Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

Once again, I am left with a dumb title (Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw) to try and find a solution for it. Most people would just call it Hobbs & Shaw, because that is the real title. But they had to cram Fast & Furious in there so that people knew it was connected. Not that previous titles needed both Fast and Furious in order for people to get it.

This film comes out after 8, with FF9 and FF10 (not Final Fantasy) coming out in 2020 and 2021. So, unless FF9 happens at the same time as this film, I think it is safe to say we could just call it FF8.5.

Now, I had a lot of negative reactions to this movie’s existence, just like Vin Diesel. How can I cheer on Shaw? HE KILLED HAN. HE SHOULD BE IN JAIL, or you know, killed. How many lives does he have to save for it to be okay that Han died? How many?

Samoa
Let’s get out Haka on and defend his honor.

Where is Toretto and his largely growing crew? The one that has only one person “retire” and some even come back from the dead (except for Han)?

I guess they are busy, and for some reason, the only people who are available to help the CIA are Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Shaw (Jason Statham). Note, neither of them work for the CIA. Hobbs is some sort of cop…guy…and Shaw is a criminal hiding in plain sight that we are all just cool with I guess.

Either way, this bad guy Brixton (Idris Elba) was killed by Shaw awhile ago, but he survived enough to become a Cyborg. He has implants in him, making him strong, more bulletproof, faster, all of that. He wants to steal a super virus for his secretive boss who saved his life. However, Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) another law abiding criminal stopper, was able to stop him by running away after she injected the virus into her own body! Yay!

Now there is a ticking clock before the virus capsules dissolve and kill her, then go airborne and kill the world. And again, for whatever reason, Hobbs and Shaw are the only two men for the job, literally no one else can help, not teams of people, nothing. Well, and apparently family.

But not family in the sense that Toretto uses, just actual family.

Also starring Helen Mirren, Eiza González, Eddie Marsan, Eliana Sua, Cliff Curtis, Lori Pelenise Tuisano, and Ryan Reynolds.

MIB
Oh, here are the men in black as well.

This movie didn’t have to exist. The story it is telling is meant to set up something greater. Is that something greater going to be answered in FF9/FF10? Because it certainly isn’t in this movie. It is like a prologue, just 8 chapters in.

For a franchise since Fast Five that has been basically a superhero movie without superheroes, it is interesting that they finally decided to just give us people with super powers. Elba’s character is fast strong and a super villain, so now the stunts they want these characters to do finally make sense and have a reason for being that great. And since the threat wasn’t dealt with, they can have more super bad people in the next films, and hey, technically, maybe the good guys will get super charged.

I have too much to say and I don’t really want to spend my life writing about this movie!

It is entertaining at points, but it is very long. The ending is interesting, but I feel like the action piece before it in the factory was more exciting of an ending, and at least realistic for the universe. I really thought the movie was about to end. Somoa felt so long and extended that movie.

The screenwriter of this movie responded to the Justice for Han movement (which I will admit, I didn’t know people agreed with me on until after I saw the movie). He said he gets it, and eventually, Shaw will be redeemed I guess. The “line” in this movie about Han is total bullshit, because there is no reason for us to assume it is about Han at all. Shaw has killed dozens, maybe hundreds of people. No way he is probably thinking about Han, telling this to people who have nothing to do with Han.

And I don’t have time to wait. If Shaw doesn’t ever go to jail to answer for his crimes, and actually stay there, then saving the world isn’t good enough.

This movie is average. It is likely forgettable, and it feels really forced to put these two together. Really, no reason.

But the biggest question. Which of the two is Fast and which of the two is Furious? Because we would all probably say Shaw is faster, but also, furiouser. So why is Hobbs even here? Because we like him?

2 out of 4.

Behind Closed Doors

When people are murdered, there is a small time frame where police can accurately attempt to gather crime scene evidence. Blood samples, footprints, fingerprints, whatever. For missing kids, they usually say the first 48 hours are the most important for finding them, and that is true for murderers as well.

In 2008, for the case of 13 year old Aarushi Talwar, it may have made all of the difference. She was found murdered in her own room in the morning by her parents. They are an upper caste family in India. Wealthy enough to have servants who come to their house to clean, and one who even lives in the house. And he was missing.

So clearly it was probably the servant, who then ran. Why did he do it? No clue. But rumors could run rampant.

Unfortunately, the next day he was found murdered as well. Except he was on the roof of their home (that no one checked on day one). The door was locked, it definitely wasn’t a suicide, and now we have two murders that they have no idea how to explain. They were behind closed doors (the title!) that were locked, with no forced entry points. Did one of the two let someone in who became violent? How could the parents not have heard? And of course, seriously, was it just one of the parents?

motherknowsbest
I mean, it could have been her, I wasn’t there.

The idea of honor killings is prevelent enough in India to be a thing people latch onto. Like, if those two were in a relationship, did the dad kill them for destroying their honor? We don’t want to assume things about these dead people, but these are the stories the media picked up.

Basically, the media is in two languages, Hindi and English. The English media tended to report stories indicating the parents did it, the Hindi media tended to report stories indicating other servants did it. The caste warfare system was real. More importantly, the idea of media influence is very, very real.

From day one, the crime scene was basically ruined do to extra guests. Everything the police did was heavily reported by the media, who would stand by in groups of 20+, trying to get anything out of witnesses, the police. Everything was scrutinized and judged and yelled about. They directly made the initial solving of anything almost impossible, and stayed as a thorn in everyone’s side demanding answers and making all practical normal procedures fall out the window.

This is a case that was passed around across various groups, different levels of police and different groups in those groups. Because of screw ups, weird results, or not following all leads. It is a messy situation, and thanks to appeals, yes, we still have no official killer on record 11 years later.

It is a really interesting story, but one I think could have used a bit less detail. 2hr40min felt two long for this two-parter (which some time ago was a 4 parter apparently?). It was very much unbiased in that I couldn’t even lean a direction to tell you who I’d believe after all the evidence.

It also still noted the struggle of the caste system, since the media made the whole thing to be about the 13 year old girl, and practically never said the name of the servant who was also killed.

I think the length and the constant switching between English/Hindi, which made it hard for me to focus, is what ruined the overall level of this documentary for me. It has a good story, about the nature of media and crime scenes, but it was also bogged down and muddled.

2 out of 4.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Most reviews for this movie mention fun facts about Quentin Tarantino. And I will spend this time talking about an issue with that. Holy shit, can we all stop going crazy about how many movies he has directed? Let that be his obsession, not ours as reviewers.

Sure, he said he will retire after 10. But plenty of directors have said they would retire and then not.

Outside of a director’s first film, or their second film, I have never seen so many care about their total number after that point. By obsessing over it, we are building up Tarantino to be something bigger than what he really is, and let’s face it, he doesn’t need everyone else stroking his ego.

And with that, let’s talk about Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, his 9th-ish directed movie.

dance
Dance
The year is 1969. Vietnam sucks. Hippies exist. People are famous and rich and Nixon is around as well. We went to the goddamn moon!

But the plot starts in February and ends in August, so most of the film takes place without the moon landing at all. We are talking about aging star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), who was the lead in a Western show for many years in the 50’s and early 60’s, but now is stuck without many job offers and one off appearances in shows as a bad guy who always loses to the hero. It is also about Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), long time friend and stunt man of Dalton’s. Although he isn’t getting as much stunt work, he is still trying and really a personal assistant and friend to Dalton in order to make some money.

The movie is mainly about their struggles, but it is also a little bit about their neighbors, Polanski and Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie). It is also about a lot of hippies living in abandoned studios. It is about what people need to do to get famous, even if it means doing (shudder) European movies.

Also starring Al Pacino, Austin Butler, Bruce Dern, Clifton Collins Jr., Dakota Fanning, Damian Lewis, Damon Herriman, Emile Hirsch, Harley Quinn Smith, Julia Butters, Kurt Russell, Lorenza Izzo, Luke Perry, Margaret Qualley, Mike Moh, Rafal Zawierucha, Scoot McNairy, and Timothy Olyphant.

bar
Most of all business deals are done in bars with cigars.

Around 2006, when information was coming out about this future movie called Iron Man, people were abuzz with casting decisions. Who is playing who!? One of the most exciting aspects of the whole deal was of course Samuel L. Jackson playing Nick Fury. And then not much else was said about him for a while.

Opening night while watching Iron Man, I remember being so excited the whole film to see SLJ as Fury, and getting to the end of the movie and being confused. “No! They said there would be a Nick Fury!” So as the credits started to roll, I told my friends to sit down. There must be something more in the credits. And lo and behold, at the end of the first MCU film, there was another scene, with Fury introducing the concept of Avengers. At that point this wasn’t established, for something at the end of the credits, I just knew it had to be. I needed my Nick Fury, damn it.

So how does this relate to Once Upon A Time in Hollywood? It relates perfectly I’ll have you know in a second, but let me give you some non spoilery analysis.

This movie is gorgeous. It meanders, yes. It could have been slimmed down. Pitt and DeCaprio give wonderful performances and I won’t forget about them soon. The cameos were fun. Robbie felt like a completely different person and did well at this carefree in the moment feeling actress.

So here are the spoilers for the rest of the review.

Did you know that Charles Manson was in this movie? Well, if you read movie articles, you should have known about it. Because about a year and a half ago, info for this movie started coming out and people were in an uproar that Tarantino was about to do a movie about Manson. There was a bit of backpedaling, like letting us know that he was in it but it isn’t about him, it just has him in it as a subplot or something.

And then I guess everyone forgot about it, because suddenly with this movie coming out, there is this strange aura of spoilers like its Avengers: Endgame. What the hell could really be a spoiler for a movie like this? In the theater, while talking to friends, I correctly guessed the ending of the film before hand as a joke, and uhh, it was correct. It was mostly a surprise due to just knowing what happened with Inglorious Bastards and knowing that Manson was in it. Shit, they end up making pretty obvious references to IB early in the film with a fictional Nazi burning movie.

Anyways, I think it is a mistake to try and make this whole thing a secret. I think it is okay to know that Manson murders plotline is involved, because if you don’t know anything about the real life Manson murders, a lot of the buildup won’t make as much sense. I mean, shit. This movie was actually supposed to come out on August 9th originally, which is the 50th anniversary of those murders. But it was pushed two weeks up in this schedule, maybe to make things less obvious, I have no idea.

I appreciate the level of detail that went into those scenes, using actual lines, character names, times, dates, and places. It is something he has thought a lot about, and it makes sense in QT’s “real world movie series” and still helps explain his “in universe film series” as a comparison.

If you are unfamiliar with that period, whether it is real events, the movies of the time, it will feel like a long drag and never really reach a high amount of payout. But as a movie about the place where movies were made, about an event that affected movies since that time, it has a lot of insight and actual information in a fictional film.

Also, DiCaprio and Pitt are really fun in this one.

3 out of 4.

Gloria Bell

Many years ago, I saw a trailer for a movie called Gloria. It was a Spanish movie, but it had a lot of buzz and it looked fun. I decided I would put an effort into watching it. I thought about it for a few weeks, then I forgot about it, and went on with my life.

A couple of years ago, a different film came out called A Fantastic Woman. You may have heard of it, it won some awards. I definitely made sure to see it, given its nomination, and I saw it was by the director of Gloria. “Oh yeah! Gloria!” That movie I meant to see and forgot about. I should get on that and see it eventually. And then I forgot about it.

And then, finally, I got an invite to see Gloria Bell. That sounds familiar. And sure enough the trailer brings back the memories of the Gloria trailer, song and all. Oh no, an American remake? Sort of.

Does it count as an American remake if the remake is done by the same director and in his vision? Does it automatically make it inferior still?

pool
Well, in this case, probably. 
Gloria Bell (Julianne Moore) is in her upper middle ages, basically old, without being, you know, old. She has kids, they are adults and starting their families. She is divorced, she works, she likes disco, and she wants to have a fun life.

But something keeps getting in the way. You know, herself. She sees so many faults in others, and her anxieties get in the way of finding happiness.

Despite this, she finds Arnold (John Tuturro), a man who likes disco and is also divorced. This feels like true love, in her later live, but there are issues. Issues with Arnold’s family and their dependence on him. It gets in the way of their happiness. And no matter what, he can’t abandon his kids and ex just for happiness.

So what’s a girl to dance? I dunno. Dance, dance, dance the night away.

Also starring Michael Cera, Holland Taylor, Brad Garrett, and Caren Pistorius.

hotel
Ah yes, Vegas, city of love, city by the bay./em>

Okay, technically, I don’t know if Gloria Bell is worse than Gloria, since I haven’t seen Gloria. And unfortunately, now that I have seen Gloria Bell, I probably won’t see Gloria ever. It might be better. It might be the same. I don’t know and won’t know because Gloria Bell has turned me so far off from this story, that the last thing I want to see is the story again, but this time with subtitles.

Basically, this is a film that is inspired by the song Gloria. It is a nice song, very catchy, and they use it in the film. And that is the whole story. There isn’t much else of depth. It is not only frustrating to watch this character act that way, but it is boring. I never feel any reason to hope better for her, given her ability to dig her own holes.

Sure being lonely sucks, but she probably just has to be lonely it looks like.

Gloria Bell is forgettable, and bad. I don’t know if it is actually as bad as my rating, but I did feel like hours of my life were wasted at the end.

0 out of 4.

Avengers: Endgame (Spoilers)

Here we are, months after the release of Avengers: Endgame, and I am now ready to post a review. Why the delay? Several reasons!

One, my review when it came out would not mean a damn thing. Who cares? Everyone who wants to see it will go see it, and I wouldn’t convince any one on any side to change their mind. No one was on the fence.

Two, I wanted to wait for it to beat Avatar‘s record. I don’t think it has yet, but I’m tired of waiting. It will break it will silly re-releases, so pretty disappointing.

And three, if I waited a long time, I could do a review with spoilers! Something I have never really done before. A spoiler review can be more specific, and hey, people can agree or disagree. So let’s get on it.

heroes
Together Each Achieves More.

Endgame takes place almost immediately after the events of Infinity War. Half the population is gone, many heroes. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is trapped in space. People are sad. But once Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) shows up, and they get their coordinates on, they all rush over to fuck over Thanos (Josh Brolin) and kill him. Hopefully also undo what he did. And it turns out they can’t. Infinity Stones are broken and gone, nothing can be done except sadness.

Five years later? Life is weird. Heroes are now fat (Chris Hemsworth). Hulks are now Professor Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). Captain America (Chris Evans) is just trying to help people. But once Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) is able to escape finally from the Quantum Realm, he is disgusted by what has occurred, and has ideas on how to fix what was undone. You know. With Time Travel.

Also starring…everybody. Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Tom Holland, Karen Gillan, Zoe Saldana, Evangeline Lilly, Tessa Thompson, Rene Russo, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Tom Hiddleston, Danai Gurira, Benedict Wong, Pom Klementieff, Dave Bautista, Letitia Wright, John Slattery, Tilda Swinton, Jon Favreau, Hayley Atwell, Natalie Portman, Marisa Tomei, Taika Waititi, Angela Bassett, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, William Hurt, Cobie Smulders, Sean Gunn, Winston Duke, Linda Cardellini, Frank Grillo, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, James D’Arcy, Jacob Batalon, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ty Simpkins, Robert Redford, Chris Pratt, Samuel L. Jackson, Lexi Rabe, Ross Marquand, Kerry Condon, Yvette Nicole Brown, Ken Jeong, and Stan Lee

villains“Is that all you got?” Thanos, about the last paragraph, probably.

So sure, I gave Avengers: Endgame a 4 out of 4, despite being a non-perfect movie. Because it is an emotionally satisfying film. I cried, I cheered, I seized up with anticipation, I was serviced so much as a fan. It was a blast and the three hours flew by. The final battle had so many nice moments that were cool and can still be talked about today.

When Captain America was about to say Avengers Assemble, I remember bouncing in my seat for over 10 seconds, grabbing my wife’s arm and just ready to explode. That moment was necessary. It was beautiful.

And of course we lost characters, finally. Steve, despite feeling plot holey, got to live his regular life for once and die once his life was finally over. Tony sacrificed himself for the greater good, to finally fix all of his wrongs. Natasha had a fun suicide battle with Clint that we all knew were coming, and yet, the result was surprising given future movie’s coming out.

Most characters felt like they were given their proper moments to shine and showcase their power, especially the first big three of Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor. The throwbacks to previous films and their first fight in Avengers were nostalgic wet dreams.

And sure, a lot of might not be desired. Some newer, strong characters barely got screen time. Captain Marvel was mostly wasted (and despite the fun of the ladies of Marvel moment, it felt awkward because we know she needed zero help). Dr. Strange was left to be a defensive wizard. Of course a lot of this was done because these characters will have more time to shine in the future and are not mid swan song, but it technically also didn’t feel natural/necessary.

Honestly, a lot of the time stuff was silly. It probably could have been shortened a good amount, but again, it featured a ton of fun moments and also gave us the entrance for Loki’s future television show.

Torches were passed, heads were rolled, and franchises collided and will be changed in the future. I just hope this five year advance is handled with care and has a real significance to it. Spider-Man: Far From Home touched on it, but it didn’t go really in depth with it still. I am afraid they will mostly ignore these ramifications later in just a few movies.

Also I should note the forced disconnect of the TV shows and the movies is frustrating. All of the Netflix drama and Agents of Shield ruined us from having even more fun moments. I blame Ike.

4 out of 4.

Booksmart

What’s not to love about the hype around Booksmart? Well, the lateness of this review is one.

This movie I think had three screenings available for me to go to to see it early, and I just could not make any of them. One of them was a night I planned on going, but got bombarded with work and had to stay home. It sucked.

I wanted to see the first film directed by Olivia Wilde, who has had some great comedy moments in her career. I wanted the film that was described as the female equivalent of Superbad, but better and more PC.

locker
More PC but just as raunchy.

Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) are top of the line students at their high school. High grades, internships, activities, they want to go to a great college, get great careers, and have great lives.

They didn’t have time for getting high, or drinking, or partying. Very little socializing besides each other. They had crushes and never went after them. They are friends with their teachers, and Miss Fine (Jessica Williams) is their hero.

But it turns out that most of their school associates also have gotten into great schools. The ones who slacked, who partied who had fun. These two sacrificed for years for…nothing. Now it is time to change it. The night before graduation, they are going to experience parties and go for their crushes and lay it all out there, before Amy has to go to Africa for the summer. They need to go through the whole high school experience in just one night. Easy.

Also starring Skyler Gisondo, Victoria Ruesga, Billie Lourd, Molly Gorgon, Mason Gooding, Will Forte and Lisa Kudrow as parents, and Jason Sudeikis as a vice principal.

pole
Okay, how can straddling a giant phallic object be more PC?

Booksmart was a breath of fresh air. Just like Long Shot felt like a breath of fresh air earlier in the year. Except Booksmart I have strong feelings will stay at my top of the year list the whole year. I can’t imagine seeing a funnier film this year, and that means a lot with so many months to go.

It is just hard to find good comedy films in general that can change the game and offer something new. That give believable reasons for vulgarity and strangeness. That have a plot and growth in the characters. That aren’t just goddamn slapstick.

Out leads have flaws, have arguments, and are people worth cheering for. They are very different and relatable, but more importantly, so are the other “bad” students in their eyes. It isn’t just two heroes here, there are a lot of characters that matter and have their moments of triumph for us to shout for. Not everyone is the bad guy.

I am talking a lot of hype about a movie that technically is a high school party movie, of which the genre is packed. But damn, does this not feel like it fits the current generation so well, without dumbing itself down to whatever-ist level jokes.

Clearly, women are just funnier than men.

4 out of 4.

Guest Review: The Lion King (Chris Smith)

1994’s The Lion King is one of my favorite movies of all time. Anyone who knew me as a child will tell you I watched it constantly. I remember having to buy a second VHS copy due to wearing the first one out. Because of this, I of course had high expectations for Disney’s remake.

These “live-action” remakes Disney has been making recently have varied wildly in quality. Some have been quite good (The Jungle Book). Some have been awful (Beauty and the Beast or Alice in Wonderland). Some have been bizarre (Maleficent). I regret to say that The Lion King is unfortunately one of the bad ones.


Simba can restore the pride lands, but he cannot restore this dumpster fire.

First let’s start with the positives, because there are a few. Timon and Pumbaa are delightful, maybe even more entertaining than in the original. Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen nearly break their backs carrying the film from the minute they come on screen. Some of the other supporting characters are also fun. John Oliver is great as Zazu, while Alfre Woodard does a lot with little to work with as Sarabi. The hyena characters were expanded upon and given a truly sinister edge that I liked a lot.

The music (with some glaring exceptions) is also very good, capturing the same spirit of the original film, but with a cool spin. “Hakuna Matata” and the new expanded version of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” were especially good.

Scar was also a highlight. He carries the appropriate amount of menace and I enjoyed the added bits of backstory give to him. Chiwetel Ejiofor is clearly going for a more Shakespearean bent to the character and I think it works well.

Lastly, the effects are gorgeous. The vast majority of the film is photorealistic and looks as if they just took a film crew to Sub-Saharan Africa to film. However, this is a double edged sword, and leads me to the negatives.

circleoflife
Clearly the best moment and all down hill after this.

Hoo boy where to begin? So let’s start with some nitpicks and go from there. “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” is set during the day. That might not sound like a big deal, but it took me completely out of the movie. The whole time the song was playing (and the recording itself is great) I couldn’t stop saying to myself “But it’s broad daylight…” It’s the title of the song! One of the most famous love songs in Disney history! How do you make that decision?

Be Prepared” is just completely butchered. It’s very clear that when people heard it was being left out and people complained, they hastily put it in last minute. The tune is bad. The rendition is bad. The whole sequence is really bad and is the exact point in the film where I started to turn on the film completely.

There is also an original song here from Beyonce. I like Beyonce as an artist, but this song just completely sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s also not that good, especially by her standards.

I won’t get completely into plot details, but some changes made here and there are very odd and take some emotional power away in key scenes.

Lastly, but most importantly, the truly fatal flaw of this movie is also one of its strengths: the effects. Somewhere in pre-production, a decision was made by someone to make this movie truly photorealistic in every way, including the animal faces, so that at times it appears you’re looking at a nature documentary. For some scenes, such as the iconic (and still great) “Circle of Life” scene, this works amazingly well. However, the minute any dialogue scene occurs, especially ones requiring a lot of emotion, this decision literally kills the movie dead. Now I know it’s possible to animate realistic animal faces to show emotion. Disney themselves did it in their Jungle Book remake a few years ago. Here, the lack of expressiveness, especially with the lion characters, is definitely a purposeful decision.

The problem is that because the lions aren’t shown being that emotional, the voice actors are clearly having to tone down their performances to match. This is most clearly heard with James Earl Jones, where the difference in emotion between this film and the 1994 film is just staggering. Some of the actors still manage ok. Jones is still Jones so he’s not bad. Ejiofor manages a lot with subtle voice inflection. Donald Glover does a decent job. But for the most part, the lion characters fail to properly convey the weight of what we’re watching. The big test for me is the film’s ending. The original Lion King’s ending never fails to give me goosebumps. With this one, I felt nothing. That is nothing short of failure.

In short, go rewatch the original film this weekend instead. You’ll have a far better time.

2 out of 5.

The Art of Self-Defense

The Art of Self-Defense hit a few festivals before it got its wider release. I had so much hype built up towards it that I will say, right now, I might have liked it more had my expectations been more regular. And that sucks.

It does have a lot going for it. A24, a quirky film where Eisenberg can showcase his talents, and more.

And you know, its about karate! We haven’t had many dojo based films in awhile. The last one I really remember is The Foot-Fist Way. It was another smaller indie film with a weird humor sense. And it was okay. Maybe the real reason this came out is Cobra Kai. People love that series.

Punch
Punch

Casey (Jesse Eisenberg) is a little bitch. Maybe because he has a common lady name, but he is passive, quiet, and lonely. He lives at home with a little tiny dog. He goes to work. He doesn’t go on vacations. Gosh. He is an accountant. Gross.

Well one night he gets home and realizes he is out of dog food. Having to walk to the store in the middle of the night is scary, more so with recent reports of motorcycle people running around and beating people up. Sure enough, he gets mugged, put into a small coma, and in drastic need from rest.

While he is away from work, he wants to change his life. No, not a vacation. Getting a gun! That will help defend himself. But there is a waiting period. While waiting, he instead finds a karate dojo, led by Sensei (Alessandro Nivola), who talks in such a charismatic way. He makes Casey feel special, he gives him goals in life, he gives him a meaning. He is also going to help him become a better man.

But the more and more involved he gets in the class, the more Casey is realizing he is in something bigger than he bargained for.

Also starring Imogen Poots, Steve Terada, Phillip Andre Botello, and Hauke Bahr.

Kick
Kick.

I will do my duty to defy expectations by not talking a lot about how this movie was in terms of the genre. Because it turns out, that ruined it a bit for me. What you can and should know is that it is a Dark Comedy very much so based on the genre.

This is a swell role for Eisenberg. He is able to definitely to act his way into this character and it feels like a natural fit, unlike a lot of other recent roles. Poots really dives down into her character as well, and was unlike any other role I’ve ever seen her in.

I think Nivola is the real star and talking point here. That character is just so unique, brave, and twisted. It is hard to describe and compare him to other roles that might seem similar. It is just bizarre, and I love it.

A lot of surprises are in store for The Art Of Self-Defense, but ones that are welcome to the Sports karate genre of film.

3 out of 4.

Hail Satan?

Eye catching titles means you will definitely acknowledge its existence.

Hail Satan? is about the founding of The Satanic Temple (in 2013) and what the group has set out to accomplish in the years that follow. First and most importantly, The Satanic Temple is different than the Church of Satan. The Church of Satan has existed since the 60’s, but doesn’t really believe in Satan. Mostly atheist members doing stuff for fun, no sacrifices, some magic.

The Satanic Temple is also non-theistic in nature and not running around believing in Satan. However, their goals are social in nature. They are actively fighting for equality, for the separation of church and state, believe in education and freedom. Not radical causes, just thinks set up in our Constitution and amendments, mostly.

They are called The Satanic Temple though for buzz reasons. It gets articles printed, it drives the point home, and sure, there use the imagery because it frankly looks cool.

talk
Horns are optional.

Did you know people still protest things like this? Just the showing of the documentary in Houston at the Alamo Drafthouse had some Christian protesters against this documentary that they have not seen, on title alone.

Except for everyone that matters, this church isn’t a real church. They are doing it to make a point and we all agree on it and its awesome. They don’t think religion should play a part in politics. And to make this obvious, they try and put their religious imagery up when Christian imagery is allowed to make it more obvious for everyone. If the ten commandments get a statue outside of a court house, then they should be able to as well. If they aren’t allowed, they will sue.

Now, putting up their statue would be rad. But they ideally would not want every group to get to have a statue, but no groups at all, so that it can remain separate. And again, this is what people are protesting about stopping for dumb reasons.

The Satantic Temple just wants people to use their brains and follow the laws set out in our constitution, and protect freedoms. And they do it in a fun way.

Now this documentary highlights some of their work and their founding, but overall, it is a rather regular documentary at the end of it. Nothing too eye catching or illuminating by the end. It didn’t change me in any way. It just felt neat. An okay documentary that would be more important for someone who has never heard of this movement before.

2 out of 4.

I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth v. Michelle Carter

Sometimes a court case comes along that captures the attention of America, either because of how terrible it is, or how silly it is. OJ was the case of the century in the 1900’s. We had the Hot Coffee case that the media ran away with and influenced the public about, without going into the real details surrounding the case. We have courtroom drama shows, courtroom drama movies.

We love the law, but we we love it when people break the law and do bad things to have this drama.

I Love You, Now Die looks at a recent case of which you most definitely heard about and have a strong reaction to. Two teens, one dead boy. Suicide. And on his phone, dozens of text messages for him to kill himself from his girlfriend, including maybe telling him to get back into his truck which was how he eventually went out, when he was having second thoughts.

Have you heard it? I bet you have. And from that, we were all thinking the same thing. “That Bitch!”

However, media blurbs and unresearched news might be the real story here.

nowdie
That’s the woman who you are calling a bitch.

The 24/7 news media cycle is constantly going, constantly searching for clicks and ad revenue, because the newspaper is dying. So anything to get people to click your site is great, anything juicy or disturbing. And yes, the facts about this case are disturbing. The outcome of the death is disturbing.

But what about the history? What about the years before that July 12th, 2014 moment? What is the greater context?

This documentary is in 2 parts, overall over two hours long. The first part goes over the case against Michelle Carter, what was argued in court, the texts, and all of that. The second part focuses on the defense, using the same evidence, the same laws, to argue something very different. And of course the second part includes verdicts, reasoning, and the appeals.

And you know what? This documentary reminded me about Hot Coffee. I went into Hot Coffee thinking one thing, and left with a new opinion. Documentaries that can effectually change your opinions are a magical lamp of desire. Most of the time, I either watch because I agree, or disagree and hate it the whole time.

In attempts to remain unbiased, they didn’t have a voiceover reading texts, adding inflections or sarcasm or anything. So there is a lot of reading of the text messages between Carter and the boyfriend and other people involved.

The only reason I am not giving it a 4/4 is because in their attempts to stay unbiased, they got really biased at parts. During some of the text exchanges, they had somewhat scary background images. The faces of the couples distorted, with lots of distortion and strange background music. It made those aspects feel clearly a lot more “evil” versus the more generic backgrounds used throughout most of it.

This documentary does such an amazing job of showing both sides equally and fairly, it is a bit sad to see it mess up a few times on those details.

Either way, this is an important documentary, and one that reminds us to check things out and not just take a shitty news article for face value.

3 out of 4.

1 2