Author Archives: ochippie

  • -

Thought – 2021 Oscar Update

Category : Thought

Almost three months ago I posted a list of 30 potential Best Picture Oscar contenders, plus a list of snubbed films that deserved consideration.  Since then, I’ve updated the list with reviews as I’ve seen the movies, including any personal favorites that hadn’t previously made the list.  As the Academy Awards draw closer, let’s take a look at an updated watchlist, a list that has taken into consideration those undervalued films that have risen up the ranks and those over-hyped movies that have taken a tumble.

This is the Variety ranking of top Academy Award contenders:

  1. Nomadland
  2. The Trial of the Chicago 7
  3. Minari
  4. Promising Young Woman
  5. One Night in Miami
  6. News of the World
  7. Sound of Metal
  8. Judas and the Black Messiah
  9. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  10. The Father
  11. Mank
  12. Da 5 Bloods
  13. Soul
  14. First Cow
  15. The Mauritanian
  16. On the Rocks
  17. Malcolm & Marie
  18. Another Round
  19. Hillbilly Elegy
  20. Palm Springs

Snubbed: The Devil All the Time, Pieces of a Woman, Onward, The Platform, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, The Gentlemen, Underwater, The Way Back, Eurovision, Extraction, Yes God Yes, Ammonite, The Midnight Sky.

 


  • -

Movie Review – All My Friends Are Dead

Category : Movie Review

Director: Jan Belci

Starring: Julia Wieniawa-Narkiewicz, Mateusz Wieclawek, Monika Krzywkowska

Year: 2020

American Pie, but where everyone dies?  Not a movie that most of us want to see, but it’s on Netflix anyway, which brings up the question I’ve been asking too often, so I won’t go deep into it right now; is the ability to stream a million movies a day killing the quality of our content?  I’m not an elitist, and crappy movies always existed, believe me, I just think crappy movies are more easily accessible right now, and that’s leading to, perhaps, a forgiveness for bad cinema because we’re becoming numb to it.  Well, get ready for a shocker, because while All My Friends Are Dead is no good, it’s also not palatable, and probably shouldn’t have even been thought up.

At a New Years party in Poland, a group of friends gather together to hang out, drink up, and celebrate the season.  Some know each other, some are strangers, some are lovers, some want to be, but they are all connected and all in search of connections, both physical and emotional.  Sounds good, should have been fun, but somehow it turned deadly, as the cops discover the next day.  How it went from enjoyable to murderous is an odd story, filled with accidents and anger, sex and silliness, a tale to be told from the beginning, with a bloody end already decided.

Like many good ideas, the movie starts out just fine, but quickly devolves into madness.  What’s extra here though is how insane the action becomes, how bad the film gets; it’s normal to have trouble finishing strong, but not often do you see this level of complete, abysmal failure.  It beings funny and ends with someone’s fake boob exploding; if that doesn’t raise a red flag I don’t know what does.  Obviously, the director wasn’t ready to make this romp, Netflix shouldn’t have allowed it to appear, and everyone involved in it is at fault for projecting something this ridiculously dumb onto our minds.

My rating: ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 


  • -

Movie Review – I Care a Lot

Category : Movie Review

Director: J Blakeson

Starring: Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage, Eiza Gonzalez, Dianne Wiest

Year: 2020

Maybe we should rethink the idea of letting anyone with a camcorder direct a movie, letting any studio with a bit of cash stream it, letting audience consume cheap content at a cheap rate just because they can and it’s there.  I hate to be elitist, I don’t consider myself that at all, and I don’t think only Scorsese should be allowed to direct pictures.  But I do think quality can suffer by ramming through features on streaming services that aren’t well-directed, well-written, or well-planned.  We’re in a weird time in cinema right now, a time of easy releases, and I Care a Lot is a good example of how bad that can be.

Marla Grayson is a guardian for the elderly; that is, when an elderly person can no longer make their own decisions, the court might appoint a liaison to help them transition to a care facility, and help manage the responsibilities they leave behind.  In this way, Marla was in control of the estates of dozens of strangers, and she paid herself a fee from the sale of their personal items, including their homes and savings.  Taking it one step further, Marla had a doctor write off on the fiction that a wealthy woman named Jennifer Peterson had dementia, which allowed Marla to take her money and treat her like an invalid.  Only, Peterson wasn’t just a random little old lady, she was the mother of an extremely dangerous man, a villain who wouldn’t like what was being done to his mom.

I don’t have chips in the game, I don’t care if Netflix and Prime and Hulu want to deliver a hundred new movies a week; I’ll watch, it’s fun, sometimes there’s a gem.  But also, much of the time, there’s a load of crap, and that’s simply a byproduct of not caring about quality as much as quantity.  It’s the way things are, directors can get things through right now, and while that might mean more opportunity for people who didn’t have it (which is good) it can also mean more awful attempts at random movies (which is sucky).  I Care a Lot is a cool idea from a questionable director that doesn’t seem thought out to the end; it starts interestingly enough, but no one planned it out, or if they did they didn’t know that we’d hate their god-awful plan.  It’s maybe a crime/comedy, but peopled by terrible characters who you’ll hate to watch, until there’s really no advantage for having a rooting interest in anyone.  It’s like they forgot that we needed a reason to stay tuned, like they thought streaming it was simply enough, that we would complete blank out and somehow enjoy watching evil people try to kill each other for two hours.  Not my idea of fun, and while the actors were fine, their roles weren’t, and the film quickly devolved into a worthless experience, devoid of any redeeming characteristics.

My rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

 


  • -

Movie Review – One Night in Miami

Category : Movie Review

Director: Regina King

Starring: Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Leslie Odom, Aldis Hodge

Year: 2020

Regina King’s directorial debut mostly draws upon the work of others, which is not the worst thing an amateur can decide to do when the world is watching your first time.  One Night in Miami is a play by Kemp Powers, and Powers adapted his own work for the screen, and four actors took on the bulk of the plot; sitting in a room, talking about the world, portraying four icons.  Maybe it was simply a great way for a director to get their feet wet, because the material was already there, the adaptation was delivered, and the cast pulled off the ploy, handing audiences a film that felt like theatre but lost nothing important in the translation.

On the evening of Cassius Clay’s title fight, he and three friends gather to celebrate his victory and his success, to celebrate all that each of them has accomplished on a road to fame that has not been easy.  Sam Cooke has taken gospel music and made it appealing to the white masses, turning himself into a rich man in the process.  Jim Brown has become the greatest football player the world has ever seen, setting records and making himself a household name.  And Malcolm X, outspoken figurehead for the Nation of Islam in America, has the entire country listening to his every word.  But the friends are not simply gathering for a drink after a bout, they are spearheading a fight against problems that Black people encounter on a daily basis in a fluid United States, using their wealth, power, and voices to somehow make a change that will somewhat last.

The theatrical aspect of this film is obvious and paramount; the best parts are in the hotel room with each character challenging the other, getting heated and passionate about the subject of saving lives.  It’s an incredible narrative, and you feel like you are sitting in the front row, watching events play out of stage.  The other parts, any time they step outside, that gets silly, it’s not strong, but luckily it’s not very much of the movie.  Most of the conversations are brilliant, and well-acted all around; they will set your heart pounding with a desire to do something now.  King can’t exactly be rewarded for setting this all into motion, the film was a vehicle all its own, with four excellent performances propelling it forward, but, again, she can’t be blamed for letting it run either.  She’s an amateur, she did the right thing, and the movie worked; that’s all we should ask of her for now.  Ben-Adir led an incredible, tense 110 minutes, pushing us to the edge and giving us insight into this historical figure.  And just because this is a fictional account, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have true substance, and that doesn’t stop it from being one of the best films of this past year.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

 


  • -

Sports – 2021 NFL Free Agency

Category : Sports

With the 2020 season behind us, the Super Bowl over, and the reality of zero football setting in, it’s never too early to look ahead to next year. The 2021 season kicks off with the HOF game in Canton in August and the NFL Opener in September, but before that there are two major events that will change your team’s future.  One is the Draft in April, and the other is Free Agency in March. There are veteran players out there for the taking, and they could help your team right away with their talent and experience. Here is a look at some of the top NFL Free Agents of 2021:

 

QB

  1. Dak Prescott
  2. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  3. Jameis Winston
  4. Cam Newton
  5. Tyrod Taylor

RB

  1. Aaron Jones
  2. Chris Carson
  3. Kenyan Drake
  4. James Conner
  5. Le’Veon Bell

WR

  1. Chris Godwin
  2. Allen Robinson
  3. Kenny Golladay
  4. Will Fuller
  5. Corey Davis

TE

  1. Hunter Henry
  2. Jonnu Smith
  3. Gerald Everett
  4. Rob Gronkowski
  5. Jared Cook

OL

  1. Trent Williams
  2. Brandon Scherff
  3. Taylor Moton
  4. Joe Tuney
  5. Corey Linsley

DL

  1. JJ Watt
  2. Leonard Williams
  3. Jadaveon Clowney
  4. Davlin Tomlison
  5. Shelby Harris

LB

  1. Lavonte David
  2. Shaquil Barrett
  3. Carl Lawson
  4. Matt Milano
  5. Yannick Ngakoue

CB

  1. Richard Sherman
  2. William Jackson
  3. Desmond King
  4. Shaquil Griffin
  5. Troy Hill

S

  1. Justin Simmons
  2. Anthony Harris
  3. Marcus Williams
  4. Marcus Maye
  5. John Johnson

 


  • -

Movie Review – Age of Uprising

Category : Movie Review

Director: Arnaud des Pallieres

Starring: Mads Mikkelsen

Year: 2013

The legend of Mads Mikkelsen is growing to the point that even the casual movie-goer should have learned to love him by now; if not, there’s still time for you to jump on his bandwagon.  He’s a unique talent and a forceful presence, making his spirit known in every film he enters, even minimally, because his talent is simply that great.  There’s a mystique and a danger about his that allows his to be a villain with ease, but he can play the flawed hero just as well, simply by choosing to allow us to enter a little deeper.  It’s time to say that we can watch Mads in anything and we can be assured of greatness, at least from him, and Age of Uprising is no exception.

Based on the groundbreaking 1810 novel, which itself was based on true events of the 16th century, Age of Uprising tells us the story of Michael Kohlhaas, a French horse trader who prospered under fair laws and hard work, raising in family in moderate wealth and treating those who worked for him with dignity.  When a local baron demanded an unlawful toll and took two horses to hold against the fee, events were set into motion that would shake the entire countryside.  The horses were ill-treated, a servant was attacked, and Kohlhaas sought justice, first within the law and then by taking the law into his own hands, creating an infamous rebellion that impacted so many innocent lives.

Mads is a miracle: Casino Royale, Valhalla Rising, A Royal Affair, The Hunt, The Salvation, Doctor Strange, Rouge One, Arctic, Another Round.  He’s an actor whose fame has mounted slowly, but each performance he gives holds so much power that an eruption must have always been inevitable.  I can think of no one else who could have pulled off this role in this film, especially because the movie itself was a bit too sleepy for its own good.  It was almost like there was another movie of cut scenes that we weren’t allowed to watch, like we were only seeing half of the story, and maybe the one with too little music, motivating, and drama.  The story is great, the acting is wonderful, the raw brutality is impressive, but I would gladly have watched for another two hours had there been a companion to all the things I liked, because without that second installment I was left a little bored.  Watch for artistic direction and solid characters, but know that you’ll miss a little regularity; a small amount of convention would have gone a long way.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

 


  • -

Movie Review – Defiance

Category : Movie Review

Director: Edward Zwick,

Starring: Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, Jamie Bell

Year: 2008

Based on a book and a true story, Defiance is another example of courage in the face of Nazi evil, and the will to survive inherent in us all.  You’d think that we’d have had enough of WWII tales: the drama of the war, the horror of the Holocaust, the soldiers, the guns, the heartbreak, the death.  But I’m of the opinion that we need always remember what happened, to the Jews and others, to the world, and that we owe it to future generations to never forget.  That might sound like a cliche, like “those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it”, but it’s not necessarily that over-dramatic or that complicated; it comes down to trying to remember something awful because it’s the right thing to do.  Defiance might not be the perfect film, it might be largely too Hollywood, but it does keep the message going through the generations, and that’s not a trivial thing.

In the Belarus region in 1941, the Germans began their eastward advancement toward Russia, turning on their ally and opening up an Eastern Front.  In their way and targeted to be eliminated were the Slavic people, many of whm were Jews.  In so many towns, ghettos were formed, families were separated, innocent people were killed, and the Nazi war machine pushed forward.  After losing their parents and their home, the Bielski brothers, Tuvia, Zus, Asael, & Aron, fled to the woods to hide, taking with them other Jews who were on the run.  Soon, a community gathered in the forest, over a thousand strong, with a group of them, led by Tuvia, forming a partisan group to fight against the German invaders.  Survival was hard, death seemed inevitable, but they survived, even loved, and showed that, by living, they would refuse to accept extinction.

2001’s Enemy at the Gates is so much better than Defiance; better music, better acting, better intensity, better all around.  Both are about Russians vs Germans, Jews fighting alongside after their lives have been torn apart, survival against all odds, true stories that need to be told.  But the former works on multiple levels at once, as a piece of fiction and a piece of history, while the latter struggles to keep all its balls in the air while it’s attempting to juggle in very tricky patterns.  Again, it deserves credit just for telling the truth, for teaching us about these men, for showing us their bravery, and that’s worth a lot just on its own.  Then the cinematic part comes into play, and that’s a bit more messy.  The accents are questionable, the action is repetitive, the casting choices are odd, the group is almost too full of names: Craig, Schreiber, Bell, Alexa Davalos, Mark Feuerstein, Jodhi May, Iben Hjejle, George McKay, Mia Wasikowska, Sam Spruell.  In the end, this is a film that had a purpose, works fine on that level, but won’t ever be able to stand up on its own, because it’s simply too flimsily built.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

 


  • -

Movie Review – Alexander

Category : Movie Review

Director: Oliver Stone

Starring: Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie, Val Kilmer, Jared Leto

Anthony Hopkins, Rosario Dawson, Jonathan Rhys Meyers

Year: 2004

It’s hard to explain why Troy is so lovely and Alexander so hideous; they were both made the same year, as pairs of films often are, the former came out first, but the latter was the obvious failure.  Critics will say that Troy is silly and overdone, and I don’t exactly disagree, but I love it for its audacity and vigor, for going full force in our faces, with stars galore and blood aplenty.  Alexander seems to attempt the same, with a little more history behind it, but it also tries to be clever, and that’s where it meets its demise.  Actually, demise was around more corners than that; just hearing the actors speak is enough to send audiences running for the hills before their brains explode, and that’s not something you want from a drama, nor are ugly action sequences what you want from a war movie.  Alexander is a combination of reality & myth, but melded so sloppily that you’d have to imagine everyone involved would ask for a do-over, if only the gods would honor their guilty request.

Philip, the King of Macedonia, takes a barbarian wife, and she bears him a beautiful son named Alexander.  Once Philip conquers the rest of the Greeks, he turns his attention to the East, to Persia, the greatest empire in the world.  But before he can begin his dream quest, Philip is assassinated, and Alexander takes the throne.  Driven by dreams of global dominance and an urge to see the ends of the Earth, this great leader takes his armies into the heart of Persia, conquering, discovering, annihilating, and leaving home behind.  Alexander would become Great on this journey, by these bloody quests, but the price was high; a life of loneliness, a constant state of paranoia, a near-tyrannical hold on hundreds of thousands of lives, and, ultimately, an early death.  Like his hero Achilles, Alexander chose glory over old age, fame over luxury, and burned like a fire for the briefest of periods so that he could be remembered far longer.

It’s hilarious that they simply made all Macedonians speak with an Irish accent so that they would all sound like Colin Farrell.  Angelina Jolie did some sort of Russian variant, Rosario Dawson did maybe a Gypsy, and no one else did anything even recognizable enough to be labelled.  Alexander might be the worst accent job I’ve ever witnessed, a complete mess of voices and sounds that only served to make the movie even worse than it was destined to be anyway.  I know Braveheart isn’t perfect as far as accents go, you could say that Troy is problematic too, but this film takes the cake, and it doesn’t stop there, oh no, it keeps going in the ‘wrong’ department.  Oliver Stone exhibited about as much deft workmanship as a giant, square lump of gray clay, wielding direction and editing like they were weapons, not tools, giving us a pile of crappy pieces, not a whole, enjoyable experience.  The filming, the editing, the music, the trippy stuff, the breadth; bad, bad, bad, so bad, and bad again.  It was like he was intentionally doing something to hurt us, and so were the actors; everyone involved should be embarrassed.  They tried with the history, I’ll give them that, they tried to make us understand the size of what happened, the significance of the battles, the toll that time took on those who should have been heroes to some, murderers to others.  But overall, Alexander failed to be cinema, becoming sensation instead, and only in an undesirable way.

My rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

 


  • -

Sports – 2021 NFL Coaching Carousel

Category : Sports

Now that the Super Bowl is over, it’s not too early to look ahead to the 2021 season, especially for those teams who have already undergone a lot of change. Nothing says a fresh start like a new head coach, and many NFL teams made the switch after tough losses or tough years in general. Here is a look at the new faces and their new teams:

 

New York Jets – Robert Saleh

Houston Texans – David Culley

Jacksonville Jaguars – Urban Meyer

Los Angeles Chargers – Brandon Staley

Philadelphia Eagles – Nick Sirianni

Detroit Lions – Dan Campbell

Atlanta Falcons – Arthur Smith

 


  • -

Movie Review – Brothers

Category : Movie Review

Director: Jim Sheridan

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman, Tobey Maguire

Year: 2009

Apparently I need to see the Danish film that this American film is based on, because, my god, it has to be better than this crap.  One of my favorite modern war film is Danish as well, not to pare things down to one country; if you have not seen A War please do yourself a favor.  But Brothers is the exact opposite, a drama that works in no way, even when the emotion of a situation we understand far too well is laid at its feet and begs its story to be told.  What a colossal disappointment, for a first-time watch of a movie I just assumed would be strong, based on its content and its actors.  Boy was I wrong.

While serving in Afghanistan, Captain Sam Cahill is shot down in a helicopter and and taken hostage by Taliban forces.  Presumed dead at home, life goes on without him.  His wife Grace and two young daughters attempt to move past the grief, and they do so with the help of his brother Tommy, who is an ex-con, a troublemaker, a boy who never lived up to his big brother’s accomplishments, but who also steps up in a surprising way when Sam is no longer their to care for his family.  Tommy & Grace even begin to possibly seen each other in a different light, as maybe something more than friends, before the unexpected happens; Sam is found, rescued, and comes home, but to a house that no longer feels like his.

I was hoping for great, I would have settled for good, I guess I wouldn’t have been shocked by bad, but I honestly wasn’t mentally ready for god awful.  Brothers is a terrible, terrible, awful movie, from its bones on out, just a marvelously maladjusted piece of crooked cinema that doesn’t get its own story right, or, I guess, doesn’t get the story it attempted to Americanize right, which is more accurate and admonishing.  Every detail was dreadful; the music choices, the dialogue, the side characters.  And I have perhaps never seen two actors who were meant to play co-parents less than Tobey & Natalie; it was like they were aliens in the bodies of humans, pretending that they could have emotions and tickle fights.  My god it was bad, and not even Jake could save the day, and you should know that I absolutely adore Jake.  This was simply a miss, a whiff, a big swing-and-sit-down-on-the-seat-of-your-pants, and I’m shocked that there weren’t more red flags.

My rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆