Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien: Covenant’ is a disappointing sequel

The latest sequel fails to introduce anything fresh to the series.

Is that all you got, Ridley Scott?

Let me tell you a story and you tell me if it sounds like something that would interest you.

A ship carrying a crew of explorers and mercenaries is traveling to a certain location to start a new habitat and possibly a colony for humans to find refuge from Earth on. Instead of going there, they decide to chase down a mysterious signal from a place they have no idea about. Why? Because these are the movies and characters do stupid things that get them killed. Once they get to the mysterious place, bad things happen quick. Remember, it’s an Alien movie. Continue reading “Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien: Covenant’ is a disappointing sequel”

Here’s What I Know, Volume #8: Mud race compassion, Eastwood, puck dances, baseball, and moving

A ragtag grouping of thoughts from my head this week.

Good afternoon, folks. As Monday steams towards its rugged finish, allow me to touch on a few things that are rattling around the brain at the moment. The reason you aren’t reading this on KSDK News or St. Louis Game Time is simple: I can’t say fuck. In other words, I can’t talk like we all do away from the desk or outside the safe zone. Sure, most of this could be edited down into a family site friendly message, but why not come back on occasion to the place where it all began, and spit a few words out. Let’s run now.

The top ten things that I know this week: (First, a shot of Clint Eastwood for shits and grins)

Image result for unforgiven

  1. Semi-Trucks and their drivers are assholes. When my son sees one on the highway, he thinks it’s Optimus Prime on a St. Louis mission. I am wondering why he or she is eating in my fucking lane and trying to run me off the road. Optimus wouldn’t do that, but Billy Joe Bob Frank sure likes to hog two lanes at once. Smaller trucks on city streets aren’t nicer; they change lanes at will and have zero fucks to give about the rules of the road. This isn’t shitting on ALL truck drivers. It’s shitting on most of them. Be better.
  2. Nashville Predators fans have created a funky dance that is sweeping the na…..or better parts of Tennessee. Everybody else is just shooting them odd looks and wondering what they hell they are doing. I like team passion and all, but if I saw a person this on the street, I’d hit them with a cinder block. Try screaming obnoxiously instead. Same effect.
  3. Speaking of Clint Eastwood, there isn’t better Western movie out there than Unforgiven. Eastwood’s done a few of these good man with a guilty heart routines, but his directorial Oscar winning effort is so strong and resonates twenty years later. William Munny is a composite of every Eastwood loner with a gun, and even better constructed. Here’s a guy who didn’t want anything else to do other than tend to his farm animals, look angry, and drink black coffee over his dead wife’s grave. Then he took a job, got on a horse, lost some friends, and picked up a shotgun again. The Rocky angle is undeniable with this story. Eastwood’s Munny walks into the bar for the first time and gets his ass kicked by Gene Hackman’s Little Bill. The next time, he kills every bastard inside the room. Classic Clint. Watch for yourself and try not to feel a surge of lightning through your balls.
  4. Last night, four people were killed in St. Louis via gunshot wounds. Four people who got up Sunday thinking everything would be okay and realized at the last second that it wasn’t. I didn’t know either of these people, but it’s still a sad day in the city to see four more violent deaths. Maybe a couple of them were assholes; maybe they were good honest hard working people. St. Louis is becoming a dangerous place.
  5. For the second time in a year, The Buffa house is on the market. The Mardel home is for sale, and this time it’s looking better, so come buy the damn thing please. No, we aren’t leaving the city. It’s merely time to upgrade and add a few extra rooms. Perhaps a backyard patio. Selling a house is like selling a car or product. You tell people it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread, even though you no longer want a part of it. A family comes by and asks a few questions, and you answer. All you want to do is break even or perhaps net a positive to put down on the next house to lessen the loan. You don’t really own anything in life. You pay a bank to allow you to own it on paper. We will buy another house, and life will go on. Can you tell my wife is doing the house hunting? Stimulating actions…
  6. I love baseball, and I also hate it. My second wife is relentless in its nature, and demands more from a soul than any sport. Football happens once a week, so it’s like having your ass kicked once every seven days, so there’s relief periods. Hockey is 2-3 times per week, and is so fast and adrenaline-packed that half the time, a tough loss feels the same as a narrow victory. Baseball is every single day, and up to eight months a year. Open dates are breath-catchers before the next game arrives. Players do well, play like shit, and do well again. Narratives change. Writers are called morons (only half-true) and try to come up with interesting story ideas. The Cardinals started 3-9, then went 18-6, and now have gone 1-4 since. There’s 3/4 of a season left. Anything can happen, and that’s good with “oh shit” mixed in. I don’t pray, but I’ll accept them and whiskey for my future troubles.
  7. Speaking of the Cardinals, can we all stop being so fucking sensitive? The Cardinals twitter account put out a message hyping Mother’s Day and a ring giveaway, and produced a message that’s been spread around like wildfire for decades: women like jewelry. Sometimes, women like jewelry and baseball, but there was enough of a fuss that the tweet was deleted and the Cards released an apology. AN APOLOGY for offending the women who love baseball so much, they simply couldn’t fucking handle a quirky tweet. Let’s all just crawl back into our fucking caves so we aren’t offended. Was it a good tweet? No. The Cards twitter person swung and fouled the pitch off the ankle, but did it require an uproar? No. People have grown so vulnerable, and sometimes my sorry ass falls into that group. It may be a birth defect or something. All I know is if the Cardinals promote Father’s Day with a beard trimmer giveaway or a set of barbecue tools, nobody should get offended. There are worse things happening in the world. All lives matter, but all feelings most certainly don’t.
  8. Kingdom begins its final season on May 31, and if I haven’t told you this is the BEST SHOW on television right now, let me say it again. No show hits harder than Byron Balasco’s Kingdom. As much about what fighters face outside the ring as they do inside of it, the show creates sizzling human drama and makes you an addict of the sport at the same time. The devotion of the cast and the writing put this series above and beyond 99% of other programs. No time travel or special effects needed. Just dirty whiskey glasses, cauliflower ears, broken hearts, handwrap, and enough rage to fill a Washington D.C. Starbucks. Frank Grillo’s Alvey Kulina is someone you never quite get a handle on, and watch Jonathan Tucker go every which way but loose as Jay Kulina. Kiele Sanchez burns bright as Lisa Prince, the matriarch of Navy Street. Balasco plants seeds for dramatic eruption early in seasons. And there’s fighting. Watch it. No excuses. Turn off Netflix. Turn up Kingdom.
  9. I’ll write more about this for KSDK, but I competed in the Battlegrounds Mud Race in Cedar Lake on Saturday. 3.2 miles of military designed obstacles made to test the human spirit and grind your body into a sharpened thread of flesh. I got beat up doing it, and I am in good shape. It had me down in parts and riding high in others. I looked like Arnold at the end of Predator halfway through, and I loved it. Here’s my biggest takeaway: the compassion shown by regular people towards others. If someone couldn’t climb over a post or make it up the rope, someone else reached out and helped. No matter how fucked up and violent this world gets, I still see signs of compassion and grace between human beings. Salute to those brave souls. Every single day is a push towards the light.
  10. Finally, I am becoming a huge wine drinker. Thanks Meme and Rachel. I have sucked down more dry red in the past few weeks, but my drug of berry harvested choice these days is Pinot Grigio: a clear yet tasty wine that will topple you over if you allow it. Oh baby, it will. I watched a great boxing flick called Chuck last week, and I had four glasses of Pinot Grigio before. After I left the theater, I still felt it. And it wasn’t overpowering at all. The haze was sublime, and I felt like I had something to offer. Sorry, beer and whiskey. Wine is here to stay, so make room.

Continue reading “Here’s What I Know, Volume #8: Mud race compassion, Eastwood, puck dances, baseball, and moving”

‘Norman’ review: Easily forgotten political farce

Just skip this drama all together and catch an old Gere flick instead

Can rugged persistence eventually get you in trouble?

Norman Oppenheimer (Richard Gere) is insufferable in the worst way; a man who is overwhelmingly nice, but doesn’t take no for an answer, and persists like a toothache. He can’t catch a break, but he also can’t get out of his own way. Norman is a small time operator in New York City looking for work influencing and advising small parties or corporations when he runs into a young ambitious politician named Michal Eshel (Lior Ashkenazi) and they become fast friends.

Years later, when Eshel rises to the top of the Israeli political world, Norman reconnects with him and a relationship blooms for better or worse. Things don’t end well, but when the tagline reads, “The moderate rise and tragic fall of a New York fixer,” what do you expect? I expect Norman’s greatest strength is Gere, who can make any character interesting and injects a valve of interest into the weakest of characters. Norman‘s biggest weakness is the viewer doesn’t care much for Norman, because they barely get to know a thing about him. Continue reading “‘Norman’ review: Easily forgotten political farce”

Welcome to Walmart: Get your shit and stay a while

A day in the life of a shopper at Walmart.

Whenever I walk into Walmart, I think about grumpy Walter from Jeff Dunham’s crew of misfit toys. Walter likes to imitate a Walmart greeter and add a personal touch of go fuck yourself grit to it: “Welcome to Walmart-get your shit and get out.” When I walk in, I know it can be quite the opposite. It’s more like get your shit and stay a while as you buy tons of crap you do not need.

Have you ever walked in wanting to buy a few things and end up spending 65 dollars on an Emilio brown lunch bag assortment of shit? Things you didn’t even know your house required, but there you are walking out and working the forearm muscles with six bags in each hand, turning your fingertips ghost white. It’s really a not so fun experience.

Walmart is a theme park that is disclosed as a shopping location and I believe that the entire human race is represented in one building.  Continue reading “Welcome to Walmart: Get your shit and stay a while”

‘How to Be a Latin Lover’ will make you laugh out loud and warm your heart 

I’m up for more Eugenio Derbez comedy

Maximo (Eugenio Derbez) is a freeloader in the worst way; a 42 year old former seducer of older women who gets dumped by his 80 year old bride for a younger man (Michael Cera, making a lot out of a little) and has to move in with a sister he hasn’t seen in decades, (Salma Hayek). Maximo’s talents are put to the test again, as he attempts to find another bride who bathes in dollar bills.

That is the simple makeup of How to Be a Latin Lover, the hilarious new comedy from first time director Ken Marino (you’ve seen him in Wanderlust and Role Models) and the writing duo of Chris Spain and Jon Zack. This movie made me laugh out four times and produced a consistent comic vibe for its entire two hour running time. While very funny and ingenious, Latin Lover has a heart of gold to make all the laughs stand up, but it doesn’t overwhelm you sappy dialogue or manipulate you by changing Maximo’s motivations and attitude.

Marino’s talents as a director pull from his bag of acting tricks, which is derived from a sophisticated self deprecation brand of humor; in other words, making fun of a popular stereotype instead of taking it too seriously. The audience loves Maximo from the start because he is pitiful and hopeless, but that adds to the tongue in cheek appeal, and allows Derbez (who pleasured audiences with 2013’s Instructions Not Included and produced this comedy) to unleash his gifts as an entertainer.

Derbez is a Mexican film star in his native country, but is looking for crossover appeal with this adventure, and he’ll most likely find it. He has a gift for taking an ordinary screenplay and wringing some magic from it, while also showing off some physical humor. Just wait for the scenes between Maximo and his young nephew Hugo (Raphael Alejandro), as they work together to women. Those scenes could have been stuffed full of emotional dead weight, but the actors play them up for laughs.

Hayek doesn’t work enough these days, but Latin Lover is a perfect stage for her manic energy and comedic skills. Her Sara doesn’t think Maximo will amount to much, but it’s an entertaining trek seeing the ice on her feelings towards her brother thaw and a relationship grow. Maximo gets into plenty of trouble, but like the film, he has a heart.

The main problem with most comedies that start off sharp and edgy are the scripts lightening up and changing the character too much. While there is a sweetness to the final act of How to Be a Latin Lover, Derbez’s aged Casanova never changes his ways too much or becomes someone that the audience doesn’t recognize. A snake never changes its colors even if it does shed its skin on occasion.

Rob Lowe is well cast as Maximo’s fella moocher in crime and Kristen Bell’s “cat lady” has a few good moments with Maximo. Old flame Raquel Welch returns for role with some juice, but the real bite comes from Linda Lavin (a brief role in The Intern) who makes Lowe’s character do ungodly things to stay in the money. Marino essentially cast a bunch of his friends, and they all bring something to the part.

How to Be a Latin Lover won’t blow you away nor make you rethink what a comedy could be, but it will make you laugh out loud more than once, smile proudly, and produce a few well earned feel good moments as you cheer (and jeer) at the unfortunate plight of Maximo. You may even leave the theater perfecting “the Latin lover walk”. Stick around for the credits.

If Marino and Derbex want to get together for another Maximo adventure, that would be a sequel worth making.

 

 

‘Get Out’ is an important comedy that you need in your life

Jordan Peele doesn’t give a shit what you think

The first descriptive word that comes to mind with Jordan Peele’s Get Out is “unique.” It’s a different kind of flick that defies a single genre. This movie stands out from other recent horror flicks and classic comedies, because of the chances it takes and the entertainment it elicits. Producer Jason Blumhouse is known for taking chances with his films, and handing the keys to comedy maestro Peele is an extremely wise move. This movie works for several reasons, so let’s get to them.

First, let me dish the plot at you. Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) has no idea what he has in store for him when his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) takes him to meet the parents for a weekend getaway. He does alert her that taking the black boyfriend may have been a detail she wanted to release to her parents before the trip, but she thinks otherwise. They head up there, and let’s just say things get weird very quick. That’s all I’m telling you.

The big elephant in the room of this movie is race, and how it affects certain people. Instead of beating around the bush with this huge element of the plot, Peele thrusts it into the middle of the room like a lit candle. Without over-shadowing the rest of the fun of the film, it sets the tone for what you are about to see. Peele is fearless, but doesn’t need a soapbox. He mixes elements of racial stereotypes in with the standard horror and humor.  Continue reading “‘Get Out’ is an important comedy that you need in your life”

‘Logan’ finally does Wolverine justice

A gritty and raw sendoff with a never better Jackman

Logan isn’t just the best Wolverine film; it’s the greatest X-Men cinematic adaptation yet. James Mangold and Hugh Jackman have saved their best tale for last, and they got there by serving up the darkest and most soul searching journey for the title character yet with the Old Man Logan storyline.

The movie picks up in 2029 with the majority of the mutant race dead, buried, or being experimented on. Logan and Professor X aka Charles Xavier are hiding out in El Paso, Texas in a secluded factory plant. Each men are broken, physically and psychologically, and are essentially waiting to die or escape the world that has turned on them. The emergence of a mysterious young girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) sends the three on a rigorous road trip north to find salvation whilst Logan tries to find a resemblance of peace. They are tracked by a band of mercenaries led by Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), who work for a pharmaceutical company running tests on child mutants. A battle of wills ensues.

Logan is equal parts Road to Perdition, Mad Max, and Outlaw Josey Wales. Mangold, along with co-writers Scott Frank and Michael Green, aim for the heart and soul yet craft a relentless film that finally honors the identity of the title character. Logan is the classic outsider, and thus doesn’t allow a shred of emotional connection, because it has burned him in the past. Everything he has stopped to love or admire was taken away or is being slowly pulled from his grasps. However, he has the DNA of a hero trapped inside of him, so he can’t turn his cheek for long when Laura is in serious peril and Charles urges him to help her.  Continue reading “‘Logan’ finally does Wolverine justice”