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: The Last Boy Scout

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The Last Boyscout directed by Tony Scott

This movie was a disappointment when it came out. People wanted Die Hard, but Shane Black’s script was more like Lethal Weapon. In a way, you would have almost thought Richard Donner directed the film the way it was shot and scored.

Even as a kid, I was disappointed with it. Bruce Willis played a stereotype of a detective. Boozy with personal problems of all orders. He basically acted like he just didn’t give a damn about anything. Life had already churned him inside and out.

Twenty years later, I understand. Some athletes sometimes have drug problems, even star quarterbacks. Cops have a shit ton of problems ranging the entire spectrum. Maybe people had it all wrong.

This was a case of art reflecting life.

Football is a business that doesn’t truly give a shit about the players. It takes a ton of legal action and scientific research to get the business to admit that it is a brutal sport that takes physical and long lasting tolls on human beings. It is big business not only because of fandom, tv marketing potential, but because of the gambling that goes alongside it. Just go to a sports book in Las Vegas and you can see why. Billions are wagered legally and illegally. And now, we even have the online “fantasy” versions with draft kings and yahoo getting in on the deal.

Twenty years ago, the sport seemed a little more pure. This was the era of Joe Montana, Dan Marino, Troy Aikman, Steve Young, and Warren Moon. These were icons and role models unlike today, with Tom Brady and deflategate, Peyton Manning and steroid/stem cell accusations, and Big Ben and sexual assault allegations.

And then, Colin K and disgracing the national anthem and flag in a selfish act. Send me hate mail, I don’t care. Just because a few people agree with you doesn’t mean it is right. Instead of using a platform for good and work towards actually causing positive change in america, he speaks of obvious issues America has. Yes, there is freedom of speech, however, in the eyes of many he has zero class. Riddle me this, where was Colin K speaking of social injustice and donating money to charity when he had a platform as the Superbowl to talk? Why does he only have “courage” to speak when he is benched? Funny that a guy who’s trademark dance is kissing his bicep really stands for anything but himself.

Where are the boyscouts today? America sure needs them.

Back to the movie. It’s decent. Go check it out again.

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

Movie Reviews: Now You See Me 2

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Now You See Me 2 directed by Jon Chu

aka “Now You Can See the Casting Change”

What happens when Hollywood has an unexpected surprise hit with a relatively low budget cast?

Sequels happen.

What happens when the token hot girl doesn’t agree (likely over compensation) to appear in the sequel?

Hello Lizzy Caplan.

This seemed like the first 10 minutes was focused explaining this in some awfully written dialogue as if the audience needed to know the play by play. We’ve seen this plot device at the beginning of Karate Kid Part II and practically any sequel where there are casting issues. We have had 3 different Hulks in films, and Captain America was first part of the Fantastic Four. In Speed 2, Sandra had to take a cruise with someone else because “things simply didn’t work out.”

I call this cinematic weak-sauce.

Here is a hint Hollywood. Movie-goers can be smart too. They go to movies not because it is believable canon. (They put up with bumbling and unwatchable Finn in the new Star Wars) They want escapism, or want to fit in with friends, or take a date there, or have to watch over their kids. Nobody needs so much intro to explain why Robin William’s voice isn’t in The Return of Jafar. Reminding them someone isn’t there has the opposite effect!

I thought it would be a throwaway line. Nope. The first act is essentially trying painstakingly to make Lizzy Caplan to be likable by giving her all the clever lines and reactions.

They simply should have renamed the movie “Now Can You Please Like Her?”

On to the plot.

Nonsensical plot to try and link it back to the first one and come up with reasons for cast to return. The fun and cleverness and discovery in the first film is completely lost in this plot. It isn’t as if the first film was a masterpiece, but I hoped that with confidence in a franchise, and a larger budget, they could be bolder and expand what was started.

So what’s the plan for the third one? Gonna bring back Michael Caine once again?

On to the main question at hand; Did I like Lizzy Caplan?

Yes, but not for any reasons to do with the film.

Movie Rating: 3 Card Monty’s out of 10.

 

Movie Reviews: Bio-Dome

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Bio-Dome directed by Jason Bloom

My last retro movie review of Lost in Translation got me thinking; what is a guilty pleasure film for me? Something that sucks by all definition of storytelling, but somehow, someway was positively received by me.

From directorial mind of the product assistant of Action Jackson, Bio-Dome hit theaters in 1996 to the sound of crickets. It barely made $13 million, but I’ll admit I was one who bought a ticket on opening night.

I was a freshman in High School spending a Friday night at a friend’s house. We had nothing to do and were immature as hell.

We, in essence, were the key marketing demographic of Bio-Dome.

I’ll admit a double dose of honestly. At that age, I actually considered myself a Pauly Shore fan.

Yes.

I said it.

Think about it for a second. When I was in middle school, this guy pumped out Encino Man, Jury Duty, Son In Law, and In The Army Now.

I dug the entire thing. The scientific underdog story with the Safety Dance thrown was cool and hip to me and I enjoyed it. A number of years passed in what I call the “Pre-Comeback Era” of Pauly Shore, and I found myself in my last year of college with a ton of DVDs (there were these discs people bought before streaming and youtube). I can’t tell you how many times people would come over and say “Dude, you got Bio-Dome!”

So to the High School class of 1998, 1999 & 2000, I dedicate this movie review to you.

 

 

 

Movie Reviews: Star Trek Beyond

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Star Trek Beyond directed by Justin Lin

I’m going to warn you here, this is a spoilerific rant of Star Trek Beyond. If you have not seen it after 7 weeks in the theater, well … it is your fault for reading this.

What would you get if you crossed Guardians of the Galaxy with Galaxy Quest? I argue that it churns out about 75% of what this film is. It is a gargantuan attempt at attempting to ratchet up the drama a little bit more all while missing the essence of Star Trek. Much like how Star Trek Into Darkness looks silly for the third act of Wrath of Khan switcheroo with Kirk going in the engine room instead of Spock (but leaving people in suspense for 3 seconds by bringing Kirk back immediately unlike the original cliffhanger), Star Trek Beyond takes this up a notch by copying Star Trek III’s pinnacle moment of blowing up and crashing the Enterprise, except, yes, they have to resurrect it at the very end.

So VFC.

Very.

Fucking.

Convient.

You know, don’t worry about this version of Star Trek. If someone dies, they will be brought back immediately. If the ship blows up, a new one will be built in the same movie. The original series is classic, especially II-IV because of the three movie story arc. Kirk commanded a damn bird of prey in Star Trek IV. There was no marketing department saying it would be better to land the Enterprise in San Francisco so lets give Kirk a new ship at the beginning.

Then, I don’t know about you, but in all my science fiction readings, never have I read some prophecy that the Beastie Boys would be the ones to save the galaxy. Are you kidding me? Did they really pull the plot of Ghostbusters 2 out of their ass?

Talk about batshit unbelievable, and not in a good way.

This is not the direction I thought the franchise would go after a successful reboot of the series that I thoroughly enjoyed. It was fresh and new despite being a bit tropey. We all figured a reboot using space time would work because that meant there would be a  real sense of danger since the future would be unknown.

Instead, the franchise is trying to compete with the demographics of Marvel’s audience and foreign box office receipts (and easy dubbing) instead of the traditional fan.

What is the result? Each movie is doing worse in the box office and we all know what happens when returns keep diminishing for a franchise.

Another reboot.

Paramount, if you need a writer, I’m your man.