Movie Reviews: Lady Bird was so _______

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Boring.

I appreciate indie film. For the most apart, it is only through this medium that you can watch art imitating life. There are no super powers. Space Aliens are not getting revenge on Earth. There are no stunts from tough guys that would kill an ordinary human being. Robots from another planet are not randomly picking Earth as a battleground.

I’ve been a fan of the indie scene sine the mid 1990s, when I was an early teen. I watched all sort of indie movies, clever and shitty. I’ve endured pretentiousness up the wazoo and witnessed work that predicted masterpieces to come. When I first saw Memento, I was like “Wow. Just wait until this Christopher Nolan guy gets a budget.”

When I watched Lady Bird, it couldn’t have been more boring to me. It began with a jump outside a moving vehicle, which made me go “okay, maybe we got a story here.” But what follows is basically ordinary coming of age life tale. The music was so off-2002 that it could have been a story for anyone from 1996 to 2004. The Catholic school setting didn’t matter whatsoever, because much of it was a basic rich vs poor plot, a story told for thousands of years, with much of the time spent on drama club.

We watch Lady Bird, a neurotic teen with wit far beyond her age, navigate the waters of her senior year in a town she doesn’t like while pursuing (shocking) boys.

I was incredibly bored throughout. I related to the poverty and needing a plan to get the hell out of town (who doesn’t) but everything else I’ve seen before over and over and over again. Boys and sex and college admissions. An ending ripped from Paper towns.

There seems to be an Oscar tradition of so many films getting nominated now that there is an indie quota of movies artists want to make more of and movies the general public will never see. Last year, Moonlight is a prime example. It might be a fine film, but it is probably one of the least relatable films I could choose to watch, so I don’t.

With Lady Bird, make your choice. It isn’t for everyone, and you’ve seen the movie before under different packaging.

Movie Rating: 5/10 Waitlisted Schools

Movie Reviews: Night Owls

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When you are a night owl searching for a flick to watch in bed, what’s more fitting than a movie called Night Owls?

It is yet another story of boy meets girl.

Boy sleeps with girl.

Boy finds out she is crazy.

Whether or not art is imitating life, or life is imitating art is a tricky question in this case. One thing is known though, is this movie probably won’t be remembered as art. Madeline and Kevin are foes throughout. Adam Pally seems like he was told to do his best impression of Seth Rogan. Rosa Salazar seems like she was told to do her best impression of Aubrey Plaza.

The problem is, neither are funny.

Neither are believable playing it serious. For something as serious as the event that happens ten minutes in, I would expect to see more panic on both sides.

I’m not saying the acting is terrible. It’s okay. The best they can do is work with the material given to them. For most of the film, they are the only two characters struggling against each other on a single set.

In movies, opposites attract. Throughout the film, I didn’t really think Kevin or Madeline felt anything towards each other. Here, it seems they keep a disdain for each other up until the end. Madeline doesn’t show any real closure with her previous flame. Kevin doesn’t truly conquer his obstacle, not unless you count pouting off away from the conflict.

The movie sort of ends where it begins.

A more interesting movie would have been what happens next. At least then, we could have watched a change in the characters.

Movie Rating: 5/10 mace sprays in the face

 

 

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: 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

Movie Reviews: Lost in Translation

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Lost in Translation directed by Sophia Coppola

Like many people, certain movies hit me at the exact right moment in my life that otherwise would have been received differently if watched a decade earlier, or a decade later.

Some define these films as guilty pleasures. I personally think this is a misnomer. There is a difference between a movie that doesn’t age well, but you give it a pass later on and a movie that is superb and hits you at the right moment. To me, The Last Starfighter is a guilty pleasure (theme song still kicks ass).

I watched this movie shortly after college after I took a trip to Japan and South Korea. It marked the breakout of Sophia Coppola for those who didn’t catch the Virgin Suicides. It was the continued renaissance of a more subdued Bill Murray, and Scarlett Johansson before she became an Avenger.

I love how this film demonstrates how much can be said with just visuals. The first ten minutes might be “slow” to some, but was perfect for me. It set the tone and pace and showed both main characters lost and disconnected in their environments. The relationship that builds throughout the movie appears real as a result. There is no lame three act romance structure. There are no lame best friend sidekicks. People are trying to figure shit out and that’s what happens in life.

For those of you that still complain about the whisper, well, you simply didn’t pay attention to the movie.

All the hints are there.

 

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.