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: Midnight Special

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Midnight Special directed by Jeff Nichols

I wanted to believe.

Don’t be fooled by all the damn 4 star reviews on the movie poster. Let’s be honest, if they intentionally make the fine print of where it came from so small you can’t make out if it is from Richard Roeper or the ice cream truck man, doesn’t it really mean anything?

From the director of Mud and Take Shelter, came Midnight Special. From the images of the trailer and the ominous tone of the score, I had some hopes going in. The cast looked especially good, with Zod Michael Shannon starring, along with Kylo Adam Driver and Sam Shepard.

I spent a few days dwelling on what to write about this movie. It kind of harkened back to cheesy 80s sci-fi flicks in a way, but with serious acting and a darker tone. The movie seemed to have a number of gaps of logic in the intergovernmental cooperation to attempt to hunt down the boy, along with the religious cronies who seemed to fill a plot point, but being incompetent enough to do actual long term damage.

In the end, it felt a little like the end of Cocoon or Close Encounters of the Third Kind or ET the last fifteen minutes. Kind of like my review of Interstellar, I would have preferred the movie start with the last fifteen minutes because only then it gets interesting.

The acting was actually pretty good, which makes me disappointed in the film this could have been with a better story. Looking at Michael Shannon’s filmography, it showed he was in 10 films in 2016 showing his is taking the opposite approach to his career that Daniel Day Lewis is which is a shame.

Overall Rating: 5/10 Handcuffs

 

Movie Reviews: Rounders


Rounders

For any poker player, Rounders is the equivalent of A Field of Dreams for baseball or Hoosiers for basketball.

To me, this film works as a poker movie (the only one besides Maverick) and a drama. 

I’m not gonna lie, when I was younger and played a ton of poker after the “Moneymaker” moment,  I watched this film like every week. You see, every home game would play this in the background over and over and everyone would nod their head at how they would have kicked the legs from Teddy KGB and reraised Johnny Chan as well.

For a poker player, this movie might have contributed to the poker boom and WSOP Dream as much as Chris Moneymaker’s Miracle run. It came in 1998 to little fanfare and was certainly ahead of its time. 

Ironically, it’s a movie where poker and cheating play a big part, showing the honest people that play and the assholes that give it a bad name. When the cops beat the crap out of them for cheating, I really don’t mind. They deserve it.

Flash forward 12 years or so, and life imitated art when all the “big stars” (aka criminals, thieves, fraudsters) of rigged sites like Full Tilt poker had the FBI freeze the site, because as it came to be known, people like Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson took all the money in the accounts and paid themselves, like a Ponzi scheme. 

In a way, all the degenerate gamblers who got lucky in the early 2000s got in on the con and enriched themselves with everyday people’s money. Grandma that just wanted to casually play 25 cent poker? Bam, Full Tilt robbed her. 

Ironically, a few poker players like Howard Lederer’s sister Annie Duke advocated that poker is a skill game and should be able to be played online for money in the US while her brother was giving her money from people’s accounts. 

They are the Worms of poker. 

From what I hear, they avoided the WSOP until this year after posting online an apology. Every single person I talked to playing WSOP events think the same thing. They are all a fraud and should rot in jail. All of them. Just like Worm.

Funny how in a country that if you rob a gas station for $50 you can get 20 years in jail. Rob $100 million from poker accounts and nothing happens.

Rounders is a masterpiece. The movie is even better today and holds up in theme and character arcs. I’ve seen it more than any movie outside the Empire Stikes Back.

Movie Reviews: Ocean’s Eleven

Oceans Eleven directed by “SS” 

I used to like films by “SS” that is, before he resorted to Magic Mike. Before that, he was the innovative filmmaker with “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” and “Out of Sight.” Oceans Eleven is when he hit the big time with an ensemble cast that can’t really fail even if they hired somebody off the street to direct it (Even that douchebag behind the last Fantastic 4 could have made this … Well, maybe)

Simply put, this is a hesit-by-the-numbers film. 

But it works, because it is done with charisma. Charm. I don’t know. Everything is so positive. Danny Ocean just got out jail, but he is a swell guy because he can recruit the hippest crew to rob the biggest make-believe casino vault (ludicrous in that the properties are not even under the same company nor near eachother, as many of you who have walked the strip before would know). 

But who cares, we root for them because they are cool and hip and money is cool. If they were thugs or gangsters this would not be as entertaining. But because Danny Ocean is doing it for a girl, (robbing a casino is the fastest way to a girl’s heart, right?) we root for him. 

I liked this movie when it came out and I still do. 

Although I contend the plot of the movie is simple and is purely built on the charisma of its actors. I recently got rejected pretty bad from the blacklist for my script with a heist as part of the plot, and some poor excuse of a reviewer told me in my review (which you can read on my blog) is that Tony Benedict is an even more evil person than Danny and that’s why we like Danny. 

Bullshit. 

That reviewer is an amateur hack because the movie didn’t even make an attempt to make Tony (Andy Garcia) look bad. He just manages a casino. He got conned for one comment about Julia Roberts at the exact right time and he was bad? 

If there is a con story or heist story we always root for them if they are the main characters and especially if they are funny. Only if the main character is the person stopping it, (first character introduced), do we root for them. Trust me, the trope works from Die Hard to Paul Blart.

I know how to break down stories and the mechanics behind film. Whoever is introduced in the first 10 minutes is who the audience is supposed to root for, unless it is a horror film of some sort, because in that trope they have to show some scary stuff early on so that we know the MC will be in danger. 

With that said, the movie is entertaining and fun. I like everyone from Bernie Mac to Don Cheedle to Casey Affleck in the supporting roles. I like how Brad Pitt aka Rusty is eating in almost every scene before the heist. I like the switcheroo at the end. 

I know, this is another weird movie review but it’s coming from me, right? Maybe I should rename my reviews as commentary.

Movie Rating: 9.5/10 S.W.A.T trucks. 

Movie Reviews: Vegas Vacation


It has one of the biggest deus ex machinas in a movie, but hey, so did the other Griswald films. (Old white guys with money always bail Clark out)

While I am here gambling in Vegas I felt it would be very fitting to review this not-so-classic film. To me, it doesn’t hold up to the original or Christmas Vacation, but does have its charm, notably capturing Vegas in the mid 1990s in a not so seedy way that say Leaving Las Vegas did. 

Having lived in Vegas for 4 years, the humor also hits on some marks. When Randy is cooking food outside on an atomic test site, that is pretty funny. 

The funniest part of the film to me is after Clark loses the family savings in a massive cold streak (what I call simply refer to as “gambling at the Mirage” or “getting Miraged”) and joins forces with Randy and his secret stash to test their luck at a sketchy casino with sketchy games. What is funny is that some of those games, like War, actually became a casino game, as an example of life imitating art. 

I also enjoy watching Rusty go on a heater of a lifetime. Most stories of Vegas is about big losers, so it is fun to watch because in my mind, Vegas kind of operates like this.

Yes, Wayne Newton is cheesy as hell and nonsensical, but Vegas itself was cheesy in the 90s. Shi-yit. The entire city is one giant city of fake. They built a pyramid, Statue of Liberty, volcano, pirate ship, clown casino, castle, and a replica of Venice. There is nothing original about Vegas. 

But I enjoy going just like I enjoy this movie … sometimes. 

Move Rating: 5/10 complimentary upgrades

Movie Reviews: Fight Club

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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.

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Movie Reviews: The Martian

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The Martian directed by Ridley Scott

I had a little deja vu when I watched this. I swear I saw Tom Hanks Matt Damon who worked for FedEx NASA get stranded on an island Mars and have to figure out how to get off, not before losing a ton of weight and growing a beard.

Yes, I know, I jest a little, but the movie was totally like that. On one hand we have Matt Damon talking into a video cam so the viewer can know this thoughts. On the other, we have Tom Hanks talking to Wilson the volleyball.

I preferred the volleyball.

The producers had already made the conscience choice to deviate from the novel and focus half the story with people on earth to give it an Apollo 13 vibe. I don’t know why we had to suffer through a ton of dash cam footage of Matt Damon as he attempted to grow potatoes. They could have treated the audience as adults and not made the feel like they were in 9th grade chemistry. People didn’t give a shit about the sciences that goes into potato making before and won’t give a shit after. Just show a montage of what he was doing and fast forward.

And for this, I’ll have to say we have a decent film, but caked in a red planet for boredom. Riddle me this; why did Matt Damon want to get off of Mars? Because it was boring as hell.

The movie could have done more. Maybe they should have totally copied Apollo 13 and showed Matt Damon on Earth beforehand and the relationships he had built before the mission, and then the reaction of when everyone thought he was lost. Then we could have pulled for those people the entire film. Can you imagine the emotional reaction of his loved ones knowing he was alive instead of random scientists? I don’t know about you, but most films don’t typically rely on scientists, in this case actual rocket scientists, to be the emotional counterweight.

It’s tricky adapting books into film. Sometimes the film is better, like in The Bourne Identity, The Hunt for Red October, The Shining, 2001 Space Odyssey, Jurassic Park, and Get Shorty. Sometimes it is reverse, like in Timeline, Sphere, The Hobbit, Enders Game, and Atlas Shrugged. I don’t really know how this movie compares with the book since I’ve only read the first 30 pages or so, but based on how boring it was to watch, I am unlikely to ever finish reading the novel.

Leave a comment and let me know which category the film fits in.

Movie Rating: 7/10 Potatoes

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