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: 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: 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: The Last Kiss

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The Last Kiss (L’ultimo Bacio) directed by Gabriele Muccino

This is a movie review of the real thing, not of that bullshit Zach Braff wannabe copycat/remake in 2006. It is about a coming of age crisis with a man faced with the prospect of fatherhood and settling down. It’s a movie most men can relate to in their mid life crisis years and reflect back on choices they made in their respective lives. I would like to think most accept the battle with time, however with the divorce rate in America, especially predominant with men with successful careers, I fully acknowledge men pursue the last kiss partly out of a quest for regain something lost.

This film explores this and more, and at the time, I watched it more with the “love the one you’re with” theme so didn’t get the main character at all. His decision making is flawed and he only gets himself in worse situations. Fifteen years later, I totally understand this is how “adults” act.

People are foolish.

People are rash.

People make mistakes.

The film reveals the consequences of his mistakes (and the film revealed the consequence of a poorly adapted copycat/remake).

Put on some reading glasses and get ready to read some subtitles; this film is worth it. If you want to watch it with your girlfriend of wife, just take some advice from me; just shake your head in disgust at this guy’s decision making and say only idiots would do that. Maybe as a result, you’ll get a last kiss yourself to end the night.

Movie Rating: 8/10 Kisses

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.