Tag: 3 out of 4

Cuties

Fuck Ted Cruz.

Okay, I am jumping the gun, I will get on that later.

Cuties is a French film that premiered earlier in 2020 at the Sundance Film Festival before all of (gestures around) this stuff happened. It got some awards, good audience remarks, whatever. That doesn’t mean much, people at Sundance sometimes love movies way, way, way too much.

Netflix won the bid for distribution rights, so it came out on the platform this week. That is not before drawing controversy, by releasing a poster for the film, very much more risque and uncomfortable than the French release poster of the same film. It really did one thing, which was enable controversy about the movie, and get people talking, so maybe that “gaff” was intentional. It was a pretty shitty move overall.

Because now the public perception of what this movie is about, versus what the film is actually saying, is at odds, and that is a grey matter pit where Ted Cruz likes to flourish.

face
This is little girls judging you, Ted.

Amy (Fathia Youssouf) does not live an ideal life. She is an 11 year old girl, living in a poor apartment in Paris, with her mother (Maïmouna Gueye) and two younger brothers. She is from Senegal, where her father is at that point, because he is getting a second wife. He is waiting to bring her back to Paris to live in the same house as his first wife and kids, and that makes things very awkward for Amy, who for sure does not like that idea at all.

Amy was raised extremely religious conservative by the standards of Paris, being from another culture, so she feels repressed. When she sees another girl in her building (Médina El Aidi-Azouni) dancing and dressing up, despite also being 11, she is curious. There is a group of these girls (Esther Gohourou, Ilanah Cami-Goursolas, Myriam Hamma) who are popular and fun, and sure mean, but they got style and they like to dance. Amy wants to be in that group, she wants to be free and she wants to explore life!

Well, these girls are a dance troupe and they look up to dance troupes of older women, and those women have provocative costumes and provocative moves, so of course they need to have them too!

Amy has to decide what she wants to do and how far she wants to go, to fit in, to exploit her own self, just to find her own sense of freedom, self worth, and to maybe have friends?

Also featuring Mbissine Thérèse Diop.

posers
We technically find out early on that they classify as posers.

Fuck Ted Cruz. Wait, no, jumping ahead still slightly.

First let us talk about the controversy. The girls in this film are imitating adults they find as popular and fun, so they are imitating their dance moves. At one point a girl takes a picture of her vagina area to post on the internet, and we do not see any aspect of that picture or her actually naked on camera. The girls also talk about penises at one point. That is what I remember.

So the controversy is really over dancing. And that involves twerking, which is apparently the scariest thing known to man since that Miley Cyrus thing. First off, get over it. Second, yes, the dance moves that involve gyrating hips, thrusts, and being on the ground are MEANT to make you uncomfortable, because yes, it is uncomfortable scenes and that is what the damn movie is going for.

It doesn’t take Sherlock to be able to figure out that the movie is not promoting the sexualization of minors, but quite the opposite. The idea of putting young girls in revealing outfits, for dances, for pageants, or whatever, is for some reason still a controversial issue that a lot of people like to ignore, but does and can lead to some bad things. The director, Maïmouna Doucouré, believes women should be in charge of their own bodies AND that kids should be kids without worrying about predators and growing up too fast. They can both be true points.

For the people flipping out over a movie (Which again, partially Netflix’s response thanks to their poster choices of showing the girls in their final outfits, versus just playing dress up and frolicking), but haven’t cared about any of this before seems awkward. The movie shouldn’t be punished, it is the culture that they should be angry about it because this isn’t just some fiction film. This is stuff that is happening, and people can actively be helping change that in their own communities.

I am trying to write this in a way that doesn’t say something actively stupid, but I think I keep going back and forth. I personally don’t care at all about twerking. It is just another dance style after plenty more that caused people to clutch pearls, and eventually people will likely get over it too. I am not saying kids can’t twerk, I am just noting that those angry about what amounts to just dance moves and does not harm the actresses in the movie are ridiculous.

And again, if you are uncomfortable, that is the point, let’s work on making our kids feel like they can be kids until they are forced to be adults. You all are adults reading this, you probably hate it. Don’t make them grow up fast if you want yourself to be able to go back.

So why Fuck Ted Cruz? Because he hasn’t seen this movie, you know he hasn’t, he just read a report, and wants the Department of Justice to claim that Netflix is distributing child pornography, to rile up his older conservative constituents. What the hell is wrong with you man. The point is like at Jupiter levels away over your head at this point.

Also, in general, it is very good story about cultures clashing and how to deal with problems in your home, and how a girl badly tries to make friends to end her own struggles. That is important to note too.

3 out of 4.

The Argument

Sometimes partners argue. It can be over what color the linens need to be, or it could be what color the sheets need to be. It could be over the color of the shower curtain or even the color of a new carpet. I believe couples only argue over colors, if I am not mistaken. I can say that because I don’t fight with my wife.

The Argument film is a straight to VOD picture directed by Robert Schwartzman, who is definitely the brother of Jason. This is actually his third film, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that some famous people joined it, but also, he is from a pretty famous family and probably has tons of clout. I haven’t seen his other films, but one is about a unicorn or threesomes or something.

Anyways, this intro is definitely going nowhere fast, except to this picture right now!

love
Aw, these cute little love birds are going to argue? I don’t see an reason why.

Jack (Dan Fogler) and Lisa (Emma Bell) have been in a relationship for three whole years now. They sometimes fight, but they usually reconcile, but generally there always has to be a winner. Jack is in love and wants to propose to her, in front of their great friends, in a special night in their home. Lisa just finished her role as Constanze in a run of Amadeus, her biggest role as an actress. Jack is a writer, who has written a script for one whole movie!

And after Jack’s friend (and agent) and his partner get to their home (Danny Pudi/Maggie Q), Jack is ready for a quiet and fun evening. But oh no! Another couple shows up. Paul (Tyler James Williams) and his girlfriend (Cleopatra Coleman). Paul was also in the Amadeus play as the lead, and did a lot of flirting with Lisa from their characters, and this makes Jack uneasy.

One thing leads to another, discussions and dancing and drinking, and an incident happens at the end of the night that neither feels they are responsible for. So they are going to create the night, with the help of their friends, to figure out who is actually right, and the other arguments that branch from the festivities as well.

Also starring Karan Brar, Mark Ryder, Marielle Scott, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, and Charlotte McKinney.

couch
“i’m glad you joined me tonight for a recreation of a recreation again and again.”

When I heard the description of this film, I just thought it would be a strange remake of Rashômon. You know, the classic Japanese film where people retell the story from their point of view and they are all different. That is my effective, yet bad description of Rashômon! Anyways, it made sense that this one would be the same way, but with six people at a small party.

And I was wrong! First of all, which is both bad and good. It is bad, because what they actually did wasn’t great. The main character tries to literally create the night and conversations with the same people, doing the same food prep, without anyone telling his goal first. It is completely ludicrous. The only reason there is buy in from the others is due to their own arguments and trying to work it out together. And again, it is really dumb seeing this apparently night after night after night. That part feels more ridiculous than anything else.

However, it did finally surprise me for the final night of the argument. It changed things up, and it did it in a fun way. I really loved the ending, making the movie go from an average (to bad with the way things were going) to a pretty good one overall. If they could have made the middle part a bit better, we could have had an excellent film. Why even have someone with a “photographic memory” if they are going to barely use the feature?

I especially liked the extras which I kept vague for a reason. Maggie Q and Cleopatra Coleman were some of the better characters from my point of view, and I also really enjoyed Karan Brar, who grew up from some Disney shows apparently.

3 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.

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.

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.

Selah and The Spades

Another week, and surprisingly, another new movie review.

Selah and the Spades I don’t believe was negatively impacted by the theaters going down. I didn’t hear about it until that started, but when I first heard the news, it was only to hear that it was being released on Amazon Prime instead of theaters, on April 17th.

This is not a film that you have heard of before likely, with a mostly unknown cast. It does have Jharrel Jerome as a supporting role, and he made waves last year starring as Korey Wise in When They See Us last year. You know, the kid who got screwed over the most.

And all of that has nothing to do with this movie!

chairs
There is a lot of fierce power in that chair.
Selah (Lovie Simone) is a strong woman, a senior in high school. She goes to an elite boarding school in Pennsylvania, where most of the citizens are from wealthy families looking for a leg up into college. Other bright minds get in through scholarships and grants. Selah comes from an overachieving household, her mom wants her to go to her former school, and to load up on the best classes, the best grades, no matter what.

The school also has their own hidden clubs. They handle some of them ore illicit activities, like distracting the admin, holding parties, etc. Selah? She is the lead of The Spades group, who handle the illegal drugs and alcohol on campus. They do all of the deals, get the product, make the money. They split responsibilities and have council meetings to work together so that no more “wars” take place on campus, which usually lead to many expulsions, or worse.

When Paloma (Celeste O’Connor) comes to campus mid year, she is seen as a promising student who can join in their creepy club games, but Selah definitely takes a liking to her. Selah is strong, but hates having those under her excel. It is hard for her to trust, and she doesn’t have a backup to take over when she leaves. It is time for the grooming, and for her to sink or swim.

Also starring Jharrel Jerome, Ana Mulvoy Ten, Jesse Williams, Nekhebet Kum Juch, Francesca Noel, and Henry Hunter Hall.

rocks
This rock rocks. 

Selah and the Spades, on one hand, is another clique teenage film. I mean, these cliques don’t circulate the entirety of the campus (although, cliques are usually small anyways). It is a boarding school, so it can pretend to be like a college film with more underage problems. The cliques have cute names!

But here are some difference.

There is one very strong scene early on where the Selah and the other cheerleaders are talking to the camera, breaking the wall, about being strong women and it was really really good. It seemingly came out of nowhere, but it had important messages that needed to be discussed.

We do also have a predominately more person of color than most school clique films. Yes, they are all for most of history super white. It is great to see representation, even if this representation for the most part still talks about people with privileged.

I really enjoyed Simone in the lead role hear. Selah is not a one dimensional character at all. She is more than a strong woman. She has fears, she has definite trust issues, and definite weakness. I definitely sort of hated her at points, and it is great to realize she is in no way the hero of the story. O’Connor comes in and gives a very great performance opposite of Simone’s, that newcomer feel while also knowing full and well who she is at the same time.

Overall, Salah and the Spades gives us a unique perspective on a tired clique, and falls firmly in a drama category to tell a serious story. It reminds me in a bit of Dear White People, due to topics only, because in terms of genre and goals, they are very wide apart.

3 out of 4.

Emma.

Okay, so. Listen up. Emma is a book made by Jane Austen. It is likely not one of her most famous books, because it doesn’t feature alliteration in the title and is only one word.

Emma. with a period is a movie version of that book, of which we have already had movie versions, just not in a while.

One of the last times this was done as a movie was, of course, the movie Clueless! Oh you didn’t know it was based on Emma? Most people didn’t. I technically did not. I knew it was based on something but I kept forgetting what book that was. I read that fact several times, and you know what? In one ear and out the other.

But hey, now I saw a movie called Emma. so I can finally remember the Clueless fact.

sheeran
Bold move to get an Ed Sheeran looking guy for the lead.
Emma (Anna Taylor-Joy) is a woman with a lot of time on her hands. Tons. She has no schooling to keep her busy, she has not siblings in her home. She lives in it alone with her older father (Bill Nighy) who doesn’t really want her to leave. He views the marriage of his eldest daughter as a mistake, and their house is empty without her now, so he is fine with Emma just staying around, not looking for a husband.

Emma doesn’t have time for a man right now. She is rich, so she has very few people who could really help her station in life, so she makes her own fun. For example, she really likes to play match maker with people in the village. She really feels like she knows these villagers, poor and rich, and can find those star crossed lovers who would never have met without her help.

Her current plan? To match her friend, Harriet (Mia Goth) with the big eared but sort of cute priest (Josh O’Connor) in town. Her neighbor, a George Knightley (Johnny Flynn) thinks that Harriet should marry a local and honest farmer instead, so they both attempt to lure her in various directions, regardless of her own thoughts on the matter.

As for Emma? She might find love some day. Maybe Frank Churchill (Callum Turner) someone who is actually more wealthy and mysterious, who continuously does not visit their town because he is often “busy.” Yes, she should focus on him and no one else. That is the best bet.

Also starring Myra McFadyen, Rupert Graves, Gemma Whelan, Amber Anderson, Miranda Hart, Tanya Reynolds, Isis Hainsworth, Vanessa M. Owen, and Suzy Bloom.

love
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Drama food.
If you don’t think you would like this movie, just go ahead and ask yourself if you like’d Clueless. If you did, you might enjoy watching this movie just to compare it to Clueless to see how Clueless handled this old book. That is fun by itself.

Another pro for this movie is the colors and costumes. It is draped in decadence for the time period. The costumes pop, the outfits are awesome, and it makes me want to go to a Victorian era ball again in my life.

Music was also a strange highlight that I didn’t expect. They use very time appropriate music as the backdrop, much like a modern film might. As a scene transition. And yet it feels so strange, just having it going on in the back like it is a pop song that helps with a scene transition. It fascinated me, and I thought for sure, eventually, they’d show that church choir or whatever belting out these tunes, and they never appeared. It was a weird feeling, but a weird feeling I enjoyed.

The story itself doesn’t feel like it has the biggest amount of structure beneath it. It is obviously not a new story, given its old source, so that is one big reason why it will feel outdated. However, even taking that into context, the love story isn’t the strongest love story and a story that is a bit of a downer. I didn’t believe their love enough. Needed more time to grow it.

Hope they don’t get divorced a year after marriage. Anyways, now I am going to rewatch Clueless.

3 out of 4.

The Gentlemen

Let’s start this review with a little bit of a confession. Later this year we are getting a Kingsman prequel movie called The King’s Man. That makes a lot of sense to be the title of a Kingsmen prequel film. No one should get that confused.

Enter me. Movie reviewer. Reviewer who tries to not watch trailers or too many other notes about films before seeing it. I remember that the Kingsman prequel had a really obvious name for the series, but didn’t remember exactly what.

So, when I saw I had a screening upcoming for The Gentlemen? My mind went only one place. Ah yes, the Kingsman prequel.

And let’s just say, this movie had me pretty confused for about 20 minutes about how the heck this was at all related to those other films. When they started making a lot more modern references and talk about cell phones, I knew I must have just been a dumb fuck at that point. Anyways, that movie comes out in September. This one is an original and it comes out now.

grant
But wait, there’s more!

Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) is a weed dealer on a grand scale in Great Britain, and he isn’t even a citizen. Damn Americans. He has so much weed, making so much money, no one knows how he does it. Where does he hide his crops?

Well, he wants out of the game. He is getting older, less likely to go killing people and defending his territory. If he can sell out his whole operation to someone else, he will have enough money to retire the rest of his life with his comfy and rich friends.

But a simple idea dealing with illegal things will never be that easy. We have a very good and nosy reporter (Hugh Grant), the owner and operator of a gym for formerly bad people to make them better (Colin Farrell), Pearson’s number 2 man (Charlie Hunnam), and an ambitious Chinese gangster looking to make a break in the business (Henry Golding) that are all going to make things more complicated.

People will turn on everyone if it means survival in the end.

Also starring Jeremy Strong, Michelle Dockerty, Eddie Marsan, and Tom Wu.

swag
Success is always measured in dollars, nothing else.

The Gentlemen is definitely a return to form for Guy Ritchie, and is definitely not a prequel to that one franchise I will stop talking about.

This film felt like his previous great works that people think about when they say Guy Ritchie. Snatch, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and sure, RocknRolla, This is not like most of his trash from the last decade.

We get twists and turns, hard to understand accents, shocking moments, extra action when necessary, and surprises. A lot of what I said could be considered the same thing, and I don’t care about that.

It was very entertaining, if not hard to follow at the beginning [Editor’s note: That could be because this viewer was a dumbass, see the beginning of the review.] of the film. I did get annoyed at the seemingly excessive racist Asian language that happened at multiple times, although I accept that as bad people going against other bad people, it makes sense for the characters to be…racist. That was hard to type. Still can be frustrating as a viewer.

I give the most praise to Hugh Grant. He went really out of his normal style for this role (except for his general flair for the dramatics that he always carries) and killed it. I also quite enjoyed Farrel and Golding, Golding in particular is on the rise out of seemingly nowhere.

The Gentlemen is just going to be a fun time, with a little bit of death and mayhem.

3 out of 4.

Les Misérables (2019)

Do you hear the people screen, screening the films of Academy? They are watching all the foreign films that might take home a win!

Even if they share a name, with other films going for the same!

And if it gets the nom, and goes up for an award, it will likely lose to Parasite all the same!

I hope you sang that. Here is a French film not based on but named after the French book, Les Misérables.

beard
Shit, they even got Jean Valjean in this.
Stéphane Ruiz (Damien Bonnard) is a country man, moving to the big city. He was a cop, and is still a cop. But there are a lot of differences out there compared to the big city of Paris. We have a lot of groups here. Immigrants, various religions, the poor. Ruiz is about to work in one of the worst and hardest districts out there, but not without some training.

He is to follow around Chris (Alexis Manenti) and Gwada (Djibril Zonga), partners who have been running the day shift for quite some time. They don’t report every crime, no, they are here for relationship buildings. They simmer down the tensions between the various groups. They fix the growing insecurities and shake down when they need to, skirting the edge between legal and illegal.

Ruiz definitely doesn’t like the cut of Chris’ jib, but he has to go along with it. Harassing young people, dealing with criminals, all of that. And then eventually, while actually doing something potentially right, the men get overrun by the youth who are just trying to protect a friend. Then something bad occurs, and it occurs on film.

So now they have limited time to try and fix it, before maybe all hell breaks lose with the factions.

Also starring Issa Perica, Al-Hassan Ly, Almamy Kanouté, Steve Tientcheu, and Nizar Ben Fatma.

cops
The body armor shows they are cops. That’s all it takes in Paris.

The film took me awhile to really grasp. I read only a little bit about it, and it said it was based or inspired on some riots in Paris in 2005. So naturally I assumed it would take place in 2005 and be those riots, but no, it takes place in modern times. We got iPhones, drones, and all of that.

I didn’t know anything about these riots in 2005, and I still technically don’t know anything about them now. There is one scene where it is mentioned, and that is it. But we do have some riots in this film near the end, but presumably on a much smaller scale.

I was also lost a little bit culturally, as getting all of the references and tensions between various groups didn’t come naturally. At one point the dick cop is making references to modern day Paris and the book Les Miserables, and the puns or jokes he was making didn’t make a lick of sense.

However, despite that, we do have a lot of tense, edge of your seat moments. I enjoyed the drama and the dilemmas that our leads were put in, and really didn’t anticipate where they ended up. I was scared by the end of the movie, while also unsure if I was upset by the events unfolding.

A better cultural understanding of Paris and past riots would make for a more full experience I believe, but on its own, it is a solid criminal cops doing bad and good things situation.

3 out of 4.