Crown Heights

If I fail at a goal, I definitely don’t make it very vocal and let everyone know. Unless it comes to movie watching. I have introductions for a reason, after all.

Just like I want to watch all the Oscar nominees before the Oscars air, I hope to watch the Spirit awards as well, for indie films. And one of the films nominated was Crown Heights, which I clearly failed to do before that March date.

It was only nominated for Best Supporting Actor, but the real issue is that I had access to it and could have done it by the date, I just forgot about it while I was chasing other bigger films to watch. I’m sorry! But look, I made some amends.

Early
Some amends are better than no amends at all, right?

In the 1970s, Colin Warner (Lakeith Stanfield) was living in the Crown Heights area of Brooklyn. He was young, he was free, he was trying to make his impact on the world. Unfortunately when he was 18 (and young and free) he found himself behind bars. He was being charged with the murder of a 16 year old kid, one he did not knew, and claimed his innocence.

He wasn’t given a bail until they found out the details of the case, and then he was charged with murder. He didn’t have money, so he was given a public defender. They also actually found a different guy, who did kill him, and charged them together in the same trial with the same defendants.

And guess what. They both were sentenced to jail at the same time for the murder, despite arguments about Warner never being involved.

Unfortunately for Warner, he would spend then ext 21 years of his life in jail for a murder he did not commit. He could not get parole, as he refused to say he was sorry for a crime he didn’t do. With changing politicians, it became harder and harder to hold on to hope. But thankfully, Warner had a friend in KC (Nnamdi Asomugha) who never gave up for him, and made it his personal life goal to eventually free his friend.

Also starring Marsha Stephanie Blake, Adriane Lenox, and Luke Forbes.

Late
Once he gets free, he better get all of the amends.

Crown Heights is of course a true story of a really fucked up situation. It is more fucked up when you realize that this probably happens a decent amount of time. There are estimated to be over 100,000 people currently in prison for crimes they are not guilty of, which is a scary and frightening thought. You can live your whole life swell, never doing anything wrong, and then get arrested and go to jail for a long time if you don’t have a good defense.

And despite the law saying everyone gets a lawyer, it is not going to be great, because that lawyer probably has dozens of current clients and is focusing on plea deals over trial things.

The true story is an amazing tale of perseverance and standing up to injustices. But for whatever reason, in this iteration, it just doesn’t translate well onto the screen. Stanfield and Asomugha act great as our two leads. They have the appropriate amount of passion and really delve into those roles. It just feels like a drag to get through the story.

I did like how it interlaced the time with the change of the political landscape. Politicians arguing to be tougher on crime, longer sentences, three strikes and all that, creating more hurdles for our hero to get through before he can find himself a free man.

2 out of 4.

Stronger

A couple years ago I saw Patriots Day, against my better judgement, and it felt wrong.

It was #TooSoon, the movie. It felt like it wanted to be a documentary, but also to use a lot of famous actors. It would have been amazing as a documentary, as the footage and all of that exists. Instead, we had Marky Mark running around Boston, making those actual areas relive the moments, including when the final guy was caught in the boat, which seemed to be filmed on location.

That is uncomfrotable.

And now we have our second movie about the Boston Marathon bombings, which I clearly skipped for awhile for similar reasons. Am I ready for a story like this one? Stronger is clearly being hailed as a real story of a survivor, and will end with me most likely crying in happiness.

Kiss
Does it end with a happy kiss and terrorism finally defeated?

Jeff Bauman (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a free spirited Boston man, who has an energetic family, loves his Boston teams, and loves to joke around and have fun. So a stereotypical Boston man. He is also in love with Erin (Tatiana Maslany), an on again off again relationship. Right now it is off, so to win her back, he helped her raise money for his Boston Marathon run, and promised to be there at the finish line!

And he was there. Right in the blast of the bombs going off before Erin made it to the end.

This left Jeff very damaged, but he was saved by some onlookers, taken to the hospitals, who helped amputate his legs so that he could survive. But he had no legs. And now the city of Boston is looking to him as a symbol of their ability to grow from this tragedy. He has promised to walk again, and wants to be in the spotlight, he thinks. But the pressures put on him by the community drive him into relapse after relapse, feeling like a worthless potato. His mom (Miranda Richardson) is trying to help him, but it is doing the opposite.

Can he be Stronger, not just for himself, but for an entire city?

Also starring the following people, mostly as his family: Richard Lane Jr., Nate Richman, Lenny Clarke, Patty O’Neil, Clancy Brown, Kate Fitzgerald, and Danny McCarthy.

Boston
One day you wake up, no legs, and being used by the Bruins.

I went in expecting to hate this film, and sure enough, it surprised me. I expected a typical feel good story of someone struggling to eventually get through PT and start walking on false legs. I expected the long anguish scenes of surgeries, of his girlfriend crying by his bed, and all of that. But it is different. This one feels real.

Having the main character want to get better (obviously), but hated the spotlight and hated the pressures on him. His family was overbearing, random citizens walking up to him on the street making him out to be a martyr (which he obviously didn’t ask for or want) felt heartbreaking. This guy had a lot of eyes on him, when he never felt special. He also was feeling survivor’s remorse over the others who died because they weren’t saved as quickly as him.

This whole thing is a lot more about PTSD than some overcoming great challenges story, which makes it a lot more powerful. Sure, he eventually did overcome them, but it focuses more on the challenges you don’t expect someone to overcome.

And of course, the main reason to watch this – Gyllenhaal himself. A powerful actor, especially at transforming into a character. His voice and appearance was a bit funny, reminding me of his Bubble Boy self, but it definitely felt like a man who had lost his legs. Great, fantastic performance, to a much better than expected film.

3 out of 4.

RBG

Ruth Baden Ginsberg is not the first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. No, that was Sandra Day O’Connor, appointed by Ronald Reagan. But RBG, as the hip kids are calling her, has been one of the most influencial voices on that court, speaking for women and minority rights for decades.

Ginsberg has always been a tiny little lady, growing up in pre World War II America. She went to college at a time when girls were not expected to go to college. They were supposed to get married, have babies, and stay at home.

She was one of the first women in the Harvard Law school classes, and supported wonderfully by her husband, Albert, who was also in Law School and a year ahead of her. She faced many challenges along the way. Professors and deans thinking that women didn’t belong, even if they could handle the coursework. She even had to leave to switch to Colombia because her husband finished his degree and got a job in NYC.

And it turns out that just getting through law school, on its own a big challenge, while facing sexual discrimination, taking care of a kid, and dealing with cancer issues, wasn’t even the hardest parts of her life.

RB

You see, getting a nice law degree doesn’t mean you get a nice law job. Firms didn’t want to hire her, because she was a woman, even with high recommendations from current workers and from her schools. They would say they just didn’t hire women and move on. Men’s only clubs.

She basically had to found her own organization, after getting various jobs through colleges and lectures, with other women, in order to get their voices out. Their goal was to get cases that dealt with sexual discrimination. Their goal was to help take over these cases from local areas and take them all the way to the Supreme Court.

You see, Ginsberg was a thinker. She knew first hand that women were second class citizens, and she needed a Supreme Court ruling or two in order to help ensure equal rights in the work place and other places for the women. And if that wasn’t good enough, she would go to them again, and again, and again.

And I guess if that wasn’t good enough, she’d just have to join the Supreme Court herself and do her best to make sure that someone was a voice of progressive reason and equal rights on that bench, damn it.

This documentary is full of footage, old and new, of Ginsberg kicking ass throughout her career. We even get to see a young Joe Biden leading her confirmation hearing in 1993 to the Supreme Court. We get to see new footage and interviews with the woman herself, her friends and coworkers growing up, and from her children and grand children. It is a wonderful view of the life and times of a great Supreme Court justice. It is full of stories and anecdotes that just give a complete look at her life (As of now) and feels so honest.

In fact, I want one of these type of documentaries for other Supreme Court justices. I am sure some of them are just as interesting as her. Maybe not, maybe some are just regular average people who did the right things and are a place holder. Hell if I know.

This is what the movie Marshall should have been like. Marshall was of course not a documentary, but really just told a story of one case that made a white guy equally important as Marshall, and didn’t go into his later life successes. We need a legit documentary on this scale of his triumphs and life, so people can get a better picture of him as well.

What we really need though, is tons of ladies to see this documentary and get inspired to wreck enough legal havoc to get this country truly free and equal on all levels.

4 out of 4.

Blaze

This is one of the many reviews that have come out of WorldFest in Houston. Check the WorldFest tag to see them all!

Opening the festival was Blaze. Now, last year the opening film was LBJ and about a famous person I actually heard about before, with bigger names attached, and a goddamn amazing director.

This one is about a vague country star who never reached his full famous potential, died pretty young, and is directed by Ethan Hawke, who has not done a lot of directing.

This is a good film for a biography, because I would rather learn a shit ton about someone who I haven´t heard everything before. Biographies should actually teach us about new people things. That is, assuming their story is actually worth hearing. I´m looking at you boring biographies about famous people that are just…well, shit.

Woods
Oh cute, matching outfits with no one around to say its cute.

Blaze Foley (Ben Dickey), or Michael if you knew him before he was trying to become a famous singer, had a soul that was built for telling stories. These stories were generally musical in nature, which made it a good thing that he also could play that guitar. He had a life of growing up with song, thanks to his family being part of a traveling family band.

The story that we hear about in Blaze is his whole adult life’s tale. About how he met his future wife, Sybil (Alia Shawkat), a Jewish actress who appreciated the woods as much as this large cowboy. In fact, they lived in a shack in the woods for several years rent free, living off the land and no electricity.

We get to see him moving to the big cities with the intention of selling his tunes and making it famous in the country music scene. Including leaving his wife behind to tour with a friend (Josh Hamilton) in an old truck down the south. And also their move to the bigger city of Chicago to tackle the blues crowd, since he figured his music was sort of country and the blues, given how sad they all were. We also get to see him get a record contract, and coincidentally, let that all go to shit as well.

This is all juxtaposed with his final concert, which was recorded life, the day before he was shot and killed protecting a friend.

Also starring Wyatt Russell, Sam Rockwell, Charlie Sexton, Steve Zahn, and Kris Kristofferson.

Truck
Life is like being on the back of a truck. You know, fast and no seat belts.

Blaze is a slow burn, which is not what the title implies. Blaze implies a film where everything happens quickly and maybe even burns out, well before it should have. Which is a good metaphor for Blaze the person. But is it a metaphor if its his name? I don´t know how hyperboles work.

The film telling the story interlaced among big moments, early moments, and still ending with the natural ending was a great choice. Getting to hear his ¨friends¨ tell stories about his life provided a great tool for exposition, and the fact that the rest was presumably based on his wife´s book of his life gave it a very personal touch.

As a music fan, I can say it was a bit of a low point for me. I never was really engaged in the many songs sung, as they were all so slow and soulful, and felt more akin to background music while the stories unfolded. Hard to change the music if it is based on a real source though.

Overall the story just felt okay to me. The reason it ended with such a high rating though was due to the acting, especially from Dickey and Shawkat. I don´t actually know Dickey from anything else, but he transformed into this Blaze character, along with all of his imperfections. It never felt like an actor, it just felt like this artist I was completely unaware of.

Blaze is well acted, and tells the story of someone you also likely don´t know. It is debatable if it is a story that needs to be told, but hey, they told it anyways.

3 out of 4.

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.

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