You know the drill. Another year, another trip around the sun, and it’s all for THIS. We here at The Parsing Haus are doing it again, shined and primed for a long and robust jaw-aching feed at the swollen teat of decadent celebrity culture.
Join us on Sunday, February 26 for live coverage of the 2017 Academy Awards; bury your hungry snout in our trough of cinephiliac num-nums and popcorn and snark-dumplings and perfect little starfucker sundaes topped with delicious bon mots. It’s a feast. You’re welcome.
- Our live red carpet coverage starts ~2:30 pacific / ~5:30 eastern (TBA) (watch: ABC)
- Our live Oscar coverage starts 4:00 pacific / 7:00 eastern (TBA) (watch: ABC)
So tune in right here. It’s going to be choice.*
* – and don’t forget to refresh the page. On some browsers, the live blog software we use doesn’t auto-update. We’ll fix this someday, probably.
Horror is normally SpecialK’s realm and she has an excellent review of Get Out that you should read. A combination of an overactive imagination and my father watching surgery programming on PBS, makes me a little reticent to watch all horror films. The trend toward torture porn and body horror seems to usher an unending war of one-upmanship that is both gruesome and repetitive. My favorite horror films tend to be political/social and funny.
Horror was once a genre akin to morality plays. Many horror films and books contain salient critiques of culture. Frankenstein tackles the moral dimensions of scientific development. The Mummy warns against desecrating ancient cultures, particularly their burial tombs. Alien movies highlight the fear of difference and how our perception of humanity and its differences is altered in the presence of aliens. Horror is a tool to teach a lesson or present an insight.
Horror comedy or Hor-Com lives in the intersection of two of our most vulnerable moments: laughter and fear. I love Hor-Com when it is intentional – see Cabin in the Woods. I love Hor-Com when it is accidental and awesomely bad – see Troll 2. I even love when it is not entirely clear and lives betwixt and between the two – see Bad Taste. Again, laughter and fear provide a moment of shared humanity.
Viewing documentary shorts individually can be a task (links embedded). Access can be difficult and promotion essentially nonexistent. But, this year’s films are best viewed together because they illuminate our shared humanity, something that appears lost on many these days. As a warning, these films can at times be difficult to watch, gut wrenching may be an understatement. Three of the five also deal with elements of Syria and the refugee crisis, which at first glance may seem a bit redundant, but they each have a very different point of view that brings breadth and depth to the subject. As a collection, this year’s crop of documentary shorts are a must watch.
Joe’s Violin is perhaps the most traditional documentary in the group and by far the most uplifting. That is saying a great deal given that the story revolves around a holocaust survivor. Joe’s Violin is clumsy at first, with some unnecessary and somewhat old school pans of New York and a plodding build to the story. But, the film is rich in connecting two very different lives with a shared love of the violin. Joseph Feingold a Polish holocaust survivor who found refuge in the US after World War II and 12 year old Brianna Perez an immigrant from the Dominican Republic attending a Bronx all-girls school where every student is taught to play the violin. The story follows Joe’s donation of the violin which ends up with Brianna. We get a glimpse at each of their stories. Joe’s survival of a More >
Don’t Think Twice is a sweet, wistful and authentic little indie picture about the wind-down of a small New York improv group. If that sounds a little yawny, hear this: There hasn’t been a better film this year.
When it comes to the world of improvisational comedy, I’m just a shady little bit more acquainted than most. This is due in small part to my own brief tenure with a grad school improv troupe (I was about as good as that sounds) and in the main to my dear pal and everyone’s favorite absentee landlord, Parsi. Yes, our very own Lord du Nord, the Squire of Retire, our Tom Cruise of No Reviews, our audacious co-founder and not-arounder Parsi is in actual fact a regular improv player with two well-established Alaskan troupes: Urban Yeti Improv and Scared Scriptless. (Fun fact: I’m told the filmmakers contacted the latter, hoping to borrow their logo. I assume Parsi said no. Maybe he thought they were asking for REVIEWS? I’ll stop.) They’re excellent, and and it’s a real treat to watch them perform–in 2011 Scared Scriptless generated what remains my favorite improv quip to date. (“Hey, you guys boneless? Want to make some money?” Of course, you had to be there.)
And that’s, in essence, the point. True improv has never translated particularly well to film, and Mike Birbiglia (who wrote, directed, and also stars) knows better than to try. Sure, there’s a couple of good sketches thrown in to get us in the mood and to educate the hooded hordes about the genre, but don’t go More >
It’s sort of a running joke that Marvel’s blockbuster squad is giving its Midas-touch reach-around to progressively fringier characters in the comic book “universe,” a trend I blame on Iron Man and one that shows no sign of letting up. (I heard they’re doing Aquaman in 2018.) To this slow trudge of gold-plated also-rans we now add Deadpool, no one’s favorite secondary superhero who—thanks, handsy Midas!—actually deals a solid R-rated base hit in this strong, strong film.
As any helicopter parent will tell you, excellence starts early. And the opening credits are brilliant. Not the CGI, which is cool and all, but the actual credits. So rare to see something really novel done here. I’ve never laughed so hard at names before—and that includes the social security list of unusual baby names. I loved this opening nearly as much as I did 21 Jump Street’s end credits. (But them’s tall boots.) Also, if you were in LA on opening weekend, there were some truly inspired spoof billboards around town. Hausey likey.
Ryan Reynolds is in his element here as Wade Wilson, an ex-special forces type who falls in love, gets sick, and turns invincible. This isn’t the gentle rom-com Reynolds—no, this is the real, improv-bred, Van Wilder Canucklehead Reynolds. He’s crass and harsh, breaks the fourth wall on the motherflippin’ regular, and slings insults like Donald Trump in a Tough Mudder. He’s great. His white-hot love affair with his manic pixie dream girlfriend is a bit much, but gives him More >
You may recall that in 2013 we made history. Parsi. Haus. Together. Live-tweeting the Oscars.
You may also recall that our bone-chilling and near-constant jet stream of cine-snark got us banned from twitter within an hour and we ended up sour and alone, slinging our bon mots in a Zuckerbergian comment thread like a pair of codependent preteens.
Well, not this time. We have leveraged the mighty biceps of the Internet to bring you our very own Parsinghaus live blog.
- Our live red carpet coverage starts 2:30 pacific / 5:30 eastern (watch: E!)
- Our live Oscar coverage starts 4:00 pacific / 7:00 eastern (watch: ABC)
Prometheus is a hard film to wrap your mind around, both in terms of the subject and the quality. The film oscillates between brilliant and nonsensical, from thought-provoking to predictable. Despite all its pitfalls, it is a film very much worth watching.
Over the last 35,000 years of human existence (measuring from the end of the 21st Century) the same image has appeared over and over across various cultures. Archaeologists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) have deciphered these images and located a corresponding planetary system. They set off to this system with the support of a corporation headed by Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) to find the “Engineers” (the alien race that theoretically created the human race) and learn from them.
Continuity with the Alien franchise is not precise, but Prometheus most certainly sets up the other films. But, Prometheus is not based solely on the world of Alien. It also borrows heavily from Blade Runner, and thus, its inspiration Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and the universe of author Philip K. Dick. Scott also notes the influence of Erich von Daniken and his theories in Chariots of the Gods? Unsolved Mysteries of the Past.
Now, you do not need to be aware of any of this stuff (or any other literary and film allusions) to More >
The Pirates! Band of Misfits is absurd, in a good way. A combination of good storytelling and sufficient wackiness is enough to make it worth seeing.
Brought to you by the less than stiff upper lips of Peter Lord and Jeff Newitt and written by relative newcomer Gideon Defoe, Pirates follows the adventures of The Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant) and his crew. Captain is trying to win Pirate of the Year honors. On his journey to win the prize he has memorable run-ins with Queen Victoria (Imelda Stauton) and Charles Darwin (David Tennant).
In the last decade both the big and small screen have been clogged with absurd comedy. Absurdity has in many ways had a long history in performance (see Theatre of the Absurd and Moliere). Juxtaposing good and bad or showing the meaninglessness of certain aspects of life can be both funny and illuminating. Recent forms have tended to be on the supremely odd and meaningless end (see Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! and The Andy Milonakis Show). But, Pirates rests more on the traditional notion of absurdity in theater.
Queen Victoria is recast as pirate hating, prestige seeking, and menacing. Charles Darwin is redrawn (or is it re-clay-ed) as mean spirited, thieving, intellectually bankrupt, and covetous. Science becomes a field for magicians and oddballs, whose studies are driven by awards. All these characterizations work on two levels. First, the play against the reality of the character. Second, they seek to highlight the More >
Cabin is somewhat difficult to discuss because the twists are pretty critical to the film. I will do my best to avoid spoilers of any kind, but be forewarned that I will unpack the film some to provide my perspective. Nonetheless, all efforts will be made to salvage the experience for those who have yet to consume it.
Cabin is a deceptively simple story of a group of five friends heading off to an old cabin. What is in store for the crew is both infinitely predictable and original.
In some ways, Hor-Com is one of the more interesting sub-genres of film. It takes a true artistic eye to balance humor and fear. But, when the two are well-intermingled the result is rather entertaining. As anyone who has had the pleasure of hearing me squeal into laughter on anything even remotely bordering on a thrill ride will know; I think the two go hand in hand.
Cabin fits within the sub-sub-genre of self-critical Hor-Com (now that is meta). While not my favorite (see Dead Alive) Cabin is really successful at getting you from squeal to laughter. Cabin is somewhat unique because rather than eviscerating only a certain genre (Scream – Slashers or Shaun of the Dead – Zombies) it takes on the entirety of contemporary horror.
Too much ink has been spilled attacking (or More >
In our collective imagination, reunions exist on a broad continuum from recapturing lost youth to lording achievements over tormentors or doubters. But reality is far more pedestrian that any revenge or revitalization fantasy. Dreams have faded. Aspirations have hit reality. Duty has scuttled liberty. This is not to say that our lives become dreary, but that priorities change and paths diverge. Certainly not for everyone, but for most.
We retain friendships with many of those who are most important to us. We may not be able to see them as often as we’d like, but they have not faded from the corners of our minds. Sure, there are people we would like to reconnect with; namely those who have escaped the clutches of Facebook. In the end, though, a reunion can be a let down. Unfortunately that is precisely the case with American Reunion.
Reunion (like its namesake) is a let down because it is too focused on recapturing something that is long gone. When American Pie first came out it was able to capture the angst of its generation. It was crass and rude in a fairly new and interesting way. American Pie also shed light on the importance and ridiculousness of male bonds. It was refreshing and fun. But, since American Pie, the genre has moved forward with films like Superbad and The Hangover pushing the envelope further and in different directions.
Reunion lives in a world where these films were never made. It returns to jokes and themes that are tired. Another More >