Archive for March, 2015

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There’s a certain formula to Will Farrell movies, and ‘Get Hard,’ the actors latest, does little to break the mold.

Add an opposites-attract co-star (in this case, Kevin Hart) and fold in hearty doses of pseudo-fantasy surrealist humor, racially charged and innuendo-laden jokes, and a sprinkle of celebrity cameos and you have ‘Get Hard,’ which stars Farrell as James, a wealthy stock broker sentenced to a 10-year maximum security prison sentence for securities fraud.

Without question, the best thing about ‘Hard’ is Hart, who fully commits his Napoleanic comedy style to the role of Darnell, an otherwise suburban father who agrees to toughen James up in exchange for 30 grand. James assumes Darnell has done hard time, due to the statistical probability of black men being incarcerated during their lifetimes, in what is the first of countless jokes made at the expense of racial and ethnic minority groups.

To it’s credit, the movie gets considerable mileage out of one man’s desire to avoid being raped in prison. Most of the movie takes place in James’ Bel Air mansion, which Darnell converts into a simulated San Quentin with the help of James’ service staff. But the prison training also takes James to a park to pick fights, to L.A.’s hottest gay hookup brunch to learn how to properly perform oral sex, and to two different gangs to seek protection on the inside.

It’s not revelatory ground to tread but Hart and Farrell’s dynamic, plus the schadenfreude of seeing a 1% forced to practice keistering shivs, delivers more laughs than the material deserves. Where the movie falls apart is in the third act, where an ill-conceived effort to clear James’ name is shoehorned in too quickly for even a generous suspension of disbelief.

I’m not remotely a Farrell apologist and typically find his non-cameo roles to be grating marathons. With that as my yardstick, ‘Get Hard’ impresses but falls far short of a glowing recommendation.

Grade: B-

*Get Hard opens nationwide on Friday, March 27.

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I never thought I wanted a tattoo. As a general concept they were frowned upon in the environment I grew up in and I always struggled with the idea of permanency.

I figured my tastes would change after I settled on a design. If I had gotten a tattoo when I was in 8th grade, for example, it probably would have said “Creed” or been the symbol for American Ant Farm. I mean sure, “Smooth Criminal” is my jam, and Scott Stapp has a Grammy, but I’m happy I had the freedom to move on to other things.

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But a few months ago, as an intellectual exercise, I started trying to think of things that I love, that I’ve always loved, and that I know I will always love. Three things immediately came to mind: movies, my first and truest love; writing, my livelihood and oldest pastime; and biking, my transportation mode of choice and pretty much what I’d rather be doing at every moment of every day.

Then I Googled “bike tattoos” and it was game. set. match.

FullSizeRender 10I didn’t want to just copy something I’d seen on pinterest so I started sketching a few ideas and ultimately settled on the one pictured above. I wanted a tattoo of a bike, not a biker, and I wanted it to be somewhat abstract as opposed to photo-realistic.

As far as the process, it was considerably less painful than a chest wax. Granted my design is just outlines, but the whole thing took less than 30 minutes and it felt like a concentrated pinch. The Artist, John Raftery of Cathedral Tattoo in Salt Lake City, told me the forearm is a more “mellow” location, which is good, because I’m a big baby.

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As for movies and writing, I couldn’t really think of a way to represent writing that speaks to me, and I’m very tempted to get a projector tattooed on my ribs. I’ve also started playing around with the idea of turning my left forearm into a ukulele. If I’m not hanging my head in shame a year from now over the bike, that’s probably going to happen.

Sorry mom 🙂

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While we were at Cathedral, we got Liz one-half of her latest piece. She already has a blank music staff on her arm that I love and now she has “I solemnly swear I am up to no good” on her thigh. I’m conflicted about it because I’m not really a Harry Potter fan, but I think it’s crazy hot on her.

I’ll let her to tell you what the other half will be.

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*Note: While sensitive to spoilers, some plot details from Seasons 1-3 of House of Cards follow*

Season 2 of ‘House of Cards’ started with a major character being thrown in front of a train. It ended with another major character being left for dead in a forest after being bludgeoned by a rock.

‘House of Cards’ often gets dinged for it’s unlikely plot developments, which sees a House Majority Whip ascend to the Oval Office in 26 episodes through a serious of calculated and occasionally deadly maneuvers. Frank Underwood, the series’ anti-heroic protagonist is effectively invincible, gunning down his adversaries like the video games he enjoys and piercing space and time to gloat about his victories to the viewing audience at home.

It’s implausible political porn, but at least in seasons 1 and 2 it was deliciously implausible political porn.

In season 3, the action moves to the White House, the seat of American government, and abruptly grinds to a halt. Gone are the locomotive homicides, gone are the parliamentary machinations, gone are the clandestine rendezvous, and in their place we have President Francis Underwood, standing at a white board, explaining the budgetary quandaries of entitlement reform.

Because what happens when a Machiavellian caricature achieves what he wants? What happens when there is no one left in Frank Underwood’s way? As it turns out, we just get a president trying to up his approval ratings and push a jobs package through Congress. It’s like The West Wing, without the fourth wall.

And so Frank Underwood weeps (in episode 2) because there are no more worlds to conquer.

Having now finished the entirety of season 3, I’m left slightly befuddled. The series now bears so little resemblance to its earlier self that I’m honestly not sure what to think. What I do know is that the decision to forego politics and focus on relationship was wrongheaded.

That status of Claire and Frank Underwood, the series’ Lord and Lady Macbeth, takes up the bulk of the going’s on, but elsewhere we watch Remy pine for Jackie, Doug pine for Rachel, and most of the remaining cast neglected or forgotten. Never before have the expansive halls of the West Wing felt so claustrophobic.

It’s a shame, because an unpopular and unelected president fighting for his shot at a party nomination would have made for an interesting exercise in the world that Beau Willimon built. I suppose it’s possible that season 4 could shift in that direction, with the campaign just now in full swing and trouble at home for the Underwood’s, but I find myself painfully, disappointingly ambivalent.

As it stands now, I find myself wishing that the final shot of season 2, with Frank staring triumphant into the camera and pounding his ring on the Resolute Desk in anticipation of the tasks ahead, had been ‘House of Cards’ last.

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