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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Quick Netflix review: MIDNIGHT IN PARIS (2011)

Starring: Owen Wilson (CARS 3 [2017], ZOOLANDER 2 [2016], ANACONDA [1997], and SHANGHAI DAWN, no release date announced), Marion Cotillard (ASSASSIN’S CREED [2016], THE DARK KNIGHT RISES [2012], and INCEPTION [2010]), and Rachel McAdams (DOCTOR STRANGE [2016], MORNING GLORY [2010], THE NOTEBOOK [2004], and the upcoming SHERLOCK HOLMES 3, no release date announced).

In support: Corey Stoll (GOLD [2017], CAFÉ SOCIETY [2016], ANT-MAN [2015], and the upcoming FIRST MAN [2018]), Kathy Bates (BAD SANTA 2 [2016], TITANIC [1997], and TV show AMERICAN HORROR STORY), Michael Sheen (NORMAN [2017], PASSENGERS [2016], UNDERWORLD [2003], and the upcoming BRAD’S STATUS [2017]), Tom Hiddleston (KONG: SKULL ISLAND [2017], I SAW THE LIGHT [2016], THOR [2011], and upcoming Marvel films THOR: RAGNAROK [2017] and AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR [2018]), and Léa Seydoux (THE LOBSTER [2016], 007 SPECTRE [2015], and BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR [2013]).

Writer/Director: Woody Allen (CAFÉ SOCIETY, IRRATIONAL MAN [2015], MIGHTY APHRODITE [1995], and the upcoming WONDER WHEEL [2017]). This film does not have a composer. Cinematographer: Darius Khondji (THE LOST CITY OF Z [2017], THE IMMIGRANT [2013], and THE RUINS [2008]).

(SUMMARY)

Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) is on vacation in Paris, trying to find inspiration to complete the novel he’s writing. Though inspiration is slow, he’s quickly fallen in love with Paris and is even considering to move there. His feelings are not shared by his prickly fiancé Inez (Rachel McAdams), and the two butt heads constantly. One night, strolling through the streets of Paris, he ends up lost, but the most bizarre thing happens to him at midnight. He’s picked up by an old fashioned car and somehow finds himself in the 1920’s, meeting all of his historical icons, like Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll), Pablo Picasso (Marcial Di Fonzo Bo), F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston), and even finds possible romance with the beautiful Adriana (Marion Cotillard), a mistress of Picasso.

(REVIEW)

I was surprised by how much I fell in love with this movie.

On top of being Wilson’s best performance I’ve ever seen in his library, it’s a truly gorgeous film just to look at, making the cinematography just as much the star as the actual characters the story follows. Already I love fantasy films and have a soft spot for rom-coms, and it’s not very often that the two are combined and leave this kind of an impact. While I can’t attest to the accuracy of the film using these historical people in Paris at the exact same time, but I doubt I’m supposed to take all this very literal. It’s a fantasy film after all and more of an appreciation of times long gone and a story that challenges a man to assess his relationship and what he wants for himself. At least, that’s what I got out of it. All I can tell you is that I got sucked into the style, the music, the aesthetics of it all, as well as the phenomenal chemistry between the actors, the comedy, and the romance. It’s a gorgeous film to be sure and I’m sad it took me this long to see it.

My honest rating for MIDNIGHT IN PARIS: 5/5

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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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BABY DRIVER review

Boy howdy, the early buzz on this movie.

I have to admit, I looked at this movie and I couldn’t exactly share the excitement of everyone else. Oh, not that the movie looked bad. Far from it. The trailer was showcasing car stunts that would make the Fast and Furious franchise look like it has small dicks and feature some over the top performances from truly great actors. I think what sort of anchored me back a bit was the comedy. And honestly, it was only the “Mike/Michael Myers” bit. I mean, the joke’s been painfully obvious for years and I never thought that a movie that was getting such high ratings and such great reviews would make this joke. In retrospect, I probably don’t have context for the scene, but… I’m pretty sure I do. Here’s hoping that this scene is atrociously trumped by how awesome the rest of the movie is.

Well, here’s the selling point for the movie, the cast. Starring, we have Ansel Elgort (ALLEGIANT [2016], THE FAULT IN OUR STARS [2014], CARRIE [2013], and upcoming Divergent TV movie sequel ASCENDANT and rumored to be in DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, both due out… who knows when), Lily James (PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES [2016], CINDERELLA [2015], WRATH OF THE TITANS [2012], and the upcoming Churchill film DARKEST HOUR [2017]), and Kevin Spacey (NINE LIVES [2016], SUPERMAN RETURNS [2006], and L.A. CONFIDENTIAL [1997]). In support, we have Jon Bernthal (THE ACCOUNTANT [2016], FURY [2014], TV show THE WALKING DEAD, and upcoming film WIND RIVER [2017] and TV show THE PUNISHER), Jon Hamm (KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES [2016], and TV shows UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT and MAD MEN), Eiza González (TV show FROM DUSK TILL DAWN).

Now for the crew. Writing and directing is Edgar Wright known for THE WORLD’S END (2013), SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD (2010), and HOT FUZZ (2007). Composing the score is Steven Price, known for SUICIDE SQUAD (2016), FURY (2014), GRAVITY (2013), and the upcoming AMERICAN ASSASSIN (2017). Finally, the cinematographer is Bill Pope, known for THE JUNGLE BOOK (2016), SPIDER-MAN 3 (2007), and THE MATRIX (1999).

Overall, yeah, I’m down for this movie. I don’t think I’m as hyped for it as the critics are, but I’m sure I’ll like this movie just fine.

This is my honest opinion of: BABY DRIVER

(SUMMARY)

Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a young and talented getaway driver for a ruthless crime boss named Doc (Kevin Spacey). After seemingly finished with paying off a debt he owed him, he celebrates his freedom with asking out the waitress at the restaurant he goes to named Debora (Lily James) and the two strike up a relationship. But Baby is roped right back in by Doc who can’t let go of a precious resource and forces him into another job that Baby is determined to make his last.

(REVIEW)

Um… it’s good. Really good. But… yeah, I don’t agree with the rave reviews.

I suppose it’s best to say that this film isn’t nearly as action-packed as the trailers made it out to be. Tell me if anyone else agrees with me. The trailer makes it look like this movie will be loaded with amazing car stunts and chases. We get them, but they’re not as amazing as you’d expect. In fact, they seem pretty standard with maybe one or two exceptions. The first is the one showcased in the trailer where Baby expertly maneuvers past a few vehicles, screeching past them without so much as a scratch. But outside of the trailer, there’s another car chase where Baby has a red car and he gets in between a pair of other red cars in order to fool the police, which was a fun sequence. Other than that… oh, there was another where an enemy driver forces Baby’s car under a ten-wheeler and get dragged for a few dozen feet.

More than anything, the selling point for the movie is the performances. Obviously, Spacey sells his usual “douche bag” persona like no one else could. In fact, Doc’s relationship with Baby is fascinating and complex. On the one hand, he has the utmost faith in Baby’s skills and often leaps to his defense with a high level of ferocity when someone questions why he’s on the team. On the other hand, most of the conflict is when Baby pays off his debt to Doc and then the man forces him to join him on one last job using very “passive” aggressive threats, so the man has very little interest in letting him have a life of his own, so you’re never really rooting for the character to live, but there is some sort of twisted father-son relationship going on, so you do see a level of empathy that Doc has for Baby.

I can also appreciate the relationship between Baby and Debora. Usually, relationships between the protagonist and love interest can feel really forced and unnecessary. You know, the damsel in distress cliché. Thing is, the story does something different with it. In more ways than the average movie-goer may think, she is a damsel in distress, but not in the classic “tied to a chair in an undisclosed location,” but rather a more subtle threat where Doc threatens to hurt Debora if he doesn’t go on that last job. So she is being used against him, just not as dramatically. And because we do see their relationship blossom over the course of the movie, we do get sucked into James’ million dollar smile and soul-piercing eyes, and are right there with Baby in not wanting to see her hurt in any way.

Most of the supporting cast isn’t wasted either. CJ Jones as Baby’s foster father Joseph was a really empathetic character. He’s deaf, but is perfectly aware of Baby’s illegal activities, but also knows that he doesn’t want to be a part of it. I can only assume that he knows about Baby’s debt to Doc. Still, he’s a kindly old man who treats Baby well. Hamm and González as Buddy and Darling (respectively) are a fun pair, being hired guns that are crazy in love with each other. It’s never obnoxious, thank God, and it’s even sort of cute in its own right. Like, Darling will tell Buddy to kill a guy because he looked at her funny and he’ll agree to do it. Romantically fucked up. I liked it.

But here’s where the movie fell a little short with me. Not by much, but enough to have that complaint. Foxx’s character, Bats, was incredibly annoying to me. While everyone else is professionally an asshole, he’s the one character that goes out of his way to give Baby a hard time throughout their interactions together. Maybe during their first meeting that’d be fine. A group of professional and grizzled thugs having a young twenty-something with earbuds in his ears and being totally dependent on his skills, that’d have anyone with a few question marks above their heads. But even once he’s proven himself, he’s still insanely paranoid and hard on him for no reason. He never shuts up when he’s on screen, that’s the other thing. This is a character that loves to hear himself talk, preaching the truth about what they do and who they can trust, all that nonsense and it was grating. Now don’t get me wrong, Foxx is a great actor and his performance here is no exception. But his character was insufferable for me. Everything that came out of his mouth just sounded like the gangster equivalent to whining.

Beyond all that, the movie is good and definitely worth seeing. Just don’t expect this to be some kind of next gen Fast And Furious, like I was. It’s not nearly action-packed enough for that, nor is there a great deal of creative or over-the-top action scenes. No, this movie is its own thing, but that’s nowhere near a negative against the film. The film is funny, intense, dramatic, engaging, lead by distinguished characters that you like to watch coupled with fantastic performances that more than make this movie’s price of admission worth it. I don’t agree with the hype, but I do recommend this to anyone interested.

My honest rating for BABY DRIVER: a strong 4/5

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THE BAD BATCH review

Awww yeah. Love my post-apocalyptic films.

Not much of a story of how I got into this. Saw the trailer, looked fucked up, wanted to see it. It’s got Aquaman and John Wick in the film and it’s somehow about cannibals. What’s not to want to see? But… it’s a romance film? Really? Calling it out, I’m guessing whatever romance elements are in the movie are the reason why the film is getting less than stellar ratings and reviews (IMDB = 6.0/10, and RottenTomatoes = 43%). Regardless, I’m interested, so we’ll see how I feel.

Starring, we have Suki Waterhouse, for some reason credited as an “introducing” in the the trailer (PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES [2016] and the Divergent Series INSURGENT [2015]), Jason Momoa (BULLET TO THE HEAD [2012], CONAN [2011], TV show GAME OF THRONES, and upcoming DC films JUSTICE LEAGUE [2017] and AQUAMAN [2018]), Keanu Reeves (JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 [2017], THE NEON DEMON [2016], and THE LAKE HOUSE [2006]), Diego Luna (ROGUE ONE [2016], THE BOOK OF LIFE [2014], CONTRABAND [2012], and upcoming films FLATLINERS [2017] and the remake SCARFACE [2018]), Jim Carrey (DUMB AND DUMBER TO [2014], KICK-ASS 2 [2013], and SIMON BIRCH [1998]), and Giovanni Ribisi (PAPA HEMINGWAY IN CUBA [2016], AVATAR [2009], and FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX [2004]).

Now for behind the scenes. Writing and directing is Ana Lily Amirpour, known for short films. I guess this film has no score, so I’ll jump to the final crewman, the cinematographer: Lyle Vincent, known for a ton of unknown projects.

Like I said, I’m interested. Something’s telling me I’ll find the romance elements out of place or pointless, but I might like the movie just fine. Besides, Jim Carrey in a movie about cannibals? Sold.

This is my honest opinion of: THE BAD BATCH

(SUMMARY)

Set in a post-apocalyptic setting outside of Texas, Arlen (Suki Waterhouse) is one of the “bad batch,” someone not fit for civilized society and must find a way to live in wasteland desert. Almost immediately upon arrival, she’s ambushed by a group of cannibals, who cut off her leg and arm. Managing to free herself from chains, she also kills one of them, and escapes into the wasteland again where she’s found by a quiet hermit (Jim Carrey) and taken to a safe haven settlement known as Comfort, headed by the charismatic leader known simply as The Dream (Keanu Reeves). Months later after healing and getting a new prosthetic leg, Arlen heads back out in the wasteland to find those who deformed her.

(REVIEW)

Yeah… as much as I love my post-apocalyptic stories, this was sadly not as good as I’d hoped. I hesitate to say that it’s even good.

Thing is, the movie doesn’t start off bad. In fact, I kind of got sucked into it. I enjoyed the lack of dialog from Arlen and the vast landscape of the wasteland. Granted, I wasn’t getting any real semblance of her personality through all this, other than… she likes make-up and probably needs an attitude adjustment considering her laughable “bad girl” attire, consisting of a hat with middle fingers stitched in. But then she’s captured by the locals, immediately gets her arm and leg sawed off, it was grotesque, but in all the right ways. She covers herself in her own shit, kills the bitch who was about to cut more of her off, and escapes via laying on her back on a skateboard. I won’t lie, the visual is actually pretty funny.

Remorsefully, the movie mostly falls flat from this point on. Maybe a surprisingly realistic “homeless man” performance by Ribisi is very humorous, but now it becomes a really stale revenge flick that’s been done in better amateur films. Literally, she has a gun, finds one of the cannibals that stood by and watched her get mutilated and decided to take in Honey (Jayda Fink) and take her away from her father, the Miami Man (Jason Momoa). This movie is a bunch of walking from one place to another and randomness to boot. Arlen gets high, wanders into the desert, meets Miami Man, they talk about nothing that matters, and the list goes on. Nothing makes sense. There’s barely a plot that even the movie itself doesn’t seem to care about.

Never mind that, there’s also a ton of missed opportunities. The Dream has a bunch of hot women that worship him, most of them are pregnant, and all of them carry assault rifles. We never see them use it. Earlier in the movie, we saw that the cannibal community has a shit-load of hugely muscular Adonises, and it’s clear that the people of Comfort don’t like the cannibals. I don’t know about the rest of you, but two plus two equals four. If you have a league of intimidating cannibals and a group of armed pregnant women with guns, you obviously pit them against each other together because… God damn it, why wouldn’t you do that?!

I’m also not entirely sure why this movie insists on partly classifying itself as a romance. Nothing in this movie is romantic. The ending where Arlen wants to stay with Miami Man and Honey where they eat Honey’s pet bunny? That was funny, but… I don’t think that’s enough to call it a romance film, dark or otherwise. THE LAKE HOUSE (2006) had a man run over another man doesn’t suddenly make the romantic drama into a crime thriller. Fine, whatever, most of the movie doesn’t make sense, I should be used to this shit by now.

Overall, there’s not a lot to say because… it’s dull. It’s boring. I can’t say it’s the worst movie I’ve ever seen, but it’s definitely not good. It’s not without some bursts of enjoyability, but a lack of consistency doesn’t make it worth a watch. I’m not saying avoid it at all costs, but I don’t think it’s worth anyone’s time.

My honest rating for THE BAD BATCH: a weak 3/5

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THE BIG SICK review

Not much to say about my initial impressions. Although the trailer does make this movie seem a bit predictable in its humor. Middle eastern actors in leading roles, cue obvious 9/11 jokes. Also, throw in a “colored man can’t date white girl” plot. I won’t pretend to have seen a lot of movies with this premise, but it just seems a little too obvious that jokes like this would be made. I admit that there does seem to be a strong dramatic possibility what with an arranged marriage to another Pakistani girl that breaks up his relationship with the white girl, but he’s still in love with her and manages to get to know her parents while she’s in her coma. So there’s a chance this could be alright. I guess I’ll find out.

Oh, and it’s based on a true story, specifically how Kumail and his real-world wife Emily V. Gordon met. Should be interesting. And… revealing what the ending is. Oh well, the details are now more important. Here’s to hoping for some good writing.

Let’s take a look at the cast. Starring, we have Kumail Nanjiani, known for FIST FIGHT (2017), video game MASS EFFECT ANDROMEDA (2017), TV show SILICON VALLEY, and the upcoming animated THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE (2017). In support, we have Zoe Kazan (IT’S COMPLICATED [2009], REVOLUTIONARY ROAD [2008], and FRACTURE [2007]), Holly Hunter (SONG TO SONG [2017], BATMAN V SUPERMAN [2016], TV show SAVING GRACE, and Pixar’s upcoming THE INCREDIBLES 2 [2018]), and Ray Romano (ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE [2016], and TV shows MEN OF A CERTAIN AGE and EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND).

Now for the crew. Directing is Michael Showalter, known for HELLO, MY NAME IS DORIS (2016). Co-writing, we have Nanjiani and his real world wife Emily V. Gordon, known for TV shows with his name in them. Composing the score is Michael Andrews, known for NEIGHBORS 2: SORORITY ROW (2016), DADDY’S HOME (2015), THE HEAT (2013), and the upcoming DADDY’S HOME 2 (2017). Finally, the cinematographer is Brian Burgoyne, known for MY NAME IS DORIS and SEX ED (2014).

Overall, this could potentially be cute, but that trailer is not a good hand-shake, so to speak. But I’ll give it a fair shot.

This is my honest opinion of: THE BIG SICK

(SUMMARY)

Based on true events. Kumail (himself) is a stand-up comedian and meets a pretty young woman named Emily (Zoe Kazan). Though the relationship isn’t intended to get very serious at first, it eventually evolves. Unfortunately for Kumail, his family is strictly Muslim, and his mother Sharmeen (Zenobia Shroff) keeps trying to arrange marriages for him, despite his lack of interest that he knows he can’t voice. But at the height of their happiness together, Emily finds out that Kumail hasn’t told his family about her, and that he’s been lying about that they want to meet her and promptly break up. Not long after, Kumail gets a phone call that Emily has been hospitalized for a spreading infection that the doctors put her under a medically induced coma to treat. Through this experience, Kumail meets Emily’s parents Terry (Ray Romano) and Beth (Holly Hunter) as they bond through this trying time.

(REVIEW)

So I have this thing that I do. Big shock, I bring a small notepad to write down notes about the movies I see. Be it about a funny or good line worth remembering, or a something that confuses or infuriates me, it all goes in my little notepad. Makes sense, right? Well, this movie is so good that I couldn’t write down more than two notes. I think from the very first scene, I was completely hooked. I won’t say that it was beyond hilarious, or anything, but there was so much charm, likability, and heart to the film that I was enjoying it from the very beginning to the very end.

From the get-go, the relationship is played off like one of those, “I’m not interested in dating” kind of relationships. In a lesser movie, we’d know that they’d hook up at the end, but the movie speeds that cliché along and they do fall for each other early on, striking up a very likable romance.

Of course, the boiling conflict starts to bubble up. Kumail’s family, specifically his mother, keeps trying to hook him up with one Pakistani woman after another. A practice that he isn’t interested in, but doesn’t speak his mind because that would mean his family would disown him. Strong religious practices, you see. So he keeps the fact that his parents wouldn’t like Emily a secret from her, and he keeps the fact that he’s dating a white girl a secret from his family. He also, for whatever reason, keeps the head shots of all the women his mother makes him see in a little cigar box or whatever that was. All that drama comes to a head when Emily finds those pictures and realizes that Kumail has been lying about eventually meeting his parents, resulting in a fight, both being kind of cruel to each other, and eventually moving on for awhile.

Within this period of time, there is a really nice blend of comedy and drama. A true rom-com in every way. At it’s core, it’s a comedy. If it’s about a stand-up comedian, then it better be, right? But it’s not afraid to throw in some drama, either. The way Kumail and Emily bark and yell at each other during their fight gets pretty heavy and does feel like a legit shame that they couldn’t talk it through, despite understandable reasons. But it’s nice to know that despite that, Kumail does still have some love left for her when he gets that call from her friend that she’s in the hospital. In fact, when her condition worsens and the doctor needs written consent from her “husband” to move forward to perform surgery on her. But all in a span of probably just a minute, two at most, he’s conflicted because legally, what he did was probably no good. In fact, would a doctor really just look at any male in that room and assume he was the husband. I’m a little iffy on the details on this one. Anyway, on the other hand, she’s possibly dying and he made a choice that would obviously save her life in the end. Or maybe you could interpret the situation like the doctor didn’t give a shit and just wanted to help an ailing woman and would accept the consequences later. If this detail in Nanjiani’s life is true, then hallelujah, but I guess now we know why that hospital was number whatever-teen. Poor medical practices, but high morality, if that’s even the case. And maybe a wiser audience member wouldn’t take the events presented at face value, as I’m assuming that Nanjiani hasn’t been to medical school to accurately depict what exactly happened and just summed up what happened from his memory. Either way, the man knew how to write a tense scene.

Now we get into the meat of the story, when Kumail meets Emily’s parents Terry and Beth. Neither think much of Kumail at first, especially Beth, who almost downright hates him. Terry’s more lenient and in their next scene together, invites him to sit in the hospital cafeteria with them, eventually leading to Terry and Beth joining him for his comedy show. Kumail eventually gets heckled by a patron, a seriously racist ISIS remark against Kumail, and… I swear, I’m taking this scene to the grave with me as a movie moment for the ages, a five-foot nothing Holly Hunter lunging at a six foot jock. That was probably the hardest I’d ever laughed during this movie. They go home, have a few drinks, and eventually bond and everyone gets close. Here’s where I have another question mark, however.  The transition, particularly with Beth, from mistrusting him to liking him seemed incredibly fast without the best reasons why. Literally, she didn’t want to go to his comedy club, one racist remark later, and then they’re practically friends that very night, sharing teen photos and all. I don’t think the motivation for fondness was properly explained. Not that the scenes weren’t cute and sweet, but everything felt sped up.

Truth be told, I wanted to say that my first real complaint about the movie was basically the premise: being in a loving relationship and lying throughout. Explosive break-ups are inevitable. But the more I think about it, as much as I dislike relationships built on a foundation of secrets and lies, this does line up with what this whole movie is supposed to be about: making mistakes, owning up to it, and making the attempt to do better and be better for it and the movie does back all that up, creating a surprisingly raw and thought-provoking narrative. Okay, sure, it’s not exactly ground-breaking in its story, but it is refreshingly well-written in a genre that either has to rely more on drama to elevate itself, or resort to bare-bone overly-raunchy comedy that usually backfires, making it a bad movie. This film is funny, charming, real, doesn’t shy away from drama, and far exceeded my expectations. If you get a chance to see this flick, I highly recommend it.

My honest rating for THE BIG SICK: a strong 4/5

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Quick Reviews: CARS 3 / ALL EYEZ ON ME / ROUGH NIGHT / 47 METERS DOWN / MAUDIE

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Starring: Owen Wilson (MASTERMINDS [2016], MIDNIGHT IN PARIS [2011], MARLEY & ME [2008], and the upcoming SHANGHAI DAWN, due out… who knows when), Bonnie Hunt (ZOOTOPIA [2016], THE GREEN MILE [1999], JUMANJI [1995], and the upcoming TOY STORY 4 [2019]), and Larry the Cable Guy (A MADEA CHRISTMAS [2013], WITLESS PROTECTION [2008], and DELTA FARCE [2007]). In support: Nathan Fillion (PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS [2013], WONDER WOMAN [2009], TV show CASTLE, and the upcoming video game DESTINY 2 [2017]), Chris Cooper (LIVE BY NIGHT [2016], THE MUPPETS [2011], and THE BOURNE IDENTITY [2002]), Armie Hammer (FREE FIRE [2017], THE BIRTH OF A NATION [2016], and THE LONE RANGER [2013]), Kerry Washington (DJANGO UNCHAINED [2012], LAKEVIEW TERRACE [2008], and TV show SCANDAL), and Lea DeLaria (TV shows ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK and ONE LIFE TO LIVE)

Directing: Brian Fee, making his directorial debut. Writing: Kiel Murray (CARS [2006]), Bob Peterson (FINDING NEMO [2003]), and Mike Rich (SECRETARIAT [2010], RADIO [2003], and THE ROOKIE [2002]). Composing: Randy Newman (MONSTERS UNIVERSITY [2013], SEABISCUIT [2003], JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH [1996], and the upcoming TOY STORY 4 [2019]).

(SUMMARY)

Lightning McQueen (Wilson) is still as popular as ever and still considered a champion after all these years. But then a harsh reality settles in when a rookie racer named Jackson Storm (Hammer) starts surpassing him in speed and starts winning the races. Sadly, he’s also a jerk to Lightning and eventually, Lightning’s inability to keep up causes him to spin out of control and he experiences a horrible crash. Though out of the game for a few months, Lightning is determined to decide for himself when he quits, not the voiced of those who think he should. After signing on to a new sponsor, headed by Sterling (Fillion), promising to train him to the point of being just as fast as Storm, with the help of the young and eager trainer Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo), whose training methods frustrate Lightning as a big race approaches that will determine his staying power in the sport of racing.

(REVIEW)

It’s surprisingly better than I thought, but… yeah, it’s still just okay. I admit that there is a certain level of poetry to see a career and proud racer learning to accept his age and growing increasingly aware that his time may be coming to an end, but wanting to end on his own terms, not because others are telling him too. It can be surprisingly brutal, so when McQueen is determined to prove his worth, it is pretty easy to get sucked in to his story. Sadly though, the movie is mired in predictability and a ton of lame and unfunny jokes. The moment a certain plot point crops up, you know exactly where the story is going to go. Even though it’s handled well, the rest of the movie getting to that point simply feels like filler. By no means bad, it’s still not consistently written well like Pixar’s previous work. While being the most memorable and poignant of the Cars films, it’s still not up there with Pixar’s greats.

My honest rating for CARS 3: 3/5

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AllEyez

Starring: Demetrius Shipp Jr. In support, we have Kat Graham (ADDICTED [2014], DANCE FU [2011], and TV show THE VAMPIRE DIARIES), Lauren Cohan (THE BOY [2016], and TV shows THE WALKING DEAD and CHUCK), and Danai Gurira (TV show THE WALKING DEAD and upcoming films BLACK PANTHER [2018] and AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR [2018]).

Directing: Benny Boom (S.W.A.T.: FIREFIGHT [2011]). Writing: Jeremy Haft (STREET KINGS 2: MOTOR CITY [2011] and GRIZZLY MOUNTAIN [1997]), Eddie Gonzalez (STREET KINGS 2: MOTOR CITY), and Steven Bagatourian. Composing: John Paesano (ALMOST CHRISTMAS [2016], video game MASS EFFECT ANDROMEDA [2017], animated film SUPERMAN/ BATMAN: APOCALYPSE [2010], and upcoming films MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE [2018] and PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING [2018]. Cinematographer: Peter Menzies Jr. (GODS OF EGYPT [2016], THE INCREDIBLE HULK [2008], LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER [2001], and the upcoming animated film PETER RABBIT [2018]).

(SUMMARY)

Tupac Shakur (Shipp Jr.) started off as a normal kid growing up with his lawyer mother Afeni (Gurira) and his younger sister. But when the kids are forced to live in California, Tupac quit school to earn money to take care of his sister. He started rapping and didn’t take long before he was signed on to his first studio. In just a couple years, he became one of the most controversial and popular rappers in the 90’s.

(REVIEW)

I wish I could say this movie got me into the life of one of the most popular rap artists of all time, but… it’s a movie I feel like I’ve seen a dozen times over, particularly in STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON (2015), or in better films like MOONLIGHT (2016). While that acting is good, particularly Graham as a young Jada Pinkett Smith is the spitting image of the younger version of the real-world woman, and Shipp Jr. does bring a ton of energy to the role he’s been given, it just doesn’t do anything particularly new. Give COMPTON a little credit, you can argue that it came out around the time when police brutality was getting a ton more media attention in recent years, and could be interpreted as a call-to-arms against that kind of bullshit. This movie is just a standard biopic. Plus, I’m going to be on Jada Pinkett Smith’s side and say that it’s tasteless for the film-makers to throw in a poem that she never knew existed until years after Tupac’s death all in the name of a forced, directionless, and unimpactful romance subplot. It’s not the worst, I suppose, but I couldn’t get into it.

My honest rating for ALL EYEZ ON ME: a weak 3/5

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Starring: Scarlett Johansson (GHOST IN THE SHELL [2017], THE JUNGLE BOOK [2016], HER [2013], and the upcoming AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR [2018]), Jillian Bell (FIST FIGHT [2017], OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY [2016], and 22 JUMP STREET [2014]), Zoë Kravitz (ALLEGIANT [2016], MAD MAX: FURY ROAD [2015], X-MEN: FIRST CLASS [2011], and the upcoming FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM 2 [2018]), Ilana Glazer (THE NIGHT BEFORE [2015] and TV show BROAD CITY), and Kate McKinnon (GHOSTBUSTERS [2016], TV shows SNL and THE VENTURE BROS, and upcoming animated film FERDINAND [2017] and animated TV series THE MAGIC SCHOOL BUS RIDES AGAIN). In support: Demi Moore (WILD OATS [2016], CHARLIE’S ANGELS: FULL THROTTLE [2003], and G.I. JANE [1997]), Ty Burrell (FINDING DORY [2016], MUPPETS MOST WANTED [2014], and TV show MODERN FAMILY), Colton Haynes (SAN ANDREAS [2015], and TV shows ARROW and THE GATES), and Paul W. Downs (TV show BROAD CITY), who also co-wrote the script.

Directing and co-writing: Lucia Aniello. Composer: Dominic Lewis, known for FIST FIGHT, MONEY MONSTER (2016), and THE DUFF (2015). Cinematographer: Sean Porter, known for 20TH CENTURY WOMEN (2016) and GREEN ROOM (2016).

(SUMMARY)

Jess (Scarlett Johannson) is a city counselor, and about to get married. Her best friend from college, Alice (Jillian Bell), has planned a fun weekend in Miami, Florida to celebrate, along with their other friends Blair (Zoë Kravitz), Frankie (Ilana Glazer), and Pippa (Kate McKinnon). After a wild night of drugs, drinking, and dancing, they return to their rented home and hire a stripper. Unfortunately, Alice accidentally kills the man and the ladies panic and try to figure out what to do next.

(REVIEW)

Yup, didn’t like it. Raunchy comedies and I rarely get along, and this is no real exception. Far too many jokes are sex or drug related and I just can’t laugh at this brand of shock humor when it’s been done countless times before with no real variation. Even if there is a joke done in a different way, that doesn’t automatically mean comedy. While I do admit that there are a couple legit surprises that I didn’t see coming, and some of the reaction shots can be humorous, making this arguably my favorite movie that McKinnon’s been in, none of this really prevents the movie from being bad. It’s by no means the worst – can’t be too mad at a movie that I knew wouldn’t be funny to me – but I don’t see myself seeing this movie again. Only see this if you do like raunchy meaningless comedy, but even then, I think there’s funnier and better comedies out there.

My honest rating for ROUGH NIGHT: a weak 3/5

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Starring: Mandy Moore (TANGLED [2010], A WALK TO REMEMBER [2002], and THE PRINCESS DIARIES 2: THE ROYAL ENGAGEMENT [2001]), and Claire Holt (TV show THE ORIGINALS, THE VAMPIRE DIARIES, and H20: JUST ADD WATER).

Directing and co-writing: Johannes Roberts (THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR [2016]) Co-writing: Ernest Riera (THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR). Composer: tomandandy (SINISTER 2 [2015]), RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION [2012], and THE HILLS HAVE EYES [2006]). Cinematographer: Mark Silk.

(SUMMARY)

Loving sisters Lisa (Moore) and Kate (Holt) are on vacation in Mexico, mostly because Lisa is getting over a bad break-up because she’s apparently too boring. In an effort to spice up her life and show her boyfriend up one, Kate drags Lisa in a cage dive to see sharks. However, not long after they get submerged and see three great white sharks, the cable to their cage snaps and the crane breaks off the boat and the three young women plummet to the ocean floor. With no communication to the surface, rapidly depleting oxygen, and bloody wounds attracting the sharks, it becomes a series of desperate gambles to stay alive.

(REVIEW)

I wanted to like this, I really did. But I do not. I honestly don’t know how this movie is feature-length. Leave the cage, get eaten by a shark. Stay in the cage, hang out, be safe, let search and rescue do its job. This movie shouldn’t be very long. But it’s one of those movies where you’d be justified in screaming at the screen, “Oh nah, girl, don’t do it!” “Bitch gonna get eaten!” This movie is so poorly written that I an curious if I could make a drinking game out of it: take a shot for every time Moore says, “Please be careful,” “I am so scared,” “No, please, don’t go.” Seriously, someone try this out for me when it comes out on Blu-Ray. There is great atmosphere, and some chilling visuals I give it that. But the story falls flat when it comes to characters that are annoying and an ending that feels like such a slap in the face of the viewers, I can’t recommend this movie to anyone. No, not the worst. I didn’t think I’d like it, but it’s not good.

My honest rating for 47 METERS DOWN: a weak 3/5

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Starring: Sally Hawkins (PADDINGTON [2014], BLUE JASMINE [2013], JANE EYRE [2011], and upcoming films PADDINGTON 2 [2017] and GODZILLA: KING OF MONSTERS [2019]) and Ethan Hawke (THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN [2016], BOYHOOD [2014], DEAD POETS SOCIETY [1989], and the upcoming VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS [2017]).

Directing: Aisling Walsh. Writer: Sherry White. Composer: Michael Timmins. Cinematographer: Guy Godfree

(SUMMARY)

Set during the 1930s in Marshaltown, Nova Scotia. Maud Dowley (Sally Hawkins) is an arthritic woman with a talent for simple paintings. Unable to take care of herself, she sets out to look for a job to provide for herself. As fate would have it, a local impoverished fish peddler Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawk) is looking for a woman to take care of his small house while he’s out on his rounds trying sell fish and wood. She takes the job and though their relationship is beyond rocky, the two eventually strike up a complex relationship, leading to an imperfect but loving marriage, all the while the local townsfolk flock to their home to buy her increasingly popular paintings.

(REVIEW)

It kills me to do a quick review on this movie, but I’m paralyzed on what to say about it other than… it’s one of the best romance films of the year. Both Hawkins and Hawke are phenomenal and flawlessly bring to life a relationship that is so unconventional, so complex and complicated, yet so tender, meaningful, and beautiful that I can’t help but gush. With gorgeous landscapes, cute, but memorable artwork, and unforgettable performances, this is one of those few reminders that a movie doesn’t need to have the biggest drama or greatest of stakes to be compelling, or to overly dramatize to make interesting. All it needs is to give you a raw and passionate look into the life of a woman who may not have changed the world, but definitely changed and warmed the hearts around her. And wiping away the tears in my eyes, I happily say that this brilliant films warmed mine.

My honest rating for MAUDIE: 5/5

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