Film Review: Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)

Release Date: March 11th, 2016 (SXSW)
Directed by: Richard Linklater
Written by: Richard Linklater
Cast: Blake Jenner, Zoey Deutch, Ryan Guzman, Tyler Hoechlin, Glen Powell, Wyatt Russell, Austin Amelio

Annapurna Pictures, Detour Filmproduction, Paramount Pictures, 116 Minutes

Review:

“Have you noticed whenever we’re around baseball all we talk about is pussy. Now, we’re actually around a few potentially interesting young women, all you talk about is baseball. It’s a little fucked up!” – Finnegan

I really anticipated Everybody Wants Some!! when it was coming out. It was Richard Linklater’s spiritual successor to his coming of age classic Dazed and Confused. Also, Linklater seems to really nail it on the head when it comes to coming of age films.

While I enjoyed the experience of Everybody Wants Some!!, it wasn’t on the level of Dazed and Confused. That’s okay though because even if they share narrative and style similarities, they are very different movies.

This film picks up in the summer of 1980 as it follows a college freshman as he moves in with the baseball team to prepare for the upcoming year. The story then captures their lives and their camaraderie while becoming a team and chasing girls. The film ends the moment the first class starts, so it really just focuses on the main character’s introduction to his four year college journey.

The cast is pretty fantastic and Linklater has a way of steering ensembles into great territory. This film is no different in that regard. All the main actors hold their own and feel like authentic teens and twenty-somethings.

I do have to say that Austin Amelio really steals the scenes he’s in but maybe that is because it is hard to envision Dwight from The Walking Dead as some collegiate baseball star. But his comedic timing and presence are great and it was really cool seeing him do something that is such a departure from his more famous character.

I really liked Zoey Deutch in this but she didn’t have a lot of screen time compared to the guys. Speaking of which, Jenner, Powell and Hoechlin had a great chemistry. The other scene stealer though was Wyatt Russell, who just commands attention without really trying but when you are the son of the legendary Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, that shit’s in your blood.

Everybody Wants Some!! is pretty enjoyable but it doesn’t have the lasting impact of Linklater’s Dazed and ConfusedSubUrbia or Slacker. It is a nice companion piece to those films however and sort of adds a fourth chapter to those pictures that I always thought of as a loose trilogy.

Film Review: Superdome (1978)

Release Date: January 9th, 1978
Directed by: Jerry Jameson
Written by: Barry Oringer, Bill Svanoe
Music by: John Cacavas
Cast: David Janssen, Edie Adams, Ken Howard, Clifton Davis, Peter Haskell, Susan Howard, Van Johnson, Donna Mills, Tom Selleck, Michael Pataki, M. Emmet Walsh, Vonetta McGee, Bubba Smith, Ed Nelson, Dick Butkus

ABC, 97 Minutes

Review:

This appeared in the first season of Mystery Science Theater 3000, before the show went national. Maybe they never featured it once they went to cable because it was a film so bad that they couldn’t handle sitting through it twice. I really couldn’t handle sitting through it once.

I watched this movie and I really have no idea what the hell was going on in it. There was some plot about a killer, a football veteran with a bum knee, a young quarterback trying to make a name for himself and a really young hot girl swooning over some old fart. And while IMDb categorizes this as a sports movie, it doesn’t feature any sports moments, just people talking about sports as it leads up to the Superbowl. When the Superbowl begins, the film ends.

Superdome is awful. In fact, “awful” isn’t the right word, it just doesn’t have the weight or the meaning I am looking for.

For a movie that takes place in New Orleans, the capital of fun in the American South, it was bland, boring and felt like medieval torture.

I’ve been to New Orleans multiple times, it is a magical place. In fact, you’d have to try damn hard to make a movie in New Orleans and make it an uneventful bore with absolutely no style. I’d be less bored watching a lab rat in a computer class try to write code with C++ for two hours.

Seriously, this film was so damn boring and bogged down with thirteen dozen characters and ninety-three subplots that it was impossible to know what the hell was happening from scene to scene. I mean, at least Bubba Smith and Dick Butkus showed up and tried their best but it was obvious that they were bored too.

Superdome should have been titled Superbore or Superdumb. Either of those would have been more fitting. Besides, this is a slap in the face to the people of New Orleans, the New Orleans Saints, the actual Superdome, the NFL, the entire sport of football and America. The NFL doesn’t need Hollywood’s help in trying to destroy its image, they are doing just fine.

And you bet your ass that this is going into the Cinespiria Shitometer! The results read, “Type 6 Stool: Fluffy pieces with ragged edges, a mushy stool.”

 

Film Review: City Lights (1931)

Release Date: January 30th, 1931
Directed by: Charlie Chaplin
Written by: Charlie Chaplin
Music by: Charlie Chaplin, Jose Padilla
Cast: Charlie Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill, Florence Lee, Harry Myers, Henry Bergman, Albert Austin

United Artists, 87 Minutes

Review:

“You can see now?” – The Tramp, “Yes, I can see now.” – A Blind Girl

Many consider this to be Charlie Chaplin’s magnum opus. Some even consider this to be the greatest American film ever made. Having finally seen it, I find it hard to argue against either of those claims. Granted, it isn’t my favorite American film ever made, but it is in the upper echelon and deservedly so.

When this film came out in 1931, Hollywood had embraced sound. The silent era was quickly dwindling away but Chaplin stuck to the cinematic style that made him famous, keeping this a silent picture despite the film industry’s technological shift and the public’s demand for “talkie” pictures.

Charlie Chaplin, alongside his leading lady Virginia Cherrill, proved that you didn’t need sound to tell a compelling story and that they could convey immense emotion through their acting.

In fact, the final scene of the film is considered one of the best acted scenes in the history of film. In 1949, critic James Agee called it the “greatest single piece of acting ever committed to celluloid.” Not a bad outcome, especially considering the rocky behind the scenes relationship of Chaplin and Cherrill.

In the story, Chaplin returns as the Tramp character. He falls in love with a blind flower girl (Cherrill) and also befriends a rich drunk (Myers), who he saves from suicide. Over the course of the film, he tries to win over the flower girl and when he discovers her financial woes, does whatever he can to try and help, displaying the selflessness of his character.

At one point, the Tramp goes as far as competing in a boxing match to try and get enough money to pay the girl’s rent so that she and her grandmother won’t be evicted. Even though he finds himself in over his head in many situations, this is the sweetest that the Tramp character has ever been.

Ultimately, he goes to jail but not after he gives enough money to the girl to not only pay her rent but to afford her the expensive surgery she needs to get her vision back. After he gets out of jail, months later, we are treated to one of the best endings in the history of cinema.

City Lights is so superbly acted that there really isn’t anything else like it, especially considering that it was a silent picture that came out after its era. It is a perfect balance of the type of humor you’d expect from Chaplin while being a real romantic drama that packs a lot of emotional weight.

It was also the first film scored by Chaplin and the music is pretty close to perfect, especially the flower girl’s theme that was composed by Jose Padilla (he actually successfully sued Chaplin for not being given credit for his contribution).

City Lights is a phenomenal work of art that was directed by, starred and composed by one man, a true auteur of his and any era.

 

Book Review: ‘Duke Sucks’ by Reed Tucker & Andy Bagwell

Duke Sucks: A Completely Evenhanded, Unbiased Investigation Into the Most Evil Team On Planet Earth is a gem among sports books. It is a paramount in the realm of books on the subject of college basketball. If you are a Tar Heels fan, it should be your friggin’ bible!

Reed Tucker and Andy Bagwell have given the world a pretty damning case against Duke University and their basketball team. I mean, other than people who go to Duke, who doesn’t hate Duke?

Okay, maybe I personally don’t “hate” them but there has been a very strong dislike for as long as I can remember and I’m not even a North Carolina fan. I’m a DePaul fan. Maybe my Blue Demons are overshadowed by the Blue Devils level of success but whatever, fuck Dook!

If you are a Duke fan, this book will be a pretty hard read. If you aren’t a part of that 0.001 percent, this investigation into how awful they are is a greatly entertaining read.

Duke Sucks is hilarious in it’s condemnation of Duke and the amount of evidence given is pretty profound. The authors succeed in proving their point and giving the reader an enjoyable ride in the process.

It is also a quick read, coming in south of 200 pages. I flew through it in no time, as I found it pretty hard to put down.

Duke truly does suck, we all know that. Now you can have a lot more ammunition as to why, thanks to this indispensable body of work.

 

TV Review: WWE Total Divas (2013- )

Original Run: July 28th, 2013 – current
Created by: WWE, E!, Bunim-Murray Productions
Directed by: various
Cast: Brie Bella, Nikki Bella, Natalya, Naomi, Cameron, Eva Marie, JoJo, Summer Rae, Rosa Mendes, Alicia Fox, Paige, Mandy Rose, Renee Young, Lana, Maryse, Alexa Bliss, Nia Jax, Carmella, John Cena, Daniel Bryan, Tyson Kidd, Jimmy Uso, Dean Ambrose, Rusev, The Miz, Big Cass

Bunim-Murray Productions, WWE, NBC Universal, E!, 88 Episodes so far, 39-44 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

*written in 2014.

I didn’t watch the first season of Total Divas when it started on E!. I just recently picked it up, as episodes have now been streaming on the WWE Network. And since I pay for the WWE Network, I should most certainly use it.

The show at first glance looked like just your typical drama filled reality show more geared for the female populace. Well, it is – no surprise there. However, it is still pretty entertaining but that also may only be because I am a fan of wrestling. I really don’t know how interesting this would be to someone who has no knowledge or understanding of that unique business.

I like the show for the fact that it shows the hidden side of the business and you get to see how these people interact with one another when the cameras aren’t on (well the WWE cameras not the E! cameras, obviously). Seeing these girls for who they are is pretty cool and they are much more entertaining than their thinly-written characters, which for most of them, really don’t see enough screen time in the male dominated business.

The thing I like the most, is that Daniel Bryan and John Cena are a big part of the show, as both are dating two of the stars of Total Divas. I like the parts where we get to see some of the males and also how they are in real life, how they act and who they hang out with. The show does give you that vibe that the WWE, for the most part, is a close knit family.

This isn’t a great show by any means. However, it is still entertaining enough to watch in spurts. I don’t know how much longevity it will have as the novelty will probably run its course fairly quickly, especially with the non-wrestling audience.

Lastly, I really would’ve liked AJ Lee, Paige and Emma on this show. Missed opportunity by E! and WWE.

Update:

Paige at least showed up for awhile, until she sort of committed career suicide with the company.

Also, the regular shakeups of cast members is pretty well done. The upcoming seventh season is supposed to feature several new additions, as the talent pool at WWE is vastly different from when this show started.

TV Review: GLOW (2017- )

Original Run: June 23rd, 2017 – ????
Created by: Liz Flahive, Carly Mensch
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Music by: Craig Wedren
Cast: Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, Sydelle Noel, Britney Young, Marc Maron, Rich Sommer

Tilted Productions, Perhapsatron, Fan Dancer, Netflix, 10 Episodes (thus far), 29-37 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

GLOW is a fictitious version of the story behind the real GLOW or Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.

Having watched the documentary of the real story, that may have made for a better show, honestly. The real story was more engaging to me than this Netflix comedy/drama.

While I love Alison Brie and Marc Maron in most things, apart from their involvement, I found this show to be really underwhelming. Everyone else seems to be raving about it but it just doesn’t hit the mark for me.

Maybe it is because I grew up a wrestling fan and this show doesn’t seem to understand the business it is building off of. But that was also the real GLOW. The actual federation featured abysmal wrestling, horrible plots and made the 1980s cartoon era of the WWF look like a Shakespearean play. At its core, the show just doesn’t seem to understand what wrestling is or how it works.

I can look beyond that aspect, however. But what I can’t look beyond is the scripts of the show. The set up is decent, the ball gets rolling nicely but we have all these seemingly dynamic characters and only two are ever really explored and then their story doesn’t really progress as it should. We’re still sort of in the same spot by the end of the first season, in regards to the character’s personal lives

GLOW is still enjoyable and it could improve as the show continues on. It is hard to judge anything on just ten episodes, as some shows start out great and fizzle out or start out in a weird place and then find their footing. As of right now, after just one season, the show has some promise but it needs to deliver on it or I’ll completely lose interest. I’m still willing to sit through another season to find out though.

Film Review: Best of the Best (1989)

Release Date: November 10th, 1989
Directed by: Bob Radler
Written by: Paul Levine, Phillip Rhee
Music by: Paul Gilman
Cast: Eric Roberts, James Earl Jones, Sally Kirkland, Phillip Rhee, John P. Ryan, John Dye, David Agresta, Tom Everett, Louise Fletcher, Simon Rhee, Christopher Penn, James Lew

The Movie Group, SVS Company Inc., Kuys Entertainment, Taurus Entertainment, 97 Minutes

Review:

“Yeah! Drop him like a toilet seat, Tommy!” – Travis Brickley

The late 80s were rife with modestly budgeted martial arts movies. While Stallone and Schwarzenegger owned the action genre at the box office, it was the Van Dammes, Seagals, Dudikoffs and Kosugis that killed it on video store shelves. Best of the Best tried to capitalize off of the martial arts genre and it actually did a pretty fine job.

Phillip Rhee, one of the writers, plays the role of Tommy Lee. While he is not the main character, he does have the most important story, fights in the grand finale and would go on to star in all four pictures in this film series.

The top two stars were Eric Roberts, who has an electric mane in this picture, and James Earl Jones, who played the coach of Team USA. Chris Penn is also in this as one of the American fighters, as is John Dye, who would become most famous for his role on the TV series Touched by an Angel.

Eric Roberts was a pretty solid lead and really believable as his character. He had an intensity and charisma unmatched by many actors in the martial arts genre. He did return for the second film but wasn’t in the third or fourth.

James Earl Jones was great as the coach. This is actually one of my favorite Jones roles, as he nails it every time he is on the screen. His passion as coach came out in every scene and he had an energy and earnestness that couldn’t be ignored. His mission to prepare the American fighters for the fight of their lives was a well-balanced game of tough love and respect. He was like the Vince Lombardi of karate.

The fight choreography was much better than average for this sort of picture. The action felt authentic and real. It was fluid and dynamic unlike the later films in the American Ninja series that seemed to stop caring.

In this film, a team of Americans is selected to go to South Korea to fight their best martial artists. It is mostly a competition for bragging rights but in the end, the film displays an amazing exchange of sportsmanship between the fighters of both proud countries. In fact, if you don’t cry like a little bitch at the end, then you aren’t a real man. Shit still gets me every time when you see these fighters earn each other’s respect.

Best of the Best wasn’t as big of a hit as it should have been in video stores. It was overshadowed by the growing popularity of Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal. However, it still did good enough to warrant three sequels.