Friday, September 29, 2017

DOUBLE REVIEW: 'Mother!' / 'Kingsman: The Golden Circle'

When pretentious, arthouse pseudo-surrealism goes head-to-head with big budget, ultra-violent popcorn action awesomeness...


By: Jimbo X
JimboXAmerican@gmail.com
@JimboX

Alright, I'm sick of fucking around - I want someone to tell me where all my underwear goes right now.

This has been a phenomenon that has puzzled me my entire life. Even when I was a kid I kept wondering why there seemed to be fewer and fewer tighty whities in the laundry each month. It followed me through high school, college and now, as a 30-something-adult, the underwear enigma has only gotten more bamboozling. 

Around Christmastime, I bought a 12-pack of boxers. I vividly recall stuffing them in my undergarment drawers and literally just looking at them for five minutes, because I was so happy to have a full assortment of underwear again. That meant I could go almost an entire fortnight without having to do laundry, and when you hate doing laundry as much as I do, that's the household chore equivalent of getting blow jobbed by Taylor Swift

Well, it's been about ten months since I bought the $18.99 12-pack of Hanes stretch-fit, extra comfy medium-sized boxers. The other day I checked my drawer, and you know how many pairs of underwear were in there? Three

Where the hell did the other nine pairs of underwear go? It's not like I run around leaving them in odd places like I was Johnny Underwear-Seed or anything like that. If I'm not actively wearing them, there's only so many places they could be; in the clothes hamper, the washer/dryer or crumpled up on the bedroom floor of my latest romantic conquest. Yet somehow, those damn things keep disappearing.

It's the exact opposite problem I have with my socks. Somehow, my sock drawer KEEPS expanding, despite the fact I haven't bought any new socks in like three years. Come to think of it, I have the same problem with my utensils; the volume of forks keeps mysteriously going down, while the volume of spoons keeps mysteriously going up. It's such a maddening phenomenon that I can only imagine my forks turning into the kitchenware equivalent of racists, muttering among themselves about how much better the utensil drawer was before all those "damn scoopers" started taking over the place. 

I've never been one for conspiracy chatter, but this thing has been going on for so long with seemingly no logical explanation that I have no choice but to wonder if there's some sort of PSYOPS shit going on. Is there someone coming into my house while I'm at work and manually removing my underwear and dropping off more socks while he's there? Is there some kind of garment Bermuda Triangle in-between my washing machine and dryer, that only affects boxers? Do the things just fucking disintegrate if you don't wrap them around your ass and ballsack at least once per week?

I've no earthly clue, folks. And you know what the worst thing about the underwear enigma is? It's when you're taking a shower and you get out of the tub sopping wet and you open up your underwear drawer and there's nothing in there except dust bunnies and pennies from 1983. Which means you have no chance but to rummage through the dirty clothes hamper and fish out an already worn pair of underwear to cover your genitals while you're washing and drying the rest of your boxers. And it's scientifically impossible to have a productive day if you're wearing dirty old underwear - you can literally feel yesterday's butthole residue and nut sack sweat rubbing against you, and when that's the case you can't focus on shit

There has to be some sort of feasible, scientific explanation for this. Somewhere, there's an entire cache of my missing boxers, all piled up like Cambodian war crime skeletons, if only I knew were to look. Rest assured, the next time I pick up my economy-sized bag of underwear, I'm going to be watching those fuckers like a hawk - and as soon as I find who (or what) has been thieving 'em from me, me and my crusty ass drawers are going to stomp a mudhole in something.

Not since The Fappening have we seen JLaw under such intense emotional distress...

Speaking of perplexing bullshit, our first movie of the week is none other than Darren Aronofsky's latest all-star, big-budget, safe-for-mass-consumption mindfuck, Mother!  No, that exclamation point isn't there because I'm excited, it's because it's in the formal title, like Punch-Out!! and Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! At this point, we just ought to be happy he didn't throw in a hashtag and and a couple of tildes for maximum pretentious asshole points

Now, old Darren's a pretty talented director. He book-ended the 2000s with two of the decade's best flicks - the world's greatest anti-drug PSA and a biopic on the fate of every pro 'rassler in the 1980s ever - and with Black Swan he gave us all an Argento-lite horror flick our girlfriends could enjoy and we could surreptitiously jack it to later. His latest flick is a bit different, though, because it's one of those metaphorical movies, where everything is supposed to be some sort of sly commentary on global warming or Christianity or something. This is Darren's attempt at making a straight horror version of a Luis Bunuel film a'la The Exterminating Angel, but at best it comes off as a little more than a really low-grade imitation of Lars Von Trier's lesser work - in fact, you could even call the whole movie an extremely neutered, unacknowledged remake of Antichrist and you wouldn't be that far off from accurately describing it. 

So it's about Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem living in this big old house out in the middle of nowhere. He's a famous poet and she just walks around all day, painting the walls different colors and drinking this magical Metamucil formula, wondering why he never wants to jump her bones. Then one day Ed Harris walks through the door and Javier lets him sleep in a spare room and JLaw automatically dislikes him because he won't stop smoking in the house and then his wife shows up and she's played by Michelle Pffeifer and she's got so much botulism living under her face it looks like her cheeks are gonna' explode at any minute. Anyway, she keeps getting drunk on spiked lemonade and asking JLaw why she don't wear sexy underwear and then her hitherto unacknowledged sons show up and have an ECW rasslin' match right then and there on the kitchen floor and one of 'em gets impaled with a glass vase and then Javier decides "what the hell, let's just hold the wake at our place," and then all of these mourners gather in the kitchen and Jennifer gets called "an arrogant cunt" and she has to stop this black dude from having sex with an Asian woman in her bedroom then she starts seeing the floorboards bleed and she uncovers a hidden furnace next to the dryer. And after they fuck up the plumbing, she finally convinces everybody to vamoose, and then she and Javier do the nasty and she wakes up the next morning just knowing she's preggers, and this is enough inspiration for Javier to finish his next book, and we skip ahead about nine months and the book gets published and now, hundreds of people are flocking to the house to see Javier because they think his writing's just that dandy.

And here's where the movie starts getting really weird. Before long, there aren't just hundreds of people showing up at the house, there are thousands, and it's only a matter of time until they start stealing every piece of furniture in the place as souvenirs. You see, now people are worshiping Javier as some kind of cult leader, and he actually likes all the attention, but of course his wife starts having contractions and she's trying to get out of there but all of a sudden a SWAT team vs. Antifa battle royale breaks out in the living room and all of these refugees behind barbed wire fences magically appear next to the dishwasher and by the time she finally does have the baby, her kid get stolen and crowd-surfed around in the basement, up until the point the starving Javier-worshipers decide to have a very impromptu snack.

And without giving away the ending, let's just say things aren't resolved peaceably after JLaw gets kicked in the face 800 times by people calling her a "cocktease" and she fortuitously finds a Zippo lighter right next to a 9,000 gallon drum of kerosene. 

We've got 500 dead bodies. Two breasts (but you'll miss 'em if you blink.) One exploding house. One baby eating ritual. One heart in a toilet. Gratuitous biblical references. One exploding head. Kung fu. Mace fu. Glass shard fu. And the thing more or less responsible for the movie existing in the first place, really oblique pro-environmentalist subtext fu.

Starring Jennifer Lawrence as the mother earth stand-in who has to keep telling people to get off her sink because it ain't screwed into the wall yet; Javier Bardem as the God analogue with a severe case of writer's block; Ed Harris as the Adam-equivalent who smokes like a chimney and has more puking scenes than dialogue; Michelle Pffeifer as the Eve-expy that keeps asking everybody embarrassing questions about their sex lives; and Kristen Wiig as the book publisher broad who I think is supposed to be St. Paul, or an unemployed Ghostbuster, or something.

Written and directed by Darren Aronofsky, who really should've known better than to try and merge The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie with Melancholia and then expect anybody in middle America to have any clue what the hell he was getting at.

I give it two and a half stars out of four. Jimbo says check it out, but don't blame me if you can't make sense out of a damn thing that happens in the movie.

Now, I don't know if they meant for the movie to be Rygar vs. Earnest Evans, but goddamn, I am so glad that it came out that way.

Now, if you're looking for a GREAT movie that doesn't even bother with feminist subtext or climate change allegories or offhanded allusions to L'Age d'Or, you need to get your keister down to the local cineplex and check out Kingsman: The Golden Circle pronto. This is one of those rare sequels that's every bit as good as the original - hell, I think this one might be even better than the first movie, and I already thought that was one of the best comic book adaptations of the last 25 or so years. 

Now, right off the bat you can tell it's going to be a great movie because this fruit basket named Glenn Kenny (who, as an aside, looks like the kind of guy who has several missing children locked in his basement) over at the corpse of Roger Ebert's old website gave it zero stars. Not because it's a poorly made movie, but because he didn't like the movie's violence, there are fake Fox News report sprinkled throughout it and the fact the first movie featured Barack Obama's head exploding and a couple of jokes about anal sex. But mostly, he's just mad they didn't include an expy of Donald Trump in *this* movie and make his head explode, too, and he's really mad the movie wasn't a two-hour long ode to multiculturalism featuring a white woman and a black man fighting the evil masculine heterosexual honky hegemony like every other goddamn Hollywood action movie nowadays. Of course, just like Tipper Gore's old parental advisory sticker warnings on rap and metal CDs back in the day, what Kenny did was accidentally bestow the latest Kingsman movie with the most glowing recommendation imaginable for the average American moviegoer. I mean, if some hippie-dippie, John Wayne Gacy-looking liberal shrimp dweeb abhors it, it must be doing something right, ain't it? 

And I assure you, The Golden Circle gets a LOT of things right. Less than two minutes into the movie and we've already got a full-tilt car chase going on, complete with perhaps the first ever kung fu scene in movie history featuring two guys who pretty much remain seated the whole damn time. And just like its predecessor, this movie nobly adheres to the number one rule of degenerate cinema film-making: anybody can die at any time. And doing us one better, The Golden Circle adds a new wrinkle and introduces a plot mechanism where anybody can be resurrected from the dead at any minute, too - including Colin Firth, who we all thought was dead after getting shot in the right eye socket at point blank range in the first movie. Now, I ain't going to give away how he came back to life, but trust me - if you're a fan of old school video games like Contra and Mega Man, you'll DEFINITELY wanna' put this on your "must-view" list.

Alright, the plot this time around? Taron Egerston's Eggsy character is still the U.K.'s top secret agent, but this international drug trafficking outfit in Cambodia hacks the agency database and next thing you know, we've got rockets raining down all over the English countryside, and let's just say there's going to be a lot of open positions at Kingsman, LLC come Monday morning. So he and tech wizard Merlin (Mark Strong) wind up teaming up with the U.S. equivalent of the Kingsman operation, which just so happens to be an undercover project Jack Daniels runs on the side. So we meet everybody on their team - Channing Tatum (who is only in the movie for about ten minutes), Halle Berry (her codename is "Ginger Ale") and Jeff Bridges, who plays the head honcho of the operation - and it ain't long beafore Eggsy is teaming up with this guy named Whiskey who has a laser powered bull rope and beating up a whole bunch of saloon patrons who use the word "faggot" and getting into shootouts in the Italian mountains with about 100 or so assassins all wearing plastic Hazmat suits. 

Oh, and the bad guy this time around is Julianne Moore, who lives in a 1950s-theme restaurant in Pol Pot's backyard, and her big scheme is to make weed, cocaine and crystal meth legal worldwide by tainting the planet's ecstasy and opium supply with a virus that makes people's veins bulge out of their face and start dancing until their eyeballs explode. And we know she's really evil, not because she makes new recruits eat hamburgers made out of the goons they're replacing, but because she kidnapped Elton John and makes him perform "Saturday Night's Alright (for Fighting)" over and over again.

Of course, there's a lot of twists and turns in this one, so I can't say too much more without spoiling the movie. But I will say this: by the end of the movie, the whole thing turns into a syncretism of Metal Gear Solid, Bioshock and Frank Miller's great comic Give Me Liberty, complete with an unauthorized cameo by the dude from Bionic Commando and not just one but two cast members getting ground up in an industrial sausage mixer, just like a big budget version of The Story of Ricky

We've got 108 dead bodies. No breasts. One car chase, with three fireballs. Three dead robots. Five kung fu scenes. One barroom brawl. Five major explosions. Legs roll. Arms roll. Torsos roll. Heads roll. Multiple exploding eyeballs. Gratuitous John Denver. Smelting fu. Meat grinder fu. Heroin fu. Laser-powered bull rope fu. Vaginal nanobot fu. Bowling ball fu. And the thing that makes the movie truly significant, the first ever recorded instance of Elton John fu in motion picture history.

Starring Taron Egerton as Eggsy, the dashing leading man who marries the Swedish princess he butt fucked at the end of the last movie and now has to save from Ebola after she smokes a spliff; Colin Firth as Harry, the veteran super spy who has spent the last two years thinking he was a butterfly expert in a padded room and has to overcome really bad depth perception once his memory is recovered; Julianne Moore as the international drug queenpin with the demeanor of QVC hostess who has a nasty habit of turning insubordinates into Hamburger Helper; Mark Strong as Merlin, the techno-wizard who gets to ditch the NASA computer terminal and kick a little ass himself this go-at-it; and Pedro Pascal as Whiskey, the rogue American super spy who may or may not be trying to sabotage the mission to find a cure for bong-borne Hantavirus. 

Co-written by Jane Goldman (who also co-wrote Kick Ass and the first X-Men: First Class movie) and directed by Matthew Vaughn, who probably deserves an Oscar of some kind for coming up with dialogue like "you look like some faggot looking for an eye-fucking" and getting Elton John to scream "you fucking bitch!" with conviction while being repeatedly shocked by an electric dog collar. 

I came real close to giving this one the Full Monty, but it drags on for about ten minutes longer than it probably should've and lays on the pro-drug legalization shtick a tad too thick for my liking. Still, this is easily one of the best movies you'll see this year. I give it three and a half stars out of four - Jimbo says definitely check it out.

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