Joe Peschi Movie Review: Life of Pi

I was interested in this movie da minute someone told me there was a Bengal tiger in it. I’m pretty sure they used those computer hieroglyphics instead of a real Bengal tiger, but it looked real enough to make me shit my pants when he was swinging those razor clubs.

As for the story, it begins with this family that has a zoo. Which is some really cool shit, to own a zoo, but the father is really humble and serious about it. My old man owned IBM stock and we never heard the end of it! So anyways, this zoo family has to move and get this . . they take the fucking zoo with em . . on a ship! I shit you not, it’s the craziest family story since we found out my Uncle was dressing up like my Aunt.

So they’re on this ship when they run into a big fucking storm, and the storm wins. The ship goes down, taking the zoo and this skinny little asshole kid’s family with it. The fucking thing goes down in like two minutes, which just goes to show you how much money they wasted on that Titanic movie.

The skinny little asshole kid gets lucky when he finds a lifeboat. Only it turns out he ain’t so lucky because there’s a coyote and an orangutang on the lifeboat with him. The Zebra’s cool, but I’m gonna warn you ahead of time not to make the same mistake I made by staring at him for too long. I got dizzy as fuck!. Thank God I smuggled my bottle of Chivas in with me, because that settled my stomach.

Things don’t work out so good for the Zebra, or the coyote or the orangutang either. So it’s the kid and the Bengal tiger, which is about as fair a fight as Elton John and Mike Tyson. Of course, this is Hollywood so we’re supposed to believe the skinny little asshole kid survives when in real life, he woulda been dinner. And if that isn’t ridiculous enough, the kid calls him Richard Parker, as if this is going to make the tiger think twice about eating him, yanno?

Outta nowhere, they introduce another ridiculous story line when their boat lands on an island. But of course it’s not an island like the one Tom Hanks was on in that movie where he never got to marry the chick he was banging. No, this island eats people. Which just goes to show that writers can fuck up a glass of water if you let em. These imbeciles have a Bengal tiger . . who eats everything, but nope . . let’s create an island that eats everything. What the fuck!

So they get the fuck outta there but these two are in some deep shit. The Bengal tiger has lost more weight than one of em Hollywood wives and it wouldn’t even help if he did eat the kid, who’s all skin and bones anyway. They finally make it to shore and the tiger gets outta the boat and just walks into the jungle without so much as telling the kid to kiss his ass. When the kid is rescued, he starts crying because the tiger didn’t say goodbye. Can you imagine the balls on this kid? Gimme a fuckin’ break.

Next thing I know, this Indian guy is talking to some white guy in his living room. It turns out, the zoo animals were really people and this wackadoo made up the whole ridiculous fucking story. And so he asks the white guy which story he prefers- the one with animals or the one with people. Of fucking course he says the better story is the one with the tiger. No shit Sherlock. The Indian guy thanks him and says “And so it goes with God,”.

As if God had anything to do with this flick.

 

Speaking Of . . .

The great Leonard Cohen once remarked that he felt no urgency as far as his writing was concerned. It was his opinion that mankind would not be damaged if he never put out another record or wrote another book.

Now here was a dude whose works could talk gravity into another million years worth of bubbles. And he’s speaking as if he’s a high school newspaper editor. His point, however, is inviolable. The best part of us, as writers, is the part that can never be taken away.

Speaking of . . .

Urgency, there seems to be a little more of the stuff when it comes to Bryce Harper and the Phillies. And I’m rooting like hell for them to ink the slugger before Brian Cashman sweeps in with a drunken sailor offering that ties the Yankees to a .240 hitter through a third Trump term (Spoiler Alert!). These “Till Meth Do Us Part” unions in sports are onerous for the fans more than anyone. Because in eight years, the fans will be paying Fabulous Bryce Hair prices for Bald Bryce production. Simple as that.

Speaking of . . .

Bald men, the Oscars are tonight. And I’m sorta/kinda excited for the first time in a while. If only because of Queen.

Speaking of . . .

Queens, they’re making a biopic about Elton John. Which is a little strange seeing as how he’s still alive.

Speaking of . . .

Bad jokes (such as the one I just made), Trump and Kim Jong (Pizzeria)-Un will be holding their second summit this week to discuss UN sanctions, nuclear disarmament and Adam Sandler’s curious lack of Oscar hardware.

Speaking of . . .

Oscar, I only saw one Best Picture nominee (Bohemian Rhapsody) and I am only halfway interested in seeing A Star Is Born. I definitely will see Black Klansman when it comes out on video.

Speaking Of . . .

Movies? I tend to gravitate to the flicks that have no blessed chance of winning gold. Take yesterday for example, when I went to see Happy Death Day 2 U. Not as good as the original, but man . . Jessica Rothe is going to win an Oscar for something, some day. And I do not plan on being wrong about that. Girl’s got game.

Speaking of . . .

Game . . I am rocking the Casbah after a two month hiatus from my Fitbit. A week and a half in, and the results are sweetly plucked juiciness. Lost a few pounds already, and am up to three and a half miles. I truly enjoyed my vacation from the the wrist candy, but the reunion is Peaches and Herb righteous.

Speaking of . . .

Righteous deeds, big props to the Ole Miss basketball players for taking a knee during the National Anthem. They knelt together in response to a confederacy rally near their home arena in Oxford, Mississippi. It was the right thing to do.

Speaking of . . .

The right thing, I’m down with Terrance Howard’s support of his former co-star Jussie Smollett. Howard isn’t taking the easy road by staying in Smollett’s corner, but it’s where he started out and it’s what he’s sticking to. Howard isn’t interested in the optics, and that’s commendable in a profession where too many peeps run for higher ground when the shit hits the fan. Come what may, Smollett has a corner man. Emphasis on man.

Speaking of . . .

Yesterday, I was turned onto this cat with the cool threads and the space age folk songs. He’s got a voice that could skate on the icy rings of Saturn and come back hotter than Fortuna’s pocketbook after a Vegas jaunt. His musical roam fits the proverbs of a lazy Sunday afternoon just fine.

And the hat, that’s just bonus round.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Value of Original Thought

Queen

From the time I was in grade school, I had come to understand the world around me in monochromatic equations. I borrowed on this hopelessness as a different way of learning the world; and in so doing, my jaded sensibilities would introduce me to books and girls and music.

Books were an escape to places the real world could not touch. I lost myself in the swashbuckling exploits of Monsieur d’Artagnan, who graduated from rags to the royal guard in The Three Musketeers. I learned the art of feminine wiles when fourth grade Tammy seduced third grade me with her Helen Reddy bob. And music bled all my anger away, replacing it with a sublime equanimity.

I’m thankful for having grown up in a time when books were tactile fascinations, girls were precocious junior members of the Steinem brigade and music was more vast and mysterious than the deep blue of outer space.

Music was a magical enterprise back in the day. New albums would happen out of thin air, without the need for reveals or months long chatter. A hit song would just show up, drop heat on a DJ’s turntable and then jailbreak to the record stores.

It seemed as if every group possessed license to its own unique way of doing business. Lyrics were the birthright and melody the sweet way home. As fans, we were hit and miss when it came to the words; swinging from the arches and striking matches to the pounding of that bass. Because the scratchy grooves didn’t matter a lick, and the right or wrong of it mattered even less than that. Music wasn’t pristine and logical, because we weren’t asking for it to show up in its Sunday best.

And really, thank God for Queen. Because theirs was a sound so original that it stood out even then, inside a world full of musical giants. Theirs was a gift so transcendent that its cosmic bloom challenged our expectations from the very first time.

So it was by the early eighties that my education had coalesced into ever more simple fixations. I loved the palace intrigue of girls who smoked and cussed and wore puffer jackets. I was fascinated at the idea that I could see Ted Williams swing simply by having read about it in so many books and magazines. And I wondered what in the blessed fuck Freddie Mercury was talking about, and the mystery of it all was blissful.

Bohemian Rhapsody isn’t so much a biopic as it is a gift, to those of us who grew up on transistor radios and record stores and turntables. Which is why my attempt at doing a movie review was never going to work. Because you can’t grade soul. You either got it, or you don’t.

For what it’s worth, I loved the film in spite of itself. Because truth be told, it comes off as erratic at times and it messes with the facts more than a politician at last call. And I don’t care, because Rami Malek plays Freddie Mercury the way Sacha Baron Cohen never could have; with a graceful humility and a genuine awkwardness that belies the ultimate showman’s larger than life presence. And the music is a symphonic palette of genesis and mortality; an emphatic blend of quiet moments and glorious culminations.

Mercury wrote music for the people who didn’t belong to anything, anywhere or anyone. The band turned the monochrome into technicolor. Together, they changed the way we think about music. They spooked the words out of extravagant catastrophes and turned them into operas and anthems, ballads and rock songs.

It didn’t matter what you listened to, because Queen’s appeal struck a chord with everyone. From metal to disco to classic rock and hip hop. They simply belonged.

To all of us.

 

 

 

Sorryless Sunday Morning Movie Review

Michael vs Laurie

*Spoiler Alert: The following movie ‘review’ contains certain plot elements- such as the beginning, the middle and the end. 

I thought maybe this latest incarnation of Halloween was going to make me pine for the days of eight track tapes, boom shakalaka vans and reckless hair. But nope, that’s not where the Danny McBride and David Gordon Green’s sequel to the shape lives at all as it picks up forty years after the original movie. It’s a modern day slasher flick dressed in an old ghost story and it aspires to be both at the same time. Sometimes it works, and sometimes . . not so much.

McBride and Green are ambitiously dedicated to the franchise, and I dig that very much. Their decision to wipe the timeline clean and to pick up where the first movie left off was inspired. Their idea to frame Myers murder spree in the original movie as random in nature, and not an evil obsession to end the family bloodline was reminiscent of In Cold Blood and Helter Skelter. Because fratricide is something every sibling has contemplated, but a totally random killing is more chilling than a Shackleton Martini.

And hey . . don’t take my word for it. Watch this one take scene where Michael borrows a knife from a random victim. I should supply a word of warning that Michael doesn’t borrow things in the traditional sense of the word. It’s more like stealing . . with lots of mangled body parts. Fucking guy . . .

 

Bringing back Jamie Lee Curtis was a sublime stroke of genius. In reprising her role as Laurie Strode, Curtis is the most believable- and enjoyable part- of the film. She plays a gun hoarding hermit who has been preparing for Myers return for the last forty years. She lost her family in the process, but is ‘vindicated’ when Myers escapes and returns to Haddonfield to hunt her down. And inviting the original ‘Shape’- Nick Castle- to don the mask (even if only for a hot second) was a cool hat tip. So with all that, I was digging more than a private investigator working on commission.

Here is what I ain’t dig so much . . .

In trying to appeal to a new audience whilst catering to those of us who were around for the original release, the movie comes off as unfocused. We’re introduced to investigative journalists Dana Haines and Aaron Korey- whose only purpose, it seems, is to reunite Michael with his mask. And it kinda pisses me off that Rob Zombie was criticized for portraying Michael as a terminator-like slasher rather than a supernatural ninja whose dedication to his craft was subtle and spooky and altogether kooky. Because in the 2018 Halloween, Myers is . . . you guessed it, a terminator-like slasher. There ain’t no subtlety to him. His kill scenes are every bit as grotesque and demonically mechanized as Zombie’s. And I have no beef with that. I just think my man Rob was an easy target thanks to the pissing contest he engaged in with Carpenter back in the day, but whatever.

The creepy Dr. Ranbir Sartain (played by Haluk Bilginer) brings a story line I had the most trouble with. Sartain is the protege to the since deceased Dr. Loomis, and he is nuttier than a Twin Peaks convention. In the movie’s home stretch, we come to learn the depths of the bad doctor’s obsession with Michael Myers. He prevents the local Sheriff from putting a bullet through Michael’s head . . by murdering him. After which he gives Laurie’s granddaughter and Michael Myers a lift back to Laurie’s crib so they can, yanno . . resolve their differences. It’s in this scene that we come to realize the doctor was responsible for Myers escape, the Patriots sustained success and the selfie. Of course, the doctor is such a fucking whack that he never stops to consider what happens when you cozy up to a spring-loaded temperament under high duress. Until Myers turns him into spaghetti squash with his boot.

After which we get, the showdown. Michael versus Laurie. Because the more things change, the more this franchise will keep going back to the same bloody well. These two are so inextricably linked to the franchise that to kill one of them is to kill both of them. Which is what I was hoping for, all the while knowing it was never gonna happen. Because there’s sequels in them Hollywood Hills, and yanno . . .

So long story short . . Michael ends up at Laurie’s compound and he is majorly pissed at having been led all over town by Dr. Strangelove. So he takes out Laurie’s son in law first, and she’s like “Mikey , that doesn’t make up for all the shit you’ve put me through for the last forty years, but thanks for trying . .”. And then Laurie’s granddaughter shows up since all her friends are dead thanks to Michael, and now Laurie’s daughter has to draw on her fucked up survivalist upbringing to save the day because Mom is using a shotgun to kill Michael when a Bazooka would’ve been a much better idea.

So the three girls end up hiding in the basement as Michael searches the place for someone to dismember. Laurie decides to shoot into the floorboards and in so doing, officially becomes the worst participant in hide and seek . . . ever. So Michael disassembles the kitchen island and somehow . . the girls sneak past him. It’s not nearly as easy as I’m making it out to be, but ridiculous nonetheless.

As Michael climbs the steps, Laurie activates ginormous wooden spikes that sprout from the walls and it all becomes clear. Her compound was never meant to be a cage . . it was meant to be a trap, for Michael. The girls post a couple pics on Instagram before Laurie lights the place on fire and they skip the scene. As flames engulf the compound, Michael is nowhere to be seen and then . . after the credits start rolling, we hear that infamous heavy breathing once again.

Despite my snarky fucking manner, I did like the film and I’m giving this sequel a solid 3.5 out of 5. I loved the score, the kill scenes, the mask and the jump scares. And I love that it made me have to run back to the original, which is the gold standard for the genre.

I’ll leave you with a dedication made possible by those frugal geniuses at Blumhouse Productions who made this puppy on 10 million bucks and are killing it (pun intended) at the box office to the tune of 100 million and counting. I mean, it’s raining so hard that JLC is talking up a rematch with Myers.

So here’s the song I want them to play at the conclusion of the sequel to this sequel. As Laurie stands over Michael’s cold and lifeless body whilst swigging a bottle of whiskey, she looks down at the mask and spits the words we’ve been longing to hear.

Boogeyman my ass . . .

Sorryless Sunday Morning

Where does inspiration come from? I mean . . other than commercials and hallucinogens. Welp, I guess it depends on where you’re sitting. An idea is the composite of its metaphysical values swimming through a wilderness with no particular place to go until the feral seedlings plant themselves into a grip of ink that gives them shape.

So it was that AMC was running a Stephen King marathon yesterday morning as I searched for some inspiration for today’s post. There really was no good reason for me to tune in, seeing as how I’m not the biggest fan of King’s horror flicks. But it was The Dead Zone and Christopher Walken is in it, so that made it worth a look.

My “Very Unofficial Thespian Rules” read thusly:

  • I would listen to Morgan Freeman read a cereal box
  • I’d buy into anything a Tom Cruise character sets his mind to
  • A Julia Roberts entrance is worth the price of admission. Still.
  • Jeff Bridges owns his characters the way the tides own forever.
  • If Christopher Walken is in it, you should watch.

For thirty five years, I flouted that last one. And then yesterday morning happened and I found myself watching a movie I can’t believe I’d been missing out on for all this time. The cast is superb and the story makes you wonder why this was dropped into the horror genre, because outside of the fact that King wrote it, it ain’t got much of anything to do with horror.

But it did provide me some inspiration in the form of an idea that I thought was pretty clever . . . for about five minutes. I thought it might be fun to tuck a handful of characters from King’s horror flicks into a small town and write a short story about it.

The original idea was to use thirteen famous quotes and then build the story around it, but that wasn’t working. So I’ll try another tack, and should it work? I’ll have a Halloween “bundle” post for next weekend. If not? Well, I’ll still have my favorite Halloween song to fall back on.

Anyways . . .as pleasantly surprised as I was by The Dead Zone, I had to chase it with something more in keeping with my favorite month of the year. Rob Zombie’s Halloween did the trick. It’s been my October go-to since its release ten years ago. I tend to rummage through all of Zombie’s stuff this time of year. So far this month, I’ve digested House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects, The Lords of Salem and of course, Halloween. 

The recently released Halloween is on pace to top eighty million this weekend after a record opening for October. That eighty million would topple Zombie’s total haul, so it would seem the people have spoken. And while I am down with checking out the Danny McBride sequel, which has the Pope’s (John Carpenter) blessing . . I’ve already been served up some buyer beware 411. My son went to see it on opening night and came away unmoved. “It’s a three star movie when it should be much better . .”.

Imma finish up with a classic song that has become synonymous with the Halloween franchise. It’s done up in the new old fashioned way by Nan Vernon, who did the closing credit music for both of Zombie’s Halloween films. The girl provides with Mr Sandman- a three and a half minute sugar pill that slows things down into a purring lullaby of a bad girl’s dream. With all due respect to Carpenter and the Chordettes . . this morning I’m riding shotgun with Zombie and Nan.

Go Dodgers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cinema Parenthesio

Movie Theater

As with most things recreational, I tend to binge.

Books, tennis, pain pills and yes . . movies. It doesn’t matter as to the method,- Amazon Prime, HBO, Redbox or the theater- I tend to gorge myself in concentrated pockets.

My movie binging tends to take the place of regular bi’ness, since I can’t seem to do two things at once. When I ain’t gobbling up a half dozen books in no time flat, I’m a daily reader of blogs, magazine articles and news articles. When I ain’t losing at tennis, I’m going strong with my running and stationary bike regimen. When I make the prudent (foolish?) decision not to pop a happy pill, I’m luxuriating in a three finger salute to my favorite bourbon. And when I’ve had my fill of documentaries and TV series . . I go full length motion pictures.

This past week happened to be one of those movie weeks I speak of, in which I digested several flicks and nibbled on a whole bunch more. I was going to do a top five movies of my week, but the count went a tad bit higher than that. So instead, Imma give a short spill on the virgin entrees I sat down with, by arranging my fare in categories . . from the ridiculous to the sublime.

The Ridiculous:

The Snowman- I went in expecting a horror/psychological thriller and I got a trip to the DMV. In other words, a two hour wait in which I prayed for death (mine). A great cast- Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Val Kilmer, Chloe Sevigny and J.K. Simmons coupled with Martin Scorcese as the executive producer? What could go wrong? Apparently, everything. The plot is shit for, the flashback scenes are confusing as fuck and the ending is completely predictable. And now I’ve wasted two hours and two and a half minutes on this flick so let’s move on.

Funny Snowman

The Sublime: (Note, not all of these flicks were perfect. But they were all worth it. Even if they can’t erase . . . yanno.)

The Disaster Artist- I’m usually not into movies about movies but this take on one of the worst movies ever made (The Room) had me from the get. James Franco doesn’t just play Tommy Wiseau- the enigmatic actor/director- he is the guy. The self deprecating theme gives this movie its charm. The idea that you should follow your dreams, even if it takes you right over a cliff, gives this movie its soul.

A Quiet Place- I was mesmerized/intrigued/disturbed by the hook to this movie. I went in expecting a zombie flick, and this wasn’t that. It was actually way better than that. If asked to give a two word description for this post-apocalyptic tale, I’d go with Words Matter. Solid if not spectacular, it’s a story that sticks to its guns instead of overreaching. Which is pretty damn refreshing in an age of cinematic superfluity (say that one time fast). I’m not crazy about the idea of a sequel, but this flick is a lean, mean dish of yes.

A Quiet Place Funny

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri- I already knew Frances McDormand was top of her class, but Jeezusy Christmas! And I ain’t in agreement with the peeps who trashed this flick for its complicated characters. Their censure feels more like censorship, and I’m sorry, but when we start writing shit based solely on a person’s comfort level, we are all doomed. This flick doesn’t pander or pose, it hits you hard and it doesn’t stop hitting you. It ain’t a perfect film, but maybe for this scene . . which became an instant favorite of mine.

Mission Impossible- Fallout- Tom Cruise made me love this franchise. Because the fact that he’s actually bat shit crazy sells this dish at full retail, no matter the plot. Knowing he’s risking life and limb with each new installment is worth the price of admission. I wasn’t in Rotten Tomatoes love with MI-6, but it was still worth the buttered popcorn heartburn. All I ask of my action movie is that it actually gives me, yanno . . action. And that the good guys and the bad guys make the implausible scenarios worth buying into. Sold!

Tom Cruise

Crazy Rich Asians- Now we’re talking. I saved the best for last, because this is a flick I could watch several times over and laugh just as hard every single one of ’em. It’s got everything you’re looking for in a rom/com: Kleenex moments, passion, laughs, deliciously simple scenes dancing in harmony with the great big ones. And yeah, that love and romance stuff too. Constance Wu and Henry Golding shine as the leading couple. Awkwafina upstages the always hilarious Ken Jeong, Gemma Chan is simply stunning and Michelle Yeoh is at her badass best.

Crazy would have scored favorite movie of my week for the wedding scene alone, but it wins best summer flick for checking every box on my movie going list. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and, unlike that (every) visit to the DMV, you won’t want it to end.

That’s entertainment.

 

 

 

Three Days In Woodstock

Woodstock Night

Woodstock isn’t a destination, it’s a state of mind.

Every morning feels like Sunday, every afternoon like Saturday and every evening feels like church. There is a unique charm to the jagged little town built into the side of the Catskill Mountains. Its quirky architecture and funky colored Victorians tell stories without saying a word. You can lose the beaten path in a couple minutes time simply by taking a hard left or right; the side streets behave very much like channels of a forgotten sea. Woodstock is a snow globe variation of town and country as if penned by Thoreau.

After my run, Q and me made plans to see Oceans 8 in the late afternoon. We tucked in a quick jaunt to the grocery store to pick up some particulars for our evening menu. A craving for Bloody Mary grilled cheese sandwiches was prevailing, as was the need for some late night snacks to sate ourselves after cruising the four twenty. We ain’t tokers by any means, but when in Rome . . yanno?

Deer

The ride to the theater is much the same as a ride to anywhere else when it comes to this neck of the woods. It becomes a road trip, replete with rolling passages out of a Currier and Ives fever dream. The miles read like chapters in a book out of a time before progress birthed chain restaurants and every single person, place and thing became a brand.

As for the movie, welp . . here’s a quick shot review on it, because why not?

The best spin-off since I don’t remember when. Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett are a hot buttah get down of a dynamic duo, and their cast of characters . . I thought, were infinitely more interesting than the Oceans 11 gang. Sandra plays Debbie Ocean, little sister to Danny, and she’s keeping on with the family business by planning a rather artful heist. Cate Blanchett rides shotgun as Lou, her sister from another mister. They wrangle up a sexy as all get out posse and then, they pull off the ultimate cinematic heist. They make the Oceans franchise, theirs now.

Later on, back at the ranch, we played carnival with more Woodstock festival tunes whilst I broke the seal on some Woodford Reserve. We buddied them up with some frosty bottles of brew and immersed ourselves once more in the counter culture movement that culminated in those three days of peace and music.

Right

The provocative blueprint of those sammys did not disappoint. And then I broke out a Cuban cigar, which had been gifted me by my Canadian counterpart for this three day summit. And as we sipped our tumblers into a divine rhythm on the porch, a family of deer decided to crash our party by strolling across the backyard and reminding us who really owns this place. And then a little later on, we achieved the manifest destiny of all those who visit Woodstock proper. Needless to say, we arrived at the corner of peaceful and easy, and it was a magnificent trip.

We talked about the morning, and about our planned trip to Bethel- the site of a three day festival of music and peace that would change everything. And I think we wondered, silently, whether it would be everything we’d built it up to be over our two days together.

We had no idea.