Category Archives: Review
Remember that amazing “Don’t Stop Me Now” sequence from Shaun of the Dead?
If it’s been a while, here’s a refresher:
Now if you take that and mix it with this Mint Royale video, then stretch it out for about two hours, you get Baby Driver in a nutshell.
To break it down, after a run-in with a kingpin called Doc (Kevin Spacey), Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a reluctant driver for a small crime syndicate. Alas, as soon as things start going a little too well for Baby, a new player named Bats (Jamie Foxx) joins the crew, and it all descends into a high-octane venture of guts and gunplay.
From start to finish, I was completely entertained and intrigued: Baby Driver is a visual salad consisting of coordination and references (worth re-watching for), complete with a killer soundtrack to oomph every beat.
I immediately bought the soundtrack after seeing this movie, and plan on keeping it in my car for a very long time. This movie was made with such precision and love for music and tempo – I’d be amazed if this isn’t up for an Oscar for editing alone. Edgar Wright is no stranger to clever beats, but to have the characters move in time with the soundtrack – it’s just so cool.
However, there is something that bothers me a lot. Not just that Baby had both the best and worst luck at any given moment (how did Buddy not die the first time!?), nor that Debora was a casual manic-pixie-dreamgirl.
It’s just, how in the world, considering Doc’s shrewd meticulousness, would he EVER want to work with Bats again? Additionally, why wouldn’t Doc mention that they were meeting with crooked cops? Would it have been such a risk to inform them beforehand? Also, considering Baby’s literal life of crime and socio-economic status, I think it goes without saying that he got off way too easily in the end.
Albeit, this is the world of action movies, and sometimes you have to remember that some things just happen because the plot says so. Nit-picks and plot-holes aside, Baby Driver is still an incredibly entertaining, original film with its own merits.
Usually I put a synopsis first, but I’ll put a trailer here instead – as it captures the intensity and atmosphere of this film much better than I could:
From beginning to end, this movie keeps you hooked. Jordan Peele uses a racist lens to focus on social discomfort and biases, in order to imbue a terrible, persistent dread over the viewer, which I believe is a new kind of horror experience.
The trailer actually captures a lot of the movie – just go see it, then read this. Here there be spoilers.
Rather than being about straight-up racism, it seems to be more about correlation, if not “accidental racism,” which are due to the effects of social standards overtime, which is the much more unfortunate elephant in the room. Except for that cop. And the brother. And half of those old people…
It would seem that this film, while focusing on bigotry, highlights the “whitification” of African Americans in a near comically uncomfortable manner. But as the twist is revealed, it can also be argued that Get Out is more of a cheeky stab at cultural appropriation – all these rich white folks are practically dying for a chance at being black.
Either way, Peele captures the annoyingly contradictive nature of white America: “either be more white or let us be more black.”
Something I am unsure of though: Was the film implying that white people think black people are easy to manipulate? Or, that it’s the privileged white man’s responsibility to use the black man (going off of Dean’s spiel about Chris’s “purpose”)? Furthermore, are both parties expected to partake in this kind of relationship due to institutionalized racism? I dunno, but it’s food for thought.
After building on all of these implications and inferences, I felt that the most terrifying scene was when the flashing lights approach our bloodied protagonist. The cop angle would have been the absolute nail-in-the-coffin as far as this film’s social commentary goes. Fortunately, the actual ending is much better.
Get Out is a refreshing take on horror-comedy, chocked full of tension, intrigue, and most importantly, creative criticism.
Literally working oneself to death is far from a new concept – in fact, Japan even has a word for it: karōshi. With the ever-daunting stress of the working world, it’s no wonder that those privileged enough would seek whatever means necessary to find a sense of ease, namely in the form of “wellness retreats.”
When the CEO of a million-dollar-bigwig-somethingorother, finds himself lost in the wiles of the Volmer Institute, the company sends their youngest board member, Lockhart (Dan DeHaan) to fetch him back.
Tucked away in the Swiss Alps, the Volmer Institute is a private establishment that prides itself in the finest in quality care, taking advantage of all the environment has to offer – namely the water source.
Once Lockhart finds getting his boss out is more difficult than imagined, it becomes far more clear that these doctors are up to a much more sinister agenda.
As much as I hate to say it, I think there’s such a thing as atmospheric over-saturation. If you want a movie that looks like a beautiful screensaver, you got it. Well, if you like eels, that is.
Initially, I was intrigued. The trailer did it’s job. That and I’m a sucker for institutional psychological thrillers. As the story progressed, I was drawn in even more. However, there was a noticeable drag. In fact, there’s really no reason for this film to be 2.5hrs long – we could have easily lost an accumulative hour of atmospheric shots and Mia Goth being ogled.
Admittedly, it was the story that kept me interested, as opposed to actual character development – which is to say there was none. The protagonist remains static, the obviously evil doctor is evil, and the doe-eyed damsel is the personification of the virgin-whore complex.
Hannah’s character is innocent while curiously alluring – locked in an ivory tower like a depressive pixie dream girl, wistfully humming and wandering barefoot.
And on the note of women in this film, I’m pretty sure Gore Verbinski doesn’t know how periods work. (I’m just saying, there was a concerning amount of blood…but I guess it is a horror movie…)
Snark aside, A Cure for Wellness is a gorgeous movie. It does its best to channel new-Hollywood atmospheric horror while playing up visceral scares for maximum discomfort (albeit, the CGI was not good). Though it has the makings of a successful horror story, the results leave this story rather underwhelming.
As a Mighty Boosh fan, this was running through my head throughout the film – enjoy.
I recognize I’m terribly late on this write-up, but near the end of this season I was terribly distracted by Channel Zero, Westworld, The OA, and most recently, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. But considering the news dropping for Season 7, better late than never, right?
Season six of Ryan Murphy’s on-going horror escapade was easily the most divisive: Between the show-within-a-show framing and found footage over-saturation, this is probably the most unique season to date. But does that make it good?
Usually I’d start with the opening theme, but controversially, there wasn’t one for Season 6. Fortunately I found this fan-video, which might be better than the actual season itself:
Let’s get down to it
When approaching this season, there’s a lot to wrap one’s head around – namely the meta-quality of “My Roanoke Nightmare.” Initially I was against this method of story-telling, because as much as I love cheesy ghost story shows, it is common knowledge that reenacting is seldom relied upon. So for “Roanoke Nightmare” to not only consist of 90% reenactment, but to have such a crazy fandom after the fact, that’s fairly hard to believe. All you can really do is accept that this branch of television is widely accepted in this universe (the “Murphyverse,” if you will).
Once it’s understood that there are many-a-layers, it’s easy to roll with the punches on this one. That doesn’t mean there still aren’t any inconsistencies. (I still don’t know what the teeth are all about.) But, it does hit on all of the previous AHS tropes: Mommy Issues, Monster, and Something Incredibly Uncomfortable (my vote goes to the Polks, followed by first-person immolation). Not to mention, this is the first season to reference all of the previous seasons (well, the Hotel one was kinda loose, but I’ll let it slide).
My favorite part of this season was when we as viewers finally saw the ghosts as they were meant to be seen – and they are hella spooky. Initially, it is a cheap trick to rely so much on the popularity of found-footage, but to use this technique to alter the viewing experience as such was a fantastic exploit of the medium.
My second-favorite part, what I like to call the redemption of Kathy Bates. Her character, Agnes Mary Winstead, was genuinely uncomfortable to witness. I felt like her contribution to this season was a way to show younger, or unfamiliar, viewers her prowess.
Speaking of younger viewers, when Dominic Banks goes on his soliloquy about being a reality villain, is Real World still relevant? Does anyone under 20 know who Puck is? Either way, the second act is my favorite part of this season, hands down.
Where it drops the ball
Personally, I really didn’t care for the third act. As glad as I was to see Lana Banana again, I wasn’t terribly interested in Lee Harris’ fate.
The trouble is, I’m not sure where the show would have gone afterwards.
Perhaps the larger issue is that the more interesting part of this season wasn’t so much the main characters, but the ghosts themselves – like if Murder House didn’t have Jessica Lange to ground it.
In all, AHS: Roanoke was a great deviation from the rest of the series, albeit a tad half-baked.
Aliens have finally made contact, and the first thing we need to know is, “Why are they here?” In order to find out, the military commissions linguist Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) to head a team to break the enigmatic creatures’ code. As Louise draws closer, the rest of the world grows weary, edging on the brink of an intergalactic war.
Arrival is an incredibly refreshing take on the alien genre. Rather than focusing on the fear, the overall narrative is based knowledge through communication. Usually the rule for filmmaking is “show, not tell,” so to have a story based around speaking, this grand undertaking is anything but boring.
Of course, fear comes into play – and when it does, it’s absolutely infuriating. In fact, I think it was wrong to demonize the military/government as this film did; yes, they couldn’t inform the public of anything in the event that they were terribly wrong, but – as we’ve established with the power of communication – words are better than silence, but it takes time to produce the right words.
Additionally, I feel that a lot of subtlety was lost in this story – and frankly, I’m not sure how to feel about it: Between the circular nature of their language/time, to crossing literal barriers, it’s that fine line between clever and overdone.
Many folks claim that this is a film that will restore your faith in humanity. I say that’s a stretch, but it’s certainly a story we could use right now. In all, Arrival is an unexpectedly lovely film worth the watch.
…This has been stuck in my head ever since.
Roughly two years ago, I discovered a new series as soon as it’s cover met my eye:
Much to my pleasure, I found that not only are there dozens of ooky-spooky vintage photographs within this book, but the story’s narrative is woven by mentioned photographs – how cool is that? I’m still on the third book, and the series isn’t all that bad. It’s dark and whimsical, just as I like it – lots of cool characters too. The love angle’s a little weird, but that can be discussed another day.
Naturally, like most hit young adult novels, a film adaptation was inevitable; between the eerie imagery and semi-period setting, Burton was an apt choice. As for the remainder of the adaptation, considering all of the deviations… it got kinda weird.
Miss Peregrine follows Jacob Portman (Asa Butterfield), a teenager who discovers that the amazing stories his late grandfather raised him with may had lead to his mysterious, gruesome death. Jacob uncovers a hidden world lost in time and space, occupied by people known as “peculiars,” (not unlike X-Men‘s mutants) protected by the enigmatic Miss Alma Peregrine (Eva Green).
Jake soon finds that he unknowingly lead danger right to his new friends’ door, for though this world is wondrous, it’s is also wrought with horrors.
Sometimes it’s easy to put the source material out of mind, but in the case of Miss Peregrine, something really bothered me about Emma (Ella Purnell). For those unfamiliar with the book, Olive and Emma originally have the opposite abilities (Olive is also a much younger, so that was weird).
As someone who can manipulate fire, Emma is an incredibly strong presence for Jacob, and thusly they have a more complex, interesting relationship. She’s also much braver and more fierce, and downright pretty cool.
By giving Emma the air ability (a tweaked one at that), she seems so much more fragile (if not useless) than necessary, which lends this movie’s greater issue: there are so many characters here, there’s hardly any development. By the end of it, sure Jacob’s got some more guts and gumption. Awesome. And I guess the rest of the kids do too, but can we really say?
Basically what I mean to say is that this film, as fun as it was to see these characters, was terribly shallow. Granted, I figured the studio was shooting more for a one-off rather than a trilogy, but this adaptation felt awfully muddled. Even if I wasn’t familiar with the source material, I feel as if this story would have felt lackluster in the end – not terrible, just really okay.
In a world where people are defined by their relationships, we follow one man on his search for compatibility. David (Colin Farrell) is confined to the Hotel, where must find love in 45 days. If he fails to do so, he will be transformed into an animal of his choosing and banished to the forest.
Alas, there is another hope – a group of loveless rebels, “Loners,” also inhabit the forest in order to escape the tyranny of the Hotel, the tyranny of love. Falling in love as a Loner has some gnarly consequences. But of course, we all know that romance can be found in the most unlikely of places.
I thoroughly enjoyed this film. It’s surreal, dark, and clever – not to mention, social commentary galore. And it prominently features music from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, so bonus points there.
When David flees the Hotel, he is stripped from society’s preconceptions, and like the surrounding fauna, is ruled by instinct. Though forbidden amongst Loners, David finds himself drawn to a nameless near-sighted Loner, who I’ll call “Lady” (Rachel Weisz). Of course, Lady is sweet on him, too.
We as people have such strange views on relationships in our society. Decades of advertising have taught us that sex is something we preen for and deserve, lest we end up a sad, lonely loser. The Lobster takes parts of this concept and adds base commentary on objective matchmaking, as well as the addition of children to unhappy homes.
And yet, despite what he and Lady go through in order to pursue what we could deem a “normal” relationship, David is driven by societal standards to make everything worse. This decision in the end is bittersweet: he changes because that is what society has taught him to do, but also by doing so, he can wholly share a world with Lady. Though an abstract portrayal of the things we do for love, I think it’s fair to say that the metaphor is an apt one.
Twisted, strange and oddly beautiful, The Lobster offers all sorts of allegories between the lines. It’s a film that must be watched and discussed. Undoubtedly, it’s something you’ll either get or you don’t – and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Just look at this trailer.
At first glance, I fell in love: the stop-motion mixed with a gorgeous cover of one of my favorite songs made my heart and imagination soar. Not to mention the hype in more recent ads, commending the film’s beauty and depth – I was stoked, to say the least. Alas, I left my seat feeling …well, underwhelmed.
It’s strange to have a Japanese story with a predominately white cast – well, maybe not strange, after all, this has been happening for decades, why stop now? (Despite his appearance in the trailer, George Takei had maybe five lines.)
Though I do have to say that the film is objectively lovely – an absolute spectacle, but suffers under the weight of its own mythos; I found myself begging for more mysticism and lore, but I was only met with the same run-of-the-mill lessons of the importance of story-telling and familial commemoration. Not that these things aren’t important, but maybe I was expecting more depth or at least some deviation of some sort – or hey, maybe some sort of recognition of the shamisen’s significance and history?
Speaking of the shamisen, the score and tonality was gorgeous. I’m not sure if it was an issue of time or studio restrictions, but I would have appreciated this film a lot more if it revolved around more myth and magic – I want to know how Kubo learned about his gifts and if and how he was taught these abilities.
And as I mentioned, this is a spectacle – especially in 3D. Director Travis Knight and Laika are no strangers to the third dimension, and they work to capture the potential of this extra space. After all, this is a physical, hand-crafted medium, and I think that deserves some extra respect.
I felt pretty divided at the end of this one. It was lovely, but needed a lot more oomf. There’s a lot of heart to be had, but stops short of definition.
Yeh know… it wasn’t that bad.
For starters, I was born in 1991. I saw the original Ghostbusters probably after I saw Space Jam, if you want to put things into perspective. Yes, I loved it and continue to love it, but it did not impact me like those who grew up in the ’80s (or so it seems). And of course, when I initially heard about a remake (reboot?), I was annoyed – because why fix what ain’t broke? Then there was the lady news – I thought that would be kind of cool, but I was still more hung up on the idea that a remake wasn’t necessary. Now, did this movie deserve the outrage it received so early on? Absolutely not.
I’ll skip on the synopsis because it’s pretty straight forward, also spoiler alert.
It’s really hard not to harp on the gender issues here because frankly, all the tv spots about this movie are straight-up girl power – and again, this was one of the biggest public gripes. So let’s talk about, for a bit at least.
If I were 9 and saw this, I would love it to pieces. It’s fun and colorful and funny – and there are chicks kicking phantasmal ass. This is a movie I would need as a young girl, because goddammit, representation is important. Anecdote: I was a ghostbuster for Halloween last year, and resorted to an ill-fitting men’s suit because otherwise, I had this. Much like skirts and baseball, skirts and ghostbusting don’t mix. (That was a loose League of Their Own – oh nevermind.)
As a young adult viewer, yes, this movie was very entertaining and enjoyable. I felt that the only time the gender-swap dynamic was shoved in your face was with Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) the receptionist, and Rowan (Neil Casey), the creepy villain. Well, I’m only adding Rowan as a devil’s advocate, because I’m sure some folks out there were all like “THE ONLY MEN IN THIS MOVIE WERE A DUMB HUNK AND A SMART CREEP – HOW DOES THIS REPRESENT MEN”
If you are one of these people…well, maybe we could speak directly, civilly, but please leave capslock out of this – and of course, keep in mind that this is a comedy film that attempts to deviate from the norm. But frankly, working in a big city, I come across at least one Rowan daily, so he didn’t really stand out to me. He kind of bored me, to be honest. I would like to add on the aforementioned deviation note, it would be great of the villain wasn’t defeated with a crotch-shot.
Anywhoo, back to Kevin. I’m sure that some people, probably dudes, were miffed that the main dude was dumb eye-candy. Well, you best get used to it, because ladies have been putting up with this for way. too. long. Also you forget that Kevin’s a cerebral graphic artist as well as a model.
Sometimes he gets a little over the top, but I was still surprised by the directions they took with him. With the exception of the possession-angle, I suppose. Like I said, I just wasn’t impressed with Rowan.
Speaking of over-the-top, let’s talk tech! Who doesn’t love cool gadgets? Definitely not this movie! There was so much technobabble – so much unnecessary technobabble – and on top of that, the devices hardly made sense. It would’ve been cool to see where the line would be drawn between phantasmal and corporeal – the ghost and the goo, so to speak. I mean, Patty’s wood-chipper was brutal and all, but what stopped the ghosties from popping back out of the goo-pile? Is the goo just liquid ghost? Do we just become ooze?
And then Abby’s punchie-glove-thing just made no sense at all… You just can’t beat proton packs. I know I shouldn’t do this, but you have to give credit to the original on this one: the gadgets were established, and there were rules – and there was continuity with those rules. Sometimes rules suck, but most of the time they help enrich world building.
In the end, Ghostbusters did do a great job paying homage to the original(s) (I loved the cameos), but unfortunately lost a lot of definition in the process. Part of me feels that the story may had been better if it were an indirect sequel where the citizens of New York at least acknowledged the previous events – or maybe more direct, passing of the torch or something while incorporating these new technologies. Maybe then less time would be spent with babble and more time for busting.
Final thought: I enjoyed this movie. I think if you go in with an open mind, you’ll do just fine. Lighten up.