Author: Admin

The Secret: Dare to Dream

Hey! Come over here. Closer. Closer. I got a secret. Let me tell you it in your ear.

AHHHHHH!

Hah, got you. Remember a decade plus ago when The Secret was a thing? Some book about unlocking the key to the universe! It lead to vision boards, if I am not mistaken. Put positivity out there, and it will come back to you with rewards and money or something. I dunno, I never read the book. They made a documentary about this topic.

And now we get a movie! The Secret: Dare to Dream! It has a fancy subtitle to, you know, daring you to dream. It thinks you are a bitch and won’t take the dare. Come on chicken, bawka bawka. Do it. Dream. They dare you.

train
That envelope better have fat stacks of cash.
Negative Nancy Miranda Wells (Katie Holmes) is so goddamn bitter. She has her reasons. Her husband died, and he was an engineer, about to come out with this great invention to make them super rich. But he died. So she is raising three kids (Sarah Hoffmeister, Aidan Pierce Brennan, Chloe Lee) mostly on her own. Her boss at a local fish restaurant is also her now boyfriend (Jerry O’Connell), which makes her feel uncomfortable when he steps in to pay for things.

And he makes her just feel uncomfortable in general, but she isn’t in it for love, just survival at this point, and her mom (Celia Weston) adores him.

This is when Bray Johnson (Josh Lucas) slams into her life. Or at least the opposite, because she slams her vehicle into his. We see Bray being super happy and helpful with people, so he is super happy and helpful with her too. Sure, no worry about insurance, let’s help fix your vehicle. Oh and roof. And other things. Help help help. Thanks stranger!

Why is this guy so positive and obsessed with Negative Nancy Miranda Wells? Can he make her happy?!.

mvp
Jerry O’Connell, playing the asshole boyfriend most of his career.
I definitely went into this film ready to just hate it. Don’t give me this nonsense. The Secret has some good life advice, but don’t turn it into some mystical thing, you know?

The beginning was very much on point with making this movie feel like the 90’s or 00’s. “Miranda Wells has so much shit on her plate! How can it get any worse?!” But you know what? Lucas is very charismatic and sweet. Hard not to get lost in his eyes, his work ethic, and his…secrets.

You see, not only is The Secret about The Secret way of thinking, but there is also a big Secret in this film. We have layers to our secrets.

And that is the reason why my rating dropped. The characters reactions at a certain birthday party came out of nowhere, and became a trope of easy to fix miscommunication makes people mad and upset. But it was even worse, because even with miscommunication, there was little justification for causing a scene the way it occurred. The movie fell back into the trash pit, and stayed there, especially as things fixed them self in one of the most ridiculous ways possible.

Overall, this movie has little going for it and is definitely a decade too late.

1 out of 4.

Well Groomed

How many people here have dogs? Are you a fancy enough dog owner to get them groomed to looking their best? I know I am not fancy enough for that. I have a hard enough time cleaning up my dog’s sleeping area to worry about how pretty she feels. But that is why I cheated and got a dog with short fur that handles her own business.

Assuming you actually get your dog groomed, you might already be aware that there are dog grooming competitions out there! To see who can style their dogs to look the neatest, with the most precise cuts, and best brushed hair, I guess. Well, if you are interested in that, then this is not the documentary for you.

No, Well Groomed goes that step further. Because there is dog grooming, then there is creative dog grooming. Where you take your precious fluffy, and you add color, bling, art style, pizzazz, the whole nine yards. You make them into a real life pinata, or statue, and you show off your “doggy sculpture.”

No really, this is a real thing with competitions and judges, and trust me, people love it.


The dog is now multiple chickens.

The creative dog groomers end up doing a whole lot to make their pets stand out. They dye their hair, they add other accessories, and they still get all the normal grooming aspects, like nails cut and everything in its perfect place.

But is it cruel? Well, it could be. But if you talk to the dog owners, they go out of their way to make sure anything they use is safe for their pets, especially the dyes. They make sure their pet is loved, and only do it to pets that show a willingness for the act. They aren’t forcing a dog to accept it, the dogs look happy to be receiving so much attention, even if they don’t get it themselves.

I will admit, I expected to hate this documentary. It has been available on HBO for awhile, and I never got around to it, but the version I watched is a longer version, with 20ish more minutes of footage, and it was a delightful evening.

The documentary follows four contestants through a normal circuit of competitions, so we get to see them hone their craft and designs, take their ideas and turn it from concept to actual doggo. The women that are seen are very different, at various stages of their careers as competitors, have businesses related to dog grooming and really explain their drive and why they are passionate about this competitive scene. After all, that is what really matters, having passion (and fine, pet safety, get out of here PETA).

Without Well Groomed, I likely wouldn’t have known about the creative side of dog owning. I would have just continued happily with my Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show knowledge (which is close to zero) and been content. But it is fascinating to watch what people can still learn to do as a new form of pet owning, and that we still have somewhere to go creatively as a species. Even if it means dressing up other species.

3 out of 4.
And you can see a video interview with the director of Well Groomed, Rebecca Stern, here!

Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo

Who is Danny Trejo? Okay, well, for this one, you might not know his name, but you have likely seen him in a movie. As of this moment he has 383 acting credits to his name, from TV shows, to movies, to things still in production.

The title, Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo, comes from the fact that many of his early roles in films since the 1980’s did not have a real name for the character. He was known as Boxer, Inmate, Prisoner, Tattoo Artist, Chink’s Gang, Costello’s Bodyguard, and even once apparently “Mean” was his character, which I assume was not a name either.

So how did this man, this tough burly Mexican, get into acting at the age of 40, and how did he get over 300 roles in less than 40 years?

Well, the main and obvious part of this documentary is that he didn’t start as an actor, but as a regular kid who was involved with crime. He was in a gang, his family members were in a gang, and he did a LOT of bad stuff. Robberies mostly, but having weapons and threatening his community, he was in and out of juvenile detention. And once he got to being an adult, he did more that got him put away for a long time. And when he was in prison for real, that is when his life really began to change.

danny trejo
Let’s assume that backdrop was a green screen. Would be fucked up to do an interview in what looks like an actual prison or…abandoned school or whatever this is. 

So how can someone go from being a life long criminal, with lots of trauma in his life, to being an actor that no one seems to have any problems with, and is known for his huge amounts of work ethic? Well if I tell you all of that, why would you watch the documentary?

But needless to say, things happened in there that changed him. His life took on new meaning, and once he got out of prison he had a focus to make not just his own life better, but the lives of his friends, family, and the community he had wronged. He has spent the second half of his life writing those wrongs, and what came as part of that? Well, a vibrant movie career.

And he was able to take that and evolve from scary background Hispanic man, to friendly scientist in Spy Kids and eventual leading man of his own over the top franchise, Machete. He was SIXTY-SIX YEARS OLD when Machete came out, which is probably the oldest aged person to lead a new franchise (who also had never been the lead man before). Hell, Liam Neeson was in his 50’s when Taken came out (but again, he was already known as a leading man).

The reason I liked this documentary is it presented Danny Trejo as a real person. His flaws, and his successes. He has a message of hope coming from someone who was a pretty bad dude into someone who wasn’t. He has grown from his mistakes and in order to do that, you have to admit you have them. Pretty easy to admit mistakes when they are on public record of course, but still, admitting them is important.

Thank you Danny Trejo for bettering your life and showing people there can be a way out if you can get help from your community.

Also featuring some of his friends and famous people telling stories (along with his former crime buddies and family). You will see Cheech Marin, Michelle Rodriguez, and Robert Rodriguez in here, amongst others.

3 out of 4.

Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado

Who is Walter Mercado? No really, who is Walter Mercado? I don’t think I have heard of his name before watching this movie and review.

Now, I saw reviews of this, brief reports, and that it was now out on Netflix. And looking at the pictures, I just assumed he was an eccentric weather man on Hispanic based television. Boy was I wrong. Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado isn’t about weather at all.

For those of you who do not know, Walter Mercado was a famous (and likely, the most famous), Astrologist in the world. Astrologist? Yes, Astrologist. You know, zodiac signs and horoscopes.

Mercado grew up different than his friends, and was always seen as a spiritual person. Apparently in his community he was slightly worshiped as a kid because a neighbor saw him “heal” a bird back to life and fly away. So people wanted to come by and touch him. It’d be hard to grow up thinking you were a mini-god at that point I imagine.

After being an actor for awhile, with lots of substance, Walter was put on the air once to do an interview for an upcoming show. The interviewer didn’t want to talk about the show, wanted to talk about horoscopes, because Walter talked about it a lot to the staff before the show. Because the show got so many calls during that segment, they asked him to come the next day and do it again with new readings. And the rest was history.

walter mercado
History is fabulous!

So what happened after that? He eventually got his own Astrology show, which had lots of ratings. That show led to another show. It led to him being on the news, and to traveling across the world to various shows and getting his readings out there. Basically, if you grew up in a Spanish home in the 80’s or 90’s (or 70’s?) you likely knew about this mysterious man.

And then he went away at some point, and no one seems to know why, which is what this documentary wants to explain.

You see, it is all about law suits. He trusted a manager to be a good person, and this led to him signing a bad contract letting them do whatever they wanted with him. Once the money stopped flowing, Mercado wanted answers and out, but this led to big legal battle that lasted years. Overall, Mercado got to keep his name, but the company got to keep his likeness and old material and shows for profit. At that point, Mercado had tried a few comebacks but failed, and the rest, again, is history.

Now my biggest issue with this documentary is two fold.

First of all, astrology itself is all just made up, and that should not be a controversial statement to make. Vague statements that can be applied to most people, and if it doesn’t, well, you usually remember the ones that are spot on. There is lots of information out there on this and similar topics. So Mercado got big and famous over lying to lots of people. Okay, whatever.

The second thing is that this documentary is 100% a puff piece documentary, not going to much nit or grit of his life. The entire last third of the documentary is preparing for and being excited about a museum show honoring his life in Miami in 2019 and just drags. But Mercado was involved with some shady shit. He had a psychic hot line and also was involved with selling “magic” jewelry (which the documentary left out) and the documentary swept it under the rug. They blamed his manager, said Mercado wasn’t out to hurt people at all and then moved the hell on.

Come on, this is a documentary, lets be truthful. It is okay if you did bad shit. Talk about it, admit to it, and lets move on. Instead they focus on this person only being an angel and worshiped, but ignoring the bad stuff and that it is all based on a lie anyways. It just rubs me completely the wrong way.

This documentary will definitely inform you as to who he is and why he became popular, but I find myself skeptical at other parts of it due to the glaring obvious parts that are ignored.

And hey, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Eugenio Derbez are in here, and they are famous. The former also opens the documentary and has an extended part at the end. I also did like to hear about his long time best friend and assistant Willy Acosta, and I wonder what he is up to now with his life in his own hands.

1 out of 4.

Hamilton

I am not throwing away this review, but I am going to keep it short and sweet.

Bless Lin-Manuel Miranda, who decided in 2016 they needed to shoot their musical with the original cast. They could have held on to this for over a decade and waited and waited. They said it would come out October, 2021! And then? Then pandemic.

And now it is out much, much, much earlier. On Disney+ so most people don’t have to pay much at all to see it, versus the theaters (Which it should still go to when it is safe, I would buy that ticket).

Thank you for spending three days getting this filmed, including the off-Broadway day for all of the cast and crew, putting in extra shows to make this thing out there.


It’s Alexander Hamilton, singing on the screen for you.

Wait for it! The entire original cast and crew is in this picture!

Anthony Ramos, Chris Jackson, Daveed Diggs, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Jonathan Groff, Leslie Odom Jr., Okieriete Onaodowan, Phillipa Soo, Renée Elise Goldsberry, and Sydney James Harcourt.

And its the Hamilton musical, damn it! This is my plot outline. It is about Alexander Hamilton and some more people. There.


The room where this whole thing happened was actually in a theater in Broadway!
A phenomenon greater than most other phenomenon, I can die happy now that this is available. I never could see it on stage, and I likely wouldn’t now anytime remotely soon thanks to pandemics. This is a blessing and we should cherish it.

This counts as a movie for the year? I’ll take it. Now I have given two 4 out of 4s so far this year.

What are you waiting for, what do you stall for? It’s available now, go see it.

One last time, this musical is love.


My wife said I needed some more review aspects to this, fine. I cried five times despite hearing this musical so many times, some of my cries were new, some where at the same time I cried during just the music.

A few songs were enhanced thanks to the visuals. Like Satisfied, and seeing King George in more scenes. The use of moving stage was used wonderfully. The ending is so much better (of an already awesome song) with the dancers and background.

I will note that Odom Jr.’s Burr uses a much more lispy voice in this recording versus the original cast recording. I assume that was done in the main show way before it, maybe it is easier to sing with that voice in the long term, maybe it is to make him seem a bit more sneaky, but it is noticeable and completely acceptable.

4 out of 4.

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

The last time I had an actual positive review for a movie where Will Ferrell had a leading role was in 2010 for Everything Must Go. That is basically a whole decade of meh or worst.

“What about The Lego Movie? You can count The Lego Movie!” I did count that! I gave it a 2/4 and stand by that still.

So I will be clear that I fully intended to just ignore Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. Even the name hurts me a bit.

And then I got stupid one night and just put it on (I lasted like, a day). And the good news is, it could have been a lot worse!


Everyone cheer for something to make us happy…please?
ABBA changed the world forever with their performance on Eurovision. I don’t know if that is true, but that is what I gather as an American who has never seen Eurovision. It is the main band I have heard come out of it and be really world vision, so I guess so?

It certainly changed the world for Lars Erickssong (Will Ferrell), who seeing that performance as a kid claimed he would one day win Eurovision as well. And he would take Sigrit Ericksdottir (Rachel McAdams) on this decades long journey, the girl who never talked but found out she can sing!

Decades later, they are Fire Saga, with hits and electric pianos. No one really cares about them in their small village, but they get gigs as the only band to play covers and silly songs. Lars’ dad (Pierce Brosnan) is a typical disappointed dad based on his son’s dreams.

But of course, somehow they make it to Eurovision! Thanks to plot. And that is where things get slightly more difficult. Highly rated to win Alexander Lemtov (Dan Stevens) out of Russia takes a liking to Sigrit and might put the duo in jeopardy before they can even perform!

Also starring Melissanthi Mahut (who is also Kassandra in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey), Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Demi Lovato, Graham Norton, Jamie Demetriou, Alfrun Rose, Elina Alminas, Björn Hlynur Haraldsson, and Mikael Persbrandt.


Parts of this still look like the men are painted with the background.
From the various plots and subplots, some of them stuck the landing and some of them floundered. The Icelandic villain is obvious throughout the film, but over so quickly and so unnecessary that it just takes away from the rest of the movie. If all of that was cut, they would just need to have a new explanation for one aspect of the film and it would still work fine.

What does work on the “villain” scale is Stevens the Russian singer. Because he isn’t really a villain. He isn’t even a bad guy. He is just not with Ferrell’s character, but he seems genuine in wanting his own success for himself and for McAdams’ character. He says things that are correct, and I have no hate for him as a character.

The only main character one would dislike is, (unfortunately? of course?), Ferrell’s lead. He has one goal and one goal only, but for whatever reason, that means he can be a dick to those who love him. His reactions make no sense. The viewer are supposed to hate him and find him annoying, but I’m not sure why because it makes me never want to rewatch the regular parts of the movie again. His only great reoccurring joke is the hatred towards the Americans.

Ferrell’s character is so bad, it makes us sad that McAdams’ is with him at all throughout the film. McAdams carries this movie for me, her character is so innocent and fun and wholesome you just want her to succeed and hug her. We can get it by the end, and sure, missed 20-30 years of growth between them before that. But still, come on, step up your game lady.

The music is the real reason why the movie can get a higher rating overall. It is so fun and interesting. Having past winners as cameos is nice, and the “Song-a-long” scene made me feel so Euphoric (while also annoyed at how auto-tuned it was, and how badly cut it was). Our final song of the competition was wonderful and I cannot get Ja Ja Ding Dong out of my head.

I offer some disappointment that a lot of the main characters aren’t the real voices uses. Of course Ferrell’s is his, its unmistakable. McAdams’ is apparently her voice and another’s mixed together, so it is “slightly” there. Stevens’, despite being a singer, is entirely dubbed by a more operatic dude instead of mixed based on Stevens’ own wishes. Even our Greek character is someone else singing! All of the Eurovision stars and actual musicians likely really sing, but they also are autotuned, so nothing gets to feel natural.

Overall, ESC:TSOFI is a cute story, an overall loving story, a story with some comedy and a lot more heart, and fun music numbers to keep you entertained along the way. It might be the pandemic talking, but it is something that feels necessary right now.

3 out of 4.

My Spy

Against all odds, My Spy is finally out today, in the US, legally, August 26, 2020. It is available on Amazon Prime.

So how did it get here? Well, it was supposed to come out in August of 2019 (and likely would have been the best result in retrospect) but got moved back a month before that. It was pushed to a January release of 2020, then pushed again to a mid march release in 2020. You know what happened then. So about a week before coming out, it got pushed back to mid-April, to see what was going on in the world then.

And of course, before that happened, they cut their losses, sold it to Amazon and no theatrical release anymore. Well, it did come out in theaters in the UK in March. And in Australia in January, but hey, whatever, not like pirates exist.

My Spy annoys me because it is the last screening I saw in theaters before everything went down. The last actual movie I saw in theaters was Birds of Prey, the next morning, but that was already out for a month so no one cares about that.

And with it out today, finally, I can tell you why it sucks.

lie
Here is a frame. It combined with all the rest made a poor film.
JJ (Dave Bautista) is a big strong man, who used to be in special forces, and is now in the CIA. He likes to punch things and blow things up and isn’t used to being subtle. And because of that he is being punished. Yuck. He is being sent to Chicago (ew), with a tech support spy (Kristen Schaal) with the only purpose of spying on a family.

Why? Well, silly plot reasons. It involves nuclear weapons surprisingly. But a bad guy stole some weapon blueprints, brother of bad guy stole them from him to be a hero and not let them get out, brother dies. No one knows where the plans are, but maybe they are with the brother of the bad guy’s wife (Parisa Fitz-Henley) and daughter (Chloe Coleman), who have moved from France to Chicago after the death. Very sad times.

Unfortunately for JJ, because everyone is a noob, they almost immediately get found out in their safe house by the daughter character, who thinks she has found spies (accurate) but not sure why. Thanks to hilarious blackmail and set up, she uses JJ as a way to find acceptance in life. She gets “spy” training, and a friend in her lonely world, while JJ gets forced into her life as a neighbor, and starts to fall in love with a widow.

Typical spy stuff. Things go wrong. Bad guys. Ahhh-xplosions.

Also starring Greg Bryk, Ken Jeong, Devere Rogers, Noah Dalton Danby, and Nicola Correia-Damude.

sparkle
Ah yes, tropes. 

My Spy picked a bad year to finally come out. Because of how many movies aren’t coming out this year, it is almost certainly going to make a lot of worst of the year lists. It might have made them last year too, but it probably would have been decent box office numbers, given its probably lower budget.

There is nothing excitingly new about this movie. It is your typical big strong man must become more loving or family man. Like almost wrestling turned actor film. I thought we wouldn’t get one of these any time soon since we were stuck with Playing With Fire last year. But this isn’t the genre’s fault, it is the wrestler turned actor fault.

Since we currently have John Cena and Dave Bautista doing that, they are both likely to have have one of these, and they happened to be very close to each other. It is our burden to bare.

This film offers nothing new, isn’t funny, and is rather stupid. It should have come out in January or August, because it would fit perfectly there in the movies people want to ignore. Now I suggest we all ignore it on Amazon Prime, like most of you planned on doing that anyways.

0 out of 4.

7500

Can they make flight hijacking films worth it? I don’t think there have been hundreds on this topic, but a few already and they take place in such a small space. A plane. And there is a good chance that we will know how they end. After 9/11, there is almost no way it ends with the plane going into a tower, that is for certain. Either the good guys win, or it crashes somewhere else, but that is it.

Where can this genre go?

7500, not to be confused with Flight 7500, is a German/American film and was originally going to star Paul Dano before delays and scheduling conflicts. No matter how good this film is, I am going to say it would hav been better with Dano. I love Dano.

train
This is a poor man’s Dano.
Tobias (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a co-pilot, young with his future right in front of him. He also has a girlfriend as a flight attendant, so that is nice, assuming no weird power dynamic is at play. The main pilot, Michael (Carlo Kitzlinger), is ready for take off and is pretty experienced. They take off from Berlin, should be a nice quiet night.

Just kidding! Highjackers!

A group of men immediately try to get into the cockpit when an attendant is bringing them food!

Oh no!

Tobias is able to close the door to the cockpit with only one man getting in the pit, and also help knock him out, but the pilot is a goner. Tobias has to man the flight on his own (which is okay) but he did get stabbed in the arm. He has to deal with a man inside the cockpit who could come to at any moment, and two men trying to barge their way in and are willing to kill hostages to get the door open.

What is a man to do? The air traffic controller tells him to do an emergency landing in a nearby city and to under no circumstances open the door. But when they target his girlfriend and other innocents, can he really keep his composure?

Also starring Hicham Sebia, Omid Memar, Passar Hariky, Aylin Tezel, Paul Wollin, and Aurélie Thépaut.


Always gotta be looking back scared, come on man. Eyes on the road.

Why Mr. Gorgon? Why should I watch this film? Does it offer anything unique?

Thanks for the leading question to the last part of my review! Yes, this film has one reason to give it a chance. Outside of some security tapes at the very beginning, and one other part, the entirety of the film takes place in the cockpit.

So yes, you are going to get a whole lot of JGL on your screen. He isn’t always on the screen. Sometimes our focus is outside of the front window, or the other characters in the cockpit, or more importantly, on his video monitor of what is happening behind the door when talking with the terrorists.

If anything, this definitely changes the way we see cabin fever, and builds on the claustrophobia and sense of being trapped in an unwinnable situation. That is where the movie shines.

I also have a theory. If they didn’t give us subtitles for the non-English languages it would have helped with the fear and helplessness. Because Tobias only knows English, so can’t even communicate well with the staff. This changes things if the viewer understands German or Arabic or Turkish (I believe all three are spoken), but then we could have added some scarier elements overall.

Instead, we get a normal story told in a better than normal way. It has fine acting, a lot of yelling, and some hard moral choices overall. Definitely worth a gander, since it is free on Amazon Prime.

2 out of 4.

One Cut of the Dead

One Cut of the Dead is a Japanese independent film from the last year or years, it is hard to say. It has had a weird road to distribution.

Made with mostly unknown actors and for a ridiculously cheap budget, it made back over 1,000 times its investment, which is a pretty goddamn unheard of percent for movies. I know it was hitting festivals and getting a lot of good buzz, and then at one point it was…put on Amazon!

But, it wasn’t supposed to be put on Amazon. Someone had an older unfinished copy, and just put it on Amazon prime for free. Did you know you can just do that? It is apparently really easy. And one it was on Amazon, many people rushed out to see it, and tell other’s to see it because it was a critical darling. The same day, news came out that the people who own it didn’t upload it, it was unfinished copy, and to please not watch it while it was worked out.

Well shit. That kind of screwed over a lot of things.

Anyways, at this point it is on amazon again, but for money, and the right version. So you can watch it and feel confident someone involved is getting money for it.

camera
Like this guy who is holding the camera!

One man had a vision. Director Higurashi (Takayuki Hamatsu) had the idea for a zombie film, an idea that would be so scary and amazing. But his shitty actors were not giving him enough emotion.

We are talking take, after take, after take, and it just is not good enough for the director.

So while he went to go cool down, and the actors relaxed and got to know each other, normal stuff between takes. But something odd happened. Some sounds from the outside. Some…limbs from outside. Oh shit, real zombies! in the middle of their zombie film!

Now the director can get some real emotions out of his cast.

Also starring Yuzuki Akiyama, Harumi Shuhama, Kazuaki Nagaya, Hiroshi Ichihara, and Mao.

bloody
Those zombies aren’t going to double kill themselves!
One Cut of The Dead is a unique film, there is no one who can deny that. In fact, it is so unique, it is also equally hard to even talk about it because it is a film that should be discovered, not spoiled.

And yes, the idea of spoiling can be kicked around enough, but trust us, the critics, me, when we say, just gotta go in some times to see the journey.

I couldn’t believe what the film managed to do and convey. It is extremely impressive, given the lack of budget or names involved, even from a Foreign film perspective. It required a lot of work. It required planning. And it required people who were creative as fuck. People who really had a vision and executed it perfectly.

One Cut of the Dead is a comedy more than a horror, and it will be hard to find something more unique than it before or after for awhile. Not even an American remake will likely be as unique. [As of writing, no plans for American remake, but sorry for jinxing it should it change in the future].

It is definitely an experience, and I watched it directly after Train to Busan! A very different foreign zombie film that is top notch in very differeny ways. And yet, this one still was able to stand out on its own.

4 out of 4.

The Vast of Night

The Vast of Night is certainly not a film I had heard of before receiving a screener. Starring no one famous, by a first time director, with a low budget, not going to theaters.

“But nothing is going to theaters now!” Well, yeah, I know that. But this might have never gone to theaters if they were open. Instead, it is on Amazon Prime (as of Friday, May 29).

And now you know why I am just going to start the intro.

operator
And after this review, we will plug you back into your regularly scheduled scrolling on your social medias.

DJ Everett (Jake Horowitz) and Fay Crocker (Sierra McCormick) are two younger kiddos living out in New Mexico in the 1950’s. They are both hip in the tech world too. DJ Everett is the host of his own radio show in his local community, full of interviews of people from town and elsewhere, hoping to make it big and leave his small community. Fay is interested in the future of technology and getting better at it herself, and is his switch board operator for the show.

During one night, most of the community is caring more about a local basketball game, but the show must go on. And in the early parts of the show, Fay hears a strange noise, one she has never heard before, nor has anyone she asks. In fact, when she brings this to Everett’s attention, this becomes their new focus, playing it for others to see if they can help them figure out what made that noise.

And they get a call. A mysterious person. Saying they heard the noise before, long ago, but afraid to let that story go public. This leads to another story, more secrets, more missing people, and more disbelief.

But this is 1950’s New Mexico and a small town, what could possibly be tormenting this town?

Also starring Gail Cronauer and Bruce Davis.

caller
Yes, we get people talking on the phone, get hyped!

This is clearly a film on a small budget. Don’t worry, it is obvious to the viewers what must be going on really early on, and only isn’t obvious to those in the movie given the time period it is taken during. A lot of it is a set up for the ending, but despite the budget, you will get to see something for those afraid they won’t.

Most of it is teasing to the ending, as I just said, so we are relying on characters literally just talking to each other. Thankfully, the director decided to go with long takes for most of these conversations, so they ooze out natural pacing and behavior. One of the two main story tellers is only able to be heard on the phone, but Davis has a nice voice to listen to and helped really start the build of the tension. I know what you are thinking. A movie with people talking on the phone for awhile? Is it like Locke? Eh, not really.

It is relatively slower paced early on and really takes awhile to feel tense, but by the end tense it is despite the still relatively low stakes. The cinematographer and composer really put in good work to make the build up. It was an average movie for most of it until it built up by the end.

The leads of Horowitz and McCormick work extremely well together and do a lot of work with not just their words, but their faces as well. They have that curiosity and drive to solve their own mystery with their own individual reasons behind it.

The Vast of Night is a low key film that will build up the thrills by the end, dealing with strange sounds and radio waves, and great performances from its leads.

3 out of 4.