Author Archives: ochippie

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Movie Review – Leave No Trace

Category : Movie Review

Director: Debra Granik

Starring: Thomasin McKenzie, Ben Foster

Year: 2018

Director Debra Granik’s latest film will inevitably be compared to her biggest, and I don’t think that’s unfair.  Winter’s Bone wasn’t her first feature, it was her second, but it put her on the map and made Jennifer Lawrence into a star, so it was a pretty big deal.  Granik then waited 8 years to direct another drama, and she made it about a teenager who must deal with her father’s problems while surviving her family’s poverty.  That’s pretty much the same plot, minus the crime element, keeping Dale Dickey, who appeared in both films.  Anyway, my point is that Leave No Trace will be compared to Winter’s Bone, and it will live or die by that comparison.  But I think that’s fair, unless the only options are “better” and “terrible”.  Because this film isn’t better, but it also isn’t bad at all, its largest flaw being its inability to live up to its predecessor.

Will is a Veteran with PTSD who was never able to return to his former life, choosing instead to stay off the grid in the woods of Oregon where his dreams might have a harder time finding him.  His only companion is his daughter Tom, a girl he raised and taught to read and shared his knowledge of survival with, his only partner in life.  When Will and Tom are discovered illegally living on state property, they are forced to adapt to modern living; jobs, schools, bungalows, forms to fill out, decisions to make.  Will simply can’t do it, he isn’t ready, but Tom wants to try to lead a “normal” life for once, to make friends, to have a future.  Running away again might mean that they never come back, which isn’t a path that Tom wants to travel.

In theory, this is Thom McKenzie’s breakout role like it was Jennifer Lawrence’s, and there’s a chance that is might really be.  In this heavy character drama, she carries her weight, and her voice is very captivating, she’s got a quality that draws you in.  The part was written very well too; I don’t know Granik’s backstory, but she seems to be creating these stories from deep places, and they come across as very honest.  Ben Foster is great too; man, he’s great every time.  He’s one of the most underrated actors in cinematic history; the guy can do anything.  Compared to Winter’s Bone, Leave No Trace isn’t AS impacting, isn’t AS powerful, so I can’t rate it as highly since it’s very similar in a lot of ways.  But completely on its own, it’s still a fine film, a really riveting narrative, and you should definitely see it because it will at least be in deeper discussions come awards time next year.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆



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Movie Trailer – Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Michael Dougherty

Starring: Millie Bobby Brown, Bradley Whitford, Vera Farmiga

Release: May 31st, 2019

What a dumb teaser.  We should all boycott this movie simply because whoever made this trailer is stupid.  And then there’s the part about how Godzilla was a bad movie, let’s not forget that.  I like Millie, I like monster movies, but even without seeing the full trailer, I predict that this film will suck.

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Movie Trailer – Overlord

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Julius Avery

Starring: Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, John Magaro

Release: October 26th, 2018

I like the idea of combining horror with WWII, but I also don’t like stupid action movies about zombies with no point.  I can enjoy a nice b-movie no problem, but it’s when they attempt to masquerade as something else that I take issue.  This film seems to be overstepping itself, and I don’t think I want to watch it.

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Movie Review – The Death of Stalin

Category : Movie Review

Director: Armando Iannucci

Starring: Simon Baker Beale, Steve Buscemi, Jeffrey Tambor

Year: 2017

Director Armando Iannucci is best known for two television shows; Alan Partridge and Veep.  I’ve never seen either, but I have seen the Alan Partridge movie, which I enjoyed.  I wonder if Death of Stalin leans more toward Veep, that kind of humor, because I didn’t enjoy the film as much as I had hoped, I think he may have taken the comedy in a direction that simply wasn’t my style.  It’s dark all the way through, satyric while giving us true history, and off-kilter in a way that I should have found hilarious, but just didn’t.  I was looking forward to this movie very much, I had high hopes for it, not just as a comedy but overall, and I’m sad that it didn’t win me over.

In the 1950s, Josef Stalin ruled the Soviet Union with an iron fist.  Arrests every day, death lists every evening, plotting in between; it was a time of terror and of shattered dreams, as the utopia that was supposed to be fell apart in its infancy.  Even Stalin’s party members and officials lived in fear of his violent whims, and never knew whether tomorrow might mean their own death.  But they did not die; he did, in a dramatic twist of fate and of fortune.  With the Boss out of the picture, a power vacuum was created, with every high-ranking fiend scrambling for control.  This was the rise of Nikita Khrushchev and the Russian army, but their plan to take over didn’t seem so flawless in its beginning stages, and much was in the air before the fate of the world was decided.

Beale, Buscemi, Tambor, Michael Palin, Jason Isaacs, Paddy Considine, Olga Kurylenko; the cast is the strongest part of The Death of Stalin, really the only element that was always consistent and never let audiences down.  The story is insane but true, or mostly true anyway, a look at the bumblings of giants that are guaranteed to crush the lives of countless ants underneath.  It’s dark, it’s morbid, it’s hard to swallow, but this is history, and events don’t always shake out evenly or smoothly or intelligently, sometimes the lord of chaos rules.  Now, that’s just one element, this film is mostly a comedy, but one that I didn’t find as funny as I had hoped.  Early on I did, but the plot became more muddled while the laughs become too few, and I found myself bored more often that not.  I didn’t want to feel that way about this movie, I wanted to roll in the aisles.  But the humor just missed me, or it fizzled too quickly in all the conniving, and I was left with a very depressing look into the history books without much saving grace.  I’m sure there is a certain group that this comedy will strike a chord with, it just wasn’t me, and I can’t predict whether it will be you.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆



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Movie Trailer – Boy Erased

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Joel Edgerton

Starring: Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe

Release: November 2nd, 2018

Lucas could get an Oscar nomination for this film, and from the trailer, I’d say he’d deserve it.  Every single “Christian” needs to watch this movie, and then go home and look at themselves in the mirror until something inside them clicks.  I have so much to say about this story that I don’t know where to begin, I just want to watch it, I want others to watch it, and I want this torture to stop because it’s evil.  Please let one idiot who believes that there’s a supernatural being out in space who sends gay people’s souls to an eternal firepit have their eyes opened by this movie.

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Movie Trailer – Little Italy

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Donald Petrie

Starring: Emma Roberts, Hayden Christensen, Alyssa Milano

Release: 2018


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Sports – NFL Rookies 2018 Top 20 First Look

Category : Sports

QB Baker Mayfield – Cleveland Browns

RB Saquon Barkley – New York Giants

QB Sam Darnold – New York Jets

CB Denzel Ward – Cleveland Browns

LB Bradley Chubb – Denver Broncos

OG Quenton Nelson – Indianapolis Colts

QB Josh Allen – Buffalo Bills

LB Roquan Smith – Chicago Bears

OT Mike McGlinchey – San Francisco 49ers

QB Josh Rosen – Arizona Cardinals

S Minkah Fitzpatrick – Miami Dolphins

DT Vita Vea – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

DT Da’Ron Payne – Washinton Redskins

DE Marcus Davenport – New Orleans Saints

OT Kolton Miller – Oakland Raiders

LB Tremaine Edmunds – Buffalo Bills

S Derwin James – Los Angeles Chargers

CB Jaire Alexander – Green Bay Packers

LB Leighton Vander Esch – Dallas Cowboys

C Frank Ragnow – Detroit Lions

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Movie Trailer – On the Basis of Sex

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Mimi Leder

Starring: Felicity Jones, Armie Hammer, Justin Theroux

Release: December 25th, 2018

This movie is going to be bad, but there’s a chance that it’ll be emotionally stirring enough that we won’t care.  I really do think that’s accurate, that it’ll simply be a good story with good actors without becoming a great film, but that its message might be powerful enough to overcome that.  Does that make it quality?  I don’t know, there’s a debate there, I’m just saying that I don’t think I’ll be rating this film highly if I look at it objectively when the dust settles.  But that’s just a prediction; I hope I’m wrong.

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Movie Trailer – Colette

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Wash Westmoreland

Starring: Keira Knightley, Dominic West

Release: January 25th, 2019

I wasn’t expecting much, but this film has the potential to be very powerful.  It’s relevant, it’s unapologetic, Keira Knightley is made for these roles, and it doesn’t steal from Mary Shelley as much as I would have imagined.  Let’s give it a solid chance to impress us.

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DVD Review – Swung

Category : DVD Review

Director: Colin Kennedy

Starring: Elena Anaya, Owen McDonnell, Elizabeth McGovern

Year: 2015

For Colin Kennedy’s first attempt at directing a feature, Swung is a solid double, which could be a baseball or a swingers reference, take you pick.  It’s a better, Scottish, much more serious version of Swinging with the Finkels, which wasn’t a good movie at all, so there was really only one way to go from there.  As far as I know, there haven’t been a ton of swing-curious movies produced, and least more mainstream, non-pornographic ones, as it’s a weird and touchy subject, something that isn’t exactly comfortable to sit down in from of and watch with your mate.  Still, Swung works as an audacious hack the ball, one where you don’t get the most beautiful hit, but at least you made contact.

The Movie

Alice and David are in couples counseling, mostly on account of David’s impotence and anxiety around all things sexual.  It’s a new problem, the young couple were happy before, but recently he just can’t get it up, and if Alice makes any sort of move to fulfill her own desires it results in a row that is centered on David’s shame and embarrassment.  Alice is a journalist, David is a failed designer, which doesn’t help his confidence level, and he’s also dealing with an ex-wife who doesn’t want him to spend much time with his daughter, with official divorce papers hovering over his head as well.  It’s not really the best time in his life, and the fact that he freaks out every Alice puts on the moves isn’t helping matters much.

Her newest story is an expose on the swinging community, an idea brought on by David’s casual joining of a swingers website.  It was a joke at first, but couples actually responded, and David actually got turned on, so Alice is beginning to think that she might be able to kill two birds with one stone.  She can experience what it’s like to share a partner first hand, and she can also potentially please a boyfriend who doesn’t seem able to be pleased.  But first you have to get started, have to meet other swingers, and that’s the awkward part.  And even if you can get past your own inhibitions, there’s still the actually going through with it, with no knowledge of whether or not sex with complete strangers will fix things or break them irrevocably.

For a rather amateur attempt, Swung could have been much, much worse.  It’s a tough subject, it’s very adult and progressive, and some people simply won’t want to watch a film about swinging.  Because it’s not simply a rom/com that involves slight experimentation, this is a serious drama about a failing relationship, one that can’t escape its connection to and dependence on sex.  There is a good amount of nudity, some barriers will be broken, your comfort zone might be stretched, so go in prepared to expand, and don’t watch with your parents.  I’m not sure how couples would respond to watching this film together, whether it would be a turn on or a conversation piece, an eye-opener or simply a dramatic movie.  It’s a bit of all those things, while also being a story about a romance that has lost almost all of its own.

American audiences won’t really recognize these actors; one is Spanish, the other Irish, and neither are huge stars.  Elena Anaya has done a few known films though; she was the evil doctor in Wonder Woman and the sexy brunette in Room in Rome.  She’s fairly strong in Swung, though not remarkable, and I think the same could be said for Owen McDonnell, who is fine but not spectacular.  Elizabeth McGovern makes an appearance, and she’s solid, but her part is rather small.  Taken as a whole, this film is a daring and devilish look into the world of swingers, how it is made up of very normal people with very normal problems, but also how it might not be the healthiest way to deal.  At the same time, the individual elements won’t hold up when set on  their own, but that might simply be a product of inexperience.


Video – With an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 Widescreen and shot using an Arri Alexa camera, the video quality of the DVD is adequate, but not grand.  Much of the theme of the film is darkness, the bedroom, sexy situations, so you won’t see a ton of color and brightness, and Alice even remarks on how dismal Scotland is, so don’t expect to be blown away by the visuals.  Look for soft and somber moments that stand out; there are a few.

Audio – The disc is done in English Dolby Digital audio, with a choice between 5.1 Surround and 2.0 Stereo.  Subtitles are available in English.  That’s it for the sound, and while the music isn’t memorable, I do think that the dialogue was nicely done and well-balanced.  The sound was never choppy, it was always evenly distributed, and I never felt like the audio got away from the director, which is something.

Extras – There are no bonus features on this DVD.

Final Thoughts

Recommended.  I appreciated Swung more than I perhaps thought that I would, and not only for the sex.  The acting was commendable, the story was laid bare, the characters were honest, and I thought the directing was rather nice.  And there was enough sex, it was never a tease, you got what you came for, but it never went overboard to an unbelievable place.  There’s a conversation to be had surrounding this film, and while it isn’t the perfect picture, it can at least say that it pushed audiences a bit further than typical Hollywood fare.  The video is fine, the audio good, you won’t be blown away by those attributes, but neither will you be disappointed, but there aren’t any special features on the disc, so don’t put too much faith in the technical aspects.  I guess this amounts to a middle-of-the-road movie as far as quality is concerned, but the content can’t be denied, and it’s worth something on its own.

☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ – Replay