Tag: Taylor Kinney

Rock The Kasbah

There is one important movie I missed in 2015, because I was tired of watching the worst of the worst. I stalled on a few films and had to watch too many 0 out of 4s in a row, so I quickly wrote my worst of the year list and moved on to bigger and better things (Oscars).

But what about Rock The Kasbah?

It opened alongside Jem and the Holograms and ended with the fifth all time worst box office opening, for films with 2,000+ theaters. Third overall live action. And the two that beat it in that category were also out this year (including Jem!). I watched Jem and We Are Your Friends, but for whatever reason avoided Rock The Kasbah.

But because I am a glutton for punishment, and a perfectionist, I had to see it and make myself feel like shit all over again.

This whole thing looks really rape-y. I am uncomfortable. Are you uncomfortable?

Richie Lanz (Bill Murray) is a skeezy manager of musicians. He has one real client, Ronnie (Zooey Deschanel), and he seems to scam other people into auditioning and giving him cash to make him their agent. What a swell guy. Operates out of a hotel.

Well, somehow Ronnie impresses a guy at a bar who books people for OSO shows for the troops in Afghanistan. Richie convinces Ronnie to go, because hey, a paid gig for months! He leaves his kid behind and they head off where Ronnie just hates it all. She gets sick and nervous and freaks out. So she decides to leave in the middle of the night once they get there, with all of their money and Richie’s passport.

So Richie is stuck there. But also in a military base/town. He can’t go back right away but he isn’t screwed. So he hands out, gets to know the locals, and eventually hears Salima (Leem Lubany). She is singing and her voice is marvelous.

Richie gets the idea to enter her in on the Afghanistan version of American Idol, but her burka and family may be an issue. And they are. And guns happen. Woo movie.

Also featuring for various sized roles: Bruce Willis, Kate Hudson, Arian Moayed, Scott Caan, Danny McBride, Fahim Fazli, Beejan Land, Sameer Ali Khan, and Taylor Kinney.

Your normal group of rag tag losers hoping to make it big.

Bill Murray. Just stop. You have given up for a long time it looks like. You probably gave up right after finishing Lost in Translation, but I am too lazy to check the list right now. Outside of some Wes Anderson brilliance, it just feels like everything is fake. Like he never cares, like he isn’t even trying to act. He is just playing an egotistical version of himself in every film.

But for whatever reason, Rock the Kasbah exists. Named after a song. If that song has any other reference, I don’t know it. It eventually turns into a singing competition plot line, but also women’s rights and religion, and just…existing in the middle east for no reason. Why do all these films that feature a singing competition end up being meh or worse? I’m looking at you, American Dreamz.

This film feels like a dream. A bad dream that keeps playing out, one boring situation into the next. The problem that Richie faced was an easily solvable one, but he was in Afghanistan for so long despite it. Seemingly just existing in he town, and then even longer once he found the girl. It made no sense for him to stay that long, especially since he has a daughter at home who didn’t even want him to leave. She wanted him to come home and survive and he seemed to say fuck that and this movie now exists.

Rock The Kasbah was a literal pain to get through. If I had seen it in theaters I would have walked out. Instead I had to pause it frequently just to do something else quickly to get my mind off of how bad the movie was. If I had seen it earlier, it would have placed high on my worst of the year list. Instead, it now just serves as a big bolded asterisk of a film.

0 out of 4.

The Forest

The Aokigahara is a real place in Japan at one of the bases of Mt. Fuji. It is a dense “sea of trees” and is very beautiful. And very deadly.

People go to the Aokigahara to kill themselves. It is also nicknamed the Suicide Forest. It is so dense, you can only really hear the forest inside. It is easy to get lost if you go off the main path and there are associations of it with demons and ghosts in Japanese mythology. These demos convince people with sadness to end it all.

Not only that, but since it became known as a place that people go to kill themselves, obviously more people go there to do it. Some do it as a fad, some do it from regular Japanese stress levels. There could be any number of reasons, but now that it is known as a place to do it, well, can’t really stop it.

It is a cool place with a lot of history and a bit spooky. So of course, here is The Forest about white people going to Japan and getting all fucked up from the Aokigahara.

“Spook ghosts? Hello? Spook ghosts? Are you here? I’m losted. Halp pls.”

Jess Price (Natalie Dormer) is missing. She was teaching English in Tokyo, but apparently she went into the Aokigahara forest and hasn’t come out in 2 days. They assume it is suicide. But one person knows that it isn’t true. That is of course Sara Price (Natalie Dormer), her twin sister. The police won’t look for her, so it is up to her to drop everything and go to Tokyo to find her sister.

And well, it is tricky. Jess had suicide attempts in the past as she has always been the darker child. That comes from their youth, when their parents were hit by a drunk driver and Jess saw the bodies while Sara did not. So it wouldn’t be completely out of the question to assume that she did it. But the connection Sara still felt was there, so she assumed her sister was lost and needed help.

She is lucky though. She befriends an Australian journalist who works in Japan, Aiden (Taylor Kinney), and he has done a few stories on the forest. He knows it pretty well, but his friend, Michi (Yukiyoshi Ozawa) knows it even better. Once or twice a week he hikes around the forest, doing a sort of Suicide Watch to help convince people that life is worth it, and they will take her out into the forest to help find Jess. And as a minor role, we have Eoin Macken as Sara’s husband, and Rina Takasaki as creepy girl in the forest.

But in the forest there are Yurei, vengeful spirits, and they will trick people into doing bad things. They will show them things that are not real. They will make them see lies and have them end their lives without them even realizing it. But as long as they stick together they should be good.

Oh fuck.

I am not one who believes in cultural appropriation or anything like that, but I do question the story they chose to tell for this tale. Bringing in a white outsider to tell the story, instead of just, you know, Japanese people feels like a lame attempt to allow dialogue to explain the forest. Having the main person who helps her also be a white guy? Well, that is just down right movie magic convenient. But whatever. That was only a minor annoyance.

The bigger annoyances come from our main character. I am not saying a character has to be likable for us to enjoy a movie, but there has to be a reason for us to care about her story. And she isn’t likable. She is the normal one, but she is brash, arrogant and stubborn. She makes a series of terrible decisions and literally ignores every knowledgeable characters advice about what to do or not to do in the forest. It makes the viewer just want her to die. But the viewer doesn’t want to watch her to die, they just want her to hurry up and die, to end the movie so everyone can go home and do something else with our time.

Related, Kinney plays an Australian living in Tokyo? I am sure his Japanese was fine, but they didn’t even bother giving him any accent. Calling him Australian is extremely pointless in this regard, as he played an American and no one seemed to care.

The Aokigahara is a great place for horror films to take place but this horror movie doesn’t do it justice. It is cheap, the plot is predictable, and the ending ends like all bad horror movies. Erm. Badly.

1 out of 4.

The Other Woman (2014)

The Other Woman?

Huh? Didn’t I review this movie already? A few years ago in 2009 starring Natalie Portman. Oh sorry, that was called The Other Woman, not…wait, okay yeah, same title. I guess that one was a drama.

Apparently it is a popular title though, because there was also The Other Woman from 2008, The Other Woman from 1995, and The Other Woman from 1992. Damn, a lot of ladies being cheated on by women up in here. To compare, I only see one other movie called The Other Man, which I also reviewed. I guess that just means men are pigs, and women rarely cheat in a relationship?

“There’s the gu- GET HIM!!!!”

Carly Whitten (Cameron Diaz) is a high powered lawyer. But don’t worry, her job isn’t at all relevant to the film. She starts seeing Mark King (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), it is great. They are exclusive, she doesn’t want to sleep around, she finds no faults.

Until she finds out he has (record screech) a wife! Kate (Leslie Mann) is… well a house wife. No job because he pays for it all, doing business stuff, and no kids. Just boredom. So she doesn’t have many friends that her own either. So once the cat is out of the bag and they figure it out, she turns to Carly to rant and to scheme.

THEN THEY FIND OUT HE HAS ANOTHER LADY! Amber (Kate Upton), a young, dumb, blonde.

Hell, there might even be a fourth. No spoilers.

But the three find each other and decide they can want to get even and ruin him. After all, the three of them combined means they might be able to get that one man. Err.

Also starring Taylor Kinney as the brother of the wife, because why not, and Nicki Minaj as a receptionist, because they hate us.

Here are your heroes. Walking. Being women.

First of all, I think this movie was designed to fail Bechdel Test for the entire length of a movie. I don’t think there is a scene that doesn’t involve women talking about men. That’s the whole movie.

Second of all, fuck Nikki Minaj being in this movie. Her role is pointless, it was a role that could have gone to anyone, and her nasally talking voice doesn’t help. Related? Kate Upton’s role in this film is also basically pointless. Literally, could have been no one, because she had barely any lines, despite being in half the movie.

Third, the ending was terrible. Their plan was…really simple. There was no intrigue to it. It happened. The guy got owned. And then the movie basically ended. A lot of build up to the moment without a lot of payoff.

So, why the rating?

Leslie Fucking Mann. She was hilarious in this movie. Cameron Diaz was meh. Somehow Leslie Mann though was off the chart and saved this movie from being a shit show. I am shocked as you. I never expected that I would praise her role in a movie, but there you go.

Very basic story, rent it on Red Box eventually for Leslie Mann.

2 out of 4.

Zero Dark Thirty

It took me awhile to get excited about Zero Dark Thirty. I mean, what, Osama Bin Laden died a year and a half ago? It didn’t help that its original trailer was boring as crap (The second one was a lot better!). I was also a pretty big skeptic when I heard it was directed by Kathryn Bigelow. How can I trust a movie about this subject so close to the actual event? There is no way that a lot of the actual information was declassified that quickly, given the subject. Unless of course, because she made The Hurt Locker, she clearly deserves the information and resources to make another war movie?

Just seems a bit unfair is all I am saying.

You know what else is unfair? Jobs that let you wear shorts. I want in on that racket! Fucking social norms.

The story begins a bit classier than I expected with the September 11th attacks. I was a bit worried they’d use that to help rile up the emotions, but it didn’t recreate the crash, show the fall, any of that. Just kept a blank screen and used real media outtakes to explain what happened. Okay, maybe that is still a cheap trick, but it could have been worse.

A few years after that, Maya (Jessica Chastain) has just arrived in Pakistan, after spending most of her career in the CIA so far working on Al-Qaeda intelligence. Her new partner is Dan (Jason Clarke), who she gets to meet during a nice torture session. Weee torture!

Long story short, Maya begins grasping at straws, trying to get a lead anywhere. She thinks she has found the name of Osama’s secret courier, but her boss (Kyle Chandler) isn’t having any of it. Well, it turns out she is right! Eventually she is able to figure out who he is, find him, find a nice Mansion/Fortress in Pakistan, and heat signatures show an extra man inside who NEVER leaves. I wonder who it could be!

Zero Dark Thirty of course also goes through the extraction of Osama, featuring such fine gentlemen in the Seal Team, like Joel Edgerton, Chris Pratt, and Taylor Kinney.

“Hey, let’s show mostly scenes of the actual take down of Osama! You know, a small minority of the movie!”

Let me break the movie down for you, with fractions! I would say that the first quarter of the movie deals with torture as a way of gaining information. Three eights after that involves slow, non torture means of getting what they want. Another quarter of the movie takes place after they find the fortress and deciding what to do and who is in there, with the last eighth involving the Seal Team and their assult.

That second part? I didn’t really like that part. It felt very slow and I almost fell asleep in my seat. But that leaves a pretty solid five eighths of the film, which is a lot better than most movies out there.

Unfortunately I am still left wondering how much of what I watched is accurate, and how much is just dramatic license in the greatest manhunt in modern history. The acting was decent, but didn’t feel like anything worth writing home about. Word on the street is that they are hoping to do a prequel to this movie, yet I have no idea what it would be about. Al-Qaeda before 2001? I don’t think that counts as a prequel, I think that is just a different movie.

But hey, at least it ends with the US coming out on top. That is the take home message, right? Right?!

3 out of 4.