The Movie Weekend That Was


March Madness took a little bite out of my movie weekend. There’s something inherently charming about being able to flip on the TV at any point during a weekend and see college kids trying to fulfill their dreams. That said, there was still time for movies. This weekend introduced me to a horrifying double feature about sex, made me face down a phobia, introduced me to a sports classic, and gave me a special Thrill. This is the movie weekend that was.


Why, whatever could he be doing with that iron?!

Cheap Thrills (2013)
There’s been a buzz around Cheap Thrills for a few months now, with snippets about its greatness populating my Twitter feed. It certainly has the pedigree, with Pat Healy, Sara Paxton, David Koechner, and Ethan Embry starring in a film distributed by Drafthouse Films. Cheap Thrills tracks the night of a married couple (Koechner and Paxton) who put two lifelong friends (Healy and Embry) through the paces via a series of demented dares. It’s almost impossible to discuss it further because I’d hate to ruin any surprises, but it lived up to all of my expectations. It’s as much comedy as it is thriller, and it doesn’t run short on jaw-dropping moments. It’s a comedic, Americanized take on some of the more wacky Asian gross out thrillers that we’ve seen through the years. Three… Extremes (2004), 13: Game of Death (2006), and almost anything by Takashi Miike or Chan-Wook Park come to mind. This is highly recommended, though not for the weak of heart. Then again, if you’re weak of heart and you know my tastes, you probably wouldn’t be reading my site anyway.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Shame (2011)
I’m now completely up to speed on Steve McQueen films. As far as I’m concerned, he’s as good as it gets with directorial talent today. His films are modern extensions of classic arthouse cinema, particularly some of the darker corners- early Haneke, Bergman, Lars von Trier, and Jean Vigo. Few filmmakers do so much with so little. There’s a perfect example in Shame, McQueen’s shattering look at sex addiction. The protag, Michael Fassbender, is perfectly still, glaring across a dance floor early in the film, eyeing his next conquest. The machinations in his head are evident, while all around him is a dance floor full of chaos. Obviously, Fassbender deserves credit for that as well, but McQueen knows enough to capture it. I don’t really have much else to say, other than McQueen is tremendous and he’s going to be a filmmaking force for years to come.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars 

34041_1Contracted (2013)
If you like early Cronenberg, with all of its uncomfortable sexual politics and body horror, you really can’t go wrong with Contracted. It’s a film about a lesbian who gets loaded at a party and has sex with a mysterious man. From that point forward, her body begins breaking down in really graphic and explicit ways. The dissolution of her body is made all the more terrifying filtered through her naive, 20-something emotional angst. Call it corporeal horror with just a tiny dash, just enough, of emotional horror. Doing Contracted and Shame in the same night made for a hell of a double feature, both portraying sexuality in the worst possible way.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars 

Snakes on a Plane (2006)
This almost became a film for the “Don’t Watch It, John!” series. That’s not because it’s so horrible, or that it has such a bad reputation. It’s because I’m completely terrified of snakes. And true to form, those motherfucking snakes on that motherfucking plane gave me enough chills to last a lifetime. Even with some sloppy CGI, it was a difficult film to watch because watching a bunch of snakes decimate flight passengers in an unescapable, enclosed plane is the stuff that my nightmares are made of. Thankfully, there’s enough camp and humor to deflect the phobia a bit. You’re not living until you see Samuel L. Jackson crawling around on a plane tasing snakes left and right.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Frozen (2013)
I’m not going to besmirch the movie. I’ll simply say that 90 minutes of Disney princesses singing about love probably places me as far outside of the movie’s target market as possible.
Rating: Incomplete


A group of young men who are about to overcome stuff and learn things.

Remember the Titans (2000)
I never know what to do with movies like this. It’s riddled with sports film clichés and with race film clichés. You can plot out the entire movie within the first 5 minutes. But you’d almost have to be a ghoul to deny the emotion of it, or that it’s simply a fine film. It’s easy to see why it’s so popular. You can’t have a movie conversation with most sports fans (and especially football fans) without the film coming up. For all of the clichés, it earns its reputation. It earns bonus points for a soundtrack that’s right in my wheelhouse.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars


Filed under Movies

17 responses to “The Movie Weekend That Was

  1. Alejsalynn

    Don’t judge me, but I loved Snakes on a Plane. It’s the kind of film that knows exactly what it is, and doesn’t try to deviate or take itself more seriously.

    I saw Shame when it came out on DVD last year. It was an excellent film, very well acted, but I don’t think I could watch it again.

  2. The guy who lives across the street from the high school that got beat at the end of Remember the Titans

    Regarding REmember the Titans, I live across the street from George Marshall High School–the team they beat at the end.

  3. So you don’t wanna build a snow man? Or ride your bike around the halls? Come on John! Let it go already!


  4. I’ve got to find this, “Cheap Thrills” flick!

  5. This doesn’t happen often, but I actually went into “Frozen” completely misinformed about the “plot”, thinking it was all about that snowman voiced by Josh Gad. Anyone else? I had no idea he was such a small, non-integral part of the movie and it was all about princesses.

    “Cheap Thrills” looks very interesting. I think I can take whatever it dishes out.

  6. Alright, you’ve sold me on Cheap Thrills. It looks like it’s coming to Chicago the week of my birthday. I think I know what I’m going to be doing then…

  7. I’ve been curious about Cheap Thrills, and your 5 out of 5 has motivated me to give it a watch. Really excited for it now.

    • I just got confirmation that Eric liked it, so I didn’t sell anyone a bill of goods. Thankfully.

      • Watched it last night – absolutely loved it. I didn’t recognize Embry until he was on screen for about 15 minutes, and when it clicked, I was floored.. And Koechner…perfect. Seriously man, thanks for the push on this one. Great little flick.

        • You’re welcome! Koechner was awesome in that movie. I have a soft spot for the guy, too, because he’s a native Missourian.

          Cheap Thrills is one of those kinds of movies that you’ll find in buckets if you have the right Twitter follows.

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