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Hunt for the Wilderpeople: Ricky Baker is the Best

December 6, 2016

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Hunt for the Wilderpeople is an absolute delight. Directed by Taika Waititi (Boy, What We Do in the Shadows) the film is equal parts hilarious, heartfelt and bleak. There is a welcome dose of melancholy and humor that combine to make one of the most original films of 2016. It was a massive hit in New Zealand and Waititi has moved to the uber-green Marvel pastures to direct Thor: Ragnarok. After Boy, What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople I think Taika is one of the most exciting directors working today.

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Chris Hemsworth’s Instagram account is great by the way.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople revolves around a troubled youth named Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) moving to the New Zealand bush to live with Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and Hec (Sam Neill). Ricky has bounced around the New Zealand childcare system and keeps getting kicked out of his foster homes. So, the last resort is moving him to the country to live with the nice Bella and salty Hec. Ricky slowly begins to settle in, but due to some really sad circumstances he ends up lost in the wilderness with the grumpy Hec. The authorities fear Ricky was kidnapped, so a massive manhunt ensues and they are chased nonstop by an unhinged childcare authority named Paula (Rachel House). During the manhunt we are introduced to several oddball characters, grumpy hunters and a massive wild boar.

I really like how the movie is filled with genuine surprises and an insane amount of heart. Julian Dennison is an absolute delight and I love his reactions, dancing and need for something constant. My favorite scene revolves around Bella coming up with the best birthday song ever. It is such a nice moment and perfect encapsulates the film.

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I’d love to say more about Hunt for the Wilderpeople but I don’t want to spoil anything. There are so many surprises and neat moments that normally don’t happen in average coming of age films. I can’t wait to watch it again and I bet I will keep picking up on fantastic character beats that I missed the first time around.

Watch Hunt for the Wilderpeople!

Yoga Yosers: Another Weird Trip to the Great North

December 5, 2016

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Yoga Hosers is a strange little film that features yoga, hosers and murderous sauages. It is the second chapter of Kevin Smith’s Great North trilogy (Tusk came first) and it proves there are a lot of weird antics happening in Smith’s version on Canada. I am a longtime Kevin Smith fan and will continue to read his books, listen to his podcasts and watch his increasingly stoned-out films long after they’ve stopped making sense. Yoga Hosers is far from Clerks and Chasing Amy but it has a weird charm because it is only meant for Kevin Smith fans. I know as a fan I should expect more from a guy who is capable of better work, but I appreciate that he has completely given up on regaining old form and makes low-budget films he is passionate about. You can sense that Smith loved every second of directing Yoga Yosers and didn’t forsee the critical derision the film would receive.

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Yoga Hosers centers around the further adventures of the two cell phone addicted convenience store employees featured in Tusk. Colleen (Lily-Rose Depp) and Colleen (Harley Quinn Smith) spend their days being pithy, playing music, annoying their high school teachers and practicing yoga with their teacher Yogi Bayer (Justin Long). A big problem arises when they are forced to work on a Friday night and can’t make a senior party they were invited too. Their bad night gets worse when they are attacked by Canadian Satanists AND killer Nazi bratwursts (Bratzis) in the confines of the already annoying convenience store (they weren’t even supposed to be there!!). After the deadly battle they are arrested for killing the Satanists and their only salvation comes in the form of detective Guy Lapointe (Johnny Depp). From there it gets weirder and we are treated to bad accents, more Bratzis and “eh” jokes.

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The reason I can’t outright dismiss Yoga Hosers is because of the all in performances. I may be the only person on the planet who appreciates the weirdness of Johnny Depp’s heavily accented Guy Lapointe (he was in Tusk). Depp plays it fast and loose and seems like he really enjoys acting alongside his daughter Lily. Lily-Rose Depp and Harley Quinn Smith are likable as well, and I wish they were given Clerks/Mallrats dialogue instead of the rushed self-satisfied dialogue Smith has been churning out. Smith admitted that he made the film for tweens and he had this to say at the Fantasia Film Festival:

What you are about to see is what I intended to be a kids movie. I made it for tween girls. I never made a kids movie in my life, this is the movie I wanted to see when I was a 12-year-old girl.

So, Smith has written/directed/produced a movie that is meant for tween girls and focuses on murderous Nazi sauages. Once you are able to accept that this is a weird little thing I think you might embrace it. Smith has always been incredibly earnest on his podcast and this film is a transparent little thing that he made so he could work with his daughter. Being a fan of Kevin Smith means accepting the good, the bad and Yoga Yosers. I might be a glutton for punishment but I hope he finishes his trilogy and makes Moose Jaws.

If you are a Kevin Smith fan I totally recommend Yoga Yosers.

The Five Step Guide to Making a Great Standalone Obi-Wan Kenobi Film

November 30, 2016

I really want to see an Obi-Wan Kenobi standalone Star Wars film. Ewan Mcgregor is one of my favorite actors and I think there would be a lot of support for a mid-budgeted Obi-Wan movie that featured his adventures on Tatooine. News came out recently that he might be featured in Episode VIII, but these are all rumors and I have no idea what his role will be. I know Disney has a master plan for the Star Wars universe, but in a Hail Mary effort to get the ball rolling on an eventual standalone film I’ve decided to come up with a five step guide to making a great Obi-Wan film.

The following post covers five ideas that might create a great Obi-Wan standalone film!

1. Hire Gareth Evans (The Raid: Redemption, The Raid 2) to Direct

The reason Disney needs Gareth Evans is because he can keep the focus on character and action. What I love about Gareth Evans is how he is able to direct brilliant action set pieces and create memorable characters. I can name pretty much all the characters (think Bubba naming shrimp in Forrest Gump) in The Raid: Redemption and The Raid 2 and that is rare for action movies featuring an ensemble cast. If Evans did decide to direct he would bring in his hardcore fans and surely create something epic for Obi-Wan.

Gareth Evans is the best.
Gareth Evans is the best.

I also think Jeff Nichols (Mud, Take Shelter) or Jeremy Saulnier (Green Room, Blue Ruin) would be great options too.

2. Keep the Budget Around $100 million

There is no need to make the film for over $100 million. Keep the locations sparse and focus on a simple chase film that doesn’t reach the excess of Mad Max: Fury Road or the size of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Evans directed The Raid 2 for $4.5 million dollars and managed to create a beautiful epic that looked more expensive than most CGI-fests. I say give him $100 million and let his action choreographers Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian create something special. Check out this amazing fight and you will want to see more.

3. Keep the Plot Simple

Here is the plot: Some Tatooine bounty hunters figure out Luke Skywalker’s location and they are on the run to get the news out. However, since they are in the middle of nowhere their communication systems are down. Thus, they are headed to the nearest establishment to relay the message. This would allow for an urgent narrative that focuses on a sole plot point. I love films like Alien, Predator and It Follows because they stick to a simple idea and build the characters and action from there. The Obi-Wan film could be awesomely simple, yet rich with cool characters and merchandising.

Thanks to reddit for starting the discussion.

Obi-Wan is great when chasing things.
Obi-Wan is great at chasing things.

4. Open up the Tatooine World

Who wouldn’t love to see more of the characters established in A New Hope? I’d love to see some more of the Jawas, Sand People and various bounty hunters. We know the world, so it would be easy to jump into the narrative without too much explanation. There is a lot to explore on Tatooine and I know people want to see the world expanded (check out the recent comics). Also, think about how much merchandise they could sell via rehashing old characters and introducing new creatures.

More of this!
More of this!

5. Don’t Leave It Open Ended

Let the movie have a beginning, middle and end. Don’t plan on eight sequels and instead bring the movie to a neat conclusion. There can be room to grow, but I’ve always felt like movies get in trouble when they plan too far in advance. Test the water with a clean 90-minute film and if audiences like it there will be another. What I love about the Obi-Wan world is that there are a lot of unknowns to his exile and those lost years are ripe for awesome individual stories.

What do you think about these five steps? Who would you like to see direct? Would you like to see an Obi-Wan Kenobi standalone film?

Let me know in the comments.

 

 

 

MFF Special: The 10 Best Mustaches of 2016

November 29, 2016

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2016 has been a great year for cinematic mustaches. I started noticing the trend after watching Sully and I began compiling a list of the best mustaches. The list kept getting bigger and bigger and I was worried people wouldn’t want to read a list featuring 30 mustaches of all shapes and sizes.

So, I decided to feature characters who only grew mustaches. The mustaches couldn’t be part of a goatee, and if there was extra hair on the chin the character was disqualified. Ryan Gosling in The Nice Guys is a great example of somebody who didn’t trust themselves enough to only have a mustache.

the stuff on the chin kept Gosling off the list.
the stuff on the chin kept Gosling off the list.

Here are the top 10 mustaches of 2016!

10. Taron Egerton – Eddie the Eagle

Egerton’s mustache in Eddie the Eagle is far from pristine, but I appreciate that he went for it and grew the funky looking thing. It takes a lot of guts to rock a mediocre mustache and Taron embraced the facial hair and wore it with aplomb. The mustache isn’t number one on the list, but it gets a 10 in my book.


9. Jamie Dornan – The Siege of Jadotville

Jamie Dornan’s mustache allowed him to look awesome while fighting off a siege in Africa. What I like about the mustache is how it adds an automatic level of authority and superiority. If I knew my superior officer could grow a badass mustache then I would follow him anywhere (probably not).


8. Bryan Cranston – The Infiltrator

If you are going to infiltrate a drug cartel you are gonna need a sweet mustache. If your mustache game isn’t strong the cartel members will immediately know you aren’t serious about doing work with them. That is why Bryan Cranston was so successful in The Infiltrator. He grew a mustache that only he could grow and became one of the most successful undercover agents of all time.


7. Dan Fogler – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Dan Fogler’s mustache in Fantastic Beasts is fantastic. It isn’t bombastic and looks like something a gentleman in the 1920s would wear. What I like most about the look is how the mustache moves around on Fogler’s very nimble face and it compliments all the various expressions. Fogler + Mustache = a fantastic pair.


6. Samuel L. Jackson – The Legend of Tarzan

Sam Jackson has had some interesting hairstyles throughout the years. Go back and watch Pulp Fiction, Unbreakable, Jumper and Fahrenheit 51 and you will notice the amazing hairdos. Now, Jackson has embraced the mustache and it is awesome. He is the best part of The Legend of Tarzan and I think a big part of that was the mustache.


5. Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water

I’m pretty sure Jeff Bridges grew this mustache over night. I love Hell or High Water and Jeff Bridges was a big reason why it worked so well. I’m guessing he drew inspiration from his mustache and turned in a brilliantly “manly” performance that worked perfectly in the movie. If I was a criminal and I came across that mustache I would be deeply worried.


4. Glen Powell – Everybody Wants Some!!

If awards were handed out for “Best Ensemble Mustache” than Everybody Wants Some!! would be the clear winner. However, one person had to singled out and I think Glen Powell’s mustache is the clear front-runner of the group. It is a personable mustache that fits Powell’s motermouthed character perfectly and feels totally earnest. It isn’t bombastic, yet its big enough to let everyone know that it isn’t ironic.


3. Denzel Washington – The Magnificent Seven

If you are going to be the leader of a badass group of good guys you are gonna need a badass mustache. Denzel’s mustache in The Magnificent Seven is truly heroic and I find it impressive that his facial hair can stay immaculate while he lays a whooping on bad guys. Do not mess with Denzel or his mustache.


2. Kurt Russell – Deepwater Horizon

Kurt Russell has a long history with amazing facial hair (The Thing, Hateful Eight), and this mustache adds a new wrinkle to his cinematic facial hair catalog. This mustache was formed by years of working on oil rigs and it has an everyday man appeal. If you want a mustache like this you’d better start chopping wood and drilling for oil.


1. Aaron Eckhart and Tom Hanks – Sully

And the Oscar for “Best Performances by Mustachioed Men” goes to Aaron Eckhart and Tom Hanks in Sully. I love Sully and I think it features some of the best performances of 2016. It also has some of the best mustaches I’ve seen in years. I’m still surprised I was able to focus on the plot over such amazing facial hair. Did Aaron Eckhart know his face was capable of such a great mustache? Can Tom Hanks do everything and grow a sweet mustache?

All hail the mustaches of Sully. They are the obvious winners.

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The MFF Podcast #79: JCVDVD, the unnecessary sequels Kickboxer: Vengeance and Hard Target 2

November 25, 2016

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Download the pod on iTunes,  PodBean, or LISTEN TO THE POD ON BLOG TALK RADIO.
If you get a chance please make sure to review, rate and share. You are awesome!

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Summary: We discuss a double dose of JCVD-themed Direct-to-DVD movies: Kickboxer: Vengeance (2016, starring Dave Bautista and Jean-Claude Van Damme) and Hard Target 2 (2016, starring Scott Adkins and Rhona Mitra).  We reflect on the glory of the original Kickboxer (1989), how we miss the greasy mulleted Van Damme punching out rattlesnakes, and how this is Scott Adkins’ (Ninja: Shadow of a Tear, The Expendables 2, Universal Solder: Day of Reckoning, El Gringo, Assassination Games)  least likable role maybe ever.  We hope you enjoy, and if you want to hear more about Van Damme check out our Van Damme-Mania podcast episode.

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We answer the tough questions in this podcast!  For example…

“How do alcoholics stay in such good shape?”

“Is Dave Bautista actually more Asian than the original Tong Po?”

“How (and why) did they already make the sequel Kickboxer: Retaliation?”

“What’s with all the doves?”

“Why in the world was the movie titled Hard Target 2?”
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LISTEN TO THE POD ON BLOG TALK RADIO,
or head over PodBean or  iTunes, and if you get a chance please SUBSCRIBE, REVIEW, RATE and SHARE the pod!

The MFF Podcast #78: Carpenter vs Zombie Halloween Rematch (1981 vs 2009)

November 24, 2016

MFF

You can download the pod on iTunes or LISTEN TO THE POD ON BLOG TALK RADIO.
If you get a chance please make sure to review, rate and share. You are awesome!

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Summary: In last year’s Halloween special (Carpenter (1978) vs Zombie (2007)) John Carpenter’s masterpiece Halloween (1978) and Rob Zombie’s 2007 Halloween remake faced off. Well, it’s time for a rematch! This year we endure two of the craziest sequels in horror history: Halloween II (1981) and Halloween II (2009), and discuss their madness!

We answer the tough questions in this podcast!  For example…

“Is Ghostbusting a form of unlawful imprisonment? Do ghosts have rights?”

“Who are the creepiest horror kids?”

“Why don’t we like any of these Halloween victims?”

“Is there a motive-less female counterpart to Michael Myers?”

“Did Michael Myers just stop caring… or did the directors?”

LISTEN TO THE POD ON BLOG TALK RADIO,
or head over iTunes, and if you get a chance please SUBSCRIBE, REVIEW, RATE and SHARE the pod!

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John’s Horror Corner: Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (2007), an over-the-top gorefest that was made for Henry Rollins.

November 22, 2016

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MY CALL:  More of a slapstick, less credible, “bad movie” version of Wrong Turn (2003), offering less in almost every way…except for Henry Rollins and gore.  Rollins and some over-the-top gore make this worth a watch for fans of the original.  MORE MOVIES LIKE Wrong Turn 2: Dead EndWrong Turn (2003), The Hills Have Eyes 1-2 (1977, 1984, 2006, 2007), Just Before Dawn (1981), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) will all continue to satisfy the hillbilly horror subgenre.  Maybe Cabin Fever 1-3 (2002-2014) for the gore hounds.

Director Joe Lynch (Chillerama, Knights of Badassdom) picks up where Wrong Turn’s director Rob Schmidt left off in the Greenbriar Back Country of West Virginia.  Unfortunately, Lynch doesn’t do nearly as well, except when almost satirizing part 1 with slapstick gorefest violence.

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This sequel features less flattering introductory shots of the Appalachian woods.  But I happily enjoyed the cameos in the opening sequence.  While on the phone with her agent her agent (Patton Oswalt; Odd Thomas), singer Kimberly Caldwell (as herself) makes the very same “wrong turn” that got those folks into trouble in Wrong Turn (2003) and hits a young mutant hillbilly.  The brutal tone is set immediately as the disfigured boy bites off her lips and she is cut top-to-bottom in half, dropping her intestines in a gore-slathered mess as we watch her legs fall in opposite directions!  If you don’t simply love that, then you may as well stop the movie right there.

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Retired marine and TV show personality Dale (Henry Rollins; He Never Died, Feast) hosts Ultimate Survivor.  The contestants include the X Games athlete Jonesy (Steve Braun; The Skulls III, Pterodactyl), overly conceited Elena (Crystal Lowe; Insomnia, Final Destination 3), artist Nina (Scream Queen Erica Leerhsen; The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Book of Shadows: The Blair Witch 2), ex-football star Jake (Texas Battle; Final Destination 3), marine Amber (Daniella Alonso; The Hills Have Eyes 2, The Collector), and the recently deceased Kimberly Caldwell.  To win The Ultimate Survivor they need to endure five days in the wilderness.  Producers Mara (Aleksa Palladino; Holidays, The Ring Two) and M (Matthew Currie Holmes; The Fog) organize as Dale barks survivalist melodrama at the contestants.5329-219f91a4cf9572cc0d894647ee1f3aea9

As we meet our cast of victims, the acting wreaks of stagnant direct-to-DVD dialogue—the writers clearly didn’t care.  It just “feels bad.”  What holds it together is Henry Rollins.  Maybe I’m just a fan, but he seems to be the only one who cares about his role—or maybe he’s the only member of the cast the director liked.  His scenes produced the majority of entertaining action and decent on-screen kills.  It seems like this movie was made thinking of him, and to that end I withdraw my previous complaints about the film.

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With head-cams on each contestant and hidden cameras throughout the forest, we watch as our victims wander into harm’s way.  We encounter deformed mountain men scalping people, shamefully forced gratuitous nudity, a messy birth scene of a monster baby, some decent after-the-fact gore, and a goofy incest scene.  Even if you consider Wrong Turn (2003) a “bad movie,” this is a “badder movie” that thankfully retains its so-bad-it’s-good status for our entertainment.  Attention was only aimed at over-the-top details (i.e., goofy incest) and not the atmospheric aspects (e.g., the inbred family cabin contains not a fraction of the macabre unkempt horror of part 1).

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We have a new mutant redneck family that is a bit less animalistic than before.  Three-Finger returns from part 1 (played by a different actor) and is a less menacing, more slapstick farce of his former self.  And part 1’s gas station owner (Wayne Robson; Cube, Wrong Turn) is back and, for some reason, looks far healthier.

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I don’t know about you, but I really loved Wrong Turn (2003). It was nothing stunning film-wise, but it scratches an itch I have every now and then—like when I want something brutal, but not The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974, 2003) brutal.  It cultivates a fun experience, has several recognizable actors and is highly rewatchable. The shots of the forest were gorgeous (when not CGI), there was thematic admixture of things feisty and dire, and the brutality was visceral!

This sequel, however, has zero cinematography worth mentioning.  All in all, this is a mixed bag.  The brutality (outside of the playful death of Kimberly Caldwell) is over-staged and uninspired in the first hour yet somehow spectacular in the third act.  The characters are bottom-of-the-barrel, but the inbred cannibal rednecks manage to live up to the hillbilly horror subgenre in the end after a stale early introduction.  We are never nervous, shocked or on edge.  Although you’ll enjoy more than a few gory chuckles during Henry Rollins’ scenes.  They reach sloppy delight status towards the end.

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Rollins basically goes survivalist Rambo. He stitches himself up, escapes being butchered, detonates incestuous hillbillies, and makes explosive arrows.  He essentially saves this movie from complete unwatchability.  By the end, this was basically trying to be The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) with its macabre cannibal butchery, the dinner scene, and Dale’s crazed rescue mission into their lair.

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Dead End (top); The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (bottom)

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The first half of this movie may be terrible, but it might just be worth it for the last gloriously gut-sloppy 30 minutes and, of course, the opening sequence.  It becomes a great B-movie death scene mess of gore as bodies are literally ground into chum and offal.  Oh, and of course, it gives a direct nod to usher in future sequels.

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