Dec 12

Darkest Hour

With a title like Darkest Hour, you would assume the movie would take place sometime in the 1-4am range of whatever time zone that film is in. But what do we know.

Well we do know is that The Darkest Hour is a film that came out six years and features at least one more article in the title. I never reviewed The Darkest Hour, but I remember when it came out and in retrospect, I really wish I reviewed it just for this review comparison. Unfortunately, it was right before I started my website, and I was too cool for that shitty looking movie then. Russians, aliens, power, seems perfect. Damn it.

Back to this film, Darkest Hour. This one is a film that people have actually talked about, buzzed about, raved about, but never done a full on analysis between it and the previous film. I feel like this is the easiest thing they could have done. Maybe no one watched The Darkest Hour?

Victory
According to him just two people watched The Darkest Hour.

In early May, 1940, the British Parliament was getting sick of World War II. Their troops were dying. Hitler was taking over Europe, and everything looked grim. So they wanted Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”) to resign as the Prime Minister so they could get someone with a bigger drive to save them from utter turmoil. And despite his background, despite his history, they knew the only man for the job would be the controversial Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”).

And of course Churchill knew this, he has waited his whole life for this, he just wishes it was under better times. His wife (Kristin Scott Thomas rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”) supports him, and he just has to, you know, save all of the British troops from annihilation in France, develop a competent war council, and determine if his country will end up signing a peace treaty with one of these warlords.

The king (Ben Mendelsohn rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”) is not a fan of his, his ¨allies¨ (Stephen Dillane) want him to just make peace and end things, and well, nothing is going right. This is the same month that will end with his troops retreating to the coast in Dunkirk, France, with no real ability to get help and return home. Thankfully throughout all of this, we have our person new to the crew (Lily James) as his typist so that we can catch up on any important backstory.

Oh, and yes, the film takes place entirely in the month of may, no D-Day like I originally imagined.

Also featuring Samuel West and Richard Lumsden.

Think
That smoke is coming out of his eyes like a bizarre dragon, not his cigar.

Watching the trailer for The Darkest Hour, I realize I totally did watch that movie. Again, it was just incredibly forgettable, and before I had this site, so no review of it exists. I can´t believe I watched it.

On the other side of the line, I am so glad I watched Darkest Hour. A thrilling biographical film, filled with wonderful performances, gripping true story, and wonderful history.

Gary Morphman Oldman is insane in this film. I don´t mean he acts insane, as he has plenty of characters who do that, but in his transformation into Churchill. At no point in the film did I think that it was just Oldman playing a character and doing it well, it just felt like Churchill the entire time. The words, the walk, the look, the makeup people are probably getting nominations for this one. Sure, yes, you can see him in his Oldman eyes, but it is one of the finest full on character transformations in recent years. Similar to the transformation of Daniel Day-Lewis into Lincoln.

The rest of the cast could not get up to Oldman´s level, unfortunately. Our main antagonist felt a lot less realistic and not fleshed out, so he became a one note pony and it got a bit old. The King was okay, Chamberlain was okay, Lily James was okay enough, but didn´t have a strong purpose either.

This is certainly a better movie in my mind than Dunkirk, because it has a lot more of a human and story component behind it, while Dunkirk is visually pleasing and thrilling, the story just lacks so much.

In case you didn´t read that, Oldman great, rest of cast okay, story better than Dunkirk.

3 out of 4.

Permanent link to this article: http://gorgonreviews.com/darkest-hour

Dec 11

Majorie Prime

With a title like Majorie Prime, it in two words somehow perfectly describes the different aesthetics of this film. Despite prime really just being a math term, it also can conjure up Sci-Fi feelings, which is one of the two aspects. The other word, Majorie, is an old as fuck lady name. It hasn’t been used in forever. Old people aren’t in Sci-Fi movies, they are in dramas.

So we got ourselves an old person drama Sci-Fi. That means it is a Sci-Fi film about death, probably.

And yeah, knowing all of this, I figured it was an indie movie, and a Sci-Fi film, so it had the potential to be really great, without actually knowing anything about it.

Old
“Let’s talk about our feelings and count this as a Sci-Fi!”

Learning to let go of loved ones can be a difficult thing. Thankfully, at this point in my life, I really don’t know that. In the near distant future, technology has grown enough along with artificial intelligence to make the transition feel a bit smoother.

You see, you can make a robot that looks and smells like you past loved one after their live. You will fill them with memories that you want them to know, and then you can just talk to them. You can tell them more stories, they will learn from you, adapt and grow with you. And better yet, they will be nostalgic with you to tell you stories that will make you feel better, ones that you originally told them, but from their point of view. It will feel real, it is kind of real. And best of all, you can get things off your chest for closure reasons if you never had a chance.

This is usually reserved for spouses. Like Majorie (Lois Smith), who is getting old and losing her memory. So her daughter Tess (Geena Davis) sets her up with one of these prime bots of Majorie’s husband, Walter (Jon Hamm) except she chooses a much younger version of him. It helps her a bit, but the memory loss is still there, so much that she even starts to forget her husband isn’t real.

But is it helpful for real? Does having a prime unit in your house actually help you? What about more than one, assuming you lose a lot of loved ones? Will it turn people into isolated recluses, will they feel better, or will it just lead to more issues in the future?

Also featuring Tim Robbins, Hannah Gross, and Stephanie Andujar.

Youth
Basically, it is a more dramatized (if that is possible) Blade Runner.

I love a good movie that is 95% dialogue, I really do. Locke was one of my favorite movies in whatever year Locke came out, thanks to the wonderful Tom Hardy. I knew that this film would be dialogue heavy, but I didn’t know the real reason behind it. This film was actually based on a play of the same name, so it took some effort to get pictures from the movie version.

Knowing it was a play makes so much more sense. Literally most of the film is usually two people just talking and recalling events, events we are really only sometimes aware of and can have a real context for.

And although the ending had a really cool moment, and this film featured at times some intense acting, it didn’t feel like the time was worth the payoff. I ended up describing the entirety of the film to my wife, only because the ending moment was interesting, but I knew that her time was more valuable than taking the 90 minutes to get to that point.

It deal with a few good concepts, about aging and what it means to be human. But it never feels like it goes hard enough. Oh well, when the end of the world comes due to the AI take over, we will know now that the robots will have old people names, like Walter and Majorie.

2 out of 4.

Permanent link to this article: http://gorgonreviews.com/majorie-prime

Dec 08

The Only Living Boy in New York

First of all, you are welcome, because I almost started this review with a Rihanna reference, so I saved you from this joke.

Secondly, this movie came out months ago. And after my screening, on August 22, I totally forgot I had seen it. It was a replacement screening that night, I meant to see Good Time but it got moved around. And later that week, we had a hurricane hit my city, which put my site into a flux for awhile, with some reviews taking forever to get published.

As of 2-3 weeks ago, I thought I had finally already caught up with all the missed reviews, but holy crap, I missed this one. So sure, I am writing it over three months after watching it. And I have fallen asleep while setting up this review. What I am getting at is that I definitely did not enjoy this film, and the whole experience behind just getting it on this website has been a trainwreck.

Friend
Kind of like falling in love with a friend for five years. A bad idea that only sometimes works in movies.

Thomas Webb (Callum Turner) is a boy, living in New York, and he is trying to make it on his own as a writer. Well, maybe writing, maybe something else. But he is going to do it on his own, not with the help of his rich parents. His dad (Pierce Brosnan) is a straight up publisher, his mom (Cynthia Nixon) mostly just stay at home depressed at this point.

Webb is secretly in love with his book loving friend (Kiersey Clemons), but she has a boyfriend. He also lives in a tiny crummy apartment, where he gets a new neighbor (Jeff Bridges) who is extremely nosy and a bit of a drunk. Who the hell talks to their neighbors? He reluctantly talks to the stranger, because hey, why not, he has someone new to vent to and talk about his problems with.

A some point, change actually starts to happen in his life. He finds out his dad is having an affair, with a coworker. A younger woman (Kate Beckinsale). Time to get all obsessed and stalkery without having a plan on what to do with this new information, Thomas!

Also starring Tate Donovan and Wallace Shawn.

Hot step mom
Maybe if he pushes her she will realize she is being a total butthole.

It is really hard to put into words just why The Only Living Boy in New York is so bad. Partially, I am sure, thanks to writing a review months after watching the movie.

Let’s start with the actors. The lead we are given is an incredibly whiny and privileged boy, and for him to feel like he is the center of the world (With another character encouraging this thought process) is incredibly unexciting. Your main character doesn’t have to be likable in order for a film to be good, but to watch a rich white 20 something complain so much, despite having everything given to him on a platter is exhausting and a bit painful. Bridges and Brosnan give very little to this film and mostly feel like phoned in performances. Beckinsale is the only main performer who feels like she gives a damn about a good performance, but the plot and story make her character behave completely erratically so it is hard to tell.

Story wise it is also poor. Main character complains, tries to use the friend zone, s someone, and then changes a lot of people’s lives seemingly accidentally. I am not sure how much he learns by the end of it, in terms of actual character growth. The side characters are bland, are not believable, and technically, nor is the lead. It is just like watching rich paint dry.

The Only Living Boy in New York is a film that is not as good as it thinks it is. Sure, it is not as delusional as something like The Room, as there are actually well done locations, camera work, and editing. But this is still an inexcusable mess of a story that no one should have to put up with at this point in time from professionals.

0 out of 4.

Permanent link to this article: http://gorgonreviews.com/the-only-living-boy-in-new-york

Dec 07

The Emoji Movie

Emoji Intro

Phone
2Castle

(Maya Rudolph, T.J. Miller, James Corden, Anna Faris)

Shrimp
4
5

0 out of 4.

Permanent link to this article: http://gorgonreviews.com/the-emoji-movie

Dec 06

The Florida Project

When I think of Florida, I rarely think of projects. I usually just think of Ponce De Leon, Disney World, Recounts, and Flo Rida.

And it turns out that The Florida Project wants me to think about Disney World, as apparently Disney World was first called The Florida Project in initial design phases.

This movie is brought to us by Sean Barker, who famously brought us Tangerine by filming the whole things on iPhones. Don’t worry, this film is filmed with traditional cameras. Well, except the ending, that one was filmed on iPhones for legal reasons.

Kids
Legal reasons like how creepy it would be if he filmed a whole movie on his phone of 6 year olds.

Welcome to the Magic Castle! which is just a motel in Kissimmee, Florida, right outside of Disney World! It is a cheap place, but it relies mostly on tourists who doesn’t want to stay in the fancier hotels in order to save money. And at this motel lives a girl Moonee (Brooklynn Prince). Yes that is right, I said lives. She lives in a single room with her mother (Bria Vinaite). They get around the rules by leaving the motel once a month to go to another hotel, so they aren’t officially “living there” like a lot of people at this same motel.

Her mom is in a rough place, being a young single mother. She has no discernible skills, outside of slightly good looks, but she has still been recently fired from the club she worked at. Now they have to rely on more handouts, borrowing more money from friends, and scamming tourists in order to survive. If necessary, she also will have to resort to selling her body.

In order to not go insane, six year old Moonee basically has free control over her life. She can wander around the city, across the various motels with her friend Scooty (Christopher Rivera) and new friend, Jancey (Valeria Cotto). They like to pray pranks and be general nuisances on the public. Moonee has close to no filter, and will yell and scream if necessary. She doesn’t fully understand the problems her mom has to deal with, but she doesn’t care as long as she can continue on her free spirited ways.

Also featuring Willem Dafoe as the most considerate motel manager I have ever seen. And also Caleb Landry Jones, Mela Murder, and Macon Blair.

Dafoe
Really he is just everyone’s dad in this movie. All of them.

The Florida Project gives a unique look at what I have to imagine is a real subculture of people, not just in Florida, but around the world. Families who are practically homeless and living in cheap motels with reasonable managers turning a blind eye every day. A lot of the better aspects is just watching how these people live, what they do with their spare time and their justifications for their actions.

It is clear watching this why children put through these measures would grow up to be unreasonable entitled individuals. The kind who take handouts while voting Republican thanks to the American dream. The kind who end up in prison systems because they never had a fair shot of growing up in a good environment.

And the kids are just so realistic, kids being kids, running around, causing trouble, being inquisitive creatures that are learning on the streets. I can’t imagine those actor kids are actually that shitty, so they are actually acting on some level and they do their own impressive performance. Dafoe in this movie is probably his least likely role ever. A caring man, who has patience, and empathy in others. That is not normal for Dafoe’s choice of roles. It was so bizarre given the actor, and it is likely to earn him nominations at the same time.

The Florida Project is quirky, but faithful to the people whose story it tells. It is not a group of wholesome people, but they are not villains either. It does a great job of toeing the line. The only thing I’d really want is a better conclusion and more information on what happens after the credits role.

3 out of 4.

Permanent link to this article: http://gorgonreviews.com/the-florida-project

Dec 05

Good Time

This film doesn’t even have to try, it’s always going to be a Good Time. Because that is its name. Carly Rae Jepsen agrees.

I am late into watching this movie. I wanted to see it months ago, but being a shithead, I got the date confused at when the screening was supposed to happen. So instead, I was in a theater and had to watch The Only Living Boy in New York, which is not at all similar to Good Time.

Thankfully, the film came back to the front of my mind lately, thanks to getting nominated for some Spirit Awards. Awards? Edward Cullen? Sign me up.

Run
Painting the town red? No, paint YOURSELVES red.

What is the cost of having a good time? Maybe robbing a bank for some sweet sweet cash, so you have the bills to pay the…well, bills.

Connie Nikas (Robert Pattinson) and his brother, Nick Nikas (Benny Safdie) are trying to do that right now. Connie is the brains of the operation, Nick is the brawn, and only by the looks of it. He is a bit slower than a regular person, so he is just sort of there for the ride and to help out.

But the plan backfires a bit in that during the escape, everything goes wrong, and Nick gets caught by the police. They know he didn’t work alone and they know he isn’t the mastermind, but they will take what they can get while Connie goes into hiding. Connie wants to get his brother out of jail ASAP, since he is getting poorly mistreated by everyone on the inside. But when working with a bail bondsman, shit doesn’t work the way it had planned, and his friends with money are having their own personal issues.

That is when Connie finds out that his brother is in a local hospital after some new injuries from the slammer. Well, why worry about bonds when he can instead maybe break his brother out of the hospital and get them on the run? Yeah, that is the perfect plan.

Also featuring Barkhad Abdi, Buddy Duress, Eric Paykert, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Necro, Peter Verby, and Taliah Webster.

Bars
None of the photos from this film show people having an actual good time.

The best part of Good Time is the pulsing,constantly scene captivating soundtrack. The first twenty or so minutes feel so intense, as even the more mundane elements are pushed to 11 thanks to the soundtrack. As soon as I commented it to my wife about how the movie was making me anxious thanks to its music choices, it started to die down a bit and let things settle.

That is when the film also started to lose my own interest.

Good Time has a decent plot and story, and frankly great acting from the lead Pattinson. He is completely transformed for this role into a new person. It is a wonder to say.

The plot just starts to get erratic in the middle and near the end. Once it slows down, it just has a hard time picking back up. Basically, after the the breakout from the hospital it seems to pitter patter itself into a different, slower film. Slowness in a film isn’t a bad thing, it just doesn’t seem to match the earlier intensity and sounds of the beginning. They eventually bring it back, but at that point it is just too late.

Good Time would be a better time if it could just keep up the enthusiasm that it started with, instead of devolving into a complete mess in the middle.

2 out of 4.

Permanent link to this article: http://gorgonreviews.com/good-time

Dec 04

Columbus

Columbus makes me think of a few things off the bat, and none of them end up being true about this film. Not even Ohio, thankfully.

The only reason it is on my radar is it got nominated for a good number of Spirit awards and yes, that list is already out so get ready for a wave of these reviews. It had nominations for Best First Feature, Best First Screenplay, and Cinematography. It is going up against some big competition in Cinematography, but there is always a chance for the “first” awards. Those categories are very nice, because it puts all newbies against each other, not against some big shot indie director who has been here already for 10 years in a row.

But in further looking at the film, I enjoy the actors generally, so that is a plus. And if it is nominated for cinematography, you know there is a good chance it is pretty to look at it. That is another plus.

Wow, Columbus, we are starting off with two plusses before I really even get to know you.

Building1
This first picture looks like an advertisement for the local cult.

Columbus is a story about two people at very different stages of their lives, meeting and learning from one another. And it takes place in Columbus, Indiana! Not Ohio!

Jin (John Cho) is a Korean American who is in Columbus because his father is in the hospital. He hasn’t had the best relationship with his dad and had moved away a long time ago. His dad is a pretty famous architect and Jin, well, doesn’t care about architect for that reason. He has a job translating Korean texts into English, he lives alone, and right now, he lives alone in an apartment, hanging out occasionally with an old friend Eleanor (Parker Posey).

Casey (Haley Lu Richardson) is recently out of high school. And by recently, I mean a whole year earlier, but here she is, still hanging out in her town and not going to college. Casey is a smart girl by anyone’s standards, and everyone tells her this. She just has other things on her mind. Namely her mother, who happens to be a recovering addict, who is very close to relapsing time and time again. Her mom works as an overnight custodian, which keeps Casey up at weird hours, worried about her mom. But she did recently get a basic job a book store with a new friend, Gabriel (Rory Culkin). And she loves architecture, of course, because she grew up in Columbus, Indiana, which strangely has a lot of cool buildings in it or near it.

One day, Jin and Casey meet on a chance encounter. And they will begin to talk, and talk a lot, about everything, nothing, and of course, architecture.

Also starring Erin Allegretti.

Building2
“Shit is this whole movie just two people looking at buildings?” Well…

Columbus is only about 100 minutes long, but it certainly feels a lot longer than that. It drags on because nothing “showy” or ground shattering ever occurs. There are no big plot twists/reveals, no sudden changes in heart. Everything is organic, slow, and I guess developmentally sound. We have two stories, both with their own pretty much set in stone conclusions. We just have to get there for those two characters, and see how they decide their paths.

And how do we do that? Through dialogue. Having conversations about buildings and then about life. There is some awkward moments where you wonder if these two are going to develop an actual relationship or not, because of course. That seems to be the natural process of human beings, or at least those that appear in TV and film.

The dialogue is great in this movie. Cho and Richardson are also really good in their roles. It is definitely wonderful to look at, in sometimes quite subtle ways. It is just a film that is really hard to get into. It feels like it drags on, it is boring, and not something I would just ever recommend to anyone.

I bet Josh Radnor loves this movie though.

2 out of 4.

Permanent link to this article: http://gorgonreviews.com/columbus

Dec 01

Thelma

When you hear the name Thelma, you really only think of one thing. Well, technically two things. You think of Thelma, and you think of Louise. You don’t even need to have seen the movie to have understood the reference. If you didn’t, then well, you suck at pop culture.

When looking up Thelma pictures, I was flooded with a lot from the 1991 film, despite putting a year in the google search as well.

But there was ANOTHER girl in these images as well. Because it turns out we had a Thelma movie in 2011, from the Philippines, about a girl with powers.

Huh, this is a Norwegian movie about a girl with powers. Today you just learned that Thelma is the most powerful female name around the world.

Brain
Blows your mind a bit, doesn’t it?

In Oslo, Thelma (Eili Harboe) is finally going to university, so she can learn at an accelerated pace and discover new things about the world. You see, she grew up in a smaller area. Her family didn’t have direct neighbors, but land around a lake, which is a real sweet spot for fishing, or skating, depending on the time of the year. Her father (Henrik Rafaelsen) is a huge Christian man, and her mother (Ellen Dorrit Petersen) also that, is in a wheel chair.

But yeah! College! Time to study all the time! And apparently, have seizures. In the middle of a study hall, in front of future friends, pissing her pants. The doctor finds it strange, as she apparently has no history of seizures. She just wants this thing to be kept secret from her parents. Thankfully she is an adult now, and doctor to doctor conversations will not trickle to her parents officially, even if her dad is also a doctor.

The seizure did do something good though. It helped Thelma meet Anja (Kaya Wilkins), who just seems like the most special girl she knows. She definitely likes Anja, AS A FRIEND OF COURSE. There is no way that Thelma, good Christian girl, would ever be tempted into something sinful like being a lesbian. Yet still, she has a way about her, and Thelma cannot but feel something unique there. However, whenever her mind gets a hold of situation, she gets into that shaky, seizure-y territory again. And when she gets there, some bad things have happened. Unexplainable things. Dangerous things.

Also starring a lot of Norwegian people. If there are any Swedish or Finnish people, I wouldn’t have noticed!

Love
I just see all Scandinavians as the same, to be honest.*

Thelma was a wonderful movie. It was a slow and careful. It moved at a speed that almost made me hate it, as I just wanted answers faster. I had to be patient and let the movie unravel. But even the very first scene, a flashback (can a flashback be the first scene, technically?), of our main character and father was haunting. It took a long time for that one to be answered, it certainly didn’t go the way I expected.

Thelma is a strange coming of age story. It starts with our protagonist already “of age” but just slightly underdeveloped mentally due to a closed upbringing. It has her alone for most of the film when it comes to her emotions and problems, because of fear of her parents, fear of regression, and fear of change. And it has some magic stuff too.

The magic isn’t some wonderful power of invisibility, or flight. It is a lot more accidentally sinister, in account of it being a repressed power that she really doesn’t have a lot of control over. You know, like Frozen. But in this version of Frozen, the parents don’t die and the power gets actively oppressed by others, not just the main character.

I was scared, I cried, and I loved Thelma. Good job Norway. This is officially their selection to the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Picture. At this point, I hope it gets nominated.

Permanent link to this article: http://gorgonreviews.com/thelma

Nov 30

Beach Rats

Beach Rats is not the sequel to Mallrats. No, that was supposed to be called Mallbrats, but got cancelled, because Kevin Smith never does the things we actually want him to do anymore.

Instead of people hanging around the mall, just chilling, doing drugs, talking about pop culture, this film is about people hanging around beaches, mostly chilling, doing some drugs, and talking about, well, drugs and stupid stuff mostly. But hey, they are both set in the same state!

Oh, and this film is not a comedy, it is definitely a regular drama, with some intense moments in there. There is vulgarity as well, but on a whole new level.

Now I just hope someone turns the two films into one cohesive picture somehow.

Shirtless
Don’t worry, you get to see many dudes without pants as well.

Frankie (Harris Dickinson) is a bit of a confused early 20-something boy. He already has the unfortunate circumstances of living poor, on the Jersey shore. He doesn’t have a lot of smarts, but he does understand drugs. His dad (Neal Huff) is dying of the cancer and taking his time doing so, but it allows him to get some pills. His mom (Kate Hodge) doesn’t want him hanging out with his loser friends, who are always up to no good. And Frankie also likes to chat up older dudes on the internet for the two d’s – dicks and drugs.

Oh yeah, Frankie is living a closeted life, ashamed by it, knowing his family, his friends, everyone will shun him. He is already jobless and still at home, he would get thrown out in a heartbeat.

But a local girl, Simone (Madeline Weinstein, not related to the famous ones), is for whatever into his goofy head. And he is able to use family issues and drugs why he has problems getting erect around her. so they begin to date. Everyone needs a good beard.

And most of the film is him hanging out, dealing with his family, dealing with the girl, making poor choices, and experiencing his desires anyway possible.

Featuring a lot of people who won’t matter, including these people: Anton Selyaninov, David Ivanov, Frank Hajak, Harrison Sheehan, and Nicole Flyus.

Beard
Beards can distract others when you’re thinking about penises.

While watching this film, I went and found out who was the director. It was Eliza Hittman. That didn’t surprise me because I knew her, or that I expected a very specific director, I just didn’t expect a her.

For a woman to dive so well into the psyche of a young male, pretending to be tough and dumb, while hiding his sexuality, I mean, I just naturally assumed a gay man was making this film. Maybe something pseudo-biographical. I am not saying it is odd when someone of a different gender directs a movie clearly not in their focus area, because it happens a lot. Usually it is just a male director, trying to do a female centric film, and just being incredibly wrong. Then the film doesn’t sell well, and they say people don’t see women movies. But now I am ranting on a different topic.

What I am really getting at is that Eliza Hittman Hittman might secretly be a gay twenty something Jersey shore boy. An extreme case of living in the closet.

Beach Rats feels very personal, very real. It also had a lot of subtle tension near the end. I was really worried that the worst sorts of disaster would occur. My mind got more carried away with the possibilities, thankfully far more than the film took the scenes. There was a lot of potential for just terrible ending after terrible ending. I mean terrible in that the circumstances were terrible, not that the ending was bad.

Dickinson does a really good first time lead performance. I can only say real and personal so many times, but it fits here too. This could have been a documentary about some young adults in New Jersey and I would have believed it.

Beach Rats was made for a very niche audience. It will have aspects that make a lot of people uncomfortable. But it is good that it fills such a niche, because this niche is hugely underrepresented still ii film.

3 out of 4.

Permanent link to this article: http://gorgonreviews.com/beach-rats

Nov 29

Leap!

2017 has been a shit year for animation. That is basically how I begin everything for animation at the end of the year, by the way.

At this point the only films I gave okay ratings to were Coco and Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, which is saying a lot about my opinions on these films.

Well, Leap! was released at the end of last year in France and Europe, but didn’t make it to America until August. I had been waiting for a bit and waiting even more. When it finally came out, no one seemed to care, due to lack of advertising, and even I forgot about it.

It is one of those weird films that is already in English, but has a slightly different voice cast depending on the country. Not many changes were made, but the European version had Dane DeHaan as the boy lead. And honestly, without hearing it, it was probably a good change. We don’t need to hear 12 year olds with extra deep voices as if they are constantly pretending to be batman.

Dancer
Now if DeHaan had voiced the lead? I would pay extra for that uncomfortable version.

Felicie (Elle Fanning) is an orphan in a small French town, in a Church. She doesn’t want to be there of course, she wants to escape and become a famous dancer! Partially because the only thing she has from her mother is a dancing figure in a music box, her main treasure. Her best friend, Victor (Nat Wolff) also wants to escape with her. He has dreams of being an inventor and is focusing a lot of his efforts on a flying machine.

Well, Victor finds a flyer for a famous ballet school in Paris, so they decide they should run away and make it there! And they do!

But they immediately get separated, so Felicie is on her own to achieve her dreams. She finds the dance hall, sees an amazing dancer, but gets found out by the groundskeeper and almost given to the police, but a cleaning lady saves her. Odette (Carly Rae Jepsen) walks with a cane, clearly having once been a dancer and had her life ruined by something or another. She stays in the guest house of a mansion, she just also has to clean it up as well. And the owner, Regine (Kate McKinnon), is a huge bitch.

She is rich though, so she can be a bitch. She has raised a bitch daughter too, Camille (Maddie Ziegler), who just so happens to be a dancer. And because she is a bitch, Felicie steals her invite to the dance school and pretends to be Camille to get a shot of her dream coming true. She just has to be good enough every day to not be the one person cut, so she can have a feature spot in the upcoming Nutcracker show.

Also featuring the voices of Shoshana Sperling and Mel Brooks.

Friendship
Oh he is definitely in the “best friend for years until she loves me” role. Silly boy. This isn’t the 90’s anymore.

Leap! tells a very standard story about a girl and a boy running off to achieve their lofty ambitions, and do so, quite easily! How they both fall into their respective positions is meant to be quick and easy, which is part of the comedy and charm, so that is not an issue.

It has its moments, both funny and cute. The animation is fine, Victor makes a good comic relief, and Felicie a great go-getter lead! The film also had some Karate Kid moments, just to keep things interesting.

But the devil is in the details, and this film was a mess. I first noticed it on my own, after three very specific references happened, and I was curious if they all were around the same time. That would be, The Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, and Sherlock Holmes. The first Holmes story was in 1887, the Eiffel tower started being built in 1887, but the Statue of Liberty was already in America in 1886. So to show it barely built at the same time as the Eiffel Tower was barely built is just wrong. And it had the statue already green, which is also quite annoying.

So I figured it must be set in 1887 and they had one mistake, sure. But apparently the film was set in 1979, years before all of these things. In addition to those facts, the dancers were trying out for a part in The Nutcracker, which came out in 1892. I learned the last fact and more from IMDB’s goof section, after I already found out these inconsistencies. If they are going to set the film in a lively part of the world and go for a realistic story, then it just seems terrible to have so many references just wrong.

Another aspect that just consistantly threw me off was the soundtrack. There five or more pop songs used as montage music mostly, including songs from Sia and Jepsen, and these things took me out of the experience. They never quite melded well with the scenes behind it. Given the subject matter, actual ballet, opera, classical, anything music wise like that would have felt better for the story.

Despite being called Leap!, this film was unable to rise above other animated films this year. It just ended up okay like the rest of the best.

2 out of 4.

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