Eating Animals

Oh hey, a documentary. One about food, those aren’t common at all.

This one doesn’t even try to hide under a clever punny title about the issues. Eating Animals is straight to the point. It is most likely also going to be anti eating animals. I can’t imagine a documentary that is going to talk about the pros of carnivorism with a title like this.

Oh and it is narrated by Natalie Portman. That helps solidify the point as well.

I wonder at this point how much new information a documentary can have over a topic that has been so beaten to death at this point. But hey maybe.

Eating Animals
I didn’t expect the documentary to get so graphic and watch this man eat this chicken without cutting away for 35 minutes straight.

Needless to say I don’t have a lot to say about this documentary. It doesn’t go out and say animals are unhealthy for human consumption. Instead it is on the impacts on the environment and on the small farmer. It goes after corporations and sure, some animal rights is fair. Really what it wants to say is that if you are going to eat meat to think about where your food comes from. Support more local small time farmers and ones that treat their animals nicely.

I can respect that.

The documentary itself is deeply boring however. It has no pizazz. We have a true story of people getting punished and hurt from their better raising methods. That sucks. It is still boring.

Basically this is a documentary that will change nothing. People who like meat won’t go watching it. People who don’t might watch it and will probably still not eat meat.

Just give me something new in a documentary before making it, okay?

1 out of 4.

Infinity Chamber

Infinity Chamber is a movie you have never heard about before, nor had I when I decided to watch it.

Just a movie, floating around on Netflix, when I wanted to find something potentially interesting and unheard of while cross stitching.

Indie science fiction movies, especially ones dealing with far reaching topics, have generally been good to me in the past. They can be a lot smarter than the average released film, and go into a lot of weird places. I wanted this one to be weird, so I hoped for the best.

Camera
Haircuts are unfortunately normal. Not. Weird. Enough.

Frank (Christopher Soren Kelly) wakes up and finds himself in a room. A prison. A chamber. It isn’t too small, but there are no windows and no notable doors either. He has a bed, but nothing else to keep him idle.

Oh, there is a big camera in the middle of the room and it talks to him. Its name is Howard (Jesse D. Arrow). He is the warden of this here cell, but it is his first time, so he cannot answer all of Frank’s questions. Questions like, how did he get here? Why is he here in the first place? When can he leave and can he talk to anyone else? Why does Howard know jack shit?

It turns out his cell has other amenities. like drinks and food can be made when requested by Howard. If he needs a toilet or wants to exercise, parts of his cell will open up to help him out. But other than that, he is alone.

Oh, an inexplicably, Frank also sometimes finds himself in a cafe. This cafe is run by a lady (Cassandra Clark), who doesn’t recognize him every time he appears. During every visit however, he is beat up and captured by agents, and hey look, back in the cell.

This is going to be a long sentence for Frank.

Coffee
The coffee has no hidden side effects. Not. Weird. Enough.

This film was a struggle to get through. I had to watch it over multiple days. Early on in the movie I kept passing out (with my wife quickly waking me up) because of how dreadfully slow it was going.

I am not entirely sure what I expected. Maybe just a nice social experiment movie with one person. Maybe something like Cube. Maybe something with some sort of thriller elements.

But nothing was intriguing. I fully understand what happened, or happened enough with reasonable amounts of speculation. I didn’t miss key elements. I did miss a reason to care, however.

I know it is a low budget indie film. But man, that robot sucked. Didn’t even sound scary, all powerful, or robotic really. Felt just like a dude. Twists that occurred seemed obvious. And holy fuck was it boring. Did I say that already?

1 out of 4.

The First Purge

Asking most people, they would tell you that they like The Purge: Anarchy, the most, which was the second film. It was good to see it on a city wide basis, but I am also one of the people who really enjoyed the original Purge movie as well. The Purge: Election Year, however, did nothing really for me. It was obvious what they were doing and going for, but the bad acting in it means it wasn’t as impactful as anyone would have liked.

Unlike previous films, I never saw a trailer for The First Purge, so I am going in relatively blind. I did see the first teaser poster though, which was enough to make me laugh and get a bit excited.

Although let’s be clear. This is a prequel. Prequels are generally fucking stupid, unless they can absolutely answer new information in a different light. And if it doesn’t? Well, then prequels are fucking stupid.

Mask
When did he have the time to make this mask? Did they all agree that masks were cool before it ever happened? Was there a crafting party/meeting?

This time, this takes place right after the New Founding Fathers have taken over the government and elected a president. They said they would help come up with a solution to fix America at any cost, as fast as possible.

And this involves a planned social experiment, for 12 hours, to let most average crimes, including murder, be legal. It will be done as an outlet to let out all the anger and aggression. And it will be done on Staten Island, a place with known borders, to see if it works.

Staten Island has a large poor population, so when the vote happened for their place, they agreed overwhelmingly. People who want to participate are also going to be given $5,000 if they survive the night. The rich can just leave the island before hand, the poor will stay and find this life changing, so of course they will do it.

No one really knows what to expect for the night. A lot of killing? Killing early and then people being satisfied and going home? Just a night of looting and outdoor sex? Who knows!

Well, we will have drones, contact lens cameras, and more reporting on the events around the world.

Starring Y’lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Joivan Wade, Mugga, Patch Darragh, Rotimi Paul, Mo McRae, and Marisa Tomei.

Protest
Protesting free money and free crime is an uphill battle.

Remember how we already learned that the purge was really a way to help deal with the undesirables? You know, the poor, the colored, the homeless? A way to lower the resources we needed overall? It was implied in the first film and explicitly shown in the second film?

Yeahh, well, they use that as a sort of plot twist shocking moment in this film. Sure, that would be shocking maybe if The First Purge was the first Purge movie, but it isn’t. It is a prequel, and it is showing us shit we already know.

This film was basically almost a 0 out of 4, due to having no point. But it is hard to not root for Noel’s character, despite being a drug lord kingpin, especially when he becomes John McClane near the end, scaling a tower in his wife beater t-shirt and bag of guns. This film also features a lot more people of color as our leads, which is fantastic. The bad aspects are that it just doesn’t offer really anything new. It is full of surprises that aren’t surprising, a bad local villain, and the cringeist scenes between the scientist and the politician. Which scene? Every. Single. Scene. Between them. Tomei just didn’t even give a fuck in this movie for her limited role.

The First Purge is forgettable and now leaves us in a weird position for this movie. Where does it go from here? Do we now do The Second Purge? Or can we just set up future random purge movies in random locations?

Or does anyone care anymore?

1 out of 4.

The Final Year

I first heard about the documentary The Final Year sometime last year. Politics are getting crazier every day, and the Obama administration feels like forever ago.

From what I understood, it would be looking into the year 2016, not from a year of worrying about primaries and nominations, but specifically on Obama and his goals in that last year. What drove him forward, what was he hoping to accomplish, what did he actually accomplish, and why? His desires to not just be a lame duck and coast his final year.

And it would have behind the scenes access! It would be very fly on the wall candid feeling!

These are mostly assumptions I made in my head it turns out.

It was technically about Obama, sure. But really, it was about the Obama administration foreign policy team, dealing with the world, and what the world was doing to them.

TFY
Oh good, a photo of the four main people, with the most focus on those who had less screen time.

John Kerry was the Secretary of State in the second half of the Obama administration, and he was dealing with foreign policy. We also have Samantha Power and Ben Rhodes. Power was the Ambassador to the United Nations for four years, while was the Deputy National Security Adviser.

Clearly all three of these individuals were in positions to deal with a lot when it came to foreign policy. We get a lot of access to these three during the final year, both from interviews for the documentary, their own scandals, and videos of them doing their normal jobs and responsibilities. Kerry has less screen time than Rhodes/Power but still is definitely a lot more involved than Obama.

And well, I think this one fails to become a great documentary for feeling all over the place. What connects it is just one year and events happening to and from three people. And lets just be clear, this is not an opinion. They are less interesting than Obama. A lot of people are going to go into this expecting a lot of Obama, and they are going to be disappointed.

It also feels a bit sadder overall, knowing that basically everything they set to accomplish and did is being dismantled and finished. It is a dark look at politics in that regard. But still not dark enough to really fully care.

At this point, I wish this documentary came out a whole year earlier, right away, so that we can get the impact fresh in our minds. At this point, it just feels too late.

1 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.

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.

Basmati Blues

I first heard about Basmati Blues at least 2 and a half years ago. I tend to rather frequently look up the Wikipedia List of Musical Films By Year. It is always good to know what is coming up, because damn it, I like musicals. Just like how I waited for almost two years for The Greatest Showman.

But this was different. This one had the star of Room , which was wildly popular at the time, and it was a goddamn musical. It just took forever to come out, with delays, and then eventually a quiet VOD and even quieter DVD release.

This is a film they tried to bury, instead of riding off of her coattails. Can it be that bad?

Dance
Foreigner learning to do local dance scene? Check.

Rice 9 is amazing! It gives more protein, more rice per yield, less waste, and blah blah blah. It has been genetically modified to be the very best rice there is and can do a lot for hunger and poverty!

The designers of this crop are the father daughter team of Eric (Scott Bakula) and Linda (Brie Larson), although Linda did most of the legwork despite her younger age. She is passionate about helping save the world and happy that she works for a company that is trying to get things rolling. However, there is a problem. Their rep that was supposed to go to India to sell the plant to a small group of farmers to prove its effectiveness got into some really bad trouble. He wouldn’t be welcome in those parts.

The heads (Donald Sutherland, Tyne Daly) need to find someone new to send over stat. Someone who is passionate, kind, and believes in their product. And although she is just a scientist, they think Linda is just the girl for the task.

Now we have a girl going to a country she has never been, to peddle a product she loves, to farmers who are mostly resistant to change. And because she is alone, why not throw in some love complications as well? Oh yeah, also, the corporation is bad.

Also starring Utkarsh Ambudkar as our love interest / competitor, Saahil Sehgal, and Lakshmi Manchu.

Musical
Corporation revealing their evil ways in a plan with office workers? Check

No, I wouldn’t say it is that bad. But it is is that forgettable. There were definitely songs and it was definitely musical songs. I imagined this could be a movie where the songs came out naturally and realistically, like Begin Again or so. These songs however are mostly the show stopper type films, breaking the ordinary, music playing in the background. I have no hate for these type, I love them!

Just this one didn’t have too many and they weren’t too spectacular (spectacular). I can’t remember really any of the songs, just maybe 1-2 seconds. None of the tunes stuck in my head and maybe only a few made me smile.

The plot and the story is relatively weak. I am happy it was anti-corrupt corporations and not anti-genetically modified food, which is where I thought it would go. They are totally fine with genetically modified food, just not fine with dick companies who lie.

It was strange to set a musical in India and not go harder for the actual Bollywood feel. We had a Bollywood ending number, and the rest was just standard fare. The cinematography during the songs is incredibly low key, and just felt like a movie that was filmed in about a week.

Basmati Blues is the thankfully not the only musical to come out this year. Check out Hearts Beat Loud for my current number one if you need something to get you moving.

1 out of 4.

Gemini

Gemini is a movie I actually knew about before watching! I swear! I heard of this one!

I saw the trailer, once, and it had an electro-noir feel. That will either make a lot of sense, or it won’t. And that is okay, because genres can get real weird. I just learned about post-postmodernism and hysterical realism! Not what they mean, just that they are genres that more than one book or art work fit.

Gemini is definitely a much lower budget, indie movie with one or two recognizable stars in it. It is the type of film that has to rely on a good story to actually get people to watch it, and not warm celebrity smiles.

Love
See? No smiles. Just blue tones and glares.

Jill LeBeau (Lola Kirke) is the agent, PR firm, best friend, and potential lover of big Hollywood actress star, Heather Anderson (Zoë Kravitz). Heather is a big star. Everyone wants her. The paparazzi. The fans. The studios, the writers. All of them can’t get enough of that Heather. And they have to get through Jill to get to her.

In these trying times, Heather is going through a lot, including a break up through her celebrity boyfriend. People really just want to find out why and get in her business, putting her in a more reclusive mood. Jill cannot protect her either, but she can just try to make her feel comfortable.

After a night of drunken shenanigans and loneliness, Jill gets to her bosses house the next day and finds her lying dead on the ground on her own home. And all of the evidence points to Jill. But Jill couldn’t kill her boss, her best friend, her maybe lover, could she? No! There were people who might have done it. Angry writers, obsessed fans, down on their luck paparazzi, all of that.

No, Jill isn’t going to go on some pseudo investigative hunt to find the real murderer. But she is going to ask questions and try to clear her name while wallowing in self pity.

Also starring John Cho, James Ransone, Greta Lee, Michelle Forbes, Nelson Franklin, Reeve Carney, and Ricki Lake.

Ghost
“No, her future ghost is the murderer!”

For the most part, while watching Gemini I just thought it was an average story pseudo-thriller. The soundtrack resonated throughout it, a sort of techno pulse that was going and going. It reminded me of Good Time, but that is a movie about a guy on the run and it sort of earned that score. This one was way less hectic and just seemed off to me.

Don’t go into Gemini thinking it will be a classic whodunit film where the viewer can follow the clues and pick out the murderer along with our “Detective.” No, it is not one you’d be able to pick up from clues, because there aren’t really any clues, just assumptions and you have to sit and wait for the ride to end before it is fully revealed.

And unfortunately when I was almost done off the ride, the cart went off the rails and left me in the gutter. This is a long metaphor to describe the film, and I don’t apologize for that. The ending is downright terrible. I feel so disappointed in following the story of this film. It was never great or above average even. Just okay. But the ending cost it points and put it clearly as a film I don’t need to see again, nor would I recommend.

1 out of 4.

The Layover

Did anyone hear about The Layover? No? It wasn’t really thatrically released? Sort of buried? Mostly VOD/straight to DVD?

Huh that is strange. Because the two leads are pretty darn famous.

But let’s face it. The only reason I even heard about this film is because it was directed by William H. Macy. Before he directed The Layover, he directed Rudderless, which I actually really liked.

So even though the movie seemed like a bad sexy comedy, I figured it still deserved a chance.

BFFSs
BFF stands for breast friends forever.

Meg (Kate Upton) and Kate (Alexandra Daddario) are actually best friends, and not only that, live with each other in the same apartment! Two twenty-something ladies, totally successful, living with their friends, yeah! Kate is a teacher, and being asked to leave her job due to a student talking about anime tentacle porn, and Meg is involved with selling supplements from North Korea. So yeah, they both made poor choices.

Well, Meg made more poor choices. Kate is getting screwed over. Before they go and pout, Meg goes and spends more of their money on a trip to Florida! On the way there, on the plane, sitting right between them, they get to meet Ryan (Matt Barr), who I guess is a cutie with a bootie. Kate is in a funk and might need a good shag, and Meg is used to getting what she wants. So they join into a little game, to seduce this Ryan man.

And good news, they have plenty of time to do it. Due to weather concerns, their plane has to land far away from their destination. You know, a layover. And now they can hang out with him outside of a plane, and I guess do a slut-off to see who can seduce him the best.

Get it? Layover? Get it?

Also featuring Matt Jones and Kal Penn.

the plane
I think he is trying to secretly take pictures for his sex wall.

Welp. No. Just no.

The Layover did not end up being a better film than the cover suggested. Macy be damned, but this is not a good follow up to Rudderless at all.

I mean, what you see is what you expect. But technically, if you are a perv watching a sex comedy for titillation, you expect at least some nakedness, but of course this film doesn´t have any of that either. This is like a strip club version of a sex comedy, just a big tease.

Want to see two ladies jump into a pool in a bad diving competition? Or to just sabotage each other over and over? Or even just have a straight up fist fight near the end, you know, over a man? Then sure, give this film a chance.

Everyone else will just give this film the obvious hard pass it deserves, because you wouldn´t even known it existed.

1 out of 4.

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