‘All I See Is You’ is one of the worst movies of 2017

You’ll never get these minutes back

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What if you had the chance to restore something in that life that had been unfairly taken away at a young age?

Marc Forster’s latest film, All I See Is You, explores these questions with meandering and rather unpleasing results. Imagine an empty bottle floating down a lake endlessly, and that’s this movie.

All I saw here was absolute incoherent shit.

Gina (Blake Lively) is a gorgeous and young blind woman who is suddenly granted sight in her right eye by her doctor (Danny Huston) due to a cutting edge procedure. Her husband, James (Jason Clarke), is initially supportive of her new ability and life, but becomes skeptical when Gina’s behavior begins to change, and her freedom blooms.

As her sight gives way to certain paranoia and trepidation in their home in Bangkok, Thailand, Gina and Clarke are stricken with the idea of change and control. What if the person closest to you only preferred you a certain way? James’ problem with Gina runs deeper than pure sight, as Forster’s movie messes up a bed that is made up of jealousy and betrayal.

The problem is you don’t care much about Gina or James, so their future prospects become more dim as Forster’s two hour film climbs towards its climax and resolution. Clarke and Lively don’t build an ounce of chemistry, so the audience is grasping at straws in the end.

At first, you will sympathize with Lively’s Gina, who is encountering a brand new world full of color and opportunity. Then, you’ll wonder about James’ position for a scene or two. The two try to put suture after suture on their union, but it doesn’t work.

All I Can See Is You can’t decide what it wants to be, melodramatic obsessive drama or slow moving thriller, and that lack of focus cripples your investment in the characters. The trailer and plot description make it out to be some mad moving thriller, but it’s painfully slow. It’s half drama with a squeeze of thrills that all fall flat to the screenplay’s (written by Forster and Sean Conway) lack of direction and identity.

Forster could have turned James into something sinister or presented something fresh, but instead he just made an unlikable guy more invisible. A major plot twist is seen from a mile away 45 minutes before the rest of the film catches up, and the end of the film just stops abruptly without resolution.

The acting isn’t bad, but doesn’t contain much flavor to elevate the material. Lively is gorgeous and willing to dig in, but she’s working on hollowed ground here-and she doesn’t have the chops to hold this film up. Clarke is very talented, but he’s stuck playing a well-known stereotype that moviegoers will frown at. The supporting cast contains a bunch of stray faces that seem recognizable from more interesting movies.

The pacing resembles a snail sprinting, which only pushes the viewer further away, while the imagery and cinematography belongs in a traveler’s guide. The music is hopeful, but doesn’t push the story much.

When I left this film, I told the Allied rep waiting for feedback, “what was that?!”

If I were you, I’d skip All I See Is You altogether, because all I saw was nothing.

‘A Ghost Story’ is a passionate exploration on life after death

Slow moving yet ambitious take on grief

I’ll warn you up front, ladies and gentlemen: A Ghost Story is a slow moving yet ambitious piece of filmmaking. It takes aims at what we leave behind after death, and the idea that one could get the answers in death that he couldn’t find in life.

David Lowery recruits his Ain’t Them Bodies Saints team of Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara to portray C and M, a couple that go through a traumatic process when one of them dies unexpectedly. Without a ton of dialogue or moving parts, Lowery directs from his own script a tale about the many ways people grieve. Affleck’s C returns to his house as a ghost, complete with the white sheet and eye holes, to look after his wife and the home that he left. There are certain things that C needs to know before he can pass on, and they don’t have to do with M alone.

The great thing about ghost stories is the countless ways it allows a filmmaker to be inventive with. Once he returns as a ghost, C’s story line doesn’t have to deal in a pure linear form. He can visit his wife in the present, or go back to one of their existential fights, or battles over whether to move or stay in a home that carries special meaning to C. Continue reading “‘A Ghost Story’ is a passionate exploration on life after death”

‘The Big Sick’: The feel good laugh out comedy event of 2017

The realistic version of While You Were Sleeping, but with more edge and humor.

It’s a rare occurrence for a film to come out of nowhere and blow me away. The Big Sick, featuring a magnetic performance from Kumail Nanjiani, did just that when I screened it last month.

Here is a film that will make you laugh out loud at its raunchy yet inspired humor and then make you feel emotion that you weren’t expecting. The best parts of this film are the ones you won’t see coming, because this may be the only time you hear me put “feel good” and “raunchy comedy” in the same sentence, but The Big Sick fits that bill to a tee. This is the best movie I’ve seen this year, and to think, I almost skipped it to do laundry at home.

Nanjiani (who also co-wrote the screenplay) is the star of this flick that is marketed as “an awkward love story”, and he is resonates unexpectedly as an aspiring comic in Chicago trying to make it to the next level. Kumail (yes, he keeps the same name in the film) goes on a stage for five minutes in a small nightclub with his fellow comics(played by real comedian Bo Burnham and SNL star, Aidy Bryant), and they are all vying for spots in a Montreal comedy festival. Continue reading “‘The Big Sick’: The feel good laugh out comedy event of 2017”

The Monday Rant 

Let’s punch Monday in the throat with a stream of consciousness.

Live from the Tesson Ferry medical clinic–

I’m tired. Let’s just start there. 

The wife is having surgery on her wrist-round 2 if you are counting in the waiting room-and I’m uploading coffee into the system as I type. No, a nurse isn’t holding a cup near my mouth, but I’ll check if that’s in the insurance plan. 
Since I don’t have wifi in the lounge and the April issue of Sports Illustrated doesn’t interest me, I’ll come here and rant. Off the cuff chat. Monday morning musings. The Wakeup Blues. 

It has been said that the more we talk shit out, the easier we sleep. Who knows if that is true, but let’s go ahead and tap into my stream of consciousness:

*Bethalto isn’t that bad. I mean, there’s a Schnucks grocery store with a Shop n’ save pharmacy and there isn’t a movie theater for miles, but it’s a quiet place to get away. It’s not like you can be driving down I-44 towards Webster in STL and get shot or anything. 

*I hate going to bed early, so I often don’t do it. You’re told what to do outside your house, so why obey the rules inside your four walls? Even when there is a reason to, like today. The wife tells me to get some sleep and I tell her not to worry. I watch Rocknrolla and Knight and Day instead. Bad idea. I’m very tired and they make these rooms at the clinic super bright. Like, do they not have respect for Italian vampires?

Sidebar: Hey Guy Ritchie, what happened to that Rocknrolla sequel you promised us back in 2008? The part before the end credits where the screen teased, “Coming soon, The Real Rocknrolla.” Well, nine years later, and you sir are a real fucking liar. The first film cost just 18 million to make. A sequel would have been a better investment than that King Arthur turd you shat out this past spring. Yeah, I did type SHAT. 

*Ready for a medium hot take: A radio show shouldn’t have more than three hosts. Then it turns into an overcrowded party where people talk over each other constantly and the listener gets confused about who is saying what. When people decide to turn their dial towards your stream, don’t take that shit for granted and pack the room full of voices. I don’t care who the hosts are, it’ll be a mess. 

*The NFL starts in two months. Kickoffs abound and fantasy leagues launch. Husbands and wives lose their spouses for undisclosed periods of time. Owners sit in suites and talk about building new stadiums they don’t need and possibly moving the team if they don’t get what they want. Money is earned. I mean, stupid money. So much cash. Football returns in two months and I couldn’t care less. Fuck you Roger Goodell. When I look up gutless scumbag whore in the dictionary, your picture pops up. 

*In eleven days, I move into my new house. So exciting and also not. Like getting a massage from someone who needs to clip their fingernails. My wife and her sister are already planning to fix the electric, which means possibly gutting the walls. Don’t get me wrong, a mean demolition is quite fun, but not in my house. A new home means one thing: projects. Fuck. Me.  

Side note: I’m writing this on my phone, and I’d like to tell my iPhone for the hundredth time that I do want to type “fuck” and not “duck”. 

*There are four hours of Kingdom left. That’s right folks. The MMA series has officially entered its Gettysburg movie status. Four hours. I can’t tell you how sad I am that this series is closing up its doors at Navy Street after the August finale. There are certain TV shows that you wish would have stopped a long time ago (Grey’s Anatomy, Bones, etc.), and this one simply isn’t one of them. Frank Grillo and Jonathan Tucker deserve Emmy awards. Matt Lauria and Kiele Sanchez are so great. The goal of this TV series was to dive into messy parking lot that is a fighter’s mental state. Imperfect people who trip over themselves in an imperfect world. Four more hours left people. 

*Whenever I mention Grillo’s name around people, I get a certain look. An aggressive eye roll type move. Like they are expecting me to wax poetically about him again. And I think to myself-yeah, so what? Don’t be jealous that my favorite actor to watch is also a friend who I admire as a person and a performer. I bet half these eye roll people don’t even take the time to watch a Grillo movie or show. They just don’t. Try it out. See if I’m wrong. I’m not alone. There are Grillo addicts everywhere and for good reason. In a landscape stuffed with egos and false personalities, Frank is as authentic as they come. And he could kick your ass. And your dad’s ass. And your brother too. You get the point. 

*Annoying pack of jack-wagons #407: the ones who say they are done watching Cardinals baseball after a bad loss. Don’t kid yourself. A bad loss just makes you watch more. Watch harder. Closer. Become more addicted. These are the needy types too. The LaVar Balls of baseball fans. 

*Speaking of LeVar, maybe I can have Grillo knock that oversaturated athlete parent the fuck out. I mean hard too. Ball gives all dads at the little league game a bad name. Just shut it down dude. Let your kid play. 

*Let me ask a question. Why can only one website write about a player or topic? This is so common in sportswriting these days. I don’t get it. There’s enough room at the table for hundreds of websites, but if a website writes about a topic covered two days or two weeks after another site covers it, they are bad. Scorned. If the world got rid of all the sports oriented know-it-alls, it would be a better place. Here’s the thing: they are as full of shit as the next person. They don’t know it all. Not even close. They got their information from someone else and basically reformatted it for their own discretion. The realty is we are all staring into the looking glass pondering the next thought. You know who you are if you read this part. Give it up. 

*Hey, did you hear about that NBA trade? Oh cool. I couldn’t give a shit if I was paid to. Well, it depends on the money I guess. I get more arousal out of the back 9 of a golf game than I do an NBA contest or off-season gaming. 

*Can we get a good winter this year, because the mosquito bites that I’m getting this summer are brutal. They aren’t just taking a bite; these bastards are taking a pint. So selfish. And I know bugs play a part in our way of life. But I didn’t agree in the “Bugs Occupation Package: Volume 2017” for mosquitoes to bite the shit out of me. 

*As much as I liked doing the battlegrounds, I don’t need to do it again. Once you get in the mud for a couple hours and go to that extreme, a good run or workout suffices. Never say never, but I don’t think I need a repeat. 

*Favorite dinner food. Simple surf and turf. Give me a ten ounce strip streak cooked medium and shrimp or a slab of Atlantic salmon sautéed on a stove. Here’s another medium heated take: I’ll take steak and shrimp over brisket and pulled pork. BBQ is overrated. 

*When it comes to chicken wings, the skin must be crispy. If not, no thanks. There’s no place in this world for slimy skinned wings. 

*Pineapple doesn’t belong on pizza. Ask any chef in Italy. It’s no good.  

*Game of Thrones starts in six days. Since I don’t have premium cable, no Thrones for me. 

*Here’s the shitty part about exercising: it makes you want to eat more. As you get older, the mantra is that you need to take care of yourself. I’ve been doing that since I was 17 years old, so it’s not headline news to me. But they don’t warn you about the food desires that rise up as you increase your activity. And sometimes a bowl of veggies won’t cut it. An example: last night at 11 p.m., I absolutely destroyed a bag of Cheez-it’s. Gone. Working out just increases the need for a larger food intake. Fuck you appetite. 

*To the people who drive 45 minutes or more to work in the morning or at night, I applaud you. That’s tough business. 

*This week will mark my first week as an Uber driver. I’m trying to make money and not work a shit job that makes me miserable, so I’m trying this. I’m not messing around, so I got gum, mints, water, and other small goods for my passengers. The better the reviews, the more customers come your way. Also, it’s a great chance to explore the city. Here goes nothing. 

*Full confession. I love to talk, but there are times where an extended period of silence is just golden. The need to fire away constantly is a drain. Shut up and listen. Or just appreciate the quiet. 

*Beautiful women of the world, don’t be so hard on yourself. I know it’s tough. You’re pretty enough. Yes, your makeup is subtle. The dress doesn’t look too tight. The hair is done up just right. Your breasts are perfect for your body type. Sure, yoga pants are acceptable outside of a gym. As judgemental as we are-and we all are-a little “you” is always needed. 

Side bar: The ass remains the most seductive part of a woman while the eyes cut us off at the knees. 

One last thing: protect your knees. As a guy who runs on hard concrete, I can assure you that making sure your knees receive care is of the utmost importance after the body turns 30. Aging isn’t always classy. 

Also, the only thing better than people watching is spotting other addictive people watchers.  

Okay, I’ll shut up now. Back to your regularly scheduled programming. 

-D.L.B. 

Here’s What I Know, Volume #9: RIP Michael Nyqvist, Trump, black coffee, baseball PPV

All the thoughts that are fit to publish.

Live from the hot sauna that is St. Louis in the month of July, a stream of consciousness.

  • A few words about good coffee and friends. Whenever my friend P.J. Nolan comes into town, a coffee shop is our one stop shop. Black coffee-usually strong as an ox-and conversation that ranges from baseball to boxing to living. Easy and simple. As I pass the tender days of 35 years in 2017, my need for excitement can be measured. I don’t need to live the high life or get into a serious amount of trouble. My advice for living long and prospering: find something that engages your mind while putting it at ease, and stick with it.
  • Side note: Sump Coffee is delicious. At the advisement of Jeff Jones-a professional in the hockey world but a fine voice in other lifestyle fronts-I visited the South City coffee joint for a tasty concoction with P.J., and we had a couple pots of coffee. Whether it was an Ethiopian blend or a Columbia kick in the head, the flavor was undeniable. Sump and I had a conversation before, but it had been too long. I will be returning. Sump coffee is so good, I don’t even need a stevia packet. Black and bold like Oprah.
  • Baseball is a real bastard. 162 games. Seven months. There isn’t another sport that pounds you into the ground, demanding all of your patience and nerve endings to endure a contending team’s trek towards the ultimate goal of a championship. One of the hardest things to do is coming up with commentary that doesn’t echo other writers, but also enduring the constant change in a team’s play. The Cardinals are a Frank Sinatra song; flying high one month, shot down the next. What I try to do is not pay attention to what everybody else is writing, and simply reward my readers with a voice they can trust. Control what you can, because anything else would be uncivilized, and quite simply a headache.
  • A few words about radio. It’s a sad but true declaration, but talent alone won’t get you far in this business. Unless you are a name like Frank Cusumano or have the savvy sales skills of a Don Draper, you won’t make it. The easiest part of my job as a radio host the past year is sitting down in front of the microphone and talking. Going door to door, asking business owners to hand over money without a reliable ROI promise, is the hardest part. I’ll never conquer it, and that’s not being down on myself. That’s merely being honest about a tough trade. Before I got into radio, I thought the host put out a good show while others sold the goods. I was very wrong. A great radio show-Game Time A.M.-bit the dust this week, and it had little to do with skill. Organizational structure and a matter of revenue is often the executioner.
  • Speaking of radio and the changing gears of the sportswriting game, Clay Travis wrote a column that struck a chord. He wanted to know what was causing this rapid downtown in the world of sportswriters, and it came down to two things: businesses and corporations value videos over words and won’t pay the writers using their products to promote them. Travis just happens to be replacing Game Time AM at 590 The Fan, but it’s hard to dislike Travis. With a few kids in tow and a need to escape a law degree, Travis tackled the business all alone, and now is one of the most successful stand alone entities out there.

  • Have you seen the Snyder’s Pretzel commercial? If that bitch took my car keys and threw them into the bushes, I’d knock her the fuck out on general principle.

  • I find the best friend women in movies to be hotter than the leading ladies? I’m looking at you Judy Greer and Kathryn Hahn. I treasure the imperfections in women over the ones who attempt to strangle perfection.
  • Carlos Martinez and Max Scherzer is a pitching matchup Don King could sell on a Pay Per View card. Two young men with the need to impose their will on hitters. One a local kid who made it big in The Motor City and bet on himself to receive a 200 million dollar contract. The other a Dominican Republic pitching sensation who is only getting started in the making hitters look silly department. Both are emotional wrecking balls on a pitching mound. And they say baseball is boring. Pay more attention. (Update: Scherzer outdueled Martinez, striking out 12….fuck.)
  • The Blues had a great draft and I don’t understand the need to shit on fans who are excited about it. Doug Armstrong could fuck up a wet dream, but he actually pulled a pair of moves that set his team up for success in the near and far. Let’s feel good about it instead of playing the classic Blues cynic. That’s so tiring. Some people just need to get laid more often.
  • What’s a good beer? Try Logboart Company’s Flybye Ale, a farmhouse ale with a smooth finish and sweet taste that will push you over slowly into the land of buzzing. Farmhouse Ales can be so good if they are produced correctly. Show me a beer with some substance and I’ll pay the extra money.
  • Hey, did you see what happened in the NFL and what the Rams are doing? I have no clue, because I don’t give a shit. Fuck Roger Goodell. Now that I don’t have to talk about it on the radio to play nice and get along, I couldn’t care less.
  • What if this Cardinals team had a healthy Alex Reyes? Bullpen would be a whole lot better and the rotation would have more protection. See you in a year kid.
  • It doesn’t matter if it’s 95 degrees or 10 degrees, I’ll run my 3-4 miles. As long as you are hydrated and conditioned correctly, the workout can take place no matter the weather. Running is the ultimate exercise, because it pushes your whole body to the brink. I’ll take cold weather over hot though.

  • I miss George Carlin. Without him, comedy took a hard hit. He challenged people to think and made them laugh their asses off.
  • Rest in peace Michael Nyqvist. The 56 year old actor lost a fight with cancer, but not before he created signature villains in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and more importantly, John Wick. He practically sold the Wick film in one key scene. “I once saw him kill three men with a pencil; a FUCKING pencil.” Rest easy. Fuck you cancer.
  • I’ve applied to become an Uber driver. I want to make more money and do it at my leisure. Here’s to no violent offenders or vomit masters. So I’m trying out the hipster cab vessel company for a spin.

  • Let’s make something clear: it’s okay for two people to write about the same topic on the internet. In the push-shove era of basement bloggers and online scribes, the need to play the shame game on an opposing writer for dishing his take on a topic that someone already touched on is quite weak. Let’s act like adults and open up the litter box. I remember reading Bernie Miklasz a teen before taking a minute to see what I thought about that particular subject. Being inspired is not the same as copying. People are way too fragile these days. There’s enough room at the table.
  • Life has a way of keeping you honest. A few weeks ago, I lost my grandmother, Stella. She was fighting a myriad of health problems, most notably the inability to take a deep breath. She had been fighting this for a long time, and she didn’t throw in the towel, yet finally felt content letting life go. Like my other grandmother, Meme, I didn’t spend enough time with Nana, and regretted that after she passed. You never get enough time. With anybody. Well, maybe Donald Trump, because after five months, we are done with him as POTUS. My point is, stay in touch. Nana was a fighter, and I am glad I picked her up on my son’s fifth birthday, so she could see him hit that number.
  • What’s fucking weird? Saying goodbye to your house of eight years. This is the final week in my Mardel home, aka the Buffa Estate. The closing date is Thursday, and so many memories will finally reach their bookend. It’s like writing that abrupt chapter to the book. Three months ago, we weren’t thinking about moving, and then, suddenly, it happened. Now, it’s nearly at the conclusion, and it’s incredibly hard to not get sentimental. It’s the house where my wife and I found our dream jobs, went through several cars, watched a World Series game in our backyard, and raised our son. Now, a new house and empty slate of memories await. Cue the Beatles.
  • Can I complain about something? Construction crews in front of my street busted a water main TWICE last week. How bad do you have to be at your job to do it twice? In case you missed it in “who gives a shit news, St. Louis variety”, they are installing a greenway on my main street, Wabash/McCausland. A path for bikers and runners to find their way down to the shittiest park in South City, which is also called Francis Slay Park. Otherwise known as WTF would I go there Park. Construction delays remind of Will McAvoy from The Newsroom preaching: “this will be a wonderful city, when they are done building it.”

  • I am t-shirt snob. Whenever I look at shirts these days, I want to know the fabric and how they fit. Since I designed a few for the now defunct Film-Addict, I have gotten picky with what I wear, since this is my daily wardrobe. My go to is 50/25/25 blend. Who cares?
  • Cheers to the @ToastDispatch twitter account, ran by Nick Jr. and Sr., for coming into studio this morning. I haven’t had that much fun on the radio in quite some time. We joked about “Joe Maddon excuses”, “Managing your life like Mike Matheny manages a bullpen”, and engaged in an epic rock-paper-scissor contest.  These are the days where hosting a radio show can be too much fun. Easy going. No egos.
  • Fuck Trump. Every time he attacks the free press, he shits on the history of the mantle he is holding. Journalists have a right to their territory and questions just as much as Captain Dickweed has with putting on a red tie. This may be the low point of Washington D.C.-and it’s not even close. Keeping this guy off Twitter and playing a violin for all the sulking he does is a smart maneuver.

  • According to Joe Maddon, the cause for the Cubs bad play is the announcement from Will Ferrell last week that there’d be no Old School sequel, thus burying the comeback of Vince Vaughn, one of Chicago’s prodigal sons.

What else? Eat healthier, but don’t reach miserable temps to extend your life by a few years. Hydrating is almost as important as sunscreen. Animated films will always make money. Sequels are shit half the time. If you’re going to waste money, do it on a six pack of light beer instead of bad food. 

    That’s all, folks. For the three people who made it to the end, you receive nothing but a warm digital embrace. 

    PS: Can we please stop killing each other? Cool, thanks. In the words of Lumbergh, “that’d be greaaaaatttt.”

    ‘Gifted’ aims for the heart, but leaves you with a stomach ache

    This movie manipulates the viewer like a bottle of pancake syrup and plays it too safe in the end.

    Gifted is like pancake syrup-it looks warm and loving, and tastes sweet while serving as a catalyst for a fine meal, but in the end, it manipulates your taste buds into making a bad choice for your stomach, which then creates an ache. Allow me to explain.

    Image result for gifted review

    Frank Adler (Chris Evans) just wants to lay low, raise his niece Mary (McKenna Grace), and create a small quaint life in the peaceful suburbs of Florida. There’s only one problem: Mary is a mathematical genius and stands head and shoulders above the rest of her first grade class and isn’t fitting in. When Frank refuses to send Mary to a prestigious school for gifted kids, certain measures are taken to ensue the young girl is given the “proper” education. But what exactly is “proper” for Mary and does it fit with Frank and the grandmother, Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan), who may have ulterior motives. Continue reading “‘Gifted’ aims for the heart, but leaves you with a stomach ache”

    17 years later: The Fast and Furious franchise engine remains strong

    A mixture of casting, locations, identity recognition, and stunt heaven.

    When it comes to sequels and legit cinematic franchises, the name of the game is domestic and international gross. Worldwide figures, ladies and gentlemen. Over its first weekend, The Fate of the Furious-the eighth film in the movie franchise-broke the record for the largest global opening at 532 million. After four days, the film has doubled its massive budget, and is well on its way to a billion dollar gross.

    How is it  still doing this after eight films? Casting, directing, stunts, and knowing what your identity and key audience is. In other words, you keep replacing the engine and wheels, and assemble body work on the car. Let me break it down further.

    Back in 2007, the Fast and Furious franchise was on fumes. Vin Diesel, the star of the original, had bolted after the first film, and the second and third film were trash and didn’t make great money at the box office. Luckily, Diesel was brought in for a cameo at the end of Tokyo Drift that signified his return to the franchise as star and producer. The team was back together, and the magic relaunched. Continue reading “17 years later: The Fast and Furious franchise engine remains strong”