Looking: The Movie


This is HBO’s TV Movie to bookend their recently cancelled series Looking, about 3 gay men in their late 20’s to 30’s living in San Francisco and trying to get their shit together in regards to career and relationships. If you liked the show, then you will like movie.  If you didn’t like the show, let’s be honest you probably just never gave it a chance.  I for one didn’t start watching until scrolling past a bunch of think pieces praising the two seasons upon it’s announced cancellation last year.  I don’t have a good reason why I didn’t keep up with it in real time, especially since I enjoy all of the other half-hour, 30 something city life dramedies that seemingly every network and streaming service enlists (shout out to the best of the bunch FX’s “You’re The Worst”).

Looking: The Movie isn’t really a movie at all. It’s basically a standard episode of the series, only 85 minutes long instead of 28.  There are no major events or locale upheavals that are common in TV finales (just imagine what HBO will inevitably have in store for Ballers: The Movie!!!).  There is a wedding, but it is subdued and authentic in a way doesn’t fall into the regular TV wedding tropes. The movie sticks to what the show did well, which was depicting a weekend amongst good friends filled with collaborative introspection and maybe a little too much to drink, that most people can relate to at least on some level. I wouldn’t classify the show as one of the best on TV, but it is refreshingly different than everything else out there.    Tier 5



Rated Greg’s All Time Favorite Jake Gyllenhaal Movies – Ranked

  1. Nightcrawler
  2. Prisoners
  3. End of Watch
  4. Donnie Darko
  5. Jarhead

One of the most popular statistical terms in baseball analytics is Wins Above Replacement (WAR).   It’s a collection of metrics that ultimately compute how many more wins a player contributes to a team’s record in a full season, in comparison to that team’s projected record if said player was replaced by an average ballplayer (i.e. the 2016 MLB leader in WAR is currently Mike Trout with a 7.72 score). Well, Jake Gyllenhaal is the leader in WAR for Hollywood pictures. Nothing against Ben Affleck, he’s a perfectly capable actor (and an amazing director), but replace Gyllenhaal with Affleck in any of the movies above, and they’re not NEARLY as good. Not even close. Furthermore, even replace Gyllenhaal with a yearly Oscar nominee like Leonardo DiCaprio, and I still don’t think they will quite measure up.   However, put Gyllenhaal in something like The Town or Wolf of Wall Street, and the movie will remain just as successful. It may not make it better, but the film won’t be worse off either.

Gyllenhaal is a chameleon. Cop, cowboy, boxer, creep….his range allows him to be the best part of each of the movies in his catalog, the great ones as well as the flawed. I certainly won’t love or even like every one that I see, but I know going in it’ll be interesting to say the least (I think we’re past the statute of limitations on 2010’s Prince of Persia). The other actors I have high on the WAR leaderboard are Jennifer Lawrence, the aforementioned Leo, Denzel, Tom Hardy, and Ben Mendelsohn. Ironically, I think the one person that could have given Gyllenhaal a run for his money in this title was his Brokeback Mountain costar Heath Ledger (RIP).

In case you couldn’t tell from the Top 5 list, my favorite Gyllenhaal roles are the one’s where he plays a giant weirdo, and Demolition is his most recent entry to the weirdo collection. It’s hard to say much about this film without giving the humor of it away, but in it Gyllenhaal plays a recent widower that acquires a unique hobby to fill the hole in his life. It is a dark, dark comedy that has a ton of good scenes and is one of his best performances, but somehow I’m not sure if it all really comes together.   But I do believe it would have been a complete dud if replacement player Ben Affleck starred.  Tier 3



Sausage Party


Clearly a spoof on Pixar films, Sausage Party specifically angles toward the Toy Story variety in that it gives personalities and voices to inanimate objects and places them on a journey of self-discovery.  However, instead of the given personas for each character falling somewhere on the seven dwarfs spectrum, they reflect the type of people that get into arguments in the comments sections of news articles and youtube videos.  It’s definitely funny, but it’s more out of the “oh no they didn’t” shock value.  Be very careful who you see this with.  You know how the R Rating states not suitable for children under 17?  It should also state “not suitable to see on a first date” or “not suitable to see with your parents.”  Tier 3

Hell or High Water

hell or high

Rated Greg’s All Time Favorite Bank Robbing Movies – Ranked

  1. Point Break
  2. Heat
  3. The Place Beyond The Pines
  4. The Town
  5. Public Enemies Hell or High Water

Now that’s what I’m talking about! There’s nothing like a good ole-fashioned bank robbin’ movie. To me, there’s no crime that translates better to film. Quick tangent – In reality, I know it would be terrifying to catch a glimpse of a shark up close but I can’t help but fantasize about it every time I go boogie boarding, and I have similar thoughts towards witnessing a bank robbery while cashing a check. What kind of masks would they wear? Will they go for the vault?  Which one of these guys is “the wild card?”  How exactly do exploding dye packs work?   But I digress…

In Hell or High Water, two brothers played by Chris Pine and Ben Foster go on a bank robbing spree with a gruff West Texas lawman (Jeff Bridges) hot on their trail. First and foremost, this is a GREAT looking movie. There’s something about shooting in wide-open, desolate towns that appeals to the screen and a lot of the scenery reminded me of No Country For Old Men.   From the writer of Sicario (in my top 5 for 2015), the story and dialogue also more than hold their own, upholding a theme of resiliency and loyalty through the final frames. Jeff Bridges in particular places himself as a front runner for my favorite performance of the year. He certainly isn’t the first actor to play a grizzled, weeks from retirement officer of the law, but his mouthy portrayal may be the best.  Hell or High Water is hands down the best movie of summer sixteen.  Tier 1 – RATED GREG


Sing Street

sing street 2

Dublin, 1985. High school new kid Conor yearns for the affections of an older girl. A wise young lad, he embarks on the most tried and true avenue to accomplish this feat, one that’s proved successful in the generations before him and still works wonders today. Namely, he starts a rock band. Sing Street is loosely based on director John Carney’s own young love and teenage band experiences (I have to assume emphasis on loosely), and in a summer full of diluted sequels and superhero nonsense, it’s the feel good movie we deserve.

Generally, musicals are not my steez. In fact if you asked me if I’d rather watch a musical or go to the dentist, I’d have to think about it. So I’m glad the fact that IMDb classified Sing Street as a musical did not scare me off. This is not a movie comprised of a bunch of nerds breaking into song and dance. Rather, it’s your standard coming of age film that happens to include a few scenes of knucklehead band practices and gigs. The main reason Sing Street works so well is that, on top of music from 80’s deities like Duran Duran, The Clash, and The Cure present throughout, the original music played by the burgeoning band is truly undeniable.  Specifically, if this song doesn’t add a hop to your step, you’ve got issues.  Full Disclosure – If you need subtitles in order to understand any of the BBC shows like I do, you will probably need them for Sing Street as well.  Tier 2 – Runner Up


Suicide Squad


It appears that Hollywood and the NBA have been embarking on the same “super team or bust” approach the past 10 years. Their formula for success consists of throwing as many stars as possible on the same team, factoring in the other variables after the fact. Disney’s Marvel universe resembles the 2010 – 2014 Miami Heat, a consistently successful machine with a very high floor.  Universal’s Fast and Furious franchise mirrors the Oklahoma City Thunder right down to the balls to the wall mentality of Rusty Westbrook.   While Fox’s X-Men looks like the LA Clippers to me, a star studded squad that comes up just short every year for some reason, but still entertaining in it’s own right.

WB, looking to enter the fray, assembled their own super team for the Batman/Superman centric DC Comics universe. However, what looked great on paper turned out to be the 2012-2013 Los Angeles Lakers. Remember how hyped everyone was upon hearing that Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, and Kobe would be on the same team? But then they actually played a game and people realized that they sucked together (my other analogy for this before I came up with the NBA angle was the quintessential paper champion 2000 Washington Redskins). And for the record when it comes to non-blockbuster, adult movies, I think WB offers the best material out of the major studios (i.e. Creed, Nice Guys, Black Mass, etc), but man, their blockbusters are on a bad streak. I’m not sure who’s having a worse 2016, WB’s DC character universe or my Facebook newsfeed.

Which brings us to DC’s latest installment, the critically pummeled Suicide Squad. This isn’t really as bad as its 26% Rotten Tomato score would attest. I actually think the cast does a good job, most notably America’s current #wcw Margot Robbie and surprisingly Will Smith, who exudes his most charisma since Bad Boys 2. Meanwhile Jared Leto does ok with The Joker. That’s a no win situation for him in following up Heath Ledger’s iconic Oscar winning performance, so as long as he doesn’t butcher it and stays in his lane, it works.   For me, there are enough good scenes and performances to justify seeing Suicide Squad. If an album had a couple good jams surrounded by trash filler songs, you wouldn’t renounce the album entirely.

So it’s not the actors, and I don’t even necessarily think it’s the direction. The real problem with Suicide Squad is simply an overall corny story. It seems like such an unforced error to have this group of likeable misfits played by bankable stars team up to defeat what amounts to a bootleg version of Gozer The Destructor from the original Ghostbusters and hundreds of faceless minions. I realize this is a superhero movie so you have to suspend belief, but they couldn’t come up with something just a little more grounded?   WB clearly wants these movies to be taken seriously given the resources they are applying to the franchise, however by mixing in with these cartoony elements it just comes off as a very uneven tone.  Tier 6