Trophy

Given the generation of Trophy Kids and Trophy Parents, it makes sense to really look hard at the industry that profits from the everyone gets a trophy mentality.

Just kidding. But that would be a sweet documentary, to see the gritty underbelly of that whole area.

Instead Trophy is about hunters and conservationists and animals. You know, the big game that is hard to get and kill nowadays, that you can hang up in your “trophy room.” The animals that if they had antlers? They’d be in Gaston’s room.

And the big business of big game is pretty big. There are conferences for the guns and equipment necessary. There are parts of Africa that sell permits a few times a year to hunt these animals. And perhaps most controversially, there are parts of Africa that breed and take in animals with the intent of having them hunted. Not all of them, but if they sell the rights to an animal for a whole lot of dollars, they can use that money for conservation efforts, to fund saving of the other animals. Now obviously people have a lot of strong feelings about that, having a farm kill these majestic beasts in order to…save the majestic beasts. But as one of them put it, when has an animal gone extinct when it was farmed for a profit?

Oh, we also have a dude with a shit ton of rhinos, who developed a method to remove the tusk “painlessly” from a Rhino. He can saw it off every two years or so, protectin the rhino, and still providing ivory for people who need that shit. Except the ivory trade has been banned, so he has tons of inventory but no way to make a profit, and the only ones who can profit are…yep, poachers.

Trophy
Rhinos are not into bondage.

Trophy doesn’t cut any corners when it comes to talking about an uncomfortable subject. Do you hate the idea of hunters hunting big game? Well, you are going to see some dead big animals in this film. Not only that, you will see some of them alive before they are dead, and literally watch them die by bullets. You will see the aftermath of a poacher attack. You will see people posing with majestic beasts, like Cecil the Lion, but less famous. (And yes, they also talk about that impact on the “industry.” ) So if that really churns your butter, you butter not even get close to this documentary.

With its controversy, I found the documentary to be relatively bias free. It tried to highlight all of the sides of this controversy, by having them speak for themselves with only the occasional statistic popping up on the screen. No narrator to drive the ideas, just a bunch of people who are a part of the business and who hate the business speaking their sides. If you would have asked me off hand last week before I watched this documentary my thoughts on any of this, I can’t even tell you what I thought. Having sweet animals die out suck, but when I was growing up, I always wanted to have a giant stuffed bear in my house, so I could have gone either way.

Trophy takes a good look at an industry that has been relatively out of the spotlight until Cecil the Lion. It is a rich club of people, and some people have motivations that seem genuine and not just profit driven. And everyone on every side agrees poachers suck. It will be interesting to see where this goes in reality over the next few years.

3 out of 4.

Friend Request

From the title alone, I understand that Friend Request will make you think of Unfriended. It is about social media, teens, and horror.

Unfriended was hated by basically everyone except for me. I enjoyed how creative it was and well, that is it. It was creative. I am fine with movies pushing their mediums further. It was cheesy a bit, but at the same time, it had me terrified. I was on the internet too much.

Friend Request did not make me rethink social media at all, it just made me rethink the choices that made me go and see Friend Request.

Computer
“So the evil is INSIDE the computer?”

We are going to examine Laura (Alycia Debnam-Carey), a popular girl on Facebook, with 800+ friends. Which yeah, is just your regular college girl amount really. She hangs out with her BFFs (Brit Morgan, Brooke Markham), doing college stuff. Laura is a Psychology major, so you know she is serious about her education as well.

And in her psychology class, there is Marina (Liesl Ahlers), a girl who wears black and looks weird. She has zero facebook friends, until she sends a request to Laura, and Laura just accepts anything. This makes Marina happy. She also sends Laura messages all the time, but she has creepy Facebook posts and is a bit unsettling. So of course Laura unfriends her, and surprise, Marina flips her shit and kills herself.

And now, Laura’s Facebook is basically haunted. She can’t delete messages, she can’t send anything, and she can’t delete it. The Facebook begins to post things on its own, pissing off her friends and making her alone. Oh yeah, and her friends start dying as well. Looks like there is a curse on Laura and it is one she cannot unfollow.

Also starring William Moseley, Connor Paolo, Sean Marquette, Shashawnee Hall, Susan Danford, Nicholas Pauling, and Lee Raviv as young Marina.

New Girl
You know those new girls, always…posting videos of dark woods, mirrors, and baby dolls to the internet.

There was a technical issue in my theater when I watched this movie, so the first five minutes had no sound. And with no sound, the movie gave a clear picture of where it was going and how bad it would be on the way there. It also looked hilarious with over exaggerated gasps and zoom ins on our main characters face. When it was restarted with noise, the damage had been done, and I knew too soon that this movie was a piece of shit.

Friend Request is one of the modern horror films where no one is bad or deserving of their problems and people just go and die. I am not saying horror films need morals, but really, I need some sort of motivation or anything for this film to exist. This story is that Laura gets suddenly unlucky for no reason, there is nothing she can do to stop it, and her life is now fucked. Hooray! Hard to get behind that concept.

As for the deaths? They also blow. A lot of them are done in excessively dark light, so viewers cannot build suspense. Scary sounds and not being able to tell what is happening is not scary, especially when it screams out being a budget reason and we have to use our own imagination to fill in the gaps. Nothing is rewarding out of this film. It doesn’t even have any strong messages about the technology age, bullying, social media, nothing. Just a cash grab on getting people in by having Facebook references.

0 out of 4.

It

The story of It affected my childhood, without ever seeing it. I recognized it as a scary movie with a clown based on its advertising. But I heard other things about the miniseries. First, that it was an incredibly long movie! It had TWO VHS tapes, and I didn’t know it was made for TV and over two nights. The idea was unheard of for me (because at that young age, I didn’t know there were movies over 3 hours long).

I was also told that It wasn’t really a clown, but a spider. I don’t know if I can verify that still, I just still believe it because I was told it and fuck, spiders are scary.

And I almost read It. Or at least audiobook’d it, planned on doing it after The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books, but had such a disappointing time with them that I switched to authors that I knew and it was on the back burner. Now, in retrospect, I am glad I never read It, because now It is now a new movie, and I don’t need some silly source material mucking up my experience. With the sequel coming out in a few years, I will just have to hold off on that book for a few more years, and then, maybe, I will finally give Stephen King a chance.

Gutter
I didn’t grow up in the gutter like this clown thing, but I did once go to a night club called Da Guttah.

In the small community of Derry, Maine, a sinister entity lives and preys on children, much to the apathy of the citizens there. Poor little Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) is his first victim, and he just wanted to play with a boat in the rain. Well, after that, our film flashes to the end of that school year, with Georgie’s older brother, Bill (Jaeden Lieberher), still shook up by his brother’s disappearance, but his family seems to have already moved on. And it isn’t just Georgie. Other kids have started disappearing, at a seemingly alarming rate, but again, the community just shrugs its shoulders.

And with this summer vacation, Bill wants to use this extra time to map out some sewers or the nearby quarry to search for his brother. His friends include Richie (Finn Wolfhard), a smart ass with a loose mouth, Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer) a hypochondriac thanks to his mother, and Stanley (Wyatt Oleff), who is Jewish, and that is his characteristic that matters I guess. They are quickly joined by a few other “misfits” in their community, Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor) who is fat and a new kid, and Beverly (Sophia Lillis) a girl who lives in an abusive home and who is rumored to be a slut. It takes a lot longer in the film before we are also joined by Mike (Chosen Jacobs) who is home schooled and black, but completes their little posse.

And hey, eventually they all start getting strange events happening to them. Visions of a clown who wants to eat them, or other fears rising out and seeming so realistic. Good old Pennywise (Bill SkarsgÄrd), with his clown makeup and sharp teeth. He took Georgie! Through some research they find out that something terrible happens in their town every 27 years or so that takes out a lot of kids. It is surprising that no one has connected the dots. But they need to work together and over come their fears to stop this terror, if they want to survive and protect the future of Derry, Mai

Also featuring a few chaps as older kid bullies: Nicholas Hamilton, Logan Thompson, and Jake Sim.

Kids
And in this scene, the kids recreate their favorite movie from the future: Sinister!

By the time you are reading this review, It has already been out for a few weeks and you have already heard good things about It. You know It is good, you have statistically probably already seen It. The film is fresh, well shot, scary and ominous when it needs to be, and it feels like there are really kids running the show.

And kids running the show leads to a few of the small issues I had. Kids are stupid, so we are allowed to accept it when they do something stupid during a scary situation. That is the worst part of horror movies, watch a character who has shown to be one who uses their brain, who throws it all out of the window when they get a spooks or when they choose to investigate something odd. So much of the plot moves just due to characters being dumbasses that it is frustrating.

The film is decently scary, and again, great to look at. The Georgie scene to start the film really set the tone and also would quickly position itself away from the previous iteration for those who loved the original. With a large cast of characters, I am surprised that so many actually felt like real people. Unfortunately some of the lesser group members, namely Mike and Stanley, feel like they are limited by their obvious differences instead of actual personalities or story lines.

I am still excited for a sequel and thought it was a lot better than a lot of other recent horror films, but at the same time, it is limited in scope based on the story of the book I guess. I just want people to do the right/smart thing every once in awhile.

3 out of 4.

mother!

What a month for horror. And to think it is September, not October.

It came out a two weekends ago and is smashing September box office records, which just means that people love being scared by clowns or feel nostalgia from the previous TV adaption.

But then we get mother! just a week later. Which advertising for has been all over the place. One thing for certain, we know it is a Darren Aronofsky film, so we can expecting something fucked up and hard to explain.

Or not?! mother! is getting a wide release and has a huge star attached, maybe this will just be a run of the film horror movie. Schyeah, and maybe David Lynch will make a straightforward film as well.

Wall
And maybe this wall is just a wall and not a metaphor about bees or some shit?

This film is about a woman (Jennifer Lawrence) and a man (Javier Bardem), living in a house in a field on their own. She is slowly rebuilding it after a fire some time in the past, and he is a poet who hasn’t written in awhile. They are both always working and their love is straining, but they are alone and they are alive.

And then a man (Ed Harris) appears at their door. He is old, sickly, and he thought their house was a bed and breakfast. The poet is a generous person and lets him spend the night, despite being a stranger. And the man is sickly and coughs throughout the night, but in the morning he is fine. And also in the morning, his wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) shows up at the door. Huh, he didn’t mention anything like that, and now there is two of them. The poet is still generous, and fuck it, who cares what his wife thinks? They can stay too, because they like his work and he likes their approval. But house guests who make themselves at home can be quite annoying.

Especially when their sons (Brian Gleeson, Domhnall Gleeson) come over as well, arguing about estate and will disputes, and one son kills the other in their house. Holy shit, these are terrible guests.

Things get worse from there as more and more strangers enter their home, making our “mother” feel more distant from her husband, but that is all just the vaguest details I could get out about this film. Because in reality, it is a lot stranger, darker, and twisted than anyone should expect.

Oh, and of course, Kristen Wiig. Can’t forget about her.

Mob
“And no one is fucking using coasters!”

I wish I could have just sat in the theater after mother! and just reflected on the experience that unfolded in front of my eyes. But it was late and I had to rush home to pass out, needing sleep before work.

Days later when finally writing this review, it is still fresh on my mind. Partially because of the graphic nature and story in a story that it told. And partially because I knew that this film would have a hell of a shit storm from the regular movie going community. This is not the sort of film that should have gotten a wide release and marketed as some sort of home invasion horror. It is an art house film and it is being exposed to people who are going to expect something completely different and be upset about being bamboozled.

Like it or hate it, those are the only two options people will have from this movie. Anyone who said they thought it was okay is probably just lying. Despite its polarizing attributes (Which again, are going to amplify to the negative), people WILL be talking about it and remember it for a long time. That is not always a good thing, because being infamous for being really bad or gross doesn’t make a great film.

But in all honesty, this is a pretty great film. It did incredible things inside of a one location suit. It should make the viewer feel claustrophobic and a whole lot of other emotions. It should leave the viewer thinking and change their perspective on a few things. Or it will just be considered some strange torture snuff shit and have people walk out of it, especially when it ramps up even further near the end.

Good on Jennifer Lawrence for doing a project like this. She breathed hard and panted her face off in this film to make us uncomfortable, and it really worked.

3 out of 4.

Rebel in the Rye

Before Rebel in the Rye, what I knew about J.D. Salinger could fit inside of an index card. Along with the first 200 digits of pi, I am sure. I knew he died, I knew he wrote Catcher in the Rye, and that is it.

Well, I also knew that he came out of hiding at some point recently and made the game show Hollywoo Stars and Celebrities: What Do They Know? Do They Know Things?? Let’s Find Out!, but that is a different story, one that this film surprisingly chooses to ignore.

Needless to say, I have never read Catcher in the Rye. Never came up in my schooling and clearly wouldn’t be a book I rush off to read on my own. I like that fantasy stuff. The only reason I rushed to see this movie as a prescreener was due to the Hurricane hitting Houston and having no films in weeks. But hey, if anyone asks, say I said it was for the lead.

Type
And I can get pissed off watching someone write when I have not been writing for the same amount of time.

A long long time ago, when the earth was still green, a young J.D. (Nicholas Hoult) wants to be a writer. He is a wise alack, and from a rich house, and he has gotten kicked out of multiple colleges already for being a dick. But he gets to try again, thanks to privilege and wealth, and heads off to Columbia University. There, besides meeting with young ladies and party goers, he meets Whit Burnett (Kevin Spacey), a professor who gets J.D. to reach his potential and actually write good short stories. He also runs a small short story publication and ends up publishing Salinger’s first work! Hooray! He is a professional writer!

But he wants more. He wants to be published in The New Yorker, the cream of the crop in terms of short stories. And when he finally gets a story good enough for them? Well, they go and offer notes and suggestions. They need his story to have a happy ending, not the dismal one he created. Well, that’s shit.

Other people love the short story though. They enjoy the character he created in that story, and Burnett himself suggests he needs to turn that character into an entire novel. Unfortunately, before that novel can happen, World War II and Pearl Harbor happens, so Salinger instead goes off to war! He sees some shit, he barely survives, and changes as a person. But he kept writing, and after overcoming some PTSD, finally publishes The Catcher in the Rye.

The rest? Well, the rest still isn’t so easy either.

Also featuring Sarah Paulson, Zoey Deutch, Victor Garber, Brian d’Arcy James, and Celeste Arias.

Spacey
Oh the joy of two men just giggling about words on pages.

Rebel in the Rye is the type of movie made for those who really want to know more about the author of a book they love. Salinger was known as a bit of a recluse, so seeing his story and why he became one is a journey on its own. However, without the context of Catcher, a lot of the film was lost of me.

The good news? I kind of want to read The Catcher in the Rye now, so I guess it cane make money off of me that way.

The beginning of the film took a real long while to get going. The whole thing was full of cliches really up until Salinger finally became a published author. It doesn’t stand apart from any generic 1930’s rich elite story. The acting from all of the side characters isn’t anything special.

However, when World War II happened, the film definitely started to turn. I could no longer imagine the lead as Hoult acting, but as a Salinger type person, so the transformation was working. It also became a lot of a better story, especially with the dealings of PTSD. At that point though, it was too little too late to turn this film into something amazing.

2 out of 4.