First Man

When I first heard about First Man, I didn’t realize it was a biopic on Neil Armstrong. I thought it was just a space movie with cool visuals, and would be about the first man on Mars or something like that.

The poster is just really sexy like that.

Despite not knowing the real topic, I knew I was really excited. Damien Chazelle has yet to disappoint, with his first two big breaks being, well, big breaks. Whiplash was breath of fresh abuse, and La La Land is goddamn La La Land, my favorite movie of that year.

So yeah, let’s try a real person story about a space man!

Group
A bunch of men that totally want to break out into dance, but can’t in this movie.

In the 1960’s, Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) became an Astronaut for the NASA program. He was already a test pilot for other companies as an engineer, not a military man, and he needed to get a new start. His daughter, Karen, had died when she was two, of some cancer. That sucks. That sucks a lot. He needed to get away.

Not just from the fact that his daughter died. But other friends as well. When doing science in the sky, and reaching the upper parts of the atmosphere, things can go wrong. They HAVE gone wrong for Armstrong, but he generally keeps a clear head on these sorts of things and lucks his way into not dying.

Is he afraid of dying? Is he ready to die? Is he afraid if he gets too close to people, he will become a wreck should they die in an accident? His wife (Claire Foy) loves him, and is helping raise their family, and is fully aware of the many risks of space travel. But she supports him, even when he is hard to reach. Physically, and emotionally.

And of course, eventually, Armstrong does some pretty impressive historical stuff.

Also starring a whole lot of white people. Most of them playing real white people too, I assume! Played by Pablo Schreiber, Christopher Abbot, Ethan Embry, Ciarán Hinds, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Shea Whigham, Olivia Hamilton, and Corey Stoll playing the Buzz Aldrin.

Love
I assume this dance is not my tempo.

Chazelle started us out on his film trajectory by giving us people who wanted to achieve stardom at all costs. The next film also involved achieving stardom, but in a city full of stars, people who already made their life successful. And now, in this film, we still have that achievement desire behind the scenes, but instead of reaching a city of stars, it is a whole sky full of stars. An interesting path and one that is keeping Chazelle fresh by clearly trying very different things.

The most interesting aspect of this movie, to me, is that it isn’t really about the moon landing. It is called First Man. Why? Because it is about the First Man on the moon, not the successful events, just the person himself. Neil. Armstrong.

That might sound like a normal biographic movie, but I assure you, this one feels different. We see things from his point of view and mindset, without having to actually go into first person point of view. It is easy to feel the claustrophobic nature of the capsules. Of viewing the edge of space for the first time. To walking on the moon, to losing a child or friend, to having to make life saving decisions despite not knowing the right answer.

It is so damn personal and at the same time it is hard to connect to him. Armstrong comes across a very distant person, dealing with a lot on the inside and less likely to talk about his feelings or actually deal with the reality his job is creating. He is a humble person and a quiet person, not looking for fame, but looking for something else hard to pinpoint.

First Man is a great film, with terrific acting, and is likely to be a lock for several nominations, especially in the sound mixing areas this upcoming Oscars.

3 out of 4.

Bad Times At The El Royale

I have never had a bad time at a place called an El Royale. Just saying, for some sort of context. I haven’t been to any El Royales as far as I know. So neither good nor bad times have been had at any El Royales. I am an El Royale virgin. Or at least, I was before I saw this movie, Bad Times At the El Royale.

Alright, now that the nonsensical first paragraph, overall this felt like a movie that would be really enjoyable. I didn’t know what to expect, but I liked the cast of characters and thought it could have some really fun and interesting scenes.

After seeing so many duds lately, and great films, I needed something that would just be entertaining. I really wanted this to fill that genre gap in my movie watching schedule.

Dancing
It did fill a Hemsworth sized whole in my heart. And that is a very large whole.

At the El Royale? Well, it used to be a happening spot. Lively nights, plenty of guests, and a lot of raunchy shenanigans. This hotel is on the border of Nevada and California. So it has a more expensive and classy side and a gambling side. A side for all the types who may want to visit. Now the hotel is almost in rambles. The front desk is basically just one person (Lewis Pullman), who also is the cleaning man, the bartender, and everything. A one man show.

And tonight? There will be some guests. We have Darlene Sweet (Cynthia Erivo), a potential singing star who has a secret. We have Father Daniel Flynn (Jeff Bridges), who seems to be losing his mind, and a man with a secret. There is (Jon Hamm), someone who really wants the Honeymoon suite, because he has a secret. There is the vulgar and unfriendly (Dakota Johnson), who clearly has a secret.

A lot of secrets, and a lot of bad stuff coming together. How are Chris Hemsworth, Cailee Spaeny, and Nick Offerman involved in the plot? Well, that’s a secret.

Raining
I’M SORRY. DID YOU THINK THIS PICTURE SPACE WOULD BE GIVEN TO SOMETHING THAT IS NOT SHIRTLESS?

Did you know that Bad Times at the El Royale is over 140 minutes long? Shit, this might as well be a Marvel movie at this point. Now of course if a movie is engaging and fantastic, the time doesn’t matter. BT at the ER is in fact entertaining with some cool scenes. It has nice songs/soundtracks to encompass the scenes. It is told out of order from multiple perspectives to help unravel the mysteries and keep things fresh. It is really impossible to guess where it is going and how it will end. And yet, it also feels way too long.

Sure, different perspectives is fun, but that does mean we have to see some scenes multiple times. And there is a lot of backstory at times that are cool for building characters, and at the same time, not always necessary.

I really enjoyed Hamm in this film. He was a combination of some of his previous roles and it was definitely a good fit for him. Potentially it can be used as an audition for an eventual super hero! Johnson was acting like someone completely different in this film and it was refreshing. Erivo knocked it out of the park for me in the film, she was the real star, in so many talented ways. And hey, Pullman was interesting as the, well, lobby boy. I actually thought it was maybe Tom Holland pushing some boundaries for most of the movie.

BT at the ER is a fun film, a different film, a Quentin Tarantino lite film, and one that will please a lot of fans. Especially those of Hemsworth. It just needed a lot more editing and maybe a more focused outcome by the end.

2 out of 4.

The Hate U Give

I have heard about The Hate U Give at least two years ago as a teacher in middle school. I had not read it yet, but I did want to read it. I just never got around to it. You know, movies and all.

I knew I had to wait until after I saw the movie. Maybe it would be like this year´s Wonder, in terms of book lovers all excited. Wonder was decent, and the book was decent. I assume there were a lot of fears about turning this allegedly very great book into a mediocre or shit movie. It has a big uphill battle, but at least its subject matter has been making good strides in cinema lately.

This year we already got Blindspotting and Sorry To Bother You, but neither of them are from the kid perspective. Of course, if there are already great movies on similar topics, it has a lot to live up to.

The Hate U Give has a lot of battles to climb, so on its own, it is its own representation of race relations. Another way to examine this is the IMDB rating, which at the time of writing is a 4.6, weeks before it comes out. Why? Oh, almost 200 votes for 1/10. Either this movie is very polarizing, or you know, racism.

Stare
Pretty sure we all know what she thinks.

A few years ago, the Carter family had to have ¨the talk.¨ So Lisa (Regina Hall) and Mav (Russell Hornsby) sat down their three kids, Seven (Lamar Johnson), Starr (Amandla Stenberg), and Sekani (TJ Wright). The oldest are just in their pre-teens, but it is time. No, this talk isn´t about sex. It is about what to do if they are in a situation where they are detained or pulled over by the cops.

This is a real talk that black families are starting to have to talk to, due to the violence and targeting that is going on in our country. It is not a great talk, but for families that care for each other, who know they cannot always be there to protect them, it is necessary.

It is the type of loving family that Starr grew up in, full of knowledge and strength. And now she goes to school outside of the hood she lives in. It is a white school, with white friends, white boyfriends (K.J. Apa) who won´t ever understand what she is going through at home. She has to balance these two lives. But it is when tragedy strikes her life and her friend Khalil (Algee Smith), she has her worlds start to crash together, giving her a whole new insight to this thing called life.

Also starring Common, Issa Rae, Sabrina Carpenter, Dominique Fishback, Megan Lawless, and Anthony Mackie as a bad guy drug dealer. Been awhile since he has turned south in his roles.

Hands Up
Hands up won´t protect her on its own, but that Carolina Blue shirt will help.

The Hate U Give is a powerhouse from start to finish. From ¨the talk¨ at the start of the film, to the different worlds, to the cop tragedy, to the protests, to the speeches, to the riots. It is full of emotion from unexpected places. My first cry was because the father was by his daughters side after a nightmare. She wasn´t screaming causing him to run in the door. No, she woke up panicked and he was already there. Just subtle clues to show that clearly he had fallen asleep in a chair by her side to protect her, to help her with the morning after, and just be a goddamn amazing father. And that is the type of stuff that gets me.

Sure, I did cry a few other times, not just a one and done deal. It is hard not to get wrapped up in the story. Hell, at over 2 hours it almost doesn´t feel long enough. I need more of the story, I need to be there to help comfort the characters, to rage against the machine or whatever it takes. I am definitely going to grab the book, and it is going to make me upset just like the movie.

And more importantly, it is going to get me more upset about real life. I am white, if my writing doesn´t make that obvious. I am a man, if you cannot tell with my boob tags. And this is the type of movie that can get people to see the other side of the fence if they come to it with any amount of openness.

Stenberg was fantastic in the lead role. She wasn´t great in The Darkest Minds, but no one was. She was good in Everything, Everything despite the fact that I didn´t like the movie. But she was outstanding in this film. She carries a lot of weight and emotion in her face. Hornsby as the dad is my goddamn hero. I hope I can one day grow into a worldly intelligent and caring man like him.

Just so much of this film is relevant, at this point, it is practically essential viewing. It deals with heavy topics that kids in their pre-teens can better handle unlike other films and will be seen in schools throughout the nation within the next year.

4 out of 4.

The Sisters Brothers

When is the last time we got a good western?

Oh, you mean like, every year over the last decade? Hells yeah.

Since Westerns went out of style, we get a lot less of them, and they end up being a lot higher quality. Not when we were oversaturated with the westerns decades ago. They were like the superhero movies of their time.

Needless to say, this year we already had a western Damsel, that I for sure did not see. But I saw The Sisters Brothers, which has a chance to be the western of 2018. And if not, then sure, Damsel.

Gyllenhaal
Damsel probably doesn’t have a bearded Gyllenhaal though, sooooo…

Set somewhere in the 1800’s, the brothers Eli (John C. Reilly) and Christian Sisters (Joaquin Phoenix) are good at killing and a bit proud of it. They can take out a whole group and walk away unscathed. Some say it is thanks to their dad being a straight up killer madman as well. And some people say…well, they only say that one thing.

They work for The Commodore, a man who runs a large area with his wealth and outlaws. If someone steals or messes with him, they end up dead. And now the brothers have to try and catch up with a prospector (Riz Ahmed) who stole something from the Commodore. Trying to catch up to someone before they make it many states away can be quite the burden, especially if they don’t exactly know where he will be.

Thankfully, another worker of The Commodore, John Morris (Jake Gyllenhaal), has been following the prospector and keeping notes along the way for the brothers to follow. He is a writer, not a killer, so he couldn’t do anything that could cause a person that much pain. Even though it would make things simpler.

But when the prospector and the author start to develop a friendship, with dreams of making it big, then anything can change.

Also starring Carol Kane, Rebecca Root, and Rutger Hauer.

Brothers
“If there is a place you need to go, I’m the one you need to know, I’m the map!”

Let me just say, before I get really into the movie, that this film had the most infuriating credits intro I have ever seen. Apparently a lot of companies were behind this one, and so they had to show them all at the start, you know, for legal reasons. And it started with one at the bottom of the screen in a strange shimmer color font.Then the next one appeared directly on top of it. And so on. And some lines had more than one group. Overall, it was 7 rows of words stacked on top of each other, filling in the black screen, and for whatever reason, it made me angry.

Making me read down to up? Just filling things up and not fading anything away? I was mad.

And the film really didn’t make me happy. It is not a comedy or anything, a serious drama, with the occasional jokes. About two brothers, overall, who are good at killing people and have to go around killing a lot of people. And it is also a lot about the prospector and Gyllenhaal’s character.

The Sisters Brothers is about a few characters. It is definitely not about the story. The plot is pretty poor. It feels really long and drawn out, not to showcase great shots, because the shots are just okay. The acting is decent, it has some moments that are cool to see. But we also have night scenes with not great lighting, because they are going for realistic, and that is a shame if those things are big events, like the introduction or when main characters get hurt.

I was disappointed with The Sisters Brothers. This is not a knock on Reilly, Phoenix, Gyllenhaal, or Ahmed, who all acted wonderfully. But the film put me to sleep and felt like it was going nowhere fast.

1 out of 4.

The House with a Clock in Its Walls

Apparently The House with a Clock in its Walls was a book. I haven’t heard of it. The author really loves it, and made a whole bunch about these people. Studios be trying to get all pseudo famous books into movies, because the scripts are halfway made and have a following.

I don’t know it, nor do I care. This title is unforgivably awful. At no point does this scream out sexy, fun, or cool. It sounds god awful. This is about magic? This is the least magical sounding title of a movie ever.

How anyone saw this title and wanted to read the book is beyond me, but at no point is this one I would want to watch without being a reviewer. This is a film that I would skip on principle alone.

Goggles
Why the fuck is this kid wearing goggles? To show he is whimsical?

Lewis Barnavelt (Owen Vaccaro) just lots his parents, in some sort of car accident. Now he has to move to some place in Michigan, to live with his Uncle John (Jack Black), an eccentric man that his family never talked about and whom he never met. for many wonderful reasons. He lives in a mansion. It is weird, and decorated with Jack O’Lanterns.

And shit, inside the house things move around and are a bit spooky. Why? Well, his Uncle is reluctant to tell, so we have to let things be a mystery for a while. Maybe he is a murderer, and he will kill Louis one day.

There is also a purple loving neighbor, Florence Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett), no relation to the Florida vigilante, who is hanging around, also involve in some sort of shenanigans.

Alright, okay, they are warlocks and witches. Not bad ones, not necessarily good either, but certainly not evil. And Louis is showing promise so, shoot, he can be one too.

No, this is not The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. This is the Warlock’s apprentice, damn it.

Also starring, Kyle MacLachlan, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Colleen Camp, Sunny Suljic, Lorenzza Izzo, and Vanessa Anne Williams.

Old people
“Hey, we’re cool, we’re hip, we know magic!”

To be honest, it has been a good while since I fell asleep during a movie in the theaters. The last one was probably Deadpool 2, I know, how dare I do that thing.

Well, when a movie is boring, its boring. I know I missed full scenes, because they referred back to them later in the movie. “What cemetary scene? A blood what?” I think to myself. Oh well, not important. Because of how slow the film decided to start, really going hard after that old time asthetic, we had to watch character development scenes that really don’t move the story forward.

At no point would I say are the school plot points really useful for this story. People don’t like him because he is new. Normal stuff. People don’t like him for being a nerd? Hard to say. Really, they don’t like him for wearing goddamn goggles. Take that shit off your head. Which another character even points off, but nah, need those goggles on.

The school scenes are all just to set up future movies that probably won’t happen. Even the normal plot line of finding a friend didn’t work out, defying no tropes along the way.

The movie feels overly polished and CGI heavy when we get to the magic aspects. The ending isn’t fun or exciting. It mostly feels like convenient moments after convenient moments to get to what they eventually call an ending.

Eli Roth tried to do a family film. I shouldn’t be too surprised at the low ranking, since he has been disappointing me with his R rated endeavors recently as well.

1 out of 4.

The Predator

I don’t think I saw the first Predator movie, nor did I see the next one. I did see both Alien vs Predator films though, and of course, Predators, from a handful of years ago.

I think I would enjoy the first Predator movie, it sounds like it is really well made and will have high levels of tension, especially in the end. I will put it on my list. I still know roughly the events of these films, because hey, geek and movie culture.

But to continue the string of very nondescript movie titles. this one is going to be called The Predator, because I guess there is only going to be one. That is some Highlander stealing shit right there. And since it is directed by Shane Black, I can only assume that it will take place during Christmas.

Pred1
Time to hang up the people stockings.

Let’s all head to Mexico! Where there are drug deals, of course! Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) is an asshole, but he is our asshole. He is also a good soldier and sniper. Sure it basically cost him his marriage, being all soldier-y and out a lot, but he is still a good soldier. And during a mission, a space ship crashes nearby with a scary creature with invisible capabilities.

So he does what any hard working American would do in that case. He steals some of the monster’s equipment and mails it to his P.O. Box at his home city. Thanks to plot though, they go to his home, so his young autistic son (Jacob Tremblay) can find it and mess with alien stuff.

Through other plot, the alien gets captured by secret space force people. We got a real mean dickhead (Sterling K. Brown, who seems to be getting younger in his roles) who wants to unlock their potential. We got an alien biologist (Olivia Munn) who is surprisingly good at shooting things with various weapons. Hell, we have a whole bus load of “crazy” PTSD soldiers that they are hiding away who are going to be dealing with this thing.

But most importantly, this will end up taking place over Halloween. Damn Shane Black, way to trick us.

Also starring Yvonne Strahovski, Trevante Rhodes, Thomas Jane, Keegan-Michael Key, Jake Busey, Augusto Aguilera, and Alfie Allen.

Pred2
Well I guess instead of hanging stockings, they are just hanging Halloween decorations. Makes more sense.

The Predator is basically a trash movie. A movie that feels like an incredible waste of time, and did not live up to any of the expectations that I went in with. And honestly, I didn’t have many.

People tried to talk about what the trailer implied, but I didn’t see it, so I didn’t know where they were coming from. Instead, I just know it is a crap film. Why? Well, this film is basically a comedy. It is very much almost a slapstick comedy. Because we have this group of men with zany personalities (because of mental disturbances) they all have quips and one liners. This means everyone, starting with the guy who is supposed to be the joke maker, all the way down to the more serious characters. It is like they wanted to make The Avengers, but you know, PTSD army folks.

Gosh, the humor was so annoying. At no point could a viewer feel threatened or scared by the predators. When everything is a goddamn joke, it is hard for anything to really draw the viewer in. Tense moments are wasted by jokes and by extremely bad cut jobs. This film moves all over the place, and it is hard to judge how time works. We quickly go from a night scene to an early morning scene, a literal night and day difference, in the final action sequences. If there were a lot of practical effects (/people in suits) it is wasted by the other CGI effects. The kills aren’t too great. And the predator v predator fight is not worth any amount of hype.

AND HOW THE HELL ARE THEY GOING TO HAVE A FILM CALLED THE PREDATOR WITH MORE THAN ONE PREDATOR.

This cannot be the movie people were hoping to get. Somewhere a better film might exist, but really, it needs a plot upheaval and most of it to be re-shot with a different cast. Yeah, we just need a different movie.

1 out of 4.

Peter Rabbit

Ah, Peter Rabbit, a classic story turned into a movie about a rabbit and real people. CGI and humans. And bunnies.

The last time we had a CGI/live action film involving bunnies and real people was Hop, 7 years ago, and it was a goddamn disaster. It was racist and classist, with a terrible story. It was an attempt to teach that some discrimination is okay. I have no idea how the whole thing got green lit.

Is 7 years enough time to try again? Probably not. Because the one thing I heard about this film before seeing it was the huge controversy over a scene where the bunnies attack a man through his allergies. Trying to kill him by making light of a dangerous scenario, in an amusing way.

A good set up to go into a movie that already has a legacy of shit to pile its way through.

Bunny Pals
Stand back Cookie-Monster, get ready for a new healthier form of gluttony.

Old Mr. McGregor (Sam Neill) is a mean old man, who chases the bunnies out of his garden. He wants to grow his crops, they want to eat his crops. He has an artist neighbor, Bea (Rose Byrne), likes the rabbits and they trust her, so she likes to protect them.

Either way, when Peter Rabbit (James Corden) is doing his thing, taking that food, McGregor has a heart attack and dies. Damn.

Now the rabbits own the place, a big farm party, all animals, lots of foods lots of things break. But then one day, a young Mr. McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson) shows up, the new owner. He has a lot of anger issues from his job, and now he finds this place he would just like to fix up and sell a disaster.

So of course he hates the rabbits, and says no to their shit. Even if he starts to find Bea attractive and wants to impress her. And this is the story of their war.

Also starring mostly the voices of Fayssal Bazzi, Sia, Colin Moody, Margot Robbie, Elizabeth Debicki, and Daisy Ridley.

Familypic
Some family trees are hybrids.

For a majority of this story, this film is spending its energy and effort on convincing me, a normal(ish) human male, that I should be on the side of the bunnies on this story. The bunnies who are certain that they should be able to eat the wonderful things that are grown in this garden, that a human spent time growing in order to make food for themselves or to make a profit in order to buy other things.

What in the fuck kind of movie is this? If the bunnies are so sentient that they can talk, and are just not talking to the humans out of secrecy, then goddamn it, go raise your own carrots in a garden and eat it. We can see them making traps and hatching plans, and grabbing and picking things up, then there is no excuse for this insanity.

The old man they have was mean, and he never searched out and tried to kill the rabbits. He just protected his land. Fair. The new guy? The one dealing with grief. Who also only goes out of his way to stop the bunnies when they trash his house, injure him, and kill him with his allergies. No. Just no.

They try to change it by the end, but what doesn’t change is that at least the first half if not more, it is a plot just wanting me to hate the rabbits.

What kind of values are this shit? Grow and go into poverty and depression so some bunnies can eat?

0 out of 4.

Peppermint

When is the last time Jennifer Garner was in an action movie? I really don’t know. Quickly glancing, my guess is in 2007 when she was in The Kingdom, but I could have missed something else over the last 11 years.

She has been “mom” in so many movies for so long, it is hard to imagine her doing anything badass. Hell, she is the current voice for the Mama in Llama Llama, a simple as fuck show on Netflix.

I just cannot imagine her kicking butt and doing anything believable. I can imagine her making me cry, sure. I can imagine her caring for her kids. But the lady who made me teary in a Christian movie (a hard task), Miracles from Heaven, has to do a huge shift in momentum for me to imagine her wrecking house.

All I am saying is that Peppermint has a hill to climb from the get go.

Sad
I too may weep when it comes to the family dying scene.

Riley North (Jennifer Garner) is not a porn star name, but a young mother who just wants to do whatever she can to protect her family. That probably doesn’t make it feel less porn star yet.

Their family is struggling a bit, but they are making things work. Her daughter (Cailey Fleming) is having issues with friends. Her husband (Jeff Hephner) is trying to find additional sources of income. Some low life comes to him with an idea, about stealing from a drug dealer in a fool proof plan. He turns it down overall, but apparently the dealer (Juan Pablo Raba) already got word about it, and wants to make sure a message is sent. And that message involves being gunned down in public, taking out the daughter as well but not fully killing Riley.

Riley takes things to trial, clearly pointing out in a line up the culprits, but yet the crime lord has great lawyers, and has the D.A. and judge in his pocket.

So what’s a girl to do? Maybe get some fat stacks of cash, run away around the world, and train for about five years in combat, shooting, whatever, in order to come back for revenge to take down anyway who let this corruption happen.

Also starring John Gallagher Jr., John Ortiz, Annie Ilonzeh, and Method Man.

Gun
Mommy’s got a gun, bad guns on the run, shoot ’em as they come.

In retrospect, Garner is the perfect person for this role. After the last decade of being a mom, in this movie, her extreme mom-ness mattered. She needed to have that loving, do anything for family look, and she has nailed that over the years. She also has some experience with action films and shows before that time, so working with stunt crews, choreography, etc would probably be second nature, even after this time. Peppermint called for a vengeful mom in order to work, and Garner fit the role very well.

Now, the film on its own does do a lot of strange things. It tells the story out of order early on, which mostly feels unnecessary. We get to see all of this build up of the case that she is so angry about, with these players. We especially got a lot of action with their lawyer. And yet when she is doing her revenge killings, we barely see any of the actual people involved getting punished. We get to see the judge get murdered, we see one of the shooters in a quick tussle, but the lawyer is completely ignored. A man who threatens her, has dialogue, is killed off screen and not even shown a death. It doesn’t make sense.

Instead most of her violent vendetta is shown against the gang itself, who sure, were involved with the death of her family. But didn’t actively do the dead or the cover up, just orchestrated it. It was very strange to not give us that initial satisfaction. They also made it way too easy for these initial things, deciding to brush it all over by turning her into some female batman who had some money and some years of training.

The film is still definitely entertaining. There are twists I tried to guess and was surprised with how they turned out. An okay film overall, one that you can reasonable accept and go along with.

And to answer the question you probably had, no, I did not cry when the family died. That probably says a lot about the film, I imagine.

2 out of 4.

Perfect Bid: The Contestant Who Knew Too Much

I love me some game shows. LOVE. When I had game show network, I would always make that my channel of choice while I worked around the house, or played video games, or tried to sleep. A good show to help stimulate my mind, fill me with useless trivia, whatever. I stopped caring about GSN of course when it just turned into the Steve Harvey Family Feud channel, instead of…well, anything else.

Game Shows have various levels of entertainment for me. The ones that involve being smarter, or clever, they are great. The ones with more blind luck can just go to hell. I never want to see Deal or No Deal. A show like that has no value added to the watcher, who just…watches. Nothing to answer, nothing to do.

So The Price is Right is an okay show to watch. It is very straight forward, the watcher can make their own guesses of course, feel accomplished every once in awhile and go about their day. It is also full of flashy lights and happy people so it is nice. Some people take game shows to an extreme. They find one, they watch it, become experts. And you can do that with something like The Price is Right! They reuse items all the time for their showcase.

And one time, the unthinkable happened. A contestant, in the final showcase, guessed the exact price of their showcase. It is so large and unexpected, but they knew if it happened, that the contestant would win both prizes. It had never been done in decades, and it did within the last decade finally. Was this guy an expert? A lucky old man? Did he cheat? Or did he have a secret weapon he didn’t know he had? This is the story that Perfect Bid: The Contestant Who Knew Too Much wanted to answer.

Perfect Bid
Seems like a good secret weapon should be hairier.

Meet Theodore Slauson. He did not get the perfect bid on the showcase. The picture of him on the show was forever ago. But he was known for watching it a lot, studying the prices, and being an amazing audience member. It took him over ten times of visiting the show before finally being picked, and it was like a dream come true. His downfall was that dreaded wheel, which is hard to smart your way through. He was getting well known for knowing the exact prices of things and yelling them out consistently in the audience. And he helped plenty of people he just met win the show.

It is a fun story for him, and how he eventually got someone to win two showcases. Now the man who won those showcases didn’t acknowledge Theodore. He gave his own bullshit responses in interviews, but the footage is clear that Theodore yelled it out and they have tracked his career enough to know it was definitely the voice the man heard before giving his answer.

And you know what? This is a neat story with a lot of history behind it. But as even a game show enthusiest, I was left a bit bored. It didn’t have the same thrill that Big Bucks: The Press Your Luck Scandal had going for it. This felt good, wholesome, and completely average. A story that could have probably been told in a half hour special with the same amount of fan fare. Easily forgettable and a bit neat.

2 out of 4.

BlacKkKlansman

I am by no means a Spike Lee expert. I haven’t seen the majority of his work, let alone the stuff that made him famous. I was only a child then.

The last movie of his I saw before he made BlacKkKlansman was Chi-Raq, which ended up being a film that I really loved. It made my top of the year list. I knew I had to give him more of a chance, since the only other films I had seen were Inside Man and He Got Game.

And then, I didn’t I was still too busy. Apparently he has had a few smaller films come out since Chi-Raq and this one, and I hadn’t even noticed. They were small, little advertising, maybe didn’t even make it to the big screen. Regardless, he clearly has a big work ethic, churning out films on topics he cares about, and has been doing it for decades to help raise awareness.

ID
And with a fun name like this one, it is sure to be a hoot.

Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) is just a brother who wants to make a difference in the world. He finds himself in Colorado, and they seem to want black cops, so he applies, and he gets to be a detective! Hooray, diversity!

Now strangely enough this isn’t in the 1950’s or 60’s, but 1979, and Colorado Springs was apparently still lacking on having black applicants and police officers. Either way, he gets the job, is put undercover quickly to infiltrate a potential black power rally. You know, he has to find out information if they are going to do anything illegal or go to war with the cops.

While doing that assignment, he gets the undercover itch, and decides to try and find out about the local klans group in town. He talks to the owner on the phone, and gets an invite. But of course, he isn’t white. So he has to enlist a partner, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), who happens to also be Jewish (not good for the klan either), to pretend to be him in person and infiltrate their group, while Flip is him in person.

Things can easily go wrong of course when dealing with white extremists. And they often do. But hopefully this undercover assignment can lead to them getting news about potential cross burnings or worse before they happen, in order to make the world a better place.

Also starring Ashlie Atkinson, Jasper Pääkkönen, Laura Harrier, Paul Walter Hauser, Ryan Eggold, and Topher Grace as David Duke.

Power
With so much black power on one screen, I was ready to raise my fists as well.

BlacKkKlansman, unlike my review of this film, is incredibly timely and relevant to our modern world. It had its wide release the same weekend as the one year anniversary of the marches in Charlottesville, Virginia, which of course had Nazi and Klansmen rhetoric going on with them. It wasn’t subtle about its connections either, with this film ending with footage from these few days of events and from the politicians who spoke out or famously did not speak out against it.

It is well acted by Washington, who has not had many roles, and is definitely the son of Denzel. It had great shots, a good story, and a nail biting finale that lasted a good while and kept the tensions really high.

It also made sure to try and keep things realistic, as it was based on a true story. Some liberties were taken of course, but all of the characters felt real and never turned into a cartoon. It didn’t try to do anything silly, like sympathize with any of the klansmen, because fuck them.

Overall, it is a powerful film, a relevant story, and a message about how far people can get with a little bit of can do attitude despite working against systematic racism.

3 out of 4.

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