Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Cinema Freaks Live: Ghostbusters (2016)

Well, the new Ghostbusters movie is out, after all the months and months of online wars and sexism and misogyny and a whole bunch of other undeserved crap thrown at the fact that a beloved 80s classic was being remade with four women. And after all the drama, all the threats of the world ending because of this film's existence, how did this movie hold up?

It's pretty solid.

Director: Paul Feig
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones

Co-written with Nathan.

If you want more than that, check out the video my friend Nathan and I did about it. It's the first time we've tried this, and it probably isn't going to look that good after we do more later. But check it out anyway. There are also SPOILERS in it!

(You can also check out our original attempt here, which didn't work because I fucked up on how my camera worked, and it cut off before we were done filming. But it's still a good watch in some ways.)

It was just a fun movie. Nothing great, and the plot was a bit thin and the villain a bit too lame and not every joke hit. But more jokes hit than not. And I liked the new Ghostbusters. A lot. All of them do a good job and they add charisma to it. Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy have a good amount of chemistry, Leslie Jones is a huge presence on screen and Kate McKinnon is a shitload of fun to watch. I wanted to know more about these characters, and like The Force Awakens, the fact that they're totally new and original characters lends the movie a freshness and spontaneity it wouldn't have if it were a straight up remake. So they were enough to save any minor failings the rest of the movie had, and I dug it. Was a fun time.

I think the energy it had really carried above and beyond what it would have been otherwise – if this movie had felt too sluggish or boorish, it would've just felt like a slog to get through. But the energy and verve this movie had was infectious as hell. It really worked. Even the more pedestrian moments just had this crackling, lively feel and it coasted along nicely and I wasn't bored. Pacing and energy are important. This movie succeeded at them.

I wouldn't even really have much to say about this film aside from 'I liked it' if not for all the 'controversial' nonsense surrounding it. I can't even believe all the shit this movie got, and most of it for the all-women angle. It's the dumbest thing ever. This movie is not pushing some feminist angle, and just having women as the main characters doesn't make it some sort of weird political statement – fuck that line of thought. Is having any type of person in a movie aside from a white guy a political statement then? It's not. This is not political at all. It's just a fun film. I also love all the people moaning about Chris Hemsworth's character being a dumb eye-candy type of character that the women swoon over at some parts of the movie. There are so many movies where women fulfill that role the other 95% of the time and ignore movies that actually have developed characters. I hardly think one movie to the contrary is going to destroy the fabric of cinema.

A special fuck-you to human dumpster fire Milo Yiannapolous and his equally shitty website Breitbart. If you don't know them, it's a “journalism” website in the way that the dumpster behind the McDonalds in your town is fine dining. Yiannapolous constantly insults every demographic he can and then whines and whines about “political correctness” and “censorship” when people ban him from places. It's trolling, and not any sort of funny trolling. I bring this up at all because they recently had a campaign against Leslie Jones of the movie, hurling all sorts of deplorable racist insults against them. Just awful, awful stuff.

Luckily, she's better than them. And this movie is better than anything these assholes can shit out.

And that's why I'm making a point of defending this movie. Not just because it's good, but because it's worth speaking out against nonsense hate-mongering and misogyny. And seriously, guys. It's a movie. It's not fucking Selma or The Help or something, it's Ghostbusters – this much vitriol and controversy over politics in it is insane. Just get over it. It's a good, fun movie. Just go have fun with it.

Image copyright of its original owners, we own none of them.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Purge: Election Year (2016) + BONUS! (SPOILERS)

Well, it's the time of year to be patriotic again, so of course there's another Purge movie to shit all over that and ruin it for everybody. This is Election Year!

And yes, there's SPOILERS for the movie in this review and the podcast. Beware! Or just read the spoilers and don't go see the fucking movie. I dunno. Do what you want. I'm still typing in bold and it makes this part of the review look important.

Director: James DeMonaco
Starring: Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell

Co-written with Michelle.

Here's a podcast Michelle and I did about it:

The both of us really, really fucking hated The Purge: Anarchy back in 2014. It was just so awful, from the over the top political message to the implication that all Americans really are just awful, shitty people. I feel secure in reinforcing that it's one of the worst movies I've ever seen. You know, so far as anyone claiming something is the worst ever on the internet can be taken seriously. Which isn't much – hyperbole is like 99-cent candy bars here. It's cheap currency and you can buy it at shitty, seedy gas stations from teenagers high on pot.

So, Election Year. I'll start off by showing this scene of the Lincoln Memorial covered in blood, gore and burning trash. I wonder who's going to clean that up? This is the most odious crime committed on Purge Night. I have no sympathy for litterbugs!

Throughout the movie they constantly say it's their American right to Purge and blather on about freedom, but then this happens and no one cares. Bull fucking shit. Americans are so zealously patriotic and symbol-obsessed that they'd murder someone who did this on a day that wasn't The Purge night.

We see the New Founding Fathers, apparently the totalitarian leaders of America in the future, plotting against this senator lady, Charlie Roan, played by Elizabeth Mitchell, who is running for president. She has the audacity to want to end the Purge because her family died in it 20 years ago. What an irrational bitch, am I right?

Stop your emotional liberal appeals in the face of our liberties! Wait, this is getting a bit too real.

These guys cackle like Halloween Jack O'Lanterns and speak in all the overemphasized cadence and exaggerated verbosity of a Saturday morning cartoon villain. Oh, wait, there are no Saturday morning cartoons anymore. Which means there is no God.

Anyway, the scenes of Senator Roan debating the other dude who wants to keep the Purge – who is some sort of ultraconservative preacher character who acts like a lost Bugs Bunny villain – are just the bottom of the barrel. The rest of the movie, then, is below the bottom of the barrel. It's underneath the fucking barrel.

The fact that it's such a controversy to stop making murder legal once a year, to the point where one candidate is laughing at another for suggesting it, is batshit crazy. I'm sure you could spin this into a decent satire of some sort, but the movie lacks the self awareness and the good writing to make it seem realistic.

There are also multiple scenes of this corner store in a middle class/poor area of town. There's the owner, Joe Dixon, and a host of side characters like this Hispanic immigrant guy who works with him and a woman who is a regular customer and who drives a van on Purge night to help people. I just think all of these scenes are such a load of horse shit. They're all so fake-folksy, like a corporation trying to relate to the 'common people' by pretending to be idyllic and cute and all of that. It's like Coca Cola putting a rap song into a commercial - you're not fooling anyone.

Oh, but there is a scene of two crazy, psychotic middle school girls who try to steal one candy bar from the store. This becomes a central plot point for the first half of the movie. No, I'm not even kidding.

The big change to Purge night this year is that anyone can be targeted, even government officials, who previously you couldn't target. That should've been a whiff of bullshit so strong that even the dumbest “patriotic” rednecks would have cried foul and ended the whole thing years ago. But remember, in the universe of the Purge, Americans are all universally self-centered idiots who take Fox News as the gospel and swallow their bullshit like donuts at Free Donut Day. Definitely isn't the writers themselves projecting their own idiocy! Nope! It's all Americans that are like this!

So, yeah, we get reintroduced to the guy from the last movie, Barnes, played by Frank Grillo. He has as much character as the lamp I bought last week. He has no charisma on screen and adds so little to this movie or the last one that you could replace him in every scene with a Photoshopped picture of a duck playing the saxophone, and the movie would at least have something kind of endearing in it. This time, he's the Secret Service or something for Charlie Roan. How did he go from revolutionary lone wolf to a Secret Service member? This is making all those times real Secret Service got caught fucking Colombian hookers and letting crazy people onto the White House lawn look like premiere hiring, real career guys.

We see more of his expert prowess when they set up this whole security detail at Charlie Roan's house, protecting her from the Purge night. It doesn't last more than 20 minutes before it's revealed that almost every security guy they hired is corrupt and actually working for the New Founding Fathers to kill Charlie! Wow, maybe you should've spent more than twenty minutes vetting these security guys and not been multi-tasking on your phone playing Online Billiards or whatever the fuck.

So then they go and hide out conveniently in the folksy corner store from before – wow, you mean there was a reason they showed those two separate storylines earlier on? What expert level, Shakespearean storytelling! This leads to some truly masterful dialogue between Barnes and Joe Dixon, in which Dixon constantly assumes Barnes is being racist to him. Only the dialogue here isn't good enough to actually convey any tension, and so their constant bickering actually just makes the movie itself look subtly racist. Just because one of them's a black dude and the other isn't doesn't mean every conversation they have has to sound like Bruce Willis and Sam Jackson in Die Hard 3 – you fucking hacks. It isn't the early 1990s anymore, for one thing, and for another, your movie isn't as smart as Die Hard 3. Certainly not enough to pull this off.

Not to mention pretty much all the black characters come from some rough past in 'the streets.' And the one Hispanic guy is from a horrible war-torn part of Mexico that he compares the Purge to. You know, just because you graduated beyond writing black characters like Song of the South or something, doesn't mean you're not racist anyway.

Oh, and the foreigner characters who have vaguely non-denominational European accents (they're just "foreigners") are only in the movie because they've come from overseas to participate in Purge night. They're portrayed as bloodthirsty, remorseless serial killers. EVERYONE FROM ANOTHER CULTURE IS EVIL! HIDE IN YOUR HOMES! VOTE TRUMP!

"This'll sure look cool at the Halloween Horror Nights attraction!"

But fortunately you don't have long to think about that, as the psychotic high school girls arrive in a car covered with Christmas lights, dressed like dominatrixes and acting like literal wild animals would if they had a basic command of English. And yes, the main one is still after the one candy bar – that's her whole motivation. She's going to kill people just to get a fucking candy bar.

This is one of those scenes like from the last movie where I just can't suspend my disbelief. What did these girls do the other 364 days a year that weren't Purge night? How did they function normally in society? The movie implies that there doesn't need to be an answer, because humans are just shittier in the future for unspecified, vague reasons including the words 'moral decline.' Fuck that and fuck you, movie.

The girls do get run over though! So there is that, for some mildly okay gore. If that's all you need, then The Purge: Election Year has your dismal standards covered!

A lot of other shit happens after that. I don't care to get into all of it. It's mostly badly shot, poorly paced, boring action movie crap and it's not even exciting to look at, with everything being so dark and grimy all the time.

Walking around at night with shitty haunted house traps set up in the city and predictably coming out unscathed = drama and suspense, I guess.

The climax involves a plot by this rebel group to blow up a church where this group of rich 1%ers is having this sermon praising the Purge for letting them get their 'demons' out, or some bullshit. The rival Senator is leading the whole thing. Only then they kidnap Charlie Roan and tie her up and intend to murder her for their big sermon thing.

That means one candidate for president is kidnapping and attempting to murder the other. It's like if Donald Trump went to Hillary Clinton's house, held her at gunpoint and killed her, and then expected everyone else to just act like nothing happened the next day and continue the election without her later. It's utter lunacy. The fact that someone wrote this and another person greenlighted it as if to say “yes, this is a smart plotline” makes me convinced we're doomed and Trump is going to win.

Fortunately, through a series of contrivances, the villains move much too slowly to actually kill her, so the good guys can save her. So glad they spend a ton of time monologuing, and then when they go to slit her throat, they do it as poorly as possible. Then they have a big shoot out fight, punctuated with Joe Dixon inserting incredibly lame and unfunny “jokes” throughout every time there's a pause. They're seriously not funny at all. I've heard things said at funerals that were funnier.

He dies at the end anyway, taking a bullet for Charlie Roan in another slow, poorly drawn-out scene that she should've died from but the script wouldn't allow it. Because really, what good is a black character in a horror movie if he doesn't die tragically? Otherwise you might actually have to do crazy things like make them "likable" or give them "personalities."

Then it turns out Charlie Roan actually wins the fucking election that year. It would have been hilarious if she lost. Wouldn't that have been a dark twist? Too bad, sometimes the progressive light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel candidate just can't win? Would've been salt in the wounds for Bernie supporters watching this anyway.

But yeah, she wins and ends the Purge, I guess. I don't understand how. If people wanted the Purge night to change this badly, why did it go on for so long? 20 fucking years of that before people finally decided to change it? Really? The only implication I can see is that there was no candidate advocating for the end of the Purge that whole time. The whole fucking 20 years of legal murder, and not one candidate until this Charlie Roan lady even breached the subject. Wow. That's a lot of bullshit to swallow!

This movie is awful just like the last one. The whole political message just makes no sense – it's a skewering of the American right wing through the lens of this far left view, but the way all the poor and homeless and minorities are depicted – as degenerates or very broadly drawn, unflattering stereotypes – swings it right back to more of a right wing view, like the caricatures of Fox News-style fearmongering. It's a confusing, poorly thought out message.

Mostly, the movie implies that Americans are just a bunch of stupid, assholeish simpletons who would allow their country to get this far gone. The proof I have of this is that at no point during these Purge movies do you see people trying to really help those under attack. Only the worst of society is ever shown. The whole point is that medical services and ambulances and police don't have to do their jobs. So you're telling me that out of all those doctors and cops and well-meaning citizens who actually have souls, none of them are willing to go help out anyway? All of them are really that selfish and shitty? It's really just every man for himself? That's perhaps the biggest load of bullshit in the movie, and that's not a small feat.

People are better than this movie or the other piece of trash that precluded it think. People would help out where they could, form tons of organized coalitions to save people on Purge night, and they really would not let this stuff go on for like 20 years before saying hey, we need to stop this.

I know this is just a bullshit fictional universe, but come on – you need to have a plausible, believable fantasy. This movie doesn't. And it would be more interesting with more characters fighting back against the Purge, helping people and generally not rolling over and playing dead and letting us only see the worst people in the world on screen. But I guess the movie really needed to push that 'Americans are shitty people' message!

Even aside from that, it's a boring, shitty action movie with no good characters or scenes. There's no suspense and every part of the plot is poorly written cliché. There's nothing to like about this. It's all hack work trash, and I don't have any qualms with saying so. Fuck The Purge: Election Year.


As a bonus, Michelle and I were talking the other night about this movie some more, and really, the whole idea of the Purge in general gets more insane the more you think about it - i.e. even thinking a tiny, little bit at all crumbles the entire concept. Let's go over some of the implications of this world:

  • Can prisoners rise up and kill the guards and break out of jail on Purge night? That seems like something that should be addressed. There's certainly enough prisoners to do so, like at least 400 against, what, 80 guards at most? Seems like that would be a mess to clean up the next day.

  • What about crimes that have nothing to do with murder? Remember, all crime is legal. What if a stockbroker steals a bunch of money from his trading company and throws the world economy off balance?

  • I guess rape is legal now on Purge night, so any number of horrible things could happen. If the point of Purge night is reducing crime – well, I'm pretty sure the victims of rape wouldn't be thanking you, jackasses.

  • I wonder what it's like for people to have to live with ramifications of the Purge after it happens. Like if a boss kills a competitor – is that looked upon as a legitimate transaction later? Like 'oh, I guess it's okay cause of Purge night'? “Gee, it really sucks that Mike killed our boss last night. He was about to give me that raise and help me feed my starving children.”

  • What about when one of your co-workers brutally murders another co-worker? How does the rest of the office look that first co-worker in the eye the rest of the year? Someone's not getting invited to the office party. I'm picturing it like that scene from Office Space where they all pass over Milton and don't let him have any cake. That seems like what would happen.

  • Are American territories included in the Purge? Do people on the Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico get to participate? What if some rogue state official wanted to bomb another country and had the keys to the nuclear weapons? Would the whole world have to just shrug their shoulders and forget about it because oh, those goofy Americans and their all-crime-is-legal holiday?!

Holy fuck. They really didn't think any of this through. This is what happens when you don't do enough world-building for your fictional world. The Purge just gets worse and worse the more you actually look at the logic behind it. This has to be among the worst bullshit in modern cinema!

Images copyright of their original owners, we own none of them and are making no money off this.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Orange Is The New Black's Season Four & the Viewer's Prism - SPOILERS

The new Orange is the New Black season is probably the show's most audacious and challenging yet. I say that because there were parts of this that were awful and gut-wrenching to watch. This is challenging, forward thinking TV, and yeah, there are going to be some SPOILERS in this thing, so if you don't want that, go back on Netflix and finish the show.

I guess I'll just address the elephant in the room immediately, with Poussey Washington's death in Episode 12, “The Animals.” It's a horrible thing to watch, her being suffocated on the floor, and notably by Bayley, who was the most harmless looking, innocent seeming guy prior to this – that's really, really something, I think.

The thing for me was that I didn't know how to feel – Poussey's death was a tragedy, and Bayley was responsible yet is not some kind of evil psychotic monster like some of the other guards. That's important. Several characters on the show in the last episode – Caputo and Coates most notably – talk about how prison changes you, how Bayley is ruined after that. And obviously, that's the complete wrong reaction to have – like in the case of the Stanford rapist, talking about his life when another person has died (or in the Stanford case, been raped) because of him is unspeakably shitty. But Bayley isn't portrayed as some kind of evil monster either. His actions are awful and what happened is awful, because he's a moron who wasn't good at his job. He feels bad and he should fucking feel bad. But he isn't written as some kind of cartoon villain monster like he would be in other shows. It would be cheaper if he was written that way. He had to be a fully fleshed out character.

It's just a shitty situation. And the show does well at testing your moral compass and then smashing it up and throwing it into a blender.

The flashbacks in the episode are about Bayley basically going through life as this moron slacker kid. Getting thrown in jail for drinking on top of a water tower, getting fired from a job for giving free ice cream to girls. It's all inconsequential goofy petty bullshit that happens and none of it means a thing, because he's an upper-middle-class white kid and the world's his oyster. Even when asked why he's working at the prison, his answer is to shrug and say he's here “until the next thing.” Nothing has any meaning and he's just this aimless loser who gets by because he was born in a pretty privileged area and had a decent life up to now. He doesn't look like the kind of guy who'd kill someone, so when he does without meaning to, its his future and well being that are worried about – not that of Poussey or her friends, family, or the general injustice of it all. Infuriating shit. It's supposed to be – you're supposed to be mad at this.

The finale is even more gut wrenching – we see Caputo and the MCC PR people floundering desperately, Poussey's body left for hours on the kitchen floor while they try to spin it their way. Caputo, who has talked a big game all season about really helping these inmates and being there for them, can't do anything – he's paralyzed and his actions come off as cowardly. He's a fairweather friend of sorts, with good, charitable intentions during the good times, but then unable to do a thing during the bad solely from his own incompetence. And then again, how can we blame him? Any major insurrection against MCC would lose him his job and then nothing would ever change at all. He's doing what he can. But as in real life, doing what one can isn't always enough and it won't always matter a damn.

The show excels at creating these situations that are so morally complex that there is no right answer and people will view them through different lens. It's easy and valid to say that Caputo's a piece of shit and Bayley is trash and the flashbacks about him are unnecessary, because a person died, a black person, who are so often victimized by police in real life. It's also easy to say that they're all doing their best and things are fucked either way and nothing is simple. That's valid, too.

The show is a sort of reflective mirror-prism for how you look at any number of situations in life. Not everyone is supposed to find this season pleasant or easy to watch. I think that is what makes it great art, and what puts this show up there with Breaking Bad and The Wire for groundbreaking TV that portrays the human experience. I've read a handful of editorials from black viewers who absolutely hated this season:




They are perfectly justified in doing so. Why wouldn't they? It more directly affects their community. It talks about a problem they deal with every day and which is so much more real to them. Expecting them to react to Poussey's fictional death in the same way as someone like me is farcicial. It's never going to happen. I don't know shit compared to them.

So, like I said – the mirror-prism thing. Your view of this sequence of events in OITNB is solely dependent on your view of the real life things going on. Some people won't like this stuff because it's uncomfortable or it comes off as exploitative, and that's fine, they are perfectly justified. I would never try and patronize them by acting like I know better. I don't. I have no idea what they go through and wouldn't dream of trying to push my worldview on theirs. I'm just a guy myself, seeing this show and I like it because I'm into real life news, and seeing art that portrays things in this manner interests me. But other people have different experiences and they may find this to be offputting. I don't think the show really wanted to please everyone anyway. What it wanted was to show this stuff – to open the window a bit. Let us gaze out.

But as sad as this all is, what you should be taking away is that young black people die at the hands of the law way too often in real life. This is a fiction, but what's happening mirrors things that the black community has faced for real. This is nothing compared to real life. Black lives do matter, and the show's portrayal of these current events is maybe not even necessary when there's so much real evidence of this kind of thing happening. That's the one flaw here. It's ugly, sad and horrific, and there are no punches pulled. Maybe it doesn't need to exist or be shown. I don't know - but it is here. And so I'm writing this.

The show pulls this trick, of testing your morals, over and over again. Sam Healy is an odious man, a racist and a misogynist who uses his position in power at the prison to work out his mommy issues. But he has other dimensions to him and we see the show's portrayals of him as sympathetic in his attempts to find real human connection, to feel good at his job, to help out. He doesn't often succeed, because of his own limitations as a person. Not everyone gets a happy ending. That's realistic. The point of portraying him this way is that even terrible people have dimensions and complexities. Lots of movies and shows don't have anywhere near this kind of insight. Should art only humanize and explore those that are widely considered good and respectful people? It's all fiction at the end of the day. We should use it to challenge ourselves a bit.

Likewise with the perhaps even worse Coates, who raped Pennsatucky last year. He was widely reviled last season. But this year, we see that he feels confused and starts to regret what he did after he learns what Pennsatucky thinks of him – you know, that she isn't just avoiding him to play coy. The fact that a show with such a feminist message and written by so many women is doing this is pretty key here. For one, it's the same thing as Healy, this humanization of a rapist, showing that he's still a person at the end of the day with his own complexities. You don't have to like him. In fact you're probably not supposed to. But his characterization, his humanization shows a different point – rapists are not the shadowy monster in the bushes, and they aren't somehow less human than us, and it isn't okay to feel vindicated or different if you've done something to someone without their consent just because you aren't that old stereotype. Rapists are guys who appear pretty normal from far away. That's what Coates shows.

The fact that the show gets these reactions is what makes it great to me though. I don't think art needs to be likable or palatable to everyone. Better if it's not, even. I want art to surprise and challenge me and make me consider things in ways I hadn't. OITNB does that big time here. That should be the whole purpose of art. People not liking something is fine. With a show like this, it'll be a given. You shouldn't want art to be easily palatable and accessible to everyone, because what's going on then? You're not taking a real stance, you aren't saying anything controversial or exciting or electrifying, and it's harder to come out with something really great if you're just taking the middle of the road and not trying to push any buttons. Does all art have to be likable first and foremost, over any other quality? I don't think it does.

Images copyright of their original owners. I don't own any of them.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Accidental Exorcist (2016)

Accidental Exorcist, the final film Sector 5 Films sent me to review, is really just a wonder of a movie in that there's absolutely nothing appealing about it. Oftentimes, it feels more like some sort of strange hallucinatory drug dream, and not in a good way. This is a woeful film and after watching it, I just can't see much to recommend about it.

Director: Daniel Falicki
Starring: Daniel Falicki, Faye Sills

Co-written with Nathan.

Check out that DVD cover! Never seen a screaming demonic girl with whited-out eyes on the DVD cover of a horror movie before! What a unique idea!

The whole thing, I guess, is about this lousy, drunk, sick-looking guy named Vanuk who is supposed to be some sort of exorcist. He's really just a sad sack, irritable and kind of a loser. He looks like he has a freezer full of severed heads at home, and I don't mean that as a compliment.

He goes around doing 'healing' on people apparently possessed by demons, which is immediately unbelievable, as I can't imagine these families letting some dude with fucking fingerless gloves and drinking out of a hip flask alone with their sick children. If someone's drinking from a hip flask and has fingerless gloves, they're probably living under the awning of a barber shop and stealing cash from church rectories. They shouldn't be trusted to perform an exorcism. Just go to the real Catholic church like everyone else in these kinds of films. I mean, come on, the economy isn't that bad these days.

I usually like to go into detail about scenes in chronological order, but I can't do that with this movie, as for one it's far too repetitive, and two, I usually had no idea what the fuck was happening at any point. From what I can gather, he heals people who are possessed, and then the demons sort of enter him, making him sick and depressed. But tonally, it's just all over the place – some scenes feel like they're trying to be a dark comedy, and others are more like a dark-tortured-soul-seeking-redemption thing. There's no consistency. This movie is the young child mixing peanut butter and mayonnaise of horror films – it's completely incongruous with anything that makes sense.

I'll go into depth on this one scene: he goes to this family who hired him because their clearly obese, mentally incompetent adult son won't eat anything, but apparently that was an indicator that he's possessed, and not just that you can't cook worth a damn and this is probably child abuse of some sort.

But their insane logic proves true, as he IS possessed. The guy has a harness around his head and when they take it off, he bites his teeth down over and over again like a chattering monkey doll. But for some reason, when they try to spoon-feed him, he closes his mouth and won't let it happen. I know all of these pointless details because the movie shows it to you and repeats it multiple times.

Watching this scene, I really just reconsider if making this blog was ever a good idea. Is this what my life has become? What a bizarre scene. I just don't know what to say about it, or what it was trying to accomplish.

The medical care guy watching the man makes a big fuss about not leaving like Vanuk wants, but then Vanuk basically goes “come onnnnnnn,” and they stare at each other and then the caregiver leaves. What a riveting conversation. And I'm sure that guy's job is so worth being smug over and protecting like he's watching after a fucking United States President, right? Why was he being so adamant about staying for like a whole two seconds?

"I'LL DEFEND MY JOB TO THE DEATH... until you stare at me for a few seconds."

What follows is basically an incomprehensible fight scene in which the movie rips off The Exorcist shamelessly by having the guy talk in Vanuk's mom's voice or something, and then they start throwing food at each other and wrestling. It's beyond bizarre. I can't even say it's so bad it's good – it's just weird and I don't know how to feel or what to say about it. Sometimes, art is good when you don't know how to feel immediately. This is not one of those times.

Oh, and the movie does rip off The Exorcist pretty hard. The opening credit scene even rips it off with as much shame as a slacker high schooler copying his friends' answers and forgetting to put his own name on the homework.

If he walks into the letters, I'd do a mea culpa and admit this is a good movie and I was wrong.

Most of the whole movie is just like that one scene – gibberish, and much less coherent than the scene I described. I picked that scene because I could at least sort of tell what was supposed to be happening in a cogent sequence of events – not the case in the rest of the film. Most of it is a sloppy mish-mash of the guy drunk stumbling around and then some other acid-trip scenes of him performing “exorcisms.” There's no point in going through it like I usually would. The pacing is really off, too – the scenes vary in length so much that it gives the movie a kind of weird, off-balance feel, which could be good for a better movie. Here, it mostly just felt overlong and directionless.

Multiple times, the film fades to black on moments that seem sort of like the movie just ended, but then it comes back up with more, like the world's biggest cock tease. I was halfway convinced that the movie would never end and was being filmed on a live video feed somewhere, just going on and on as some sort of endurance test, maybe for prisoners of ISIS or something.

I was really just surprised it took over an hour for them to rip off The Exorcist in the most obvious way – having someone's head facing backward. That must have taken some restraint!

The film ends, and it doesn't really matter how – something about him going crazy, stripping naked and smashing everything in his apartment, then going to Hell. I don't really want or need to look much further into what this is supposed to mean. The movie didn't engage me on a level enough to try. Sorry, I guess.

People, I'm all for artists expressing themselves and all of that shit. This movie clearly wanted to do something kind of abstract and weird, but it didn't work at all. This was just nonsense, and there wasn't much to get from it at all. I appreciate any honest effort to make something good, but that's the only good thing I have to say about this movie.

Images copyright of their original owners, we own none of them.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

5 Years After The Fall (2016)

This is the second in my series of Sector 5 films that aren't out yet which they sent me for a promo. This one is about a weird dystopian future after some kind of catastrophic accident. There are cannibals and empty, spooky looking houses and gunfights and all kinds of stuff. You know, everything a movie like this needs, except for the replay value, interesting story or characters and any kind of excitement or energy. Fun!

There will be SPOILERS in here for this movie, as it hasn't officially been released as of this review.

Director: Brent Nurse
Starring: Zorba Dravillas, Nicole Garrett, Gabe Meacher

Co-written with Michelle and Mohan.

The movie begins with scenes of disarray and chaos. The first thing you'll notice is that the coloring and lighting in this are pretty bad. I hate to make fun of that aspect too much, as this is a direct to video thing - it isn't like this thing was produced by fucking James Cameron or anything. But pretty much this whole movie looks dull and washed out like it was filmed on a dirty flip phone from six years ago. Not really a very attractive or interesting thing to look at, frankly.

We open with main character Jacobs and some other guy on a train talking about how they ruined everything, and the other guy says they don't have a phone or internet anymore to contact anyone – hell, they barely have two tin cans and a string, he says, which is oddly enough what I thought of the movie's budget when I saw it.

The train crashes and Jacobs escapes. He runs around mostly looking like Steve from Blues Clues in a horror movie, which isn't something I needed to see. The main plot is really pretty basic – he runs around in this wasteland world, like Mad Max set in the suburbs, from a bunch of second rate thugs killing people with machetes, mostly by forcing them to eat the blades slowly like lollipops. Uh, I'm really not sure they know how to use a sword actually.

He runs into a house and hides, but frankly, I'm not sure what he's hiding from. When he finds a bunch of people in the house with guns, armed and ready to kill, he very easily overpowers them and teams up with a girl there who was handcuffed. Makes sense to me – skinny dweebs in collared shirts are basically like the Hulk. He's stronger than he looks!

Oh, and have you ever bemoaned that you don't know what time it is during any other horror movie? Well, this one has you covered. For some fucking bizarre reason, the movie constantly shows you black cutscreens with the time of whatever's happening. I guess in some stories this could serve a point, but sorry if I don't care what's happening at 11:56 p.m. in 5 Years After The Fall.

Most of the rest of the movie is just kind of a tired slog. The guy and the girl hide out in the house and constantly act scared of everything, debating whether to stay there or make a run for it. I don't get why – it isn't like you can't just beat the fuck out of them. He does! Multiple fucking times in this movie, this guy gets attacked by people who look way stronger and more capable then him, but he overpowers them easily and retains his place as the clear King of the World now. But that never stops him from whining and being scared anyway, for some reason.

"Please be intimidated of me!"

There just isn't a lot to say about most of the movie. They banter some more about whether to leave or not. Christ, they're more annoying and stubborn than an old married couple who's been arguing the same shit for the last 30 years. They do manage to take a hostage, so we get to see an old standard for this genre: the scene where the main character barters with the hostage by offering him some candy. But not too much candy – that would potentially give him cavities, and there's no toothpaste left five years after the fall!

There are some scenes of Jacobs shooting children after that, which I guess the logic here is that Jacobs and the chick are trying to win this 'turf war' of sorts with this rival gang outside – it isn't all that clear. It could have been a cool idea to have him distressed and conflicted about how he has to kill kids in this new postapocalyptic world, but I guess there was no time for THAT in this movie with all the other super important stuff going on. One of the big problems with this movie is that you never connect with the characters. There are no attempts to make you feel what they're feeling, so it all comes off as rather hollow.

Frankly, though, the other gang isn't that threatening. They basically just stand on the sidewalk like kids waiting for their mom to show up.

So I guess Jacobs' run as King of the Wasteland ends unceremoniously as he dies before the end of the movie. I didn't see that coming, but then again, I also don't care. So it's a bit of mixed emotions for me – mild surprise and also laconic boredom. It's on part with getting your name called early in a DMV waiting list.

Then we get a flashback sequence that tells us the story we really wanted: that of the chick who has been hiding in the house the whole time. Apparently she once had friends, and they were hiding from the gang across the street until all except for her decided to give up, go over there and let themselves be killed. Either that, or the gang across the house is emitting pheromones that incite people to do this – that would have been cool, but I'm almost positive it isn't what's going on. I just wish it was, because the idea of these people just going over there and letting themselves die is so obscurely strange.

Seriously, why not just take a few pills or hang yourself? Why let a bunch of cannibals eat you? I dunno – this whole sequence is so fucking long and almost hypnotic in tone. It's really very boring, and I almost fell asleep. But as I do need to sleep more, I consider this sequence one of the best in the movie.

The twist, if you can call it that, is that the chick joins up with them, apparently having been her plan all along. I don't know why, though – it seems like she was doing just fine hanging out with the Blues Clues guy, Jacobs, who seemed to just kill anyone he tried to fight with relative ease. He could've been some kind of superhero. But I guess if you like fat, gross cannibal biker-dudes, this is cool too.

The movie just isn't all that great. It's kind of a nothing-film. There wasn't anything terribly, glaringly offensive, and the story and plot maybe had potential, but there just wasn't much to latch onto in terms of engaging themes or nail-biting suspense. It wasn't exciting, and it seems like that's a fairly damning critique in terms of a post-apocalyptic action-horror movie. I'm struggling to think of anything to say about this, really. I mean, I guess you could do way worse? But there's also plenty of better movies out there too.

Images copyright of their original owners, we own none of them.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

2 Jennifer (2016)

2 Jennifer is a movie that will definitely get noticed very easily if you've got your DVD collection organized alphabetically. But other than that, I don't think it's good.

SPOILERS for the as-yet-unreleased movie in here!

Director: Hunter Johnson
Starring: Hunter Johnson, Lara Jean Mummert, David Coupe

Co-written with Nathan.

This is a brand new movie that isn't out yet as of the time of this writing, from this company called Sector 5 Films, which they sent to me as a promo. I was flattered about that, but also confused. Don't they know what I do? Didn't they know this would happen?

So my friend Nathan and I set out on what would be a sordid quest to watch the movie, which begins with a Blair Witch-style “documentary” thing where a bunch of seeming random people are talking about how cool this in-universe made-up movie called “To Jennifer” is. Apparently it was filmed on an iPhone, and that is somehow not an indictment so damning even Lucifer would find it harsh. No, instead, it is a thing worthy of praise.

The script then goes into a bunch of shots of various people talking about the first movie. You can really see that these people are budding movie critics, like this guy with a cool hat who I can totally take seriously:

Not exactly Lemmy from Motorhead...

Or this guy, who for some reason was filmed standing on a ledge on the roof of a building. Is he about to kill himself there? Did he just go “oh, well I better film that reaction to that low budget horror movie before I die, gotta check that off the bucket list”? Should we call an ambulance? No? Okay. I'll stop asking questions.

This next guy bashes the movie for "not being able to afford a real camera," and being shot on an iPhone, but I just love how he's just doing crunches with his legs around a punching bag suspended in midair. Can you not afford real exercise equipment?

Whoa there cowboy, don't blow us away too hard with this amazing camera quality you got on these shots! You might end moviemaking forever with how high you're setting the bar with this!

So anyway, now we have Spencer, a guy who likes to sit in the dark and make videos cackling creepily about how he's going to make the best movie ever when he makes his own iPhone-shot sequel to “To Jennifer.” He looks like every school shooter ever, totally just deranged and psychotic, but it's presented as this big “what if” question, like there's any doubt as to whether or not he's gonna be the villain. It would frankly be more surprising if he wasn't some psychopathic little fuck-stick.

This is actually Hunter Johnson, the movie's director, so I guess this is some sort of personal project or something.

That's really one of the big problems Nathan and I had with the movie – everything starts out as innocuously as a story like this should, with the implied threat of something horrific coming later. But unlike other movies where there would be some suspense, in this movie you basically know this guy is going to be the killer instantly just by looking at him and listening to him for a second. It's like buying a copy of Se7en, but your DVD comes with an unskippable opening scene spoiling the twist ending in bright, flashy letters, but it still presents the rest of the movie like you're supposed to be in suspense for some reason.

Another thing about this movie that didn't work is the sheer amount of time-wasting scenes that go on way longer than they should. In a very early scene, we see Spencer talking to his old high school friend Mack on the phone, who is a producer guy out in Hollywood. The conversation should be quick – “hey, I'm coming out there to film this movie.” “Okay, see you soon!” But instead, it goes on for several fucking minutes for no reason, just them repeating the same stuff over and over. What is wrong with you? Have you ever had a conversation? You know it's more than just words flying in empty space like lone drunk space ship pilots on a course to nowhere, right?

Great scene, and also, how are you filming yourself talking on the same phone you're supposed to be filming yourself with? It's like a Chinese puzzle box of confusion.

He then gets to California and meets with Mack, who expresses skepticism over the idea that anyone would watch this low-budget sequel to a cult horror film if it was filmed on an iPhone. But wait a second. Isn't the whole premise behind this that the original film was also filmed on an iPhone? Or did we already forget all about that, as if dialogue becomes meaningless and irrelevant five minutes after it's spoken, like the movie has Alzheimer's?

The following scenes, of Spencer meeting Mack' roommates, are filled with more utter nonsense, like a way-too-long scene of this Asian dude named Charles blathering on about how everything is atoms, which I guess he learned in science class or some shit. It really adds nothing to the story. I think this was just put in to a) pad out the runtime, and b) because the director's best friend probably just really needed to say some stuff about atoms, and why not kill two birds with one stone?

The weirdest part of all of this, and that's saying something, is Spencer's insistence that the lead actress of the film actually be named Jennifer, which is so bizarre that I have no idea how to even joke about it. Then we get a looooong sequence of these two chuckleheads auditioning various really hot girls for the part – oh, and the part consists of the girls pleading for their lives apparently from a killer, and talking about how they love the killer or some bullshit. I think Sigmund Freud would have an aneurysm if you showed him this. The mommy issues are just off the charts here! Even Norman Bates from Psycho would be like “dude, you're fucked up.”

"Yes, lean forward so we can see down your top and speak with even less boldness in your voice...that's what the audition needs...we sure are legitimate filmmakers!"

Our favorite was this one chick who just loses her mind and starts screaming at Spencer and Mack after they reject her. She is in the right to do that – they called her there from hours away, let her read one fucking line, and then Spencer said she wasn't good enough immediately. I just think it's funny the way she screams at them, mostly because they deserve to be screamed at. In real life I think way more people would react to these two shmucks this way.

Also, if they're filming all of this on an iPhone, where are all these different camera angles coming from? How are they filming themselves sitting there filming with an iPhone? And more importantly, why would you do something so asinine? This behavior is the reason God brought down the plagues upon Egypt, you know.

They do this shit multiple times. How? Why? What is going on? Just fucking film your movie without the found footage thing then, if you're just gonna make it convoluted and confusing as fuck!

They finally settle on this hot black-haired chick who is an amazing actress. Her real name in real life is Lara Jean Mummert, though; not Jennifer, so I guess they still failed.

Yes, film the girl who you made act vulnerable and scared with the camera up in her face - not weird or pervy at all....

Mack falls in love with her and starts acting less like a movie producer and more like a prepubescent boy with his first crush. It's really weird, and this whole character is weird, actually. He constantly flies off the handle and screams his head off for no reason when a normal person would maybe be mildly annoyed. It's really awkwardly funny to watch, actually, and reminds me a bit of how characters in something like The Room might act. Either way, somebody get him some Xanax or something, stat. He needs a big IV in his arm of it.

Then things get weird as Spencer and Mack crash this party where the director of the original To Jennifer movie is hanging out. He recognizes Spencer and then immediately starts a fist fight in the party, which is the appropriate response. Don't worry, kid; lots of great horror directors got their start this way. I heard John Carpenter had to go pick a fight with Bela Lugosi to win the horror crown and start making movies, and why would I make something like that up?

"Glad we brought the camera to see ourselves getting beat the fuck up!"

Then, hilariously, Mack screams and blows up on Spencer, crying that his job is now ruined because they got kicked out of some party. I'm not sure what Mack's job is, it's never clearly explained – nor is how it's “ruined” by working on some underground horror movie with a friend that no one will see. But apparently it does, and his life is now ruined forever. I'd feel worse for him, but his decision making skills are worse than a baby who licks an electrical socket, so frankly, fuck this guy anyway.

Spencer responds in the reasonable way: knocking Mack out with chloroform, and then going crazily over to Jennifer's house, where she's with her boyfriend. He kills the boyfriend and then beats her with a blunt object. Then he strips her naked, ties her up and kills her as well as Mack when he somehow shows up at the right time, and it's revealed that he was some kind of crazy person who had a crush on his old buddy Mack. And THAT'S why this all happened!

Wow, aren't you glad you saw all of that unpleasantness? Wasn't there so much rich character and plot subtext to soak in? Like... some people are crazy, and they do violent things to women. Wow! What a fucking message! That's so worth hearing! I'm being sarcastic as fuck as right if you for some reason couldn't tell! I'm really ruining this joke right now and I'm also probably annoying readers with this meta shit and the onrush of exclamation points!

So, yeah, Nathan and I weren't fans. We found the whole thing mostly dull, with tons of waste-of-time scenes that added nothing to the plot. Later on it just got too dark and unpleasant without reason. It's one thing to be really scary or dark in a compelling way, but this movie came off as needlessly nasty. It came off more like a weird snuff porn revenge film than anything resembling real horror. I guess it was trying to be like some sort of 'realistic serial killer story' or something like that, but the goofy, weird moments took you out of that, and there weren't enough scary moments or tense ones to pull you back in. So really, all you get is a weird, somewhat perverted mess of nothing. Pretty shitty.

Images copyright of their original owners; we own none of them.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Watchmen (2009)

I am almost sure director Zack Snyder's favorite part of making Watchmen was when he got to show four blue dicks on screen at the same time.

When he heard Dr. Manhattan constantly walked around either naked or in a speedo, Zack Snyder, the man responsible for the other ultra-masculine man-movie 300 and so many others like it since, said 'finally! A story that I can really relate to and appreciate! I will adapt this into the greatest slideshow of hypermasculine beefcakes ever made!'

With all the shots of musclebound men with clearly defined asses and bulging biceps and six-packs being so prominent in this and every other fucking movie he's ever done, it really does show that he is the manliest man ever in the history of the world. His movies are all unquestioning love-letters to manliness. The ultimate expressions of testosterone's glory. No shadow of doubt, nor any shadow of any other kind, will be cast on Zack Snyder's undeniable heterosexuality.

Director: Zack Snyder
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Jackie Earle Haley, Billy Crudup, Malin Akerman

Co-written with Michelle.

If you took all the slow-mo scenes out of this, it really would be about 40 minutes shorter. The fight scene at the beginning where the Comedian dies and is thrown out a window is so long and dragged out. It's really not a good sign if your fight scene is like a long, pointless guitar solo in a bad 80s song – if it's just distracting from the story, then it's a shitty fight scene. If I wanted to watch a pointless fight scene, I'd go the gym and bump into a 'roided-up frat guy and then blame that on the guy next to him, and watch the fireworks.

The slow-mo is so silly in all of this. In the scene where the Comedian falls out the window, he falls so slowly that I think he could've survived the fall. It isn't like he would've hit the ground at a lethal speed with that slow mo going on!

"I sure am glad gravity bends to my will!"

Then we get a bunch of scenes you know from the book. It's hard to make fun of this, because all Snyder did was copy-paste scenes from the book and vomit them up on his movie, like he just stumbled back in the door after a night of binge drinking.

The real problem with all these scenes – of Rorschach investigating shit, Dan and Laurie hanging out, Dr. Manhattan being weird as fuck – is that it just feels like they're cut-and-pasted to check off a list of scenes, rather than further a story. I don't know why, but even though I love the Watchmen book, these scenes all fall terribly flat for me, and I can't get into the movie's arc or emotional scenes at all. The lighting and coloring look perfect for the book, but everything just has this digitized, overly slick, sexy kind of sheen on it that makes it impossible to feel like anything is really happening. I just don't like the "look" of the whole movie. I'm constantly aware that this is a movie when I'm watching it – rather than be immersed in its world, I'm pulled out of the story by the over the top visuals and reminded that it's all fake and rehearsed, which shouldn't happen.

The actors all sound bored as fuck and deliver their lines in a monotone – they sound like kids reading off cue cards. The philosophical and insightful dialogue from the comics comes off as just meaningless prattle here. It's like, yup, you sure got those words from the comics in your movie! Thumbs up! I know some of these actors could do very well, but the whole attitude of 'we HAVE to stick EXACTLY to how the book looked' just limits what they can really do with the characters in terms of making the performances their own.

He looks like the book! Even if he is soulless and boring as a character in this. But he looks like the guy from the book, and that's all that matters.

Michelle and I just didn't care about these characters. When Laurie finds out The Comedian is her biological father, that should be the big scene - it was in the book, in terms of her character anyway. But in the movie it just gets lost at sea in the middle of all the other crap. There's just too much going on.

The real problem is that the numerous flashbacks and side-stories that worked so well in the book just come off as overly cluttered and confusing in the movie, jumping around more than Super Mario on cocaine. In the book, you could read at your own pace, and in books that kind of time jumping and complicated narrative is expected. I don't think Snyder translated it well to film at all. The lack of direction in this movie is kind of like a broken GPS – it just takes you all over the place and you never get where you want to go. It's hard to tell what's a flashback and what isn't in this movie, with all the endless rolls of fat.

There's one scene of Laurie and her mother talking in the apartment about the Comedian – it comes off like some kind of weird, awkward one-room stage play. It feels very stiff and awkward.

"I definitely have breast cancer. So when are you and Dr. Manhattan going to get back together?"
"Mom, I told you, I don't love Dr. Manhattan anymore. I love Nite Owl now."

In fact, it kind of reminds me of something...

Nah, must just be coincidence.

Or this other scene of Ozymandias talking to reporters or something, with the over the top ominous music behind it and him constantly with that cold smirk on his face. I'm sure he's not the bad guy! Really, he isn't! But I dunno, maybe this is a faithful adaptation – maybe Alan Moore, when he wrote that scene in the book, also had that same ominous music in mind playing constantly behind Ozymandias, and Zack Snyder wasn't just a hack-ass director with no understanding of storytelling.

Don't bother turning on the light. All interviews should be done in dark rooms on very cloudy days to make sure things look as obviously sinister as possible!

The movie would also be way shorter if we didn't have scenes of Rorschach monologuing over a montage of him walking around in a graveyard or opening cabinets! I know it was in the fucking comic book, but that doesn't mean you have to include it in the movie! I think Zack Snyder hears the word self restraint and thinks it's some kind of mumbo jumbo foreign type of yoga.

This is like the Stephen King's IT movie in a way – it's just so bloated and they focused too much on putting in the material from the book, rather than delivering a good movie. But I'll give IT this – it was never even half as pretentious or up its own ass as Watchmen. This movie is like a college student's 2 a.m. drunken philosophical Facebook notes mutated after exposure to radiation into a horrible monster. Holy shit. I mean, this whole thing just radiates the flannel shirts and the PBR-stench of someone who just read Nietzsche for the first time. The book had a lot of this, too, but Alan Moore's clear talent and knowledge of storytelling made it work. The movie's slow pace and bloated runtime just makes the philsophical stuff unbearable and annoying.

"Life is meaningless. Life is only pain." = him in this movie, condensed version.

Nowhere is that more evident than in the excruciating slog of the last 25 minutes, in which the film goes through the climax. If you don't know, it's where Ozymandias, revealed SO SURPRISINGLY IN THIS MOVIE as the bad guy, says he's blown up half of New York and that's his crazy plan to bring about world peace. The characters all react with shock and horror in very rote, boring, scripted ways, and none of it is exciting. Rorschach then dies in a way that almost evokes a pulse of excitement, but then remembers it's this shitty ass movie and quits doing that.

Amazing how the biology of his blood when he explodes is so in tune with irony. I guess nature is funny sometimes.

I've had my car broken down in the dead of winter before and still gotten somewhere faster than Watchmen's climax does. A snail could get to the other side of town in the time this takes to get anywhere. If I had to listen to any more of Ozymandias's dead-eyed speechifying in this movie, I think I'd be praying to be in New York when that bomb went off, too. Just to save myself the pain.

A fitting metaphor, finally!

I remember being a bit younger, back when I first saw this movie seven years ago. I remember seeing all the people complaining about book-to-movie adaptations never being faithful to the source material. These days, we have good adaptations like the Hunger Games series or Gone Girl that tell a good story independent of what they were based on. But with Watchmen, it stuck too close to the book and was somehow worse off for it. I remember seeing this when it came out and thought "yeah, this is exactly like the book," but I just wasn't crazy about it, because “looking exactly like the book” isn't synonymous with good movie.

Overall, the movie is just proof that film and books are fundamentally different mediums. You can't just assume everything done in one of those mediums will fit the other. You have to adapt them – that's why it's called adaptations. If you just take everything in a book and throw it on screen with zero context or changes minding the fact that movies and books are different, it looks clumsy and awkward. If Snyder had any ingenuity or cleverness, he could have taken the massive pages and pages of dialogue that worked in the comic, and the complex flashbacks and differing storylines that also worked in the comic, and worked all that into a compelling film by moving things around and changing things and, y'know, adapting them. But nope – he just threw it all directly from the comic to the page, no changes at all! This movie is the fat kid eating too much cake at a birthday party and passing out before the party's even over. There's just zero restraint or filter here.

Maybe under a better director this could've been good. I thought while watching it that this could've been a good Netflix TV show – all the flashbacks and different storylines might lend themselves better to that, with the long-winded, oft-complex nature of it all being more easily digestible as hour-long increments. Maybe it'd have more room to breathe as a story. As a movie though, Watchmen too much; it's bloated and over-stuffed to the point that it's barely watchable.

Images copyright of their original owners; we own none of them.