‘The Lovers’ dares to be bold, but runs familiar course instead 

When we first meet Tracy Letts and Debra Winger in The Lovers, they are prisoners trapped in a thing called marriage. Deeply involved in their respective affairs (with Melora Walters and Aidan Gillen), they are finally setting sights on their escape when something crazy happens: the spark between them unexpectedly rekindles. The affair within the affair begins, with the weight of a decision levying a heavy burden on all four people. 

For about half of the 94 minute running time, I was in love with the structure of The Lovers. It creates a realistic portrayal of an older couple struggling with the “happily ever after” ideal, and you’ll find yourself reflecting on your own life and choices as the characters struggle with their own. At once unpredictable and bold, writer/director Azazel Jacobs’s tale will hit a nerve and make you laugh during the first hour. 

Then, like the title characters, I drifted apart from this setup as the follow-through occurred. The movie seemed to pick up a different dealer midway through the story. 

Once Letts and Winger return to each other, you start rooting while knowing that eventually, a hatchet will swing down and destroy everything. 

The hatchet comes in the form of the couple’s son, who arrives with his girlfriend disgusted at the way his parents have acted. To him, they have wasted what was once sacred and hates them for it. While initially noticing the warmth between them has returned, things eventually come to a head. 

While the climax is well played, I didn’t agree with the resolution. It simply didn’t sit well with me or follow the course that the story seemed to be taking. Either they couldn’t decide how to wrap it up, or just descended ahead on a sloppy path. 

It didn’t help that the pacing was snoozy, with a theater play type feel settling in. Jacobs is trying to say something about the endurance test marriage presents and how fresh love can sneak in, but the finale taught me little that I didn’t know before, so  the experience wasn’t worth the sit. 

The acting almost makes it worth the trip. 

Letts is a competent character actor when he’s not writing great scripts, and here he gets to stretch his legs as an older man stuck between an uncomfortable rock and a hard choice. Winger doesn’t work enough these days, but quickly imbues her heroine with a much needed edge.

Gillen may be known for seedy roles on The Wire and Game of Thrones, but he makes the most of a limited role while Walters (Magnolia) injects passion into her lover. They are younger souls sitting in the waiting room while their lovers figure out what they want to do. Tyler Ross doesn’t provide much depth with an important role, and that trips up the execution of the third act. His son’s rage and sorrow is predictably played. Jessica Sula is largely ineffective. 

While I respected the ambition of The Lovers, I didn’t like the indecision in the way it conveyed its message in the end. What started as honest ended up as a run of the mill course on old love. 

Save your hard earned money for something else-The Lovers can wait until Red Box. 

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‘Fist Fight’ should be sent to the office

If this movie is labeled comedy, they guessed wrong.

Welcome to the movie where even the gag reel at the end isn’t remotely funny.

“Fist Fight” isn’t a film you pay to see in theaters, it’s a film you see for free at a theater because your friend works there. I’ll be honest with you about this movie. It’s not terrible, but it’s also not worth the twenty dollars you’ll pay for you and yours to see. Save that money for a good meal or other cinematic adventure.

Director Richie Keen’s first cinematic adventure doesn’t show you anything new or make you laugh out loud. There will be a few giggles and smiles, but this “comedy” doesn’t get you falling out of your seat laughing. The production value equals that of a television show, and that makes sense. Keen has directed a high volume of television, and perhaps that’s where his ceiling exists.

I’d recommend an episode of HBO’s highly enjoyable and fulfilling “Vice Principals” series instead of 90 minutes of this garbage. Continue reading “‘Fist Fight’ should be sent to the office”

‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’ stunk like a rotten fish

What the fuck, Guy Ritchie?!

Let me ask the 100 million dollar question: who actually wanted another take on King Arthur? There was the old version with Sean Connery and long haired Richard Gere, and then the Antoine Fuqua cartoonish take with Clive Owen. Budgets lost, never found, and not much juice left on the steak to wonder. So, why another?

I’m sure there was a good idea trapped somewhere in Guy Ritchie’s new film-King Arthur: Legend of the Sword-but the execution just isn’t there. This is a two hour tutorial on how not to make a summer blockbuster film. There’s noisy action, little story composition, and the acting is by the numbers cardboard friendly.

Charlie Hunnam’s movie star looks are the only depth attached to his swing at the legendary son who can pull sword from stone, and the supporting cast all stand around as if they are waiting for their checks to cash. Jude Law was much more appealing at Dr. Watson in Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes films, but here he is a dull villain with nothing to do  but pout for the entire running time. Continue reading “‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’ stunk like a rotten fish”

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”