Actual awards-giving is upon us…I don’t think I’m going to end up catching up.
Worst is first as usual. Movie count: 44 New stuff in red. Major spoilers in white
Southpaw – F this damn ripoff. Not only is it garbage but it rips off one of the all-time fan classics, Rocky III. Did they think no one would notice or is it just okay to not even try now? I don’t understand how Forest Whitaker was in this thing, nevermind Jake Gyllenhaal. Were they threatened? On top of the lack of originality it just wasn’t good. Rachel McAdams is a terrible actress. Most of the times I’ve seen her anyway. The only time I thought she was passable was in De Palma’s Passion. She was awful here. But I didn’t have time to hate her. There was so much stealing to hate, even in the first five minutes, that although I was glad that her character
Mick, Adrian, whatever, died early in the film, I couldn’t celebrate because the movie was clearly a piece of shit by then. Jake mumbled some shit sometimes until later in the film when Forest Whitaker starts mumbling on his behalf. And then there’s another kid/adult who makes no sense. This is another bogus trend in movies. I understand that some kids are more sophisticated than in generations passed but, no. All of her dialog was wrong. And hating her dad and making their situation worse also makes zero sense. I mean why am I bothering? What they didn’t steal from Rocky III, or IV, or V, or VI, was crap. And then what they did steal they redid badly. Everyone associated with this movie is in timeout indefinitely.
Kingsman – Ridiculously violent. And I mean in a ridiculous way. There were people’s heads blowing up into DayGlo mushroom clouds. It was like if you set the violence on a Bugs Bunny cartoon to 11. I mean if that’s your thing then you should like it. It was sometimes fun in a zany way but so unrealistic. Again I think they have to do that because the plot is actually probably what the bad guys actually are doing in the world. So if it looks slightly serious you might get into trouble. If you want to see it, go ahead. But I’m not telling you to.
Child 44 – (thoughts while watching) I’m having a really hard time buying Tom Hardy as a Russian. He’s just too black. And I don’t mean Ochi Chernye black, I mean African American black. lol I don’t know if it’s his mannerisms or what. But I bought Vincent Cassell right away and he’s played a French homie, so IDK. The “love” story melodrama. blerg. Get back to Chikatilo. lol Anna Karenina… Self water boarding lololol. The explanation and Vlad Malevich, oy!….. Anyway Vasili from “The Killing” kept reminding me of Peter Frampton. They really needed someone to keep track of the accents. Were they brothers all that time? Yeah this was convoluted and all over the place and tried to do way too much. There could have been a good movie here. Too bad they went bananas on us. And all the “Game of Thrones” refugees. lol btw, I don’t want to see Noomi’s Raface ever again. How many movies is she going to ruin? There are a million and one actresses out there who are better than her. Hire someone else!
Bridge of Spies – Sad isn’t it? I’m starting to worry about Steven Spielberg. He might have become that director that Quentin Tarantino wants to retire to avoid becoming. This movie was a complete waste of time. I know it’s real life BUT there is no good reason why Tom Hanks would go to Germany and risk to save that second person. And they don’t give you a reason. He’s just Tom Hanks apparently. Which since Tom Hanks doesn’t time travel I don’t know how Tom Hanks could have been in those situations back then. The reason I say that is because Tom Hanks wasn’t playing anyone but Tom Hanks here. He might as well have had a name tag that said “Tom Hanks –Hanx”. I mean it was stupid. Yeah real life can be stupid but apart from reminding us that Russians are always a better bet than Germans, I really don’t know why this was made. Ok. Say Oscar bait. Are the Academy that stupid? I should hope not. If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t bother or wait for video.
Ex Machina - I suppose that in order to think it’s the amazeballs movie it’s supposed to be, you’d have to fall for it, which I did not. Highlight for MASSIVE SPOILERS … I smelled Stepford Wives from the word jump. How could you not? Clearly the “maid” was a robot at first sight. This tester guy is much stupider than he’s supposed to be but then so is the evil Mastermind. And if you’ve seen Blade Runner I can’t imagine how you wouldn’t ask yourself right away if our tester wasn’t a robot, In fact how is this whole movie not a complete rip off of Blade Runner? I mean they were going to kill her by reformatting which would destroy her memories. Come on. I mean I guess If you never watched a Sci-Fi movie from more than 20 years ago. Even if you haven’t you should realize the joke is on him the minute she starts hitting on him. You can’t make your characters supposed geniuses and then dumb as dirt. In order to do that you have to assume your audience is dumber than that. Some of us aren’t. It was made for fanboys to beat off to. I mean the effects were nice but if you’ve been around the block even once none of this should have been a surprise to you or anything new. And then what else is there? Nice scenery? The end was kinda hilarious. Overrated fo’ sho.
Avengers: Age of Ultron – I’m sorry but I didn’t like this thing. Tell me, why the hell does everything have to break? We can’t thrash the crapervescent Man of Steel and not give this one the once over. I mean, yes, the Hulk is supposed to smash things but most of the breaking buildings and breaking glass had nothing to do with him. Is it that some jackass loves using the ‘breaking shit’ software and somehow he gets hired on all these movies? Anyway there were some cool things, namely Ultron and Vision. The whole movie should have been those guys having tea. Then of course Cap is beautiful but really he was just running around with the rest of them, running and jumping and throwing and who gives a shit? I have no idea what Scarlett’s character is supposed to be. Does she have any powers other than being a spy? I don’t read the comics but I love superhero movies. I have no idea what’s going on with her. And what was with Hawkeye’s barefoot and pregnant wife and 85 children? Is that a thing? So I think the plot goes like this: Tony Stark decided to improve upon Jarvis and made Ultron which immediately turned on everyone to have peace in our time which means getting rid of people, which it does. So then they have to fight him and the only one who can beat him is new and improved Jarvis. So the Avengers are basically useless fighting things that smash and punch robots. Come to think of it, that’s what they did in the last movie too. I’ve said it before. I don’t like Joss Whedon’s style. Never did. Based on the type of projects he does I should be a fan but there’s something missing, like if it was sugar free, gluten free, no salt added. It’s got no moxie. No soul. This one’s no different. I really didn’t understand the need for all the love junk. Especially the romance between Black Widow and Hulk. And could Mark Ruffalo stop looking confused? This is a cast full of great actors and then that’s all you get. Robert Downey, Jr., especially is so much more than the wisecracking he’s relegated to here. Really the only saving grace are Bettany and Spader. Oh, and I hated Elizabeth Olsen. So there’s that.
Danny Collins – It just didn’t make a lot of sense. It seemed like a really young person who doesn’t know how life works wrote it. I’m going to briefly explain with spoilers what made it stupid. No one in their right mind would expect a rock star to somehow raise the product of groupie sex. But in this movie the son acts like his dad walked out on him or something. He never met him before. He can have issues but these were the issues of a kid whose mom was in a relationship with the father who walked out on them. One more time. This was groupie sex. Groupie spawn has a special needs kid. She just seemed like a overacting kid not an over-active kid. It’s a shame that Al Pacino and Bobby Cannavale weren’t in a better movie together. Luckily I saw it from the redbox.
Cinderella – We didn’t need another. Lovely costumes tho. Mirror Mirror was much better.
^^^^^^^^line of dumb^^^^^^^^
Hot Pursuit – Not really that bad. Not that good either. This suffered from Inthecommercialitis. That’s the disease where they put all the funny parts in the commercial. I like Sofia Vergaga. I don’t know what she’s saying but she seems like a real person, and funny to boot. Witherspoon, eh. She’s alright. It started off as a pretty funny comedy then they decided to get serious for some reason. I never understand why that happens. So it becomes boring and you stop paying attention. Then it just ended.
Mad Max: Fury Road – It’s like an action ballet. But I gotta admit sometimes at the ballet I have no idea what’s going on. Did anyone even say anything for the first half hour? I’ll need to watch this again because to be honest I’ve never understood the Mad Max movies. Okay I watched it a second time. I know what happened but I don’t “get it”. But since I never got the old ones either, I guess it’s just not my thing. Well made though. So I guess I’m saying it’s not them, it’s me. btw, I watched this at home on a small TV and the action sequences were still obviously great. What I do appreciate about it, I would still appreciate with the sound off. Great Silent Movie.
Love & Mercy – Ok you know. The performances were good but I just don’t feel like I got enough of Brian Wilson’s story. Of course they couldn’t do all of it, but by splitting it with a time jump in between it’s not a through story. I would have just gone with Dano in old makeup later on. There’s nothing wrong with Cusack’s performance. But they weren’t two people. He was the same guy even if he changed drastically. The music is the key here and afterwards you just wind up stuck in a youtube loop of Beach Boys songs.
Our Brand is Crisis – You know I liked it. I appreciated what they were doing. This movie has a purpose. And if it influenced the people it should influence we’d all be better for it. However, I don’t really think anyone gives a shit anymore. It’s sort of too late to get these mess makers to change course, I think. I’d love to be wrong. Sandra was fine. Billy Bob was fine. Anthony Mackie was great when he was there. It’s political and it’s about the ramifications of a couple of people trying to outdo each other in their jobs. That’s where the world goes wrong. Not from actual leaders. Normal folks behind the scenes pulling all the wrong strings to make us miserable. It’s good. But it’s not “entertaining”. I don’t think movies like that are what people want to see right now.
Ant-Man in 3D - I liked it just fine. I like the cast. The dialog was actually pretty bad in spots but the last third of the film made up for it. I really enjoyed the subatomic sequence. I liked the goofiness of Peña, T.I. and that other guy. There was something very 80s about that and the whole film really. Loved the post post credits scene. A solid standalone superhero movie.
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation – I don’t know what happened in this movie but I don’t think it matters. It was entertaining. There was some non-acting from Renner. Alec Baldwin looked run over. Otherwise it was fine. I seriously can’t remember the plot, 4 days later. Something about USBs that Tom Cruise called a “disc” at one point. Definitely worth the time and effort tho.
Terminator Genisys – (spoilerish) I liked it. And I love the people who say it made no sense. I’m not saying it made perfect sense but it’s a movie, not science. Whether we’re watching “LOST” or “Planet of the Apes” or anything involving time travel people are always saying what can and can’t happen. This pisses me off. Because it’s a movie, you can do anything. No one knows how time travel would work. They have theories, but it’s not proven. Until someone time travels, it won’t be. So let movie makers be creative. Okay, I’ve read smart people’s reviews of this and how it sucks because they call it a reboot and then don’t understand how the characters in the film know what hasn’t happened yet. Okay. Firstly, it’s not a reboot. It’s a sequel. (I felt the same way about Tim Burton’s POTA but that’s a story for another time.) Anyway, the point is everything that happened in T1 and T2 happened. Now because of that, the machines need to readjust what they did in the past, meaning, they have to go back earlier in time to kill Sara Connor. Because the first attempt didn’t work. So that makes an alternate reality that rewrites history. When the Terminator goes back and rescues 9 year old Sara Connor he not only knows it because he was given the information, he lived it once already. And don’t give me ‘robots don’t live’ crap. You know what I mean. This is why he knows that they must mate for everything to go appropriately but better. But then if they truly correct things maybe they don’t have to. So it’s again a question of can you change the past to change the future? I have no problem with this because I’m not stifled by current scientific thought. Anything’s possible, imo. That’s what movies, especially SciFi and Fantasy are for. So anyway, I liked it. I might have preferred if they could have gotten Robert Patrick to reprise his role, but he’d have to look exactly the same as he did all those years ago, the same way Hugh Jackman can’t age if he’s to play Wolverine. Which is why, no more Wolverine after one more. I do like the corrections they made to the past and how it keeps evolving. I thought before it happened that there needed to be a new kind of Terminator. I think Jason Clarke was a good choice for John. The actor playing Kyle is okay I guess. Emilia was better than she’s been on GoT lately. She keeps acting like she’s blind on that show, not directly looking at people, etc. So I was with everything until the post credits scene. They shouldn’t have done that. One other thing I didn’t like there was a point where everything started smashing and I thought we were going to get into a MoS/Avengers type smashfest but luckily it ended quickly. I liked it but maybe it’s only for people like me who really want to be able to change the past to save the future.
Spectre – So as far as Bond movies go this is probably the least Bond-like that I’ve seen and I think I’ve seen them all. Daniel Craig has always been very good as Bond and he is here but this time for some reason I kept wondering what it would be like if someone else were Bond. Having said that this would be a perfect movie to end his run or even end Bond altogether. It had a finality to it. Christoph Waltz as the villain was good but I‘m starting to think he just IS a villain. Like he’s not even acting anymore. I mean he’s always personable but if he’s like that and still does super bad things, maybe he does super bad things in real life. lol Anyway, I’m confused about something revealed about his character. Is he a descendant of Blofeld or is he actualfax Blofeld in some kind of time travelling reboot? The girl was okay. I guess. They don’t do with Bond girls what they used to do with Bond girls and I think that’s what’s made Craig’s Bond movies just like Bourne movies or Cruise’s Mission Impossibles. Whatever happened to skanky dastardly bimbos? They were the best. And what the hell happened to Monica Bellucci? I was seriously waiting for her to come back the whole time. It sounds like I’m complaining a lot and I am but I did like it when I saw it (earlier today). It’s timely which is maybe another reason that makes it un-Bond. But what made it different is also what I appreciated about it. Take it out of the series and it’s still a movie I’d like. I did like the opening sequence and song better than Skyfall as well.
The Revenant – Look. If there was an Oscar for location shooting then this would win it hands down. Tom Hardy and Leonardo DiCaprio did good work acting but I didn’t really give a shit what happened to these people. And honestly, I know he was the villain but Fitzgerald’s motives made all kinds of sense. You know a bunch of Hare Krishna’s probably wouldn’t take that kind of work. You’d expect mountain men and that’s how he acted. So the kind of indignation I was supposed to feel wasn’t felt. And then more beautiful vistas. Yeah okay. But was it worth putting your cast through all that shit? I don’t think so. There’s something so pompous about the whole thing. It looked nice but where was the movie? Oh and it totally looked like the bear raped him. Twice.
Everest in IMAX 3D – First off, I have to learn that me and IMAX just don’t mix. Every time I go I have to adjust to it and then my moviegoing experience suffers. So take that into account when you read this. It was slightly interesting just based on the fact that you know they’re going to get messed up by the mountain. I didn’t really get too much connection to the characters. When horrible things started happening, or good things for that matter, I only really felt for the Japanese lady. And see, here’s a problem. I never really registered their character names. So when it all went to hell and they were in the darkness of the storm and they were yelling at each other all bundled up in their winter gear I had no idea who was yelling at who. If they were going “Jake!”, “Josh!”, “Jason!” then I’d know. But because I hadn’t memorized their character names, when they were up there and it was hard to see any distinguishable characteristics I got stuck. Meaning
I didn’t realize who was dead, who was frozen and who fell. Apart from that you can guess what it was like. There wasn’t really much that you wouldn’t expect. The only one who did any praiseworthy acting was Brolin. Otherwise, it was good in a disaster movie way, which actually I have to admit, I couldn’t help thinking of The Day After Tomorrow. Should I admit to liking that better, even if it was cheesier? I think this is made for people who want to see special effects for special effects’ sake. I don’t know what it would have been like without the IMAX, but I think this has finally cured me of the inflated price.
Carol – It was good. Nothing amazing. Just regular. Maybe my expectations were too high.
Mississippi Grind – (I‘m putting it here for now. I’ve never seen California Split, which I’ve seen mentioned, in regards to it. When I do my opinion about this film might change.) It was mostly boring but the performances were good. I enjoyed Ryan Reynolds for the first time ever. Mendelsohn is someone I used to strongly dislike as well but “Bloodline” cured that. He’s great here in a similar role. The movie really gets festive toward the end and I ended up liking it quite a bit.
Irrational Man – I liked it quite a bit. I saw it a while ago now. I do wish he would stop using Emma Stone. She doesn’t ruin it but she brings these films lower than they should be. I didn’t know if Joaquin would work out but he did. I’ll be rewatching it.
Secret In Their Eyes – So, um, this movie is supposed to be not-Oscary and it isn’t. Except Julia Roberts is there. And she puts in a really good performance. And I think she’s still Julia Roberts and that counts for something. The plots twists itself around a bit and it does flashbacks which for some people can be confusing to begin with so I can see a situation where some people might be put off because they can’t follow it. You basically have to go by when Dean Norris has or doesn’t have hair and/or a limp to stay oriented. But I personally liked the film. It’s not my favorite but it’s in what is becoming my favorite genre. That is revenge. You can tell it’s supposed to be foreign because of the way it ends. And I wouldn’t be surprised if American audiences wouldn’t have liked it better if there was one lase moment where Kidman, Roberts, and Ejiofor all winked at nodded at each other. There are a lot of people who don’t want to assume an ending.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – They really should have talked about Kevin. Not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Very entertaining. But a ton of bad acting. And don’t ask me why I didn’t expect all the extreme close-ups.This is JJ Abrams. I still wish I could see what Lucas intended for 7, 8, &9. I believe it was meant to be the Skywalker saga. This is mostly going in a different direction but not quite. Another issue is that the new characters were just being set up and the old characters were just saying Hi so this really isn’t much of a standalone movie. It is derivative of ANH but I think that kept most people from enacting a prequels type shitstorm so that worked. Now that the universe is open I’ll be glad to see what better directors will do in the galaxy. I just wish it wasn’t part of the numbered movies. Competely new things in the Star Wars universe? I’ve always been ready for that. I did like Kylo Ren quite a bit. Not too jazzed about Miss British Fancypants of Downton Abby. But whatever.
Spotlight – These people aren’t heroes but they tried to make it a hero story. That doesn’t work. If the good people at The Boston Globe or any newspaper had carried the story earlier a lot of kids might have avoided getting molested. So trying to make it some great heroic endeavor when reporters do the job they should have done in the first place it makes it weird. Secondly “the Church” should have been scarier. Basically the guy playing Cardinal Law gave Liev Schreiber a copy of the catechism. That was the whole representation of intimidation by the Church. So what was anyone afraid of? They didn’t show the power it has over people. They didn’t show why they didn’t do any investigating after the Porter case in the Fall River archdiocese which they referred to a few times. That was also weird. Why keep proving how lax your heroes were? They tried to make it more interesting than people half-assedly covering a major story but it was just really bland. The actors did their jobs. Some of them. Adams decided to forego the accent although she was supposed to be a local. Everyone else was fine. It was a decent movie but it will be a shame if it wins BP in a year with so many better films.
Ted 2 – Now I really wasn’t expecting to enjoy this. I don’t know if I heard it wasn’t that great or if it was just because that Western was so damn awful, but this was a fine sequel. I didn’t think the quality dropped significantly or that it was just a redo of the first. The first was really great and inspired and thunderbuddies or not I don’t think you can catch lightning in a bottle but it was really enjoyable and funny and I’m glad I saw it in the theater. I just wish Mark Wahlberg would stop spoiling his own movies on talk shows before the movies come out. He does it every time, I swear. Two of the big cameos he did that to. Told the whole plot of the more important one. Even reusing the main villain totally worked. The other thing is MacFarlane really makes Boston look nice. Other people make movies in Boston, but he treats the skyline like most directors treat Manhattan and maybe Boston actually does deserve it.
Mortdecai – I really enjoyed Mortdecai. It’s sort of preposterous but I really enjoyed seeing these actors this way. I think there’s an anti-Depp movement going on which he doesn’t deserve He’s still one of our finest actors. Here he’s full tilt British art dealer type person. He gets caught up in an international adventure because of a fakery. And then there’s the investigator who has a thing for his wife, Gwyneth. That dude is Ewan McGregor at his most bland, which he does well. His first words are his own name. I’ll let you figure that out when you see it. From that initial moment you know this movie is not for serious people. It’s not like Inspector Clouseau in my opinion because I never liked The Pink Panther movies. I liked 80s slapstick and this is as close as you’re going to get nowadays when the world seems to have completely lost its sense of humor. It’s got some Goldblum in it too. I highly recommend it but wouldn’t be surprised if most people come up gagging. It’s an acquired taste, I’m sure.
CHAPPiE – I really liked it. It’s not really about a robot. It’s about how we treat each other, or better yet, how children are treated and how that turns them into who they are. I’m sure it steals from other films that I never watched like Robocop but here it’s more of a story about humans and how much they suck, which is why I liked it so much. I mean it seems very foreign. It has the same tone as District 9 obviously. So their gangstas are a little more Mad Max than ours. So to some it might seem hokey but I liked it in a dystopian Last Night on Earth almost situation. Yeah. Basically, I really liked it. Sue me.
Inside Out in 3D– It could be the one. It might the Animated movie that could. It’s that smart. It’s hopeful. It’s got a great message if people really get it. I hope it gets people to stop believing in medication, but that’s just my thing. Anyway, it’s fairly complicated. My Old Ma asked “How are kids supposed to get that?” I don’t know that they do, but I don’t know that they don’t either. It plays strictly as a kids movie but it also has massive themes. I’m wondering if the wee children won’t be frightened when one of the character’s arms starts to disappear. But that sequence was my favorite part of the film. See this character sacrifices himself for the well-being of the child and because of it, it explains what actually happens to those “characters” in real life. This movie has layers on top of layers, people. It’s truly brilliant. The only reason it’s not one of my all-time favorites is that I still don’t enjoy Pixar animation. It’s fine for made up things. But for animated movies I still want humans to be hand-drawn or something realistic looking. When I start seeing bubble people walking around maybe I’ll get over it. p.s. The Lava thing in the beginning was actually better than the rest of the movie, which is saying something. I wish the adults in front of me weren’t talking through it.
Beasts of No Nation – I dunno. Somehow it reminded me of The Mission, which I don’t completely remember, so now I’ll have to rewatch The Mission. Anyway, the world stinks. It really does. These people are caught right in the worst of it and they’re trying to survive. And when you’re at that level of survival, it’s kill or be killed. This comes to us in a way that is different. Yes it comes from the point of view of the child soldier but it also shows the thought process. You also see that it’s a screwed up perspective that people like the Commandant are coming from. It’s almost like making it to the next level of a game. But then you just get to levels exactly like the first one and you realize it was all for naught which again, is what life’s all about. The kid who played Agu kept reminding me of Ron Weasley. But my favorite was Strika. Even still I hope Attah and Elba get noticed for their work. I, of course, saw it on Netflix and I wonder what it would be like on the big screen. I assume it would be Apocalypse Now-ish. I liked the way it ended too. Being born again would be the best case scenario for someone in that situation.
Mr. Holmes – I was never really a fan of Sherlock Holmes. This story finds him in his later years trying to unravel a mystery of his own because memory problems are plaguing him. He enlists a young boy to help him with his bees, not beads, and they form a friendship that spurs the elder to remember the things he’d forgotten. He also learns some valuable lessons and how to change even at this late stage. It’s a fine performance from the uber-talented Sir Ian McKellen. I would not be surprised if he takes home the Oscar based on the combination of this and his amazing career. Milo Parker, the boy, and Laura Linney who plays his mom, also do good work here. The movie is lovely to look at as well. A fine film by Bill Condon. Oh and someone could have told me my man Hiroyuki Sanada was in it.
Creed – It’s not a Rocky movie but it’s close enough. I wasn’t as moved as I would have been for a Rocky film, but this is by different filmmakers. Stallone does stellar work as Rocky as always. I enjoyed the timeliness of the film. The CSX train and the kids on dirt bikes and ATVs were a horrible symptom I thought was just in the ghetto that I live in. I did wonder what happened to the actress who played Apollo’s wife in the old movies. The way the movie was done with so much ESPN and HBO stuff made me feel like I was watching TV a bit. I know people are going bananas over the one take of the first official fight but as a De Palma fan I wasn’t so impressed. It was fine. I actually prefer seeing the fight the way it was in the old days, where you’re not up close so you can actually see what happens, not just the hits. So that’s a style choice I suppose. I guess in this case I think the overall story and the acting are what puts it up high. But I must admit my mind automatically started comparing it to Warrior, which I thought was a much better movie. This was really good too. But if I’m comparing apples to apples, it’s not quite where I need it to be to say great. One thing I did not like was the chemotherapy sales pitch. We all know how treatment benefitted Walter White and his family. Let people go out the way they want to go out. Being a revenue source for Big Pharma doesn’t qualify as fighting the fight in my opinion.
Joy – This movie was really rocking up until the very end and then I just got confused. Not plotwise, but about why were were jumping forward in time while she was still walking down the street? There was no need for that. If that ending had been plain this movie would have been a lot higher on my list. Jennifer Lawrence is one of the all-time great human beings. I really liked Viriginia Madsen in this. Do you know how many times I watched Fire with Fire? Me niether but it’s a freakin’ lot. I enjoyed Dianne Ladd as well. DeNiro is getting to DeNiro-y. He needs to play an actual character soon. I think he is. Because we’re just about hitting tilt on tolerating his self-reverence. Everyone else was fine. I assume it was all true. Being surrounded by a bunch of rat bastards like she was seems pretty true to life.
The Hateful Eight (Panavision Super 70 Roadshow) – Well, they can’t all be winners. Not that it’s not mostly great it is. It’s just not top tier Tarantino in my opinion. I’m just going to go ahead and do spoilers…First thing before I forget, it was missing songs. There was definitely one, maybe two. I dunno. But I’m guessing because of the Morricone score they kept that aspect very un-Tarantino like. Secondly, in the roadshow there was an intermission. The movie was going along swimmingly to this point. However, right after Kurt Russell’s character is gone and not to be seen again. He was extremely likeable in the role, as always, and this was a big old fat bummer. At that point things start going south for anyone you might have still been rooting for and then the inevitable bloodbath. I don’t have a problem with these but there seemed like there was something missing so this almost came too soon. I know. Three hours and I’m missing stuff. Thirdly, I still can’t stand Tim Roth. When I complained to my old Ma she said “It’s his face”. And I said “ Well he was alright in Planet of the Apes.” To which she replied “because you couldn’t see his face” Maybe so but he was doing an impression of Christoph Waltz here and it’s like ‘Dude, don’t remind me of what I’m missing.’ Otherwise the movie was good. I was hoping that it was going to turn out that this cabin they were in would be a weigh station to hell or something like that. The trailers gave me a A Pure Formality vibe and then with SLJ saying prominently in the trailer and I think it’s his first line in the movie “Got room for one more?” Now this immediately made me recall the great Twilight Zone episode when the woman says “Room for one more, honey” well if you know the episode she’s guiding the woman to her death. So I thought I had it figured out. Then I didn’t and it was just a regular movie, but then maybe I wasn’t so wrong. We’ll probably find out for sure later on. I’d also like to know why the Lincoln letter glowed gold like the contents of the case in Pulp Fiction. Anyway, the performances were mostly great. Besides Roth I can do without seeing Zoe Bell again. She seems like a sweet person but she’s not an actress. Otherwise, Madsen had next to nothing to do. Dern was Dern which is always awesome. Apart from all that a decent plot, good and stylish I just felt like it didn’t have the usual zip and zing of a Tarantino picture. Before the intermission, yeah. After, not so much. If there was something missing and it was put back in, that would be a horse of a different color. But since I stayed spoiler free through the whole saga of the stolen script I don’t know. I’m just imagining. On to number 9.
Miles Ahead – I really enjoyed it. It was definitely different. To me, it seemed that Cheadle was directing it like a jazz piece. I’m not a huge fan of jazz music but this film did the same thing it does. It’s going along and then suddenly changes direction. It’s not an accident or lack of focus. It’s meant to be that way. I really hope people understand that and don’t just think it was “all over the place”. He cast Ewan McGregor as his partner in crime/foil and they make a great team. I’d really like to see them work together again. Again, I like that they’re honest about the less admirable qualities of the music icon. Biopics usually gloss over this stuff. But saying that this isn’t your average biopic. It’s actually a fun movie. I really hope everyone gets a chance to see it. It’s a great directing debut from one of our great actors.
The Night Before – I really enjoyed this. Is it a Christmas-time Superbad? Yeah. And to that I say ‘So?’. lol Anthony Mackie, Seth Rogen, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt make a great team as longtime pals who are going on one last Christmas jaunt before more grown up lives tear them apart. Rogen is a husband and soon-to-be dad. Mackie is an NFL star on the rise. Levitt is just stuck. His parents died years ago and his friends took over being his family at the holidays so now that they’re moving on and he’s still stuck, this last Christmas with his bros is a crisis for him. But of course given the filmmakers it’s going to be a raunchy holiday story with some heartwarming life lessons and a completely different kind of angel. Although, I do think at least part of that character was a nod to Buster Poindexter in Scrooged. And let me say that there are many nods to Christmas movies of the past but they’re interwoven is some pretty ingenious ways. And then the cameo of the one guy. I should have seen it coming. lol But I didn’t. It’s one of the all-time great in jokes. If you’re not afraid of naked body parts and drug use, I think you just might enjoy it.
Concussion – Will Smith plays the real life doctor who discovered CTE, the brain disease caused by repetitive head trauma that athletes, mostly American football players, suffer from. I’m a football fan. I was made aware of this disease when Junior Seau shot himself in the chest. It was said he did so so that they could study his brain. Last year, I watched the PBS series Frontline and their episode on this topic. It was upsetting. Mainly because I love watching the sport and I don’t want it to end even knowing what the damage does to people. What kind of monster am I anyway? So I started thinking that the NFL should be pouring money into helmet technology so that padding of some kind can absorb the shock and save our heroes. Wouldn’t that be nice? Well, it’s not happening. But about the movie. What’s great about this movie is that it does the same thing. It wants not to kill the sport outright but find a way to solve this problem or at the very least let the players know the risk they’re taking. Should they know by now? Sure. But there’s something about cinema that brings it all home. Obviously more people will watch a film starring a beloved box office star than will watch a PBS documentary. As the film goes, it’s great. It’s the story of Dr. Omalu. It shows what speaking up and basically doing his job cost him. It shouldn’t be that way but this is the truth of this world. You suffer for coming up against the powerful, for trying to help victims. You become victimized yourself but some strong people can transmute it. They can outlast it. Will Smith looks nothing like the doctor but he does a great job portraying him. At one point he was pursing his lips and it was the cutest thing because Dr. Omalu has these adorable Betty Boop type lips. Alec Baldwin actually does look a little like the doctor he plays. Luke Wilson…. whose idea was that? I swear they must have given the script to Owen who passed it on to his brother. Despite that, it’s really a great film. Not just about the sport but also about what it means to take a stand against the extremely powerful. David Morse who plays Dave Webster also does fine work here. He’s a chronically unsung actor.
Jupiter Ascending – I loved the hell out of it. And it’s got Bean! So the point. (spoilers) A Cinderella type finds out she’s important in the universe. She’s got to go back and fight for the rights to the planet Jupiter. She finds this out because a wolf guy played by Channing Tatum comes to tell her and get her to help. Then they have to go get a bee guy, Sean Bean to help them. It’s sorta complicated, sort of not. But it’s fun. It is inspired by the great works of our youth like Dune, Flash Gordon, and in my opinion, The Dark Crystal. There is a Brazil reference as well although I barely remember Brazil. Anyway, gorgeous costumes. Grand sets. And gravity boots!!! It’s a space opera. Remember those? I can’t really explain it. If you’re going to love it, you’re going to love it. And I think you can tell that from the trailer.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. – Wowie- wee-wow! I was expecting to like looking at these guys, but Jeebus this shit was entertaining and just plain fucking good. Right off the bat I was impressed with Cavill’s performance and especially his accent. But then Armie Hammer’s performance and accent were awesome too. Where the hell do these guys get off being more than pretty faces? I already loved Armie as the Lone Ranger but I hate the movie Man of Steel. Now I know for sure it wasn’t Cavill that was the problem (but I think I knew that before). I also knew that he wasn’t Brandon Routh and I was pissed that they started over at all. But I digress, anywho this movie wasn’t just fun it was actually perfectly made. Credit has to go to Guy Ritchie on this one. It occurred to me thinking over his filmography that he knows what a good-looking man is and thank God for that. He did a fantastic job directing here. Style to the limit. It has to at least get some Costume Design love. But you know the whole thing was great. Really just superb. The songs he chose were great. I wish we still bought CDs. I’d buy it. I’d love to see it again, as well as the next two on the list, but I won’t have the time. This season is rolling.
Black Mass – Depp’s Bulger is practically the Emperor from Star Wars. I’m not even kidding. This guy has evil coming from his teeth, which I guess the real guy kinda did. I thought Johnny did a great job taking on a different personality from his own. We’ve see Johnny take on many great roles, but here he had to completely leave behind any of the goodness that had made people love him the world over. It must have been quite a process. I’d hate to be around the Depp homestead if he’s remotely “method”. You expected the obvious makeup job to be a hindrance but it actually worked to deaden his shining light. This is a great performance from one of our greatest actors acting unlike himself in a transformational role. You should be extremely skeeved by him. Joel Edgerton also does formidable work in a role that I’d describe as co-lead. His nomination will come at the expense of Peter Sarsgaard who has a featured role that I was very impressed with. Both guys would get nods if it were up to me. A complaint I’m hearing is that it’s missing this or that. Well, you could probably do a few seasons of TV about Whitey Bulger. This was specifically about his time as an informant for the FBI. The epilogue explained what happened to him and his cohorts. I think it was a well made film. I assume it should be nominated for Best Picture I’m not sure that we’ve got 10 more movies coming that could possibly be better. Since past movies have already been mostly dropped by the pundits. I thought it had a great plodding bleak pace. Some people looking for a “gangster picture” might miss a lack of action. This guy didn’t kill fancy with dance moves or roundhouse kicks, he just got it done. I think it’s a really great study of one of the darkest characters in recent history. Great job all around. (I still think it should make BP even if it doesn’t make my personal top 5. There should be ten allotted votes.)
Straight Outta Compton – What the what? I thought it would be good. I thought it might be Oscar worthy if they got it right based on the actual history of it. But I didn’t think they’d get it that really right. First off, the casting. People have been casting the “It” actor for every role for years. When playing real life people that sucks because they often look nothing like them. Then the viewers job of suspending disbelief is that much harder. Here they cast the perfect people for these roles. The guy who played Suge Night was the only one who was iffy as far as acting goes but he sure as hell was a good match looks wise. But the guy who played Eazy-E did a great job. I was in high school and college during this time period. I knew N.W.A. mildly from Mtv. That’s where I got all my music and music news from. I’m actually surprised how many lyrics I remembered. I didn’t pay attention to much news when I was in college. I was too busy and listening to Pearl Jam/Nirvana at the time. So the specifics are lost on me. This was all going on in the distant background. My freshman year at NYU they made us stay in the dorms because of the Rodney King riots. Looking back on those times I have blamed crack and the drug dealing and the glamorization of “thug life” for the decline of Western Civilization. I don’t back away from that. And quite frankly I don’t think the film does either. I have often pointed to two videos as when I thought things turned. I thought the “Rumpshaker” video with all the butt dancing made women into hos again and really set feminism back (even if I really like the song). Then “Nuthin' But a G Thang” seemed to me like when we turned away from rap that was just good songs into something more sinister. Again it was the way they treated the woman in that video that bothered me. Anyway it looked like a horrible California kind of lifestyle that I wanted no part of. (These were tough rap guys where I come from.) Unfortunately kids and stupid people thought it was awesome. I think it’s clear from this movie that not only were the people who perpetrated it trying to get away from it themselves but they didn’t realize the influence they would have. And I guess, how could they? But it happened and here we are twenty years later and you’ve got a great movie out of it. I remember vaguely not liking Eazy-E back then. I don’t know why. Maybe he said something. But the guy who played him did a great job of making him a sentimental character and I really enjoyed his relationship with their manager, play by Paul Giamatti. I mean you gotta hand it to Ice Cube. When they asked him who he’d want to play him in a movie of his life, he just went and made a person. lol Junior did a great job because it easily could have been a situation where you had a lookalike who was wooden and lacking star quality. Watching the film I thought it seemed really honest. They didn’t portray themselves as these wonderful people. It really seemed like it was just a really accurate retelling of their own personal histories. I’ve read criticisms about certain things being left out. But that could have just been a time issue. I felt like I was a little lost in the time jump that happened between 1991 and 1993 because that’s exactly when I wasn’t paying attention to the world so if most people know what happened in their story then I don’t. But it wasn’t necessary for the narrative of this film. It’s great as a biopic. It seems like the truth. The casting and direction was top notch. What else is there to say? It could have been longer. It was two and a half hours but they flew by. I hope it makes Oscar’s shortlist.
The Gift – I was blown away by this movie. I can’t believe Joel Edgerton wrote and directed it. It was top notch through and through. It is not horror but it has the jump scares that most horror movies don’t get right. It isn’t really suspenseful. I’d say methodical but it hooks you. The only time it lost my attention was at one point when I stopped to think how amazing it was. Its amazingness distracted me from it. lol Jason Bateman hasn’t been this smarmy/sexy since Derek Taylor. Hey, I’m his age so I can say that. I’ve been growing to love Edgerton as an actor but this jump in talent (that I wasn’t previously aware of) boggles my mind. Who knew Uncle Owen would become a triple threat? Can he sing and dance? Anyway, I’m not saying anything about the plot but there is a point where I’ve read that people think one event was strictly misdirection. I could not agree less. This thing that happens only further explains why a certain person is a bad dude to this day, not just in the past. When more people have seen the film maybe I will come back and post more spoilers. Maybe I’ll give it its own post when I see it again. Anyway, great great film. You can predict some things but that doesn’t make it bad. And from the trailers you might think it takes from Fatal Attraction or Single White Female. It does not. But if you like that sort of thing, you should love it. In tone, it reminded me of Spoorloos and Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, which is why, even though it’s not a horror movie, I would think that horror fans should love it as well. Extremely well made thriller. Cheers to Mr. Edgerton.
The Martian in 3D– The use of music was amazing in this film. So properly placed. I have no idea what was the book and what was the movie. But this movie was a rollicking space adventure. (SPOILERS) I knew no one was going to die because Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Such a blabbermouth. One complaint I have is that there wasn’t enough Sebastian Stan. He was standing around trying not to be sexy because Matt Damon I guess. lol Sean Bean on the other hand had a much larger role than I expected and there was a great joke around him. There wasn’t much acting to be done it was just a really fun well made film. I think most people will enjoy it but there was some unnecessary swear words because Matt Damon. But he still did a good acting job even if the weight loss was CGI. I can’t believe we've come to that. Anyway, there’s not much to go to deep about without just flat out talking about the movie with other people who’ve seen it. It was a good message movie that isn’t realistic in the least. The science maybe, but humans aren’t really like this. I guess in that way it’s telling people how they should be. There’s nothing wrong with that. btw, the 3D was unnecessary.
The Big Short – I’M JACKED TO THE TITS!!! What an amazing line. I think it everyday now. And what a great ensemble picture. All of the cast, even the ones I don’t know, did a really great job. Let’s talk about the gun show for a minute here. These people are supposed to be nerds but Wittrock and Bale had some amazing biceps. lol I guess Bale was still carrying his Batman physique. *whistles* Anyway, Brad Pitt’s still there trying to look like a shaggy dog. No we’re not looking, Brad. We promise. Strange hair didn’t make us forget the awesome that is contained in the awesomeness of Ryan Gosling. He’s funny as hell. We knew that already but he hosted SNL recently and with this on top of it, he might be one of our greater actor/comedians. That works out better for people than being comedian/actors like Steve Carrell who also does a great job here. I mean it’s great in its movieness. It’s great in the story it’s telling. It’s great that Brad Pitt has put this film out there for the Americans who’ve been left behind by their government who only care about the Almighty dollar to the point where they are breaking our economy. I hope real people can feel that some rich people do understand their plight and they do know what’s happening. Perhaps he’s the true Captain America. I’m not going to go into spoilers. Maybe in another post, but there isn’t anyone who shouldn’t see this. It’s a happening. And an outstanding film. Go 2015. You’re doing it.
Sicario – (SPOILERS) Wow. Wow. Was she a stupid broad or what? At first I was thinking ‘I can’t get behind Emily Blunt in the Oscar race because this broad is a ditz’. But then when the movie made it that she was meant to be as dumb as she was, because the plot depended on it, I was very happy. I can’t help but evaluate movies while I’m watching them comparing them to what I’ve seen for the year. So as this was going I thought it wasn’t getting past BLACK MASS on my list. I thought that for most of the way through. And then Benicio shot her. This movie will be very difficult to deal with I think for people who have mamby pamby solutions to problems. And that’s why it’s almost a great double feature with BLACK MASS. Bulger and our Sicario here are playing a different game. They’re living in the same world as us but they know it better. I really felt the “Miami Vice”ness of this film. I have no idea if it was meant to be an influence, but I felt they were cut from the same cloth. I also I thought that at the very end there was a nod to Traffic. If you remember in that film, Benicio’s character just wanted lights in the park so the kids could play at night. Here we saw kids playing soccer with lights in the background and clearly, it made no difference. Anyway, Mrs. Blunt did a good job now that I know her character was meant to be all meanings of a tool. Mr. Brolin. That face. Even when I thought it wasn’t going to be in my top 3 I wanted to see it a second time just to look at him some more. He’s so attractive it’s almost distracting. The shots and camera work. We know Roger Deakins is amazeballs but if we're telling the truth I’m not sure who does what between a director and DP in terms of camerawork and angles and all that. So whoever’s responsible there’s a shot with Josh and Benicio both in camera and when you’re supposed to be listening to Josh, he’s in focus and then when you’re supposed to be listening to Benicio the actual focus shifts to him and I’m not sure there was a cut between. I don’t know I f people do that tall the time and it just wasn’t something I noticed before but it was really cool here. Instead of making foreground and background in focus De Palma style, it switched mid-scene almost turning your head for you. I don’t think it’s a regular thing. Maybe I’m wrong. Anyway, the use of night vision here was also great because it didn’t look like crap fuzzy night vision
*cough*Greengrass*cough*. It made you super alert. Maybe the white was heat vision? I dunno. The great thing about the story is that just when I thought it was going to be stupid and too “nice” it wasn’t. So it kept surprising me by doing exactly what it should do. Which movies almost never do. You know it was like they didn’t have a studio watching them telling them what to do and not do. There was no “bit with a dog”. And it made for a great great film. I want to see it again in the theater. (edit: Have done. It loses nothing on 2nd viewing.) I hope it gets a lot of awards love. After this and Prisoners, I’ll have to show up for Dennis Villeneuve on his name alone.