Crown Heights

If I fail at a goal, I definitely don’t make it very vocal and let everyone know. Unless it comes to movie watching. I have introductions for a reason, after all.

Just like I want to watch all the Oscar nominees before the Oscars air, I hope to watch the Spirit awards as well, for indie films. And one of the films nominated was Crown Heights, which I clearly failed to do before that March date.

It was only nominated for Best Supporting Actor, but the real issue is that I had access to it and could have done it by the date, I just forgot about it while I was chasing other bigger films to watch. I’m sorry! But look, I made some amends.

Early
Some amends are better than no amends at all, right?

In the 1970s, Colin Warner (Lakeith Stanfield) was living in the Crown Heights area of Brooklyn. He was young, he was free, he was trying to make his impact on the world. Unfortunately when he was 18 (and young and free) he found himself behind bars. He was being charged with the murder of a 16 year old kid, one he did not knew, and claimed his innocence.

He wasn’t given a bail until they found out the details of the case, and then he was charged with murder. He didn’t have money, so he was given a public defender. They also actually found a different guy, who did kill him, and charged them together in the same trial with the same defendants.

And guess what. They both were sentenced to jail at the same time for the murder, despite arguments about Warner never being involved.

Unfortunately for Warner, he would spend then ext 21 years of his life in jail for a murder he did not commit. He could not get parole, as he refused to say he was sorry for a crime he didn’t do. With changing politicians, it became harder and harder to hold on to hope. But thankfully, Warner had a friend in KC (Nnamdi Asomugha) who never gave up for him, and made it his personal life goal to eventually free his friend.

Also starring Marsha Stephanie Blake, Adriane Lenox, and Luke Forbes.

Late
Once he gets free, he better get all of the amends.

Crown Heights is of course a true story of a really fucked up situation. It is more fucked up when you realize that this probably happens a decent amount of time. There are estimated to be over 100,000 people currently in prison for crimes they are not guilty of, which is a scary and frightening thought. You can live your whole life swell, never doing anything wrong, and then get arrested and go to jail for a long time if you don’t have a good defense.

And despite the law saying everyone gets a lawyer, it is not going to be great, because that lawyer probably has dozens of current clients and is focusing on plea deals over trial things.

The true story is an amazing tale of perseverance and standing up to injustices. But for whatever reason, in this iteration, it just doesn’t translate well onto the screen. Stanfield and Asomugha act great as our two leads. They have the appropriate amount of passion and really delve into those roles. It just feels like a drag to get through the story.

I did like how it interlaced the time with the change of the political landscape. Politicians arguing to be tougher on crime, longer sentences, three strikes and all that, creating more hurdles for our hero to get through before he can find himself a free man.

2 out of 4.

Stronger

A couple years ago I saw Patriots Day, against my better judgement, and it felt wrong.

It was #TooSoon, the movie. It felt like it wanted to be a documentary, but also to use a lot of famous actors. It would have been amazing as a documentary, as the footage and all of that exists. Instead, we had Marky Mark running around Boston, making those actual areas relive the moments, including when the final guy was caught in the boat, which seemed to be filmed on location.

That is uncomfrotable.

And now we have our second movie about the Boston Marathon bombings, which I clearly skipped for awhile for similar reasons. Am I ready for a story like this one? Stronger is clearly being hailed as a real story of a survivor, and will end with me most likely crying in happiness.

Kiss
Does it end with a happy kiss and terrorism finally defeated?

Jeff Bauman (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a free spirited Boston man, who has an energetic family, loves his Boston teams, and loves to joke around and have fun. So a stereotypical Boston man. He is also in love with Erin (Tatiana Maslany), an on again off again relationship. Right now it is off, so to win her back, he helped her raise money for his Boston Marathon run, and promised to be there at the finish line!

And he was there. Right in the blast of the bombs going off before Erin made it to the end.

This left Jeff very damaged, but he was saved by some onlookers, taken to the hospitals, who helped amputate his legs so that he could survive. But he had no legs. And now the city of Boston is looking to him as a symbol of their ability to grow from this tragedy. He has promised to walk again, and wants to be in the spotlight, he thinks. But the pressures put on him by the community drive him into relapse after relapse, feeling like a worthless potato. His mom (Miranda Richardson) is trying to help him, but it is doing the opposite.

Can he be Stronger, not just for himself, but for an entire city?

Also starring the following people, mostly as his family: Richard Lane Jr., Nate Richman, Lenny Clarke, Patty O’Neil, Clancy Brown, Kate Fitzgerald, and Danny McCarthy.

Boston
One day you wake up, no legs, and being used by the Bruins.

I went in expecting to hate this film, and sure enough, it surprised me. I expected a typical feel good story of someone struggling to eventually get through PT and start walking on false legs. I expected the long anguish scenes of surgeries, of his girlfriend crying by his bed, and all of that. But it is different. This one feels real.

Having the main character want to get better (obviously), but hated the spotlight and hated the pressures on him. His family was overbearing, random citizens walking up to him on the street making him out to be a martyr (which he obviously didn’t ask for or want) felt heartbreaking. This guy had a lot of eyes on him, when he never felt special. He also was feeling survivor’s remorse over the others who died because they weren’t saved as quickly as him.

This whole thing is a lot more about PTSD than some overcoming great challenges story, which makes it a lot more powerful. Sure, he eventually did overcome them, but it focuses more on the challenges you don’t expect someone to overcome.

And of course, the main reason to watch this – Gyllenhaal himself. A powerful actor, especially at transforming into a character. His voice and appearance was a bit funny, reminding me of his Bubble Boy self, but it definitely felt like a man who had lost his legs. Great, fantastic performance, to a much better than expected film.

3 out of 4.

Paddington 2

Paddington 2 was probably one of my most looking forward to films for awhile. No, not some big superhero film, or a drama with all of my favorite actors. Paddington. Two.

The first one was just a delight. It was cute, funny, and it felt like the perfect family film. It didn’t help that Europe got it so much earlier than other parts of the world, so I heard about its praise, and I just wanted more.

Who would have thought that a little bear could bring the world together so much? Well, the makers of the first Paddington, I guess.

Family
A successful family film always needs a big family so everyone can relate to someone.

Things are changing in the Brown household. The kids (Madeleine Harris, Samuel Joslin) are changing their appearances and hobbies, the mother (Sally Hawkins) wants to go on adventures and is training to swim to France, and the father (Hugh Bonneville) is going through a big midlife crisis because he feels old and is missing promotions at work.

But Paddington (Ben Whishaw) is just chill. He is helping his neighbors, making the world a brighter place, and really just finding a place to exist. He does want to get a gift for his Aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton) though, which leads him to a sweet pop up book of London! It is very detailed and it will let her experience London like she always wanted to. But the book is rare, so Paddington will have to get a few jobs in order to pay for it.

What Paddington doesn’t know, is there are others out there that will go to great lengths to get that book, even if it means Paddington ends up in Prison as a result.

Also starring Hugh Grant, Michael Gambon, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, and Brendan Gleeson.

Prison
Jails are just a red herring of course. Or a pink herring.

At the time of writing this review, Paddington 2 has a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. And that isn’t based on only 20 or so reviews, it is based on ONE HUNDRED NINETY-SIX reviews! That is almost 200 people who agreed that it didn’t suck. Of course it doesn’t mean it is a perfect film, just everyone found it overall good and gave a positive impression. And that is frankly unheard of in this day in age.

Of course while watching it, I found myself chuckling a few times. Just the generic slapstick portions as Paddington flails about trying to do human things are worth it. The story goes really well together and ends with a lot of the pieces coming together quite nicely.

Most importantly, it is a film with a simple story and that works in its favor. It is slow enough moving that even those younger kids will be able to follow along and enjoy it, while not being too slow or boring for adults. The family was funny enough. And Grant was very good in his role, and at a very good age and time in his career to play something like he did.

It doesn’t resort to violence, it resorts to smarts, and maybe some bonking, but not an all out brawl.

Hooray!

3 out of 4.

Naked

I do love a good stuck in time movie. It is just a shame that most of them are not good movies.

We recently had a few famous ones, like Edge of Tomorrow and Happy Death Day. The former was great, the latter not so much.

But what about Naked? This time it is a full on comedy, with this time focusing not on a whole day, just a single hour. And it involves a lot more man butts.

This came out over a year ago on Netflix. I wanted to see it right away, forgot and forgot, until I scoured my saves to find something new. No excuses, except hey, its still there if you want to see it!

Airport
Fun fact, I did NOT look up pictures for this movie at work.

Rob Anderson (Marlon Wayans) is a regular guy. He is a substitute teacher, but he doesn´t have big career aspirations. He is getting married to the love of his life, Megan (Regina Hall), and that is good enough to him.

His wedding needs to be perfect. Because her father (Dennis Haysbert), a self made millionaire, certainly doesn´t approve of him. And her ex (Scott Foley), he is super successful and keeps shoving his success in their faith. But he loves her and she loves him, it should be enough.

Unfortunately, the day of the wedding, Rob wakes up on the floor of an elevator. He is naked, he is confused, and he doesn´t remember the night before. He frantically tries to get to his wedding and understand what is going on, but he gets arrested for obvious reasons. At noon, an hour after he woke up, he found himself getting sucked through time and waking up once again in that elevator floor.

He not only has to figure out why he is being sucked back in time, but also what happened to him and how to fix all the issues his absences have caused.

Also starring J.T. Jackson, Eliza Coupe, Loretta Devine, and Brian McKnight as himself.

Naked
“Here are our selection of retro pants for maximum movie lols!”

I am not saying I am expert on “stuck in a time loop until everything is perfect!” films, but I do know most of the popular ones, and I think this is the first one to have the person literally sucked from their spot in time to get back to the previous point. Like flying through the air. As for originality, it is also the only one I can think of that repeats just a single hour, instead of a full day.

Unfortunately, the hour seems really off in this movie. It seems by the end too many things are happening from his reset point to realistically take the hour. I didn’t notice it was an hour until the first few times. The first time when he ended up in prison, it felt like a whole day event for him. They did a poor job of making that hour believable by the end, which is a real shame.

Another poor thing? Making it super funny. It was amusing, but I expected a lot actually laughing out loud and less smirks.

You know what? I really do respect the shit out of Marlon Wayans. He is in a lot of movies and he knows that people do not really respect him. They don’t like his acting, they don’t like his jokes, but I approve. Why? Because he really puts all of his energy into these movies. Every part of his body is acting in this movie, not just his head and hands. He seems to be the type to give 110% in anything he does. If he meets fans, he will sign everything and greet every kid.

He just loves what he does and you can see his passion in his work. So while not the best movie, it does try some new things, and obviously he puts it all out there for the viewers to pick apart.

2 out of 4.

The Seagull

There has been a long history of movies being named after animal. I don’t want to give a lot of examples, so I will instead just pick a recent one, The Lobster.

The Lobster was surreal and weird. Is The Seagull going to be just as surreal and weird? Will it explore different concepts? Will it be about birds at all?

Or, as I realized later on, will it just be a remake of a very famous Anton Chekhov play from over a 100 years ago? Yeah, it is that one. And this is my only time to point out that the play has had many adaptations, modern versions, some movie, some references in TV shows. But most importantly a few years ago was a modern play version called Stupid Fucking Bird.

I want to watch Stupid Fucking Bird the movie.

Face
Instead I am stuck with this arguably not stupid fucking face.

Set mostly in the early 1900’s, close to Moscow, on a small lake estate, The Seagull is about a wealthy-ish family and their issues. I say wealthy-ish, because they have servants, but also apparently they are too poor to leave the area or better there lives in other ways.

The main patron of the estate is Sorin (Brian Dennehy), whom is getting ill and would rather live in the city. His sister, Irina (Annette Bening), is an aging actress who is living in Moscow mostly but she returns to the estate in the summer. Irina’s son, Konstantin (Billy Howle), is a modernist, who fancies himself a poet and a playwright, hoping to the way plays are told and to become famous himself. Konstantin is madly in love with a local farm girl and his muse, Nina (Saoirse Ronan), who dreams of being a famous actress. And finally we have Boris Trigorin (Corey Stoll), a relatively young author who is very famous in Moscow, whom Irina has been seeing for some time as a celebrity couple.

Also Elisabeth Moss is hanging around during this time, but I couldn’t possibly tell you what her actual job or purpose is. Maybe beloved neighbor.

Most of the story takes place a few weeks over the summer. A lot of the main characters are jealous or infatuated with other ones, even if they are in other relationships. Some of these relationships are out of prestige, out of love, out of settling.

A lot of sex starved people, who might have parent issues, who can orgasm seemingly after a couple of forbidden kisses.

Also starring Glenn Fleshler, Brian Dennehy, Mare Winningham, Jon Tenney, and Michael Zegen.

Boat
Only bad things can happen on a boat.

The Seagull is about a small group of people who all want to fuck a different person. Not everyone will leave disappointed either! Some will succeed, some will be left to pick up the scraps, and that is life.

The ideas behind this story in 2018 don´t feel original at all, but if it was originally scripted in the late 1800s it was probably original as hell at the time of release. It may have inspired most of the similar stories for the last 100 years.

And yet, it doesn´t matter, as I am here just to judge a film.

The film does has really fine acting of course. Bening is a star, and Stoll does a lot more than I expected from him based on most of his previous roles. Moss provides some good comedic relief, and Ronan is fine as usual. I did find Howle a little bit strange though. It really felt like he was meant to be played by Eddie Redmayne, but he canceled or was too expensive so they settled.

The story though is just okay. It has some chuckles. It has a pointless intro flashforward. And really, I do not know why the cast wasn´t speaking with Russian accents or anything. It was just lot of clearly American people talking occasionally about Moscow and it kept throwing me off.

2 out of 4.

Fahrenheit 451

Without a doubt, Fahrenheit 451 is one of those revered classic novels. It is one of the first dystopian future novels that are now clogging our bookstores, trying to maintain relevancy, and it warned of a specific type of future.

Literary teachers of course loved it, because it talks about a world that is anti-books and free thought, and they want their students to read books! I know I enjoyed it in middle school, and I was able to see parts of the (even old by that time) Fahrenheit 451 movie from the 1960´s.

And it makes sense as a movie. It makes sense for their to be a modern update. So I was excited to find out HBO was giving us a new adaptation. And again, it seems appropriate given the current political landscape.

I couldn´t find a natural way to fit this in, but here is Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury, by Rachel Bloom, before she got TV show famous.

FIre
That song and this movie are HOT!

In the near future, books are OUTLAWED. Why? They are confusing in nature. One person´s text can contradict another. Who knows what to think? It causes confusion, dissent, anger, and separates the population. Instead, the government should let everyone know what they need to know.

This film takes place in Columbus. The firemen of this day and age don´t put out fires, they start them. They are basically celebrities, destroying dissent and burning books if they find a stash, but at this point seeing a real novel is very rare. The world is very digitized. Not only do they have TV´s that are entire walls, they have the news feed on the side of buildings. Everyone is connected to the grid, to the system, and they have three books full of emojis available only.

Guy Montag (Michael B. Jordan) is an up and coming fireman, pretty famous in his community. The crowds love him! He is probably going to be the new fire chief someday, replacing his mentor, Captain Beatty (Michael Shannon).

But when they come across an extremely large stash of books with a stubborn woman, the likes that has never been seen in years. And when she sacrifices her life in the fire in front of the whole world, reciting a strange word, it puts together events that will change the life of…well, at least a few people.

Also starring Sofia Boutella, Saad Siddiqui, Dylan Taylor, and the voice of Cindy Katz.

Love
Flashy techno lights, to make you know its the future.

As a movie reviewer, I try of course to keep the review to just the film if it is based on a book. I try to not read the book before hand. Unfortunately, I have read Fahrenheit 451. Fortunately, I also read it like 15-20 years ago and that was the last time so my memory of the film is very faint and superficial.

I have no idea how much of this film is based on the novel, how much is new due to coming out 60 years later to reach the modern audience or what. I do, however, still have some tastes available to me. And I recognize a bad movie when I see it.

The acting from the two Michael´s isn´t bad, it is just the whole story feels bad. It feels unbelievable and I am never drawn into it. It feels like a movie and not a tragic direction our country is heading towards. A very simplistic and basic retelling of an actual frightening future.

The story could still work, but it needs to be more fleshed out. These feels like a spark notes version of a story and never goes in depth. It needs more fine tuning. It probably should go further from the source material to make it believable.

Either way, I am trying to forget seeing this adaptation as I type, I should be done soon.

3 out of 4.

Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie

Rethinking Barbie?! How can I rethink a barbie? As a man, with daughters, I am trying my best to make sure my girls are well rounded individuals, exploring many different types of toys and sure, some dolls. I want to make sure they don’t grow up thinking they have to be one type of girl. The girl who plays with dolls, the girl who dreams of being a passive princess, the girl who might just want to be a housewife (nothing wrong with that last one, but it is important for them to know options are available).

So I have never given my girls a barbie doll. Other people have, when people are lazy at gift giving. She still has a ton for absolutely no reason. I say no reason, because why do they need like, 8 barbie dolls? People not thinking give her one every birthday, every Christmas, and sometimes multiple ones, because it is easy to just grab a barbie and send it over. I mean, its a girl toy! Girl toys are dolls, and boy toys are everything else (including different dolls).

It is completely fucked up. But I still went into Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie, letting my mind me somewhat open. Come on, tell my why Barbie is progressive now. Tell me everything I have learned through slight googling in the past is a lie.

See? I am a willing participant!

Barbs
“Couldn’t you have picked a less creepy photo for this review?” No.

This documentary has two goals. One, to give a small history of barbie, to show how it was a trendsetter back in the day (first doll with boobs!), how it didn’t want to be a perfect women archetype, to the eventual feminist backlash. Their idea was to make sure Barbie had all these jobs so that it could encourage woman to live out fantasies and achieve these dream jobs, not just be a homemaker. And of course, modern, modern backlash over its unrealistic proportions and body image notes.

And that is where the other part of the documentary comes into play. Actually trying to change the way Barbie looks and the problems that have come about. You see, they have been trying to change her appearance for some time to better represent more realistic people. But they have had plenty of focus group issues. They have the issue that the model rarely ever changes, and by having a change, that creates accessory issues, and is the change worth making it so they need various sized outfits/accessories for every release? (More expensive for them and the consumer).

Add to the fact that they don’t want people to think they are pandering to an audience and doing too little too late. They have one shot to try and redefine Barbie so that she has various body types, a task they can’t just do every year in case they mess up. They have to make a statement and they WANT to make a statement.

Strangely enough, this toy redesign happened in 2016 and I really didn’t hear about it at all. There are four different sized barbies at this point, did you know? I didn’t. I remember when they made a lot of hooplah about the different races represented with their barbies, which was a good change, but for whatever reason this redesign was never put in front of my eyes.

I found the whole story to be compelling and it was good to see a company full of people who cared. They cared about the repercussions of their decisions and they wanted to help make the world feel more inclusive. I still don’t think I’d go out of my way to introduce different sized barbies to the kids. My wife told me we actually had different sized ones, so that is how unnoticeable the changes really were.

But this is still a good story of a company trying to do good, and coupling it with a history that I knew nothing about, makes it a compelling story.

3 out of 4.

Annihilation

Fuck.

I missed the Annihilation pre-screening, and I felt bad, because I want to support independent science fiction films. Then I found out about all the drama with it and Netflix. Netflix had streaming rights for every country except for the USA and China. You see, Paramount wanted to sort of dump it because they didn’t think it would be successful. So you know, they didn’t put it in any theaters and couldn’t be successful.

The deal with Netflix would be that it had to wait 17 days after being in theater in those two countries before it could be on the program.

Fine, I would just watch it before then and review that bad boy up. And I did!

I just forgot about the review thing. And it isn’t that I forgot to review it. I knowingly just kept pushing it back and back and back, for reasons I will explain at the end. Needless to say, here is a review, two months after I planned to release it.

Dream Team
Blame it on the patriarchy.

For a few years, a shimmering glowing force has appeared in a remote part of the world. It is hard to fathom just what is going on in that area, but it definitely is growing over time. In fact, it has been there for three years, and everyone basically has no fucking clue what is going on. Because no one has ever returned.

Well, one guy did. Kane (Oscar Isaac). He is a special forces member of the Army. He is pretty messed up. He has returned home to his wife, Lena (Natalie Portman), who the story is actually about. You see Lena is also a soldier, or at least she used to be. She is now mostly a professor of cellular biology. Smart and strong.

After some plot reasons, she is brought to one of their bases around this field area, where she meets others who are planning to go in. For whatever reason, communication always shuts off, and they don’t really understand what is going on inside this aura.

But Lena ends up joining a team of all women to go in and hopefully, this time, report back with what is going on. And this vague synopsis is both meant to keep it spoiler free, and also try to recall everything that happened.

Also starring Benedict Wong, Gina Rodriguez, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Sonoya Mizuno, Tessa Thompson, and Tuva Novotny.

Crocoshark
She is thinking of getting into animal dentistry as well.

Annihilation, by any standard, is not a dumb movie. Which is one way of calling it a smart movie, but I am not fully committed to that line. It is above average, and after watching it I did have to speculate about it for awhile. So it is a thinker film.

A thinker film with scares, sci-fi weirdness, and pretty darn good acting. It also has a few flashbacks, questions about humanity, questions about evolution, and this one fucking ape scene that is like, omg.

Either way, I started thinking too much about the thinking movie, so I pushed back my planned review. Then I stopped thinking about it, and figured I couldn’t write it at that point because I forgot some information, and that is why we are two months late at this point.

I believe my conclusion to this movie is that I liked it, and disliked it. The ending was interesting, but not at all what I craved. This is a film that really begs for multiple watches, and the theater experience will really add with the sounds this film gives.

This is not mindless entertainment. This is entertainment that can drive your mind to uselessness and eventually forgetfulness. What a strange review ending this has become.

2 out of 4.

Geostorm

I am a goddamn geophysicist, and it took me until almost half of a year later to watch goddamn Geostorm.

IT IS ABOUT EXTREME WEATHER. AND THE EARTH. AND I AM A GEOPHYSICIST.

It would have been unacceptable for me to watch San Andreas way late, like I did with Geostorm.

And hell, I have been relatively kind to natural disaster films on this site. I liked Into The Storm, and you already forgot it existed! Bring on the disaster, especially if it is fun.

Ice
Are those ice zombies? What are those soldiers going to do to those poor popsicles?

The Climate is fucked. After the storms started getting worse and worse, these extreme weather events began to get out of hand. Heatwaves killing thousands in an afternoon. Parts of NYC getting flooded. It just needed to stop. So the world finally came together. They couldn’t stop the climate change. But they could try to curb it.

With all nations actually working together, they developed technology, and put satellites into the orbit. Using science or whatever, these satellites around the globe can disrupt big weather events and counter act them through…I dunno, science/technology stuff. Just trust us, it works.

Hurricanes be gone, droughts be gone, whatever. The world is now a happy and prosperous place. The main creator Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler) was taken from his design though, because he was hard to work with. The US Government wasn’t a fan, especially because he wanted it to be perfect enough for the technology to be controlled by the UN, not the USA. Once he is kicked out, and his brother (Jim Sturgess) is put in charge, he feels like it is still fine, but nope. Time for exile.

He is just going to be needed years later, when the satellites begin to malfunction. Now these big storm events are starting to occur, people are dying, and bad things are happening. If these storms continue, they will start to cause other storms, until they get big enough that the whole world will be under weather advisory. A Geostorm.

Also starring a lot of other people: Like Abbie Cornish, Alexandra Maria Lara, Daniel Wu, Eugenio Derbez, Amr Waked, Adepero Oduye, Andy Garcia, Ed Harris, Richard Schiff, Robert Sheehan, Zazie Beetz, and Mare Winningham.

Space
Surprise! Half of this film takes place not even on the geo!

Goddamn it. I wanted to watch a terrible nature disaster movie. But Geostorm isn’t really a terrible disaster movie. It is really just a terrible political thriller, that has climate disaster consequences.

Fuck that.

I mean, if it was a good political thriller and about climate change, it would be one thing. But it is terrible at explaining the disasters, and a terrible thriller, with terrible action. Everything about it is terrible!

Well then why isn’t it a zero? You know, if I hated it, and the acting was bad, and the plot was bad, and the disasters were bad?

Well, they called the satellite program the Dutch boy. You know, referencing the fable about him sticking his finger in a dyke. That makes me chuckle. That is a solid nickname. That is worth a slight price of admission.

And unfortunately, Butler is a scientist in this movie, and mostly in space. So we don’t get to see him fighting a tornado or anything cool. Very disappointing.

1 out of 4.

Anything

I can’t remember the last film that had as much casting controversy as Anything. In fact, this controversy is probably why it took a long time to come out, in an extremely limited release, waiting specifically for everyone to forget about it. Maybe the last movie with this much controversy was The Last Airbender. But I am sure something else was controversial between then and now. Who knows.

Anything is controversial, because Matt Bomer is playing a transgender woman. Why couldn’t they have just cast an actual transgender woman? After all, A Fantastic Woman was able to do it and it kicked butt.

The controversy is a fine point. Another point is that the woman is a sex worker, and that is just a really a stereotype that these women can’t get out of. So having it a focal point of the film is pretty much just more lazy writing.

And again, I can’t really argue with these points, but I will still try to judge this film on its overall film quality and not the controversy.

Bomer
Although in this case, it is important to teach the controversy.

Early Landry (John Carroll Lynch) is not having a lot of fun at the current stage of his life. His wife died, and now he is alone. He loved his wife and didn’t really have friends, nor was he super close with his other family. He was hoping to live many many more years with her, but a car accident happened, and now he is left with nothing.
So he tried to kill himself. And it was unsuccessful, but the attempt still happened. Now he is living with his sister (Maura Tierney) and her family, but it is obviously awkward. Once he sells his old house, he has plenty of money to live anywhere, and he wants to live in…Hollywood.

A cheap place of course, he doesn’t need a big place, just a living room, a kitchen, and a bed room. So he lives in a rougher part of the city, but he wants to try something different. He needs change, or else he will just repeat previous actions.

And he immediately meets Frida (Matt Bomer), his neighbor, who expands his world view on what it means to be a nice or decent person. She is crude, she is a sex worker, and she is still for whatever reason willing to talk to this old southern cracker.

Also starring Tanner Buchanan.

Family
And his sister is pretty much not cool with any of this.

It took awhile for Frida to appear. In fact, I assumed she might have been a really minor role, and this whole thing was a bit more overblown. But once she appeared, she really didn’t go away. Well, once, and that was for plot reasons. But she was a major player, basically a costar.

The problems with Frida is that she is basically fulfilling the “Magical Negro” trope. Instead, she is the magical trans person that introduces our regular old man to a different way of accepting people. He doesn’t go in hating and mad at this change, but welcomes it, but it is still a struggle, because she is a different person than any person he is used to. But she is there to fix his life more so than he is there to fix her life.

Basically, this is a movie about a character moving on with his life after his wife’s death, and this lady is his way to find a new purpose. So she feels more like a tool than a character, to fix him, and it feels worse given that they decided for this tool to be a transgender woman sex worker.

In other words, it is a lazy plot device, used badly, and is used as a way of building this false sort of representation. You know, without real representation. So this is certainly a movie that is skippable by most measures.

HOWEVER, I will have to point out, that Lynch is great in this role. He is very strong overall and it does a good job of showing off his skill set. It is just the other stuff that majorly brings it down.

1 out of 4.

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