Marshall

I´ve joked in the past that Chadwick Boseman is being forced to play every famous black American throughout history. You know, Jackie Robinson, James Brown, T´Challa, and so on.

But holy shit. Thurgood Marshall as well?

What is his agent doing? Is he trying to mold the youth of America into thinking everyone in History is Chadwick Boseman? Maybe Boseman is playing some long plan to eventually run for president himself. With his past roles he will seem like a trendsetter, someone with soul, a ruler, and someone who knows the fuck out of some laws.

I don´t know when we should start being scared by all of this. Maybe in two more real bio roles. Maybe if he ever plays Eminem in a biopic.

Court
Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?

Thurgood Marshall (Boseman) is super famous. He did a lot of things as a lawyer, went to the Supreme Court a lot, did the whole Brown vs Board of Education thing, and even decided to move in and live in the Supreme Court.

But this movie is about before all that, just when he was working with the NAACP, looking for any case that might have racial bias to help free innocent men or women. Especially those who could not afford their own council of choosing.

Thurgood is now in Connecticut, where a limousine driver (Sterling K. Brown) allegedly raped and tried to kill his boss´ wife (Kate Hudson). A real shocker of a trial, but he claims his innocence. They imagine they are just grabbing any black gentleman and they have a civil rights case on their hands.

In order for Marshall to get on the case, they need to join the team of someone who has passed the bar on the state, and through some shenanigans, got a local insurance guy (Joah Gad) to take on the case so that something could be done. The judge (James Cromwell) isn´t having any of their shit either, so doesn´t let Marshall do any of the talking, just behind the scenes help.

Yep, this is a battle against racism. A battle against injustice.

Also starring Dan Stevens and Keesha Sharp.

Bar
Inconspicuous thugs are inconspicuous.

You know who deserves a movie about their lives? Thurgood Marshall, for sure!

You know what this movie gave us? A movie about Marshall and Sam Friedman, the local insurance lawyer. You see, Friedman later went on to do more civil rights cases too! And he had to do most of the fronting of this trial, due to racism. So it is a movie about how this white dude overcame his personal lawyering fears and branched out to be a better person.

That is cool and all, but I really don’t give a fuck about Sam Friedman. I came to see this movie because it was about Thurgood Marshall. I didn’t expect a double biopic about him and some white guy. This may be one of Marshall’s biggest and earliest cases, but I really do think they did a giant disservice to him. In fact, they mentioned in this film he had already argued in front of the Supreme court multiple times. We know he did it later. And, for crying out loud, he was there for Brown v The Board of Education!

Why the hell did they pick a case where he isn’t really the main star or focus? Why?

Oh yeah, because they needed a white loveable lead to make sure white people saw this movie too. Gotcha.

This movie is very okay. The acting is fine, the case has its moments, and some characters cry. Some people yell, some justice is served. But goddamn it, the focus is so far away from Marshall in a movie that carries his name, it is just unacceptable.

2 out of 4.

Victoria & Abdul

OH yeah, I definitely heard about Victoria & Abdul.

I heard about it, and knew I definitely didn´t want to see it, ever.

What a generic sounding, feel good, Hallmark looking film. Actor names meant nothing, it looked so low effort.

But whoever is pulling the strings behind these things campaigned their dicks off. And it got nominated for Two Oscars. Will it win them? Doubtful. But it is nominated, and I am here to review it.

Boat
Yep, there is Victoria & Abdul!

In the late 1800´s, Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) was off, being the Queen of England, doing Queen things. Namely getting awards from sovereign nations, eating lots of food, and taking naps. She was old. Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal) was just a clerk in a prison in India. A regular, who gives a shit job. But Abdul was tall. And they needed tall people.

Why? Because the Queen was to receive a mohur, a special gold coin from India, which they totally owned and were kind of dicks about. And they needed real Indians to go, they wanted tall ones, and he fit the bill. Him and Mohammed (Adeel Akhtar) were sent to not look her in the eye, bow, walk backwards. Make a huge bit of fuss over a tiny coin and then head back to India with no change in their lives.

But Abdul looked her in the eyes. She might have thought he was cute. She made them stay, to present more things as servants. Then eventually her private footmen. And then, eventually, he became her teacher on all things Indian culture. A strange, unprecedented turn of events, one that surely was going to piss off a lot of old, rich, white people.

Also starring some white people: Eddie Izzard, Tim Pigott-Smith, Michael Gambon, Paul Higgins, Fenella Woolgar, and Olivia Williams.

Servants
Oh, what is this? Victoria & Abdul & Some Other Guy!

As expected, Victoria & Abdul is a very okay movie. Maybe even one of the okayiest films out there.

Dench does perfectly fine as an old queen, bored with her life, looking for something to fill her hole. Fazal, however, is a fresh change. He has a nice smile, a good laugh and just a really spunky look about him. Without him in this role, giving me something to smile about, it would have easily have been a 1 movie.

This whole thing could be a made up story and it would not change anything. Just because it is real does not mean it is worthy of being a film. The story is about a small part of two people´s lives, and one of them is super royal. A strange pairing, a cute history factoid, and that is about it.

This film will leave our collective conscious in a few years, and that is not really a shame. Just a forgettable, okay film.

2 out of 4.

I, Tonya

Tonya Harding is currently living in infamy, as the most famous figure skater ever. More people know her name than Nancy Kerrigan. More people know her name than the other figure skaters since then and before.

Tonya Harding was one of first people to be sensationalized around the world thanks to the emergence of the 24 hour news cycle. Yes, she was involved in a terrible scandal. A scandal we have never really seen before or after, or if we did, it was a lot more subtle and professionally done.

I, Tonya is a film more about the once incident that will forever define her life, unfortunately. It is about her youth, her skating career, her relationships, and sure, some time after as well.

Happy
And about her happiest moment, in which she was clearly, very goddamn happy.

Tonya Merigold Bethany Harding (Margot Robbie) (I made up those middle names) grew up poor and unloved, which is really how she was most of her life as well.

Her mother (Allison Janney) was the one who spent most of her time raising her, with a lot of failed marriages, men who could no longer stand her. She was beaten, but her mom still put most of her money into skating lessons, because Tonya showed skills at the young age of three. Tonya was crass, a red neck, vulgar, and everything that her mother taught her to be.

This led to some contention in the ice skating community, who demanded their skaters be princesses. She was often not treated right by the judges, even if she landed the hardest of tricks perfectly.

A hard life led Tonya to a hard man, Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan), a couple of people who married their first love when neither had a strong education. More beatings, more of a shit home life, and yet still, Tonya succeed on the ice.

All of this led up to the 1994 Winter Olympics, and I am sure you heard a lot about that one.

Also starring Anthony Reynolds, Bobby Cannavale, Bojana Novakovic, Caitlin Carver, Julianne Nicholson, Paul Walter Hauser, Ricky Russert, and Mckenna Grace as little Tonya.

Family
The real torture is probably how long it took to do her hair.

I didn’t really know what to expect going into I, Tonya. Again, I really only understood the woman behind the incident through parodies and Weird Al. I knew it was classified as some sort of Dark Comedy, and usually Dark Comedies aren’t based on real events, even if they say they are. I also know that this whole thing is from Tonya and companies point of view, Nancy Kerrigan had nothing to do with this film, so there was a chance of bias.

And so I tried to look at it objectively, just as a film, telling a story, not worrying about how it matched up with real events. Like how I did for The Greatest Showman. And yet it was hard to do that as characters constantly broke the fourth wall to tell if these things really did or didn’t happen, and I don’t just mean the documentary feel of the film for some parts.

But at this point I am stalling. I, Tonya was masterful cinema in my eyes. It took a tragic and strange event and gave it human qualities. As far as I am concerned, Tanya Harding was a tragic figure growing up and very misunderstood. She had to struggle a lot through poverty, physical abuse and mental abuse from those who loved her, and yet she still became a success. And fuck it, I believe she wasn’t involved with the incident at this point. Movie has set my mind to a certain point, and I just feel so incredibly sad about it all.

I, Tonya made me laugh a ton, made me cry, but more importantly, it made me think. That sounds like a canned response, but it made me think about what it means to be a celebrity, what it means to have your lives completely under camera all the time, and how you aren’t allowed to ever be weak unless you want to be trampled.

Except when it comes to Trump. The mockery is justified.

4 out of 4.

The Disaster Artist

When you claim to watch bad movies so others don’t have to, you often get asked if you have seen certain bad movies. I would say the film I have been asked about the most by a landslide would be Cube. Because I like shit like that, and math. Didn’t see that coming did you? Well I’ve seen Cube now and the first sequel.

The movie most requested after that would easily be The Room, something I didn’t rush out to see. I saw the “best scenes” compilation on YouTube and just put that in a “one day” bucket. Then The Disaster Artist has to go and not only come out but receive awards nominations. shit. That meant I HAD to watch The Room finally. I couldn’t go in blind. What’s the point?

So I saw it still slightly reluctantly. Powered through. I get the appeal but I still won’t see it again. And hey now I can watch others talk about it!

viewing
Just not in the goddamn theater, that’d be rude.

Sometime in the late 1990’s, Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) was a struggling young adult. He thought about being a famous actor one day, and he was even taking acting lessons. He just wasn’t any good. At all. At. All. Nothing helped, he didn’t display any emotion, it was a lost cause. But in those same classes, he found a dark and mysterious man named Tommy Wiseau (James Franco). Now this is a man who knew how to channel his emotions and really bring that raw talent to the stage.

So Greg wanted to work with Tommy, and Tommy agreed. He was a bit weird, but he really brought it out of Greg and Greg started to feel confident. After years of friendship, they moved to LA, with Tommy financing everything, to become real actors. After it didn’t work out well, especially not for Tommy, Tommy started to write and figure out his own movie. This piece became The Room, a film that is iconic today, and the rest of this movie is how it was made, the trials they faced, and the hurdles that were overcome. Also how Greg began to move on by getting a girlfriend (Alison Brie) and trying to separate from the Tommy umbrella.

And only some talk about being a vampire.

Given the people who made this, it is no surprise how many famous actors are in this film: Seth Rogen, Paul Scheer, Zac Efron, Josh Hutcherson, Charlyne Yi, Bob Odenkirk, Hannibal Buress, Joe Mande, Nathan Fielder, Andrew Santino, Jason Mantzoukas, Megan Mullally, June Diane Raphael, Jackie Weaver and Ari Graynor. I could have also swore a minor character was Margot Robbie, but the credits won’t let me confirm that.

Football
As we learned in The Room there is never a bad time for football.

I wonder how much your perceptions of this film changes based on your opinions of The Room. If you have seen The Room many times since it came out, were totally in that cult movie aspect, I think you will enjoy The Disaster Artist a whole lot more than someone new to the topic. Obviously this is a film where you sort of need to see The Room before seeing it to really get it at all, but there is a huge difference between me watching it a week before The Disaster Artist and years prior.

Because hey, The Disaster Artist is a pretty funny film. The Francos do a good job of setting the stage, building up the Wiseau mythos and so on. And sure, I can agree that James acted well, only because we obviously have a real person/character to compare him to. But if this was just a movie about a bad production, this is the type of thing that would be panned for unnecessarily ridiculous director guy.

So it is a very hard thing to judge. Was it actually well acted only because he acted like Wiseau accurately? Or does well acted need to be something more than accuracy to a subject? It is a hard subject to answer, and not one that I will go into real detail here. But it is something on my mind and something that certainly would tell me that it certainly shouldn’t be winning awards for its acting.

The Disaster Artist was a film that made me laugh and remind me of a shitty film at the same time. It is a very strange genre of movie, very meta, and it will gain its own cult status I am sure. Double features for the next 20 years! However, in reality, I really just want to read the book to get the full story and won’t bother too much with the film version many times in the future.

3 out of 4.

The Greatest Showman

On May 12, 2016, I received an email from one of the production companies who handles pre-screenings in the Houston area. They like to send out emails letting us know what films are coming up and their release dates and studio. It is to make things nice and smooth. Well, the week before on May 5 that email only went to the end of 2016, but for some reason this email added everything they currently knew about for 2017. And at the end of the list, was something called The Greatest Showman on Earth for a Christmas release.

That title intrigued me, so I looked it up. Once I read the plot description and actors involved, at that point I declared it was my now most hyped film of 2017. And it has taken a long time to get here, over a year a half, before I finally got to see it.

I kept away from the trailers, from the soundtrack. I acknowledged that there has been no buzz from the Oscars at all about it, which is a bit surprising, given the genre and cast and subject. They obviously changed the title since then to a much cleaner The Greatest Showman, but I just want you to know, I have been hyped for almost 20 months, and it wasn’t a superhero movie.

Bar
Superhero movies aren’t allowed to show too much drinking.

Phineas Taylor Barnum (Hugh Jackman) grew up poor, his dad a tailor, him an assistant. They were looked down by the elite who saw them as poor people, because they were poor people. He had dreams of one day hosting the greatest show in the world. And despite his dad’s early death, he was still able to marry and run off with his childhood love, Charity (Michelle Williams), who grew up rich.

They had two kids and had a middling live of above poverty, but it wasn’t good enough for Barnum. He needed more, he need luxury, he needed to prove to the snobs and the elites that anyone can rise to their ranks.

And eventually he bought a museum of oddities. Weird stuff, stuff that people want to see. It gradually grew over time, including live acts, like a little man (Sam Humphrey), a bearded lady (Kaele Settle), acrobats (Zendaya) and so on. He gained a rich playwright to help him draw in the rich people (Zac Efron) to mixed reviews. And at one point he brought in a famous Swedish opera singer (Rebecca Ferguson) to get the expensive tickets in the seats. And some would say, he did it all, just to get back at Charity’s dad (Fredric Lehne), who never believed he was good enough for his daughter.

A big show requires a big cast, so here are some kid actors, performers, and side kicks. Cameron Seely, Austyn Johnson, Alex Wong, Ellis Rubin, Skylar Dunn, Jacqueline Honulik, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Paul Sparks, and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II.

Beard
Some would say that the beard deserves its own tag as well.

I would like to say that I am hard on musicals and judge them rightfully, because I have high expectations for them. At the same time, if my toes are tapping, my body is moving, and the show in front of me is eye candy, there is also a good chance I am liking it. Do I like all musicals? Who know. But I must be biased towards them, often having them near the top of my end of year lists in some capacity.

This is probably what is happening for The Greatest Showman. Because on one hand, this film does not accurately depict at all a beliable/realistic version of P.T. Barnum. Sure, some elements are true, but most are complete fantasy and in a very forgiving light. That is going to piss some people off. The plot itself is all relatively weak, or at least, not too new when it comes to story telling of rags to riches and the meek inheriting.

And yet I was so engrossed, I cried four times. I cried over sadness, over love, over happiness, and over the future. Every time Jackman smiled, it was contagious and it felt full of love as well. The sets were colorful, full of fun costumes, unique characters who were really in tune with their dancing.

And the music, the music! I tried to not listen to it ahead of time, and went in mostly blind. It starts off odd, but over time the opening song (The Greatest Showman) definitely grows on you. My favorite is probably This Is Me, their Freak Flag song so to speak, as Keala Settle just fucking rocks every line. Rewrite the Stars is beautiful, heartbreaking, and has the choreography one would expect for a number like it, best in the film. And The Other Side is such a fun song between Efron and Jackman, featuring a nice bar dance and so many shots it is easy to lose count.

Hell, even the tiny details of the songs were great, including the giant character banging on the ceiling to create the beat in our finale song.

It is so easy to get lost in this movie. It is so surprising that it is under two hours long, and honestly, I wish there was a lot more.

One final nitpick that doesn’t change the grade. We got a famous Swedish opera singer, so it felt really annoying to hear her singing what amounted to a modern pop musical song, that didn’t match her description at all. That song is also amazing, but it just felt very odd at the same time.

4 out of 4.

Darkest Hour

With a title like Darkest Hour, you would assume the movie would take place sometime in the 1-4am range of whatever time zone that film is in. But what do we know.

Well we do know is that The Darkest Hour is a film that came out six years and features at least one more article in the title. I never reviewed The Darkest Hour, but I remember when it came out and in retrospect, I really wish I reviewed it just for this review comparison. Unfortunately, it was right before I started my website, and I was too cool for that shitty looking movie then. Russians, aliens, power, seems perfect. Damn it.

Back to this film, Darkest Hour. This one is a film that people have actually talked about, buzzed about, raved about, but never done a full on analysis between it and the previous film. I feel like this is the easiest thing they could have done. Maybe no one watched The Darkest Hour?

Victory
According to him just two people watched The Darkest Hour.

In early May, 1940, the British Parliament was getting sick of World War II. Their troops were dying. Hitler was taking over Europe, and everything looked grim. So they wanted Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”) to resign as the Prime Minister so they could get someone with a bigger drive to save them from utter turmoil. And despite his background, despite his history, they knew the only man for the job would be the controversial Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”).

And of course Churchill knew this, he has waited his whole life for this, he just wishes it was under better times. His wife (Kristin Scott Thomas rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”) supports him, and he just has to, you know, save all of the British troops from annihilation in France, develop a competent war council, and determine if his country will end up signing a peace treaty with one of these warlords.

The king (Ben Mendelsohn rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”) is not a fan of his, his ¨allies¨ (Stephen Dillane) want him to just make peace and end things, and well, nothing is going right. This is the same month that will end with his troops retreating to the coast in Dunkirk, France, with no real ability to get help and return home. Thankfully throughout all of this, we have our person new to the crew (Lily James) as his typist so that we can catch up on any important backstory.

Oh, and yes, the film takes place entirely in the month of may, no D-Day like I originally imagined.

Also featuring Samuel West and Richard Lumsden.

Think
That smoke is coming out of his eyes like a bizarre dragon, not his cigar.

Watching the trailer for The Darkest Hour, I realize I totally did watch that movie. Again, it was just incredibly forgettable, and before I had this site, so no review of it exists. I can´t believe I watched it.

On the other side of the line, I am so glad I watched Darkest Hour. A thrilling biographical film, filled with wonderful performances, gripping true story, and wonderful history.

Gary Morphman Oldman is insane in this film. I don´t mean he acts insane, as he has plenty of characters who do that, but in his transformation into Churchill. At no point in the film did I think that it was just Oldman playing a character and doing it well, it just felt like Churchill the entire time. The words, the walk, the look, the makeup people are probably getting nominations for this one. Sure, yes, you can see him in his Oldman eyes, but it is one of the finest full on character transformations in recent years. Similar to the transformation of Daniel Day-Lewis into Lincoln.

The rest of the cast could not get up to Oldman´s level, unfortunately. Our main antagonist felt a lot less realistic and not fleshed out, so he became a one note pony and it got a bit old. The King was okay, Chamberlain was okay, Lily James was okay enough, but didn´t have a strong purpose either.

This is certainly a better movie in my mind than Dunkirk, because it has a lot more of a human and story component behind it, while Dunkirk is visually pleasing and thrilling, the story just lacks so much.

In case you didn´t read that, Oldman great, rest of cast okay, story better than Dunkirk.

3 out of 4.

Professor Marston & The Wonder Women

This year was a big year for Wonder Woman. She had her DC film debut, as the first solo female superhero film in some time (Never forget, Catwoman and Elektra). She broke some records in terms of profit, and easily, she is the best of the current DCEU films.

By a long shot. The ending was still poor and CGI crazy, but for the most part it was still a great film.

But this year we are also getting Professor Marston & The Wonder Women, a film about Wonder Woman, however not a film anyone would expect. We get to learn about how Wonder Woman came to be, her eccentric creator and his interesting lifestyle with the women he dubbed to be wonderful.

Walk
And this is when he takes those wonderful woman off to see the wonderful wizard of oz!

William Marston (Luke Evans), as you may have guessed from the title, was a professor! He taught psychology and even taught classes to just women. It was very progressive for the 1920’s and 30’s. He had a DISC theory about humans, which stood for Dominance, Influence, Submissive, and Compliance, but I won’t get into all of that.

His wife, Elizabeth Marston (Rebecca Hall) should have been a professor, but was having issues with her PhD, so she worked closely with her husband in their laboratory. They enjoyed studying the human condition and what makes them tick. On that note, they also hired one of their students to be an office aide, who would work with them over long hours, an Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote). She was pretty, young, influential, and William wanted to sex her.

But Elizabeth might have also wanted to sex her.

This is not a love triangle of chasing emotions, this is three consenting adults eventually deciding to enter into free and open relationship with each other, in a world that wouldn’t look too kindly with their situation. And this is just the beginning, because at some point, Wonder Woman gets created out of this. And also the lie detector. Yes, they invent the lie detector.

Also starring Connie Britton, JJ Feild, Oliver Platt, and Chris Conroy.

WW
Oohh, shiny.

Professor Marston & the Wonder Women is a story that happened many decades ago, but could not have been told until very recently. At this point, the world has somewhat caught up to what these three people discovered years ago and can find what they did accepting without a lot of shame.

I am NOT saying that everyone who watches this movie will be comfortable with what occurs, but it treats the subject matter in a fair light, noting the pros and cons of what occurred, along with the fallout. To modify an overused line, this is a better love story than Fifty Shades of Grey (and Twilight, yes).

The acting from the three leads was incredible and believable. This is the best thing Evans has ever done. I previously said that this year with Beauty and the Beast, which was true at the time, but this is Evans finally in a role that shows actual dramatics, without relying on song and CGI. For Heathcote, I don’t know most of her work, but it definitely stands out from some of the shitty movies I have seen her in. Hall is a very accomplished actress, but I would put this near the top of her work as well, definitely showcasing a different sort of range for her.

This movie will make people uncomfortable, but it really feels like a story that needs to be told. It could have gotten to Wonder Woman aspects quicker, to help draw in some of the less patient viewers, but it is a story about unconventional love and how it has changed the world.

4 out of 4.

Battle of the Sexes

The phrase “battle of the sexes” always feels cringey nowadays, and it has for years. There was a board game with that name recently, and it is just one that is based on poor stereotypes and no one should really ever want to play. And yeah, that is the point of the phrase. To talk about the differences between the most common genders and fuel masculine and feminine behaviors.

But the movie Battle of the Sexes is beyond all of that. First of all, the title is given due to the real event that announcers decided to call it at the time. So they are just highlighting history here, not their fault.

And second, it is a sports film that is also about gender equality and sameness, not stereotypical differences. This is the clincher here, this is why I want to see the movie.

Battle
Maybe the actors involved was another important factor, but don’t tell them. They have big egos.

In the early 1970’s, Billy Jean King (Emma Stone) was on top of the female tennis players world. She was the first female player to ever each $100,000 in a year from prizes, and people really made a big deal about it. Things were on the up and up for the women’s movement too! Except when it came time to sign a new contract with her fellow ladies for the main American tournament. The prize support for the women’s players was significantly lower than the men players, despite sharing the same arenas, drawing the same crowds and all of that. So they decided to just up and leave. They started the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), had Virginia Slim cigarettes as their sponsor, and now had funding to play for real money!

This pissed off a lot of people. But King and a lot of her fellow players were riding high. King also started a relationship with her hairdressed (Andrea Riseborough) while on tour with a husband (Austin Stowell) at home!

This story is also about Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell), an older retired tennis pro who used to be number 1. He is a bit of a dick and likes to parade around like a fool to earn money. And he is a gambler. At the lowest points of his life, he decides to challenge Margarat Court (Jessica McNamee) to a tennis match, really playing up the male chauvinist angle. It seems like he is around just to ruin the modern women’s rights movement! The prize amount gets even bigger when he is finally able to challenge King, and it becomes one of the biggest spectacles of the decade, where apparently the question would be settled by the end of who is greater, man or woman.

Also starring Sarah Silverman, Natalie Morales, Bill Pullman, Alan Cumming, Elisabeth Shue, Eric Christian Olsen, Fred Armisen, Martha MacIsaac, and John C. McGinley.

Love
Courting in this film holds two different definitions.

Battle of the Sexes is one of those movie trailers you will see and you just know you will have a good time during the film. It is a period piece, so we get to see people we recognize fondly looking, from our current standards, ridiculous. Always a plus.

Stone and Carell have been in films together before, namely Crazy, Stupid, Love, where they played daughter and father, and now they get to play pseudo rivals! Because the reality of this situation is they are not, at all, in any way, real rivals. They would never play each other in a tournament, they both were not at their primes at the same time, they only played the one game together. But their lives are now forever entwined in history due to this moment, this festival, this, well, publicity stunt.

Because in all reality, it seems like it was just all about the money. King may have had other reasons for agreeing to the game (women’s rights in sports and all), but all the people pulling the strings from behind the scenes just wanted to get rich. The events of this film are almost unbelievable, this is a time when reality if it was written as a screenplay would be lauded as ridiculous. But hey, what’s the point of life if not to get really ridiculous every once in awhile?

I like that this story told much more than the game. A lot of the film is NOT tennis, but about tennis players. Finding out about King’s husband and other relationships felt realistic and sad. Riggs himself was in a sad state in his life and he wasn’t even a bad guy, he just played it up for publicity. And in all honesty, I didn’t know who won going into the movie, so I am glad I never looked it up. It is interesting that the game was held in Houston though, in the now defunct Astrodome.

That last sentence is meant to appeal to the locals.

3 out of 4

Rebel in the Rye

Before Rebel in the Rye, what I knew about J.D. Salinger could fit inside of an index card. Along with the first 200 digits of pi, I am sure. I knew he died, I knew he wrote Catcher in the Rye, and that is it.

Well, I also knew that he came out of hiding at some point recently and made the game show Hollywoo Stars and Celebrities: What Do They Know? Do They Know Things?? Let’s Find Out!, but that is a different story, one that this film surprisingly chooses to ignore.

Needless to say, I have never read Catcher in the Rye. Never came up in my schooling and clearly wouldn’t be a book I rush off to read on my own. I like that fantasy stuff. The only reason I rushed to see this movie as a prescreener was due to the Hurricane hitting Houston and having no films in weeks. But hey, if anyone asks, say I said it was for the lead.

Type
And I can get pissed off watching someone write when I have not been writing for the same amount of time.

A long long time ago, when the earth was still green, a young J.D. (Nicholas Hoult) wants to be a writer. He is a wise alack, and from a rich house, and he has gotten kicked out of multiple colleges already for being a dick. But he gets to try again, thanks to privilege and wealth, and heads off to Columbia University. There, besides meeting with young ladies and party goers, he meets Whit Burnett (Kevin Spacey), a professor who gets J.D. to reach his potential and actually write good short stories. He also runs a small short story publication and ends up publishing Salinger’s first work! Hooray! He is a professional writer!

But he wants more. He wants to be published in The New Yorker, the cream of the crop in terms of short stories. And when he finally gets a story good enough for them? Well, they go and offer notes and suggestions. They need his story to have a happy ending, not the dismal one he created. Well, that’s shit.

Other people love the short story though. They enjoy the character he created in that story, and Burnett himself suggests he needs to turn that character into an entire novel. Unfortunately, before that novel can happen, World War II and Pearl Harbor happens, so Salinger instead goes off to war! He sees some shit, he barely survives, and changes as a person. But he kept writing, and after overcoming some PTSD, finally publishes The Catcher in the Rye.

The rest? Well, the rest still isn’t so easy either.

Also featuring Sarah Paulson, Zoey Deutch, Victor Garber, Brian d’Arcy James, and Celeste Arias.

Spacey
Oh the joy of two men just giggling about words on pages.

Rebel in the Rye is the type of movie made for those who really want to know more about the author of a book they love. Salinger was known as a bit of a recluse, so seeing his story and why he became one is a journey on its own. However, without the context of Catcher, a lot of the film was lost of me.

The good news? I kind of want to read The Catcher in the Rye now, so I guess it cane make money off of me that way.

The beginning of the film took a real long while to get going. The whole thing was full of cliches really up until Salinger finally became a published author. It doesn’t stand apart from any generic 1930’s rich elite story. The acting from all of the side characters isn’t anything special.

However, when World War II happened, the film definitely started to turn. I could no longer imagine the lead as Hoult acting, but as a Salinger type person, so the transformation was working. It also became a lot of a better story, especially with the dealings of PTSD. At that point though, it was too little too late to turn this film into something amazing.

2 out of 4.

Chuck

The show Chuck had a magnificent run of five seasons. It is incredible, because it had piss poor live ratings, despite a thriving fan community. It was a nerdy action comedy, a genre that doesn’t get a whole lot of love, especially on the TV.

I am glad it didn’t end too soon, but it is good to see it finally getting a movie as an add on.

Oh wait, shit. This movie, Chuck, is about something completely unrelated. And it was originally called The Bleeder. Well fuck, that sounds like a better title, and a title that wont get me super pumped up on Zachary Levi first. And it is a true story.

Well, I assume whoever this Chuck guy is, he better not secretly also be a spy.

Bleeder
I wonder why it might have been called The Bleeder.

Chuck Wepner (Liev Schreiber) from Bayonne, New Jersey, was a boxer, but it didn’t pay the bills. He had odd jobs, and selling liquor. But he was still a boxer first, he was known for surviving a long time in fights. He could really take a punch to the head. He was also nicknamed the Bayonne Bleeder, on account of how easy it was for his head to bleed, but he hated that nickname. He had fought against George Foreman and other notables, but he was finally getting on a hot streak.

Another person getting on a hot streak was Muhammad Ali (Pooch Hall), who just won the heavyweight champion title against the odds. And against even more odds, Don King wanted Ali to fight a white man, and Wepner was the highest ranked white heavyweight white man, so he got the gig. He was getting paid a lot less than Ali, but it was a lot of money from a bloke from Jersey, and he finally got to train full time.

But his bout with Ali was just the beginning. After that, he became a pseudo celebrity. And he even had a movie made about him. You may have heard about it? It was called Rocky, don’t cha know.

Ron Perlman played his manager/trainer, Elisabeth Moss was Wepner’s wife, Jim Gaffigan was his best friend, and Naomi Watts was his life. Also Jason Jones as another friend and Morgan Spector as young Sylvester Stallone.

Sly
“Eeyyy yo, Chuckie! I made some money!”

Chuck Wepner seems like a really interesting person. You gotta be built a certain way to just take a lot of punches and he used that to his advantage. He has a good story, and the story we were given broke the mold a bit. Because this is a boxing movie with arguably, not a lot of boxing. The fight with Ali was done with about 2/3 of the movie left to go, and the fight wasn’t done to showcase the excitement of boxing. It was just another part of the film.

No the real story of the movie is his life before and after the fight. And it got a little bit meta feeling, which I understand is the wrong word, when Rocky came out and how that changed Wepner’s life. I mean, we had a guy playing Stallone in this film, the production of Rocky 2 and more. We got to see his hard times, his bad personal life, and more. So it was bio drama first, then boxing movie second.

The first third of the movie was great, if not pretty standard. I will note after the Ali fight the film seemed to drag a bit more and I had no idea where it was going throughout it. Some okay moments, but they harped on a few of them just way too long. But the acting was fine, and they did a good job of trying to make everyone uglier to better represent New Jersey.

And overall, seeing Schreiber in this role felt really good. But what this movie really made me wonder is when the fuck will Goon: Last of the Enforcers come to America?

2 out of 4.

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