First Man

first man

As he took one giant leap for mankind and into the history books as a legend, Neil Armstrong was still an elusive, uncomfortable and reluctant hero. First Man, from writer Josh Singer (Spotlight, The Post) and director Damien Chazelle (La La Land, Whiplash) attempts to delve into the man behind the mission as it documents NASA’s first journey to the moon and back. Where most movies set in space highlight the vast expanse, First Man tracks more personal, with an almost claustrophobic and certainly uncomfortable view from the tight quarters in the space vessel. This cramped approach doesn’t lessen the impact, the overall sense of wonder, of space travel, if anything it makes the fantastical feel all the more real.

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Venom

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Sony desperately wants a Marvel-ous franchise (or series of franchises, really) of its own. Despite failing the Spider-Man franchise the prior three times at bat before the MCU stepped in to help guide last year’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, they have another push with Venom, a not-quite spin-off from the Spidey mothership that is depressing in its inability to be interesting in any way. It tries to crib from the Marvel formula but only really succeeds in copying two of the MCU’s weakest elements-a too-long origin story and a final conflict where the good guy has to fight the evil version of himself.

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A Star is Born

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I don’t think it’s any great tragedy, but despite the three prior iterations, writer-actor-director-performer Bradley Cooper’s “A Star is Born” is my first venture into this particular story. It didn’t quite matter, everything on screen played out exactly as I would have expected as if I had seen one of the others. That doesn’t mean Born is a particularly bad movie. It’s not. It’s certainly engaging, the music is mostly amazing, except when it’s almost supposed to be bad, and the performances are quite nice. There’s just not a lot of weight to the story despite how hard Cooper tries in every aspect of the film.

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South Africa part one – Safari

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After tooling around in the desert for a couple weeks (which, incidentally, too long) I popped over to South Africa, Kruger National Park (adjacent) by way of Ethiopia, Johannesburg and Nelspruit. I’ve sweating my dick off in the UAE, it was nice to get to place a bit cooler. Added bonus – all the friggin’ animals. Seriously, there’s a leopard over there about twenty feet. Right there, a herd of elephant thirty five Stampy’s deep. Lion’s just across the water. Crocs entirely too close. It was next-level awesome.

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United Arab Emirates

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Ignoring the blog is easy to do when you’ve been popping around a few different continents. Spent a lot of September/October across the pond, and a couple other ponds, in the UAE and South Africa, as well as London, which isn’t that exciting. I’ve got a bunch of movie reviews coming, but here is a collection of pics from the first leg of the trip.

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A Simple Favor

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Anchored by two awesomely good performances, A Simple Favor by director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Spy) shows that his foray into a bit darker territory is certainly worthy. While the movie goes off the rails at the end, it’s a fun, twisty, snarky tale until then. And though the film is not without mistakes, it does a lot to improve upon the source material, a book that was a bit too preposterous without the wit and charm of the film.

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The Happytime Murders

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An interesting concept-a dark comedy in a world where puppets (more accurately, Muppets, or Sesame Street-esque creatures, thanks to director Brian Henson, yes, son of) live alongside humans-is wasted in the not-nearly-as-funny-as-it-should-be Happytime Murders. The film seems to think that a Muppet saying “fuck” is enough to generate laughs, which it isn’t after the first two or three times. Melissa McCarthy does her able best as a cop working with her former puppet partner investigating a series of murders to the actors who once worked on a 90s TV show, but she can’t escape a script lacking in, amongst other things, effort.

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Crazy Rich Asians

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Like most of America, I opted to see Crazy Rich Asians, despite being unfamiliar with the source material and having an aversion to romantic comedies. And even though the experience was marred by a surprising fire drill that gave us a twenty-minute intermission before the climax of the movie, I found the film to be somewhat entertaining, exactly as expected and completely overdue. Even if the movie is exceedingly mediocre, which I found it be, I’m glad it’s printing money and I’m glad that it’s the second supposedly surprise hit this year to feature a predominantly non-white cast (after Black Panther, now the biggest superhero movie in history and the third-biggest movie overall, ever).

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BlacKkKlansman

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Spike Lee movies often offer a mixed bag for me. Some are amazing, though many crumble under the weight of his proselytizing. His sermons many times push character development and logic to the background, which is unfortunate since I generally support the points he’s trying to make. While BlackKklansman is upper-tier Lee, it does undo a lot of its good will in the closing moments, which emphasize allusions and connections that didn’t need to be emphasized. Still, the story at the heart of the film is a bold, vexing, often humorous, ride that works on nearly every level.

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Sweat

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It’s not that common in live theater, at least from what I frequent, to get a show that’s set in the modern age. Mostly, there’s an endless stream of classics: Shakespearean works, Tolstoy, up to Eugene O’Neill, Edward Albee, and the like. As well as many of these works are, I often find it hard to relate, even if I can appreciate the storytelling, performances, and themes. But it’s those “modern” works that I tend to gravitate towards even if there’s no direct correlation between myself and the characters on stage. Lynn Nottage’s “Sweat” is one such play.

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