David Ayer, My New Kinda-Sorta Favorite Director


Okay, so, for many, David Ayer’s work is not new at all. He’s been around for at least a decade that I’m aware of, and he wrote some of the grittier cop dramas/thrillers that have come around in a long time. And I remember that the first time I watched Training Day, I had this sensation of a sort of dread that loomed the whole time, waiting for what I presumed were going to be shocking outbursts of violence. And that sense of dread is probably because of Ayer’s terse writing combined with the visceral direction of Antoine Fuqua. Fuqua’s direction was key to this for me because he was still shaking some of the stigma that directors in the 90s seemed to have due to their connections to the world of directing music videos and commercials. In this movie, it seemed to me that with Ayer’s words, Fuqua began to develop a more demure tone in his direction, showing maturity as a director.

After I saw Training Day and took notice of all of the  awards it deservedly won, I saw a little cop drama called Dark Blue, which for me reignited a newer respect for Kurt Russell and his ability to become those morally ambiguous characters that he seemed destined to play so well. This movie puzzled me because it was directed by a prolific comedy writer and director, Ron Shelton, who seemed to use the input from both Ayer and James Ellroy to good effect. This movie worked for me on several levels, mainly because of Russell’s cocksure swagger throughout most of the movie, and as he talks shit and shop to his partner, the once tightly woven threads of a confident personality begin to snap and unravel. I could see the beginnings of a genre writer slowly emerging with Ayer.

Now, I still haven’t seen both Harsh Times or Street Kings, both of which I have heard mixed reactions, but they’re on the list. But since it seems that I’m discovering his work as a director recently, work that I wonder why I ever neglected in the first place, I should probably continue to dig further into his filmography. Recently I’ve talked on the podcast of my fondness for one of Ayer’s two 2014 releases, Sabotage, a movie that I had also heard mixed reactions about. This movie hit all the right notes for me: gritty, gory, unapologetic violence in a worlds saturated with shades of ambiguity and mistrust. The sense of brotherhood and fraternity that seemed to have once pervaded the DEA task force, led by Schwarzenegger, fell apart after a heist gone wrong. People who once trusted one another and would die for one another then began to suspect each others’ motives. The suspicions turn ugly when team members begin turning up dead after, and during a technically still active investigation by the DEA into their complicity in the failed heist. There is a fantastic scene where an ambush is told in flashbacks as Schwarzenegger investigates, cutting between the ambush and his present day investigation. The pacing and tension, as well as choreographing a riveting gunfight, help to make this movie one of my favorites of the last few years.

This passed weekend I finally saw Ayer’s 2012 “found footage” feature End of Watch. This is where a tide had turned about his movies, as far as from what people had told me of this movie. So many people whose opinions about movies I trust had either written glorious things about this movie, or straight up told me to my face, “Bro, you gotta check it out.” And as we have well established through my rebuffing of Mike’s movie and gaming recommendations, I can be rather stubborn and hard-headed about what I take a chance on. I usually don’t like to “discover” movies on basic cable channels, but End of Watch was on Spike late at night, so I decided to finally watch it. Man. This movie hit hard, and it hit fast.

In a time when there is a lot of distrust towards law enforcement, this movie brought new insight into the lives and demeanor that cops have. Sure, as Ayer’s past movies have shown, law enforcement is rife for corruption because of the high stress and danger with low pay, but this movie also reminded me that these guys on the street are flawed just like you and I. Their shit stinks, and they don’t mind talking about it. Some cops came from broken homes, some came from regimented military backgrounds, but the one common factor is that they all bleed when shot. They all mourn when they lose. The choice to use mobile camera units was a tricky one, and often I was wondering if some of the scene compositions actually broke the “character” or “wall” of the found footage conceit, but it was so well done that I didn’t even care to wonder if there was a camera man following them around the whole time, or if all of the action was captured by the body cams they wore. The tension and pacing elevated this movie from what could have easily been a shitty redux of previously done cliches, and ultimately gave a sense of reality and gravitas to the job that the men and women who patrol the streets do every day.

David Ayer’s work isn’t groundbreaking, and it isn’t high art. But I’ll be damned if anyone tells me that it isn’t tense or pulsing with nail-biting moments of dread. His movies are far from perfect, but they’re a hell of a ride. Once I see Fury, a movie that was riddled with pre-release hyperbole, I will see if it earns the title of one of the best war movies in the last 30 years.


The Untenable Podcast, Episode 25: Ruth Gator-Ginsburg

benedict 2

(Image: http://www.socialitelife.com/watch-benedict-cumberbatch-tries-some-hilarious-new-names-on-jimmy-kimmel-lives-01-2015)

Hi, my name is Chad.

In this week’s extended episode, Mike and Jay veer in and out of movies and gaming talk, often with some unhinged results. First, Jay laments the overall quality of of American Sniper as a film, eats another helping of crow, this time about enjoying the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, eventually recommends some movies from his Netflix queue to Mike, and then revisits some older, overly romanticized movies from his past, ultimately making a statement that is sure to be a controversial statement about a beloved movie franchise. Mike’s contributions cover the gamut of gaming of movies, including his reactions to finishing Battlefield 4, and waffling about buying Madden ’15. He also trods into movie territory and wonders if Simon Pegg co-writing Star Trek 3 is good or bad for the franchise, and persuades Jay to give Pitch Perfect a chance, considering Mike’s recent successful streak with recommendations.




Untenable Podcast, Episode 24: Wrap It, Before You Catch It


A new and appropriate use of the phrase “cold comfort….”

In this week’s episode, Mike and Jay sit outside to record in their “natural studio recording experience phase” and are exposed to the elements, which annoyingly worsens Jay’s fragile immune system in the form of his allergies. Oh, and they also obsess over The Interview yet again as Mike reveals his love of the near war-inducing satire. They also journey into territory about various Oscars snubs and question their relevance, tiptoe around the return of two fan favorites, Community and The Walking Dead, lament the passing of retro phone and communication technologies, spend way too long speculating and complaining about recent gaming experiences and eventually compose Mike’s obituary upon learning of his theoretical, someday-it’s-bound-to-happen terminal diagnosis.




Untenable Podcast, Episode 23 – The Inherent Vice Reaction Roadshow


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“You smell like pachouli farts…”

In this week’s episode, Mike and Jay take a roadie to record their expectations and reactions to Paul Thomas Anderson’s newest movie, an adaptation of the Thomas Pynchon novel of the same name, Inherent Vice. They also talk gaming, as Jay discusses his experiences with Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.  In between there is also discussion of newer episodes of Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast, Jay’s initial reaction to The Interview, Mike’s concern about the new Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and copious scattered, and scatological references, as per usual.




Untenable Podcast MiniSode 3: Jay’s Ramblings and Tribute to Stuart Scott


(Image: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/17/stuart-scott-espys-jimmy-v-perseverance-award_n_5594242.html)

“This whole fight, this journey thing, is not a solo venture. This is something that requires support.”

In this impromptu SoundCloud exclusive, Jay reacts to the life and death of sportscaster Stuart Scott. While Jay has a tenuous relationship to both sports entertainment and the specific work of Mr. Scott, his death affected Jay. The effect of Mr. Scott’s work and its impression upon Jay’s life and experiences with death and loss is explored in a rambling, congested, shaky voiced, and scattershot way that only Jay can deliver.


Untenable Podcast, Episode 22: The All New ‘Get Off My Lawn-cast with Mike and Jay’

get off my lawn

The porpoise for this meeting of the minds…Hashtag Wordplay

In this new episode, Mike and Jay vent about some shopping, salesmanship, and moviegoing social faux pas, and then discuss some games on their minds. And speaking of faux pas, Mike and Jay might further alienate listeners based on geography, and they are unapologetic. They also list out some newish old movies and some underrated movies in our lives.




John Wick

Act of Valor

The Saint

The Adventures of Ford Fairlane

Hudson Hawk

The Way of the Gun

Red Dawn

Cabin in the Woods