Friday, May 10, 2019

Gerald’s Game (2017)

Movie Name/Year: Gerald’s Game (2017)
Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller
Length: 103 minutes
Rating: TV-MA
Production Companies: Intrepid Pictures
Director: Mike Flanagan
Writer: Mike Flanagan, Jeff Howard, Stephen King
Actors: Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood, Chiara Aurelia, Carel Struycken, Henry Thomas, Kate Siegel, Adalyn Jones, Bryce Harper, Gwendolyn Mulamba, James Flanagan, Roach

Blurb from IMDb: While trying to spice up their marriage in their remote lake house, Jessie must fight to survive when her husband dies unexpectedly, leaving her handcuffed to their bed frame.

Selina’s Point of View:
I have a very wide variety of thoughts where Gerald’s Game is concerned.

There were some logic-based errors that I had trouble getting past. Unless the world in the film had completely different physics than our world, certain things shouldn’t have been able to be reachable after other things were. (That sentence sucked, I know. Give me a break, I’m trying not to write out spoilers.)

I also immediately wondered why the main character didn’t just turn a bit and start kicking the fuck out of one of the posts. Granted, I played a lot of soccer in my younger days, so kicking the problem would obviously hit my brain before it would for most others. So, I’ve opted not to hold that against the movie.

The story itself was interesting – and I particularly loved the ending. I wish I had a little more explanation for some things, but I don’t think it was all that necessary anyway. Sometimes an unanswered question makes the film better.

There were a ton of references to other works by Stephen King (Cujo, The Dark Tower, The Shining). As much as I like a good reference, the ones in this film weren’t all that great. A lot of them felt shoe-horned in and completely out of place. They pop up in dialogue that makes no sense, for instance. Sure, some of them worked, but I’m not sure why they wouldn’t just keep those and ditch the rest.

I know this entire review sounds a bit negative, but the truth of the matter is that I actually enjoyed it. I do believe it will stick with me for a while.

Cat’s Point of View:
This wasn’t entirely what I was expecting.

I’ve been slacking a bit in reading the works of Stephen King (Mute, It, The Mist). He’s one of my very favorite authors, but I know I’ve only scratched the surface of his twisty tales of the macabre. Gerald’s Game is not one of those that I’ve read, nor was I familiar with the story before viewing this Netflix original. With that in mind, I’m afraid I can’t speak to whether or not this film was true to the original written word.

Onward to the movie.

I’ve got to tip my hat to Carla Gugino (Sucker Punch, The Space Between Us, The Haunting of Hill House) and Bruce Greenwood (Endless Love, Spectral, The Post). There were a few other cast members, but Gugino and Greenwood were the sole focus in most of the screen-time. I think they pulled it off quite well.

Parts of this film were a bit squicky for me – but it’s meant to be uncomfortable when what’s happening isn’t ok. King is a master at the unsettling, however, so it’s something one comes to expect with an adapted production.

I can’t say that I feel this is in the same category as Misery (1990), which had a similarly small cast of characters. It was, however, a solid experience. My only complaint would be that the ending felt off in comparison with all the buildup throughout the film.

I wouldn’t steer anyone away from this movie, but I likely won’t be watching it again.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 90%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 72%
Metascore – 77/100
Metacritic User Score – 6.7/10
IMDB Score – 6.6/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating3.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating3/5

Movie Trailer:

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Anthony Jeselnik: Fire in the Maternity Ward (2019)

Movie Name/Year: Anthony Jeselnik: Fire in the Maternity Ward (2019)
Genre: Comedy
Length: 64 minutes
Rating: TV-MA
Production Companies: Netflix
Director: Marcus Raboy
Writer: Anthony Jeselnik
Actors: Anthony Jeselnik

Blurb from IMDb: Forging his own comedic boundaries, Anthony Jeselnik revels in getting away with saying things others can't in this stand-up special shot in New York.

Selina’s Point of View:
This special was a chore to watch.

I can understand why some people would enjoy Anthony Jeselnik (Just for Laughs, The Jeselnik Offensive, Comedy Central Roast of James Franco), but I’m just not one of them. I HATE his method of joke-telling.

Among my favorite comedians are: George Carlin (Mater’s Tall Tales, Jersey Girl, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back), Gabriel Iglesias (UglyDolls, Coco, Magic Mike XXL), and Christopher Titus (Titus, Big Shots, Remarkable Power). There’s one clear similarity all three of those people share, and it’s that they have an incredible amount of heart in their stories. They pull the laughter out of actual real-life situations and the world in general.

Jeselnik doesn’t do that. He told jokes: basic 1-liners that are meant to subvert expectations, but they were told in a lazy fashion. By about the third or fourth joke in, he became utterly predictable. Halfway through he started relying on offensive material. Now, I don’t mind offensive jokes. I’ve absolutely laughed my ass off to jokes that I knew would likely send my soul to hell. But Jeselnik wasn’t just telling offensive jokes, he was telling them to make up for not being funny.

The jokes would have been excusable if he weren’t so boring.

I get it, though. Some people don’t care about the build-up, or substance, or relatability. They only care about that instant gratification of the punch line. Those are the people who might enjoy Fire in the Maternity Ward.

Cat’s Point of View:
I can’t quite decide if I just watched something brilliant or a dumpster fire.

Perhaps it was a brilliantly purposeful dumpster fire?

Anthony Jeselnik (Miss March, Last Comic Standing, Newly Single) seems to see the world through roast-colored glasses. You read that right – definitely not rose. I was having trouble placing where I’d seen his very familiar face before, and it hit me as I was perusing his history in IMDb that it was the Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen (2011).

Taking that into consideration, it frames a context in which this comedy special made a whole lot more sense.

Jeselnik’s brand of humor is dark and a little askew. I didn’t find everything funny, but I did appreciate how he defied expectations and the intelligence behind his humor. He has mastered a buildup of anticipation for him to say one thing, and then he just takes a hard left and says something completely unexpected.

If I had to sum up this experience with an analogy, I’d have to compare it to a game of Cards Against Humanity. There are horrible things that shouldn’t be amusing, but within a certain context you can’t help but laugh. That being said, I honestly didn’t find myself laughing at much here.

The material at hand was triggery in some places, distasteful in others, and sprinkled with a liberal dash of offensiveness. See, this is the dumpster fire part.

Now I am certainly not a snowflake that melts into a tizzy over a little off-color dark humor. I just wasn’t inspired to laugh at the majority of Jeselnik’s set. I think there was a chunk of his audience that felt the same, given his occasional attempts to dig at the in-house audience for the special. I didn’t exactly vibe with that, either. I expect comics to pick a few people, or sections, out of the audience to include in their bit. Most do it. What I don’t enjoy is when the comic attempts to insult the audience.

This guy’s a roaster, so I guess his audience should expect such when experiencing his take on humor.
As far as I’m concerned, though – he can keep it.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 75%
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 7.1/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating1/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating1/5

Movie Trailer: