Rocketman

When it comes to musical biopics, I am really all for them. Give me the stories of these icons of our youth and our future. Give me their stories of overcoming the odds, of being famous, of maintaining any level of humbleness. Just give it to me if it is worth being a story.

And I was looking forward to Rocketman, despite the trailers making it seem very unrealistic, because it was going to for theatricality and style instead of just substance.

And no matter what, we have to compare Rocketman to Bohemian Rhapsody. Both about gay icons and music. And Bohemian Rhapsody is very controversial due to its treatment of the main character, who died twenty years ago. Were they respectful? Was it just a standard biopic? all of that? Well, Rocketman has to try and elevate past the noise of the controversy, ideally by not featuring any controversy. We shall see how that unfolds.

devil
Well aren’t you a handsome devil.
Elton Hercules John (Taron Egerton) was a musical icon once he got it big, hit after hit, known for his extravagance, stage shows and more. Sure, he wasn’t the first to do this, but he was unique in his own rights, and helped lead the way to plenty of performers going all out.

Rocketman tells the story of Elton John’s life, from Elton John’s point of view. And more importantly, it is being told during an AA meeting about his past, when his drug and alcohol consumption has reached his breaking point and he realizes he needs help.

Most of the film, besides his rise to fame and increased levels of flamboyance, is his relationship with his mom (Bryce Dallas Howard) which seems to start out somewhat positive while also maintaining a huge level of shame, and his relationship with his best friend/songwriter Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell), who helped create all of his hits, because apparently lyrics are John’s weak point.

And you know, eventually his rise after he kicked all the bad influences out of his life! And if you are hoping to hear some Lion King songs, you have to wait a month for a different film.

Also featuring Matthew Illesley and Kit Connor as little Elton Johns, and Tom Bennett, Gemma Jones, Richard Madden, and Steven Mackintosh.

sunglasses
These are terrible sunglasses, not for the design, but for not blocking any sun.
It is very important to note that Elton John is very much alive right now at the time of this writing and involved in this movie being made, so it is all from his point of view. It isn’t a strict biography of factual events, but more a fun retelling of his life, with important points that he wanted to highlight to define who he is as a person and why he went certain places in his life.

And at the same time, this is a “musical” and biopic, where the focus on around half of the stories are more there for story purposes and less performance pieces. That means we get singing, dancing, choreography, great sets, basically a lot of sweet music videos.  When the first song hit and it was like a standard musical, I was ready to be floored.

I will say that the first half felt overall more exciting than the second. Although some bigger songs are in the second half, they are a lot more standard and less elaborate so that was a bit disappointing. I probably most enjoyed Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting which was probably the second or third song. I will also say they went with very unique choices when it came to song choices, because there were plenty of songs I didn’t know that made the cut with ones I was hoping for barely mentioned. But what do I know, I am not a John fanatic or anything.

More importantly, when compared to Bohemian Rhapsody, I definitely prefer Rocketman. One of my biggest problems with BR was how they treated his sexuality, coming across as filmmakers as very homophobic and anti-Mercury’s lifestyle. And despite this entire movie taking place in some sort of AA meeting with flashbacks, clearly noting problems in John’s lifestyle, it wasn’t blamed on his sexuality. Just good old fashioned poor upbringing and a lack of support structure from those who claimed to be loved ones.

John’s sexuality is important for this movie to exist, as is his non-sexual relationships. And all of them are treated with respect and not a disdain.

Now, I did wish it was a little bit better overall, but it was still a good step in the right direction. Hopefully the next film we get is for David Bowie, and then maybe finish it up with George Michael. Let’s get all alternative sexually up in these theaters.

3 out of 4.

Toy Story 4

Controversially, I did not love Toy Story 3. I thought it was average. I did like it more than Toy Story 2 though, but the first Toy Story was still my favorite.

Oh sure, it made me cry like a sane person, but I didn’t like its main arc with Lotso Bear and it put a damper on the whole thing. But also like everyone else, it felt like a natural end to the series and was happy to see their ending.

Now, then they announced a Toy Story 4. This was terrible news. Not just because of the ending of three, but because Pixar has been splurting out sequels to everything the last few years, very few OC, and they have been average to poor. Toy Story 4 meant the end to their sequels for awhile, but it also felt like it shouldn’t even exist.

The plot had to overcome quite a few hurdles, and couldn’t just be a regular good movie, in order to justify its existence.

forky
Telling a spork about the birds and the bees can take awhile.

The first thing TS4 did was give us a flashback as to what happened to Bo Peep (Annie Potts). Now, in real life, between TS2 and TS3, they just decided to drop Bo Peep because Barbie was on board to lend its brand and that is more powerful. They wanted Barbie for the first movie, and they said no, because why would they give their stuff to an first movie studio?

Anyways, that becomes a very relevant plot to the movie now. Because of course, Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), and gang are with Bonnie, a young girl, who might have different interests than a cowboy. In fact, in her first day of Kindergarten orientation, she makes a new friend out of trash named Forky (Tony Hale). Surprisingly, this trash creation is somehow able to come alive, but he doesn’t identify as a toy, and this causes a lot of conflict.

Woody takes it on his own to make sure that Forky doesn’t try to kill himself, for the betterment of Bonnie. Because damn it, Woody just wants to make his child happy, even if he isn’t actively played with.

This leads them on an adventure, leads us surprisingly back to Bo Peep, and through a lot of weirder places.

Also featuring the returnees of Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Blake Clark, Don Rickles (but barely because he died), Joan Cusack, and Kristen Schaal. But it also features the voices of new toys and people played by Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Kay, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, Ally Maki, Bonnie Hunt, Carl Weathers, and Madeleine McGraw.


Porcelain dolls have really gained their mobility.

Did Toy Story 4 make me cry? Of course it did. Twice! And that surprised me, because reports from friends had them not crying, but I’ve always been an emotional wreck. But remember, just because I cried does not make it a good movie.

Thankfully, Toy Story 4 is a good movie. It “fixed” the issue that I had with the last installment, in that good and bad characters are able to experience growth and change based on their circumstances. Relatively early in the movie you can sort of tell a few things that will happen by the end, and that is totally okay. You can accept the foregone conclusions early enough about a few of them and go on the ride and brace yourself before the end. Knowing where you will end up is fine, if you don’t know how you will get there. And on the journey to the end, it went plenty of unexpected places with surprises along the way.

And honestly, it feels like a great ending. Most people said after 3 that it was the perfect ending and not to mess with it. And a lot of people are saying that after 4. But I disagree, really it feels like the start of a lot of potential adventures on multiple fronts. Because lets face it, in this franchise with a large ensemble cast (that just gets more and more ensemble-y), many many characters were reduced to just a few lines. In fact, some arguably main tier characters had a few moments, but clearly the focus was on Woody and Bo Peep only. Buzz was humorous side character and Jessie had maybe only a few more lines than Slinky Dog.

I will put that there will be money on a Toy Story 5 in the future. Not just side short films for TV like the Toy Story of Terror event. And this time I will look forward to that. Just give me more original movies first Pixar.

3 out of 4.

At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal

I want my youngest daughter to go into gymnastics soon in her life. One reason? It looks fun. Who doesn’t want to be able to do flips like a goddamn wizard? And two, I wanted to be in gymnastics when I was a kid and didn’t get to, so you know, living through your kids and all not.

And knowing all of this, I definitely was aware of the USA Gymnastics scandal by the end of the trial. The ending moments (which if you didn’t hear, I won’t spoil and tell you right now) made really big news. It felt just, it felt like closure for dozens of women, and it was a powerful moment.

But for this documentary, At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal, it goes over the whole story. From the beginning in the 80’s and 90’s, to how many people must have turned a blind eye. Into how Larry Nassar even got to a point where he could be around kids.

Evidence
Yeah, tell him he is a fuckface!
Unfortunately for the world, Nassar was apparently good at his job as a sports scientist/doctor. He did know stretches and ways to prevent injuries. He was always seen as the good cop at practice. The main coach would yell at the players, make them try harder, fight through the pain. Nassar would be the savior, who would take the kids into the room to fix their bruises, sprains, and pride.

He got so sure of himself and his methods, he was able to sexually assualt girls in his medical room with parents also in the room. Sure this would be behind a sheet or cloth or something, but this helped normalize it for his victims and make them less likely to speak out.

It is fantastic that eventually he got what he deserved, although he probably deserved a lot more. I am happy that over 200 people were able to speak out against him, and that hopefully those who heard reports and did nothing can also be looked at. I am happy he had to sit there and hear the stories against him.

What I am not happy at is how goddamn long it took to happen. How many reports he was able to skip by, meaning dozens and dozens more girls had to have their lives ruined and innocence destroyed.

I still want my youngest daughter to go to gymnastics. This sort of documentary should be a light of hope. “They got the bad guy!” while also unfortunately making me weary of the fact that predators exist in the most and least likely of places. This is a story of good eventually winning, but at such a cost it should make even a regular law abiding citizen question if they are doing what they can to protect those around them.

4 out of 4.

Leaving Neverland

It is hard to change your mind on a topic despite years of support. Recently I promised to stop listening to R. Kelly music, and it is been hard because I think Trapped in the Closet is amazing and quoted it regularly enough in regular conversation.

Michael Jackson though? That is a much bigger name, a much bigger icon and someone who impacted, psha, probably everyone born in the between 1970-1999 at least? Sure, we had the stories about his closeness to children. I remember that being a stigma that we all just accepted, but at the same time, the court cases did not prove he did anything, he walked away from it all. Some of the people who accused him of crime has been in get rich quick schemes and other fake lawsuits.

CLEARLY all of this was a smear campaign against him! Jealous of his talent, fame. Dude had a rough childhood, leave Michael Jackson and Brittney Spears alone!

But this documentary came out. Could I be wrong? You know, technically no one in the grand scheme of things who can only know info based on what media has reported to me about these events that mostly occurred when I was only a few years old? 

Evidence
Everything I know is a lie!
Anyways, yes, I can be wrong. People can wrong about things and when new evidence comes forward, we should be willing to change our thoughts and not feel like we can’t be a flip flopper. Never changing despite evidence makes someone an asshole.

Now what evidence does Leaving Neverland actually offer? Good question.

Just stories, only stories. Mainly, two stories by two now men who have claimed to have been in a sexual relationship with Jackson when they were in their pre-teens to teenage years. But these aren’t simple claims. They are detailed, elaborate, and fresh. They have other people (siblings, parents, friends) talking about their relationship, and their stories matched with the victims. These relationships from even a regular point of view changed their families lives and broke one of them up.

And the hardest part of the story. Why now? Why waiting so long? Why, when asked in the 90’s, would they lie then and protect Jackson. And the answers given make sense. Age, a sense of love, and all of that.

I feel terrible that people went through this, the two boys and whoever knows how many more. And it sucks that we live in a climate that is so willing to protect those with influence versus regular members of societies.

In conclusion, Michael Jackson had a rough life, pretty famously, growing up. This led him to success, and a completely messed up life view. This also led to bad and illegal things, ruining many lives and affecting the world even long after his death. Shit’s fucked up.

4 out of 4.

Men In Black: International

Before I get too far into this review of Men In Black: International, I will remind you of what could have been. What we were promised and then what was taken away from us.

In the mid 2010’s, we were told that we would get a cross over movie with 21 Jump Street and the Men in Black franchise. It seemed so absurd and brilliant at the same time, I know I loved it. It would work out so nicely, it would help get MIB back on its feet and be crazy territory for Jump Street. It was somehow original to smash two things that already existed together. But plans fell through, and we instead just got another MIB.

Now the first MIB will always hold a place in my heart, whereas the sequel will always be forgotten. And the third one felt like a good return, missing some great details, but definitely on the right path. But it clearly didn’t lead to more, as this is a sort of reboot/reimagining anyways.

gun1
Suck it aliens, its blasting time. 
When Molly (Tessa Thompson) was a little girl, she saw an alien. Well, something cute landed near her house and in her room. And while her parents were getting the eye wash sequence from some dudes wearing darks in the street, but she was safely asleep upstairs. Since then, she was determined to be the best person she could be. Smarts, athletic talent, whatever it takes, to work with these soldiers in suits because the truth is so goddamn out there and she wants to meet goddamn aliens.

Ahem. And one day, she finally tracks them down, surprisingly. And Agent O (Emma Thompson) sees she has gumption, so she takes her in on a probationary setting. And then send her far away to London where shit is going weird. Agents H (Chris Hemsworth) and Agent High T (Liam Neeson) are kicking ass, and she is going to maybe get to the bottom of it.

While also learning a lot about aliens and kicking butt herself of course. Oh I hope nothing is going on wrong in Europe.

Also starring Kumail Nanjiani, Rebecca Furguson, and Rafe Spall.

gun2
Some would say this is just a movie of progressively bigger guns being shot. 
Unfortunately for everyone involved, and especially true for us watchers of fine cinema, this addition to the franchise feels more like the sequel than the first film. And I do mean that in the forgettable sense, because if I wanted to talk about this film with other people, I would mention a few negatives and struggle to talk about any great moment.

They desperately wanted an alien to be a sidekick in this movie, of which Nanjiani was the voice, and it went over about as well as any sidekick that merely exists for laughs. They JarJar’d him.

Early on during fight scenes I noticed a few errors in the scenes, with characters being in the wrong place based on the cut and it seemed to happen way more than normal. Shit, I almost never ever talk about the editing, as it would be something I don’t notice. And it never really gets better.

This is the sort of film where the comedy mostly falls flat, the action falls flat, only one alien life form seems to be unique and interesting, an ending that is resolved very quickly despite the perceived threat, and of course plot twists that anyone can determine early on. The type of twist that is “Oh, it is setting it up for this twist. I wonder how this is a red hearing now?” And then… stick with the obvious twist the whole time.

None of the actors and actresses of this film stick their head above the rest enough to save the movie, and it is instead just a film I wish didn’t end up existing in the end.

1 out of 4.

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum? Oh fuck that. That title is awful. Is this a book? For a movie, your subtitle should be the words, or Chapter 3, but not both. And yes, it is different if the word chapter wasn’t there. But this title uses a colon and a dash? Who has got time for this?

This movie is now called John Wick 3, as everyone will end up calling it anyways.

Recap! John Wick was amazing! John Wick 2 expanded the universe and was weird and had extremely long fights in some tunnel. I don’t remember a lot about that movie, besides so much universe building, but it ended with Mr. Wick going on the run with everyone going to come after him with no help. I don’t remember how many dogs were involved.

doggos
Two times the dogs, two times the revenge…?
John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is in New York City. Is that where the last one ended? I guess, it must have. Okay.

He has an hour to deal with his shit before he is excommunicated and can no longer use any of the services this band of guns for hire offer. Medical, dental, vision, banks, safe spots, gun places. Nothing. And a $14 million price tag on his head means every miscreant will risk it all to take him down.

Even his old friends (Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, Laurence Fishburne) cannot really assist him. Sucks to suck.

Instead he has to call in old favors, that are super serious and above the excommunication. He wants to get to the top of the organization and reason with them so he can just live out his life and be normal. And along the way hundreds must die.

Also starring Halle Berry, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, and Jason Mantzoukas.

Horsies
A horse is really just a big doggo.

John Wick 3 is a roller coaster. There are highs, and lows, and frankly, by the end of this review I might change this rating based on how I feel. And unless I explicitly state it, you wouldn’t know it was changed, because this is a static writing page and not a video.

First of all, I liked the action more than John Wick 2. Early on a fight scene occurred in an antique weapon shop and was amazing. It was a bit egregious, but amusing, awesome, and painful to watch. The sound guy won’t win any awards for using the same breaking class sound over and over. It set the pace early on and I expected it would then become a non stop action movie that just had Wick going through waves of henchmen and bad guys until no one in the world remained.

But it did not do that. It was slower. There were several scenes of Wick having to convince people to help him, despite repercussions. Then we got an extended shootout that was only interesting because of dogs, because everything else was long takes and head shots and it wasn’t too creative in the long run. Then more slow, then more long fight scenes with boring battles. And finally, finally, the last last set of fights was so painful to watch, because apparently Wick lost all sorts of fighting ability and went through at least 10 walls of glass. These things would explode at a touch when the plot mattered, but other times barely crack if punched/kicked/hit with a weapon.

I understand that paragraph is uncomfortable to read, but looking back at the film, that is what I feel. It was visually pretty to look like, but the beginning was far better than the end, with the movie having no reason to be over two hours long.

The biggest problem I have with the movie though is that There is virtually no difference between the Wick at the beginning and the end of the film. This movie spent over two hours failing to tell a complete story. It decided to tease another film instead, leaving this one just…filler? The only problems solved are ones that were introduced in the film itself, not ones that the whole story has been working towards.

And that is messed up, given the makers of this franchise claiming before the second movie that it was “always a planned trilogy” despite the first being a completely fine stand alone movie and this one also ignoring that statement.

1 out of 4.

Long Shot

After the decade plus of revitalization, comic book movies have finally given me what I have always wanted.

A live action film over the best mutant super hero ever in existence, Longshot. Longshot is an alien/cyborg futuristic dude, who deals with M.O.D.A.K. What is his mutant power? He is lucky. Things go his way. As long as he has pure motives, the hard to fathom things will just work. What a fun power!

Wait. Shit. No. This is a RomCom from the creators of Superbad. And it is Long Shot, two words, meant to show the likiehood of this couple working out. Ah damn it. If this film stays popular over time, we might never get a self titled Longshot movie now!


They say couples will start to dress like each other. Just a guess on which way it goes.

Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) is a goddamn supernatural being. She is smart, beautiful, well liked, and currently Secretary of State behind an actor president. She isn’t super funny though, and she isn’t in a relationship. These are negatives on her profile, a profile she wants to improve while planning to run for president.
Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) is a journalist that doesn’t work for a major media company. He hates that stuff. He is funny, and edgy, and has his own unique voice. But after he quits in protest, his friend (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) uses his connections to get him into a rich party. And that is where Fred and Charlotte meet for the first time…in a few decades. Oh they were neighbors as kids, she was his babysitter, only older by about 3 years. He loved her and she was (and still is) out of his league.
But driven by nostalgia, and a lot of good vibes, she wants Fred to be his staff writer, to raise up her humor levels. Staff sees it as a bad idea, but she just sees something in him. And maybe, this run for president and bills will draw them closer together in ways no one would have guessed. Just kidding, that isn’t a maybe at all.

Also starring June Diane Raphael, Bob Odenkirk, Alexander Skarsgård, Randall Park, Andy Serkis, Ravi Patel, and Tristan D. Lalla.


They say couples will start to dress like each other. Just a guess on which way it goes.

Look, I know I haven’t had at on of reviews over the last few months. I rarely review those I see at WorldFest, and I haven’t been to as many screeners lately. Random documentaries or movies I find on Netflix/Hulu can sometimes be worth the watch, but can also be often times easy to ignore for reviews.

But I am really glad I have now seen Long Shot. I can’t even tell you what I was expecting. It is a RomCom after all, with a strange pair of leads. And it had me smiling so much, and laughing quite often. Maybe this isn’t actually a 4 out of 4 film! Maybe it just is given that rating because of a hole this film has seemingly filled in my heart. And hey, that can happen with reviews, as much as we would rather it not. Sometimes our real life just interferes with a movie, so we can’t see how it truly is, which leads to good and bad ratings.

And for now? This film is one of my favorite of 2019. It might just be like Love, Simon, a really enjoyable film that stood out amongst a sea of shit, but one with less appeal by the end of the year. Rogen plays something similar to his normal self, but it works. Theron plays the anti-Tully in this movie, and her range is incredible, although this role is also probably similar to her real self. Jackson Jr. is a scene stealer and has been unstoppable in his films lately by always making a great impact with smaller roles.

This movie won’t change the world, and it doesn’t really even do something profound. But I love it.

4 out of 4.

Uglydolls

When I first heard about the Uglydolls movie, it was…when I got an invite to see the movie. I honestly had no idea this movie was coming out. I try to keep my finger on the pulse of the coming soon community, especially animated films, because I am looking always for the next big thing that will dethrone a Disney or a Pixar. And yeah, this one I knew nothing about.

Sure, it is based on a line of toy dolls I have seen mostly in comic book shops for a decade or so. The actual theme of them is “reject” dolls that would normally be trashed and sold anyways, despite obviously being made that way. Like a fake level of being unique. Okay, that leads to a pretty easy plot to anticipate and follow.

And I also figured out it had to be a musical of some sort, because over half of the main voice cast appears to be a singer. Even some I have never heard of before in my life, but singers nonetheless. A lot more B-talent in terms of voice acting singers, people you don’t see in the biggest movies, so maybe it is their chance to shine?

Really, what I figured from all these glances is that Uglydolls wants to be the next Trolls. Toy line, weird looks, bright colors, and of course, songs to entertain. But honey, this ain’t up to the Trolls level, and Trolls was only average.

Not trolls
Hello group of Not Trolls, whats up? Eating? Cool!
Deep in a toy factory, many dolls are created and sent off to be loved by kids everywhere. Except, sometimes a doll is not molded correctly, for one reason or another. There is a mistake! And that doll is sent away down a series of tunnels to Uglyville. A happy small place with strange looking homes, citizens, and a party every night. Mayor Ox (Blake Shelton) makes sure everyone is having a swell time and living it up.

Now Moxy (Kelly Clarkson)? She is an extreme optimist. She believes that one day, every doll is sent into the big world to be with a “child” when the moment is perfect and right. Destiny will find them together. And every new day is the day where she will be picked!

Everyone else knows it is nonsense, until she finally goes exploring with her band of friends. And sure enough, she finds a bigger area, with a lot of dolls that look like people. They have to go through training before they can hit the real world. They need to be perfect. They need training before they can hit that child’s arms. And hey, are these the dolls to do it?

Also starring the voices of Nick Jonas, Janelle Monáe, Leehom Wang, Jane Lynch, Emma Roberts, Gabriel Iglesias, Wanda Sykes, Ice-T, Pitbull, Charli XCX, Bebe Rexha, and Lizzo. The last few I have confirmed are real people.

judgement
Totally getting judged right now.
Judging really early on in the movie, it was already starting off on the wrong foot. The animation style was a bit safe, nothing to top of the line. It started basically with a song, that also needed to get some exposition and character introduction in, and seemed to go on just a bit too long.

Overall, none of the songs really stood out to me as being great. I didn’t want to go find the soundtrack afterward to hear something again, and that is a real shame. They are all mostly generic.

The plot is really easy to guess/understand for the most part. It is something that a kid will probably follow along and enjoy, but the older folks will be quite bored. It also moves along too quickly. We aren’t able to dwell on anything for too long before it is quickly resolved and moving on to the next moment. One scene similar to the ending of Toy Story 3 was fixed almost instantly and allowed no time for potential sadness to creep in.

Also, let’s be clear. There are dumb components. In the intro, we see all these animals being made for dolls, and then obvious messed up versions being sent away. And so we’d expect diversity when they climb up the tunnels. And instead we get only people looking dolls, perfect and the same, with just different skin tones and hair. How do these dolls accidentally create any of the Uglydolls? They weren’t even trying to make sense.

Uglydolls is a forgettable film, that is safe, and full of generic pop. The message is simple. Ugliness is on the inside. Next.

1 out of 4.

The Best of Enemies

True stories are sometimes fun. Sometimes they are true…ish and give us a topic like Green Book, which is barely about the actual Green Book and pretty damn disappointing.

Other times we get true stories that are like The Favourite, which are probably extremely fictionalized but based on real events and well acted so we let it pass.

And then we get something like The Best of Enemies. Another true story that seems to actually be based on real people and events, without making things offensive or skirting the issues that are important to the subject. Wait, this shows a Klansman in a favorable light? Alright, maybe not completely inoffensive.

Papers
And I got the tweets all ready to prove it.

Ann Atwater (Taraji P. Henson) is a single mother and an activist living in Durham, NC. She runs Operation Breakthrough, which is to help poor black folks not get completely fucked over by the white man. And it is always a battle. Fighting for good homes to live in, fighting for decency, fighting for better schools. It is a full time job and one she will proudly take until it is fixed.

And then we have C.P. Ellis (Sam Rockwell), a poor white man who also happens to be the leader of the Durham chapter of the KKK. I should probably mention that this takes place in 1971, after the Civil Rights Act was passed and desegregation occurred. It had not occurred everywhere. For example, Durham! They still had white schools and black schools. And shockingly to no one, the black schools were older, overcrowded, with old supplies and not enough money compared to the white schools.

Well, one of the main elementary schools gets damaged in a fire, with most of it being unusable except a few classes. Clearly now they need to segregate, it is only fair. Nope. Council says to use those 8 classes and make them go to schools in shifts instead of disrupt another school.

The cowards that be in charge above that, when a lawsuit from the NAACP appears, decide to organize a “charette”. A term made by Bill Riddick (Babou Ceesay), where he comes in to organize the community to discuss the issues for a few weeks and have a senate vote on resolutions. Anything they overall decide to do, Durham will do. Even if that means segregation. And Riddick wants to make sure this is real and worthwhile, so he decides that Ann and C.P. should be the co-chairs of this event, overhear everything and give each side equal ground. Surely, this will lead to peace and harmony.

Also starring Wes Bentley, Gilbert Glenn Brown, Anne Heche, Bruce McGill, John Gallagher Jr., and Nicholas Logan.

Convo
This could get nominated for costume given the body suit Henson had to put on for this look.

Ack. Where to begin.

Well, Rockwell is being typecasted as a racist turned racist we can not hate fully at this point. From Three Billboards, to this, to…Vice (Kanye West says so). That’s not something he should continue.

I was worried about this film because from the title and looks of it, it almost made it seem like it is going to imply that people of these people are important and should be heard. And uhh, one of them is a racist KKK leader. The other is fighting for survival. That is the sort of story that puts a bad taste in your mouth before it gets started, so it is a hard thing for people to just accept and want to see. But yes, by the end, [SPOILERS] the guy saw the light in real life and did the right thing and helped schools segregate, turning his back on the KKK. He should be celebrated for that, but most of the film is putting him in a slightly positive light before the moment, as the change occurs and again, it feel uncomfortable.

Technically, this movie has a white savior problem. And that is hard to avoid when given the real story, a white guy did save the situation. It is a hard thing to balance, when it has to fully embrace the white savior as part of the real narrative.

Honestly, trying to accept this film as a story is hard, and only works and can be acceptable because it is real. If this was fiction, it would be a complete shitshow of a plot. This makes it hard to talk about as a reviewer, from purely a movie standpoint.

So let’s just finish by comparing it to Green Book. The acting in Green Book is better. The camera work in Green Book is crisper. But the plot is so far from reality and insulting, it does not get a pass for its story and its actual true bits are not worthy of praise. While The Best of Enemies is rougher around the edges, it at least sticks to the facts and is pretty informative of a story on this topic. It is one that likely would have been better done as a documentary though, to really get the feel for these people and not put us in the middle of this awkward narrative.

2 out of 4.

Us

I just think we need to be apart for a bit. I think there is a disconnect, a dethering, if you will. But overall, I want to make it clear, it’s not you, it’s…Us.

That was me talking to all the other movies I could have watched recently, but knew that nothing was going to stop be from seeing Us. The second movie directed/written/produced by Jordan Peele, who gave us the wildly great and successful Get Out two years prior.

This sequel is incredibly different with its theme, and probably “subtle messages”, and that is wonderful. It can be hard for directors to try new things, and Peele is ready to branch out right away. For example, Us looks a lot more like a horror film than Get Out did, so I expect to be much more of a bitch while watching it, and hiding from the screen in front of me.

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This is me ready to face the scares of the movie (If the movie was the staircase).

Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o) and her family are relatively successful in life, and able to enjoy some of the finer things. Her husband (Winston Duke) is very outgoing and funny, her daughter (Shahadi Wright Joseph) is in track, and her youngest boy (Evan Alex), sort of a weird one, likes magic and masks and playing jokes. They are at least wealthy enough to go on vacations to a summer home that they also own on a lake. Okay yeah, that is pretty wealthy. Two homes? Like, one they don’t even rent out because they have a lot of personal belongings there that they can just leave all year. Really nice.

Well, Adelaide doesn’t like that area. The lake is fine. But in a nearby city, she had an incident in her childhood that changed her life forever. It scared her. Made her sheltered. All because she just wandered off.

And why did they have a vacation home near a place she fears? Eh, friend pressure probably.

Regardless. That night, some goddamn people in red bodysuit outfits show up outside of their residence. And they are mean, they look crazy, they have weapons and large sharp scissors. And they look just like them.

Also starring Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, and Madison Curry.

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Twinsies!

So much going on in Us, so little place to discuss. First of all, this is the sort of film that will invoke better discussion once it is seen and can be freely talked about without a care for spoilers. So any of that cannot take place in this review. Trying to throw out what everything means or represents, which I have already seen and heard a lot of theories. Some bat shit, some not. That is great for any movie.

Instead, lets focus on other things. Namely, the score. Holy shit, there was some good music in this movie. Haunting, pulls you in, and really fills you with that sense of dread. Getting stabbed with scissors can be scary, but they made those scissors extra scary. The camera work was top notch, we were able to see a lot despite most most of the “action” taking place at night. They didn’t hide what was going on. Well, they did hide a lot of the gore that they could have showed. We got blood splatter, and off camera kills that are left to the audience to fill in some of the gorier blanks.

I loved loved loved Nyong’o in this. She had a lot of power and works really well in the horror genre. Duke, who has been in like, three movies now and a small role in Modern Family, has a big screen presence and does a lot to both lighten the mood and protect his family the best he can. I also think the two kid actors did great. Shoutout to Moss for being in her second doppleganger film as well.

Overall, I do think the story gets a little bit muddled at times. I think the direction goes more places than one would expect, and so it can’t focus on a few aspects to make itself truly great. This is scarier than Get Out, but not as deep. It is still a solid film. Some people hate the ending, and I admit, I didn’t love it for various reasons, but I think it didn’t detract from the movie as a whole.

3 out of 4.

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