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It must be Kennedy season. I am fascinated by the Kennedy family. CNN has been airing a special miniseries on the comedy the past few weeks, and its been enthralling. This film kind of snuck up but I was excited about it. I didn't know a whole lot about the incident or the past of Senator Ted Kennedy, as he hasn't really been the focus of much Kennedy coverage. The film is flawed and not always at its best, but powerful performances and wildly interesting subject matter keep the film afloat.
The film is based on the real life incident of the death of Mary Joe Kopechne and the events following. Basically, Mary Joe (a former secretary for Robert Kennedy), died when Ted Kennedy crashed the car they were in and the car flipped into the water. She dies, and the film follows the delayed reporting by Ted and how he had to deal with the follow up to the incident while trying to keep his hopes for running for president intact. Kate Mara plays Mary Joe and Jason Clarke is Ted.
The film has slow passages in the latter half as it is slow and there seems to be little to cover. Jason Clarke is really good in this film, probably one of the best performances of his career. Its hard to really feel anything for Ted because he was a dope. His negligence and selfishness is a giant reason for Mary Joe's death. Not even just from the car crash but for the fact that he was so slow in reporting the incident to the cops. Its pretty infuriating. You will feel that at the character in the film.
I think the film covers a really interesting truth in history and does well to educate those (like me), who didn't know much about it. There's nothing overly memorable about the delivery of the film or the plot procedure but I'm glad I got to see it. I'm a bit of a sucker for American based historical films so this is something I knew I had to see. Its somewhat forgettable but a reminder that Kennedys' were marred with devastating news all around.
I loved the trailer for this when I saw it. I felt like the trailer gave a lot of the film away but was very humorous and was able to encapsulate some of its best parts. I also wanted to see John Cena in a more prominent role in a film. From what I've seen in his limited capacity he seemed like an actor who could prosper in a comedic role. That is exactly the case with this film. After twenty or so minutes to get settled, the film offers great entertainment, laugh out loud moments, and even important lessons.
The film is about three parents who have become estranged and their quest to stop their virginal daughters from having sex on prom night. By mistake they discover text messages on a computer indicating that the girls wanted to lose their virginity. The parent's go through a crazy adventure as they try to pinpoint their location and try to stop them from making a giant mistake. The film also stars Leslie Mann and a very game Ike Barinholtz.
The film is a bit rough in the beginning. The laughs take a while to develop but as soon as the leads discover what their daughters are up to the funny kicks in and the film shifts into another gear. John Cena does a really good job in a more prominent comedic role. Same with the other two leads. The film has lapses here and there but there are some downright humorously crude moments that make you burst out in laughter.
The film is actually a really impressive debut by Kay Cannon. Her film takes a different spin on sex crazed teens (by focusing on young girls) and captures important moments of discussions on acceptance, teenage sexuality, and relationships with parents and dealing with impending changes in life. The film doesn't get overly serious about it which works well. The film also is a nice, refreshing way to bring a coming of age film which focuses on parents just as much as the kids. The film probably won't hold up as well on a re-watch but for now I'm riding on a high. Eggplant emoji.
Den of Thieves (2018)
Den of Thieves (2018)
I wanted to catch this when it first came out but somehow missed it. I dug the trailer. It didn't look like a perfect cop v robber heist film but looked like a decent time at the movies. I also heard a lot of people early on say that the film was too similar to Heat. I don't see the problem with that. Heat is amazing, and as long as its not the exact same thing I didn't mind something paying tribute to that film. I also didn't notice too much between the two films. Overall, I had a good time with this film despite it getting a bit messy in the third act.
The film follows a group of criminals and the detectives that try to bring down their ploy to rob a commercial bank. The lead detective (Gerard Butler) is rough around the edges, and is not always a straight razor but makes it his mission to infiltrate the plans of the robbers by tapping up one of their members. Things get messy as suspicion arises within the gang of robbers.
I thought the film had a good cast. I'm not a fan of a lot of what Gerard Butler does these days but I really liked the inclusion. Pablo Schreiber and O'Shea Jackson Jr. especially put on a good show. I liked the entire heist sequence. It feels familiar at times yet there are a few twists,turns, and passages that occur to keep it layered. However, it does get clunky as the film moves around through different events occurring between different characters. There is a bit of a twist that comes which I didn't see coming which is always nice.
Den of Thieves goes against the grain of typical Janaury Hollywood films. Its good and actually makes for an entertainment popcorn film. The film could have been shorter, yes, and the execution isn't always perfect but its a film to turn off your mind and watch. I don't quite know how I feel about a sequel to these films but I would entertain the idea if it follows the suit of the first film. If you have time and want to watch a real solid heist thriller, here is your pick.
Lean on Pete (2017)
Lean on Pete (2018)
I heard great things about this film on the indie circuit. The trailer didn't really seem so interesting to me. I've hated horse centered movies in the past. Did not like Secretariat or War Horse so I thought this film was going to be largely unimpressive for me. Having never seen Andrew Haigh's films I didn't know what to expect. Now having seen it, I liked the film quite a bit. There are problems, sure, but its mostly impressive and shows that Charlie Plummer is a talent.
The film follows a 15 year old boy who grows attached to a race horse named Lean on Pete. During this time in is life his father tragically dies and he learns that the flailing horse is most likely going to be transported to be killed. The boy must try to save the horse and also survive all by himself with no one really there to look out for him. The film also stars Steve Buscemi, Chloe Sevigny, and Steve Zahn.
Charlie Plummer is excellent in this film and does well to show that he is a talented young man. His journey is about the affection he has for the race horse but its not entirely about that. His life has changed since the death of his father and it really is a tale of not knowing what to do and trying to survive in the world. The film can be somber at times and all things and characters in Plummer's characters life come and go.
The film does suffer from slow passages and its long running length. Its easy to have moments where your attention wanes. Overall, the film is well made. Its a characters journey and its crazy to see how things can change so suddenly for someone. The film has a talented cast and I'd say is definitely worth a watch especially if you're a film lover who likes to watch everything.
You Were Never Really Here (2017)
You Were Never Really Here (2018)
This was actually my most hyped film of this weekend. Not familiar at all with Lynne Ramsay's filmography but was sucked in from the trailer. I'm a fan of Joaquin Phoenix and think although he's had ups and downs, he's always amazingly consistent and still underrated. Having now seen You Were Never Really Here, I will say that it meets expectations. The film is heavily boosted by its technical aspects and its strong lead performance.
The film is about a man named Joe, a former war veteran with PTSD, who is hired to find a young girl who has been abducted. Once he digs into trying to find the girl he realizes that the girl is being trafficked, and that rescuing the girl is not as easy as it seems. This is because her kidnapping has ties to something bigger and more corrupt than what it initially seems. He must deal with the dangers that arise and his own mental health. The film also stars newcomer Ekaterina Samsonov, who plays Nina.
Phoenix is typically great as is standard. The basis of the film is light and simple, however its delivered in a cold and unforgiving manner. There's a few grizzly moments in the film and the subject matter is dark. I think the editing of the film was excellent. There are rapid cuts throughout the film that flash back to Joe's past during war and the abuse he endured as a child. There are also cuts in scenes of the present day events, which adds a unique element to the presentation to the film.
The film has slow and brooding moments but it always remains atmospheric. A discordant score also provides you with the perfect mood for the films plot. I also liked the sparse dialogue in the film and the varied cinematography that follow the lead's journey. Some of the scenes in the film are so incredible (namely the drowning scene). Its a really good effort from Ramsey, who succeeds in bringing a stylistically dark film that is yet another high in Joaquin Phoenix's career.
A Quiet Place (2018)
A Quiet Place (2018)
I think the trailer for this film interested a mass majority of movie goers. The film looked like it took place in a post apocalyptic future where humans have to go through a lot just for survival. the most remarkable thing was how quiet the trailer was, the use of silence seemed effective. I was also interested in seeing John Krasinski handle a major studio horror film. I watched The Hollars but I felt like this was Krasinski's time to make a big wave.
The film is about a family who live in solitude with their son and their deaf daughter. They must be careful to be absolutely quiet as there is something that lurks in the shadows and waits to hear sound to prey and attack. They must find a way to not only survive but work on a way to defeat what they are being hunted by. The film stars and is directed John Krasinski and real life wife. The great Millicend Simmonds (who is deaf in real life and also wonderful in Wonderstruck) is also in it.
The film uses silence so excellently. The film is dead quiet at many times and all you hear is the effective score or natural surroundings. It creates a wonderful atmosphere. The film also packs a real emotional bunch in its short duration length which was surprising. The performances are spot on. I can't help but point out (as many people already have) how stupid it is to have a baby in this type of environment. Makes no sense whatsoever. Apart from that, the film is worth your time.
The film manages to live up to expectations and also exceeds them in other ways. The film is fairly original and interesting, it keeps you on the edge of your seat. You want to know so much; not all the questions are answered but I really appreciate Krasinski and company's ambition to go a different route with a horror film and deliver a really solid film that is fun, absorbing, and even has heart. I think John Krasinski finally has something good in his hands.
Ready Player One (2018)
Ready Player One (2018)
Lets face it, Steven Spielberg has been streaky in the past few years. I absolutely love some of his earlier stuff. Jaws, Jurassic Park, E.T., are just some of the titles that I love from him. Even some of the work from the 90's like Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan are excellent. I did like his last effort (The Post) which was a solid politically based news drama. I wasn't overly impressed with the marketing or trailers for Ready Player One, but Spielberg's name being attached meant I was curious. At the very least I expected to ride that nostalgia wave that I feel a lot of others wanted to experience as well.
The film is set in the year 2045. The world is vastly different and everyone is immersed in a virtual world named the OASIS. The protagonist Wade uses his virtual character and enlists the help of a team to find a hidden easter egg in the OASIS. The creator of the OASIS has hidden three keys that lead to the egg and the one who completes the challenges to earn the egg will take over the creator's fortune and also control the virtual reality world. The CEO of a corporation named IOI is attempting to gain control of the egg himself, thwarting Wade's quest.
This has to be one of Steven Spielberg's most ambitious and toughest films to make. The film is heavily computer animated as expected, and there is so much on screen. There are plenty of references to pop culture of the past. You will see movie and video game references everywhere; you are bound to miss many of them because some come and go quick. Licensing to use these characters must have been hell but it was done nonetheless. Visually the film is nice, some of the computer animation might be distracting but its still fun to look at.
I do think the film is overlong and drags quite a bit in the third act. I know the film is following a literary work so its hard to criticize some of the plot holes or advancement of the plot. I don't feel like the side characters were as fleshed out as they could have been. The film gets too busy making references and delivering action that it kind of loses its heart. I did however really enjoy the entire segment with The Shining, fairly brilliant stuff.
I was also disappointed with the soundtrack. I wanted more 80s nostalgia in term of music. For example, some of the songs used in the trailers could have been utilized but isn't done so. The film isn't always smart and some of the pop culture references feel ham fisted and tacked on but I feel like the film was better than I thought it would be. I'm actually pretty infatuated with Olivia Cooke at the moment. She's quite a talented actress having recently seen her in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, and Thoroughbreds. I want to see her in everything.
This film isn't touching some of Steven Spielberg's very best but its a better film than what we've been seeing recently from the filmmaker. its certainly a better film than The BFG and War Horse. Overall, visually it provides actions and a lot of references but suffers a bit as the film wears on. Still, its an entertaining watch, which is really all I was asking for from Ready Player One.
Yes, I know. Tyler Perry films kind of suck. I liked one or two here and there but by no means were they films that I would see myself going back to or giving an afterthought to. I didn't see any trailers for Acrimony and decided it was best to go in blind and not knowing thing. I am glad I did, although I don't think it would have had an effect on my opinion of the film. The film boasts a powerhouse performance from Taraji P. Henson and was actually a very entertaining time.
Melinda (Henson) narrates the story of her snake of an ex-husband. We see her young days as she meets Robert, her future husband. He seems to be a con artist and even cheats on her, yet despite her sisters' objections and her own anger she gets back with him. Fast forward, 18 or so years he is still a deadbeat with no job and only seems to cost her money as he focuses on one project that has been his only drive for decades. She also starts thinking that he may be cheating again and must assess the tolls that he is taking on her.
I tried very hard to summarize a general but vague plot for the film because the film has many twists and turns and its best to just experience them. Character's turn on their heads and you have no idea whose side you are on. Who is even good or bad? Finally, Perry gives me a film I felt very satisfied with and one I felt deserves praise. Some of the events may seem illogical but are there any limits to crazy? Its insane, and at times over the top but its the kind of theater entertainment I needed with heavy drama and thrills.
Taraji is utilized well here, which is good. I feel like Proud Mary really failed her talents and attempt to branch into a bad ass hero type role but she puts in a good performance here nonetheless. She's likable and then unlikable, she thrives in the role. I'm still not sure if its because the film is fresh on my mind. I mean, the personal rating and reflection of the film may go down with time but for now I'm impressed that Tyler Perry was able to write and direct a wholly entertaining film.
Isle of Dogs (2018)
Isle of Dogs (2018)
There was a time where I disliked Wes Anderson films. Then I saw The Royal Tenenbaums and The Darjeeling Limited and then turned the corner. I was a fan of his previous stop motion animated effort, The Fantastic Mr. Fox. So as soon as I heard about The Isle of Dogs I was excited to see it. I'm not sure if its better than Fantastic Mr. Fox or ranks among Anderson's best but Isle of Dogs is smart, funny, and quirky. That's what we've come to expect from Wes Anderson.
The backdrop for the film is a dystopian Japan, where a dog flu virus has spread throughout dogs. The mayor has decided that the best course of action is to send all dogs to Trash Island. Meanwhile, a cure for dog flu is being tested and the nephew of the mayor travels to Trash Island to find his recently banished dog, Spots. The film has a bevy of voice actors, a few of who have previously worked with Wes Anderson.
I'm not going to comment on the "cultural appropriation" that has taken wind recently. You be the judge on that and form your own opinion. The film's animation is great as expected. That was the strongest part of Fantastic Mr. Fox. The stop motion is beautiful as expected. The film keeps that general Wes Anderson charm and has that slight humor that is a staple in this type of work. The film has very memorable sequences and a tightly constructed story that is told creatively.
Its hard not to love these dogs in the film. Its a good fun time, which is what was needed. I respect Wes Anderson for adopting a certain style of film and exploring different avenues of technique in film to explore his talent. While, I don't think Isle of Dogs is among his very best, it'll charm many people and delivers the goods as it should. I love dogs!
Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018)
Pacific Rim Uprising (2018)
When I first saw this trailer, I was like "wow this looks like crap." It looked remarkably unspectacular, and the annoying repetition of that 2Pac song did not help. The first film was just okay. I'll say this over and over, Guillermo Del Torro is a fantastic visual filmmaker, but his films plots are always lacking. That was the case for Pacific Rim. Seeing that he departed and his script for the sequel was revised left me with less hope for this film. As it is though, I have seen it. Its about what I expected quality wise but it gets the basic job of delivering giant monster vs robot action.
The film follows the son of Stacker Pentecost, Jake (played by John Boyega). He is a former Jaeger pilot and is taken back into piloting Jaeger's when a threat of rogue Jaegers and new Kaiju re-surfaces. He also befriends a young girl named Amara, who is quick to learn how to maneuver a Jaeger. Just attempting to summarize the plot of this film was painful since the terminology sounds so dumb. Basically, it follows the events of the first film ten years later.
Robot v monster action is on point. Its the least we expected and we got it. The action scenes are fun enough. I didn't really care for so much back story of characters so the character involvement and the "human element" of the film was not very interesting. The film is quite bland outside. Charlie Day returns in the film and is part of a plot point that I thought was kind of dumb. The story isn't anything groundbreaking but its not like this was expected. I also can't get into the universe of the Jaeger robots. They all look the same to me, and I can't remember their special names.
This is at least a much more entertaining version of the last two Transformers films. Its also more coherent in its action and story, which really isn't hard to do. Its a good enough fil debut for a director taking the reigns from a well established filmmaker. I know the film series is attempting to build another film. I'd rather not but its not really in my control. I'll tune in but I hope for a massive turnaround.
As soon as I heard about this film I was super excited. That's always the case when there is a new Steven Soderbergh film out. Definitely a solid filmmaker who is consistent and fairly innovative. Loved his recent Side Effects and Logan Lucky. This seemed like a different take in the vein of Shutter Island and a bit like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. I also liked the style of filming that was immediately visible from the trailer. After seeing this film, I'm happy to say I actually liked it a lot. I'm looking forward to unpacking this one.
The film is about a business women named Sawyer (played by Claire Foy) who is involuntarily committed to a facility. Her attempts of explaining herself and checking out are thwarted. She also soon starts seeing a man who had previously been stalking her and starts blurring the lines of reality. She tries her best to seem sane to leave the facility, but things become hard for her as the days go by. The film also stars Joshua Leonard, Jay Pharaoh, and Juno Temple.
I do love when Steven Soderbergh uses an alias for cinematography in his own picture. That's the same case here. The film is shot entirely with an iPhone 7. I love the filming style because it aids to the heightened paranoia and claustrophobia of the facility. I know filming with an iPhone was done before with Sean Baker's Tangerine, but that doesn't change the fact that Soderbergh uses a similar method to perfection. It felt a bit like Lynch's Inland Empire as well. The film is absolutely engorging from the get go. The film's trailer is a bit misleading but I won't go into that and its by no means a bad thing.
The film does so well to build suspense and real emotion. You become a part of the film. Its also incredibly scary. Can you imagine being in a similar position where you are involuntarily committed with no escape and no one to believe you. The film isn't so much about if Sawyer is insane or not but its about her strength and will to survive and get out of the facility and escape this possible stalker.
I haven't seen much of Claire Foy, but holy high hell she is so good in this. Excellent and I can imagine that this role is something very far from portraying the Queen on The Crown. I know there will be people who will dislike this film and style but I loved it in all honesty. Its not perfect and isn't as complex as it could appear but its one thrilling film with excellent performances. Pleasantly happy with yet another Soderbergh effort. Will re-watch for sure.
Love, Simon (2018)
Love, Simon (2018)
Been hearing some good things about this film. Trailer did peak my interest. Nick Robinson is certainly a rising star today as I'm starting to see him get leading roles after appearing in Jurassic World. This actually might be the first coming of age film based on a gay teenager and his romance. Therefore, I had to see if it would live up to the quick hype that was built up for this. I'd say its a very solid film that handles its characters, plots, and humor quite well.
Simon is a seemingly regular teenager (as narrated by himself) but he has a giant secret that he is hiding. He is actually gay and struggling to come out to his family and friends. He befriends an anonymous gay teenager from his school, through email. A fellow classmate finds out that Simon is gay and thus starts blackmailing Simon for favors. Simon must decide whether he wants to come out or give in to the demands to keep his life the way its been.
The humor in this film is present but never overbearing. As mentioned earlier the film balances themes quite well. Its a strong likable performance all around from Nick Robinson. You are swept along on the trip of trying to find out who the other boy that Simon is chatting too, really is. I kept reading people comparing it to the John Hughes films of the 80's and I do agree to a sense in the feel of the film but I think its also just a well made current teenage film. Its not overly unique, but I do feel like it has its own stamp.
My only gripes with the film is that it does feel quite long and near the end you can feel the wear of it. Still, I think all involved in this project could be proud of the outcome. Judging by the early reception for the film, I can see it becoming a bit of a cult classic especially for its LGBTQ theme and use of diversity. Its a fun and safe time despite having to deal with big issues.
A film I wouldn't have ever known about had I not been a film buff. Went in not knowing anything at all, which is actually a good thing. I'd like to do that more often just to have a clean slate and no expectations. I've got to say Zoey Deutch has never impressed me in any role. Either through the film sucking or her just not being spectacular she never shined. Finally, I can rate her in a role. Its not much different or completely out of left field for her but its a fine tuned performance. While the film is not perfect, and is let down at some moments its a good film.
The film is about a carefree high school girl who meets her future step brother. Her step brother comes out of rehab and seems to have a dark-ish past. A few events lead to the reveal that her future step brother had previously been molested by an older teacher. Thus begins the mission of Erica (Deutch) to coax the man and also get revenge on him for the past wrongdoings that he has committed. The film also stars Kathryn Hahn and Adam Scott.
As mentioned earlier Deutch is good in this. She is an at times grating character, so basically a typically teenager. Her performance is somewhat mesmerizing and has a bit of tragic happiness to it. The film is shot quit nicely and also seems to tackle a lot of issues that are tackled in teenage films often (orientation, sexuality, innocence, growing up love etc.). While I never found the film to be overly funny, I found it very entertaining until the last ten minutes.
I think there was a good chance to go for a remarkable finish to a very solid film that was really flubbed up by the mess of a reveal and end. It doesn't take too much away from an interesting product, but yes it could have been better. I still had fun with it. Its obscene but at the same time obscenely entertaining. This one isn't going to be making any waves, but if you're like me and like to see quality film I'd suggest checking this out. Its not smart, or profound but its a purely entertaining escape.
Tomb Raider (2018)
Tomb Raider (2018)
It should be no secret that I absolutely love Alicia Vikander. She is so beautiful and is extremely talented as well. As soon as I heard that Tomb Raider was getting rebooted with her as Lara Croft, I was so game. I played one of the PS one Tomb Raider's way back when (didn't get very far in it though). Didn't care much for the Tomb Raider series with Angelina Jolie and was hoping this film could head in a better direction and be of better quality than that. I wasn't disappointed with this. Its flawed and could have been better for sure, but its fun for what it was.
Lara Croft's life is changed when her aunt says she will inherit her fathers rich inheritance, since he had disappeared years ago and was now assumed to be dead. Her father leaves her a puzzle and so she finds out about her fathers research chasing the myth of Himiko, who had the power of life over death. Basically, Croft goes on an adventure to find out more about this mystery and what had happened to her father. The film also enlists the talents of Walton Goggins who is always good.
I love Vikander as Croft. Her dedication to the role and all around performance is the best. Unlike the Lara Croft we see in the Jolie films, we are seeing Croft on her first real adventure. She gets beat up, thrown around, and is running around from consistent danger. She has no stopping, its pure adrenaline action when she's on screen. The origin story itself isn't the best, especially when you get deeper into the tomb and find out about the myth. It requires a suspension of believe, as you have to do with a lot of the action scenes in the film. Its still a fine decent little action film. The scenery looks good and Vikander finally gets to shine as an action star. While she is great, some of the characters are very cliched and uni dimensional.
The film has storytelling flaws, is slightly long, and may show signs of wear as the film moves along. Its still a step in thee right direction for a franchise that wasn't very good. I see it as a film that's meant to be non serious and a vehicle to create another strong athletic female heroine. Its fun, just turn off your brain and enjoy a fun popcorn flick. And definitely enjoy Alicia in action.
7 Days in Entebbe (2018)
I think I saw the trailer for this once in recent months so it definitely wasn't on my radar at all. Had some time to kill today, so guess what? Was hoping for a solid thriller based on a real life event. Sadly, the film fails to tell a rather interesting story with the spark it probably deserves. I can see why this film sort of just snuck into theaters without a lot of promotion. Its just not very good, and is a forgettable film about an event that could have been adapted better.
The film follows the real life events of two German terrorists (Wilfried Böse and Brigitte Kuhlmann) who along with a group of Palestinian terrorists, hijack an airplane in 1976 in Entebbe, Uganda. Their hopes are to receive a ransom of 5 million for the passengers on board and the freedom of Palestinian soldiers captured in Israel. The film follows negotiation efforts and the ultimate retrieval of the hostages by the Israeli operative forces.
I'm not very familiar with a lot of Jose Padilha's work but his Robocop remake was a definite misfire. Even here we have an interesting event and two very talented co-leads but a story that is just so dull and boring. While the film is shot well, the merits of the writing fall very short. Its hard to care for what goes on when the film doesn't really attempt to entice you with any thrill, action, or moments to make it memorable.
The relevance of the film and incident is that it mirrors the hostility between Israel and Palestine today, a conflict that has stretched for decades. Other than that, Entebbe has good intentions but fails. It doesn't exactly have a voice or make a statement but just recreates the event in a half hearted way. The best part was that weird dance sequence performance that kept going on during the film.
This one is kind of the under the radar dark comedic thriller that came, and not many people heard of. I saw the trailer for this and wanted to make it a mission to see it. Two young teenage girls with psychopathic tendencies? Count me in. After watching this film, I am satisfied although it was a bit below par of the expectations I had. Which is perfectly fine, as its quite a solid little work and an impressive debut for Cory Finley.
The film is about a girl named Lily who spends time with her schoolmate Amanda. Lily realizes that Amanda has no emotion; she does not feel empathy, happiness, and can fake cry using "the technique." Lily hates her stepfather who is emotionally abusive. Lily and Amanda decide to plan the murder of the stepfather and even go as far as to enlist the help of a small time drug dealer through blackmail. Of course, things aren't as easy as it seems and the plan is problematic.
Finley's film doesn't exactly tread any ground that film lovers like me haven't seen before but it does a lot right. The film is stylistically alluring in the way that its shot and the way it portrays a dark and somber atmosphere. This is also complimented by a jarring score. Anya Taylor-Joy and Olivia Cooke are already budding young actresses and it is no surprise that both are in tune in Thoroughbreds. The film has violent events occur but never really depicts those scenes which keeps the film clean despite its very dark nature.
Rich people and their problems at full display here. Its slow and slightly funny but is a fun watch nonetheless. It was also nice to see Anton Yelchin here in his abrupt final film role. I don't expect a whole many people to have heard of or go out of their way to watch this film. Its great though. Something that may have a cult status in a few years and something I might want to re-visit. Side note, the film posters for this film are phenomenal.
A Wrinkle in Time (2018)
A Wrinkle in Time (2018)
I still don't know why I watched this film this weekend but I as a self professed lover of film needed to keep judgment out while watching this film. It was hard having an open mind because the trailers looked....well.... bad. I was hoping for something smart and entertaining at least. While the film isn't as bad as I thought it was there's plenty of problems that ruin the film and outweigh some of the positives. I think young children will enjoy this because they won't pay attention to its flaws.
The film is about a girl named Meg and her quest to find her astrophysicist father who disappeared 4 years prior. She soon realizes that reality is not what it seems and her father is being held captive on a foreign planet by an evil force named The It which attempts to engulf the universe. The film is noticeable for its diversity in cast and story and for being the first 9 figure budget picture directed by a woman of color. While I ca appreciate that aspect of the background of the film and the ambitious effort by Ava DuVernay, the film is still a mess.
Some of the positives. The film definitely means well and the younger crowd should be impressed by the visuals and adventurous themes. Some of the passages of the journey of the film are also cool. Now the bad, the child actors really aren't good. Especially the younger brother. I can't really blame them because they are kids, but it was distracting. There is lots of CGI, some parts look great and others the effects are very noticeable. There's also storytelling flaws. Things aren't explained well and we are meant to just accept thing as "oh yeah science". It gets frustrating when inexplicable things happen for the sake of it.
I must admit the film is nowhere near as bad as I anticipated. Parts of the film are interesting. Most however is hard to connect with and get emotionally involved in. I'm sure there are people out there whoa re perfectly satisfied with this judging by the applause it received in the theater from other moviegoers. For me though, its a big budget film that needed to be much more to warrant an impact.
Game Night (2018)
Game Night (2018)
On a week where I didn't want to check out A Wrinkle In Time because it looks quite bad, I decided to watch something I missed a few weeks back. I heard it was quite a solid comedy and was down for some fun. Trailer looked decent enough, and the film had a good cast to boot. Jason Bateman works so well in comedic roles where he is the everyday straight laced man, and it's ALWAYS nice to see Rachael McAdams. Overall, the film is entertaining and funny; basically everything it should be.
The film is about a group of friends who hang out by doing a "game night". One time when the main character Max's richer and more successful brother comes to town, game night gets taken up a notch. The game becomes a real life experience with the involvement of dangerous armed man and an exchange for a valuable item. Once the crew realize that the events are no longer part of the game they realize they need to see things out an rescue Max's brother from imminent danger.
The film packs laughs in many places. Most comedies these days really fail at doing that. It has a lot to do with the sharp writing and the talented cast performances. I never knew I needed to see Jesse Plemons as the creepy cop who lives next door, but wow he nails it. There are even unexpected twists that don't seem too obvious. It blends humor and action very well. I didn't want the film to end because its never really dull. All the characters are fairly likeable and the film definitely has a re-watchable vibe.
I'm interested in future collaborations of John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein. They misfired with the Vacation remake, but they crafted a great, smart, and funny film from a premise that is fairly simple. Trailer gives a lot of the best moments away but you will still live the cinema content with this effort. Good choice for a relaxing Saturday evening, I'd say.
Red Sparrow (2018)
Red Sparrow (2018)
When I saw the teaser trailer for this film I was instantly hooked. It had a few things going for it. I am a fan of a well made spy thriller. I have yet to jump on that weird bandwagon of disliking Jennifer Lawrence so seeing her cast in a film like this was an exciting prospect. Lastly, the film seemed to be one that could have the right mix of style, sex, and thrill. I heard pretty bad things as I usually do, but I enjoyed it. Its not amazing or up there in terms of spy thrillers but it was enjoyable nonetheless.
Jennifer Lawrence plays Dominika a former Russian ballerina who is thrown into the world of espionage by her uncle. Dominika becomes a Sparrow, a spy who can give in to any target sexually while also retrieving classified information successfully. Dominika is then tasked with spying on a CIA operative and then starts to question where her loyalties lie. The film also enlists the talents of Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Charlotte Rampling, and Jeremy Irons. It also reunites Hunger Games series filmmaker Francis Lawrence with Jennifer Lawrence (no relation... I think).
The film offers a lot of style, yes more so than substance. its shot well and the locale adds to the brand of the film. Lawrence's accent seems wonky and I'm not sure its ever really easy to get used to. However, she's good in this. She was also great in Mother! but got nominated for a Razzie for that, go figure. The film is long, maybe a little two long but I thought it was interesting enough. The film also offers brutal torture and violence and sexual scenes that will make people uncomfortable. Get past that and I think its a fairly decent spy thriller.
Its not overly smart and doesn't offer any thing that makes you feel like you experienced an excellent twist or exquisite storytelling. The film does manage to meet expectations and offer a bit of beauty on the screen, despite the rather ugly and violent nature of the film. Lawrence is very committed to the role and I still believe she's one of the best actresses in the industry today. Don't expect anything spectacular, but go in to see a decently made spy thriller that does not shy away fro sex, torture and violence.
I don't usually check out Netflix films as I've mentioned a million times before. I saw Mute on the list of newly released, heard bad things and didn't think twice. I then realized the film is by Duncan Jones. He is by no means my favorite director. Warcraft was a piece of unbearable crap but its the phenomenal Moon which made me want to check this out. Mute was also dubbed as a "spiritual successor" to Moon, so I was so in for it.
The film is about a mute bartender whose girlfriend mysteriously disappears and his quest to find her. Entangled are a few curious characters including two surgeons who have their hands dirty and the owner of a club. The film is futuristic and set in a gritty world. Think Blade Runner. The film is actually really trying to emulate the feel of Blade Runner (even admitted by Jones himself). The film is no Blade Runner though; not close. I don't think its as bad as some people say it is but its still a forgettable sci fi film that falls flat.
There's a bit of intrigue to the characters quest in finding his missing girlfriend. That intrigue dies fast though. There aren't really any likeable or identifiable characters and the film seems like a mishmash of a bunch of ideas that doesn't really work. The ending also isn't worth the entire 2+ hour running length. The world created by Jones is nice to look at, despite being reminiscent of many similar films that have come before.
There is also a connection to Moon, although brief. Apparently, Jones is planning a loose trilogy. Mute isn't the worst sci-fi film I've seen or anything close. It's acceptable but not great. I find it problematic because its not a good follow up to something like Moon though, as that film was immensely superior. The plot and how it unfolds could definitely use re-working. Doesn't really offend me though, at the end of the day its a Netflix film so expectations are never high.
No relation to Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, fortunately. Alex Garland really blew me away with his directional debut with Ex Machina. Was an absolutely enthralling, smart sci-fi film that worked on so many levels. Naturally, I was very excited for Annihilation when I first saw the trailer. Natalie Portman is also one of my favorite actresses and one of the top performers working today so this was something I couldn't wait to see. Having seen it, I have to say I'm still processing the film but its very good.
Lena (Portman) is a biologist who goes to explore a mysterious area called "The Shimmer" with four other women. Her husband recently came back after a year of being in the Shimmer and he has been acting and reacting oddly. Lena soon realizes that the world within the Shimmer is odd; plants and animals mutate unnaturally and the landscapes are ever changing. There's much more to talk about plot wise in this film bt I'd rather not spoil anything at all.
First of all, visually this film looks great. As Garland says, its made for the big screen. I'm not that crazy about films premiering on Netflix and stuff so it sucks this film won't get an international release. Second, the film is slow but brooding and thriving in its complexities. It sort of reminded me of Arrival at certain stages. The film takes you on a visual and conceptual journey, whether you are coherently following along or not. Portman and Jennifer Jason Leigh shine, as usual.
I can tell a lot of people are going to write this film off as bad. I can already see that the right people are praising it and giving the film the due it deserves. Garland delivers an unflinching smart sci-fi thriller that stays with you. Its well acted and has interesting concepts that don't always make perfect sense, yet are mind bendingly entertaining. Ex Machina is a better film but Garland follows up with something close in quality. I'm certain that after a re-watch this film will get an 8 from me.
Black Panther (2018)
Black Panther (2018)
I was actually quite surprised to see the immense hype surrounding this film. Part of me was like, yes its a Marvel Cinematic Universe film so it'll be big. The other part was like wow this is blowing away the box office and is quite the phenomenon. The final stop before Avengers: Infinity Wars so of course I was ready for it. The introduction of Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War was one of the highlights of a super hero studded action blast. Overall, I quite liked what I saw here. Its not mind blowing and nowhere near the best the MCU has had to offer, but its a welcome addition to the Universe and is a good vehicle stand alone for a superhero who deserves it.
The film takes place slightly after the death of T'Chaka, and T'Challa (his son) becoming the new King of Wakanda and becoming the new Black Panther. Wakanda is a nation that seems third world to outsiders but the nation is actually thriving in science and technology because of its abundance of vibranium. However, outside forces are made aware of this and T'Challa's throne and kingship is challenged. The film has an absolutely wonderful cast at its helm. Boseman, Jordan, Nyong'o, Kaluuya, to name a few.
Visually, I think this film is on par with the best Marvel has to offer. The futuristic and scenic display of Wakanda just pop on to the screen. Boseman does well as a soft spoken yet unmistakable leader of his kingdom. I really like the Michael B. Jordan and Ryan Coogler collaboration and it works once again here. Killmonger is a good villain and its easy to rate him highly among the other MCU villains we have seen. Letitia Wright is also a real highlight of the film and likely has a bright future ahead of her.
Something else that really sticks out for me is the costume design in the film. Black Panther probably has the sleekest and best looking suit in the Marvel film universe. Add to that the suits capabilities. That whole absorb kinetic energy only to redeliver it moments later onto foes is so cool. A lot of the lore of what is capable in Wakanda with vibranium is really eye catching and does well to add to the mystique of the nation.
Some of the film feels formulaic though. Also, there aren't many gripping shocking moments, as the films plot unfolds into a predictable place. The action set pieces are quite nice, although the final battle is a tad bit disappointing. The mix of traditional African music and modern hip hop for the soundtrack/score was a bit off putting as well. I don't have that many complaints about the film but its also missing a bit of the awe factor that other films like Thor: Ragnarok and Civil War were able to bring.
All in all, I'm glad a lot of people have been praising Black Panther and have felt really inspired by an African hero. I have to say though I think its not in that upper echelon of Marvel films, but is still quite a respectable entry into the Universe. I'm ready to see Black Panther and his Wakandan allies in the Infinity Wars. Ryan Coogler is officially three for three in solid films. Pretty content with this film.
Didn't know a whole lot about this, and I assume it really wasn't in many people's radar this month. I haven't really seen much of Mark Pellington's work outside of The Mothman Prophecies (which I liked quite a bit). Main reason for wanting to check this film out was the fact that the film employs a really talented cast. I'm always a fan of Jon Hamm getting more roles in film as he is a great actor. This film was tedious, slow, and a failed attempt at an interesting idea.
This film links a few stories and characters together through a common thread of loss, love, and memories from objects. We start off by seeing an insurance agent and eventually his story links with another character who in turn links with a different one for segments of different stories. I like the idea quite a bit and I've seen this type of storytelling work in the past, but this film can't utilize this method with success. Its a dull affair.
The cast is great as expected, especially Catherine Keener in a nice standout role. The characters don't carry any weight and its easy to lose track of one's story as its just boring and bland. You sit there thinking that nothing even goes on. This is okay if there's some sort of style or intriguing dialogue that adds to the story, but none of that happens here. Near the end I was just hoping for it to end.
There may be few who will find this film to be a moving experience but for me its a film that tries to hard to be spiritual and emotional while never leaving first gear. I see what is being attempted but the film has no weight to its characters or their turmoils. Not in any rush to see anything else from Mark Pellington unfortunately.
On the weekend where everyone and their mother is watching Black Panther, I watched Samson on opening night..... I do have plans to see Black Panther in a day or two, so no worries. With Samson I was expecting a pretty bad film but something that could bring cheesy fun. When you go in with expectations like that, you get exactly what you ask for. Samson is bad, its cheesy, nonsensical, and poor on cinematic effects but did you really expect any different?
This film is the live adaptation of the story of the same name from the Book of Judges. Its about Samson, a man with incredible strength given by God and his rival Prince Rallah. Rallah murders Samson's wife and sends his army after Samson. Ultimately, Samson is betrayed by Delilah, and Samson loses his power. If you aren't familiar with the religious story, I'd say its quite an interesting story which was the main reason why I wanted to see it. Its bad, make no mistake about it.
The lead actor looks rather identical to Taylor Lautner if he was more buff. The acting and dialogue all around is atrocious. Samson himself becomes an annoying character because you realize how incredibly illogical some decisions are. The film has a lot of dumb moments but its laughable at least. The visual effects, especially the scenes where they show the ancient city look very computerized. At least the film had chubby Billy Zane though.
I doubt many people know about this film or even want to ever watch it. Overall, its a wreck and its exactly what is expected from a film about a historically religious character. The film sets up a tease for what seems like David v Goliath so I think we might have to prepare for a Religious Cinematic Universe.
The 15:17 to Paris (2018)
The 15:17 to Paris (2018)
I'm very mixed on Clint Eastwood's filmography especially in recent years. He is responsible for some great work from behind the camera but that hasn't really been the case in recent years. The 15:17 to Paris looked a bit bland and like a run of the mill affair when it comes to recreation of recent global events in film. It didn't help that critics weren't too pleased but of course, I then remembered that I never listen to critics. I'll tell you, the film is flawed and has slow passages but I liked it more than I thought I would.
The film is based on the real life events about a train that had a terror attack foiled on its way from Amsterdam to Paris. The attack was stopped primarily by three men who were best friends growing up. One of them attempts to join the military and the film focuses on his trials to make it in the military, his relationship with his friends, and his quest to find out what his purpose is and how he can truly save some lives.
The first note that needs to be made about the film is that the three lead actors cast in the film are the actual three who acted during the real life incident. With that however, comes a loss in quality of acting in the film. I get that Eastwood wanted to go with an authentic element by having the guys who lived it tell the story, but you could just tell that these weren't actors as they weren't always convincing or delivering lines properly. The film does spend an extended amount of time going into backstory as well which a times was quite noticeable.
Otherwise, I enjoyed it. Some of the cinematography and locations (especially when the cast is on vacation) is gorgeous. The last twenty minutes or so are quite intense and satisfying. The event was something that isn't enough to warrant an entire feature film so I get that we had to go off point. Was the film necessary? No. It is however better than some of the stuff I've seen from Eastwood in recent years so I'll take it.