"Everything is as it should be."

                                                                                  - Benjamin Purcell Morris

 

 

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3rd Annual SLIP-ME-A-MICKEY AWARDS ™® : 2016 Edition

Estimated reading time : 19 seconds

The Slip-Me-A-Mickey™® awards are a tribute to the absolute worst that film and entertainment has to offer for the year. Again, the qualifying rules are simple, I just had to have seen the film for it to be eligible. This means that at one point I had an interest in the film, and put the effort in to see it, which may explain why I am so angry about it being awful. So any vitriol I may spew during this awards presentation shouldn't be taken personally by the people mentioned, it is really anger at myself for getting duped into watching.

The prizes are also pretty simple. The winners/losers receive nothing but my temporary scorn. If you are a winner/loser don't fret, because this years Slip-Me-A-Mickey™®  loser/winner could always be next years Mickey™® winner!! Remember…you are only as good as your last film!! 

Now…onto the awards!!

WORST FILM

Nocturnal Animals - Nocturnal Animals has two, equally insipid and flaccid story lines running concurrently through it which makes it twice as awful as it could have been. In addition, the film vomits a horrendous Jake Gyllenhaal performance all over its audience like a sun-baked clam chowder. I would rather be abducted, dragged out to the desert, gang raped and tortured to death by a bunch of backwoods yokels than have to watch another single second of this abysmal trash.

Hacksaw Ridge - Desmond Doss was a remarkable man of great faith and courage…sadly, in Mel Gibson's version of Doss' life story, Doss is a mildly retarded fool with an almost accidental and minimal connection to some nebulous religion. Hacksaw Ridge, like all of Mel Gibson's other films, is an exercise in a masturbatorial masochism marinated in a heavy-handed, mawkish melodrama. This film is just the worst type of cookie cutter, war movie dreck. I wish a kamikaze pilot flew right into this movie and put us all out of our misery.

Suicide Squad - I was psyched to see Suicide Squad. Then I saw it, and I wanted to kill myself. When Will Smith is the best part of a movie, that is a strong indicator that that movie is a giant pile of steaming dogshit…and so it is with Suicide Squad. I still haven't gotten the stink of this movie off of my shoes.

And the loser is.a tie between NOCTURNAL ANIMALS and SUICIDE SQUAD : 

NOCTURNAL ANIMALS : Just a muddled mess of pretentious incoherence. This film didn't reek of the art house, it stunk of the dungheap. Nocturnal Animals, or as I keep calling it, Nocturnal Emissions, is not a wet dream, but a bone dry nightmare. Awful. Awful. Awful. 

 

 

SUICIDE SQUAD : A repetitively repetitive film that repeats itself repetitiously, one repetition after another repetition, over and over and over again. A most boring and idiotic endeavor that could have been truly magnificent, but instead it made me want chop my head off and throw it in a septic tank….repetitively. 

 

 

 

WORST PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR

Vince Vaughn - Hacksaw Ridge : I like Vince Vaughn. I really do. He is great at the things he is great at…he is not great at the thing he was asked to do in Hacksaw Ridge. Vaughn stutters and stumbles his way through the most derivative and hackneyed performance imaginable as the Sergeant who must lead his men from boot camp to battle. I was genuinely embarrassed for Vaughn as it felt like he was reprising his role from Dodgeball with a world war II setting around him. 

Nicholas Cage - Snowden : I have always felt Nic Cage was a shitty actor. Even when he was winning Oscars and was a critical darling, I thought he was a bullshit artist who was just mimicking what he thought a great actor should be like. In Snowden, Cage is stripped bare and revealed for the artistic fraud that he has always been. Cage is so extraordinarily awful in the film, it is utterly amazing. Watching Nic Cage act is like watching a dog eat its own poop. Both the viewer, and the poop eating dog, wonder why they don't just stop their self-destructive and disgusting behavior. How Oliver Stone didn't cut Cage entirely out of this film is the one of the great mysteries of life.

Jesse Eisenberg - Batman v Superman :  Eisenberg is an interesting actor, but he is so overwhelmed and out of his depth as Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman, that it is painful to watch. Never has an actor who needed to come across as big, felt so small. 

And the loser isNIC CAGE : A cringe-worthy display of the most forced and phony acting imaginable garners Cage the least coveted award of the season. Cage's long spiral down into cultural and artistic oblivion seems to be stuck in a bottomless pit of embarrassment.

 

 

MOST OVERRATED FILM OF THE YEAR

Hacksaw RidgeHacksaw Ridge, its lead actor Andrew Garfield, and its director, Mel Gibson, all got Oscar nominations. Was it that bad of a year in cinema? Did the Academy watch this movie? After seeing the film, I kept reading about how great it was and wondered if the critics were simply suffering from PTSD from having to sit through this ridiculous bucket of amateur-hour slop. Hacksaw Ridge SHOULD HAVE BEEN great…but it just wasn't. And anyone who thinks otherwise has absolutely lost their mind.

Manchester by the Sea - Question : You know who loves Manchester by the Sea? Answer : Manchester by the Sea. This movie was so in love with itself I needed to shower after seeing it. The film is fine…but not nearly as good as it thinks it is…or as good as many critics think it is. It is a paint by numbers art house film, and that is painfully obvious for anyone who sees through the marketing bullshit that tries to polish the most mundane of turds.

Nocturnal Animals - Some jackass at the Guardian thought this was the best film of the year. He should have his eyes cut out and never be allowed to look upon this earth ever again. This same critic described the film as a fascinating meditation on masculinity. When you are relying on the impeccably fabulous fashion designer Tom Ford to direct a meditation on masculinity, you need to have your head, and loins examined. Tom Ford wouldn't know genuine masculinity if it walked up to him kicked him in his perfectly coiffed and powdered nuts.

And the loser is.HACKSAW RIDGE : This film is an unmitigated disaster of a movie that somehow got 6 Oscar nominations and even two wins (film editing and sound mixing). How the hell did that happen? Across the board the acting is atrociously bad, most notably by Vince Vaughn and Hugo Weaving. The direction is utterly abysmal as Mel Gibson brings his usual ham-fisted approach to storytelling. A remarkably overpraised and underwhelming film. The dash cam footage of Gibson calling a cop "sugartits" is a considerably more entertaining and note worthy piece of cinematic art than this excrement.

P.O.S. HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE

Woody Allen :

Woody gets his long awaited induction into the Piece of Shit Hall of Fame this year after a stellar career as a gigantic piece of shit. Where to begin with Woody's piece of shit credentials…should we start with the very believable charges of molestation by his daughter Dylan? or with his numerous references to his desire for young or underage woman and girls in his films (check out Stardust Memories or Manhattan…they are creepy as hell in retrospect)? Or how about the piece de resistance, his having an affair with his adopted daughter and then marrying her? Or maybe we should just stick to his insidiously awful, narcissistic, self-serving films that the elite love to love?

Wherever we start looking for proof of Woody Allen being a piece of shit, we stumble upon a target rich environment of shitbaggery. History will not be kind to Woody Allen…and if I ever have the displeasure of meeting him…neither will I. Congratulations Woody Allen…you are an all-time piece of shit. Welcome to the Piece of Shit Hall of Fame!!

 

2016 P.O.S. ALL-STARS

Billy Bush - Billy Bush is a douchebag. He has always been a douchebag and will always be a douchebag. Like all of the Bush clan, he is a feeble minded and needle-dicked mid-wit, born with a silver spoon in his mouth and a chip on his shoulder. Bush was exposed for his douchebaggery by the "grab her by the pussy" video of Donald Trump released during the campaign. Bush's ass kissing of Trump in particular, and his sycophancy in general, along with his complete lack of a spine, soul, brain or balls, are why I knew he was a douchebag from day one. Nice to see the rest of the world finally catching up to me. Fuck you Billy Bush…and the rest of the Bush family. 

Lena Dunham - This is back to back trips to the P.O.S. All Star game for Lena Dunham. This year she gets in for lamenting the fact that she never had an abortion. Way to stay classy, Lena. The cool thing is that Lena doesn't need to have an abortion, because she is one. So is her awful show, her awful writing and her awful presence in the public square. Dunham is a repugnant, repulsive pig, and I for one, am hoping for an abortion of her career, post haste. 

The Butter BrigadeChris Evans, Anna Kendrick, Jessica Chastain, Jenna Fischer  - Remember these dipshits who got their panties all in a tussle when they idiotically thought Marlon Brando anally raped Maria Schneider while filming Last Tango in Paris?  The bunch of them are gigantic pieces of shit, and have earned their all-star status. None of them recanted, none of them apologized, and none of them set the record straight. I hope Brando's ghost haunts them all by shoving a stick of butter so far up their asses that their eyes turn yellow…and then he gives them all the business but good up their well lubed butter chutes. 

And thus ends the third annual Slip-Me-A-Mickey™® Awards!!! To the winners/losers…don't take it personally…and God knows I hope I don't see you again next year!! To you dear reader…thanks for tuning in and we'll see you again next year!!

©2017

Hacksaw Ridge : A Review

****THIS IS A SPOILER FREE REVIEW!!! THIS REVIEW CONTAINS ZERO SPOILERS!!!****

ESTIMATED READING TIME: 5 Minutes 27 Seconds

My Rating : 1.35 out of 5 stars.

My Recommendation : Skip it.

Hacksaw Ridge is the story of Desmond Doss, a religious conscientious objector in World War II who enlisted in the army and became a medic. Doss served in the Pacific theatre and earned the Medal of Honor for saving scores of his wounded comrades at the battle of Okinawa. The film, directed by Academy Award winner Mel Gibson, stars Andrew Garfield as Doss, with supporting turns by Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths, Teresa Palmer, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey and Vince Vaughn.

The story of Desmond Doss is a fantastic story. Hacksaw Ridge is a bad film. I went to the theatre with high expectations for this movie, as the trailer and the background on Doss' story were pretty great. Sadly, Mel Gibson and his cast drop the ball in such a tremendous way that it is stunning how awful this film really is.

The problems with Hacksaw Ridge are numerous, so let's start at the beginning. The casting of this film is flawed right off the bat. The film is a joint Australian/American production, but the cast is almost entirely made up of either Australian or British actors. Aussie and British actors are a fine lot, of that there is no doubt, but when you cast them in the role of Americans the cracks sometimes start to show. Hugo Weaving is a great example. Weaving is a terrific Aussie actor, but in his role as Doss' father, he stumbles and staggers through the accent and the action like a newbie at the local community theatre. Weaving has one critical monologue and in it his accent goes in and out so often you think you are watching an exorcism. Sam Worthington is another glaring example of the lack of acting dexterity. Worthington blusters and poses his way through his role and does little more than mimic what he thinks an American accent sounds like. Obviously his ear is as bad as his acting. The accents and language of the foreign actors playing Americans feel so stilted they cause the performances to ring false throughout. Were there no American actors available for these roles?

The star of the film is Andrew Garfield, a fine British actor. Unlike his cast mates Garfield handles his American/Virginia accent well enough, but he too struggles to be believable in the film. Garfield has the right energy and physique to play Doss, a sort of slight and delicate man, but there are times when I literally though Garfield's Doss seemed mentally handicapped. Garfield made Doss into a dopey, doe-eyed simpleton. I don't know if Garfield did this intentionally or if it is just a habit, but he lets his tongue stick a little bit out of his mouth when he is trying to be sincere. It looks like a deformity where his tongue is too big for his mouth. And especially when he has lovey-dovey stars in his eyes with his tongue sticking out, he actually looks mentally disabled. It is bizarre to say the least.

I am not singling out Aussie and British actors alone for their sub-par work in Hacksaw Ridge, as the biggest casting error is unquestionably putting Vince Vaughn in the role of the Sgt. Howell. Vaughn is so mis-cast and  dreadful in the role that it physically hurt me to watch. I like Vince Vaughn a lot, he is a very talented guy, but he is so awful as Howell that it beggars belief. Vaughn's biggest problem is that he lacks any sort of menace, toughness or vocal prowess to be able to handle what should have been the easiest role to cast.  Vaughn also has a minor speech flaw where he swallows his "L's" which makes it difficult for him to project his voice with power. So vocally he is not grounded and instead gets his voice stuck up in his throat and upper chest cavity. This is why he has no gravitas in this role which desperately needed it. In comparison think of Lee Ermey in Kubrick's Vietnam masterpiece Full Metal Jacket. Ermey doesn't have to strain his voice to be domineering as his voice is grounded and resonates from deep in his belly (or, more specifically, his balls, if you want to get all Drill Sergeant about it).

The rest of the cast are all the usual war film stereotypes that we have seen a thousand times before. The scene where we are introduced to Doss' squad could have been taken from over a hundred other films about the same war or any other war for that matter.  There's the tough guy, the good looking guy, the funny, guy, the dopey guy…you name it. Central casting got a workout filling all of these one dimensional roles. Which leads us to another major issue with Hacksaw Ridge…the script.

As I previously mentioned, Desmond Doss' story is a remarkable and fascinating one. The problem with Hacksaw Ridge is that it sticks Doss' story into the conventional Hollywood War movie cliche machine and mangles it beyond recognition and strips it of all its value. The reason Doss is a conscientious objector is because of his faith. This should have been a film about a man and his faith and his unwavering commitment to that faith. Instead Gibson, no stranger to stories about faith, spends the first half of the film never even mentioning Doss' religious affiliation (Seventh Day Adventist) except in passing and instead makes the film a love story. This love story, in addition to being standard, boring filmmaking fare, ends up being a distraction to Doss' actual story, not the focus of it. In fact the love story basically vanishes in the second half of the film when Doss finds himself in the meat grinder that is Okinawa. 

There are references to Doss' religion in the second half of the film, in fact, his religion becomes paramount to understanding why he is doing what he is doing, but since that element of the story hasn't been properly established and developed it lacks any impact on the viewer. It was shocking to me that Mel Gibson, the guy who made half a billion dollars telling the story of The Passion of the Christ, downplayed the religion of his main character, especially when it was so vital to the motivation of that character and the driving force of the entire story.

I was stunned as to how poorly this film was directed, written and acted. The first half of the film is so melodramatic and predictable that it was like watching a tele-novella on Spanish language tv…of course with actors who speak Spanish as a second or third language, instead of native speakers. The second half of the film when the film goes to war, is so unoriginal and cliche-ridden it felt like someone had spliced together second rate scenes from the cutting room floor of every war film made in the last 75 years. There are also flashbacks which do nothing to propel the story further or give any insight into Doss' character or beliefs. 

Visually the film is as flat and stale as the storytelling and acting. While the battle scenes have a certain intensity to them, it feels like you are watching someone else play a World War II video game over and over and over again. The fog of war and disarray of battle, mixed with a lack of a clear and specific geography, makes for battle scenes that are a more confusing experience than an exciting one. And Gibson's penchant for swelling music to trigger drama in his film and emotion in his audience, does little to lift the action, but rather makes it all feel manipulative and false.

Mel Gibson is well known for his embrace of violence in his films, and Hacksaw Ridge is no exception to that. There is a lot of human destruction and blood and guts in Hacksaw Ridge but because we have no genuine connection with any of the characters that carnage comes across as gratuitous. I certainly have no issue with extreme violence in a film, that is for sure, but in Hacksaw Ridge the violence is so cinematically dull and visually conventional that the it all rings as hollow as the rest of the film. 

I have never been much of a fan of Mel Gibson as an actor or as a filmmaker. My feelings about Gibson have nothing to do with his troubles a few years back where he got into all sorts of trouble for his personal life and beliefs. I am not judging the artist or his work on the struggles he has had as a man. Personally, I think The Passion of the Christ was very well done and is easily his best film as a director, but the rest of his directing, and acting work for that matter, always has a certain narcissistic, mawkish sensibility to them. As a first generation Scotsman and Irishman, I found his Academy Award winning film Braveheart to be mindless Hollywood shit and a prime example of the previously mentioned narcissistic mawkishness. Hacksaw Ridge is nowhere near the film Braveheart was, but like its Scottish counterpart, Hacksaw Ridge is also very poorly served by Mel Gibson's saccharine vision and maudlin instincts. 

In conclusion, my recommendation is to skip Hacksaw Ridge altogether. It certainly isn't worth seeing in the theatre, that is for damn sure. If you really want to see it then I tell you to wait to see it for free on cable of Netflix. It is a shame that a man like Desmond Doss, the type of man we need more of today, wasn't given a better platform from which to spread the word of his heroism and his commitment to his faith. Desmond Doss deserved much better than the dramatically cluttered, conventional and one dimensional film that Mel Gibson has made about him. I went into Hacksaw Ridge filled with anticipation, I left the film profoundly disappointed.

©2016

'71 : A Review

THIS IS A SPOILER FREE REVIEW!! THIS REVIEW CONTAINS ZERO SPOILERS!!!

 

'71, is the fictional story of a British soldier separated from his unit during a riot in the Catholic area of Belfast in the occupied six counties in the north of Ireland during the height of "the Troubles" in 1971.  The film stars Jack O'Connell as the aforementioned abandoned British soldier Gary Hook, who must figure out a way to survive the night and escape the Catholic nationalist area of the city and make it back to his barracks. '71 is written by Gregory Burke and is the feature film directorial debut of Yann Demange. 

'71 is a very rare film indeed. It is original and unique in that it is, basically, an action film, set in a historical context, that is not only compelling to watch but interesting and smart too. The credit goes to director Demange for balancing the taut action of the film with the ambition of the plot. Demange skillfully makes every chase visually imperative even while he pushes and pulls with the pace of those scenes. In the faster chases, Demange uses a claustrophobic sense of setting and a loose yet specific framing to heighten the very palpable tension. In contrast, in slower "chases" he uses the setting to full advantage, and turns a physical chase into a mental one. Demange also shines in the riot scene which is the catalyst for the rest of the story. The scene is heightened, the tension and chaos so tangible, that it is viscerally jarring and completely dramatically captivating.

Jack O'Connell is an actor I am not familiar with. I know he starred in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken last year, which I did not see, and from what I hear I was fortunate to miss it. I had no expectations, good or bad, for O'Connell as an actor going into '71. I will say this, this kid has movie star written all over him, and '71 was a perfect vehicle for his unmistakable charisma. O'Connell never hits a false note as Gary Hook. He never even slightly loses the imperative of his struggle to survive, all the while maintaining a genuine, touching and wounded humanity. While O'Connell's obvious dynamic physicality is what will get him cast in films, it is his internal and emotional fragility which will make him a star. There is a sort of early Mel Gibson vibe to O'Connell, and I mean that as a compliment. Early Mel Gibson, in films like Mad Max, Galipoli, A Year of Living Dangerously, was a magnetic actor, who was both compelling and combustible on screen, O'Connell has a similar energy about him.

O'Connell's performance certainly propels '71 to its heights, but the entire supporting cast does spectacularly solid work. Richard Dormer and Charlie Murphy, in particular, do exemplary work as a Catholic father and daughter, as does Sean Harris as the enigmatic Captain Sandy Browning.

The script by Gregory Burke is also to be lauded. Burke does an excellent job of constantly keeping the viewer guessing and always stays one step ahead. "The Troubles" can be troubling when you see them in Manichean terms, which is always a dramatic temptation. Burke wisely and skillfully shows "The Troubles" as the moral tangled web that they are, and that they only become more tangled the deeper you look into them. Burke's script perfectly captures the sense that nothing is what it seems in Belfast in 1971.

In conclusion, '71 is a very pleasant surprise of a movie. It is an extremely well made, well acted, well written and intelligently entertaining film. Jack O'Connell and Yann DemangeO'Connell in particular (if he can make the right film choices), both have the potential for very bright futures ahead of them.  After their stellar display in '71, I look forward to seeing what both of them can do in the years to come. 

 

©2015