Rooney Mara scares the shit out of me

12 02 2013

By Kleinz 57

Mime at the Movies Side Effects

Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara) is having a tough time. Her husband (Channing Tatum) just got outta the clink for insider trading. He’s also out of a job, making her the lone breadwinner, and to top it off, she’s showing some adorable signs of severe depression. Following a sudden accident, Emily starts seeing Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law) for therapy and a prescription or five. One of those blue and yellow purple pills is a new drug, Ablixa, which as the film’s title hints at, has a cute girl on its fake website. Suddenly, Emily can’t sleep and starts experiencing weird mood swings. Fearing she may dissolve into the horse-faced lunacy of Gary Busey, Dr. Banks consults Emily’s old therapist (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Nobody seems to have an answer, and the problems and pills keep piling on. It’s the American way, really.

A word to the wise: if you’re looking to actively ruin a pleasant evening, Side Effects is your ticket. It isn’t that it’s a poor film; just the opposite. Steven Soderbergh is on a Murder She Wrote level of crafting intrigue here, some of which is owed to leads Jude Law and Rooney Mara, the latter who channels this creepy zone of dead cow-eyed ambivalence. On more than one occasion, Mara has scenes that are wholly unsettling, oftentimes with nothing but her and that whacked-out face. Certainly Soderbergh himself has strong mastery of this fantastic cast, and that’s all the more upsetting since he’s apparently retiring after he finishes his Liberace TV movie, something television needs about as much as The Crossover with Michelle Beadle. Side Effects isn’t quite an indictment of the American pharmaceutical industry, but it is a glimpse into one possibility, just a really diabolical one.

And if I’m allowed a little self-fellating here, “diabolical” is an apt descriptor for the turns this takes. It’s also to blame for Side Effects’ few missteps. Catherine ZEETAH-Jones plays a particular moment much too “big,” and the manner in which Bourne scribe Scott Z. Burns resolves things feels a bit like gift-wrapping a severed horse head. But Soderbergh has constructed this at such an even-keeled pace that who really cares? Many a cinematic d-bag have already made some Hitchcock comparisons and, tempting penis puns aside, they’re not wrong. That cerebral tone especially rings true in a certain parking lot scene or during an… incident with a kitchen knife. The suspense gets some help from wunderkind Thomas Newman’s score and Soderbergh’s own luminescent photography that’s eerie instead of comforting (like what Wally Pfister did in scenes with Leo Di Caprio’s crazy Inception ghost wife).

I also can’t resist comparing a plot point to a certain scene in Wild Things involving, oh let’s say… Denise Richards’ boobs. I fear saying anything more would spoil a thrilling time at ye grande ole theatre, but considering some of the Mime readership’s interests (present company included), I may have already said too much.

‘Zero Dark Thirty’ wants us all to be adults about this, but screw that noise

12 01 2013

By Kleinz 57

Zero Dark Thirty Mime at the Movies

Gird your loins, Americans. Zero Dark Thirty opens wide this weekend and director Kathryn Bigelow wants to infect you all with her disgraceful endorsement of torture. Sleep deprivation through music, routine beatings, waterboarding, motorboating, peanut butter on male genitalia — some of that stuff’s in Zero Dark Thirty. And even though Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal never explicitly qualify their stance on torture, even showing the obvious moral qualms of the CIA operatives engaging in them, it’s really obvious everyone involved thinks it’s okay to tear out people’s fingernails. Zero Dark Thirty wants us all to believe the physical and psychological degradation of terror suspects is right as rain. Somewhere, somehow. It’s there. Just give me like, another week to find it.

Seriously, people. Torture should be the only focus of our national furor, even if Zero Dark Thirty might be a remarkably riveting presentation of a story everyone and their Uncle Jimmy Jacks closely followed through national media. Beginning with a chilling audio-only collage of September 11th victims and their 911 calls, Zero Dark Thirty follows the career of CIA operative Maya (Jessica Chastain) and the U.S. government’s search for Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts. But who is Osama? A drug lord? Or maybe he’s let one too many parking tickets slip? We’re never really told, and that’s big problem for me. More importantly, think of the children… of the future! The curtailed motivations behind the manhunt for this bin Ladman guy could be problematic in forty years. In 2053, when the global book burnings have ended and teens read, eat, and sleep through their genius phone GADZORP supercubes, is the impact of one terrible, horrible no good very bad day in U.S. history going to resonate with kids?

There’s a slew of cameos from talented television actors, and Kyle Chandler, Jason Clarke, Jennifer Ehle, and Fares Fares all give strong turns as supporting players. But Chastain herself delivers a riveting performance, one that’s on the same pedigree of macabre obsession as Jake Gyllenhaal’s Robert Graysmithin Zodiac, with the added bonus of not being Jake Gyllenhaal. I hesitate to spoil the fate of the Oswamba ben Lajpin villain, but he is in fact killed, and a final shot of Maya haunts us with the real costs of this decades long operation to find him. Consider the toll it places on Maya’s traumatized psyche or nonexistent social life, on the demoralized co-conspirators, on the dead soldiers or orphaned children. Is killing the film’s villain worth creating a similar hatred of the United States in the children he leaves behind?

To echo the Academy’s sentiment, fuck Kathryn Bigelow. Fuck her and her masterful juxtaposition of the public’s consciousness, for minimizing radio chatter and maximizing the visuals in SEAL Team 6’s raid on the Abbottabad compound with cloudy handheld shots, jarring green night-vision POV, and a rhythmic ostinato of quick cutting. Fuck Zero Dark Thirty for showing me torture that, regardless of the details, was once a part of the CIA’s protocol in getting shit done. Fuck Zero Dark Thirty’s cold, scientific presentation of a bittersweet moment in American history. Fuck it for presenting the operation at face-value and free of punditry and analysis, save a dissection of the trauma it visits against the involved parties. Fuck Zero Dark Thirty for treating me like an adult.

‘Django’ excites American audiences, angers myopic dwarf

30 12 2012

By Kleinz 57


Earlier this week, director and world’s most annoying Knicks fan Spike Lee whipped out his #1 DOUCHE trophy and polished that sumbitch up by ripping Django Unchained a new one. Lee, an often controversial black voice in pop culture, claimed Tarantino’s slave-sploitation flick and its flagrant violence was “disrespectful” to his ancestors — a bold claim, but to anyone who’s seen Django and its vomiting blood splatter, not an outrageous one. Until we find out that Spike Lee hasn’t actually seen Django, and doesn’t plan to, perhaps out of some shortsighted spiritual quest to further his career as America’s premiere windbag? We may never know.

Django begins like any offensive blaxploitation picture would: with a dentist. Having abandoned his dental practice for the more profitable bounty hunting trade, Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) buys a slave named “Django” (Jamie Foxx) under the pretense of tracking down the Brittle Brothers, three unsavory worm-headed sacks of slavin’ monkey shit. Foxx does plenty well in filling Will Smith’s shoes as the title character, a one-time slave, all-time bad ass gunslinger. While Tarantino’s quirky, deliberately stiff dialogue is magicked into comedic gold from the likes of Waltz and mainstay Samuel L. Jackson, Django’s part requires less timing and more raw cool. Foxx serves up icy stares through medallion-shaped shades and keeps his proverbial shit together in slow-mo shoot-outs as the sounds of Rick Ross and Tupac blast behind him. Seriously. For Django’s handful of BIG performances, Foxx offers a toned down interpretation that’s 100% welcome. I mean, you can’t very well have four Nicolas Cages running around in your movie, chewing on everything in sight and shit now could you? That would be crazy.

Eventually proving his worth with a gun, Django sets off with Schultz to rescue his long lost wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). That involves a pulling a fast one on her new owner, Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), a peacock’ed Foghorn Leghorn whose disgusting hobby of mandingo death fights gets drowned out in his own francophilia. DiCaprio hasn’t turned in this magnetic or engaging of a performance since lord knows when. He also hasn’t been billed not first in sixteen years. I’m not saying there could possibly be a connection between Leo’s acting and the expectations of him, but I am saying there could possibly be a connection between his acting and our expectations of him. There’s gotta be some kind of mathematical model we can come up to answer that, right? Get on it, Nate Silver. You’re doing nothing but blow until the 2014 elections anyway.

Django’s second act isn’t always sure of where it wants to go. A terrific running gag has an awkward introduction, when Schultz whips out some paperwork to cool down a small town standoff. And of course, no Tarantino film would be without a little self-indulgence and, well, a little Tarantino. Sporting a dusty rancher hat and a terrible Australian accent, Tarantino’s cameo is hilarious but distracting, with a delivery about as elegant as your drunk sister mimicking one of those Outback Steakhouse commercials. Even so, Tarantino’s formal style has clearly matured since the days of endless long takes in Reservoir Dogs. His knack for intentionally vulgar technique was always there to begin with; what’s amazing is how well Django blends the high and the low to its advantage. Whether the image is forcefully bitch-slapped across the retinas in violent zooms or sweetly cuckholded through chromatic palettes of Colorado mountain ranges, the blend of techniques is brilliant. Django is like dipping your Ho Ho into a glass of Prisoner zinfandel. Tastes like monkey butthole? You bet. Delicious monkey butthole.

David Ehrlich argues Django does “for business what [Inglourious] Basterds did for war.” He’s half right. The fine print in bounty contracts and the weird ways in which the law can empower men of enterprise, even those who kill people, is a splendiforous commentary on the slippery slope of commercial ethics. But Tarantino’s also concerned with storytelling and performance and playing to an audience — you know, haughty douche bag subjects coincidentally found in cinema, and thus, Tarantino’s endless diarrhea stream of homages and references feel more appropriate than ever before. Is Django Unchained an offensive cash grab that milks mid-19th century Southern-fried slavery for gooey blood splatter and a excuse to use the n-word? Perhaps. But really, Tarantino’s been dropping racial slurs since the 90’s, and Spike probably just wants media attention, as troublesome, overcompensating midgets are wont to do.

Your Abridged Movie Zodiac

3 12 2012

By Kleinz 57

pi 2

Over the past week, the Off Duty Mime’s been a bit like that opening to 28 Days Later. You know the part. When Cillian Murphy wakes up and wanders his self around London looking like a confused idiot. Meanwhile, we all think everyone’s just dead. ‘What the hell happened?’

Well JD McManwich is officially back now. I still feel like I should post some dick pics ad nauseum for the next few days. You know, just in case it somehow isn’t actually him. So brace your faces for that?

If you bothered to peep the Mime’s exclusive chat with Denzel last week, you may have noticed one thing: We’re switching up formats in The Mime at the Movies. Brace your faces for that, too.

We’re also multitasking, which I hear is ‘in’ these days. Now rejoice as I simultaneously guide your next theater visit and skull fuck the crap out of your own self discovery. Here’s your inaugural Off Duty Mime Zodiac.

For the following 11 options, choose the answer you most agree with:

A. We’d all be better off if movies never had any violence.
B. Bring on the blood, guts, boobs, and butts.
C. Just the butts.

A. Nothing beats a slow sunrise.
B. I already feel rainy on the inside.
C. Triple rainbow with a tornado.

A. God bless America.
B. God help us.
C. God any fours?

A. No beef for me.
B. I said extra bacon.
C. You gonna eat that?

A. 3D is money well spent
B. 3D is a rip off.
C. Why haven’t they made a Space Jam sequel?

A. Books.
B. Anything but books.
C. Why haven’t they made a Space Jam sequel?

A. Fried tofu, please.
B. Olive martinis. And keep ’em coming.
C. What do you mean those weren’t Funyuns?

A. I’ll figure it out myself.
B. Get to the damn point.
C. I’ve done the math and Hop on Pop really is an American masterwork.

A. I’m a cat person.
C. Chinchilla or ferret, but they’re both so darn delicious.

A. Fast and loose.
B. Slow and steady.
C. Wakeboard.

A. The universe is connected by unseen forces.
B. Shut up and leave me alone.
C. Fine, I’ll shut up and leave you alone.

Tally time! 

More A’s: Life of Pi. 

No brainer, you smelly idealistic hippie. It’s spiritual with fantastic colors and a powerful message about faith’s defining element in humanity. There’s also a lot of awkward narration, though, and a particularly long revelation doesn’t work nearly as well on screen, in 3D, through glasses. On the other hand: Bengal fucking tiger. If Life of Pi proves to be a spiritual wakeup call, you’ll look past its storytelling flaws and the 3D CGI marlins flying at your face and enjoy the slow, nerve-wracking ride. You’ll also enjoy those hot yoga classes you immediately sign up for afterward. And get a damn job!

More B’s: Killing Them Softly. 

You’re a cynical, selfish, and probably lonely sack of shit. Chances are you don’t have very many friends, and those that do stick around you are likely doing it out of fear for their lives. But hey, if even your friends fear you, NOTHING can stand in your way now, including the drooling goats of corporate America. They’re too blind to notice their own dead end blue collar professions are slowly strangling them to death with computer cables and cable modems. Too bad they can’t pull of a goatee like you can to tide over their inevitable demise. Fuckers.

More C’s: Really? You weren’t supposed to answer the non sequitirs ya big jerk. Erm… maybe Playing for Keeps? It looks to be nothing less than another winning Jessica Biel performance! Just butts.

‘Wreck-It Ralph’ is fun but troubling. It’s froubling.

23 11 2012

By Kleinz 57

Stuffed to capacity with turkey, bottled beers and family angst, I braved the wintry eve of Black Friday and bought a ticket for Wreck-It Ralph. Alone. Sure this came out three weeks ago, but better late than never amirite?

Weirdos of the universe, unite! This is your candy-coated sugary anthem! After lifetime bad guy Ralph abandons his game, Fix-It Felix Jr. and its less than appreciative denizens, Ralph’s streak of wrecking things continues in his quest for a Hero’s Medal and his colleagues’ respect. After mucking up the first-person shooter experience in the Modern Warfare/Gears of War mashup Hero’s Duty, Ralph finds himself stuck in the candy-themed Mario Kart port, Sugar Rush Speedway, and avoiding the annoying “glitch” Vanellope Von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman). Vanellope, an outcast in her own videogame world, teams up with Ralph to win a racing qualifier and in the process show everyone how big of dicks they’re being.

I’m gonna go out on a double-striped limb here and suggest that time will not be kind to Wreck-It Ralph. Blame a stupid Skrillex cameo or Rihanna’s “Shut up and Drive” single, which practically gets its own music video mid-movie. Reaching for references to current pop stars reads more like that time your friend’s Dad grew out a ponytail. It’s both sad and terrible, and should’ve been cut from the start.

On the other hand, Simpsons and Futurama veteran director Rich Moore succeeds at layering this world(s) with background characters and references to other games, real or invented. At times, you’re drawn out of the narrative when the film points to itself too much. Holy shit, that’s Sonic the Hedgehog! or You catch that Mario reference, bra? The Darth Vader breathing sound has no place whatsover but these shameless name drops become minor distractions to a greater whole. Each game world has its own tics and features, and their respective characters take on unique traits: Pac-man’s a rude slob and Fix-It Felix’s posse of fans clips and blips with the rigid animation of an 8-bit arcade game. Wreck-It Ralph and its stunning animation deliver glimpses of richness and depth. Then again, Disney could make a movie about the magical world of library science and so long as they included some stupid character named ‘Dewey Decimal,’ I’d still blow a hefty glob o’ ranch dressing.

Given the Mime’s terrible habit of making up words, we’re pretty certain that if you frequent our digital annals, you’ll dig the pun fest in Wreck-It Ralph. Hero’s Duty becomes a poop joke, and there’s a fine difference between hitting a guy with glasses and hitting a guy with glasses. Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee’s script is a punderfully entertaining one, even if certain revelations about characters’ foibles undermine Ralph’s greater message. The idea that we should accept and appreciate people of any ilk works well in the videogame universe, where Blanka and Ryu are equally sweet. Outside in the real world, though? Not so much. The /Filmcast’s Adam Quigley has a point that this film could be propaganda for all of history’s villains. As fun as it is to champion Ralph as the misunderstood lovable oaf, at the end of the day he’s still another A-hole who breaks shit. And let’s just say a serial murderer couldn’t exactly borrow that same argument in court.

DEFENDANT: …you see, your honor, the courts wouldn’t technically have jobs if I didn’t slaughter those 17 women last year. So really, you should all be thanking me.

JUDGE: Bailiff, kindly pistol whip this man.

In other words, don’t think too hard about Ralph’s lesson, or you may end up arguing for terrorism.

A little from Kaufman, a little from Tarantino

16 10 2012

By Kleinz 57

I briefly considered drafting a review of what my review of this movie would be like. Yes, a review of a review. It would have juicy deets on half-baked analyses or maybe a pool of potential wiener jokes from which to mine comedic gold. It might even give the URL of the bad pun generator I frequent. Alas, a rambling diatribe on a lacking creative process would be tough to write, let alone thrust upon suffering readers — that’s even as “meta” media seems to be in vogue more than ever these days. Even so, a review on my review might have still made more sense than the first hour of Seven Psychopaths. 

Imagine writing a screenplay. Wait. Don’t. Because Director Martin McDonagh does all the imaginatizin’ for you. Colin Farrell stars as Los Angeles screenwriter Marty — a character whose name is absolutely there to remind you of the director — who’s struggling to develop his latest script coincidentally titled… “Seven Psychopaths.” If you’ve had the pleasure of seeing Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman’s weirdly superb (or superbly weird) Adaptation., then a film about the creation of itself won’t sound all that bat shit insane. Actually, I should really mind my psychological diagnoses here, because McDonagh raises his self-referential dissection of guns and guts and film and butts to some strange heights, and some of those heights do plenty to question who’s really sane here. Of course, Marty’s psychotic bestie Sam Rockwell might make more than a few questionable life choices, as does Christopher Walken’s aging miscreant, who steals dogs only to sell them back to their owners for a finder’s fee. But what do these relationships say about Marty himself? After all, he’s hanging out with these weirdos, later writing a movie influenced by them. As a matter of fact, your own ticket went to furthering Hollywood’s obsession with gore and violence. What’s wrong with you, audience?!

So maybe Seven Psychopaths isn’t that explicit, and its script — which McDonagh also wrote — deserves credit for committing to very warped, sometimes jumbled introspection. The first half plays like a half-baked meditation on over stylized splatter and Olga Kurylenko in lingerie, especially since Marty’s ‘screenplay psychopaths’ overlap with the actual film’s maniacs. Upon further reflection (because this is one of those), McDonagh was likely attempting to bring us inside Marty’s own messy creative writing process at its inception, or some bullshit like that, but it’s a definite weakness, as is Tom Waits’ presence as a bunny-coddling, former serial murderer of serial murderers (see what I mean?). At best, Waits’ story is a commentary on tragic highs and lows of romance, but it’s an arc that might’ve better served an already solid Walken performance even more. Now will someone please escort Mr. Waits back to his bedpan? Woody Harrelson is magnetic and hammy as a testy mobster whose shih tzu goes missing, but Rockwell is the real standout here, doling out insanity and transcendence in equal measure. Like a suicidal Vietnamese monk. And yeah, that’s a thing, too.

CBS Films was screwed either way on marketing this sumbitch: do you prop up the loony ensemble cast of character actors? Or risk promoting at face value a deep, clever meditation on violence and crime in pop entertainment? CBS smartly hedged their bets, advertising McDonagh’s followup to In Bruges as a 21st century boogery cousin to Pulp Fiction’s blunt violence and cultural meditations. And it is, until it sprouts legs of its own and really gets a’hobbling. Psychopaths likely won’t fare well at Ye Olde Boxe Orifice, but when your story amounts to a two-hour MC Escher mind fuck… honestly.

There Will Be Frustration

26 09 2012

By Kleinz 57

Ten years ago, when Jay-Z wasn’t a revolving billboard, a new Hova album was a big deal to music fans. Well, before his three retirements at least. And while Paul Thomas Anderson is as white as his name implies, a new film from one of today’s most talented directors causes movie fans to pop their own brand of sweaty, salty boner. PTA’s latest, The Master, indeed fashions itself as a feeelm of the highest pedigree — one that inspires the limp-wristed, highnosed, tea drinking attention of film douchers everywhere. Yes, even in certain bloggers who only pretend to be.

Contrary to its promotional material’s vague pompousness, The Master is actually about lot of stuff; you’ll just have to work at figuring that stuff out. At its chewy center is a tested companionship between Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Lancaster “Master” Dodd, a myopic Renaissance Man, and Joaquin Phoenix as his gnarled alchemist protege, Freddie Quell. Hoffman struggles to reconcile this weird father/brother thing against his dedication to ‘processing’ away Phoenix’s obvious eccentricities. Phoenix on the other hand struggles to simply stop drinking paint thinner so damn much. Amy Adams channels her inner Shirley Phelps Roeper as Hoffman’s enigmatic baby machine, raising doubts as to exactly who’s pulling whose strings within The Master’s fictional cult, The Cause. PTA also places families in general under his microscope, specifically the awkward stuff we sometimes do to keep our own together and whether or not that price is worth it. Take Jesse Plemons as Dodd’s son, Val, reluctant to always swallow what The Cause is selling. Am I obligated to support my loony windbag Dad if he’s already bought me some pretty spiffy three-pieces? That’s a question he might ask himself.

To address the short, psychotic elephant in the room, there are many similarities The Cause shares with Scientology, namely Dodd’s bullshitting likeness to L. Ron Hubbard. While I can only imagine all the intricate ways David Miscavige, perched high atop Castle Grayskull, is planning to ice Harvey Weinstein, simply reading The Master as ‘the Scientology movie’ won’t yield much out of a very lean narrative. Then again, most PTA films are like magical top hats, and we pull whatever we damn well please out of them — contrary to other directors’ smaller bowlers, and with some you’re liable to only pull out a rabbit or a Jason Statham. The story here is more or less shown through a bevy of fantastic performances, and since we’re at about the All-Star Break for awards season, it’s only fair to add to the national rainbow party surrounding Hoffman and Phoenix’s performances. The latter of the two is particularly brilliant, if only for the accomplishment of maintaining a permanent half-grin, half-who sharted? expression for two+ hours. Phoenix hunches through each and every scene with an angular gait and the disposition of a seven year old who wants to make a fuss but isn’t sure when to start or even how. Also be prepared to feign surprise when Mihai Malaimare, Jr. wins all the awards for his striking camera work. I won’t tear Madison yet another hole for dropping the ball on getting its film shit together and simply say that despite not seeing this in its preferred 70mm projection, it looks damn purdy in digital.

Of course, critics have wasted many hours debating whether all that trailer vagueness is actually a problem in the film itself. Stephanie Zacharek even took the opportunity to consider if certain films in general deserve more attention or thought than others. Her inspiration? All this Master hubbub. Is it fair to demand more from an audience with one film over another, even if we aren’t particularly moved by it? If we find it boring? If we just really like Uwe Boll? I’m tempted to give a qualified ‘yes.’ Yes, you should see The Master, but you should feel however the hell you want. A director doesn’t get a free pass on greatness. That’s only okay with Batman movies.