Open Road Films via Everett Collection
David Ayer's Sabotage is just the latest stop in Arnold Schwarzenegger's comeback tour, though it probably won't do the actor too many favors. Schwarzenegger plays John "Breacher" Wharton, the leader of an elite DEA task force that specializes in taking down drug cartels. Each member of the team is a blunt instrument drunk off of their alpha male (and female) machismo, but to be fair, they are damn good at what they do. They're masters at going in hard, killing whoever needs killing, and heading to the strip club and drinking themselves into a stupor before the next round of street sweeping. Unfortunately, it turns out years of busting cartel bosses and being deeply unpleasant to everyone you come into contact with eventually catches up to you, and members of the squad start dying in ghastly and elaborate ways. And just like that, we have what basically amounts to an Agatha Christie novel with a gym membership and a pile of meth.
Unfortunately, and as expected, giving Agatha Christie a couple of reps at the gym and a pile of drugs turns her into a blithering idiot, because Sabotage is incredibly stupid. The central mystery somehow manages to be both preposterous and predictable at the same time. The film's one saving grace is its action. The action scenes are adrenal and exciting and unbelievably gory. Bloated corpses are poked and prodded, viscera hangs like ropes from a rafter. This film takes immense pleasure in being completely disgusting. It’s downright gleeful about it. Here's a full shot of a soiled toilet, just because. Here's a piece of skin hanging on some metal, why not. Isn't that cool?
While Sabotage does manage to thrill in spurts and stutters, there's absolutely nothing beating at the heart of the film. All of the main characters are completely and utterly repugnant, and you'll pity anyone who has to endure their company throughout the film. When characters do start to die, you won't feel all that broken up about it. In fact, you may even feel a twinge of joy, like the earth was suddenly unburdened from a pure source of rampant douchebaggery. Just imagine the most disgusting, and off-putting person you can, and then give them a gun, a badge, and a fierce sense of entitlement, and you have every single member of the film's DEA squad. They're all terrible.
And if that weren't bad enough, the acting ranges from mediocre to terrible. The usually wonderful Olivia Williams and the capable Sam Worthington continually forget which continent they're on, their accents dropping in an out like a bad radio connection; Schwarzenneger has a complete inability to emote anything apropos of the situation at hand. When looking upon a pile of ooze that was formerly in the shape of one of his best friends, his disappointment is more akin to seeing a temporarily occupied gym bench on chest day. All of the charm the actor showcased in something like the recent Escape Plan is washed out by Breacher's moping about his dark past, and when Schwarzenneger isn't allowed to be fun, then he's completely boring.
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Really, I should hate Sabotage. It’s a completely stupid and mean spirited film, but there’s a strange charm to the depravity of it all. There's an audaciousness to it. The film goes as far as it can to push limits, and succeeds at being appaling. It’s a film that knows how stupid and ugly it is and champions that fact. It’s playing in its own filth, and as gross as that is, at least it’s having fun. This is the kind of film that will be in heavy rotation at the local frat house. That’s doesn’t mean the film is good or even okay, but if you like watching horrific violence, awful mysteries, and awful people being awful, then boy do I have a film for you.
You don't arrive at the Grand Budapest Hotel without your share of Wes Anderson baggage. Odds are, if you've booked a visit to this film, you've enjoyed your past trips to the Wes Indies (I promise I'll stop this extended metaphor soon), delighting especially in Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and his most recent charmer Moonrise Kingdom. On the other hand, you could be the adventurous sort — a curious diplomat who never really got Anderson's uric-toned deadpan drudgings but can't resist browsing through the brochures of his latest European getaway. First off, neither community should worry about a bias in this review — I'm a Life Aquatic devotee, equally alienating to both sides. Second, neither community should be deterred by Andersonian expectations, be they sky high or subterranean, in planned Budapest excursions. No matter who you are, this movie will charm your dandy pants off and then some.
While GBH hangs tight to the filmmaker's recognizable style, the movie is a departure for Anderson in a number of ways. The first being plot: there is one. A doozy, too. We're accustomed to spending our Wes flicks peering into the stagnant souls of pensive man-children — or children-men (Moonrise) or fox-kits (guess) — whose journeys are confined primarily to the internal. But not long into Grand Budapest, we're on a bona fide adventure with one of the director's most attractive heroes to date: the didactic Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes mastering sympathetic comedy better than anyone could have imagined he might), who invests his heart and soul into the titular hotel, an oasis of nobility in a decaying 1930s Europe. Gustave is plucked from his sadomasochistic nirvana overseeing every cog and sprocket in the mountaintop institution and thrust into a madcap caper — reminiscent of, and not accidentally, the Hollywood comedies of the era — involving murder, framing, art theft, jailbreak, love, sex, envy, secret societies, high speed chases... believe me, I haven't given half of it away. Along the way, we rope in a courageous baker (Saoirse Ronan), a dutiful attorney (Jeff Goldblum), a hotheaded socialite (Adrien Brody) and his psychopathic henchman (Willem Dafoe), and no shortage of Anderson regulars. The director proves just as adept at the large scale as he is at the small, delivering would-be cartoon high jinks with the same tangible life that you'd find in a Billy Wilder romp or one of the better Hope/Crosby Road to movies.
Anchoring the monkey business down to a recognizable planet Earth (without sacrificing an ounce of comedy) is the throughline of Gustave's budding friendship with his lobby boy, Zero (newcomer Tony Revolori, whose performance is an unprecedented and thrilling mixture of Wes Anderson stoicism and tempered humility), the only living being who appreciates the significance of the Grand Budapest as much as Gustave does. In joining these two oddballs on their quest beyond the parameters of FDA-approved doses of zany, we appreciate it, too: the significance of holding fast to something you believe in, understand, trust, and love in a world that makes less and less sense everyday. Anderson's World War II might not be as ostensibly hard-hitting as that to which modern cinema is accustomed, but there's a chilling, somber horror story lurking beneath the surface of Grand Budapest. Behind every side-splitting laugh, cookie cutter backdrop, and otherworldly antic, there is a pulsating dread that makes it all mean something. As vivid as the worlds of Rushmore, Tenenbaums, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Moonrise might well have been, none have had this much weight and soul.
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So it's astonishing that we're able to zip to and fro' every crevice of this haunting, misty Central Europe at top speeds, grins never waning as our hero Gustave delivers supernaturally articulate diatribes capped with physically startling profanity. So much of it is that delightfully odd, agonizingly devoted character, his unlikely camaraderie with the unflappably earnest young Zero, and his adherence to the magic that inhabits the Grand Budapest Hotel. There are few places like it on Earth, as we learn. There aren't many movies like it here either.
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David Mitchell's novel Cloud Atlas consists of six stories set in various periods between 1850 and a time far into Earth's post-apocalyptic future. Each segment lives on its own the previous first person account picked up and read by a character in its successor creating connective tissue between each moment in time. The various stories remain intact for Tom Tykwer's (Run Lola Run) Lana Wachowski's and Andy Wachowski's (The Matrix) film adaptation which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. The massive change comes from the interweaving of the book's parts into one three-hour saga — a move that elevates the material and transforms Cloud Atlas in to a work of epic proportions.
Don't be turned off by the runtime — Cloud Atlas moves at lightning pace as it cuts back and forth between its various threads: an American notary sailing the Pacific; a budding musician tasked with transcribing the hummings of an accomplished 1930's composer; a '70s-era investigatory journalist who uncovers a nefarious plot tied to the local nuclear power plant; a book publisher in 2012 who goes on the run from gangsters only to be incarcerated in a nursing home; Sonmi~451 a clone in Neo Seoul who takes on the oppressive government that enslaves her; and a primitive human from the future who teams with one of the few remaining technologically-advanced Earthlings in order to survive. Dense but so was the unfamiliar world of The Matrix. Cloud Atlas has more moving parts than the Wachowskis' seminal sci-fi flick but with additional ambition to boot. Every second is a sight to behold.
The members of the directing trio are known for their visual prowess but Cloud Atlas is a movie about juxtaposition. The art of editing is normally a seamless one — unless someone is really into the craft the cutting of a film is rarely a post-viewing talking point — but Cloud Atlas turns the editor into one of the cast members an obvious player who ties the film together with brilliant cross-cutting and overlapping dialogue. Timothy Cavendish the elderly publisher could be musing on his need to escape and the film will wander to the events of Sonmi~451 or the tortured music apprentice Robert Frobisher also feeling the impulse to run. The details of each world seep into one another but the real joy comes from watching each carefully selected scene fall into place. You never feel lost in Cloud Atlas even when Tykwer and the Wachowskis have infused three action sequences — a gritty car chase in the '70s a kinetic chase through Neo Seoul and a foot race through the forests of future millennia — into one extended set piece. This is a unified film with distinct parts echoing the themes of human interconnectivity.
The biggest treat is watching Cloud Atlas' ensemble tackle the diverse array of characters sprinkled into the stories. No film in recent memory has afforded a cast this type of opportunity yet another form of juxtaposition that wows. Within a few seconds Tom Hanks will go from near-neanderthal to British gangster to wily 19th century doctor. Halle Berry Hugh Grant Jim Sturgess Jim Broadbent Ben Whishaw Hugo Weaving and Susan Sarandon play the same game taking on roles of different sexes races and the like. (Weaving as an evil nurse returning to his Priscilla Queen of the Desert cross-dressing roots is mind-blowing.) The cast's dedication to inhabiting their roles on every level helps us quickly understand the worlds. We know it's Halle Berry behind the fair skinned wife of the lunatic composer but she's never playing Halle Berry. Even when the actors are playing variations on themselves they're glowing with the film's overall epic feel. Jim Broadbent's wickedly funny modern segment a Tykwer creation that packs a particularly German sense of humor is on a smaller scale than the rest of the film but the actor never dials it down. Every story character and scene in Cloud Atlas commits to a style. That diversity keeps the swirling maelstrom of a movie in check.
Cloud Atlas poses big questions without losing track of its human element the characters at the heart of each story. A slower moment or two may have helped the Wachowskis' and Tykwer's film to hit a powerful emotional chord but the finished product still proves mainstream movies can ask questions while laying over explosive action scenes. This year there won't be a bigger movie in terms of scope in terms of ideas and in terms of heart than Cloud Atlas.
S8E2: Last week Grey's Anatomy left viewers on quite a somber (and rather bold) note with Cristina actually following through with an abortion, with Owen by her side for support. The bright side is that it looks like their relationship is going to survive this rather depressing and controversial setback, even though right now things are a little awkward in the aftermath of everything. I'm not sure if the same can be said for Derek and Meredith. I admit, I was originally a huge Derek-Meredith (Deredith?) fan in the past, but now I feel like this dead horse has potentially taken its final beating. With Zola gone -- for the time being at least -- the two of them are left trying to deal with the sadness of her departure, while wondering if their marriage can survive this whole ordeal. So with one relationship salvaged and the other one still on shaky ground, you have to wonder what kind of future Shonda Rhimes has in store for our veteran doctors.
To switch over to the actual medical side of the show, April continues to struggle with her new role as Chief Resident, which isn't all that shocking since she really didn't receive much guidance or make any improvements during the first episode. (Where's a Dr. Bailey speech when you need one?) But she ends up making some strides in this episode, so there may be hope for her after all. In other news, the fifth-year residents are all put to the test as they receive their first solo surgery assignments, but there's really no need for them to stress, right? It's only their entire career on the line. And then the Chief makes a decision that shocks everyone at Seattle Grace, although I think we all had a feeling this was coming.
"I will turn this meeting over to the new Chief of Surgery, Dr. Owen Hunt." – Dr. Richard Webber
The Chief of Surgery, Dr. Richard Weber calls a meeting for all attendings where he reminds them that the fifth-year residents will be having their solo surgeries today. He also slips in (as if it’s no big deal) that he is resigning from his Chief of Surgery position and will be replaced by Dr. Owen Hunt. Of course, everyone is shocked by this news, but who seems to take it especially hard is Bailey, who immediately puts on her “don’t mess with me” face. Apparently she still has a lot of resentment towards Meredith for setting all of this in motion. Owen tries to win her over throughout the entire episode, but knowing Bailey, she'll come around when she's good and ready.
All of the residents continue to walk all over April and still don’t seem to be taking her new role as Chief Resident seriously. She assigns each of them days to lead a skills lab, but none of them are willing to do it, so she’s forced to cover it for the day. She also gets stuck playing the role of an intern during Alex Karev’s solo surgery. He seems to have gone back to his Jerk-Alex phase and continually snaps at April for trying to make him talk to the patients in a nice, comforting way. The nerve!
"It's not just life or death April. It could be our careers." - Cristina
All of the fifth year residents are concerned about their solo surgeries since it could affect their entire careers if they mess up. This is their chance to prove themselves, so what better way to practice their procedures than on a dead pig? Meredith and Derek haven’t heard anything back yet from the social worker, so things are still very tense between the two of them. To add even more tension to matters, Meredith’s solo surgery is an aneurism, so that means she’s stuck working with Derek. Nothing like a little marital tension in the O.R. to calm the nerves and keep your hand steady.
Teddy is still on kick to get Cristina to demonstrate that she has a firm grasp of “the basics” so she’s forced to remove on appendix. It seems simple enough given all the others complicated surgeries she’s performed in the past. There's only one problem though – it’s been so long since she’s done one that she can’t remember how to do it. She tries to cheat by using members from the skills lab to remember how to do it, but when it comes down to the actual surgery, she confesses to Teddy that she doesn’t know the next step. So, after Teddy gets done scolding her for not knowing such a simple procedure, we find out that Teddy can’t remember what to do next either, so a nurse ends up having to walk them through the steps.
Callie and April bond at the white board about their failed attempts at being Chief Resident. Callie’s words of advice to April are that she needs to be the person they come to, not run away from. Being Chief isn’t about being liked, but they need to respect her and do what she says. And the advice seems to help since she has a little heart-to-heart with Alex before his bowel resection surgery and realizes that he’s really nervous about performing his first solo surgery and that’s where all the animosity is coming from. She reassures him that he’ll do great and even though the surgery ends up not being very successful, she still manages to give him a little inspiring speech that seems to help. Maybe she can do this job after all.
“I think you should do the surgery because we’re not a team right now.” – Meredith
The other residents are hard at work on their surgeries. Meredith wants to use a larger clip than Derek thinks is necessary, so he commands her to pick a different size clip even though it’s supposed to be her surgery where she’s fully in charge. She insists that he trust her and continues to use the clip that she chose. The surgery is completely successful, but instead of being happy for her, Derek remains upset and when everyone starts applauding her success, Derek only joins in half-heartedly. He seems to have turned into McGrouchy.
Jackson Avery ends up not completing his surgery at all. He wants to do a cleft palate surgery a certain way, but Arizona doesn’t agree with his method and wants Mark Sloane to do it. He ends up performing one on the dead pig, which momentarily convinces her to let him take the reins and do things his way, but that doesn’t last very long. Right before he starts she goes into a long speech about how he’s responsible for this child’s future. If he messes up then he could be teased at school, not go to the prom, not get a girl, etc. It freaks him out so much that he ends up having McSteamy take over for him after all. I think it was a low blow on Arizona’s part. He proved himself to be a great surgeon when he was “The Gunther” during the last episode, so she should’ve had more faith in him. So since Avery lost in his surgery performance by forfeit, April decided that a fun way to decide who would run the next skills lab would be whoever falls short in their surgery duties, so that means it’s Jackson’s turn. Nothing like a little competition to motivate this crowd.
“You are one of the best people on this team and I just want to make sure I have you on my side.” – Dr. Owen Hunt
Cristina and Owen start to have an actual, real conversation (finally) since they’ve been nothing but awkward around each other since she had the abortion. They start to talk, but then have to run to the bathroom because they both ate bad Chinese food. They actually end up bonding while lying out by the toilet and throwing up. I think these two are back on track to being a happy, loving, married couple again. Who knew a bathroom could be so romantic?
Meredith and Derek have a little talk of their own. Meredith tells him that they shouldn’t have been in surgery together today with all the hostility going on between them. They aren’t acting like a team. He yells at her and states that she never suffers any consequences (which she doesn’t) and he can’t trust her at work anymore. She ended his trail, set back his career, destroyed Richard’s career, and almost ended her own. Just to name a few things. But he points to their framed post-it and says that he hasn’t left her because he meant what he wrote on there about loving her even when he hates her. So Meredith decides that their problem is that they just can’t work together anymore. If they want to stay together with or without Zola, then she needs to remove herself from his service. That will be her consequence for everything that she’s done. Let’s hope this new arrangement will help matters or this epic romance might be over with…for good.