one word reviews of Movies and TV

Listen Now!

Monday, May 29, 2017

(Ep. 86): SR Podcast - May 2017



FOR MATURE AUDIENCES

Oh what a time to be alive! That's what we keep hearing. And yes, it's true, it is quite a time to be alive when you get to listen to another edition of The Simplistic Reviews Podcast. Because, boy, let me tell you what, this one is a real doozy!

DJ, Justin, and Matt cover it all with their monthly news roundup that runs the gamet of nonsense to non-sensical.

And if you thought we liked fighting last month, wait until you get a load of "Simplistic Switcharoo." This time around, these Simplistic Scamps yammer on about who in Hollywood would do the other jobs better. We know you guys and gals have all fantasized about who would do our job better. Right? I mean imagine Betty White, Paula Deen, and Pat Sajak doing what we're doing...just imagine it...and imagine us on the "Golden Girl," cooking a fatty Southern racist meal, and giving the eyes to Vanna White...IMAGINE IT!

That, and we say hello to our PornHub resident scientist; PornHub Snooty Scientist, in what MAY be our last podcast ever....spoiler alert....it's not. Oh, and a conversation on Air Bud: Ninja Dog. May is go fetch....get it....we'll see ourselves out...




MUSIC


Check us out on FacebookTwitterYouTubeLetterboxd, and Pinterest

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Best of Armond White: (A Retrospective) Part Three

So we gave it a break last week, but let's jump right back into our Armond White Retrospective. In this edition, we are going to look at the times when both the public and Mr. White actually saw eye to eye on films that are, at least according to Rotten Tomatoes, Certified Fresh.

Arrival: 93% RT Approval

Armond Says: Though a second-rate, semi-profound art movie, Arrival is nonetheless an ambitious demonstration of how the media manipulate our perception and our experience

Matt Says: Even with a backhanded compliment, the point is made clearly about how media affects the way we feel and react
to things.

The Player: 98% RT Approval 


Armond Says: The Player, which Altman made after years of struggle, with all Hollywood fascination worn away, is Altman's dour version of Dante's Inferno. His satire forces us to realize the obscenity of Clinton-era corruption - once again.

Matt Says: The Player is likley Robert Altman's forgotten masterpiece, that deserves multiple viewings.

Kubo and the Two Strings: 97% RT Approval 

Armond Says: Kubo is a delicate tale addressing today's sense of moral bereavement. This is conveyed through the boy's search for the father he never knew. Little Kubo's gallantry parallels the desperation of youth from broken families.

Matt Says: While I will mention the fact that Mr. White loves
nearly all animation, as long as it isn't Pixar or Disney, I can't
argue with how great "Kubo" is and it narrative works on
so many levels, and it's emotion runs deep.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes: 81% RT Approval 

Armond Says: It is easily the best American movie of this corrupted summer.

Matts Says: This corrupted Summer? Let's take a look; Iron
Man 2, The Last Airbender, Shrek Forever After, Grown Ups...
yeah, pretty bad. But 81% for "Rise" that's almost criminal.

True Grit (2010): 96% RT Approval 


Armond Says: True Grit speaks to our current moment of vengeful, moral uncertainty. It continues the same revamped Americana that distinguished the Coens' sophisticated remake of The Ladykillers -- a truly original religiouspolitical hybrid.

Matt Says: While I won't speak as highly about the "sophisticated"
"Ladykiller," I will speak on the greatness that is "True Grit" and
the fact it turned Hailee Steinfeld into a star.

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: 81% RT Approval 

Armond Says: Wright's speed and humor are authentic and irresistible. Let's hope that's not all his admirers see.

Matt Says: It's a good point to bring up the fact that people
might only see style over substance with Edgar Wright, but
"Pilgrim" is so utterly watchable that it's shocking the Approval
Rating for this comic book adaptation is so low. This is why we
can't have nice things...

Bronson (2009): 76% RT Approval 


Armond Says:  Hardy's portrayal is more than a real-life impersonation of Bronson; it realizes the Stunt Movie opportunity to present an actor's thoroughly romantic admiration of force.

Matt Says: Hardy is the only person that could have pulled
this character off, and that was before anyone even knew who
he was! 

Pineapple Express: 68% RT Approval 

Armond Says:  The result is Green's first watchable movie since George Washington -- even if it's ultimately worthless.

Matt Says: While this film is on the cusp of just being "meh" according to our trusty voters on RT, it's still fun, albeit "worthless" if you will.

Live Free of Die Hard: 82% RT Approval 


Armond Says: To call this the best Die Hard movie ever made merely acknowledges that Director Len Wiseman simplifies the franchise to its basic elements: Predicament, Villain, Hero, Action.

Matt Says: "Best Die Hard Ever Made?" I guess the original film never existed...or "With a Vengeance" either....vexing.

See you guys next week with our final, and hater-rific, entry.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

'Guardians Vol.2' Lacks the Magic, but That's Not All Bad

It would be putting it mildly that the expectations were out of this world for "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2." James Gunn's oddball superhero action comedy introduced fans of the MCU to a brand new type of hero and extended the storytelling into outer space. Sure, both "Thor" and "Thor: The Dark World" took us into the mythical world of Asgard, but the colorful landscape of deep space was something to behold.

Also, the fact that Marvel/Disney was willing to take a chance on a Troma-alum like Gunn who seems to have an affinity for tentacle Hentai porn and graphic violence, was a breathe of fresh air. You had the prefect blend of heart, family-friendliness and of course sexual innuendo, hence the first "Guardians" was a smash hit.

Take us three years to 2017 and Gunn is back at it again with "Vol. 2," a flawed, but fun, sequel that is essentially a companion piece to the MCU as opposed to any type of film that progresses the overall story arc in the MCU. More importantly, it seems like the shackles were completely off of Gunn to create a film in the way that he sees fit, and that is where the film both shines, and trips over itself at times.

We meet our heroes back in 2014, fresh off the heels of their big victory against Ronan the Accuser and turning over the Power Stone to the Nova Corps on Xandar. This time they are helping the Sovereign protect some batteries from a giant tentacle monster. With their job complete, the Guardians receive their reward; the captured Nebula.

Of course, things go south quick and our heroes crash land on a lone planet and are greeted by a man names Ego, who tells Star Lord that he's his father and wants to show him his birth rite. At this point our heroes part ways and the film gets the plot moving.

It's difficult to put into words what's wrong with this film without sounding like a cranky old man that doesn't like cutesy Disney-like characters, the use, or overuse, of music, and a couple of jokes and scenes that are a little too self-indulgent. But I guess that's what you get when you let an inmate run the asylum.

The biggest criticism from most people is that the sequel isn't as good as the first one. Wow, what a criticism to make...the sequel isn't as good. Hard hitting stuff. However, I have been pounding the drum in my perceived notion that there has been a recent dip in the quality of Marvel product. But this could also be my perception since the quality has been high for nearly decade, that is was inevitable that a few leaks would start to spring from the hull of the Titanic that is Marvel Studios.

I have to admit, during the title sequence of "Vol. 2" nearly took me out of the film. Unlike Chris Pratt's trounce through Morag dancing and singing to "Come and Get Your Love," the Baby Groot dance to "Mr. Blue Sky," while the rest of the team is fighting a massive alien set the tone that I was going to be annoyed with cute antics. Pratt's dance set the tone for fun and personally I rather see a REAL HUMAN character on screen than a computer generated creature pimped put to sell Pop! Vinyl figurines.

However, the film rebounded from that and turned into a pretty fun, stand-alone Marvel film. There is meditation on family and abandonment and the idea that the heart should drive you as opposed to your brain, and those themes were handled quite well considering all the boombastic action going on for about 80% of the film.

This brings me to one of the things I really liked, and that was Gunn's freedom to pay homage to his friends on screen, namely Michael Rooker and his brother, Sean Gunn. The additional screen time and plot progression of Rooker's Yondu, and Gunn's Kraglin is something unexpected and a breathe of fresh air. Being close to the director is certainly a perk, but the way both Yondu and Kraglin are treated in "Vol. 2" is something a lot of studios with millions of dollars invested in a film wouldn't allow to happen; make them a central part of the film. But low and behold, they are given much more screen time and are allowed to play pivotal roles, especially at the film's climax.

At the end of the day, these films are bulletproof. No matter the reviews or criticism, "Vol. 2" will make close to a billion dollars worldwide, and the Marvel juggernaut just keeps chugging along. In all fairness, however, it's fair to openly criticize this film, because it's not perfect, and has it's flaws, but don't criticize it just to criticize because overall, "Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2," is a harmless Summer blockbuster that is just another piece of the Marvel machine heading towards the inevitable "Infinity War," and if anything, at least this film is proving that you don't need to shoehorn things into a universe that is so bloated that at times it seems to be collapsing in on itself.

"Vol. 2" is the closest thing we've had to a stand-alone Marvel movie, thus far. No need for cute cameos or a character just passing by. For what it's worth, I wouldn't mind just seeing a "Guardians of the Galaxy" film universe. It's ripe for the picking and there are plenty of things to cherry pick and create some fun films. Hell, a talking racoon and a tree are some of the most talked about characters in the MCU; who'd of thought they would be more beloved at this point than Iron Man or Captain America. People are looking for their heroes to be against the grain, and that is why "Black Panther," for my money is going to blow people away, but tread carefully when giving the masses what they want, the disappointment could also be monumental and remember; with great power, comes great responsibility.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Best of Armond White: (A Retrospective) Part Two

So apparently we need to "educate ourselves." That was what Armond White told us to do after releasing Part One of our Four Part look at some of his reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. First of all, this is all supposed to be tongue-in-cheek. If you've listen to The Simplistic Reviews Podcast, you know how good we are at putting our tongues firmly in cheeks, any cheeks if you know what we mean...

And Second, if you think we are doing this to get a rise out of someone, we're not. You might call bulls*it on that comment, but we are just taking the piss and having a little fun. If people get their feelings hurt, well, that's all part of the game isn't it.

Part Two is going to cover some of the films that were universally savaged all over Rotten Tomatoes, yet low and behold, Mr. White found some little rays of sunshine in them.

Dirty Grandpa (2016) 11% RT Score

Armond Say: The fun of sex is the entire point of the raunchy, goofy Dirty Grandpa. You have to be humorless (and sex-averse) to be offended by its deliberate naughtiness as so many critics have demonstrated.

Matt Says: White brings up a good point; sometimes a sex comedy is just a sex comedy. Why should people be upset about Zach Efron topless either?


Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) 28% RT Score 

Armond Says: In this age of petty Marvels, most comic-book movies merely perpetrate fantasies of power, but Snyder, enacting his personal aesthetic, braves a film that examines those fantasies. He boldly challenges popular culture's current decay.

Matt Says: I do agree that the polished and shiny look of Marvel films is wearing thin, even on myself, and the grittier and darker tone of the DCU can be alluring, but Batman v Superman still isn't all the great.

Your Highness (2011) 27% RT Score 

Armond Says: By trashing fairytale propriety, Green and McBride personalize the genre enthusiasm of the Star Wars generation.

Matt Says:Taking a piss out of films like "The Princess Bride" and other adult-oriented fairy tales films, "Your Highness" isn't as bad as many people say and you might say it's unappreciated in our time and will become a cult classic in the next 10 years or so.


The Green Hornet (2011) 43% RT Score 

Armond Says: Rogen's image and his attitude as co-screenwriter of The Green Hornet updates the bland superhero template using comic irreverence.

Matt Says: White is very forgiving of anything Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen, and anyone from that film family tree. "Green Hornet" isn't bad, it just so happened to be a film that no one cared about and no one asked for. An ego stroke for Rogen is anything.

Jonah Hex (2010) 12% RT Score 

Armond Says: It reexamines assumptions of good and evil-morality tale vs, trite entertainment-by confronting the hideous compromises people make with social conventions and their own desperation.

Matt Says: I guess there is something to be said about "Jonah Hex;" It's a film...that was made by a studio and released nationwide based on a comic book character that is about as fringe as it gets.


Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) 19% RT Score 

Armond Says: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is more proof [Bay] has a great eye for scale and a gift for visceral amazement.

Matt Says: There's never been any doubt about Michael Bay as a filmmaker. However, people will always blame him for creating robots that couldn't read and reinforcing stereotypes that are more than meets the eye. Oh, and ruining people's childhoods as well from what I've been told.


Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007) 37% RT Score 

Armond Says: Of all the summer's big-budget action sequels, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is the least painful.

Matt Says: A backhanded compliment to say the least. Other big budget flicks from 2007 included: Spider-Man 3, Transformers, Ghost Rider....yeah, good point.


The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou 56% RT Score 

Armond Says: It's part of that American eccentricity to obsess over growing up. Anderson's obsession has genuine, daffy substance.

Matt Says: A 56% for "The Life Aquatic" is criminal, and I honestly don't understand the subtle dislike for one of Wes Anderson's more off-the-wall films.

Stay tuned soon for Part Three where we examine films where Mr. White and RT are on the same page when it comes to the bottom of the cinema barrel.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Pixies 'Mutilate' The Ryman in Nashville, May 5th 2017

Being in a city that is filled to the brim with musical on a nightly basis, you have to pick your battles and take advantage of the chances you get to see as many acts as possible.

I've learned this rather quickly living in Nashville, TN.

Living in South Florida I became complacent and came to terms with the fact that I was likely never able to see bands that I admire and have been listening to for years simply because of geographic discrimination. Unless I was willing to drive several hours, I was going to be stuck with a small pool of shows to pick from. That isn't to say that I didn't see several acts I really enjoyed in Florida, but living in Nashville has given me the chance to see acts I probably wouldn't have been able to see without going the distance. This bring me to the Pixies, one of the seminal bands of the mid-to-late 1980s, a band that inspired Nirvana and so many other acts that created the angst-ridden grunge landscape that so many people lament about to this day.


Two special things happened on May 5th 2017; I saw the Pixies live for the first time and I also attended a concert in one of the oldest music venues in the United States, the Ryman Auditorium. There is something about the venue, the Ryman, where you feel a sense of history and a ghostly aura that hovers around the room. Legends have played there, new and old, and just being able to see a band that helped build a movement in music, even 30 years into their careers, is something very special.

The quartet consisting of Guitarist/Vocalist, Black Francis, Lead Guitar, Joey Santiago, Drummer, David Lovering, and Bassist, Paz Lenchantin, took the stage and began their set with arguably their most well-known song, 'Where is My Mind,' which most notably plays during the end credits of the film 'Fight Club.' The eeriness infected the venue as people sang along, swayed back and forth as it put the crowd in a trance. It personally almost brought me to tears.

The nearly 2-hour set consisted of fan favorites such as "Debaser" "Caribou" and "Wave of Mutilation," as well as a healthy dose of new material from their 2016 album "Head Carrier." The set was paced well and the band just came out and played music. No interludes, no crowd interaction, just two hours of music from their entire music catalog.

If you're just seeing the Pixies for the first time, you of course are seeing the band with their new bassist, Lenchantin, instead of Kim Deal, the band's original bassist. Of course I've seen numerous concert performances on TV and online, and both women hold their own, but seeing Lenchantin move on stage, she certainly had an aura about her in the way she moves and her vocals are the perfect foil to Black's raspy offerings. While it would have been great to see Deal on the bass, and a treat to see "Gigantic" live, which is something that might not be done live anymore, seeing a new energy on stage with Lenchantin looks like it's breathing new life into the band.

In addition to to the excellent set and acoustics, the light rigging was a welcome addition. It set the tone for several of the songs, and gave the entire performance more of a theatrical feel. The lighting told a story almost as much as the the music itself. It was the fifth member of the Pixies, if you will.

From fan favorites, to new material, May 5th's show at The Ryman was a concert that I won't soon forget. Seeing a band that has been putting out trendsetting music for over 30 years and still evolving isn't something you see too often anymore, and despite the turmoil in recent years, it's still great to see a band that is galvanized by one thing; the music and the crowd.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Best of Armond White: (A Retrospective) Part One

Who doesn't like a great troll? Well, I guess the people being trolled, and in a day and age of knee-jerk reactions and people triggered at the slightest comment made against something that they love and hold dear, it's both an art and game to keep trolling at a high level.

Me, of course, can care less. I've always said "don't feed the trolls" and I'm usually someone that jumps into the fray to try and burn the bridge where that troll is hiding, or I just knock on their mom's door, head down to their basement and unplug their Ethernet cable while they try to run after me, but they can't get out of their chair because their legs have atrophied and all the Sun Chips crumbs are weighing them down.

But one "troll" stands alone when it comes to Film Twitter and just film in general, and that master troll is Armond White.

Personally, I think White is hilarious, he knows how to get under people's skin and create a conversation, and his points, even though most of them are ridiculous, are at times interesting and break up the constant love of things. He's The Joker of Film Reviews, he wants to see the world burn.

This got me thinking. Why don't we take a look back at some of his reviews in a Four-Part series. The basic premise of this series will be to look at his more infamous reviews where he either reviles a beloved film, praises a film that was universally hated on, and in those special moments in time, a film that was loved by White and the rest of the community and hated by White and the Community. Keep in mind, this series will be based on the Tomato-Meter and his reviews on RottenTomatoes.com 

In Part One, let's take a look at some of Mr. White's take on some of cinema's most beloved films.


Up (2009) 98% Approval on RT 

Armond Says: All this deflated cinema and Pixarism mischaracterizes what good animation can be (as in Coraline, Monster House, Chicken Little, Teacher's Pet, The Iron Giant). Up's aesthetic failure stems from its emotional letdown.


Matt Says: I understand his point when it comes to alt-animation that isn't Pixar, which can also pack an emotional punch. But there isn't much wrong with "Up."



Gone Baby Gone 94% Approval on RT

Armond Says: So far this year, no other movie has more risible dialogue.

Matt Says: Maybe he's referring to the accents, because yes, people from Boston do talk funny. Maybe I need to revisit this one because he might have a point on this one.





The Wrestler (2008) 98% Approval on RT

Armond Says: Aronofsky inflicts as much pain on the audience as self-flagellating Ram Jam does when brutalizing/mutilating himself in and outside the ring.

Matt Says: As a wresting fan, especially throughout the 1990s, maybe White just doesn't understand life inside and outside of the wrestling ring. I mean, I don't either, but I can see how well acted and great this film is, and yes, seeing he pain of Ram Jam is important to the story, and necessary.



In the Loop (2009) 94% Approval on RT

Armond Says: Instead of inspiring geniuses, Iraq war backlash has only resulted in snarky self-righteousness that -- from Charlie Wilson's War and now British import In the Loop -- has demonstrated the low ebb of modern comedy.

Matt Says: I'm sure my cohort, DJ, would have reservations about this opinion, and to a degree I do as well. The banter is genius, and Peter Capaldi's linguistic gymnastics are great. However, I do agree with using the Iraq War as comedy can be grating and just overall dull. 




Get Out 99% Approval on RT

Armond Says: Get Out is an attenuated comedy sketch in which serious concerns are debased.

Matt Says: While I can agree that this film could be suited for an actual sketch on "Key and Peele," that doesn't take away that "Get Out" works on a lot of levels and rightfully makes it awkward for white people. Could you call it divisive and perpetuate the paranoia that African Americans have for white people? Absolutely, but someone had to do it.



Moonlight 98% Approval on RT

Armond Says: Moonlight's best moments come in Little's reaction to Juan's affection, but later scenes of Chiron's erotic confusion and Black's maudlin self-pity (he wears muscular drag yet succumbs to weakness) insist that viewers feel sorry for black gay males.

Matt Says: I'm pretty sure the point to "Moonlight" wasn't to make people feel sorry for black gay males, it was to raise awareness that these people exists, and they are in fact...people. Sure, I feel like the third act of the film might be it's "weakest" I'm not seeing the correlation that viewers are supposed to be bad for Chiron, they are supposed to understand that other people exist in this world and to be uncomfortable getting out of their safe little bubble and small-mindedness.



The Dark Knight (2008) 94% Approval on RT

Armond Says: The generation of consumers who swallow this pessimistic sentiment can't see past the product to its debased morality. Instead, their excitement about The Dark Knight's dread (that teenage thrall with subversion) inspires their fealty to product.

Matt Says: My response; It's a comic book movie, relax sir.


Come back next week folks, and we'll try and get an understanding of why Dirty Grandpa deserves to be higher than it's 11% RT Score.

Copyright © Simplistic Reviews