Haiku: Mad Men, Season 7, Episodes 1 & 2 – “Time Zones” & “A Day’s Work”

I totally forgot about these until the second week.  We missed you, Mad Men.

madmen

Time Zones

Joan versus in-house.
Peggy on the floor, in tears.
Don via Freddie.

A Day’s Work

Peggy’s sitcom rose.
Dawn and Joan’s musical chairs.
Sally’s Lou surprise.

Haikus and Reviews: Saving Mr. Banks, American Hustle, 12 Years a Slave

Cinema award season is upon us, which means there are lots of good movies to watch — supposedly. Here are three I recently saw.

banks

Saving Mr. Banks

Colin Farrell is
manic pixie drunkard dad
sleeping with the pears.

Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks are both excellent, but that’s par for the course. The film cuts back and forth between the present and P.L. Travers’ childhood, and the transitions are pretty rough in the beginning. They get better as the movie progresses, but the film does not.

ah

American Hustle

epic comb-over
semi-accented cleavage
perm-fisted acting.

Outside of Christian Bale, everyone was overacting in this film. The movie isn’t convoluted, but it feels convoluted. The last fifteen minutes is fun, but it does not excuse what has come before it. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised at the massive critical love for American Hustle, since it features many fine actors and a director recently feted, but the fact is, it’s just not that good.

12years

12 Years a Slave

This is not a film.
It is a marathon of
darkness and darkness.

I’ve been a fan of Chiwetel Ejiofor since Dirty Pretty Things, and this is a fantastic showcase of his talents. But this is just a grinder of a movie, with one agonizing scene after another. Of course this is the way it should be, since we’re dealing with the very bleak subject of slavery in its most unfiltered form, but if there was any way to inject humor (just a bit here or there), it would’ve gone a long, long way. Be on the lookout for Amish Brad Pitt.

Haiku and Review: Before Midnight

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 Jesse and Celine
walk and talk and…fight and cry?
Next: Before Divorce.

A date movie this is not. Look out, really. If you and your significant other are having some difficulty in your relationship, I’d say steer clear of this movie, because it might be enough to doom you. The first of this series of films was without question one of the most romantic ever made. The second one wasn’t so far off, especially with that cute and promising ending. But this one? Midnight has never been a darker time of night.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s a fine flick all around, but unlike Before Sunset, there’s not enough lift at the end, at least not for me. Sure, Jesse and Celine make up, and there is hope and humor in that final scene, but it can’t balance out the awful things they’ve said to each other for the last hour and a half.  I know that’s the point, that these two are now in the mature/spiteful part of their relationship and it is a mighty struggle to stay together, but jeez, I almost don’t want to see what happens to them in the next installment.

Haiku: Breaking Bad, Season 5, Episode 16 – Felina

Please, just get him home.
Walt must end what he started.
Let blue and red fade.

*

A pair of red dots
turns Elliott and Gretchen
into White trustees.

*

It’s Tuesday morning.
Lydia, my Stevia…
goodbye, fake sweetness.

*

Not for family
but for Walt himself, always.
He was good at it.

*

Walt says he wants this.
Jesse says do it yourself.
Time to walk the walk.

Only God Forgives & Man of Tai Chi

The final night of my action-movie binge!

ogf Only God Forgives (2013)

Red red everywhere
Brooding karaoke cop
You’re not in good hands.

What a strange, strange movie. I’d say David Lynch echoes strongly here (Blue Velvet weirdness and singing), plus a dash of Terrence Malick (minimalist dialogue and cinematographic beauty) and maybe a smidgen of Takashi Miike (sudden gore a la Audition). This is an extremely uncompromising work; the sole focus group was the director, Nicolas Winding Refn. If you liked Drive (I loved it), you might be disappointed with this. But one thing for sure if you do see it — it’s a refreshingly original movie. Oh, and Kristin Scott Thomas steals all her scenes, but what else is new. She’s just amazing.

mot Man of Tai Chi (2013)

After all these years
Keanu directs his first
but he still can’t act.

What a terrible, terrible movie. Really, this is bad. The lead actor, Tiger Chen, never looks comfortable in the role. Even though he’s got all the moves, he just doesn’t have any screen presence, and he’s so small and slight…sometimes he looks like a teenager. And the less said about Keanu, the better. His acting has never been worse, though it is so bad here that it’s actually kind of funny. There’s a scene where he is supposed to laugh haughtily at Tiger (Keanu plays the bad guy, so it’s one of these bad-guy chuckles); it should absolutely win the Razzies for worst acting this year. Keanu Reeves, comprised of Meryl Streep anti-matter.

Faster Taken

Over the past weekend, I hosted my mother. Unlike most women, she actually likes action movies, even the schlocky kind. So we ended up watching two of them: Taken 2 and Faster. Strangely enough, there was an actress who connected the pair of films — Maggie Grace. I remember her mostly for playing the part of Shannon, the quasi-incestuous sister to Ian Somerhalder’s Boone in the initially mysterious and ultimately lame Lost. In Taken 2, she plays a teenager in need of her driver’s license; in Faster, she is a sharp-shooting girlfriend/bride of a hit man who claims he has beaten yoga (I’m not making this up). I didn’t even know yoga needed a beating. In any case, a haiku for each, plus a smidgen of a review.

taken2

Taken 2 (2012)

Liam the hero

of a road Taken once more.

Rob Roy this is not.

They really push the Muslims = Bad plot point pretty hard in this film. Every time you see the overhead shot of Istanbul (mosques and whatnot) and hear the Muslim chants, you know we’re supposed to juice up the hate. So sadly simplistic, but then again, this is a movie directed by a French guy with the fake last name of Megaton (again, I’m not making this up).

Unintentional moment of hilarity: There’s an extended scene of Neeson instructing his daughter to drive away from the bad guys while he shoots at them. For the next ten minutes, we see the daughter (who, mind you, failed to pass her road test) suddenly driving like a professional stunt car driver (clutch-popping, 180-fishtailing, the works). The dialogue is a blast. This is the actual excerpt:

Come on, go!
Right.
Back, back, back!
Come on, move!
Come on, Kim.
Go, go!
Faster.
Keep going.
Left!
Yeah.
They’re in the taxi!
Keep going.
Oh, no.
Shit.
Stay low. Keep going.
Come on, faster.
I can’t.
You can do it!
I can’t!
Come on, move! Move.
Dad!
Keep going.
Move!
Right.
Oh, shit.

“Oh, shit” is definitely an apt phrase for this film.

faster

Faster (2010)

The Rock wants revenge

so he murders the guilty

then learns to forgive.

Dwayne Johnson does a pretty decent job of acting in this film, looking hard most of the time but also believably vulnerable in the flashbacks when he was younger and more innocent (but still as wide as a semi). It also stars Billy Bob Thornton (where has he been lately?), and the previously mentioned hit man rounds out the trio of characters who prop up this movie. The film takes a curious turn in the final third act, suddenly becoming all about forgiveness. It’s almost as if the movie is ashamed of the violence that has come before the ending. It’s not your typical Charles-Bronson-like affair, so folks in the mood for some mindless brain-bashing may not enjoy this all the way through. I sort of liked it.