Tag Archives: Whiplash

Movie Review: La La Land (2016) “Old School Movie Magic”

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2016 was a fantastic year for film and there’s so many movies that deserve recognition, but they’re out of luck because La La Land is steamrolling its way through awards season.  It broke the record for number of Golden Globe wins, it won the BAFTA, its going to be nominated for double-digit Oscars, and if you go on IMDB and start scrolling through the honorifics, it literally takes five minutes.  I’ve resisted going because…..I really don’t like musicals and I have lived in and haaaaate Los Angeles, and it doesn’t matter because Damien Chazelle has followed up his amazingly good debut film Whiplash with a minor movie miracle.  It’s worthy of the Best Picture Oscar it already has a lock on, and coming in this year, that says quite a lot. Continue reading Movie Review: La La Land (2016) “Old School Movie Magic”

My Favorite Scene: Whiplash (2014) “Not Quite My Tempo”

It is Oscar Week!  The good-bye to the movies of 2015, and the slow painful turn toward waiting for a movie as good as Deadpool to come alone in 2016 (my guess is The Jungle Book is our first shot).  This week will be the unveiling of the 2015 KT Community Pick for Movie of the Year (so vote while you can) and The Renaissance Film Awards.  I know posts have been scarce of late, but I’ve not been idle.  Actually I’ve been incredibly idle due to a patch of ice, a retaining wall and my incredible lack of dexterity.  I’ve put the time I’ve spent in incredible lumbar pain watching as many 2015 movies as I can get my hands on so as to give my most informed opinion when handing out the Rennys and yelling at the TV screen Sunday night.  So many reviews will descend upon you in due time.  None of this has anything to do with what probably should have won Best Picture last year: Whiplash.

JK Simmons, Whiplash

Every now and again, the Academy actually lifts up a gem that no one would have ever gotten to see and gives it the stage to shine on which it deserves.  It takes a LOT for me not to have heard of a film, but until JK Simmons started winning every award for Supporting Actor they have to offer last year, I’d never heard of Whiplash.  Simmons is a career veteran of a hundred character roles, but in sadistic music teacher Terrence Fletcher, he creates one that will never be forgotten.  He’s sort of the polar opposite to Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society.  My favorite scene is pretty much a tie between every time we see him on screen, but when the newest member of his jazz ensemble is introduced to the Jekyll and Hyde routine on his first day, you get to see Fletcher at his terrifying best.  You can’t help but smile and groan for poor Miles Teller as soon as you hear the words: “Not quite my tempo.”

 

JK Simmons, Miles Teller, Whiplash

 

Top 5: MCU Villains (insert evil laughter here)

Tom Hiddleston, Loki, Thor: The Dark World

 

There’s an old saying amongst people who compulsively read comic books that heroes are only as good as their villains.  The Marvel Cinematic Universe just churned out MCU #12 with Ant-Man (click here for review), and now we’re on a sad break until Netflix’s Jessica Jones in the fall.  If there’s a systemic flaw in the franchise it is that, while the heroes have been cast and developed near-perfectly, the villains have not gotten the same treatment.

Sadly, this is-in part-because a lot of Marvel’s best villains are locked into the X-Men and Fantastic Four lots that are owned by other studios.  The Red Skull was completely mishandled in Cap 1, and I don’t believe for a second he’s dead so hopefully they’ll give him his due the second time around.  In fact, if Tom Hiddleston hadn’t nearly stolen Phase 1 from Iron Man, we’d be talking about this as a real problem.  Hiddleston’s Loki is so good that the temptation is to overuse him because he’s SO GOOD.  Norse gods don’t age though, and Hiddleston will, so the smart move is to spend more time developing antagonists with depth equal to the heroes.  That will probably have to start with Dr. Strange, because in Captain America: Civil War, the heroes are going to be pounding on each other.

1. Wilson Fisk (Daredevil)

I think, and we’ll see if the fall’s Jessica Jones proves me right, that the best villains are going to come out of the Netflix shows.  They have what the movie villains lack: time.  The Kingpin doesn’t appear until the end of the fourth episode of the series, but his presence is there from the pilot.  D’Onofrio didn’t just make him a thug or a refined crime boss or a bully.  He made him a scared little boy trying to mold his world like a child building a train set.  Nuanced, brilliant and explosively dangerous, the Kingpin is the new standard for what a Marvel villain can be.

2. Loki (Thor, Thor: The Dark World, The Avengers)

I know, I know, you think he should be number one.  He certainly was until April.  He’s been in the most films of every villain (he was cut from Age of Ultron or he’d have been in four) and we’re certainly going to see him again.  Loki is a character, like all the Asgardians, that could have come off corny and dumb, but Hiddleston just ate scenery like a mulcher every time he was onscreen.  The best part about him, though, is he’s NOT pure evil, he does love his brother, he just also wants to rule the world.  He has depth that only D’Onofrio topped and he had more time to develop it.

3. The Winter Soldier (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)

Oh he’s not much of a talker, but for sheer menace and ability, The Winter Soldier hit Cap and company like a freight train.  I did not like Sebastian Stan in the first Cap film, but I will give him all the props in the world for making TWS a foe that made the Red Skull look like a pussycat (which is actually a problem, but not Stan’s fault).

4. Ultron (Avengers: Age of Ultron)

Between Ultron and The Blacklist, I live in a world where I like James Spader.  However did that happen?  Spader did a great job with Ultron.  He’s a child, learning at an exponential rate and if he sounds like Stark….you have to remember he kind of is.  That is the scary thing and that, I think, will lead us to Civil War.

5. Whiplash (Iron Man 2)

I know Iron Man 2 has its detractors, but rewatch it and look how much it sets up for Phase 2.  If you had told me that Whiplash was going to somehow be made cool, I’d have passed you some very tasty pills, but Mickey Rourke managed to put actual menace in him and the scene where he compares his family to the Starks while Tony visits him in prison is one of my favorite in the MCU.

Top 5: Music Movies

Top 5Music makes or breaks a film.  We’ve talked about movie scores before and how vital they are to the success of a film.  Today, let’s turn it around and look at what happens when movies look at music.  How big a part of your daily life is music?  This whole list came about as a side effect of a seven hour drive I had to make yesterday, the entirety of it spent yodeling to a vast library of songs (to be fair to me, it was not as bad as yodeling….it was getting very raspy though in the last two hours). Continue reading Top 5: Music Movies

My Favorite Scene: Iron Man 2 (2010) “Iron Man and War Machine in the Kill Zone”

The reviews for Avengers: Age of Ultron are hovering around the 70% mark now, and I’m hearing a lot of panic last-minute.  Let’s remember that Rotten Tomatoes gave Thor: The Dark World a 66% and I think that’s one of the strongest films Marvel has produced.  The film, though, that I’m hearing it most compared to is Iron Man 2 (in a negative way).  Here’s the thing: I liked Iron Man 2.  It made Whiplash cool and introduced Black Widow.  It was also tasked with doing what I think (and this is speculation) Age of Ultron will be tasked with doing.  It had to set up A LOT.  Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk were the first two MCU films and their success made it necessary for Iron Man 2 to set up a ton of characters, plotlines and themes that would be explored not just in that movie, but in phases to come.  If you watch the film now, you can see how much of a pivotal film it was.  You could compare it to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix or Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, which JK Rowling used heavily to set up plot points that would resonate throughout the rest of her epic and, when reread, those books are much more powerful in retrospect.

That being said, my favorite scene in Iron Man 2 is the pure Marvel porn that is Tony and Rhodey versus Whiplash and his drones.  You have the trademark banter, You have an amazing fight that shows everything those two sets of armor can do at that point.  I giggled like a little kid through the whole thing.

I have passes tomorrow to see Age of Ultron and we’ll see what we see.  I compared it to Harry Potter, because this is a franchise unlike any other.  It’s a cinematic comic book with each movie an issue in a giant overarching story.  Some chapters may stand out more than others, but in any huge story there are going to have to be chapters where you lay a lot of groundwork.  Let’s not forget, also, that after Ant-Man, we have Captain America: Civil War, which will feature most of the characters in Age of Ultron AND MORE, so we’re closing out Phase 2 and also beginning what will be a very dark Phase 3 before the climactic battle that will be Avengers: Infinity War.