Author Archives: ochippie

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Movie Trailer – Ad Astra

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: James Gray

Starring: Brad Pitt, Liv Tyler, Tommy Lee Jones

Release: September 20th, 2019

I think this film with eventually fall right between First Man and Interstellar, two films that it seems to mirror quite heavily.  I think it will be more entertaining than the former but not quite as (literally) awesome as the latter.  But I’d watch Brad Pitt in space all day every day, and I like this director, so I expect to enjoy this movie.  Here’s hoping that it’ll be so much better than those conservative estimates.


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Movie Review – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Category : Movie Review

Director: David Yates

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson

Year: 2007

Reading the Harry Potter books and watching the movies are very different experiences, and produce very different results.  The first four books are spectacular, so fun, so enveloping, and then I think they go a bit downhill as they become darker and bleaker and more war-heavy.  But the films go on their own paths; the first two are wonderfully childish, the third is all of a sudden awesome, and the fourth is a badly-acted shell of the original intent.  The fifth makes up for that misstep, with David Yates swooping in to take over the franchise and to “Muggle” things up a bit.  I’m a purist, I like the novels, I hate when they change too much for the movies, but I also understand that it has to be done sometimes.  Yates toes the line between eliminating too much and trying to jam too much in, and the result is a fairly solid overall experience that gets the series back on the right track.

We all know the story of The Boy Who Lived (Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, Goblet of Fire), but his battle to survive is just getting started.  Voldemort is back, even if the wizarding world doesn’t want to admit it; he’s back, rallying his soldiers, and preparing to strike.  Harry seems connected to the Dark Lord even more strongly than ever before, seeing into his thoughts and feeling his emotions.  Dumbledore and Snape try to teach him to control his mind and his temper, but it’s hard; Harry is, after all, a willful teenager on top of everything else.  What’s more, Dumbledore is no longer in full charge of his own school; the Ministry has appointed Dolores Umbridge to monitor, report, and punish, as the Minister is afraid of the famous Headmaster and refuses to take his word that Voldemort has returned.  Harry and his friends will have to fight not only against the Death Eaters, but against school policy as well, as everything turns against them, and the drums of war begin to beat loudly.

The Fantastic Beasts movies aren’t really that good, but I’m not sure that blame falls on Yates’ shoulders; I think the well has run dry.  But then again, he also did The Legend of Tarzan, and that was terrible, so maybe he’s not the best director ever.  But he took Order of the Phoenix in the right direction, modernizing some things without ruining the feel of the original content, so hats off to him for that.  It’s more than just hard to keep the meat of the plot while adapting it into a movie, there’s only so much you can fit in, so I understand the changes, even if I didn’t like any of them.  But what I did like outweighed the bad, giving me a positive experience overall.  Harry was brooding but strong, Ron & Hermione were basically just in the background, Luna is a wonderful character, and Umbridge is so awful and so evil and so perfectly done, you have to applaud what Rowling created and what Imelda Staunton was able to do.  Again, a lot of the detail work of the book is completely ignored, but I don’t know how else the adaptation could have been done, so I’m OK with the decisions that had to be made.  All in all, the fifth is a step up from the forth, and maybe the only later film I like from Harry Potter, if might all be downhill from here.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Trailer – Ford v Ferrari

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: James Mangold

Starring: Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Tracy Letts

Release: November 15th, 2019

This reminds me of The Fighter, and I think it has the chance to be as good.  I like the director, as well as the cast, obviously, including Letts and Jon Bernthal and Noah Jupe.  I’m expecting something really special out of the film, really really special.


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Movie Trailer – Onward

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Dan Scanlon

Starring: Tom Holland, Chris Pratt

Release: March 6th, 2020

I hope the trailer we’ll get later is better than this teaser because this looks awful so far.  Pratt may have worn out his welcome already, the dumb Christian, and this story seems weird, mythical creatures in a modern setting.  I really, really hope there’s more or better or something, cause I’m concerned.


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Movie Review – Summertime

Category : Movie Review

Director: Catherine Corsini

Starring: Izia Higelin, Cecile de France

Year: 2015

I enjoyed Cecile de France so much in Lady J that I had to go back and find her in other films, the first I stumbled upon being Summertime, a tale of forbidden love during a time of supposed change.  She’s such a compelling actress, with so much talent and composure, I just love watching her, even though now it’s become a whopping total of two movies.  But I’ll be on the lookout for her name, and I’ll trust her ability to carry a scene, because I’ve witnessed it now, 2/2.  Izia Higelin I didn’t know, nor do I consider myself an expert of French/Belgian film, but I’m happy to learn if Summertime is any indication.  It was simply lovely to watch, had a strong message to deliver, and needs to be much more widely seen here in the States.

Delphine has always been attracted to women, but has never been able to tell her parents, knowing that they & the village would never understand.  But times are changing, and when she moves to Paris to get a job, Delphine meets a group of feminists who aren’t just pretending to be accepting but are actively fighting for women to have the right to be themselves.  One of the leaders is Carole, who Delphine falls head over heels for.  But there are obstacles: Carole lives with a man, Delphine must return to the country to help her family, and while the world may be changing, it isn’t doing so quickly, it’s being pushed one way and resisted right back.  The pair have an almost insurmountable struggle in front of them if they want to make a relationship work, and allies in their fight are in desperately short supply.

I recently saw a blurb imploring critics and writers not to use Blue Is the Warmest Color as a comparison for female romance stories in film, and to generally stop acting like Lesbians is a genre.  I’m trying to take that to heart, because I’m sure I’ve been guilty of that in the past in my own reviews, or at least in my judgements, so I’m gonna try to do better going forward.  One of the main characters is named Carole though, so I thought of Carol of course, and it has a call-to-action feel similar to BPM, but I said I’m not gonna over-compare, so I’ll stop.  The tale is set in France in the 70s, it feels so authentic, the love story is powerful, the women are great, you completely understand what they are going through, and you root for them with every ounce of your strength.  Summertime is a stunner, if what you want to watch is deliberately paced drama that asks no permission and takes no prisoners.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Trailer – Rambo: Last Blood

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Adrian Grunberg

Starring: Sylvester Stallone

Release: September 20th, 2019

First Blood is one of my closet favorite movies, seen it a dozen tomes, love it.  But let’s be honest; this franchise is ridiculous, and they just keep getting worse.  They didn’t need to make Rambo (2008), but they did, and they definitely didn’t need to make Last Blood, but they did; there’s no reason we need to watch though.


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Movie Trailer – The Goldfinch

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: John Crowley

Starring: Ansel Elgort, Oakes Fegley, Nicole Kidman

Release: September 13th, 2019

Wow, this is not going to be good.  This is heavy material, and these actors (apart from Nicole Kidman perhaps, who has definitely improved with age) are not up to the task.  It’s going to be over-dramatic, over-artistic, affected, dishonest, and inconsistent.  Full disclosure; I’ve never read the book, but I should, rather than watching what I’m sure will be a weak film version.


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Movie Review – Meet Monica Velour

Category : Movie Review

Director: Keith Bearden

Starring: Dustin Ingram, Kim Cattrall, Brian Dennehy

Year: 2010

Meet Monica Velour is Keith Bearden’s first & only movie, and you can quickly tell why he stopped trying.  This film is simply Napoleon Dynamite meets Sex and the City, which, I don’t know about you, but that’s a great way to ruin one of the best oddball comedies of all time with some of the most annoying actresses of the last 50 years.  I’m not sure where the idea for this story came from, how it entered Bearden’s head and took up residence there, but I sure wish it hadn’t, because the result is not pretty.  It’s basically an adolescent fantasy turned into “cinema”, and forced to pretend to be deeper than it has any right to be, all while we watch and cringe and wonder what the hell has just happened to our suddenly-worsened lives.

Tobe is graduating high school, working his family’s hot dog food truck, living with his Pop Pop, not getting laid, and still stuck in Retroville when it comes to anything musical, artistic, fashionable; he’s an all-around dork, what else can you say.  His one obsession that outshines the rest is for ex-pornstar Monica Velour, who wowed in the 70s and has since dropped off the face of the Earth.  Tobe is smitten with the idea of Monica, and when he hears that she’ll be performing at a strip club halfway across the country, he sets out on the awkward road trip of the century.  Once he gets there, he soon finds out that his dreams are not going to come true, and that Monica has enough problems of her own without dealing with a love struck teen.

Maybe it’s more Napoleon Dynamite meets The Girl Next Door, with Kim Cattrall thrown in for no apparent reason.  Regardless, the concept is not original, the execution is amateur, and Meet Monica Velour is the last thing you want to watch if what you’re looking for is quality.  It’s dumb, it’s fake-y, it’s recycled, it aims at the heart but misses, and it can never give more than surface level humor.  It’s not sexy, rather sad, not a strong coming of age story, and who the heck is Dustin Ingram?  He does a Napoleon impression and then vanishes, I guess to TV, which mostly shouldn’t count as real acting work.  Cattrall is no good, duh, and their chemistry is weird, as are the plot details and basically every decision made from start to finish.  Avoid.

My rating: ☆

 

 


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Movie Review – Aladdin (2019)

Category : Movie Review

Director: Guy Ritchie

Starring: Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Will Smith

Year: 2019

I just realized, looking through the cast of Aladdin and their respective filmographies, what the biggest barrier was between my desire to enjoy the movie and my ability to stomach it.  And that’s not ignoring the many smaller reasons, which I will touch on later; too many Disney live-action remakes, too much blue Will Smith, frantic camera work, and some unnecessary plot lines.  All the small issues add up, sure, but my biggest issue was with the acting, and I just figured out why; these are TV people.  I’m not a TV person, I don’t watch much, though I have obviously somewhat joined the generation of Netflix/whathaveyou bingers who keep up to date on the best shows: OITNB, Downton, Stranger Things, etc.  But I don’t watch network TV, it’s just plain bad, and the actors there are on a certain tier that I don’t like to descend down to.  But they infiltrated Aladdin, this group whose talent doesn’t activate past primetime television, and I can’t forgive this low-ceiling production that one extra misstep.

Aladdin’s just a poor boy, though his story’s seldom told.  Oh wait, no, it’s often told, including within this remake that absolutely no one asked for.  But here we go again, and for our title hero, that means another stroll down poverty lane.  Aladdin steals to earn his daily bread, and one day meets the beautiful Princess Jasmine, who says she’s simply a handmaiden named Dalia.  Aladdin’s about to tell some lies of his own, after he’s caught inside the palace by Jafar, the Sultan’s evil advisor, and forced into a mystical cave to retrieve a magical lamp.  He does the job, uses the lamp himself, and releases a genie who can grant three wishes.  Al’s first wish; to look like a prince, and so the lying begins.  That’s not the ideal way to begin a new relationship, and so Aladdin & Jasmine are off to a rocky start, made worse by the fact that Jafar wants to usurp the sultanate with the genie’s help, something all the good guys in our tale simply can’t let happen.

I don’t know how else to say it; these actors are fine, but they’re TV quality, and that’s not what I want when I sit down to watch a movie.  For people who are used to television, maybe they don’t know, maybe it seems fine, and I’m not saying that every actor has to be Daniel Day-Lewis good, but I want something a little more, which is why I don’t watch CSI Bermuda: Special Complains Department.  The quality of the acting was my biggest problem with Aladdin, it just wasn’t up to snuff, not even rivaling other Disney re-dos, like Cinderella or even Dumbo.  I’m glad the cast was diverse, no need for Jake Gyllenhaal to play Aladdin, but I just wanted the acting to be better, simple as that; it wasn’t good enough for me.  And going back to Disney remaking all of their classic hits; friggin’ stop it already, this is getting ridiculous, we don’t need another knockoff of something we care for, only to line your pockets.  You’ve heard the saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”; we need to adapt that to force Disney to shut up until they think of something original.

Now on to the other problems, because there are plenty to touch on.  Will Smith’s blue persona wasn’t as awful as it appeared to be in the trailer, but it was still dumb, and I’m glad he spent much of the time as his regular self, that was much preferred.  As Blue Genie, he looked as good as The Rock did when he played The Scorpion King, and that’s not something to be proud of.  Honestly, the animation was pretty terrible, as was the jerky camera work and the sped up movements.  And, oh dear god, the parkour; they might as well have had Michael Scott jumping on desks.  Then that girl from SNL popped up, tried to be funny, failed, messed that up, and Iago was a missed opportunity, as was Raja; I was so disappointed with almost all of Ritchie’s choices, which I guess shouldn’t be surprising.  He was the wrong director for this film, the original was not honored, and Jasmine’s new song was crappy.  I’m finding it harder and harder to remember anything good at all; the middle was OK, with the Prince Ali song, some jokes, and a cool dance routine.  But, other than that, Aladdin is just another weak remake we didn’t need, didn’t ask for, and definitely deserved better than.

My rating: ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Review – Kon-Tiki

Category : Movie Review

Director: Joachim Ronning, Espen Sandberg

Starring: Pal Sverre Hagen, Anders Baasmo Christiansen, Tobias Santelmann

Year: 2012

Though mildly interesting, the true story of Kon-Tiki, or at least this reenactment, is also mildly boring, and the result is rough waters.  Think Moana meets The Mercy, with Norwegians at the helm, and you’ll have some idea what to expect, though minus the music and without any star power.  So, really, imagine a movie about something that really happened and should be kinda cool to watch but sucked dry of all its drama and left with a skit script to see it through to the end.  That’s Kon-Tiki, a film I had been looking forward to finally catching up on for years, but one that ultimately disappointed.  Not because it’s terrible, but because I could have read two Wikipedia paragraphs instead, and saved the rest of my time for something better.

Thor Heyerdahl became obsessed with the Polynesian islands in the early 1900s, and, after WWII, decided to write a book about a theory he held that flew in the face of conventional wisdom.  He believed that the Polynesian peoples didn’t come from Asia in the west as was unquestioningly believe, but rather from the east in South America, 5000 miles away.  The tides and the winds supported his idea, but no one thought that primitive tribes could sail across that much open ocean, especially because those tribes didn’t have ships, only rafts.  So Thor attempted the impossible; he and his small crew, mostly friends from Norway, built a traditional raft using only historic materials and tools, and set adrift off the coast of Peru with the hope that their vessel would carry them 100 days west to the truth, to vindication, wonderful fame, and everlasting glory.

File this film among the strange-but-true and also among the most daring adventures ever to be adapted into a movie.  These men lay on a log raft with a small hut, a small sail, and a rudder that didn’t really work, and hoped that the currents and winds would take them across 5000 miles of open sea, based all on a theory and a prayer.  Mankind has never seemed so insignificant as the figures in this tale, as the grand scale of our world comes into focus when you float along above whales and sharks and imminent death, wondering where nature might take you.  That aspect of this plot is wonderful, as are the scientific elements, but unfortunately that’s where the positives stop, because the rest is fairly boring.  The actors aren’t known in Hollywood, the special effects aren’t good, the dialogue in disjointed, the pace drags, and although it was nominated for a Best Foreign Film Oscar in 2013, I’m not sure it deserves even that recognition.  It’s a poorly-crafted movie about a smartly-crafted craft, if you’re looking for a sound byte, but otherwise doesn’t offer much in the realm of cinema.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆