how to be a man

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The Basics:  An immature, wholly inappropriate man learns he has terminal breast cancer and seeks to record a series of life lessons for his unborn son.

The Bottom Line:  Vulgar from the word “go”, this is nevertheless funny and makes instant stars out of VICE’s Gavin McInnes and young Liam Aiken.  So very crude – think embarrassment laughter – but surprisingly, admirably subtle at the movie’s key moment.

Rating:  7 (of 10).

the mist

Amazon Link

The Basics:  A mysterious mist descends upon and island town, leaving a subsection of society stranded within a convenience store.

The Bottom Line:  Frank Darabont’s take on this Stephen King novella famously includes an ending that improves – so says the author, and I’d agree – on the source material.  This could have been a simple, schlocky horror film but the ending is among the best I’ve ever seen committed to screen.  I’ll never forget it.  It’s worth watching the sort of film I wouldn’t normally enjoy to get to such rich treasure.

Rating: 8 (of 10) – the ending is a 10 unto itself.

fat, sick & nearly dead

Amazon Link

The Basics:  A professionally successful-but-health unconscious Aussie goes on a juice fast to change himself and others.

The Bottom Line:  Making juicing a lifestyle isn’t exactly healthy, which this documentary doesn’t touch on – at times it seems a less-than-subliminal (and highly effective) advertisement for Breville – but there’s a single scene where an obese truck driver recounts his hopelessness that makes the desire to be healthier so real and potent.  While the next lifestyle choice you make may not be juicing, it’d be difficult not to reflect at least a little on improvement and well being.

Rating:  7 (of 10).

casting by

HBO Link

The Basics:  Documentary/love letter to the unsung heroes of Hollywood, the Casting Directors.

The Bottom Line:  Interesting, though not very varied.  It features a lot of famous sorts talking about their big breaks, and heavily underscores the lack of respect given to this somewhat glamorous profession.

Rating:  7 (of 10).

hawkeye, vol. 2: little hits

Amazon Link

This post exists for two reasons:

1.  To profess my giddy, grinning, continuing love of the Fraction/Aja Hawkeye series.

2.  To proclaim that Hawkeye, Issue #11 – told from the star perspective of Pizza Dog – is one of the greatest comics I’ve ever read.

I’m so happy to be so floored.

 

inside llewyn davis

Amazon Link

The Basics:  A talented but unpopular folk singer in the ’60s tries to get by in the face of contempt – and worse, disinterest.

The Bottom Line:  The Coens made Barton Fink – this is no Barton Fink.  A lot of even their best works (which I love more than any other directorial output) function better as intellectual exercises than straight films, but the mark of a fantastic Coen film versus a lesser offering is that their brilliance is entertaining.  Inside Llewyn Davis doesn’t rise to the thrills we’ve come to expect; in fact, I might dare to timidly suggest the word “boring”.

There are some bona fide laughs (the novelty song “Please Mr. Kennedy” comes to mind), but if you take out the performed-in-real-time music, the disappointed lecturing and the late addition of a cat as a plot device, there aren’t very many minutes left to chew on.  Requisite mythological nods only underscore how far the gradual arc is from legend.  The Coens reportedly worried about a lack of story – it could have used a proper one.

Rating:  6 (of 10).