The Circle Quiz

Oh man, last thing I remember I was kayaking in the middle of San Francisco Bay, and then yada yada yada, some fog rolls in, I almost die, and then my company’s weirdo all-seeing remote cameras saved my life. Besides that I can’t remember what happened … can you remember what happened in The Circle?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) Mae (Emma Watson) is a woman working temp jobs and not living up to her potential. How does she get an interview with The Circle, a dystopian tech company run by Patton Oswalt and Tom Hanks?

2) In her first week at the company she meets Ty (Boyega), an introverted and mysterious man on campus. Who is Ty really?

3) What disease does Mae’s father have?

4) Mae has a friend Mercer who is hunted down by Mae’s followers and dies in an accident as a result. Why did Mae and Mercer have a falling out?

5) How does Mae take down The Circle?

Answers

The Circle Preview

With his cadre of Rambos leading the way, Patrick enters the BMTverse. He breathes in the dull, uninspiring air and a part of him knows it’s home. The old rickety Rambo crouches down, his knees giving off loud popping noises, and tastes the earth. “Your brother, he’s been here.” The young spry Rambo with the sad eyes tastes a different spot, “another was with him. The man in black.” At that the older garbage Rabmo hisses, “Vampiro.” Patrick steps forward, “Which way did they head?!” At that the youngest of the Rambos replies bluntly, “No.” But Patrick pleads “I need to get to him before it’s too late. Please!” The Rambos nod, “OK.” At that they head off. From the few monosyllabic statements the Rambos make Patrick is able to glean that Vampiro is a Dracula who has been sucking the BMTverse dry in some mysterious scheme and that Jamie is in grave danger. “So what is the scheme Vampiro has set up?” Patrick asks, and immediately the Rambos point to a large building dominating the skyline of New Angeles. The sign reads, “The Square.” Patrick doesn’t want to say anything but to him The Square looks pretty hip. That’s right! We’re watching the 2017 classic The Circle starring Emma Watson and Tom Hanks about a big ol’ company that totally spies on you. Sound the Ointment Alarm, cause this movie is topical. Let’s go!

Meanwhile, the man in black backflips from his skateboard and and grabs Jamie by the throat. He squints at him, “You really don’t remember me, do you?” Jamie looks closer and notices the sharp Dracula teeth of the Dracula that turned him into a Dracula at Dracula School a year ago. “Vampiro,” he wheezes. “Let him be, baby,” a young sexy voice says from behind Vampiro and four beautiful bodacious beach bunnies come out from the steam. “Sticks and Stone will not be happy if you kill him, Vampiro,” the sexiest of them coos. “Call me Buford, baby,” He replies. That’s right! We’re going for the only Jim Hanks vehicle in history, Buford’s Beach Bunnies. Tom Hanks’ bro plays the titular Buford being titillated by the titular Beach Bunnies. It should be a hoot and in no way sad probably. Let’s go!

The Circle (2017) – BMeTric: 56.8 

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TheCircleIMDb_RV

(Ooooooo for a film like this low-5s is incredibly incredibly low, that is promising. And very consistent across the years as well. Interesting.)

RogerEbert.com – 1.5 stars –  When the story turns into something akin to a nightmarish cousin of “The Truman Show” or “Network,” or the kid sister of Cronenbeg’s “ExistenZ,” you want it to get bigger, wilder, more outrageous, more frightening, and it’s too nice and reasonable and conscientious to do that. The result feels undernourished in just about every way, although Hanks’s performance, John Boyega’s brief role as a founding programmer, and a couple of frightening action sequences break through the tedium.

(Yeah I would have expected it to go very broad in the end … it is pretty concerning that it doesn’t. Like what is this movie about then?)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUlr8Am4zQ0/

(Watching that trailer and I’m thinking Firewall starring Harrison Ford. Reading the review above it … and I’m getting whiffs of The Space Between Us. Which is concerning because that movie was boring.)

Directors – James Ponsoldt – (Known For: The Spectacular Now; The End of the Tour; Smashed; Off the Black; BMT: The Circle; Notes: Went to Yale, and then got a Masters in Fine Arts from Columbia.)

Writers – James Ponsoldt (screenplay by) – (Known For: Smashed; Off the Black; BMT: The Circle; Notes: Is writing and directing a film about “wild animals in Los Angeles” called Wild City.)

Dave Eggers (screenplay by & based on the novel by) – (Known For: Where the Wild Things Are; A Hologram for the King; Promised Land; Away We Go; BMT: The Circle; Notes: Actually an amazing story concerning his parents both dying when he was a young man, and he dropped out of school to raise his youngest brother who was 8 at the time. It became the subject of his fictionalized memoir, the acclaimed A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.)

Actors – Emma Watson – (Known For: Beauty and the Beast; Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2; Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire; Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban; Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix; Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets; Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1; The Perks of Being a Wallflower; This Is the End; Noah; My Week with Marilyn; The Bling Ring; The Tale of Despereaux; Future BMT: Regression; BMT: The Circle; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actress for The Circle in 2018; Notes: She’s going to be in Little Woman later this year, obviously most famous for her roles in the Harry Potter films where she played Hermoine.)

Tom Hanks – (Known For: Toy Story 4; A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood; Forrest Gump; The Green Mile; Saving Private Ryan; Catch Me If You Can; Toy Story; Toy Story 3; Cloud Atlas; Sleepless in Seattle; Cast Away; Cars; Road to Perdition; Toy Story 2; Sully: Miracle on the Hudson; The Post; Apollo 13; Bridge of Spies; Saving Mr. Banks; Big; Future BMT: He Knows You’re Alone; Larry Crowne; Inferno; Ithaca; The Da Vinci Code; Angels & Demons; BMT: The Circle; The Bonfire of the Vanities; Notes: Ya’ll know Tom Hanks! He’s getting Oscar buzz for his role as Mr. Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.)

John Boyega – (Known For: Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi; Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens; Pacific Rim: Uprising; Detroit; Attack the Block; Half of a Yellow Sun; Imperial Dreams; Junkhearts; BMT: The Circle; Notes: British. You can hear his natural sccent in Attack the Block.)

Budget/Gross – $18 million / Domestic: $20,497,844 (Worldwide: $20,497,844)

(Hmmmm, given the budget that isn’t actually that bad I suppose, but it is a box office disappointment. Their Netflix distribution may have made a bit more of that back since. I’m a little surprised it could be made for so little.)

#55 for the Young-Adult Book Adaptations genre

thecircle2017_yaadaptations

(Our 8th BMT film of this genre. Came right as these types of films stopped making money. Weirdly, not even close to the worst box office we’ve seen beating out The Darkest Minds, Midnight Sun, The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising, and Vampire Academy)

#52 on the Worst Openings – Super Saturated chart

Rotten Tomatoes – 15% (20/135): The Circle assembles an impressive cast, but this digitally driven thriller spins aimlessly in its half-hearted exploration of timely themes.

(Yeah that sounds about right. Float through something significant, but straddle the fence and make it as milquetoast as possible. This is indeed what I expect. Reviewer Highlight: The Circle is a big honking sloppy mess of a movie, one that flops around so aimlessly that it’s baffling so many intelligent people had a hand in making it. – Will Leitch, The New Republic)

Poster – Corporate Sklog-vallience (C+)

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(It’s artsy in the framing and the color is fine. Font makes me sad. At least make the C in Circle be the company’s logo. Not just block bullshit.)

Tagline(s) – Knowing is good. Knowing everything is better. (A-)

(Do you know what’s better than a billion dollars? A gazillion dollars. While I don’t support the message of the tagline I can still recognize that it’s a good tagline.)

Keyword(s) – video surveillance; Top Ten by BMeTric: 82.3 Halloween: Resurrection (2002); 79.5 The Devil Inside (2012); 67.8 College Road Trip (2008); 65.7 Captivity (2007); 65.5 Pulse (I) (2006); 60.4 Maid in Manhattan (2002); 60.2 Sliver (1993); 56.8 The Circle (I) (2017); 52.5 Everly (2014); 52.2 Bangkok Dangerous (2008);

(This is a pretty interesting keyword. Like is that really what Halloween: Resurrection has? College Road Trip? This seems to be one of the rare ones where it is a central theme to the film.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 20) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Tom Hanks is No. 2 billed in The Circle and No. 1 billed in Bonfire of the Vanities, which also stars Bruce Willis (No. 2 billed) who is in The Whole Ten Yards (No. 1 billed), which also stars Natasha Henstridge (No. 4 billed) who is in Ghosts of Mars (No. 1 billed), which also stars Jason Statham (No. 3 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Seige Tale (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 4 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 2 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 4 + 1 + 3 + 1 + 4 + 1 = 20. If we were to watch Angels & Demons, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 12.

Notes – Bill Paxton died before the film’s release. Glenne Headly, who played his wife in the film, died the same year after the film’s release. (What? I knew Pacton died, but I didn’t realize Glenne Headly died.)

Re-shoots took place four months before release, aimed at making Emma Watson’s character more appealing, but test audience reactions were even worse than previous test screenings. (Jesus THAT was their attempt at making her MORE appealing? She’s insane in the movie)

The scene where Annie video calls Mae was shot by Karen Gillan’s crew while they were filming Gillan’s feature film; The Party’s Just Beginning (2018) in Scotland. (Wow that is interesting)

In the U.K. this film did not get a cinema release but went straight to streaming service Netflix. (Yeah I noticed)

The logo of The Circle was created before the Uber redesign, despite them looking very similar.

The lead role of Mae was first offered to Alicia Vikander, which according to her, was one of three roles offered simultaneously, alongside the roles of Maria in Assassin’s Creed (2016) and Heather in Jason Bourne (2016). Due to fan factor, she opted to do Bourne, thus the producers moving on to casting second choice Emma Watson.

Received a “D+” CinemaScore, which is quite rare. [Variety 2017] (Not surprised)

This is the second time that Tom Hanks has a role in an adaptation of a novel by Dave Eggers. The first was A Hologram for the King (2016). (Never heard of it)

The auditorium scenes were filmed at Citrus Community College’s Haugh Performing Arts Center in Glendora, California.

Opening bridge shot is Dumbarton Bridge in Northern California near Silicon Valley. Fake image of the Circle building located on the Coyote Point recreation park.

The ending was changed significantly for the film adaptation. In the novel, Mae, fully believing in The Circle’s goals and mantras, betrays Ty in his attempt to bring down the company and he is effectively silenced. (WHAT?! THAT IS CRAZY)

Awards – Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Actress (Emma Watson, 2018)

Gangster Squad Recap

Jamie

Mickey Cohen is a menace to LA and police officer John O’Mara ain’t letting it fly. No way, no how. He’s tasked with assembling a squad of police officers to clandestinely take apart the evil gangster’s criminal empire. Can they stop Mickey before it’s too late? Find out in… Gangster Squad.

How?! John O’Mara don’t take guff from nobody, especially those that aim to dirty his beloved LA like gangster Mickey Cohen. Unfortunately he also doesn’t take guff from nobody so O’Mara is tasked with creating a misfit squad of gangster hunters (what to call them, though?) whose smarts and toughness will combine to take even less guff than Cohen (if you can believe it). Will they go out and murder Cohen right away? No! That would be too boring. Instead they aim to dismantle his empire while keeping him alive and figure out what his dastardly plot is to take over the West Coast (hint: it doesn’t matter). The squad goes about punching and shooting people to great effect, while also totally getting with Cohen’s main squeeze. Cohen is obviously none too pleased with this and he proceeds to punch and shoot a bunch of people until he figures out who the gangster squad is. After that it’s all out war and they punch and shoot some more until one of the squad is dead and their families threatened. All seems lost, except remember… no guff. O’Mara scrapes together a warrant for Cohen’s arrest and there is a big showdown at the Plaza. Shooting. Punching. Punching. Shooting. O’Mara takes Cohen down and cleans up the streetz. THE END. So the big question: was Mickey Cohen’s downfall because he took too many guffs or maybe, just maybe, he didn’t take enough (yah dig?).

Why?! I mean, Mickey Cohen is a psycho. No need for more explanation on that front. As for our boy John and his gangster squad, well they just want to do good in a world where people too often let money dictate their morals. Other cops are being bought, but they didn’t fight in WWII to let their home descend into crime. No! Not the Gangster Squad™.

Who?! Anyone who’s anyone knows that Ryan Gosling was part of the Mickey Mouse Club and so he’s got those dancing and singing chops for days. Lesser known is that he’s an actor-turned-musician (my favorite) and released an album as part of the rock duo Dead Man’s Bones in 2009. According to wikipedia he performed under the alias Baby Goose… OK.

What?! As I looked at the beautiful chiseled features of Josh Brolin I of course wondered to myself, “Is there a way that I could look like that granite rock of a man?” and the answer is yes. I can wear the very gun holster that he wears. Now if only I can figure out how to sound just like Nick Nolte (hint: it involves smoking cigarettes and gargling whiskey for 5000 years).

Where?! This feels like it’s the most LA movie ever. They are talking all kinds of Hollywood stuff all day. We see the Hollywoodland sign, they are talking about the movie biz, and references to Brentwood are dropped in as if the audience would be like “Jeez, Brentwood, amiright?” and nudge each other whenever it’s mentioned. A.

When?! Secret Holiday Film Alert! In the beginning you’re like “wait… is this set around Christmas?” And then the film slowly becomes more and more christmasy until we have Sean Penn screaming “Here comes Santy Claus!” as he shoots up a christmas tree in slow motion. It’s actually pretty hilarious. B+.

Overly stylized, very dark, choppy at times, and steered heavily into cliche. But I also didn’t think it was all that bad (if that makes sense). I let it wash over me like a sultry LA night and had a fine time watching it. I think the acting was pretty great (other than Penn who legend says is still chewing the scenery) and the story interesting. So all in all: not the worst. As for Future Kick, I actually really liked it. Super weird and fun production involving robots and a colony on the moon and virtual reality and organ harvesting. And there’s really nothing more beautiful than an ending that asks the question, “maybe everything you just watched was meaningless.” I’d gladly watch any film that implies that the whole thing was a dream. My one big critique: we needed more martial arts. Somehow T.N.T. had way more impressive martial arts than this one did. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Jamie and I threw away our official LAPD Cobra Division badges in prep for this film. We’re off the books! Time to murder a bunch of people! Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I remember when this come out this was a very exciting film for some corners of the internet. It checks off a bunch of boxes: a group of guys smashing up some gangsters, the late-40s/early-50s west coast period piece, and a crazy cast. And then it just fizzled out to rather lackluster reviews. I guess we’ll see if it ages well? What are my expectations – I want Sean Penn to basically be Nic-Caging all over the place. I want him to actually eat some scenery during a scene, like literally break off pieces of the set and eat it.

The Good – I like the period setting. The story is interesting. Emma Stone is excellent as always, and I really like the group of actors they got for the Squad. I really couldn’t ask for much more from what the film promised: a bunch of cops are going to bust up some gangsters, the end. There isn’t really much more to expound on here, but be assured that I actually liked this film quite a bit.

The Bad – I can definitely see why Sean Penn’s performance sunk the film for critics, he is so over the top it is very very distracting. I also think the story ends up pulling a punch or two and just retreating to the safety of what is ultimately a very predictable series of events. The biggest crime is killing off Ribisi which is by far the most obvious choice of how to “shake up” the Squad during the film. The outside shot is to kill off Brolin, and then making Gosling dry himself off to lead the Squad to victory. Apologies if somehow all of these events are part of the “true story” that it is all adapted from … I doubt it. Finally, the film is just kind of directed / structured sloppily with the least interesting bits, somehow, being the bits involving the Gangster Squad.

The BMT – It is certainly a weird BMT. Long ago we were rather insistent that we were going to do Amelia starring Hilary Swank … and then we just didn’t. Straight dramas don’t tend to fit into our traditional cycle genres. So it is nice to do a straight drama that is considered bad. Did it meet my expectations? Not really. I didn’t think Sean Penn was that bad, even though I can see why people hated it at the time. And that is really what it needed. Once you think that is fine … the movie isn’t that bad, so no, I don’t think I’ll be sending this over to people as a bad movie recommendation.

Roast-radamus – I think we have a very strong Setting as a Character (Where?) for Los Angeles (we can’t let Mickey Cohen take our city!!!) and Secret Holiday Film (When?) where the entire end of the film takes place during Christmas complete exploding Christmas display in slow motion. Other than that I could maybe see a nod for Good from me specifically, but I guess we’ll see.

StreetCreditReport.com – Finally! We finally are back in the zone where people actually have lists. And indeed this film is on the AV Club list (number 8) and on the IndieWire list (number 14). And I think it would end up on a worst of gangster film, and worst of films set in the 40s lists if you really pressed it. Pretty good cred, critics really hated this film!

You Just Got Schooled – Lightning quick one as a semi-endorsement of The Flophouse Podcast which did this film all the way back in 2014. They’ve come a long way since then in how the podcast is structured (this was back when they all lived in New York still and Elliott was Dan’s boss at the Daily Show), but overall I thought it was a funny listen. Just the right level of Elliott Kalan random asides to make what isn’t a very interesting bad movie interesting. And ultimately I agree with his assessment: if I saw the film on television I would probably be fine with watching it, and it is actually maybe closer to a good good movie than a bad bad movie (but definitely not a good bad movie).

Bring a Friend Analysis – And as with any Sean Penn film you just have to watch a Chris Penn feature alongside it. This time? It’s the very promisingly named Future Kick, which I know for a fact I’ve seen as a vhs tape on the Red Letter Media studio’s shelves. I think the film throws a lot at you to consume in the first 25 minutes of the film, with a dystopian world with a Elysium-like moon base, and escaped automaton bounty hunters, the last of which is played by Don “The Dragon” Wilson. For a bit there I was kind of barely holding onto the story (which seems to be a trend with 90s straight-to-VHS features, just incomprehensible). But by the end it saves itself with strong and entertaining performances by Wilson and Meg Foster. The end is also very amusing as it (spoilers) goes for the classic “this entire film was a dream” ending. I’m going to give it a B+. I wish it was a bit clearer in premise and martial arts action early, but the back half is, I think, a rather fun balls-to-the-wall ridiculous straight-to-video feature.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Gangster Squad Quiz

It’s time to kill some gangsters, seeeeeee. But the thing is? I kind of got ‘sploded by a stick of dynamite while chasing these gangsters, got a concussion, and can’t remember a thing. Can you remember what happened in Gangster Squad?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) Let’s start with a straightforward one: describe the Gangster Squad, who is in it?

2) What is the Gangster Squad’s plan to take down Cohen? Like … they aren’t going to go up and shoot him in the face right?

3) What event makes Gosling become a full-throated member of the Gangster Squad.

4) What is Emma Stone’s presumed job with Mickey Cohen? In reality she is naturally just his girlfriend. Why does Emma Stone eventually run away and then turn on Cohen?

5) How does the Gangster Squad get the arrest warrant for Mickey Cohen?

Answers

The 15:17 to Paris Recap

Jamie

Lifelong friends Spencer, Alek, and Anthony have spent their lives trying to find where they fit and best follow their sense of right. When they end up on a train targeted by a terrorist they will have to find their courage within. Can they stop the tragedy before it’s too late? Find out in… real life when this happened… but also The 15:17 to Paris.

How?! This is gonna be a hard one to write about because on the one hand it details a truly courageous act of bravery by a few young men and on the other hand it’s a film experiment that is at times the worst thing I’ve ever seen put to screen. Perhaps on the level with the Atlas Shrugged films. Anyway, the story is very straightforward, Spencer, Alek, and Anthony meet as kids in Sacramento and become good friends. They are outsiders fascinated by the military and serving the country. Despite moving away from each other they keep in touch throughout their life. Spencer and Alek join the military and both have somewhat underwhelming experiences. While Spencer is medically rejected for special forces, ending up instead in a support branch of the Air Force, Alek enlists in the Oregon National Guard and is mired in Afghanistan. Hoping to see a little of the world on break they travel to Europe with Anthony and travel from Italy to Germany to Amsterdam and eventually grab a train to Paris (I forget which one). On the train a terrorist attempts to take control but the three friends (along with a couple other passengers) tackle and subdue the assailant. They are heroes. THE END.

Why?! Why was the film made? Oh, no. The motivations of the characters. Right. Uh… it’s just life, man. Seriously, the film does a pretty good job of feeling pretty true to life. It’s doesn’t shirk over the fact that Spencer hoped to be a search and rescue ranger in the Air Force, but didn’t medically make the cut. It shows both his frustrations along with Alek’s in feeling like the military didn’t live up to what they imagined it would be. This does a good job of framing the final scene for exactly what it was, an act of bravery that easily could have resulted in their deaths.

Who?! Obviously one of the defining features of this film is that many of the real life people involved portrayed themselves… to mixed results. There was a funny rumor that Clint Eastwood asked France if the actual terrorist could portray himself which cannot possibly be true. So you heard it here first: the internet sometimes lies.

What?! This is actually a hard category given how true to life (almost cinema-verite) style this film is. There is a small moment later in the film where the two main characters make fun of a tiny Coke can on the train which is probably less product placement than Clint Eastwood asking them what they remember from the first part of the train ride and them saying “uh, we made fun of a tiny Coke can and fell asleep.”

Where?! This is actually an interesting entry given that the film was partially chosen as an A+ setting film. In reality Paris is in the title but they never actually reach Paris (until the end when they get military honors from the French President). It is actually mostly set in Sacramento and then Italy is the main setting for their actual road trip. So I’m downgrading it. B+

When?! Ha! Also interesting since 15:17 is a weird exact time in the title. Not the traditional A+ setting for this either.  Since it’s based on a real event there is technically a brief moment in the film where you know the date and exact time at which things are happening, which is kinda amazing. It deserves it. A+

This film is more or less a mixture of a Christian and experimental film that somehow was released to theaters for reason that are… actually readily apparent. It was directed by Clint Eastwood. For the first twenty minutes I had to seriously consider whether this was the worst film I had ever seen. I had to turn it off twice and take breaks to get through it. Once we got to when the main characters were grown up it got a bit better. The acting was still pretty rough (the main guy Spencer was actually surprisingly OK) but it felt brutally honest and I appreciated that. The ending was actually pretty crazy with how close they come to death and having to recreate that must have been really hard. Anyway, it’s bad and only worth watching if you are interested in seeing a (failed) experiment in filmmaking. As for Hard Ticket to Hawaii, I can 100% see why this is a beloved Z-movie series by Andy Sidaris. It is over the top and pretty much hits every cliche of 80’s/90’s action all in one neat package. We got crazy clothes, crazy frisbee and skateboard scenes (what the kids want), crazy boobs everywhere (what the kids want), giant explosions (what the kids want), etc. etc. etc. It does seem to toe the line between inadvertently hilarious and purposefully so. That always makes it tough, but kudos to them if they did purposefully make a bad film… because it’s certainly hard to tell. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Sometimes I wonder, hey, why can’t I get a job that will allow me to mess around and pay me millions of dollars to flush $30 million dollars down the toilet. Well if you’re Clint Eastwood you can! Let’s go!

The Good – I do think there is a place for films like this. I actually felt a bit embarrassed in watching it, because it felt like I was making fun of some good hearted story and people and actors and ideals somehow. None of the multitude of problems with the film reflect on the actual values on screen. People should be able to have and appreciate art that reflects their wholesome all-American flag-waving values. The final third of the film picks up and I can kind of see why Eastwood made the film and decided to make it like this. It is an interesting story as well, although maybe more interesting as a book rather than a movie.

P’s View on the Preview – Is there any doubt at all what everyone would be curious about going into this film? Can these people act? Would this experiment Eastwood cooked up work? If not for that you would kind of just have a not very interesting idea for a drama if I’m going to be frank. Otherwise it was going to be vaguely interesting to see what parts of the lives of these three people we would see, and whether Eastwood would pull a fake-baby-in-American-Sniper on us or something.

The Bad – Whhhhhoooooooooo doggy, these people can’t act. And the stunner? The worst part of the movie is the beginning when nearly everyone was actual established (cough, television, cough) actors! The first third of the film is a travesty. The middle is a whole lotta nothing, and then the end is fine if the people could act (but they can’t). Also, if this wasn’t made by Clint Eastwood it would (1) have a budget of $1 and (2) be a straight up Christian film released to 400 theaters. The grand experiment was a failure, despite all the potential good the film might have going for it in the end.

The BMT – Yeah I think it has to be, and perhaps it’ll get us to venture into the drama sphere more. While bad dramas tend to be dull, there was a lot of meat on this bone to pick apart. And it certainly took me out of my bad movie comfort zone. Something to think about.

Welcome to Earf – Judy Greer was in The 15:17 to Paris and Marmaduke with Owen Wilson, who was in I, Spy with Eddie Murphy, who was in Norbit with Terry Crews, who was in Blended with Adam Sandler, who was in Jack and Jill with Al Pacino who was in 88 Minutes with Leelee Sobieski who was in Here on Earth. Welcome to Earth!

StreetCreditReport.com – Uh, what is the word I’m looking for? Oh yeah UP THE WAZOOOO! Here and here and here and here. People hated this film. It actually legit had to be done. How many bad dramas do we really get? I mean … considering we don’t really watch those low budget Christian films or VOD Nicholas Sparks knock-offs. Not many I tells ya!

Bring a Friend Analysis – Ah, the final friend of the cycle was Hard Ticket to Hawaii. This film is fun as hell. The stars are playboy playmates (wowza!) and they are extremely game for some silly shenanigans in Hawaii. Made by Andy Sidaris, the film is probably the closest we’ve gotten to the classic Room or Troll 2 territory. Actually it is probably really close to Troll 2. The issue I think I ultimately had was I had a hard time determining whether Sidaris was serious or not. The ending of the film certainly made me think he wasn’t (a giant terribly fake snake comes out of a toilet and they blast it with a bazooka), which is an obvious problem. You can’t make intentional bad films … but holy crap this gets close. A solid A- with an option to bump it to an A if I watch some other Sidaris films and realize that he is for reals.

You Just Got Schooled – I can’t think of something to do for 15:17 to Paris … but what about Hard Ticket to Hawaii! Maybe we can answer this question now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAVNlXUqaqI

Welp … yeah they are serious. For reals. “I’ll be a very sorry feminist” wowza! “A trained ape can make a movie” Phew! They compared their films to the Louvre! They don’t seem to be as delusional as someone like Tommy Wiseau or Claudio Fragasso, but they do seem very serious … fine I’ll give it an A!!! I’ve been convinced!

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

 

The 15:17 to Paris Quiz

In 2018 Clint Eastwood decided to conduct an experiment: make a movie based on a true story with the people (non-actors) who took part in the actual event! Time to conduct your experiment: desperately try and remember anything about this film.

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) We open the movie with a teacher chastising Spencer and Kyle’s mothers about their behavior and suggesting, much to their chagrin, what diagnosis?

2) In the end Spencer makes a few friends, Alek and Anthony, at his Christian school. But alas, but ultimately move on. What happens to each of them?

3) Why can’t Spencer be a part of the Search and Rescue team?

4) Name at least two countries the men visit in Europe on their trip. Three for full points.

5) In the final fight our hero, Spencer, is almost killed twice, and should have probably died. What two things did he luck out with in thwarting the attack?

Answers

The 15:17 to Paris Preview

As the Space Cops pile into the space ship they lay it all out there. “Officer Libby, the Little Old Librarian you know and hate, used to be part of a major gang of corrupt cops. They would steal cocaine from evidence, use it to help write action movie screenplays in volume, ultimately sell the rights to a small number of them of which only one or two would actually be made, then have them taken out of their creative control and turned into something that they no longer recognized,” Jacobs sneers, spitting in disgust, “a truly devious plot by a truly devious cop. It is well known that she hoped to use the power of the Socket to play out the plot of one of those screenplays and create mass chaos to take over the world. So all we have to do is figure out which screenplay she want to see made by the ultimate film studio… life. Simple right?” He says as he pours 430 screenplays out of a burlap sack. Knowing they’ll never get through all of the screenplays in time Jamie gets an idea and they zoom back to Dracula School. With the help of the vampire students they start to make their way through the screenplays and boy howdy is it tough sledding. “Why do so many of these involve vigilante justice?” Asks one student. “This is the second sex scene I’ve read involving a dude ranch.” Says another, eyes glazing over. “Huh, this is interesting,” says Odin, “this also is mostly about vigilante justice and certainly has a dude ranch sex scene but… it also says ‘based on a true story’ at the front. Does anyone remember when a vigilante ninja cop stopped a bunch of cowboy terrorists on a train to Paris?” That’s right! We are transitioning to the final cycle of the year. As tradition dictates this is a cycle consisting of only films released in 2018. Previously this was to make sure we were up-to-date for Razzies season, but now it’s so we are up-to-date for Smaddies Baddies season. We start off with The 15:17 to Paris, which somehow hits two numbers on the Periodic Table of Smellements and is an A+ setting for both place and time (kinda). It also is a super strange experimental film that Clint Eastwood with the actual heroes of the event playing themselves… sounds like a tough watch. Let’s go!

Patrick, Sticks, and Stones sneak around to the back of the z-movie multiverse LAPD precinct. That’s weird, Patrick thinks, isn’t the whole reason they came and got him because the LAPD wanted to come and save him? Sticks and Stones have a wild look in their eyes as they jimmy the lock and start towards the evidence locker. “It’s just in here, gosh dern it, hurry up before they catch us,” Stones says. Patrick is super duper slow on the uptake and following them around like an idiot. He hopes those other ninja cops come soon, because his mind is feeling fuzzy again, and Sticks and Stones are starting to creep him out all of a sudden. When they reach the evidence locker Sticks blasts the lock with his glock, growling “I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it.” They pull out the Obsidian Dongle. Wait … what a twist! It wasn’t destroyed after all! Right then the samurai cop and his very tall partner come around the corner. “Stop right there you ne’er-do-wells! Patrick, they are insane they only want you for your twin powers, your ability to control the Dongle, and want you to bring them to the real world!” Patrick looks at them dumbly … “What?” The samurai cop comes at them with a katana ready to strike. Without thinking Patrick grabs the dongle and thinks “Take me and Sticks and Stones to … Hawaii?” And boom, his twin powers blast them to Hawaii. Well … the Z-movie multiverse version of Hawaii which was roughly the same except all the girls have big bazongas. “All these girls have big bazongas,” Patrick says. That’s right! We’re watching Hard Ticket to Hawaii, a B-movie with an A+ setting. Made by Andy Sidaris, I dare to say this is his most famous BBB (Bullets, Bombs, Babes) film, well known for its skateboarding and frisbee antics … and fine, the bodacious babes. Let’s go!

The 15:17 to Paris (2018) – BMeTric: 52.5

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(Loving that VOD bump. The rating is shockingly low. It didn’t even start high with all of the Eastwood-heads getting in there, it just started below-average and is now shockingly low. The BMeTric is astonishing all things considered. How bad can the acting actually be?!)

RogerEbert.com – 2 stars –  The movie’s greatest virtue, which might be enough to make it a critic-proof hit no matter what, is its poker faced sincerity. … A lot of U.S. moviegoers are going to feel seen by this film, and that’s a net gain for American cinema, which is supposed to be a populist art form representing the body politic as it is, not merely as the industry wishes it could be. If only someone could’ve heroically intervened to save this movie.

(Can’t say I disagree with the sentiment. There is room for gently jingoistic nonsense just like there is room for gory horror, cynical comedy, and sex-crazed teen romps. But certainly it looks like Eastwoods speed and very peculiar choice to cast three non-actors in the lead roles made this one very much non-critic-proof.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IC_lnyn2R2Q

(The army, God, the American Dream, and heroes babbbbbbbyyyyyyyyy. The voiceover is a bit odd in the middle. As a matter of fact it feels like the film is desperately trying to cover up the fact that the main actors can’t, in fact, act. Which is a solid choice.)

Directors – Clint Eastwood – (Known For: American Sniper; Mystic River; Unforgiven; Gran Torino; Million Dollar Baby; Sully: Miracle on the Hudson; The Bridges of Madison County; Changeling; The Outlaw Josey Wales; Space Cowboys; Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil; Absolute Power; Invictus; J. Edgar; A Perfect World; Jersey Boys; Hereafter; Blood Work; High Plains Drifter; Letters from Iwo Jima; Future BMT: The Rookie; BMT: The 15:17 to Paris; Notes: Well known for talking to an empty chair at the Republican National Convention. I kid (although he did do that for real). His directing style might be called … rushed. Although arguably that is intentional. But clearly competent and efficient, churning out films like Woody Allen churns out scripts.)

Writers – Dorothy Blyskal (screenplay by) – (BMT: The 15:17 to Paris; Notes: She worked on Sully with Eastwood, and then ended up getting recruited to adapt the book the film is based on while working as a production assistant on Logan. I didn’t read it, but here is an interview detailing her career trajectory.)

Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone, Jeffrey E. Stern (based on the book by) – (BMT: The 15:17 to Paris; Notes: These are the three heroes of the story, they wrote the book and then ultimately starred in the subsequent film in what Eastwood called an “interesting experiment”.)

Actors – Alek Skarlatos – (BMT: The 15:17 to Paris; Notes: He was in the US Army National Guard. Finished in third place on Dancing with the Stars. He is currently running for a position in local politics in Oregon according to wikipedia.)

Anthony Sadler – (BMT: The 15:17 to Paris; Notes: Not much info on wiki beyond detailing the attack. He was the civilian of the bunch, having been childhood friends with Skarlatos and Stone.)

Spencer Stone – (BMT: The 15:17 to Paris; Notes: He was in the US Air Force. Two months after the attack he was stabbed outside of a nightclub and almost died.)

Budget/Gross – $30 million / Domestic: $36,250,957 (Worldwide: $57,050,957)

(It did … poorly. That isn’t even really fine, it was poor. Given they didn’t have to pay three leads though, where did the money go?)

#22 for the Terrorism genre

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(Swordfish is the only other film we’ve seen. This is, amazingly, the highest by BMeTric. Collateral Damage with Schwarzenegger is next up I think. By the way the note at the bottom is pretty excellent: NOTE: Movies such as Die Hard, Under Siege, Speed and The Rock are not being counted as their villains for the most part are about getting money or are disgruntled former employees. For it to be a “”Terrorist”” movie, the central action has to occur to promote a cause or for destruction’s sake.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 23% (35/149): The 15:17 to Paris pays clumsily well-intentioned tribute to an act of heroism, but by casting the real-life individuals involved, director Clint Eastwood fatally derails his own efforts.

(YAH THINK? It is an astonishing and immediately ill-advised choice. You don’t really flippantly make a movie. Although given how Eastwood directs, maybe he genuinely thinks you can. Reviewer Highlight: Performances in Eastwood films are usually uneven, but here his hands-off directing style shows no mercy … – Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, AV Club)

Poster – Bonjour, je suis American. Ça va? (A)

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(I actually enjoy this poster quite a bit. Artistic, black-and-white with red accents, and a unique font for a little spin.)

Tagline(s) – A true story. The real heroes. (D)

In the face of fear ordinary people can do the extraordinary (C+)

(The first one more or less confirms that this is likely just an experiment that Eastwood thought would be interesting to try, so it’s not particularly interesting. The second is good and hits all the marks, but is just too cliched to get a high grade. Probably 30% of all films made could have that tagline. I guess not Exit Wounds, since Steven Seagal is anything but ordinary.)

Keyword(s) – train; Top Ten by BMeTric: 93.2 Gunday (2014); 86.1 Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987); 82.5 Highlander II: The Quickening (1991); 80.7 xXx²: The Next Level (2005); 79.4 Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009); 79.0 Torque (2004); 77.7 Beverly Hills Chihuahua (2008); 77.5 Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (2002); 72.8 Jonah Hex (2010); 72.5 Cell (I) (2016);

(Nooooo never Gunday. Never. As a matter of fact once you nix that, the other two missing films don’t qualify both being above 40% on Rotten Tomatoes. So arguably we are, in fact, done with the top train films as far as BMT is concerned. In reality it would probably be better to just filter out non-qualifying films … but whatever.)

Notes – The first person to tackle the terrorist on the train was a Frenchman. He later turned down the Légion d’honneur and asked to remain anonymous because he feared reprisals from other Islamists living in France. (Oh shit, that’s pretty cool)

Director Clint Eastwood enlisted the actual Americans who took down the terrorist to play themselves in this movie: Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, and Spencer Stone. (As we heard above, this was a terrible idea.)

Roughly eight weeks after the Thalys train attack, Spencer Stone was stabbed in the back several times by James Tran, outside a downtown Sacramento night club. Stone suffered wounds to his lungs, liver and heart, and he had to undergo emergency open heart surgery. In 2017, Tran was found guilty of attempted murder, causing great bodily injury and the use of a deadly weapon and was sentenced to nine years. Stone was quoted in the Sacramento Bee newspaper, saying, “At the end of the day, I forgive the guy. We all make stupid decisions, some dumber than others. I hope he learns from it.”

The plot tagline says “3 U.S. Airmen,” but only Spencer Stone is in the Air Force. Alek Skarlatos is Army National Guard and Anthony Sadler is a civilian.

This is the 36th feature film to be directed by Clint Eastwood. (He pumps these out)

Clint Eastwood was attached to direct The Ballad of Richard Jewell since 2014 but dropped out in 2016 to do Impossible Odds as his next directorial project after finishing Sully (2016). The project wasn’t ready yet and needed more time in development, meaning that Eastwood needed another project. He decided to sign on to helm this project as his next directorial film.

An image of Clint Eastwood’s face from Pale Rider (1985) appears on a character’s t-shirt.

Many of the professional actors in this film are better known as sitcom stars: Tony Hale and Judy Greer were both in Arrested Development, Jenna Fischer in The Office, Thomas Lennon in Reno 911!, and Jaleel White in Family Matters. (So basically this is a bunch of amateurs, and then a bunch of television actors … this sounds like it shall go swimmingly)