WONDERSTRUCK review

Hmm, so it’s based on a book, huh? Never read it, so I can’t decide if I’m excited or not. Hell, even after seeing the trailer a couple times now, I still can’t really decide. The story looks like it’s about this boy living with his single mom. He doesn’t know who his dad is, but happens upon some evidence that he might be an astronaut. His mom doesn’t give any information, but he acquires some more evidence that takes him on a journey through the city – New York? – he lives in, alone, happens upon a friend, and all the while, his journey is being mirrored by a flashback of, I think, his mother when she was a child and possibly all culminating in the boy learning the truth of his real father.

Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Oakes Fegley (PETE’S DRAGON [2016], 3 episodes of both PERSON OF INTEREST [2011 – 2016] and BOARDWALK EMPIRE [2010 – 2014]), introducing Millicent Simmonds (feature film debut; congrats, miss), Michelle Williams (CERTAIN WOMEN [2016], I’M NOT THERE. [2007], HALLOWEEN H20: 20 YEARS LATER [1998], and upcoming films THE GREATEST SHOWMAN [2017] and VENOM [2018]), and one of my biggest Hollywood crushes, Julianne Moore (SUBURBICON [2017], FREEDOMLAND [2006], and THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK [1997]).

Now for the crew. Directing, we have Todd Haynes, known for CAROL (2015) and I’M NOT THERE. Penning the screenplay, as well as being the original novel’s author, we have Brian Selznick, known for HUGO (2011), as well as the novel for that movie. Composing the score is Carter Burwell, known for THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI (2017), A GOOFY MOVIE (1995), and RAISING ARIZONA (1987). Finally, the cinematographer is Edward Lachman, known for WIENER-DOG (2016), I’M NOT THERE., and SELENA (1997).

Overall, I think the trailer is a jumbled, incoherent mess, but I wager the movie itself is going to be alright. It’s got some good talent in the spotlight and behind the scenes, so I think it’ll be solid.

This is my honest opinion of: WONDERSTRUCK

(SUMMARY)

Set in 1977. The story follows young Ben (Oakes Fegley). His mother Elaine (Michelle Williams) recently passed away from a car crash and he’s been living with his aunt, uncle, and cousins. Happening upon some clues as to who is father might be, or rather where to find him. However, an accident happens, getting struck by lightning, and his hearing is destroyed. When he wakes up in the hospital, he sets out to New York from Minnesota to find his father. Simultaneously, we are shown a separate storyline set in 1927, following a young deaf girl named Rose (Millicent Simmonds) who sets off to look for Lillian Mayhew (Julianne Moore), a silent-movie actress that she idolizes.

(REVIEW)

Correcting myself: Ben thinks his father was an astronomer, not an astronaut.

I’m a little conflicted. On the one hand, this movie is pretty boring and takes way too long to get to where it’s trying to go, but on the other it’s heart-warming, emotional, and even has a style to it that I got into.

Let’s talk about those negatives. If you read my summary, you noticed that this movie is basically two stories in one. Ben’s story in ’77, and Rose’s story in ’27. Here’s the thing, there is zero fluid transition into her story. The pop in so randomly that it’s almost painful to sit through. The moment something’s going on with Ben, the scene ends and then BAM!, we get more with Rose. There’s no rhyme or reason as why the movie cuts to her, it just chooses to and this is pretty consistent throughout the movie. Even when you get something of a breather from them, the story will immediately flash back to Rose and you’re reminded of your borderline frustrations. I can see someone getting legit upset with these choices.

Also, I can’t claim to know how deafness works, but I’m calling this movie out… if someone is holding a landline to their ear, and a lightning bolt strikes the telephone wire the landline is connected to, that person doesn’t get electrocuted and go deaf (at least, not in the way it’s portrayed here)! This movie isn’t some weird fantasy taking place in 1977, it’s a drama. No fantastical elements at all. And yet, this bizarre crap happens.

***SPOILERS***

 

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And let’s be honest here, Jamie (Jaden Michael) is a pointless character and serves only to pad out the runtime. Really think about it. Ben is on a journey to look for his father that he never met. Jamie can point him in the right direction. But because he’s a loser with no friends, he sabotages Ben’s plans so the two can hang out. In a way, it’s more creepy than anything and this takes up a good twenty or so minutes of the movie. So it’s really hard to feel for the Jamie when Ben explodes at him angrily. You’re 100 percent on Ben’s side and it’s kind of a wonder why they remain friends when they reunite later on.

On the flipside, just like Ben’s adventures in the museum being a pointless detour, Rose’s time in the museum isn’t any better. Eh, rather it feeds back into what I said about it taking its sweet time getting to where it wants to go. Like, she explores the museum, and for awhile, I thought this was going to end up being a tour of the museum and expand into New York as seen by a young deaf girl. But nope, this extended stay in the museum has one solitary purpose. The curator of the museum is, TWIST, her older brother Walter! That was, what, half an hour of build up that should have taken half that time at worse?

***

 

***

 

***END SPOILERS***

Having said all my complaints, which so hurt the film in the long run, there are some undeniably good things about this movie that I couldn’t help but get attached to.

Despite Fegley being a pretty solid actor for his age, it’s ironic that his story doesn’t pick up until after his adventures in the museum, and the majority of the film is held up by Rose’s story. Yeah, the character with the most random placement is actually the best part of the movie. Never mind that young Simmonds is a very good young actress who acts mostly through her expressions, but the style in which her story is told is the most compelling and clever, both visually and on a storytelling basis. It’s all in black and white, like an old-timey movie. More than anything, it’s a silent film. Zero dialog, just pure score and very minimal sound effects. You know how in old films, the dialog is through cutting to a quick single sentence quote? That’s cleverly done via the characters writing on notepads. While Ben has Jamie utilize it when they’re talking to each other, I feel like it stands out much better in Rose’s story, simply because of how infrequent they are. Not to mention, the her journey is chock-full of surprises, which I’ll tackle in the spoilers.

And as much as I think the scenes with Jamie are padding, it’s hard not to get sucked into their connection. I thought the scene with Jamie teaching Ben the alphabet in sign-language was a cute moment as he’s sharing half his sandwich with him.

***SPOILERS***

 

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Originally, you just think that Rose is living with her mean dad and that she wants to travel to New York to find the actress she really likes. Turns out, the actress is actually her mom, who quite possibly abandoned her to pursue a career in acting, as evidenced by her frustration in her being there at all without the least bit of love to show for her daughter. Hell, neither of her parents seem to care much about her, with the notable exception of her kind older brother, the curator, which, despite my complaints about the build-up to the surprise, was in fact, a good surprise.

Hell, circling back to the very first scene with her, you’re kind of lead to believe that the silent-film approach to Rose’s story is just a weird artistic direction the movie takes. But no, it’s not until the second-ish scene where you realize, “Oh! She’s deaf!” Even that was its own little twist.

And the best part of the film is definitely the climax when Ben meets older Rose, played by Moore in a dual performance. This got raw for me. After an hour and half of building up, we finally get why we’re seeing Rose’s story at all. She’s Ben’s grandmother! I mean, none of this ultimately becomes a huge surprise once they start piecing everything together, but when Ben learns that his dad died a long time ago, you feel every ounce of those emotions between Ben and Rose and their utterly sweet connection. Never mind that Moore is so incredible that I bought that she knew sign-language (maybe she actually does), but you see her thoughts racing across the screen through her eyes like subtitles, but not a single word is spoken from her and it truly incredible to watch these two actors work off of each other. To be honest, with the exception of Jamie popping in at the last minute, these series of moments are perfect. Perfect enough to choke me up, anyway.

***

 

***

 

***END SPOILERS***

I might have to admit bias toward the movie, especially at the end, but despite its glaring flaws, I like this movie. If the transitions between Ben’s story and Rose’s story were more imaginative and sensible, this might have been a pretty unique and stylized movie. The visuals for the 20s and 70s are fine in of themselves, but it could have gone above and beyond. And there’s probably way too much of this movie that could have been cut down to flow more nicely and suit the narrative better. But I can’t ignore the emotions I felt and I simply adore the young actors, Simmonds highway robbing the show like a champ. By the end of the day, I’d say despite my liking for the movie, it’s probably not going to be for everyone. I can see the more boring aspects of the movie either putting you to sleep, or enticing you to watch something else. But I really think that if you give the movie a fair shot all the way through, the payoff is worth it. I still recommend it as a strong rental, or at a discount theater. I don’t see myself owning this movie, and probably not remembering it months later. Having said that, I was struck with wonder… eventually.

My honest rating for WONDERSTRUCK: 4/5

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BROOKLYN (transfer) review

These “transfer” reviews are from when I only did reviews on my Facebook page back in 2015. Bare in mind when reading these, I didn’t have the same formula in my review writing that I do now, and my usual “who starred and who directed” information is completely absent, so everything “italicized” is new. With that said, enjoy this review from 2015.

I can’t tell you how much I’ve wanted to see this movie. Aside from the fact that it was being labeled as one of the best movies of the year, I’m also a relative fan of Saoirse Ronan. I also have to be honest, that was as far as my enthusiasm went. I guess I’m just a sucker for what people tell me. Someone tell me I’m a gopher, I’ll probably believe you. In any case, FINALLY made time to see this movie.

Starring: Saoirse Ronan (LOVING VINCENT [2017], HANNA [2011], ATONEMENT [2007], and upcoming films LADY BIRD [2017] and MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS [2018]) and Emory Cohen (WAR MACHINE [2017], THE GAMBLER [2014], and THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES [2012])

Support: Domhnall Gleeson (GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN [2017], THE REVENANT [2015], ANNA KARENINA [2012], and upcoming films STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI [2017] and PETER RABBIT [2018]), Jim Broadbent (THE SENSE OF AN ENDING [2017], HOT FUZZ [2007], THE BORROWERS [1997], and the upcoming PADDINGTON 2 [2018]), Fiona Glascott (THE DEAL [2008], RESIDENT EVIL [2002], and the upcoming FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD [2018]), and Emily Bett Rickards (FLICKA: COUNTRY PRIDE [2012], and TV shows ARROW [2012 – ongoing] and THE FLASH [2014 – ongoing])

Director: John Crowley (CLOSED CIRCUIT [2013], BOY A [2007], and INTERMISSION [2003]). Writer: Nick Hornby (WILD [2014] and FEVER PITCH [1997]). Composer: Michael Brook (STRONGER [2017], TALLULAH [2016], and THE FIGHTER [2010]). Cinematographer: Yves Bélanger (SHUT IN [2016], DEMOLITION [2016], and DALLAS BUYERS CLUB [2013])

(SUMMARY)

Set in the 1950’s. The story follows a young Irish woman named Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) who has been set up with a new life in America, Brooklyn to be exact. She has a difficult time adjusting at first, what with being homesick and all, but all of that changes when she meets Tony (Emory Cohen), a young Italian romantic who quickly falls for the Irish girl, whom eventually falls for him too. Life gets much easier… until Eilis gets word of tragic news that must bring her home.

(REVIEW)

Great. A nearly flawless movie and thoroughly heartfelt.

Ronan delivers probably her career best. That’s possibly not saying much considering how little she’s done, but there’s no denial that she plays her role as Eilis so straight and convincingly. Every step she takes throughout the film is completely felt. When she gets seasick on a ghetto-looking boat, you feel her agony as she tries to simply find a place to vomit, the heartache when she’s homesick, the happiness when she’s with Tony, Ronan is every bit engaging from the beginning to the end. If she were nominated for best actress at the Oscars, I wouldn’t be surprised (nor would I be surprised if she didn’t win, what with the way that shit’s ran).

The supporting cast isn’t lacking in enjoyment either. Eilis’ romantic-interest, Tony, is indeed a very likable character. He’s a gentleman, and maintains his down-to-earth demeanor and treatment of Eilis. Although I do have to ask why he has a stereotypical Italian accent when none of his family has one. Same mannerisms, maybe, but not the same accent. That was weird. Or maybe their accents were too subtle by comparison to Tony’s over-the-top accent. Who knows?

And, this took me by complete surprise in the most wonderful of ways, Emily Bett freakin’ Rickards of TV show ARROW (Felicity Smoak) popularity was in this movie. She, as well as the other girls in the boarding house, were absolutely charming. Bitchy, but in that hilarious kind of way. I wish I could more about her in this movie, as I do love her acting in ARROW, but her role is so minor here that I wish I could just dock points for that alone: not enough of her.

***SPOILERS***

 

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If there was a complaint I had about this movie, it’s a minor one, which is weird because I just praise him, Tony. He was almost perfectly written, up until Eilis finds out Rose (Fiona Glascott) dies and she must go home. Tony, while comforting and supportive of her decision to return home to say goodbye, he has this scene where he admits to her that he’s scared of losing her: in that if she goes home, she won’t come back. That kind of got an eye-twitch out of me because, if it were me writing the character, he would instead just full-on support her going home and try to figure out how to get her there faster. He could still be scared of all of that, but subtlety would have been preferred in this regard. Focus on the eyes, hold a shot on a remorseful face, admit it to someone else later on, but never let her see that regret. And even if Eilis does stay there, it’s for the best. That’s her home, that’s where her family is, that’s where her life was, and many opportunities will eventually open up for her. What kind of boyfriend wouldn’t be supportive of her decision to stay. Obviously, it would end in heartbreak, which is obviously not where the story ended up, but that’s the tweak I would have made. The rest of the story is fine.

***

 

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***END SPOILERS***

This is definitely one of the better films to hit the cinemas this year. Might not be my favorite, but it’s certainly a wonderful romance tale with some powerful acting by Ronan, a great and funny supporting cast to keep the movie entertaining, it’s an emotional powerhouse that’s well worth the admission and highly recommended.

My honest rating for BROOKLYN: a strong 4/5

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VICTORIA & ABDUL review

Say what now?! This is a sequel?! *Wikipedia search* Well skin me alive and call me naked, this is a sequel! Specifically to the film MRS. BROWN (1997), and Judi Dench is reprising her role as Queen Victoria. I guess if you wanted to make another movie about her and her wacky adventures in her later years, why not make it a sequel? Oh, and it’s also based on a book? Jeez, this Queen certainly gets around in media.

The story looks like it’s about Victoria and she’s become tired with her life and role. But then she meets a young Indian servant and the two strike up a friendship, asking him to teach her all about his culture and reinvigorates her love of life. But it comes at a cost. Her peers start to think that she’s lost her mind, playing nice with a servant. Hence the conflict. It looks like it could be decent and anything Dench touches is golden, so I’m all on board.

Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Judi Dench (TULIP FEVER [2017], CASINO ROYALE [2006], SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE [1998], and the upcoming MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS [2017]) and Ali Fazal (FURIOUS 7 [2015] and 3 IDIOTS [2009]). In support, we have Eddie Izzard (ROCK DOG [2017], ACROSS THE UNIVERSE [2007], and THE AVENGERS [1998]), Michael Gambon (KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE [2017], THE GOOD SHEPHERD [2006], and SLEEPY HOLLOW [1999]), Tim Pigott-Smith (JUPITER ASCENDING [2015], V FOR VENDETTA [2005], and CLASH OF THE TITANS [1981]), Adeel Akhtar (THE BIG SICK [2017], PAN [2015], and THE DICTATOR [2012]), and Olivia Williams (MAN UP [2015], PETER PAN [2003], and THE SIXTH SENSE [1999]).

Now for the crew. Directing is Stephen Frears, known for FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS (2016), THE QUEEN (2006), and HIGH FIDELITY (2000). Penning the screenplay is Lee Hall, known for WAR HORSE (2011) and BILLY ELLIOT (2000). Composing the score is Thomas Newman, known for PASSENGERS (2016), WALL·E (2008), THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (1994), and the upcoming THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE (2017). Finally, the cinematographer is Danny Cohen, known for FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS, ROOM (2015), and PIRATE RADIO (2009).

Overall, I’m very curious. Not super hyped, but call me eager.

This is my honest opinion of: VICTORIA & ABDUL

(SUMMARY)

Set in early 1900. Queen Victoria (Judy Dench) is still a revered queen, now serving as the longest running monarch in history. However, she’s grown tired of her position. Her loved ones have passed on and she’s become both apathetic to her own appearance and position. But all of that changes when she meets Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal), an Indian servant, who eventually becomes Victoria’s closest friend, teaching her of Indian culture and slowly regains her love of life, despite the deeply rooted arguments from her staff.

(REVIEW)

This was a really good movie. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

The movie opens on a pretty humorous line. “Based on real events” pause for a second, “… mostly.” This movie had me at “hello” and I was already giggling.

However, and this is pretty consistent for the first half hour or so, the movie loses its momentum. There’s clichés, like the intro of the protagonist running late for work, and the movie isn’t all that funny for awhile. I mean, some gags land, like when a servant tries to wake up Victoria, but all she does is groan. I thought that was hilarious. But for awhile, the humor really falls flat. Hell, fifteen, maybe even twenty minutes into the movie is when the title of the movie appears. That was weird. Why bother by that point?

Having said all that, there is a… I’m not sure how to describe it, but a level of engagement to Dench’s performance in the beginning. She’s so tired, possibly bored, and gives zero shits about everything that’s going on around her. She eats at her own pace, forcing her peers around her to eat quickly, or else their food will be taken away.

About the only saving grace in the film’s comedy in the beginning is Mohammed (Adeel Akhtar), who coud have so easily been that panicky hysterical character that no one likes, but for whatever reason, his exaggerations of what he believes the English do in their spare time is so funny. He does get a little grating later in the film, but he has a bad-ass scene that makes up for all of it.

But honestly, after that first half hour of lackluster comedy, the laughs, as well as the story, pick up immensely. Abdul is impossibly charming and likable. You immediately feel for Victoria and everything that she’s lived through. All of her loved ones are gone and all that’s left is her position and her ambitious and unlikable children who want her power. But meeting Abdul, she learns to find happiness and learns about the Indian culture. There’s this infectious chemistry that Dench and Fazal share, an energy that constantly makes you smile as he describes the Taj Mahal, or teaches her Indian languages and how her eyes light up as she learns, it’s such a beautiful connection that they share. At some point, Dench’s performance gets a little hammy, but it’s so brief that you almost have to remember that it gets there, and it’s not like it isn’t explained (she gets a little drunk), but this is what makes up the entire movie: their friendship and it is really heart-warming to watch just how much she defends him despite all the criticism from those around her.

As much praise as I have with the film, there are a couple elements that I complain about.

A smaller issue is that we never see enough of Abdul and Mohammad interacting. Every scene they share is Abdul being excited, and Mohammad being nervous. We don’t see enough of the two actually being friends. Sure, that would take away from the focus of the relationship between him and Victoria, but it still would have been nice to dedicate a five minute scene of the two men really interacting like friends.

But the bigger issue I took was Abdul’s wife. I believe her involvement in this story is pure fluff. We don’t see hide or hair of her, or even get a single reference to her existence until the one hour mark, and even when she does show up, for all the build-up to her, she barely contributes to the story. Sure, sure, you could argue that it’s all a set up to learn about Abdul’s… procreation issues, or whatever that was, and Victoria’s council to try and get him sent back to India, but I feel like this is where creative liberties would have been needed and find something more sensible to get that kind of information.

Also, there were two incidences that involve Victoria being upset with Abdul. One being when she discovered that it was Muslims, or another Indian group that I can’t remember, were at the head of some revolt that took the lives of British soldiers and then later for another reason that I can’t remember either. All I remember is that these two scenes were resolved as quickly as they were introduced and happen pretty close to each other, so I kept wondering why the writer didn’t just pick a problem and go all the way with it, or combine the two problems into one dramatic scene.

Overall, I really liked this movie. The core characters are ridiculously wonderful to watch and hang out with, it’s funny, dramatic, all around fun for anyone even half interested in this story. I highly recommend this in theaters. It doesn’t have the widest of releases, so you may need to really look for it, but I say it’s worth the effort to see in theaters. History’s most unlikely friendship is arguably one of its most endearing.

My honest rating for VICTORIA & ABDUL: a strong 4/5

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BATTLE OF THE SEXES review

I can’t claim to know anything about the the real events that this movie is portraying, but based on my dollar tree-worth of research, Billie Jean King, whose husband is famed talk-show host Larry King, is considered to be one of the greatest tennis players of all time. I’m guessing it’s no accident that she’s not considered one of the greatest “female” tennis players of all time, a testament to her talent, no doubt. Bobby Riggs was also a heavy-weight for his time and the two essentially get into a tennis match. Riggs taunts King into it, he was in his fifties, and she was almost thirty. Summed up, she won, but even that victory had its controversies, citing that it was King’s age that won the match.

As for the movie itself, yes, I’m looking forward to this one the most this week. I’m always down for a good feminist flick and who doesn’t love an ass-kicking woman humbling a sexist jack-off?

Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Emma Stone (LA LA LAND [2016], THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN [2012], SUPERBAD [2007], and the upcoming CRUELLA [2018]), and Steve Carell (DESPICABLE ME 3 [2017], DATE NIGHT [2010], BRUCE ALMIGHTY [2003], and the upcoming MINECRAFT: THE MOVIE [2019]). In support, we have Bill Pullman (INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE [2016], SCARY MOVIE 4 [2006], CASPER [1995], and the upcoming THE EQUALIZER 2 [2018]), Elisabeth Shue (HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET [2012], PIRANHA 3D [2010], THE KARATE KID [1984], and the upcoming DEATH WISH [2017]), Sarah Silverman (THE BOOK OF HENRY [2017], THE MUPPETS [2011], THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY [1998], and the upcoming RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET: WRECK-IT RALPH 2 [2018]), Natalie Morales (TV shows TROPHY WIFE [2013 – 2014] and PARKS AND REC [2009 – 2015]), and Alan Cummings (STRANGE MAGIC [2015], X2: X-MEN UNITED [2003], and GOLDENEYE [1995]).

Now for the crew. Co-directing, we have Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, both known for LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE (2006) and a bunch of music videos. Penning the screenplay is Simon Beaufoy, known for EVEREST (2015), THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE (2013), and SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE (2008). Composing the score is Nicholas Britell, known for MOONLIGHT (2016), A TALE OF LOVE AND DARKNESS (2016), FREE STATE OF JONES (2016), and the upcoming OCEAN’S EIGHT (2018). Finally, the cinematographer is Linus Sandgren, known for LA LA LAND, THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY (2014), PROMISED LAND (2013), and upcoming films FIRST MAN (2018) and THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS (2018).

Overall, I’m super stoked for this. I can’t wait.

This is my honest opinion of: BATTLE OF THE SEXES

(SUMMARY)

Set in 1973. Billy Jean King (Emma Stone) has just been marked as the most successful women’s tennis player in the world. However, despite the great strides that women have been making in the world of sports, the higher ups believe that men are more marketable, despite evidence suggesting that women are just as popular a draw. Repulsed by the lack of equality, she founded the Women’s Tennis Association with some other great female tennis players. Billy Jean’s success eventually catches the eye of former great tennis player Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell), who is eager to join the bandwagon in proving that men are superior to women in sports and challenges Billy Jean to a Battle of the Sexes match.

(REVIEW)

I like it. I’m really happy I got to see this.

Okay, I think if there’s anything that should be mentioned is that this isn’t exactly a sports biopic. At least, not all the way through. Much of the marketing strictly revolves around the match between Billy Jean and Bobby. And while that is a central and integral element to the story, people should be aware that it gets pretty personal for both people. We’re shown how Bobby is an addicted gambler and shows his failing marriage to his wife. We’re also shown Billie Jean’s homosexual awakening and her affair with Marilyn Barnett (Andrea Riseborough). In fact, a lot of time is devoted to that and how it affected her marriage to Larry King (Austin Stowell). In fact, a lot of time is dedicated to this, which might throw a few people off wondering what this has to do with the famous tennis match. Truth is, probably not much. But that’s not to say that it’s not effective. Stone’s performance as a sexually confused Billy Jean is very engaging and perfectly acted. On the one hand, she’s utterly guilty with how it would affect her marriage to Larry, and due to the 70s, would give a bad name to her new organization. On the other hand, it’s a new side of herself that she wants to explore and understand better and despite her cheating on Larry, we want her to be happy. She’s a feminist, a supportive friend, an iron-clad determination, and an all-around down to Earth gal. There’s real stakes in this story and no matter what Billy Jean does, she’s sacrificing something for what she believes is the greater good.

Even the stuff with Bobby isn’t short-changed. We see a man who is a loving husband and father, just trying to find his way in the world post-tennis greatness, but sadly fell into gambling and can’t give it up. He lies to his wife Priscilla (Elizabeth Shue) about it, which deteriorates their marriage understandably, but believes himself to be changed when he gets back into tennis. He loves his family dearly, and even when he’s playing up the Chauvinist Pig persona in the media, you never really get the sense that he’s one-hundred percent sincere about it. He’s doing it for the publicity and sponsorships, so it’s hard to see him as the villain. Easy to root against, he’s an egotistical jack-off, but not so easy to hate.

The performances are really what holds the movie up. This is arguably my favorite live-action performance by Silverman, who is so much fun watch here, Pullman’s a delicious asshole, Shue is incredibly sympathetic as Rigg’s wife, it all carries the film incredibly well.

I suppose if I had any real complaints, it’s the numerous creative liberties that were taken. But to be clear, I’m only going off of what I’ve read off of Wikipedia, which has a nasty habit of getting facts wrong, so if anything I mention is either false or not entirely true because you read some book that Billie Jean wrote, feel free to comment. I’ll post the link below.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Sexes_(tennis)

First, the discrepancies. Billie Jean and Marilyn didn’t meet in 1973 as depicted in the film, they met in 1971. And unless “secretary” has an incredibly generalized definition, Marilyn wasn’t a hairdresser, she was Billie Jean’s personal secretary. During the match itself, Billie Jean was getting her ass handed to her early on, but the film depicted it as pretty even split.

Now, here’s my issues with these. While I can’t claim to know how long Billie Jean’s affair was with Marilyn, maybe it lasted a very brief amount of time, maybe it lasted from ’71 to ’73 throughout the Battle of the Sexes match, but it seems strange that they threw it in like that. If it didn’t last two years, then this relationship was used as an excuse to throw in more sympathy for the lesbian community. Not that this is bad, of course, Billie Jean was a champion of women’s rights, but the subject matter in itself does a fine job of that, promoting fair and equal pay for women in sports. Who’s not down for that? Adding a lesbian sideplot almost seems contrived. But then again, this is a biopic of Billie Jean’s life and her affair with Marilyn is a part of her life, and I think the writer was trying to make this movie a little more all-encompassing of her life. After all, a two year separation from the real events and the events depicted in the film really isn’t that big of a deal, especially since the film does place an importance on their relationship, which was a big deal in Billie Jean’s life.

But seriously, why is she a hairdresser and not a secretary? Isn’t that distinction kind of necessary? If Marilyn was Billy Jean’s secretary, the relationship might have felt a little more organic instead of a single encounter in a hair salon. Having her as a secretary, depending on how long they’d known each other before the affair and how long they’d known each other in general, would have shown that there was history and chemistry, which would create that sexual tension and just make more sense. A one off encounter in a hair salon just seems a little too “love at first sight” to me, and making it lesbians doesn’t make it okay. I have a problem with it even it when it involves heterosexual people. Gays don’t get a free pass in this.

Swinging back around to Billy Jean’s personal life, she did had an abortion in 1971. If gay rights are a hot button topic in 2017, despite the legal advances that have been made in recent years, then you sure as shit better believe that abortion is a hot button topic as well, which remains just as controversial today as it’s ever been. . Why wasn’t this something added to the movie? I have my theories. One, if they did add it, they risk both making the movie longer and more unfocused. Or two, they made a choice. Talk about a subject matter that lights fires under countless asses, or showcase Emma Stone making out with a chick. Well… sex does sell… and boom, we have this. I think a better, smarter writer could have used the abortion angle and made a really impactful film. But then again… maybe that’s why it wasn’t used because the writer wouldn’t have known what to say about it and or didn’t have anything smart to add, so it was decided to leave it out. Either way, it’s a shame.

And for the match itself, making it a little too even split at the beginning, wouldn’t it have been more dramatic to see Billy Jean losing while Bobby taunts her? And when she makes her comeback, that’s when Bobby takes his jacket off and stops his clowning around? I feel like it would have served the film much better, but what do I know?

To be fair, I can’t claim to know why these creative liberties were taken. Maybe Billie Jean herself requested certain elements not be included. But regardless, as much as I ragged on the liberties, it’s a solid film and I do recommend it. I don’t think it’s the must-see movie of the year or anything, but if you’re a fan of the cast, enjoy a good feminist movie, or even sports films, then this is worth your time.

My honest rating for BATTLE OF THE SEXES: 4/5

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LEAP! review

Full disclosure, I actually did write a review for this, or at least had a healthy chunk of it written. However, for whatever reason, something glitched out and all my work was erased and I couldn’t get it back. So here I am, writing it again, mostly because I have a MoviePass card now and I’m playing around with it.

LEAP! if I remember correctly is a French animated film originally titled “Ballerina,” and was renamed “Leap!” for American audiences. To my understanding, BALLERINA was almost a different film than was presented here. My only source on this is a review of BALLERINA from Youtube’s Stoned Gremlin Productions, who seemed to have nice things to say about that, but didn’t see LEAP!. Anyway, initially, I thought this movie was going to be a pretty dull film. A standard “follow your dreams” story that’s been done to death thanks to Disney. Give Disney some credit, at least they make good movies. I have no idea what the story is here for the lack of originality.

Here’s the voice talent. Starring, we have Elle Fanning (THE BEGUILED [2017], THE NEON DEMON [2016], and I AM SAM [2001]), Carly Rae Jepsen (1 episode of CASTLE), and Nat Wolff (HOME AGAIN [2017], PAPER TOWNS [2015], and ADMISSION [2013]). In support, we have Maddie Ziegler (THE BOOK OF HENRY [2017]), Terence Scammell (HEAVY METAL 2000 [2000], and video games DEUS EX: MANKIND DIVIDED [2016] and TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES [2007]), Kate McKinnon (ROUGH NIGHT [2017], MASTERMINDS [2016], GHOSTBUSTERS [2016], and upcoming film FERDINAND [2017] and TV revival THE MAGIC SCHOOL BUS RIDES AGAIN [2017]), and Mel Brooks (HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2 [2015], SPACEBALLS [1987], and BLAZING SADDLES [1974]).

Now for the crew. One of the writers, Laurent Zeitoun, is known for THE INTOUCHABLES (2011). The composer is Klaus Badelt, who is known for THE IDENTICAL (2014), ULTRAVIOLET (2006), PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL (2003), and upcoming film CHRISTOPHER ROBIN, no release date announced. Finally, the cinematographer is Jericca Cleland, known for SPACE CHIMPS (2008).

Overall, I am not looking forward to see thing a second time.

This is my honest opinion of: LEAP!

(SUMMARY)

Set in Paris, France, circa 1880s. The story follows Félicie (voiced by Elle Fanning), a young orphan girl growing up in an orphanage with a penchant for dancing and for trying to escape to Paris. Along with her best friend Victor (voiced by Nat Wolff), they manage to finally do just that. The two friends get separated and Félicie finds a prestigious dance school, specifically ballet, which she isn’t trained in. So she ends up getting trained by Odette (voiced by Carly Rae Jepsen), who is a servant of a cruel woman, who is the mother to Félicie’s dance rival, Camille (Maddie Ziegler).

(REVIEW)

My experience is only slightly better.

Félicie is still a standard dreamer with very little personality. I swear, her dialog consists of nothing but, “I am a dancer!” “I’m going to be such a great dancer.” Jeez, get a side hobby, woman! Luckily, Fanning is a fantastic actor, so even if the dialog is beyond basic, her voice almost always matches the emotions of the character. Victor is still the annoying comic relief, subjected to the worst jokes in the movie, including poop jokes multiple times. To make matters worse, he’s kind of gross, sneezing in his hand, trying to kiss her with no indication that his night out with Félicie would go in that direction. And I will never understand how inconsistently written he is. For a character who is so smart that he can make a pair of functioning, wings that help him glide from tall places, he’ll call those wings “chicken wings” even though chickens can’t fly. To which his response will be, “But they have have wings. They must fly.” Wow… Wolff is a decent actor, but he is trying way too hard to be funny here. I can’t tell if it’s a result of him not knowing how to act with his voice, or if he was given awful direction. But the worst of the lot, Jepsen. Despite being a passable singer, she is not a good actress. She has no emotion in her voice at all. It’s like every line she reads, you can almost see her in the recording booth sounding uncomfortable. One has to ask, if they only use the best takes, how bad were the others?

In fact, the more I think about it, there isn’t any real reason for this to be an animated film. Dancing in real life is spectacle. It’s impressive because it’s real people who had real training. With animation, the dancing is just… cartoonish. You don’t see the real sweat, the strain, the fatigue. If done right, the audience should be able  it’s just not the same effect. The whole point of animation is to see something that real life can’t provide. But real dancers exist. If you want to see a more impressive dance movie involving ballet, watch the French film POLINA (2017). Ballet, modern dance, it’s far more all-encompassing than this and far more impressive to watch.

And what’s with the budding romance between Félicie and Rudy (voiced by Tamir Kapelian). That literally comes out of nowhere and ends up being exactly what you’d expect it to be. Félicie is only attracted to Rudy for his looks and manipulative charm, given little to no real personality, and ends up being a jerk. Gee, never seen that before in a movie.

Speaking of animation, it’s not… bad, per se. The expressions are pretty good, for the most part. The lighting, the colors, it all works visually. Which makes it all the more heartbreaking when you have subpar voice actors attached, distracting from the emotions and just grating to the ears. There’s some facial animations that are trying too hard to be comical, especially with Madam Regine (Kate McKinnon), who is so over the top evil that it really is comical. The textures are impressive. You can tell there was a lot of time dedicated to making the dirty places and things look dirty and the pretty things and places look pretty. But if there’s anything that’s done incredibly well, it’s the background work. Holy… it’s incredible and gorgeous to look at. Clearly, there is talent working on this, but who green lit the stuff that didn’t? And there is a good idea of exploring passion versus technique. Félicie is an inexperienced dancer with raw talent. Camille is classically trained and highly competitive, but she only does it because he mother makes her do it. Félicie has more than a few obstacles to overcome, but her determination and open-mindedness to learn how to move her body in ways that she’s not used to allows her to break through her limitations. But Camille, despite flawless performances, limits herself to what she knows and is capable of doing. It doesn’t help that her mother, who is a heartless wench, is raising her and probably saps out all ability to emote in her dancing. All of this is explored surprisingly well. As I understand it, the French and Canadian originals are different and seem like they’re better than the American cut. Maybe the American version couldn’t dumb down all the great stuff from the original.

Overall, I’d say this wasn’t as bad as my first experience, but it was still not great. The animation quality is inconsistent, ranging from great to awkward, the characters are horribly bland, poor writing, inconsistent quality in voice acting, it’s an atrociously messy flick. But at the end of the day, the movie is harmless. While I don’t think it’s worth taking your kids to see in theaters, it’s a rental at best, I also don’t think it’s worth seeing at all. There’s better animated films out there, but I guess if you wanted to show them something that wasn’t Disney, or Pixar, this isn’t the worst.

My honest rating for LEAP!: a weak 3/5

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REBEL IN THE RYE (quick) review

Not much to say. I didn’t know this movie was getting made and I don’t know who J.D. Salinger is. Should prove to be educational.

Ah… and so it is. So the title wasn’t weirdly named similarly to the novel The Catcher in the Rye, Salinger is the author of that book. Boy, the things you never paid attention to in school. This story is about the life of Salinger, a student and an aspiring writer who also fought in World War II. He has parents who don’t think his writing is useful, but he has a tough-but-awesome teacher who believes he could be great. Seems like a standard kind of “artist in the making” film now that I’m saying it out loud, but it’s about a writer, and there’s something that I can relate to.

Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Nicholas Hoult (COLLIDE [2017], EQUALS [2016], WARM BODIES [2013], and upcoming films X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX [2018] and TOLKIEN, no release date announced) and Kevin Spacey (BABY DRIVER [2017], ELVIS & NIXON [2016], and THE USUAL SUSPECTS [1995]). In support, we have Victor Garber (SELF/LESS [2015], LEGALLY BLONDE [2001], and TV show LEGENDS OF TOMORROW [2016 – ongoing]), Sarah Paulson (CAROL [2015], SERENITY [2005], TV show AMERICAN HORROR STORY [2011 – ongoing], and upcoming films GLASS [2018] and OCEAN’S EIGHT [2018]), Zoey Deutch (BEFORE I FALL [2017], EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!! [2016], VAMPIRE ACADEMY [2014], and the upcoming THE DISASTER ARTIST [2017]), Lucy Boynton (SING STREET [2016], MISS POTTER [2006], and the upcoming MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS [2017]), and Celeste Arias (THE BIG SICK [2017] and KATE CAN’T SWIM [2017]).

Now for the crew. Writing and directing is Danny Strong, known for directing 3 episodes of TV show EMPIRE, but is known for writing THE HUNGER GAMES: THE MOCKINGJAY – PART 1 (2014) and 2 (2015), and THE BUTLER (2013). The composer of the score is *double take* Bear McCreary?! Dude, I love this guy! Anyway, he’s known for COLOSSAL (2017), 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE (2016), TV show BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (2004 – 2009), and the upcoming HAPPY DEATH DAY (2017). Finally, the cinematographer is Kramar Morgenthau, known for TERMINATOR GENISYS (2015), THOR: THE DARK WORLD (2013), FRACTURE (2007), and the upcoming TV movie FAHRENHEIT 451, no release date announced.

Overall, I’m probably more excited that I should be. That’s what happens when you put music by Audiomachine in your trailer.

This is my honest opinion of: REBEL IN THE RYE

(SUMMARY)

Set in the 1930s through the 1950s. Jerome David Salinger (Nicholas Hoult), better known as Jerry, is a lousy student and has been kicked out from more than a couple schools for his sarcastic nature. But one day, he decides that he wants to pursue writing as a career and go to school for creative writing. Though his father Sol (Victor Garber) thinks his writing won’t amount to anything, his equally sarcastic, but supportive teacher Whit Burnett (Kevin Spacey) challenges Jerry to push the boundaries of his own thinking and to dig deeper, making him a better writer, especially after creating a wonderful character named Holden Caulfield, who deserves his own novel, something Jerry doesn’t think he’s ready for. But once he enters the war, Jerry pursues the prospect of writing his novel, eventually returning home. Having seen so much horror overseas, it becomes a struggle for Jerry to regain the spirit he had for writing.

(QUICK REVIEW)

What is up with critics lately? I really like this movie! Okay, it’s not perfect, but it’s a good movie.

Maybe I should get the negatives out of the way first. It’s impossible to deny how cliché this movie really is, which is something I called in my initial impressions. Structurally, it really is a standard “artist in the making” story. You have a young man who wants to be a writer. He has family that thinks it’s not a real profession and want him to get a real job. You have a teacher who is quirky and funny who pushes the boundaries of his imagination and encourages him to go through with his passions. It’s about as copy and paste as you can get. So because of this and that the movie doesn’t really do anything particularly new with its own idea, objectively speaking, it’s not a great movie.

Having said that, I still really like it and you can probably accurately call me out as bias toward it because, yes, I am also a writer. Struggling artist characters are pretty easy for me get sucked into if they’re likable and that’s where this movie does its best. Usually, I’m pretty indifferent to Nicholas Hoult. I like him as young Beast in the prequel X-Men films, but, more often than not, I haven’t really seen him in anything that totally blew me away. But this was a really great role. Whether or not this was true to Salinger’s actual personality, he’s a wise-ass, but he’s got this vehement sense of realism and can’t stand fake upscale people, despite being an upscale person himself. He’s got a load of charm about him that makes him an absolute delight to follow. Even when he goes off to war, experiences the trauma he went through, he’s still an incredibly engaging character, struggling with PTSD, and it’s really heartbreaking to watch him try and fail to write. But it’s also all the more rewarding to see him overcome his struggles and to even come back as a better writer for it. But he’s by no means a perfect person. He’s been a bad husband more than once and a pretty negligent father to his children with Claire (Lucy Boynton). But this is the story of the young man who wrote one of the great novels of all time, so it’s hard to chock him up as a bad guy. I sure don’t always agree with Salinger as a man, but as an artist, I do admire his commitment and dedication… if the movie is accurate, of course.

The other characters are also incredibly well done as well. Spacey is always reliably entertaining. He’s legitimately funny, but also poignant. There’s such passion in his voice, such gravitas that listening to him alone becomes an obsession. If there’s anyone who can get students to be interested in school and pay attention in class, it’d be this man. And what a refreshing role to see him in too! Usually, I associate Spacey with roles that make him out to be an asshole, or weird, powerful, or manipulative. When was the last time he took a role that was just a guy. Just a regular guy doing regular guy things? I weirdly love his performance in this. The other major players are oddly engaging as well. Garber as Salinger’s father is great and Paulson as his agent is really fun as well.

Look, it’s no masterpiece, I can admit that. But I can’t fathom the cynical mindsets that make this movie out to be anything less than average. Sure, if the distracting clichés are too much for you to ignore, I can see that hurting the film for you and it really does hurt the movie. But the performances are outstanding. The drama is heartfelt. There’s too much that this did right for me to completely write it off. Maybe it’s just the writer in me, but I like this movie and I recommend it. I think it’s got a pretty limited release, so it’s likely you might have to go out of your way to find it. But if you’ve got the time, check it out and see for yourself.

My honest rating for REBEL IN THE RYE: 4/5

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TULIP FEVER review

Yay! Something with Alicia Vikander!

TULIP FEVER is based on a novel by the same name. It looks like it’s about a young woman who is practically bought into a marriage with an older, wealthier man who seems to love how beautiful and young she is, as opposed to loving her for her. Eventually, there’s this craze over a particular tulip that everyone wants, that I can only assume this rich old dude gets, and a young and talented artist is hired to make a painting. However, the artist and the young woman fall in love and so begins some Jerry Springer shit. It looks… meh. The aesthetic itself is pretty gorgeous, as well as the costumes, but it looks like it’s going to get needlessly complicated. I have no real evidence to show for it, but these period dramas are always about power and status, and I feel like I’ve seen enough of those. But hey, Alicia Vikander!

Here’s the cast. Did I mention this movie stars Alicia Vikander? She’s known for THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS (2016), EX-MACHINA (2015), BURNT (2015), and the upcoming TOMB RAIDER (2018). Also starring, we have Dane DeHaan (VALERIAN [2017], A CURE FOR WELLNESS [2017], and THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 [2014]) and Christoph Waltz (THE LEGEND OF TARZAN [2016], SPECTRE [2015], THE GREEN HORNET [2011], and the upcoming ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL [2018]). In support, we have Judi Dench (MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN [2016], CASINO ROYALE [2006], SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE [1998], and upcoming films VICTORIA & ABDUL [2017] and MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS [2017]), Cara Delevingne (VALERIAN, SUICIDE SQUAD [2016], and PAPER TOWNS [2015]), Zack Galifianakis (LEGO BATMAN [2017], KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES [2016], and THE CAMPAIGN [2012]), Holliday Grainger (MY COUSIN RACHEL [2017], THE FINEST HOURS [2016], and CINDERELLA [2015]), and Tom Hollander (THE PROMISE [2017], MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION [2015], PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST [2006], and upcoming films BREATHE [2017] and THE JUNGLE BOOK [2018]).

Now for the crew. Directing, we have Justin Chadwick, known for THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL (2008). Co-writing the script is Tom Stoppard (ANNA KARENINA [2012], SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, EMPIRE OF THE SUN [1987], and the upcoming A CHRISTMAS CAROL, no release date announced) and author of the novel itself, Deborah Moggach (PRIDE & PREJUDICE [2005]). Composing the score is *double take* Danny Elfman?! Did I ever write this down in my previous reviews?! Anywho, Elfman is known for FIFTY SHADES DARKER (2017), ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS (2016), HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY (2008), and upcoming films JUSTICE LEAGUE (2017) and FIFTY SHADES FREED (2018). Finally, the cinematographer is Eigil Bryld, known for IN BRUGES (2008) and the upcoming OCEAN’S EIGHT (2018).

Overall, yeah, I probably won’t care much about the movie itself. I just want Vikander to melt my heart. And maybe stab someone in some kind of climactic fight scene. I don’t know, I don’t care. Alicia Vikander! No, I don’t have a huge crush on Alicia Vikander! YOU have a crush on Alicia Vikander! Leave me alone!

This is my honest opinion of: TULIP FEVER

(SUMMARY)

Set in Amsterdam, circa 1634 during the tulip mania. Sophia (Alicia Vikander) is bought from her orphanage into a marriage with the wealthy Cornelis Sandvoort (Christoph Waltz), and is basically tasked with birthing a child, with no results. Eventually, Cornelis commissions a young painter named Jan Van Loos (Dane DeHaan) who quickly falls in love with Sophia, and falls for him in turn, and they start to have an affair.

(REVIEW)

Oh man. With the vast amounts of reviews that I’ve been belting out recently, I’m surprised I made it this far with knowing what to say. No joke, I have to look at my notes to even remember how I felt about this movie. Er… probably not a good sign.

Ah ha, upon reviewing my said notes, that’s probably one of the reasons why I didn’t connect with this movie as well as I’d hoped. It’s a slow churn. The opening of this movie is a history lesson about the tulip mania, which isn’t bad in itself. It’s a little slice of history that I can imagine is overlooked in standard history books. But then once the actual story, you know, the characters and their problems, the whole tulip mania thing feels either like an afterthought, or a second story that doesn’t connect well with the actual story.

It also doesn’t help that between Sophia’s purchase as Cornelis’ wife, nothing really happens for a good twenty minutes. It’s mostly a bunch of him pissing into a bucket in the corner, calling his dick “his little soldier,” and him unable to properly climax when having sex with her. Granted, there’s some fair character connections between Sophia and Maria (Holliday Grainger), whom is only treated like a servant by Cornelis, rather than Sophia who treats her like a friend.

Speaking of which, this is another problem I have with the film. Increasingly over the last few years, I’ve had a huge problem with narrators. They’re utilized grossly incorrectly by explaining things that explain themselves in the visuals. It was fine when it was explaining the tulip mania, but outside of that, the narrator, an older Maria, never shuts the hell up after that. She’s explaining everything that doesn’t need explanation. We can read the expressions of the characters and perfectly understand their motivations just fine, thank you very much. So the movie does sadly talk down to the audience, thinking we’re too stupid to interpret the characters accurately ourselves. I think at some point the narration stops, or decreases in appearance, but in the end, it takes way too long for it to get there. And why is it important for Maria to be narrating the story?! If the movie is technically in her perspective, how does she know the details of Sophia and Jan’s affair? Or even Jan’s later activities? None of this really adds up.

The movie isn’t all bad, mind you. There does feel like there’s stakes in the beginning. We learn that because Cornelis and Sophia have been trying to conceive for awhile and he’s giving her six more months to get knocked up before he sends her back to the orphanage. Also, the art department needs a damn Oscar nom because these sets are absolutely breath-taking. Of course, Vikander and Waltz are both wonderful, DeHaan isn’t bad, Grainger is certainly a show-stealer, the performances are all around very good, which does occasionally distract from the plot points that get forced.

For example, the whole story is basically Sophia having an affair on Cornelis with Jan, but their relationship is so sudden. Quite literally, Sophia walks downstairs in a pretty blue dress and WHAMO! he’s in love. But fine, a dude’s pants get a little tighter when he sees a hot chick, that’s nothing new, men are pigs, I get that. But what’s her excuse? The sudden romantic exchange is so sudden that they never have time time to actually develop feelings beyond the superficial. Thankfully, the two have some pretty good chemistry the rest of the movie, but the launching point is too lame for my taste.

***SPOILERS***

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And let’s talk about the remainder of this movie. So the rest of the plot is basically this: Maria had an affair with a local fish peddler. He suddenly left thinking the cloaked woman making out with Jan was Maria, when in fact it was Sophia. Maria ended up getting pregnant, which would mean a great disgrace to her and probably lose her job. But Sophia hatches an idea: make it seem like it’s Sophia that’s pregnant with Cornelis’ child, make her look pregnant for as long as Maria is pregnant, and when she gives birth, pass off the child as Sophia’s, fake her own death so she can be with Jan, and Maria will be free to raise her own child at no risk to her employment.

This plan should be destined to fail, but it works almost perfectly by the end of the movie, which is… just, no. First off, faking Sophia’s pregnancy isn’t too hard, but how would hiding Maria’s pregnancy work? She shows! Her pregnancy is obvious! This plan should have been a bust eventually, but somehow that hasn’t been the case. Second, I take it back, faking Sophia’s pregnancy should be hard too because married couples have sex when the woman’s pregnant all the time! You can’t convince me that a Lord like Cornelis would just accept her rules of both not sleeping with her and not even being able to touch her pregnant belly. At some point within the nine months of Maria’s pregnancy, he would have to have seen Sophia’s flesh at some point, simply from demand. He even remarks during the birthing scene that she refused his touch for several months. RED FLAGS, YOU DUMB ASS!!! Hell, these are the only two reasons that come to mind. I’m sure there’s a shit load of others too.

But wait, it only gets worse. When the Maria’s baby-daddy returns to confront her and discovers the truth of what he saw, Cornelis overhears her conversation with him and realizes the truth of everything as well, the affair, the pregnancy plot, everything, he leaves a note for Maria in daze. You want to know what that note said? “I forgive you, I’m leaving Amsterdam, I give you all of my riches, good luck.” Yeah, so he found out his wife’s baby wasn’t really theirs, she had an affair with the painter, all for the better part of a year… and he forgives them and leaves them everything

Moral of the story, y’all, lie to and cheat on your rich husbands and he’ll leave his entire wealth to your B.F.F.!!! Don’t act like it never happened to you!

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***END SPOILERS***

Overall, I can’t claim this to be a good movie. The characters themselves are fine and pretty likable, hence the acting is good, and the costumes and set designs are amazing to say the least. So it’s, at best, a pretty film to look at. But the character’s choices and story’s logic are such nonsense that you’d swear this script was a first draft and the filmmakers just rolled with it. While I certainly don’t hate the film, I honestly can’t recommend it in theaters. I might recommend it as a rental, but viewer beware.

My honest rating for TULIP FEVER: a weak 3/5

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