OH YEAH! MOVIE DIARY 2018 is back for a second time this week to finish up what remains of the movies I’ve seen so far in 2018. This week we’ve got two big name tentpole blockbuster movies, and I’ve got big name tentpole blockbuster special guest Rebecca Bulnes going in hard on a Spider-Man adjacent movie. I know Rebecca from the internet where she makes me laugh every day, and I’m super pumped to have her here!
PLEASE NOTE THAT THERE ARE POSSIBLE SPOILERS IN THESE ENTRIES AND I AM GIVING A BIG BLANKET SPOILERS WARNING FOR ALL OF THEM HERE BECAUSE I DON’T WANT TO HAVE TO KEEP COMING UP WITH NEW WAYS TO SAY SPOILER WARNING FOR EACH MOVIE. ANYWAY POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD, PLEASE WATCH OUT IF THAT’S THE KIND OF THING THAT UPSETS YOU. ALSO YES, THIS IS STILL THE SPOILER WARNING FROM LAST WEEK AND THE POST FROM EARLIER THIS WEEK, SHOUTOUT TO THE DETAIL ORIENTED MOVIE DIARY 2018 READERS OUT THERE.
SPECIAL GUEST WRITER: REBECCA BULNES
When Geoffrey (funny, nice, our god, we like him) initially asked me to do Movie Diary ™, I had plans. Maybe something spooky? A whole thing about how I’m a coward/my origin story of fear from Disney Channel Original Movie Phantom of the Megaplex? Perhaps a deep dive on Lost Boys? Any film starring Jack Black? All good plans! I am smart!
They all went out the window when I saw the piece of Cinema known simply as Venom. It went out the window like when Tom Hardy went out the window when some bad guys were coming to get him. I made a gif of it. Here it is. And what I need you to know is that before he goes flying out that window to save himself, he’s actually too scared to do it and the voice of Venom calls him a pussy, which I love.
Before we go any further I should clear some things up. VENOM is both the movie and a creature guy. I assume you know this. Some defining things about Venom: he’s hungry, he’s a SYMBIOTE from another planet, he’s absolutely got a 'tude, his head is too big for his body which is endearing, I used to be scared of him but now he’s my friend, and he’s an ally (more on this later). EDDIE BROCK is the guy whose body Venom is hanging out inside, and I don’t blame him!! Some defining things about Eddie Brock: very cool name, is a bad boy journalist (in this climate?!), is a real sloppy joe of a guy but a romantic too, is the real Tom Hardy- also an ally. I cannot tell you if I’ll refer to him as Eddie Brock or Tom Hardy in the rest of this because they are one in the same. Also Tom Hardy voices Eddie AND Venom, which is sexual to me. Okay, so, the movie…
...it rocks. And as a girl who goes to CONCERTS I can say that with some authority. People will try to tell you that this movie is “bad” and “too much” but please understand that- with all due respect - those people have probably never even drank a whiskey and rocked and rolled all night like I have. They think shredding is for paper, folks!!
I saw this movie a couple days ago but it’s still on my mind so I knew I needed to go long on it and will try my best to summarize as accurately as possible. Basically, Tom Hardy is in San Francisco with a Brooklyn (?) accent, just living his life trying to take down bad guys with hard hitting journalism while also having a hot/cool fiancé (Michelle Williams, getting that $) who at one point in the film wears a plaid skirt and like, knee high boots which I thought was a little YOUNG for her (I was jealous). She’s a lawyer (umm feminism??) working for a firm that works for the Musk-y bad guy Carlton Drake (hilarious name) who is played by my boyfriend Riz Ahmed.
ANYWAYS, one thing leads to another and you KNOW that crazy guy Brock gets this crazy guy Venom in him and they just GOTTA expose Carlton Drake for being bad and also save the planet from other bad symbiote guys coming down and having a friggen human buffet. To clarify: Venom looks like a bad guy but is actually a sweetie and is obsessed with Tom Hardy who is also perfect, which brings me to them being allies.
Venom is an ally because at one point in the movie he goes into a LADY and then is a SEXY Venom with boobs and an ass for days so clearly he doesn’t care about gender and I’M actually cancelled for assuming Venom’s pronouns. Eddie Hardy/Tom Brock is an ally because I don’t remember him doing any homophobic “get this dude OUTTA ME I’m literally straight and not gay!!” jokes that I feel like are in most bro movies like this?? Basically they are woke soulmates and it may have taken approx eight hours for their meet cute but it’s like, have you ever heard of edging?
I realize this all might seem like a joke, but I am truly in love with Venom, and I think it’s because Venom is in love with Venom too which feels positive and nice to me right now!! Venom is slathered in sick guitar licks as our nasty friends zoom through the city on a motorcycle defeating the dudes we hate, just as Eddie is painted in the black goo of an alien who simultaneously wants to chomp skulls AND repair a relationship with Michelle Williams (Anne Weying, boring name).
In the dark of the theater, I literally air guitared whenever the dynamic duo did something friggen badass. It wasn’t an active choice to air guitar as an act of celebration but it’s just something that my body did on its own and that’s GOTTA mean something. Other things I did: applauded, said “hell yeah”, and LAUGHED. But I wasn’t laughing AT Venom, I think I was laughing WITH Venom. I think it’s simultaneously cynical and a little dumb to assume that Venom doesn’t know exactly what it’s doing.
And what is that exactly? It’s providing the perfect Motion Picture Event to reflect and relish in all of the worst/best/purest aspects of *my* personality that are so often silenced to seem more evolved. I love Venom because I also love Sum 41 and Jackass and emo music that hates women and guitar solos and 2003’s GRIND and when someone does a catchphrase and mayo and basically stuff that my 11 year old brother also loves. I love Venom because in the shadow of its loudness I could FULLY be my disgusting, dumbass self and go on a hell of a ride too! Speaking of rides, the music in this movie reminded me so much of the music that plays on Marvel Super Hero Island at Islands of Adventure (of which I am a veteran) which reminded me of the happiest days of my LIFE, so if you call this movie bad just know that you are actually calling my childhood bad which, yeah some of it was fucked up as hell, but that’s not for you to decide!!
Venom is also good because it confirms to me that Tom Hardy and I would get along and possibly date once Riz dumps me for being too stupid.
In conclusion I’m too broke to purchase this film but I do hope someone buys it for me on DVD because I WOULD rewatch and my birthday is December 6th in case you were wondering. I’m a Sagittarius but don’t know what that means and am looking for a boyfriend for when Tom Hardy dumps me for being too NOT his wife.
"Have a nice life!" - Venom & Eddie but also me signing off.
Rebecca Bulnes used to write for Podmass at The AV Club but quit that to start her own podcast called Classroom Crush which is so embarrassing but also it’s a good podcast. She’s living in New York City now where she is looking to get famous and EGOT. She’s on twitter falling in love with people and in the real world trying to do comedy shows. Please book/date her.
A Star Is Born (2018)
There’s plenty of writing about this one floating around and countless incredible memes (including this one from former MOVIE DIARY 2018 guest Andrew Spena), and (in this case) I hate to be the guy who comes in after the breathless enthusiasm to say some shit like “sure, it was fine,” but: sure, it was fine! I had a really great time the entire two hours and seventeen minutes of this movie, and I was completely swept up in the flirting, the romance, the gruff muttering, the music, the fun casting choices (Grunberg! Shangela! Andrew Dice Clay?? Eddie Griffin?? Halsey...), the dog, etc. etc., but after having sit with it for a little bit, there are a few things that I feel a little confused about. Like, how old is anyone in this movie supposed to be? Doesn’t it seem unlikely that a bunch of people at a drag bar would be flipping out over some roots rock superstar? (I’m not saying it’s impossible, just that it’s unlikely.) Does this movie understand pop music?
The question of how pop music functions in this movie seems important as it’s a major plot point and it’s used as a way for newly minted auteur Bradley Cooper (lol fuck can you believe it?) to examine questions of celebrity and authenticity and being true to your voice. The whole world of pop music is wrongly presented as the antithesis of the music and the message that Jackson and Ally have been creating together on the road. Pop music in A Star Is Born is highly manufactured, full of fakes and phonies who only care about money. It’s like a dated parody of itself. The world of pop music is dancers, costumes, and insincere songs about asses in jeans. Not like the authentic world of Jackson’s beloved real rock and roll, where it’s about bearing your soul and trying to kill yourself with alcohol and the songs are about being far from the shallow. It’s a strange way to frame Ally’s rising solo career as I don’t know that it makes a whole lot of sense. People first glimpsed Ally via a viral video of her singing with Jackson, so wouldn’t they want more of that? Wouldn’t her turn as a manufactured pop star seem incongruous with the image of Ally belting the likely Oscar-winning song, The Shallow? Lady Gaga’s (and most other pop star’s these days) own career seems to be the reverse— she started out with a hit dance record and a very strong and unique aesthetic before she was able to leave all that behind and start making more personal music. Those glittery, vacuous dance pop songs (some of which can, of course, slap) are a form of paying your dues before you can make the music that matters to you (which may or may not slap, but at that point it slaps to the artist and that’s what matters). I think it might have been more interesting if Ally hadn’t gone down the road of making pop music and instead got offered a solo deal to make that same sort of tender rock music she was doing with Jackson, but maybe Bradley Cooper just had some wrong-minded shit about pop music that he had to get off his chest. I don’t know, I don’t make movies or music.
The performances in A Star Is Born are good, I was genuinely into Lady Gaga’s Ally finding her voice and the confidence to use it, watching Sam Elliott is like watching your dad/father figure struggle through the hard times (that last scene with him backing out of the driveway really just kind of wrecked me for a minute), and Bradley Cooper is having a grand old time with his vanity project. I don’t know, I just love that it feels like Bradley Cooper willed this movie into existence out of a love for Kris Kristofferson? I thought his affected gravelly voice would get too distracting, and I mean, it was, but to be honest, I’m not even sure I really remember what Bradley Cooper actually sounds like after watching this. He even is able to make some fun filmmaking choices. I particularly liked whenever he’d play the opening notes of “Maybe It’s Time” and he’d have that self-satisfied grin and then it would cut out because we get it, we know the song is good and it’s a hit. Really any time they do that thing where they cut out after the opening notes of a song was great for me, I love when movies develop a shorthand for repeating scenes, jokes, etc. It’s particularly effective whenever the scene would cut just before a very fucked up on alcohol and pills Jackson would take the stage. He stumbles up there and we hear that tinnitus tone in his ears and we know he’s gonna fuck it up then the scene cuts, leaving us to imagine the worst. But then, during the scene at the Grammys (lol) the scene doesn’t cut. It continues and it shows us what it actually looks like when Jackson gets fucked up on stage and it’s just as bad as you could have imagined. I mean, having him piss himself onstage was probably a little cartoonish, but it was effective. A lot of the stuff in the back half of the movie feels kind of obviously and hastily telegraphed, now that I’m thinking back on it, but I don’t know that the impact of the heavier moments in the back half of the movie was lessened because of it. Look, I typically run hot and cold with Bradley Cooper, but watching this is like what I imagine Stockholm Syndrome is like. He’s charming! He’s carrying a deep, hot sorrow inside him! He’s in love and it’s fucking him up! He’s doomed and it’s his own fault! I don’t care that it’s a vanity project, or that I’m being taken for a ride, or that I know in my head that this movie is just fine, I’m sold!