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Greetings! Have you ever wondered if a movie's worth blowing the money on to see at the theater or what to add next to your NetFlix queue? Then you've come to the right place! Enjoy!

"Catfight" Review




Netflix sent me an email that "a movie you may like" was now available. I'd never heard of Catfight, but looking at the trailer featuring Sandra Oh and Anne Heche beating the hell out of each other while clumsy class warfare antics raged around them seemed like it may have potential. A sampling of reviews were mixed, but what do critics know, right?

Sandra Oh is a rich man's wife with a sensitive artistic son and a bit of a drinking problem. Anne Heche is an angry lesbian artist whose work is confrontational and unmarketable. Their world's collide when Heche's partner, Alicia Silverstone (who at 40 looks like a less-haggard Drew Barrymore), force her to help cater water an event where they run into each other and learn they were college classmates. It all culminates in them getting into a brawl which leaves Oh bloodied and unconscious at the bottom of the stairs.

She comes out of her coma two years later finding her husband and son both dead and her money gone. Her former housekeeper takes her in and she's reduced to working for a living as a hotel maid where she discovers that Heche has become quite the hot artist as her work has found favor during the latest Middle East war that has raged while Oh slept. (The way they use a terrible late night talk show to ladle in these details is typical of the clumsy script.)

Enraged that Heche has seemingly traded places with her, Oh hunts her down at a gallery opening and a rematch ensues and that's where Catfight's simplistic structure becomes depressingly evident. You can more or less predict how the last third will play out and when it finally happens, it ends in another meaningless brawl with an ending that's even more unsatisfactory.

Despite the trite script, Sandra Oh gives a nicely layered performance, but Heche and Silverstone don't have much depth to their characters. The script is nowhere as incisive or insightful as it imagines itself, but their are a few flashes of satiric teeth, particularly in a baby shower scene in which Silverstone craps on every gift given. However, a mediocre episode of Girls has three times the laughs and insight in a third of the time, albeit with the risk of Lena Dunham inflicting her body on the audience.

Score: 3/10. Skip it.

"Prometheus" Blu-ray Review


In preparation for the upcoming Alien: Covenant, we watched Prometheus again because while I'd been watching the Blu-ray in bits and pieces as a test disc for home theater tweaking - I hadn't really watched watched it despite getting the deluxe 3D version upon its release (more on this in a moment) - the missus hadn't seen it since we'd seen it in the theater five years ago. I don't know why I haven't written up a review of this package before and there's a problem with it you'll see it a bit, but I must note have screened the full movie thus the lack of an entry here.

While people still treat Prometheus as some sort of cinematic war crime, on second appraisal it's not that bad and I'd bump the film score up to a 7/10. The dumb stuff is still dumb and Holloway is a complete tool and thus his death isn't really that much of a loss (spoiler alert!), but the overall slick style, Fassbender's performance and Ridley Scott's ability to still throw down a tense scene like the auto-doc alien extraction sequence make it a missed opportunity more than a complete failure.

More problematic is this Blu-ray release which along with Life of Pi saw Fox putting some of the special features exclusively on the 3D version release, forcing people to either buy a version they may not even have the capability or interest in watching in order to get all the extras or doing without. While Life of Pi's omitted extras appear to be minor, the 4-disc collector's edition I bought (and sold off the 3D disc to a friend) came with an amazing disc of extras with a production documentary and tons of goodies which were actually better than the movie itself. The problem is that it appears to have gone out of print - it lists on Amazon for over $350(!!!) and while Best Buy lists it for $20, it's not actually available. 

If you're not an extras fiend like me, then the basic disc is a good pickup for $10 or less; the transfer and audio are pristine and the movie doesn't totally blow despite being full of bonehead actions which led to Cinema Sins coining the "Prometheus School For Running Away From Things" to describe any time people aren't trying to dodge to the side.

Score: Collector's Edition - 8.5/10. Buy it if you can find it. Regular Edition - 7/10. Buy it cheap.

"Guardians of the Galaxy" Review


Watched it again on Vudu with the girlfriend in prep for seeing the sequel with her. She slept through most of it because she's seen it before. Sigh. Hope she remembers enough to understand what's happening.

Score: 8.5/10.

"The Death of 'Superman Lives': What Happened?" Review



In the late-20th Century an attempt was made to reboot the moribund Superman franchise with Superman Lives, a Jon Peter-produced movie with Tim Burton directing, Nicholas Cage starring and Kevin Smith writing the first draft. With tens of millions expended on pre-production and pay-or-play deals, the production was shut down three weeks before it was to start shooting.

As bizarre-looking costume test photos leaked out showing a stoned-looking Cage in a shiny blue rubber suit leaked out - Superman Lives director Bryan Singer would keep that photo handy to shut up anyone who questioned what he was doing with his film - and Kevin Smith's recounting of his involvement with the project (Parts One and Two here) became legend, the true story of what killed Superman Lives was mostly speculation and conjecture until now as writer-director Jonathan Schnepp has pulled together the threads and woven The Death of 'Superman Lives': What Happened?

Stunningly getting the participation of every main and secondary participant but Cage (who appears in fitting videos), Schnepp interviews Peters, Burton, Smith and the two screenwriters who followed him, costume designer Colleen Atwood, and the army of illustrators, designers and artists, showcasing an overwhelming amount of illustrations and test models. Everyone seems candid and honest, though Peters flat out denies Smith's claim that he asked that Superman not fly or wear the costume.

While the copious artwork and deep-diving will probably satisfy uber-nerdy Superman fans, it drags out the feel of the 104-minute documentary making it less suited to more general audiences. It's fascinating to see the ideas being pitched around like the Kryptonian Skull Ship which is exactly as it sounds, but struck me as possibly being too goofy-looking for a live-action movie.

Ultimately, Warner Bros.' string of box office bombs ultimately killed the project (ironically, the money went to fund another bomb), but for those who've always wondered what could've been, for better or worse, The Death of 'Superman Lives': What Happened? definitely sets the record as straight as could be hoped. A must-watch for superhero movie fans; slightly less so for general audiences.

Score: 6/10. Catch it on cable. (It's currently on Showtime.)

"Colossal" Review



When the first trailer for Colossal dropped, the premise was a grabber: A young woman (Yummy Girl, known to you people as Anne Hathaway) discovers that she is somehow responsible for a giant kaiju monster stomping on Seoul, South Korea. Hijinks ensue. What's not to like about that? Sounds like fun, right? What the trailers don't reveal and most reviews have hidden - though the first one I read explicitly blew the back half in order to allow for SJW axe-grinding - is that the fun rapidly drains out in service of some ugly turns which aren't earned. If you're concerned about spoilers, jump to the score and come back later.

After an odd prologue showing the monster appearing in Seoul 25 years ago (which is eventually explained), we meet Yummy Girl as she wanders into her Manhattan apartment after another night out partying, babbling rote excuses about how her being gone all night isn't her fault to her clearly steamed boyfriend. Fed up with never seeing her unless she's hungover and carrying her after being unemployed for a year, he's kicking her out.

With nowhere to go, she returns to her unspecified Middle-American childhood small town to move into her parents' empty home. While lugging home a heavy sack, she encounters Jason Sudeikis, a childhood schoolmate. Giving her a ride they end up at his bar, which he inherited from his father, and she immediately falls in with Sudeikis' drinking biddies (Tim Blake Nelson and Austin Stowell), hanging out boozing until dawn, leaving and walking home with her bundle. Waking up in the afternoon, she learns that a monster has appeared in Seoul.

After a repeat appearance the next night, she immediately realizes her connection to it and somehow figures out that it happens when she crosses a playground. She reveals this to her new friends and attempts to make amends to the people their by writing an apology in the sand, but then its revealed that when Sudeikis enters the playground a giant robot appears in Seoul, doubling the terror for them and the complications back here.

This is where Colossal takes the turn that the ads and reviews hide. Sudeikis' nice guy character - he give her a TV and furniture for her house - veers into Evil Controlling Sociopath territory as he becomes jealous of her hots for the hunky, shy Stowell. (Why she's after him isn't really spelled out. He's a bland, handsome blank.) When her ex from NYC comes to town, ostensibly for a coincidental business meeting, the theme of "evil men consumed by toxic masculinity and need to control and oppress women" really blares forth, culminating in (SPOILER ALERT!) Sudeikis' threat that if she leaves he will go back to the the playground every morning and have his giant robot avatar wreak havoc on the other side of the world. Wotta swell fella.

The problem with this turn of the story is that it's not earned. Yummy wasn't his high school girlfriend, though he obviously has harbored a crush on her and has Googled her up. (Who hasn't looked up an ex or ten online just because?) They had no relationship, so his violent reaction to what she does just comes off as extreme. Sudeikis, who has made a name as the bland sorta straight guy in comedies like Horrible Bosses and We're The Millers, is quite chilling in his dark turn; he's just let down by a poorly-motivated script which really faceplants in their final confrontation despite its obvious attempt at crown-pleasing.

Yummy is also quite good, making her drunken wreck somehow appealing and winsome, though clearly troubled by the mayhem and death she has accidentally caused, at least until the script forgets about all that and goes off on the He-Man Woman-Hating Club stuff.

My girlfriend didn't know about the twist and didn't like it, feeling it should've been a straight-up comedy as advertised, though she agreed that if they'd more properly sold the rationale for Sudeikis' anger and possessiveness towards Yummy, it may've worked better. (Off the top of my head, how about Yummy being a former high school mean girl who was cruel to Sudeikis because his dad "just owned a bar" and he's always wanted to pay her back for her snobby cruelty now that she's the needy one? Not saying this is awesome, but it's better than what's there.)

Score: 5/10. Catch it on cable.

"Fast & Furious 6" Blu-ray Review


The march to The Fate of the Furious continues with what is hands-down the best and most well-rounded of the entire series. My original theatrical review still stands. The sound and picture quality are good. Didn't have a chance to look at the extras yet, but they appear respectable.

Score: 8.5/10. Buy it.

"Ghost in the Shell 2.0" Blu-ray Review


I originally reviewed this Blu-ray six years ago and dug it out to refresh myself in preparation for this weekend's arrival of the controversial live-action ScarJo version and upon second viewing I'm finding that 1995's anime classic Ghost in the Shell is a tad overhyped. People remember the iconic action sequences or the shocking (robo) nudity or the haunting score, but lost in the reminiscences are the fact that the plot makes little sense and there's way too much philosophy dumping going on.

The opening thermoptic camo scene makes the Major look like an assassin, not a cop. All the nattering about the "ghost" maybe being or not being the human soul is half-baked and the political chicanery and investigative work to detect possibly illegally cloaked people who then never are revealed is just confusing.

The biggest stink over the casting of ScarJo is that it fed the SJW outrage pimps another example of "whitewashing" (in which evil disgusting white actors are playing roles believed the sole property of "People of Color"), but as with so much anime, there is nothing Asian about Major Motoko Kusinagi other than her super Japanese name and since her body is robotic and her appearance manufactured, what makes her "Asian" to the point it requires racially-specific casting? (FWIW, I would've gone with Rinko Kikuchi from Pacific Rim.)

While the original Ghost in the Shell remains something self-respecting cinephiles should see, it will be interesting to see how this live-action version, which reportedly takes elements from both theatrical films and the Stand Alone Complex series and blends the philosophical angles with the need for sci-fi shooty-shoot action.

Score: 6/10. Rent it.

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"The Assignment" Review


When I saw the trailer (below) for The Assignment I wondered what the heck it was supposed to be. Within five minutes, I could tell it was going to be some Biblical level of suckage, but perverse curiosity as to why this cast was involved in this mess kept be going. Ugh. The things I do for my readers.

As the trailer lays out, M.Rod plays a hitMAN who was given an involuntary sex change as revenge for killing Sigourney Weaver's brother. What's not shown is the framing device for this tale - Tony Shaloub's psychiatrist character conducting an evaluation on Weaver's doctor which opens with them spewing some of the worst Basil Exposition dialog ever committed to digital video (can't say film anymore, right?) and immediately making one wonder if the all shared the same agent who lost a bet and had to force his clients into this weird mess?

As it trudges through it's allegedly shocking tale of revenge - since half of it is told in present day narrating flashbacks, there's never a doubt as to who survives - it never rises above it's thin premise. But the actors commit to the dreck fully, though I couldn't stop wondering why they accepted the gig. Yes, co-writer and director Walter Hill produced Weaver's Alien movies and had some notable flicks 35-40 years ago(!), but I don't get it and pondering that helped get through this.

There's a minor reveal at the end, but things hinted at meaning something like Weaver's wearing of men's suits never pay off. The only thing The Assignment will be remembered for is that Michelle Rodriguez made her nude debut after 17 years in the biz in her late-30s. But you'll be able to find that on the Internet and the context doesn't make it any better.

Score: 2/10. Skip it unless you are a perverse masochist who can't believe it's this bad.



If you're wondering why it's called Tomboy at the end, it's because it was also titled that and (Re)Assignment. When you can't settle on the title....

Oscars 2017 Livesnark


The collected tweets from @DirkBelig during the 2017 Virtue Signaling Olypmics.
  • Ultra-Leftist Hollyweird millionaire hypocrites wear ACLU ribbons at the #Oscars to signal support for parts of the Constitution they like.
  •  I've seen 8 of 9 Best Picture #Oscars nominees, all but Fences, and didn't care for any but Lion. The faves to win are the worst overall.
  • And now after that bright, peppy, joyful opening #Oscars number by Justin Timberlake we can get down to bashing Trump and crying "Fascism!"
  • Good opening monologue from @jimmykimmel, but he's basically begging for #Oscars winners to throw tantrums to bait Cheeto Jesus.
  • Alicia Vikander is way too tan for a Swedish girl. Mahershala Ali wins for Moonlight as expected. He was OK, but nothing special. #Oscars  
  • That's the #Oscars winning motion picture Suicide Squad, bitches! That that, Marvel! LOL! And then obligatory Trump bash. Take it back!
  • Witchcraft works to get Colleen Atwood her 4th #Oscars win, yet she pretends to be as surprised as Taylor Swift. 
  • The orchestra is actually in the pit this year's #Oscars after several years piped in from Capitol Records studio. Good perf from Moana kid.
  • First Walmart receipt #Oscars ad by Antoine Fuqua was dumb. Low bar for competition to beat. Yes, it's a contest. I said so.  
  • Inclusion: Leftists keep saying that word, but I don't think it means what they think it means. We're missing Walking Dead for this? #Oscars
  • Sound awards #Oscars split between Arrival and Hacksaw Ridge for those who were out of the room getting snacks. 
  • What is with @jimmykimmel's constant baiting and bashing of Mel Gibson? It's not as if he's going attack him. Same w/ Trump. #Oscars #NoFear
  • Weird #Oscars speech from Viola Davis until the point on stories from the graveyard was explained. Her win was the free space on your pool.
  • 2nd Walmart receipt #Oscars ad by Marc Forster was a bimbo: looked good, but stupid. Low bar for Seth and Evan to clear for victory.
  • And terrorist-backer Iran wins Foreign Film #Oscars in order to allow the #MuslimBan lie to be cheered by Hollywood Jews who hate Israel.
  • Sting is providing music too boring for NPR for your snack break. Oh, pity the poor journalists whose #FakeNews is being punished. #Oscars
  • King of #FakeNews @nytimes bleats on their #Oscars ad that "the truth is more important now than ever" because they've been lying forever.
  • Tiny Latino actor demands America have no borders to #Oscars cheers. Guess Hollywood forgot the illegal alien who murdered Adrienne Shelly.
  • The #Oscars bit w/the tourists was nicely amusing. I'm sure those "random folks" were cast for max hilarity. Trump is still Hitler, right?
  • Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg handily win the Walmart #Oscars receipt ad contest by just getting high and literally rattling off the items.
  • The Google #Oscars ad totally spoils Lion for those who haven't seen it while subliminally sticking it to useless Apple.
  • Do the people cheering for The White Helmets at the #Oscars know that their beloved Nobel Peace Prize-winning Obama did nothing for Syria?
  • @jimmykimmel desperately tries to troll Trump cuz there's not enough rage happening at the #Oscars. Pathetic. Leslie Mann's dress is hate.
  • John Legend, who had the one good line in La La Land, performs the #Oscars-nominated tunes, neither of which as good as "Another Day of Sun"
  • The "Best" Song #Oscars goes to three white guys over the Hamilton guy because RAAAAAAAAAACISM! #LiveUpToYourStandardsHollywood  
  • Another year, another #Oscars Parade of Death which doesn't use Jim Carroll's "People Who Died" as the backing.
  • Where was Miguel Ferrar on #Oscars Parade of Death? Who else got snubbed? Surprised they didn't include America, the way they've been crying
  • Kimmel intro to Matt Damon was funny, showing that if he had forgone baiting Trump all #Oscars night, he would've been better.  
  • Great Batfleck and Matt Damon schtick was hilarious. Amy Adams brought the twins to the #Oscars! ( o Y o ) Moonlight was barely a story.
  • The Wikipedia page for Tarell Alvin McCraney was updated to say he won Best Adapted Screenplay #Oscars within two minutes. #ThatWasFast
  • Sorry, Halle Berry, even Beyonce couldn't pull off that mop at the #Oscars Damien Chazelle is so wildly overrated. Whiplash was meh, too.  
  • Have they ever had an #Oscars ceremony without any clips from the Best Picture nominees? Probably cut for time to allow more Trump-baiting.
  • Can't believe Casey Affleck won Best Actor #Oscars, not because the SJWs were after him, but because his role was monotone and dull. #fail
  • Leo is thinking, "I froze my freaking ass off to win my #Oscars, but Casey wins for being mopey for two hours?"
  • Emma Stone was so good in the mediocre La La Land; serving like J.K. Simmons as the reason people stupidly praise Damien Chazelle. #Oscars
  • Old white guy Warren Beatty, whose last movie bombed so hard, speaks up for diversity to #Oscars cheers. Spare us all the preaching.  
  • Tuneless musical La La Land wins Best Picture at #Oscars because diversity-preening has limits when circle-jerking themselves calls H'wood.
  • WHAT!!!!! Unbelievable #Oscars moment as they handed out the wrong card and had to take La La Land's Oscar away on stage! #SomeoneIsFired
  • Pure diversity-pandering by Hollywood in picking Moonlight. As much as I didn't care for La La Land, Moonlight was my least liked. #Oscars
  • I simultaneously stage-managed and co-hosted a 4-1/4 hour show last night, same as #Oscars, and we had a much better-done show than this.  
  • @EW sez "Celebs unleashed on Hollywood's big night" - actually wasn't as terribad as feared other than Kimmel's desperate baiting. #Oscars
  • Best Supporting Actor, Best Documentary Feature; Best Supporting Actress; Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Picture. #Oscars #OscarsNotSoWhite
  • In addition to discovering who f*cked up #Oscars Best Picture cards, Warren Beatty needs to explain why he didn't just ask if this was right
  • When is it going to be revealed that M. Night Shyalaman wrote tonight's #Oscars show? #WhatATwist
 
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