Sympathy for the Devil

an opinion on josh trank’s “capone”

This piece comes a little late, but so does everything for 2020 apparently. It has been a long time since I’ve come to sit in front of my keyboard and take up the mantle of “Cinema Reviewer,” but I felt the need to come to the defense of Josh Trank and his latest endeavor, “CAPONE” also known as “FONZO”. It seems other reviewers have not put 2015’s “Fantastic Four” behind them and still hold somewhat of a grudge when Trank’s name is brought up.

When movie audiences hear the name Al Capone, what they envision in their mind is the ruthless gangster; a criminal mastermind who ran the Chicago underworld in the 1920’s and 30’s. Maybe even Robert De Niro’s portrayal in “The Untouchables” where he wears a tuxedo and beats people to death with a baseball bat. Josh Trank’s “CAPONE” is no “The Untouchables”. It’s what happens after the glitz and glamour; where the violence and drama become silent; where old gangsters go to retire, to get old, and to fade away.

I think for many a person, they did not go in expecting what they saw in this movie. They went expecting an action movie where Capone puts his enemies down with a Thompson Submachine Gun and makes those who owe him debts eat through a straw. Those who already knew the story of Al Capone’s last years, I believe, had better expectations on what they were about to see on the screen. For those unaware, Al Capone’s last years were basically spent in what could be called medical retirement. Released from prison (his charges being that of tax evasion) early, at the age of 48, due to the complications of the late stages of syphilis which he apparently had since the age of 15. These complications included that of neurosyphilis which affects the nervous system, coordination, and can cause dementia.

So, instead of a tough talking villain, we have been shown the face of a man who is literally dying in front of us. Well, not just any man, but that of the legendary outlaw/criminal Al Capone who has been made a larger than life figure in our history and media thanks to multiple movies, books, and television shows (including that one where Geraldo Rivera’s career was destroyed and he can now only get a gig on Fox News of all places, but I will let you all research that one on your own time).

With this in mind, it is very easy to see just what Josh Trank and Tom Hardy (I can’t believe it took me this long to mention Tom Hardy in this) have accomplished. They took one of the most legendary historical figures and shone a light onto his last years and just how much of an ordinary human he was and how death is always the great equalizer. If “The Untouchables” was showcasing the climax of Capone’s legend, then “CAPONE” is it’s lowest depths, where he crawls slowly to that awaiting grave. Trank does not falter and does not shy away from showing the fragility of Capone, putting Tom Hardy in frame to drool over himself, smoke a carrot like Bugs Bunny, scream as his possessions are being sold off, and even shitting his silk drawers.

I personally think “CAPONE” is a marvelous insight into the final years of one of the most legendary and vile humans to walk the face of this earth. Al Capone doesn’t deserve our sympathy, but Josh Trank’s brilliance in storytelling and Tom Hardy’s gift of acting helps to rip it from us. ~ YoungYoda

Jay & Silent Bob Reboot Roadshow

An Experience

Sometimes life works in mysterious ways to make sure you don’t fuck yourself over from experiencing some of those moments you will never forget. This is that story. (Skip the next two paragraphs if you want to only know about the show and not how I got there).

So, let’s take a journey back to about five months before December 6th where I come across a Kevin Smith (follow him you fools) twitter post decreeing that he and his heterosexual life mate, Jay Mewes, would be taking America (and possibly parts of Canada) by storm promoting their newest film “Jay & Silent Bob Reboot”. In my nerd hype state at that moment, I purchase one ticket (this will be a mistake, trust me) for $60 and message three of my best friends telling them about it. They seem hyped enough and I, expecting they would be prudent in their purchase to join me, leave the matter in their hands (second mistake). This, in turn, would come to bite me straight in the ass as I had forgotten a key element, that these group of friends are literally the worst at following up on anything (I moved into my house 3 years ago, and none of them have driven the hour and thirty minutes to come see me. Oh well.).

So, here I am holding a ticket to an event to see THE Kevin Smith, one of my personal favorite directors (and king nerd) and just a straight up cool dude. Having watched all his Q&A’s on DVD, I never thought that I would get this chance to see the man in the flesh. Unfortunately, anxiety has a funny way of fucking with you and I told my wife that I didn’t want to go by myself. Reluctantly, I post my ticket on StubHub for $100 (Figured I might as well get $40 for my trouble). Months go by and my ticket stays unsold, so I’ve sold my fate as to being fucked. But, there always appears a light at the end of the tunnel (sometimes it’s a bus, but whatever). Anyways, there had been another ticket that had went up about the same time as mine for the low, low price of $320. As I do not have Kevin Smith money, I said “No thank you”. However, 5 months later that ticket’s price dropped down to $120 (Yes, I know double the original) and luckily for the seller of that particular ticket I was stuck in a Phoenix hotel with nothing to keep me entertained. So, I de-listed my ticket, said “Fuck it” and purchased another ticket to bring my wife along for the ride.

The Myth, The Legend, The BOB

Fast forward this story to the night of the show. After an hour and a half drive, we arrive in the parking lot of The Loft Cinema (btw, I had never been to this movie house) which I doubt had been updated since the 70’s. Neon and the light from the marquee illuminated an old school, silver travel trailer that had been converted into a food and wine truck (We skipped this attraction as I just wanted to find two seats before we were left sitting in opposite ends of the theater. BTW, this show was also sold out. Tucson showed up.) We manage to find seats and patiently waited. I can honestly say, I have never felt more comfortable in a theater of people before. If you couldn’t find a nerd in Tucson, it was because they were all here to support a buddy movie featuring a mute in a trench coat and his blond, loud-mouthed co-star. I was so excited to even have made it this far. About 15 minutes later, our efforts to get to this point would be greeted with a much more trim Kevin Smith, from the one I had seen on those DVD’s, who would go on to express how this was his 53rd sold out show, how this movie was one big personal love fest for Kevin Smith by Kevin Smith as Kevin Smith was the biggest fan of Kevin Smith, and how he thanks everyone for showing up (and probably overpaying) to see him and his friend do the same thing they had been doing for 25 years. He would go on to introduce Mewes who had apparently been pulled from an update of Fortnite, but was ecstatic for this showing as he had family in the audience who had attended. They also went on to show us three, hilarious and creative, audible ads featuring Jay and Silent Bob before they started “Jay & Silent Bob Reboot”. S/O to audible for sponsoring this tour along with our own little podcast. Get a free trial by going to audibletrial.com/thenerdcorps.

I don’t want to be that guy who spoils, so I’ll try and keep my descriptions as simple as possible about the movie. If you’re a fan of any movies about or featuring Jay & Silent Bob (from Clerks to Dogma to Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back) expect to laugh from the beginning to the end of this film. There’s no time for oxygen in some places. Expect for big, celebrity cameos as Smith guilt tripped anyone and everyone he knew to be in the film after his heart attack (he confirmed this himself in the Q&A). Jay Mewes’ performance will give you those nostalgic fits of laughter along with some pretty well formed scenes which will pull on the heart strings. The stand out star in this film is strangely neither of the characters whose name graces the title, but Kevin Smith’s own daughter Harley Quinn Smith. Though Jay and Silent Bob bring the laughs, it is Harley who drives the movie forward and gives Mewes the chance to flex some acting muscles we had rarely seen in previous works. She along with a great supporting cast and possibly the most celebrity cameos to ever be put on the big screen, help to create a feel good, fun time at the movies, where we can properly show our appreciation for Kevin Smith’s creation to honor Kevin Smith. (And yes, Ben Affleck is totally in this movie).

I will just say, if you are lucky enough to make it to the Roadshow, please stay for the Question and Answer segment after the show. Kevin Smith gives honest, heartfelt, and hilarious answers to random questions fans throw out there. I will tell one story from this because I think people need to know how caring these two guys are.

Yes, those are giant inflatable joints that they gave away to audience members.

One of the audience members went on to tell Kevin how thankful she was that he made movies and how she and her husband’s first date was to see “Jersey Girl”. But, she also expressed how her husband had passed away three years ago and she had come to the show to show Smith and Mewes support as she knew that’s what her husband would have wanted. She goes on to ask if this was the final movie for Jay and Silent Bob. Kevin Smith proceeds to bring her on stage and give her a hug (Mewes also gets a hug out of it) and then Smith holds her hand the whole time while answering her question. Which, by the way, both a Clerks 3 and Mall Rats 2 are currently going into production. I think this experience shows why Kevin Smith is one of the most beloved directors of our age. He is super appreciative that the “one magic trick” he was capable of with the creation of Clerks has paid off for the last 25 years because of the fans. (If you weren’t aware, Clerks was added to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry about a week ago).

To give this movie a rating (as is The Nerd Corps way) would be difficult to say the least. I know the experience of this film would be far different if I had been alone on my couch instead of watching this film in a packed theater full of Jay and Silent Bob fans including the real life versions of Jay and Silent Bob (and honestly, I think this was one of the best dates my wife and I have ever gone on. So, thanks Kevin). So, in lieu of a rating, I will say just to go watch the movie when it drops on DVD, Blu-Ray, and Amazon Prime on January 31, 2020 or before hand if you can make it to one of the stops on the Reboot Roadshow and decide for yourself.

I can safely say that this night will be embedded into my memory until I cease to exist and I am damn glad I decided to go out of my comfort zone and see great people creating great things. YoungYoda out.

The Cinema of Martin Scorsese

As we wrap up our month on the acclaimed Italian American director on The Nerd Corps we take a look at the films of Martin Scorsese.

PHOTO CREDIT: Stephane Cardinals Corbis

Up until this year the only two films we have discussed from Martin Scorsese’s critically acclaimed filmography were Taxi Driver (1976) and Raging Bull (1980). Scorsese and I both share a lot of things in common, we both have 2001: A Space Odyssey in our top 10 movies of all time, we are both big fans of the master filmmaker Federico Fellini, and both of us enjoy some homemade spaghetti and meatballs.

The son of Charles and Catherine Scorsese started his career with his directorial debut in 1967 with Who’s That Knocking at My Door. Soon after he would go on to create some of the most incredible films of three decades with Taxi Driver in 1976, Raging Bull in 1980, and Goodfellas in 1990. He is known as the man who has perfected the mobster film. His filmography consists of amazing mobster films but films like The Last Temptation of Christ, The King of Comedy, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Silence truly prove his talent to not just be chained to one genre.

Scorsese’s cinematic language consists of brutality, faith, identity, fear, and much more. An incredibly talented director that has kept his relevancy throughout the years of his career. One cannot watch a single film by Scorsese without feeling the raw authenticity of his work. The level of intimacy that he brings to the director chair is unmatched even though he is no stranger to controversy.

You cannot mention this man without bringing up the impeccable editor he works with, Thelma Schoonmaker. Two creative minds are not more made for each other the way that Scorsese and Schoonmaker are. It is hard to imagine a Martin Scorsese picture without it being edited by Schoonmaker.

Wrapping up our month on Scorsese I have reinvented my love for him. Watch out for a review of his 2019 film The Irishman coming soon to The Nerd Corps podcast, YouTube channel, and website right here!

A Storm of Madness Is Brewing

Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse is a deep dive into madness created by the isolation of Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson.

CREDIT: Eric Chakeen

In order to actually talk about this movie I feel that we need to go back to the year 2015. The world would be subjected to the incredible directorial debut of Robert Eggers, The Witch. Now The Lighthouse is no The Witch because it is a completely different movie breed of its own. Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson play these two sailors who are stuck working on this island as Dafoe maintains the lighthouse which seems to have some weird powers. Here is the catch, these two men are slowly going mad and it all happens in an incredibly crafted way.

Now I understand at first glance this probably looks like the most pretentious film of 2019 because it is filmed on 35mm black and white film along with an immersive 4:3 aspect ratio. The thing is that there are films that seem to take these types of aspects and make it more important than the story. That is definitely not the case for this picture. Throughout the film it never feels like Eggers is sacrificing style for substance.

Robert Eggers crafts an incredible piece of art that is heavily supported by two one of a kind performances. The cinematography and creation of the atmosphere amplifies the sense of uneasiness throughout the film. Eggers truly creates a one of a kind film that was not easy to watch to say the least, but leaves you with shivers down your spine until the end. Pattinson absolutely loses himself in this role and along with some disturbing visuals left me speechless. Dafoe also does an incredible job with the several monologues and line delivery.

When I continue thinking about this movie I think about the fact that Eggers really stylized this picture and made it his own by taking influences from Ingmar Bergman and Stanley Kubrick to name a few. I cannot wait to see what Eggers does next and how this shapes up at next year’s Academy Awards.

10/10 or 5/5

For The Fans…

A Review of EL camino: A breaking bad movie

Photo Credit: Entertainment Weekly

Another movie this year which I chalked up to being “unnecessary”, but in this instance I still believe that. But, did I watch El Camino the second it dropped on Netflix? As Walter White once proclaimed, “You’re goddamn right.” I guess this review has a hint of spoiler territory if you’ve never seen the original six seasons of Breaking Bad. If this is the case, be sure to stop reading here and go watch the series as it is one of the best television moments to ever grace the airwaves.

When we last left off the story of Jesse Pinkman, he was driving off into the sunset in an El Camino stolen off the once living, meth dealing white supremacists whose corpses now littered the very compound they had been keeping Jesse hostage in. This all of course thanks to Walter White’s last minute heroics which included robots and a fully automatic machine gun (Seriously to all the readers, go watch Breaking Bad). Anyways, to me this was the perfect send off to a beloved character who was only supposed to get a very short episode arc, but due to Aaron Paul’s prodigious performance, he became the Oliver Hardy to Bryan Cranston’s Stan Laurel. This ending sees Jesse burst through the locked gate of his previous forced residence as we get a close-up to his face both laughing manically while crying tears of relief and delirium. It left all viewers who watched with the idea that Jesse, a character who had gone through hell during this last season, would have a happily ever-after. Vince Gilligan had capped off one of his greatest achievements with an ending that left most, if not all fans, satisfied.

A little more than six years later we get El Camino, whose existence is more of a love letter from Gilligan to the fans. Was it necessary? Far from it. Was it satisfying? Oh, hell yeah it was. The story starts right at the very ending of Breaking Bad and doesn’t slow down. We find that not all stories are straight forward and sometimes our characters go from the frying pan and into the fire. Fans of Breaking Bad will not lose that feeling of satisfaction by the end of this movie, but will have more details to go with it.

Seeing Aaron Paul back as his titular character is refreshing and getting call backs to conversations he had with his past castmates from Jonathan Banks to Bryan Cranston made me nostalgic for the series. Two characters whose portrayals must be recognized are that of Todd Alquist, played by Jesse Plemons, and Ed Galbraith, played by the now late Robert Forster (who passed away, the same day the movie was released, at the age of 78). These two characters help to provide the details of Jesse’s past and move the story forward into his future. All I can say is that it is a must to have the exact change when purchasing a vacuum.

Can a two hour movie provide the same quality as six seasons? No, but Vince Gilligan has penned a love letter to the fans that allows us to see some of our favorite characters one more time. For that, I am giving El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie a 9.25/10. YoungYoda out.