“I Never Met Parry. But I Know Psychologically He’s No Killer.”

When I completed my 2013 Western Challenge, I was pretty burnt out on the genre. Basically, I didn’t want to look John Wayne or Clint Eastwood in the face for months. I couldn’t say the same for film noir, though, because — bullshit romances aside — I generally enjoy private detectives more than cowboys. And when Mek pitched the idea of renting Dark Passage, a Bogart/Bacall noir where Bogie’s face is obscured for at least half the movie, I was intrigued enough to give it a try. “Sure,” I said naively. “I’m working on a bunch of stuff right now, so I probably won’t get around to reviewing it, but yeah, let’s check it out.”

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But people, I had to review it. Because Dark Passage has problems. Serious problems.

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And Your 2015 Movie Challenge Will Be . . .

With my 2014 Film Noir Challenge completed, I can look ahead to what I’ll be watching next year. In the past, my challenges have always been bound to a specific genre, and for a time, I was considering sticking to this and making 2015 the Year of Musicals. But after drawing up a list, I found that I wasn’t particularly enthused by the idea. It’s not the singing and dancing itself that bothers me, actually — I quite like singing and dancing — but so many of the Important Musicals look like boring love stories, and I’m just not up for that at all. Also, I’ve been telling myself to watch more Academy movies for many, many years a while now, and while boring love stories do often succeed at the Oscars, so (thankfully) do other types of stories.

With that said, here are the twelve movies I am sworn to watch in 2015, lest I suffer a fate worse than death. (Okay. Not really worse than death. But I’d have to watch a spectacularly sucky movie, the kind even I don’t want to watch. And you guys know I’ll willingly watch a lot.)

The 2015 Challenge: Best Picture Winners

1. The Artist
2. The Hurt Locker
3. Schindler’s List
4. Platoon
5. The Deer Hunter
6. 12 Years a Slave
7. The Sting
8. The Godfather
9. The French Connection
10. In the Heat of the Night
11. Lawrence of Arabia
12. Gone With the Wind

I make no promises to watch this year’s Best Picture winner, though. If I’ve seen more than two nominees in any given year, I feel pretty proud of myself. And okay, fine, maybe I don’t feel proud of myself very often, but I’m relatively sure that a list like the one above means I’m growing as a person. Who knows, guys? Maybe by this time next year, I’ll have given up on all my superhero and horror flicks in favor of biopics and war movies. Maybe I’ll have even watched five of the potential ten Best Picture nominees.

Yeah, I wouldn’t bet the farm on it, either. For God’s sake, Age of Ultron is coming out next year. MUST SEE.

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Arrow – How to Save Your Sister’s Life

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(Warning: SPOILERS for all episodes of Arrow, up to and including 3×09, “The Climb.”)

Step One: Promise to tell your sister all of your many dark secrets to lure her away from a place where she seems relatively happy and safe to a city mostly known for violence and terrorist attacks. (This is, of course, also the place where she watched her mother get murdered in front of her.)

Step Two: Tell her exactly one secret and never follow up with another, not even with softball stuff like, “You know, I wasn’t alone on the island.” Certainly not the kind of stuff you actually promised to deliver, like, “By the way, I’m totally the Arrow.”

Step Three: When you find out that your sister killed your fellow vigilante-in-crime/on-again-off-again girlfriend, give her the most cursory of interrogations before letting her quickly escape. Make absolutely no attempt to follow her when she does so. (I don’t care if she goes over a balcony. ARE YOU A SUPERHERO OR AREN’T YOU?)

Step Four: Don’t kill or even attempt to capture your sister’s evil father, despite the fact that he’s just admitted to drugging and using her to murder your fellow vigilante-in-crime/on-again-off-again girlfriend. (Plus, you know, all the other stuff he’s done.) Simply believe that he has a way to tell the master assassin about your sister’s involvement without any kind of proof, and go ahead with his plan because, you know. That’s a guy whose advice you want to trust right now.

Step Five: Speaking of your sister, don’t tell her that she’s killed someone she’s known her whole life. Don’t tell her what her father has done, or show her the video proof of her involuntary actions at his behest. Don’t tell her that this is probably the last time you’re ever going to speak. Instead, give her yet another unsubstantiated warning to avoid her father and give her a hug. She’s probably safer already.

Step Six: Tell your well-chiseled sidekick, who’s been at this hero business for not a particularly long time, to look out for your sister, as if he’s actually capable of doing this, especially when you and your eight years of experience have totally failed.

Step Seven: Leave your unsuspecting sister in a city with her brainwashing father to go climb to your near-certain doom in a traditional shirtless duel with a master assassin atop a random icy mountain that you’ll climb with no gloves on because why would non-frostbitten fingers be useful in a sword duel anyway?

Step Eight: Die. (This step is optional but pretty much a foregone conclusion.)

Oh, Arrow. I know I’ve said this before, but I really don’t know if I’ve ever had a show that I’ve loved so hard and that I’ve wanted to strangle so much on a week-to-week basis. Because all of that not-so-gentle mockery above doesn’t even address the multitude of other problems I had with this episode, like why couldn’t Felicity match the killer’s DNA to Thea from her own arrest back in Season One, or how Ray’s continued stalking of Felicity is supposed to be romantic instead of creepy, or the incredibly lamesauce brainwashing drugs that are only introduced this episode and rob Thea of the hard won agency she’s only started to grow this season. (Even now, my brain keeps trying to save it, like, maybe Malcolm Merlyn was just lying to Oliver, and he only manipulated Thea through lies, not mind-altering drugs. Maybe Thea knew that she was killing the Canary, but didn’t know that it was Sara and thought Canary was planning to murder Merlyn or something. I would totally accept this, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.)

I want to love you all the time, show. You do so many things I like — even in this very episode: Flashback Oliver’s reaction to the brainwashing drugs. Oliver telling Felicity that he loves her. Felicity’s reaction to Palmer’s secret. Oliver’s supposed death scene, Lord of the Rings music and all. And the geek-outs I was having over last week’s crossover? Guys, the squee that was going on in this house . . . I was all but bouncing on my couch. Actually, I may have bounced once or twice. Even though I thought Part I worked better than Part II, I was ALL ABOUT those two episodes.

But you keep doing shit like this. And you drive me fucking crazy.

I’m not saying I won’t come back in January. Of course I’ll come back. And I’m relatively sure Oliver is going to miraculously survive somehow. (Will Maseo drag his ridiculously pretty ass to the Lazarus Pit? Oh please, oh please.) But if you could stop totally driving me insane with your characters making insanely stupid and awful life choices, I’d really appreciate it.

(Next time on How-to: Joe saves Central City by refusing to tell anyone who’s endangering it?)

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“You Know, This’ll Be the First Time I’ve Ever Killed Anyone I Knew So Little and Liked So Well.”

It feels like cheating to write up a Baby Review for my last official noir of the year, but I’m not sure I have much to talk about here. (Also, I may be cheating.)

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Despite the lack of depth I have to bring to the table, though, I really enjoyed Murder, My Sweet.

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“Popularity is the Slutty, Little Cousin of Prestige.”

I watched a trailer for Birdman last June, and I thought it looked, well, interesting. But I didn’t figure I’d actually go see it in theater, mostly because it didn’t seem like my sister’s kind of movie, and also because I’m a lazy bastard who often has to be coaxed out of the house with the promise of treats. But a friend hit me up the other day and asked if I wanted to see it.

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It’s, well. It’s interesting.

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In Geek News Today: The Suicide Squad is Cast

I came home a little after eight this morning and briefly hung out with my sister, who mentioned that a few actors were trending as possibilities for an upcoming (2016) Suicide Squad movie. I was like, Huh, and then promptly forgot about it and went to bed because after working through the night, my pillow was calling to me, and that was pretty much the only thing I cared about.

I woke up roughly six hours later to discover that all the rumored possibilities had suddenly been confirmed, and a few actors I didn’t even know about were now attached to the project. This is what happens when you sleep. All your friends get to squee/rant about the geeky news before you do.

Your current cast list, in case you were also asleep today:

Will Smith – Deadshot
Tom Hardy – Rick Flag
Margot Robbie – Harley Quinn
Jai Courtney – Boomerang
Cara Delevingne – Enchantress
Jared Leto – the Joker

The role of Amanda Waller has not been officially cast yet, but from what I’ve read, Oprah Winfrey is the top contender for the role. Other actresses in the running: Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer. Also, Jesse Eisenberg might show up as Lex Luthor.

Thoughts:

1. I’m interested in this movie because I’m generally interested in all things superhero, and I know a few of these characters from other cartoons, TV shows, etc. But all in all, I’m not hugely familiar with the Suicide Squad. I think my first introduction to them was through Arrow, and then again through Justice League Unlimited. As such, I don’t have real deep thoughts about people like Boomerang or Enchantress. (Particularly Enchantress, who I don’t think I’ve even heard of before. The only Enchantress I know belongs to Marvel. I’m relatively sure this one isn’t going to be in love with Thor.)

2. Will Smith is probably not who I would’ve chosen to play Deadshot, but I’m not particularly against the casting, either. I like Will Smith, and I think he’s probably got more range than people give him credit for, and I’d be interested to see him play a professional assassin. Admittedly, I’m a little more excited about Tom Hardy, but that’s solely because I’m a sucker for Tom Hardy. I know very little about his (disappointingly American) character, although I did briefly look Flag up on Wikipedia, which is where I encountered this glorious sentence: “In one tragic mission in Cambodia, they were pursued by a Yeti.”

There aren’t words, you guys. There aren’t words for how much I love this sentence. This is my favorite sentence of 2014.

3. I’ve never seen any of Robie, Courtney, or Delevingne’s work, so I can’t comment too much on their casting. I’ll admit, I wasn’t real excited by the inclusion of Jai Courtney, but that’s not fair at all. My bad impression of him is entirely based on trailers for A Good Day to Die Hard, which I didn’t even watch. (I don’t think I heard any positive reviews for that movie. Then again, I’m pretty sure that can’t all be blamed on Courtney.)

I like Jared Leto, but I kind of wish he wasn’t going to be in the movie, or at least not as the Joker. It’s not just about Heath Ledger’s legacy, either; actually, I was kind of looking forward to seeing a story with Harley Quinn without the Joker.

Also, is he on the Suicide Squad? Was he ever a part of the Suicide Squad in the comics? Because I know these guys are usually semi-reformed villains (or work-release villains) but putting the Joker on the Suicide Squad itself seems like a pretty terrible plan that can only end in big smiles and dead bodies. I’d like to think Amanda Waller is smarter than that. Here’s to hoping that he’s the villain of the story instead. (Or one of the villains. I just assumed Lex would be one of the antagonists. Alternatively, he could always be the President!)

4. Finally, my Amanda Waller is always going to be CCH Pounder. Always. However, I’m excited by the ladies that are currently in the running. On first blush, Oprah Winfrey feels like an odd choice to me, but that’s mostly because I think of her first as a woman who gives away ridiculous amounts of free prizes and recommends books that I generally don’t read. I always forget that she’s an actress too, and that I enjoyed her a good deal in The Color Purple.

Like Smith, Winfrey probably wouldn’t have been my first (or second) choice here, but I’m willing to be convinced. I would also be very happy with both Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis as they’re both fantastic actresses, although I’d be happier if Davis put on some weight for the role. Amanda Waller is one of the rare female characters who is both plus size and a total badass, and I’d LOVE it if that was reflected in the movie as well. (I would especially appreciate it if they didn’t pick someone who’s about the size of my wrist. Thanks, CW.)

That’s about it for now. With my luck, this casting will have already changed by the time I post these reactions. In which case, I’ll just continue updating a day later and a dollar short.

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“Anything Happens in That Five Minutes, And I’m Yours.”

I watched my last modern noir of the year.

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I like Drive – it’s stylish and well-crafted — but I don’t love it the way I might have hoped.

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