Angel Has Fallen

I am sure you are all hoping to see Angel Has Fallen for the same reason I am hoping to see Angel Has Fallen. That’s right, for Radha Mitchell to return to her role as worrying wife of our main protagonist. She is the star from the first two films who always shined.

Well, bad news for the Rad-heads out there. She is not in this movie! She has been replaced with Piper Perabo, who you would recognize as one of the girls from Coyote Ugly. Replaced, and they were thinking we wouldn’t even notice! The nerve!

But in all honest, I liked Olympus Has Fallen enough, it was good. I thought London Has Fallen was really, really, bad. The last time a movie dropped that much with a sequel and then came out with a third film we were given Taken 3. And no one needs or wants another Taken 3 to occur.

computer
I hope they were Taken notes.

Taking place within two years of the previous movie, Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is still protecting the president after the events in London. His health has deteriorated, lot of injuries in his body and spine, sort of addicted to pain killers too. But hey, he’s doing it for the job, damn it. Oh and the president changed. The former Speaker of the House and VP, Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) was elected president! No, Aaron Eckhart never died, just finished his term and went off into the night.

Well, on a totally normal fishing weekend, some vans unleash a large army of tiny drones. The drones are not there to go pew pew, but BOOM BOOM, as they are kamikaze drones that pack a big explosive punch when they crash. So technically they are like, really smart missiles only, with cameras.

And these drones lay waste to the secret service people, but end up ignoring Banning. They also fail to get the President, who instead gets knocked into a coma, thanks to Banning’s work.

Unfortunately for Banning, the crime was filled with evidence to make it not only look like he did it, but that he took money from Russia to do it. So now he is the most wanted man for this crime, and despite his innocence, he figures he needs to elude the law and run around until he can prove his innocence that way.

Also starring Piper Perabo, Jada Pinkett Smith, Lance Reddick, Nick Nolte, Danny Huston, and Tim Blake Nelson.

assassin?
Baptisms have gotten more intense in this world.

Angel Has Fallen is better than London Has Fallen! I feel like this rarely happens. A movie has a terrible sequel, and then goes for a third film that is actually better. It’s not better than Olympus Has Fallen. Angel is still a pretty stupid movie, but it is more entertaining and follows a good moral code.

A lot of times when we get to the “oh man, they were set up and framed and now all their friends are after them!” part of a franchise, things take a weird grey area. In some movies, the “hero” then kills everything in his or her path to prove their innocence, even if it is colleagues from the FBI/CIA/Shield/Secret Organization. So they do a bunch of bad illegal things en route to prove their innocence. I am happy to say that this does not happen here. He kills only the bad organization, and goes out of his way to not harm the good guys who are just told to bring him in.

It is really an awkward thing to have to look out for.

Again, this movie is stupid. Plenty of terrible tactical decisions set up just to make the movie longer / more intense fight scenes, instead of just resolutions to our problems. The bad guy motives halfway through the film stop making sense when it is clearly time to give up. The introduction of Nolte’s character came out of left field with no reason to assume he’d be a character for three movies.

However, the action is better, the plot is a little bit better (not a lot, little), and it has plenty of entertaining scenes along the way. The twists and turns are extremely easy to guess, so it almost seems insulting to leave certain reveals so late in the film as if we weren’t paying attention.

And most importantly, it is miles above London Has Fallen. That’s all we really care about.

2 out of 4.

Ready or Not

I was hoping Ready or Not would fill a very specific niche I thought I needed in my life. A movie so graphic and funny and entertaining, I could look past its flaws and just have a good quick night out at the movies.

From the advertising, that is what it looked like it was going for! It had a very strong You’re Next vibe, but with more ridiculous of a plot, and a slight game theme, to tingle my innards. Mostly full of lesser known roles would lead it to be something where many could shine and a lot of creative deaths!

But to be fair, I also assumed that The Belko Experiment would fulfill a similar niche. And it didn’t. The plot was wasted, the deaths (a majority) were boring and just, meh.

So Ready or Not could go either way, I see it!

Gun
Hell, and this image has a nice Evil Dead / Ash vibe going for it.

Grace (Samara Weaving) and Alex (Mark O’Brien) are getting married! They have only known each other for 18 months, but they are in love. And it turns out Alex is from a really, really rich family. Richer than god. Board game things, for hundreds of years, and they are wealthy af.

Grace didn’t know that! She is not a gold digger. And she knows that Alex is not close with his family, but hopes that this wedding and herself can maybe bring them closer together and bring Alex back into the fold. A good idea. They seem mad at her, but she they are having the wedding at their mansion so help appease things.

Well apparently there was just one more part of the deal to be made and everything would be peachy. They just had to gather at midnight on the night of the wedding, and do a ritual game play. And unfortunately for Grace, she drew Hide and Seek, which thanks to that families alleged deal with a devil, they have to hunt her and sacrifice her before dawn. Or else.

Grace thinks this is the worst wedding night ever. We here at Gorgon Reviews tend to agree.

Also starring Adam Brody, Henry Czerny, Andie MacDowell, Elyse Levesque, John Ralston, Kristian Bruun, Melanie Scrofano, and Nicky Guadagni.

Fam
Something something something in-laws, amirite? 

For a movie with a technically unique and fun concept, it really went out of its way to be as boring as possible for long stretches. Given the concept, we had plenty of points where it could have gone against the grain and it just refused.

Huge stretches in the middle have the entire extended family doing absolutely nothing (Despite starting off trying to do things) and just letting a butler attempt to fetch her. It would be one thing if that is how they started off the search, but they were all involved and then, eh, maybe he can do the impossible and find her on his own (Which should not have been doable) and save the day for them.

And it just dragged and wasn’t exciting. Because we were told that there was a ritual component that she had to be alive for, it also meant that sure, eventually the ritual would happen. It might work, it might not, who knows, but it would never get to the point where she just escapes before dawn. We were guaranteed for a set back for the ritual, and sure enough, a guarantee was made.

Early on it was more exciting, with a varied cast of characters. I do wish it went more quickly into the after wedding affairs, but that wasn’t too bad. The ending was relatively exciting as well, and quite eye popping at times. But then I think back to that middle, where there were so many family members, and how none apparently could be killed besides the occasional helper.

Again, wasted for a bigger climax, but ruined the thrills in the middle.

2 out of 4.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

Awww snap, its a Richard Linklater movie. Always a must watch. It’s been two years since his last picture, Last Flag Flying, and I always talk about how I must watch his movie.

This time it was put to the test, by going up against a straight comedy and a documentary, both highly regarded genres here on Gorgon Reviews. But the Linklater effect still won.

Now Where’d You Go, Bernadette? is a weird picture for him, because it is based on a relatively popular book, so he is put in the position to adapt it instead of tell his own story. Outside of Bernie, I’m not sure of how much he has had to take a real story / existing story and direct before in the past.

Doesn’t matter. Don’t care. Just give me that Linklater.

hipster
Bernadette looks like someone who would have totally read the book before seeing the movie.

Bernadette Fox (Cate Blanchett), architecture woman star, full of ambitions, desires, and dreams to make her mark and art on the world!

Or at least, she was that at some point in her life. Now? Now she is just a mom. To a wonderful, smart daughter (Emma Nelson), about to go to high school next year, and probably a boarding school far from home! And her husband (Billy Crudup) is wickedly rich and smart, working long hours, making great technology, letting Bernadette do her own thing.

And unfortunately her own thing is mostly staying at home. Taking pills. Developing phobias. Putting all her normal tasks to a virtual assistant. Never restoring the ridiculous house they live in or caring about her property. It pisses off the neighbors, and she don’t care.

And when one thing after another just continues to pile on her life, and everything seems to be going to hell, she decides she has had enough and runs off. She needs to focus on herself. She needs to restore that desire. She needs to prove that she is still somebody.

Also starring Kristen Wiig, Judy Greer, Zoe Chao, and Laurence Fishburne.

work
Wherever this room is, I am not cool enough to be in it with them. 

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? was a work of art, much like its main character. Blanchett won her Oscar for playing the erratic lead in Blue Jasmine. She owned that role and fully became someone else. This is her first role since that reminded me of Blue Jasmine, despite being very different.

Both characters have a lot of baggage, and emotional distress, but they are done in very different ways. They have relationship issues, children issues, friend issues, and yet the characters still manage to have very different views of the world. It is incredible how similar yet different they end up being, both worthy of praise. I would argue against anyone who said the roles were too similar and I would insult them quite unprofessionally.

But besides Blanchett being the best thing since sliced bread, the supporting cast was on fire. Crudup hasn’t been this good in years! This is probably the best I have seen Wiig in a movie. She isn’t here strictly as a comedy support role, but someone who has her own bagged to deal with and way more serious. And of course, Nelson, in her first movie either. She has a lot of charisma and I can’t wait to see her in more films in the future.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? has swell acting, a great story, good message, and a lot of unique and peculiar situations. It is the perfect storm of “things I like” in a movie, and is (at the time of writing), my favorite film that I have seen so far in 2019. Boo yah.

4 out of 4.

The Angry Birds Movie 2

When The Angry Birds Movie came out a few years ago, I expected to hate it and to trash it and talk more about how many animated movies were crap.

And then I liked it surprisingly enough. Yeah, I don’t get it either. My current theater is that I just like things with Jason Sudeikis attached far more than other people.

So now it is time for a sequel! A great title of The Angry Birds Movie 2, and technically I am not dreading watching it? I now have higher hopes for the sequel instead of zero hopes the first time around, and that will probably change my entire outlook. I still don’t play the game anymore, and thought the sequel game series was terrible.

group think
Ah look, a cast and crew of ragamuffins ready to overcome the odds.

At the end of the first film, Red (Jason Sudeikis), Chuck (Josh Gad), Bomb (Danny McBride) and friends helped lead an assault on Piggy Island. The pigs, led by Leonard (Bill Hader) had stolen all of their eggs and were gonna eat them. Despite being flightless birds, they were able to use slingshots to fling themselves to the island and destroy the hell out of that place.

This led to modern day. Red is now a hero! He is loved finally and not hated. There is a big prank war going between the two islands but Red is always on the lookout keeping things safe. Until Leonard wants…a truce?

It turns out they are now sacred over a third island, an Icy cold island further away named Eagle island. There, a strange purple bird named Zeta (Leslie Jones) is somehow able to send giant ice balls to their island, with the intent of destroying them so they can move in an rebuild. Once they realize this threat is real, both sides do have to come together and expand their teams in order to infiltrate the base and stop that cannon.

But they need someone smarter, and Chuck has an engineering sister named Silver (Rachel Bloom), who is super smart. Smart enough to be the leader. And being a leader is the only thing that is keeping Red in the limelight, so that will lead to conflict.

Can they save the day before every little piggy and birdy is wiped out by ice fire balls?

Ahem, also starring the wonderful voice work of Awkwafina, Sterling K. Brown, Eugenio Derbez, Tiffany Haddish, Peter Dinklage, Pete Davidson, Zach Woods, Maya Rudolph, Dove Cameron, JoJo Siwa, Tony Hale, Nicki Minaj, Brooklynn Prince, Lil Rel Howery, Beck Bennett, and Gaten Matarazzo,

ice ice fishy
Fish. Fish is sad.

Again, I fully know that I liked the first film more than others, but this sequel drops so far in quality. If you hate the first film, this one is likely to be one of the worst films of the year for you. Easy. And as someone who liked the first film, I am incredibly disappointed with the sequel.

A large portion of the jokes are just based on current pop culture, which is not a good indicator of comedy. It will date the movie, firmly place it weirdly in 2019, and not age well. A really good joke actually occurred in the movie with Bomb about “taking out the guards” for their mission. It was clever and unexpected. And then the scene went on too long and they added Baby Shark to the mix, completely making it cringey.

Ferdinand was a bad animated movie and the worst part was an extended dance scene in that movie between the heroes and others, and that almost happened in this film as well. A dance off occurred, it just wasn’t as long, and still completely pointless.

The jokes aren’t as funny. The plot doesn’t naturally follow the first film. The entire point of the ice/eagle island is strange. I could ask 20 questions they didn’t explain, and its all just…pointless. The villain is not good, and the mission is not good, and they way the day is saved in the day is really weak. It sure does try to bring back women characters to the 1960’s.

But let’s make one really big irritation clear. At the end of the first film we got to see three tiny blue birds hatch. Those birds are in the game, and are used to help destroy ice structures. Oh hey, this movie involves an island full of ice structures. Clearly they would…NOPE. Those birds aren’t in this movie at all.

THEY TEASED US WITH THE ICE DESTROYING BIRDS, GAVE US A SEQUEL WITH ICE, AND THEY NEVER APPEARED IN THE SEQUEL. What is wrong with the creators? Are they Satan? How could they fall so low??

1 out of 4.

Captain Marvel

Here we are, the first “marvel” film of 2019, and maybe the last of them to be reviewed. Whoops.

Now technically, Spider-Man: Far From Home is a Sony movie. And maybe this will come out before Avengers: Endgame. It depends on if it finally breaks that damn record. I’m trying to hold out.

But let it be known, that damn it, I saw Captain Marvel opening weekend! I just didn’t write a lot in the spring and I am catching up. It’s not out of hate, or sexism, or anything like that. It is just I don’t want Disney to profit off of my reviews if I don’t get invited to see them early anymore.

Brie
Yes, this website is why Disney makes so much money. 
Kree good. Skrulls bad. That’s what Vers (Brie Larson) was taught. She is a warrior in the Kree kingdom, following the Supreme Intelligence (Annette Bening), trying to protect the galaxy and the universe. Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) is her mentor, and commander of their group of super soldiers. He looks out for her, but she is having problems unlocking her potential.

Either way, they know they need to stop the Skrulls. They can change shape and pretend to be other people! Anyone might be a Skrull, and it is important to have secret phrases to deal with the threat. Threats like Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), leader of the group of Skrulls and a threat to the Kree way of life, and other planets! They go to a planet, pretend to be the citizens, slowly take over, and boom, their planet.

This battle takes them all to planet Earth. It is important to note this is 12-13 years before the events of Iron Man, before Y2K wrecked house. And Vers, when she gets to Earth, is going to have even more memory problems than before, and has to work with local human security, like Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) pre-eye patch, in order to stop the Skrull threat and unlock her true potential.

Also starring Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Clark Gregg, Gemma Chan, Lashana Lynch, Algenis Perez Soto, and Rune Temte.

Skrulls
I don’t know why they’d want to shapeshift. They don’t like green? Elphaba-syndrome much? 
Captain Marvel is fun and entertaining while also introducing a lot of backstory into the MCU. I bet you never knew you wanted to know how Nick Fury lost his eye, but once that question is answered, you’ll never be the same.

Danvers is a great and strong as fuck character. It has been awhile since we got a character that seemed like they could destroy the world if they wanted to. She has powers comparable and potentially surpassing Thor, Hulk, and Dr. Strange, who I’d put as the biggest three in the MCU. Scarlet Witch should be higher, but they have more downplayed her actual abilities while talking them up, and odd choice. But Captain Marvel has the power and the talk. She will fuck up all the shit.

Like a lot of other recent solo movies, this one failed to feel like it did a lot different than the other previous 20 movies to warrant a higher grade. 3s are great, and better than the occasional 2 these MCU movies can make.

Again, more importantly, this adds the Skrulls to the MCU, which are going to allow some bigger huge storylines in the future, especially if they want to kill more superheroes and it be okay.

3 out of 4.

Crawl

Alexandre Aja is not a new director to the horror genre, and yet, so much about Crawl feels like a wonderful first film from a director no one has heard about.

Aja has direct films like The Hills Have Eyes and Mirrors, but his name isn’t well known amongst directors in general. I don’t want to blame the genre, because plenty of directors have become well known for being horror makers.

More recently he did Piranha 3D (so he has experience with the water), Horns (which wasn’t really a horror), and The 9th Life of Louis Drax (which made my top of the year list, but also, not horror). So he has been working a lot, and yet still, Crawl just seems to have come out of nowhere.

Like an alligator lurking in the water.

Gator
That doesn’t look like Wally at all!

Haley (Kaya Scodelario) is a swim star in the collegiate level. She doesn’t win everything, but she has a big drive and wants to win it all. This drive was instilled in her by her father (Barry Pepper), who was her coach, and trainer, and cheerleader, and everything all of her life, because he knew she had a gift and could be something special.

Well, now that she is in college, with parental divorce, and distance, they have grown apart and argue more. And it also turns out there is a Category 5 Hurricane about to hit Florida. Shit, Haley doesn’t even really know about it too much, too focused on her sports. Her sister in Boston (Morfydd Clark. Such a Welsh name!) and warns her, while also noting she has not been able to get in contact with their dad. Maybe she knows something?

Well, Haley doesn’t but she still loves her dad. So she drives the two hours to go and find out where he is at, towards the hurricane, into areas that have been evacuated. She has to get past some lame security and old friends (Ross Anderson), but she finds her dad hurt in a basement, nowhere near his phone. She better hurry and get him to the vehicle before the storm gets worse.

Oh yeah, and an alligator is in the under house area as well, and now they are trapped. And then more alligators. Fuck.

Bathroom
“Shit, shower is in use. Now where will I bathe?” – Alligator, probably.
Crawl had a LOT of positives going for it, and probably one of the biggest surprises of the summer. It is insane how exciting a film is that didn’t even show itself to critics.

The movie has a great run time of under 90 minutes. Although even at that length, I kept being surprised that the movie still had “more to say” and new problems that got in the way to continually cause issues for our leads.

The best part of the ongoing sense of danger is that it came from two sides: The alligators, and the hurricane. A lot of films would focus on just the former and the latter would be an inconvenience, but they made the hurricane itself a big threat and one that continually made things worse for our heroes.

Aja has a lot of creativity in this movie, which looks great and very polished despite being in a pretty gross area. Which does lead to some of the complaints. For example, how clean most of the flood water was, despite being from a pond and hurricane rain water, which is generally not something you’d want to open your eyes in.

Another issue involves the injuries of the characters. It is great that they are not invincible and get hurt along the way. Unfortunately, after that slight inconvenience, it is quickly mostly ignored for the rest of the film. Throw a bandage on it, tie it tight, and continue being a bad ass swimmer or walker or human.

If this film could have accurately had the injuries also matter and gone for a bit of realism in that level, it would have had probably near perfect critical acclaim.

3 out of 4.

Skin

It is going to be very easy to get the movie, Skin, confused with the Oscar winning Short Film, Skin. After all, they both are about tattoos, Nazis, and race relations. They are about indoctrining the youth to hate. They are about revenge. They share a main actress. And they are written/directed by the same guy, Guy Nattiv.

Wait, a short and a film of the same name about similar topics with similar actors from the same person…and they are not the same thing?

Nope! The movie (which this review is for) is based on the TV documentary from 8 years ago called Erasing Hate. So this is a true story. The short is just an idea that they ran with and people really liked. I can’t tell you what was made first, but the short definitely was released first.

And I think this bares repeating. Despite all of the similarities, these stories are in no way related. They are different ideas, the film is not a long version of the short. It is just so bizarre. If it confuses people, it will really only confuse people int he know.

short
NO! That’s a shot from the short film! Not this one! No!
Our story is about a man named Bryon Widner (Jamie Bell), who was a teenager when he was recruited to join the skinheads in the Midwest. He found a place that accepted him, and he went with their ideology, and he helped with counter protests and marches against other races. Pretty much a shit person.

But then he met Julie Price (Danielle Macdonald), a woman with three kids and no man in her life, just trying to raise them right. She isn’t even like a looker, but he liked her personality and wanted to get to know her.

This relationship led to him joining their family and expanding it, while drifting away from the movement that had captivated him for decades. He didn’t really believe any of this nonsense. But he couldn’t get a good job with all these tattoos and mess on his body.

So he removed them. Hour by painfully expensive hour. Thanks to generous anonymous grants and activists groups encouraging people to see the error of their ways and change and have a way to normalcy. But the group doesn’t want him to leave…

Also starring Daniel Henshall, Bill Camp, and Mike Colter.

tats
Oh he just looks like a tamer Zombie Boy.

Now given the theme of this movie, you are probably shocked to see the rating. Does Gorgon Reviews hate people who fix their lives and stop being so racist/xenophobic?

No, he just doesn’t like this movie.

It. Was. So. Boring. Oh my god.

I didn’t feel any of the leads giving a captivating performance, I didn’t care about the man who saw the light and was lucky enough to get to fix it. It felt a lot like white privilege, that he was given a second chance, against so many people of color who barely even get a first chance.

This movie is another case where I feel the real story is better than the fictionalized movie version. I have not seen the documentary it is based on, but I bet the truth is better even if it is more messy. Real accounts and real lives affected. This one could never captivate me and felt like it was an eternity long.

And let’s be clear, there is a person in here more deserving of the movie. Daryle Jenkins (played by Colter), the African American man who started the One People’s Project, to publish information about hate groups and the far right, as warnings and to not let their hate go unnoticed. He is fighting for all of these important things, and was a key person to help Byron. But damn, Byron should just be a part of the greater movie of activist Jenkins. I am ready for that movie right goddamn now.

It is basically Green Book, but not as egregious with its choice of leads.

0 out of 4.

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

Once again, I am left with a dumb title (Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw) to try and find a solution for it. Most people would just call it Hobbs & Shaw, because that is the real title. But they had to cram Fast & Furious in there so that people knew it was connected. Not that previous titles needed both Fast and Furious in order for people to get it.

This film comes out after 8, with FF9 and FF10 (not Final Fantasy) coming out in 2020 and 2021. So, unless FF9 happens at the same time as this film, I think it is safe to say we could just call it FF8.5.

Now, I had a lot of negative reactions to this movie’s existence, just like Vin Diesel. How can I cheer on Shaw? HE KILLED HAN. HE SHOULD BE IN JAIL, or you know, killed. How many lives does he have to save for it to be okay that Han died? How many?

Samoa
Let’s get out Haka on and defend his honor.

Where is Toretto and his largely growing crew? The one that has only one person “retire” and some even come back from the dead (except for Han)?

I guess they are busy, and for some reason, the only people who are available to help the CIA are Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Shaw (Jason Statham). Note, neither of them work for the CIA. Hobbs is some sort of cop…guy…and Shaw is a criminal hiding in plain sight that we are all just cool with I guess.

Either way, this bad guy Brixton (Idris Elba) was killed by Shaw awhile ago, but he survived enough to become a Cyborg. He has implants in him, making him strong, more bulletproof, faster, all of that. He wants to steal a super virus for his secretive boss who saved his life. However, Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) another law abiding criminal stopper, was able to stop him by running away after she injected the virus into her own body! Yay!

Now there is a ticking clock before the virus capsules dissolve and kill her, then go airborne and kill the world. And again, for whatever reason, Hobbs and Shaw are the only two men for the job, literally no one else can help, not teams of people, nothing. Well, and apparently family.

But not family in the sense that Toretto uses, just actual family.

Also starring Helen Mirren, Eiza González, Eddie Marsan, Eliana Sua, Cliff Curtis, Lori Pelenise Tuisano, and Ryan Reynolds.

MIB
Oh, here are the men in black as well.

This movie didn’t have to exist. The story it is telling is meant to set up something greater. Is that something greater going to be answered in FF9/FF10? Because it certainly isn’t in this movie. It is like a prologue, just 8 chapters in.

For a franchise since Fast Five that has been basically a superhero movie without superheroes, it is interesting that they finally decided to just give us people with super powers. Elba’s character is fast strong and a super villain, so now the stunts they want these characters to do finally make sense and have a reason for being that great. And since the threat wasn’t dealt with, they can have more super bad people in the next films, and hey, technically, maybe the good guys will get super charged.

I have too much to say and I don’t really want to spend my life writing about this movie!

It is entertaining at points, but it is very long. The ending is interesting, but I feel like the action piece before it in the factory was more exciting of an ending, and at least realistic for the universe. I really thought the movie was about to end. Somoa felt so long and extended that movie.

The screenwriter of this movie responded to the Justice for Han movement (which I will admit, I didn’t know people agreed with me on until after I saw the movie). He said he gets it, and eventually, Shaw will be redeemed I guess. The “line” in this movie about Han is total bullshit, because there is no reason for us to assume it is about Han at all. Shaw has killed dozens, maybe hundreds of people. No way he is probably thinking about Han, telling this to people who have nothing to do with Han.

And I don’t have time to wait. If Shaw doesn’t ever go to jail to answer for his crimes, and actually stay there, then saving the world isn’t good enough.

This movie is average. It is likely forgettable, and it feels really forced to put these two together. Really, no reason.

But the biggest question. Which of the two is Fast and which of the two is Furious? Because we would all probably say Shaw is faster, but also, furiouser. So why is Hobbs even here? Because we like him?

2 out of 4.

Behind Closed Doors

When people are murdered, there is a small time frame where police can accurately attempt to gather crime scene evidence. Blood samples, footprints, fingerprints, whatever. For missing kids, they usually say the first 48 hours are the most important for finding them, and that is true for murderers as well.

In 2008, for the case of 13 year old Aarushi Talwar, it may have made all of the difference. She was found murdered in her own room in the morning by her parents. They are an upper caste family in India. Wealthy enough to have servants who come to their house to clean, and one who even lives in the house. And he was missing.

So clearly it was probably the servant, who then ran. Why did he do it? No clue. But rumors could run rampant.

Unfortunately, the next day he was found murdered as well. Except he was on the roof of their home (that no one checked on day one). The door was locked, it definitely wasn’t a suicide, and now we have two murders that they have no idea how to explain. They were behind closed doors (the title!) that were locked, with no forced entry points. Did one of the two let someone in who became violent? How could the parents not have heard? And of course, seriously, was it just one of the parents?

motherknowsbest
I mean, it could have been her, I wasn’t there.

The idea of honor killings is prevelent enough in India to be a thing people latch onto. Like, if those two were in a relationship, did the dad kill them for destroying their honor? We don’t want to assume things about these dead people, but these are the stories the media picked up.

Basically, the media is in two languages, Hindi and English. The English media tended to report stories indicating the parents did it, the Hindi media tended to report stories indicating other servants did it. The caste warfare system was real. More importantly, the idea of media influence is very, very real.

From day one, the crime scene was basically ruined do to extra guests. Everything the police did was heavily reported by the media, who would stand by in groups of 20+, trying to get anything out of witnesses, the police. Everything was scrutinized and judged and yelled about. They directly made the initial solving of anything almost impossible, and stayed as a thorn in everyone’s side demanding answers and making all practical normal procedures fall out the window.

This is a case that was passed around across various groups, different levels of police and different groups in those groups. Because of screw ups, weird results, or not following all leads. It is a messy situation, and thanks to appeals, yes, we still have no official killer on record 11 years later.

It is a really interesting story, but one I think could have used a bit less detail. 2hr40min felt two long for this two-parter (which some time ago was a 4 parter apparently?). It was very much unbiased in that I couldn’t even lean a direction to tell you who I’d believe after all the evidence.

It also still noted the struggle of the caste system, since the media made the whole thing to be about the 13 year old girl, and practically never said the name of the servant who was also killed.

I think the length and the constant switching between English/Hindi, which made it hard for me to focus, is what ruined the overall level of this documentary for me. It has a good story, about the nature of media and crime scenes, but it was also bogged down and muddled.

2 out of 4.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Most reviews for this movie mention fun facts about Quentin Tarantino. And I will spend this time talking about an issue with that. Holy shit, can we all stop going crazy about how many movies he has directed? Let that be his obsession, not ours as reviewers.

Sure, he said he will retire after 10. But plenty of directors have said they would retire and then not.

Outside of a director’s first film, or their second film, I have never seen so many care about their total number after that point. By obsessing over it, we are building up Tarantino to be something bigger than what he really is, and let’s face it, he doesn’t need everyone else stroking his ego.

And with that, let’s talk about Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, his 9th-ish directed movie.

dance
Dance
The year is 1969. Vietnam sucks. Hippies exist. People are famous and rich and Nixon is around as well. We went to the goddamn moon!

But the plot starts in February and ends in August, so most of the film takes place without the moon landing at all. We are talking about aging star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), who was the lead in a Western show for many years in the 50’s and early 60’s, but now is stuck without many job offers and one off appearances in shows as a bad guy who always loses to the hero. It is also about Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), long time friend and stunt man of Dalton’s. Although he isn’t getting as much stunt work, he is still trying and really a personal assistant and friend to Dalton in order to make some money.

The movie is mainly about their struggles, but it is also a little bit about their neighbors, Polanski and Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie). It is also about a lot of hippies living in abandoned studios. It is about what people need to do to get famous, even if it means doing (shudder) European movies.

Also starring Al Pacino, Austin Butler, Bruce Dern, Clifton Collins Jr., Dakota Fanning, Damian Lewis, Damon Herriman, Emile Hirsch, Harley Quinn Smith, Julia Butters, Kurt Russell, Lorenza Izzo, Luke Perry, Margaret Qualley, Mike Moh, Rafal Zawierucha, Scoot McNairy, and Timothy Olyphant.

bar
Most of all business deals are done in bars with cigars.

Around 2006, when information was coming out about this future movie called Iron Man, people were abuzz with casting decisions. Who is playing who!? One of the most exciting aspects of the whole deal was of course Samuel L. Jackson playing Nick Fury. And then not much else was said about him for a while.

Opening night while watching Iron Man, I remember being so excited the whole film to see SLJ as Fury, and getting to the end of the movie and being confused. “No! They said there would be a Nick Fury!” So as the credits started to roll, I told my friends to sit down. There must be something more in the credits. And lo and behold, at the end of the first MCU film, there was another scene, with Fury introducing the concept of Avengers. At that point this wasn’t established, for something at the end of the credits, I just knew it had to be. I needed my Nick Fury, damn it.

So how does this relate to Once Upon A Time in Hollywood? It relates perfectly I’ll have you know in a second, but let me give you some non spoilery analysis.

This movie is gorgeous. It meanders, yes. It could have been slimmed down. Pitt and DeCaprio give wonderful performances and I won’t forget about them soon. The cameos were fun. Robbie felt like a completely different person and did well at this carefree in the moment feeling actress.

So here are the spoilers for the rest of the review.

Did you know that Charles Manson was in this movie? Well, if you read movie articles, you should have known about it. Because about a year and a half ago, info for this movie started coming out and people were in an uproar that Tarantino was about to do a movie about Manson. There was a bit of backpedaling, like letting us know that he was in it but it isn’t about him, it just has him in it as a subplot or something.

And then I guess everyone forgot about it, because suddenly with this movie coming out, there is this strange aura of spoilers like its Avengers: Endgame. What the hell could really be a spoiler for a movie like this? In the theater, while talking to friends, I correctly guessed the ending of the film before hand as a joke, and uhh, it was correct. It was mostly a surprise due to just knowing what happened with Inglorious Bastards and knowing that Manson was in it. Shit, they end up making pretty obvious references to IB early in the film with a fictional Nazi burning movie.

Anyways, I think it is a mistake to try and make this whole thing a secret. I think it is okay to know that Manson murders plotline is involved, because if you don’t know anything about the real life Manson murders, a lot of the buildup won’t make as much sense. I mean, shit. This movie was actually supposed to come out on August 9th originally, which is the 50th anniversary of those murders. But it was pushed two weeks up in this schedule, maybe to make things less obvious, I have no idea.

I appreciate the level of detail that went into those scenes, using actual lines, character names, times, dates, and places. It is something he has thought a lot about, and it makes sense in QT’s “real world movie series” and still helps explain his “in universe film series” as a comparison.

If you are unfamiliar with that period, whether it is real events, the movies of the time, it will feel like a long drag and never really reach a high amount of payout. But as a movie about the place where movies were made, about an event that affected movies since that time, it has a lot of insight and actual information in a fictional film.

Also, DiCaprio and Pitt are really fun in this one.

3 out of 4.

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