Review: Don’t Breathe

Don’t Breathe

Suspense, suspense, suspense–this movie does it well. A new twist on creepy. Three teenage burglars, who have been fairly successful running around Detroit knocking off houses, find out about a large stash of money hidden in the house of an old blind veteran. Sounds like a good plan, break in, steal his stash, and bounce before he knows what happened. Well, things just are not going to be that easy. First they have the vicious dog to contend with, then they soon find out this is not the ordinary handicapped veteran, and he is not going to just sit quietly while these three teens rob him blind. Pun intended.

    Of course there are some pretty devious plot twist, and of course there are moments where you want to scream instructions at the one dimensional characters on the big flat screen. Your best bet is to just go into this expecting the unexpected. If you have a weak heart, or loose bowels, might want to skip this particular ride. The creep who owns the house is a real badass, not at all the pushover the three little gangsta’s were anticipating.

    Overall, the whole thing is very well done. The acting was decent for the three mostly unknowns. The crusty old blind veteran dude had very little dialogue, and really didn’t require a whole lot. The bulk of the movie takes place inside this older style row house in one of Detroit’s troubled and emptied neighborhoods. The house itself has enough dilapidated character to stage its own zombie apocalypse. This is a very large and very run down chamber of horrors; once the ball starts rolling all bets are off. Don’t get confused, this is not one of those “gross me out” slasher flicks. This is a well made suspenseful thriller that could easily have you grabbing the person sitting next to you, knocking their forty dollar popcorn into their twelve dollar small soda, and leaving them with a large butter stain on their three dollar T-shirt. Very intense my friends.

    Every Time you think the party is over, it just keeps on going. More violence, more death, and more “run…get the hell out of there…what is wrong with you..” type of stuff. The ending looks very much like a setup for part two. Judging by this freaks amplified sense of smell, the next one probably won’t be “Don’t Breathe part two.” It might be more appropriately titled “Don’t Fart part one.” So watch out folks, this tortured old bastard is so twisted he can inadvertently turn your “sneaky Pete” or your “Stealthy stinker” into a full fledged skid mark. This flick is rated R, but it should come with an additional warning: Caution–cinematic soiling may occur, please bring backup skivvies…                                                               The Smyth has Spoken.

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Review: Hands of Stone

Hands of Stone

Coming from a man who always loved boxing, and actually wanted to be a boxer, my opinion might not be exactly–what you call–unbiased. Having said all that, let me say this: this movie would still have to stand up on it’s own two feet to be worthy of praise. This movie easily succeeds in that mission…in triplicate. Like most of you, I often wonder how many boxing stories are there to tell. The truth is there is always another one. Boxers, like most sports figures, come from many different places, different ways of life, the one thing that makes boxing especially unique is it’s ability to pull people, especially kids, from the most difficult upbringings and provide them a shot at the big time. Boxing, despite the obvious brutality, more than any other sport is an escape for lost and troubled children. A way out. Roberto Duran was one of those children. Coming straight from the slums of Panama, he literally fought his way into the title, one tough fight at a time. I remember watching those actual fights. The controversial (No Mas) one with Sugar Ray Leonard, and all the others; he was one hell of a tough dude, no bones about it.

    His trainer, in this movie, is played by Robert De niro, and we all know how great he is. In this case the role was virtually made for him. I can’t think of anyone who could have done it better. Usher played Sugar Ray leonard, and did so in very convincing manner. As a dancer in real life, his ability to move with grace and speed made him a natural for this part. The actor who played Duran, Edgar Ramirez, was truly excellent in the role of the troubled fighter. His wife was crazy hot. The sex scenes were smoking throughout, with her amazing body rolling around in all it’s bare chested, super plump erect nipple, glory. Better than most porno’s, and way more sensual. Don’t worry ladies, this isn’t a one way street. Usher and Ramirez, both have a bare ass moment you might consider worthy of your attention. The best part, is it is all done with the utmost class. These are love making scenes that express love and passion in it’s rawest form–quite beautiful actually.

   Every character has a clear struggle. Nothing ambiguous about it. You feel like you are really getting to know exactly what they stand for and who they really are. The fight scenes are all balanced and choreographed down to the finest details. The one thing that I noticed, was in real life Roberto Duran was the guy who would be losing the entire fight, then BOOM! Out of nowhere would come one punch, and that was it–goodnight Irene! In this movie he is much more well rounded than I actually remember seeing him in the ring. The movie explores the life of his trainer just as much a Duran’s rise to the top, and fall, only to rise once again. This is also a movie with many layers of meaning and has within it, individual, as well as group, interwoven threads of conflict and resolution. In the end it is still another fight movie, but let me tell you…it’s one you should go see. Great true story brought to the big screen with the utmost integrity. Four out of four stars. Terrific flick.

A small spoiler: At the end the give you the real life narrative of most of the main characters. I like this. Not only does it lend moo-choo credibility to the story, but it brings home that feeling that any really good movie should do–make you feel like you have known these people for ten or more years.

The Smyth has Spoken.              

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Mechanic Resurrection: Review

Mechanic: Resurrection

My bad movie has a first name it’s M-E-C-H-A, my bad movie has a second name it’s N-I-C.. see….I told it would suck. I like Jason Statham when he does all that crazy stuff, but when he tries to speak real words, not grunting words, but real words, that’s when you know, this guy can’t act. And don’t even get me started on Jessica Alba. I mean come on already, just smile and show your nipples through your bathing suit, and everything will be just peachy. As soon as she pretends she is an actress, things go horribly wrong. This would be a better investment if she just strutted around half naked and never said a word. Tommy Lee Jones had a new bad guy look. We know he can act, it’s just in this case, he didn’t need to. I mean nobody else on set was….so why bother. The Mechanic may have been resurrected, but from the looks of it, he should have stayed dead. The only saving grace was a few cool stunts. The swimming pool scene that is shown in the preview, is by far the coolest thing in the entire movie. Save some money and spare yourself the shit show and just play that over a few times. This is a just another bad James Bond wanna be like that Jason Bourne douche. Tough guy get’s girl, old business associate kidnaps girl, tough guy makes ridiculous plan to get girl back, tough guy dies (but wait..not really) and kills bad guy and get’s girl. Sound familiar. The only thing they resurrected was an old Bond script and from the looks of it, they just tortured it into submission. Can you believe they actually tried to stick a love scene in this festering dung heap. It didn’t help. In fact it felt oddly out of place, like hanging the Mona Lisa on the wall of a CVS. I mean this is still just my opinion. Maybe you have an I.Q. of less than 75 and in between drooling on your popcorn, you find this kind of recycled gibberish worthy of your attention. If so, bless your simpleton heart, and please remember: the licorice sticks are for eating, not for inserting into random orifices. The same goes for gummy whatcha-mick-doodles. Got it–in the mouth, not the orifice. Great. A mechanic, for those of you who don’t know, is another way of saying–a hit man. In this case “The mechanic” was a tool. And the movie was a fully stocked tool shed. Whoever produced this rancid heap of monkey snot, should be forced to watch it non-stop until they gouge out their own eyes with an icey straw. This insult to movie watching audiences, is not only a waste of money, it’s a waste of time. I’m not giving it any stars, or any of anything else, because it doesn’t deserve anything except–if we are lucky–to stay dead next time.          This is the Wisdom of the Smyth.

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Barb’d Wire

Barb’d Wire                Wake Up and Smell the Justice

       Justice is defined as fairness, or quite simply doing what is correct. Another part of the definition includes the idea of equality, or treating everyone in the same manner, especially when referring to matters of the law. “The law” often referred to “the criminal justice system” is designed to provide a balanced and equal forum to define acceptable behavior in a civilized society. We all know American history well enough to know that all peoples have not been treated equally all the time; this is a fact; we can’t deny it. What we can do is try to improve, try to evolve, try to make tomorrow better than yesterday. One of the ways we accomplish that is through the use of our free press, our right to assemble, or our right to petition our government to apply the rules of fairness, the rules of justice, to all people, all the time, equally.

     There is in the Connecticut court system today, a policy that does not, and is not, equal in it’s treatment of drug offenders. I can testify to this injustice as a first hand witness to the execution of this policy. The policy in which I am referring has been in place for a very, very, long time. This is how it works:

     If a defendant is charged with the victimless crime of possession of narcotics in Hartford they are almost guaranteed to get a lesser sentence than if the same exact crime is committed in the suburbs. Let’s look at one true example: Three bags of heroin in Hartford court, 3rd offense, sentence–community service. One bag of heroin, Manchester court, 1st offense, sentence– two years–one probation, one suspended. Same defendant in both cases. This is not unusual, in fact it is the norm. Defendants in Manchester court routinely get sentences that are longer and stricter than defendants with the exact same cases in Hartford court. This is not by accident, it is by design.

      This policy is so prevalent that most of the minority population in prison refer to it as Clan-chester. The idea is to let the offender population know that if you choose to do something illegal, you should go do it in the city. I am not sure, but this policy seems an aweful lot like civil rights violations to me. What message is this policy really sending?  That the suburbs are somehow more important than the cities? That a crime committed in the suburbs is somehow worse than if the exact same crime were to be committed in the city? It is not just drug offenders, a vast majority of offenses are treated much harsher in the suburbs than in the cities. Maybe they are treating drug addicts like they are treating the homeless: it is more acceptable to be drug addicted or living on the street if you are in a city, “because we don’t want those kind of people messing up our perfect community.” or “If we lock them all up for a long time they will know not to come back here anytime soon.”  Somebody needs to wake up and realize that people are people, and you can’t escape the fact that towns are not safe havens from things like homelessness and addiction. Wake up suburbanite courts! You can’t scare them all back to Hartford.

                                  Coming soon  “Confessions of a Scrap Metal Junkie”  a memoir.

This article was reprinted from the July edition of “The Beat of the Street” newspaper. All opinions expressed are that of the author alone and do not in any way claim to represent the opinions of Charter Oak Cultural Center or it’s employees.

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Review: War Dogs

War Dogs

A fun little ride. Bong hits, lines of coke, and firearms, what could possibly go wrong? This story follows the improbable journey of two stoners from Miami who go from small time gun hustlers to big time scammers virtually overnight. When they start bidding on government weapons supply contracts during the Bush-Cheney years, they soon stumble on the motherload–a big ass contract to supply the Afghan army with 300,000,000+ rounds of AK cartridges. It is a little like “The Big Short” except instead of the big banks hustling bad mortgages and ripping off consumers, it’s two young potheads ripping off Uncle Sam with shawdy Chinese made bullets from Albania. The whole thing would be completely ridiculous if it didn’t actually happen in real time. It’s based on a true story. So it did happen, just  not precisely the way it’s portrayed. Word is the driving to Iraq scene was a total fabrication, but that is to be expected…it ain’t no documentary son.

    The comedy element works quite well, and I did find myself laughing out loud on more than one occasion. Jonah Hill’s characters laugh was priceless.The background music was well chosen and included some rock n roll classics interjected at just the right time. Jonah Hill and Miles Teller were spot on as the gunrunning duo. Miles Tellers character has a girlfriend in the movie, she is absolutely stunning, drop dead gorgeous, totally without a doubt 100% do-able, even on a bad day. No real graphic sex scenes in this one folks, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe for junior to watch. Plenty of drug use, foul language, and images of people getting high. I think I mentally relapsed at least a dozen times, and that was only the first half hour.

  On top of all that great stuff there was a history lesson, a philosophical piece about how the business of war really works, and whole nother set of reasons to hate Dick Cheney–just in case you didn’t have enough reasons already. It is hard to comment on some of this stuff without giving too much away. Spoiler alert: It is difficult to believe how little time these two war dogs ended up getting when they finally do get hemmed up. Apparently the fed’s felt so stupid that this case was used as an example of everything that was wrong with the procurement system for the military at that time. One can only imagine how parents of a fallen soldier must feel, when war is viewed through the lense of individuals and corporations who make huge profits from instruments of death, as is portrayed here. This flick only touches on that briefly, the main focus is this unreal story of the two potheads who rip off the military–big time. I found it interesting, humorous, educational, outrageous, and totally worth seeing.

The Smyth has Spoken.
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Hell or High Water–Review

Hell or High Water

Finally. Finally a movie I can get happy about. This is not a good film, it is an excellent film. If you’re too young to remember when good movies required good stories, deep characters, and great acting, then you may not understand what I am referring to. If that is the case than I recommend you check out some of the old great ones, like Macon County Line, or Walking Tall, or my personal favorite Billy Jack, just to name a few. Those movies told stories with honesty. You knew what the characters individual struggles were, and you knew where each character stood. This is the case with “Hell or High Water”. No special effects needed. Not even close.

    This is hands down the best movie I have seen since I started writing reviews for the loop-hole. A truly fantastic work of film production. And I must say it’s about time. Let us start with the basics. This is a story about two brothers who drive across Texas robbing banks. I don’t want to give too much away, so let me just say they have a good reason for doing what they do. And they are good at it. The old marshall, a few short months away from retirement, who takes up the task of tracking them down, is played brilliantly by Jeff Bridges. His partner is part Indian and part Mexican, and takes a whole lot of ribbing from his boss. The dialog throughout is exceptional and very funny. Smart funny, not silly or stupid funny.

    These are two bank robbing brothers with a plan. Like most plans, everything doesn’t go perfectly, but it goes pretty well for a while, and the tension ratchets up at just the right pace. If there is one thing this movie excels at, it is striking a balance. A balance between dialog and silence, a balance between music and scenery, a balance between right and wrong, everything about this flick seems harmonious and perfect exactly how it is. It was a true pleasure to watch. Each brother is clearly in this for very different and distinct reasons. Sometimes they clash, creating more funny exchanges between them, sometimes they are on the same page, either way it just works brilliantly. Chris Pine and Ben Foster both are entirely convincing as the two bad boy sibling thieves. Even the secondary parts throughout the story felt like real people that you might meet in the course of an ordinary day.

    Texas is a big place. A big place with a lot of small towns. Small towns have small town banks ripe for the picking. This large vs. small theme is played out on several different levels and you may find yourself rooting for the bad guys in the end. If I tell you much more it might take away from the dynamic experience that is this modern masterpiece of film storytelling. I really think you need to see this one for yourself. It is just such a refreshing break from this year’s compilation of dumpster sauce flicks. I give “Hell or High Water” a shitload of stars, stripes, corn dogs, whatever…you pick it, it is deserving of every single one, even if it’s regurgitated gummy clusters from mars.

Once again…The Smyth has Spoken.

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How Your Air Freshener Can Get You Busted

Dispatch: Top Secret

TheLoop-hole    Special Series: Edition 01

How Your Air Freshener Can Get You Busted 

This information can literally save your ass. Your air freshener, yeah, that little scented Christmas tree hanging so nonchalantly by a micro-bungie from your rear view mirror, could be the very thing that gets you nabbed. I am not just talking to those folks who enjoy riding dirty on occasion, no siree Bob! I’m talking to you too, Mr. above board, never did a drug in his life, suit and tie, conformity major. This information will save your ass too. That Christmas tree that makes your car smell like a prom date, it can cause you a world of shit. 

Here’s how it works. Mr. policeman cruising around for a while gets bored and decides to make something happen. He decides he wants to pull somebody over. This is a common thing with rookies who want to feel the rush of their newly sanctioned control and authority. For some reason, a reason only known to him, he or she chooses you. Maybe you look suspicious. Maybe you are driving through a drug area. Maybe he thinks your cute (ladies or young boys). Maybe he doesn’t like the color of your car, or your hair, your friend, or whatever, or…and this does happen a lot, his/her life sucks because he chose to be a cop and it is a tough job. So, the decision is made hastily and before you know it you find yourself on the side of the road wondering what in the world you actually did. The answer could be nothing, you did nothing wrong. The law says that police need a legitimate reason to pull you over. Broken taillight, faulty signal, loud exhaust, too much snow, those and other things of that nature are equipment issues. Fine. The other reason, of course, is when in the course of your driving you do something that violates traffic rules. And the last reason is registration, or insurance, or license plate type stuff, even a dirty plate, or covered in snow might suffice.

   Officers know this. This does not deter them from doing a random stop just because they feel like it. It happens all the time. In this type of scenario, most likely the officer knows he is pulling you over without a proper reason so he/she needs to simply come up with a reason at the spur of the moment. No big deal he thinks “I’ll just see what pops up when I get there.” Now he can’t lie about the taillight or anything else that may get recorded on his dash cam because it’s too easy to disprove. Assuming there isn’t an obvious radial fracture in your windshield, or anything else plainly visible, he is going to justify this illegal activity the easiest possible way. The air freshener. Trust me, if you live in the city, you know what I’m talking about. It’s called OBSTRUCTION OF VIEW. I have yet to see this argued in court. But if I become an attorney, I will get expert testimony from driving professionals to testify in open court, that your stinky little Christmas tree is not obscuring your vision enough to qualify as an obstruction. 

Think about it, if the doctor tells you that you have a bowel obstruction, then you and the doc both know you are talking complete blockage. Too much corn on the cob, or a small rodent perhaps (I’m not judging). A complete and total shut down. Those are obstructions. There is no way in holy hell (forgive me lord) that your fuzzy, ornamental, aromatic, precariously hanging tribute to odor free transportation, is obstructing anything other than your passengers flatulence. It’s a bogus excuse to pull you over and it get’s used more often than you would even believe.

Let’s face it, saying I pulled you over because you’re black, or brown, or gay, or my ex-wife, just doesn’t sound good to dispatch, even if you both know it’s the truth.

This is part one of a series. please share, like, and mostly subscribe. I am giving tools too literally save your ass, and all I ask in return is your subscription, that is it. This is me doing my part to make a better world, show me you support my effort, even if you disagree with my reasoning. Thank You.     

                                   

          

Sausage Party Review

Sausage Party
Wow! What a trip.This movie is nuts. If you are like me and you prefer rude humor over slapstick, if you prefer political and religious satire over predictable punch lines, then this could be a movie for you. Even if you don’t laugh at everything, you won’t get through it without laughing at something. The lives of inanimate objects is cagey at best, and downright obnoxious at worst, but in a hilarious way. The food, in this case, takes on characters based on ethnicity and other qualities opening the door to all sorts of inappropriate jokes about politics and religion. I don’t know about you but I love to laugh at the ridiculous nature of closed minded zealots of any kind. An Agnostic once told me “more wars are started in the name of religion than any other reason” when I look around at the world we live in–I can’t say he was wrong. This movie reminds me a little of Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” in the way it pokes fun at the things many people hold sacred. This is more of my opinion, but I think the entire race as a whole needs to lighten up a little, and stop running around acting like we are in control of everything. I digress. Back to the flick. These fruity, vegetable, type creatures drop more F-bombs than a cell block on Rikers Island. They are ruthless. It is rated R for a reason. That’s not your grandmother’s fruit salad talking mad trash, that’s probably Seth Rogan and company letting it rip. It would be difficult to write a long review without giving too much away, and I don’t want to ruin some of the best parts for you. These creatures do cover a lot of material. Sex, religion, politics, and a bunch of other things you would probably not even consider when thinking about talking food. Here’s a hint: other things can talk also, things like condoms, toilet paper, douches..yeah…now you’re getting the idea. It’s rude, it’s raunchy, it’s obnoxious, and it’s original, creative, and pretty darn funny. The caricatures of the humans in the movie are imaginative and interesting as well. No holds barred, this movie is a gas. It does move fast with a lot of action, so it is easy to miss some things, but even so, it still has a lot going for it. Compared to the garbage super heros and the recycled wanna-be James Bond–Jason Bourne–I’ll take the talking, cursing, food, any day of the week. I’m still waiting for the movie that just blows me away because it is so well done, this isn’t it, but at least it’s original. Not just original but damn funny. A fun distraction while I wait… The Smyth Has Spoken.
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