Movie Reviews: Roman J. Israel, Esq

https---blogs-images.forbes.com-scottmendelson-files-2017-11-MV5BMTc5NzQ1Mjg4OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTQ0NTk0MzI@._V1_SY1000_CR0014991000_AL_-1200x801.jpg?.jpeg

What is an esquire?

Either google the term if you have zero patience, or watch how Denzel Washington delivers an answer as Roman J. Israel, Esq, a man with a crisis of conscience.

This is a common theme in many adult films. I personally like George Clooney in Michael Clayton as he explores a similar theme, also in the legal world. Maybe this is why we don’t predominantly like attorneys. They are expensive, shallow, and the nature of their work treat their clients as dollar signs. This theme runs deep through the film as Denzel’s character has to weigh a life of servitude for the greater good, or giving in to the monetary demons on his shoulders.

Choices are made, and you can probably guess the arc. If you watched Nightcrawler, an excellent film also by Dan Gilroy (who also saved Rogue One in reshoots), you’ll know there is a new master in Hollywood. Gilroy understands pacing, character arcs, and how to deliver an ending against a narrative.

People, understandably, hope for some Hollywood type ending. In legal dramas, this often culminates in some victorious legal decision. But the story is often more about the case or criminal. A film directed by Dan Gilroy is always about someone’s journey, the decision they have to make, and the consequences of their actions. Watch Nightcrawler, the end of Rogue One, and Roman J. Esquire and compare.

I read a few other reviews, mostly centering on Denzel getting nominated for an Oscar again, but they hoped for more. Others called the film weird.

I thought it was tremendous masterwork done by a storyteller. I look forward to the next decade of Dan Gilroy films. They have you thinking afterward, “what was that about?” In current cinema, there are only a few other directors I hold in this regard: Christopher Nolan, David Fincher, and Nicholas Winding Refn. I don’t exactly have to love all of their films, but I love the artistry they display in a commercialized business.

I think this is Denzel’s best work in many years. He’s plays basically the same character in most of his films, likely due to director/producer decisions, so that people know exactly what they are paying for. He is kind of crusty, kind of tough, and usually to the point. Roman J. Israel is crusty, however isn’t tough, is kind of chicken, stammers on tangents and lacks social manners.

And what else. Colin Farrell. That Colin Farrell. The one who was In Bruges, not the one in SWAT. The one pushing himself in The Lobster, not the one evading capture in Total Recall. The one who dabbles in indie films with exploratory storytelling. Not the one looking for the big payday. The character actor. A good character actor.

Dan Gilroy, please please please keep the films coming. I know $11 million isn’t exactly the box office producers want, but film as an art form needs more stories like this, and adults need to support it in the future, otherwise over-saturation of sequels/prequels/animation/reboots/comic stories will somehow get worse. Film itself is going through a similar crisis of conscience. There is a tradeoff in this industry, like many others (like Facebook filtering the fake paid posts, but not all, or Google disabling fake news accounts, but still allowing Tai Lopez to pump Bitcoin courses to dumb millennials), which I now ponder the morning after. Movie reviewers are not exactly a philosophical bunch, so I understand how most were quick to type up their reviews and few actually thought about the art. I can only imagine them attending a new art exhibit.

Movie Rating: 9.5/10 Armenian Rewards

 

 

TV Reviews: Mindhunter

mindhunter-netflix-series.jpg

What separates a killer from a serial killer?

This the fundamental question in the pilot of Mindhunter. People commit crimes. Horrible crimes. Despicable crimes. Sometimes over and over again. How do we catch them? It’s surprising, at least the way the show portrays the FBI, were stuck in 1950s style investigations even as Charles Manson was orchestrating a mass murder.

Based on a non-fiction book, it is hard to tell how much the show will deviate from the source material. One thing is clear … I’ll never read the book.

David Fincher directed the opening two episodes, setting up the sequence of events that launches the build-out of a psychology unit of the FBI. Fincher goes back to his usual cinematic style that directors after him mimic the best they can, sort of like with House of Cards (the 2 seasons back when it was good) There are a lot of creative subtleties in the first two episodes that are sorely missed later on, especially a few episodes in the middle.

The show works, not because they cast a great leading actor. In fact, Jonathan Groff plays it as square and boring as it gets. It’s not really his fault, per se. He is written to have zero edge. I assume in later seasons he’ll develop a personality. I guess only straight edge people can really hunker down and understand the psychosis of a psychotic.

Anna Torv is rather good, convincing playing a elitist academic with a profound curiosity for the criminal mind. Holt McCallany plays the partner that is opposite of Groff’s character. It is sort of a buddy cop trope where the seasoned cop doesn’t give a shit anymore. (One fun link: Holt McCallany played a minor role in Fight Club, a cult classic also directed by David Fincher)

The key to the series, in my view, is getting convincing actors to play a serial killer. And boy, do they get one. Cameron Britton, at six foot-infinity, is a towering human with a crazy look that is sort of the look of the red stapler guy in office space, except on steroids. The crazy words that come out of his mouth completes the picture of a lunatic.

I added the show to my list of binge-all-weekend views that Netflix once in a while gets right.

First Season Rating: 9/10 Decapitated Heads

Movie Reviews: Fight Club

fight-club.jpg

Fight Club directed by David Fincher

The first rule about Matt’s Movie Reviews is you don’t talk about Matt’s Movie Reviews. You’ve all done a fantastic job respecting this first rule. The only viral post I’ve had wasn’t a movie review at all, it was Game of Thrones fan theories regarding Hodor. I have to stay underground as a rogue reviewer, so thank you for not forwarding or retweeting or posting any of my bizarre reviews on Facebook or other social media. The last thing I would want would be underground movie review clubs sprouting up all across the country.

Back to the movie; Fight Club is one of my favorite films. It is always ranked in my top 5 because of how well it holds up. Maybe I was the appropriate age when I first saw it in college. Maybe its my generations mantra, not really the need to get back to basics of genetic evolution, but rather, the world of commerciality we are stuck in as humans. I’ve watched this movie maybe 25 times in my life, twice with commentary tracks. I’ve read the book twice. I’ve watched all those corny videos of all the mistakes in the film. The film has aged well.

So let’s get to the real question. Who would I fight?

Bruce Lee

Why? What kind of story is it to fight Shatner or Gandhi? That isn’t impressive. If you had one choice, why not go to the top of the mountain? Maybe some of you will pick Chuck Norris, it doesn’t matter. Be bold, be brave, be a badass.

The casting is perfect. Ed Norton is great. Brad Pitt should have been nominated for an Oscar for this film and competed against Kevin Spacey. Not sure who wins that fight.

This movie it a masterpiece.

Movie Rating: 11/10 Soaps.

CHECK OUT MY OTHER SECRET MOVIE REVIEWS

Movie Reviews: Gone Girl

Gone-Girl1.jpg

Me: Did she just do that?

Wife: Yep.

Me: She is completely psycho.

Wife: Yep.

Me: You wouldn’t do something that crazy, right?

Wife: Are you going to cheat on me like Ben Affleck did to his wife?

Me: *looking behind me* Um … no … never honey.
Gone Girl, directed by David Fincher is kind of a romantic thriller wrapped in a horror film. Fincher’s cinematography is as clever as ever as he chooses the right color pallets and lighting to help tell this dark tale.

Based off a novel by Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl continues the streak of good movies Fincher has made (his weakest being panic room, and strongest being Fight club in my opinion). The story is about relationships and lies and the lengths people will go to spite another when they feel put in a corner. Nick gets away by shutting out his wife and cheating on her. Amy gets away by staging her own death and framing her husband. We all cope in different ways … right?

The performances are good. I personally think Ben Affleck has put up maybe 5 good performances ever: Good Will Hunting, Argo, The Sum of All Fears, Armageddon, and The Town. After watching this, I have to say he now has 6 good performances. As for Rosamund Pike, I’d only remembered seeing her in one other film, Hector and the Search for Happiness, which she kind of players a more subdued crazy girlfriend. I have to give her credit; she has a talent for playing crazy. I read she was also a James Bond girl back in the day, but to be honest, I have not gone back to Die Another Day since I tore up my ticket in the movie theater after watching it. There is only so much wind surfing one can watch in life.

The favorite scene for me was when Amy shows up for the first time and shows exactly how she set Nick up.

The movie is definitely worth seeing at least once, especially if you are a Doogie Howser fan.

Movie Rating: 6.5/10 (when watching as a man) and 9.5/10 (when watching as woman with scorn)

This movie is scarier than any of the Holloween or Nightmare on Elm Street movies.