Movie Reviews: Hell or High Water

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This movie was good in the boring Old-Cop chases young-robber sort of way. It harkened back to No Country for Old Men to me, except the anti-hero was actually likable here.

To me, I never understood why people resorted to a life of risky crime where you area asking to get hunted down by armed cops with a major ego trip. All the risk for a few thousand bucks, which could be made manning the counter of a convenience store or working at Taco Bell is a much more peaceful way to get by where the only people to rob you is the tax man.

This movie didn’t answer that question.

Instead, it is a well acted movie with an ending that leaves us a little unfilled. They try to tell us the “why” but never actually do outside of serving a plot line that was supposed to be a mystery of motive the entire film. I felt annoyed. Like what a bunch of dumb shits.

There was a little depth a moments in the film. To me, the Native American partner and the allegory of lands being conquered over and over was pretty deep … but then they pretty much shit on that irony by FORCING and ending.

Chris Pine is good. Better than as Jack Ryan.

Ben Foster pretty much plays Ben Foster.

Jeff Bridges kind of does a dumb accent like he did “The Seventh Son.” It was annoying and didn’t necessarily add authenticity.

It appears they spent a bunch of money on Ford F-150’s, and zero on a cinematographer. Shit, all the angles and close ups and lighting seemed off. It is so much cooler watching the shots from behind a shooter, if shots are being made. Better to see the car from overhead when in a chase and making a huge turn (not a close-up of the tire, steering wheel, outside landscape moving). This is basic storytelling. When it all looks fake as hell, nobody believes it.

If there is one lesson, tip your waitresses well.

Movie Rating: 6/10 Sniper Shots

Movie Reviews: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is for folks with an IQ of One

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Directed by Gareth Edwards and Tony Gilroy

It’s not surprising to find why Rogue One needed to pay another director $5 million bucks to swoop in to “save” the film. Simply put, Rogue One is a very PG story that is essentially what you get when the focus is on mindless diversity for the sake of diversity to execute a very basic plot. There isn’t an ethnicity not filled here, almost in a Hollywood way to say the strongest teams is when everyone is different (despite the only asian guy in a galaxy far far away doing martial arts, the leading lady being a spunky white chick, the black guy being crusty and angry, the middle eastern guy being resourceful, etc). As we learned from the last election, people are tired as fuck from getting social engineered by the media and Hollywood that only diverse teams and harnessing everyone’s unique talents that impossible obstacles can be overcome.

I say bullshit.

Go to the majority of high school cafeterias, restaurants, churches, small businesses around the world and you’ll see this simply doesn’t exist in 90% of culture. People tend to stick to people similar to them, unless forced into some sort of draft or military conscription. But we are talking about Rebels here. What rebel group in the history of the world been this diverse? (Study history, because none of these writers/execs do) Usually rebels have narrow sets of ideals. In A New Hope, almost everyone on Yavin was white. Everyone in the Empire was white and spoke like a Brit. I don’t know, maybe everyone different were busy doing the real missions. (And yes, I know, in ROTJ, the rebels even has fish admirals against the white imperialists in the Empire).

I’m not totally against women leading the SW universe, but at this point, it feels forced as fuck. At least Captain Janeway had a purpose as the leader, and was legitimate because she rose up the ranks through hard work. Commander Sisko survived Wolfe 359 and was eventually assigned to Deep Space Nine to oversea a giant wormhole. Neither of them were artificially contrived for their roles because they were the son or daughter of anybody. Why couldn’t she have been just a badass? Maybe the baddest of the bad.

Despite very nostalgic visuals that are cool to see and a story where we know the ultimate ending, the story itself is made for 12 year olds. I guess they know who will buy the video games and see it 3 times over christmas break and will ask for the toys for Christmas … despite all the marketing toward girls.

Where is the Intergalactic Saving Private Ryan we were promised? Where is the darkness? Why do people talk in short sentences as if the film has to be dubbed in 38 languages? Why is the dialogue so damn simple, and frankly, dumbed down as if there can’t be any confusion to offending the “fake outrage” groups.

Fucking Disney, come on.

I sensed things had gone to shit when I saw all the action figures filling up the shelves. This is The Force Awakens Fiasco all over again. At least the overall plot here isn’t as batshit stupid as Episode VII.

The film is better than any of the prequels (except for the Darth Maul vs Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan fight, and the Jango-Obi-Wan fight, and the first 2 minutes of Revenge of the Sith).

I recommend you see it, because if you read this far, you’ll see it anyway. Just post a comment how you agree that Disney is turning Star Wars into a marvel universe where everyone is so damn likable that they want fanboys and fangirls to cry out for six thousand spinoffs so we can explore each backstory so that eventually we’ll have a thousand different characters to know and love. How can they not? Nobody says anything offensive as a rebel fighting for the galaxy. Few characters act like they have a braincell, including the oh-so-tough leading lady.

Please GRR Martin, don’t ever sell the rights to Game of Thrones expanded universe to Disney. I couldn’t imagine the “reimagining” version they would do to Westeros.

Movie Reviews: A Bigger Splash

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As many who know me can attest, I am a fan of foreign films. Usually, I would even admit that English films that take place in Europe usually get a pass from me for effort. In some regards, it is even more relatable to watch the cultural fish out of water story than something more authentic and locally made. You can read my review of Lost in Translation as an example of this. It had an impact on me that a Japanese made film with Japanese actors could not.

To a certain degree, most Science Fiction works this way. We want to see humanoids battle space dictators and enter light speed. Seldom are the protagonists in film a six foot one-eyed blob called Qloip.

Simply, we want to relate.

A Bigger Splash basically throws those principals out the window. Most of the characters are so unlikeable  an uninteresting that they might as well be Qloip. I was incredibly bored most of the movie, despite the effort Ralph Fiennes put in to try to make it entertaining. There is a limit an eccentric character can save a film if it isn’t a comedy.

Then, there were the flashbacks as if it would reveal some secrets that audience couldn’t infer from the acting and dialogue.

Tilda Swinton, despite being a decent actor, is pretty unbelievable as a rock star. Matthias Schoenaerts is pretty unforgettable in playing the boytoy boyfriend that represents a physical outlet.  Dakota Johnson is just as convincing as she was in Fifty Shades of Gray.

Ralph Fiennes is decent, and maybe it would have been a better story if it just followed him  in his POV the entire time, even to the splashy ending.

This movie simply will be flushed from my mind, which is a rather difficult feat with an interesting environment.

Movie Rating: 2/10 splashes

Movie Reviews: London Has Fallen

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London Has Fallen directed by Babak Najafi

Just in case moviegoers were confused whether or not London Has Fallen was a sequel to Olympus Has Fallen, the marketing folks made sure to clarify that. With White House Down, Air Force One, the last season of 24, and Vantage Point all telling similar stories, the movie populace could have easily confused this for one of those Redbox Ripoff movies. You know, the low budget films shot for under a million bucks in an attempt to bait and confuse people.

To me, I think I might have been more entertained with the Redbox Ripoff flick.

I mean, how many times can a President be put under siege with the only guy to save him is his best friend and secret service agent. What are the odds? And let’s be honest, what is the point of it all when there is a line of succession? (Ironically enough the plot of the latest Jack Bauer Keifer Sutherland TV show) Heads of State are important people, but in Democracies, there is really little point.

I know, the classic “Revenge at all costs” plot makes it clear that logic isn’t the point of motive.

If you want to watch this film, go ahead. Turn off your brain. You might as well play some Call of Duty in my opinion because at least that has some inventive storytelling.

The movie does have some pretty kick ass special effects, mostly in the attack sequence. But with that said, some of the effects were downright CGI-ish. Morgan Freeman was pretty good playing himself. Gerard Butler picks up another paycheck. I assume he has pretty much given up trying to be a real actor. Aaron Eckhart plays the typecast role that was predominant of the 80s and 90s.

I did beat Call of Duty Advanced Warfare on the same night I watched this. Kevin Spacey made for a better villain.

Movie Rating: 2/10 London Bridges

Movie Reviews: Haute Cuisine

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Haute Cuisine directed by Christian Vincent

Currently streaming on Netflix, the story of Haute Cuisine answers the age old question of what happens when a country bumpkin chef who strives for the very best is thrust into the high visibility position as the personal chef of the country’s most powerful man. What you get is a foodie coming of age story that is coincidently enough told in mysterious flashback.

The story begins with her in Antartica and story dangles intrigue in the promise of answering a question.

After 90 minutes, the question is answered but to be honest, is a bit of a let down.

Was this only based on a true story?

The riddle is confusing when you pay attention the penultimate scene in the movie, which begs the audience to decide for themselves.

Were some things left out?

Was it all about the food?

With the true money shots of the film showing the close ups of the food, I would surmise it was the choice of the director and screenwriter to focus on the Haute Cuisine.

Be warned, the movie is French, so you’ll have to get your glasses on to read all the subtitles.

Movie Rating: 5/10 Truffles

Movie Reviews: The Nice Guys

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The Nice Guys directed by Shane Black

The movie was watched after 4 beers and a belly full of food on a Friday night after a long week of work. I was tired and just wanted to zone out for a bit and watch something new. I had seen the previews and didn’t quite get the hijinks between the two main characters. One is a little too tough and gruff and the other reaches deep in the ambitious underachiever trope.

The first fifteen minutes confirmed by suspicions, however, somehow, someway, the movie elevated itself out of trope-dom and actually was smart, well made, with a unique plot that had me actually wanting to see more.

The buddy cop or buddy detective plot has been done in so many ways that it is very difficult for something to really be considered “new.” Part of my point of view was inhibited by a little alcohol, yes, but it still takes a ton to really surprise me nowadays.

With this film, I was surprised. I had little idea what direction the movie was going once Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling linked up.

Then, there was the Matt Bomar introduction. I laughed my ass off for a good 30 seconds at the scene. You can read my past movie reviews; I don’t think I’ve ever written that in a review for any film so far, even comedies. This is because when the delivery is a surprise, and people don’t expect it coming, the scene is absolutely nailed. Shane Black has a knack for writing dialogue, and the screenplay shows his talents off. The interplay between Crowe and Gosling grows with each scene so much that even Kim Basinger can’t torpedo the movie.

There is action.

There is nudity.

There is partying.

There are gunfights.

There are comedic lines.

There are subdued comical reactions.

There was a kick-ass villain.

The ultimate compliment I can for a movie is for me (the one who hates sequels/reboots/requels/reimaginings/prequels/tv adaptations) to say I want to watch a sequel.

Let’s hope for a “The Nice Guys II” by 2019.

Movie Rating: 8.5/10

 

Movie Reviews: Hail, Caeser

hail-cesar.jpgHail, Caeser directed by the Coen Brothers

There are good Coen Brothers movies and annoying Coen Brother movies. In a rare feat, some manage to step toes in both categories.

Hail, Caeser has it’s ass squarely in the annoying category.

The previews pretty much sum up the plot. George Clooney is a star actor who is abducted in a convolutedly boring plot that is more a setup for visuals rather than entertainment, humor, or intrigue. In many ways, it reminded me of Burn After Reading and a little of Barton Fink (without the cerebral ending).

Like with many Coen Brother films today, critics and reviewers are too afraid to give their true opinion. Even if utterly confused and bored at spending an entire movie trying to read between hidden meaning and allegorical double takes, they give it a pass.

There a bunch of dancing from Channing Tatum (huge stretch).

A bunch of confused looks from George Clooney (huge stretch).

Francis McDormand speaks fast and is neurotic (huge stretch).

Scarlett Johansson plays it sultry with an accent (huge stretch).

Jonah Hill plays it boring and straight (Huuuuuge stretch).

And Josh Brolin essentially plays the same character that he did in Inherent Vice. (Big Whoop).

The big mystery was seeing how the new Han Solo acted (why oh why would they make a damn original prequel?????) He was ok.

I went into the film with little hopes, and left thankful they haven’t gone back to make a sequel to Fargo, The Big Lebowski, or Raising Arizona, and for that, Hail the Coen Brothers.

Movie Rating: 4 out of 10 Russian Submarines