ONLY THE BRAVE review

Alright, so a little back story. And since it was best explained on its Wikipedia page, I’ll just copy the information provided there.

“The Yarnell Hill Fire was a wildfire near Yarnell, Arizona, ignited by lightning on June 28, 2013. On June 30, it overran and killed 19 City of Prescott firefighters, members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots. It was the third deadliest U.S. wildfire since the 1991 East Bay Hills fire, which killed 25 people; and the 2017 Northern California wildfires, which killed over 40, the deadliest wildland fire for U.S. firefighters since the 1933 Griffith Park Fire, which killed 29; and the deadliest incident of any kind for U.S. firefighters since the September 11, 2001, attacks, which killed 343. It is the sixth-deadliest American firefighter disaster overall and the deadliest wildfire ever in Arizona.” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yarnell_Hill_Fire

As I understand it, of the twenty firefighters that were involved, there was only one survivor. This film is essentially dedicated to those men who gave their lives.

On a personal level, I’ve never heard of this event. What can I say? I don’t watch the news. And weirdly enough, I’ve actually not seen a trailer for the film. I have no idea how I managed that. I guess weeks of not seeing as many films, I’ll end up missing a few trailers. All I know is that it’s got some great reviews and ratings, so it’s probably a safe bet to assume it’s good.

Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Miles Teller (BLEED FOR THIS [2016], WHIPLASH [2014], and FOOTLOOSE [2011]), Josh Brolin (HAIL, CAESAR! [2016], NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN [2007], MIMIC [1997], and upcoming films SOLDAD [2018] and AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR [2018]), Jeff Bridges (KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE [2017], SEABISCUIT [2003], and TRON [1982]), Taylor Kitsch (AMERICAN ASSASSIN [2017], SAVAGES [2012], and THE COVENANT [2006]), and Geoff Stults (UNFORGETTABLE [2017], and TV shows ENLISTED [2014] and THE FINDER [2012]). In support, we have Jennifer Connelly (SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING [2017], RESERVATION ROAD [2007], THE ROCKETEER [1991], and upcoming film ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL [2018] and TV show SNOWPIERCER [2018]) and Andie MacDowell (MAGIC MIKE XXL [2015], BARNYARD [2006], and GROUNDHOG DAY [1993]).

Now for the crew. Directing, we have Joseph Kosinski, known for OBLIVION (2013) and TRON: LEGACY (2010). Penning the screenplay are Ken Nolan (TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT [2017] and BLACK HAWK DOWN [2001]) and Eric Warren Singer (AMERICAN HUSTLE [2013] and THE INTERNATIONAL [2009]). Composing the score is Joseph Trapanese, known for ALLEGIANT (2016), EARTH TO ECHO (2014), and THE RAID: REDEMPTION (2011). Finally, the cinematographer is Claudio Miranda, known for TOMORROWLAND (2015), LIFE OF PI (2012), FAILURE TO LAUNCH (2006), and the upcoming 100 YEARS (2115).

Overall, I’m actually very interested in seeing this.

This is my honest opinion of: ONLY THE BRAVE

(SUMMARY)

Set in Phoenix, Arizona, circa 2013. The story follows firefighters, specifically rookie Brendan McDonough (Miles Teller), and veteran Eric “Supes” Marsh (Josh Brolin). Brendan was once a loser drug user who eventually had himself a daughter and decided to get his life in order and become a firefighter. Eric is a no nonsense kind of leader who wants his crew to be hotshots, the firefighters that fight the fires head-on, rather than play support, which his men have been primarily relegated to for four years. But pulling some strings, he and his crew are given the chance they’ve been wanting and pull it off. Traveling the country, making a name for themselves as local heroes, the day comes when Yarnell Hill Fire shows up.

(REVIEW)

This is a powerful movie, probably one of the better ones this year. Powerful enough to make me cry. Yup, it’s that good.

For those of you that don’t know, I think crying during a movie is the most incredible experience anyone can have. It means you found something to emotionally invest in. The characters were so well-written to your taste that when something tragic or triumphant happens, you respectively cried in sadness or happiness. The rawest and most honest of emotions. That’s how you know you aren’t just watching a movie. You’re watching something real. Something that made you feel or think. In the end, isn’t that was great art is?

But enough sap. This is probably one of the best performances I’ve seen out of Teller. Brendan is clearly a well-meaning young man who’s made some awful decisions and is trying to turn it all around for the sake of his daughter. He’s clearly out of his element in just about every sense of the word, being pushed so far as to vomit because of how much he’s pushed himself physically. But for as many stumbles and mistakes as he makes, he does eventually make his way to being an equal in the group. He makes friends, earns respect, and becomes a vital and integral member of the team and really puts forth the effort in being a supporting father to his daughter. Effort that isn’t ignored and his baby mama Natalie (Natalie Hall) and his own mother (Rachel Singer) see the changes he’s made. What I find refreshing is that there’s no scene where either Natalie or Brendan’s mother take a beat to say, “I’m so proud of how much you’ve changed,” or anything like that. It’s almost like the movie knows that cliché would happen, but decides to skip it and let the reality sink in and show that side of Brendan’s life as a unified front. The simple visual alone is enough to know that they had that talk anyway. No use wasting everyone’s time by actually filming it. And it is just me, or does Teller look skinnier than usual? I mean, it’s not like he’s had a career playing beefcakes, and I sure don’t want to make it sound like he looks anorexic or anything, but he looks pretty skinny in this movie. This is by no means a flaw. In fact, it adds a real level of realism to the role. Brendan was a drug user, and a slacker with no motivation in his life, so I can imagine that he wouldn’t look very toned, muscle-wise. It also makes almost a haunting kind of sense when he’s out for that jog when he’s recruited and he’s keeling over vomiting his guts out. It’s an interesting detail that I noticed.

But of course, none of that goodwill and hard work would have been possible for Brendan if he wasn’t given that chance, and that’s all thanks to Supes. He’s a loving husband to the impossibly gorgeous Amanda. Or am I referring to Jennifer Connolly? It’s hard to tell. Anyway, they are very in love, but like any married couple when both parties have wills stronger than graphene, they butt heads. Hard. When he makes a decision that she disagrees with, she’s not subtle, or calm about it. She’s not afraid to raise her voice, or full on scream at him. And he doesn’t try to diffuse the situation. Nope, she raises her voice, he matches it with equal ferocity. Also like any other couple, they are quick to acknowledge what they did wrong and try to correct it, know when they say something stupid and want to make up for it, and ultimately remain a functioning, supportive couple. But then again, you can totally make the argument that he’s only this way because of his own past, which he is deeply ashamed of, making for some surprisingly vulnerable scenes despite Supes’ gruff and authoritative demeanor.

But honestly, as great as the core cast is, my absolute favorite performance has to go to Connolly. Perhaps it’s simply because she hasn’t had this good of a performance in years. Hell, the last great and memorable performance that comes to my mind is BLOOD DIAMOND (2006). Which is a shame because she is such a terrific actress, but few movies under her belt truly do her justice. I mean, THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (2008)? HULK (2003)? Come on, Hollywood, don’t do that to her. She’s way too good for that shit. But enough gushing, there is a serious fire and passion in her performance. Amanda is a naturally loving and supportive wife, but that’s not to say that she doesn’t wish for something a little easier. She’s practically a single woman while her husband is off around the country fighting fires. It’s a very complex set of emotions going through her and she knows she can’t full-on tell him to quit his job because that wouldn’t be fair, plus, she knows that this job means the world to him. Still, she’s a married woman with a husband who’s barely around, so you can still get an idea as to why she feels this way and it’s hard to argue with her. But more than anything, acting or not, Connelly is scary when she’s mad, so… note to self. Don’t make her mad.

The rest of the support does pretty well too. You do feel a genuine sense of comradery within the hotshots. They joke around, give each other shit, get maybe a little misogynistic, but you know that they’re good men at heart who know their jobs and do it well, making it a legitimate heartbreak when the inevitable happens. As I said, I did cry a little.

But I guess with a movie based on a true story, it’s probably best to question how accurate the movie is to the real thing. I’ll post a link to the best article I could find regarding the film, but I’ll try to sum it up as best I can.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/nation-now/2017/10/20/how-accurate-only-brave-heres-what-movie-gets-right-and-wrong/786466001/

The short answer would be, where it counts. For much of the film’s runtime, it’s more about the creation of the Granite Mountain Hotshots and their certification, and a lot of that was fabricated. But as for the day of the Yarnell Hill Fire itself, it sticks to the facts. As for the before and after, it gets a little loosey goosey. For example, there’s a scene where Brendan wants to step away from the Granite Mountain Hotshots and be in a safer environment to be closer to his daughter and give her the attention he wants to give. However, when he confronts Supes with the notion, the movie portrays him as hostile, reacting negatively. In real life, to my understanding, the real man was supportive right out of the gate. Even for dramatic purposes, that seems a little odd to throw in that level of unlikability for the man. Even if it is explained why in the next scene, it’s not true to the man himself, which doesn’t feel very respectful. But then again, the movie is accurate enough to shed light on Supes’ dark past as a substance abuser, same with Brendan’s. Even down to little details, like Christopher MacKenzie (Taylor Kitsch) being the guy who took the pictures for the crew. As previously mentioned, it seems odd why details like that were faithfully enacted for the film, but character traits and personalities, the cornerstone for any portrayal of someone on screen, is messed around with. There’s also a lot about how the families of the hotshots who financially struggled after the event, but I think that’s another story altogether and this movie wanted to keeps its focus on the men, rather than the backlash. Though, now that I’m thinking about it, that does seem particularly questionable why the filmmakers would leave that out. I think even a post-movie text would have been fine enough. After all, these men didn’t exist just to die doing their jobs. They had families, wives, and children, and it’s kind of a shame that the movie only focuses on two men in depth. But I guess that’s what documentaries are for. In any case, the article I posted above goes into a little more detail about the facts and fiction. I recommend giving it a glance. It’s pretty interesting.

While it’s a shame that the movie wasn’t all-encompassing with the men of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, giving each of them more time in the sun, the movie could have shown a greater lack of respect had they completely fabricated the Yarnell Hill Fire itself. And in the end, especially for anyone who’s like myself and not always aware of current events, this is probably one of the most powerful ways to be made aware. And ultimately, it shows respect for the men themselves and that can arguably be the most important aspect to get right. Equally important, the film is a fascinating look into the lives of firefighters, their specific jobs, the numerous ways in which they deal with fires, it’s pretty damn interesting. But on the dramatic side, it’s intense, engaging, and almost portrays wildfires into horror monsters. I can definitely see someone losing sleep over this, but I mean that in the best way. This movie will renew your respect for the brave men and women that do this every day. I highly recommend this film to everyone. It has fantastic performances, intense and horrific imagery, but it’s a fantastic film that will make you feel. The Granite Mountain Hotshots will never be forgotten.

My honest opinion for ONLY THE BRAVE: It’s a must see.

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KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE quick review

For those not in the know, “Kingsman” is based on a comic book series of the same name. Actually, I think the original title for the comic was “The Secret Service” but changed the name to tie in better with the 2015 film. Fun fact of the day, this comic series actually takes place in the same universe as the “Kick-Ass” comic books, as they’re written by the same writer, Mark Millar. Something about Kick-Ass referencing something that took place in the Kingsman series.

But we’re not here to talk about comics. We’re here to talk about movies. The first film, KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE (2015) was wildly popular with audiences upon its release. It shot Taron Egerton to the stars, gave us one of my personal favorite newcomers, Sofia Boutella, was over-the-top violent, had a fun cameo by Mark Hamill, and was an all around fun time for all. What did I think of it? I thought it was… mostly good. While all of what I said is true, there was one detail about the film that I absolutely hated. The Kingsman training program is, obviously, very hardcore. Few people get through it. But then the final test is to get close to a cute little dog and then shoot it. Do that, and you’re a Kingsman. This pissed me off. The Kingsman prided themselves on being spies, of course, but also being gentlemen. This implies a level of grace, coolness, confidence, class. What’s graceful, cool, confident, and classy about murdering an innocent animal? Eggsy refuses to murder his dog and he’s thrown out of the Kingsman. What sense does that make?! If the dog was trained to fight back without prejudice, then fine, you gotta defend yourself and might teach you a thing or two about trust and betrayal and learning to overcome that kind of grief of killing your friend who tried to kill you. But no, Eggsy’s dog was a cute, innocent pug. Or maybe the exercise could be this: there is no failure in this test. It’s more of a placement thing. Like, okay, you murder the dog, that means you can follow orders to the tee. Field agents need to be able to do that, making you a desirable field agent. If you don’t kill the dog, you’re still a Kingsman, but because you didn’t follow your superior’s direct order, you’re assigned to intelligence work, like Mark Strong’s character, feeding tactical information, but never on the front lines himself. You know, something like that. But no, because you didn’t murder a defenseless animal, you can’t be a gentleman spy. Fuck the Kingsman, man. I never got past this element of the movie, so I personally give it a strong 3/5. As I said, the rest of the film is a load of fun.

But now we have a sequel that I know will be better than the first one. Why? Because comic book sequels have a tendency to be better than their predecessors. Plus, I’m sure there’s not going to be any more “dog murdering” bullshit to piss me off. This movie looks like it’s about the Kingsman getting wiped out by a terrorist organization and it’s up to Eggsy and Merlin, the two surviving Kingsman to work with their American cousins, the Statesman, to bring down this terrorist. As per usual, it looks fun, inventive, and bad-ass. So sign me up, bitches!

Here’s the onscreen talent. Starring, we have Taron Egerton (SING [2016], EDDIE THE EAGLE [2016], LEGEND [2015], and the upcoming ROBIN HOOD [2018]), Julianne Moore (THE HUNGER GAMES: THE MOCKINGJAY – PART 2 [2015], STILL ALICE [2014], BENNY & JOON [1993], and upcoming films WONDERSTRUCK [2017] and SUBURBICON [2017]), Mark Strong (MISS SLOANE [2016], JOHN CARTER [2012], and STARDUST [2007]), and Channing Tatum (LOGAN LUCKY [2017], THE EAGLE [2011], COACH CARTER [2005], and upcoming films with no release dates announced, GAMBIT and VAN HELSING). In support, we have Halle Berry (KIDNAP [2017], PERFECT STRANGER [2007], EXECUTIVE DECISION [1996]), Jeff Bridges (THE ONLY LIVING BOY IN NEW YORK [2017], SURF’S UP [2007], TRON [1982], and the upcoming ONLY THE BRAVE [2017]), Elton John (THE ROAD TO EL DORADO [2000], SPICE WORLD [1997], and 1 episode of TV show NASHVILLE [2012 – 2018]), Michael Gambon (HAIL, CAESAR! [2016], THE KING’S SPEECH [2010], HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN [2004], and the upcoming VICTORIA & ABDUL [2017]), and Colin Firth (BRIDGET JONES’S BABY [2016], NANNY MCPHEE [2005], SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE [1998], and upcoming films MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN [2018] and MARY POPPINS RETURNS [2018]).

Now for behind the scenes. Directing and co-writing is Matthew Vaughn, known for KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE (2015), X-MEN: FIRST CLASS (2011), STARDUST (2007), and the upcoming KINGSMAN 3, no release date announced. Co-writing the screenplay is Jane Goldman, known for MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN (2016), X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, STARDUST, and the upcoming KINGSMAN 3. Co-composing the score are Henry Jackman (KONG: SKULL ISLAND [2017], CAPTAIN PHILLIPS [2013], MONSTERS VS. ALIENS [2009], and upcoming films JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE [2017] and RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET: WRECK-IT RALPH 2 [2018]) and Matthew Margeson (RINGS [2017], KICK-ASS 2 [2013], and SKYLINE [2010]). Finally, the cinematographer is George Richmond, known for EDDIE THE EAGLE, KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE, and the upcoming TOMB RAIDER (2018).

Overall, I’m excited for this. Not out of my mind, but I’m pretty hyped.

This is my honest opinion of: KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE

(SUMMARY)

The Golden Circle is the largest drug cartel in the world and no one knows that it’s ran by the nefarious Poppy (Julianne Moore). She, of course, wants to hold America hostage to legalize all drugs or she won’t give up the antidote to her latest drug, which has been secretly inserted in nearly every single drug that the common person can get, which is millions. But before all that, she gets rid of the only people that she knows can get in her way: the Kingsman. Effectively wiping out all of the Kingsman, with the notable exceptions of Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and Merlin (Mark Strong). Desperate to find help, they seek it in the form of their organization’s American cousins, the Statesmen.

(QUICK REVIEW)

Meh, it’s not bad. Not as good as the first one, but not bad.

What I liked: Moore is usually a welcomed sight in anything that she’s in, so to see her as the villain in a movie like this was a kind of shock. But as far as that’s concerned, she was a lot of fun. Hell, her intro scene is having a dude send another dude through a meat grinder and makes a burger out of him and then makes the dude try a bite. It’s pretty fucked up, but I enjoyed how deliciously sinister she was (no pun, intended, but I’m taking credit for it anyway, so…. pun intended). And I think it’s hilarious that she kidnapped Elton John for her personal amusement, who is also really funny in the film. Kind of wished we saw more of her robotic creations doing shit, but the dogs were enough, I guess.

The comedy is still there, Egerton is charming as always, as are Firth and Strong. There is a sense of fun about the film, so it’s not boring, thank God. The action is awesome and delightfully violent, and pretty creative for the most part. I’ll never get tired of seeing Whiskey’s (Pedro Pascal) laser whip. Now Star Wars can’t put a monopoly on that idea.

But now for the negatives. Despite some solid talent, like Berry, Bridges, Tatum, they’re barely in the film, or barely contribute to the story, making you wonder why they were even in it at all. Which is pretty manipulative because a lot of the marketing surrounds these characters. I didn’t like how the movie kills off the entire Kingsman organization in its second movie. I mean, wouldn’t it be better to see Eggsy and his team take down a rival organization at their peak power to really showcase their tech, their intel, and their bad-assness? Why kill them off in the second film? I don’t get it. The subplot of Eggsy and his girlfriend Tilde (Hanna Alström) is a little annoying. He’s a spy, of course he’s going to be faced with situations of seduction. How would she not know that?

And fine, let’s talk about that controversial sex scene. Honestly, I thought because Poppy (Moore) created a female robot that does the Golden Circle tattoo thing, I figured that the sex scene would be about the robot fucking a dude or something weird like that. But nope, it’s about Eggsy fingering some blond girl who is the girlfriend to Poppy’s main henchman with a tracking device shaped like a condom that he’s supposed to shove up her vagina. Honestly, maybe I’m just a guy about it, but it took me a good minute to figure out at the end of the movie that this was the big ole controversy. I mean, it’s not overly graphic in the fingering, and technically does serve the plot of the story and carries dramatic weight, albeit in the subplot that I barely cared about. But the more I thought about it, yeah, this was unnecessary. A tiny tracking device can be placed anywhere and didn’t need to be implemented like this.

Overall, yeah, not quite as good as the first film, but it’s alright. If you’re a fan of the first one, I can’t imagine you feeling betrayed or not having fun with it. But I do recommend toning down your high expectations if you have them.

My honest rating for KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE: 3/5

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THE ONLY LIVING BOY IN NEW YORK (quick) review

Another movie that I had no idea existed until I looked up showtimes for the theaters that I haunt. But I saw a couple of names that I’m really into, so I had to look it up. The movie looks like it’s about this young man who lives a seemingly happy family life. His parents are together and he’s in this kind-of relationship with this girl. But he soon finds out that his dad is having an affair with a younger woman and in his attempts to find out who she is, the two of them possibly strike up a relationship as well. I have no idea how to feel about it. I doubt it’ll be good, but it could be fun if it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Callum Turner (ASSASSIN’S CREED [2016], GREEN ROOM [2016], VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN [2015], and the upcoming FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD [2018]), Kate Beckinsale (UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS [2017], LOVE & FRIENDSHIP [2016], and SERENDIPITY [2001]), and Pierce Brosnan (NO ESCAPE [2015], THE MATADOR [2005], 007 GOLDENEYE [1995], and upcoming films THE FOREIGNER [2017] and… God help us all, MAMMA MIA: HERE WE GO AGAIN [2018]). In support, we have Jeff Bridges (HELL OR HIGH WATER [2016], IRON MAN [2008], THE BIG LEBOWSKI [1998], and the upcoming KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE [2017]), Cynthia Nixon (TV show SEX AND THE CITY [1998 – 2004]), Kiersey Clemons (NEIGHBORS 2 [2016], and upcoming films FLATLINERS [2017] and JUSTICE LEAGUE [2017]), Debi Mazar (LOVELACE [2013], BATMAN FOREVER [1995], and TV show YOUNGER [2015 – ongoing]), and Wallace Shawn (TOY STORY 3 [2010], THE HAUNTED MANSION [2003], and THE PRINCESS BRIDE [1987]).

Now for the crew. Directing is Marc Webb, known for GIFTED (2017), THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2012), and 500 DAYS OF SUMMER (2009). Penning the screenplay is Allan Loeb, known for THE SPACE BETWEEN US (2017), COLLATERAL BEAUTY (2016), and ROCK OF AGES (2012). Composing the score is Rob Simonsen, known for GOING IN STYLE (2017), THE AGE OF ADALINE (2015), and TV show LIFE IN PIECES (2015 – ongoing). Finally, the cinematographer is Stuart Dryburgh, known for THE GREAT WALL (2017), ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS (2016), and NIM’S ISLAND (2008).

Overall, I’m excited for Beckinsale, but my bias level toward her is over 9,000. Immediate ten points to anyone who knows that reference.

This is my honest opinion of: THE ONLY LIVING BOY IN NEW YORK

(SUMMARY)

The story follows Thomas (Callum Turner), a young man who’s got no real direction in his life. His only consultation is his odd, but wise old neighbor W.F. Gerald (Jeff Bridges). Things get complicated in his family life when he finds out that his father Ethan (Pierce Brosnan) is having an affair on his mother Judith (Cynthia Nixon) with a much younger woman named Johanna (Kate Beckinsale). Before long, he confronts her and the two become lovers themselves.

(QUICK REVIEW)

I’m conflicted. On the one hand, I know it’s not very good, but on the other hand, I don’t really hate it and still found something things to be okay.

I think the acting is fine, but the characters are written so wishy-washy and events are rushed a little too quickly to truly take anything seriously. When Thomas finds out his dad is cheating on his mom, it’s barely three scenes later before he finds himself in love with that same woman, who decides to have an affair with him as well. None of this is explored, it’s just pure sex for the sake of it, but Thomas is calling it “love.” The sad thing is, whatever development this movie couldn’t do, they cheated via narration and told the audience that “She’s high society and hot for an older man,” and that “He was a distraction from the stresses of the future,” or whatever bullshit poor Bridges was forced to spew. And that’s what ultimately cripples the film. The whole crux of the story is: daddy cheats on mommy, but the mistress cheats on daddy with the son. All that matters is the men porking the hot British chick. There’s actually potential for both drama or comedy, but the movie isn’t saying anything to justify the drama, and there’s not too many comedic moments to justify a comedy. The characters involved get no real screen time together for us to really get to know them, so we’re never truly connecting with any one person, let alone the group, and this applies to the entire flick. Plus, character motivations are tossed right out the window, making a vast majority of the characters either unlikable or utterly boring.

Is the movie all bad? No. As I said, the acting is enjoyable, especially from Bridges, who is probably the comedic center of this borefest. Beckinsale is delightfully slutty, and the connections with other characters feel genuine, like between Thomas and his mother, Thomas and Gerald, those are all fine enough. Plus, I enjoy the ending with certain expectations being played with.

Overall, I can’t claim this movie is good and I can’t say it’s a movie I’d really revisit, but it’s did have a few elements that kept me interested and wondered where everything was going to go. I didn’t care enough to want to see it played out for me twice, but it was serviceable enough. I’m not sure if I’m going to recommend this in theaters. I know I’m in the minority of how much I enjoyed this flick, but even I can acknowledge it’s not all that good, despite having actors that I’m a particular fan of. Maybe it’s worth a rental, but if you decided to pass on it, you’re not missing anything special.

My honest rating for THE ONLY LIVING BOY IN NEW YORK: a weak 3/5

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HELL OR HIGH WATER review

This one kind of came out of left field for me. For a lot of films, I usually know about them ahead of time and can get a grasp of what I’ll be in for. This one, didn’t hear a peep about it until just this week.

So my initial impressions are: I think it’s a cheat to make a “neo-western” instead of an actual western (what, are audiences too modern for a classic genre?), but I’m always down for Jeff Bridges and FINEST HOURS (2016) co-stars Chris Pine and Ben Foster, so I doubted that I’d be disappointed by the star power alone. The story didn’t seem very unique; couple of guys try to save their mom’s farm by robbing that banks that will foreclose it, one son’s a good man, the other an ex-con, so I am sort of predicting it right now.

Sitting in the director’s seat is David Mackenzie, whom it looks like he almost exclusively does indie films. I don’t recognize any of his work and that’s kind of rare, but all of this work seems to be popular by those who’ve seen them, so this might be in good hands. Penning the script is Taylor Sheridan. If that name sounds familiar to some of you, it’s not just because he wrote last year’s critically beloved SICARIO, but he’s also a fairly seasoned TV actor, having been on such popular shows like SONS OF ANARCHY and VERONICA MARS. Not gonna lie, I think this movie is going to be good with talent like this behind the scenes. Maybe the performances will carry it through the possible predictability.

Well, it’s time to get to it. This is my honest opinion of HELL OR HIGH WATER.

(SUMMARY)

The story follows two southern brothers, the straight and honest good guy Toby (Chris Pine), and the ex-convict Tanner Howard (Ben Foster). The banks are trying to foreclose their family farm and the only way they feel they can keep it open is by buying it… with the bank’s money. Alone, they rob them and go on a spree. This catches the attention of a couple of Texas Rangers, the kindly Alberto Parker (Gil Birminghan) and the near-retired displaced-attitude veteran Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges). As the brothers’ robberies become more daring, the Rangers get ever closer to catching them.

(REVIEW)

… You’re still a cheat, movie. But yeah, this was a damn fine film.

As per usual Pine and Foster are absolutely fantastic, both individually and together. Toby is definitely the more grounded of the two men that hates that he has to rob these banks, but it’s also to settle a score with the banks that are taking away their family’s land. He’s a good man regardless and it’s easy to sympathize with him. Tanner on the other hand is the fucking nut-ball and gets a serious thrill from doing what they’re doing, but he’s that awesome kind of crazy. He’s not afraid to punch someone in the face, or even to shoot someone, but he’s still got his empathetic side. You do see a man who wanted to be around to help out while their mother was sick. You do see a loving brother. You do see a man who does the wrong things for the right reasons. But then again, you do see a man who does the wrong things for selfish and asshole reasons. He’s not the worst of the worst, but he’s definitely not his brother. I have no idea why this particular bit stands out for me, but one of my favorite moments in the movie is when the two are at a gas station and they totally finish kicking a dip-shit punk’s ass and drive away. Before, Tanner asked Toby to get him a Dr. Pepper while he was in the store, but when they drive away, Tanner’s all, “You trying to piss me off? I asked for a Dr. Pepper and you give me a Mr. Pibb?” I was laughing just as hard as the audience was.

Bridges delivers a performance not unlike Foster’s. He’s the hilarious asshole, but probably a bit more emphasis on the “asshole.” Since his partner, Alberto is half Native American and half Hispanic, nearly every joke that comes out Marcus’ mouth is supposed to be an offensive remark about his heritage. He’s not mean-spirited about it, necessarily, he’s just “teasing,” but it’s pretty frequent. This may not be Bridges best or most memorable work, but he’s still delivers a delightful performance and makes a very fun character.

Not a lot of people may know this, but I actually wasn’t that big a fan of SICARIO. It was by no means a bad movie, but I felt like how they kept Emily Blunt’s character in the story was incredibly weak, and if you know me very well, characters are story and therefore are the most important element to a movie. I think Sheridan learned a lesson because not only is his script pretty damn tight, he wrote the dialog in a way that even though the movie shows very little, the characters speak volumes, and I’m sure that MacKenzie had no small hand in that. There’s nuance to these characters, there’s moral ambiguity, it’s all a done beautifully.

I might nitpick that there are a couple scenes in this movie that don’t add anything to the overall movie and are just there to be there and the ending gets a tad overblown… but even those semi unnecessary scenes are pretty enjoyable themselves and, gee wiz, a western that has a big stand-off climax, THAT’S NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE IN THE HISTORY OF WESTERNS!!! *sarcasm* So yeah, if you’re a fan of westerns, neo or classic, I’d say this is pretty enjoyable. It’s got some fun, it’s got some drama, some really solid performances, it’s a solid flick. Forewarning though, it’s a pretty limited release, so you might have to look for it and go out of your way to find it, but I do think it’s worth the worth the price and gas, so I high recommend it.

My honest rating for HELL OR HIGH WATER: 5/5

hell_or_high_water

That’s that for this week folks. But hey, the movie industry shits out a new batch every week, so keep an eye out for my reviews… of movie industry shits… yeah, I need to work on my analogies.

Upcoming movies:

  • KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS
    • trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4-6qJzeb3A
  • BEN-HUR (2016)
    • trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BmeR9GYdDU
  • MORRIS FROM AMERICA
    • trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8HY-6F4Y_I
  • WAR DOGS
    • trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rwh9c_E3dJk