has throughout the movie, which are later revealed to be her drowning; cupcakes are a reference to Marlo wanting to keep up with the other moms who make Minion cupcakes; the microphone references Marlo and her daughter singing karaoke together; and the bike refers to the ending of the film when Marlo and Tully steal bikes and ride through the city. Even the tagline is clever, "see how the mother half lives," directly speaks to the idea that Tully is past Marlo. Tully gets to see how her life will turn out. And lastly the title of the film and how it is placed on the poster immediately tells audiences that Charlize Theron is Tully. The name is on her face, so it must be her character. Brilliant design.

Through strong performances from the supporting cast and the lead, Tully shines. Cody and Reitman together add a sense of realism to a story about real world struggles. Tully succeeds by being an intimate look at how you might love your kids and spouse, but you do not necessarily like them all the time. Theron gives an award-deserving performance, and Cody delivers a (mostly) well developed script. Even though the ending has flaws to it, Tully demonstrates the ups and downs for safe familiarity and the struggles it takes to retain normalcy through both the team in front of the camera, and the team behind it.

Franchise Fever: MCU Part 5

Hello, Weirdos! I’m excited to present this final installment of Franchise Fever: MCU ! Timed perfectly with the release of Avengers: Infinity War as planned. Honestly, I’m getting hyped. Reviews are out, but I'm not going anywhere near any information regarding the movie. I want to know as little as possible…although I did watch the first trailer—couldn't help myself. I'll be seeing Infinity War tomorrow evening. I'll share my thoughts, in some form or another, about the film overall and how it compares to the other MCU movies I recently watched. In the meantime, here are my final thoughts on the two most recent additions to the MCU.

Thor: Ragnarok:

Director: Taika Waititi.

What Holds: For starters, Odin's death was handled delicately and beautifully. The cinematography, the foreshadowing, and the difference in tone from the rest of the movie was brilliant. Hulk/Banner's development. He was back in the forefront, and I loved the idea that if Banner kept using his ability it might take over. Jekyll and Hyde reminiscent which added depth for me.

What's Weak: Parts where too slapstick for me. I understood they wanted to make this more of a comedy,but there were definitely jokes which fell flat or seemed unnecessary. The part where Thor attempted to convince Valkyrie to escape with him then his entire speech got ruined when he threw a ball at a window and it bounced back and hit him felt completely unnecessary. It undercut Thor as a god and made him seem like a doofus.

Final Thoughts: Although I wasn't a huge fan of some of the slapstick elements, there where bits of comedy that had me rollin'. All week I had the line pop into my head about his hammer "pulling' him off," and I still thought it was funny. Overall the movie worked. Much wanted development of the main characters, which was welcomed after the lull that was The Dark World. Also had an interesting, focused, developed villain. Marvel had been exploring the idea of self-reflection with their last three outings: what are you without your suit, what are you without your friends/family, and now what are you without your weapon. Gave the hero more depth through vulnerability. I dug it. 

In Comparison: In comparison to the last Thor movie, Ragnarok is a huge leap—never a dull moment. Third movie in a row Marvel had impressed me with. At this rate I'll have to expand my top 5 to a top 10.

Black Panther:

Director: Ryan Coogler.

What Holds: The message. Yes, this was a super hero movie, but what was it really about? For me it was about perspective. For T'Challa, Killmonger was a villain, but for Killmonger, T'Challa, his father, and their secrecy were the villains. That theme of perspective was prevalent throughout the movie.

What's Weak: Some of the tension was weak. It was cool seeing T'Challa lose to Killmonger, but the "oh no, T'Challa is dead" segment was weak. We all knew he was coming back. I knew the filmmakers had to create tension and conflict to drive the story, but that seemed obvious.

Final Thoughts: I knew this movie would mean a lot to a lot of people (I even listened to a podcast about it) and I could see why. For starters, the movie looked gorgeous, especially Wakanda. As with the first Thor, this film presented a new world steeped in tradition and community. Instead of character origin we got to be introduced to an established culture. Loved it and would love to know more. I'm not of African decent, nor am I a Black-American, so I doubt I fully grasp the importance and meaningfulness of this movie. But I don't think you have to be to enjoy a good movie when you see one, which I did. Black Panther was a serious film which addressed legacy, identity, race, and familial ties with precision and delicacy.

In Comparison: Like I said about Ragnarok, Marvel was on a streak for me. Black Panther continued that streak. I thought a case could be made that this was probably the most important movie the MCU had made. In previous films they touched on spiritualism, they touched on a big brother government, but with Black Panther they approached the themes head on. Top 10.

Wow. I can't believe that's it. Been a solid month of MCU movies (I even watched a little Jessica Jones). Some of the movies were formulaic throughout, but I hope Marvel continues with the current streak it is on for Avengers: Infinity War. Check back later this week for an update on that. Feel free to share your thoughts on these or any of the MCU movies. Keep on Creepin'.

Franchise Fever: MCU Part 4

Hello, Weirdos. We are coming to a close on Franchise Fever: MCU. It has been a fun journey. I already have my tickets for Avengers: Infinity War. Once that is released expect either an update to Franchise Fever or a review for the movie itself. In the meantime, please enjoy my thoughts on this stretch of my travels through the MCU. 

Captain America: Civil War:

Director: Anthony and Joe Russo.

What Holds: Mostly the character development. Throughout the years I have asked thought to myself about the repercussions of all the destruction in superhero films (especially aver seeing Man of Steel). Civil War addressed that question. This made the feel grounded. Yes, supers saved the world, but at what cost? Civil War did its best to show consequences of all the demolition by handling the matter in a political way.

What's Weak: Not much. I loved this one. I suppose it wasn't 100% a Captain America movie, more like 80%. It still revolved around the Winter Soldier, but was a diet Avengers. That was if I was nitpicking.

Final Thoughts: Civil War took tensions which were present since the first Avengers and brought them to a head surrounding serious issues. Some might have thought Captain was stubborn for protecting his friend to such I high extent, but after having recently watch The First Avenger and Winter Solder and the loss Cap went through in Civil War, it made sense. He is alone, Bucky was the last thing keeping him connected to his past life. Bucky was his best friend. Steve wouldn't be the same man if for Bucky who supported him, pushed him, and cared for him before he could have taken care of himself. Captain's development is great. Outside of the character development, the action sequences were handled well, especially with the amount of characters in some scenes. It was clear why they gave the Russo's the next Avengers movies. Often the MCU movies won't have a ton of emotion—this film is packed with it. The fight with Tony, Bucky, and Steve…wow, what a great sequence which summarizes the movie. Boiling tension, fantastic choreographed action, and emotional depth.

In Comparison: One of the best. Undoubtedly top five of the MCU. 

Doctor Strange:

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Director: Scott Derrickson.

What Holds: For me, the beginning of Doctor Strange was the best part. Up until Strange started to get a handle of his abilities while at Kamar-Taj the film was sad, gritty, and began to tell an interesting story. The visuals were great. I wanted more weird, MC Escher sequences.

What's Weak: Similar to Ant-Man, the plot was formulaic. 

Final Thoughts: Marvel gave us something drawing in the beginning. We had a man with Stark-like arrogance whom had his life completely destroyed. We got to see his struggle internally and externally. Then we got what we got the same stuff: typical hero’s journey with a vanilla villain who could have been interesting. I disliked the comedy in most of this. It felt often misplaced. Example: when Strange first encountered Kaecilius the battle built up, as did the intensity, then right at the peak they undercut all the tension with Strange’s cape yanking him away. Let us feel damnit.

In Comparison: Midling. A basic origin story as with  Captain America: The First Avenger , Thor , and Ant-Man . 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2:

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Director: James Gunn.

What Holds: The direction they took the movie. It could have easily been, “this time on Guardians,” filled with another straightforward space adventure. Instead went light on plot and made it character driven.

What's Weak: They totally pulled a move from The Walking Dead . They gave us a bunch of screen time with a character (coincidentally played by an actor previously on The Walkig Dead ) only to make the character’s (Yondu’s) death more impactful.

Final Thoughts: I mentioned it before, MCU  movies sometimes like decent character development. In Vol. 2  EVERY character got an arc and it was amazing. Was it a super hero movie? Sure. Was it an action sci-if? Sure. But if you stripped all that away this movie was about family and what that means, dealing with loss, and the relationships that bind us. 

In Comparison:  I’ve heard complaints that some Marvel movies don’t hold up in their own; they only work as part of the MCU. While that may be acurate, Vol. 2 was an exception. It worked as part of a series, part of the MCU, and as a stand-alone film. 

Spider-Man: Homecoming:

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Director: Jon Watts.

What Holds: The feel. Marvel had been inching toward a lighter tone, and this was the lightest, but it worked in a more believes me way than any of the other film iterations.

What's Weak:  One of those movies which wouldn’t hold up as strongly outside of the MCU. Also, I didnt love Holland’s accent. It seemed as though he was always defending himself even in conversational dialogue.

Final Thoughts: Marvel ditched the origin story of Spider-Man in favor of an origin story for Peter as Spider-Man. We got to see him struggle with growing up as a teenager and as a hero. It was funny, it was quirky, it was action packed, the Vulture was scary, and there was an homage to Ferris Buler. What more could you want?

In Comparison:  More fun than anything that had come before it. Less serious, too. Unlike with Strange bad Ant-Man , Homecoming felt like a comprehensive film both tonally and in story.

Okay, that’s it for now. One more post coming soon for the last two movies. And then Infinity War  ! Keep on Creepin’  . 

Franchise Fever: MCU Part 3

Hello, Weirdos. My apologies for the delay on Part 3. I’ve been working on some other projects which I can’t wait to share with you soon. Also, in an attempt to shorten things up, I reduced the categories within each film to keep post concise. Check it out and share your thoughts below.  

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Director: Anthony & Joe Russo.

What Holds:  For me, the difference. Having watched all these in a row they started to become repetitive. But Winter Soldier was a breath of fresh air. More focused than the first Cap. and since the origin was established, it was able to tell an interesting story. At times it was different enough to the point it almost didn't feel like a Mavel movie, but instead resembled a spy/espionage film. 

What’s Weak:  Alas, at its core it was still a Super Hero movie. In the end there was a big plot to cleanse the world which ended in a massive city destroying battle. And nothing was at stake. They tricked us to thinking they’d actually kill a main character. Nope. He came back right on cue: right after Black Widow did her Mission: Impossible face reveal. Another weak point was when Cap. and Widow got blown up in that bunker. That entire place got demolished to the point they were now at ground level, but they’re good because they hid a couple extra feet lower. 

Final Thoughts: Strongly written, and fantastically directed by the Russo brothers made Winter Soldier shine. Pierce was an interesting, sadistic, behind the scenes villain, and Redford played the role with charm--almost enough for you to like him. The Winter Soldier himself was interesting as well. He was mysterious and, well...a badass. Even having watched it multiple time, the part where the Winter Soldier caught Cap.'s shield was still cool. Steve got more development which started in The Avengers as far as things not being as black and white as they used to be. He begins to have to question himself and why he was fighting. We also got to see him dealing with the past in a grounded way. He went to Vet. meetings and visited Peggy. Also, Hydra returned and made Rogers question everything he had done. Always interesting, and continued to to build the multiple film arc.

In Comparison: For me, this was in the top three of what I've watched thus far; up there with Iron Man and The Avengers. It had more interesting villains than half the franchise, and strayed slightly from the Marvel format.

Guardians of the Galaxy:

Director: James Gunn.

What Holds: The visuals were stunning. And as with The Winter Soldier, Guardians was different. Took us off Earth and presented us with another branch of this massive universe. And the make-up was amazing. At times I would forget it was make-up because the characters resembled what otherworld characters might resemble.

What's Weak: The plot itself was basic. Luckily the journey was what kept this picture entertaining.

Final Thoughts: Guardians of the Galaxy was fresh and fun. It took tropes from previous MCU films and toyed with them. Each member of the GOTG got bits of development throughout (even the talking tree) which gave the film depth and emotion.

In Comparison:  As Marvel shifts its focus from gritty and grounded to comedic, more family friendly, and fulfilling the giant story arc, Guardians benefits by being a comedy with action versus an action flick with misplaced comedy.

Avengers: Age of Ultron:

Director:  Joss Wheden.  

What Holds: I liked the idea in the beginning that the Avengers were going on missions we werent privy to. There was no set up, we were thrown into the middle of an outing. Along those lines, I thought them celebrating together worked to show them bonding and becoming a team.

What’s Weak: Nothing was at stake. No one got hurt or died that we cared about. Sure Quicksilver died, but he spent half the movie being a villain, and that was more or less a plot device for the Scarlet Witch's character arc. Also, Ultron could have been interesting, but instead he felt like an unfleshed out idea. It was as though the writers didn't know if they wanted The Office James Spader or The Blacklist James Spader. At times he was intimidating and scary. Other times he was doing deadpan comedy that didn't land with me.

Final Thoughts: Avengers: Age of Ultron felt like a filler episode of a TV show—there to let us know what the characters were up to, but with having done little for the overall plot. Ultron was self-contained. Tony created a problem, then Tony and the gang fixed the problem. We got Vison and Scarlet Witch out of it, which is cool, but outside of that it didn't do much.

In Comparison: Ultron was as though you were a kid at school walking to your table with your tray in hand and you tripped and spilled your milk. After you spilled your milk you cleaned it up and that was it. Where as the original Avengers was comparable to you walking to your table at lunch and a group of kids from another school came in and started a food fight.

Ant-Man:

Director: Peyton Reed.

What Holds: All the characters worked. Maybe one member of the heisting crew could have been cut, but outside of that no-one felt like fluff. Since this film had a lighter tone (no one is trying to destroy the world, or humanity, or the galaxy) the comedy worked better than in previous films. Marvel was able to poke fun of themselves with this one. The biggest example being the "epic" toy train battle.

What's Weak: Formulaic. Marvel knows how to do an origin story. A classic hero's journey. And in true Marvel fashion our hero battles a bigger version of himself in the end.

Final Thoughts: Ant-Man was a straight forward introduction to a new character. While nothing new was brought to the table, Ant-Man was able to make an entertaining story of redemption.

In Comparison: Middling. Not at the top of the Marvel chain since it didn't present anything fresh from a storytelling perspective, but not at the bottom either since there was character development and an interesting angle.

Thanks, as always, for checking out Franchise Fever. I have already watched the next set of movies which includes Captain America: Civil WarDoctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and Spider-Man: Homecoming. Part 4 will be coming shortly! Let me know your thoughts on any of the MCU films. Keep on Creepin'.

Franchise Fever: MCU Part 2

Hello, Weirdos. Franchise Fever continues with more films from the MCU in preparation for Avengers: Infinity War. Check ‘em out. Let me know what you think. 

Captain America: The First Avenger:

Director: Joe Johnston

What’s Weird: Creepy, scrawny, superimposed Chris Evans. Reminded me of that Wayans Brothers movie Littleman.

What’s Cool: Seeing Bucky in the chair that we later find out was used for brainwashing him. I’m not familiar with the comics so I didn’t know Winter Soldier was coming. Cool to see the foundation for this laid early on.

What Holds: Tommy Lee Jones’ performance. He pulled off the strong military man, along with the subtle emotion and comedy. Agent Carter. Such a great, strong character. We don’t get women in the military too often, and she rocked it.

What’s Weak: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, the villain. Weaving did a fine job, but the character hisself was bland. 

Where’s Stan: Vet. at Captain's medal of valor ceremony.

After The Credits: An actual trailer, as in one that trailed the feature, for The Avengers.

Final Thoughts: Not much character development. Rogers was a guy with a strong mind, heart, and moral compass, who became a guy with a strong mind, heart, moral compass, and muscles. This was the first instance for me of corniness in the franchise that I can remember, but being a period piece it worked in the context of the film. As I stated I’m not familiar with the comics, but I was aware that Cap. was frozen for decades. That paired with the opening of this film gave the audience a preview of what was coming. That was what worked best for me in this film. If we knew where the journey was going to end, then the filmmakers had to make it a damn fun ride getting there. Even though the plot was generic there was enough emotional depth and heart to make it entertaining. And at least the ending wasn’t a computerized destroy all battle. 

In Comparison: On the same level as Iron Man 2 and Thor. Not as cinematic as Thor and not as fun as Iron Man 2, but has the most heart.  

The Avengers

Director: Joss Whedon.

What’s Weird: I had a difficult time with this one. I guess how much the Hulk looked like Ruffalo now. But that was also neat, because otherwise it wouldn't make much of a difference who was played him.

What’s Cool: This. The fact that it happened and was rad! Still in awe that it was pulled off so well. 

What Holds: Everything in this movie until The Avengers get to New York. Stand out was Loki's speech to Black Widow about her past. Intense, emotional, and powerful—Hiddleston killed it.

What’s Weak: People will probably disagree, but the comedy in the third act was too slapstick for me. Don’t get me wrong, I acknowledge that it was funny, but it didn’t match the tone of the rest of the movie and felt disjointed because the rest of the was intense with well written interlaced humor. 

Where’s Stan: He showed up on a screen during the after math of the battle as a man playing chess rambling about superheroes.  

After The Credits: Our first glimpse of Thanos! And the Supers eating after the battle.

Final Thoughts: Aside from Loki’s anticlimactic defeat and there was never an established motivation for the aliens (except maybe they served Thanos, but it was after the credits and unclear) this movie was tight. We got the well placed corniness from Captain America; the cinematic Dutch angles and strong villain from Thor; and the intensity and development from Iron Man blended smoothly into a well written and paced picture.

In Comparison: Perhaps not as cohesive as Iron Man, but as thrilling of a ride. Best film in the franchise so far since Iron Man

OH! AND THEY FIXED THOR'S EYEBROWS!

Iron Man 3:

Director: Shane Black.

What's Weird: The Kingsley/Mandarin reveal. Felt like an SNL sketch. I thought it could have been handled better.

What's Cool: Tony's new suits and the new way they worked with his body and other people's.

What Holds: Tony's character development. He got the most of this franchise (so far at least), probably because he was the most broken. We get to see him knocked down a peg and forced to get over himself.

What's Weak: The fact the filmmakers went backward with Pepper. In Iron Man 2 she was great. Ran the company, called Tony on his crap, really got stuff done. She was a strong, grounded character, and a nice foil to eccentric Tony. But this time around they turned her back into a distressed damsel. At least by the finale she ended up kicking some ass saving Tony. Also the gloss over of fixing Pepper and getting Tony's shrapnel removed. Lastly Tony's prototype suit which kept falling apart—got boring after the first time, and why couldn't it get through a barn door? 

Where's Stan: Judge at beauty pageant.

After The Credits: Tony venting to Banner.

Final Thoughts: A bit silly at times, but riddled with development. I loved seeing the aftermath of The Avengers, and Tony's vulnerability. Tony had to look at who he was without the suit, which directly plays into what he tells Spider-Man in Homecoming (I know I'm ahead of myself, but I love that connection). Another connection to Homecoming was the time Tony spent with the boy in the barn. Not only did it show Tony growing, but demonstrated his desire to mentor. Stark felt like a man on the verge of a break down. Overall the film was solid, but this one also had some slapstick moments—ripple effects from The Avengers, which didn't work for me. This was the first film so far that I've noticed does one of my least favorite Marvel bits…they undercut an emotional scene with an unnecessary joke. 

Compares: Better than Iron Man 2 by being less of a retread and more of character piece about Tony Stark's struggle rather than Iron Man. 

Thor: The Dark World:

Director: Alan Taylor.

What's Weird: The Dark Elves  squeezed a pod which made their bodies glow red on the inside similar to the super soldiers from Iron Man 3. Was there supposed to be a connection, or was that a coincidence? When Odin said, "your birthright…" he emphasized the "t" enough to be noticeable.

What's Cool: Odin's referenced the Infinity Stones when he described the Ether, "Other relics appear as stones." Subtle enough that we had make the connection, but gave us a hint of what was coming.

What Holds: Asgard still looked amazing and we saw more of it. More importantly though, what held was the emotion-which never gets undercut by a joke. Frigga's death was handled delicately and properly. The repercussions from that were felt throughout the rest of the film. We got emotion from Thor, Loki, and Odin; all of which felt genuine. Stand out example was when Thor and Loki were arguing about Frigga on the hover boat after leaving Asgard. Dealing with loss was like that: fine one minute, then overly emotional, then laughing the next. 

What's Weak: Stylistically boring. Since I had viewed Thor recently I felt the lack of Branagh. Too many conveniences. Thor and Jane conveniently found a portal back to Earth within minutes of thinking they were stranded; the big, dramatic ship falling conveniently fell into a portal; even the jets that got sucked into a portal conveniently found their way back. I guess I had a problem with the portals. They felt like copouts to me. Oh, and the male intern was totally useless. Kat could have easily rocked it all by herself.

Where's Stan: Patient in mental health facility.

After The Credits: Asgardians visit The Collector to drop off the Ether. Thor returns to Earth to kiss Jane one last time.

Final Thoughts: I loved the emotional component, but the plot was extremely generic. Thor as a character got better, but I felt the effects of too much Loki. He was becoming a sort of antihero when he was such a great villain. At times the writing felt thin and underdeveloped. It seemed like the studio wasn't sure which direction to take the Thor series so it ended up feeling like another episode.

In Comparison: One of the weakest thus far. Didn't bring much new to the table outside of a new Infinity Stone.

Thanks for checking out this week of Franchise Fever. I'll have more coming soon. Let me know what you think of these films. What works and doesn't work for you? Keep On Creepin'.

Franchise Fever: MCU Part 1

Hello, Weirdos! I decided to take a break from the Director Selective Series and switch things up with a new series called Franchise Fever . Similar in idea to DSS, but the focus will be on specific franchises. With Avengers: Infinity War around the corner, the first entry in this series is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 18 films in order of release. Let's get started!

First up is Iron Man:

Director: Jon Favreau

What's Weird: For starters, Terrance Howard as Rhodey. Also, Tony had a Wii.

What’s Cool: Tony listening to Suicidal Tendencies. And the birth of this massive, history making franchise.

What Holds: The CGI looked great. Sure, there were noticeable parts, but mostly it looked legit for being over 10 years old.

What’s Weak: The villain was bland. He was basically who Tony would have become had he never been abducted. Also, I kept asking myself what was the point of Pepper? I felt like Jarvis could do everything she could. She was like Vanna White–nice to look at, but kinda pointless.

Where’s Stan: Stan Lee popped up on the red carpet disguised as Hugh Hefner. 

After The Credits: Nick Fury broke into Tony’s house to name drop the Avengers.

Final Thoughts: Iron Man was solid. The story was grounded, and Tony’s redemption was genuine and earned. He didn't suddenly become the greatest guy. He went from a money hungry narcissist to a globally conscience narcissist. His ideals changed without losing who he was at his core. 

Next is The Incredible Hulk

Director: Louis Leterrier

What’s Weird: Well initially, Edward Norton as Bruce Banner since he got the boot after this. Tim Roth’s accent.  Oh and Martin Starr popped up. A case could be made that he was in college and became a teacher in  New York.

What’s Cool: The opening was great. When Banner first turned it was dark and creepy, and we only got a tease of the Hulk. Had a monster movie feel. Built my anticipation. In fact, the entire movie resembled a Universal monster movie, but with Mavel wrapped around it. There was a scientist, a brooding creature, a woman in love with the monster, and several characters dealt with the duality of human and monster.

What Holds: Marvel before Disney. As with Iron Man, this film felt grounded with character (at least the first half). The performances were good throughout. When Betty first screamed for her dad at the college her emotion was palpable.

What’s Weak: Same as with Iron Man, the showdown was a CG hero fighting a CG villain who was a bigger version of him. Also some of the writing. I wasn’t a fan of the unsubtle name drops of Hulk and Abomination. Abomination all around didn’t do much for me.

Where’s Stan: He showed up as a guy drinking a soda which had Banner’s blood

After The Credits: Nothing

Final Thoughts: In recent years this film became Mavel’s stepchild. I’m not sure why. Maybe because they disregarded most of it. Betty, Abomination, and Mr. Blue never show up again, but Ross and Martin Star do. Hulk/Banner had substance and depth, which made them relatable and likesble. Hulk/Banner became more of a prop than a character in later films. But the movie got bogged down by the typical, epic ,city destroying battle in the end.

In Comparison: Less at stake than Iron Man, and less character development–there was basically none. A decent companion which began to push the franchise into its patterns.

Next Iron Man 2:

Director: Jon Favreau

What’s Weird: Tony had this high tech, transparent, mult-device integrated hologram system, that he didn't mainstream. But that seemed like a solid and safe pivot for the company if they weren't doing weapons anymore. Even if it were only a phone, or in the medical field. 

What’s Cool: The first glimps of Supers fighting together with Iron Man and War Machine.  

What Holds: Rockwell as a vindictive wannabe Stark

What’s Weak: Villains again. This time Iron Man fought two bigger Iron Men in another battle destroying a city.

Where’s Stan: He popped up briefly in the crowd at the Stark Expo in the beginning.  

After The Credits: Agent Coulsen arrived in New Mexico and saw Thor’s hammer.

Final Thoughts: Light on story, but furthered Tony Stark's character development established in Iron Man. This film was fine.

In Comparison: It didn't hold up. Felt like a less successful rehash of Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk.

Last this week is Thor:

Director: Kenneth Branagh

What's Weird: Stellan Skarsgard wasn't a villain. Thor's eyebrows.

What's Cool: Asgard looked fantastic.

What Holds: Branagh's Shakespearean background helped bring Asgard to life. Loki as a villain. He was the first villain in the first 4 movies worth talking about. He was so good the studios kept him around.

What's Weak: At this point things were getting formulaic. Character, something bad happened to him, there was a love interest, redemption, big battle with CG monster, hero seemingly in dire danger, and the hero prevailed.

Where's Stan: Drove a pick-up truck attempted to pull Thor's hammer out of a crater.

After The Credits: Selvig went to an underground SHEILD facility to see the Tesseract and Loki stopped by.

Final Thoughts: As with the last two films Thor was fine. Nothing new, but entertaining enough. Mostly for Avengers set-up.

In Comparison: On par with Iron Man 2. Thor's redemption didn't feel earned. He went to Earth and chilled with a woman then got hit by his brother and suddenly he was redeemed. Felt contrived.

More Franchise Fever: MCU coming soon. And if you haven't  already, check out the poem Zora 1937Keep on Creepin'.

The Oscars! / Final Anderson Thoughts

Hello, Weirdos. I’d like to invite you to check out my new review for Annihilation. Recently, the Academy Awards Ceremony aired. We had a viewing party where we dressed up, ate nominee named food & drinks, and played Oscar themed games. The biggest game of the night is the Oscar Challenge , where we guess who the winner will be in each category. Whomever gets the most correct receives an Oscar-esq trophy we’ve titled the Emmeline Sacheen Gaynor Award   (after Brooke Shields’ character that won her the first Razzie, Sacheen Littlefeather-the woman who gave Brando’s speech, and Janet Gaynor-first best actress winner, respectively) . Below are pictures from our event followed by my thoughts on the final films of Wes Anderson. 

 

We played a textless/minimalist poster game, a bad plot description game, and of course the ballot game. It was a blast.  Here is what I thought of the end of the Anderson movies: 

  • Moonrise Kingdom: A fantastic film filled with humor and melancholy throughout. Anderson hits all his conventions with this one: yellow tint, children acting as adults and the reverse, a love triangle, eccentricity, the pans, the zooms, etc. and it all works. This film is also whimsical. What it does best is balances and mixes comedy and tragedy. Anderson doesn’t say which is which, leading to it often becoming both. It is sad, but also warming. Underneath the surface there is deep rooted tragedy. It can be seen in Mr. Bishop thought, but specially when he is in bed talking to his wife; you can see it in Sam when he’s alone in the boat; and you can see it with Suzy when she’s having a bath. Anderson does ask you to suspend your disbelief but it’s easy to do because the picture is so damn inviting. 
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel: Another great movie from Anderson. Budapest hits the same beats as his other films. Anderson asks us to suspend our disbelief more for this picture. Full of quirkiness, and at times, a bit indulgent. There is a dark humor throughout. Anderson doesn't stray from using dialogue as other films might. For example, with the current climate people might shy from using "faggot" in a script, but Anderson goes for it. It doesn't come off as offensive. I think it makes the scene feel authentic, because people do speak that way, and it isn't meant to be derogatory toward homosexuals. There's a small scene with Willem Dafoe and Jeff Goldblum that is slightly scary—especially for an Anderson film. It reminded me of that short from a few years ago about a Wes Anderson horror film called The Midnight Coterie of Sinister IntrudersBudapest doesn't have the as much heart to it as Moonrise, but it is an entertaining, well crafted picture.

That is it for Wes Anderson. Thanks for checking out this installment of the Director Selective Series. Look for an update when Isle is Dogs comes out later this month. If you have suggestions for a new director please comment below. Keep on Creepin’ .

Annihilation Review

Annihilation.jpg

Science based films tend to do either one of two things: bog the viewer down with overly complicated science to the point of confusion and boredom; or they coddle the audience so much it almost becomes an insult to the viewer's intelligence. Finding a balance between the two is key to a successful science fiction flick. Alex Garland's latest film, Annihilation, is able to find that balance. Albeit the writing is not perfect, Garland presents a film with solid direction, a great performance from its lead and supporting cast, and fascinating effects.

Across the board the acting is great. Standouts include Portman, Isaac, Leigh and Rodriguez. Rodriguez starts by being charismatic team player who is tough but vulnerable. As the team makes their way through the Shimmer she slowly begins to become paranoid. Without spoiling, there is a scene where her paranoia comes to a head and PW brings the intensity. She is fierce and because of the context it becomes easy for the audience to understand her reasoning. This scene is one of the best of the film in terms of this character and action. Another supporting role worth mentioning is Leigh. Her character is static but with little to no backstory, but it works. From the start she is in it for herself (either her job, or personal reasons). Leigh's nothing to lose portrayal of Dr. Ventress is enigmatic—audiences never know her exact motive, which lends itself to the unknown of the Shimmer. Isaac, who is somewhere between supporting and a lead, has a presence throughout the movie even when not on screen. He plays his role with stoicism. He ranges from the loving, hurt husband to the curious, focused soldier seamlessly. At the head of the picture is Portman and she is able to carry this film through her performance. When the movie starts Potman’s character appears drained as a grieving widow. As the film progresses Portman channels her guilt and grief to become the strong soldier she once was. She is troubled throughout which viewers only understand through flashbacks. The relationship between Portman and Issac feels genuine. The moment they are in bed together feels vuyeristic as the viewer sees the intimate moment. Potman’s character motivation is  it always clear, but that has more to do with the writing than it does her performance.

Garland's directing is done well. The shots and performances all work. His writing on the other hand is not as tight. The ending felt rushed. As soon as the characters get to their destination shit hits then fan then it is over just as quickly. And although Leigh gave a great performance, her character never gets enough of an arc. She gets hints of intrigue, but it does not fully develop. While watching this movie, it is easy to see how it can have numerous interpretations. As a viewer things do not always need to be completely explained (in fact there were some greatly appreciated subtleties), but it does need to make some sense. The parts which do not add up are difficult to discuss without spoiling it. Just know there are parts of the ending that (even in a high concept film) do not come together all the way. Part of the writing Gardland is successful in is the way he is able to draw the viewer in. He takes something terrifying and makes it inviting in a way that is chilling. The Shimmer is gorgeous and mysterious, and he makes audiences want to know more. Aiding in the allure of the Shimmer is the way it looks.

Graphically, Annihilation is mesmerizing. There is so much detail. A couple standout scenes are when Portman is looking out the window of military facility—in the reflection the Shimmer area is faintly visible. Another graphic element worth mentioning is the eyes. There are several shots of eyes close-up and they often have something going on within them—a reflection, shifting colors, etcetera, and each one looks brilliant. Aside from the visual effects, there are also great gore effects. Again, difficult to discuss without spoiling, but there are two scenes which are cringeworthy in the best way. The first is when a characters stomach is cut open, and nothing is left out. The other is when a character gets a body part torn off by the terrifying mutant bear known as Homerton on set. Both take place during the second act, and it is that act which gives the film horror elements.

What is Annihilation actually about? On the surface, the Shimmer and what is inside. Underneath it is about self-reflection and looking beyond the surface. It talks about humanity's self-destructive nature, and how that may or may not be a bad thing. What Annihilation does is lets the audience think. So often a movie will spoon feed viewers all the answers or dumb things down to get concepts across. Annihilation says what is going on and gives onlookers a chance to dissect it and piece it together for themselves. Yes, there are parts that could use more clarification, but the end result is something fresh, beautiful and at time ambiguous. With the solid performances, strong direction, and  stunningly eerie effects Annihilation is a film people will be analyzing for years.

Further Viewing: Ex Machina — Another interesting take on sci-fi from Garland, staring Oscar Issac.

DSS: Wes Anderson Part 4

Hello, Weirdos. Next Sunday is the Oscars! Keep an eye out for coverage on that the following Monday along with a new director, and my thoughts on the final films of Wes Anderson, which are: 

Both of these I’ve seen relatively recently, but I enjoyed them. A revisit will be nice.  

Here are my thoughts on last weeks pictures: 

  • The Darjeeling Limited: As stated last week, I have only watched bits of this one up to now. After watching it as a whole I think it’s great. Some similarities include the same color tone, a list (this time around it is less invasive), that sort of twangy music Anderson uses, and zooms & pans. Throughout the month I have mentioned adults acting like children and the opposite. Darjeeling seems to break that trend. The Whitman brothers often do childish things, but as adults grieving and dealing with loss, not adults mimicing children. The acting all around feels genuine—as though we are seeing something private we aren’t  meant to be seeing. Darjeeling is similar to The Royal Tenenbaums  in tone because of its heart and palpable emotion. I have an idea about the feathers and how each one represents the brother who carries it, but I have to sit on that a while. It was cool to see Schwartzman return. And I dig the call back to Bottle Rocket when Wilson has the bandage over his nose. Derjeeling is now one of my favorites of Anderson’s. 
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox: My biggest question during this movie is, who is it for? Yes, it is animated which lends itself to being for children, but the themes and the context are adult. Where most animated films are aimed at children with bits thrown in for adults, Anderson's film feels like an adult film with bits thrown in for children. This isn't a criticism, I enjoy the movie, it's an observation. Starting with Darjeeling and continuing through Moonrise Kingdom (and possibly Budapest, but I don't remember currently), I've noticed Anderson's movies are getting yellow. Other similarities are the long pans across sets, and a stationary downward shot of hands (or paws) manipulating items. Noah Baumbach again cowrote Fox with Anderson. Parts did reminds me of Life Aquatic, the beanies for one (although not red), and the Ash character in particular reminded me of Zissou with his mostly deadpan performance. I'm a big fan of stop motion, and this films was visually stunning. Can't wait to see Isle of Dogs.

Thanks for checking out this installment of the Director Selective Series: Wes Anderson. I hope you enjoyed it. Share your thoughts below, and follow me on Instagram at words_for_weirdos. Be on the prowl for more content as the week continues. Keep on Creepin'.

DSS: Wes Anderson Part 3

Hello, Weirdos. Two announcements before we dive into Part 3: 1. There is a new poem available called Maxine in the Writings section. Please give that a read; 2. Isle of Dogs is getting positive early reviews. This week we have two more films to look at, and they are:

I’m starting to see a transition to more playful movies from Anderson, and I’m wondering if Fox is the big turning point. I’ve only seen bits of Darjeeling. Needless to say I’m looking forward to that. Next week I’ll share my thoughts on those two, but for now here are my thoughts on last week's pictures. 

  • The Royal Tenenbaums: Wow. I remember liking this movie as a kid, but I doubt I fully understood it. Now, watching it as an adult, I love it. So much heart in all the characters. Some of the continuing commonalities are: pastel colors; lists; children acting like adults (they're all successful geniuses at a young age); adults acting like children (perhaps making up for the adolescence they lost); a shot of a person in the window of a large wall; an unconventional love triangle (two in this one with the parents & the new suitor, and between Eli, Margot, and Richie); and plays. Anderson's style is in full swing here. Some other things I noticed are connections to Jacques Cousteau, which I didn't realize was the foundation for Life Aquatic until watching later this week, but is has come up on multiple occasions. There are a couple other things I know come up in later movies, but I'll wait until I get there to share those. Tenenbaums is my favorite so far, and possible overall. It's quirky, clever, but also emotional to its core.
  • The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou: I've heard several people mention this film throughout the years. When I watched it this week I felt a little pressure to love it. I did not. I liked and enjoyed it, but it didn't have the same punch for me as Tenenbaums. This marks Anderson's first collaboration with writer Noah Baumbach, and first film not cowritten with Owen Wilson. I felt like something was lost. It felt empty, until the end when we get to feel Zissou's emotion as he finally deals with his losses. Other than that everyone is just sort of there—kind of flat and bland.  Murray does great as the ambitious "prick" Zissou. It was also cool to see the beginnings of Anderson's interest in animation, this time helmed by Henry Selick. I would watch Life Aquatic again, but it was definitely more middling for me than anything else.

That is it this week week, Weirdos. Is anyone else getting excited about Isle of Dogs? I should have a new review coming shortly—don't miss it! And check back next week for Part 4 of the Director Selective Series: Wes Anderson. Thanks for reading. Keep on Creepin'.

DSS: Wes Anderson Part 2

Hello, Weirdos. I had to take a small break due to some unforeseen and foreseen circumstances (I won’t bore you with the details). Either way, I’m back and ready to deliver more content. 

This week continues the Director Selective Series: Wes Anderson with a look at...

I’m looking foward to Life Aquatic since it's one of Anderson’s I’ve not seen. And I’m curious to see how I feel after revisiting Tenenbaums for the first time in at least ten years. Keep an eye out for my thoughts on those next week. In the mean time, my thoughts on Bottle Rocket and Rushmore are below. 

  • Bottle Rocket: Coincidentally, earlier this week a podcast I listen to (Movie Crush) had an episode regarding this movie. I listened to the podcast before ever having seen the movie. The host and his guest talked about how great the movie is, which got me more interested than I was. I'm familiar with most of Anderson's work, but not this, so to see the beginning was rad. Bottle Rocket isn't nearly as quirky as Anderson's pictures eventually become, but you can see how it starts. There are quick rotating shots, eccentric characters, an early version of a Wes Anderson list, and people acting an age other than their own. Dignan especially acts like a child. Anthony and Bob attempt to act like adults at some point. I'm glad it took me so long to see this because I enjoyed seeing Anderson characteristics beginning to bloom. Overall I enjoyed the film. I thought the ending was surprising, and the comradery felt realistic. Plus the movie is filled with subtle humor. 
  • Rushmore: This feels like a leap from Bottle Rocket toward the stylistic Wes Anderson we know now. Rushmore is also full of people acting outside their age—adults acting like children and children acting like adults, or what they think an adult is like. Rushmore pulls you in and makes you want to attend this school. Some patterns I'm starting to notice are: swimming pool scenes; delusions of grandeur; and unconventional love stories. And am I alone in wanting to see one of Max's plays in its entirety? Schwartzman and Murray give great performances in this as Max and Herman Blume, respectively. Rushmore is a fun, weird, sometimes sad, and overthetop coming of age story for a young man and an old man. 

All right, Weirdos, feel free to share your thoughts on any of the films mentioned. If you haven't  yet, check out my review for The Cloverfield Paradox and expect a new poem coming shortly. Keep on Creepin'.

The Cloverfield Paradox Review

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When Cloverfield  came out in 2008, it was surrounded by a mysterious online marketing campaign. Abrams and Reeves took advantage of the rising popularity of found footage films, but did not tell a ghost story. Instead they opened a new doorway for the genre by making a creature feature. Eight years later 10 Cloverfield Lane was dropped into fans' laps and took the franchise inward with claustrophobia, paranoia, and a fear of how monsterous people can be. Immediately following the success of Lane, rumors started floating about a third movie titled, The God Particle. Earlier this week, without warning or advertisment, that third film was released to Netflix, titled The Cloverfield Paradox. Now, Cloverfield is the name of a space station filled with scientists attempting to collide particles to create energy for Earth, which is running out. While it falls into space Horror tropes and asks more questions than it answers, The Cloverfield Paradox manages to be a decent film through effects and quick pacing. 

NOTE: Spoilers will be made for all three films when necessary.  

Throughout this film, nods were made to the other films. Blatant ones included numerous depictions of the Kelvin and Slusho companies, part of the film took place in an underground shelter, and a larger version of the original monster. Less obvious connections include Donal Logue's character (Mark Stambler) having the same last name as John Goodman’s character from Lane; Stambler mentioning creatures from the sea; the newscaster being played by Suzanne Cryer (the same actress who comes to the shelter infected in Lane); and something from space falling into the ocean, which could potentially awaken something from the depths. Undoubtably there were more Easter eggs woven throughout. A few were worth mentioning because not only were they fun callbacks to the other films, but they also aided in foreshadowing and establishing a connection early on between all three films. That being said, the ending (the biggest connection to the original) still felt tacked on, which was one of the flaws in Paradox.

Yes, Stambler mentioned the possibility of sea creatures, but that was it as far as the monster connection went—until the end. The final jump scare with the massive-sized Clover monster did not feel earned. It felt like the filmmakers wanted a direct connection to Cloverfield, so they added the monster last minute for shock and awe. At one point Michael did see a shadow of something, but that, partnered with him witnessing explosions, was intentionally misleading the audience to think it could be the aliens from Lane. It felt like a disservice to fans. After Cloverfield was released, there were talks of a sequel where the original monster was a baby, and part two would focus on the mother, presumably massive. Paradox revisited this idea but in a lazy, dissatisfying way.

Further dissatisfying was the humor. Normally, Chis O’dowd is great, and his performance in this film was fine. The problem was that the humor itself was out of place. Paradox had a heavy subject, so it was understandable that they wanted to dampen the tone with comedy. Unfortunately the comedic lines were contrived and mismatched from the rest of the tone, making the movie feel disjointed in that aspect. Comedy has become a staple in these grand, heavy-themed movies. Sometimes it works; sometimes it does not. But filmmakers need to find the distinction between helping and hurting. Another tired space movie trap Paradox fell into was the sacrifice. Nearly every space movie involves someone intentionally sacrificing themselves for the rest of the team. Audiences knew it was coming, so it needed to have an emotional punch to make it worthwhile. Since the pacing was quick, there was not enough character development with the sacrificing character to make the death impactful. It was that pacing, however, which gave this picture redemption.

As stated, the pacing was Paradox's saving grace. There was approximately 5 minutes of set-up before this thing took off. After that there was one thing after another, and most of what was happening was interesting. When events were not developing on the Cloverfield space station, the movie cut to Earth and showed what was going on there, which was shrouded in mystery. Pacing might have been a curse in the sense that outside of Hamilton (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), there was no time for character development. Also, Kiel almost immediately imprisoning Schmidt happened too quickly, but at least there was some set-up for that. Movies such as this tend to slow and drag during the second act, but here it does not—leaving viewers to care about the character they were supposed to, without boredom. Something interesting, entertaining, or creepy was happening in every shot. And those shots were gorgeous, as was the entire movie. One shot in particular that stuck out was the first shot of Earth from space. Earth was upside-down, and as it rotated toward the camera with city lights glaring down below, the sun slowly crept from behind the horizon. As the sun appeared the space station came into view showing its scale and complexity. Gorgeous. There was also a scene with freezing water, which was a cool idea and executed well. Practical effects were well done—the station was believable. The acting was good, nothing nearly as captivating as in Lane, but mostly because the actors never get a chance to shine. So the cast becomes wasted.

Paradox attempted to answer the question of whether these three films are connected. But it left more questions in its wake, such as: what dimension are the people in now? And what about the aliens from Lane? Where was the connection there? My biggest question was what was this movie's point? Cloverfield was a response to 9/11 much as Godzilla was a response to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 10 Cloverfield Lane was a look at how inhumane humans can be in a modern society, and what it would take to make us come together. Maybe The Cloverfield Paradox was attempting to be a commentary on human consumption and the future of sustainability, but if so that point was not fleshed out enough to be as impactful as the messages its predecessors delivered. And that was a problem. Those themes were part of what made the previous two great, and if nothing else, at least they were connected by that. Fans of the franchise will enjoy combing through and finding the treasures hidden within, but will be dissatisfied with the arcing theme (or lack thereof). General audiences will probably find it entertaining enough, but will be left wondering what the point was in the end. Hopefully the fourth installment, which is supposedly slated for theaters and currently titled Overlord, will boost the franchise back to the caliber it once was.

Further Viewing: Life — A space movie with a similar aesthetic.
Sunshine — A space movie with a similar premise.

DSS: Wes Anderson Part 1

Hello, Weirdos. This month the Director Selective Series will focus on the directorial filmography of Wes Anderson. Anderson started by making short films with future frequent collaborator Owen Wilson. Typically, his films feature a pastel color pallette, long pans, and quirky characters. March of this year he will release his second animated feature, Isle of Dogs. Outside of Isle of Dogs, Anderson has eight movies, so for the month of January I'll be looking at two a week.

Here are the first two:

I've never seen Bottle Rocket, but I have seen Rushmore. It will be cool to see Anderson's evolution from the beginning.

Here are my thoughts on the final installment from Director Selective Series: David Fincher:

  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo: I've never read the book, nor have I seen the original movie, so this film was self-contained for me the first time I watched it. This movie has one of the best trailers I've ever seen. The teaser draws you in, piques interest, and gives little to nothing away. Plus it has a great song. Until Lisbeth and Mikael get together, the film feels disjointed. We get one or the other, and it isn't clear where the solo Lisbeth storyline is going. Luckily, Mara's performance is enough to keep you interested because she is intense and believable (that tattoo scene is gnarly). The performances across the board hold up. My only other complaint is the ending feels tacked on without a satisfiable amount of explanation. Seems like something that may be explored with sequels. Fincher uses the yellow and blue tones throughout, which aids to the cool atmosphere created by the landscape.
  • Gone Girl: This was my second viewing of this picture. The first time I watched it I remembered thinking it was a bit slow. Now that I’m used to that in movies, especially with Fincher, I thought Gone Girl was well-paced. Gone Girl starts like a typical murder mystery thriller, but where most stop after the reveal, Gone Girl keeps going. There isn’t a quick montage of how it happened. Instead the how is half the story. It reminded me of The Game because you don’t really known who to cheer for. Fincher likes his tortured anti-heroes. Gone Girl is a tension-building nail biter. 
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That is it for Fincher. If I had to do again, I would. Fincher has a way of making you feel like you’re there with crisp, clean shots and haunting atmospheres. It is cold and drab, but always worth the journey. I’m excited to see what he does next. 

Got a new poem in the works. Expect that soon. And expect more films from Wes Anderson in the weeks to come. Keep on Creepin’

Director Selective Series: David Fincher Part 4

Hello, Weirdos and Happy Holidays. This is the final installment of David Fincher’s directorial filmography. Two more films to go, and they are:

I’ve seen both of these, but not for a few years. I look forward to seeing how they hold up for me. 

These are the thoughts on the two pictures from Part 3

  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: Fincher takes his love of colored tones and uses them to demonstrate the difference in time. The cold blue is reserved for the present. Yellow is used for the past. As the past catches up, the color slowly shifts to match. Button reminds me of Forrest Gump mixed with Boyhood. It is the story of a life from beginning to end. Fincher toys with the idea of time and how we perceive it. A bulk of the movie is spent with Benjamin as an old man aging into his midlife, then his adolescence. The film skims over Benjamin as a child, hardly giving audiences any time after his teenaged years. It is like life: Childhood goes by in the blink of an eye, and most of our time is spent becoming an adult and growing old. The film is character driven; there isn't much plot. For me, the biggest problem is the graphics used on old man Benjamin. The CGI resembles The Polar Express, and falls into the uncanny valley, which is unsettling. Other than that, the film is gorgeous, especially the cinematography. Nothing feels wasted. Yes, the film is long, but every scene has a purpose.
  • The Social Network: Sorkin and Fincher knock this one out. They take a story that could have easily been boring and transform it into a visual treat full of quick-witted dialogue. Fincher makes you feel like you're there, and Sorkin makes you believe the characters are real. It is a good example of using what’s current to draw people in, as with Steve Jobs and Straight Outta Compton. The writing and direction aren’t the only stars. The performances from Eisenberg and Garfield as the leads deserve recognition. Each play a pivotal role and pair well with each other as monotone nerd and enthusiastic, handsome financier, respectively. Music is also worth mentioning. Reznor and Ross amplify the film by adding bits of digital sounds into their score. They also take old ideas and present them in new ways, which parallels Facebook itself. As with his last film, and even more true here, Fincher wastes nothing.

Next week I’ll have a new director to comb through, and my thoughts on these final two films. Suggestions are always welcomed as are thoughts on any of the movies I’ve been watching. Keep On Creepin’.