Thursday, May 25, 2017

Reserved Seating: Gripehouse 2: Gripes Lightning!

by Rob DiCristino and Adam Riske
The review duo becomes a trio this week with the hottest takes this side of your last trigger warning think piece.

Adam: Welcome to a special edition of Reserved Seating. I’m Adam Riske.

Rob: And I’m Rob DiCristino. BUT WAIT! There’s more!

Adam: Hot off his Alien: Covenant takedown and original cast member of the Gripehouse 2016 podcast, the Gripemaster, Sir-Gripes-A-Lot, Patrick “The check is in the mail” Bromley.

Patrick: Where do I sit? There are only two seats.

Adam: As Jennifer Lopez would say, “Get on the floor!” Okay my first gripe is end-of-the-year platform releases. Either come out or don’t come out. Don’t give me this bullshit where you’re in four theaters in December, I have to wait until late January and then you’re awesome and not there when I needed you for my top ten. What makes you so damn special? You know you’re not going to win Oscars, The Founder, so why not come out the same weekend as Born in China so I know what year to count you towards? My top ten last year would have had A Monster Calls and Silence in it had I seen them in time. If some young kid is reading my top ten list for 2016 a few years from now, they’ll have no idea that the list is a total sham.

Rob: It feels kind of cynical, right? Like, “We’re not sure this will make money, but we DEFINITELY want it to qualify for an Oscar if people end up liking it.”

Patrick: I’m annoyed with it too, but if we weren’t obsessed with making top 10 lists, would it even matter?

Rob: Patrick’s right, Adam. This is your fault.

Adam: I like top 10 lists. It’s the time of the year when I get to say “Three stars? Fuck you!” What’s your first gripe, Rob?

Rob: Listicles that promise to teach me ten things I didn’t know about the Alien franchise or some bullshit like that. That gripes my ass. Like, why is someone getting paid to read a Wikipedia article when I did the actual legwork of listening to the DVD commentary and watching hours of bonus features? I KNOW WHY LUKE GETS ATTACKED BY THE WAMPA IN EMPIRE! CAUSE OF THE CAR ACCIDENT! Stop wasting my time!

Patrick: Did you know Fatal Attraction originally had a different ending? Glenn Close reveals that she’s really Albert Nobbs!
Adam: Are these click-through articles? If so, you’ve dug your own grave my friend. Patrick, what’s your first gripe?

Patrick: I quote JOSHUA in Wargames: the only way to win is not to visit Buzzfeed.

My first gripe is the trend of announcing release dates two, three, seven years out. I don’t care if Universal is going to do Bride of Frankenstein in 2019 when The Mummy hasn’t yet come out and disappointed us all. Take it one movie at a time, fuckers.

SIDE GRIPE: "Dark Universe." That one almost drove me to garage nap in my running car.

Rob: Dark Universe is a legit awful name for what is almost literally the oldest concept in film — the Universal Monsters shared universe.

Adam: Did you see the picture of all the Dark Universe stars together that went with the press release? I bet they’re all pissed they have to do this IP when they used to be able to open A Beautiful Mind and it would gross more than The Mummy (2017) will. I feel like Cruise, Crowe and Depp are announcing their Tony Curtis in The Manitou/Fred Astaire in Ghost Story period.
Patrick: This is a real sentence from the press release: “As its organizing principle, Dark Universe films are connected by a mysterious multi-national organization known as Prodigium. Led by the enigmatic and brilliant Dr. Henry Jekyll, Prodigium’s mission is to track, study and—when necessary—destroy evil embodied in the form of monsters in our world.”

Somehow Universal has already made me hate monster movies. Literally my favorite thing in the world.

Rob: Wait, wait. Is it going to turn out that Christoph Waltz is the author of all of our pain?

Adam: Damn that press release! Is it bad that I’m super attracted to the mummy in The Mummy (2017)?

Rob: Isn’t the premise of the movie that she’s supernaturally seductive? You do you, man.

Adam: I would knock down Annabelle Wallis to get to spooky Boutella. I’d let her ruin my life is all. My next gripe is AMC Theaters and their Alexander the Great quest to conquer all theater chains. First, they don’t have enough employees working, so shit happens like when there’s no one to tear tickets and then they yell at you when you just walk in and expect you to walk to the box office so they can tear your stub. F that noise! Also, the auditoriums are starting to look like the inside of an ‘03 Pontiac Vibe more than a movie theater and, the namesake of our column, Reserved Seating….people don’t pay attention to the seating chart when they buy tickets so I often have to sit next to a stranger when I don’t really have to and can’t move because it’s like musical chairs trying to figure out which other seats are sold.

Patrick: The only benefit of reserved seating (the seating, not the column) is that I don’t have to get to the theater super early. Everything else about it has turned out to be a disappointment. We were sold a bill of goods by Big Cinema. We didn’t land on reserved seating. Reserved seating landed on us. (The column, not the seating.)

Can I get something to drink or something? What kind of show are you guys running here?

Rob: Adam doesn’t like me drinking when we write. I start ranting about Anna Kendrick and drooling on myself. My next gripe is all the Netflix/streaming service hate coming out of Cannes right now. Am I wrong to be excited that more indie films are available to audience members who know where to look for them?
Adam: It’s so dumb, this backlash. I have mixed feelings about movies premiering on Netflix, but it’s more a personal issue of not knowing what’s out (admittedly, it’s getting better through some trailers and Cannes is so up its ass with their booing and claiming of what movies are pure enough for them. Fifty percent of the movies premiering there are only going to play at obscure fests or super-indie theaters, so why are they giving Bong Joon-Ho’s latest crap when he’s proven to be a gifted artist in the past? If they were premiering Will Smith’s Bright or season three of Fuller House, I would see the point more but they’re not. Its movies from Ho and Noah Baumbach. If Criterion is cool with their oeuvres, why isn’t Cannes?

Patrick: Blaming Netflix for ruining the distribution model is so stupid and wrongheaded. They didn’t break movies; Hollywood did. They’re the ones who are trying to repair some of the damage by offering more options for both filmmakers and audiences. Blaming them is like blaming the doctor for your scar instead of the fucker who stabbed you.

Next gripe! Posters. They suck now, right?

Rob: What are you talking about? I love floating heads photoshopped against orange and teal backgrounds!

Adam: In theory I agree with you guys, however, I saw the documentary 24x36 recently and the artists artists poster artists are insufferable. There’s a line in the movie where (I’m paraphrasing) a guy at a boutique outfit who says “Asking for licensing permission is like asking your mom to smoke weed with you.” I wanted to throw my TV away. It’s the only movie I’ve ever bought and then permanently deleted. Anyways, I agree in so much that posters are bad now, but sadly I think I’ve gotten used to them being this way over the years since; e.g. Inception’s poster design is re-used a dozen times a year.

Rob: I’ll say this - I think the modern poster and the modern trailer have a lot in common. Movie trailers used to spoil the whole goddamn thing (because audiences wanted to know...what was in the movie they were going to pay to see). They HAD to be creative and interesting because, like the posters, they had to sell the content to get asses in seats. In this age in which we can see a full trailer (made up of flashes of imagery instead of story beats) on our phones the minute they premiere, I figure posters are mostly afterthoughts marketing-wise. It’s all so shrouded in mystery now. It’s more about the “experience” and the “franchise” than the “movie.” Because “assholes.”

Adam: Ok, on that note, next gripe...the “wilding out” subgenre of comedy. Ever since The Hangover it’s like an arms race in the comedy genre of boys being boys and girls gone wild. Too bad it’s the same movie every time - buttoned up parents or career-minded folks do cocaine, pass out, maybe kill someone, fuck everything and then learn something about moderation. I want to see just one movie where one of these characters dies or splits off from the group and goes to see Don’t Breathe because they realize their friends are shitheads going through their quarter or mid-life crises. I think I am so annoyed by these movies because I’m past that stage in my life where something’s missing that only a night getting drunk with my college buddies can solve.

Patrick: Bad behavior is not inherently funny. It’s even less funny when it’s not bad. What’s the worst thing they do in Bad Moms? Eat some whipped cream out of than can right off the grocery store shelf? Organize a rogue PTA? Sideline Kathryn Hahn, the only actor in the movie who knew how to make any of the material work? I want to see another “night out” or “bad” comedy about as much as I want to see my kids mauled by bears.
Rob: Which reminds me: Rough Night is just Very Bad Things, right? Am I making that up? Did I hallucinate that movie?

Adam: I know I’m going to see it and also Ladies Trip because of my dedication to the end of the summer show. Sigh. Rob, what’s your next gripe?

Rob: Ok, look. I’m going to throw this out there and most of you are going to hate it. But I don’t understand spoilerphobic culture. Am I just too old now? Did I cross some kind of line? Like, I don’t care if I know what happens in a movie before I go into it. It’s the "how" that I’m interested in. My students totally spoiled Get Out for me before I saw it, but I still enjoyed the hell out of it because I was engaged in the way the story was being told. I wrote a column last week that I initially felt compelled to put a spoiler tag on, and I was like, “No. This is bullshit. These people are adults, and they should make the decision to read this on their own.” I felt like I was arguing with my toddler or something.

Adam: I’m not upset by spoilers personally, but I understand why some people feel strongly against them. I’m in agreement that I don’t mind having plot details spoiled for me. I get more upset when someone tells me how I should feel about something. SPOILERS FOR ARRIVAL: Two months before the movie was released, I listened to a review of the movie and the critic said that Amy Adams does something in the movie that’s unforgivable. So, when I saw it I was primed to not like her character and to be waiting for the other shoe to drop. It was really shitty. I don’t like being told how to feel, ever.

Patrick: I’m not a fan of spoilers, but I’m not a crazy person about it. I’ve discovered in recent years that the less I know about a movie going in, the more I tend to enjoy it. Even a bad movie carries a sense of discovery when you haven’t seen a trailer or a poster or even know the premise. But I’m also not the person who jumps on social media and polices how everyone else can talk about things or holds my ears all “NA NA NA NA” when trailers come on. I don’t think spoilers ruin my experience (I still really liked Super even though Roger Ebert [RIP Roger Ebert] spoiled a huge moment in his review seemingly out of spite), but I do value my experience without them.

I should keep my last gripe to myself, because it comes down to “Everything else.” Like, I love movies more than I love almost anything that I’m not related to [and more than some things I am], but when I actually sit down and think about where we are at in movies right now I get very negative. But like I said, maybe it’s just my mood. You met me at a very strange time in my life.

Rob: What do you think we can do to improve? Can you be more specific in your griping?

Patrick: We’ve touched on a lot of it already. The Hollywood system feels broken. Marketing makes it hard to get excited about movies I probably don’t want to see to begin with. The theatrical experience is a constant source of frustration and disappointment. I’ll never run out of movies I love, but I don’t feel good about where we’re at right now. And by that I mean in this theater. You guys seriously tape here every week?

Adam: I also live here. It’s not much but I’m trying to make this house a home. I’m not as down on movies (because I’m not sure if there’s a bottom below what you’re talking about) but I do feel it’s in a very niche and strange place right now. It’s almost like you have to pick a lane - VOD, Indies, Super Indies, Multiplex Indies, Tentpoles, Netflix etc. There are too many options to decide from and I get to the point where I don’t want to watch any of them (or rather, am super interested in any of them) because all I can think about is how much I’m missing, especially with classic cinema added into the equation. I used to be a really good “student of film” but now I barely have the energy to watch three movies a week and most of them wind up being in theaters just so I have an excuse to get out for an evening or a slow morning. It’s habit more than desire to see most of these movies. Ok, three fast speed gripes to close out.

• Musicals or Improv shows based on popular movies. You can only make the source material worse. If you are in one, quit. If you are producing one, stop the show immediately.

• Faux '70s horror. It was good when it was The Conjuring, but when I see the Annabelle 2 trailer and it literally has text saying “The next chapter in The Conjuring universe,” how is that not the biggest fuck you and completely affirms what Patrick said?
• Indie/Luxury movie theaters - They are filled with people who are demonstratively white collar, where they need to announce loudly their trips to Egypt being boring. Also, there’s non-stop pre-show ads about popcorn made with Trader Joe’s recycled bags or wealth management solutions or Stella Artois not tasting like piss. Then we have to watch the batch of trailers that all have jazz music or middle-aged couples reconnecting or how your life is bullshit if you can’t escape to a high-priced villa. It’s so niche. So, so niche and it drives me nuts.

Anything to add, gents?

Rob: Yeah. Miles Teller. Fuck that guy. I keep forgetting to rent that movie where he gets punched a lot.

Adam: Bleed for This is so confused that it’s a boxing movie without a training sequence.

Patrick: I co-sign all of Adam’s gripes. And Miles Teller. And Eddie Redmayne. And the DTV action genre, which is in a rough place.

Rob: What did you think of your first Reserved Seating, Patrick?

Patrick: I thought it would be taller.

Adam: Thank you for joining us, Patrick. Until next time…

Rob: These seats are reserved.


  1. my main gripe is the people at the theater. it got to the point where i get anxious when i decide to go because i'm dreading the asshole who's gonna flash is cellphone in my face, or constantly talk to his friend. i barely go anymore and usually try to avoid the crowds. so i'll try to go on sunday afternoon, or right off work during the week (i finish at 4pm).

    and i wish 3D would go die in a fire.

  2. I don't really have a problem with "spoilers" for the majority of movies. The best movies aren't dependent on an unexpected development to make them enjoyable (which is why we can enjoy re-watching them). Also, you see most of these coming a mile away while watching the movie anyways.

    At the same time, I'm with Patrick. I don't seek out trailers, especially for movies I'm going to see anyways. If I'm going to enjoy it, I'll enjoy it just as much or more without knowing the major plot points. Which is why I appreciate the reviews here so much. They give a good idea of whether you'd like the movie, without giving much away.

    1. Also, I don't go to the theater very often (~8 times a year, and 6 of those are with my kids to kids movies), so I miss most of the trailers.

  3. If Will Smith's Bright, why did he make Collateral Beauty?


    I'm sorry.

    I love these articles where you guys have a conversation only instead of recording it for broadcast you write it all down. They're like podcasts for deaf people.

    1. BTW Nonny, there was a podcast exactly a year ago, The Gripehouse Episode. It's worth a listen. Apart from grinding their gears, there was some good discussion about various movie related issues.

      I like these "themed" episodes.

    2. Yeah, I've listened to that episode, and I need to listen to it again. When I became a member of this website it was because I wanted to know what other podcasts F This Movie listeners subscribed to, and I got a lot of recommendations from a lot of very nice people per my request. But I haven't listened to a single 'nother film cast that was suggested since that time, with the exception of E.S.A.D.D.'s 'The Watching Machine'.

      I'm genuinely starting to believe that Patrick is like Jasmine from the Buffyverse. You only have to hear his seductive, bearded voice and you're one of his slaves forever.

      It's not so bad, is it?

      Nonnymouse is a stupid username. Imma change it, I think.

    3. I love these articles where you guys have a conversation only instead of recording it for broadcast you write it all down. They're like podcasts for deaf people.

      Was that a dickish thing to say? I didn't mean it to be. I do like these articles.

      I truly envy those people who can post something on the internet and not then spend the next several hours or even days agonising over whether they might have inadvertently said the wrong thing or what they said will be misinterpreted.

      My problem, I know.

      Cinema patrons who rat me out to the management when I nip to the toilet for a cigarette. They grip my gripe muscles. You're not going to get lung cancer from breathing in a couple of mouthfuls of my exhaled nicotine.

      I don't even smoke.

    4. But I haven't listened to a single 'nother film cast that was suggested since that time, with the exception of E.S.A.D.D.'s 'The Watching Machine'.

      And 'Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers'.

      Can't believe I forgot about that.

    5. Then you are going to dig this week's show!

    6. What a tease! I can't wait. Unfortunately, there's been far too many podcast's recently on movies I haven't seen. My fault though, and I still listen and enjoy.

  4. The thing I like the least in movies is when the falling action for the major characters feels really forced. I understand it's often needed for the story but it is so important to do it right.

  5. Gripe: Too many movies!

    According to there were 278 movies released in 2016 that earned more than $500K at the box office. Compare that to 1986 when 166 movies made over $200K (to account for inflation). That's over 100 more movies, or two extra per week! Or compare to 1996, when 238 movies made over $300K. That's a 40 movie uptick in 2016, close to one extra movie per week. And that doesn't even include anything released on a streaming platform. When the next dozen films are just around the corner, it all feels so throwaway. Like there's no time to relish one thing before moving on to the next.

    Gripe: Emulation instead of innovation!

    Hardly a new or unique stance here, but... Hollywood Movies used to try to be different, strive to be unique, to stand out. It was part of the fabric of movie-making, to bring the audience something they had not experienced before. Today, movies try to emulate. They strive to repeat prior success. They bring the audience something that appears to be new, but is really the same thing we've seen, with different characters. Maybe it's harder to be original now, I don't know, but when a lot of films feel rehashed instead of fresh, it doesn't just bring down those films, it brings down the industry.