Tag Archives: Summer blockbuster

READER POLL FOR EAKER VS. EAKER VS.THE 2017 SUMMER BLOCKBUSTERS: THE CANDIDATES

With summer just around the corner, it is time for the 366 reader base to vote on which three summer blockbusters to send the Eakers (Alfred and Aja) to review for our fourth annual installment of the series “Eaker v.s Eaker vs. the s.” The candidates below are listed in order of release. Be sure to view the entire post; you will vote at the end.

  1. Alien: Covenant, opening May 12. I ‘ll have to nix the latest Fast and Furious (April 14) and Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2 (April 28), simply because they’re coming too soon.  That leaves us to potentially open with Alien: Covenant, ‘s sequel to Prometheus, which is probably the  most likely to send me sleeping on the couch for a couple of nights. Why? Because I loved Prometheus and thought it the best of the entire Alien series (yes, you read that right). Aja, on the other hand, sided with the fanboy masses and hated it so thoroughly that I was not able to even watch it a second time until she left town for a week. So, this is probably the number one candidate for a knock down, drag out fight. Of course, I could be wrong. It really could suck. After all, no artist is infallible, and Scott is undeniably an uneven director.
  2. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, May 12. Hasn’t this story been told a few times already? It’s directed by Guy Ritchie, whose resume doesn’t promise anything even remotely approaching freshness.
  3. Wonder Woman, June 2.  With their last few entries, DC comics have earned the reputation of being hacks when it comes to the big screen. This is odd, since they rule the small screen with their animated and live action series. And, let’s be honest—they have cooler, more colorful characters than Marvel. Exhibit A is the delightful series “Supergirl,” which apparently a lot of humorless fanboys hate. With Marvel, it’s usually the reverse (Exhibit B is the reportedly godawful TV series “Iron Fist”). Gail Gadot was the coolest element of the execrable Batman vs. Superman, but she was only in it briefly. Also on the potential plus side is director Patty Jenkins, whose Monster (2003) was critically acclaimed. However, her work since then has been sporadic and confined to television (although she won several Emmys). On the negative side, the trailer indicates an overblown spectacle—which shouldn’t be surprising  since a certain hack named Snyder co-wrote the script, and the only thing he seems to write well are recipes for disaster.
  4. Baywatch, June 2. Based on the cheesy TV series and starring Dwayne Johnson. Jesus God, this is gonna be really bad.
  5. The Mummy, June 9. Director Alex Kurtzman is known primarily as a writer… of bad scripts (Amazing Spiderman 2, a Transformers movie, Star Trek: Into Darkness). Lead actress Sofia Boutella is earning a reputation as a formidable screen presence. It also stars whose work is usually uneven. This is supposed to be the first entry in Universal’s planned reboot of its classic monster Continue reading READER POLL FOR EAKER VS. EAKER VS.THE 2017 SUMMER BLOCKBUSTERS: THE CANDIDATES

ALFRED EAKER VS. THE SUMMER BLOCKBUSTERS: SUICIDE SQUAD (2016)

It’s fairly clear now that the DC fanboys are, in some way, shape or form, related to Trumptards. They see a vast conspiracy, most likely one that is orchestrated by the shadowy Illuminati, whose nefarious aim is to overthrow the world with mind control. These are the same invisible Zionist-ran, Koch-funded demons who manufactured the holocaust lie; conspired with the Knights Templar to hide Mary Magdalene from history; orchestrated 9/11; fabricated the Sandy Hook massacre; discredited Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee and the Duggars; are trying to rig and steal the election from Lord Trump; and are a front for Rotten Tomatoes, whose critical pawns give bad reviews to beloved deities who wear their underwear outside their pants.

Never mind that Suicide Squad writer/director David Ayer has never produced anything worth a damn, and don’t be fooled by the same Rotten Tomatoes 90 % plus ratings for shows like “The Flash,” “Arrow,” “Supergirl,” The Dark Knight, “Lois and Clark,” or Superman II. That’s a well-manufactured plot meant to distract us from their depraved intent of usurping our funny paper religion.

Still from Suicide Squad (2016)Fanboy thugs aside, Suicide Squad has reached a new low for the DC universe. Of course we expect a darker hue from a suicide squad, but Ayer and his cult seem to take the “suicide” part a tad too literally. Now, before DC fanboys add me to their most hated list, I should add that when it comes to DC VS. Marvel, I’m DC by a considerable stretch. I have unending affection for these classic characters, adorned in primary colors, who are entertaining symbols giving us a shred of hope in this hellhole. Superman, by far, is my favorite. He set the model and is what a superman should be—a trusted paternal figure who will get a cat out of a tree. He was never better than in his original incarnation in Action comics, the Fleischer shorts, and under the auspices of George Reeves (his was a Superman who tapped into Wyatt Earp, and even exercised gun control to put bigots in their place. A  retrospective on that innovative series is on my own blog). The Flash—with his red suit, sense of humor, ability to weather all the tragedies that fate could muster—Green Lantern, and Green Arrow all have had a secure place in my Christmas stockings over the decades. Now with that out of the way: Mother of Mercy, are we really this bankrupt?

The dyed-in-the-wool defense is “well, that’s my taste, I was born with it, and nothing I can do about it.”

B.S. Our tastes change in all things. We certainly weren’t guzzling coffee in our adolescence, and growing tastes have placed the Beatles above Elvis, Karloff above Lugosi, and Bing Crosby’s jazz-tainted velvet pipes above Sinatra’s pop-flavored silvery whine. Taste is a reflection of our openness and willingness to be more than what we know. Taste defines us.

Does Suicide Squad reach the nadir of Batman v. Superman? Well, no it doesn’t. I doubt (and hope) we’ll never be subjected to anything so Continue reading ALFRED EAKER VS. THE SUMMER BLOCKBUSTERS: SUICIDE SQUAD (2016)

EAKER VS. EAKER VS. THE SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER: GHOSTBUSTERS (2016)

Aja Eaker: Hey, 366 Fans!

I have no idea what Alfred is furiously clicking away at for this review. All I can say is that he is scowling, chain-smoking, and guzzling coffee that I think was left over from this morning (although it could be from last night), and we are sitting opposite each other, every MacBook Pro for oneself.

Let’s get straight to it: if you are not old enough to recall the original Ghostbusters when it came out, this movie is going to be hard to talk about in terms that adequately convey the magnitude of what it set out to accomplish. This is one of the movies that defined the 1980s American popular culture scene. When news broke of the remake as a legit happening, the response was one of skepticism.

Everybody showed up for the party, except Harold Ramis, but he died, so we can excuse him on those grounds. And they did throw in a guy that looked just like him—for a silhouetted nod during the end credits—so calm down, those of you over 35: you’ll get all the goods, plus fresh faces of comedic glee.

Still from Ghostbusters 2016What I loved about this Ghostbusters was the female cast who successfully completed a daunting therapeutic task for the global psyche. During the Hollywood premiere, a photo was taken of Kristen Wiig greeting a girl of about ten wearing a complete Ghostbusters‘ costume. A 16-year old onlooker saw this potent exchange and wrote an article about that moment and its meaning, which is now circulating social media. The crux of the article is about women’s representation in film and how this one got it right. It is a darn good read.

I’m all for a flick that not only pays homage to the greatness of what came before (thank you for throwing in Slimer, Sigourney, and Stay-Puff), while presenting that today’s women can be equally funny, clever, tough, and most importantly, SMART. As a fellow female physics nerd, it was easy to love the quirks and quarks of this remake. While I traditionally love the humor of Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon totally stole the show. I think it was because I could personally relate to being committed to being a scientific badass that social expectations for what a “normal” woman looks like is lost on us at times. We dig our own weirdness, and that is actually really cool. I found her delivery hilarious throughout.

So take my review with a big grain of Morton Salt, as I unabashedly loved the original and collected all of the GB paraphernalia back in the day, and I loved this version for its effort. I found parts of it lackluster and too long, over-reaching and kitschy, but balanced well enough that I would feel totally safe taking a trove of tweens to see it. No gratuitous flashes of skin, not a single misuse of female sexuality, while still poking fun at the universal ability to get all goofy Continue reading EAKER VS. EAKER VS. THE SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER: GHOSTBUSTERS (2016)

EAKER VS. EAKER VS.THE SUMMER BLOCKBUSTERS: ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS (2016)

Alfred:

I doubt that even Jesus Christ himself knows how many film treatments there have been of s Alice sagas. Among the damned few that have been predominantly successful is the 1951 animated feature produced under the auspices of old man Walt himself. One would think the Disney folk would be happy with that, and leave well enough alone. Instead, they foisted ‘s 2010 version on us, which took a toilet plunger and sucked out virtually all of the novel’s inherent surrealism. It was a new nadir for both Burton and Disney. The Burton of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (1985), Batman Returns (1992), and Ed Wood (1994) might have been an ideal match for the material. But, as a wise old owl once said, “the world may never know.” The Burton of 2010 was well past his tether and far from being the dark visionary of his past. Indeed, his Alice was a painfully sanitized caricature, and it seemed Burton could sink no lower (until Dark Shadows, that is).

Promo for Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)The Tim Burton version of Alice in Wonderland was scripted by Disney writer Linda Woolverton, who is and always has been a hack. Her Beauty and the Beast  (1991) was a saccharine parody of ‘s staggeringly brilliant 1946 psychological fantasy. Astoundingly, Beast earned an Academy Award Best Picture nomination (one of the Academy’s most embarrassing moments, which is saying a lot). Even more cringe-inducing was her 1994 Lion King, with its maudlin “Circle of Life” song upchucked by Elton John (who seems hell bent on proving that Bernie Taupin deserves all the credit for their collaborations) and Tim Rice (who seems hell bent on proving that Howard Ashman deserves all the credit for their collaborations). Woolverton’s resume expanded with more Alka-Seltzer slugfests, such as Beauty and the Beast: Enchanted Christmas (1997), Belle’s Magical World (1998), Mulan (1998), Lion King 2 (1998) and Maleficent (2014).  Even in her most critically successful films (i.e Mulan) her writing never rises above formula, and what some feel might have worked in the projects she was attached to should be credited more to the animation and direction. Woolverton’s Alice made her direct-to-video, second-rate sequels look less embarrassing by comparison.

It hardly took a clairvoyant to see Alice Through the Looking Glass was a preordained disaster. A production team of hacks had plagued the previous production and, wisely, Burton opted out of returning as director. Gving Burton his due, he had to have known the Continue reading EAKER VS. EAKER VS.THE SUMMER BLOCKBUSTERS: ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS (2016)

READER POLL FOR EAKER VS. EAKER VS.THE SUMMER BLOCKBUSTERS: THE CANDIDATES

With summer just around the corner, it is time for the 366 reader base to vote on which three summer blockbusters to send the Eakers (Alfred and Aja) to review. The candidates below are listed in order of release. Be sure to view the entire post; you will vote at the end.

1. Captain America : Civil War,  MAY 6

Captain America: Civil War posterApparently Marvel didn’t learn any lessons from Hack Snyder pitting Batman against Superman when they decided to make Captain America vs. iron man.  A big plus is this one isn’t directed by Snyder. Other possible pluses: it does have and is made by the people who brought us Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014), which received predominantly good reviews. On the bad side, the trailer has cringe-worthy dialogue:

“There are men laying down their lives. I’ve got no right to do any less than them.”

“I just know what I have to do.”

The trailer’s painfully obvious, knee-jerking music hardly inspires. The film’s script writer is Christopher Markus, who wrote the first two entries in this franchise and amazingly transformed a Red-Skulled Nazi into a vapid, dull, underwritten villain, which cannot be an easy accomplishment.

2. Friday the 13th,  MAY 13 (imagine that).

I will give ‘s Halloween (1978) credit for being good at this type of thing (whatever that is worth–I still prefer his 1982 remake of The Thing). However, let’s be honest: Friday the 13th was a lame, poor man’s Halloween imitation, produced by perennial hack Frank Mancusco, Jr.  The sole bright spot in the entirety of this series was a 15 second opening in one of them (don’t ask me which) that spoofed the James Bond credits. Unfortunately, the movies themselves were forgettable, as they all rather blend together. I was surprised to see this listed on the summer movie list; I thought the franchise had died off about 30 years ago. No such luck, but I cannot imagine a movie about a trailer-park Republican with an ax inspiring more than a ten word review. (Sorry, this one has been pushed back to a 2017 release. Thanks El_Tizz for the heads up!!)

3. Alice Through The Looking  Glass,  MAY 27

Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016) posterAnother Disney attempt at ?  It’s produced by , who zapped all the inherent surrealism out of his previous Alice In Wonderland (2010). It stars (drum roll please)… and . Yawn. It’s directed by James Bobin, who brought us the last Muppet movie. How is that for credentials? The prospects  border on being masochistic, although Aja is a fan of Carter. The faint, half glimmer of hope is the late and already much missed Alan Rickman voicing the Blue Caterpillar.

4. X-MEN Apocalypse, MAY 27

As far as superhero movies go, the X-Men, when directed by , are a cut above the rest of the lot. He should be drafted to Continue reading READER POLL FOR EAKER VS. EAKER VS.THE SUMMER BLOCKBUSTERS: THE CANDIDATES

EAKER VS. EAKER AT THE SUMMER BLOCKBUSTERS: FANTASTIC FOUR (2015)

Eaker vs. Eaker is the latest “send Alfred to the summer blockbuster movies so that he can curmudgeonly complain” event, but with a twist, cinema fans and friends! For the first time (without even knowing it), you voted to send Alfred and his wife, Aja, to the flicks and have them duke it out, publicly, about each so-called-blockbuster. Everybody here knows all about Alfred’s cinematic savvy, and his cranky-old-dog approach to film critique. Now, you get 2-for-1: Aja is Alfred’s beloved clinical and counseling psychologist partner, who loves to counter just about every cinematic point Alfred makes. Our final assignment of the 2015 summer season, selected by you, dear readers, was Fantastic Four.

Aja and Alfred 366AlfredThe Fantastic Four (2015) is astoundingly mediocre. Worse, it doesn’t even have sense enough to be godawful-campy, which might have redeemed it.

Just how hard is it to get Marvel’s first family done right on the big screen? After all, at its center, The Fantastic Four has a charismatic villain in Dr. Doom, who undoubtedly was a major influence on George Lucas’ Darth Vader. As far as Marvel villains go, Doom is on par with The Red Skull—whom Captain America: First Avenger (2011) also wasted. The original “Four” books, by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, are models of vibrant pulp myth. That is not the direction taken by Josh Trank (who understandably has disowned this). Instead, he takes the dark, soulless route of the contemporary graphic novel route. That this approach is woefully wrongheaded for the foursome should be obvious to anyone, except Neanderthals in empty suits.

Still from Fantastic 4 (2015)Trank claims studio interference ruined the film, which no one doubts, but despite his protestations, he co-wrote this mess and it’s clear that the simplistic concept of the Four and Doom eluded him at the drawing board stage. He spends a full hour in exposition land, and with all that wasted time we still don’t give a hoot or holler about a single character. The lot are merely sketched rudimentarily, and there is no sense of tragedy or empathy during the scientific accident. Ant-Man‘s hodgepodge approach and lack of originality was somewhat redeemed by a goofy lead performance. Fantastic Four lacks even that.

Additionally, there is the yawn-inducing evil-military-complex-syndrome subplot. Even that is not milked for entertainment. The subpar FX include an invisible bubble, which was better executed in The Wizard Of Oz all the Continue reading EAKER VS. EAKER AT THE SUMMER BLOCKBUSTERS: FANTASTIC FOUR (2015)

EAKER VS EAKER AT THE SUMMER BLOCKBUSTERS (BONUS COVERAGE): ANT-MAN (2015)

Eaker vs. Eaker is the latest “send Alfred to the summer blockbuster movies so that he can curmudgeonly complain” event, but with a twist, cinema fans and friends! For the first time (without even knowing it), you voted to send Alfred and his wife, Aja, to the flicks and have them duke it out, publicly, about each so-called-blockbuster. Everybody here knows all about Alfred’s cinematic savvy, and his cranky-old-dog approach to film critique. Now, you get 2-for-1: Aja is Alfred’s beloved clinical and counseling psychologist partner, who loves to counter just about every cinematic point Alfred makes. You didn’t choose to send us to Ant-Man (2015), but we went nevertheless.

Aja and Alfred 366Alfred:

How much of the script for Ant-Man (2015) was written on a chalkboard? I imagine a bunch of executives sitting round the table, outlining the plot for its six writers: “To be successful, we have to follow the Marvel formula, have archetypes, etc.”

“Well, we can do it like Iron Man.  Have the hero in and Ant-Man suit and a villain in a rival insect suit.”

“Ok, but Ant-Man is little. So what other movies are there about shrunken people.”

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.

“Ok, good. What else?”

The Incredible Shrinking Man.”

“Well, maybe, but that’s kind old, isn’t it?

Still from Ant-Man (2015)“Hey, it is about ants, so what about the Ants move?”

“Good thinking. Let’s look at Ants too. We need to give him a mentor, some comedy relief, and a femme fatale babe.”

“Ok, good, but we gotta give Ant-Man something to fight for. Audiences love little girls. Let’s give him a daughter.”

“Yeah, and the villain goes after her like that Octopus guy went after Spiderman’s aunt.”

“Or Lex Luthor when he went after Lois Lane.”

“We can even have a bald villain, like Luthor.”

“Let’s develop all that and up the ante. Make Ant-Man a divorcee—kind of a loser. He only gets to see his daughter on weekends.”

“Yeah, and his ex-wife is married to a jerk.”

“Right, and after learning her biological dad is Ant-Man, the daughter learns what a true hero he really is.”

“Now, we’re rolling. What else?”

“Let’s use the corporate bad guy plot, you know like making the big business guys trying to get the secrets of the suit, so they can sell it Continue reading EAKER VS EAKER AT THE SUMMER BLOCKBUSTERS (BONUS COVERAGE): ANT-MAN (2015)

ALFRED EAKER VS THE SUMMER BLOCKBUSTERS: TERMINATOR GENISYS (2015)

A dumb, unoriginal movie made by dumb, unoriginal people. Terminator: Genisys (2015) has received well-earned negative critical reception and press. This latest from a franchise well past its tether is the summer blockbuster equivalent of nails meeting a chalkboard.

That its sheer awfulness was entirely predictable makes Terminator: Genisys even more disappointing. Worse, it is insulting on multiple levels. It reportedly did not perform as well as hoped for on opening weekend, and that is partly because it caters solely to the formula-craving fanboy audience it inherited. It seems to care not one bit for creating a new audience.

Ultimately, it offers nothing new, although there is a half-assed effort on the part of its hack writers (Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier) and director (Alan Taylor) to inject convoluted rehashes masquerading as new plot developments. This they do with the standby alternate timelines, which we have seen a lot recently in franchise reboots, such as J.J. Abrahms’ Star Trek (2009). The resume of the production team should have indicated, to anyone but an executive, that they simply were not up to this challenge. Predominantly, however, the blame must go to Paramount for ordering this unnecessary mishmash and handing it over to a pedestrian team. Studios might be financially savvy, but one is tempted to ask aloud if production executives actually go to movies, and whether they have anything better to produce with their money.

Humphrey Bogart once said: “The industry hurts itself by making so many lousy movies. It’s as if General Motors deliberately put out a bad car.” Terminator: Genisys is Paramount’s shamefully intentional lemon, counting solely on star Arnold Schwarzenegger and hoping the movie will just make itself.

It does not even succeed at that. The plot, for those who inexplicably care, features John Connor (Jason Clarke) who defeats Fascist machines that create a holocaust which wipes out most of humanity. In retaliation, the machines send a robotic terminator (Schwarzenegger) back to 1984 in an effort to kill John’s mother, Sarah (Emilia Clarke) to prevent John from being born. John gets hold of another time machine and sends his daddy, Kyle (Jai Courtney) back to 1984 as well, so he can save and impregnate Sarah. If that sounds overly familiar, just wait for alt timeline plot twists.

Still from Terminator: Genisys (2015)This time around, the 1984 version of Sarah is already an apocalyptic warrior, as opposed to the clueless, helpless waitress of the original. She keeps the company of an old, gray-haired terminator (Schwarzenegger), who protects her from the new terminator (a digital Schwarzenegger). A nearly seventy-year-old Schwarzenegger can hardly compete with a CGI Schwarzenegger. Old Schwarzenegger does get a clever/cute line: “I’m old, not obsolete.” The only thing more grating than macho attempts at clever/cute (think of Arnold’s cringe-inducing ‘thumbs-up’ finale of the hopelessly overrated Terminator 2: Judgment Day) is geriatric macho attempts at clever cute (think William Shatner in Star Trek: The Final Frontier).

Nor can Clarke and Courtney compete with the original Sarah and Kyle (Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn).  Oh, what to do if the actors are just as lacking in personality and originality as the director and writers? You throw in lotza “character revelations” and even more CGI car crashes with exploding terminators.

The theme behind Terminator: Genisys is one that has been used since Beethoven’s “Fidelio”: the rights of the individual supersede the collective, which is hypocritical given that the film was dictated to the principals by Paramount.

Although original Terminator director James Cameron was not involved with Terminator: Genisys, he has been canonized by Taylor and company, which the previous two franchise entries failed to do. Naturally, when young sycophants kiss a veteran’s ass and stroke his ego, said veteran is ready, willing, and able to stamp the film with his endorsement, which is precisely what Cameron did.

That might be fine for undemanding fans, but not for the rest of us. Reportedly, the terminators will be back for two more lemon sequels straight off the assembly line.

ALFRED EAKER VS. THE SUMMER BLOCKBUSTERS (BONUS COVERAGE): INSIDE OUT (2015)

Pixar’s Inside Out (2015) is one of those “eat crow” moments.

The glories of Wall-E (2008) and the Toy Story trilogy have been overshadowed by the pedestrian equivalent of Disney Big Macs with such junk fodder as Monsters Universty (2013), Brave (2012), Cars 2 (2011), and Finding Nemo (2003). Pete Docter and Ronlado Del Carmen are the writing/directing team on Inside Out; their previous credits do not suggest anything resembling exceptional caliber.

Thus, when my Portland tribe voted on Inside Out, I made sure to grab the Rolaids on the way out, anticipating an overdose of saccharine banality. Within moments of this astoundingly remarkable film, my mirror of preconceived notions had delightfully shattered.

Inside Out is one of the most innovative (animated or not) films since The Lego Movie (2014) and, as an entertaining catapult into emotional intelligence via an adolescent girl, it actually surpasses, and is more important than, last year’s animated blockbuster.

The plot is threadbare and can be easily summed up. Riley ( Kaitlyn Dias) moves, with her parents (Diane Lane and ) from Minnesota to San Francisco. She initially hates her new school, her new hockey team, her new town, but learns to acclimate herself.

Of course, that is something many of us have experienced at least once, so the excitement level, upon reading said plot, may not even register. Except that Inside Out honestly goes where few films have gone. It takes us into the fear of change. What better subject is there for that journey than an eleven-year-old girl?

Children fear change, which is why they often are obsessed with familiarity (of course, some adults are just as prone, but we will stop there in the spirit of avoiding polemics, for once).

Still from Inside Out (2015)We are taken inside Riley’s heart/mind to a very busy control room and introduced  to Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). The characters are color coded: Joy/Yellow, Sadness/Blue, Anger/Red, and so on.

Although the emotion controllers are often at odds with one another, they work together for the benefit of Riley. They, like Riley herself, learn to adjust through trial and error to unexpected turns of events, mitigating circumstances, and the pains of evolving. Naturally, the lessons taught from either/or vs. both/and approaches are often painful ones, and commendably Inside/Out does not flinch.

This may sound vaguely existential, for a reason: it is existentialism. However, there is no need for trepidation; the production team smartly hurls everything at us at such an entertaining, kinetic pace that never once does it become pretentious. Rather, by the time we sink back into our seats during closing credits, we are inspired to comfortably smile, having matter-of-factly experienced familiar memories.

Riley’s dreams are produced in a dream factory, which gifts Inside Out enough breath to venture into ian terrain. An imaginary friend weeps Wonka treats and sacrifices himself so that Riley may survive adolescence. A future potential (and hilariously vapid) boyfriend also makes a similar sacrifice.

We visit the islands of Riley’s conscience—Honesty, Family, Friendship, and Hockey—and are pulled to the seat edge when those landscapes are threatened. Subtle shades of Rankin and Bass abound.

Joy is kind of the designated Captain Kirk of the emotion control team. She enjoys her position and clout as she runs back and forth manning an assortment of pinball levers. However, just as Bill Shatner did, she learns that, indeed Riley needs Sadness (Spock) and Anger (McCoy—true to form and tradition, Black, like De Forest Kelly before him, often steals the show without much effort). Beneath that realization is a layered critique of imposing false happiness on a child, who requires an essential full range of emotional experiences. MacLachlan’s thoroughly suburbanized father is another scene-stealer, an almost ironic subtext for the former Blue Velvet star.

There are moments of surrealism and abstraction, but these are filtered through a mesh of middle Americana, so much so that it would be easy to imagine the late composer Charles Ives being inspired to write a new a score for the film.

Seated between two clinical psychologists, I was not surprised to hear their approval. This may be the most un-Disney movie produced by Pixar. One can only hope Inside Out will inspire a whole new school in the art of filmmaking; one that could potentially change the way we think. It prompts us to think about thinking and, in doing so, it may be the most original and innovative movie of the year. Who would have thunk it?

EAKER VS. EAKER AT THE SUMMER BLOCKBUSTERS: PITCH PERFECT 2 (2015)

Eaker vs. Eaker is the latest “send Alfred to the summer blockbuster movies so that he can curmudgeonly complain” event, but with a twist, cinema fans and friends! For the first time (without even knowing it), you voted to send Alfred and his wife, Aja, to the flicks and have them duke it out, publicly, about each so-called-blockbuster. Everybody here knows all about Alfred’s cinematic savvy, and his cranky-old-dog approach to film critique. Now, you get 2-for-1: Aja is Alfred’s beloved clinical and counseling psychologist partner, who loves to counter just about every cinematic point Alfred makes. And you, kind reader, chose to send us next to Pitch Perfect 2.

Aja and Alfred 366Aja:

Okay, folks, here’s the story. First, we went to see Mad Max: Fury Road, which caused a bit of a controversy in the differing experiences between Aja and Alfred. We just got home from seeing Pitch Perfect 2. And this is literally what just happened six seconds ago:

“I am totally going to nail your ass on the next write up.”

Alfred cackles loudly, “Are you going to tell them about the snoring?”

“Of course!”

“Well, I hated the the first one. But you know, that’s just me,” Alfred exhales a stream of cigarette smoke that betrays him. Yes, it is true. The man I adore stayed fast-glued to freaking Mad Max: Fury Road, which, really, was lame, and during Pitch Perfect 2 Alfred slept—not just slept—SNORED—through 35 minutes of it.

Still from Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)I am certain of only a few things. First, that Alfred was definitely awakened not by the noise of the onscreen dialog, but by my own howling laughter. In fact, I laughed so hard I farted. It was a small squeak, so I am sure that that is not what woke Alfred. Second, Pitch Perfect 2 was awesome, as the talent, dedication, precision, and sheer effort that it takes to perform as a triple threat (sing, dance, act) is one helluva task, and the entire cast nailed it solidly. Third, Alfred does not dance, only sings David Bowie songs in the shower, and only likes acting if his face is painted blue. So anything he tries to diss about this movie, do not, do not, do not listen to him. Trust me, I’m a doctor.

The appearance of Katey Sagal as a former “Barden Belle” singer was a wonderful surprise. Recently, she has taken on the gritty role of biker babe maven mom in the hit series “Sons of Anarchy.” (For the record, I loved SOA until they killed off Opie. After that, forget it, not Continue reading EAKER VS. EAKER AT THE SUMMER BLOCKBUSTERS: PITCH PERFECT 2 (2015)