DETROIT review

Man, I really should have paid attention in history class. I assume it’s a racially charged film. No duh, 1967 white cops in a black neighborhood, that goes without saying. But I suppose what sets this film apart is the star-studded and fairly interesting cast. I’m mostly referring to Will Poulter, who seems like he’s playing a cop who is in charge, even though he looks like he’s in high school. No offense to the man of course, he’s twenty-four years old, but just the way his face is structured, I almost don’t buy him as someone giving orders. But it’s not like I’ve seen the film and for all I know, his performance overshadows his baby face. To be fair, he is a great actor, so I’m sure that’ll be the case.

Well, here’s the cast. Starring, we have John Boyega (THE CIRCLE [2017], STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS [2015], ATTACK THE BLOCK [2011], and upcoming films STAR WARS EPISODE VIII: THE LAST JEDI [2017] and PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING [2018]), Will Poulter (THE REVENANT [2015], THE MAZE RUNNER [2014], and THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER [2010]), and Anthony Mackie (TRIPLE 9 [2016], CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER [2014], PAIN & GAIN [2013], and Marvel’s upcoming AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR [2018]). In support, we have Algee Smith (EARTH TO ECHO [2014]), Jacob Latimore (SLEIGHT [2017], COLLATERAL BEAUTY [2016], and THE MAZE RUNNER [2014]), Jack Reynor (FREE FIRE [2017], SING STREET [2016], TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION [2014], and the upcoming JUNGLE BOOK [2018]), John Krasinski (THE HOLLARS [2016], 13 HOURS [2016], TV show THE OFFICE, and upcoming TV show JACK RYAN), and Kaitlyn Dever (video game UNCHARTED 4: A THIEF’S END [2016], and TV shows LAST MAN STANDING and JUSTIFIED).

Now for the crew. Directing is Kathryn Bigelow, known for ZERO DARK THIRTY (2012), THE HURT LOCKER (2008), and POINT BREAK (1991). Penning the screenplay is Mark Boal, known for ZERO DARK THIRTY, THE HURT LOCKER, and IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH (2007). Composing the score is the always amazing James Newton Howard, known for FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM (2016), THE HUNGER GAMES (2012), M. Night Shyamalan’s LADY IN THE WATER (2006), and the upcoming FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM 2 (2018). Finally, the cinematographer is Barry Ackroyd, known for JASON BOURNE (2016), THE HURT LOCKER (2008), and UNITED 93 (2006).

Overall, yeah, this looks like it’s going to be good. Some great talent in front of and behind the camera, so I’m thinking we can expect a quality film here. Let me at it.

This is my honest opinion of: DETROIT

(SUMMARY)

Set in 1967 Detroit, Michigan. Racial tension between the black community and law-enforcement is at an all-time high and the city has become a war-zone, with officers gunning down black people in the streets for little to no cause and covering their tracks with lies and false evidence. Within the local Algiers Motel, a black teenager, fed up with the police and the mistreatment of black, fires a few blank rounds at the police to scare them, but the result is the police thinking it’s a sniper attack and the motel is raided and so ensues a night of humiliation, beatings, and murder.

(REVIEW)

I feel a little conflicted. It’s good, but I’m not sure just how good I feel about it. Definitely, the one thing I will say is don’t see it if you’re expecting a story with a happy ending. It’s not sad, or anything, but my buddy whom I saw it with said it best, “It’s depressing.”

I can’t say how long this review will be, but let’s see how I do.

First and foremost, the acting is spectacular. On the villainous side, Poulter threw me to the ground, shoved a pole in my back, and wiped the floor with me because he was so despicable, so fucking monstrous that he quite possibly stole the show. Not that I have a mind to catch on to “themes” of movies all the time, but one of them was just how low and depraved these men could get in this time period and what they managed to get away with. They will even take an act like praying, a symbolic gesture of peace, clarity, and hope, and use it to traumatize and horrify, forcing them to recite a prayer at the threat of death. And their behavior and attitude isn’t just reserved for the people of color. No, they’ll mistreat the white women too. It’s incredibly hard to watch. But the act of threatening alone isn’t enough if the victims aren’t scared out of their minds and boy howdy did I believe they were. Man, I hope shooting on that set that things were chill between everyone because even though it’s acting, I can see things getting out of hand and someone decking each other simply out of reaction, but I highly doubt that ever happened. Stories like Shia Lebeouf knocking out Tom Hardy are pretty isolated incidents. Either way, everyone did amazing and you could cut the fear in their eyes with a chainsaw and not make a scratch. If you wanted a real horror film to watch that features no monsters, this is well worth that experience.

I suppose another aspect that I can appreciate is the restraint that this movie had to not have Julie (Hannah Murray) or Karen (Dever) raped by the cops. While I’m sure that didn’t happen in the incident anyway, I can definitely see some studio big-wig trying to throw that “creative liberty” in there all in the name of “added dramatic effect.” You can’t convince me it hasn’t happened before. It sure looked like it was going to go that route what with the constant close-ups of the two women’s backsides and the animalistic men ogling over them. Hell, I was ready to rip my hair out after Julie’s clothes were ripped off. I was calling it, that’s where it was going to happen. But nope, the humiliation and the implication in the men’s eyes was more than enough, and honestly, a lot more effective.

Other than there being a great deal intensity and visceral stress and fear that you feel alongside the victims, there’s not a whole lot of praise to be spoken. It’s just holding a magnifying glass on an incident which perfectly captured the tension between two sides of a conflict and what the law was clearly there to protect at the time, and it wasn’t always its citizens.

Although, having done no real research, and certainly not having the resources that the crew had while putting this movie together, one element did bother the crap out of me. Carl (Jason Mitchell) used a pistol with blanks when he wanted to scare the cops. When the cops raid the place looking for the gun, they keep shouting for it, but… why don’t they explain that it’s not real, or didn’t have real bullets? They spent hours getting questioned and it’s like they honest to God didn’t know anything about a real gun. Is a real gun so indistinguishable from a fake one, or a real one with no real ammo? I don’t know, I grew up with paintball, airsoft, and cap guns, as well as watching a whole ton of action movies. I think I could tell the difference. These people, scared or not, really didn’t say anything?! Maybe this is a weird detail overlooked by the movie, but… yeah, that seemed off to me.

Overall, this movie isn’t for the feint of heart and it certainly shouldn’t be seen if you’re looking for a crowd pleaser. But it’s the 1960’s in one of the most crime-ridden cities in America, even to this day. This movie’s setting alone was an indication that a happy ending was never going to be in the cards. But it’s worth watching. It’s a powerful piece that will stay with you. I think a detail or two can be questioned, but it’s a good film. It’s no “must see” of the year, but if you have even a passing interest, I do recommend it.

My honest rating for DETROIT: 4/5

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Quick Netflix review: HUGO (2011)

Starring: Asa Butterfield (THE SPACE BETWEEN US [2017], MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN [2016], and THE BOY IN THE STRIPPED PAJAMAS [2008]), Chloë Grace Moretz (NEIGHBORS 2 [2016], CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA [2014], and KICK-ASS [2010]), and Ben Kingsley (COLLIDE [2017], THE JUNGLE BOOK [2016], and SPECIES [1995]).

In support: Sacha Baron Cohen (ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS [2016], LES MISÉRABLES [2012], and BORAT [2006]), Helen McCrory (THEIR FINEST [2017], 007 SKYFALL [2012], and HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE [2009]), Emily Mortimer (THE SENSE OF AN ENDING [2017], SHUTTER ISLAND [2010], SCREAM 3 [2000], and the upcoming Disney revival, MARY POPPINS RETURNS [2018]), Christopher Lee (THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES [2014], STAR WARS EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH [2005], and GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH [1990]), and Jude Law (KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD [2017], SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW [2004], GATTACA [1997], and upcoming films FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM 2 [2018] and SHERLOCK HOLMES 3, no release date announced).

Director: Martin Scorsese (SILENCE [2016], THE DEPARTED [2006], GOODFELLAS [1990], and the upcoming THE IRISHMAN [2018]). Screenwriter: John Logan (ALIEN: COVENANT [2017], THE LAST SAMURAI [2003], and GLADIATOR [2000]). Composer: Howard Shore (DENIAL [2016], THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING [2001], and SE7EN [1995]). Cinematographer: Robert Richardson (LIVE BY NIGHT [2016], A FEW GOOD MEN [1992], and PLATOON [1986])

(SUMMARY)

Set in the 1930s, Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is an orphan in Paris after his father (Jude Law) tragically perished in a fire. He lives in a local train station’s clockworks, repairs and modifying it to keep himself busy. But his real goal is repairing the broken automaton that his father had found, but never finished, so Hugo runs around the station looking for the necessary gears to fix the machine, all while avoiding the station’s stalwart limp-legged inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen). However, after he attempts to steal a piece from the station’s toy store and it’s owner Georges (Ben Kingsley), and Georges steals Hugo’s notebook of necessary tools and parts to repair the automaton. Following the older man home, Hugo eventually meets Georges’ goddaughter Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz), and the two strike up a friendship as she helps Hugo repair his machine and the two discover a love for films and fate of one of the most celebrated film-makers of a bygone era.

(REVIEW)

Jumped from one Paris-set film to another. Shocking how it took me this long to see this movie. I guess I was in denial that a borderline kids flick was a product of a director who has made some of the most violent films in cinema. The idea that he was even capable of doing whimsy and innocence, you’d think this was a Spielberg film than Scorsese. But no, it’s a Scorsese film and… honestly, it’s brilliant. Despite the story being about a pair of kids, the movie doesn’t talk down to it’s younger audience. Both characters, Hugo and Isabella, barely resemble kids, but more like young adults and both Butterfield and Moretz carry the film beautifully, making this movie their best roles that I’ve seen them in, and that’s saying something because it’s hard to top Hit-Girl. But everyone’s fantastic: Kingsley, McCrory, and yes, even one of my least favorite actors of all time, Cohen, was really good. Eh, he got a little too goofy in some parts, like when he’s talking to his romantic interest Lisette (Emily Mortimer). But you know what? A little goofy is infinitely more preferable than disgustingly unbearable, like I usually associate him as. If you’re a lover of film like I am, then this movie will leave you sitting, staring wide-eyed like a kid when you see the magic of watching A TRIP TO THE MOON (1902) and how those old-time silent films were made. It’s, for a lack of a better word, magical and I say if you haven’t seen this movie, then you’re doing yourself a huge disservice.

My honest rating for HUGO: 5/5

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LANDLINE review

I wonder why specifically 1995. Eh, here’s to hoping this movie is full of 90’s cheese and nostalgia. If your movie takes place in the 90s, you owe that to your audience, movie!

I’ve been seeing the trailer for a while now. It looks like it’s about this pair of sisters finding out that their father is cheating on their mother, but for whatever reason, don’t tell her, and just spend the entire movie hating him and bonding with each other. It looks like it could be enjoyable enough, but this movie will immediately lose a point if the entire plot is a liar-reveal story. You know, characters keeping a secret until everything comes out in a contrived, predictable way by the end of the second act. That thing that so many movies have done in the past that it’s grating to everyone’s senses. Here’s hoping that the details of the movie elevate it.

Here’s the cast. Starring, we have the ever-amazing Jenny Slate (DESPICABLE ME 3 [2017], THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS [2016], THIS MEANS WAR [2012], and the upcoming THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2 [2019]), Abby Quinn (1 episode of LAW & ORDER, and the upcoming Transformers spin-off, BUMBLEBEE [2018]), Edie Falco (MEGAN LEAVEY [2017], and TV shows NURSE JACKIE and THE SOPRANOS), and John Turturro (TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT [2017], HANDS OF STONE [2016], MR. DEEDS [2002], and the upcoming Big Labowski spin-off, GOING PLACES [2017]). In support, we have Jay Duplass, known for BEATRIZ AT DINNER (2017), PAPER TOWNS (2015), and TV show THE MINDY PROJECT.

Now for the crew. Directing and co-writing is Gillian Robespierre, known for OBVIOUS CHILD (2014). Co-writing is her partner-in-pen, Elisabeth Holm, whom also co-wrote OBVIOUS CHILD. Question mark… why does this movie have three composers? We have Chris Bordeaux (OBVIOUS CHILD), Clyde Lawrence (unknown projects), and Jordan Cohen (debut – congrats, sir). Finally, the cinematographer is Chris Teague, known for OBVIOUS CHILD- jesus, it’s an enormous reunion, isn’t it?

Overall, I think it could be a cute enough movie, but we’ll see how it goes.

This is my honest opinion of: LANDLINE

(SUMMARY)

Set in 1996, New York City. Dana (Jenny Slate) and Ben (Jay Duplass) are a loving couple about to get married. Dana’s younger sister, Ali (Abby Quinn), is a rebellious teenager who wants the freedom to do what she wants without judgment. Things take a complicated turn when Ali discovers that their father, Alan (John Turturro), is having an affair on their mother, Pat (Edie Falco). To make matters even worse, Dana ends up having an affair on Ben as well, forcing the sisters in situations that help them bond, and make it through their terrible decision-making.

(REVIEW)

I really wanted to like this film. I tried really hard, but God damn it, this movie wasn’t as likable as I thought it’d be.

The very opening of the movie was enough to start me off with a bad taste. It’s just Dana and Ben trying to have sex in the woods, which fails. Somehow, that was supposed to be an attempt at comedy, which failed too. Which brings me to one of the major problems of the movie. It’s clearly a dramedy, but the comedy portion doesn’t really work. Which is such a shame because Slate is quickly becoming one of those actresses where if her name is stamped on the project, I want to see it. And she’s not even bad in this movie. Her acting really does shine through. She’s clearly supposed to have charm, this woman who is getting cold feet and does something terrible and struggles with what she wants thinks she wants. I do legit like the chemistry between Slate and Quinn as sisters, but everything in between is harder to stomach. Before Dana cheated on Ben, you never get a sense of cold feet in her. They’re affectionate and even have a scene where they’re in the shower together, she’s got poison ivy, and she’s comfortable with him peeing on her. So by sheer presentation, all you really see is her cheating on her fiancé, which left a really bad taste in my mouth. To make matters worse, she doesn’t even seem to be struggling with the cheating. She leaves her fiancé at home and she’s getting her pussy licked in a movie theater. When was I supposed to empathize with her? And you never understand her motivations until toward the end.

Now for the other sister. Ali is atrociously annoying. She’s the standard “I don’t give a fuck” type of teenager. Smoking, sneaking out to party, doing drugs, it’s one of the most tired clichés that can be put into movies. Once again, though, there isn’t a lot of redeeming value. None of her actions are some proverbial cry for help when she finds out about the affair. She’s not subconsciously trying to get both her parents to unite against her because uniting to be mad at her is at least being united. Nope, it’s just what she does.

The vast majority of the movie is sadly a bunch of jokes that don’t work, or don’t even make sense. Nobody does the right thing, or even the smart thing, so I found it impossible to really connect with the central characters. But, I’d be lying if I said there weren’t a few things that I liked.

For one thing, usually when I see Turturro’s name in a movie, I’m beyond scared. He can be a funny actor when given the right material (MR. DEEDS and THE BIG LEBOWSKI [1998]), but he can be painfully unfunny when not. I’m looking at you, Transformers sequels. But here, he’s not a comedic character. He’s… normal, which is different for him. He’s just a father trying to be a good father to his daughters and a good husband for his wife, but just happened to screw up because of a rough patch in his marriage. And Falco is also really good in the movie as the much more direct and stern of the two parents, but she’s usually amazing in anything that she does, no matter how small her role may be.

Overall, this is a story that’s been done before and in better films. The two leads are difficult to empathize with, and because it is a character-driven story, that critically hurts it. The acting is great from everyone, which does elevate it somewhat, but I can’t honestly claim it to be a good movie. Viewer beware, is how I’m going to recommend it. If nothing else, save it for a rental. I don’t like it, but I’m sure this could find an audience somewhere. Personally, I’d rather pull the chord from this 90’s phone so I don’t have to hear it ring again.

My honest rating for LANDLINE: a weak 3/5

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LADY MACBETH review

So I’ve been seeing this trailer pop up every so often, and it’s really pushing how the audience should be paying attention to its lead actress. Can’t speak for her myself, but the movie does, admittedly, look pretty intense for a period drama. From what I can gather, it’s about this housewife, married to a wealthy man she doesn’t love, and is constantly mistreated by the men surrounding her. She winds up falling for a stable-boy and their affair becomes the subject of a lot suspicion that ultimately leads to a dramatic confrontation. Hmm… now that I’ve written that out, it sounds pretty cliché and the one trailer probably gave away way too much. Here’s to hoping that the details are what will make the movie good.

Well, here’s the cast. Starring, we have the “star in-the-making” herself, Florence Pugh, a fresh-faced English actress known for roles that I’ve never heard of, making this her big break. Congrats, miss. We also have Cosmo Jarvis and Paul Hilton, both known for unknown roles, Naomi Ackie was in an episode of TV show DOCTOR WHO, and frequent video game voice actor Christopher Fairbank, known for GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014), ALIEN 3 (1992), and Tim Burton’s BATMAN (1989).

Now for the crew. Directing is William Oldroyd, known for unknown projects. Penning the screenplay is Alice Birch, making her writing feature debut. Congrats, miss. Composing the score is Dan Jones, known for SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE (2000). Finally, the cinematographer is Ari Wegner, known for short films and documentaries.

By the way… is this movie based on a novel? Hmm. Overall, this might be alright. Probably won’t be up my alley, being an English period film, but I’m always down for a good story to make up for uninteresting subject matter.

This is my honest opinion of: LADY MACBETH

(SUMMARY)

Set in England, circa 1865. Katherine (Florence Pugh) is bought into a loveless marriage to a wealthy family, her older husband Alexander (Paul Hilton) and his equally unbearable father, Boris (Christopher Fairbank). She is to maintain certain unreasonable duties as a wife, which makes her feel trapped and repressed, and the constant verbal and emotional abuse doesn’t help. Thankfully, both Alexander and Boris leave the estate for business reasons, leaving Katherine to her own devices. She eventually strikes up a sexual relationship with one of the workers on the land, Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis). Soon begins a complex romance to maintain their relationship while dealing with the men who are above her.

(REVIEW)

Oh my god! Yes! Yes, a thousand kinds of yes! Don’t let those trailers fool you. This is a delightfully twisted little movie.

Before I get into the review itself, it might be a good point to mention that this movie has nothing to do with William Shakespeare. It’s based on a Russian novel called Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District by Nikolai Lenskov in 1865. It’s not even some kind of origin story or anything. As I’ve not actually read the book, I can’t comment on the… comment that I’m about to make, nor am I overly familiar with Macbeth as a story, but if I were to guess, it incorporates themes from the character in the play and makes it his own character. Or maybe that’s not it at all and I have no idea what I’m talking about. It’s probably that.

This might end up being a fairly short review as there isn’t that much to say about it. But what there is to say, anyone can rave and rave. So that’s exactly what I’m going to do! This movie is basically about this woman who is in a loveless marriage, becomes sexually repressed, and starts fucking one dude relentlessly and spends the rest of the movie manipulating and killing people so she can keep fucking her boy toy. From the opening scene, you wouldn’t guess the movie would be that awesome. In fact, it kind of starts off… maybe “boring” isn’t the right word, but the tone definitely takes a shift at some point in the story.

It starts off about how you’d expect this movie to start off. She’s in her loveless marriage, forced to strip so her disinterested older husband can literally just jerk off to her while she’s facing the wall and told to act in a certain way by her father-in-law, who is equally disinterested in her. So then they both leave on business and Katherine finds her Alexander’s employees suspending Anna (Naomi Ackie), her closest housemaid, in an outhouse, getting… I’m not entirely sure… sexually assaulted? She’s naked and all, but no one’s raping her. They’re just… treating her like an animal. She demands Anna be let down but… for some reason finds the leader of this barbaric group attractive, even when he’s incredibly shameless toward her about it and she’s supposed to be treated as their master. Then, get this, later that night, he practically stalks her outside of her bedroom and forces his way into her room, despite resistance. You can probably guess what happens next. She totally goes for it and they have sex.

“Wait, what?” You may ask. This guy makes an obvious attempt to rape her… but it’s not a rape scene. She just accepts the situation and the two have consensual sex. Yeah, it’s that kind of movie. Totally bonkers.

Oh my god, it gets even worse. So Alexander suddenly comes home, hides Sebastian in her closet, and Alexander suspects that Katherine has been cheating on him, calling her names and all that abusive jazz. Finally at her breaking point of the belittlement, she nonchalantly and quietly walks toward that closet, pulls out Sebastian, throws him onto the bed, mounts him, and starts riding him right in front of Alexander without saying a word.

***SPOILERS***

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After Alexander watches this insanity unfold in front of him, this naturally results in a fist fight between him and Sebastian… resulting in Katherine knocking Alexander to the ground and beating the shit out of his head with a statue. Obviously, this kills him. By this point, Katherine’s also murdered her father-in-law via poison, which traumatized poor Anna into becoming a mute, and Katherine uses that to her advantage to have her affair with Sebastian in front of her and she won’t say a single thing about it.

And it doesn’t stop. In a blatantly obvious ploy to hurl an extra forty minutes into the movie, we learn that Alexander had an affair and conceived a child with her, and then comes under Katherine’s care. At first, you think, “Aww, she’s bonding with him.” But then, not only do we learn that Katherine is preggers with Sebastian’s baby, but… details barely important, she realizes that in order for their affair to continue, they need to get rid of the boy, Teddy (Anton Palmer), and his grandmother. Yes, in order for Katherine to get porked by her man, she needs to kill a five year old kid. Which she does.

But wait! The depravity doesn’t end there! Sebastian hides in the nearby woods to wait for Katherine to spin a story. However, the doctor who checks up on Teddy doesn’t believe her cover story. As if on cue, Sebastian comes in racked with guilt and confesses everything to everyone in the room. But then… it happens. Katherine turns his truth against him and claims that all the deaths were Sebastian’s fault and he had help from Anna, who is still mute from trauma. But because Anna can’t speak up, and Katherine is the official “lady of the house” and therefore has status above her victims, her word is taken over his, and both Sebastian and Anna get hauled away, presumably to get executed for their “crimes.” The final shot is just a close-up of Katherine, alone in her house… with her unborn baby.

Fuck, that’s going to be a messed up kid.

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***END SPOILERS***

Okay, so it wasn’t that short a review.

Lesson for the day kiddies, do not underestimate the power of lady-boners! The high praise for this flick is warranted, but I do recommend going in with a certain mindset. If you go into this with the expectation of watching some sort of high-society story full of hoity toity sophisticated storytelling, ehhh dial it down a few notches. This is a trashy flick, but it’s such delightful trash. Is all the hype for miss Pugh warranted? Oh, shit yeah. Usually, I get annoyed with roles like this: debuts featuring gratuitous nudity and sex to show how brave and edgy the actress can be. Having said that, this was a fun role that had a lot of sick bad-assery thrown in. She’s great and I look forward to seeing her in more pictures in the future. I do recommend this movie purely for the “what the fuck” factor. If that sounds like your thing, you’ll have a blast watching this.

My honest rating for LADY MACBETH: 5/5

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DUNKIRK review

Ready for a laugh? This is the second film based on the Battle of Dunkirk this year. What were the odds? And seriously, this film has been on everyone’s radar for a long time. And then THEIR FINEST (2017) decided to throw people a curve ball. “Hey! We’re a Dunkirk movie too! Come see us too!” Well, to be fair, it was good and served to hype me up for this latest release even more.

Anywho, for once in my uncultured life, I can say that I am indeed familiar with the Battle of Dunkirk. My time in high school wasn’t completely for naught. Well… maybe I shouldn’t pat myself on the back just yet because the details were completely lost on me. Well, okay, I knew the general event. Britain got their asses handed to them in a battle and civilians took their personal boats, yachts, and whatever else they had to save their soldiers. I remember that being a pretty damn interesting story. Too bad I was an obnoxious history-hating teenager, right? Still, that story left an impact on me and I can’t say that I’m unhappy to see multiple movies shining light on this moment in World War II. It looks awesome, though… I do have a question. There’s a character that seems like he’s a civilian, but it getting ready to charge head first into the fighting with soldiers on board. Was… that a thing? Did the civilian “fleet” really do that? Ballsy if yes, what the hell, if no.

Alrighty, let’s take a gander at this much hyped ensemble cast. We have newcomer Fionn Whitehead, making his feature film debut. Congrats, sir. Alongside him, we also have Mark Rylance (THE BFG [2016], BRIDGE OF SPIES [2015], ANONYMOUS [2011], and the upcoming READY PLAYER ONE [2018]), Tom Hardy (MAD MAX: FURY ROAD [2015], THE DARK KNIGHT RISES [2012], INCEPTION [2010], and upcoming Sony Spider-Man spin-off VENOM [2018] and MAD MAX: THE WASTELAND, due out… who knows when), Kenneth Branagh (JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT [2014], HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS [2002], WILD WILD WEST [1999], and the upcoming MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS [2017]), and Cillian Murphy (FREE FIRE [2017], ANTHROPOID [2016], and RED EYE [2005]).

Now for the talent behind the scenes. Writing and directing is one of my favorite directors of all time, Christopher Nolan. Permit me to go on a rare nerdgasm and talk about this man. I’ve been a huge fan of his since BATMAN BEGINS (2005). The man created my favorite film adaptations of my favorite superhero! How can he not be?! But never mind the nerd in me, the man has a serious penchant for dark and amazing movies, the genres never being consistent. Seriously, MEMENTO (2000) and INSOMNIA (2002) are crime thrillers, INCEPTION is a sci-fi that put THE MATRIX (1999) to shame, and INTERSTELLAR (2014), another sci-fi that was such a visual spectacle and put Jessica Chastain on the map for me. I love Nolan’s work, always will. If his name is stamped on it, I wanna see it. This film is no exception. Composing the score is the living legend, Hans Zimmer, known for THE BOSS BABY (2017), IT’S COMPLICATED (2009), and THE HOLIDAY (2006). Finally, the cinematographer is Hoyte Van Hoytema, known for 007 SPECTRE (2015), HER (2013), and LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (2008).

Overall, SHUT UP AND LET’S GET TO REVIEWING!!!

This is my honest opinion of: DUNKIRK

(SUMMARY)

Set on the beaches of Dunkirk, France circa 1940. The story is split into three narratives. One follows a young British private named Tommy (Fionn Whitehead), who is the sole survivor of his squad and joins his brothers in arms desperately trying to flee Dunkirk, while constantly threatened by German dive-bombers. Another follows a civilian sailor, Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance), his son Peter (Tom Glynn-Carney), and Peter’s friend George (Barry Keoghan), who take their boat out toward Dunkirk to lend a helping hand to the soldiers still stranded there. The final story follows British Air Force pilot Farrier (Tom Hardy) who is trying to lend his support to the ravaged men on the beaches.

(REVIEW)

I’m calling it right here, right now. This movie is going to sweep the Oscars the next go around, and win Best Picture of the year. The film has a 92% on RottenTomatoes (as of 7/21/2017) and a more impressive 9.0/10 on IMDb (as of 7/21/2017), ranking it right up there with films like THE GODFATHER (1972), THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (1994), and THE DARK KNIGHT (2008) in IMDb’s “Top 250 films”. This is for damn good reason. On a pure, film-making standpoint, this movie hands down, in my opinion, the best movie of the year. It won’t necessarily be my favorite movie of the year, but it’s bar none the best.

Shit, where do I even begin to talk about it? It’s possible I missed about the two to five minutes of the movie, so I should rectify that in a second viewing. Where I came in was when Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) was with his squad and then they start taking fire from unseen German forces. This scene with him sets up the tone for the entire film beautifully. These men on the ground, all they want to do is get the hell out of dodge. The tension is constantly gripping on this front and whenever you hear those dive-bombers coming in the distance, and those soldiers’ heads look up with that look of utter dread, you feel their fear and hopelessness. By the way, what is that sound called? Stuka? Or is that the actual aircraft? You know what I mean.

Speaking of sounds, I’m about to talk about something I never talk about in my reviews: the film’s sound design. Why do I never talk about this? Because I don’t typically have an ear for that sort of thing. I can’t tell the difference between good and bad sound design, so when I notice one or the other, you know it’s either that good, or that bad. So… time to geek out. When I mentioned the dive-bombers, their appearance is so subtle at first, but the moment you hear those propellers in the distance, your heart sinks with the rest of the soldiers. When you’re in the cockpit with Hardy, you really feel immersed in the action. The patience required to time your shots when engaging the enemy fighters, the skipping of your heart when the enemy fires back and the bullets are bouncing off the hull, the unique sound of the machinegun fire, it’s an incredibly visceral experience unlike any that I’ve experienced.

On the ground with Tommy, everything this young man faces is arguably the best part of the movie. His opening scene in the city as he’s trying to escape enemy gunfire and how his men are picked off one by one around him, you share in his stress. Even once he hops over a wooden gate, that door is peppered with gunfire that only narrowly misses him and he’s hopelessly firing back, even at one point losing his rifle adding to the tension that now he can’t even defend himself. Again, the sound design is incredible. When the enemy weapons go off, they’re loud. As in, the German soldiers might be really close, or not that far away, it’s impossible to tell. But when they go off, it’s impossible to determine just how close Tommy gets to being killed off himself. And once he reaches the Dunkirk beach, it’s gorgeous cinematography from this point on. It’s no secret that Nolan filmed on location- as in, this was literally filmed on the Dunkirk beach where the soldiers were evacuated- and he doesn’t waste it. He makes sure that Hoytema and the other cameramen gets the maximum use out of those IMAX cameras. Enormous wide shots of hundreds of extras… or… possibly cardboard cutouts. Apparently, Nolan did that for this movie. Whether or not they were extras or cutouts, it was damn convincing.

Also, there’s this insane appreciation that anyone has to have when it comes to his set designs. Specifically, they’re not really sets. As in, to my knowledge, there’s no sound stages. Nolan literally got real boats, real planes, and really blew them up, or crashed them. On the one hand, I’m sitting in my seat going, “Aww man! That was a functioning, seafaring vehicle. Don’t destroy it!” On the other hand, I’m also going, “Dude! That’s an actual ship he just destroyed!” How many film-makers go out of their way for that kind of authenticity?! This is what separates the Chris Nolans from the Michael Bays, whom you know would have made 3D CGI ships. Nolan’s got that superior vision that will always churn out a fantastically produced film and be reliably incredible to look at and make you feel a part of.

Another refreshing aspect in this film is a limited use of dialog and not a whole lot of character development. The true star of the film is, admirably, the evacuation of Dunkirk itself. But that’s not to say that the acting isn’t anything short of great. Despite relatively little dialog outside of combat jargon from Farrier, exposition from Commander Bolton (Kenneth Branagh) and Colonel Winnant (James D’Arcy), as well as interactions with Mr. Dawson, the boys, and the soldiers they rescue, there isn’t a ton of character development. Again, it’s more about everyone’s reactions to their environment rather than talking about what’s waiting for them at home. There’s none of that. Everything we need to know about the characters is played out like: Tommy and Gibson (Aneurin Barnard) will hide out in an abandoned boat with some comrades and get shot at, knowing that they wouldn’t be able to set sail with the weight they’re carrying. You immediately know the stakes, you feel the urgency in their predicament as they have to decide who to throw to the proverbial wolves. From Farrier in the cockpit, watching a German bomber about to attack a civilian boat, or Mr. Dawson’s unwavering loyalty to the soldiers who need help, it’s all acted out perfectly without needing details.

Guys, this movie is fantastic. I don’t know how many different ways I can say this, but if you appreciate this style of film-making, then you’re doing yourself a disservice by not seeing this film. From the subtle acting, to the gorgeous cinematography, the amazing sound design, jaw-dropping practical effects, it all culminates into, without a doubt, one of the best war films ever made. If you love Nolan’s work, go see it. It truly is his best film to date.

My honest opinion of DUNKIRK: 5/5

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THE LITTLE HOURS review

Well, hello to you too, random-ass movie.

So as I’m writing my initial impressions of this movie, I just saw the trailer a few seconds ago. It’s definitely one of those movies that’s a period piece, but with a modern sense of humor and way of talking. Kind of a wonder why this doesn’t take place in the modern day, but fine, whatever, middle ages with “fuck” as your main word, who am I to argue with what Hollywood wants to let get made. At a glance, the movie isn’t really that interesting, but some jokes do stand out in my head that make me laugh. In retrospect though, this is a raunchy comedy, and they don’t always agree with my sense of humor. But don’t knock it ’till you’ve seen it, right?

Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Dave Franco (NERVE [2016], UNFINISHED BUSINESS [2015], 21 JUMP STREET [2012], and upcoming animated film THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE [2017] and THE DISASTER ARTIST [2017]), Alison Brie (GET HARD [2015], SCREAM [2011], Netflix TV show GLOW, and the upcoming THE DISASTER ARTIST [2017]), Kate Micucci (THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE [2017], DON’T THINK TWICE [2016], and TV show GARFUNKEL AND OATES), Aubrey Plaza (MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES [2016], TV shows LEGION and PARKS AND REC, and the upcoming film INGRID GOES WEST [2017]), who also produced this movie, and John C. Reilly (KONG: SKULL ISLAND [2017], THE LOBSTER [2016], STEP BROTHERS [2008], and upcoming films the animated RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET: WRECK-IT RALPH 2 [2018] and HOLMES AND WATSON [2018]). In support, we have Fred Armisen (BAND AID [2017], THE SMURFS 2 [2013], TV show PORTLANDIA, and the upcoming LEGO NINJAGO), Molly Shannon (HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2 [2015], SERENDIPITY [2001], and HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS [2000]), and Nick Offerman (THE HERO [2017], MY LIFE AS A ZUCCHINI [2016], and TV show PARKS AND REC)

Now for behind the scenes. Writing and directing is Jeff Baena, known for I HEART HUCKABEES (2004). Composing the score is Dan Romer, known for BEASTS OF NO NATION (2015) and BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD (2012). Finally the cinematographer is Quyen Tran, known for a ton of short films.

Overall, I might enjoy this, I might not… I’m seeing this at a pretty damn expensive theater, so I’d really like to like it.

This is my honest opinion of: THE LITTLE HOURS

(SUMMARY)

Set in the Middle Ages. Massetto (Dave Franco) is a slave to Lord Bruno (Nick Offerman). He is also having an affair with his wife, to which the affair is discovered and Messetto is forced to flee the castle for his life. Soon after, he meets the kindly, but drunken Father Tommasso (John C. Reilly). He offers the young man a place of solace in his convent as a deaf and mute helper… which poses its own set of unique problems as Massetto learns that the convent is full of mentally and emotionally unstable, and sexually repressed nuns who take a liking to him.

(REVIEW)

DISCLAIMER: Apparently, this is a parody of “The Decameron” by Giovanni Boccaccio. But… as anyone who knows me really well, I haven’t the faintest idea of what that is, so… yeah, I can’t judge this movie as a parody. But I can judge it as a raunchy period comedy.

Yeah, it’s about what I expected. Raunchy for no reason other than for the sake of it. But as far as raunchy comedies go, this wasn’t awful.

I guess if you really think about it, the concept itself lends itself to some solid possibilities that the movie does admittedly utilize. Deaf and mute, young and attractive man in a convent full of sexually repressed women, it starts out and goes exactly where you might expect it to go. They start spilling their secrets and desires and eventually attempt to take advantage of Massetto’s “disabilities” and he being unable to say anything lest the truth come out and he gets sent back to his master for execution. There is a plot here with legit obstacles. I suppose the biggest problem is that this movie doesn’t really try to go all that far with its own ideas. It’s basically just sex jokes. Granted, there’s a witch joke that comes out of nowhere that’s mildly amusing, but that’s pretty much it. No one thought to themselves to really flesh out the conflict and opted for the bare minimum in both humor and plot.

The characters suffer in much the same way. The performances are… fine, for what it’s worth. Plaza’s signature deadpan “fuck you” line deliveries and Brie and Micucci’s highly expressive faces make you want to laugh at them, but they’re not given any good lines. Again, this script is composed of swearing, and swearing isn’t automatically funny. Yet, they’re characters are pretty well-defined. Alessandra doesn’t want to be a nun. She wants a normal life and to one day find romance. But she’s forced into this position because… her father donates a lot of money to the convent…? Hey, I said the characters were well-defined, not their backstories. And much of the plots central conflict comes from her inability to keep legs closed, desperation and opportunity set in when Massetto enters the picture. Fernanda is completely apathetic to the nun ways, often drinking and caring little about expressing herself sexually and Genevra is sexually confused, idolizing Fernanda and her certainty, developing feelings for her that become almost obsessive. All of this, it’s ripe with hilarious possibilities. To be fair, Genevra is probably the funniest character that you care most about, but even that gets pushed to the wayside depending how tolerable you are of her borderline cartoonish personality later on.

There are three characters that stand out. Franco as Massetto, Reilly as Father Tommasso, and Armisen as the Bishop. Franco’s dilemma certainly made for the most hilarious reactions, considering how disinterested he is in the psychotic women at first, but then sort of gives in to the novelty of fucking a nun. Good-natured, but hardly a saint in retrospect. Usually, I don’t like Reilly, mostly because I associated him as another unfunny Will Ferrell since the two used to work together a lot, but ever since he made a real name for himself out of Ferrell’s shadow, he’s been damn funny, or at the very least, enjoyable to watch. Him as the drunken Father Tommasso is no exception. And Armisen, though briefly appearing in the film, led to a pretty long string of hilarious scenes when the transgressions of the three women came to his knowledge. “Eating blood? Do you think I’ve ever written down ‘eating blood’ before? Where am I?” Yeah, the line is in the trailer, but that’s still not old.

Beyond that, the film isn’t all that much to write home about. I have a feeling this will pass over quite a few radars and it’s not hard to see why. Perhaps this movie will appeal to those who are more familiar with the source material it’s satirizing, but for me, it’s just a raunchy comedy. The acting is great, there’s some hilarious ideas, and impressively distinct characters that will definitely make this a more memorable comedy this year. But it uses foul language as its main source of comedy, which, unless you like that sort of thing, then you’ll find this movie’s comedy pretty scarce. It’s not bad, but it’s lack of clever comedy drags it down hard. I’m not upset that I saw it, in fact, some scenes I would love to revisit, but I don’t see myself sitting through this movie again. I can only recommend this to those who know the Boccaccio stories, or if you love raunchy comedies. Beyond that, I say, don’t spend your money on this at the theater. I recommend this as a light rental. Netflix, Redbox, any of those.

My honest rating for THE LITTLE HOURS: 3/5

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MY COUSIN RACHEL review

How is this movie rated PG-13?! It’s cousins having sex, getting married, and possibly killing each other! What the hell?! Fine, whatever! Different time period, different location!

So news to me, this is actually based on a book, which was adapted once before back in 1952. To my understanding though, the incest was heavily cut down to near-nonexistent. I guess that’s why this movie was made: to faithfully adapt the novel this was based on. But really… were we really clamoring for this? Oh well.

To be fair, before seeing this, I was only interested because… “My Cousin Rachel”… starring Rachel Weisz? There were jokes waiting to be made! But this was a serious and dark kind of story and cousin-on-cousin screwing aside, it didn’t look… awful per se. In fact, elements were intriguing. The movie was about this married couple and the husband passes away. Our main hero suspects that his cousin Rachel was responsible. However, upon meeting her, he becomes infatuated with her and begins to fall hard… though she doesn’t seem to share the same feelings. Yup! It’s that kind of movie! Hence, why I was actually pretty excited for this. I could always afford to see a bat-shit crazy movie like this.

Let’s take a look at the cast. Starring, we obviously have Weisz (DENIAL [2016], CONSTANTINE [2005], and THE MUMMY [1999]) and Sam Claflin (THEIR FINEST [2017], ME BEFORE YOU [2016], and PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES [2011], where he also played a character named Philip.). In support, we have Holliday Grainger (THE FINEST HOURS [2016], CINDERELLA [2015], and ANNA KARENINA [2012]) and Iain Glen (RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER [2017], EYE IN THE SKY [2016], and TV show GAME OF THRONES).

Now for behind the scenes. Writing and directing is Roger Michell, known for HYDE PARK ON HUDSON (2012), MORNING GLORY (2010), and NOTTING HILL (1999). Composing the score is Rael Jones, known for a ton of short films and documentaries. Finally, the cinematographer is Mike Eley, known for NANNY MCPHEE RETURNS (2010) and a ton of short films and documentaries.

Overall, I’m sadistically looking forward to this. I love a fun and insane movie, so bring it on! Sanity’s overrated anyway.

This is my honest opinion of: MY COUSIN RACHEL

(SUMMARY)

Philip (Sam Claflin) was an orphan, until his older cousin adopted him and raised him as his own. After traveling afar, the cousin met up with a mutual cousin of theirs named Rachel (Rachel Weisz). The two married and before long, the cousin fell ill and eventually died, but not before sending a cryptic letter that seemed like he was in trouble and it’s later decided by Philip that Rachel is responsible for his death. Soon, he receives word that Rachel is visiting and Philip intends to confront her. However, when he meets her for the first time, he is immediately struck by her beauty and becomes increasingly convinced that she may not be what he initially thought and the two strike up a benign relationship… until he starts to develop feelings for her.

(REVIEW)

Hmm… it’s about as bat-shit as I thought it’d be… and yet, it wasn’t. It’s kind of weird.

Here’s what I mean, the movie is almost ripe to be self-parody, but the movie treats its own subject matter like it’s the norm. Suddenly, the cringing isn’t as strong because everyone has a nonchalant attitude toward cousins marrying and having sex. Again, I emphasize that I understand different times periods and places, so certain taboos today may not have been so taboo… whenever this movie takes place. I think that’s one of my initial pet peeves with this movie: the year is never specified. I mean, there’s horse-drawn carriages and not a single motorized vehicle ever makes an appearance, so… presumably pre-1880’s? I have no idea, y’all. But I guess the exact date doesn’t quite matter.

Let’s get some of the positives out of the way. The acting is quite good. Weisz is amazing in anything that she does, so she’s a class act here. And was she really speaking Italian? There’s a scene where she was speaking to an Italian character and she looked damn comfortable speaking it. Any who, Rachel is this woman who is clearly grieving over her dead husband slash cousin, but she constantly conducts herself as a pleasant and self-sufficient individual. She even vehemently protests when Philip secretly gives her an allowance, claiming that it makes her look like a beggar and that she’s only there for his money, which isn’t the case. But she is a sweet woman who cares deeply for her cousin and eventually cares for him in all the wrong ways.

Philip is… another story entirely, and I quite honestly don’t know how to feel about him. At first, his actions and motivations seem like they make sense. Who wouldn’t have guessed from the ramblings from the cousin that Rachel was responsible for his death? However, from the moment he met Rachel, I’m somewhat lost. I know the implication is that Rachel is so damn attractive that he’s totally entranced by her beauty, therefore forgets to question the death of his cousin. So the story essentially loses focus because… THE POWER OF BONERS CANNOT BE DENIED!!!

Now I’m not entirely sure if the rest of the movie is either that brilliant or that unfocused, but here’s what I’m getting out of this. Bare with me, this might get more convoluted than the movie intended. While Philip is being all hypnotized by Rachel, I feel like the way the movie’s shot and written is trying to keep the audience distanced from anyone’s particular point of view. I feel like we’re supposed to know that Philip’s infatuation is moronic and the audience is expected to maintain our suspicions of Rachel and make the deductions ourselves. I suppose that’s where most of the fun of the movie came in for me, which is odd to say because this movie isn’t meant to be “fun.” I honestly didn’t know what to make of Rachel. She seemed pleasant enough, but any really good murderer would be charismatic and unassuming, but it’s not like she doesn’t feed us suspicions. She’s incredibly persistent when it comes to serving tea to Philip. Kind of makes you wonder certain things. You keep your caffeinated horse piss to yourself, lady! Actually, I’m a “soak it with honey” kind of guy, but no one cares about that. My little theory that I went into could entirely be me grasping at straws, finding something good to say about it, but it’s entirely possible that this movie abandons its murder-mystery premise in lieu of an icky cousin-cousin romance, then dear God, what kind of sick novel was this? In order to preserve my sanity, I’m going with my theory.

I’m honestly trying to come up with a legit problem with the movie. I feel like the unfocused stuff that I mentioned earlier does feel like an issue and even my excuses for why that is feel like I’m just apologizing for the film in some way. On the other hand, that does feel like the point of the film. On the other other hand, does that mean this story is pure shock value? Throwing in an uncomfortable scenario for the audience to cringe at as opposed to actually making educated and logical guesses as to whether or not Rachel killed her husband?

I’m sure I’m missing something. This has to be a popular book for it to be adapted to the big screen twice. But honestly… yeah, this wasn’t something I could get into. And I wanted to this to be grotesquely enjoyable. Instead, I felt more confused than anything else. I can’t pretend that this was the worst thing in the world because I do enjoy the lead actors very much. I also can’t deny the gorgeous costumes and I do find my mind remembering the cinematography quite a bit, as well as the ending being deliciously nuts. However, this movie wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. It’s not the worst watch, but I think it’d help audiences interested in seeing it to not go in expecting a one-hundred percent bat-shit insane movie that would get a cult following like I did. I’d say unless you’re a die-hard fan of Weisz, save this for a either a discount theater viewing, or better yet, a rental. It’s not the strongest recommendation, I certainly don’t see myself revisiting the film, but I won’t pretend to have gotten nothing out of it.

My honest rating for MY COUSIN RACHEL: 3/5

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