Captain Fantastic Review

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Portrait Of A Modern Family

 

Captain Fantastic Review

Directed By Matt Ross

Stars: Viggo Mortensen/Frank Langella/Kathryn Hahn

Year Released: 2016

Genre: Comedy/Drama

Running Time: 1 Hour 58 Minutes

You’re prepared for everything except for Spoilers

 

It’s almost impossible to tell what people really what because they want so many different things. Sill in my experience, what people want most beyond the thousand little things that come and go, is safety for their family, the ability to raise their kids how they want and the freedom to live however they choose. In today’s, modern world all three of these are hard to come by, but the third is the most elusive of all. “Captain Fantastic,” tells the tale of a man trying to have everything and what can come of it.

Our titular captain is Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen) whose disgust with the modern world and revolutionary beliefs led him and his wife Leslie (Trin Miller) to gradually abandon the civilized world to live in the forests of Washinton state with their six children. Here the children are raised to self-sufficient survivalists as well as politically minded revolutionary philosophers. This all comes to a halt when Leslie (who is already hospitalized by the movies beginning) commits suicide due to her bipolar disorder.

This devastates the family especially the rebellious young son Relian (Nicholas Hamilton) and the oldest son Bodevan “Bo” Cash (George MacKay) who hides a huge secret from his father. Ben’s father-in-law Jack (Frank Langella) arranges a Christian Funeral for Leslie in her home state despite the protests of Ben and Leslie’s own will. Jack despises Ben and says that if he sees him at the funeral he will have him arrested. Like any good revolutionary, this just makes Ben more determined as he and his family begin a cross-country road trip slash mission of liberation.

“Captain Fantastic” is an excellent film to talk about. You’re personal opinion on Ben and the life he’s made for his family you’re opinion can change radically. He is determined to teach his children to be self-reliant critical thinkers and this can make him seem extremely blunt and terribly harsh. When his youngest son Nal (Charlie Shotwell) ask him what a brothel or rape is he gives a completely honest answer and when Rellian slips during a climbing exercise he refuse to help. Depending on how you view these actions Ben is either the ultimate father or an abusive monster.

I don’t see him as either Mr. Rogers or Charles Manson but like any radical, I think that despite his noble intentions and convictions he undermines himself with his vanity and lack of foresight. Raising children to be more educated and less medicated is extremely noble if only to disprove the stereotype of the fat and stupid American child, but what would have happened if things didn’t go according to plan.

If one of his children had accidentally fallen down a hill and cracked their skull, they would have been doomed because there was no way that Ben could have gotten them to a hospital in time. This oversight wasn’t due to Ben not caring, he displays nothing but total love and devotion towards his family, he was just so confident in his himself and his abilities that he never thought what would happen if he failed.

With that in mind, I was still able to enjoy “Captain Fantastic” as a comedy even if it was quite dark at times. All the characters were fun and interesting and this was Viggo Mortensen’s best performance in years. It was great to see Frank Langella an actor who only seems to improve with age even if his role was small. Much of “Captain Fantastic” was filmed in either the Pacific Northwest or the southwest but fortunately, both settings had some gorgeous scenery, which the camera work excellently complimented.

My only complaints were that the two characters that could have been the most interesting were given the least to do. Kielyr Cash (Samantha Isler) and Vespyr Cash (Annalise Basso) were the two oldest daughters of the family and you’d think that they would have the most to complain about. Lady’s you think is sucks when your period hit’s well imagine having it while in the middle of the woods with the nearest drug store fifty miles away. While Vesper is part of one of the most important moments in the film most of the character development was given is Rellian and Bo. This doesn’t ruin the movie it just seems like a missed opportunity.

If there’s any overarching message to “Captain Fantastic” I think it’s how despite the best of intentions revolutionary fervor can destroy its self. Ben and his family went to the woods to escape the tyranny of big government and organized religion and to raise children that would change the world for the better. But while they became physical and mental marvels, they have no expense with other people. Strangely Ben himself has become somewhat of a king to his children despite his desire to foster their independence.

Fortunately, by the end, Ben has been confronted with his mistakes and is making changes. What’s even better is that unlike so many other Ben emerged with his family and Ideals intact. What makes Ben fantastic is not only that he wants’ to change the world but that he’s shown that he can change along with the world, a rare man indeed.

 

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F.A.Q’s

Did I like the movie: Yes

Would I watch it again: Yes

Would I buy it: No

What’s the worst thing about new years: I just got done with 365 days, but now I have to go thru another 365, it’s exhausting man.

 

 

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Slacker Review

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Uh, yeah I was gonna put a caption, but something came up

 

Slacker

Director: Richard Linklater

Stars: The Whole Cast

Year Released: 1991

Genre: Drama/Comedy

So like Spoilers or you know… whatever

 

In 1989 armature Texan director Richard Linklater set out to make a film with little more than a 16mm camera and a twenty-three thousand dollar budget. From those humble beginnings, he created a film unlike any I’ve seen before. It’s a film with no main character and no real plot , but it still manages to be interesting. That movie is “Slacker” and talking about it means talking about its unique structure, “Slacker” begins by following a young man (played by Linklater himself) who arrives at an Austin bus station. This guy catches a cab home and regales his captive driver with a story of a dream he had. Once Mr. “Should Have Stayed at the Bus Station” arrives home (yes, that’s how he and the rest of the cast are listed in the credits) the camera stops following him and starts following someone he met in the street. “Slacker” continues on in this manner, following one of the many weirdoes in Dallas until the meet or pass by someone else and the camera decides to follow them.

This host of misfits include a disgruntled grad student (aren’t they all), a violent agitator giving out tee shirts (“Remember, terrorism is the surgical strike capability of the oppressed”), a group of guys symbolically destroying their stuff to get over losing their girlfriends (that never works guys, though admittedly when I did it, it was someone else’s stuff) and a woman who has faith in groups and describes then deconstructs half the arguments on the internet before the internet even existed (You know, that’s what I hate: when you start talking like this, like you just pull in these things from the shit you read, and you haven’t thought it out for yourself, no bearing on the world around us, and totally unoriginal. It’s like you just pasted together these bits and pieces from your “authoritative sources.” I don’t know. I’m beginning to suspect there’s nothing really in there.).

While “Slacker” is quite well shot for a low budget movie, the real draw in this type of film is the dialogue. If you haven’t figured it out yet, this movie is almost endlessly quotable and you’ll likely be remembering bits and pieces of it for months afterward. “Slacker also avoids one of the common problems of dialogue-heavy movies, the possibility that you won’t find the main character interesting, by not having one. This, unfortunately, can lead people to continue on watching even though they don’t like the movie just to see what happens next and then feel cheated at the end. My advice to any would-be watchers is to give this movie thirty minutes. if it hasn’t hooked you by then you should just cut your losses and turn it off.

Fortunately, I enjoyed “Slacker” a lot, even though I didn’t like all its characters. The conversations can range from funny to profound and I was actually invested in the stories of some of the characters. “Slacker” to me, is like wandering around a college town on a summer day and just enjoying meeting new people. So if you like strange conversations about strange topics by strange people (like me). Wake up at the crack of noon, pour yourself a bowl of cheerios and goof off with “Slacker”.

 

 

F.A.Q’s

Did I like the movie: Yes

Would I watch it again: Yes

Would I buy it: Yes

What will you be doing when the revolution comes: doing what I do every day: Trying Not To Die

 

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This movie was arguing with idiots before the internet made it cool

 

Welcome To Night Vale Review

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Mostly Paper, Partial Words

 

Welcome To Night Vale

Authors: Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor

Year Published 2015

Genre: Comedy/Drama/Horror

All Hail Spoilers Worship and Submit

           

There is a town, a small town in the desert not unlike your own. It’s a town where the Sun is hot, the Moon is beautiful and strange lights pass overhead in the night as we pretend to sleep. This is the town of Night Vale, a town just like yours, or maybe just more like yours than you’d care to admit.

All right so maybe Night Vale isn’t much like your town. In our world (I’m assuming you live in the same world as me), “Welcome to Night Vale” started as Comedy/Surreal horror podcast, which was presented as the community radio show from the surreal town of Night Vale. A town where the bizarre happens so much, it’s just a part of regular life. If you’re interested in a story podcast that perfectly balances surreal horror and hilarious absurdity, you should give “Welcome to Night Vale” a listen. Chronologically the book, “Welcome To Night Vale” takes place just before episode seventy-six, so everyone who’s interested should go and get caught up. Don’t worry I’ll just wait here.

All right, now that we’re all on the same page, was that awesome or what? For those of you who didn’t take the time to listen to a mere seventy-five episodes (shame on you), “Welcome to Night Vale” can best be described as the twisted love child of “News from Lake Wobegon” and “The Twilight Zone.” Night Vale is in all respects a standard small town. Like all small towns, they’re concerned with P.T.A meetings, mayoral elections and the fear that large corporations might change their way of life. The only difference is that in Night Vale the head of the P.T.A is an ominous and mighty glow cloud (ALL HAIL THE GLOW CLOUD), the mayoral candidates are a literal five-headed dragon and the faceless old woman who secretly lives in your house (yes, your house) and the encroaching corporation isn’t Wal-Mart, but StrexCorp Synernists Inc. a sinister cult devoted to a terrifying smiling God (Believe in a Smiling God). Fortunately, most of that stuff isn’t important in the context of the book.

The book “Welcome to Night Vale” focuses on two specific citizens of Night Vale and how the comfortable routine weirdness of their lives is suddenly changed into uncomfortable new weirdness. One of our main characters is Jackie Fierro the nineteen-year-old owner and proprietor of the local Night Vale pawnshop. Jackie has been nineteen for as long as she can remember (has it been years or centuries) and she has always worked at the pawn show. This familiar routine is shattered when a mysterious man in a tan jacket (yes that man, in that tan jacket) pawns a slip of paper with the words King City written on it. Now, no matter what she does that slip of paper always ends up back in Jackie’s hand. On the other side of town, office worker and single mother Diane Crayton struggles to raise her fifteen-year-old son, Josh by herself. Josh is at that awkward time in his life when kids can be a real handful. It also doesn’t help that Josh is a shape shifter and is starting to ask questions about his father. After a series of hilarious misadventures and terrifying existential terror, both women team up to solve their small town problems.

When I was growing up my mom would always listen to the radio show “A Prairie Home Companion” as we drove home from school. I also loved watching the twilight zone on the Sci-Fi channel. So it should be no surprise that when I heard that there was a podcast that combined these two I was all over it like a five-headed dragon on five pigs. When I heard that there was going to be a Night Vale book, I did wonder if the shows creepy humor would successfully survive the journey into the realm of print. I’m happy to say that both the scares and the laughs are here. But I’m even happier to say that they weren’t even my favorite part.

While I was prepared to scream and laugh when I read “Welcome to Night Vale”, I was not prepared to care. Yes, believe it not I became sincerely invested in our two main characters. I felt Jackie’s fear over being uprooted from her comfortable routine and thrust into the unknown because I’ve felt that. I also felt Diane’s difficulty in raising a son on her own, even though I haven’t felt anything like that before because the writing was good enough for me to step into her shoes. If I can impress one thing on you, it’s that it’s very hard to have relatable, interesting and sympathetic characters in the book as f and absurd as this one.  “Welcome to Night Vale” somehow pulls it off. One of my favorite parts is when Diane is making excuses to Josh for her absence and she tells him that she was on a date with Dawn her co-worker. Josh mishears Dawn as Don and his error isn’t corrected until long after the conversation has ended. Who hasn’t seen (or participated in) a mother and son having two separate conversations without even knowing it? That one part was one of many that really hit home for me.rightening

Sadly, “Welcome to Night Vale” isn’t perfect. While I didn’t have too much trouble, the weird wordplay, and constant bizarre shifts in the story will undoubtedly leave many people lost and wondering what the heck just happened. There is also the matter of the plot, which, in short, is Jackie and Diane try to get to King City because they think the answers to their questions are there. Now it takes them awhile to get to King City, where the climax happens, and before they get there, it seems like they’re just spinning their wheels. Not only does it take a while for both Jackie and Diane to realize they’re after the same thing, but also their search mostly involves them looking for something, then running into a dead end. Now, while this is realistic it also gets a little frustrating after a while, but maybe that was the point. Fortunately, the search itself contains a ton of interesting moments. One of my favorites is when Jackie and Diane go to the offices of the local newspaper, to talk to hatchet-obsessed editor Leann Hart about articles she wrote about King City. After a strange conversation (aren’t they all) Jackie gets fed up and just asks if Leann can put them in touch with anyone who lives in King City.  Leann responds, “Oh no, I never actually went there or talked to anyone there. I’m a reporter, not a snoop.” Ladies and gentlemen, journalism in a nutshell.

“Welcome to Night Vale” is an interesting specimen. Not only is it the first book based on a podcast (that I know of), but it’s also a surreal horror comedy where the best part, at least for me, was the characters. While anyone who listens to the podcast will obviously want to pick this one up, I’m also going to recommend it to anyone who hasn’t listened to the podcast and is interested in reading a blend of scary, funny and touching. While it might confuse some, a quick visit to Wikipedia will let you know the basic outline of the show. If you’re tired of your dull lives, then why not drop everything, abandon your home and drive on over to Night Vale? After all, you’re only weird once. ( The previous statement may not be true.)

 

 

F.A.Q’s

Did I like the book: Yes

Would I read it again: Yes

Would I buy it: Yes

Tell a joke about eating people: Two cannibals are eating a clown. One looks to the other and says, “Does this taste funny to you”

 

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Now is not the time to Panic, The time to Panic was much earlier, but you can always make up for lost time.

 

 

Jabberwocky Review

 

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O Frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

 

Director: Terry Gilliam

Star: Michael Palin

Year Made: 1977

Genre: Comedy/Fantasy

Running Time: 1 Hour, 45 five minutes

 

Jabberwocky is the directorial debut of ex-Monty Python member and probable Indian curse victim (serious, just look up how many problems this guy has when making films) Terry Gilliam. The film is about the misadventures of young peasant Dennis Cooper (Michael Palin) as he seeks his fortune in a land an unspecified medieval land being plagued by a huge monster. In order to woo the heart of the huge (and hugely unpleasant) fish merchant’s daughter, he heads to the city only to bumble his way into a tournament of champions and then a monster hunt. Over the course of his, adventure Dennis comes across crazed wanders, angry innkeepers, cross-dressing nuns, homicidal knights and an airhead princess.

While this isn’t technically a Monty Python movie (only half the troop worked on it) it still feels like one. All the Python elements are here: Deliberate anachronisms (Denis acts like an efficiency-obsessed 20’Th century entrepreneur), Slapstick and over the top gore (Dennis is kicked around like a football, and spectators at a joust end up soaked in blood) and humor blacker that everyone who boycotted the Oscars (after Dennis says his father is fine, we smash cut to his father having a heart attack). It has gotten somewhat of a bad reputation over the years, due to it coming out just a few years before “Monty Python’s Holy Grail”. Still, if I’m being honest I liked Jabberwocky just a little bit more than “Holy Grail”, even though it’s not nearly as quotable.

In Typical Gilliam fashion, the cinematography and camerawork are excellent. When out in the wood’s, even the most hideous shut in will appreciate the beauty of the English countryside. This is of course deliberately contrasted with the horrible squalor of the city and the ugly faces of the peasants and townsfolk. There’s not much to complain about except that Jabberwocky’s shtick, can get a little repetitive at times. Also, the characters are somewhat shallow, but I was ok with this, as most of the characters exist to be living punch lines. Speaking of characters, Dennis himself never really succeeds or fails due to his own skills it’s mainly due to circumstance, but since he’s a chump it’s fitting. If you’re looking for a slow-paced movie, look elsewhere because despite having a 105 minute run time, Jabberwocky almost never slows down. The movies pace is relentless and its gags come fast and frequent. For me, the fun part was seeing what absurd thing would happen next and not necessarily the characters themselves. If you enjoy the Pythons twisted sense of humor you’ll have a blast with Jabberwocky.

F.A.Q’s

Did I like the movie: Yes

Would I watch it again: Yes

Would I buy it: Yes

What’s keeping you off the Street: The Sidewalk

 

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Dennis pisses away his time