Sunday, October 15, 2017

Auteur Watch - Alton Glass

Shakespeare in Lust

As you can tell from his high school yearbook photo, Harvey Weinstein is in the news lately.  A lot of Harvey's old colleagues are coming out of the woodwork... but they don't seem to be speaking up for him.  Kevin Smith, for example, apologized for Weinstein's behaviour and said he feels "ashamed" for having his work financed by Weinstein.  As opposed to his post-Weinstein work, which... well, it doesn't seem to have an edge or a bite to it.  Maybe I'm painting with too broad of a brush here.  What about Quentin Tarantino and Michael Moore, whose Fahrenheit 11/9 is apparently still being financed by Weinstein?  Awk-warrrrrrdddd........ and what about Bob?  What is he, chopped liver?  Like Bobby Farrelly, you never hear about Bob a whole lot.  Anyway, Harvey is in the news because of his busy hands.  Republicans are ganging up on him, but only because of the really disgusting stuff... you know, giving money to Democrats like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.  Pretty soon, they'll be trying to demonize him like they attempt to do with Colin Kaepernick, saying how he's taken American dollars from this country.  It's America's money, not yours, and it should ONLY be used to pay for Mike Pence's mortgage... what is Harvey's net worth, anyway?  Nobody's talking about that; it must be a lot, but the media won't hit below the belt like that and go after a monster's net worth.  But one nice thing about Yahoo's search is that it will automatically get a person's net worth from celebritynetworth.com and put it on their page for you, thereby saving you the agony of going to another web site.  As Jerry Seinfeld will tell you... it's agony.  Stop sending him pages, damn it!  But I think Ronan Farrow's right, ultimately.  When you go from #4 to #200 on Hollywood's power broker list, you leave yourself vulnerable to accusations, and getting your ass dragged into the public square to be eviscerated by the late night jesters, and possibly even to drawing and quartering.  People want to see flesh and blood, and limbs off the bone, and you can't be a serial molester if you're only worth a paltry $200 million.
...where was I?  Oh, right.  Anyway, back to the horse race.  Coming out of left field again at #1 is another PG-13 rated horror movie.  This one is called Happy Death Day.  As of this writing, this is not an official American holiday yet.  Might make us a happier culture like Venezuela or Brazil, should we ever decide to go that way.  But we are a youth-obsessed culture, and we don't associate youth with impending death yet, but Children of Men tried.  As usual, I don't know where the ad campaign for Happy Death Day came from; maybe the Russians did a big Facebook campaign for the movie or something.  They've taken renewed interest in my site once again, as they seem to do every couple months or so.  Not a terribly big boost, mind you... I think they're just attracted to the email account I use as a login name.  Keep fighting the good fight, comrades!  The Israelis will take care of Putin for you, if the recent news headlines are to be believed.  Anyway, I also haven't seen a big IMDb ad campaign for Happy Death Day or anything.  No, they're currently pushing Suburbicon, the latest movie made from a Coen script.  Don't need to sell me, though!  I just gotta wait 12 more days.  The film's not even out yet and it's already up to 4.6 out of 10 in ratings!  How do they do that?
The other debut this week is Taken... I mean, Jackie Chan's latest, The Foreigner.  It's about a guy who seeks revenge after his daughter is kidnapped... I mean, killed.  Totally different.  It's a Martin Campbell picture, and it's not like Edge of Darkness, where the protagonists' daughter dies from radiation poisoning.  And speaking of Mel Gibson, his American rehabilitation continues with the upcoming Daddy's Home 2.  Marky Mark keeps his feelings very well under wraps, and he'll keep mum about all this as well, too.  But who knows?  Maybe he and Mel Gibson got along well.  They play father and son in this show.  In the upcoming Dragged Across Concrete, the plot description says it's about two policemen.  One is the old-timer (Gibson), and the other is his volatile younger partner.  Try and guess who plays that part.  You won't believe it either.  Who could it be?  Josh Duhamel?  Dane Cook?  Adam Sandler?  Kevin James?

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Auteur Watch - David Gitonga

Or, as some prefer to refer to him, 'Tosh.'  Ugh.  In America, only one has that name.  Maybe David will take it back or something, who knows.  Reminds me of how I used to have a co-worker named Moussa whose nickname was "Moose."

What Happened in Vegas

While Oliver Stone and a screenwriter are busy trying to unpack the story of Vegas mass shooter Stephen Paddock, it's another glorious payday for arguably the most successful movie star in Hollywood History... no, not Scott Baio, but he is of course a close second.  I'm talking about Han Solo himself, Harrison Ford, and his latest, Blade Runner 2049.  I only read some of the critical praise; naturally, they had to skip over details, and not just because of Warner Bros. insistence that they don't spoil the plot.  But seriously, no love for Edward James Olmos or Sean Young?  What are they... CHOPPED LIVER?!!!  Meanwhile, the campaign begins in earnest for Roger Deakins to finally get an Oscar this year.  And from the sound of things, Blade Runner 2049 could very well make it into his IMDb Top 4.  But what will it replace?  Probably not Shawshank Redemption... nothing will ever move that one out of place, anywhere.  Seriously.  Maybe Skyfall or A Beautiful Mind... probably Skyfall.  But whatever lesson the ASC taught Deakins, especially after 2007... I mean, the guy's up for a statue for TWO films and he loses?  Was he late on his dues or something?  Or is the statute of limitations on Barton Fink really just forever and a day?  Call him Good Luck Roger, I guess.
Our second debut this week is slightly more ambitious than the rom-coms of Sandra Bullock and Kate Hudson.  It's called The Mountain Between Us, and... it's all I can do to keep from making a reference to The Defiant Ones, but the similarities are striking.  Instead of being on the run from the law, however, the two protagonists in Mountain are on the run from Mother Nature... at times like this, a much more cruel opponent.  Will these two strangers forge a connection that will allow them to survive?  Much like the connection they've forged with the moviegoing public over the years?  I just hope Idris Elba hasn't seen Titanic... he might just lose all hope, or think that this girl is just bad luck.
Our last debut this week is My Little Pony: The Movie.  This is the kind of thing that I used to turn to The Onion's A.V. Club for some relief.  But they've gone totally corporate now!  They've got their own TV channel or something... no more relief.  Well, maybe this is a bad example.  It's a movie for kids, not a movie for Christians by Christians.  I just grow so weary of Christians sticking their pinky toes in the big waters.  I prefer a little unaffiliated, Atheistic competence in my big-time million-dollar blockbusters, as David Letterman might say.  But I will take a second out of my busy-ass schedule to point out that this is a big step up for director Jayson Thiessen, who's slaved away in the My Little Pony mines for years, and is just now emerging to the surface, seeing the light with the rest of the surface dwellers.  What that must do to a man, spending his days, telling animated ponies what to do...

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Short Reviews - October 2017

Conflict of Interest - With Jack A. Daniels as Jack Daniels

The Illegal Bucket Shops - With Jack Abbott as Jack Stevens

The Iron Ring - With Jack Abbott as Jack Stevens

The Milk Battle - With Jack Abbott as Jack Stevens

The Patent Medicine Danger - With Jack Abbott as GlaxoWellcome Jack Stevens

The Pirates of Finance - With Jack Abbott as Goldman Sachs Jack Stevens

The Powder Trust and the War - With Jack Abbott as Jack Stevens

Shadows - With Jack Ackerman as Jack... Director of Dance Studio

Papa Est Devenu un Lutin - Avec Jack Adams son Jack Rousseau

"Tattletales" - With Jack Albertson as Jack & Wallace (himself)

"The Thin Man" "Scene of the Crime" - With Jack Albertson as Lt. Jack Evans

"The Donna Reed Show" "The Fatal Leap" - With Jack Albertson as Jack Richards

The Bear Hunt - With Jack Allen as Major Jack Allen

Montana Mountain Adventures - With Jack Allen as Major Jack Allen

The Story of the Jaguar - With Jack Allen as Major Jack Allen

The Story of the Wolf - With Jack Allen as Major Jack Allen

Tiger Land - With Jack Allen as Major Jack Allen... hey, why can't this guy have his day in the sun again?

Life in Danger - With Jack Allen as Jack Ashley

Lion Trapping - ugh... with Jack Allen as Major Jack Allen

Voices in My Head - With Jack ALMazeedi as Jack ALMazeedi

King B: A Life in the Movies - With Jack Angel as Jack Cole

"The Real Ghostbusters" "Sea Fright" - With Jack Angel as Captain Jack Higgins (voice)

"Comedy Bang! Bang!" "Mark Duplass Wears a Striped Sweater and Jeans" - With Jack Antonoff as Jack... the Crew Guy

I Am Dale Earnhardt - With Jack Arute as Jack Arute

Queen For a Day - With Jack Bailey as Jack Bailey... Program Host

"Call the Midwife" "Episode #3.1" - With Jack Bailey as Jack Smith

"Petticoat Junction" "The Lost Patrol" - With Jack Bannon as Jack Bevans

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid To Ask - With Jack Barry as Jack Barry

Cassino to Korea - With Jack Benny as Jack Benny... USO Show (archive footage)

"The Jack Benny Program" - With Benjamin Kubelsky as Jack Benny (256 episodes)

"Checkmate" "A Funny Thing Happened on My Way to the Game" - With Jack Benny as Jack Bowen

"Rhoda" "It's Not My Fault, Is It?" - With Jack Bernardi as Uncle Jack

Vendetta: No Conscience, No Mercy - With Jack Betts as Jack McGuire

"The United States Steel Hour" "Revolt in Hadley" - With Jack Betts as Jack Taylor

"Monster Mountain" - With Jack Birch as Ranger Jack

"January 2009 in 6 Minutes" - With Jack Black as Jack Austin (archive footage, uncredited)

"Night Ranger: You Can Still Rock in America" - With Jack Blades as... Jack Blades

Man to Man - With Jack Blakely as Jack... Fred's Brother

"The X-Files" "Audrey Pauley" - With Jack Blessing as Dr. Jack Preijers

"George Lopez" - With Jack Blessing as Jack Powers (20 episodes)

Avenged by Lions - With Jack Bonavita as Jack Bonavita and His Bostock Animals

The Legend of Bogema Creek - With Jack Bonneman as Jack Businessman

Jack & Me - With Jack Boring as Jack Taylor

"One Life to Live" - With Jack Boscoe as Jack Manning (4 episodes, one credited as John 'Jack' Cramer Manning)

'Resident Evil 7: Biohazard' - With Jack Brand as Jack Baker (voice)

That's a Good Girl - With Jack Buchanan as Jack Barrow

Brewster's Millions - With Jack Buchanan as Jack Brewster

"Division 4" "The Tangled Web" - With Jack Budden as Chatty Jack

"Wagon Train" "The Prairie Story" - With Jack Buetel as Jack Reynolds

Just About Famous - With Jack Bullard as Jack Nicholson

Buffalo Rider - With Jack Bungkan as Jack Bungkan

"Silk Stalkings" "The Loneliest Number" - With Jack Burns as Jack Colgate

"Stowaway to the Moon" - With Jack Callahan as Dr. Jack Smathers

Daytime Wives - With Jack Carlyle as Jack Jagner

"Hetty Wainthropp Investigates" "A Minor Operation" - With Jack Carr as Jack Doolan

Personal Secretary - With Jack Carr as Jack Murphy (uncredited)

"The Bob Cummings Show" "Hawaii Calls" - With Jack Carson as Jack Carson

It's a Great Feeling - With Jack Carson as Jack Carson

The Shining Future - With Jack Carson as Jack Carson

Thank Your Lucky Stars - With Jack Carson as Jack Carson

Destry Rides Again - With Jack Carson as Jack Tyndall

"Touched By an Angel" "Cry and You Cry Alone" - With Jack Carter as Jack Carter

The Great Buck Howard - With Jack Carter as Jack Carter

"Make Room For Daddy" "Danny's Replacement" - With Jack Carter as Jack Carter

"B. J. and the Bear" "Intercepted Pass" - With Jack Carter as Jack Walton

Code of the Mounted - With Jack Casey as Jack... Henchman (uncredited)

"The Real McCoys" "The Roofing Salesman" - With Jack Cassidy as Jack Masters

Boots of Destiny - With Jack Cheatham as Jack... Bartender (uncredited)... and to a lesser extent, with Ed Cassidy as Jack Harmon

Love Begins at Twenty - With Jack Cheatham as Jack... Detective (uncredited)

Air Hostess - With Jack Cheatham as Jack... Mechanic (uncredited)

Ellery Queen's Penthouse Mystery - With Jack Cheatham as Jack... Desk Sergeant (uncredited)

The Murder in the Museum - With Jack Cheatham as Detective Jack (uncredited)

Sudden Danger - With Jack Chefe as Jack... Headwaiter (uncredited)

"Foyle's War" "Fifty Ships" - With Jack Chissick as Jack Dunning

Rah, Rah, Radio - With Jack Clemens as Jack Clemens

A Wife from the Country - With Jack Clifford as Jack Bruce... and to a lesser extent, with Richard Cummings as Jack's Father

"K Street" "Week 9" - With Jack Cloonan as Agent Jack Foster

Moonlight in Vermont - With Jack Coffey as a Jivin' Jack (uncredited)

Chip Off the Old Block - With Jack Coffey as Member... Jivin' Jacks (uncredited)

"Crash & Burn" - With Jack Coleman as Jack Coleman

"Bewitched" "Trick or Treat" - With Jack Collins as Jack Rogers

"Flood" - With Jack Collins as Jack Spangler

"The Incredible Hulk" - With Jack Colvin as Jack McGee (82 episodes)

"The Incredible Hulk Returns" - With Jack Colvin as Jack McGee

"Brian's Song" - With Jack Concannon as Jack Concannon

"CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" - With Jack Conley as Jack Herson (2 episodes, one in 2003 as Mr. Lizzio)

"Mob City" "His Banana Majesty" - With Jack Conley as Jack O'Mara... also featuring Mike Hagerty as Fat Jack Bray, and Paul Ben-Victor as Jack Dragna

"Lost Angels" "Bad Moon on the RIse [sic]" - With Jack Conley as Jack O'Mare

The One-Way Trail - With Jack Connolly as Jack Hanlon

The Woman and the Law - With Jack Connors as Mr. Jack La Salle ... and with Miriam Cooper as Mrs. Jack La Salle

The Price of Crime - With Jack Conway as Jack Conway... also with Henry A. Livingston as Jack Livingston and Wanna Browne as Mrs. Conway... Jack's Mother

Mary of the Mines - With Jack Conway as Jack Norton

The New Aunt - With Jack Cooper as Uncle Jack

"Worst Bakers in America" "Trick or Treat?" - With Jack Corrigan as Jack food taster

Riddles in Rhythm - With Jack Costanzo as Jack Costanzo

Kerouac, the Movie - With Jack Coulter as Jack Kerouac

"Playdate" "Man With a Rope" - With Jack Creley as Jack Ketch

All American Bikini Car Wash - With Jack Cullison as Jack Miller

The Invisible Enemy - With Jack Cummings as Jack Webster

Square Shooter - With Jack Curtis as Jack... Bartender (uncredited).  ALSO WITH Jack Evans as Jack... Miller Rider!!!!!!!!!!!! (uncredited)

Between Fighting Men - With Jack Curtis as Jack... Saloon Owner (uncredited)

Broadway Arizona - With Jack Curtis as Jack Boggs

The Prescott Kid - With Jack Curtis as Bartender Jack (uncredited) ... typecast much?

The Firefly of Tough Luck - With Jack Curtis as Happy Jack Clarke

God's Crucible - With Jack Curtis as Oracle Jack

Thunder Trail - With Jack Daley as Jack... Bartender (uncredited)

"Out on Parole" - With Jack Danahy as Jack Fullerton

Tennessee's Pardner - With Jack Dean as Jack Hunter

Chocolate Heist - With Jack Dearing as Jack Ocean

Romance in a Beanery - With Jack Delson as Jack Darrow

Stars Over Broadway - With Jack Dempsey as Jack Dempsey

The Prizefighter and the Lady - With Jack Dempsey as Jack Dempsey... Promoter?

Big City - With Jack Dempsey as Jack Dempsey

Broadway Highlights No. 1 - With Jack Dempsey as Jack Dempsey (archive footage)

A Dozen Socks - With Jack Dempsey as Jack Dempsey

Mr. Broadway - With Jack Dempsey as Jack Dempsey

Off Limits - With Jack Dempsey as Jack Dempsey

Young Man of Manhattan - With Jack Dempsey as Jack Dempsey (archive footage, uncredited)

Sweet Surrender - With Jack Dempsey as Jack Dempsey... Restaurant Owner

Daredevil Jack - With Jack Dempsey as Jack Derry

All's Swell on the Ocean - With Jack Dempsey as Tiger Jack O'Day

Bring Him In - With Jack Dempsey as Tiger Jack O'Day

Fight and Win - With Jack Dempsey as Tiger Jack O'Day

The Health Farm Wallop - With Jack Dempsey as Tiger Jack O'Day

K. O. for Cupid - With Jack Dempsey as Tiger Jack O'Day

So This Is Paris - With Jack Dempsey as Tiger Jack O'Day

A Society Knockout - With Jack Dempsey as Tiger Jack O'Day

The Title Holder - With Jack Dempsey as Tiger Jack O'Day

The Town Hall To-Night - With Jack Dempsey as Tiger Jack O'Day

West of Hot Dog West of the Water Bucket - With Jack Dempsey as Tiger Jack O'Day

Winning His Way - With Jack Dempsey as Tiger Jack O'Day

"Days of Our Lives" - With Jack Denbo as Jack Clayton (unknown episodes, 1974-1977)

Moonlight and Pretzels - With Jack Denny as Jack Denny... Orchestra Leader (as Jack Denny and His Orchestra)

Rambling 'Round Radio Row #5 - With Jack Denny as Jack Denny... Orchestra Leader (as Jack Denny and His Orchestra)

"Walking Through History" "England's Last Battle: The West Country" - With Jack Deverell as General Sir Jack Deverell... Former Commander-in-Chief, NATO North

The Culper Spy Adventure - With Jack Dillon as Jack Fyddle

"The Top 100 Moments in Raw History" - With Jack Doan as Jack Doan... Referee

"The Road West" "A Mighty Hunter Before the Lord" - With Jack Dodson as Jack Hanson

Variety Hour - With Jack Donohue as Jack Donohue

Rhythm in the Air - With Jack Donohue as Jack Donovan

"Here's Lucy" "Where Is My Wandering Mother Tonight?" - With Jack Donohue as Dirty Jack

The Hatton Garden Job - With Jack Doolan as Judas-Jack

UR4 Given - With Jack Doroshow as Father Jack

Lonesome Luck - With Jack D(o/a)ugherty as Happy Jack Morgan

The Trail of the Tiger - With Jack D(o/a)ugherty as Jack Stewart

The Body Punch - With Jack D(o/a)ugherty as Jack Townsend

"Tattletales" - With Jack Douglas as Jack & Reiko (5 episodes)

"Yuzoogle" "Intellectual Cermedy" - With Jack Douglass as Jack Douglass / JacksFilms

"Toby Sucks at Podcasts" "Depressing Song LIVE" - With Jack Douglass as Jack Douglass / JacksFilms

Aurora Floyd - With Jack Drumier as Jack Floyd

Crazylegs - With Jack Dwyer as Jack Dwyer... Los Angeles Rams Halfback

The Great MacArthy - With Jack Dyer as Jack Diehard

In the Shadow of the Dreamgirl - With Jack Dyson as Jack Dyson

"Survivor's Remorse" "In the Offing" - With Jack Edwards as Jack Edwards

His Exciting Night - With Jack Egan as Jack... Office Worker (uncredited)

Three Smart Boys - With Jack Egan as Jack... The Assistant

"Rawhide" "The Pitchwagon" - With Jack Elam as Turkey Creek Jack Johnson

Hawmps! - With Jack Elam as Bad Jack Cutter

"Stories of the Century" "Black Jack Ketchum" - With Jack Elam as Black Jack Ketchum

The Battle at Apache Pass - With Jack Elam as Mescal Jack

"The Lone Ranger" "The Sheriff's Wife" - With Jack Elam as Jack Miles

The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack - With Jack Elliott as Ramblin' Jack Elliott (...himself)

The Bond of Blood - With Jack Ellis as Jack Moore

Emoh Ruo - With Jack Ellis as Jack Tunkley

"Singalong Saturday" - With Jack Emblow as The Jack Emblow Quartet (6 episodes) (...themselves)

"Sujeito Imperfeito" - With Jack Endino as Jack Endino... the Godfather of Grunge

"Wasak" "Jack Enrile" - With Jack Enrile as Rep. Jack Enrile

The Riding Avenger - With Jack Evans as Jack... Henchman (...uncredited)

The Pecos Kid - With Jack Evans as Jack... Townsman (...uncredited), and with Jack Hendricks as Jack... HENCHMAN (uncredited)

Border Caballero - With Jack Evans as...  Henchman Jack! (...uncredited)  Excuse me while I drink three cups of coffee.  So, for those of you keeping score, here's the movie SAT question.  The Riding Avenger, Jack - Henchman... Border Caballero, Henchman Jack!  Typecast much?  I can haz typecast?

Auteur Watch - James Gist

Some people will tell you that Hollywood is a family business... especially if you're a Minnelli or a Mankiewicz or a Disney or an Alan Ladd.  But what about the James Gists of the world?  What are they, chopped liver?  Caught between heaven and hell, and no chance of getting mentioned on Turner Classic Movies.  I guess he was an independent, struggling to get a spot in between the main feature and a James FitzPatrick short.  We'll probably never see any of his work... holy Crap!  There it is!  God bless YouTube... I'm assumpting that that's not the original music.  Talk about being in Hell!  I'll bet you anything the music is better in hell.  Alas, Heaven-Bound Traveler is a little harder to look for, much like staying on the path to Heaven is.  All we got is this review from a Pauline Kael wannabe.  I miss Luca... sorry, The Only Luca.

So Long, Puerto Rico, It's Been Good to Know Ya

Why don't we get to the movies first?  Tom Cruise's latest, American Made, debuted at #2, with It reclaiming first place... but I dunno.  I'm not looking at Variety's numbers, just the IMDb, and there's a very slim margin separating 2nd from 1st place.  And third from first, for that matter!  The Kingsman sequel made the same amount of money!  Seventeen mill!  Someone's going to demand a recount, I'm thinking.  Me, I have no skin in that game so I'll stand by the IMDb's original findings.  Meantime, Tom Cruise is busy buying $500,000 worth of tickets to his little movie...
Meanwhile, back at the lab, coming in at #5 is a reboot of the 1990 Joel Schumacher Brat Pack vehicle Flatliners... with a little bit of Dreamscape and Total Recall thrown in for good measure.  So much hooking up of heads to weird medical devices.  Of course, a lot has changed since 1990, especially when it comes to thinking about life after death.  It used to be more of a thing of wonder back then.  Now we've got well-selling books called "The Five People You Meet in Heaven."  Trust me, all the b.s. you put up with on Earth will be totally worth it.  The New York Times review was especially scathing, pointing out that no one will probably object to this remake... and if my Facebook feed is any indication, that is indeed true.  Well, it was more about the casting.  I mean, besides Ellen Page and Diego Luna in this current one, where's the new Brat Pack?  Where's the big names?  And why did only Kiefer return for the remake?  And why is it like Bill Murray's cameo in the new Ghostbusters?  So many questions, so few satisfying answers.  But I reiterate, when it comes to fantasizing life after death, a lot's happened since 1990.  It was a more romantic notion back then.  Nowadays, one look at the remake's official poster, and people will say to themselves "I don't want to be an Uggo in the afterlife!  Look at that FACE!!!  YECCCCHHHHHHHH!!!!!"
Our last debut this week is a horror story that's a little more down to earth.  It's called "Til Death"... I'm sorry, that's a raucous sitcom with TV's Brad Garrett and Joely Fisher!  I always get those two mixed up.  No, this silver screen exclusive outing is called Til Death Do Us Part.  Here's the official IMDb plot description: "Michael and Madison Roland had planned to spend the rest of their lives together, until one day Michael's comptrolling ways turned their perfect marriage.  With the help of her best friend..."  Let me just stop you right there.  Obviously they haven't heard of Grammarly... I've only just heard of it myself, but it apparently allows lboggers to not make certain kinds of mistakes when they're obsessively compulsively typing their guts out.  But I couldn't help but think to myself... hmm!  That must be quite a turn in an otherwise perfect marriage.  Usually, one says, when they're talking or writing about a turn in a perfect marriage, "turned their perfect marriage into a LIVING NIGHTMARE."  Take this article from The Debrief, for example!  It's the first one I found after a not-exhaustive-at-all Yahoo search.  Maybe you could change "turned" to "spoiled" or "soured"... something like that.  Sorry, but if a slightly idiomatic plot description is your only claim to originality... well, no wonder it debuted at #9!
...oh, but I almost forgot to talk about Trump.  Yecch.  Well, I'm in a very Zen place right now, and what with all the revelations about expensive government-funded private jets, I can't help but think that maybe this is some way of America trying to balance out the bad karma it has on the world stage right now.  And maybe Trump himself realizes this, too, even if he doesn't show it outwardly.  Incidentally, who or what exactly is giving him "high marks" for his Puerto Rico response?  Maybe the Koch brothers or Sheldon Adelson?  We're the world's saddest imperial power.  Can't even take care of our island nations a little ways off the coast.  Of course, this is all detracting from coverage about the Virgin Islands.  You know, all those nice places that rich people used to go to until the hurricanes destroyed them all.  Rich people are so cheap... they take a ten million dollar necklace and put it in a ten dollar tin box.  Well, I guess they still have too many island choices left.  As some people say about TV, hey!  Just change the channel!  If you don't like an island that's been devastated by another massive hurricane... go to the next one over!
Of course, we'll never really know how many private jets that members of the Trump Administration have taken, are currently on right now, or will continue to take once the stench of Tom Price has cleared away.  So many people who want two scoops of ice cream.  This is why we need to get someone like Obama back.  What if an Obama cabinet official tried to take a private jet?  What do you think would happen to them?  How many calls for them to be strung up in the public square, and quartered and flogged to within an inch of their life would there be from the Smug Right in this country?  And from the Nigel Farages of the world?  We have to restore some semblance of balance here, that's all I'm saying.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Robbing Them Softly

SPOILER ALERTS
You know... every once in a while, a movie comes along that the critics just adore, and it even gets a little bit of attention on the talk shows.  Maybe one of the stars stops by to flog their wares, and the host mentions the critical praise to them.  And yet, it still sinks like a stone at the box office.  Why is that?  Whelp, in the case of something like Midnight Special, well... the light shone on the critics, but somehow the light didn't connect with the public at large, who weren't expecting a stealth Cyclops movie.  Same dynamics might be at play with an "indie" darling like Hell or High Water, which was praised rather strongly by critics, and it's got some pretty serious star power to boot!  I mean, it's got The Dude, for one, but arguably he's a bit more reactionary in this outing.  Downright politically incorrect at times, even!  But when it comes to predicting what the criminals will do next, he's kinda Dude-like in his thinking.  Then there's Ben Foster.  I mean, it's been a while since he was in an X-Files movie... I mean, X-Men.  But he and Jeff Bridges are arguably the best things in the movie.  Foster commits to his character, risking a tarnish to his public image.
Which brings me to the new Captain Kirk, Chris Pine, taking a smaller risk than Foster as a serious actor.  Pine and Foster play brothers who are robbing a bunch of banks.  Foster is more of the hardened criminal type, while Pine is just trying to help out.  The instant this new hobby stops being fun, or someone gets killed, is the day he stops.  Period.
Now, I hate to be so judgmental, and I know the critics liked this one a lot, but I gotta say... when I was reading the opening credits, and I saw Peter Berg's name in them, well... my heart sank a little bit.  I knew the film was going to be good, just not too good.  Somehow his work smacks of focus group testing in the bad sense.  There's a reason even Michael Mann slowly backed away from this guy.  Maybe they parted ways amicably, but Peter Berg wants to be The Man, so stay the hell out of his way.  Everybody.
But let's start at the beginning.  We start with a small town, probably somewhere between the (American) coasts, in a post-2008 economic landscape.  Why, the only work there is anymore is robbing banks!  And so, we start with a slight variation on the age-old ritual.  The two robbers overpower a nice middle-aged lady who is first to unlock the bank in the morning, and the three of them have to sit and wait for the bank manager to arrive.  The bank manager eventually arrives, wearing his ten gallon cowboy hat, and he doesn't notice that she's sitting there in the middle of the floor.  I mean, if memory serves, he has to come through two glass doors to get into the bank and all that.  Okay, so he's got a lot on his mind.  And never looks up.  But eventually he gets inside, sees her on the floor, and asks her what she's doing on the floor... and then we're back to business.  The two robbers commit their robbery, taking only the small, unmarked bills from the registers, never the safe.  Spoiler alert: this turns out later to be a smart move!
Next scene: exterior, and the bank robbers are driving away.  A cop car passes by them...  now, I had to stop the movie right there, if only in my mind.  Let's say you're a cop, and you're on your way to stop a bank robbery in progress.  There's only one car in town, and it's driving away from the bank, and there's two young guys in the car... WOULDN'T YOU FOLLOW SAID CAR?  Is that asking too much?  Probably.  Am I asking too much of my movies?  Am I being too much like the focus group in that one episode of The Simpsons?  Do I just want a realistic down-to-earth movie that's completely off the wall and swarming with magic robots?
Now, I will give credit where credit's due.  Whoever wrote the movie... one Taylor Sheridan... has crafted himself a fine plan for stealing a bank's money, and getting away with it afterwards.  I'm not that good of a writer, and I can't lavish praise on this plan without spoiling it, so... MORE SPOILER ALERTS.  Okay, first of all, there's the problem with the getaway car.  Well, those Duke boys... I mean, Howard boys... have a fine plan, if a bit land-intensive.  Much like in Used Cars, they've got a pre-dug, car-sized pit on ... what I'm assuming is their family ranch.  They drive the car into the pit, then bulldoze it over with their bulldozer.  They've got a slightly smaller bulldozer with a liftable shovel on the front.  So there's that.  And the second part: how to launder the money.  Well, they do it themselves by... SPOILER ALERT... going to the local casino and buying that amount in chips!  Genius.  They're probably going to pass laws now to make it tougher to be able to do that.  Thanks, pal.  Well, probably not in Trump's America.  Let freedom reign a bit more!
Meanwhile, Bridges and his partner are on the trail.  Someone explains that the robberies aren't big enough for... the local police?  State police?  Alas, I don't have the movie in front of me, but needles to say, it's good enough for the Texas Rangers, so Bridges and his partner come in to save the day.  They interview a few witnesses, and we're treated to the Texas Ranger way of doing things.  Bridges asks for descriptions of the robbers.  "Were they white?" he asks... I think that was one of the questions.  I was waiting for one of the witnesses to say "Well, one was scary and did all the talking... and the other one had these blue eyes.  These penetrating, soulful blue eyes... the kind of blue eyes you could just stare at all day.  It's like you're floating in the air over two lakes, as though you're in a dream... the sweetest dream you've ever had in your life, and you never want to wake up, but you do feel like you have to choose one of the lakes, so you start with the one on the left, and you just stare and stare and stare until you can see the mud at the bottom of the lake.  The water is just so clear, so beautiful... and if you look closely enough, you can see yourself, floating above the lake, at one with eternity... a state of infinite bliss..."  Didn't happen, though.  That small detail slipped through the cracks somehow.
But where did they irrevocably lose me?  And they did irrevocably lose me.  Well, in two places.  But again... SPOILER ALERT.  I'm just not that good, I'll be the first to admit.  But I'll start with the second one... damn, I forgot!  I don't take good notes during movies either, usually.  I usually just try to enjoy myself, and stave off that damn logical brain of mine.  Let's just say that there's a bit of a surprise, a Second Amendment surprise that one doesn't usually see in a dramatic movie.  Anyway, at some point, Chris Pine gets wounded.  Remember, he's the good brother who's just along for the ride.  For me, his would was pretty serious, but for the sake of the movie, it was just a matter of the right tourniquet.  It was like the bloodiest episode of "The Red Green Show" you've ever seen.  And you know what they would use for a tourniquet... that's right!  Duct tape.
But they had already lost me by then.  No, the big reveal where they lost me came after they robbed a couple of banks.  Sorry... SPOILER ALERT AGAIN.  I think this will be the last one... also, I thought that the complicit car dealership was a little head-scratchy.  Are they really stealing enough to be paying off another party?  I mean, enough so to get a fresh getaway car out of the deal?  I don't think so.  I thought they were only taking small amounts from each bank.  Anyway, after a couple of these flawless robberies, and after their car pits are positively bulging with cars, they have a conversation with someone... maybe on the phone.  They tell this someone that THEY STRUCK OIL ON THEIR LAND.  Unlike the Nixon family, who found oil after they sold their property, the Howards are going to become very, very rich.  Very rich petro-millionaires.  Hopefully, they won't go into business with Putin, as he tends to kill those who go against him.  Even rich dudes!  Or maybe especially the rich dudes, one or the other.  So that's where they lost me.  Rather than going to a bank and saying "Hey, I need a loan for a derrick for my oil-rich property" they decide to go the more adrenalin-fueled, against-the-law route of robbing banks... and steal enough to get their oil business going?  That's like Gale and Evelle's plan of robbing banks until they can retire... or they get caught.  But hey!  Can't argue with results.  Long story short, it ends well for Chris Pine and his future generations.  As it should for oil magnates, of course.  Life should be good for them... then, of course, there's all that pesky climate change stuff.

**1/2
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Monday, September 25, 2017

No Dark Sarcasm in the Studio...

SPOILER ALERTS GALORE
A man is woken up by his alarm clock.  After the audience gets a far, far too clear view of the man's armpit, the man gets up.  He shuffles around, groaning, stretching and scratching himself as a man who hasn't gotten the proper amount of sleep is wont to do.  The man goes over to a calendar, picks up a pen, and starts writing on the calendar.  Now, often times when this happens in a movie, you might eventually expect to see a close-up shot of said calendar... you know, to be able to see what the guy's writing!  Is he on the brink of finishing up a ten-year project or so?  Is he x number of days sober?  Is today the day when he stops by the prison to pick up his friend who gets out today?  It just raises questions, that's all I'm saying.  And nine times out of ten, sure!  You'd get a close-up of the calendar to see what is being written... but this is not that movie.

Anyway, I'm going to have to postpone my in-depth preview of Amazon's big Christmas release for the Oscars.  As you may know, Jeff Bezos does want to win that big prize, the Best Picture Oscar.  A lot.  Because somehow changing the prices at Whole Foods and attempting to put the Post Office out of business pretty much write themselves.  Where's the statue for that?  No statue.  The Oscar's the thing.  Oh, he's hotter to trot than even DreamWorks was in the late 90s... wonder whatever happened to them?  Of course, when American Beauty won the big prize, you didn't see Spielberg, Geffen OR Katzenberg waltz up there to accept the award.  Guess Bezos will have to find that out the hard way.
Anyway, Bezos has got an unusual candidate for Best Picture this year, to be sure.  Maybe it's a sign of the times as Harry Styles tells us, but who knows?  It could go all the way.  Stranger things have indeed happened, and not just on Netflix.  Anyway, Bezos' baby is a Will Ferrell co-production with Funny or Die, and it's called Will Ferrell Stands Uncomfortably Close to People.  And not just Amy Adams and John C. Reilly either!  Even though they're featured rather prominently in it.  It's about 2 and a half hours long, which every Best Picture nominee should be, of course.  And you'd think it'd be wall-to-wall laughs, but there's probably some poignant moments as well, like when he stands uncomfortably close to Obama AND Trump, or to some Eskimos who lost their homes because of global warming.  Keep fighting the good fight, guys... (sniff, wipe away tear)
But we'll save that for a later date, as I've clearly got more pressing business to discuss.  But for right now, a question... what is art?  More specifically, what is a movie?  We used to define it as a strip of celluloid passing through a projector at 24 frames a second, with the audio track lagging behind by about 30 odd frames or so... or maybe ahead.  See?  No one remembers!  Stupid internet.  But there's all this other stuff that's come along since, mind you.  Now there's up to 60 frames a second, making film more like videotape or real life.  But typically, the technical aspects are usually set aside in favor of the story a film is trying to tell.  There are also audio and visual conventions that have been grandfathered in for years and years.  Take the sound of Dirty Harry's gun, for example.  You tend not to hear that one much anymore.  However, when a gun is cocked... there's kind of a generic sound to that that, at least for me, has SO been done to death.  For a non-gun example, there's this one dog barking sound that gets used on "The Simpsons" to death a lot, one time with an opening shot of the nuclear power plant, as well as an opening door sound effect that's also been used very close to death, also on "The Simpsons."  We'll leave aside the discussion of the firing of Alf Clausen for now.
Why do I mention these conventions?  These unspoken rules of movie making?  These shorthand short cuts that many an average filmmaker relies heavily upon?  Well, because, the older one gets, one tends to notice them more and more when they're not used.  For me, anyway.  When you're a kid, you're usually just happy to be awake that late, and tend not to nitpick as much; eventually you just get bored and look around for something to eat or steal.  But as they say in art, there are no rules... but you break them at your peril.  Which brings me to my review of a film called The Face in the Wall.  I happened upon a DVD copy of it on Amazon... yes, that damn ubiquitous Amazon again.  Sorry.  So much for the little guys, I guess.  But it is a pristine copy of the movie, and I think it's even a brand new 4k 1080p transfer from the original flammable nitrate stock and what not.  Not terribly big on the extras, alas, unless there's some easter eggs I haven't found yet.  But maybe we'll get a documentary or two on the Blu-Ray version.  And if it becomes a big enough hit, cult or otherwise, there'll be the Super Deluxe Version with extras up the yin yang on a Disc Two, and a cover that makes it look like it's in a shipping crate, if the precedent set by Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Office Space are any indication.  Meanwhile, Short Time is only available on VHS?  What's up with that?  Dabney Coleman, for God's sake!
Oh, but I blather on and on.  Let's get right to the review, shall we?

CREDITS SEQUENCES

...did I forget to mention spoiler alerts?  Well, just in case I did... SPOILER ALERTS.  Okay, let's get back to it.  Now first of all... for those of you like me, scary thought I know, who've made a habit of converting your DVDs into small files suitable for a portable player... and ON YOUR OWN, no less, thereby screwing YouTube out of much needed baseline revenue... you'll notice right away that there's an FBI warning included at the beginning of the main feature.  This will happen if you're turning a VHS tape into, say, an .mp4 file.  Not so much with a pro DVD, and they don't have the FBI warnings on cable.  They keep those things separate, even though the stakes couldn't be higher these days.  Remember, kids!  Piracy is not a victimless crime.  Take Big Idea's The Pirates who Don't Do Anything, for example!  YAWWWWNNNN!  So much suffering... why, someone oughta be taken out and shot for that.  Hopefully that bastard Tom Tomato for starters.  Oh well.  But notice that the FBI warning here is a little bit different: at the bottom, it says something about a prohibition on "institutional public performance."  Dang!  So much for Scorsese's kids teaching this at NYU Film School, I guess.  Their loss.
Next, the vanity logo.  There's too many to keep track of these days, so just remember Bad Robot.  You might have seen it in the 2015 Star Wars movie.  That's the big one.  As for The Face in the Wall, well... I think it says 360 Sound and Vision Entertainment.  I couldn't tell because of this bright white light in the center.  The vanity logo fades, and then we get the web site address a few seconds later.  You tend not to see a web address for a vanity logo these days.  But don't worry, you can usually find their Facebook pages and Twitter feeds pretty easily.
Then we finally get to the title of the film.  The title sometimes doesn't appear at the beginning anymore for whatever reason (arty-farty reasons mostly), but here it's at the beginning.  It's also at the beginning of the END credits, AND at the END of the end credits.  Overkill much?  At least give me the CHANCE to forget!  And I thought Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai was bad!  Also, the title credits for The Face in the Wall look like they were whipped up in Final Cut Pro or something.  Alas, we all can't rely on the services of Balsmeyer & Everett, Dan Perri or Pablo Ferro, unfortunately.  And Saul Bass is downright dead!  But just as Cathy Danneberg has settled in on Century Gothic, Mr. Buckle has settled on... let's say Swiss921 BT for this cinematic journey and beyond.  A nice, fat, downright obese and ultra-manly sans serif font, as opposed to, and thereby flying in the face of, Hollywood's current obsession with thin, curvy, downright anorexic sans serif fonts.  I guess they're good for testing the pixel quality of your HDTVs or something.

ACT ONE

Either my memory's just downright failing me, or for me personally, probably the best sequence in the movie is when we go from the title sequence to the first shot: a Van Gogh-esque picture of a face.  After that, well... while it would be rather harsh to say it's all downhill from there, but in general that's the feeling I was left with, whatever else you divine from this review.  Maybe I'm just a jaded sophisticate, if only in my own mind.  But maybe it's more like San Francisco's famous Lombard Street: downhill, but a lot of twists and turns along the way?
Returning to the calendar for a bit, there's also a sound aspect to address.  I think the dude who writes on the calendar mumbles something about "Twelve down, five to go."  Now I'm not familiar with mumblecore, but you can usually HEAR the mumbling in mumblecore, right?  It's a little difficult here, but I guess it's ultimately not an important detail.
I did like the glimpse into showbiz we get at first.  See, everyone thinks showbiz is just one big party, that everyone knows everyone and all that... but for those who toil in the sulphur mines of the Hollywood beast, they know.  It's more like high school, where everyone normally stays in their own cliques.  The geeks tend not to socialize with the nerds, the nerds tend not to socialize with the football players or the cheerleaders, etc.  Only in the movies.  Actually, it's probably worse than high school.  At least in high school, there's still a chance to make eye contact with someone without getting sued or tazed.
And then the director throws you for a curve, saying "No pan, no zoom... just one take."  All that setting up of shots and laying of dolly track for two hours in the A.M. for nothing.  Nothing, I tells ya!!!  Wotta waste of coffee.
Now, I hate to be too critical of the movie within the movie, but what am I left to work with?  The actress in sunglasses gives us a line reading... I think it's something from Shakespeare, but it probably also foreshadows the plot to come.  Much like the play within the movie in Cassandra's Dream.  Something about the shattering of illusions.  Personally, I think the speech moves a little too fast.  I'm getting older, no question, and I need more time to absorb my mind-bending contradictions contained within a single speech.
Now the original draft of the script by one Semyon White was a little more equitable about the unfolding of the plot, but Mr. Bigshot Director slash Sound Man Dwayne Buckle had to redraft the script and make it all about the sound guy.  The tortured, soulful sound guy gets to notice first that there's trouble in Green Screen paradise.  Some interference is interfering with the sound recording.  Could it be a small New York radio station bleeding into the proceedings somehow?  Or maybe just some really loud New York downstairs neighbours?  Whatever the source, the take is clearly ruined, and the director tells everyone to take five, on top of everything else.  O, the forces in the world that conspire against the struggling filmmaker(s).
Eventually, a perfect take is gotten, and the work day's over.  But because there's such a small crew, the sound guy and the camera guy have to "strike the set."  Basically, get all their equipment the hell out of there, and roll up the green screen.  One nice thing about ubiquitous green screens!  Striking the set is so much easier now.
And so, we get to the conceit of the film.  It all starts innocently enough.  The sound guy shows the camera guy an exotic, expensive microphone he got overseas.  The camera guy shows the sound guy his "baby," his "pride and joy."  What could it be?  One of those new douchebaggy Red cameras?  A really kick-ass Canon EOS with a $14,000 zoom lens?  No, it seems to be a Panasonic camcorder.  I think I used to have one of those!  But whatever.  Maybe the camera guy's just ultra-nostalgic about it or something.  Still, I can't help but feel a little let down.
AND THEN... the camera guy... let's call him Calvin Jessup, as that is his character's name... anyway, Calvin looks through the camera at the wall where the green screen was, and BOOM!  He sees something.  Something unusual.  Something one doesn't usually see when looking through a camera at a given wall.  Maybe it's chubby rain.  But judging from Calvin's reaction, it's definitely unusual.  Speaking of reactions, I couldn't help but think of an obscure scene, as a movie fanatic is wont to do in such situations, perhaps in a vain attempt to ignore the proceedings right in front of them.  I'll try to explain: on the first season of Da Ali G Show on HBO, Ali(stair) G(raham) was trying to pitch a show idea to some TV executives.  Actually, I think he was pitching to one guy.  It was basically two scenes: an overly long sex scene, and another scene where he's trying to disarm a bomb.  The way Ali G. acted when he was trying to disarm the bomb is what I thought of.  Hey, maybe it's on YouTube!  I gotta do everything for you people... nope, can't find that scene. They've got the sex scene, of course!
Meanwhile, in the midst of this freakout, the big-shot director comes back and says "I thought I told you guys to strike this set!"  ...something like that.  Good way to add tension to an already tense scene.  Someone's probably going to steal that.  I was further reminded of Cheech's big freakout at the beginning of Up in Smoke.  For those of you with the DVD or Blu-Ray, it starts at 14:09 and technically goes on for about a minute, or until Chong snaps him out of it (sorry, SPOILER ALERT).  Oh, I should probably show a picture of the face in question that everyone... and by everyone, I mean the two guys and one chick (SPOILER ALERT)... freaks out about.

No, wait, that's from the very first Nightmare on Elm Street.


No, that's from Doctor Strange.


No, that's from Indiana Jones 4.


...no, sorry, that's from Matrix 3.


No, that's from Hannibal... and it's a face in a public square, not a wall.



No, that's from What Lies Beneath.

No, that's from Labyrinth.

No, that's from The Frighteners, and it's not a face!  Jeez Loueeze.

No, that's from a Three Stooges short, for God's sake.

Sorry, I'm having a little trouble finding it... but you know what?  Maybe it's ultimately for the best.  Now it's your turn to suffer!  Share the wealth of psychological torture, that's my motto.  But there are no small parts, and I think my favorite actor is Mark Fullardt as the gruff, no-nonsense film director.  He only has three scenes, but there's some nice touches.  First, after he says "That's a wrap" and the work day is over, he gets on a cell phone to someone and quietly says "Yeah, I'm walking off the set now."  The second one is when he's talking to Jimmy and he talks about movie locations.  "I've used my dad's boat TWICE!" he says.  Well, we can't all be like Burn After Reading and get to work with Jess Gonchor, I suppose.  But it sounds like someone's been hanging around Hollywood bigshots for far too long, needed to screenplay about it.


ACT TWO - FIVE YEARS LATER

..sorry, that was from Ghostbusters 2.  And so, time marches on, and priorities change.  The little train that was once saying "I think I can, I think I can" is now saying "Cash flow, cash flow, cash flow."  Sorry, that's from Tapeheads, but man!  Trains are nothing if not monotonous in their slogans, aren't they?  But time still marches on, trends come and go... I'll be glad when these $10 Fidget Spinners go away.  Some billionaire has a bunch of scrap metal he doesn't know what to do with, and Fidget Spinners are born.  They'll go away soon, but bacon and mustaches seem to be staying!  And pork pie hats.  I'm getting a little worried about those...  Anyway, we check in with Calvin, post-freakout, and we see that he's got a wife and kid now, and apparently an Oscar.  I'm just going to suspend my disbelief for a moment and assume that it's real.  And not for a Short Subject, neither!  No sir.  One of the big categories.  But Cal's pretty modest about it; I didn't hear him mention it to Jimmy even once!  Or anyone else, for that matter.
Anyway, Calvin is about to receive a phone call from an old friend: tortured sound man Jimmy.  Jimmy just can't stop thinking about that face, and or that wall, the bearer of said face.  And for those of you who have seen the movie, you will know and realize that, where Calvin was once the wall face's biggest supporter, he has now done an almost complete 180 on the subject.  "It wasn't real!" Calvin tries to tell Jimmy.  "I know what I saw," says Jimmy.  Did I mention lately that there be spoiler alerts here?  Maybe I better mention them again, just in case... SPOILER ALERTS!!!!!!!!!!!! 
Alas, I'm still a jaded sophisticate, and I've seen my share of bad sit-coms to know that, when one character says, as strongly as they can, in no uncertain terms, "No way" over and over again, well... yes way is what's actually in store.  And even though it's been five years, and Cal now has a wife, a kid, and more importantly, an Oscar... he's probably going to be looking through his baby Panasonic at that damn ghostly face in the wall behind the green screen in that upstairs studio room once again. 
Next scene: persistence pays off, even after a five-year hiatus.  For no sooner does Calvin think he's done persuading Jimmy the Sound Guy to let go of the face than... Jimmy is right there!  At Calvin's doorstep, no less!  Calvin's a little shook up, especially after Jimmy says "Hey!  Lucky you still live in the same place!"  But Calvin's old lady is pretty cool about it... hmm!  According to the IMDb, Calvin's old lady doesn't have a name.  Now, you might be thinking that her role is a token, thankless one...
...and judging from the framing of this shot alone you'd be right.  But even Bullitt's girlfriend gets to contribute to the plot... no, not the car chase part.  There's more to that movie than the big car chase, for God's sake!  Calvin's wife's big scene, though, that comes later.
SPOILER ALERT: even though this is an independent film, in the tradition of Jean-Luc Godard and Amos Poe, among others, there are some pretensions towards Hollywood greatness.  In his desperation, Jimmy, sensing opportunity, tries to steal Calvin's camera while Calvin is on the phone.  Jimmy makes it outside... but he didn't count on Cal being a hell of a fast runner!  Dang.  Cal is upset, but he still gingerly forces Jimmy to the ground.  They have to be gentle about it, because they're dealing with unsanitary New York City sidewalks.  No safety mats for a soft landing here.
I was reminded of a similar scene between George Clooney and the Tuchman Marsh man towards the end of Burn After Reading... did I mention that already?  Sorry to title-drop so much like that.  My mind wanders.  But despite the physical violence, we can see the art of persuasion at work.  Slick, persuasive Jimmy makes his case about going back to see the face again, while Cal talks about stealing, and threatens to call the cops on ol' PTSD-ish Jimmy.  (Spoiler alert: Cal SO does not call the cops.)
Most of the action in this film centers around the building that Cal lives in.  Dare I give out the address?  41-26 Crescent St Long Island City, NY 11101... oops!  But I DEFINITELY won't give out the code to get into the building, because it might be where one of the cast or crew ACTUALLY LIVES... okay, it's the address of "The Baroness" next door.  Hey, look at it this way: you gotta be prepared for these invasions of privacy, guys!  You're big-time celebrities now, as Letterman always says!  Plus, you probably owe him a million (damn) dollars.  Him and Trump... damn.  Can't seem to do a review without saying that thing's name these days.

...I'll confess, I'm actually a little fuzzy myself on the difference between Sound Editing and Sound Mixing.  Like the difference between morals and ethics... no one can explain it.  Okay, Tracy Flick can, but otherwise, not.  But this I do know: they give out an Oscar for each discipline now.  Started in 2004; you know, so The Return of the King could steal another trophy... bastards.  Anyway, hard to say which craft is the alpha; I'm thinking mixing, as there's probably editing involved in mixing.  Now with most movies, the untrained ear could and would probably swear that there's no difference between the two, that they both are part of one cohesive whole... but The Face in the Wall is not that movie.  For one thing, there are a lot of shots on some of the busiest New York streets that there are.  Lots of fast car traffic, even though Woody Allen never drives anywhere.  You can hear the traffic just fine... maybe too well, in fact, and the actor's lines don't always come through.  Um... traffic shouldn't be that loud, guys!  Sometimes you gotta swallow your pride and just redub all the actor's lines.  Countless New York movies before you have done it gladly, and as a matter of course.  Even Buster Keaton did it in The Cameraman... oops, my bad.  That wasn't a talkie.  Or, get the actors some of those tiny mikes they wear on talk shows!  Traffic shouldn't drown out the audience's thoughts, guys.  Or the actor's lines.

As for the editing of the non-sound stuff... you know, the pictures, well... the visual schema here is like Stranger Than Paradise, of all things!  For those of you who don't know, Stranger Than Paradise is a Jim Jarmusch movie from 1984, one of his first, and the big scenes are separated by, like, five or so seconds of pitch black.  Clearly, this visual schema is not copied enough.  But who knows?  Maybe Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will find reason to use it as well.

I will say that I did enjoy the film's music.  And judging from my brief browsing around 360 Sound and Vision's web site, they seem to prefer music production as well.  And music sales!  The music, of course, doesn't always correspond well to the scene, and the music seems to take precedence over the film's dialogue.  Normally in a film, the music will fade out before the actors' lines start, or the music will be quiet enough so that one can ACTUALLY HEAR the actors.  The Face in the Wall is not that movie. 
But there are at least four different themes to the music here.  The first we get is used later on to underscore horror, but we hear it first when we see Calvin waking up from his deep sleep.  O, the horror of going to a job you hate.  The second is for Calvin's taxi ride into the city, and it's kind of peppy, hopeful, a positive spin on things. 
The third is a slow jam for the high school slow dance, and it's a little bit overused, Frank Lee.  For example, just before the big seance (spoiler alert), it's time to go SHOPPING!!!!  We see Cal and Jim buying seance supplies, like extra chairs and what not.  Lol. 
Well, that music is hard to come up with, after all.  It doesn't just fall out of the trees, so show a little respect.  I showed my respect by making an audio CD of the movie.  Alas, it's a tad too long to completely fit onto an 80-minute CD.  But that's the state of car CD players.  Find other means.  For me, it would mean putting on headphones and listening to the film on my portable device... somehow that doesn't seem like a good idea.  Will the cops pull you over if they see you driving with a big pair of headphones on?  Also, I need to give my ears a rest.
So the music of The Face in the Wall is fine and dandy.  But I did have a little problem with the sound at about, let's say the 42:01 mark of the proceedings, spoiler alert.  We see Cal and Jim waiting in line at the ninja store... I'm assuming it's a ninja store, as we see an employee on the left with a t-shirt that says "Shh!  Ninjas are everywhere."  OH MY GOD!  STEVEN SEAGAL WAS RIGHT!  Anyway, they're waiting in line, we're listening to the slow jam with a slight Italian flavor to it, and then BOOM!  Cut to black, and cut all sound.  No music, no ambient background noise, nothing.  Anyone else find that a little jarring?  Or a lot?  Anyone at all?  I guess it's all part of that new editing I'm still not a fan of.  I think symbolically it's meant to represent how, during principal photography, the cast and crew were suddenly accosted by the store's security, who weren't informed that a major motion picture would be filming there.  Just spitballing, but I'm sticking by that theory.
More subliminal advertising: notice that Jimmy wakes up, and there's a poster for another Dwayne Buckle movie on his wall!  Small world.  I'm assuming it's not a poster for The Face in the Wall.  Judging from what little I could see of the other names, it seems to be Cybornetics 1.  To be fair, many a Seinfeld episode took place in the lobby of a movie theater, prominently featuring posters for other Castle Rock productions.  I think even My Giant was one of them!  Ick.

ACT THREE
And so, Calvin and Jimmy put their heads together, but they only make an ass of themselves.  They do some Ghostbusters-style research of the building in question, the building with the infamous face, and they find that, like most old New York buildings, that yes indeed, it has a colorful history.  It probably also has black mold growing inside of it that could tell you some interesting stories, but we'll defer that discussion to architectural blogs instead.  They don't go so far as to get architectural plans of the building, however.
So that's going nowhere.  Jimmy decides that it's time to bring in a third character to this mess.  Fortunately, his ex-girlfriend lived next door to a psychic, so that's who we're going to get.  Let's just say the film, at this critical, crucial juncture, veers towards the territory of Mindwalk.
Scene: the New York movie set where this whole thing started.
Jimmy introduces Calvin, and by extension, us, to Martina Navratilova... I mean, Polinova.  And, again, I hate to nitpick, but traditionally in movies, when introductions are made, you can usually SEE the people getting introduced to each other.  But again, The Face in the Wall is just not that movie.  I think we're dealing with some next-level-type sh... I mean, a new next-level-type visual paradigm here.
Martina shows off some of her psychic chops with insightful observations about Cal, and some other pleasantries ensue.  Then, the Panavision Panasonic camera comes out.  Martina starts shaking.  Even Jimmy seems a little freaked out!  "SHOW ME!!" screams Martina in her, um... accent.  I'll hold off judgment on her reaction to the face, and just say this.  The VERY NEXT SCENE, they're all out on the street drinking coffee, maybe brought to you by Dunkin' Donuts.  Martina is perfectly fine now, gives Jesse a hug, and she helpfully explains "I'm sorry, I don't usually have reactions like that."  Is it me?  Am I asking for too much realism?  A shred of plausibility?  Are these all foreign concepts now?  And by the way, where's Calvin's hug?  I guess the married guys are off limits or something.  To be fair, later on, Martina's not answering her phone.  The normal thing to do would be to not have her answering her phone in the next scene... but this is not that movie.
SPOILER ALERT: As a possible explanation of the face, we're treated to a brief discussion of the Multiverse, and a slightly bigger lesson in nine-dimensional space.  You know, some red meat for the critics.  However, even though it's based in New York, I'm guessing we're probably not talking about Kabbalistic cosmology.  Wonder if Neil deGrasse Tyson addressed this at all on the new Cosmos?  Surprisingly, Wikipedia's page on nine dimensional space is no help; it's more for the real hardcore mathematicians out there.  You know, guys who know from polytopes and Coxeter groups.  There was one site I stumbled across a while ago that talked about the nine dimensions.  So, dimensions 1 thru 3 are for people, of course, and the fourth is time.  But they said that dimensions 7 through 9 are ALSO reserved for 3-dimensional movement!  You know, for all those nine-dimensional beings that haunt your nightmares, like Klingons or the Koch brothers.  I personally was disappointed by this, and I lost a little bit of respect for our 9-D brothers from another mother.  Seems to me all you need is just ONE of the upper dimensions to move around in.  If you need three like mere people, well... why not just use the lower three then?  Of course, that FACE seems to be having trouble with the three dimensions!  You're an inter-dimensional being and you get stuck in a mere Earth wall?  Am I supposed to be impressed by that?
Speaking of red meat for the critics, I would be derelict in my duty at the very least, and downright criminally negligent at the most, if I failed to mention Calvin's big soliloquoy.  He has a brief moment alone with the face in the wall, and ... yup, he starts talking to it.  Now, sure, you could be negative and say, Oh, but The Movie Hooligan!  Isn't this just like a similar scene with Jeff Bridges and a nearly comatose Robin Williams in The Fisher King?  Or with George Clooney and a nearly comatose ... whoever in The Descendants?  I better look up her name.  Patricia Hastie, that's it!  Well, don't worry, because the scene in our instant case isn't going to get too emotional.  Actors do tend to go over the top sometimes.  What's that about?  And besides... the examples I just cited?  Yeah, that's what the fast forward button is for.  Bore-ring!  No one wants to re-see that.  Once is quite enough, TYVM. 
But Jimmy does happen to catch what Cal is doing, but at least he has the decency to knock on the door first.  "You were talking to the face, weren't you?"  "No, I wasn't talking to the face."  Awk-ward!

EPILOGUE
So what's the big lesson here?  Something about procrastination?  My life's already littered with such examples!  But when you procrastinate with another person, they might inconvenience you at some point later on, especially when the nightmares come.  NEVER procrastinate in groups, ever. 
What about finding supernatural phenomena at your workplace?  Maybe there's a new type of harassment law in the offing, for starters.  Or maybe work's just not exciting enough.  You hear people say that from time to time about their job slash passion.  They say "The day it stops being fun is the day I quit."  But you know me, and I always try to make lemonade; how about a tell-all book about that day it stopped being fun?

Now, the film's end credits are very short, which means there's no credit for special effects.  You know why?  BECAUSE THERE WERE NONE!  IT WAS ALL REAL!  All practically shot on digital videom thereby conforming to the rules of Lars von Trier's Dogme 95, or whatever the hell it is.  You know, all natural light, no special effects... probably no plot or script either.  So what's left, besides gross family secrets?  So, there's no special effects in The Face in the Wall... still, I can't help but sense the invisible hand of Adobe After Effects in the big semi-explosive finale.
As for Calvin's long suffering wife, well... she's on the phone with someone.  He's not credited, but judging from the voice, I'm thinking... Denzel?  She needs someone to talk to about all these strange goings-on ever since Jimmy came back into Calvin's life.  She's tired of being left out of the boring seances and what not, and she's going to get to the bottom of this whole wall face thing.  She starts at the bottom of the laundry basket in the tiny New York apartment kitchen.  She finds... a homemade DVD, of all things.  Ah, filmmakers.  Well, at least it was in a jewel case.  She puts the DVD in the DVD player, and gets her first eyeful of that ghostly white, puffy, gout-afflicted face on the wall, and... well, her reaction is decidedly different from Martina's... and from Cal and Jimmy.  Maybe she just wasn't in the proper frame of mind or something to properly appreciate it... but, The Movie Hooligan, what do you think it is?  I'm not talking about your fancy book learning, or something you read online, or some smart-ass comment you want to make in another vain attempt to be humorous.  I'm talking about you.  What do you think of the face?  Hmm?  Is it a 9D being?  Is it a ghost from 200 years ago?  Or maybe someone who got crushed by a Marshall stack when that place was a disco?  Well, I've thought a lot about it... and I think the face is supposed to be Mike Pence.  It's part of some Republican plan to support individuals' rights and states rights.  You know, by watching everyone all the time.  A chicken in every pot, and a face in every wall.  They're beta-testing what appears to be Mike Pence, but without the nose job.

The Face in the Wall appears to be a small project between big projects for writer-director Dwayne Buckle.  You know, like how Keanu Reeves did Sweet November and Hardball (the motion picture, not the Chris Matthews show on MSNBC) and a couple others in between the Matrix sequels of 2003.  The more director-centric example is of course Coppola's The Conversation in between Godfather 1 and 2.  Buckle's big projects, of course, are Cybornetics 1 and Cybornetics 2: The Return of McGregor.  No rest for the weary in that ol' Showbiz, folks!... hmm.  This is probably a dumb question, but I notice that there's 2012's Cybornetics, and there's 2013's Cybornetics: Urban Cyborg.  So shouldn't Cybornetics 2 actually be Cybornetics 3?  Or is Cybornetics: Urban Cyborg a prequel, or just Cybornetics 1.5?  Clearly I haven't done my homework on this one here.  But the door to a The Face in the Wall sequel is clearly open...

So I've settled on a rating of 2.5 stars for some reason, but still... WTF, FTW!

**1/2
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan