Author Archives: ochippie

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Movie Review – The Lighthouse

Category : Movie Review

Director: Robert Eggers

Starring: Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe

Year: 2019

If you thought The Witch was weird, get ready for Eggers’ second project, because The Lighthouse is bananas.  It’s been long enough since Twilight that people should know by now that Robert Pattinson is an amazing actor who can do anything, and here he teams up with Willem Dafoe, the master of the bizarre and twisted.  Together they form a dynamic duo who A24 & Eggers took in hand, challenged to the max, and gambled on being great.  Well, it worked, because this film is like no other you will see this year or any other, a sea-salt drama with vivid fantasy, mixed with frightening reality, until you don’t know which end is up.  Add in a little mythology (Prometheus), a little classic literature (The Rime of the Ancient Mariner), and you’ve got something really unique to feast upon, if such is your taste.  That might be a relatively small group, this movie is raving mad after all, but for that subset, something special awaits.

Two men, one old and one young, travel to a spit of rock off the coast of New England to man its lighthouse in shifts for four weeks; a hard task on a hard island.  The older, a veteran sailor and wickie, is in charge of the light itself, while the younger, a rough character and nomadic worker, tends to the mending and the hauling and the general labor.  As the weeks roll by, the isolation becomes more difficult to bare, as do the dreams, the vapors, the ideas that pop into the head, and the fantasies that can begin to seem too true.  A storm rises and threatens to maroon the men on the god-forsaken island for as long as it lasts, with no boats being able to travel and no help coming.  Their close proximity, frequent arguments, and drunkenness drive the two men near madness, with violence only an inch away, and their true natures swimming closer to the surface.

Looking back on my Witch review, and also thinking about Hereditary, it makes complete sense why I liked the followup films better, Lighthouse and Midsommar, respectively.  Eggers and Aster have a lot in common, are coming out at the same time, look amazingly strong from the gate, but their first features were a little too safe, were clinging a little too hard to the genre.  Both their debuts were too horror for my taste, I wanted them to go in a more metaphoric direction; what’s great in both cases is that they did exactly as I asked with their second offerings, and I’m so pleased to see the paths they’re now going down.

Lighthouse was a giant mind game, one huge metaphor, refused to play nice, and that, to me, is why it worked.  You can read into the message in many ways; masculinity, loneliness, repression, guilt.  But I saw it as a God/Father vs Mankind/Son tale, with the light being knowledge, the rock being Earth, humans pulled in so many directions by a mad deity; again, see it in your own way, and I don’t mean everything shown is literally one part of real life or another, just sharing how I generally sensed the point.  Pattinson was bonkers in a good way, when isn’t Dafoe, and both men played off each other so well, riding the waves of insanity that got stronger and stronger as the story unfurled.  The Lighthouse is somehow one of the toughest movies of the year, unyielding and forceful, while definitely also being one of the oddest too, unique and brooding, a combination that had me standing to applaud.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Sports – NFL Picks 2019, Divisional

Category : Sports

Here are my NFL Divisional Picks

(3-1 for the postseason, 153-102-1 for the regular season)

Bye teams: none

 

Min @ SF

Ten @ Bal

Hou @ KC

Sea @ GB

 


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Movie Review – The Farewell

Category : Movie Review

Director: Lulu Wang

Starring: Awkwafina, Shuzhen Zhao, Tzi Ma

Year: 2019

Awkwafina continues her meteoric rise, although that may just be among film nerds; I don’t think your mom & dad have heard of her, nor have they seen her few films.  But that’s OK, they will, she’s definitely a talented comedienne growing into a legitimate actress, even if it takes some time for her to polish all the edges.  She shows in The Farewell that she’s already done some buffing, and that she already had the inherent gift to move beyond shtick into more emotional territory.  She’s already won the Golden Globe, not that that means too much, and she might be a contender for an Oscar as well, if that means any more.  But she’s winning our hearts, I guess that’s what counts, and what’s funny is that she’s not even the best part of this film.

Billi and her parents have lived in New York for a long time, moving from China many years ago; her father is a translator, she is an aspiring writer.  Billi speaks the old language imperfectly, but enough to talk to her grandmother back home, and they continue a loving relationship even though so many miles separate them.  When Nai Nai is diagnosed with cancer, her granddaughter is devastated, and wants to be with her right away.  But the family has other plans; lie to Nai Nai, tell her she’s fine, gather for a wedding, and say their goodbyes under the guise of a celebration.  That will be hard for Billi, she wears her emotions of her sleeve, and she & Nai Nai are close, but it might be the last gift she can give her.

This is a true story, which is wild, Lulu Wang’s family did this to her own grandmother, lying in order to save her from the fear of cancer, taking the burden upon themselves instead.  You can argue about the morals of that, Billi sure does, but ultimately you make your own decision, and it really doesn’t affect the quality of the film.  The Farewell is sweet, endearing, funny, moving, and ultimately stronger than I thought it would be.  I will say that without Nai Nai I think I would quickly forget I watched it; Shuzhen Zhao stole the show, and I think definitely overshadowed Awkwafina, who is still growing.  I liked that most of the film was in Chinese, that made perfect sense, I really felt like I was being immersed in another culture, and I would probably watch itagain because I can’t think of anything I really didn’t like, it was all so lovely and well-made.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Review – The Report

Category : Movie Review

Director: Scott Z. Burns

Starring: Adam Driver, Annette Bening, Jon Hamm

Year: 2019

Adam Driver is having one heckofa year.  The Report, The Dead Don’t Die, Marriage Story, The Rise of Skywalker; I didn’t even like all those movies, but he was probably the best part of each, as he is usually the best part of anything he appears in.  Honestly, it’s more than a great year, it’s more like a great early career, the dude’s on fire, and he’s a transcendent talent: Inside Llewyn Davis, Tracks, What If, Hungry Hearts, The Force Awakens, Midnight Special, Paterson, Silence, The Meyerowitz Stories, Logan Lucky, The Last Jedi, BlaKkKlansman.  My critics group just voted him Best Actor and Actor of the Year, he’s the reason you watch a film, and that’s definitely true about The Report, which only works because of him, and then still not all that well.

Following 9/11, American interrogation tactics were escalated, often past the point of moral license.  The CIA was operating in dark sites in foreign countries, their budget was wide open, they were given free reign to use whatever means necessary, and yet the information they gleaned from prisoners was often minimal, repetitive, or completely fabricated.  Under Senator Dianne Feinstein, an investigator named Daniel Jones began the impossible process of sifting through six millions pages of documentation in order to find the truth about the US torture program; how far it stepped beyond the boundaries of international law, how little it ultimately worked, and who knew that we were simply attempting to fight evil with more evil.

Driver is great as Jones, Bening is solid as Feinstein, but that’s where the positives generally end; the rest of the film is a bore in the guise of an esposé.  We’ve seen this type of movie before, many times before, and maybe we’ve even started to get tired of it, unless one comes along out of the blue that takes the genre up a notch.  Spotlight did, but The Report doesn’t, it’s just another trickle of information that we already knew, delivered to us dramatically, but really without much lasting impact.  Driver is excellent and you can feel his passion, but the story itself is too sleepy, has too little music, is honestly missing a little Hollywood, if that’s not too sacrilegious to say.  As it’s Oscar Season, we expect everything that comes out to be an awards-worthy home run, but that’s simply not what we have here, which is fine, but disappointing.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Review – Bombshell

Category : Movie Review

Director: Jay Roach

Starring: Charlize Theron, Margot Robbie, Nicole Kidman

Year: 2019

Bombshell is mostly a bomb, which is too easy to quip, and was far too easy to predict.  When I saw the trailer, I knew I didn’t want to watch this movie, or hear about Roger Ailes ever again.  The man is an evil monster, but so is anyone who voluntarily works at Fox News, so I want him punished for whatever he did wrong, but I don’t care to hear the woes of any Republican who, by vote, support, or voice, helped bring America to the place it is today.  Fuck them, fuck that they chose to work for filth and then didn’t like when filth started acting filthy.  I’ve got no sympathy in me for these people, Republicans won’t want to see the underbelly of their propaganda machine, and so that leaves absolutely no audience, which is exactly why this film has failed so hard.

Megyn Kelly, star anchor at Fox News, will have to choose whether to take a stand against Trump, Ailes, and the conservative mechanism, or simply ride it to the end of her own success story, ignoring the bodies that are crushed along the way.  Gretchen Carlson, another anchor at the network, one who used to be a hot item but whose stock has now cooled, has just been fired, and subsequently has accused bigwig Roger Ailes of sexual harassment.  Kelly was harassed as well, young up-and-comer Kayla Pospisil is going through it currently, but it’s hard to tell if/when to come forward; your career is on the line, but so is the safety of other women.  We all know the true story, we know how it ends, but we can watch it unfold here if we so choose, though the bitter battle might be more than we want to see.

That’s true for me; I didn’t want to see this.  I have no room in my heart for support or empathy for these women; they are very bad people.  Democrats are always trying to take the high road and expecting Republicans to join them, but that’s never what happens, they aren’t going to do that, they aren’t playing by the same moral rules we are.  It does no good to show an evil man like this and expect a bond somewhere in the middle of the aisle to fight abuse; that’s not how things work anymore.  That’s also why no one is watching and/or enjoying this film; Rs don’t want to be shown this shit, and Ds don’t have the energy left to fight for more causes, because Trump and his harem of twisted creatures are constantly forcing us to battle in a hundred directions at once, which is a brilliant strategy, and one that we often, stupidly or accidentally, invigorate ourselves.  This movie could be an example of that; we shouldn’t be wasting our time feeling sorry for Megyn Kelly of all people, why the hell would we do that?  So, politically, Bombshell is a disaster from the beginning, but it’s also a mess thematically as well; Roach is not a strong director, there are a hundred different, unnecessary cameos, the action comes off as dumb since we just watched the real life story unfold, and even the star three, who do a good job, can’t really do enough to make us justify watching what is basically one large bad decision.  No one is seeing this movie anyway, and I can’t think of any reason to recommend it; just let it die.

My rating: ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Review – The Dead Don’t Die

Category : Movie Review

Director: Jim Jarmusch

Starring: Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Chloe Sevigny

Year: 2019

Jim Jarmusch’s last movie, Paterson, also starring Adam Driver, was a wonderfully strange bit of filmmaking, and I thought, huh, maybe I’m a fan.  But no, I guess I’m not anymore, because The Dead Don’t Die is one of the worst examples of absurd theatre I’ve ever seen, and one of the worst features of the entire year.  Jim is an odd duck, he makes strange movies, that’s all well & good, he can do what he wants and a little nonsense now & then is relished by the wisest men, but come on mdude, there are limits.  With his bizarre take on the zombie genre, he shows that he’s out of touch a little too much, not even able to connect with us on the most basic of levels, and that’s a huge problem.

In the little town of Centerville, where nothing exciting has ever happened, the dead have begun to rise.  And it’s not just a local problem, the whole world has gone ape shit; the Earth is off its axis, animals have lost their minds, day & night have shifted, and now people are starting to get out of their graves worldwide, if you can believe it.  For police officers Robertson, Peterson, and Morrison, this means war with the undead, as they try to stay alive themselves and help as much of the public as possible.  But it’s a losing effort, and this is not going to end well.

What we have here is a zombie comedy that’s not funny, a star-studded affair that’s not impressive, and a film that, although it should be good, fails to even appear like a real movie, instead coming across as a skit or jaunt or random idea of some sort.  It’s like Jarmusch got a couple of his friends together, invited a few other random celebrities over, and then told them they would fight some zombies really slowly.  Add in some fourth wall breaks and a weird song, make bonkers choices around every turn, call it a horror flick I guess; who knows what the hell was going on.  And then there’s the cast: Murray, Driver, Sevigny, Tom Waits, Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover, Caleb Landry Jones, Rosie Perez, Carol Kane, Tilda Swinton, Iggy Pop, Selena Gomez.  It’s like, it should be funny, but my god it’s not, unless maybe you’re on drugs, which may be the only way someone could sit, watch, and walk away sane.

My rating: ☆

 

 


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Sports – NFL Picks 2019, Wild Card

Category : Sports

Here are my NFL Wild Card picks

(9-7 last week, 153-102-1 for the season)

Bye teams: 49ers, Ravens, Chiefs, Packers

 

Buf @ Hou

Ten @ NE

Min @ NO

Sea @ Phi

 


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Movie Review – The Art of Self-Defense

Category : Movie Review

Director: Riley Stearns

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Alessandro Nivola, Imogen Poots

Year: 2019

There’s regular actor Jesse Eisenberg, and then there’s bonkers actor Jesse Eisenberg, and I prefer the latter.  If you’ve ever seen The Double, you know what I’m talking about, how good he can be when asked to be a certain type of paranoid character, and I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that director Riley Stearns has seen that movie too, because there are a lot of similarities between it and The Art of Self-Defense; mostly just in a good way, I’m not accusing anyone of blatant thievery.  Eisenberg as a neurotic, in a weird parallel world that’s kinda f-upped, with a strong female presence beside him, with one identity that’s weak and one that’s strong; yup, sounds like both movies, I guess I just don’t mind a double helping.

After being mugged one night by a group of thugs on crotch rockets, Casey is even more afraid of life than he already was, and that’s saying something.  He’s an accountant, a loner, a punching bag for whoever wants to make fun of him, and he basically hates his daily existence.  But all that’s about to change when Casey discovers karate, and realizes that he had toughness in him all along.  The sensei at the dojo he walks into is a hard man, a merciless trainer, but Casey thinks that’s exactly what he needs, and it helps him take charge of his own destiny.  It’s all going swimmingly until the classes become ultra-violent, with secrets behind every door of the studio that show things are never quite what they seem.

It’s stranger than it sounds, but also more accurate than you would believe; you’re just gonna have to trust me and drive right in, because there’s really no way of explaining this film.  Part of the movie is a real lesson on marital arts culture; I took tae kwon do, the attention to detail is persistent, although thankfully my master was literally the nicest person I’ve ever met and specialized in kids with autism.  So my experience wasn’t like Casey’s, but you can tell someone did their homework, and then went down a rabbit hole that leads audiences to a place that’s surprisingly FUBAR.  This is dark farce in a way, pointed critique in another, with Eisenberg as the hub the story centers around, playing a role that is so perfect for him its scary.  This is also how I like to watch him work, these bizarre characters, and Nivola & Poots were excellent as well, two incredible actors who can, apparently, do anything.  Watch with a wonky eye and a bleak sense of humor to fully enjoy one of 2019’s oddest curve balls.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Review – Parasite

Category : Movie Review

Director: Bong Joon Ho

Starring: Woo-sik Choi, Kang-ho Song, Yeo-jeong Jo

Year: 2019

In the conversation for Best Film of 2019, Parasite packs a bonkers wallop, much like 2017’s Killing of a Sacred Deer, which, I will admit before we go any further, I liked better.  Yorgos Lanthimos and Bong Joon Ho are both legitimate visionaries, they both bring something fresh to American audiences that we are never quite prepared for, and so hats off to those amazing directors, keep up the good work.  But I do prefer Lanthimos’ style a bit more, and I only bring him up because this latest BJH film really does have an air about it that I seem to have breathed before, a sense of dread that I’ve appreciated in the past, and honestly don’t mind appreciating again.  Parasite might not be my choice for Best Picture, but there is no doubt it deserves Top 10 recognition, if just for being so daring that we can’t not talk about it.

The Kim family is jobless, pathless, desperate, but clever, so you can guarantee that they won’t stay down for long.  They each are skilled and smart, but it’s hard to find work, it’s hard to jump the track that you’re on, and sometimes opportunities only come to those who are wicked enough to snatch them.  Fate knocks when the son is offered a part-time job as a tutor for a very wealthy family, and he soon sees an opening for his sister as an art instructor.  They then recommend their dad as a chauffeur, and their mother as a housekeeper, but all while pretending they don’t know each other, attempting to milk the rich Park family for all they’re worth while the ruse succeeds.  But a sinister secret will blow it all up in their faces, and their lies will escape the darkness, forcing the false family to face what they have done.

‘Bonkers’ is the word, even if it takes a while to get there; trust me, it’s coming.  Much like the films of 2017, which feasted on the abnormal (Mother!, The Square, Killing of a Scared Deer, Get Out, Split, A Cure for Wellness), Parasite isn’t afraid to immerse itself in the onscure, especially after setting things up so carefully early on, only to pull the rug out from under our feet eventually.  The twists will surprise, but they aren’t even the meat of the movie; it has a strong foundation in story and in delivery, it is definitely built from the ground up.  The lies are great, the plot is funny, there are some red herrings throughout, you really get to know both of these families, you get so uncomfortable at times, and then shit really hits the fan; it’s rather brilliant.  BJH (The Host, Snowpiercer, Okja) knows his stuff, he crafts something masterful, and his latest project won’t just be one of the best foreign films you see this year, it’ll emerge as a leader among all this year’s dramas, as long as you are ready for unorthodox entertainment.  This type of wacky, weird, wonky violence isn’t for everyone, I’ll warn you, but it’s definitely tailor-made for some of us; deciding which camp you belong in is your job.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Review – 1917

Category : Movie Review

Director: Sam Mendes

Starring: George MacKay, Dean-Charles Chapman

Year: 2019

1917 is n0t a true one-shot film, nor even a two-shot film, but the details don’t wholly matter; it feels like a single breath to audiences, and that’s what keeps our hearts pounding until the final, incredible finish.  Like Dunkirk before it, this movie is about a ticking-clock feeling, or a first-hand encounter, not about the dramatics of typical Hollywood, and how that industry usually creates a WWI or WWII flick.  This is something else entirely, and we should be thankful for that limited experience, thankful to Sam Mendes for crafting something that seems so lifelike that we can hardly stand it.  1917 will be nominated for Best Picture this year, which is definitely deserved; I think its legend will only grow larger the more perspective we gain with the passing of time and the study of what went so well so constantly.

April, 1917, with British forces feet away from German, in a muddy, bloody standoff that would perfectly encapsulate the horrors of trench warfare.  But news has reached the line; the German forces have withdrawn, seemingly giving the British a chance to strike.  A battalion gives chase, but are being drawn into a trap, with their enemy forming new defenses that will be impenetrable.  Young corporals Blake and Schofield are given an almost impossible task; cross the no-mans-land, cut through dangerous territory, reach the battalion, and warn them that the attack on the new German line must be called off.  The lives of sixteen hundred men are in the hands of these two lads, as they make their way through hell to save their brethren.

It will seem as if this film was created with only two running shots, and although that’s not true, it’s still pretty awesome.  We march alongside these boys and we experience everything they go through, the quick cuts between scenes hidden within the movie; when a camera pans over a rock and the actors walk behind it, when they walk in one side of a building and out the other.  But you hardly notice those moments, the film feels like a continual stream of action and danger, which is so impressive.  Mendes knew what he wanted to do, created the impossible, and kept heart within his story, something that Dunkirk is accused of failing to do.  But 1917 never falters, is always high-motor, while never succumbing to typical genre cliches.  It’s fresh, brutal, personal, sad, and perfectly encapsulates a war we don’t tend to spend much thought on, but really should try to understand better.  The acting is great, with cameos from Colin Firth, Andrew Scott, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Richard Madden, none of which ever felt forced.  The emotion is so great, the tension palpable, and the cinematography perfect; Best Picture material for sure, and I think a movie we will look back on with even more respect.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆