Wind River Movie Review
Very atmospheric and grounded in reality, Wind River is the directorial debut of Taylor Sheridan, writer of Sicario and Hell or High Water. Sheridan proves he can bring his writing to the screen effectively, with some hiccups.
Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen are really good, with each overcoming some issues. Olsen is given minimal development or backstory, while Renner is forced to over explain himself alot.
As the film moves along, it almost feels like there's a chunk of movie missing. The film is a brief 111 minutes, and some setup was definitely cut. The movie lays a solid foundation, but rather than peel back the layers of it's mystery, the climax comes fast and almost out of nowhere. This is one of the rare films I wish had another 30 minutes to properly set up it's plot.
Wind River is a flawed effort, but it's very engaging and fascinating to watch unfold. Renner and Olsen bring their A-games, the atmosphere sucks you in, and while not built up like it could have been, the story pays off nicely. It could have been great, but Wind River is still a solid watch, especially in the lackluster month of August
2 days ago
The Glass Castle Movie Review
About as mediocre as a film can get. The Glass Castle features some solid performances and feautres a fascinating story, but the odd tonal decisions and the films manipulative tendencies make it a frustrating bore.
Woody Harrelson is the star of this film, and he's pretty great. The film botches it's attempt to give him an earned emotional arc, but he sells it as best he can. Brie Larson is fine, I guess. She really doesn't get to do much. The kids are fine, and Naomi Watts stays trying in these mediocre indie films.
The film is ultimately a really sad and disturbing true story, but it's told in a uplifting and heartwarming way, which makes for some really strange scenes. Some dark stuff is going down, but the music swells and you're supposed to feel a way I was the total opposite of. The ending is not earned on any level.
There's nothing really bad about this film, but aside from Harrelson's efforts, there's really not much to praise about The Glass Castle either. It's just kind of a dud. I don't think I've forgotten a film faster this year.
4 days ago
Detroit Movie Review
I wasn't sure what to expect going in to Detroit. Kathryn Bigelow is hot and cold for me; her films are undeniably well crafted, but there's always that sense of over dramatized Oscar bait. Fortunately, while far from perfect, Detroit is a very well executed look into one of America's darkest moments in time.
There's about an hour of this film that is some of the most gripping, nauseating, and brutal filmmaking I've seen in a long time. Everything at the hotel is fantastically executed and it hits hard. There is one character who they single out to show the emotional damage the situation did to them, and it is very powerful and makes the situation that much more devestating to watch.
The first 45 minutes or so plays like a TV docu-drama, struggling to have any sort of momentum. The middle hour hits so hard, that the last act feels like a blur. The intensity goes from 100 to 0, and it was quite jarring.
A nice surprise were the performances, specifically Will Poulter. I thought he looked totally miscast from the trailer, and while I still think they could have gotten someone better suited for the role, he was quite good. John Boyega had a smaller role than I expected, but he was also good.
While it's not the early Oscar contender it potentially could have been, Detroit at it's best is a shocking and brutal film that sheds light on the dark corners of our Country. At it's worst, it feels like a made for TV re-inactment, and it struggles to live up to the middle hour. Overall it's a solid film, and one that deserves to be watched and discussed.
11 days ago
Atomic Blonde Movie Review
Atomic Blonde was surprisingly one of the roughest films to get through of the year. From the lackluster characters, the aggregios soundtrack, and a plot that belongs in a 007 video game, this film annoyed me to the nth degree.
The big selling point of the film was the action. There's one scene, the stairwell scene, that delivers on the promise of female John Wick. The rest of the action comes sparingly, and it feels over choreographed and is just not interesting.
Charlize Theron is great when she's kicking ass and taking names, but by the end of the film I really disliked her character. They give her zero backstory/arc/development. James McAvoy is fun, despite his character becoming a giant cliché.
Style over substance is the perfect way to describe this film. But the style isn't anything new, and it feels like it thinks it's cooler than it is. The soundtrack is obnoxious. 80's hits are relentlessly thrown at you with zero tie in to what was transpiring on screen.
Atomic Blonde had a lot of potential, but it squanders literally everything it has going for it. I had a hard time getting through this one. When the stairwell fight scene gets on YouTube, just watch that 10 times.
18 days ago
A Ghost Story Movie Review
It's kind of hard to put how I feel about this movie into words. A Ghost Story is every existential thought I've ever had about life after death, leaving a legacy, and wondering if anything I did mattered put on screen.
This film is slow paced, and not everyone is going to jive with it. I'll say if you're still on board after the much talked about Rooney Mara pie scene (Which is f***ing incredible) then you'll dig this movie. The themes and visual storytelling are what this film is all about, and if you let it consume you it's a pretty amazing experience.
Director David Lowery crafts a beautiful and subtly haunting film, one that showcases his craftsmanship and passion behind the camera. Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck are great, they are among my favorite actors working today.
A Ghost Story is a truly special little film that manages to capture concepts and ideas I never thought could be so perfectly portrayed on screen. This movie doesn't punch you in the gut with emotion, but it slowly consumes you and by the end I was left floored. One of the best films of the year by far.
23 days ago
Dunkirk Movie Review
On a technical level, there's no doubt Dunkirk is masterfully shot and executed. Nolan puts so much care into each shot, each moment. Not a minute of the brisk 106 minute run-time is wasted. The final 30-40 minutes in particular are a marvelous exercise in tension, payoff, and emotional resonance.
The score really bothered me. It's not as over-barring as Interstellar, but it is just as intrusive and took me out of what were otherwise intense and visceral moments. Sorry, but I would much prefer silence and the sounds of the battle field to a damn stopwatch ticking in my ear. It didn't make me feel on edge, just annoyed.
In typical Nolan fashion, he couldn't just make a straight forward narrative. The film ruthlessly jumps between three different locations, which I initially dug, until I realized I was watching the sequences out of order. After that, I was taken out of certain scenes because I had already scene how they resolve and what had become of the characters.
I get that this is an ultra realistic look at war, where there are no moments for characters to spill their guts to each other and every situation doesn't have a resolution. But as a form of entertainment, it doesn't fully work.
Despite all its shortcomings, this is still a solid film, filled with masterful technical work, great yet limited performances, and some truly exhilarating and thrilling sequences. I just wasn't blown away, which is fine. But when you strip your film of character development and emotion, I better be pretty darn enthralled by the action on screen. For the most part Dunkirk did that, but not to the levels it could have hit.
25 days ago
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets/ Free Fire Movie Reviews
Checked out "The next Avatar" and finally saw the master Ben Wheatley's latest.
Visually striking, though not to the degree it is being hyped up as. It's kind of a mess, but I was never bored while watching it.
Dane Dehaan and Carla Delevingne don't really work. It's partially the script, partially their chemistry.
Everything just started to blend together after awhile. Picked up in the final act, when the actual plot kicked in and the countless rescue missions stopped. It's forgettable (Like Avatar), which I was not expecting, but it's an entertaining watch if sci-fi space operas are your thing.
Finally got to watch this and hell yeah. It's a bottle thriller that does exactly what it sets out to do. Consistently funny, bloody, and the 90 minute run time is tight. There are only a couple moments where I wasn't 100% engaged.
The cast is fantastic top to bottom. Pretty dang politically timely too if you want to look at it like that. Put a bunch of idiots in a room with guns and watch what ensus.
One of my fave of the year. It just scratched that bloody dark comedy itch I've had all year.
27 days ago
War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review
I really didn't expect greatness from this film, despite the overwhelmingly positive reviews pouring in. I love Rise, mostly for it's emotional simplicity and subtlety. Dawn is very good, but the heavy-handed, basic metaphorical story telling started to surface. I knew War was going to beat me over the head with metaphors and inorganic emotional beats, and that's exactly what I got.
The look of this film is truly phenomenal. Cgi has never looked better. As a hater of the idea of cg or practical filmmaking, this is the type of stuff that shuts me up. Great cinematography and atmosphere, the stakes feel high despite the locations being small. I don't think motion capture should be considered for a best actor Oscar, but it's darn good.
I was surprised by Woody Harrelson's character. They took an interesting direction with him, and to be honest, I felt emotion towards him than I did Caeser in this movie. His arc was far more satisfying for me.
My biggest problem here is how self-important this film is. It sure thinks it's a masterpiece. Just because a film uses metaphors and storytelling devices from other great war movies doesn't guarantee it will work like those films did. Alot of the "deep" themes and metaphors in this film are out of place. I'm sorry, this is Planet of the Apes. As hard as Matt Reeves and co. try, there's no way this thing was gonna be anything more than a high brow blockbuster.
Speaking of blockbuster, the third act of War is a stark deviation from the first two thirds. It goes full action, and that's when it is entertaining, but gutted of any emoiton. Rise is the only film in this franchise that made me root for the Apes. Dawn was a blurred line, which was fascinating. War is just like, "Humans suck go Apes go." I'm just not there yet.
Overall, War for the Planet of the Apes is beautifully crafted and acted, but the surprisingly mundane story is beat down with high brow material that just doesn't work at the summer blockbuster level. It's not bad at all, but it's my least favorite of the trilogy, and it doesn't leave much of an impression.
1 month ago
The Lost City of Z Movie Review
I wanted to love this movie. I love a lot of things about it, from the stunning, and I mean stunning, cinematography, to the sense of old-Holywood style adventure, and I thought Charlie Hunnam was really good, something I don't often say. But man, I felt nothing during or after this movie emotionally.
Director James Grey nails the scope and adventure aspects of this film. The Lost City of Z feels like it was shot 30-40 years ago, with a modern elegance about it. Again, everything technical about this film is great.
While I wanted Charlie Hunnam's character to succeed in the film, I just felt nothing towards him or any other character in the film. It all just sort of washed over me, and I was more interested in reading about the true story than thinking about this film any further. The whole film feels one note, and I just couldn't connect with it.
Overall, The Lost City of Z features some of the best filmmaking of the year, but unfortunately it is held back from being great by a total lack of emotional pull. There's a lot to like here, but don't expect any of it to stick with you once the credits role.
1 month ago
The House Movie Review
Directed by: Andrew Jay Cohen
Starring: Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, Jason Mantzoukas
The house follows two parents who open an underground casino to help pay for their daughter's tuition.
There's a good amount of laughs in The House. I found myself laughing out loud multiple times. This film works when it is effectively using it's interesting premise and the talented cast are actually given material, rather than told to say something funny.
Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler are very talented, and they are pretty much the same characters they always are here. They're funny, but a lot of their improve stuff didn't land. Jason Mantzoukas was probably the best part of the movie. I love Nick Kroll, but he is so pointless in this movie, and he's given very little actual comedy.
It's blatantly obvious that there was never a full length script written for this film. I'd say you have about 50 minutes worth of movie, stretched out to be a full length feature. The plot goes completely off the rails, even for a comedy. There's a terrible subplot involving Nick Kroll and the town hall that takes center stage, and none of it's funny.
Overall, The House is a very messy hauge pauge of scenes barely struggling together by an ever changing plot. There are some genuinely funny moments, but it's nothing to write home about. Like the title suggests, The House belongs at home. It's a solid rental, go spend your money on Baby Driver.
2 months ago
Personal Shopper Quick Movie Review
Directed by: Olivier Assayas
Starting: Kristen Stewart
One of the strangest films I've seen in awhile. Manages to balance three or four different tones nearly masterfully. Director Olivier Assayas traces it all back to one dynamic theme, grief, and what it does to a person's syche.
Kristen Stewart is unbelievably great. She's so nuanced in this film, so realistic in her portrayal of grief. Anyone that denies Stewart of being a great actress is proved 100% wrong here.
I didn't really connect with this film emotionally, which is my one drawback. I felt separated from the action, like I was watching everything happen from a distance. Just a tad dry for me in certain spots.
Overall, Personal Shopper is really solid. Stewart is phenomenal, one of if not the best performances of the year so far. Great use of multiple tones to build up one major theme. Everything didn't fully click for me, but it's pretty great.