Murder Bury Win

Most of you can likely assume by now in my 9th year of reviewing movies that I kind of love movies.

But I have other passions. I create art, I play games (less and less), I do twitch things, and I also play board games. I actually LOVE board games, but getting older, having young kids and a family, makes it harder to spend hours with others doing the board game thing. Really, I am just trying to make it through the awkward younger years for the kids, getting them older so I can just play the games with them. That is the dream goal.

Then retirement, play more games with strangers and shops and all of that. This assumes no pandemics in the future.

So board games are a passion of mine, so I was thrilled to be able to see a movie about board games. I am hoping it takes it to a high, or even medium leve with the topic. Just something more than standard Monopoloy and Sorry bull shit. Come on, Murder Bury Win. Wow me.

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Okay if this game is like Fuck Marry Kill, I know who I’d pick for all three.

Adam (Erich Lane), Barrett (Henry Alexander Kelly), and Chris (Mikelen Walker) are best friends and work friends, because together they have made and designed their own board game called Murder Bury Win. They are ready to sell it and get rich and famous as game designers. [Yes, we know game designers aren’t really famous and more like “rich”]. They put their game on Gamechanger for funding (like Kickstarter), but after a month they got no where close their goal, except for a few anonymous donors. Fuck. Their dreams are ruined.

Well, the next day, Adam gets a call from a mysterious stranger. He wants to meet up with the creators of the game Murder Bury Win and talk about it, maybe invest, maybe help out. And this dude lives out in the middle of nowhere, in the woods, by himself. The don’t even know his name.

After a terse encounter and some talking, they discover it is actually V.V. Stubbs (Craig Cackowski), one of the most famous board game designers ever. These men made their game after they were inspired by Stubbs’ biggest hit, Murder Wall. Oh great, what luck. He will help them out and maybe even choose to buy it from them, that would be a wonderful start.

And then someone dies, accidentally. Maybe. This leaves the leftover people wondering how to get out of this mess. After the murder, they have to leave no trace and accurately bury, in order to win. Can they win?

Also starring Brian Slaten as a cop.

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Everyone knows if you play the murder card you are allowed to murder. That’s the rules! 

Is Murder Bury Win a great game? Eh, not by my looks of it and the vague understanding of the rules. But that is acknowledged in the film as well that it needs work. So it is hard to judge this film on its board game love on that fact, but there are two elements that are really strong. One being the kickstarter-esque quality to the board game community. As far as I know, board games have been some of the most successful categories on Kickstarter, and Kickstarter has led to a huge boom in board game success. They’ve worked well together, so it was a nice element to include.

It also is clear that the writer or director really hates Exploding Kittens, and wanted to talk bad about it a few times, but they changed the title for this film. That is fair, but we still know what they meant, and I agree.

For the film itself, I really enjoyed the performances of Kelly and Walker the most. They felt the most believable, as they seemed like characters who knew the world wasn’t black and white, and had passions and dreams and actual struggles facing their decisions in the film.

The film has a decent amount of good moments, both in terms of conversation and visuals. But almost too many moments that don’t seem to work well either. For example, the cop scene has some good lines and moments, and also moments that don’t make a lot of sense given the situation. The scene went on for a long time, which is great as a purpose to make us uncomfortable, but it allowed these questionable parts to pop up more frequently, so it is hard to really get an overall great feeling out of it.

It has potential overall, just like the board game itself apparently had potential (but as a board game snob, ehhh the game looked like trash to me. Although meeples are always a plus). And it surprised me by going a bit darker than I imagined in some aspects, letting me fully call this a Dark Comedy and not just a comedy with some death in it.

2 out of 4.

Synchronic

Synchronic has probably one of the best movie posters I have seen of this year. Check it out. I don’t know anything about this movie going into it, but it captivates a lot of imagery. Is it about time travel? It is probably about time travel. Maybe.

The film is directed by Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson, who have worked together before, but got relatively famous in the indie community for directing The Endless a couple of years ago. That was a film I wanted more out of, and probably need to give a second chance viewing.

But they love dealing with the mysterious, and the drama, and the fantasy, so I am sure, sure…that this movie is about time travel. Probably.

OH ALSO! The directors care about safety, and don’t actually want you to go to theaters if it isn’t safe enough. That is pretty awesome and will hurt their line and maybe their status in the business, but hey, they have morals damn it.

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Well, there’s no proof of time travel in this picture. Unless they time travel to night time of the same day.

Steve (Anthony Mackie) and Dennis (Jamie Dornan) are paramedics down in New Orleans, and this movie has nothing to do with Katrina (yay!). It is just a setting. A lot of their job unfortunately is working with people hurt and dying of drug overdoses, given the location of their city. Nothing against people with addictions, it is just a same to see so many young lives lost and stuck.

Steve has his own worries going on, about his future career, and about his life, after being a bachelor for so long. His partner has a wife (Katie Aselton) and kids, the oldest Brianna (Ally Ioannides) is turning 18 and wants to move away for college. What the hell is Steve doing with his life?

Well, at the same time, a new designer drug hits their area, named Synchronic. Nice name. It gets a real unique feeling but has side effects, of course. Shit starts getting wild around them, like, their world changes. Sometimes people feel like they are going to a completely different part of the world in a different time. Like…time travel. But sometimes, young people don’t return for some reason.

And sure enough, Brianna goes missing. Did she take the drug? Is it time for experiment drug taking to save a life?

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Okay, this also isn’t time travel. This is just normal day time, booo.

As I already stated, I did see their first film The Endless. And despite not getting fully entrenched in that film, I can say visually it is obvious these are the same directors. A lot of it stylistically feels the same, despite having a higher budget this time around for better equipment (and the low equipment was likely part of the appeal of The Endless). It still contains that ominous air of mystery and music around the situation, asking us to wonder how much of it is real and where is the story going?

Mackie absolutely slays in the lead of this film. He feels so emotional and real. We get all about his business and this entire film feels personal to him. I don’t remember if we have ever seen this side of him before, but Mackie does have a lot of smaller films to his name, they aren’t all just Avengers an cop movies, so I can’t say I’ve seen them all.

The drug is relatively unique and I love, LOVE, the rules associated with it and the methodology put into it by the characters to discover just how things worked. It didn’t answer all the questions, but enough to get the job done.

This is a film about finding your purpose in life, whether you are read for it or not. Accepting a destiny that is hard to fathom until the moment really shows itself. How can you better yourself or your surroundings when so much shit is falling apart in front of your eyes?

Synchronic has some great visuals that are limited in nature, you have to wait for them and earn them (outside of the opening scene). It doesn’t overwhelm you with special effects constantly, it is a lot more grounded in reality. It is a fresh and unique film and one that is worth at least one gander, if not two.

3 out of 4.

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

Very nice! I will try to not fill this review with classic Borat quotes, I really will.

Since Da Ali G Show, Sacha Baron Cohen has been the best (and only?) person to consistently be some sort of master disguise artist. He goes full into each personality that it is hard to believe, and yet it allows others to open up and show case how much of a shit head they are. Hey, Cohen is only acting.

We saw it in Borat, which gave us poop, sex, and very strange humor, but also was just poking fun of racists and sexists in America.

He surprised us with the show Who Is America? which didn’t have enough episodes or go far enough, despite going really far and talking with a lot of politicians.

And now we are surprised with a Borat sequel, filmed mostly in secret the last two years, including during parts of the pandemic, with some aspects making national attention. How can this man do it all? Sacha Baron Cohen is noooooon-stop.

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Gotta hide when everyone over 25 can quote your catch phrases.

Borat (Sacha Baron Cohen) thought he would be a successful star and hero of Kazakhstan, but it turns out even if the US of A loved him, he made a fool of his country. Their value went down, no more trades, people make fun of them, so they hate Borat now and he go to jail. He is not loved and sad.

But now, with new American Trump leader, the Premier of Kazakhstan is upset that Trump love all leaders nearby but not him, so he want Borat to redeem himself. He will send Borat to America to give a bribe of a fancy monkey to Michael Pence. Can’t go directly to Trump, because Borat pooped at his tower last visit, so VP will do.

Now Borat can go back to America! But everyone knows him in the US of A still, he very famous. He will have to make disguises instead. And it turns out his daughter (Irina Novak) snuck along as well, so he has to deal with a teenager who thinks she has rights and the ability to do things now that she made it to America.

Can he deliver the package to Michael Pence? Can he save Kazakhstan by getting them in the cool country club?

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Is Sacha Baron Cohen everyone? Is he me? Is he cake?

Wow wow wee wow. I thought this film gave away a surprising amount of detail in the trailer (and honestly, still true), but what is more surprising is about how much of that takes place in the first half.

The Borat film slips seamlessly into sequel territory, it feels like no time at all has passed. It has the same exact style, the character sounds and acts the same, and it feels like there wasn’t a decade and a half in down time between it. Once it got going, and the hijinks started, I thought I was hanging out with an old friend, so they did a great job of transitioning.

There is a lot lot lot of plot in this film, potentially more than the first. The first film had the overall plot of being a journalist, wanting to marry Pamela Anderson, and all of the interactions along the way seemed like they could make sense for someone trying to discover American culture. Since a lot of this movie has a plot of “bonding” with his daughter, we are going to a lot more beauty stores, dress shops, clinics, women rights groups, etc. A lot of the points are slightly real, and a lot more staged, which I guess is necessary with two people in on the joke, whereas in Borat a lot more of it is him on his own (sometimes with his producer).

One great aspect of this film is that it was clearly being shot and had a purpose, and the Covid-19 Pandemic put a wrench into things. They had to change their plot, and do other things, because even they had to quarantine during that time, the film makers aren’t that danger seeking. It added a nice real element to it.

I am making sure I try to keep this completely devoid of spoilers, but also, the bigger moment near the end they are hoping to completely wreck someone I think won’t do much at all and be hand waved away, which is sad.

Overall, Cohen is a brilliant and insane person. He is a strange chameleon that goes to the extremes and makes people say and do racist stuff. It is a weird super power, but he seems to wield it for good mostly.

3 out of 4.

The Mothman Legacy

Ya’ll ever hear about the Mothman? You know, the large moth like creature the size of the man? With its glowing red eyes and soft gentle plan? With its wings like a moth and its chicken frying on the pan? With its beacon of doom and its skin never tan?

Sorry, I wanted to rap a little bit about Mothman.

A lot of people know about the Mothman thanks to the book and movie called The Mothman Prophecies. It had Richard Gere and Laura Linney! That is definitely when I first heard about it, dealing with events leading up to a bridge collapse in West Virginia in the 60’s.

Maybe if you read the book before that you heard of it, or lived in West Virginia, or near West Virginia. It is there Loch Ness Monster up in the woods. It goes back decades and people like to talk about seeing the Mothman and how it is a bringer of doom, or a warning, or a symbol.

In this documentary, The Mothman Legacy, they examine the legacy of the….uh….Mothman.


Actual Mothman picture. No, just kidding, just another graphic.

In this documentary we have interviews with people who claim to have seen the Mothman when they were younger, or when they were old, and how it led to something in their life. How they can swear they never heard about it before but described it to their siblings who say they saw the same thing.

We also have interviews with people who were there in the 60’s and saw or dealt with the bridge collapse, and the mood of the town at that point. We have people who have their own Mothman museum and the Mothman festival that happens yearly. And heck, we even got an expert about Native American tribes in the area and the reason why their mountains were left alone.

And that is what the documentary gives you. If that sounds like a hoot and a holler, then go for it. But I can only take so much ominous noises as background music, with artist rendered Mothmen, and hear these stories over and over before wanting something different.

And sure, it tried to break it down into sections and themes, but they didn’t feel different enough to me to basically keep giving the same format. Sure, they had a specific topic or time frame or whatever. But by golly, and I don’t mean to swear, it was a bit drab. Boring. Sleep inducing.

I wasn’t going into this expecting to be convinced about an urban legend or anything. I was expecting just…something more exciting. But this is presented in its best made for TV special format, with easy to insert commercial breaks, like something that could be on the History Channel. And I mean the modern History channel, not the old one.

Moths were already relatively uninteresting to me, but I guess so now are the Mothman stories.

1 out of 4.

Trump Card

Fuck, it is 2020.

And I am not saying that for all the many reasons you might be thinking about. I am saying that because it is an even year. And every even year, for the last 8 or so, we’ve gotten stuck with a summer/fall documentary by Dinesh D’Souza.

It is clockwork now. Big election soon? Let’s get my huge ass propaganda piece out so help convince people with false facts and weirdly produced scenes.

For example, Trump Card, it begins and ends with a torture scene. A futuristic big brother thing of a government official torturing and brain washing a regular republican to a new way of life. All the same or else. Completely ridiculous stuff, and that is just one of the many things Dinesh throws into his movies.

Like most of his previous documentaries, this one has overall the same theme. Democrats are bad an evil, Republicans are trying to save the world. Repetitive talking points, no real proof, and occasionally patriotic music to really drive home that propaganda.


Ah yes, this is the part where Dinesh is the main focus.

You see, at this point, these documentaries are basically all about Dinesh too. He can’t help have himself be part of the main focus. He can’t help showcasing himself more in every interview instead of the speaker. He loves to ask his interviewees leading questions as well. You know, to get that specific sound bite. But for some reason Dinesh doesn’t even edit these things to get rid of that fact. Come on dude, you could make it look more menacingly if you don’t look like you are spoon feeding the people on what to say!

And so how does he phrase these arguments? Eh, just regular old gaslighting. “You know how the democratic parties seem to appeal to women, or the gays, or black people, or Hispanic people, or foreigners? Well, here is one person saying they don’t. And also everything they do is evil, and it is actually the Republicans who help these group the most! Yayyy!” Usually he also likes to give a throwback to something decades ago to why the republicans today are totally helpful. Because decades ago was relevant.

But hey, he is not done. Let’s go and attack Ilhan Omar, and Biden’s family some more, and things like that. And at the very very very end? Give a quick comment that sure, Trump might sometimes not be the most eloquent, or not be nice with his words, but can we blame him, what with all the attacks he deals with?

If you like being gaslighted, you will love this documentary. And if you do see this documentary and love it, please let me know.

-1 out of 4.

Totally Under Control

Alex Gibney is a big name in the documentary community. He has been doing this for quite a few years and seems to love the pursuit, as both a director and a producer. He directed such documentaries like Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, Going Clear: Scientology & the Prison of Belief, and Citizen K.

And now he is back with a surprise documentary, Totally Under Control. Seriously. It is a huge surprise. The trailer dropped in early October and announced it would be out that same month. It is going straight to VOD and will be available for everyone on Hulu starting October 20th. It is an incredible quick turnaround, no one knew it was coming out.

Well, the people interviewed knew, and the people behind the camera knew, but that was about it. So why the secrecy?

Well, the topic is dealing with the Coronavirus threat, and its impact on the United Sates, and dealing with how the current administration completely fucked over a whole lot of Americans.

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One of these men wants to save and protect you. The other does not.
So who do we talk to in this documentary? Oh you know, people who were parts of the pandemic response team, both before the pandemic stuff started, and after. People who helped predict models and were in data analysis groups as information started coming out. We also have a person who was a part of a volunteer task force, officially run by the White House, that had a lot of light to shine on the process. Heck, we even got a guy who was the only major face mask producer in the USA who warned about this scenario as well.

They also go out of the way to show how safe the interviews are, in case you are curious about that.

This film has a big time frame to focus on, but honestly, most of it is from December 2019 to March of 2020. The early parts of the pandemic and the US response from it. We do get some information about the 1918 pandemic, and the past big health scares during the Obama administration and what they did to make things be better in the future.

And. It. Is. So. Detailed. I would have swore this would have gone basically from just February to August or so, but it ends so much sooner to that. I am already expecting a sequel.

Obviously this one was put out now to make sure voters are aware of some of the actions their government took this year, and honestly, this feels like a documentary everyone should take. If you have access to Hulu, take a couple hours to give a gander next week. It is important, it is detailed, and it is perhaps more eye opening than you expect.

4 out of 4.

Interview with Steve Byrne – Director of “The Opening Act”

[Editor’s note: This was meant to be a video interview and going great, until about the last two minutes. Then my computer froze. Much embarrassment. It was finished on a phone where I had to write down answers on notes. Most of the interview the phrasing is accurate as the audio recording saved, magically.]

Review of The Opening Act can be seen here!

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Gorgon Reviews: Thanks for stopping by Steve.

Steve Byrne: Thank you for having me, I appreciate it!

GR: First question, what is the first movie you remember seeing in theaters growing up?

SB: Superman! Directed by Richard Donner, starring Christopher Reeve, that’s the first film I remember seeing.

GR: You are the first person I’ve interviewed who had that answer just ready to go, usually people are caught off guard and have to think for awhile.

SB: (laughs) Well its my favorite movie of all time, I remember seeing it, yeah.

GR: Do you remember how old you were?

SB: Well, I must have been 3 or 4 at the time, I just remember a second of it. I remember seeing it. And then I remember seeing it on TV when I was a little kid too, and just being enamored by it. And to this day it is probably one of my favorite films.

GR: Steve, what movie made you cry the most?

SB: (Cringes) Okay this is going to be embarrassing, and I am sure you heard this before from other people. I’ve only seen my father cry once before in my life, and it was when his father died, and my daughter has seen me cry during episodes of Shark Tank, okay?

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GR: I let loose pretty easily. I would say I’ve seen Up quite a bit, and and that first 8 minutes of Up has gotten to me every single time. EVERY single time I watch that. And it is on quite a bit in our household, I just get misty eyed.

GR: I am surprised I got such a real answer there, because that question was in your stand up special almost a decade and a half ago. (Steve laughs again). So you had an episode of Comedy Central Presents in the mid-2000s and at the beginning of your movie, you featured a lot of clips from that series. How much did that show mean to you and help advance your own career?

SB: Comedy Central Presents was the first thing I had, at the time it was like, all the young comics in New York City, and across the country, it was their first real kind of break. And for sure that was my first break. Absolutely, without a doubt.

That and BET’s ComicView. (Laughs a lot). I did ComicView twice for some reason, I don’t know how I ended up there, but I got a standing ovation the first time I did it. So that has probably something to do with it. And I got a lot of college work out of it. But Comedy Central Presents was the cool one. I was like, “Yeah, alright, I made it. I’m on my way!”

GR: I watched a lot of those myself during that time so when they all started flashing across the beginning of the movie, I realized I’ve seen all those specials, and that is when it clicked that I knew your name before from your special there.

GR: Stand up and acting have a lot of similarities, but what made you want to transition to directing instead?

SB: Well, I, wrote this script, as an exercise, just to see if I could write a screenplay, if I’d have the discipline to do it. And I thought, well, if I am going to invest my time in writing something, why not write about something that I want to see, and I’ve never seen something from A-Z a film about stand up comedy.

So I just wanted to write about that, and then when it was actually being made, Vince Vaughn [Producer] asked me “Do you want to be in it? It’s being made, what do you want to do?” and I knew I was too old to be the MC of the feature and I am too young to be the headliner. So I thought, “To hell with it, I’m just glad it is being made!” So he said, “Why don’t you direct it?” and I had never directed anything before but he said, “Well you never wrote anything before either, but now you did it, and it’s your story, so direct it!” So I said okay. Never contemplating how overwhelming it was, but I am glad I did it, I am glad I was the purveyor of this story, and I’m really proud of it.

GR: Ah, never had any intentions of being a director until it happened.

SB: Exactly, I knew if it ever got made I’d be too old to play a kid in his 20’s, going on the road for the first time, but I wanted to write a film about a kid driving to Las Vegas for his very first time in his 20’s. Not a man driving home from Vegas in his 50’s. Which uhh, could have been me.

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GR: How much of this was based on your own life?

SB: Oh the minute Will hits the road in the film, everything that has happened in the movie has happened to me. That’s why you can’t make this stuff up. All the comics that are in it, they’ve said the same three things to me after they screened it. 1) I loved it, 2) It was so authentic, and 3) And you just retriggered horrible memories from the first few years of my comedy career, now I need to go see my therapist again. So I was really happy to hear that.

GR: How did you pick Jimmy Yang for the lead of this film?

SB: (Sighs), Well, I didn’t pick Jimmy Yang, he held me up at gun point, after a missed connection on Craig’s List, he met me in Wal-Mart,

GR: And he said “Gimme Dat Dick!”

SB: That’s right, yeah, “Gimme Dat Diiiick!”. Good call back by the way. [Editor’s note: That is a quote from the movie.]

SB: When you’re casting this, because it was semi-autobiographical, I thought I might as well cast somebody that kind of looks like me, and I didn’t do it for diversity sake, I hate when people do that, I hate when people make it an agenda, it is certainly not that. But there are very few stand up comedians that are Asian, and there are very few stand up comic Asians that are also working actors, so Jimmy was the first one we went to, Jimmy took it and I didn’t have to talk to anyone else after that.

GR: Was there any celebrity that was the inspiration behind Billy G?

SB: Ah yes, there was an inspiration behind Billy G. His name is Billy G, because he was named after Billy Gardell. And most people know Billy Gardell from the show Mike and Molly, I’ve had a lot of mentor’s along the way, and I’ve had a lot of people give me sage advice, and I toured with Billy Gardell, along with brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

[Editor’s Note: This is when my computer froze. I know, in the middle of a probably touching answer. Once my compute restarted, it also decided to do an update and I realized it was a lost cause, but Steve waited for me to get back on Zoom on my phone, and we finished the interview there.]

GR: Okay, one of the things I really appreciate is the is that all of the side characters in this film have personality and a reason for existing, without still taking away from Will’s story. The DJ is mysterious and crazy, but it never gets fully explained. Chad is an interesting comic, the girlfriend is actually supportive the whole time…and then there is Chip. What is up with Chip?

SB: (Laughs) Well, Chip is like the gatekeeper to Will’s dreams. He is the one who ultimately is giving Will a shot by letting him MC at the club, and there are a lot of managers like that who have to book for multiple clubs across the country, so if Will can succeed, it leads to a lot more opportunity. And uhh, he is based on two managers in particular, ones who pushed a lot of boundaries.

GR: You mentioned earlier that all of these things happened to you. So you had the radio interview gone wrong, the hecklers and all of that?

SB: YES! In Raleigh, NC was the story about going to the trailer park with the girl who had a, well, Marine boyfriend. The Radio interview was from LA, and the hecklers was in Dallas.
[Editor’s Note: I hope I got the cities right for that. Damn chicken scratch notes.]

GR: Thank you so much for stopping by to talk Steve, sorry about the tech issues there. The Opening Act opens this weekend at least in The Alamo Drafthouse if not more places.

SB: Thanks for taking time watch and review and give the film some buzz. I appreciate it.

The Opening Act

I have only been to a stand up comic show in the standard variety once. You know, a place that sells some sort of appetizers and drinks, with drink minimums. People all crammed in there to see one person, and they have to see other people before that who they likely don’t know, but are there to hype up the crowd so the main performer can absolutely slay.

Yeah. Just once. I have seen comedians in bigger auditoriums, and they have a different feel than the comedy clubs. I have seen them in more open mic settings which are very very different feels, because of the short set.

But that build up. It is very interesting. Are the people getting funnier as they come out, or is it just because you are getting happier over time, with more material time to work with, or even…drunker?

Either way, the formula works. And in The Opening Act, it takes a realistic look at the first guy in the line up, who has the least amount of time, who has little experience in dealing with hecklers. Can he succeed? Or will he wilt away like so many before him.


First thing you need to be able to do as a stand up comic? Stand up. Check!

Will O’Brien (Jimmy O. Yang) has grown up on stand up comedy. He lost his mom early on, but his dad was a big fan of stand up comics, so Will was a big fan of stand up comics. It was there way of bonding, it was their way of getting through grief.

Now Will is a man! An adult male man. He has a job that pays bills, a girlfriend who is supportive, and sometimes he gets to do stand up at open mic nights. But the only club he can get gigs at requires him to bring in paid customers to see him, and it is getting harder and harder for him to find people he knows who are willing to pay to watch him. He is at a point where his future in this career he wants to have is in question.

But then he gets an opportunity. To go out to another city and be the opening act (that’s the name of the movie!) and mc for real big time comedians! Multiple nights in a row to do his own material and get exposure and meet legends.

Can he do it? Can he break from his norm? Or will his dream go up in flames?

Also starring a wide variety of comics you might have heard of before! Like Cedric the Entertainer, Debby Ryan, Ken Jeong, Bill Burr, Neal Brennan, Alex Moffat, Russell Peters, Jermaine Fowler, and Simon Rhee.


Second thing you need to know? Where to find the good food in cities everywhere.
I have seen movies about the hardships of being a stand up comic, you know, Funny People is sort of one of them. But they still are usually dealing with someone who has more success than failures. Sure there are pitfalls, but they usually exist further in the career and not at the humble beginnings.

In this movie, our lead is starting out as a regular insurance worker, who can sometimes tell some jokes. Getting to MC an event is a huge stepping stone for them. It isn’t hour long sets on Comedy Central, but that is far in the future. This is where many find out that they are not cut out and go back to their day job. It is PAINFUL at times to watch this film, but it feels so realistic that we accept it anyways.

A lot of the film seems to be based on personal anecdotes from the films director, Steve Byrne, who is not just trying to tell his story and humble beginnings, but the beginnings for most comics.

I have only seen Yang before in Silicon Valley, so I was definitely surprised with his voice (he goes very English as a Second Language in the show), and he carried himself well as a lead. It feels like it is also his story.

The movie has a wonderful cast of secondary characters, all of them have their own personality despite limited screen time, and again, just feel like real people. One of the biggest surprises was the girlfriend, because the whole film she is supportive and understanding and hopeful. There is no added in relationship drama to pile on to our main character, which is an all too common thing to do in film.

If you want the experience of standing up on a stage and being unable to function while people judge you, this film probably gives you one of the closest experiences you will get outside of VR.

3 out of 4.

How to Deter a Robber

Click HERE for an interview with the director of the film, Maria Bissell!

Sometimes a title is all you need. How To Deter A Robber. There. Five words, with two that really stand out. Who talks like that? Why are they talking like that? Is this a film to talk about keeping robbers away from your home?

You’d like ask is this a remake of Home Alone? That kid knew how to keep away some potential robbers, with some sadistic methodology.

Is this a film that will up the ante? Change the type of lead? Kill someone? Go hard R? Or will it not seem like Home Alone at all?

I do know that no matter what, just by title alone, I am curious and immediately comparing it to an awkward classic.


Being tied up with your crew is not a good way to deter a robber.

Young (eh, 28 year old actress) little Madison Williams (Vanessa Marano) is trying to pine the perfect essay for getting into college after she finishes high school. She is running out of time. It is winter. But the inspiration she seeks and craves fails her, and she realizes the writing she is creating is really not up to her standards. Her mother is constantly on her case about things, never trusting her, and judging her, so she feels trapped.

But she is with her boyfriend (Benjamin Papac) and they sneak out one night to a friend’s cabin, to check to make sure things are okay. They end up staying the night, and when they wake up, the place was robbed! Damn! People came and ransacked the place, and now they will be blamed, damn teenagers. They couldn’t even deter a robber (that’s the movie !!) by being in the home, so they need to up their game.

Madison’s uncle (Chris Mulkey) takes the two of them to his own cabin to spend some time away from her mom, while also teaching them some better tactics to keep the place secure. And sure enough, the robbers (Abbie Cobb, Sonny Valicenti) are coming their way next, so they are going to do their best, or their worst.

Also starring Nikki Crawford, Jonah Ray, Leah Lewis, and Gabrielle Carteris.


Trigger Warning: Green Face!

First cat out of the bag, this film never feels like Home Alone, and that is obviously a good thing. It needs to be able to stand on its own legs. Sure, some traps maybe get set up and attempted, but the important note here is that some teenagers who aren’t sociopaths aren’t amazing engineers to do elaborate pain enduing schemes, they just are not. How to Deter a Robber goes for a more realistic approach to the being in the same house as a robber, by, you know, being caught almost immediately.

But how do you get away from the robbers? How do you make the cops find them? How do you avoid death and unravel their trust? These are all important aspects as well, and where a lot of the film lies.

The main thing I love about this movie is the chemistry between the cast. I will admit I haven’t seen anything Marano has been a major part before (just side roles in TV shows that I didn’t notice), but she definitely brings it this time. Her relationship with her family members, the boyfriend, and the robbers are all believable. She is a talkative charmer.

The movie is a bit of a comedy more than anything, and despite not being laugh out loud funny most of the time, it is still amusing, and I still smirked throughout. It was one of those films that could be sweet, yet still have some darker parts throughout it. And now that I have seen this movie, I know what a Hodag is, and learning about new monsters is always worth your time.

3 out of 4.

Girl

On the second night of Fantastic Fest my screeners gave to me, a film with a non-descript title!

Girl premiered on Friday, September 25, the second night of Fantastic Fest, but the review is coming late (despite me watching it early) because I wanted to also be able to link a review with the director. That interview is here.

Girl is unique in that out of all the movies coming out this week for the festival, it already has a publisher (out in November) and actually has some actors your are likely to recognize! And that probably makes it the most hyped up film of the festival.


This is the most non-descript Thorne has ever looked. 
Girl (Bella Thorne) travels home. Girl has letter. Girl mad at someone? Girl mad at daddy. Girl want kill daddy!

Girl in small town. Girl don’t remember others. Girl go to house. Girl can’t find daddy. Girl eventually find daddy. Daddy dead! No! Girl want kill daddy! Daddy already dead. 🙁

Girl tell cop (Mickey Rourke). Girl tell others. Girl fend off Charmer (Chad Faust). Girl sleuth. Girl figure out mystery. Girl find daddy killer.

Also starring Lanette Ware, Glen Gould, and Elizabeth Saunders.


A lot of zoomed in faces, what is this, Les Miserables?
Girl gives off a real small town vibe in a few ways. One, small amount of locations. Two, the locations used are run down. And three small amount of characters.

Speaking of characters, they all are not given names that are given to us, but referred to by other things like Girl, or Charmer. It gives a unique “everywhere” feel to the film, and lets you insert your own character names into the roles if you’d like. It also makes the IMDB page for these actors look like they did when they first were getting roles in tv and film.

The story for this movie is really simple, but one that has emotional weight. This is all mostly due to Thorne in the lead role. I know she has a lot of flack lately for various reasons, but she does nail this role.

Given the simplistic nature, I did want something a bit more overall still. I personally could never feel attached to the store and only maintained a small interest in its resolution. I needed some other hook to really go hard with the emotional journey they went on.

It definitely is a film with promise and does a lot with its presumed limited resources at the disposal. And worth it for those fans of Thorne.

2 out of 4.