Month: July 2019

Movie Trailer – Zombieland: Double Tap

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Ruben Fleischer

Starring: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone

Release: October 18th, 2019

Full disclosure; I’ve never seen the first one.  I’ll remedy that in time to see this, because it looks kinda fun, but I’m not really excited to see either.  This cast doesn’t do it for me, I just don’t really care, and what could they possibly do for the genre that hasn’t already been done before?  Meh.

Movie Trailer – Light of My Life

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Casey Affleck

Starring: Casey Affleck, Anna Pniowsky, Elisabeth Moss

Release: August 9th, 2019

This looks like a cross between The Road, It Comes at Night, Children of Men, Leave No Trace, Manchester by the Sea; basically any movie that’s either post-apocalyptic or sad.  And I don’t mind, it might be my favorite imaginary genre, I’m just worried that we’ve seen it all before.  Affleck is incredible, this youngster looks good too, I really think it would be difficult for the film to be bad, I’m just holding back a few reservations.

Movie Review – Corpse Bride

Category : Movie Review

Director: Tim Burton, Mike Johnson

Starring: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Emily Watson

Year: 2005

Corpse Bride was Laika’s first stop-motion animation adventure, followed by Coraline, ParaNorman, Boxtrolls, Kubo, and Missing Link.  What a lineup, some of the roundest and most technically sound films we’ve seen in years, and let’s hope they’re just getting started.  Corpse Bride is also a followup to Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas, the third of the trifecta being Frankenweenie, so no need to ever watch any other animated movies until you’ve seen all those just mentioned; you could do far, far worse then sticking to stop-motion and nothing but.  With Disney stuck on a course of remakes, audiences should refer back to the classics, including this classic and proven style, because, between Laika and Burton, it is in good hands.

Victor Van Dort, the son of fish merchants who have worked their way up to nouveau riche status, is set to marry the lovely Victoria Everglot, whose family is prestigious but penniless.  The marriage will fix both families for generations to come, but the pair of youngsters have never met, and they are both quite nervous.  Victor is so disconcerted that he wanders through the woods practicing his wedding vows aloud, only to accidentally say them at the grave of a stilted bride, whose ghost haunts the site, waiting for her true love.  Thinking that they are now married, the corpse takes Victor into the underworld to be her companion forever, while he attempts to break free and find Victoria before she marries another.

Laika and Burton really are the perfect combination, bringing art, darkness, humor, and real emotion together in wonderful balance and immaculate presentation.  If you loved Nightmare Before Christmas you will enjoy Corpse Bride; it’s jerky skeletons, it’s music by Danny Elfman, it’s a friendly dog, it’s a strange romance, it’s all the things you want.  And the cast is incredible: Depp, HBC, Watson, Tracey Ullman, Albery Finney, Richard E. Grant, Christopher Lee.  The characters and the songs will carry you through, and with a run time of just over an hour there’s almost no time commitment, you’re done and pleased before you know what hit you.  This style if right up my alley, and I know I’m not alone, Burton does it wonderfully, and my kids can immerse themselves in it right alongside me.  Family entertainment from a darker angle, Corpse Bride will kill you with kindness and keep you longing for anything similar, anything honest & artful without the stamp of the reprocessed commercialism we’ve become too used to.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆



Movie Trailer – Driven

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Nick Hamm

Starring: Jason Sudeikis, Lee Pace, Corey Stoll

Release: August 16th, 2019

WHY ARE THERE MULTIPLE MOVIES ABOUT JOHN DELOREAN OUT AROUND THE SAME TIME?!?!?!?!  I get that movies often come in pairs, but this is ridiculous.  Also, I respect Lee Pace and I think Jason Sudeikis is hilarious, but my god this is a stretch.  Please stop.

Movie Trailer – The Peanut Butter Falcon

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Tyler Nilson, Michael Schwartz

Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Zack Gottsagen, Dakota Johnson

John Hawkes, Bruce Dern, Jon Bernthal, Thomas Haden Church

Release: August 9th, 2019

It really affected me when Shia rented a theatre, watched all his movies for a couple days straight, and had an emotion experience right before our eyes; I’ve always thought that he’s a terrific actor, that event made me appreciate his youth & talent in some other, unexplained way.  I love watching him work, and I’m almost positive that he can take this role and this film to some height that, on the surface, it doesn’t look like it should be able to reach.

Movie Review – Under the Silver Lake

Category : Movie Review

Director: David Robert Mitchell

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Riley Keogh

Year: 2018

Under the Silver Lake is a Hollywood mystery wrapped in a Hollywood mystery of its own, with delayed releases, cast switches, and unrealized expectations.  This neo-noir, from the director of It Follows and almost nothing else, first starred Dakota Johnson, then Riley Keough, was set to come out in the summer of 2018, then the winter of 2018, then the spring of 2019, and always seemed to be tripping on its own mystique until it became something more of a joke.  An obvious homage to other, more polished Old Hollywood dramodies, Silver Lake stumbled out of the gate and never found its footing, leaving us wondering less what just happened and more what could have been possible.

Sam is hopeless, jobless, and soon to be homeless, living in L.A. and getting sprayed by skunks as he tries to cope with all life throws his way.  A ray of sunshine seems to have temporarily brightened his days when a new girl hops into his apartment’s pool, and when, later, the two hit it off.  But from one night to the next morning she disappears, leaving strange clues in her wake and a desire rising within Sam to solve the mystery of who she is, where she went, and what it all means.  He stumbles, perhaps, on a secret message that’s being spread above the heads of every day people, subliminal hints and covert codes that we don’t even notice and could never possibly understand.  But Sam is intent on figuring it all out, starting with where Sarah went, ending with the meaning of life, and hoping somewhere in the middle he doesn’t lose his car, his house, and his sanity.

From Mulholland Dr. to Inherent Vice, directors love their L.A. noirs, but I’m not sure that audiences can say the same.  We seem to regard them highly, these wacky, sexy, multi-faceted mysteries, but when’s the last time you took one home to meet the folks?  What I mean is, we think this genre is edgy and so kinda cool, and some of us proclaim that we’re huge fans, but I partly think that’s for show, while deep down these plots are rubbing us the wrong way.  David Robert Mitchell tries his hand at the style, crossing Hollywood auditions with clever dames and painting the town red, but it never really works the way you can feel it’s supposed to, and that’s no shock, considering how hard the movie was to make and release; it really shouldn’t be this difficult.  Real art comes from within, it isn’t tortured into existent, and that’s how I feel this movie comes across, as forced.  Garfield is good, the sexuality of the film is fun, I was curious most of the way through, but the plot is mostly messy and you won’t leave your seat satisfied, because I doubt anyone within the cast or crew wholeheartedly believed that they were creating something magical special.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆



Movie Trailer – Jojo Rabbit

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Taika Waititi

Starring: Roman Griffin Davis, Taika Waititi, Scarlett Johansson

Sam Rockwell, Thomasin McKenzie, Rebel Wilson, Stephen Merchant

Release: October 18th, 2019

I would follow Taika Waititi to the ends of the Earth, and I’ll trust him to do this movie right, a farce that could go extremely wrong were it in any other hands.  Eagle vs Shark, Boy, What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Thor: Ragnarok; not too shabby, you cheeky Kiwi.  I’m in.

Movie Trailer – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Marielle Heller

Starring: Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys

Release: November 22nd, 2019

Of course this looks good; we love Mr. Rogers and we love Mr. Hanks.  But they just made a documentary about this, it was excellent; do we really need a reenactment?  I’m fine with watching this movie, I’m sure it’ll be lovely, but it does feel a little like it’s playing with our emotions instead of bringing something original to the screen.  I think I’ll enjoy it, but I’m not sure how much I can respect it.

Movie Review – The Week Of

Category : Movie Review

Director: Robert Smigel

Starring: Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Steve Buscemi

Year: 2018

I really hate to admit it; I partially enjoyed a straight-to-Netflix, astoundingly-dumb, throw-away Adam Sandler flick.  In my defense, my in-laws made me do it, but in their defense, it wasn’t all that bad.  No one expects much of Adam Sandler, which may be his superpower; he releases a dozen idiotic movies in between every shocking success and we’re caught off guard every time.  The Wedding Singer, Punch-Drunk Love, The Meyerowitz Stories; all great, all out of nowhere, and I’m looking forward to Uncut Gems, so Sandler remains a mystery who can do great work, as long as you don’t expect it all the time.  Mostly he’s going on vacation with his celebrity friends and making up a stupid movie on the fly, the result of which is usually not pretty.  But The Week Of kinda sorta works a little better than you might expect, showing flashes of real promise, mixed with moments, of course, of total buffoonery.

Sarah is getting married to Tyler, and their families are flipping out about it a little.  All in good ways, they couldn’t be happier for the couple, but the week before the wedding isn’t going to be a relaxing time, it’s going to be the most insane few days of their new lives together.  At the heart of it all is Sarah’s dad Kenny, who wants to please every one around every corner but doesn’t have the budget to pull it off, not by a long shot.  You know who does; Tyler’s dad Kirby, but Kenny is too proud to take his help, and he wants to make the wedding perfect for his little girl.  An uncle with no legs, a leaky hotel, a corrupt mayor, a deliver of human-sized alcohol bottles, a hundred different bizarre misfortunes; this week is going to go from wild to catastrophic in the blink of an eye, and only the love of extended family can hold it all together before everybody snaps.

A bit of homage to Father of the Bride, Sandler’s The Week Of is a fun romp through a stressful time, with a message at the end that the love of family is strong enough to overcome any obstacle.  Along the way, we do get to see a peek at that strange talent from Adam Sandler that keeps us coming back for more, that lovable ability to suck us in and convince us that his character is someone we could already know.  So that’s great, but we also see way too much of the idiotic sense of humor that emerges when he’s around his pals for too long, and the depths to which his jokes will sink if allowed to be set free to their own devices.  Rock was underused, Buscemi was dumb, too many of the story lines were juvenile, the ending raised the bar a little, but the project as a whole is an up-and-down ride of good, bad, and ugly.  You might end up liking the film more than you thought you would because Sandler is a teddy bear, but the rest of its content deserves a warning label; it’s the combination of the two that ends up allowing The Week Of to float on as something funny, if not anywhere near fantastic.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆


Movie Review – The Lion King (2019)

Category : Movie Review

Director: Jon Favreau

Starring: Donald Glover, Beyonce, Chiwetel Ejiofor

Year: 2019

The new version of The Lion King isn’t half bad; unfortunately all the good parts are simply re-shoots and carbon copies.  It’s time for Disney to own that it has run out of ideas; when this happens to other artists they simply stop producing content.  They don’t repaint all their old work and set up new showings, they retire, and that’s what it’s time for, the retirement of a talent that was amazing once but has since lost its magic.  Continue with Pixar by all means, that avenue still has life, but stop covering all your own hits, we simply don’t want to hear that song any more.  I take my kids to these movies, after they’ve seen the originals of course, but I need to stop, because I’m volunteering to be part of the problem, even if I criticize the movies after.  Cinderella, Mulan; there have been a couple successes in a long line of ridiculous failures we didn’t ask for, but the majority of the films Disney is choosing to recycle are not worth our time.  We don’t need remakes, we need craft, and although The Lion King will impress with visuals and classic recaptures, it doesn’t deserve to be associated with art.

Young Simba is the heir to the throne of the animal kingdom, learning from his father Mufasa just how the circle of life works, and how all living creatures are connected.  The lions eat the antelope, the antelope eat the grass, the grass grows from the nutrients of the soil, the nutrients come from the bodies of those who have died; you know the drill.  But Simba is an impetuous lion cub, and his uncle Scar wants him & his father dead so that the line of succession will change; not a great combination, especially with Simba so prone to trouble and so trusting of Scar.  When Mufasa dies, Simba is convinced that he is responsible, and is convinced to run away and forget all the painful memories, leaving Scar in charge.  This imbalance in the circle of life threatens to destroy everything the lion kings always strive to protect, and Simba must confront his past so that he can build a better future.

I have a lot of thoughts on this movie; I’ll try my best to be concise.  Not least of those is my utter exhaustion brought on by these Disney remakes, and my despair that there is no end in sight.  Like I said, there have been relative successes, but overall this is a concept that I don’t support, while I literally support it with my money, for which I’m not proud.  Disney needs to move along or one day audiences will get tired enough of the same content that we eventually stop watching.  Pixar is great, move in that direction, come up with a catchy new princess musical every once in a while, but stop with this incessant exhumation of what we’ve already laid to rest.  This newest reanimation is exactly and only that; a re-“drawing” of an old storyboard and little else to offer.  It’s frame for frame the same, just with new CGI, but even that can’t possibly compare to the good old, hand-drawn stuff we grew up with.  The animals look real, that’s for sure, but they look so real that they lose all human emotion, and we absolutely can’t tell what they’re feeling or saying or emoting at almost any moment in the entire film.  It’s like the carcasses of the characters we once loved but with hands stuck up inside their corpses in a morbid form of puppetry, while the original movie plays in the background; pretty sick, once you start thinking too much about it.

The idea was for us never to ponder it in the first place, just to go along for the ride and be distracted by all the celebrities, and I’m sure that worked on a lot of audiences; I can only hope that some saw through the gild.  The animation is spectacular, I’ll give them that, but use it for something else, some movie where animals don’t talk maybe, because while they look real they feel dead, and that’s something that should have been noticed by every crew member so early on that we shouldn’t ever have reached this point.  That’s what we can point to as positives, the impressive realism of the creatures and also the time travel back to 1994 to enjoy the same songs & lines we once loved, but that only takes us so far; we need more to move any further down the path of true entertainment.  A talented cast might have helped; Glover and Beyonce are performers, not actors, and you can tell.  Ejiofor’s version of Be Prepared was abysmal, and so was the idea to have a queen of the hyenas; why?  I’d say the saving grace was Seth Rogen & Billy Eichner as Pumbaa & Timon; I liked their banter and their take, they were a bright spot in an otherwise dim vision of an untouchable classic that someone stupid decided to touch anyway.  More and more I’m starting to hate Jon Favreau; he’s a bad director, a worse actor, and we don’t need him around anymore, despite how we used to think he was neat.  This entire project should have been scrapped early, and the only reason it’s passable is because the original is so damn good; that’s why I can’t rip it completely, but I do hope that some day we look  back on this re-make era and hold it in the contempt it deserves.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆