You’re A Loser, Eddie

Venom

In the past six years, I’ve watched a lot of movies, and I’ve enjoyed most of them. Even the bad ones. I’m pretty good about rooting out stuff I won’t like and find things I like even in movies that I don’t really care for.

Once in a while though, I come across a movie that I watch and think, “my lord this is dumb, and I love everything about this.”

And that is how I felt watching Venom. 

Venom is not a good movie by any objective standard. The acting is hammy, the script is convoluted, the action sequences (save one) are muddy and nonsensical, and the effects are meh.

But boy is Venom a fun movie to watch. Tom Hardy sells the crap out of asshole with a heart of gold Eddie Brock, and Michelle Williams does well with her requisite “sad girlfriend” role, something she could probably do in her sleep at this point. (Though her, “new but not as interesting boyfriend,” is played by the delightful Reid Scott! I gasped and said “BRANDO!” out loud. I was not embarrassed.) (I recently learned that a lot of people’s first Netflix binge was My Boys, which makes me happy because that means more people than I thought are aware of that show.)

Venom suffers for being an attempt to start a Spider-Man connected universe without access to Spider-Man, but otherwise is pretty good, it reminds me of The Incredible Hulk, another totally meh movie that I greatly enjoy everytime I watch it. I’m sure when this pops up on a streaming service I already own I will happily watch it a few times.

As for those mostly only OK action pieces? The car chase in the middle makes up for all of them. Holy crap is it inventive and cool and uses the symbiotes powers in some very neat ways. And that post credit scene kind of encapsulates everything that’s wrong headed about people doing post credit scenes that aren’t Kevin Feige. Though I am, of course, always happy to see Woody. (Seriously, always.)

Anyway, the movie is fun. I’m glad I finally saw it, but also glad I didn’t run out to see it or anything because it’s not great. But it’s fine for what it is.

Rankings:

  1. The Incredibles 2
  2. Bohemian Rhapsody
  3. A Star Is Born
  4. Solo: A Star Wars Story
  5. Deadpool 2
  6. Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!
  7. Ocean’s 8
  8. Infinity War
  9. Ant-Man And The Wasp
  10. Venom

Trailers:

Alita: Battle Angel: I can think of few better matches between source material and director than Robert Rodgriguez and Alita. The movie looks bonkers, and I”m always on board for Rodgriguez’s vision.

Into The Spider-Verse: THIS WILL BE THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER. I audiably gasped when Spider-Gwen (Shadow Spider? Right?) showed up.

Aquaman: You know how sometimes you just inhale deeply because someone is so attractive. This is pretty much how I feel everytime I see Jason Momoa, ever.

Glass: Hahaha, hahaha, hahaha. This is the most improbable movie to ever be made and I’m thrilled for it.

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It’s The Same Story, Told Over And Over Again

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Remakes are tricky. Usually they’re messy sloppy copies, rushed, with nothing new to say, no reason to exist beyond vanity and admiration.

But sometimes, magically, a remake says something new, takes a framework we know and hangs different things on it. But the frame is still there, familiar and warm, reminding you that you know this one. You know where it hits, where it hurts, how it bleeds.

A Star Is Born is the second kind. Instantly familiar, Bradley Cooper never loses sight of the fact that he’s telling one of the oldest stories in Hollywood. Revisiting his predecessors in ways both small and large. Whether it’s Ally crooning “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” to warm up, to the song, “Shallow,” which feels especially on the nose (for a story that previously featured suicide by walking into the ocean) and Ally’s final declaration, “My name is Ally Maine.”

Cooper’s direction and performance are stirring, as are supporting turns by Sam Elliott, Andrew Dice Clay (Huh?) and Anthony Ramos (YAASSS!) but this movie was always going to rise or fall based on Lady Gaga’s performance, so thank God she’s a complete revelation.

Ally is all insecurity and striving, shy smiles and stuttered words, but my lord that voice. It’s a wonderful take on a part played by legends before, and she’s well on her way to cementing herself there.

But the movie’s thesis statement about music and stories is summed up in the truly epic closing monologue delivered by Elliott.

Trailers

Mary Poppins Returns really does look wonderful. I can’t wait to see it and then watch it a million times over.

The Frontrunner: Any other year I’d be all over this movie, this year, I’m too tired for political drama. I’m even behind on my West Wing watching.

Green Book: Y’all, I know it’s a mushy dumb, tropey movie (probably) but seriously, it’s Viggo Mortensen & Mahershala Ali (with Linda Cardellini in there for good measure)

The Mule again.

Instant Family – I get the feeling I’m going to love this movie. Like, really love it.

Rankings:

  1. The Incredibles 2
  2. Bohemian Rhapsody
  3. A Star Is Born
  4. Solo: A Star Wars Story
  5. Deadpool 2
  6. Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!
  7. Ocean’s 8
  8. Infinity War
  9. Ant-Man And The Wasp

Any Way The Wind Blows

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Like many people my age, I first came to the incredible power of the music of Queen in the movies. I was born in 1987. I fell for “We Will Rock You” and “We Are The Champions” during The Mighty Ducks, and “Bohemian Rhapsody” during Wayne’s World.

Which is why sitting as the lights when down in Bohemian Rhapsody  yesterday, it felt, right, to be hearing it there.

Bohemian Rhapsody is getting dinged for being a by the numbers biopic. It definitely is, which also makes me kind of a sucker for it, since along with “heists,” and “lady with a fancy job,” “musician biopic,” is one of my favorite genres of movie.

Here are some things that I didn’t expect in this movie, to cry during the recording of “We Will Rock You,” to cry pretty much the whole back half of the movie, and for Gwylim Lee to possibly have shapeshifted into Brian May…

Obviously the story of Freddie Mercury has the beats of many many rock star stories. Reinvention, desperation, loneliness, debauchery, redemption. This is the myth arc of these men. (And Stevie Nicks) His diverges a bit, of course, because of his cultural background (Farsi Zoroastrian), his sexuality, (One of the greatest queer icons of all time) and his tragic death from AIDS.

The movie is also a tough pill, because of it’s director, who is one of those men who’s name we no longer speak after this year, although, being very familiar with that man’s previous work, this feels nothing like it. Which supports the narrative that he didn’t really direct the movie at all, pretty much excepted at this point.

Rami Malek’s performance is moving in the extreme, and the cast around him, a bevy of British TV actors who’s faces I’m always glad to see. (Aiden Gillan is going to go a long way playing smiling men who you’re not sure if you should trust or not. I despised Paul Prenter so much by the end that I had to watch like six episodes of Downton Abby to remind myself I once loved Allen Leech so…)

But overall, this music what it got into me again. Not that this is hard, it’s music that’s always with me. Leading crowds at football and baseball games with foot stomps and claps for “We Will Rock You,” as a cheerleader, singing Freddie’s part in “Under Pressure” with my sister at karaoke. (Mary is always Bowie. ALWAYS) Arms wrapped around my cast mates at parties swaying to “Bohemian Rhapsody,” twirling and laughing to “Don’t Stop Me,” with my college friends at parties.

Maybe it’s the theater kid in me, but seeing something that’s inside of you dramatized feels incredibly powerful.

Rankings

  1. The Incredibles 2
  2. Bohemian Rhapsody
  3. Solo: A Star Wars Story
  4. Deadpool 2
  5. Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!
  6. Ocean’s 8
  7. Infinity War
  8. Ant-Man And The Wasp

Trailers:

The Mule – “I reject everything about this movie” – Aless (I’ll probably wind up watching it when it hits HBO, because I find Clint Eastwood’s directing fascinating)

Rocket Man – Ooohh, bring on the sparkles Elton. BRING THEM ON!

Widows –Oh, sure, yeah, gritty heist movie starring Viola Davis, I’m gonna skip that. (/s)

 

 

My Top 10 Random Spots In Disney World

So, I spent this weekend pricing and doing some Disney research. I’m not planning a full on trip in the next year, but I have decided that I’m going to do a weekend, (taking either Friday or Monday off from work) to see Toy Story Land and see Illuminations one last time since it’s likely going away soon.

But I’ve been trying to avoid reading and researching much to try to off set that urge I get to just book a trip and head off. (For one, I can’t afford it, for another I have other travel plans for 2019…)

But during this research I started thinking about the trips I’ve taken in the past few years. (8 in the last five.) (Again, I totally don’t have a problem…) and the park exploration and the random spots that I’ve found and loved in the resort in that time. Some of these are weird out of the way spots, others are really really obvious, and others only make sense if you’re me.

10. The Waiting Areas At The Jungle Cruise: Skipper Canteen

I love the Skipper Canteen, I think it’s a wonderful restaurant with an even more wonderful menu, and fun service filled with puns. But my favorite part of eating here has very little to do with the meal and is actually while you’re waiting for your table. There are two spots that you wind up waiting, the first is the porch, where large rocking chairs sit beneath giant fans. The second is actually inside, where a few tufted chairs and a water cooler, filled with cold h2o and various fruits await you, plus a letter from Henrietta Falls and a portrait of Doctor Albert Falls hang on the wall. Both are quiet and relaxing and phase you into the great themeing of your dinner perfectly.

9. Outside Patio At Backlot Express

I actually love everything about Backlot Express, it’s a big ass quick service restaurant with a basic but well executed menu and  lots of air conditioned seating (as a quick reminder this is where I ate Star Wars themed Chicken and Waffles, and got my BB-8 souvenir cup.)  But I especially love taking some time to eat your lunch on the patio here, in view of the At-At at Star Tours and watching the Jedi Training show. It’s a nice little moment of Star Wars themed joy, which is always appreciated, when you’re me.

8. Any of The Side Gardens In Pandora

Like half this list is going to be spots in Animal Kingdom, just FYI. But wandering around Pandora, at any time of the day, but especially at night, it’s worth wandering into weird corners and seeing the plant life. But be sure to follow the trails, because if you don’t do that, you never find this particular spot.

7. Top of The Stairs In The Canada Pavillion

I think that Canada might be the most underrated of the World Showcase Pavillions, but there’s a spot right up at the top of the stairs, that looks over a waterfall and has some benches and it feels like you’re far away from the chaos of the park below you. It’s also the spot of my favorite picture of Mary, maybe ever?

6. The Rose Gallery At Be Our Guest

To be honest, there are not going to be many Magic Kingdom spots here, because I very very rarely stop to smell the roses in that park. (This is also proof that I rarely spend ENOUGH time in Magic Kingdom), but I love The Rose Gallery, if all of Be Our Guest were just this room, it would still be spectacular. (The West Wing and The Ballroom are also spectular and it makes the whole place magical) I love the music box, and the “paintings” and banquette tables. It’s the only room that really feels like a French bistro. And fun fact, I wrote the scene where Lefty and Marina dance for the first time while eating my Croque Monsieur here.

5. The Patio At Spice Road Table

Spice Road Table is my favorite restaurant at Disney World, and sitting on the patio, drinking Sangria and eating hummus fries while watching Illuminations is probably my favorite thing to do while at Disney World. (Besides ride The Haunted Mansion) It’s a thing I gently manipulate everyone who joins me at Disney into sharing at least one part of this experience. (no one has been disappointed..btw…)

4. The Porch At The Nomad Lounge

Nomad Lounge might be my favorite bar in the parks. (Not on property, we’ll get there) and sitting on the porch, with a beer, (while Mom and Kristi pussied out and drank tea…) is easily one of my favorite moments I’ve ever had. It’s just a solid and beautiful space, with a great view and excellent drinks and a pretty good menu. Although it changes a lot and the fish tacos that I adored are now gone…but still, grab a Night Monkey (this is a rum drink that also has espresso in it!) or a Safari Amber and watch the water good past.

3. The Terrace At California Grill

Watching Wishes at California Grill was one of my top ten favorite moments of my big Disney year, but it’s also a beautiful spot, with an incredible view no matter what, and to quote Gonzo, I’m going to go back there someday.

2. The Aviary On The Mahrajah Jungle Trek

To explain the incredible moment of magic that was walking into this room right after feeding time when Juli, Dom and I were there is impossible. It was so incredible. And the other times I’ve walked the Trek, this is still a beautiful space full of gorgeous creatures.

1. The Fireplace Chairs At River Roost

I’ve now stayed at Port Orleans Riverside twice, which makes it my most stayed at Disney Resort, and I will likely stay there again. I like the rooms, and the food court and the proximity to Disney Springs, but I really really love River Roost lounge and those big leather arm chairs by the fireplace where Tommy and I sat, laughing about our adventures while drinking wine remain my favorite place in the whole resort.

If You See The Wonder Of A Fairy Tale

Mamma Mia

The thing about Mamma Mia is that if you go in knowing what you’re getting, you’re going to come out completely satisfied. This is a bizarre fantasy world, situated somewhere between musical theater and karaoke where famous beautiful people hang out on a Greek island singing Abba songs.

It’s neither complicated, nor is it particularly great, but it’s deeply entertaining and delightful.

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again! absolutely delivers on those expectations and then some, thanks to some deeply earnest and lovely performances by Amanda Seyfried and Lilly James.

Then of course that all goes absolutely out the window because Cher shows up, playing basically herself, and she and Andy Garcia sing “Fernando” and it’s wonderful and perfect.

Look, this is an impossible movie to review, I just know that I’m really glad I saw it. First of all, I have more Abba songs to learn, and I have such a crush on Lilly James. Although the whole enterprise could have been improved by Mamie or Grace Gummer playing young Donna and either Bill or Aleksander Skaarsgard playing young Bill. (Or not, because Bill and Aleks are kind of terrifying.) (RIP ALAN PANGBORN!)

The movie is so great and fun, and splashy and lovingly performed and the end credits performance of “Super Trooper” might be the greatest rendition of the song ever. (Because CHER! And giving the dad’s BEERS! And Dominic Cooper’s costume! And everything.)

Mostly, I was happy to see this movie with my mom, and we both wished that Mary could be there too.

And I’m definitely watching Mamma Mia! as I write this review. And it’s as stupid and wonderful as I remembered.

Rankings

  1. The Incredibles 2
  2. Solo: A Star Wars Story
  3. Deadpool 2
  4. Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!
  5. Ocean’s 8
  6. Infinity War
  7. Ant-Man And The Wasp

Trailers

The Wife: I’ve heard this is amazing. I might read the book before I watch it.

First Man: It’s been a minute since we had a NASA movie, so cool.

Boy Erased: Is conversion therapy the new AIDS of gay cinema? I’m ok with it, it’s fertile drama ground…but yeah. This looks like it might win Russell Crowe another Oscar…

 

You’re going to be great

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I had a lot of trouble starting this review.

The Incredibles 2 is a breathlessly wonderful movie, fully of great jokes, stupendous action and more heart than every character ever played by Sean Astin.

Also, if one more person writes a “hot take” about how Brad Bird’s work reflects Objectivism, I’ll lose it. (There’s a moment in Incredibles 2 where Mr. Incredible, his mind hijaked by the villain Screenslaver, starts talking like John Galt about the mediocrity of most people and their failure to thrive, but you know, it’s the bad guy. Hell, even Tomorrowland is mostly George Clooney and those kids yelling at Hugh Laurie for not helping the world with his future tech, or whatever…) (Also, I maybe only read half of Atlas Shrugged, because even in my “rah rah conservatism, the free market will save us all” days Rand’s writing was boring af and also she thought charity was disgusting and I you know…have always felt opposite of that…)

Anyway, this movie, is delightfully funny, and the final fight is one of the best animated action scenes ever, topping even it’s predecessor. It’s also ridiculously funny, both Holly Hunter and Craig T. Nelson anchor everything beautifully. (Although the best comedy moments come from Violet, and her early teen rebellion renouncing superheroes!) (Not because she goes bad or anything, but the boy she likes gets his memory wiped, and it’s a whole thing.) There are some fun new supers, including the delightful Voyd, voiced by the one and only Sophia Bush. (Remember that time, Brooke, Haley and Quinn dressed up as superheroes and chased away the bullies at Jamie’s school? No, just me? OK…)

There’s so much about family, and marriage and love in these movies, that I think it would be a crime to talk more about it unless it’s really in depth, which is why I had so much trouble getting started. (Also, I was exhausted…and watching The Lord Of The Rings…) 

Anyway, it’s a good movie, people should go see it. I think most people already have but if you haven’t I do recommend it.

Short:

Bao is a beautiful piece of storytelling and what the hell is wrong with people?

Rankings

  1. The Incredibles 2
  2. Solo: A Star Wars Story
  3. Deadpool 2
  4. Ocean’s 8
  5. Infinity War
  6. Ant-Man And The Wasp

Trailers

The Grinch: Why the frak is the abomination happeneing?

How To Train Your Dragon 3: Looks beautiful, as these movies have always been. Also Toothless courting the light fury is delightful.

I don’t remember any others, which I guess speaks to how not really interesting they were, huh?

 

He’s In A Rough Place, Emotionally

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I finally saw Ant-Man And The Wasp last night! Hooray! (I’ve also decided to sign up for Sutbs A-List, so that I can get through the rest of movie season with relative ease. Double hooray!)

I really, really loved Ant-Mana lot, it’s probably the most rewatched MCU movie for me. (At least post Avengers…) due in no small part to Paul Rudd’s lovely performance, it’s heart being about fathers and daughters, and Michael Pena as Luis. (Sadly not as well used here)

Ant-Man And The Wasp is not as good as Ant-Man, but it’s still quite good, and makes use of a Partridge Family song, which is a delight. Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer are delightful in both their kinda creepy de-aged versions (prep for a full movie of this effect in Captain Marvel folks…I wonder how it will sustain?) and as their distinguished perfect selves. (Lawrence Fishburn is also good.)

I didn’t think the villain, Ghost, was as disconnected as I’d heard (She’s pretty well tied in to Pym, his legacy and SHIELD.) (Also, like, I love Howard and Peggy, but DAMN, SHIELD SUCKS you guys.) And Evangeline Lilly does well enough, and Paul Rudd is still great, but this is a lower tier one. (This seems to be happening with the second parts of Marvel trilogies regularly. The Winter Soldier being the exception that proves the rule…)

Worth seeing, as it stands alone in a few ways, and it has a damn charming cast, but not going to move mountains or anything.

POST CREDITS!

First in the mid credits, as everyone gets ready to enter the Quantum Realm for some experimenting, only Scott makes it before Janet, Hank and Hope all get poofed. So…yeah…we’ll see what happens there.

Rankings:

  1. Solo: A Star Wars Story
  2. Deadpool 2
  3. Ocean’s 8
  4. Infinity War
  5. Ant-Man And The Wasp

Trailers

The House With The Clock In The Walls: This looks like a delight, and since I now have A-List, I will likely actually see it. (I discovered if I even only go to one movie a week, not even the 3 allotted, the thing will pay for itself.)

Creed II: I would have gone to see this even if it wasn’t about Adonis avenging his father’s death by fighting Drago Jr. But since it is about that, well, now I’ll go see it seventeen times.

Alpha: This movie looks so dumb, but PUPPIES!!!!

Bumblebee: I hope it’s good, since it’s writer is now making the Batgirl movie, but I’m not super confident…

The Nutcracker And The Four Realms: I’ve talked about how excited I am for this movie before, but the new trailer makes me even more so. Seriously, it looks kind of wonderful.

Dumbo: “Baby Mine” will make me cry no matter what, so there’s that, I guess?