‘Machete Kills’: Review

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Grindhouse was a cool movie I was looking forward to in 2007. Well, the story begins before that, being one of those long-rumoured projects that seemed like it would never actually happen, and looked way better on paper than anything would ever come of it. But, there I was Saturday April, 7th, 2007, following a spring break that saw me having a house all to myself for a week and strictly reading the James Ellroy masterpiece L.A. Confidential and watching Late Night talk shows. What a life I lead then, and now I’m not entirely sure if it’s sad or what that I still just do that exact same thing six years later. Anyways, Grindhouse actually happened, a Rodriguez zombie flick back-to-back with a Tarantino car chase/revenge flick along with some fake trailers and goodies sprinkled alongside it. These were the days where Tarantino/Rodriguez were quite literally God’s to me. This was the coolest that could ever happen. There was this fake trailer starring Danny Trejo as the most bad-ass Mexican ever, Machete, killing all gruesomely. A role he was pretty much born to play, and one he’s basically played numerous times in varying degrees throughout his career. It was fantastic as a trailer, and of course me and others being the greedy bastards we are, never satisfied with the limited greatness we got, we wanted a film. We got said film three years later, and again I sat awed that this thing actually got made. But, then it sucked, and I was sad.

That’s a cool and boring lead-up paragraph just to say that Machete Kills was even worse. Hey, I get it, I know Machete isn’t supposed to serious even within the smallest molecule of its being, and I get that it’s a throwback to 70s trash, B movies. I get all the cool celeb cameos playing a juxtaposed character to their real-life self, and it’s cool seeing washed up great actors of old in this jawn. I get what Machete is trying to do, being a fun time escape, with cool explosions and literally everything you want to see in a cliched action film. But, the problem is, it doesn’t even do that well. It’s probably also that I’ve seen so much insane violence in action movies and exploitation flicks that no matter of you figuring out how to behead or kill someone is really going to surprise or shock me anymore. Maybe, that’s my problem, maybe I am broken. The humour is somehow worse than the action tenants of the film, but I guess if jokes about Justin Bieber and tweeting are things you find funny, this might be the movie for you. Also, Sofia Vergara is in this, and she’s scientifically proven to be the worst actress on planet Earth. Vergara has never played a role where her accent, or ethnicity weren’t’ the MAJOR focus of her character or push the river on every joke about or surrounded her. Obviously, Modern Family is the prime example where all the jokes around her revolve around her heritage, so cheap, so lazy.

I really wished I could have liked this film for the pure “brain turned off” fun that it’s designed to be, but I couldn’t even sink to that level for this. The one thing I did really enjoy, though, was the character of El Camaleón, basically an assassin who can change identities by literally ripping off his/her face and becoming Walton Goggins (the original), Cuba Gooding, Jr., Lady Gaga and Antonio Banderas. It was a pretty cool device to use all of them as one character, but usually speaking as Goggins, and was pretty ridiculous seeing them literally rip their face off to expose the one of another actor’s. I wish the Camaleón had gotten a bigger role, but when you have Mel Gibson as your baddie, you better damn well use him as your baddie. They kinda pull an Iron Man 3, though, where Demián Bichir in the early stages seems like the big bad, until it regresses into Gibson. It’s insane and beautiful how much Bichir is committed to his role, him being just an incredible actor in the first place, the fun he’s having just oozes off the screen as he plays a bi-polar crime lord, who dips back and forth from being a reckless childlike dictator to a semi-normal adult male. He’s a wonder to watch in anything, but his commitment here made it hard to hate any scene he was in, but unfortunately it was too few.

I’m sorry Machete Kills, I didn’t like the first one, I gave you another chance and you let me down. I WILL never see another “Machete” film again. Well, unless they actually make that Machete Kills Again… In Space! movie, basically Machete owning baddies in space for some amazingly ridiculous reason. I mean, they would never make that movie, right? Just like they were never going to actually make that Grindhouse movie, or that Machete movie or its sequel…

4/10

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65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards Wrap-Up

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Welp, the Emmys were something that happened last night, and oh, boy, were they terrible. I’m talking like worst I’ve ever seen. Bit after bit fell dead, and even while NPH was his usual charming, affable self, he didn’t do much to elevate the dead material. I usually quite enjoy the opening video or whatever excuse they use to plod out a bunch of celebs and lampoon the hit shows, but that was not to be seen. Instead, we watch NPH binge-watch a bunch of TV, and then the ghosts of Emmy hosting past came out, with Conan O’Brien literally looking like a ghost. We got some NPH dancing finally late, but then they gave over way too much time to the choreography category to give them a bit. Which is fine, I guess, but in the grand scheme of things it echoed a larger problem with the show in time management and allocation of things that ran too long, and stuff that could’ve been easily cut. I thought it was an alright idea to single out some of the bigger deaths of the year and have a close friend talk about them, but then some seemed so disconnected from the show and following a weird ‘60s theme that nobody was aware they were doing. A tribute to the 1960s by Carrie Underwood? Alright. Elton John singing one of his own songs (I think) as a tribute to Liberace, just because his bio-pic was nominated? Alright. There was just some weird, weird decisions that never worked individually or even in any sort of whole. Hey, now, on to the actual awards…

Man, what the hell happened here? There were surprises galore, and people I had written of to having no chance of winning, were walking out of the building with a new trophy. I’m terrible at predicting the Emmys, but even this year was an extra special disaster zone for me. Merritt Wever won, which was like whoa, I love her and all, she’s so, so great, but I never thought anybody would win something for last season of Nurse Jackie. Tony Hale and JLD won for Veep, which is awesome because that show is great, but I didn’t think JLD would actually win her fourth and Tony Hale like whoa. Jim Parsons won and well, yeah, even that wasn’t gonna change this year. Jeff Daniels now has a Emmy for best lead actor in a drama and hahaha, but what exactly is happening here? Now, Daniels is alright in The Newsroom, he’s good for what it is, but doesn’t hold a candle to the mainstays of Cranston, Lewis, Hamm and even Spacey. This pretty much assures that Jon Hamm will be the Steve Carell of the best actor drama category, never winning the awards for something he deserved so many times over. Bobby Cannavale now has an Emmy as well, and I did quite enjoy him on “Boardwalk,” but didn’t think he’d actually win. A well-deserved and yet again surprising win. Anna Gunn won, which I happily called, and now all the top three leads have at least one Emmy, with a fantastic chance to win another one next year. Claire Danes won, and water is also wet. Modern Family of course wasn’t going to get shut out all the way, Steve Levitan sauntered up the stage to deliver his annual acceptance speech for best comedy, and yeah. Best drama, running high off it being the most buzzworthy show now, Breaking Bad took home the title, and I of course thought there was a good chance, but thought a House Of Cards, Mad Men, or even the shaky season of Homeland would still beat it out. It’s going to be very hard to beat Breaking Bad next year, in basically all the dramatic categories, but there’s still a year left, let’s see what shakes out and hopefully we’re left with a better overall show next year. I can dream.

65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards Predictions

NPH 2013 Emmys

Alright, so the Emmys are tonight, and I’ve been pretty sparse on this here blog, which I’m trying to change, so let’s predict some Emmy winners! I’ll pick two, the one who I THINK is going to win, and the one who DESERVES to win.

Also, I should say that I’m uniformly pretty terrible at predicting awards show winners, and this year is especially tricky where I could see things going either way and I wouldn’t be surprised in the least with whoever wins. This is also a clever little fallback disclaimer that I can rely on when come Sunday night all my picks are wrong. Let’s do this.

Outstanding Drama Series:

This is a prime example where I could see it going multiple ways and not being surprised. Mad Men was a king crusher until Homeland came along and won last year. Mad Men’s as good as its ever been and I wouldn’t be surprised if it won. Homeland won last year for a terrific season of TV, but season 2 was pretty lackluster in spots and a definite step down, but, hey, sometimes the academy is dumb and just votes on name. Breaking Bad is what everybody’s obsessing over now, its never won one of these, but its got that acting category on lock. It’s good as well, and deserving, so, maybe. The new kid on the block, House Of Cards was pretty much tailored to win Emmys, and it’s alright, but not deserving, but again, it’s the type of show that the academy LOVES. Game Of Thrones was good too, but still a little too out of the Emmy wheelhouse to actually win. So, yeah, I’m gonna say House Of Cards wins, while I personally would give it to Mad Men to win. It could go so many ways, though.

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series:

I’ll come right out and say that Kevin Spacey wins this, and I feel semi-pretty good in that. He’s got the name recognition, everybody loves him and he was pretty good. Most deserving? I’d say Damian Lewis, a lot was demanded out of him in season 2 of Homeland and how he was able to flip the script and shift into different modes and sides of Brody was some awe-inspiring work.

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series:

Claire Danes deserves it and wins it on Sunday. No real competition here, she was fantastic yet again. Robin Wright was good, if never given much to do, and I guess Elisabeth Moss is the next threat, but, nah, Danes got this thing. If I had my way though, Connie Britton would win, because I love her more than most of my family members, and she’s awesome and everything positive should go her way. Connie 4 lyfe.

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series:

I think Peter Dinklage wins this thing again, but Mandy Patinkin is the most deserving. Dinklage is great, and although not as good in this last season of GoT, I still think he gets it again. Patinkin is arguably the best part of Homeland and he’s just fantastic. Plus, that fedora and beard. The man knows old man chic.

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series:

I’m going to say Anna Gunn wins this, but I’m not really that confident in it. Nobody else really jumps out at me, even while I enjoy every single nominees work on their show. I don’t even know who’s most deserving, so, hey, Emmys, just make it a six-way tie. Emmys for everybody.

Outstanding Comedy Series:

We all know Louie should and deserves to win this thang, but that just ain’t gonna happen, because we live in a cruel and unjust world. So, say hello to The Big Bang Theory or Modern Family winning. Modern Family is not a good show, but it was slightly better this year. I’ve stopped watching The Big Bang Theory for awhile now, but people tell me it’s on kind of an uptick and doing good things, so it wins tomorrow. You guys can all wear your totally awesome BAZINGA! shirts in celebration. You know you want to.

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series:

Do you think Alec Baldwin is gonna win this thing for the 395th time? I don’t know, but I think there’s something in his contract that even now with 30 Rock off the air, he’ll continue to be nominated into eternity, a forever reminding cloud that makes you question your life just so, because what kind of world would it be if Alec Baldwin had to cease being nominated in this category. What kind of world I ask of you. Anyways, Jim Parsons wins, but Louis C.K. is most deserving.

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series:

Strong candidates abound and I love them all, except one. I’ll let you figure out which one that is. JLD ain’t gonna win this again, though I love her so. I don’t think they give it to Tina Fey even though it’s her swan song. No on Dunham and Falco. So, Amy Poehler wins and Laura Dern is so, so deserving of it. Writing this just reminded that Enlightened is gone, and I’m so sad now, guyz. You should watch it if you haven’t, it’s such a beautifully poignant, sad, funny and uplifting show. Please, someone give Mike White another show.

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series:

Ty Burell wins this, and yeah, I think he deserves it. I absolutely loved Burell in the first seaon of MF, but just got tired of his schtick. I’ve come around, it is what it is, I love Ty Burell, he’s funny, so give him the Emmy.

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series:

Sadly, I think Sofia Vergara wins this. I can’t stand her because the show only derives two outlets of comedy from her, her nationality, and how hot she is (I’d argue against her perceived attractiveness, but, hey, that’s just me a sane straight male). Jane Krakowski deserves this to the world’s end, because she’s been my favourite thing about 30 Rock since it began. She is so great, I can’t even function how good she was on that show and never gets any recognition for it. Krakowski 4 lyfe.

Outstanding Miniseries or Movie:

I’ve only seen a couple of these, but knowing things I’d say Behind The Candelabra wins and deserves it.

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Miniseries Or Movie:

Emmys just can’t wait to give Michael Douglas an Emmy. Wins and deserves.

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Miniseries Or Movie:

Again, the Emmys love their old, distinguished and creditable thespians (am I using that word right?). Jessica Lange wins, and deserves because the only other one in the category I’ve seen was Laura Linney in The Big C, and no, just no.

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Miniseries Or Movie:

I’m gonna say the American Horror Story love doesn’t leave Lange, so Scott Bakula continues the “Candelabra” love. I don’t know, maybe the Emmys might really love Zachary Quinto. Who knows.

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Miniseries Or Movie:

Man, I have no clue. I think Political Animals was bad, I don’t know, I didn’t watch it. So, lets say Ellen Burstyn wins because she’s an OG and just great and kinda looks like all of our grandmothers. Sarah Paulson was cool and had commitment for days in AHS, so maybe she pulls the rug out.

Outstanding Variety Series:

The Daily Show, are you even kidding with other nominees? It’s the don mega of variety series. Which is, like, the most broad category ever.

Outstanding Reality – Competition Program:

Where’s Big Brother? Hahaha, I’m a jokester, but seriously I don’t watch any of this. The Amazing Race had the crown for awhile, until Top Chef screwed it up a few years back. I don’t really care, but we’ll say Phil Keoghan and company retain the award. I haven’t watched it since, like, Reichen and Chip just totally Jordan/Pippen’ed the entire show.

Let’s keep going, because why not, I have nothing better to do on a Saturday night

Outstanding Directing For A Drama Series:

You’ve gotta be dreaming if you think David Fincher doesn’t win this. An A-list director directs one of the most anticipated and Emmy bait shows of the past year? Get outta here. I think my girl Michelle MacLaren deserves this, though.

Outstanding Directing For A Comedy Series:

“New Year’s Eve” is such a beautiful piece of television that C.K.’s gotta win. I’d like to think that the academy has started to turn even more towards C.K. after last year, and less towards the perennials of Modern Family and Glee and such. They probably haven’t, but I’m gonna stick with C.K. winning.

Outstanding Directing For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Dramatic Special:

Steven Soderbergh is the boss and he wins this. Hahaha, you actually thought dude was retiring to paint?

Outstanding Directing For A Variety Series:

Man, I don’t know. None of these have real unique directing styles except for Portlandia. Maybe, it wins because of this. But, lets just give it to The Daily Show because they haven’t won enough. I don’t know.

Outstanding Writing For A Drama Series:

I was going to say that one of those Breaking Bad episodes was gonna win, but I completely forgot about “Q&A,” because I’m an idiot, with it being a jaw agape hour of television written by the late and forever great Henry Bromell. He’s gotta win.

Outstanding Writing For A Comedy Series:

Louie, Louie, Louieeeee. And Pamela Adlon. They’ve got this in the bag, with a decidedly weird and inventive episode.

Outstanding Writing For A Miniseries, Movie, Or A Dramatic Special:

Behind The Candelabra, please come and accept another award.

Outstanding Writing For A Variety Series:

The Daily Show, please come and accept another award.

Outstanding Choreography:

What? You think we’re not gonna talk about choreography? Of course we are. Some would argue that it is the most important category, and I cast myself as chief among them. Some would also say that I always forget how many goddamn Emmys categories there are, and I’m just reading these off the Wikipedia page. That could also be true. Good thing I also always forget that the Creative Arts Emmys are a thing, as well. Anyways, my girl cousins like that So You Think You Can Dance show, so one of its four nominees wins. Let’s say the “Sonya Tayeh” one wins, sounds like a cool enough name.

So, I hope this was all informative. No real need to watch the Emmys now I guess, sorry for the spoilers, but whatever, watch Breaking Bad instead or the sure to be cracking Dexter series finale. All the props to you if you read this far, but I think my own eyes glossed over this thing about halfway through. Happy Emmys watching, I’m gonna go watch some hockey.

‘Strangers With Candy’: The Cult Of Satire

Strangers With Candy Banner

I don’t really know if Strangers With Candy was before its time, but its definitely a show of its own breed and doesn’t fall too much in line with other comedies. It’s a satire about Jerri Blank, a 46-year-old former “boozer, user, and a loser” who resorted to prostitution, drugs and prison, and then decided to return to finish high school as a freshman in her mid-40s. That sounds terribly depressing and not even remotely funny, but creators Stephen Colbert, Paul Dinello, Amy Sedaris and Mitch Rouse use this backbone to prod, make fun of, and flip on its head all the themes and moral lessons that would fill after-school specials. They take it so far over the top each episode including the most politically incorrect and mouth-a-gap punchlines all to lead Jerri into learning the worst lessons ever. Jerri learns lessons among others such as your outside appearance is more important than your inside, rich people are more fun and worthy people than the poor, selling drugs is a good way to make friends, steroids are a good option to help with winning a track-meet, and never encourage the handicap because they’ll always end up hurt. Some prime life lessons I think we all can agree with.

It should come as no surprise that this came from Stephen Colbert, the guy who remains the master of satire on his aptly named The Colbert Show, satirizing the political pundit types on FOX News and the positions held by those on the right. Paul Dinello has also wrote for the show and pops up here and again to play different characters and such. Now the thing about satire is you actually have to be relatively cognizant to know that these are jokes and sane people know that none of this is actually true. But, of course that’s the point, poking around these lessons, social situations, morals, racism, sexuality and pointing out the absurdities and ways that these things can get twisted. Because sadly, there are people who believe racist ideas, and are sexist, or believe certain religious ideals for the weirdest of reasons. A lot of this balances on a thin line, and it’s easy to see people being susceptible to it and how easy it is to fall into, but Strangers With Candy never lets us forget how absurd and silly it all is, especially from such a compounded character.

I started off with wondering what other shows Strangers With Candy is like. It’s not a mockumentary of late like a Modern Family, The Office, or Parks And Recreation. And it’s not really a cringe-worthy show like Curb Your Enthusiasm or Peep Show. But, fittingly it’s quite like its Comedy Central cohort in South Park. Both shows rely on seemingly dumb and trivial jokes that seem to come from the mind of a pre-teen, but are almost always propped up by a deeper message of a societal critique or parody of a common-held belief system. No matter how vulgar or demeaning a joke becomes in either series, it’s usually furthering something in the juxtaposition of content and message, and leads as further evidence to back up the satiric element they are focusing on. Well… most of the time, because sometimes dick jokes without any context are just plain funny.

That’s what I like about Strangers With Candy, it never guides your hand or makes sure you understand that this is a work of comedy and satire, it plays everything straight and never winks at the audience to any effect of “Yeah, we know this is silly, but you all know we’re making a joke, right?” This show falling into the hands of the dumbest and most gullible person on earth would be the biggest WMD you’d ever see, and would create the most vile and unforgiving person. But, we’re of course smarter than that, and recognize the affront to these types of moral driven specials, and special episodes of sitcoms meant to drive home that one particular theme. It takes some of the sillies and dumbest ideas and jokes to make one of the smartest, sharpest, and critical shows of the last twenty years.

(They won’t let me embed this on here, but here’s a good YouTube compilation video of all the “morals” and “lessons” that Jerri learns, in case the concept of what I’m trying to say is lost on you, or you just want to enjoy them again: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CH-9tVbKCM)

Emmy Awards 2012

The Emmy’s were relatively fine tonight, even if they seemed like a retread of years’ past. ‘Louie’ and ‘Homeland’ received some awards, but beyond them what really seemed new? ‘Modern Family’ sadly continued their steamroll through the awards even as Nolan Gould and Rico Rodriguez remained the only good parts from the show (prove me wrong). We were delivered an Emmys that was slightly different, but lets face it, was pretty much the exact same as we’ve seen in years’ past.

For years now I’ve been a champion for Jimmy Kimmel hosting the Oscars. I’ve simply had enough with these random non-comedians who have hosted the Oscars of late and have no comedic timing and are relegated to dumb musical numbers (I’m looking at you Hugh Jackman, James Franco and Anne Hathaway). I’m a traditionalist and love when a hard to the core comedian hosts an awards show and does a solid 10 minute monologue rather than some silly musical number. History has shown how great legitimate stand-up comedians have done at awards shows like Whoopi Goldberg, Ellen DeGeneres, Chris Rock and Jon Stewart (even though he’s not really a stand-up comedian). I’ve always enjoyed Jimmy Kimmel from ‘The Man Show’ through ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ and since he is based off ABC, would be a perfect Oscars or Emmys host. Ultimately, he was solid, fine in the monologue, not great, but as the night wore on, like all hosts, was given less to do and hardly felt like a presence. He didn’t really do anything wrong, but wasn’t spectacular either, and nowadays I guess that’s the best you can expect from an Emmys host.

Because I don’t want this to drag on forever, I’m not gonna break-down every category, but instead just the ones that effected or impacted me the most.

Ummm, so, Louis C.K., won for best writing in a comedy series and for best writing in a variety special. He simultaneously seemed grateful and reticent when receiving these much deserved awards. ‘Louie’ is one of the best shows on TV, and even if a conservative show like the Emmys will recognize it’s writing, I’ll be happy.

But, just when you think the Emmys is being awesome and giving Louis C.K. awards, they also keep giving ‘Modern Family’ and its cast members awards as well as goddamn Jon Cryer. Like, c’mon, I thought we were at least past giving Jon Cryer another fucking award for the lowest common denominator of comedy. ‘Modern Family’ is another show that scrapes the bottom of the barrel for ‘Two And A Half Men’-esque racial and sexist jokes.

Okay, now lets get to the awesome stuff, namely Julia Louis-Dreyfus winning for Best Actress in a Comedy for ‘Veep’. I’ve recently found out through Twitter that there’s actually quite a few people who don’t like ‘Veep’ for some reason? Okay, I guess you don’t like smart political jokes, name-calling, layered jokes and acidic come-backs, that’s cool for you though. Think about this, forget about the ‘Seinfeld’ curse, JLD has won an Emmy for ‘Seinfeld’, ‘The New Adventures Of Old Christine’, and now ‘Veep’, that is quite the accomplishment for the comedic goddess who we shorten to JLD.

If you know me at all, you’ll know my undying love for ‘Homeland’, my favourite show of last year. Now, Claire Danes was an absolute lock for Best Actress, and wasn’t she just adorable/deserving accepting it? I thought Damian Lewis would have a good chance to win Best Actor, but thought it might slip away. Little did I know, the Academy decided to slay Bryan Cranston, and give the award to Lewis, I’m not complaining. Again, I thought Best Drama was a possibility, but not an actuality, but little did I know ‘Homeland’ would take home all the gold.

There really isn’t much to say about this mediocre edition of the Emmys. It was all pretty par for the course, besides the ‘Homeland’ victories, which when you look back aren’t all that much of a surprise. Louis C.K.’s wins were beyond awesome but not completely surprising as everyone knew how great they were, but just took the Academy to notice. Otherwise, we were left with dumb ‘Modern Family’ winning everything, a lackluster HBO movie (‘Game Change’) and other bits and pieces that were easily predicted, such as Lange, Paul, Smith and Moore winning.

There was some nice surprises, and solid wins, but more of the same dominated the Emmys, who had hardly even deserved Emmys in their “best” seasons. Some new blood was nice, but when there’s so much of the old, do we really recognize the new? Or is it just a bump in the road?

Also, Lena Dunham is all sorts of awful.