Author Archives: ochippie

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Movie Trailer – Beast of Burden

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Jesper Ganslandt

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Grace Gummer

Release: February 2018

Oh god this is going to be awful.  First, it’s the world’s worst trailer.  Second, the world’s dumbest plot.  Third, Radcliffe is an OK actor, nothing more.  Hard pass.


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Movie Trailer – Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Gus Van Sant

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara, Jack Black

Release: May 11th, 2018

Joaquin Phoenix with the Oscar, I’m calling it.  GVS hasn’t directed a good movie since Milk in 2008, and before that it was Good Will Hunting in 1997, which he probably shouldn’t get much credit for.  So this is it, put up or shut up, and I’m predicting something special.


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Movie Review – The Lovers

Category : Movie Review

Director: Azazel Jacobs

Starring: Tracy Letts, Debra Winger

Year: 2017

Tracy Letts is having one hell of a 2017, my critics group even voting him Actor of the Year.  Lady Bird, The Post, The Lovers, the former being one of my favorite performances and the latter being his biggest role to date.  He had a stellar 2016 as well, though more under-the-radar: Christine, Indignation, Elvis & Nixon.  Every one of those films is great and he is great in them; it’s incredible that he’s just now blossoming at the age of 52, given that he’s been doing small parts and television shows for decades.  Better late than never, and we should count ourselves lucky that we now have such an amazing actor in so many excellent films.  Debra Winger has a similar story, peaking in the 80s, popping up in Rachel Getting Married, but only now really showing her stuff.  The combination of the two, and this movie as a whole, is absolutely something to see.

Michael and Mary are married, and they’re also both having an affair.  Both hate their day jobs, both hardly speak to the other, both simply need excitement from somewhere else.  Michael is seeing a ballet instructor, a highly emotional woman who he loves dearly.  Mary is sleeping with a writer, an Irishman who is passionate about life.  The veteran couple have been together a long time, have a college-age son, but just haven’t been enjoying their relationship, growing further and further apart as the years pass.  Neither is interested in fixing things, and both commit to ending the marriage as soon as their son leaves from a visit.  But finding out about each other’s extracurricular activities may lead to rediscovering the love that they assumed had been lost long ago.

Letts has never been better, Winger is back with a vengeance, and filmmaker Azazel Jacobs finally writes/directs something that will stick.  Letts is a revelation, really, we must have done something terribly wrong to not have his special characters until now, or else something shockingly right to deserve them now.  He’s perfect, and he delivers a bit of a Broadway/Woody Allen vibe that works so well with this plot.  Winger can hang her hat on this role for years to come; it’s a career resurgence for sure.  And Jacobs tried to impress mainstream audiences with Terri, didn’t quite knock it out of the park, but shows here why some of us were so hopeful.  The Lovers has the feel of theatre, slides along quickly, delivers a moving message, plays for some laughs, and is among the best of the year, even if hardly anyone knows it.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Trailer – Love, Simon

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Greg Berlanti

Starring: Nick Robinson, Katherine Langford, Jennifer Garner

Release: March 16th, 2018

This is the not the kind of coming-of-age story we long for, this is the kind that piles up and starts to smell when you don’t take it outside quick enough.  YA book, sappy story, “new” perspective; come on people, give us something we can sink our teeth into.  I’ll be giving this movie a very wide berth.


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Movie Trailer – Beirut

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Brad Anderson

Starring: Jon Hamm, Rosamund Pike, Dean Norris

Release: April 13th, 2018

I’m sure this film will be well-acted by all involved; Hamm and Pike are names I trust.  But neither is exactly a heavy-hitter, and I don’t think they have it in them to transform this film in something special, a la Spy Game or something like that.  No, I predict this will simply be another good thriller with a historic base, but not something we remember a month after it hits theatres.


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Sports – NFL Picks 2017, Championship

Category : Sports

Here are my NFL Championship Picks

(3-5 for the postseason, 167-89 for the regular season)

Bye teams: none

 

Jax @ NE

Min @ Phi

 


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DVD Review – Viceroy’s House

Category : DVD Review

Director: Gurinder Chadha

Starring: Manish Dayal, Hugh Bonneville, Gillian Anderson

Year: 2017

I’m completely fine with Hugh Bonneville being type cast as the friendly English duke/earl/lord/viceroy/whathaveyou until further notice, because he’s both perfect at it and I love to see it.  As Robert Crawley in Downton Abbey he was wonderful, that show is one of my all-time favorites, and he’s back for a very similar role in Viceroy’s House, although with much more politics and much larger issues on the table.  This film is a look at history with a PBS flare, at least at first, before it settles into a romance against a backdrop of geopolitical change.  That’s quite a shift, but that’s basically what Downton does so well, even getting reluctant viewers to enjoy the soap opera element, which can definitely be said about Viceroy’s also.  It’s a little cheesy but also a little good, a film from this year that almost nobody saw but which shouldn’t go completely unnoticed.

The Movie

For India, the times they are achangin’, as post-WWII Britain gives up its hold on the colony, retreating from its empirical stance to a more sustainable and much smaller realm.  India is to govern itself, no longer under the sway of Empress Victoria, but freedom does not come without a price.  The majority of the country is Hindi, while the Muslim minority demand to be treated fairly, the Sikh on the outskirts as well.  One plan is for an Islamic nation to be formed in the north where they outnumber the Hindu, which will be called Pakistan.  This partition of India is the topic on everyone’s lips, as the date for them to take over from the British draws near and tensions rise in every city.

The last Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten, is given the task of handing over control to the Indian Congress, but in a peaceful way that pleases all parties.  England wants its interests represented, Gandhi wants a complete country without parcels for religions, the Muslim League wants its own territory; no one can agree and the transfer will not occur without some violence.  Caught up in it all are the Indian people, simple villagers and workers who want only harmony, who want to go where they choose and even intermarry between faiths.  Lines are drawn for borders and for social norms by those higher up, but it is the commoners who suffer from their strict decisions, and history will show everything that worked and all that went terribly wrong.

Viceroy’s House starts out almost too nice and happy to be true, but ends with some somber realities, resulting in a film that, when taken as a whole, seems to be telling a very real and heartbreaking story.  History is not one-sided, it’s a thing of perspective, circumstance, and most likely a ridiculous amount of lies.  This movie displays that truth remarkable well, giving us personal accounts as well as historic, placing us in the room where it happened as well as on the streets among those most affected.  It does begin with an air of glossing over the harsh facts, painting the Viceroy and his family as saints who simply love Indian people.  But thankfully it moves on from more cheesy elements into a tale of how things can so easily go wrong, how even with the best intentions sometimes there is no possible way to create a positive outcome.

As far as the quality of the film itself goes, it’s surprisingly strong.  Hugh Bonneville slides right into the role of Lord without needing to adjust basically anything from his Crawley character, so we feel comfortable from the start.  His wife is played by Gillian Anderson, and I have to say, as someone who is extremely critical of manufactured accents, hers is actually top-notch.  Then there’s the love story playing in the background, which is a little silly, but you begin to understand it for what it is; a helpful metaphor to get audiences on board with the struggles of the people themselves, totally separate from whatever the politicians are doing.  A couple actors from A Hundred-Foot Journey pop in, do a much better job, and impact that side of the story rather nicely.  Overall, this movie definitely has heart and is coming from the right place.  That it isn’t perfect won’t shock anyone, but that doesn’t demean its worth.

The DVD

Video – With an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, shot using Arricam LT, Arricam ST, and Arriflex 416 Plus cameras with Cooke S4 and Angenieux Optimo lenses, the video quality of the DVD is quite well done.  The use of color and scenery to transport us to India is well thought out, as is the transformation of these actors into historically accurate figures.  The film is a joy to see, visually, and should be commended for its quality.

Audio – The disc is done in English 5.1, with an option of English SDH or Spanish subtitles.  The audio quality is solid as well, though not quite as remarkable as the video.  The use of period and area music is very smart, and the sound throughout is well balanced.

Extras – The only special features on the DVD are a bank of deleted scenes and a trailer for the film.

Final Thoughts

Recommended. Director Gurinder Chadha is most famous for Bend It Like Beckham, but Viceroy’s House might come in at a close second.  Chadha has a personal connection to this story, and it shows throughout, her devoting to telling the tale as truly as possible to obvious.  If it gets a little sappy at times you can perhaps forgive it, as the emotions were high in the moment, and are probably high for the filmmaker as well, as she relates an important message.  The acting is a nice surprise, the period is well represented, and the set is spectacular; the film stops short of being great because it doesn’t offer much else is the way of art, but it does its job very well.  The video is quite nice, the audio as well, and there are a couple extras, so the technical aspects won’t disappoint, and neither will the film itself, as it succeeds where it means to and delivers a true story mixed with romantic fantasy in a way that shouldn’t be disregarded.

☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ ☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ ☆ – Replay

 

 


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Movie Review – Colossal

Category : Movie Review

Director: Nacho Vigalondo

Starring: Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens

Year: 2016

Colossal is as bad as Timecrimes is good.  Nacho Vigalondo has only two other feature films under his belt, one more American, one more Spanish, one about aliens, one starring Elijah Wood and a porn star.  It’s a weird filmography to say the least, but his first attempt, Timecrimes, is a fascinating, mind-bending, time-travel thriller that will knock your socks off; it’s odd that he’s progressed from that to Colossal, a movie that’s simply dumb.  I don’t dislike the concept, showing us addictions and personal struggles through metaphors, and I don’t mind the fantasy aspect either, sometimes we need a little unreality to help us see things that are too close to our faces.  But the result of what could be called a solid attempt is nothing short of an incredible bust.

Gloria is losing at life, what the kids used to call an epic fail, screwing up every aspect one at a time.  She moved to the big city from her small town, got a high-impact job, snagged a studly English boyfriend, but she simply can’t hold on to what’s good.  Her unstoppable drinking and her inability to censor her words led to the loss of her job, her breakup, and an unwanted return home, so now she’s left to pick up the pieces.  She reunites with an old friend, Oscar, and gets a job at his bar, attempting to be responsible for her own actions for the first time.  But there’s one big problem; every morning, as Gloria is blacked out from drinking, she somehow embodies a giant monster in Seoul, South Korea who terrorizes the city and kills innocent people.  Understanding that she’s the one in charge of the creature is the first step, but the second is taking ownership over the destruction she’s causing to her own life and those around her who care about her most.

Again, the plot doesn’t bother me, though it will some.  Anne Hathaway gets drunk, inhabits a monstrous avatar, falls for Jason Sudeikis, and attempts to work her way through her personal problems; that I don’t take issue with that summary surprises even me.  I actually adore Hathaway, I think she’s one of the most talented actresses I’ve ever seen, and Jason Sudeikis was brilliant that last time I saw him in something similar to this, Sleeping with Other People.  And then there’s the monster plot, but I get it, fantasy can be a great way to make a point.  But the point is made quickly and the rest is a complete waste.  These characters are so dumb, they are written so poorly, even their names are stupid.  Their decisions make no sense, neither do the decisions of the director, and the entire film feels like a skit gone wrong, not an actual film that professionals pieced together with a solid vision in mind.  I strongly disliked this movie, and I have to say I saw a disaster coming many miles away.

My rating: ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Review – The Polka King

Category : Movie Review

Director: Maya Forbes, Wallace Wolodarsky

Starring: Jack Black, Jenny Slate, Jason Schwartzman

Year: 2017

If you’ve seen Bernie, you’ll know what to expect from Jack Black’s newest larger-than-life true story, The Polka King, a tale of a little man with his sights set on big crime.  Black was made for this role, a silly musician with a dark secret, and it works just as well as when he played Bernie, the killer that everyone loved.  That movie was a surprise hit, but Black is actually a strong actor, he just has such a unique sense of humor that it’s hard to take him seriously.  But in this film, his character is a perfect combination of both the ludicrous and the lamentable with a good deal of singing thrown in, wonderfully fitting his exact talents and resulting in the best movie of the month-old year.

Jan Lewan, the Pennsylvania Polka king, the entertainer with a thousand huge ideas, all of them magical, none of them good.  He moved to the U.S. to perform his music, but also to follow the American dream, to become something much grander than should ever be truly possible.  Polka parties, festivals, telethons, local events; octogenarians far and near flock to see the great Lewan.  But it’s not just music, Jan branches out in many other areas; vodka, amber jewelry, Polish knickknacks, you name it he sells it.  And his newest scheme is his best (and most illegal) yet.  For a few thousand bucks you can turn your retirement money over to Jan, investing in his fame, with guaranteed* returns on their way as soon as he hits the big time.  Trouble is, that’s against the law, Jan is no businessman, and people will eventually catch on to this dimwitted Ponzi scheme.

Jack Black is in his element and The Polka King works because of it, easing along without a hiccup to become a Netflix Original success, if not exactly blowing any minds along the way.  Polka music is ultra-catchy, and Black sends it deep into our brains until we begin to convince ourselves that Jan Lewan was actually talented.  And then the crimes come along, but you kinda love the guy anyway, even though he’s a con man.  Black is just that awesome, and he really captures the essence, the absurdity, the wackiness of this real life story.  Someone should give an award to Jason Schwartzman though, who is hilarious as Jan’s BFF and band leader, with Jenny Slate and Jacki Weaver rounding out a solid cast.  Of course this movie worked, it’s worked before and it’ll work again, as long as Black keeps selecting these fascinating, funny, non-fictitious characters and Netflix keeps up the good work.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 


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Movie Review – Una

Category : Movie Review

Director: Benedict Andrews

Starring: Rooney Mara, Ben Mendelsohn

Year: 2016

I had high hopes for Una, based mostly on its pair of lead actors.  Mara blew me away in Carol, with a performance that was near perfect, a character that she slid into seamlessly.  Mendelsohn has been a talent I’ve shouted about since I saw him in Black Sea and Adore, although every film in which he appears showcases his talent, perhaps none more so than Mississippi Grind.  Bringing these two amazing actors together was a remarkable idea, all that was left was for the source material to be as strong as its players.  Unfortunately, this play-turned-movie isn’t exactly as smooth a ride as you might expect, bumping over some pretty treacherous terrain on its way to an unsatisfying ending.

Fifteen years after she was sexually abused by a neighbor, a young woman named Una decides to confront Ray, who now goes by a different name and lives in a different town.  Her intentions are complicated; she wants to see him, wants to show him how angry she is, wants to know why he chose her to seduce, but also why he left her after telling her so many times that he loved her.  Ray was convicted for having sex with a thirteen-year-old, spending time in prison for his crime.  In the years since, he has tried to move on with his life, but Una’s appearance at his workplace brings all the memories flooding back and the shame crashing down.  What follows is a frighteningly upsetting retelling of events, as Una attempts to close the book on this chapter of her life, while knowing that she will never be able to forget it.

It was difficult even to write the summary; it’s not that I’m so sensitive that the subject matter was too much for me, it’s more that I’m not quite sure how to approach it, how to talk about it, how to condense it into something a review can handle.  You could tell that the film had the same problem, that it didn’t exactly know what to do with the weight of the story.  It was a play fist, and you can tell that every step of the way, which isn’t always a bad thing, but didn’t work perfectly for this plot in this situation.  It was hard to watch, and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone with trauma, I want to make sure to say that, not unless you know exactly what you’re about to watch and exactly how it could help you.  As far as simply judging it as a movie, Mara was a little off, forced to be British and asked to act too rigidly.  Mendelsohn was great, but he was allowed to be Australian and to show us a complicated character.  Some might actually not like how sympathetic he seems at times, but I think by the end you understand that this is Una’s story, and that Ray was its villain.  One last note; Riz Ahmed is literally perfect every time I seen him on screen, do not make the mistake of sleeping on this amazing up-and-coming actor.  You can probably pass on this movie though, especially if you think it might be too much; it is both powerful and shocking, there’s no doubt about that, but it’s also far from perfect.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆