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Movie Breakdown: Dunkirk

July 20, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

It’s Christopher Nolan.  If you’re not at least a little excited about Dunkirk, then you’re probably dead.

Post-Screening Ramble:

I figured Dunkirk was going to be pretty straight forward affair.  There are soldiers trapped on a beach, and civilian boats have been sent to retrieve them.  Oscar-worthy drama ensues!  This is partly true, as there are troops stuck with no where to go and the British government does send normies to scoop them up, but Christoper Nolan cuts out all the pomp and circumstance and opts for a direct, visceral experience.  You don’t see anyone in a board room (with swelling music behind them) arguing about what should be done or anything like that.  Instead Nolan provides three viewpoints.  The first is from the stranded men, who are steadily being dive-bombed, both on land and in the water (if they happened to hop a ride on a rescue boat).  The second is from the sky, as pilots race to Dunkirk to try and protect both the men on the beach and in boats.  The third is from the civilian side, as they too race to Dunkirk to try and save as many soldiers as possible.  It is an intense ride, one that shows you the horrors of the Dunkirk situation and the desperation and fear it filled people with.  It’s not all depressing though, as it also provides a nice look at the courage that it instilled in folks.

I’m not yet sure where Dunkirk ranks for me in regard to Nolan’s other films, but I do think it’s one of the finer war movies since Saving Private Ryan.  It’s stunningly shot, full of great performances, and just in general a very compelling movie.  See it immediately.

One Last Thought:

At some point there needs to be a movie that features nothing but Tom Hardy’s eyes.  They’re so emotive and it’s always very clear as to what he’s trying to say, even if you can’t understand his actual words (like in The Dark Knight Rises, Dunkirk, Mad Max: Fury Road).

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Movie Breakdown: A Ghost Story

July 14, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

I loved what writer/director David Lowery did with Pete’s DragonA Ghost Story, I imagine, is not going to be similar in any way, but because he’s attached and it’s an A24 film, I’m down to give it a go.

Post-Screening Ramble:

If you’re peering at A Ghost Story and thinking it’s some sort of mid-summer indie horror flick, then you should look away because it isn’t that at all.  This film is a quiet, slow affair that requires a real good pair of patience pants to enjoy.  It begins with an introduction to C (Casey Affleck) and M (Rooney Mara), a couple preparing to move out of the home they’ve been in for a long time.  Before that happens though, C is in a car accident and dies.  He awakes in a hospital as a ghost (complete with a sheet that has eye holes cut in it), and then he spends the rest of the movie just watching things happen in the home that his special lady friend no longer occupies.  I know that doesn’t sound particularly interesting, but the film is actually pretty solid since it ditches the usual afterlife type stuff and instead focuses on time.  C is tied to his former home, and as he watches that space transform over the years, you’re reminded of the history that fills everything around us.  I found this to be a great angle, and even now, a few weeks after having seen the movie, I still finding myself thinking about it.  What a nice thing to have during the flashy blockbuster season.  I say see A Ghost Story.  Again though, be sure to note that it’s a real thinker and isn’t scary at all.

One Last Thought:

While watching this movie I couldn’t help but wonder what sort of notes Casey Affleck’s ghost received during filming.  You can’t see anything beneath his sheet, so I like to think it was stuff like “slump more” and “be ghostier.”

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Movie Breakdown: War For The Planet Of The Apes

July 12, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

I never would have guessed it when the James Franco-led Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes was first announced, but there’s a real chance that it and the films that have followed will form one of the best trilogies ever.  Here’s hoping that writer/director Matt Reeves doesn’t stumble at the finish line.

Post-Screening Ramble:

War For The Planet Of The Apes picks up a few years after Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes.  Caesar (Andy Serkis) is a wanted … ape, and he and his kind are trying real hard to avoid conflicts with the army that answered the human distress call from the previous film.  That group is led by The Colonel (Woody Harrelson), a real determined killer of things, and they feature apes that decided to join up with the humans instead of trying to fight them.  So tense!  Now, that’s obviously just the setup, but since there’s so much unexpected stuff that takes place afterwards, I’m not giving you any other plot points.  Actually, since it’s difficult to even talk about this film at all without getting into spoilers, I’ll just say a few other things and then bow out.

First of all, War is an emotional roller coaster that really puts Caesar (and you) through the ringer, and I dug the hell out of it.  Secondly, the hilariously honest Bad Ape (Steve Zahn) turned out to be a real big favorite of mine.  Thirdly, do not go into this expecting some kind of summer blockbuster-y type of war movie with lots of crazy battles and such.  It isn’t that type of film, it’s much more intimate.  Lastly, expect this biblical-like adventure to turn you into a chatter box once you walk out of the theater.

See War ASAP.  It’s fantastic.

One Last Thought:

I feel like these Planet Of the Apes movies will be like Jurassic Park and have CG that’s championed forever.  There’s just so much detail, especially in how the the apes move.  On the flip side of things, I think it’s going to be difficult for me to go back and watch something like this without steadily chuckling.

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Movie Breakdown: Spider-Man: Homecoming (Noah)

July 6, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Spider-Man has been wallowing in the halls of Sony for years now. It isn’t that there hasn’t been good Spider-Man films (Sam Raimi’s are still classic, if not dated, flicks) but Andrew Garfield’s emo spin on the character did nothing for just about anyone. So, Marvel, comic book movie maestros that they are, picking up the reigns to one of their absolutely classic characters, is just about the most exciting thing I’ve heard in years.

Post-Screening Ramble:

We’ve all been waiting for a great Spider-Man film since Spider-Man 3 had Tobey Maguire dancing off against Topher Grace’s Venom. Sure, we sludged through Marc Webb’s duo of angsty mediocrity (sorry Andrew Garfield, you couldn’t do anything about it), the allure of a teenage superhero with the powers of a spider, and the mouth of a PG-13 stand-up comic slowly fading away. And then came Marvel with their indie film director (Jon Watts) and their British Peter Parker (Tom Holland, now, officially a fucking star) and their casting of Michael Keaton as The Vulture/Adrian Toomes. And, then, back to every kid’s favorite superhero, came a sense of excitement. And, you know, the excitement is entirely warranted. Jon Watts, and the humane machine that is Marvel, have made the first movie that manages to capture not only the mythos of Spider-Man for a modern age, but the spirit of a comic. This starts with the casting of Tom Holland as Peter Parker, an eternally boyish, comic patter spewing nerd-dork, who wants nothing more than to use his superpowers – speed, strength, stickiness – to fight baddies. Holland is perfect as Parker, all unrestrained glee balanced out by the emotional rollercoaster of, well, being a teenager. Watts and Marvel know that Spider-Man can’t be a dour Dark Knight, no no, he’s an eternal optimist, the smiling, one-liner spitting good guy who fights until he can fight no more. And instead of another rehash of the Spider-Man origin story (the whole tale of boy-being-bit-by-radioactive-spider is broken down in a two minute bit of dialogue) Watts turns this into a John Hughes film with web blasters and alien technology turned bad. If my greatest concerns about Marvel movies has always been their inability to craft worthy villains for their enjoyable heroes, it may be time to place them on the shelf. Michael Keaton (riding the wave of the New Era of Keaton) plays Adrian Toomes as a very bad man who does very bad things but for, as the viewer will come to learn, potentially good reasons. He’s the Keaton we love – grim, sardonic, the chisel-faced everyman turned to the wrong side – but Watts and company make damn sure he’s a capable threat. His Vulture – powered by a set of cyberpunk-meets-Top-Gun style wings – is a unrepentant badass, and when paired against the nascent superhero that is Spider-Man, you will worry over our wee little Peter Parker like only a doting Aunt May could. What works best is that Watts and Marvel aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel here. This is classic Spider-Man, surrounded by a lovable cast (Marisa Tomei is as charming here as she’s been in anything since My Cousin Vinny) – full of non-stop comic observations, and the sort of go-get-him attitude even the most devoted Spidey fans will connect to. This is the Spider-Man we’ve all been waiting for (and the Happy Hogan, and a little bit of Tony Stark, and some loose connections to MCU). Now we just have to wait for the next one.

One Last Thought:

I have comic book movie fatigue. Real bad. It took me a second to shake it off and really enjoy this film, to see past the fact that it’s even if it isn’t an origin story, it’s still a formula, still a good guy versus a bad guy with the lives of his friends and family at stake. But, put the fucking cynicism in the garbage bin, this flick is so enjoyable, so entertaining, being an asshole about it, is a waste of your goddamn time.

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Movie Breakdown: Spider-Man: Homecoming

July 4, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Even with Spider-Man’s very entertaining appearance in Captain America: Civil War, I’m still somewhat leery of Spider-Man: Homecoming.  Here’s hoping that Marvel having more control than Sony will be enough to fully make the character watchable again.

Post-Screening Ramble:

Right before my screening of Spider-Man: Homecoming started, I wondered if I had already seen the movie.  I thought about the over-revealing trailers and whether or not the film had any surprises left.  I also thought about the superhero fatigue I’m currently experiencing and how even if the movie is good, will it do anything that hasn’t already been done?  Thankfully, the answer here turned out be YES.  Spider-Man: Homecoming is the best film to rumble into theaters so far this summer.

The movie picks up just after Captain America: Civil War.  Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is home in NYC and the only thing he has on his mind is a second mission with Tony Stark (and The Avengers).  School, his one friend and any other responsibilities, it’s all noise to Parker, and he spends his time watching the clock and impatiently waiting until he can hit the streets as Spider-Man and attempt to further prove himself.  Meanwhile, there’s a fella named Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) who is trying really hard to keep his illegal alien weapons business in NYC off of the Avengers’ radar.  As you’ve surely guessed, the two collide as Spider-Man & Vulture.

That’s the basic plot, and I won’t note anything else.  As for those trailers that showed too much, they do somewhat come into play while watching Homecoming.  Because of them it really isn’t hard to sort of piece together what’s going to happen next, but thankfully there are a handful of surprises.  Also, what’s in those trailers is just snippets of full scenes, and I think you’ll be thrilled with the way everything fully plays out.  Trust me!

Anyhow, here’s what I think really makes Homecoming work – it never lets you forget that Peter Parker/Spider-Man is a kid.  He’s a sophomore in high school who can’t talk to girls and is generally clumsy.  Parker is also just like any other kid in that he wants to be treated like an adult.  It’s this struggle for Parker that’s the core of Homecoming, and it really does well to keep the film grounded and to make it feel like a standalone effort.  Yes, there’s plenty of flashy action pieces and MCU connections to be had, but the inexperienced and overly eager Peter Parker/Spider-Man is what makes those scenes – and the film itself – memorable.  It’ll be interesting watching the character grow from here.

Somehow someway Spider-Man: Homecoming completely rights the ship for the web-slinger AND manages to avoid doing it in a way that comes off like an origin story or just a setup for the next MCU film.  What a triumph.  See it a couple of times.

One Last Thought:

There are a couple of characters that make their return to the MCU in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and I have to admit that I really enjoyed seeing them around again.  I guess that just goes to show what Marvel has managed to build over the years – even the “small” people in their films tend to hold weight and aren’t just filler.

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Movie Breakdown: The Beguiled

June 29, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Lost In Translation is one of my favorite movies ever, so I’ll gladly line up for anything that Sofia Coppola does for the rest of time.  Obsessions aside, I actually do think The Beguiled looks pretty good.  Plus it was well-received at Cannes, which can occasionally mean something.

Post-Screening Ramble:

I really enjoyed The Beguiled.  The film takes place during the Civil War, and it revolves around a wounded Union soldier who seeks help at an all-female Southern boarding school.  At first all is well, but it’s not long before the presence of the charming Corporal John McBurney (Colin Farrell) sends his caregivers into a fervor.  There’s a lot of pent up energy, resentment and sadness buried in the ladies (both young and old) that populate the school, and McBurney pulls it out of all of them.  Writer/director Sofia Coppola is smart though, and she doesn’t just let The Beguiled turn into some sort of over the top soap opera.  No, her film is made up of nerves, jealous glances, defensive postures and judgemental mumbles.  She wants you pay attention, to be patient, and to let yourself soak in the desperate atmosphere she’s created.  I think this may be one of my favorite films by her.

If you want something quieter than what’s currently blowing up theaters, then I think you should seek out The Beguiled.  It’s beautifully shot (seriously, it looks like an actual live Southern painting), has great performances (super big ups to Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning), and it’ll make your brain and nerves tumble.

One Last Thought:

Elle Fanning is an interesting actress.  She plays a lot of the same type of characters, but somehow she puts just enough twist on each them to keep things fresh.  It’s honestly really impressive.  Side note, what happened to her sister?

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Movie Breakdown: Baby Driver (Noah)

June 27, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Even if The World’s End was (at the time) the Edgar Wright movie that I connected with the very least, he is still one of the great directors working today. And if he wants to make a movie about an iPod listening getaway driver trying to escape the crime game, well, then I’m there in a Santa Suit on opening day.

Post-Screening Ramble:

I think there’s a lot to be said about Edgar Wright’s first movie post his beloved Cornetto Trilogy. Where Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End were strictly British films (in style, content and cast), Baby Driver is Wright’s most American feeling film. There’s a sense of apple pie, American nostalgia that permeates the story of Baby (Ansel Elgort) – a tinnitus-affected music lover with some serious skill behind the wheel – and his want to quit the “crime team” and go live a life with Debora (Lily James), his diner-server lady friend. He’s pursued by baddies – some with hearts of gold, others with hearts of coal – and to save the damsel in distress he’s got to drive some cars and kick some ass. Wright does well to keep the film from feeling stale though, as he’s clearly seen every driving movie ever and with the use of Baby’s tinnitus as a plot device he has some room to zig and zag. But, if traditionalism bums you out, Baby Driver might not be your bag. This is a film about love and about good and evil and the grey murk that lies between (but only briefly before the cheer of this flick blasts that shit out of the water) and it’s about a kid with a hearing problem saving the day. It walks a line between corniness and homage that Wright maintains, but chunks of the film still come off as saccharine. Is it ever unenjoyable or lacking in intelligence or wit? Of course not, but this still feels like a palate cleanser – a quick, fun production that lets Wright play in the meta-action sandbox (though only a little) he loves so much, toy around with some new acting pals and get a movie into the theater. It lacks the emotional heft of Shaun of the Dead or The World’s End and the bizarreness of a Hot Fuzz or Scott Pilgrim. Instead it coasts along flatter, less interesting middle bits that lie between both. I’m hoping it’s the smoothing of the foundational cement so Wright can leap up and out into the weirdness. As of now though, it’s a nice stop-gap.

One Last Thought:

I watched The World’s End right after seeing this and what really stands out is the visual nature of it compared to Baby Driver. This film is sort of bland in terms of cinematography gusto and in the context of Wright’s other movies, well, it’s glaring. This could be because the film takes place in Atlanta, which seems to be a very large, very spread out REI superstore where people also live.

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Movie Breakdown: Baby Driver

June 26, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Baby Driver looks like it’s going to be a real winner.  Not that this is in any way surprising, as it was written and directed by the one and only Edgar Wright.  That guy is just the best.

Post-Screening Ramble:

I can’t say that Baby Driver is as great as anything in Edgar Wright’s Corentto Trilogy or as quirky as his Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, but it is very entertaining and easily one of the best movies to be released in the first half of 2017.  The plot here is pretty simple – Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a wheelman because he owes a debt to Doc (Kevin Spacey), he meets Debora (Lily James), this proves to be life-changing – and there aren’t any real surprises, but that’s fine because Baby Driver is all about action and music.  The car chases in this thing are a blast.  Actually, just watching Baby walk to get coffee is fun, and that’s because the film doesn’t just have a good soundtrack, there’s a rhythm to the whole thing.  Gun shots, convos, strolls around town, whatever – it’s all set to specific songs and cues within them, and it’s pretty damn impressive.  Now I get why Wright had the entire soundtrack approved before he even started filming.

As I mentioned up above, Baby Driver may not be Wright’s best film – it does have a few things, namely the end, that feel a bit tacked on – but it is a clever, entertaining effort that you’d have to try really hard to not like.  Definitely see it as soon as you can.

One Last Thought:

I sincerely hope that Ansel Elgort is able to follow up Baby Driver with some good projects.  The kid is talented, and he shouldn’t be spending his time in drivel like Allegiant and The Fault In Our Stars.

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Movie Breakdown: Rough Night

June 16, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

There hasn’t been a single Rough Night trailer that’s made me blow air out of my nose, but I also haven’t seen anything that’s made me roll my eyes and sigh.  I guess this means I’m feeling like there’s a chance it’ll be good.  If it isn’t, something something about getting to look at Scarlett Johansson.

Post-Screening Ramble:

I was pleasantly surprised by Rough Night.  It’s essentially your standard party gone wrong type of R-rated comedy that has plenty of dick jokes, drugs, sex and all the other usual things, but what’s there is dialed just right.  This is especially the case with the cast, which is principally made up of Scarlett Johansson, Jillian Bell, Zoe Kravitz, Ilana Glazer and Kate McKinnon.  They not only have great chemistry and co-exist on the screen in a way that doesn’t just feel like a bunch of famous people constantly yelling, but each of them inject real personalities into their characters.  This means there’s not just one person who is funny or straight-laced or whatever, they’re all a little bit of everything, and this keeps the film (and its paint-by-numbers plot) feeling fresh since you’re never fully sure how any of them are going to react to something.

Look, I’m not going to tell you that Rough Night is one of the greatest comedies ever or anything like that.  It’s a solid movie that’s got plenty of laughs and some nice performances, and you could certainly do a lot worse at the theater this weekend.  I say give it a go.

One Last Thought:

It’s interesting to think about Scarlett Johansson’s career.  Way back in 2005 when she did Michael Bay’s The Island, everyone cried out in horror, and now people high five when she stars in stuff like Ghost In The Shell, Rough Night and all those Marvel movies.  Good for her.  I wonder where she goes from here, though?

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Movie Breakdown: Cars 3

June 15, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

I mostly like the first Cars movie, which is essentially just a re-imagining of Doc HollywoodCars 2 is truly terrible.  Cars 3 seems like it may get the franchise back on … track.  I’m down, if only to further support Pixar.

Post-Screening Ramble:

For a moment there I thought that Cars 3 was going to be like Rocky 3.  Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is a champion, he’s shiny and happy, he’s got loads of friends and fans, and his lady has the body of a Porsche.  Everything is wonderful!  Until, out of nowhere, a new challenger with a cool name – Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer) – comes along and takes it all away.  Doesn’t that sound like what Clubber Lang did to Rocky?  Yes, yes it does.

Unfortunately, nothing after this setup is even half as fun or interesting as Rocky 3.  The story is very hollow, and I often found myself side-eying its variety of lazily constructed and halfhearted messages.  The main issue though is McQueen, who swerves about and spends his time either whining or being a dick to the film’s other main character, a race car trainer named Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo).  He’s very unlikable, which is bizarre considering that he’s the face of this animated franchise for children.  Talk about getting something way wrong.

I can’t recommend Cars 3, as it just isn’t any good – for you or your kids.  Spend your money and time elsewhere.

One Last Thought:

Nothing about the Cars “world” makes any sense.  Everything in it seems crafted for humans, but there aren’t any around.  I know this is silly (it’s just an animated movie meant to sell toys, man), but for some reason I found it wildly distracting in the third go-round.  I just kept thinking “what is this place and how did it get this way?” over and over.

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Movie Breakdown: The Mummy

June 7, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Tom Cruise is great, but I’m not at all excited about The Mummy.  Nothing about it looks good or even interesting.  Also, I have questions.  Why is Tom in this movie?  Why does this movie even exist?  Where the hell is Brendan Frasier?

Post-Screening Ramble:

There’s this part of me that wants to rip The Mummy apart.  The 3D version I saw was far too dark and I could barely see anything for much of the film.  The story is flimsy at best.  The characters are super shallow.  It didn’t even manage to leave me wanting more of Universal’s Dark Universe.

With that being said, it’s such a harmless movie that it’s difficult for me to just destroy.  Sure, it may not have much weight to its story or characters, but there are handful of fun plot points and everyone in it feels like they’re doing their best to make it a legit blockbuster.  This is doubly true for Tom Cruise, who is charismatic (as usual) and pulls off some pretty stellar stunts in the movie (full whoa on the zero gravity plane scene).  The film also has a sort of c’est la vie vibe, in that it lightheartedly and excitedly bounds along and forsakes any quiet moments in order to get you to the next action scene.  This means you won’t remember anything or have your mind blown, but you’ll at least have an OK time.

If you’re bent on seeing this one, keep it to matinee prices.

One Last Thought:

I don’t do spoilers but I have to roll one out here.  DO NOT highlight my inviso-text unless you want to know the end of the movie!

The film concludes with Tom Cruise becoming cursed (and all powerful or whatever).  They don’t really show his face, but later you see his hands and they’re all wrapped up like a mummy.  To be honest, I ‘m not fully sold on the Dark Universe, but you better believe I’m down to see Cruise all dressed up like a mummy and acting evil and stuff.  That sounds like comedy gold.

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Movie Breakdown: It Comes At Night

June 6, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

It’s pretty hard to not be all aboard the It Comes At Night hype train.  That poster up above is just about perfect and the teasers/trailers have been great.  Oh, and early word has been really positive.  I’m ready.

Post-Screening Ramble:

Writer/director Trey Edward Shults really hit it out of the park with It Comes At Night, but I don’t believe it’s the film that most are expecting.  There’s been some trickery at play in the marketing, and if you’ve managed to stay away from lengthy plot descriptions and/or spoilers, then you’re probably heading into it under the impression that you’ll be receiving a nice slice of horror.  Well, there is some of that present, but for the most part It Comes At Night is a slow-paced psychological thriller.  The only monsters in it are the families trying to survive some type of world-ending disease (it’s never fully explained), and the movie details how their dire situation seeds paranoia and fear.  These feelings aren’t just for the characters though, they’re for you, too, and that’s where this film really shines.  There are a lot of quiet moments, and every single one of them will also leave you feeling unsure about what’s true and whose side you’re on.  Personally, I flip flopped the whole damn time, and by the end of it I couldn’t definitively say I wouldn’t have acted the same way each party does in the film.  Now that’s good stuff.

Do yourself a favor and run out and see It Comes At Night.  Just don’t go in expecting some kind of big scary movie.  It’s not that.  At all.

One Last Thought:

The more movies I watch that involve people trying to survive in a world without order (or whatever we have now), the more sure I become that I’ll never make it in such a scenario.  I just like talking and typing and stuff, not setting up bunkers or scavenging or shooting people. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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Movie Breakdown: Wonder Woman (Noah)

May 31, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

This is the studio that made Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, not only one of the worst superhero films of all time, but two of the rare hours of my life I’d like back.

Post-Screening Stance:

Huzzah huzzah, a miracle hath occurred: DC, in its newest incarnation, has made a pretty good film. Sure, you and I both believed that the one-two shit punch of Suicide Squad and Batman vs. Superman implied that every film the studio would now release would be the cinematic equivalent of dragging your face on asphalt. Dark, moody, overly stuffed with characters and character introductions, these two films, and the directing of Zack Snyder set the tone for a possible future of the DC. Call Wonder Woman the course-correction. Patty Jenkins – the first female director of a major superhero film – has made a film that seems to align with the current values of DC comics – upbeat, fun, an adventure more than a deep dive into the darkness of being a superhero. And, for the most part, it works. Gal Gadot is physically a perfect choice for Diana, able to capture the godlike beauty of the character and handle the more action-oriented moments. Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), the sidekick in the film, has all the reserves of comedy and pathos a great sidekick is supposed to have, and he nearly steals the movie. Beyond all this, this is a female superhero finally getting her film and it’s well made and well acted and it has a narrative arc that goes from start to finish and for the most part makes sense. The action scenes are strong – lots of whip camera slo-mo as pioneered by DC uber-father Zack Snyder – and the film feels complete, its own story outside of the expanded universe. It is, to be brief, a good film. Is it the next coming of superhero films? No. It still spins its wheels in the mud of superhero burnout with a weak villain and some over-processed cheese. But, details aside, this is a cheer-worthy film (seriously the audience clapped more than any movie I’ve ever seen) and as silly as it’ll be in ten years that a female superhero was a big deal – it is. I sat next to two young women during the film and their genuine excitement when the credits rolled was kind of heartwarming. It’s not perfect, don’t think it is, but Wonder Woman, hell, it’s good and for DC, that’s saying a lot.

One Last Thing:

I don’t know if this implies that all DC films going forward are going to be good. This one was though, so take it while you can get it.

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Movie Breakdown: Wonder Woman

May 31, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

I was slightly skeptical when Gal Gadot got cast as WW, but she was a real highlight in the murky Batman v Superman and everything in the lead up to the release of her debut solo film has been totally on point.  Hard to not be at least a little excited about this one.

Post-Screening Ramble:

While I dig that superheroes everywhere are getting their shot on the big screen, that whole game has grown old for me.  It’s all generic origin stories and drawn out setup films, and I’m just ready for the genre to disappear for a while.  And yet, Wonder Woman delighted me.  Now, this isn’t to say it does anything different.  It’s booked-ended with an unnecessary connection to the DC films that have come before it, and the middle is one big by-the-numbers origin story, but the movie works and it works well.  I give all of the credit to Gal Gadot and Chris Pine, who are both absolutely fantastic in the movie.  Seriously, without them, Wonder Woman just wouldn’t work.

I should probably say more here, but I don’t really want to tell you anything about the story.  It’s not particularly complicated or difficult to predict (again, it’s the two main performances that make it function), so you might as well let it unfold at the theater.  Just go, watch Gadot and Pine dazzle, and then feel good about DC finally getting something legit right.

One Last Thought:

I wonder if all of the DC flicks are going to look like Zack Snyder movies?  I suppose it helps thematically (and Snyder’s style is definitely cool), but I wouldn’t mind seeing some different takes.  Otherwise all of these films will start to look the same, which is a problem in the MCU (with the exception of Guardians of the Galaxy and, hopefully, Thor: Ragnarok).

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Movie Breakdown: Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

May 24, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Pirates Of The Caribbean 1 is a great movie.  Pirates 2 & 3 are OK movies.  I didn’t even bother with Pirates 4, but I heard it wasn’t good.  Frankly, I’m surprised (or disappointed, I don’t know) that there’s a Pirates 5, but people gotta eat and get their swashbuckling fix in, I suppose.

Post-Screening Ramble:

To be honest, I don’t even know what Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales was about.  Franchise face Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is around but he’s got half a crew, no ship and is surprisingly sidelined for most scenes.  Series regular Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush) is present as well, but mostly just because he has a shoehorned connection to one of the main characters, a discount Keira Knightley (Kaya Scodelario).  There’s a budget Orlando Bloom (Brenton Thwaites) involved, too, but he doesn’t seem to have any particularly useful skills.  He just wants to bumble about until he finds some magical trident that will free the actual Orlando Bloom from a life of servitude aboard the Flying Dutchman.  Javier Bardem plays a cursed pirate killer who wants to take down Sparrow.  Or all pirates.  I’m not really sure.  There’s a somewhat perplexing Paul McCartney cameo, but it at least made me smile since everything up until then was confusing and one shade above awful.  On the action front, it’s all rather boring.  There are some neat designs, but none of them go anywhere and once the eye candy simmers, you realize you’re watching a bunch of bored actors in a tired franchise.  Seriously, there’s nothing here worth cheering for or remembering (obviously).  Hell, I can’t even call this film a misfire because all parties involved didn’t even bother loading the canon.  I think in most years this is the kind of movie that would kill a bunch of careers, but I guess in sequel happy Hollywood this will pass as solid filler.  What a shipwreck.  Skip it.

One Last Thought:

I’m willing to bet $20 that Johnny Depp was actually drunk during the making of this movie.  I couldn’t understand a damn thing he was saying due to all of the slurring.

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