Nicolas Cage sings a deranged rendition of The Hokey Pokey while smashing a homemade pool table to smithereens with a sledgehammer in Mom and Dad, and even for a performer whose big-screen persona has been partially defined by out-there insanity, its an instantly classic moment of unhinged mania in the Oscar-winners career. Better still, its emblematic of the film as a whole, as this gonzo comedy begins with an act of infanticide-via-speeding train, and only gets wilder from there.
Such madness is to be expected from not only Cagea star who revels in the over-the-top potential of every gesture, expression and quiet-to-LOUD line readingbut also Brian Taylor, who (along with frequent partner Mark Neveldine) previously directed the two action-on-speed Crank films and the Cage-headlined Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Cage and Taylor are a match made in gonzo cinema heaven, and Mom and Dad (in theaters January 19) is a fitting vehicle for their artistic impulses, which skew toward black-and-blue humor and violence, and seem to be fueled by a concoction of bad mescaline and schizophrenic nightmares. Theyre kindred crazies, amused by murderous absurdity and aroused by go-for-broke delirium.
Rest assured, those qualities are on full display in their latest collaboration, which concerns a sudden, uncontrollable desire on the part of parents, worldwide, to murdertheir children.
That wave of filicide begins with a mother leaving her infant child in a car parked astride train tracks as a speeding locomotive approaches, and soon spreads across the nearby cookie-cutter suburb where Brent (Cage) and wife Kendall (Selma Blair) reside with their teenage daughter Carly (Anne Winters) and adolescent son Josh (Zackary Arthur). At breakfast in a kitchen also populated by their Chinese housekeeper Sun-Yi (Sharon Gee) and her daughter Lisa (Adin Alexa Steckler), the clans bickering is intense, with everyone expressing disgust with each other: Carly with Brents suggestion that he was once a virile horndog; Kendall with Brents jokes about the aforementioned baby murder; and Brent with Carlys comment that shes on the rag. Its a tense household, and considering that Taylor prefaces this scene with a credit sequence full of scuzzy 70s-era color-coded split screens, its clear that were in exploitation terrain, where things are about to explode.
That detonation doesnt come immediately, as the filmmaker first lays out the many ways in which Carly is an unbearable teenincluding her smart mouth, her indignant eye-rolls, and her phone addiction, the last of which is visualized via images of her texts and social-media screens appearing on top of Kendall as the mother and daughter chat in the car. Josh is only somewhat more tolerable, a layabout who leaves his toys everywhere and whose idea of fun is to store a dead animal in Brents beloved Firebird Trans Am. Its thus no surprise that, upon exiting the front door and gazing upon his bland planned community, Brent is struck by a memory of happier glory-days-gone-by, when he tore about in his sports car with a topless woman on his lap while heavy metal blared from the speakersa reverie of euphoric badass-paradise lost.
After Carlys friend Riley (Olivia Crocicchia) is spied at school listening to profane hip-hop and buying drugs in the bathroomleading her teacher (Joseph D. Reitman) to opine, You kids need to go to churchthings go really haywire, with police cars racing up to the front doors and parents congregating outside a gate, trying to fetch their kids. When one boy complies, leaping over a fence despite the best efforts of police to stop him, hes promptly stabbed to death with car keys, thereby initiating a mad pursuit across a football field by parents (resembling feverish zombies intent on slaughter) after their sons and daughters. The reasons for this mayhem arent initially clear. Yet TV broadcasts that suddenly segue to white snow, as well as the soundtracks electronic buzzing and bleeping, suggestas do panicked news anchorsthat adults have somehow been psychologically corrupted by a bioweapon (or, per Dr. Oz, is it just humanitys answer to pig-savaging?) Think Halloween: Season of the Witch, except with the signal targeting fathers and mothers parental cortex.
Mom and Dad has no interest in proffering a literal answer to its central mystery; instead, it treats its premise as a means of corrosive satire, in which the traditional roles expected ofand played bymen and women are exposed as fatally unfulfilling. For Brent and Kendall, choosing lives of diminishing-returns domesticityhe as the breadwinner whos constantly earning less bread; she as the career-sacrificing homemakerhas wrought little more than regret, unhappiness and rage. Their homicidal urges, as well as those of other parents, are presented as a manifestation of their misery at having negated their own sense of selves for an unrewarding existence spent caring for narcissistic brats with little common decency and no respect for their elders.
This situation invariably leads to a centerpiece in which Brent and Kendall attempt to off their offspring, and Taylor orchestrates it with glee, employing high- and low-angled shots to convey his adult characters psychosis, bifurcated compositions that highlight the familial schisms at work, and hyperactive edits and computerized noises to create an atmosphere of volatile dissonance. Far from off-putting, theres a giddiness to this aesthetic assault, which comes replete with droll musical choices like Roxettes It Must Have Been Love as Kendalls sister, having just delivered her first child, tries to squeeze the life out of its still-attached-by-an-umbilical-cord bodyat which point Taylor segues to a shot of fathers staring furiously at their newborns from the other side of a hospital nurserys window, their malevolent thoughts legible on their silent faces.
Blair dives into this material with gusto, initially pitching her performance a few notches below hysterical and then dialing up the sinister volume until, finally, she transforms into a 21st century Mommie Dearest. Its Cage, however, that truly kicks Mom and Dad into outrageous overdrive. Vacillating on a dime between tranquil cheeriness and screaming/weeping fury, and verbally raging in his usual oddly-syncopated manner (I was gonna grab the world by the balls, and squeezeboy!), Cage is a whirlwind of paternal wrath. His Brent is the embodiment of head-of-household bitterness run amokas well as a case study in why kids must eventually escape their mothers and fathers graspand one who eventually finds himself trapped in a cycle of extinction-level annihilation once his own pa and ma (Lance Henriksen, Marilyn Dodds Frank) decide to visit. Its a turn thats bug-eyed cartoonish and unpredictably menacing, and to see Cage stalking his progeny with a Sawzall electric saw while crowing Saws All!stretching out the vowel sounds to the point of lunacyis to witness the actor in all his peerlessly eccentric glory.
‘Incredibles’ is back after 14 years, and it hasn’t missed a step
Elastigirl is the badass star of Incredibles 2.
“In the 14 years since The Incredibles came out, superhero movies have exploded. Circa 2004, we got maybe two a year; in 2018, Incredibles 2 is the third such film within the past two months.
In that context, it’s easy to imagine Incredibles 2 getting swallowed up by the wave, buried under the meta jokes of Deadpool and the ambitious world-building of Marvel. Instead, however, Incredibles 2 rises above it. Here’s how.
The action is, well, incredible
Incredibles 2 opens with a city-destroying battle of good versus evil that’s become a staple of the genre. But Pixar pulls it off with such style and finesse that it retroactively makes the competition look sloppy.
The choreography is sharp and dynamic, playing with each character’s specific strengths and weaknesses. Elastigirl’s bendiness contrasts and complements Mr. Incredible’s brute force, while Dash’s super-speed combines nicely with Violet’s force fields.
Meanwhile, the camerawork and dialogue keep our focus on the characters, not just the spectacle. It serves as quick reintroduction to the leads, their personalities, and their relationships, in case your memory’s grown fuzzy after a decade and a half, and underlines why this particular fight is important to them.
It’s like the best of the Avenger-on-Avenger bits from Captain America: Civil War or Avengers: Infinity War – only better, because….”
‘Ocean’s 8’ is a fizzy good time, and not much more
Round up the gang this one’s a good group hang.
“Ocean’s 8 is the LaCroix of movies: It’s sparkly, it’s fizzy, it goes down easy, and there’s not really any there there.
It’s not totally dumb, but nor is it particularly clever. It’s nice enough to look at, thanks to all its glamorous stars and their glitzy costumes, but not especially stylish.
But just as flavored water can really hit the spot on a hot summer day, so can Ocean’s 8. It’s fun enough to serve as an excuse to chill with some friends, or while away an afternoon in movie theater air-conditioning.
And for all its shortcomings, it does deliver in some key areas. Here are five reasons to check it out.
5. The girl-power message, I guess
The basic premise of Ocean’s 8 is that it’s Ocean’s 11, only with eight women instead of eleven men, and with the Met Gala instead of Las Vegas. In this era of shared universes, of course there’s a narrative link to the earlier films – the ringleader in 8 is Sandra Bullock’s Debbie Ocean, sister of George Clooney’s character from the Steven Soderbergh movies.
The act of recasting what was once a “male” property with female leads still feels like a statement in this day and age – even if it all it’s saying are “women are people, too.” Ocean’s 8 occasionally nods in the direction of feminist messaging, having one leading lady point out to another that women get ignored (a plus, when you’re trying to pull off a heist) and another execute a stunt involving the country’s “Founding Mothers.”
For the most part, though, Ocean’s 8 lets those themes recede into the background. It doesn’t want to tell you how powerful it can be when women band together in a man’s world – it just wants to show you how fun it’d be to round up a girl gang and steal some jewels. In its own way, that’s kind of empowering, too.
4. The vivid personalities – and fanfic-worthy pairings
Like any good ensemble caper, Ocean’s 8 establishes a cast of colorful personalities, and spends some time sitting back to see what happens when they mix.
There are a few scenes that seem tailor made to inspire fan fiction.
This particular crew does happen to be starrier than usual. In addition to Bullock, there’s Cate Blanchett as….”
Reviews are in for ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’
“The latest installment of the Jurassic Park series sounds like a palatable film for fans of the series but doesn’t offer up a completely enrapturing experience the whole way through.
Reviewers have weighed in on the upcoming Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the sequel to Jurassic World, and it isn’t getting the most thrilling praise so far. In this movie, a volcano at the Jurassic World theme park has erupted, sending the human protagonists and a handful of dinosaurs away from the island and into normal society which is fine for the humans but not so great for the dinosaurs.
Read on to see what the critics thought of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
The visuals don’t disappoint
Matt Chapman, DigitalSpy:
Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) guilts Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) into returning to the island to rescue his beloved raptor Blue, before an out of control volcano kills every living thing. What follows is some of the most beautiful destruction you’ll ever see onscreen, with a few heart-in-mouth moments for our intrepid dino wranglers and their support staff, Daniella Pineda’s spunky scientist Zia and Justice Smith’s jumpy tech guru Franklin.
Gav Murphy, IGN:
If you thought there was going to be too much CGI in Fallen Kingdom, you’re wrong. There’s a surprising amount of practical effects on display – in fact, it’s the first time I’ve felt genuinely disgusted by these creatures. From the flies buzzing around Rexy’s stinking sleeping body to the mucus and phlegm we see, there’s an impressive blend of both CGI and practical effects in use that helps bring us closer to the dinosaurs. This closeness helps us either feel more afraid or in the case of Blue, a dramatic medical treatment scene really highlights the bond that Owen has with her. Practical effects and CGI are merged seamlessly here and we end up with a touching sequence that also draws in video flashbacks of Owen raising Blue which are obscenely cute.
Dinosaurs aren’t the main event
Owen Gleiberman, Variety:
The film provides plenty of encounters with our stomping, gnashing primeval beastly friends — yet for much of Fallen Kingdom, they are caged, shackled, sedated, wounded, and otherwise subdued. They’re right up there on screen, but too often they don’t feel like the main event….”
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