My Favorite Scenes: Doom Patrol – People Like Us

Holy shit, ain’t this a corpse. When was the last time we did a My Favorite Scenes post? February 2017? Okay, not quite as far back as I thought, but still… that’s nearly three years. Well, for any newer readers, this series is all about me explaining why I like certain scenes in movies and tv. A blogger friend of mine had a similar series and I nicked the idea from him. As you can probably imagine, this involves some spoilers for any particular movie or series that the scene is featured in. So be warned. Anyway, let’s talk about “Doom Patrol”!

Based on the DC comic book team of the same name, “Doom Patrol” is about a group of misfits who have all been brought together by Doctor Niles Caulder (Timothy Dalton), since they really have nowhere else to go. And in the show, Niles goes missing, which leads to various adventures where the team tries to find clues to his whereabouts, while also dealing with their own personal demons. I actually reviewed the first season of the show in 2019 (*cough* shameless plug *cough*), and mentioned in that show that I absolutely adored its mix of relatively unknown superheroes, compelling character drama, and hilariously crude humor. And today we’re talking about a scene that kind of encapsulates some of that. So it goes without saying, spoilers for “Doom Patrol”, and in particular its 8th episode, “Danny Patrol”.

So in episode 8, “Danny Patrol”, two of the team’s members, Larry Trainor/Negative Man (Matt Bomer/Matthew Zuk) and Cliff Steele/Robotman (Brendan Fraser/Riley Shanahan) get transported to Danny, a sentient, teleporting, gender-queer street (yes, you read that right), when it needs help from Doctor Caulder (who is still missing at this point). While here, Larry and Cliff make acquaintances with Maura Lee Karupt (Alan Mingo Jr.), a sort of front person for Danny, the sentient, teleporting, gender-queer street (god, I love saying that). And during a scene in the episode, Larry gets invited up to sing some karaoke, in which he does and begins covering “People Like Us” by Kelly Clarkson. And during this musical number, you see Larry open up, show some actual joy. His entire life, he’s been a bit of an outsider, starting as a closeted gay man in the 1960s U.S. Army, and then later being a bit of a radioactive freak with a strange alien being living inside of him, which of course kinda prevented him from bonding with people. But finally it seems like he has found some people who just accept him for who he is. Freaks, outcasts… “People like us, we gotta stick together”. And then when the ending of the scene revealed itself, it was a bit of a gut punch to me. In lesser hands, this could’ve just been a goofy scene of a mummy-man singing a song from an American Idol winner while visiting a sentient, teleporting, gender-queer street. But thanks to the wonderful writing and world-building of “Doom Patrol”, it became one of the most uniquely compelling scenes I’ve experienced in any recent tv show, even making me tear up when I first saw it.

Scenes like this is why I adored season 1 of “Doom Patrol”, and is why I am really looking forward to whatever madness they’ll be concocting for season 2.

Have a good one, and show some love to people around you, even when you’re not standing near a sentient, teleporting, gender-queer street.

12 Films of Christmas 2019 (Part 8)

Just as a heads up, I missed yesterday’s post, so you’re gonna get two of these today. Apologies for this fuck up if you somehow were looking forward to it yesterday, but didn’t see one. It’s all on me. So let’s not dilly dally, time for the first 12 Contrivances of Christmas post for the day.

So for this post I decided to go with a movie that I actually covered on the blog earlier this year (shameless plug, I know). It is 1987’s “Wings of Desire”, directed by Wim Wenders. It is a slow burn meditative fantasy drama about Damiel (Bruno Ganz, R.I.P), an angel watching over the humans of Berlin, and how he’s going through a bit of an existential crisis. So how am I going to cover a German art drama for this silly series of mine, you ask? Well, just sit back and relax as I contrive a reason.

Now, the first thing some of you might point to might be “Ah, it’s about angels, angels mean christianity, christianity means Jesus, Jesus means christmas!”. Firstly, don’t try to beat me to the punch. And secondly, that’s wrong. I ain’t forcing some christian crap here, it would be a bit disingenuous of an agnostic such as myself. No, I have something else planned.
Despite not exactly being the cheeriest movie around, “Wings of Desire” does tout a certain theme throughout… you know, when not focusing on people going through a personal crisis or two. That theme? Love. As Damiel goes through his crisis, he falls in love with a human woman. You know why the angels exist? To make sure nothing bad happens to the humans they watch over, which is an act of love. And you know what should be spread on christmas? Love! So “Wings of Desire” is a christmas movie because, just like the holiday, it’s all about that love (or that sweet, sweet existential crisis if that’s more your cup of tea).

And even if you don’t want to take it as a holiday feature, “Wings of Desire” is a wonderful drama that, despite its divine protagonist, shows so much humanity. It’s absolutely fantastic.

Have a good one.

12 Films of Christmas 2019 (Part 5)

It’s time for part 5 of this goofy series of mine. More contrivances, here we go. And today we’re actually talking about a movie from my own country for once, I know, my mind is as blown as yours.

Today’s movie is called “A Summer Tale”, directed by Ulf Malmros, and released in 2000. Set in 1958, it follows two kids (Anastasios Soulis and Rebecca Scheja) as they get sent to live with a cantankerous funeral director (Kjell Bergqvist) for the summer. So now… now… now… I hear what you’re thinking. “Markus, you dumb bastard, how the hell are you gonna get a movie with SUMMER in the title to fit within the christmas category?”. Well, my impatient friend, let me sit your ass down and tell you.

When the kids first meet this funeral director, their relationship to him is stale at best, and tense at worst. He’s not abusive and horrible towards them, but he’s not exactly someone I’d wanna send my theoretical kids to. But as one might expect from this setup, these two parties of course start to warm towards each other, all the while the funeral director tries to get a local teacher he has a crush on to go out with him. So while yes, the movie is set during the summer, it’s still all about family and finding love. You know what part of the year is often associated with family and love? Christmas. Everyone always talks about how that holiday should be spent spreading love and being with your family. And since this movie is all about that shit, you’d imagine it could fit within that.
While “A Summer Tale” isn’t one of the greatest movies ever made, I found myself surprisingly entertained by it. It’s a heartwarming little dramedy that made me really care about the characters, all of whom are very well acted by the actors involved (yes, the kids too). It’s a good flick.

Have a good one.

Movie Review: Wings of Desire (1987)

Yes, sometimes I watch old foreign films too.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Wings of Desire”.

The story follows Damiel (Bruno Ganz), an angel watching over humanity. However, he is growing tired of his task, desiring to be a human. So now we have our existential drama. And who would’ve thought that it took a celestial being to give us the most human look at life. It’s a slow-paced affair, focusing more on giving us a deep and thoughtful look at what makes us human rather than being a traditional fantasy. And I love that, as it gave me something to think about while also making me feel a bit emotional at some of the heart-wrenching observations being made within the movie. So overall this plot is great.

The characters in this are layered, engaging, and overall really interesting. Bruno Ganz plays Damiel, the angel at the center of this story who is questioning his existence. Seeing a story take such a human look at something so divine and impossible is quite fascinating, and he’s given a lot of depth throughout, making him a very interesting protagonist. And Ganz is fantastic in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Solveig Dommartin, Otto Sander, Curt Bois, Peter Falk, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Jürgen Knieper & Laurent Petitgand, and I thought it was great. Based heavily in strings, it’s an emotional score that often evokes a very dreamlike quality which gives a surprising amount of layers to the various scenes in the movie. So yeah, this movie has some good music.

This movie was directed by Wim Wenders, and I think he did a really good job with it. His direction is tender, bringing us in close to the people, making us feel like one of the angels watching over humanity. The use of different perspectives as well as monochrome is utilized very cleverly too here, as Wenders creates something quite unique with his different directing tricks here. It all really sucked me into the story even more than I already was, and that is simply great.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 98% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 79/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,1/10.

“Wings of Desire” is a unique and beautiful drama that wonderfully explores humanity. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Wings of Desire” is a 9,81/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Wings of Desire” is now completed.

In the arms of an angel…

Movie Review: The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

Happy valentines day, my friends. Hope you’re showing the love today. Whether for your significant other, your friends, your relatives, your pet, it doesn’t matter. Just show some love. Anyway, since it’s the day of lovey-dovey bullshit, let’s talk about a romance movie of sorts.

Ladies and gents… “The Adjustment Bureau”.

David Norris (Matt Damon) is a congressman in the state of New York. One day he meets professional dancer Elise (Emily Blunt) and starts falling in love with her. But their relationship gets halted at every turn by a mysterious organization hellbent on keeping them apart. So now David has to try to outsmart them and take control of his own destiny. And I thought the plot here was… fine. It has a damn good concept, and I did enjoy the chain of events along with some of the fairly unique world building they did throughout. It did however never fully grab me. It felt like they only really scraped the surface of the idea to try to appeal to the broadest audience possible. It’s like if “Dark City” was a bit bland. So overall, the plot here is fine, if a bit toothless.

The characters in this I found to be decently enjoyable. Matt Damon plays David Norris, a congressman with dreams of moving up in the political world, but can’t quite do that while dealing with this whole Elise situation. And we see him get some decent development throughout as he tries to figure out what the hell is going on. And Damon is great in the role. Emily Blunt plays Elise, the woman that Norris meets and falls in love with. She’s a tough, charming, and overall pretty interesting lady that I liked following a bit in the movie. And Blunt is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like John Slattery, Anthony Mackie, Michael Kelly, Terence Stamp, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for this movie was composed by Thomas Newman, and it was fine. It was a bit bland, while still being decently enjoyable to listen to in the background of the film. I guess it worked well enough for the various scenes throughout the movie, even though it didn’t bring any real oomph to it.

Based on a short story by Philip K. Dick (why am I not surprised), this movie was written and directed by George Nolfi, who I think did a pretty good job. His direction gives the movie a decent bit of energy and helps it from feeling stale. Sure, the plot is a bit so-and-so, but the directing is still good enough to slightly elevate it.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 71% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 60/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,1/10.

While it has its fair share of flaws, “The Adjustment Bureau” is still a fairly enjoyable little romantic thriller. It has a fine plot, pretty good characters, great performances, fine music, and good directing. Though as previously mentioned, the plot didn’t really stick with me, and the music didn’t really bring anything for me. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Adjustment Bureau” is a 7,87/10. So while it is flawed, it’s still worth a rental.

My review of “The Adjustment Bureau” is now completed.

Nothing like stories of forbidden love.

12 Films of Christmas 2018 (Part 3)

Howdy, and welcome to part 3 in this year’s 12 Films of Christmas series. Let’s get into this thing.

That’s right, I’m doing another made-for-tv movie. This time it’s “Just in Time for Christmas”, a 2015 Hallmark channel original about a young woman (Lindsay Rogers) who has to ponder a difficult choice. Either she follows her ambitions to get her dream job, or she follows her heart and marries her long time boyfriend (Michael Stahl-David). As she ponders about this, a mysterious man on a carriage (William Shatner, yes really), who I’ve elected to call Shatner Claus (because that’s what he might as well be), takes her for a ride. And at some point during this ride she may or may not be transported into the future that shows her following her ambitions (anybody else getting “A Christmas Carol” vibes?), and what consequences that might have. Admittedly, this is a decent idea, I have a soft spot for alternate universes/timelines in storytelling, so this intrigued early on. But then I finished watching it. And guess what? It’s absolutely fucking… mediocre. Yeah, bet you didn’t see that one coming. There is some actual talent on display here, it’s not a full-on shitshow (unlike the “movie” we talked about yesterday *shudders*). I mean, it foregoes a lot of logic and realism, but it’s at least passable. The characters aren’t the worst, the story has a few decent ideas, and I got kind of a cozy vibe from this entire thing. Plus, having Christopher Lloyd in your movie doesn’t exactly hurt. The actors are pretty good, the cinematography is… fine, the storytelling isn’t bad. The movie’s biggest problem is that it’s just passable at best. It’s not bad, but I wouldn’t exactly recommend going out of your way to watch it. But if I had to choose between rewatching this or yesterday’s “movie”, I’d happily pick this every time. “Just in Time for Christmas” isn’t a modern classic, but it’s not the worst thing I’ve watched.

On the third day of christmas, Markus brings to thee, Shatner Claus and some mediocrity.

12 Films of Christmas 2018 (Part 2)

I didn’t say that all the movies featured here would be unique and interesting… or even good for that matter. Yikes.

So the entry for the 12 Films of Christmas is a 2016 made for tv romantic comedy called “A Cinderella Christmas”. It’s basically “Cinderella”… but shit. An event-planner (Emma Rigby) sneaks into a christmas-themed masquerade in which she meets a wealthy dude (Peter Porte) and they fall in love. When she then runs out of the party he will do anything to find his mysterious princess charming. Some days I wonder why other people are so stupid. Some days I wonder why I am so stupid. While watching this movie I asked myself both those things. The characters in this are either dumber than a bag of bricks or duller than beach ball. I know that you are given some leeway when crafting characters, you are allowed to divert somewhat from realistic human behavior… but the writing here doesn’t so much bend their characteristics as much as break it in half and tell you “Merry fucking christmas, our reality is better than yours”. What else? The actors are passable at best, the cinematography is as “just turn on the camera” as it gets, the attempts at humor aren’t really that funny, and nothing in this is even remotely engaging. I don’t like talking smack about movies, I like liking movies… but sometimes that’s hard, as “A Cinderella Christmas” has proven today.

On the second day of christmas, Markus brings to you, a movie with characters dumber than poo.

“Kingdom Hearts 3” E3 trailer

More E3 talks comin’ your way. And if you don’t like it, then I don’t care… this is my blog, I can write about whatever I want.

So thanks to E3 we have a new trailer for “Kingdom Hearts 3”, the latest part in the strange franchise. So what does this new trailer feature? Well, we see series protagonist Sora (Haley Joel Osment, yes really) going to different Disney worlds and interacting with the characters, giving us both cutscenes and gameplay. And really, this looks like more “Kingdom Hearts”, and that’s always a good thing. It also gives us a little shocker at the end about one a character from some previous games in the series going to the dark side. So yeah… shit’s gettin’ real, yo. My only problem with this trailer is the lack of sound effects, but I suppose it will be fixed before the game actually comes out.  I am also really happy, because unlike previous trailers, this one has an actual fucking release date! After years of “In development”, we have a release date! Am I hyped? You bet your ass I’m hyped for this strange Japanese mish-mash of Disney and “Final Fantasy”. I love this franchise, and I am super excited to see it continue. “Kingdom Hearts 3” is set to be released on January 29th, 2019.

What are your thoughts? Are you excited for “Kingdom Hearts 3”? And are you a fan of this insane franchise like I am? Leave any and all thoughts in the comments.
Have a good one and enjoy the trailer.

Movie Review: Lost in Translation (2003)

Life is quite a strange thing. The way it can change, the ups and downs we go through, the memories we make… such a strange and interesting thing that we just kind of take for granted. And sometimes we need the help of other people (or in this case a movie) to start examining our choices.

Ladies and gents… “Lost in Translation”.

Bob (Bill Murray) and Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), two very people. Bob an aging actor, Charlotte a young woman who’s feeling a bit neglected. When these two cross paths in Tokyo, they form an interesting connection. And we follow them as they hang out. That’s kind of it. There’s no big, dramatic arc. It’s kind of just them going to a few different places in Tokyo and hanging out, discussing their lives, and just kind of enjoying each other’s company. To some this kind of minimal-ish storytelling could be off-putting. But I enjoyed it, because it’s a simple yet nuanced look at some people finding a spark in their lives again.

The characters in this are layered, charming, and just overall interesting. Bill Murray plays Bob, the aging actor who has come to Japan to try and get some work. He’s charming and nice, but can be a bit sarcastic and such at times. He’s funny, but he also gets some decent dramatic moments as well. And Murray is great in the role. Scarlett Johansson plays Charlotte, a college graduate who’s feeling a bit neglected by her husband. Not gonna say much more as a lot of her character comes forth throughout the movie, but let’s just say that she’s quite interesting. And Johansson is great in the role. I also wanna mention that these two actors share some really good chemistry, I loved watching them interacting.

The score for the movie was composed by Kevin Shields and it was really good. It has a sort of ethereal “what is the meaning of life?” kind of feel that works for this movie, really playing into the two lost souls story. Then there are a bunch of licensed tracks used throughout that work quite well in their respective scenes.

This movie was written and directed by Sofia Coppola, and I think she did a really good job with it. Her direction is very tight and intimate, bringing us closer to the characters and their inner turmoils. I also really liked Lance Acord’s cinematography, I thought it looked really good and had a really nice and interesting style to it.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 95% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 89/100. Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 stars and put it on his Great Movies list. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,8/10. The movie won 1 Oscar in the category of Best original screenplay. It also got 3 more nominations in the categories of Best picture, Best actor (Murray), and Best director.

“Lost in Translation” is a very well made and highly engaging little dramedy. It has a really good plot, great characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Lost in Translation” is a 9,55/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Lost in Translation” is now completed.

*Whisper*. 

My Star Wars Story

Hello there, ladies and gentlemen and potential space aliens. Today I wanted to do something a little bit different. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while, and with today (the 4th of May) being Star Wars day, I thought now would be as good a time as any to do it. I’m about to share with you my Star Wars Story. No, not my pitch for a spinoff movie for the franchise, but just my experience(s) with “Star Wars”. Where it began, where it went, and where it is. So let’s just jump into it.

For the cave dwellers who just found out about the outside world, “Star Wars” is a franchise started in 1977 by American director George Lucas with it’s first installment… “Star Wars” (I refuse to call it “A New Hope”). The movie was a smash hit, making all the money, and becoming one of if not the biggest franchise in all of history with sequels, prequels, spinoffs, novels, video games, toys, tabletop games, sex toys (yes really), and so much more. “Star Wars” has pretty much taken over the cultural world, and it’s influence can be felt throughout most media. With that out of the way, time for the bit I originally promised.

The year was 2003. Or 2004, I am a bit unsure on the exact year. But I was six years old. I went to the store with my dad to get some groceries. When we were getting close to the register I had a look at the magazine shelves, which of course both had magazines and a few comic books. I noticed a “Donald Duck” comic there with a weird and interesting cover, and with some odd toy following along with it. I (like the greedy little shit I was) asked dad if we could buy the comic, and he said yes. So it came along with us, and when we got home I asked what this weird stuff with the cover and the toy was. He explained that it was “Star Wars”, and the toy was a small, plastic lightsaber. I, not having seen “Star Wars”, asked what “Star Wars” was. He said it was a movie, and then he went to a shelf and picked up a VHS tape. That tape of course being “Star Wars” (recorded from a TV airing). He sat my butt down, put the movie in the VHS player, and I say for two hours and was in awe of everything I saw. I was engrossed by the music, the characters, the visuals, the visual effects… it was absolutely amazing. It was like having an epiphany. Then of course “Star Wars” became a big thing for me. Luckily for me, we had “Empire Strikes Back”, “Return of the Jedi”, and “The Phantom Menace” (shut up, I was a kid) recorded as well, so I had more movies to watch afterwards.

Few years later, and thanks to the TV and also my friend, I got to see “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith” as well (shut up, I was a kid). “Star Wars” was a huge part of my life. I watched all the movies that I could and I played several of the video games. This was more than just some silly sci-fi franchise to me… it was a huge fucking part of my life. As I got slightly older I began seeing the ups and downs of certain parts of the franchise. Most notably was when my friend showed me the animated “The Clone Wars” movie at his place once. I could tell that it wasn’t great. But I also didn’t care fully, because I was simply in love with this franchise.

Another few years go by and I am in high school (around 17 years old). Something has happened. While I haven’t fallen out of love with “Star Wars”, I just haven’t had the same kind of obsessions about it as when I was younger. Admittedly I also didn’t exactly watch the movies much around that age, making my love fade a bit into the background. It’s more or less just gathering dust at this point. Then November 2014 comes around and we get our first trailer for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”. Now, regardless of your opinion of that movie, you can’t deny that the hype was massive when it was first officially unleashed upon the world with that trailer.

This was big. The first new “Star Wars” movie in nearly ten years (“Clone Wars” doesn’t count). And that’s when something in my head kinda clicked. This franchise that I had grown up with was coming back. A new movie to look froward to… something that I almost never had the privilege of as a kid. It was such a huge thing. My love started reigniting. But there was still something missing…

Skip ahead to late 2015, and “Force Awakens” is finally coming out. I watch it opening night with several friends. That’s when it truly clicked into place for me. The first was the lighter being used. But this was the lighter igniting the candle. It was a great experience. And of course it was made clear that we were getting even more movies in the series. We got the franchise back (and helped it in making all the money), and we were gonna get more movies. It was quite an exciting time to be a fan of this franchise.

So now we go into the present. What are my current thoughts on it all? I still love “Star Wars”. Are we getting close to over-saturation in terms of movies? Maybe a little, but I still look forward to seeing what this franchise will give us. New movies, new games (admittedly from the wrong publisher), new novels, new comics, new shows… so much “Star Wars”. It’s even more stuff for us older fans, and some new, introductory stuff for newer fans who came in through “Force Awakens” and such. It’s really the perfect time to be a “Star Wars” fan. You got your old stuff, and you’re getting some new stuff.

Speaking of “Star Wars”, here’s a link to an episode from last year of the We Have a Hulk podcast (friends of mine) where I, together with some other cool people, take a “Star Wars” quiz. You get to here arguing, voices, noises, and just a bunch of people having fun. I had a lot of fun doing it.

https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/wehaveahulk/episodes/2017-05-04T16_49_05-07_00

And that’s about it. I really just wanted to give you my story on how I got acquainted with this amazing franchise, as well as just gush about “Star Wars” in general. So yeah… May the fourth be with you.