Brooke Wylie – We Write Things http://wewritethings.co Levity Not Brevity Thu, 22 Jun 2017 17:49:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://i2.wp.com/wewritethings.co/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/cropped-We_Write_things_Regular.png?fit=32%2C32 Brooke Wylie – We Write Things http://wewritethings.co 32 32 Required Viewing: Go http://wewritethings.co/2017/06/20/required-viewing-go/ Tue, 20 Jun 2017 15:00:14 +0000 http://wewritethings.co/?p=5861 And now, for something completely different! We’re exploring the Doug Liman late 90s classic Go, featuring a cool No Doubt song and a drug deal told three ways. Brooke, per tradition, lead us off. Were you surprised by my inclusion of this film, why do you think I included it on the List, and what did you think of it?   B:  So, I don’t know if you know this, but before we started Go, virtually everyone we know who had seen it assumed it was a Brooke pick and not an Annemarie pick. I had scarcely heard of the picture, and didn’t even recall the few details I knew well enough to observe that Sarah Polley was in it until you pointed her out to me as we were watching. It occurs to me that that last fact probably doesn’t mean anything to anyone but us, but everyone else, just know that Sarah has been cropping up quite often in our world of late. ANYWAY. Back to Go. I didn’t know enough about it to be surprised that it was included, but now that I’ve watched it, I’m kind of surprised you picked it. This story is basically a series […]

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And now, for something completely different! We’re exploring the Doug Liman late 90s classic Go, featuring a cool No Doubt song and a drug deal told three ways. Brooke, per tradition, lead us off. Were you surprised by my inclusion of this film, why do you think I included it on the List, and what did you think of it?

 

B:  So, I don’t know if you know this, but before we started Go, virtually everyone we know who had seen it assumed it was a Brooke pick and not an Annemarie pick. I had scarcely heard of the picture, and didn’t even recall the few details I knew well enough to observe that Sarah Polley was in it until you pointed her out to me as we were watching. It occurs to me that that last fact probably doesn’t mean anything to anyone but us, but everyone else, just know that Sarah has been cropping up quite often in our world of late. ANYWAY. Back to Go. I didn’t know enough about it to be surprised that it was included, but now that I’ve watched it, I’m kind of surprised you picked it. This story is basically a series of very bad life choices and sketchy people doing sketchy things to each other. So, naturally, I’m into it. I extra love that I came at this from a 2017 perspective as I got to enjoy very young Timothy Olyphant and bask in the knowledge that of him as the star we all know him to be now.

I had a lot of questions about the wisdom of doing one whole story, followed by one whole story, followed by one whole story, but when everything came to fruition, it really worked well for me. I believe I had a literal gasp situation when I realized the endgame just moments before it happened. I know I already name-dropped Mr. Olyphant, but I think he was my favorite part of this picture. His take on the cool, but still devious drug dealer was really very delightful.

Before I go on, AM, I need to know all about why you dig this movie. What makes it a “must” in your film canon and a detailed analysis of what young AM would have done in one of these scenarios. I would have done that, but we both know young Brooke would not have gotten into any of them.

Go

A: Go is firmly in the college nostalgia column. My roommate and best friend insisted I watch it, and I too was taken with young Mr. Olyphant and the soundtrack. One of my favorite No Doubt tracks caps off the action as we head into the credits. Also, full disclosure, this was also a pick because I’ve seen very little that Brooke hasn’t seen, so anything she’s missed I pounce on like a cat. I do genuinely enjoy this film, and I think it’s held up since release. It’s a slice-of-time movie, showing what happens when you’re 18 in LA without any adult supervision.

Sarah Polley’s reluctant-but-opportunistic turn as a drug dealer is also a favorite part. She’s not really a dealer, which is why she doesn’t get hip to the obvious sting operation until it’s almost too late. I’m also a particular fan of the “three versions” way of telling the story from different perspectives. I think it makes the story less confusing to do an entire segment devoted to each perspective, but Brooke, I’m curious why you found it questionable. Did you miss characters because they dropped out too long? Was it too repetitive? I’ve always found that one of the most fascinating pieces of the film, that we get to see how the night unfolds from start to finish each time.

We can safely assume that I would never dabble in literally anything Simon is up to: crashing a wedding, having a pot-fueled threesome that starts a literal fire, grabbing the ass of a stripper WHEN THAT’S THE ONLY THING YOU CAN’T DO, racing your buddy’s car through Las Vegas, inviting the strip club bouncer to SHOOT YOU IN THE ARM, etc. (All-caps emphasis where I feel Simon was the worst decision-maker ever.) I think Claire (Katie Holmes) is the most grounded (and the most like me), but that’s because she’s essentially playing Joey from Dawson’s Creek, still the girl next door and still the moral compass for all her debauched friends. Brooke, if you simply had to pick one of the storylines to try to act out, which would it be? Aside from Young Tim (and feel free to elaborate on that as well), who’s your favorite?

Go

B: My main concern with the three-part narrative was that it’s a trope that’s rarely well executed. Many, many, many films have tried to pull it off, and far fewer manage to add anything to the narrative with such splits. Go proved to be an exception to the rule, as the reveals were well timed, and so the culmination was still a lot of fun.

And it’s not just non-linear structure that is a common misstep, so too are “colliding lives” narratives. Look at Crash — yes, it won best picture, but let’s be real, it’s mediocre at best. That statue should have gone to Brokeback Mountain. Crash has a sprawling ensemble and lots of time jumps intended to create layers and make elements of the on screen action more profound, but that really doesn’t work. People got caught up in the hype or the moment, but it’s neither as woke nor earth-shattering as it would have you believe. Every other film nominated that year was FAR superior. I could go into other examples that demonstrate my ire and resulting reluctance, but, let’s not. /rant … and so, there was born my mistrust of these tropes as gimmick-y. And with that context, you can imagine how pleasantly surprised I was to see Go keep it cool and subtle and actually useful to the story. Bravo.

I would definitely go with Claire’s storyline, were I forced to live with one of these scenarios. Yes, kicking it with Timothy is a big plus. But I also love the resolution that she just gets to bounce out of Simon’s comeuppance on the basis of finding the gumption to say she refuses to be involved. That was hilarious and a tiny bit empowering. Even though she gets put through an absolute ringer, I would say that Ronna’s story is a close(ish) second. She’s a wonderfully dynamic character and I like the “make it work” vibe she brings to quite a precarious situation. Speaking of — I have a question about her life situation. We know she works at the store and gets up to shenanigans and that she has to make rent. BUT, is she a minor struggling to make it on her own, or does she throw out “so underage” as a convenient plan to escape the sting? Details! I expect this is a film that treats you to greater context and understanding with repeated viewings, so I want to know your take on all of this.

As for my favorite character, other than Mr. Olyphant, I was pretty tickled by Jay Mohr and Scott Wolf — I think they are Zack and Adam, but I’m not totally sure who is who, or if that even matters. The idea of TV stars in semi-secret love semi-constantly dodging girls and slowly learning that they’ve been unfaithful with the same unlikely person brings a lot of levity to some of the darker events in the picture. And you know I dig that level of realism.

But to expand on my earlier request, tell me all of the nuances. What realizations have you had with repeated viewings of Go?

Go

A: Here’s my take on our main characters. I always took Ronna to be an actual 17-year-old with a slightly tragic backstory. Her own family has either kicked her out or has been so awful that she’s forced to move out on her own and work for a living. Claire is pretty well set up as a struggling actress but one with a supportive family. She might even live with a parent. Simon clearly couch surfs, and I think Mannie lives with a sibling or someone else cool-but-supportive that he can disappear for a night and it’s not a big deal, but he has somewhere to go.

The other sort of hidden agenda in this film from Limon is the idea of Hollywood corrupting. Everyone’s lives are pretty crappy, with only slight improvements at the end, but clearly everyone is struggling to some degree. The fact that they’re set in L.A. and have two (presumably) crappy sitcom actors who’ve “made it” but also are not having the best time shows a bit of the dark side of the California Dream. This subtext is handled better here than in Body Shots, but you know how I also love that film.

I’ll throw you my favorite scene and quote, and ask the same back. Also, what are your thoughts on the early roles for two of our favorite actresses?

[Adam and Zack are in the rain trying to make space in their trunk to put a body in it]

Zack: Wait! Stop! Hold it!

Adam: What? What?

Zack: It’s a Miata!

(It’s even funnier to me because my parents own a Miata and I think of this line every time I see that car.) It’s so goofy, and you’re right, Adam and Zack are a ray of sunshine after the Ronna storyline that ends on a cliffhanger.

Go

B: As you mention, Katie Holmes is really just channeling her trusty Dawson’s Creek vibe, but she gets away with a bit more sass, cause, you know, this isn’t the WB. Sarah Polley on the other hand strikes a rather perfect tone here. She’s dark and irreverent and angsty, but most importantly a bit edgy. It wouldn’t have been a great era for what she can really do, but Go feels like an appropriate project.

I’ve already sort of touched on this, but I think my favorite scene is Claire and Todd deciding after an awkward breakfast out to get it on on the stairs. This was incredible first because it’s kind of a “yeah, girl” moment, but second because it is so wildly impractical, and rather than doing the thing most movies do and ignoring that fact, Go has them interrupted by Simon and the blokes with guns who want to waste him. Genius. And of course this leads into the solid Claire departure I mentioned earlier, and the absurd discussion of where it’s fair to shoot Simon for his many faux pas.

My favorite exchange comes from much earlier in the film, but still involves our friend, Todd, the not quite threatening as he thinks drug dealer, and the enterprising, if foolish, Ronna.

Ronna: I need a favor.

Todd: Wow, I didn’t know we’d become such good friends, because if we had, you’d know that I give head before I give favors and I don’t even give my best friends head so your chances of getting a favor are pretty fucking slim. Tell me what you wanna buy.

Ronna: Twenty hits of Ecstasy.

Todd: You come to me out of the blue, asking to buy 20 hits. Just so happens that 20 being the magic number at which intent to sell becomes trafficking!

Ronna: Todd, I would never fuck you like that.

Todd: How would you fuck me?

It’s perfectly creepy and just dark enough to be rather delightfully comic. And that more or less nails the entire tone of Go. It’s dark-adjacent, but not pitch black. Which makes it a rare AM pick indeed.

Go

 


Next time, we’re going to watch another darkly comic picture — with a lot more murder, a lot more absurdity, and some parker brothers roots.

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Introducing: We Discuss Things – A We Write Things Podcast http://wewritethings.co/2017/06/19/introducing-we-discuss-things-a-we-write-things-podcast/ Mon, 19 Jun 2017 22:11:51 +0000 http://wewritethings.co/?p=6171 It’s a well-known fact that we hear at We Write Things embrace the mantra Levity Not Brevity. Indeed, this site exists in large part as a result of long, rambling conversations we’ve all had about the very topics we feature on the site. It’s been suggested to us that there’s a certain quality — we’ll call it charm, you can choose your own descriptor — to these conversations that has to be heard. There’s something in the banter that makes us at least mildly entertaining to at least some people. And so, we said, “We have two microphones, let’s podcast!” And we did. Enter: We Discuss Things. Admittedly, the first effort was … well, we didn’t know what we were doing.  We still don’t know what we’re doing, but we managed to reel in our banter a bit and we actually planned a topic or two! So, if you’re anxious to hear the crew sample bizarre potato chip flavors and share reactions, discuss the merits of Vin Diesel, guess the plots of upcoming movies and indulge in a number of tangents, we’ve got the perfect podcast for you. Stick around, we’re going to keep ‘casting, and we might even figure […]

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It’s a well-known fact that we hear at We Write Things embrace the mantra Levity Not Brevity. Indeed, this site exists in large part as a result of long, rambling conversations we’ve all had about the very topics we feature on the site. It’s been suggested to us that there’s a certain quality — we’ll call it charm, you can choose your own descriptor — to these conversations that has to be heard. There’s something in the banter that makes us at least mildly entertaining to at least some people.

And so, we said, “We have two microphones, let’s podcast!” And we did. Enter: We Discuss Things. Admittedly, the first effort was … well, we didn’t know what we were doing.  We still don’t know what we’re doing, but we managed to reel in our banter a bit and we actually planned a topic or two!

So, if you’re anxious to hear the crew sample bizarre potato chip flavors and share reactions, discuss the merits of Vin Diesel, guess the plots of upcoming movies and indulge in a number of tangents, we’ve got the perfect podcast for you.

Stick around, we’re going to keep ‘casting, and we might even figure out what we’re doing one of these days. Until then, enjoy some nice unadulterated chatter on We Discuss Things.

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Film Review: Rough Night http://wewritethings.co/2017/06/16/film-review-rough-night/ Fri, 16 Jun 2017 13:57:27 +0000 http://wewritethings.co/?p=6122 Rough Night is the hard R, off-the-rails lovechild of The Hangover and Weekend at Bernie’s. It’s the first comedy to boast an R-rating and a female-led ensemble to also be directed by a woman in quite some while. Lucia Aniello is no stranger to boundary pushing as a sometime writer and director on Broad City. Like the beloved television show, Rough Night puts female friendship front and center in its comedy. However, unlike the edgy sitcom, Rough Night gets boxed in by its concept, and occasionally suffers for it. We meet our girl gang in their college days — inseparable, the best of friends. Then we flash forward 10 years. Jess (Scarlett Johansson) is campaigning, rocking a Hillary-cut and trying to make the world a better place. Alice (Jillian Bell) is a teacher, and has spent her free time planning Jess’ bachelorette weekend to the hilt. Frankie (Ilana Glazer) is an activist, who still pines for her old flame, Blair. Blair, for her part, is a high powered real estate agent in New York with a son and a secret separation. Then there’s Pippa, a whimsical Aussie known only to Jess. This whole posse unites in Miami for bachelorette weekend for the ages. To no one’s surprise, everything goes […]

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Rough Night is the hard R, off-the-rails lovechild of The Hangover and Weekend at Bernie’s. It’s the first comedy to boast an R-rating and a female-led ensemble to also be directed by a woman in quite some while. Lucia Aniello is no stranger to boundary pushing as a sometime writer and director on Broad City. Like the beloved television show, Rough Night puts female friendship front and center in its comedy. However, unlike the edgy sitcom, Rough Night gets boxed in by its concept, and occasionally suffers for it.

We meet our girl gang in their college days — inseparable, the best of friends. Then we flash forward 10 years. Jess (Scarlett Johansson) is campaigning, rocking a Hillary-cut and trying to make the world a better place. Alice (Jillian Bell) is a teacher, and has spent her free time planning Jess’ bachelorette weekend to the hilt. Frankie (Ilana Glazer) is an activist, who still pines for her old flame, Blair. Blair, for her part, is a high powered real estate agent in New York with a son and a secret separation. Then there’s Pippa, a whimsical Aussie known only to Jess. This whole posse unites in Miami for bachelorette weekend for the ages. To no one’s surprise, everything goes wrong almost immediately.

There is an unintentionally dead stripper, plenty of strife and even more outlandish ideas of how to proceed. From there, the plot falls back to a loose thread that ties everything together, more or less sensibly, but the stakes never feel palpable. 

What’s always tangible is the comedy led by the nature of female friendship. The film is at its best when it plays on pizza gags and facades that fail in the face of longtime friends. At its weakest, it is disjointed and in pursuit of the expected laughs for the genre. 

Incredibly, Kate McKinnon nearly gets to play the straight man here, and is all the more hilarious for it. Meanwhile, Johansson wears physical comedy and casual dialogue as well as she does any high  action turn as a devastating beauty. Ilana Glazer doesn’t get a chance to do anything outside of what we always see from her, and Jillian Bell is similarly boxed into a type, but is given the much meatier role. Like Johansson, Kravitz gets a chance to try comedy on, and doesn’t disappoint. Much of what she does comes in the physicality she chooses for her character, but it doesn’t go unnoticed. 

Rough Night is rough around the edges, but for fleeting summer fun, you could make a worse life choice. And, indeed, the cast alone merits a watch, even if they could have done so much more without jumping through hoops in the name of plot.

 


 

Rough Night
Director: Lucia Aniello
Writer: Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs
Runtime: 1h 41mins
Rating: R
Release Date: June 16, 2017
Main Image Credit: Sony Pictures

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Required Viewing: Dazed and Confused http://wewritethings.co/2017/06/15/required-viewing-dazed-and-confused/ Thu, 15 Jun 2017 22:16:51 +0000 http://wewritethings.co/?p=5940 I almost didn’t ask Annemarie if she had seen Dazed and Confused. I thought EVERYONE has seen Dazed and Confused. As I have met Annemarie before, that was foolish. As we’re however many articles deep in this little watch project, that was foolish in the extreme. So, on a nice, toasty early summer day, we watched Richard Linklater’s classic day-in-the-life, nostalgia trip of a picture. Annemarie, start us off with all of the classic questions: why did I make you watch this movie? What’s your reaction to it? Would you have ditched those losers in the car and driven to the party with Wooderson? A: I, like Thomas, had this movie confused for another. While he thought we were watching Half Baked, I had Dazed and Confused, well, confused, with Fast Times at Ridgemont High. So it was a pleasant surprise to get to see Matthew McConaughey’s star turn instead of Sean Penn’s, but we’ll probably need to work Fast Times in at some point. Anyway, once that was cleared up, I quite enjoyed myself. It was really fun to watch the 90s stars that I know and love from other projects look and act their 70s best, but can we please […]

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I almost didn’t ask Annemarie if she had seen Dazed and Confused. I thought EVERYONE has seen Dazed and Confused. As I have met Annemarie before, that was foolish. As we’re however many articles deep in this little watch project, that was foolish in the extreme. So, on a nice, toasty early summer day, we watched Richard Linklater’s classic day-in-the-life, nostalgia trip of a picture.

Annemarie, start us off with all of the classic questions: why did I make you watch this movie? What’s your reaction to it? Would you have ditched those losers in the car and driven to the party with Wooderson?

Dazed and Confused

A: I, like Thomas, had this movie confused for another. While he thought we were watching Half Baked, I had Dazed and Confused, well, confused, with Fast Times at Ridgemont High. So it was a pleasant surprise to get to see Matthew McConaughey’s star turn instead of Sean Penn’s, but we’ll probably need to work Fast Times in at some point.

Anyway, once that was cleared up, I quite enjoyed myself. It was really fun to watch the 90s stars that I know and love from other projects look and act their 70s best, but can we please agree that Parker Posey is both the best and the worst? She’s played that mean-girl cheerleader many, many times in her career, but you can see her having the time of her life torturing the incoming freshmen.

Hazing today (or rather, hazing in the late 90s when I was a freshman) is clearly radically different than it was in the small-town 70s. The humiliation the girls endure is probably more psychologically scarring, but I’m not so sure. I think that having cars full of giant senior boys patrolling the town and then beating you as a tiny 8th grader would be more traumatic. Brooke, which would you rather endure? And what about D&C as a whole makes it a favorite that you just assumed (wrongly) I’d seen at some point?

Dazed and Confused

B: I think I would rather go through the freshman girl hazing, I mean, at least they took them through the car wash. BUT, I would probably get kicked out for going Sweet/Vicious if I got any guy other than Tony to propose to. Thank goodness for that pasty woke nerd. I whole heartedly agree that Parker Posey is the absolute best in this movie. From the orders she barks in the parking lot to her absurd/wonderful dance moves at the Beer Bust, she is a kind of cool you and I never were.

But let’s get to your questions. I’m going to take your failure to acknowledge my Wooderson query as confirmation that you might have been tempted by him, as Cynthia was. And since you didn’t guess why I made you watch this movie, I will elaborate on its status as one of my favorite pictures of all time — number 7 on the list, if we’re being quite precise — and yes, as a movie I genuinely thought you would have seen.

There are a few reasons that this picture is one I can watch over and over and over again. First, it’s infinitely relatable. If you went to high school in America, you knew all of these kids, and you probably even were one of them. The last day of school, especially during those two all-important years is such a specific point in time, with such a specific emotion to it, that it’s kind of impossible not to have memories of those sun-drenched days crystallized in the mind. The last day of school is curious because it is the moment where the months ahead have infinite potential, but it is also one of the few moments (and one of the last if you’re about to be a Senior) where you have absolutely nothing to do. I remember what that felt like. And even though I wouldn’t even be a thought for 12 years after the events of this movie, it makes me ache for that time. Nostalgia gets a bad rap, but I think Dazed & Confused is nostalgia done right.

I admit, it was pretty foolish to assume that you would have seen Dazed & Confused, but I genuinely believed that people just didn’t make it through college without somehow encountering this movie. Then again, you managed to do that with Donnie Darko, so, you remain, my dear friend, an anomaly.  Okay, talk to me about the soundtrack. For my money, it is arguably the greatest soundtrack of all time. It’s so perfectly paired with the film, and absurdly impactful. There are others in the conversation, to be sure, but man, this one is alright, alright, alright.

Dazed and Confused

A: I forgot to talk more about Wooderson! I mean, it’s creepy that he’s 24 and still pursuing high school juniors. But he’s also got the sex appeal and charm because he’s Matthew McConaughey. The ick factor doesn’t go totally away, but I liked that our ginger gal got the attention that she deserved. Would I have been so susceptible? Not so much. Too many years of my logical parents in my ears. I’d never have been able to bring him home, and that was the key requirement when I was 16.

Nostalgia does indeed have a bad reputation because it’s done so poorly so often. I think it’s hard to talk about, never mind film a movie, about an exact moment in time that’s so personal. How can you ask someone to recreate something you only have a hazy memory of, even if (or especially because) it has so much emotion behind it? But perhaps there’s something about that 20-year-later mark that makes it clear the lessons we learned but also puts into focus the exact emotions and makes them relatable. I am thinking specifically of Almost Famous, which also focuses on the 1970s and is one of my faves (not in the Top 25 but it’s probably in the top 50). It also captures the time and the music and the emotions as perfectly (said by someone also not alive in the 70s) as Dazed.

For a school nerd like me, the last day of school was bittersweet. I was a relatively normal child, so after 8-9 months of intense schooling, I was ready for a break, but I also knew I’d miss my teachers and classmates. I’d still see my close friends, but I went to big schools in which there were people I wouldn’t hang out with all summer. There’s these intense feelings of signing everyone’s yearbooks, cleaning out your locker, watching the crowds dissipate. It’s sad and happy and lonely and exciting at the same time, and I absolutely agree that Dazed captures that moment. More specifically, Dazed hones in on the exact feeling of being not an 8th grader anymore — but not quite a freshmen. The juniors are also dealing with growing up, but they are relishing their chance to playfully torture the incoming gang just like they were. There’s a sense that this is the way it’s always been, you take your lumps, then you pass them along to the next group.

I felt like the soundtrack was both perfectly appropriate but also a bit too on the nose. I mean, “School’s Out” as everyone is leaving for the day? It’s a great rock song, but it’s what you’d expect to hear. Maybe I’m jaded, but I want to hear some other examples, Brooke, as to why the soundtrack makes the movie for you. Also, tell me who’s your most relatable character, since we’ve established neither of us is Parker Posey.

Dazed and Confused

B: I agree about “School’s Out,” it’s probably the weakest selection here. But from the fade in on “Sweet Emotion” to the raw glory of “Cherry Bomb” at the lake party to “Tush” during the “throw the bowling ball” sequence to “Summer Breeze” as Mitch greets the sunrise with his older love interest, this soundtrack has the feeling of music and moments that eventually become inextricably linked in the mind. Memories are a funny thing that way, and I think that’s why this soundtrack works so well. Also the songs are still pretty red hot. This movie sounds like summer. And though the 70s were not the time of my adolescence, I get the sense that for Pink and company, these tracks will evoke the same kinds of memories that more regrettable tunes like “My Humps” callback for me.

I’m willing to give you less than one guess on my most relatable character. But since I know you’ll get it right, I’ll just go ahead and say what we all already know. Cynthia — aka the redhead who kicks it with the nerds that discuss McCarthyism. She’s able to connect with virtually every character, but she spends all her time with a couple of intellectual dudes who give her endless shit for allowing Wooderson to turn her head. She’s the wheels and the brains, and she has the good sense to lament the fact that we as humans tend to treat today “as some minor preamble to the future.”

Let’s hear your most relatable character. Your favorite scene. And your favorite quote.

Dazed and Confused

A: Most relatable character? Jodi, for the big sister angle. She’s the cheerleader I hope I would have been, kind and benevolent, but still willing to have some fun. Doesn’t she make a move on Pink? Maybe I’d have done that too. Who knows?

Most entertaining character? Slater. Stoner musings always make me chuckle, and the actor who played him is also my favorite character in Empire Records.

Favorite scene contains my favorite quote from Ms. Stroud as the kids are packing up to leave on their last day of school:

Okay guys, one more thing, this summer when you’re being inundated with all this American bicentennial Fourth Of July brouhaha, don’t forget what you’re celebrating, and that’s the fact that a bunch of slave-owning, aristocratic, white males didn’t want to pay their taxes!

Favorite quote, Brooke, as well as fave scene to wrap us up!

Dazed and Confused

B: I mean, my favorite quote pretty much has to go to, “Now fry like bacon you little freshman piggies! Fry! Fry!” And more or less everything Darla says, including: “What are you looking at? Wipe that face off your head, bitch.” It’s tough to nail down a favorite scene. One of the great strengths of this movie is that it flows so well from one moment to the next, so that there are large swaths of time that one might consider a single scene, though it’s actually many, many scenes. But, I think one of my favorite scenes/sequences is when we follow a number of our subjects cruising around in their different vehicles. All of this is set to Low Rider and interspersed with other shots of familiar faces. But in the main, you have Tony and Cynthia and Mike getting deep while talking about the future. Then there’s Darla and Simone and Shavonne dishing on what other girls say about them. And Wooderson with Pink and Mitch in tow, trying to score some weed off the wee freshman. An effort that results in a wrap-up via the iconic line “It’d be a lot cooler if you did.”

I’m not sure any single scene could capture the aura of Dazed and Confused entirely, but that one comes pretty damn close.

Dazed and Confused

 


Next time, we’re sticking with the ’90s, and with drugs, but this time, it’ll be actually set in the ’90s! Too many to guess, but see if you can.

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Pizza Quest: Anthony’s Pizza & Pasta http://wewritethings.co/2017/06/15/pizza-quest-anthonys-pizza-pasta/ Thu, 15 Jun 2017 15:56:19 +0000 http://wewritethings.co/?p=5910 Brooke: After our underwhelming first outing, we needed a win. Pizza Quest is a long-term project and the temptation to return to what we know and love (SliceWorks) was already present. Our next stop turned out to be Anthony’s Pizza and Pasta, another chain, but one that stands out from your Domino’s and Pizza Huts by virtue of its thin slices. Most of us felt we had eaten there at some point, and all were eager to make a return. Thomas: Anthony’s is a chain pizza place. But it’s not the dimly lit, red-roofed buffet 80’s style chain that you might expect. It’s a neatly styled, kind of bare-bones shop that offers Noo Yoik style slices, and there are locations EVERYWHERE. I know this because I live in the most culture-impoverished of suburbs, and there is a location 3 minutes from my house. B: Now, we’re a pretty pizza savvy crew, but Anthony’s lunch ordering system wasn’t super clear at first — but it transpired that if you go by the slice, cheese is the base and you can customize your meal by paying per topping for add-ons. We eventually noticed a lunch special that comprises two items and a […]

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Brooke: After our underwhelming first outing, we needed a win. Pizza Quest is a long-term project and the temptation to return to what we know and love (SliceWorks) was already present. Our next stop turned out to be Anthony’s Pizza and Pasta, another chain, but one that stands out from your Domino’s and Pizza Huts by virtue of its thin slices. Most of us felt we had eaten there at some point, and all were eager to make a return.

Thomas: Anthony’s is a chain pizza place. But it’s not the dimly lit, red-roofed buffet 80’s style chain that you might expect. It’s a neatly styled, kind of bare-bones shop that offers Noo Yoik style slices, and there are locations EVERYWHERE. I know this because I live in the most culture-impoverished of suburbs, and there is a location 3 minutes from my house.

B: Now, we’re a pretty pizza savvy crew, but Anthony’s lunch ordering system wasn’t super clear at first — but it transpired that if you go by the slice, cheese is the base and you can customize your meal by paying per topping for add-ons. We eventually noticed a lunch special that comprises two items and a drink for something like $8.

T: Chain pizza, huh? SOUNDS AWESOME NEXT PLEASE. But this is the kicker. Anthony’s pizza is pretty darn good. It’s really fun to rip on about pizza that doesn’t meet expectations, but this is a solid slice that tastes great and has pretty exceptional texture (I’ve been told to avoid the term ‘mouth-feel’ on penalty of shin-kicking, but feel free to imply that the ‘mouth-feel’ here is the best feature.) The tasty triangles are big enough to be foldable. Each bite is rewarded with a nice crunch. You won’t have to sell any internal organs to afford it. The flavour itself is good, not quite reaching great… and they don’t seem to offer anything but your average, classic toppings.

B: Anthony’s gave us the win we needed. The pizza was flavorful, the slices sizable and the price stands out as a great value in LoDo. The by-the-slice model meant we were each free to explore our own favorite flavor combinations. The majority of us gave cheese or pepperoni a go as a baseline and then sampled a more custom piece. Whatever our ultimate choices, we agreed: the thin slices had a texture and flavor profile that was strongly reminiscent of the simple, satisfying slices you can find on just about every corner in New York. This is utilitarian pizza of the people, and it scratched our pizza itch properly.

T: It’s a solid choice. I wish it was a bit more… unique? Brooke is right, it truly is the people’s pizza. It’s got all the things you want if you feel that pizza crave in yer tum.

Pizza Quest

Our snap judgement was once again unanimous.
Do we recommend Anthony’s? 
Yes.

 

Current rankings:

#1 Anthony’s

#438 Mellow Mushroom

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Film Review: It Comes At Night http://wewritethings.co/2017/06/09/film-review-comes-night/ Fri, 09 Jun 2017 14:06:28 +0000 http://wewritethings.co/?p=5987 It Comes At Night has been floating around the film buzz circuit with a horror glow about it, but this second feature from Trey Edward Shults is more of a psychological ponderance than a pure horror play. Head in knowing that this picture is more musings on the nature of man and the ways in which doubt can erode humanity and morality than a spine-tingler, and you’re in for something of a treat. Picture this: A secluded cabin. An apocalypse and worse. There’s sickness, rapid and devastating, and highly misunderstood. You have a house, and a family. You’re well-armed, you’ve narrowed everything down to one way in, one way out. You have plans. You have water. You have gas masks. But you’re down a person. Food is scarce. And there’s an unknown someone in your house. Such is the scenario that launches this atmospheric picture. Paul (Joel Edgerton) is the man with the plan, the guns and the family. His wife, Sarah (Carmen Ejogo), his teenage son, Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr) and his recently deceased father-in-law’s dog, Stanley, are all that’s left to him. And that unknown stranger in the night triggers his baser instincts for survival and mistrust. But […]

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It Comes At Night has been floating around the film buzz circuit with a horror glow about it, but this second feature from Trey Edward Shults is more of a psychological ponderance than a pure horror play. Head in knowing that this picture is more musings on the nature of man and the ways in which doubt can erode humanity and morality than a spine-tingler, and you’re in for something of a treat.

Picture this: A secluded cabin. An apocalypse and worse. There’s sickness, rapid and devastating, and highly misunderstood. You have a house, and a family. You’re well-armed, you’ve narrowed everything down to one way in, one way out. You have plans. You have water. You have gas masks. But you’re down a person. Food is scarce. And there’s an unknown someone in your house. Such is the scenario that launches this atmospheric picture.

Paul (Joel Edgerton) is the man with the plan, the guns and the family. His wife, Sarah (Carmen Ejogo), his teenage son, Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr) and his recently deceased father-in-law’s dog, Stanley, are all that’s left to him. And that unknown stranger in the night triggers his baser instincts for survival and mistrust. But said stranger, Will (Christopher Abbott), turns out to be a family man too, one loaded with food, but desperate to find water for his wife, Kim (Riley Keough) and young son. Paul’s too cautious to kill Will outright, and so, a shakey alliance is born of mutual need and fear. And what unfolds over the rest of It Comes At Night’s 97 minute run is a subtle, steady march toward an inevitable death knell.

The fascinating thing about post-apocalyptic features is the weight of doom and dread. Okay, so you’ve at least temporarily outplayed whatever wiped out most of humanity. What now? If there are others left, they’re desperate too. If there aren’t any of them around, everything is down to you. Basic needs become the highest currency, and we’re left to watch the agony unfold.

It Comes At Night is chiefly concerned with this imperative. With desperate people and desperate measures. A fine cast with an emotional core in the form of relative newcomer Kelvin Harrison Jr. (watch for him in Mudbound later this year), brings these central emotions to life with nuance and grace. The picture is slow at times, dwelling on what passes for almost pleasant in the new world, but it’s never without the creep of lingering questions, doubts and fears. As such, it’s incredibly impactful in the moment. And it leaves plenty to consider in the aftermath.

But know this: A picture this atmospheric needs a theater. It needs an audience. Without the collective holding of breath and the overwhelming darkness, its greatest strengths won’t leap off the screen. In fact, they probably won’t even register. If you want something original and different, see it. But be ready to question everything and leave without resolution.

 

 


It Comes At Night
Director: Trey Edward Shults
Writer: Trey Edward Shults
Runtime: 1h 37mins
Rating: R
Release Date: June 9, 2017
Main Image Credit: Courtesy A24

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Required Viewing: Center Stage: On Pointe http://wewritethings.co/2017/06/08/required-viewing-center-stage-on-pointe/ Thu, 08 Jun 2017 15:00:55 +0000 http://wewritethings.co/?p=5732 I have broken every rule there is. I picked a RV that I hadn’t seen. PLUS it was a made-for-TV sequel. I don’t know that we have a rule against sequels or made-for-TV films, so maybe I just broke the one rule we have. Anyway, I made Brooke watch the Lifetime sequel to 2000’s dance classic Center Stage. Let’s hear it. How mad were you when you realized it was a Lifetime Original? And what did you think of our selection? B: Listen, here’s the thing. I know I cracked a heap of Lifetime jokes while we were watching, but Lifetime movies are amazing in one very distinct way. They are, without fail, so bad that they can only be considered incredible. I had a fantastic time watching this terrible, terrible movie. And while its low quality is a bit of an affront, it was also the thing that kept me there from start-to-finish five minutes in-to-five minutes before the end. Before I really get into Center Stage: On Pointe, I just want to take a brief moment to note that even the DVR couldn’t believe this movie was a real thing, and therefore cut off the beginning and the end. […]

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I have broken every rule there is. I picked a RV that I hadn’t seen. PLUS it was a made-for-TV sequel. I don’t know that we have a rule against sequels or made-for-TV films, so maybe I just broke the one rule we have.

Anyway, I made Brooke watch the Lifetime sequel to 2000’s dance classic Center Stage. Let’s hear it. How mad were you when you realized it was a Lifetime Original? And what did you think of our selection?

B: Listen, here’s the thing. I know I cracked a heap of Lifetime jokes while we were watching, but Lifetime movies are amazing in one very distinct way. They are, without fail, so bad that they can only be considered incredible. I had a fantastic time watching this terrible, terrible movie. And while its low quality is a bit of an affront, it was also the thing that kept me there from start-to-finish five minutes in-to-five minutes before the end.

Dun dun dunnnn

Before I really get into Center Stage: On Pointe, I just want to take a brief moment to note that even the DVR couldn’t believe this movie was a real thing, and therefore cut off the beginning and the end. So, if we missed some of the finer nuances of the picture, it’s not entirely due to the bad writing, poor acting or generally low production value, it’s also lack of context.

Let me see if I can accurately describe the plot here. Our heroine is a streetwise modern dancer who wants to make it on her own terms. I cannot for the life of me remember her name. But, I do remember that she has a big sister who is SUPER beloved in the ballet world — I mean, people wear t-shirts of that girl! — and whatsherface goes by a pseudonym because she doesn’t want her sister’s name coloring people’s impression of who she is. Whatsherface goes to a big try out where Sandy Cohen and a mean dance lady and the love interest from Center Stage, Charlie?, are picking recruits to go to a dance camp.

IF the dancers get selected for camp, they’ll spend six weeks in the woods trying to master modern dance AND ballet. At the end of the camp, they’ll audition with their partner, a very select few will be welcomed into The Company, and the others, well, won’t. The Company, Sandy Cohen, Charlie and a few callbacks are our only real links to the first movie, by the way. Anywho, Whatsherface becomes the unlikely last person selected for camp, immediately gets off on the wrong foot and is basically the worst person there at dancing. She’s paired with an aloof ballet stud who DOESN’T DANCE FOR FUN. Bro is too cool to dance by a fire. So you know, both are broken in their own way. She befriends a girl with a reputation as a backstabber and generally rallies her few close friends (basically the only other performers with speaking lines, cause: budget). As expected, drama ensues and challenges arise, and then comes the dare-to-be-great moment.

raccoon ballet

Okay, AM, did I miss anything? Also, I’m dying to know, as a Center Stage devotee, how did Center Stage: On Pointe work for you?

A: I generally have a hard time remembering character names, and this is no exception. I am going to cheat and consult with IMDB/Google and the main character’s name is… BELLA! Thanks Google. Let’s call her Bella from here on out instead of Whatsherface, only because she didn’t completely bug me. Could she act? No. But she was charming.

Overall, you’ve nailed the plot. It’s by-the-book and that’s what I would have expected of a Lifetime movie, if only I’d known it was a Lifetime movie ahead of time. Back in September, I spotted the title on the TV’s guide and hit “record,” neither noting the channel or the “record this show 5 minutes early/late” feature that comes in very handy because no TV network actually begins and ends programming on time. But back to the plot.

One key thing you’re missing is why Bella, a modern dancer with no training (did we miss her training montage in the beginning?) would even show up for the prestigious American Ballet Company audition in the first place? Modern dance does not equal the years and years of ballet training, no matter how good you are. Years of watching So You Think You Can Dance have taught me that, at least.

so you think you can dance

Well, the venerable ABC (a fictional stand-in for the real-life American Ballet Theatre in New York) wants to literally get modern. You see, young people don’t like ballet or opera or other stodgy old forms of “entertainment,” they want to see twerking! So the premise of our sequel is that ABC is bringing itself to modern times by auditioning ballet dancers who have an aptitude for modern movements and modern dancers who could learn to dance en pointe. Why don’t they just teach the highly-trained ballerinas and ballerinos (Google also tells me this is a real, actual term for male ballet dancers, yay!) some modern movements? That’s just one of the many, many questions we had about this plot.

Another key question is why the paired dancers must live and die by each other. They are partnered, naturally, with an “opposite,” ostensibly so they can help each other out with strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps it’s a “if one gets in both gets in” situation to avoid sabotage? Like, ballerino, don’t trip your modern dance lady partner because if she goes down, YOU GO DOWN?

Yet another is one you pointed out, Brooke, is why Bella’s partner (who tries to kiss her almost immediately because you can’t have Lifetime without smoochies) Damon refused to “get loose” and would NOT freaking dance by the fire with everyone else? At least he wasn’t Evil Ivan who couldn’t listen to a simple “don’t do that jump, you’re not ready” rule and breaks his leg as a result. Instant Karma: that’s another Lifetime hallmark.

Brooke, did you enjoy that Bella’s roommate was only really a character for about half of the film? Do you have a favorite dance sequence? I must admit, I’ve always enjoyed watching modern dance, which is why I watched SYTYCD for so many seasons. It’s fun, it’s free and I feel like if I became only slightly more flexible I could attempt it.

I went to IMDB to find the punny quote we were chuckling about and I have discovered something quite serious.

WE MISSED THE FIRST SEQUEL.

shock

I repeat: THERE IS A CENTER STAGE MOVIE WE MISSED. IT FEATURES KATE PARKER. THIS IS WHY WE WERE CONFUSED ABOUT THE HYPE AROUND KATE. I don’t even know what to do with my life anymore, so I’m going to throw this back to Brooke and we will sort through the fallout as we go. Whoa.

B: I AM LESS PREPARED FOR THE NEWS THAT THERE IS ANOTHER OF THESE MOVIES THAN I WAS FOR THE NEWS THAT SPEIDI HAVE PROCREATED. How? Why? Is Sandy Cohen in that movie too? For the record, I am only voicing these questions because I know you so well, and I’m already well aware that you’re definitely going to make us watch this movie. But, let’s save our questions about Kate Parker for that occasion.

For now, I want to to answer your queries and call attention to some of the astounding things that happened in this movie.

As to the question of Bella’s roommate, I am baffled that she just vanished half-way though the movie, like, did she go to another project and they had to revise the script on the fly? Or did they have two sort of halves of two movies and they just threw them in a blender and came up with this, and I use the term loosely, narrative?

I think my favorite dance sequence was when Damon finally let loose with that modern dance and got expressive all over the studio. It must have upset Bella that he went from zero to hero at modern in about two seconds, while she got dropped roughly one billion times trying to master some ballet basics. AM, which routine was your favorite? And, I know you’re dying to share, what was your favorite dancer look?

dance fashion

A: Sandy Cohen is in the other, yes. I didn’t look too deeply, but it came out in 2008, also features a female heroine who’s the “unlikely” sort to be a ballerina (shocking), but it does appear to have been a theatrical release! I can’t wait. I am officially sorry, but not that much. I had no idea how far down the rabbit hole we’d need to go.

Back to the task at hand.

I loved when Bella was dancing by herself, sort of getting the hang of that whole ballet thing, when the Mean, Injured & Bitter Dance Instructor tells her she’ll never amount to ANYTHING as a ballerina and Bella’s all, “YOU get out, I’M practicing.” Burn. Plus she was actually looking like she knew what she was doing! Like Brooke, I enjoyed when Damon got a hang of the modern dance thing, and it’s a shame that I can’t find the pun quote anywhere! I might have to salvage the DVR recording to find it. It was something about “feels” and Damon’s magical transformation seems to have happened at about the same time as that silly line.

Speaking of silly lines, we have found the new silliest bit of dialogue in the universe. Let me elaborate:

Dancer 1 answers a knock on her door. Dancer 2 is revealed and says, “Hi, it’s me!”

hi it's me

NOTE: We can see both women once the door opens. Was this conversation supposed to be a phone call in version 1 of the script? History will never know the true story, but we cannot emphasize enough that this was the silliest part of a very silly plot. All I know is I’m going to start saying that when I am at people’s doors.

Dance fashion! Well, it’s certainly not Bella’s hole-y leggings. I get what they’re doing there, but come on. Leggings aren’t that expensive. Target has really nice ones for like $30. I loved what the “backstabber” was wearing pretty much at all times (SPOILER ALERT: SHE WASN’T REALLY A BACKSTABBER) because she was emulating the “perfect” dancer with the cute outfits, but her closet was cute.

Back to you, Brooke, what’s the best fashion, and also, what did you think of our OG cast sprinkled throughout? Hi. It’s me.

B: Ugh, no, AM. It’s me. Anyway, I think I actually liked Bella’s fashion the most. You know I deeply love Rachel McAdam’s aggressive lounge clothes in The Family Stone and I respect that Bella sticks with what works. There’s also a certain punk rock edge to wearing hole-y clothes to a snooty ballet camp. So props from me.

As for the original cast, they felt pretty token to me. This story was weak at best and the links to some of the key players from the cast were sloppy. If these movies were quite different movies than they are, I would call these appearances fan service, but I think in this case it’s mostly a way for some of them to make rent for another few years. We don’t really see Charlie do much at all in the way of teaching, and our OG heroine is nothing more than a name-drop explanation. And as for Sandy Cohen, he gets a couple scenes as the “cool” judge who sees things in people. I would almost have rather had none of them, perchance then more money could have gone to the script, or at least a script supervisor to try and put this little choo-choo back on the track.

Alright AM. I think we’ve nearly exhausted what can be said about Center Stage: On Pointe, but before we go, I have a challenge for you. As the resident expert, what do you think will happen in the all-important, newly discovered Center Stage 2?

A: Side note: We have determined that both of us would make super awesome script supervisors, so perhaps we could volunteer (for money) to work on the next installment? Great attention to detail, bossy nature and the blessing/curse of being always right! Consider this post an open invitation for people to call or carrier pigeon us for this gig.

I concur that the OG cast were basically wasted, Sandy Cohen at least got some lines, but there’s not much there except for cameos without the benefit of having a sight or verbal gag to make their presence worth it.

sandy cohen

I won’t say much about the plot of the newly discovered Center Stage 2 because I read an IMDB synopsis already. As you can imagine, Bella’s sister Kate is the center of the story and because we can’t not have Center Stage without unlikely ballerinas, Kate hails from the “mean streets” of Detroit. Presumably no one thinks she can make it, but she can and she does! We probably don’t even need to watch it, except that we should and we will.

 


 

Next time we’re watching a beloved cult favorite that will take us back to the last day of school in 1976. Probably everyone but Annemarie knows what that means.

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Pizza Quest: Mellow Mushroom http://wewritethings.co/2017/06/05/pizza-quest-mellow-mushroom/ Mon, 05 Jun 2017 23:00:33 +0000 http://wewritethings.co/?p=5907 The first contender out of our tissue box loaded with slice slingers was the Mellow Mushroom, a fairly massive chain known for psychedelic murals with a reputation for killer crust. Everyone in our intrepid crew had eaten Mellow Mushroom in some form in the past, at other locations or via delivery at an office gathering, or both. So yes, we had expectations. Namely that some pretty good pizza was in our future. Brooke: Unfortunately, that was not to be. Thomas: When the idea of Pizza Quest congealed, grease-like in the crevasses of my mind, I had thought one truth to be self evident. There is no bad pizza… only less good pizza. It is perhaps fortuitous then to be proven wrong so quickly. For on the very first pizza quest, we have discovered what I would consider #BadPizza. I’m pretty sure I’ve had Mellow Mushroom’s offering before, but it wasn’t a life changing taste experience so I couldn’t recall exactly when that might have been. B: Walking into the LoDo location, which happens to be on Denver’s tourist-y 16th street, we found an identity crisis. In an open, modern space with clean lines and lots and lots of televisions for watching sports was one […]

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The first contender out of our tissue box loaded with slice slingers was the Mellow Mushroom, a fairly massive chain known for psychedelic murals with a reputation for killer crust. Everyone in our intrepid crew had eaten Mellow Mushroom in some form in the past, at other locations or via delivery at an office gathering, or both. So yes, we had expectations. Namely that some pretty good pizza was in our future.

Brooke: Unfortunately, that was not to be.

Thomas: When the idea of Pizza Quest congealed, grease-like in the crevasses of my mind, I had thought one truth to be self evident. There is no bad pizza… only less good pizza. It is perhaps fortuitous then to be proven wrong so quickly. For on the very first pizza quest, we have discovered what I would consider #BadPizza. I’m pretty sure I’ve had Mellow Mushroom’s offering before, but it wasn’t a life changing taste experience so I couldn’t recall exactly when that might have been.

B: Walking into the LoDo location, which happens to be on Denver’s tourist-y 16th street, we found an identity crisis. In an open, modern space with clean lines and lots and lots of televisions for watching sports was one wall of funky colorful mushrooms. The crowd was largely small clusters of businessmen who threw their ties over their shoulders before tucking in.

T: The MM’s aesthetic seems to be what I would describe as a “Middle school level nudge-nudge wink-wink, hurr hurr drugs!!!” vibe. A far out dancing mushroom mascot who just wants to chill beckons you into the glass room, but as soon as you trudge down the stairs into the 50-shades-of-gray, stainless steel blasted dungeon AND FIND OUT IT’S ANOTHER FREAKING SPORTS BAR WITH 15 SCREENS OF FOOTBALL PLAYING… I realized we’d all been played. The Mellow Mushroom is the facade painted onto the wild west plywood frame propped up in front of yet another tedious hole where people who hate their lives escape into overpriced jugs of craft beer. Only here, they have doughy, undercooked, bland pizza to chase it with.

Service was great, I’ll admit, but the modern interior clashed heavily with the far out promise of otherworldly flavours that would fly my tongue magic carpet style across the multiverse. We picked out some interesting sounding pies (Brooke can fill you in on that part) and remained mostly unimpressed. They had some decent wings, but even they were hit with the 16th street tourist tax pricing, and I can’t recommend them.

B: We ordered a cheese as a base and two speciality pies — the Maui Wowie and the Magical Mystery Tour.

None of the pizza left much of an impression with us. The cheese was bland, apart from a sweet sauce and quite doughy. The Maui Wowie brought a little more flavor to the table, thanks to banana pepper and a pesto base but also struggled with dough-yness. The Magical Mystery tour offered the decent pesto base, but only sausage and mushrooms by way of topping. It was ultimately uninspired, and removed from the experience, it’s impossible to recall the flavors with any clarity.

But as Thomas noted, the one thing that was exceptional at the Mellow Mushroom was the service. Our server handled our large group as if we were but a table of two, plying us with recommendations, refills and extra plates aplenty.

T: Here’s my take: Think gooey, pizza-hut chain pizza style doughy crust that is a little undercooked, with stretchy cheese that is a little too salty… and throw on just-not-quite-enough admittedly interesting toppings, that just didn’t have enough punch to impress. I’m probably being a tad harsh, but I was seriously disappointed by this very first Pizza Quest. At least it didn’t cause me intestinal distress (I’m looking at YOU, Wazee Supper Club).

 

Pizza Quest

 

And if all of this detail has been too much, here’s our collective takeaway:
Do we recommend the Mellow Mushroom?
Uniformly, no.

Or, as our resident Snap Judge, Thomas, put it: Walk 3 minutes in any direction, and find better pizza there. 0/1.

 

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Film Review: Captain Underpants http://wewritethings.co/2017/06/02/film-review-captain-underpants/ Fri, 02 Jun 2017 21:45:30 +0000 http://wewritethings.co/?p=5900 If you’re over the age of 10, probably just don’t watch Captain Underpants. Dav Pilkey’s source novels burst onto the scene when I was of an age with the film’s protagonists, Harold (Thomas Middleditch) and George (Kevin Hart). They were popular, but I didn’t remember much outside of the titles. After an agonizing 89-minutes of watching the onscreen antics unfold, I came to the conclusion that I must not remember them because they aren’t all that memorable. This story skews unapologetically young, and doesn’t bother to make the effort to appeal to the decade and older crowd. For what it’s worth, the youngest in the audience seemed quite tickled by Harold and George’s pranks, Captain Underpants’ stupidity and all of the antics that the arrival of Professor Poopypants wrought. So, if you’re a kind parent, who loves your child very much, bite the bullet. For everyone else, here’s the rundown on what you’re not missing. Captain Underpants takes an extremely talented voice cast — Thomas Middleditch, Kevin Hart, Ed Helms and Nick Kroll — and crams them into a bright, episodic string of toilet jokes. Harold are George are the best of pals. They love to draw and play pranks. […]

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If you’re over the age of 10, probably just don’t watch Captain Underpants. Dav Pilkey’s source novels burst onto the scene when I was of an age with the film’s protagonists, Harold (Thomas Middleditch) and George (Kevin Hart). They were popular, but I didn’t remember much outside of the titles. After an agonizing 89-minutes of watching the onscreen antics unfold, I came to the conclusion that I must not remember them because they aren’t all that memorable. This story skews unapologetically young, and doesn’t bother to make the effort to appeal to the decade and older crowd. For what it’s worth, the youngest in the audience seemed quite tickled by Harold and George’s pranks, Captain Underpants’ stupidity and all of the antics that the arrival of Professor Poopypants wrought. So, if you’re a kind parent, who loves your child very much, bite the bullet.

For everyone else, here’s the rundown on what you’re not missing. Captain Underpants takes an extremely talented voice cast — Thomas Middleditch, Kevin Hart, Ed Helms and Nick Kroll — and crams them into a bright, episodic string of toilet jokes. Harold are George are the best of pals. They love to draw and play pranks. And they consider it their sacred duty to keep life a school fun, much to the dismay of Mr. Krupp, their buzzkill principal. When the pals take a step too far and face separate classes as a punishment, their world seems to be ending. An act of desperation transforms Krupp into a living version of their greatest creation, Captain Underpants. The transformation solves all of their problems … for about 10-minutes. Then it creates a whole new set of issues, including the introduction of the laughter-hating Professor Poopypants. 

Things escalate, but the story remains hollow. The central conflict — fear of losing a friend — is universal, but where Pixar would take that trope and spin it into something that grabs any viewer, this picture occasionally references the stakes and then promptly dips back into gag mode, wherein we watch gag after gag after gag with no impact. Eventually, an end of sorts arrives with a bit of fanfare. By the time the lights go up, every bit of this diversion begins to fade. 

  


 

Captain Underpants
Director: David Soren
Writer: Nicholas Stoller (Screenplay), Dav Pilkey (Novels)
Rating: PG
Runtime: 1h 29mins
Release Date: June 2, 2017
Main Image Credit: Dreamworks

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Film Review: Wonder Woman http://wewritethings.co/2017/06/02/film-review-wonder-woman/ Fri, 02 Jun 2017 19:36:24 +0000 http://wewritethings.co/?p=5893 Praise be to Diana of Themyscira. Wonder Woman is not only the best film in the DC universe since The Dark Knight, it’s also the only relevant one. Under the direction of Patty Jenkins — who also made a little Oscar juggernaut known as Monster — Gal Gadot positively shines. Her Diana is plucky, strong, curious, and yes, devastatingly beautiful. Of course, she wears that last trait like a male hero, it’s just part of her being. Unimportant to her, but disarming for everyone else. Diana cares only to fight for people who cannot fight for themselves and stamp out injustice. Of course, the world outside her idyllic home does everything possible to erode her nature. And that’s the proving ground for her heroism. Watching Diana grapple with the adversity and disillusionment confirms the sneaking suspicion that hit so many people when Gadot delivered the few electrifying moments Batman v. Superman can claim: She’s the hero we’ve been waiting for. Wonder Woman begins in the present. A modern day Diana is disrupted by a mysterious package courtesy of Bruce Wayne. It’s a photograph from WWI. Diana, clad in her finest ass-kicking garb stands at the center of a group of […]

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Praise be to Diana of Themyscira. Wonder Woman is not only the best film in the DC universe since The Dark Knight, it’s also the only relevant one. Under the direction of Patty Jenkins — who also made a little Oscar juggernaut known as Monster — Gal Gadot positively shines. Her Diana is plucky, strong, curious, and yes, devastatingly beautiful. Of course, she wears that last trait like a male hero, it’s just part of her being. Unimportant to her, but disarming for everyone else. Diana cares only to fight for people who cannot fight for themselves and stamp out injustice. Of course, the world outside her idyllic home does everything possible to erode her nature. And that’s the proving ground for her heroism. Watching Diana grapple with the adversity and disillusionment confirms the sneaking suspicion that hit so many people when Gadot delivered the few electrifying moments Batman v. Superman can claim: She’s the hero we’ve been waiting for.

Wonder Woman begins in the present. A modern day Diana is disrupted by a mysterious package courtesy of Bruce Wayne. It’s a photograph from WWI. Diana, clad in her finest ass-kicking garb stands at the center of a group of men. They all smile. A note from Bruce floats the notion that Diana might one day share her story. And then we jump.

Suddenly, we’re on a sun-drenched island unmarried by the trappings of industrialization. It’s lush and wild, and we follow a young girl, up to mischief and sprinting toward her destination. This is Diana. The only child among a legion of the most fierce women you could hope to see. She longs to train, to live up to the duty of the Amazons, but her mother would keep her safe. Years pass, and Diana can’t resist the pull of destiny. When finally she trains, she trains harder than anyone. And when she sees a plane plunge into the ocean, she leaps without hesitation, and saves the pilot. But the pilot’s world follows him into her peaceful home, and everything changes. Diana learns of the war without end and resolve takes her. Out of Themyscira and into the world she goes — to save it, of course, but also to find herself. This is an origin story after all.

Diana is a breath of fresh air in grimy, downtrodden WWI London. As she darts around, a blend of resolve and exuberance, she cuts a curious figure. Toting a sword and a shield, baffled by rotating doors and insistently asking to be taken to “the war,” she stops people in their tracks. Indeed, she throws the super spy she saved, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), right off his game, and his feet. In this pairing, the gaze and the magnetism belong to Diana, and Chris Pine has the grace to play it as such. Steve is Diana’s entrée into the embattled world of men, but he’s the one on uneven footing. Steve is charming and dutiful, and used to being the star, the one in charge. But he’s quick to recognize that Diana has the kind of power and purpose he does not. And soon enough, he shifts from thinking her an amusement, to supporting her aims as best he knows how. There’s push-and-pull. It’s a partnership. And it works.

The pair have a palpable chemistry that results in a surprising amount of organic humor — Pine claims the majority of the one-liners, but Gadot has a brilliant physical presence in her wide-eyed introduction to the world. Wonder Woman has the kind of laughs we might have expected from Suicide Squad, and much more gravitas to boot.

This is a hero’s journey worth watching. Some moments let the humanity at the core of the picture fade in favor of action, but in the main, Wonder Woman has the story and the heft to back up the dazzling action sequences. Watch this movie with a young girl — or really any woman — and then tell me that it doesn’t matter. I promise you, it’s a different experience seeing Gal Godot brandish those gauntlets than it is to see Henry Cavil zipping around in his super suit. Wonder Woman shouldn’t feel low key revolutionary, but it does. And that’s the point. So, shout out to the man in the row behind me who couldn’t even make it through the vintage clips shown in the preroll before making loud, lewd, objectifying comments as if to reinforce it. And just by the way, no one anywhere is much concerned with whether or not the woman in that clip — or any other woman — “can get it.” I’ll go ahead and presume to speak for the masses when I say, they don’t want it. Happily, even that display of toxic masculinity couldn’t diminish what followed. This movie matters. And that it is worthy of its iconic lead is indescribably wonderful.

 


Wonder Woman
Director: Patty Jenkins
Writer: Geoff Johns, Allan Heinberg
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 2h 21mins
Release Date: June 2, 2017
Main Image Credit: Clay Enos/ TM & © DC Comics

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