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The Fate of the Furious [Review by Haus]

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Consider:

(1) My former girlfriend’s terrier once ate a giant marzipan bar of mine, nearly her same damn size. We came back from the ski hill and this little dog was slouching around with a rock-hard belly, packed thick with almond paste. A man of science, I was truly shocked she fit it all in. Another friend’s dog got into a massive birthday cake and ate the entire thing in minutes.

(2) I love Luxardo cherries. They’re the best. If a bartender puts one in a drink, I’ll petition for more and more. One time, a particularly hospitable barkeep thought she’d catch me crying wolf, and put about thirty in my drink. I ate every single one, feeling justifiably like Homer in the Ironic Punishment Division.

Why do I say these things? Well, some folks prefer balance. They like a little taste of something sweet after a wholesome meal. They don’t want an entire marzipan bar the size of their whole body and nothing else. They don’t want to eat just cake. They don’t want thirty liquor-steeped cherries in a Collins glass.

They won’t like this movie.

This movie is a sugar rush. It’s like someone sucked the marrow and substance out of every good action movie, then distilled whatever was left into a sticky sweet syrup of hero cars and CGI and nuclear threats and explosions and punchlines. It’s a thick quilt of shiny bits swaddling the most infantile and preposterous scaffold of story. There’s nothing to it but flash.

I liked it.

Sure, any old joe could sit down in my special Haus chair and More >

T2 Trainspotting [Review by Haus]

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Before we talk about what T2 Trainspotting is, let’s be clear on what it’s not: namely, the Trainspotting for a new generation. It couldn’t be, anyway, with its heavy dependence on backstory, with most of its protagonists now pushing 50, and with what once shocked our innocent pre-Google moviegoing minds no longer even moving the needle.

No, T2 is a nostalgia film, through and through. If you saw the first one in the theater, and have since orbited the sun twenty damn times and want very much to have your nose rubbed in that fact, then you’re pretty much the target audience and you’ll find this a sharp and welcome vein-shot from memory lane. If you’ve never seen the first, this installment will probably make no sense at all.

That doesn’t mean, mind you, that you need to have seen it lately. I confess I felt unprepared walking into this movie. While I did see Trainspotting in the theater in ’96, and have seen it at least a couple times since, it’s been well over a decade and the story wasn’t exactly fresh in my mind. But director Danny Boyle must’ve seen this coming, because he sprinkles helpful refreshers throughout. He also liberally injects clips from the first film, typically using old locations as a trigger to overlay some original footage. Reminiscent of CHiPs ’99? Sure, but that’s a reference for a level-fourteen battlemage of B-rate movies (or a reader of my last review).

So T2 picks up where Trainspotting left off. In case you too need a hint, this means Renton (Ewan More >

Haus, Parsi, Specialk, and CLGJr LIVE BLOG the 2017 Oscars

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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. 

Their Finest [Review by Haus]

We reviewed Their Finest at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. The film is currently slated to open March 24. 

Even seventy-some years on, the Second World War justifiably continues to tempt filmmakers as a sort of hatchery for authenticity, purpose, and meaning. Such efforts typically cluster about two poles: Either plunging into the thick dark mess of combat, or telling more restrained tales of quiet and unsung sacrifice on the home front. To properly remind us of the true horrors of war, the thinking goes, generally requires the former, and a somber tone to boot. Their Finest rings the same bell in a very different way, with a beautiful and often hilarious adaptation of Lissa Evans’s novel Their Finest Hour and a Half.

Former Bond girl Gemma Arterton plays Catrin Cole, a young Welsh woman in London. Catrin’s application for a government secretarial position surprisingly morphs into a screenwriting job, where she is to craft “slop” (that is, women’s dialogue) for Britain’s civilized-propagandist wartime films. Eager to help support her injured husband –- a grim war veteran turned artist who’s finding it tough to peddle his colorless swaths of Wartime Downer on canvas –- she quietly takes the job and gets to work, joining a couple of hard-boiled and epoch-appropriate mysoginistic chaps in the writer’s den. Most prominent of these is Buckley (Sam Claflin). There’s a little hint of will-they-or-won’t-they, since they clearly get along, but that motor never gets going because More >

Patriots Day [Doubleheader by Haus and CLGJr]

DUELING REVIEWS!

We’re testing a new occasional format here at The Parsing Haus, the Doubleheader — pitting two fearless reviewers against one other in a steel cage showdown of bon mots and savvy! (Or not. Sometimes, we might even agree.) Here’s the deal: CLGJr and Haus both saw the upcoming film Patriots Day, both penned reviews, and only once they’d finished did each see the other’s. Behold, the result. Suffice to say we didn’t see eye to eye this time.

You can read both, starting with CLGJr’s Slam below, or jump straight to Haus’s Praise and circle back.

Patriots Day [Review by CLGJr]

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts officially designates the third Monday of every April as Patriots’ Day. (For some reason, its northern neighbors in Maine prefer the singular possessive.) Bostonians host their storied marathon on that same day each spring, as they have for almost 120 years. The morning of April 13, 2013—not unlike the early hours of September 11, 2001—was by all accounts unremarkable. And then tragedy struck. Bombs placed at two sites along the finish line detonated, killing three and horrifically injuring hundreds more. “Patriots Day” recounts those events and the weeklong investigation without the nuance, focus, and skill warranted. It’s bluntly a mess of a movie, a depressing and borderline exploitative endeavor.

The narrative, known to any sentient person, first crisscrosses the pre-Marathon preparations of an unwieldy stable of characters.

We then witness the bombing More >

Don’t Think Twice [Review by Haus]

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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 >

Parsi & Haus LIVE BLOG the 2015 Oscars

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Another year, another trip around the sun, and it’s all for THIS. Parsi and 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 this Sunday, February 22 for live coverage of the 2015 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 (watch: ABC)
  • Our live Oscar coverage starts 4:00 pacific / 7:00 eastern (watch: ABC)

So tune in right here. It’s going to be choice.   

 

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Life Itself [Review by Haus]

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In fall of 1997, in my role as member of the Founding Triad of my college’s James Bond Society, I emailed a slew of celebrities and invited them to a barbeque. Many predictably didn’t reply, and it wasn’t hard to see why. (After addressing her as “Mr. Winfrey,” for example, we assured Oprah in our opening missive that although an airport limo might stretch our means, we would dispatch our Mercury Sable to pick her up curbside.) To his great credit, Roger Ebert wrote back — a simple little note, mentioning The Man with the Golden Gun and sending his regrets. That barbeque never happened in the end, so I can’t really be too surprised that this exchange didn’t make it into Life Itself, the Scorsese-produced, surprisingly powerful biopic about Ebert’s life.

For those who knew Ebert only as the pudgy square-faced silver-haired one on “Siskel & Ebert,” there’s a lot to see here. Life Itself paints an honest picture of the man: From his suburban Illinois upbringing and early fascination with journalism — here was a kid who knew at 15 what he wanted to do — to his time as editor in chief of his student paper and later his Pulitzer prize and his hard-drinking days with the other newsmen in Chicago dive bars. His involvement with AA is an interesting sidebar, though doesn’t occupy much time. Professionally, Ebert reviewed over 6,000 films, a feat even more remarkable when you realize that his time as a film critic spanned just about half the history of cinema. His influence, and that More >

Godzilla [Summary Judgment by Haus]

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I didn’t expect much from Godzilla — the 1998 version cemented this — but truth be told it’s a good deal better than that one and not even that bad after all. High points: Effects are good, the monster is kinda sorta cute, and Bryan Cranston hams it up in the extreme for his limited screen time. Strange things: It plays more like a sequel, given the monster-on-monster aspect of the film. San Francisco is… not quite right (since when are there New York cabs — or indeed any cabs — and why does the Bart have a new logo? I smell a rat, and a lizard, and a moth). The male and female protagonists both have very small foreheads. Neanderthal cinema invasion! Sapiens, you’ve been warned. Some good hominid species-on-species action to mix up your monster-on-monster. I’m not making any sense, and that’s very meta of me because neither does half of this film. But it’s better than you’d think it would be, and probably an homage to the Japanese ones (Gojirra!) but I haven’t seen them so I wouldn’t know. Also, I saw this when it came out and it’s been weeks and I still haven’t written this and I’m clearing my backlog so I can see Edge of Tomorrow so here it is.

Haus Verdict: My reviews are useless sometimes, and this is one of those times. Decent film though.

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Parsinghaus: Live-tweeting the Oscars 2013

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It’s that time! Join us February 24 for pithy Parsi & Haus style commentary on the 85th Academy Awards.

What you need is here:

Twitter: @ParsingHaus

 

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