Tuesday, March 21, 2017

DOUBLE REVIEW: 'Logan' / 'Get Out' (2017) Movie Reviews

They're two of the most critically acclaimed popcorn pictures of the year ... but are they anywhere near as good as the Rotten Tomatoes hive mind would lead you to believe?

By: Jimbo X

Alright, time to update my biannual list of phrases only assholes say. If anybody you know or run into uses any of the words, terms or platitudes below, rest assured - without a shadow of a doubt - they are 100 percent bona fide assholes, through and through.

"Due Diligence" - Yeah, I know that, technically, this has to do with following the proper legal steps in order to sell a property or some other shit, but I've heard way too many people use it to describe rudimentary day-to-day affairs in the office. And its always used in this defamatory, condescending manner, too. You never hear anybody praised for doing their "due diligence," it's always used in the context of trying to fuck somebody over for not doing what you thought they were supposed to do in a given situation. That, and if you say it enough times, it starts to sound like the name of a 1980s gay porn star - i.e., Dewey Dylan Gents Stars in Hungry Peckers Vol. 8

"It Is What It Is" - Now here's a term that's just flat out fucking pointless. Traditionally, the idiom meant something was unchangeable so don't bother trying to fix it, but now people seem to use it to simply refer to a predicament as ... well, simply existing. For example, I once heard someone refer to a carton of melted ice cream as "it is what it is" - which is what, exactly? Couldn't you just say it IS melted ice cream instead and you'd get the exact same fuckin' message across with about three or four less syllables? 

"Extenuating Circumstances" - As a general rule, anybody who uses legal or criminal justice jargon in daily conversations are almost universally guaranteed to be assholes. But people who use THIS little phrase are unquestionably sphincters of the highest order. What does "extenuating circumstances" mean in the dictionary? Well, it's basically anything that happens to a person who does bad shit (or is accused of doing bad shit) that can be drudged up to make his or her actions (or accused actions) sound a little less bad. For example, "sure, I robbed that motherfucker, but I really needed the money so I could buy my dying mama some cancer medication that our Bronze plan wouldn't cover." So from the get-go, it's a term mechanically meant to defer blame, or at the very least, lessen the personal responsibility of a given deed. The problem in daily discourse, however, is that people always use "extenuating circumstances" to refer to anything that puts pressure on somebody, whether or not it directly or indirectly leads to someone doing something negative. This one is sorta' the inverse of "due diligence," because you rarely hear people use the term in a disparaging manner: indeed, you are much, much likelier to hear someone praise someone for excelling in the face of "extenuating circumstances" (getting all their work done, despite having to pick up the kids at school early or coming back from a root canal, etc.) than you are to hear stories of people generally fucking up because of "extenuating circumstances." So structurally, it's a term that has a concrete meaning outside of daily life that has been malapropriated in figurative public lingo to mean more or less the exact opposite of what it etymologically means. And a good goddamn, should we all hate people with such a blatant disregard for our cisgendered English language.

"Rushed To The Hospital" - Have you ever heard of anybody not being "rushed to the hospital?" It's never "taken to the hospital" or "driven to the hospital" or "transported to the hospital," it's ALWAYS "rushed to the hospital." I especially hate it when you see somebody on the news use it, as if such were a statement of objective fact. Just how fast do you need to be going to qualify as "being rushed?" Anything above the Interstate speed limit? And doesn't "rushed" itself sorta' imply you're acting in haste and reckless abandon, anyway? 

"A Can Of Worms" - Now this one doesn't make any goddamn sense. To open a can of worms means to cause controversy or disarray, but let me ask you this ... have you ever seen a fuckin' can of worms anywhere in your life? Where exactly does one procure a can of the like, and what is its core utility? Fishing bait? Eating up bad soil? You called just as easily use the term "Pandora's Box" or even the old "Apple of Discord" to figuratively express the same concept, but no, we have to keep using the "can of worms" metaphor because worms gross people out, even though nobody can explain why a bunch of worms placed inside a can somehow represents dissension or disorder. I mean, shit, if some giant 900 times taller than you and 9,000 times your body weight scooped you and your invertebrate kinfolk out of the dirt and jailed you inside a cylindrical container, wouldn't you kinda' expect desperation and disharmony as a logical outcome?

"Beautification" - This one is just P.R. bullshit-speak. Whenever someone says they want to "beautify" something, what they really mean is they want to spend way more money than necessary to clean something up and decorate it. You hear this one a lot in local governance from people who are convinced that the reason gang members won't stop shooting each other isn't because their neighborhood is an open air market for heroin and AK-47s, but simply because there's too much grass growing out of the sidewalk and all the rundown houses sure could use a nice coat of pastel colored paint

"Walkability" - I've heard urban supremacists use this term for more than a decade and I'm still not entirely sure what they think it means. Long story short, there's been this long-running effort to gentrify ... I mean, improve the quality of life ... in inner cities and surrounding suburbs by limiting the number of roads and increasing the amount of "walking" space and, ugh, bicycle lanes, in downtown areas. So, in essence, it's really just a ploy to make certain areas off limits to anybody who doesn't live nearby or isn't willing to pay an ass load of money to park three miles down the road simply to bask in the warm, homey glow of shitty coffee shops and boutique businesses prolly run by wife beaters and drug addicts. Show me a person who has ever used the phrase "walkability" in his or her life in any connotation other than fleeting jest and I'll show you somebody you don't EVER want to talk to, for any reason

"Mixed Multi-Use" - Hey, what do you know, it's another highfalutin term used by people who really, really want to make sure poor people can't afford to live anywhere near 'em. Essentially, "mixed multi-use" is a buzzword for developers who want to build these gargantuan facilities that combine all sorts of things - apartments, stores, restaurants, hotels, skating rinks, etc. - into one massive complex that's really more of a mini city-state than a shopping center. Store this one in your memory banks, folks, in case you hear someone trying to champion the cause in your neck of the woods - primarily, because whoever's planning on building the damn thing is almost assuredly going to demand you and your fellow taxpayers in the city are going to pony up some "local funding" to fiance their shitty little retail Wiemar Republic.

"Dwelling" - Now this one is just classist as all fuck. Really, the only kinds of people who use the term instead of "housing" or "home" are either pretentious fuckwads who think using synonyms for common terms make them look smarter to everybody or prejudiced assholes who think those miserable plebs who live in apartments instead of owning their own property are just the scum of the fucking earth. I actually heard someone use the expression"high-density multi-family dwelling" as a euphemism for apartment complex once, like that was the official Latin binomial nomenclature. I didn't slap him across the face and put him in the old Ultimo Dragon reverse sleeper, but in hindsight, I prolly should have.

"Untenable" - You ever notice how people never use the world "tenable," but you hear "untenable" used all the fucking time? Tenable is basically just a fancy way of say "defensible" or "justifiable," but come to think of it, you rarely hear either of those two words without a big fat "UN" placed before 'em, too. Hell, we might as well just lump in everybody who uses a surfeit of "un-" words to go along with this one. If you ever hear someone talk about things being "uncouth" or "unenlightened," that's pretty much a dog whistle for you to never, ever give one iota of half a percentage point of a fuck what they have to say about nothing

"Taken To Its Logical Extreme" - Also sometimes erroneously expressed as "taken to its logical extent," which doesn't make any damn sense in and of itselfThis is almost exclusively uttered by people trying to take a higher philosophical ground on something. This is a phrase generally used as a counterpoint to an argument they really can't refute, so instead they reframe a person's statement by taking the core thesis of said statement and making it as absurdly totalitarian sounding as possible - you know, as if that highfalutin fantasy consequence in any way, shape or form negates the initial soundness of the original statement to begin with. Example: "Well, Billy, while it is true that some terrorists may be able to sneak into the country from Syria, that kind of perspective taken to its logical extreme means promoting the sort of draconian nationalist immigration policies of Hitler's Germany, and humanity cannot dare stand idly by while another Holocaust takes place." 

"Sold A Bill of Goods" - So basically, this means someone tricks somebody else into investing into something that really isn't worth the investment. But according to Google, "a bill of goods" merely means "a consignment of merchandise," so how exactly is "sold a bill of goods" supposed to intrinsically denote deception or fraud? Is it to be taken hyper-literally, to mean that at some point in time, someone has been stupid enough to pay somebody else for a bill of their own goods? This is a totally illogical idiom that could be fixed with a simple tweak - "sold somebody else's bill of goods." But nobody has the forthrightness to update the old saying to make sense, which means anyone who still uses the expression just don't give a fuck about illogical platitudes because their agreed-upon societal meaning kinda' sorta' makes sense. And fuck those people, hard

"Laughable" - Hey kids, did somebody say something you didn't like but you don't really know how to counter it? No problem, just fire back by calling the statement "laughable," as if the fact you find it hilariously without merit is an actual substitute for tangible proof negating the other person's claim. This is the ultimate self-affirming vocabulary assholery, a term that elevates the speaker's objective antipathy of another speaker or statement to a state of artificial subjective tautology. There is no reasoning here - "x is 'laughable' JUST because y thinks so." Indeed, it's impossible to prove the "laughableness" of ANYTHING as a concrete statement, because it's an entirely objective and non-scientific concept. But I assure you, every goddamn day you're going to encounter somebody using "laughable" as part of their offensive vernacular; alas, these poor, rhetorically-challenged dildo-heads will never grasp what's truly laughable about their go-to linguistic riposte is just how definitionally impotent the alleged "barb" ultimately is.

Forget plot, or character development or nuance or deeper sociocultural contexts: we all know the thing that really held the Wolverine movies back were the lack of "f-words."

Speaking of things that don't have the good sense to die when they should've, the first movie in our back to back double feature this week is Logan, which is supposedly the last time we'll ever see Hugh Jackman in a X-Men movie - which, as we should all know by now, is kinda' like the executives at Paramount swearing up and down the last Jason movie was the last one for real, when they're already making plans for another movie next year.

This one's been getting a lot of hype from fanboys on the Internet, who are praising it as the best X-movie ever 'cause it's rated R and has lots of swearing and blood and shit in it, because "mature entertainment" inherently means people saying "asshole" and limbs getting hacked off, and as apparent by the success of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, not a whole lot else. And if you're wondering just how much the suits at Fox are running with the newfound freedom of the R-rating, rest assured the first line of dialogue in the movie is indeed old Wolvie muttering "what the fuck." And trust me, he gets to say it many more times throughout the film's opening sequence, in which he stabs a good half dozen Meskins to death for trying to jimmy the hubcaps off his pick-up.

Alright, exposition time, kids. It's the year 2029 and Wolverine is now stuck driving limos around the Texas/Mexico border, usually with drunken frat boys in the back screaming "USA! USA!" at that wall. Then the movie's main villain shows up (he's got a metal Erector Set for a hand and speaks with the worst Southern accent this side of the chick in VooDoo) and he asks Wolverine to hand over Professor X 'cause he's got Alzheimer's now and the C.I.A. ain't exactly sure what to do with the world's most powerful telepath running around talking to toasters and trying to mind probe his box of Depends - especially one that's living in a grain silo in Laredo with his albino lizard face live-in boyfriend. 

So anyway, old Wolverine decides to take a break from driving across the border to pick up Metamucil and 5 peso opiates to drive a woman and her kid to Canada for $50,000. Of course, the next tim
e he sees her she's got a giant fist-sized hole in her neck and then that the guy with the robo-hand follows him back to Professor X's silo and the dead mamacita's daughter KO's him with a monkey wrench and that's when Jean Luc Picard says "see, I told you she was the chosen mutant!" Then there's an all out siege by the federales and we learn the girl has claws and knows Gymkata just like Wolverine, and as a result, a good six or seven federal employees have their jugulars sliced open with multiple shish-ka-bob skewer fists. Then Wolverine finds an iPhone and watches a video from the dead girl's mama and he learns that there's this black ops medical research center in Mexico that's experimenting on a bunch of junior high school mutants so they can turn 'em into top secret super soldiers and Wolverine learns the girl is actually his genetic clone so he does what anybody being pursued by an army of covert, cyborg execution squads would do - he robs a convenience store for an extra phone charger and drives the old Prof and Wolverine, Jr. to Oklahoma City so they can read old X-Men comics and make really, really forced allusions to that old western Shane

But Prof. X kinda' gives away their location when he accidentally gives everybody in the Great Plains a brain enema, so the three take refuge in the home of a random rancher family somewhere in the heartland (and yes, for those of you that grade films on multicultural points alone, you'll be happy to know it's an all black family of aspiring rodeo performers and corn producers.) Then pretty much nothing happens for the next 20 minutes, then another Wolverine clone shows up and slaughters everybody in the house except Wolvie and his test tube daughter and naturally there's an all-too-brief claw-to-claw karate fight but there's this subplot about the super metal in Wolverine's bones poisoning him so he has to abandon the fight and steal a rusted out Chevy Blazer and high tail it to South Dakota. And by this point, he looks something worse than half-dead ... he looks like a stunt double for Mel Gibson

So Wolverine Girl drives him to North Dakota where all of the other escaped mutant middle schoolers have set up some kind of outpost in the wastelands and then the mutant-killing army closes in on them and we've got all sorts of great death scenes in the mix, including this one part where a girl freezes a dude's arm and karate chops it off like Sub-Zero in Mortal Kombat and another part where a girl slings a couple of pine needles into some dudes' faces at 2,000 miles per hour. Then Wolverine comes in for the save, and he stabs a million billion soldiers to death but not before they shoot him a million billion times, too. And that's when the other Wolverine clone shows up for an encore performance, only this time all the mutant kids band together and mummify his ass in Spanish moss before dropping an ATF van on his larynx. But that still ain't enough to put him down for good, so Wolverine Girl has to load an adamantium bullet into a handgun and pop a cap in Evil Wolverine's ass (you know, for the media to be so virulently anti-gun when it comes to public policy, they sure do enjoy using firearm violence and children as contrived plot devices in their movies, don't they?) Of course, the big question you have to ask yourself if you haven't seen the movie is whether or not Wolverine survives the ordeal, and without giving away the grand finale, let's just say ... oh, fuck it, he gets impaled on a tree branch and dies. But the best part comes at the very tail-end of the movie, when Wolverine Girl is giving an impassioned, tearful eulogy for Logan, but you can't help but laugh your ass off the entire scene because there's this one black kid who looks just like Fat Albert cradling one of those 12-inch Toy Biz Wolverine dolls in his hands throughout the whole procession. And THAT'S how the multi-million dollar Wolverine cash cow gets sent to pasture, folks ... pending, of course, the fine suits at Fox DON'T back up the Brinks van to Hugh Jackman's front door and tell him to take as much as he wants for one more go-at-it ... which, surely, would never, ever happen, right? Right!?!

We've got 53 dead bodies. No breasts (what's the point of even going for an R rating if you ain't going to show us some tit-tays to go along with the f-words, guys?) Two motor vehicle chases. One border fence demolition derby, with train collision. Albino sunlight torture. Gratuitous mind control vibrating camera effects. Gratuitous Shane references. Gratuitous road trip bickering. Throat stabbing. Face puncturing. Arms literally broken off. Random acts of senseless violence against a pick-up truck with a shovel. One exploding armored paddy wagon. Kung fu. Magic bullet fu. And of course, the thing that pretty much makes the whole movie possible, a whole hell of a lot of razor sharp claw fu

Starring Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, who's still walking around in a wife beater and stabbing people, only this time he gets to do so while saying lines like "in real life, people die and no asshole in a leotard can stop it;" Patrick Stewart as the dementia-addled Prof. X, who curses like a sailor, needs help going to the bathroom and almost makes everybody in Oklahoma's heads explode; Dafne Keen as the daughter of Wolverine, who doesn't say a whole lot in the movie but is responsible for at least half its bodycount; Stephen Merchant as the swishy assisted living attendant vampire; and Boyd Holbrook as the movie's central villain, who most certainly ain't no Magneto, that's for damned sure. 

Directed by James Mangold and written by Scott Frank and Michael Green, who I'm pretty sure came up with the idea for the movie after watching Children of Men and Little Miss Sunshine back-to-back one weekend.

I give it two and a half stars out of four. The first hour is pretty good, but after that, things start dragging like the muffler in a 1987 Toyota Camry. Still, its prolly the best X-Men movie ever made, which - I know - is sorta like bragging about being the kid with the highest grades in special ed, but you know what I'm trying to say here. Jimbo says check it out, but be sure to pop open the No-Doz for that slow, slooooooooow second act.

Hey, you know what I bet would be a great way to address white racism? By making a movie that literally hinges on the idea that black people are genetically superior human beings!

And while we're on the subject of vastly overrated movies, our second flick in this week's double feature has been drawing a lot of acclaim from people who apparently have never heard of The Stepford Wives before. Essentially, that's all Get Out is, only with the feminist subtext replaced by your standard Black Lives Matter rhetoric, and with a substantial amount of Invasion of the Body Snatchers-inspired paranoia thrown into the mix for good measure. Of course, this being a movie directed by a guy Comedy Central brought in to play a poor man's version of Dave Chappelle, all of the incessant anti-commie sentiment from Don Siegel's 1956 classic has been subbed out for a "healthy" dose of anti-Caucasian fearmongering instead, but really, would you've expected anything less from the same ethnomasochist pop cultural machinery that gave life to stuff like Dear White People and The Birth of a Nation?

So the movie cold opens with some black dude walking through a subdivision at night, getting chloroformed and chucked into a WHITE car, because goddamn, who needs subtlety, right? From there, we're introduced to an interracial couple living in New York; the black photographer who does nothing but artsy-fartsy black and white photos of the inner city slums asks his white girly friend if her parents know he's black and she reassures him by telling him her dad would've voted for Obama a third time if he could and they are in no way, shape or form involved in any anti-niggerdom. On the way to daddy's woodland estate, they hit a deer and a cop asks to see the boyfriend's ID and his girlfriend acts like that's the most racist shit she's ever seen in her life and then I think about that time my girlfriend's car got broken into by a black dude and when the cops arrived they asked to see my ID and that other time I was a passenger when my cousin got into a fender bender and the cops asked to see my ID and realize "holy shit, I'm a victim of the oppressive white state, too." Then they actually get to the girl's parents' place and the dad keeps talking about how much he enjoys seeing deer die while the black groundskeeper just stares at them like one of those old Magic Eye paintings. Then dad gives the boyfriend a walking tour of the place and talks about how Jesse Owens beat his daddy in an Olympic qualifier and how much of a privilege it is "to experience another person's culture" and then his girlfriend's brother shows up and tells him he would make a great Ultimate Fighter and then the girlfriend apologizes a million times for her folks committing the same prejudicial microaggressions as the cop from earlier. 

Then the main character goes out for a smoke and the groundskeeper runs past him like the fucking Flash and the maid makes the old Chris Benoit throat slice gesture towards him then when he goes back inside his GF's mom asks him if he wants her to hypnotize him into quitting smoking so now every time she taps a teacup with a spoon he falls into coma and he starts falling into a BLACK abyss and then ... oh never mind, it was all just a dream sequence. Except the next day, he goes out to talk to the groundskeeper and he asks him what he was doing so long in the tearoom last night but before he has time to dig into the matter any deeper a whole bunch of people show up for the annual extended family get-together and all these rich white people keep touching him and telling him how "black is in fashion" and then he talks to this blind art gallery dealer played by the dude who voiced Bill on King of the Hill and later that night he calls his buddy who works for the T.S.A. (who is also dog-sitting for him) he thinks some strange shit is afoot and he tells him he thinks there's some kind of sex slavery thing going on.

So the next day our main man encounters this one light skinned brotha' who enunciates very clearly in proper English and prefers to shake hands instead of fist bump and he thinks to himself "OK, now I know something isn't right here" and he takes a picture of him with his iPhone and the flash causes him to have a nosebleed and he attacks him. Then, while he and his girlfriend go for a hike in the wilderness, everybody else at the estate participate in a silent auction where the big prize up for grabs appears to be ... well, the black boyfriend

Then our primary protagonist sends his T.S.A. buddy a picture of the guy who went crazy on him and he recognizes him as some dude who used to work at a theater in Brooklyn. Then the boyfriend starts snooping through his girlfriend's old photos and finds pictures of about two dozen other black dudes she was boning and when he goes downstairs, his GF's brother wallops him with a lacrosse stick and he wakes up tied up in a Barcalounger in the basement and he watches a video starring his girlfriend's grandaddy explaining what a "coagula" is and eventually, he figures out "wait a minute, what these crazy crackers are doing is taking the brains out of old white dudes and putting them inside the bodies of young black people," and he gets the wise idea of stuffing cotton (of course it would be cotton - it just had to be cotton) into his ears so the mind control audio won't affect him and that's when it's time for his great escape. And without giving away too much of the grand finale, I assure you - there is going to be a LOT of honky blood flying all over the place. 

We've got eight dead bodies. No breasts. One dead deer. One motor vehicle collision. Skull sawing. Attempted trans-racial brain surgery. Scalps roll. Fork to the hand. Knife to the face. One antler impalement. One self-inflicted shotgun blast. Gratuitous white girl strangling. Ear plug fu. Ornamental fruit fu. Lacrosse stick fu. Attempted rear naked choke fu. Repressed memory fu. iPhone fu. And the thing responsible for the entire movie, ironically oversuspicious reverse-racism fu.

Starring Daniel Kaluuya as protagonist Chris Washington, the bug-eyed Sidney Portier wannabe who eventually scores one for Black America by slaughtering three times as many white people in one night as O.J.; Allison Williams as serial coal burner Rose Armitage, who you know is no damned good because she eats her milk and cereal separately and says lines like "you are just so sexy people are unplugging your phones"; Bradley Whitford as Daddy Armitage, the neurosurgeon who says white people are "gods trapped in cocoons"; Catherine Keener as Mama Armitage, who's really only in the movie to keep stirring her black-person-mind-controlling cup of tea over and over and over again; Caleb Landry Jones as the scraggly haired brother that asks his sister's boyfriend if he would like to 'rassle at the diner table (which is actually a customary practice in most Southern families, you uncultured bigots); and LilRel Howery as the absolute best thing about the entire movie, the airport security guard who says lines like "Jeffrey Dahmer was eating the shit outta' niggas' heads," and "they've been abducting black people, brainwashing them and using them as sex slaves and shit," marking perhaps the first time in pop culture history the T.S.A. has ever been shown in anything even remotely approaching a positive light.

Directed and written by Mad TV alum Jordan Peele, whose idea of combating white prejudice is making a movie where every white person in the world secretly wants to be inside a genetically superior black body with the central message that black people should be wary of anybody who doesn't look, sound and act the exact same way they do.

I give it two and a half stars out of four. The build-up in the first hour is pretty good, but the third act just falls apart with too much comedy that ain't funny, too many "jump scares" that aren't even close to being scary and - the backbreaker - a supremely awkward attempt at delivering some kind of "profound" sociocultural statement on black/white relations in post-Ferguson America so damned muddy you're not even sure what point the movie's trying to make chewing up way too much of the running time. Jimbo says check it out, just as long as you heed Public Enemy's advice and go into it not believing the hype.


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