A whole lot funnier – and, surprisingly, sweeter – than I anticipated. Then again, I anticipated sheer crap. Director Gary Marshall manages to take what could have been a hideous train wreck of sap and turns it into a light, fun piece that may not stick with you for very long, but won’t cause any lasting damage either. A full grade bump-down for an absolutely horrible, bouncy sap-fest end credits song. Grade: B-
Director John Carney proves he can put lightning in a bottle anytime he likes. Sing Street echoes his earlier films Once and Begin Again, channeling the character’s emotions and times through the music that they make. And what sweet music it is.
Wobbly bits of characterization and plot can’t stop this beautiful music from making an impact. Expect original songs “Drive It Like You Stole It” and “To Find You” to hit radio stations in 3…2… Grade: A-
Liked Dazed and Confused, with it’s ensemble cast and “day in the life of” vibe? Well then, Everybody Wants Some!! will be more of the same, straight from D&C‘s Richard Linklater. Everybody is a cool-ass trip for those of us who grew up in the 80s, but could scare a lot of kids who don’t really wanna know what their parents were up to when they were young.
Everybody starts off at fictional Southern Texas University in August, 1980, with baseball-scholarship frosh Jake getting to his digs for the year. The baseball team has been given two houses just off campus, to help with the overcrowding at the dorms. Jake meets his teammates, bon-vivant Finn (Glen Powell, Scream Queens), stoner Willoughby (Wyatt Russell), laid-back Dale (J. Quinton Johnson), badass Mac (Tyler Hoechlin, Teen Wolf) and many more. He’s one of four freshmen added to the roster that year, so in the days before school officially starts, he’s got to navigate the new world of college as well as the bro-culture bonding of his House. Not to mention finding the time to figure out who that cute girl is he saw when he first arrived. (That’d be Beverly, played by Ringer‘s Zoey Deutch…) No problem. Bring on the keg stands! [Read more…]
Nutshell: 10 Cloverfield Lane is a worthy successor to the original Cloverfield, actually beating the sophomore slump and rising above the first film. Not in the handheld/found-footage genre (there’s nary a shakey-cam moment to be found) , but in the sense of dread, terror of the unknown, and a screenplay that manages to keep the adrenaline pumping. The climax is well-executed crazy, thanks to this film’s game ensemble cast. But are there monsters, you ask? Depends on your definition of monster… Grade: A-
“I focused on being prepared. And I was…. And here we are.”
If you’re a kaiju nerd like I am, you were stoked for Cloverfield. And while it wasn’t exactly the huge monster throwdown many of us were hoping for – that’d be Pacific Rim, a movie that actually grew on me on repeat viewings – Cloverfield‘s hints at a strange, unsettling mythology had me hooked. Not exactly fully invested in its teasingly vague story, but willing to sit for more. So? More! Well, kinda. J.J. Abrams still sticks with the producer role, and with Cloverfield director Matt Reeves also going the producer route in this sequel-ish film, Dan Trachtenberg gets his first feature-film directorial shot. With a smaller ensemble cast – a mere three actors – this film is a sequel to Cloverfield in its ability to unsettle, play with your expectations, and leave you wanting more.
Nutshell: Can something be awful and amazing at the same time? Well, Gods of Egypt is certainly giving it its best shot. With crazy action scenes, a nutso plot, and CGI that feels like the SyFy channel and 1999’s The Mummy had a lovechild of doom, this film tries for Glorious Epic and comes off 50s Throwback. And I haven’t even started on my #GodsSoWhite rant yet. Bumping this up half a grade for its sheer balls, and for Geoffrey Rush’s weird fishtail braid. Grade: C-
Nope, that quote above isn’t from Winnie the Pooh. Well okay, it is. But it’s also here in Gods of Egypt. And not only is it spoken by one of the “Gods”, it’s probably what every member of the cast and crew thought to themselves once the reality of this movie really set in. But hey, everyone’s got a mortgage that needs to be paid, amirite?
Director Alex Proyas seems determined to complete the downward spiral he’s started after his work on 1994’s brilliant Brandon Lee superhero flick The Crow. I, Robot, Knowing, and now this…movie. Gods of Egypt is like the world’s craziest D&D campaign run amok, where the DM has taken the rule book, the mythos for the world, and any semblance of coherence, and chucked ’em all out the window. But if you’re ready to settle in — after a few beers or better yet, several shots of the strongest liquor in your cabinet (something white, to set the mood) — I’ll dig a bit deeper so you know what you’ll be getting yourself into.
We all know Jesse Owens; he’s the runner we all hear about in sophomore year high school American history class. The guy that went to the Berlin Olympics in 1936 and showed Hitler that the idea of an Übermensch needed to be retooled a little. A lot. But filmgoers get a bigger picture of Owens in Race, a film that takes Jesse Owens and his considerable talent, and puts him into his time, complete with bigotry, politics and the spectacle of the Olympic Games.
Director Stephen Hopkins (House of Lies, and one of my favorite Tales From the Crypt episodes, “Abra Cadaver”*) balances all of this beautifully. What could have been a by-the-numbers history lesson or a pedestal-buffing hosana to a legendary athlete, instead is a compelling story of one man’s struggle to find himself amid the slings and arrows of his times. [Read more…]
If anyone has ever fist-pumped about a Michael Bay film, it’s this gal right here. Let’s face it; Michael Bay Go Boom. And it’s glorious. Except when it’s heartbreaking too. In 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (that I’m shortening to 13 Hours for this review because c’mon now) Bay and his cast dig deep, giving moviegoers not only the pomp and circumstance of war, but the pain, fear and uncertainty that goes along with all the ooh-rah.
For me, I’d only really heard about Benghazi in the news, usually when the city’s name was tossed like a grenade into some sort of political debate. So for everyone else who needs a bit of a refresher? On September 11th, 2012, a United States diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked by Islamic militants, killing a United States Ambassador and a member of his staff. Hours later, the militants attacked a CIA compound approximately a mile away from the first attack, killing two United States government contractors serving as the CIA’s Global Response Staff (GRS). 13 Hours follows the story of the six GRS members — former US military — on the weeks before, and all through, the attacks. [Read more…]
Actor Hardy’s awards nod is warranted, he’s really that good. 1800’s untamed West landscape will amaze you, most gorgeous display of outdoors I’ve ever seen. Extremely violent and gory, the bear mauling scene is amazing screen time (is it real or animatronic?). Dicaprio’s character goes through hell, more than any man could or should have to bear in a lifetime. Painful and loving performance in one, let’s hope the Academy shows him some love. In the end, its exhausting and excruciatingly painful to watch to conclusion and the payoff you wait for still leaves you hollow.
Nutshell: If anyone walks away from Concussion without grieving for those who suffered/are suffering from CTE? They’re dead inside. Amazing performances by actors playing affected football players (most especially David Morse as Mike Webster) bring this issue straight into the feel center of the brain. The rest of the movie is too light a touch, possibly because it tries to cover CTE, Omalu’s love story with his now wife, and the Big Bad that is the business of sport. Still, this film takes the real-life subject matter and makes it easy to understand, and Smith’s performance is genuine, if not a bit too heroic. Grade: B-
“I’m just asking back what I gave….Help me.”
I have to admit I’ve made my share of “bell-rung jock” jokes in my life. Y’know, the whole “he’s barely coherent, look at him — one too many tackles” kinda jabs. Ha ha funny, right? Sure. When it’s simply a jest at the expense of musclebound moneybags who are laughing all the way to the bank, with not a care in the world beyond a bone or muscle injury that could sideline them. [Read more…]