For Your Queue: Two from Hillcoat


By Hope Madden


Out on DVD/BluRay/OnDemand/assorted other whatnot this week is the period shoot-em-up Lawless. It’s prohibition time, and the bootlegging Bondurant boys turn down the pricy “protection” offered by big city law. A showdown between official muscle and hardened backwoodsmen is inevitable.

Director John Hillcoat’s assembled an impressive cast, including the great Tom Hardy and Jessica Chastain, whose skill and onscreen chemistry command attention. It’s worth a look.

Even better, dig back in the catalogue for Hillcoat’s first film, The Proposition. A magnificent, brutal, fascinating Outback Western, it’s an underseen gem any fan of the genre is guaranteed to love.

For Your Queue: Laughing and Wincing


By Hope and George


An underseen film being released to DVD/BluRay today is the newest flick from Todd Solondz.

In Dark Horse, misanthrope/filmmaker Solondz turns his pitiless gaze toward the entitled underachiever. Abe (a perfect Jordan Gelber), waddling through his thirties, drives a hummer, lives at home, slacks off at his father’s office, collects action figures, and believes himself to be put-upon.

A game supporting cast, including Mia Farrow and Christopher Walken as coddling parents, keeps things interesting. As usual, Solondz’s humor comes from a dark place, although Dark Horse is hardly his blackest comedy (that would be Happiness, the one about the pedophile). Nor is it his best (see also: Happiness). But a middling effort from Solondz is still too brilliantly awful to go unseen.

If you’re up for a double scoop of dark laughs, consider Carnage, Roman Polanksi’s adaptation of the hit play from Yasmina Reza (who also wrote the script).

The film is set almost entirely in one room, where two sets of parents are meeting to cordially discuss a recent altercation at school involving their respective sons.

Cordial doesn’t stand a chance.

In short order, the meeting spirals into chaos amid brilliant slices of coal black comedy and stellar performances from Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Kate Wislet and Christoph Waltz.

Uncomfortable? Oh, yes. But its also intelligent and hilarious, and worth a look if you missed it in theaters.

So that happened…

God Bless America

Voting lines in our precinct were longer than we’d expected. We could have voted early.  I think we might have done it, too, if someone would have been motivated enough to remind us 634 times, but 633? Get bent!

Anyway, we like to get up on election day, put on our best sweatpants and bad-hair-day hats,  walk the block to our local elementary school and queue up to perform our civic duty.

As do a lot of our neighbors. Lots and lots. And it would seem that the vast majority of Grandviewans (Grandviewers? SpongeView GrandPants?) regardless of political affiliation have a last name in the L-Z bracket. As we waited and sweated, and read the artwork adorning the hallway to learn which second graders believed themselves to be the class’s best drawers and/or cutest, we heard the constant announcement: A-K? A-K? If your name starts with letters A through K, you can go ahead in. A-K?

I began to really hate A-K, not to mention question the logic of this line jumping.

Also, I was a bit distracted by the person in line whose phone kept going off with the “cock-a-doodle-doo” ringtone. So, if that was you, I apologize for yelling “Okay, who brought the rooster?”

To be honest, I think it brought about PTSD flashbacks from the concession stand line at the Obama/Springsteen/Jay-Z rally the day before. Because George and I have built our home on the corner of Liberal Politics and E Street, naturally we attended. How could we not?

Doors opened at noon, with Obama allegedly taking the stage at 4pm, so we and 16,000 other left-minded Ohioans queued up at 9am. By the time we got inside, we’d been standing since breakfast, knew we wouldn’t be leaving until dinnertime, so we all – all 16K of us – started looking for concessions.

16 thousand people, all of whom had been in line for hours and were now starving, and Nationwide Arena only opened two food kiosks? With a total of 6 (three apiece) workers? I’ll tell you right now, had I been one of those six, I’d have taken my own life.

C’mon, it’s Bruce!  Baby, we were born to eat!

It’s Jay-Z! I got 99 problems, and right now number one is not having direct access to super nachos!

It’s Obama! I thought free condiments were now part of my health care!

I waited 90 minutes. At about minute 30, a large young woman appeared ahead of me. This simply doesn’t happen in a line. So I said, “Ma’am, don’t do this. We’ve been here half an hour already.”

She returned to her rightful spot behind me and began loudly calming herself. “I’m just going to settle down, I’m going to let it go, I’m not going to start anything. But I am going to say one thing, and that one thing is, pay attention.”

She turned to me.

“Pay attention. That is the rule for today, for all you fools. Pay attention.”

It seemed needless to point out that, had I not been paying attention, I probably wouldn’t have noticed her ditching the line. But I said it anyway.

Lines breed testiness. Just ask those guys in my same concession stand line that came to blows.

But then we all remembered that great Tesla song, “Lines, lines, everywhere a line…”

Wait, did I just use the words “great,” “Tesla” and “song” in a row?

Whatevs.  The point is, wimpy hair metal is offensive.

After 90 minutes, I gave up. I could hear speakers speaking and figured it wasn’t worth missing it all for a super nacho and a couple of naked hot dogs (no way was I trying to get to that condiment stand).

I hope someone checked that rooster’s ID…