Thursday, May 19, 2016

Friendly reminder: The Nice Guys opens today

The Nice Guys review

Look, kids. This is what summer blockbusters used to look like. I like the Captain America movies as much as the next guy, but this is the film I was most hyped to see this year. 

The Nice Guys was supposed to open later this year, but Warner Bros. moved it forward to give its original date to Central Intelligence, which appears to be just another routine comedy for Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart. Now The Nice Guys is opening against Neighbors 2 and The Angry Birds Movie. You can tell producer Joel Silver and the cast of the film are pissed about the scheduling. See the video below.

Ryan Gosling plays a shitty private detective who has rare bouts of intuition. Like Saul Goodman, his client list consists of confused elderly people. Russell Crowe plays a guy who beats people up for money, usually creeps, and he's just been paid to kick Gosling's ass. 

That, ladies and gentlemen, is how our two heroes meet. Soon they'll discover their cases overlap, at which point they team up and scour 1970s Los Angeles for leads. Gosling's impressionable young daughter, who might be a little smarter than her dad, tags along for the ride. She's not incidental to the plot, either.

My favorite characters, other than the ones played by Gosling and Crowe, are Keith David and Beau Knapp's henchmen. These nuts would have stolen the show if not for the perfectly cast leads. David is just one of those guys I love seeing in movies and his presence here makes it all the more legitimate as a throwback film. Knapp, who I'm not entirely familiar with, is a presumably coked-up idiot who has a hilariously evil laugh.

But back to Gosling and Crowe. Holy shit, what a brilliant team. This is as close as you can get to Lethal Weapon's Gibson and Glover, and 48 Hrs.' Murphy and Nolte. That's not entirely serendipitous, either. Joel Silver produced both of those films and screenwriter/director Shane Black wrote all of the Lethal Weapons

We can finally forgive Black for Lethal Weapon 4. The Nice Guys more than makes up for it. I don't think it quite lived up to the hope I had for it, but my hope was unrealistically high. It's fast, it's funny, and Gossling's comedic performance dances dangerously but successfully on the edge of "taking it too far." Seriously, I'm in awe of how close he comes to going over the top without actually doing it.

So I wouldn't say the trailer showed the best parts of The Nice Guys, but it definitely revealed too much. It's a shame they couldn't have saved a few more of those moments for the picture itself. It's worth the price of the ticket anyway. 

The Witch is available to rent

minor spoilers in the trailer... you've been warned

By the time I convinced myself to go see The Witch, the movie had quietly disappeared from local theaters in spite of earning more than thirty times its initial budget. I hadn't seen any trailers. Hadn't read much about the movie online. I just knew I wanted to see it because writers in horror magazines and blogs kept using it as a measuring stick. So when it finally turned up on VOD this week I went into it the best way possible: completely blind.

I assumed it'd probably be about a group of friends getting lost in the woods. I expected at least one scene in which the characters complain they're not getting a cell phone signal. In other words, I wasn't expecting much.

I wasn't prepared for a good ol' fashioned 17th century witch film, completely lacking in MTV editing and superficial bullshit. This is a horror movie for adults. To call it a horror movie—as if it has anything in common with shit like The Forrest or the needless Cabin Fever remake— is downright misleading.

I love movies about witches, whether there's an actual witch or it's just hysteria. (See: my review for Mark of the Devil.) The latter is typically much more terrifying than the former, but The Witch gives us the best of both worlds. It has as much in common with horror movies like Rosemary's Baby as it does with Arthur Miller's The Crucible. Slow but atmospheric, it builds upon the horrors experienced by a Christian family who have been forced to live in the wilderness after they're outcast from their New England community.

And when I say "horrors," the word alone just doesn't do it justice.

Katherine, played by Kate Dickie (Catelyn Stark's sister in Game of Thrones), is the mother of five children. She spends almost the entirety of the movie mourning the loss of one of those children and the grief is only going to be compounded from there on out. Dickie's acting is subtle for the most part and believably grand when necessary. William, the father of the family, is played by Ralph Ineson (also from Game of Thrones) and he's responsible for the sin which got his family thrown out of the village in the first place. He seems like a good man who has to do some borderline terrible things for (and to) his family. The film wisely keeps his former indiscretion vague so as not to let us pass judgment on him too early. Whereas his wife sobs herself to sleep whenever the unbelievably rough times get rougher, William quietly turns to prayer and chopping wood.

Their children include a newborn baby, boy and girl twins who spend their days playing with a goat, and Thomasin, the oldest, who doesn't seem to be aware her younger brother Caleb is developing sexual feelings for her now that she's becoming a woman. Because their father is a lousy hunter, Caleb and Thomasin secretly decide to go hunting one night despite the trouble they'll get into when they return. It's then they stumble upon the witch's hut, which isn't far from their own home, and I wouldn't dream of telling you what happens next. Just know it's pretty fucked up.

Hell, the entire movie is pretty fucked up.

My favorite thing about The Witch, which has plenty to like anyway, is the writing itself seems possessed by demons. Going off the rails usually isn't a good thing and you have to be an extremely talented writer to hang on when you do. I just get this feeling that first time director Robert Eggers felt himself veering dangerously off course, but instead of correcting himself, he said "fuck it" and turned off of the intended road as hard as he could.

The unpredictability of the film, and the ease at which it subverts our expectations, isn't contrived in the least and there's never a "gotcha!" moment. When Eggers finished the script he probably surprised himself as much as he surprises us. It's frustrating to think so much of the intended market isn't getting it while the moviegoers who would appreciate it the most are probably dismissing it as "just another horror film." Nonetheless, I have no doubt this will be a movie horror circles talk about for decades.

I can't imagine there being a better horror film this year. (We've been getting so many good ones lately, though.)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Godzilla Resurgence trailer

I know I said I was done watching movie trailers, but come on, it's friggin' Godzilla.

So it's an all-new Toho reboot, which means we'll (probably) have two concurrent franchises for the next few years. I haven't seen a proper Toho version since Godzilla 2000 and I had no idea there have been five of 'em since then. Then again, these movies have a tendency to blur together sometimes.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

DOOM woes and an update on my novel

UPDATE: I seemed to have found a fix for the DOOM crashing to desktop issue described below. As others have said in forums, it doesn't seem to be caused by bad graphic drivers or anything like that. I reloaded an old mission, spent some time picking up secrets I had missed, and when I continued the game as normal from the main screen all was well. Someone said it had something to do with triggering one-time events. Why this method seemed to work for me (as well as a few others) is beyond me and I'm not entirely sure it's actually what did the trick. Might as well try it for yourself just in case.

Around seventeen hours into DOOM (and after unlocking 48% of the achievements) I got an unexpected crash to the desktop. Now it happens every time I play the game no matter what "fixes" I employ. It sucks, as I feel like I had probably just reached the end game, but shit like that happens when there are a gazillion different hardware configurations out there so nobody's to blame, really. I still feel like this is the smoothest a game has been at launch in ages and I never dreamed it would hold a candle to the originals. Up until now it's all been best case scenario (besides the multiplayer, but even that doesn't suck as bad as some people claim).

So I've updated the Current Projects page of this blog with a sample from the novel I've been working on for the past few years. I don't normally talk about it here (or anywhere really) so check it out. If you want to keep up with what's going on with me, you can always subscribe to updates with the email box in the top right corner of this blog. It might not show up on mobile view, though, so just have your browser request the desktop version of the site.