Category Archives: Movies

The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: Indie Movies of Summer 2018

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

Every summer for four years, Marisa, Sara, Nathaniel, and Jesse have gotten together to discuss the wealth of indie movies released between the beginning of May and the end of August, offering an alternative to the onslaught of summer blockbusters as well as a bunch of rental recommendations for the fall. (Here are the past episodes for 2015, 2016, and 2017.)

Our discussion of this year’s crop of summer indie movies covers over 15 different titles: Blindspotting! Eighth Grade! Madeline’s Madeline! Hereditary! Sorry to Bother You! Tully! First Reformed! BlacKkKlansman! And more!

Just listen to what the critics have to say!

“It’s not that I don’t trust this filmmaker, where they’re going to take me. But I don’t know that they have a handle on the effect of this movie, moment to moment.” – Nathaniel

“It did still feel very real to me, just the level of anxiety that you feel on a daily basis on just about every social interaction that you have. And it’s by some YouTube guy!” – Sara

“I feel like it’s about something never really put to screen: Trying to reconcile the woman you were before you were a mother, and the women you are after.” – Marisa

“That was a movie I admired, and never ever want to see again. And would not be inspired to check out previous films by this director. The next one, yes, but there’s no turning back.” – Jesse

What do these quotes mean in context? Listen and find out!

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The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: The Mission: Impossible Franchise

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

From its less-than-humble beginnings as a major event movie in 1996, it’s still remarkable that the Mission: Impossible movies have become the longest-running same-continuity reboot-free franchise going, with six films in 22 years. The SportsAlcohol.com crew is made up of a lot of Mission: Impossible fans, so on the occasion of the newest release, Fallout, Nathaniel, Marisa, Jesse, and Jon got together to go over what we liked, loved, and hmmmm’d about the newest entry, followed by a discussion of the first five movies. Glory to our deep dive into Cruise-ology, Ilsa Faust fandom, auteur analysis, a major movie star’s unwillingness to delivery quips, the coolness of Ving Rhames, and so much more!

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The Happytime Murders: Kid Stuff for Adults

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

An early pilot for The Muppet Show was subtitled Sex & Violence. This title was not included when Jim Henson’s puppet variety show became a star-studded five-season sensation in international syndication, and in general The Muppet Show proceeded as something families could watch together. A toddler could comfortably watch most of the show’s segments; many have, and will. But the reason toddlers might still watch The Muppet Show is because it has long appealed to adults, both now (when those adults may have nostalgic memories of watching it as children) and when it aired (when a show would need more than just some children’s eyeballs to become a five-season international-syndication sensation).

At the risk of sounding like that guy, the notion of affable and adorable puppets doing comedy for adults is not counter to the Muppets; in a large part, it is the Muppets. Granted, the Muppets never indulged in salty language or explicit sex scenes. But if the supposed incongruity of those actions constitute a cheap laugh, what kind of laugh is a puppet pig karate-chopping a puppet frog? Isn’t funny in part because the pig puppet is acting like an angry human? And isn’t there an enormous cult of appreciation around Team America: World Police in part because it does feature puppets doing things we don’t expect puppets to do?
Continue reading The Happytime Murders: Kid Stuff for Adults

Crazy Rich Asians would have been a hell of a musical

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

A major reason that Crazy Rich Asians is a landmark is right up there on screen – it’s a big studio production made almost entirely with Asian and Asian-American performers, and before you even get to the many individual charms of those actors, there’s real distinction in watching an American movie without any white people in it, something that hopefully can become less rare in the coming years. But the movie is a big deal for representation behind the camera, too: It’s a dip into the romantic comedy and family drama genres from the talented and versatile Jon M. Chu, an Asian-American director whose career has so far included an unusual number of sequel jobs, as he was sent in to continue Step Up (with parts 2 and 3), G.I. Joe (part 2), and Now You See Me (part 2, and he’s attached to part 3). More often than not, he leaves a franchise in better shape than he found it; here he has the chance to start his own.
Continue reading Crazy Rich Asians would have been a hell of a musical

The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: Top Summer Movies of 1998

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

The summer movie season means sequels galore, and we here at SportsAlcohol.com are happy to oblige with the latest installment of our own long-running series! Since 2014, we’ve been recording a podcast wherein we go through the top summer box office attractions of 20 years earlier and discuss what it was like going to movies in a different era, and how we feel about some of these beloved/despised/moneymaking/money-losing projects now. So, in the tradition of 1997, 1996, 1995, and 1994 comes our blockbuster episode on summer 1998, including:

  • Two asteroids!
  • Two big comedies!
  • One big comedy star trying drama!
  • More Disney song critiques!
  • Unsold Godzilla merchandise languishing at JC Penney!
  • A lightning round of non-blockbusters!
  • AND MORE!

For supplemental reading about the summer of 1998, you might also check out this site’s story “Godzilla ’98” and its companion piece “Armageddon ’98”!

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The Odyssey: Damsel and Izzy Gets the Fuck Across Town

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

About halfway through Damsel, maybe a little earlier, maybe much earlier if you’re looking for it, Robert Pattinson, who has been playing the lead role, turns out to be less heroic than you might have assumed, and certainly less heroic than his character has made himself out to be so far. This might constitute a spoiler if I was more specific, or if Robert Pattinson had played any actual heroic roles since his work as the ultimate Hero Who’s Not, Really as the lead in the Twilight series. This isn’t a criticism so much as a fact: Robert Pattinson has played creeps, fuck-ups, and/or blunderers so many times that it’s his moments seeming like a sweet naïf that subvert expectations, not any undermining of his matinee-idol image (besides, five Twilight movies arguably did that already, albeit unintentionally).

That’s about right for Damsel, which makes a sharp point much later and more frequently than is, perhaps, necessary. The cue is right there in the title; obviously when Samuel (Pattinson) recruits a supposed parson (co-writer/co-director David Zellner) to help rescue his beloved Penelope (Mia Wasikowska) in a movie called Damsel, there’s probably going to be more going on than, you know, rescuing the damsel and going home. The movie’s twist, of sorts, is less notable for its ribbing of Old West tropes than its commitment to the bit: Once Wasikowska’s character gains some dimension in the back half of the movie, it doesn’t let up its pokes at very male complexes.
Continue reading The Odyssey: Damsel and Izzy Gets the Fuck Across Town

The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: Incredibles 2 and the Films of Pixar

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

Who doesn’t love Pixar?! Actually, a non-rhetorical answer to that question awaits in this well-populated group discussion about the mega-successful animation studio, conducted after Nathaniel, Ben, Jon, Marisa, Jesse, and Sara got back from watching the studio’s (and Brad Bird’s!) latest opus, Incredibles 2. We talk about the new film, Pixar’s sequels in general, and, really, the whole Pixar oeuvre: Favorites, least-favorites, and the Pixar titles we think could use some more attention (the answers may surprise you!). Every Pixar movie is touched upon! Some are covered in surprising detail! Laughs and tears! We also talk about whether or not Jack Palance is dead! It makes sense in context. To infinity, and beyond!

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  • The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: The Ladies of Ocean’s 8

    Jesse

    Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

    Continuing our coverage of Ocean’s 8 and its producer Steven Soderbergh, SportsAlcohol.com has assembled a crack team of ladies… well, OK, it’s Marisa and Sara, but two people can still be plenty crack. What Jesse is doing there, no one can say, but if they do say “James Corden” he will be sad. Anyway, they’re talking about Ocean’s 8 and the ladies starring therein! How does it compare to the Soderbergh series? Who’s the Lady George Clooney? How does Sandra Bullock do in the Oceanverse? Who steals the movie? All these questions and more will be answered (and spoiled) in a brisk and snappy discussion.

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  • Ocean’s 8, like all Ocean’s movies, is about acting

    Jesse

    Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

    “I’d like to play a more central role this time,” says Linus (Matt Damon) in Ocean’s 12. He’s nominally talking about his participation in a coordinated group heist, but the language is unmistakable and the self-referential tone unavoidable: Linus, played by a very famous actor who is nonetheless slightly less famous than his biggest co-stars, sounds very much like an actor, asking for a bigger role in the ensemble for the sequel to Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s 11. Like a lot of actors, Linus—a pickpocket, a bit younger than Danny Ocean (George Clooney) or his right-hand man Rusty (Brad Pitt), and certainly less experienced—takes his job very seriously. In Ocean’s 13, Linus goes into full con-man mode, not just planning or thieving, but playing a character in order to deceive a casino boss’s right-hand lady (Ellen Barkin). He insists on wearing an exaggerated false nose to complete the illusion, as his colleagues look on with indifference. “The nose plays!” is his forceful refrain.

    Ocean’s 13 doesn’t go as far through the looking glass as Ocean’s 12, but taken together, Soderbergh’s trilogy does resemble a hall of mirrors, both for its illusive tricks and its funhouse consideration of star vanity. To this hall, the new female-driven Ocean’s 8 adds a few more mirrors, though mostly not engineered by Soderbergh himself. He’s on hand as producer, but has handed the directorial reins to his friend Gary Ross. In the run-up to his sort-of retirement, Soderbergh did some second-unit directing on The Hunger Games; here, Ross returns the favor by directing all of Ocean’s 8 as if on second-unit. This probably isn’t a fair criticism—few directors have the command of the heist-movie form that consummate problem-solver Soderbergh seems to summon with the snap of his fingers—but the over-the-top quasi-professionalism of an Ocean gang has the unfortunate side effect of exposing journeymen. In Soderbergh’s trilogy, he keeps all of the intricate, ridiculous prep-work moving at a clip, punctuating the most amusing moments with sharp cuts. Ross directs scenes that appear to be wandering around in search of their punchline before hustling away empty-handed.

    Yet Ocean’s 8 can’t help but follow in the tradition of its predecessors, even when Ross seems unable of keeping up, nevermind setting a pace. Some of it is that all-lady ensemble. Instead of George Clooney leading a mixture of Hollywood royalty and game character actors, Sandra Bullock heads up a starry crew that includes Cate Blanchett, Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, Helena Bonham Carter, Sarah Paulson, and YouTube star Awkafina. Anne Hathaway is there too, although her character Daphne Kluger isn’t recruited as part of the gang; rather, she’s a vain yet needy actress who Debbie Ocean (Bullock) and company must manipulate into wearing an extremely valuable necklace at the Met Ball, so they can switch it with a fake and rob its owners blind (and maybe frame someone else for the job).
    Continue reading Ocean’s 8, like all Ocean’s movies, is about acting

    Tribeca 2018, Part 3: Emma Roberts Returns

    Jesse

    Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

    Emma Roberts, who is 27, is probably done playing teenagers and recent graduates, though you can never really say for sure. Roberts played teenager-ish characters for so long that she had stints as both a Sundance Queen (where her roles in The Winning Season, The Art of Getting By, and Celeste and Jesse Forever debuted) and an even less-heralded period as the Princess of Tribeca, with the likes of Palo Alto, Adult World, and Ashby bringing her movies to lower Manhattan (and not much further). She was a teen in all of them, so her newest Tribeca film still feels like a milestone, albeit of the nebulous sort that the title In a Relationship implies. Roberts plays Hallie, a twentysomething in a long-term relationship with Owen (Michael Angarano), a doofy guy who I’d describe as hemming and hawing over their level of commitment, except that he evades too much to even hem or haw as much as he wants to. When Owen loses his roommate, Hallie suggests that they could move in together. Instead, they break up, because Owen can’t commit to the number of years they’ve been dating, much less to a cohabitation (despite the fact that they spend most of their time together).

    Emma Roberts does the heavy lifting in this movie, and not just because she’s good at delivering half-ironic young-neurotic dialogue, like her line about wanting to leave a party and go home: “I think I left a candle burning and it’s haunted me all afternoon.” (Or her suggestion for a heartbroken afternoon activity: “Can we look at pictures of sushi on Yelp?”) She also finds some sensibility, if not exactly sense, in the notion that Hallie would be terribly attached to Owen. Angarano, meanwhile, gives the opposite performance: He takes a guy who is, on paper, not especially interesting or even sympathetic, and makes him into a character you can actively root against. There’s something weirdly loud about his performance; he doesn’t spend the whole movie shouting, but he is overemphatic in a way you’d never guess from the frazzled little kid from Almost Famous. Owen is not particularly funny, not particularly nice, not particularly smart, not even especially handsome, and not in possession of any redeeming qualities apart from his occasional affection for Hallie.

    This should not count, because how hard is it to find Emma Roberts charming? If anything, he’s below-average in that department. The movie’s other half, which is about Owen’s buddy Matt (Patrick Gibson) dating Hallie’s cousin Willa (Dree Hemingway), at least has some balance between both partners’ sweetness and their Los Angeleno insufferability. In a Relationship is crisply edited and moderately well-written, but it never earns its bittersweet ending note, and it sure doesn’t give Roberts the millennial rom-com she deserves.

    Really, that movie might have been the neon-tinged online-but-IRL thriller Nerve, from a couple of years ago. But it wasn’t a big hit, and the truth is, Roberts is a Tribeca-scale star: She can be the lead in an indie movie, but getting her into a studio rom-com, something that barely exists at the moment, would take some more doing. It’s kind of amazing that she never found herself in a YA fantasy (beyond It’s Kind of a Funny Story, the YA adaptation for which she serves as a fantasy object), and kind of cool that she racked up a bunch of indies in the meantime, even though she played someone who was around about 18 for the better part of a decade. In a Relationship ages her up to normal, but it still feels like a grad movie of sorts; Hallie spends the movie ready to graduate into a relationship that means as much to her partner as it does to her. There’s something touching about that, and Roberts doesn’t shy away from the neediness or desperation there, either. She obviously feels some connection to this project; she’s credited here as an executive producer. Maybe next time she returns to Tribeca, it should be as a director. Or at least with another movie from the Nerve guys.