Dallas Video Fest Expanded Cinema is a 23-Story-Tall Sight to Behold

In 7 Minutes

The sun slowly sets behind the Trinity River levee as an urban tumbleweed (in the form of a plastic bag) blows across Riverfront Boulevard. Cars stream past Hickory House BBQ, under the Houston Street Viaduct, and onto the outsized parking lot-slash-gravel pit1 next door. But, while I’m sure that Hickory House has wonderful barbecue, that’s not why I’m here.

The scores of visitors and I have assembled here, under a billboard in this figurative no-man’s-land between Interstate 35 and the banks of the river, to watch films — not just any films, but ones created specifically for the twenty-three-story-tall walls of the Omni Hotel. If you’ve driven through or into downtown Dallas in the last few years you probably know the Omni as ‘that building with the cool glowing walls.’ On any normal day it’s a landmark, but today it’s hosting the main attraction. I’m talking about the Dallas Video Fest Expanded Cinema.

As we in the expectant crowd (and the frustrated drivers backed up on the lanes of the interstate) watched, the image on the walls of the building began to count down. 15 minutes, 10 minutes, 7 minutes… Then it began! Photos don’t do it justice, but that’s all there is; one-night-only events are unforgiving in that sense. So enjoy, and read a little description below the images and one short video.

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Team Walt Explains Away Mr. White’s Latest Breaking Bad Atrocities

Spoilers are all relegated to below the fold, but if you haven’t seen any Breaking Bad (and plan on doing so at a later date) then you should just avoid this whole post.

Breaking Bad is two episodes from it’s conclusion and we’ve just seen what is arguably the best hour of television ever. Things are getting tough to watch, but as always the debate over how we should view Walter White rages on in select corners of the internet.

We’ll hear from both sides in this post. First, Team Walt gives us some sympathy for Mr. White and explains how he’s making the best out of a terrible situation. Then, a rebuttal from those who aren’t drinking the cool blue kool-aid. You know, the sane people.

Spoilers aplenty beyond the ‘Continue’ link, so watch out!

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Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

Sorry for the absence, other things have taken focus lately but we’re back (or at least I am)! Enjoy!

Star Trek Into Darkness

As you may know, especially if you haven’t been living under a rock or if you know at least one nerd, Star Trek Into Darkness is the sequel to 2009’s Star Trek, which in turn is a reboot of the Star Trek franchise that consisted of ten movies and approximately 500 different television series. In this latest film, the young crew of the Enterprise continue to traverse the galaxy, partaking in dangerous adventures and facing exactly zero consequences when their half-cocked plans inevitably fall apart. That is, until a dangerous man (who’s literally the best because he’s played by Benedict Cumberbatch) arrives and shows them what a real adventure is! Best summer ever!

With that boilerplate out of the way, lets discuss the good and the bad. First off: the title. Maybe if Park Chan-wook or Christopher Nolan were directing this film it could be called Into Darkness and actually mean something but, as far as I know, J.J. Abrams doesn’t have a dark bone in his body. He doesn’t do dark. This movie is not dark. So forget the title.

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Movie of the Week: Fish Tank

Fish Tank documents a few weeks in the life of a rebellious, combative teenager named Mia. She lives in working-class East London with her troubled family: a single mother who acts like a teenager herself and a younger sister who is only slightly less combative than the other two. Mia has a few adventures early on, but the film really picks up steam (in more ways than one) when Mia’s mother gets a new boyfriend: Michael Fassbender. He’s an enigmatic character and Mia struggles to adapt to his presence. From there on the situation spirals out of control, as we’ll see when we watch this gritty film for our weekly (duh) Movie of the Week!

P.S. I’m not going to add the trailer here because, to be honest, I probably wouldn’t have watched the film (much less voted it Movie of the Week) if I had seen the trailer first.

Pointless Slaughter and Mayhem in God Bless America

God Bless America PosterFrank is a sad, sad sack. His constant monologues against the rude, vulgar and narcissistic nature of modern popular culture has detached him from his community, coworkers, spouse and child. His insomnia and migraines are making him literally psychotic. Then he discovers he has brain cancer and, on the same day, is fired from his job as an insurance salesman.

He prepares to end it all, but at the last minute he has a wake-up call and decides to combat the rudeness in the world around him by killing the spoiled 16-year-old reality star on his TV. You read that correctly: the movies, television and news around him have become too “cruel and vicious” and only reward the “meanest and the loudest,” so he’s going to go out and kill strangers. Appropriate solution, dude.

Meanwhile, Roxy is a foul-mouthed teenager who feels alienated from the world around her. She’s different, you know? She has strong opinions on high-fives and Diablo Cody (negative) and France and Alice Cooper (positive). Also, don’t fucking call her Juno. On top of that she’s rather morbid, so when Frank pops into the neighborhood and murders Chloe the reality TV star she gets all chipper and excited and convinces Frank to continue righting the world, one bullet at a time.

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You’re a Bad Man, Charlie Bartlett

“I’m screwed up,” you say. “I have to take care of all the adults in my life,” you whine. “My daddy left us,” you moan. Whatever, Charlie Bartlett, your excuses ain’t gonna count for nothin’ in the big house.

Yeah, that’s right, you’re going to jail Charlie Bartlett. You think you could sell a full pharmacy-equivalent of illegally obtained prescription medication to minors and have a happy ending? No chance! Perhaps you’ve heard of this little thing called the War on Drugs? Yeah, well, you’re just a statistic now.

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Dollar Movie Theater: 21 Jump Street

Dollar Movie Theater

A Jonah Hill-fronted comedy comes with a large set of expectations. There’s going to be lots of low-brow sex jokes, profanity, drug humor and self-deprecation. 21 Jump Street embodies this, but manages to build higher expectations early on with some solid pacing and unusually self-aware prodding at its roots in 80s TV (think: Hot Fuzz). These expectations, once built, are hard to live up to.

The movie focuses on Morton Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum), who are both graduates of the same high school and find themselves at the same police academy after graduation. Embracing the most basic trope of a buddy-cop-comedy, these two become best pals despite — and because! — they are total opposites: Schmidt is a nerdy do-gooder while Jenko is a blockhead jock. Even working together they very quickly prove to be over their heads simply patrolling a suburban park and are reassigned to an undercover unit. As undercover cops they are sent back to high school in order to infiltrate an active drug ring. As you would expect, absurdity ensues.

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No Strings Attached Pulls My Strings

HEY YOU. Do you want to watch a movie about Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman doing it?! …STOP LAUGHING I AM SERIOUS. Okay, okay I get it. Okay. GONNA REVIEW IT ANYWAY.

No Strings Attached movie posterSO, Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher are acquaintances that keep bumping into each other all the time (It’s a modern day When Harry Met Sally!). She’s a totally legitimate doctor that lives with her fav doctor roommates, played by Mindy Kaling and Greta Gerwig (OMG GRETA GERWIG MARRY ME, PLEASE), and they are living the sweet life just hanging around and syncing their periods (Natalie Portman’s is on shuffle!), and making homemade potpourri while talking about how they never get laid. (HIGH FIVE, GIRLFRIEND!!)

Ashton Kutcher has an “industry” job, meaning he works as a production assistant on a TV show that is NOT High School Musical. (JK it totally is.) Kutcher has big dreams of… wanting to be a writer on High School Musical 8 (or the equivalent), but his boss is a very mean lady who says he can’t write an episode because that’s not his job, and then she disrobes and lights him on fire while dancing around his charred, screeching body. (FACTUAL.)
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Movie of the Week: They Live

They Live movie poster

Every ten to twenty years They Live‘s blunt message about the failures of self-interested capitalism becomes widely fashionable, and there’s no denying that hating on greedy executives with golden parachutes is in vogue right now. That said, imagining your terrible boss as a ghoulish alien from the planet Rand is powerfully cathartic whether during a boom or a bust, and in this regard They Live delivers. It’s a populist manifesto full of action and shootouts and light on poignant messaging. We are talking about John Carpenter, after all.

Alternating between bizarre hobo utopia and violent sci-fi dystopia, with a major filling of conspiracy theory theater as well, They Live offers up epic one-liners [spoiler] and is a fantastically absurd adventure full of half-baked characters and plot holes by the bucketful, but also wit and sass and imagination. Also, the longest and most pointless fight [spoiler] ever presented on screen — all fought over a pair of sunglasses. So, just know what you’re getting into: in the end, we’re shooting less for the list of best movies than for the list of best bad movies with this one.

Definitely watch this meme-tastic adventure — it’s even on YouTube. Just do it.