Sunday, January 11, 2015

Top 22 Movies of 2014

Alright, so every year I create a list of my favorite movies.  I unfortunately did not have the chance to see Selma, Nightcrawler, Boyhood and Whiplash.  Those are the biggies I regret.  

22.       The Lego Movie

I had to watch this movie a second time to truly uncover the genius of it.   You’ve all seen it.  The best part is Batman’s rock tune he wrote. 

21. Chef

Jon Favreau’s come-back.   He plays a chef wanting to experiment with his entrees, but the owner of the restaurant will not let him.   Yes, the metaphor slaps you across the face pretty hard, but it’s sweet and mostly works.  His relationship with his son reminded me of my old man.

20. Obvious Child

The boldest romantic comedy out there.  Jenny Slate plays a woman who got pregnant by a nice guy during a one night stand.  She plans to have an abortion, the nice guy from the one night stand supports her.  The end.   It’s never about a choice by Slate’s character or the dude who got her pregnant.  This is what she wants and he support it.   It's charming and funny as hell. The movie doesn’t pull punches.   

19. Only Lovers Left Alive

This is the best looking Jim Jarmush movie to date.   It stars the always wonderful Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as two vampires that have lived through history and are in a bit of rut.   Now, them being vampires is really secondary to the movie.  It’s really an exploration in humanity and lost chances (or causes).  

18. Neighbors

This one surprised me.   I laughed a lot and I’m not a huge Seth Rogan fan.   The marketing, including the poster, mostly focused on the Zac Effron and Rogan which is unfortunate.  They left out the most important character that had just as much screen time: Rose Byrne.   She makes the movie.  If it wasn’t for her, it would not have made this list.   Hey Hollywood - It’s time to include the marketing to ladies as well.   So while Effron and Rogan are funny in the film, Byrne frankly burned them!

17. Blue Ruin

This revenge movie is interesting because the revenge actually takes place in the first act.  It’s more about the repercussions.   Some have described this as a modern day Fargo.   I get the comparison, since both are crime related and have a distinct dark comedy to it.   It’s a solid movie with star Macon Blair really holding the film together nicely.   But of course, it’s no Fargo.   

16. Guardians of the Galaxy

More than likely you saw this movie considering it was the biggest grossing movie of the year.  Now, I love me a good space opera and Star Wars rip-off, so this was right up my alley. I also love weird shit like talking raccoon and a one phrase talking tree.  I love Chris Pratt.   I love great music.   What a great combination.    My favorite part of the movie, could be the opening credit sequence with Chris Pratt singing “Come and Get Your Love”.   Once that title sequence happened, I knew I was in for something special.  

Here is the intro to the movie if you haven't seen it. 

15. Grand Piano

This had a feel of an old Hitchock movie, with the use of music and shadows.   However, the concept is beyond ridiculous, but sometimes in movies, you just gotta go with it people.  Basically, John Cusack somehow rigs a piano to blow up if the pianist, played by Elijah Wood, hits a wrong note during a performance.   I know.  I know.  It’s ridiculous.   But somehow, somehow, they made it work for me.  I don’t know how, but they did it.   

14. The Grand Budapest Hotel

Yeah, I know.  You hate Wes Anderson.  I get it.  His movies can come across as smug, claustrophobic, maybe even a bit too put together, but still, do me a favor and give The Grand Budapest Hotel a shot.    He’s at the top of his game with this murder mystery heist movie.   The movie is doing so many brilliant things, like playing around with aspect ratio depending on the time-frame he is shooting in, working with stop animation and just technically doing what he does best.   But the most brilliant thing of all is casting Ralph Fiennes in the lead role.  He plays a distinguished concierge at a prestigious hotel who later becomes unhinged after being accused of murder.  Anderson's best movie since The Royal Tennenbaums.  


13. Mistaken for Strangers

Now this one surprised me.  It’s a documentary about a band I dislike called The National.  But really, it’s not about The National at all.  It’s about the lead singers less focused, disheveled, beer drinking brother who goes on tour with them and decides to make a documentary about the band.    It’s a sweet film about family, about art, about not judging a book by its cover.   I was deeply moved at times, however, most of it was just so damn funny.  

12. Top Five

I am a HUGE Chris Rock fan and own all his stand-up specials.  He’s the most brilliant comedian out there.  Unfortunately, he isn’t the greatest actor and he has chosen roles that just never fit him.     In Top Five, he did the smart thing.  He created his character off himself.   Rock is a huge Woody Allen fan, so to me, this is basically Chris Rock, writing, directing and starring in his own Woody Allen type movie.   I dug it.   I also found Rosario Dawson so damn delightful.  

11. Coherence

This science fiction tale feels like a modern day Twilight Zone episode.   It mostly takes place in one setting: A dining room during a dinner party.   I don’t want to say anymore other than that.  OK, well weird shit happens when a meteor is flying over earth.    This movie is so low budget it needed a kick-starter campaign.  That charmed me.    

10. The Imitation Game

I knew very little about this movie, besides it starring Bennedict “The Game's afoot” Cumberbatch.  The movie is based on a true story about a code-breaker during WWII.  It’s mostly plays as a simple, but riveting procedural.   However, it took an interesting turn delving into topics like gay rights and individuality. 

9. Tusk

Haters gottta hate people.  Kevin Smith’s Tusk was dismissed way too quickly.   I understand that when there is a loud mouth personality like Smith, it’s easy to want to hate on his work.   I can’t say, I’m in love with everything he’s done, but Tusk is truly a unique film that takes twists and turns and goes places no other movie has this whole year.   Smith should be commended for that.   It’s also his best looking film, using darkness and shadows to create a nice creepy palette.  Michael Parks could be the freakiest he’s ever been as a man obsessed with walruses.   Justin Long puts in a great manic performance basically playing Kevin Smith.   Some have criticized the movie’s tonal shifts.    I was endeared by them.     It reminded me of old Roger Coreman movies that purposefully fucked around with structure and tone.   Also, big tip of the hat to the make-up in this film.   

8. Frank

When I first got on stage (it was actually a basement party in college) to play guitar and sing, I was so nervous I could hardly play a chord.  My hands were jittery, my voice was cracking and I was sweating like a pig.   So the idea of wearing a paper machete hat while I sing, does seem oddly appealing.   That’s what Frank is about.   But it wasn’t just that, I connected with the idea of both wanting to experiment with art, while at the same time, wanting people to desperately like it.   It’s a sinful admission I know, but it’s true.   I also simply love the idea of putting one of the biggest named recognizable actors, Michael Fassbender, hidden for most of the movie.   By the way, his performance is outstanding.  

7.  Edge of Tomorrow - Live.Die.Repeat

This was one of the biggest box office flops of the year, which is just a damn shame, because it is smart and spectacular.   It’s basically Groundhog’s Day in a futuristic war setting.   Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt are equally energetic and engaging.   I could not take my eyes off of either of them.   And the humor, oh man, the humor.   Even though this is a sci-fi movie, I laughed out loud a lot on numerous occasions, thanks to an outstanding Tom Cruise performance.   Great stuff!

6.  Under the Skin

I don’t want to give away too much of the premise.  However, the movie does something that I wish more movies would do.  The director literally throws you in the middle of the story.  And like Mathew “alirght, alright alright” McConaughey, Scarlet Johansen is simply at the top of her game these days, picking unique movies and challenging roles.   She knocked this out of the park.   Everything about this is spectacular, including the amazing score and interesting premise of using hidden cameras to record real people (non-actors) that Johansen seduces, not knowing they were being filmed.  

5. The One I Love

Like Under the Skin, I don’t want to give anything away.  ANYTHING!  Alright, well I’ll tell you that most of the movie stars just two actors Mark Duplass (The League and Director of Puffy Chair) and Elizabeth Moss (Mad Men).  It’s a magical love story.   I loved everything up to the last 10 seconds.   I’m going to make my own cut of the movie that eliminates the very last few seconds.

4. Gone Girl

I went into this movie knowing nothing about the plot or any of its twists.  Of course, it was an extremely popular book, but I knew nothin’ I tell ya.    While at times I feel David Fincher is a bit overrated (Fight Club – most overrated movie ever), this material seemed to fit his sensibilities perfectly.   It was some riveting shit.   I love watching a movie and truly not knowing where the story will wisp me away to.  

3. Captain America: Winter Soldier

That’s right, Captain America: Winter Soldier made it this high on the list.   I give Marvel credit for allowing their movies to play around in different genres and taking risks, unlike DC.   In the vein of All the President’s Men, Captain America: Winter Soldier is basically a 70’s paranoia thriller.   Besides the third act, there actually isn’t a lot of action.  However, when it is on screen, the action is phenomenal.  Unlike most action scenes, you can actually tell what’s happening and you know surroundings around.  So people, don’t dismiss it because it’s a super-hero movie.   I know it’s easy to do, but DON’T DO IT! Plus, who doesn’t want to see Samuel L. Jackson kick major ballz?

2. The Babadook

The director of The Exorcist, William Friedkin, recently stated that The Babadook is the scariest movie ever made.   I would emphatically disagree with that, but what I did find fascinating was the different levels and themes the film is playing with, like single motherhood, mental illness, fighting your demons and longing for something you just can’t have.   So while the movie was freaky and absolutely had scary moments, I was mostly hooked on the relationship between the mother and the son, putting the pieces of the puzzle together and interpreting it.   

1. Birdman

I cannot deny Birdman the number one spot.   Besides the technical achievement of making the film appear as one unedited shot (it’s truly remarkable), the characters, the energy of the film, the story, the meta-ness, the almost lucid dreamy feel of it all….well it stuck with me weeks after seeing it.   Some critics (I’m looking at you Filmspotting), dismissed the film too quickly as a gimmick, some didn’t like the ending (I’m looking at you Slash Film), some thought Michael Keaton is not worthy of the praise he is receiving for the role (I’m looking at you again Filmspotting).  That’s not how I saw it.  Michael Keaton was the perfect and only choice for the lead of this film.   Since the film contains non-stop continuous one-shots, we get to be an invisible character in the rooms.  We get to be a fly on the wall while the craziness ramps up to  opening night of a Broadway play.   We get to see actors actually acting and interacting with each other as if it was the play they were putting on in the movie.     Birdman may not be for everyone, but damn, it feels like it was made for me.   Big props to the music (great drum score), the director for deciding to step away from being such a “Debbie Downer” (Alenjandro G. Inarritu who made Happiness and Beautiful), Edward Norton and Emma Stone for some truly great moments on screen and to the Director of Photography (Emanuell Lubeski) for just nailing the difficulty of the project. 

There is no movie like Birdman.


X-Men: Days of Future Past - Pretty fun movie with the best slow motion sequence in a movie, possibly ever.

Hunger Games Part 1 – Lawrence is just born to play Katniss.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – If the story didn’t hinge on misunderstandings and coincidences that seemed to have been inspired by Three’s Company episodeS, it would have been much higher on my list.

22 Jump Street- The movie works due to Hill and Tatum’s chemistry.   I also fell in love with the self-referential humor.       

How to Train Your Dragon 2 – I love these movies…almost made the list.

The Interview- Fuck Kim Jong Un, that why….Actually, I do think critics are being too tough on this movie.  I thoroughly enjoyed the craziness of it all. 

Cold in July
Life Itself
Cuban Fury
Bad Words
Sin City 2: A Dame to Die For
The Muppets Most Wanted 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Review of Arrested Development Season 4 (NO SPOILERS)

OK, I just mainlined the whole forth season of “Arrested Development” on Netflix and while the reaction has been mixed, I personally loved it!  This needs to be approached, not as a TV show, but as a seven and a half hour movie.  So I plead to those who aren't thrilled by the first few episodes, DON'T TURN IT OFF!!! That would be like turning off a movie if you are only a quarter of the way through it. 
Trust me, it just has to set up the stories.  Once they’re set up, the fun is watching how all the stories interweave.   The narrative is so complex and ambitious that it's almost as entertaining as the comedy itself.  
However, I am disappointed in one thing:   I was expecting everything to culminate to something much bigger and grandiose…instead it just kinda ends.  Sure, it does end with a bit of a cliff hanger, but still.  
Finally, I will say that if there does end up being another season on Netflix, I really hope they decide to go back to the original format, with Michael being the anchor for the show, with the craziness and lunacy of the characters swirling around him.  That’s what works the best for the show. 
Focusing on specific characters was an intriguing and creative way to be reintroduced into the Bluth family, but I want to see the Bluths all together again, interacting with each other.    
My wish is that this all leads up to a movie (After all, they should be able to make a movie on the cheap).  
Either way, I am glad they decided to bring “Arrested Development” back…and unlike what others are saying, I don’t think they made a huge mistake.   

Sunday, April 21, 2013

“Shame on You Senator Ron Johnson” – Milwaukee Protest


Because of Senator Ron Johnson’s abhorrent “NO” vote to a simple background check bill for those purchasing guns at a gun show or from private residents, Johnson once again proved to be one of the most radical and predictable senators in the history of Wisconsin.

The law as it stands now, requires all Americans to pass a background check through the National Instant Background Check (NICS) to prevent felons and those with severe mental illness to own a firearm. However, currently there are loopholes for gun shows and private sales. The last known data shows that 40 percent of the guns purchased in this country are done in these ways.

According to a Marquette poll in March, 81 percent of Wisconsinites supported “background checks for people who buy guns at gun shows or from private residents in Wisconsin.” Also, 54 percent of Wisconsinites favor banning assault-style weapons.

Knowing this, Senator Ron Johnson heartlessly decided to ignore this data, to ignore his constituents, and worse, to ignore Wisconsin families that lost loved ones due to gun violence, like Wisconsin’s own Amardeep Kaleka, whose father, Satwant, was murdered in the mass shooting in Oak Creek on August 5, 2012, in the Sikh temple he helped found.

Amardeep and Pardeep Kaleka’s videos demanding for a plan.


Disgusted by Senator Ron Johnson’s vote, I was determined to join a protest scheduled at his Milwaukee office on Saturday.

At the event, I had a chance to talk to one of the organizers, Paul Geenen from Organizing for Action.

While discussing Obama’s press conference right after the measure was struck down, Geenan stated, “Yes, he was very upset. We’re all upset. That’s why we are here today, because we want to tell Senator Ron Johnson ‘shame on you’ for voting against the universal background checks that over 90 percent of Americans support”.

Geenen stated that he believes Ron Johnson voted this way because of the “incredible power of the NRA”.

“We’re here to prove that we’re not going away and that we too have power.” Geenen stated. “We may not have the same financial reserves as the NRA, but we can make up with it in other ways.”

Now that this bill was defeated, Geenen explains that the next step is looking towards the 2014 upcoming elections for the State and the Senate.

But what can we do now? Well, it sounds cliché, but it truly is contacting your representatives about the issue of gun violence. If you have the time to complain and argue on Facebook, than you have the time to call your representative or email them or at the very least, post a comment on their Facebook page.

Because as Paul Geenen stated, “We’ve got moment. We’ve got motivation. This issue is not dead. We’re going to keep pounding away at it.”

That we will.

Below is Senator Ron Johnson's contact information.

Washington, D.C. Office

386 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-5323

  Milwaukee Office
517 East Wisconsin Avenue
Suite 408
Milwaukee, WI 53202
(414) 276-7282
Fax: (414) 276-7284

Listen to my full interview with Organizing for Action's Paul Geenen.


Photos of the event.

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Video of President Obama's press conference, which includes an introduction by the father of a Sandy Hook victim.

Read the bill for yourself here: Universal Background Check Bill

Monday, April 1, 2013

RwP Radio: Episode 1 - "The Tea Party Lives and Breathes in WI"

The very first Rants without Pants 
Radio Show

The Tea Party Lives and Breathes in Wisconsin 

                                       is posted on The Fountain website!

I really, really, REALLY hope you check it out and give me your feedback. 

The episode features an interview with Executive Director of We Are Wisconsin Kristen Crowell discussing the April 2nd election and the radical Tea Party movement in Wisconsin.   

Other segments include “Drunk Dialing Ron Johnson”, “A Report from Up Nort (with Michael)”, “My Conservative Friend BJ”, “Movie of the Week with Rob Matsushita” and the Fly Up/Fly down segment. 

00:00 – 3:53        Introduction (aka - Who the Hell am I?)
03:53 – 9:16        Theme of the Week: “The Tea Party Lives and Breathes in WI”
09:16 – 26:42      Interview with Executive Director of We Are Wisconsin, Kristen Crowell

26:42 -  34:44   Fly Up/Fly Down
  • Discussing the deficit
  • Meg Hamel being pushed aside from the Wisconsin Film Festival 
  • Republican Representative Dale Schultz being awesome
  • Charlie Sykes being a wimp
  • State Rep Evan Goyke’s mining hole comment
  • The Board of Directors for the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund delaying a decision Starbuck CEO Howard Schultz pro-gay marriage comment
  • RNC Chair Reince Preibus’ weird comment
  • DNC holding convention in Waukesha County.
34:44 – 40:22       My Conservative Friend BJ
40:22 – 43:29       Drunk Dial Ron Johnson
43:29 – 46:55       Report from Up Nort (with Michael)
46:55 -  53:53        Movie of the Week (with Rob) “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”
53:53 -  58:14        End Rant

If you want to download or stream the audio, it is below...thanks! 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

RwP: The Last Episode

The Rants without Pants video program is ending and this is the last episode (Cue funeral music). I take a look back at my favorite episodes, fill you in on what my next endeavor is, show you a goodbye video (with the help of Peter Cetera's "Glory of Love") and if that's not enough, I interview founder of and candidate for Alder of Cudahy (District 3) Zachary Wisniewski.

This video also includes my brother Jeremy Schabow, Madison Alder Bridget Maniaci, Roller Derby bad ass Victoria Echevaria , former WTDY Reporter Dylan Brogan, former CBS reporter Dustin Weis, former Communications Director of the ACLU Stacy Harbaugh, Postal Worker Perry Frank, founder and editor of of Dane101 Jesse Russell, my conservative friend BJ, editor of Dane101 and Our Lives magazine Emily Mills, my non-ideological friend from up north Michael Bartnik and my dog Boo. THANKS TO YOU ALL FOR BEING ON THE SHOW!!!


00:00 - 10:29 Intro/Interview with founder of and candidate for Alder of Cudahy (District 3), Zach Wisniewski.
10:29 - 16:51 A look back at some of my favorite episodes.
16:51 - 18:38 A few "Thank Yous"
18:38 - 19:50 What's next....
19:50 - End A goodbye video with the help of Peter Cetera's "Glory of Love".

Thursday, February 21, 2013

RwP: Interview with Postal Worker Perry Frank and...ROAD TRIP!

This week on “Rants without Pants”, you are all trapped in the passenger seat of my car while I listen to the stereo and rant about James Cromwell protesting (“It Aint Me Babe” by Bob Dylan), Brian Murphy being mentioned in the SOU (“Hero” by Foo Fighters), Governor Walker turning down the Medicaid Expansion money (“Sabotage” by The Beastie Boys), Liberals making fun of Marco Rubio (“High Water Blues” by The Jayhawks), Scott Fitzgerald for supporting a forced transvaginal probe bill (“Rape Me” by Nirvana) and much more.

I also interview postal worker Perry Frank (National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 507-Capitol City Merged-Trustee ) where he discusses the Carrier Alert Program, collective begging before the Wildcats Strike, how email is not as damaging as everyone thinks, 2006 Postal Enhancement Act, Retirement Prefund is the reason for the fiscal trouble, Post Office is self-sufficient, cuts and eliminating Saturday delivery, possible privatization of the post office and the effects it would have and much more.

Interview taped live from the best coffee shop in Madison, “Mother Fools”.

Other songs played – “Car Stereo” by The Shabelles, “I Can’t Drive 55” by Sammy Hagar and “Mr. Postman” by The Marvelettes

00:00 - 1:02 Intro – Roadtrip
1:02 – 11:59 – Interview with postal worker Perry Frank (National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 507-Capitol City Merged-Trustee)
11:59 – End – Fly Up/Fly Down Segment where I rant about the subjects stated above.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

RwP Valentine's Day Episode -- Gay Marriage -An Interview with Victoria Echeverria and a Rant

I really hope you watch this one...especially if you disagree!

This week on Rants without Pants, it's our Special Valentine's Day Episode where we discuss one topic: Gay Marriage

I interview Madison rocker, Mad Rollin Doll and Battlesta...r Galactica nerd (I am too, so I can call her that) Victoria Echeverria on her recent engagement to her fiancé Natalie. We discuss the gay rights, gay marriage and love.

I then rant (with the help of Tom Petty and The Beach Boys) to those who oppose gay marriage.

This one is special. It's about true love and the fight for equality.

00:00 -- 13:32 Interview with Victoria Echeverria includes -

Vic's Dog running in circles
How Vic and Natalie met and how she proposed to her
Vic's response to Senator Ron Johnson and Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleifisch's ridiculous comments Where the future is going
Wisconsin Domestic Partnership registry being challenged and much, much more.

13:32 -- End Adam's Rant includes Kirk Cameron's silly comments, redefining gay marriage, christian denomination internal debates about homosexuality, Gomer Pyle's marriage and the coolest kid in the world kicking Gov. Michelle Bachman's ass.

Next Week: An interview with postal worker Perry Frank about many of the changes arising with the post office, including cutting down to 5 days delivery.