The Upside

[Editor’s Note: Days after seeing this movie, the writer forgot about it completely. He didn’t even remember he didn’t finish writing the review and never posted it. Take that as another aspect of the review.]

What’s this? A serious movie, with some serious actors (and one non serious actor) coming out in January? But that is supposed to be a dumping ground for films! So what is going on with The Upside?

Well, first of all, they are sort of hiding the fact that this is a remake of another movie. They aren’t hiding that it is based on a true story, just the remake aspect. If you haven’t seen the French film The Intouchables, you are doing yourself a disservice, as it is pretty darn good, and one of the most successful French movies ever.

Another thing hindering this movie is the nice Hart sized controversy over anti-gay jokes and Oscars. Before the movie came out, Ellen redeemed him for all the gay people and said he should host, because he seems sorry. The issue with all of that of course is before then, there was no apology until he basically dropped out of hosting. And basically every time he “apologized” he came as a victim and people just trying to get him, never actually seeming sorry. So yeah. January. Dumping ground. Still true.

LAUGH
An American remake? You don’t say?!

Dell (Kevin Hart) is looking for work! Why? Because he is out of prison, and its an aspect of parole. If he doesn’t get a job, he at least needs signatures saying he went there to get one and wasn’t offered it, so that it shows he is trying. I mean, he wants a job. Because he wants money, doesn’t want to get into selling drugs, and has an ex-wife and son to support.

Due to a mix up, he goes into a luxury building thinking he is applying for a janitor gig, following the crowd of people applying for jobs. Really, it is actually to be a life auxiliary support for a billionaire named Philip (Bryan Cranston). He is quadriplegic, needs a live in to clean him, move him, make sure he isn’t dying.

Well, mostly that last part can be ignored. Philip is tired of this life, he has a DNR, let that death happen.

How does Dell get the job? Mostly because Philip is tired of this life, I just said so. He wants a change, and maybe Dell will be unqualified enough to get him killed, who knows. But of course, this mismatched pair are going to be doing a lot more together than they expected.

Also starring Tate Donovan as an annoying neighbor that we all hate. Boo hiss! And of course Nicole Kidman as the runner of the business for Philip.

chair
Finally, someone who can walk down the street with Hart and not look overpowering.

Speaking of overpowering, there are a few scenes where Hart is next to Kidman, who at that point seems like an Amazonian warrior with that level of height difference (as she is probably wearing heels). It is a nice extreme look and added comedy they were not intending.

The Upside is entirely just okay. It is told out of order, like the French film, and has a far different conclusion merely to catch those familiar with the French version off. But overall, it is just slightly more modern and more American. The friendship doesn’t feel as real, and Cranston just looks like he is there because he is supposed to be there. No one goes out of there way to make the acting seem genuine, nor a situation that totally happened.

This is a remake that tried to do its own thing, while still doing a lot similar with the original. It needs to pick a direction. Do we want to focus on the wife/kid direction? If so, good, go for it, but commit. About turning his life around? fine. But we got all of that in a montage and I guess his skill is fixing broken wheel chairs? Kind of odd, and came from nowhere.

The Upside is clearly forgettable, and in Spring, I won’t remember it at all, as it middles its way through theaters.

2 out of 4.

Isle of Dogs

Fantastic Mr. Fox came out in 2009. It was not my first Wes Anderson movie, but it was the first Wes Anderson movie I really, really loved. Not saying I hated everything before it, no. In fact, at that time, I only had seen one of his movies which was The Royal Tenebaums. I maybe saw it too young and was not ready for its quirks, and still haven’t seen it for redemption, but I didn’t love it. The fox though? Yes. Every one of his movies since then? Yes.

But this is something different and special. This is 9 years later, and another goddamn animated stop motion movie. Can he recreate the magic of Fantastic Mr. Fox but with Isle of Dogs? More talking animals?!

At least with his last one, it was based on a previous book. But this is a new idea, based on dogs, a culture that isn’t his, and a sort of throwback to a cinema that he loves. I was certainly excited again, especially given how much shit 2017 gave us for the animated category.

Dogs
Can I have all of these doggos? Please tell me no doggos actually die.

Set in the fictional future of some world that is similar to our own, we have to go to Megasaki City to find our story. In this city, the new mayor, Kobayashi (Kunichi Nomura), is from a family with a long hatred of dogs. They are cat people and want to get rid of dogs forever! Well, that is great, because these dogs are gaining some sort of dog virus and snout flu, which has the ability to transfer over to humans! He declares that all dogs in the city must be sent over to Trash Island, in order to quarantine them until a cure can be found. Speaking of cures, Professor Watanabe (Akira Ito) thinks he is really close to getting a cure and hopes everyone will wait. But mobs be mobbin’, yo. And the dogs start getting sent that very night.

And now, a few months later, the island gets a non furry visitor. Atari Kobayashi (Koyu Rankin), a young boy who is ward of the mayor, has crashed a tiny plane in the island, in hopes of finding his old dog Spots (Liev Schreiber) location. Although dogs cannot speak any form of human language, we the viewer are happy to note that the film translates their language into English! Yay!

He finds a group of alpha dogs to help him on his quest. These dogs include Chief (Bryan Cranston), Rex (Edward Norton), King (Bob Balaban), Boss (Bill Murray), and Duke (Jeff Goldbloom).

Can these dogs find the missing dog for this little human boy? Can they also cure the dog flu, and put an end to this corrupt mayor? Well, maybe. I don’t know. Or if I did, I wouldn’t tell you.

Also starring the voices of Courtney B. Vance, Tilda Swinton, Yoko Ono, Ken Watanabe, Akira Takayama, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Scarlett Johansson, Harvey Keitel, and F. Murray Abraham.

Sling
The human has thumbs so he can do some interesting things with them.

I loved, loved, loved Isle of Dogs. A lot, very much so. Before I get into those details, lets talk about the controversy.

You see, there is a lot of talk of white savior complex, cultural appropriation, and more going on with this movie. It is set in a fictional future dystopian-esque Japan, or at least one city in Japan. And coming from a place of white privilege and all of that, I can honestly say I really don’t see it at all. The white savior thing just seems like it would be assumed by people who read a plot outline, not watched the film, because it is no where close to the normal problematic levels. The other issues I just also really can’t see well. I can’t say that they aren’t true, because I certainly don’t speak for Japanese people or their culture, but I can say that I didn’t really get that vibe at any point, and didn’t affect me negatively either for this movie.

Back to the film! Holy shit dogs!

What a totally immersive story. There were little quirks here and there that could remind you of it being a film, especially when it came to the various translation methods, but I just wanted to live there and run around and frolic despite all of the bad things that were going down. The dogs in particular all have their own personality and jokes that surround them, for good quick laughs.

I really enjoyed that I couldn’t understand the entire film. The Japanese characters spoke Japanese, and didn’t always have a reason to be translated or subtitled, and during those times, well, if you knew Japanese you could follow 100%. The audience was required to watch the facial expressions and to hear obvious key words to make sure we could follow. It was great to not get everything super dumbed down.

Isle of Dogs is an interesting adventure, a unique tale, and a story that just seems to have so many tiny perfect details that it would be fun to watch over and over again. Until though, I will just settle for a rewatch of Fantastic Mr. Fox.

4 out of 4.

Last Flag Flying

Last Flag Flying is, unfortunately, a film that came and went without a lot of fanfare. Everything that Richard Linklater touches should be given a goddamn parade, especially true given his last three films being Everybody Wants Some!!, Boyhood, and Before Midnight. There should be 76 bloody trombones to announce his films at this point.

And somehow I missed this one. I didn’t even know he had a film coming out. I saw the poster, thought it looked interesting, and didn’t jump right on it not knowing who was really involved.

Speaking of that, check out the main poster/DVD cover right here. If you only glance at it quickly, you might make the same mistake as I did. I actually assumed Colin Farrell was standing in the middle, with a nice moustache. I was very surprised to watch this movie and see absolutely no Farrell.

Dinner
This picture still does not have me convinced.

The film brings us way back to the year of 2003 in the month of October. A bartender, Sal Nealon (Bryan Cranston) is doing his thing, when in walks a weirder fellow, Larry Shepherd (Steve Carell) walks in and continues to try to talk to him. After a bit it turns out they know each other, from way back. From ‘Nam, except Larry was called Doc then.

Ah yes, war buddies, reuniting after over 30 years, because the internet lets people find each other. After a night of drinking, they also go see a different war buddy, Reverend Richard Mueller (Laurence Fishburne), who yes, found Jesus, got himself a real family with grandkids at this point.

The real reason Doc has found these two gentlemen is unfortunately sad news. Doc had a son who joined the military as well, but he has returned from Afghanistan dead and is to be buried in Arlington National Cemetary. A big honor, but with no one left in his life, Doc needs a few of his friends to come with him on this moment. This moment that they all feared in their own lives, but in a later generation.

It is time for a reunion, to see how they have changed, and how they can still grow together.

Also starring J. Quinton Johnson, Deanna Reed-Foster, and Yul Vazquez.

Funeral
Okay, Farrell can totally be the type of person to method act as Carell acting right?

On any given day, depending on my mood, this might have been a 4 out of 4 film. Certainly more likely if I saw it in theaters without a baby running around. Because this film has a lot going on for it.

We have a relatively simple plot line, one dealing with burying a child so it easily gains some powerful moments. We have a small number of characters and a long backstory and place to connect them. It is clearly this is going to be a film about growth, despite three men in their late ages. About friendship. And a little bit about forgiveness.

A lot of powerful themes, especially with the war background behind them all. How three different veterans have had their lives unfold since the war. I will admit, I cried at one point in the film, and I practically cried writing the plot description, which is a strange sensation that I have never done before.

And yet, at times it did seem to drag a little bit. Or maybe they relied too much on Cranston’s potty mouth. Or the fact that it seems to be about Carell’s character, but there is a lot more focus/story given to the side characters. It is really hard to say why it never went into the love territory. However, it is a film that I would watch again and rexamine over time, and honestly, I hope it grows on me more.

3 out of 4.

Power Rangers

Like most people, I too was a big Power Rangers fan. Not only did I see Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie in theaters when I was a wee lad, but I watched basically every episode. I kept up with the evolving story line over the various versions. I was still super into the show when it was Power Rangers In Space, because it was all connected. That is when I was able to get a lot of the toys as well.

Power Rangers Lost Galaxies is where I started to lose interest, and now of course, watching the newer versions make me cringe. But technically, watching the older shows also make me cringe. Power Rangers is NOT a good show. It is creative as fuck, piecing together the Japanese TV shows and some American actors to make something somewhat coherent. Good on them for trying. But it is of course repetitive, silly, and a bit shitty.

And that is okay. Not everything nostalgic needs to actually be great. We just have to admit it to ourselves.

Now? Let’s get back to now. Now we have a reboot. A grittier version, of course. Power Rangers. New teenagers with more attitude, because they are going to use swear words. And as it is a reboot we are going to get a few references or meta jokes, because film is dead and meaningless in the year 2017.

Zordon
Hey, space man!

The film starts with the end of the dinosaurs! And also aliens, fighting. One of those Aliens is Zordon (Bryan Cranston), who dies covering up some interesting looking coins, from some repulsive looking alien lady. And after a meteor hits, we switch to modern day. Our hero, Jason (Dacre Montgomery), just got arrested for vandalizing school property, and private property, and operating a motor vehicle like an asshat.

So that means he gets to have Saturday detention forever. And that is where he meets Kimberly (Naomi Scott) and Billy (RJ Cyler), who we all know later also become rangers. Long story short, those three and two other people, Zack (Ludi Lin) and Trini (Becky G). Blah blah blah, coins, Zordon, Alpha-5 (Bill Hader), and more!

(Record scratch)! But if these kids think being Power Rangers is going to be easy, they don’t know what they are getting into. They can’t even morph! And Rita (Elizabeth Banks) is going to take over everything in just a little over a week! Uh oh!

Also starring David Denman as Jason’s dad.

Rita
It’s a bold idea, to do this review and not show any power ranger.

Let’s get straight to the point. This reboot tried to do everything, and thus fell short at everything. It wanted gritty and serious. It also wanted nostalgic references. It also wanted elements of corny, but those were few and far between. The original show was very corny, and a bit self aware. I am not saying this remake has to be exactly like the show to be successful. I have already said that the show is kind of terrible. But it needs to make an identity and stick with it.

Making references and quotes from the original series is cheap and easy. But they break us out of the movie. The one time they say “It’s morphin’ time!” feels incredibly lackluster. The Alpha-5 “Aye-aye-aye” isn’t terrible. The new version of the old theme plays over the zoid entrance really quick, but it feels like an amateur just pasted it on top of the film and feels out of place.

And the references can get really distracting too! There was a scene between Zordon and Alpha-5, sort of freaking out about the fact that the new rangers were just teenagers. It was just begging for him to say something about how they had attitude as well, and it didn’t, so it was just an awkward moment in the theater.

This is a lot of detail on technically a small aspect, but it frames the entire film. The only entertaining Ranger is of course Billy, because they made him nice, caring, and interesting. RJ Cyler is still killing it, just like when he played Earl in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. The camera work felt too teenage angsty and HD. It reminded me of I Am Number Four and other similar tone movies, where the whole thing just feels fake and rushed. And the megazord moment just is overly long and…well, awkward.

Despite all the complaints, the movie is still at least okay. The plot isn’t the worst, they add a lot of mythology to the story and give us storylines to work on in the future. Zordon was a huge dick, so it was just nice to see him with a personality. And how they connected Rita to the Rangers made some sense as well. Although, Banks didn’t feel right for the role. She looked like she was trying to act like Parker Posey, and now, I really just want the role to magically have been given to her instead.

This is not a movie you have to GoGo to see right away. It will be on Netflix before the end of the year, guaranteed.

2 out of 4.

Get A Job

Anna Kendrick movie tracker #3? Yeah, this is number 3 for the year. Unless I post it before Mr. Right like a jackass. This is the second of the three that is also straight to DVD, what fun!

However, Ms. Kendrick isn’t the focus of the film. She is technically just a side character, in a handful of scenes, and not super relevant to the plot. She is all over the cover of Get A Job though.

Oh yeah, this is supposed to be me talking about the movie. I have no idea what Get A Job is about going into it, but damn it, I surely had some pretty dang obvious guesses.

Sex/!
The over/under for hearing the term Millennials is 15.

This movie is actually about Will Davis (Miles Davis), well known slacker and pothead. Well, only the occasional bong stuff. He is about to get hired at a shitty internet clickbait journalism site, so he is celebrating with his dad (Bryan Cranston) and girlfriend (Anna Kendrick). His dad gives him some money, finally ready for his son to be a man and need no more handouts.

But of course, day one into the job he is fired. Right as he walks into the door, they couldn’t hire like they thought they could. He lives with a group of guys, not his girlfriend. Charlie (Nicholas Braun), a slacker who is getting a job as a chemistry teacher somehow. Ethan (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), a slacker who is making an app to help stalk people. And Luke (Brandon T. Jackson), a slightly harder working slacker who is getting a job as a stock broker!

Yay jobs for everyone. Except for Will. And for Will’s dad, who also loses his job despite being with the company forever. Shit, being unemployed is hard, especially in today’s world. Thankfully, Will gets a job that eventually matches his passions, making videos for some corporate company. His boss (Marcia Gay Harden) hates him, the bosses boss (Bruce Davison) likes him, and the other kind of boss (Alison Brie) wants his body, but hey, money is money. And I guess, really, this movie is just about getting jobs in this day and age and the struggles they bring.

Also featuring in smaller roles, Greg Germann, John C. McGinley, Jorge Garcia, and John Cho.

Ties
Corporate jobs means ties. Ties get in the way of food. Corporate jobs hate food.

I expected Get A Job to be a completely shit movie. And honestly, on some levels, it is still that film. It is mostly an incredibly pointless story. It is simple, basic, and more synonyms. The only thing that can possibly make this a worthwhile film experience is if the comedy is on point.

And you know what? It barely reached a good enough level at that. Davis’ character isn’t very funny, being our lead. Cranston is giving a few amusing moments, but he also basically plays a straight man this time around. All of the humor that actually interested me in this movie came from Braun and Jackson. For whatever reason, I found the chemistry/coaching plot from Braun to be almost hysterical. I didn’t giggle out of my seats, but I definitely tittered. Jackson’s scenes, especially with McGinley were a nice change of pace. Higher energy and a bit stressful.

Everything else you can practically ignore. The main plot line is meh. Kendrick is barely in the film. Mintz-Plasse’s plot is pretty shitty.

No one will ever watch this movie and change their life from it. No one will probably really watch this movie over ten times in their life. But for whatever reason, two side character plots just really clicked with me and put this film into mediocre territory.

2 out of 4.

The Infiltrator

I tried to go into The Infiltrator blind, like a perfect critic, but I ended up reading the IMDB page for both a brief plot analysis and actors. I’m sorry, I failed, I’m not perfect.

The film is directed by Brad Furman, who did Runner Runner and The Lincoln Lawyer, both vary different films in terms of quality and subject matter. Given the cast involved, I certainly hope this is more of a Lincoln Lawyer than a Runner Runner.

Shit, why is this movie not an alliterative title? He could have a thing going. I, Infiltrator would work. Or Informative Infiltrator, that would be fun. But we couldn’t do Informant + Infiltrator, that is too close to just The Informant.

Money Deal Cash Yo
Just looking at the image makes me feel 10 monies more worth.

Robert Mazur (Bryan Cranston), totally a real dude, was a U.S. customs agent who worked in Tampa, Florida in the 1980s. He was one of those guys trying to get Pablo Escobar, to stop so much cocaine from getting in to the US, because Reagan said so. He is getting old and could retire, but he finally has a good idea to “Get these guys!” for good. Despite what his wife (Juliet Aubrey) wants.

He is going to follow the money. Which sure, seems obvious now, but apparently his idea was cutting edge. He got approval from the boss (Amy Ryan) and has to team up with Emir Abreu (John Leguizamo), a kind of crummy agent but who currently has an undercover role in the organization to get him in.

Robert just has to pretend to be a money launderer. Once he gets in the ground level of the business, like with the Gonzalos (Rubén Ochandiano, Simón Andreu), he can then get to Javier Ospina (Yul Vazquez), then a big name like Roberto Alcaino (Benjamin Bratt) and his wife (Elena Anaya)! Speaking of wives, Robert said he only had a fiance, so they had to bring in an agent (Diane Kruger) to pretend to be that as well in order to keep his story straight.

Another agent is played by Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, some corrupt bankers by Art Malik, Saïd Taghmaoui, and Tim Dutton. Olympia Dukakis is his aunt, Joseph Gilgun his actual bad guy body guard, and Michael Paré with a smaller role.

BB
I was just wondering why that “guy from Miss Congeniality” didn’t have a bigger career. Now look at him, drug lord!

Halfway through the movie I still wasn’t sure what I thought about it. My mind was going everywhere. The acting was good from Cranston, Leguizamo, Bratt, and Kruger, yes. But the story felt like it was full of annoying cliches that kept getting on my nerves.

Of course, given that this is a “True Story” I don’t know how many of the cliches ended up being real or not. But one that really bugs me is that since The Sopranos, it seems that every drama story needs to have extreme marital tension or drama, potentially up to divorce. From the text at the end of the movie, it looked like all of that was completely added in for shitty tension and it gets old.

We had silly lines like the wife needing a promise that this would be the last mission (of course, because he is old and we need the movie) and Cranston becoming someone completely different (despite going undercover a lot). There was a terrible scene involving a wedding cake that just was cringe inducing and took me out of the film, it just seemed so silly to drive a simple point home.

Dumb cliches and scenes aside, the ending really drove this movie home into something better. The event where they were able to get a lot of the criminals under one roof was very emotional. They turned these “bad guys” into real people, with families, reason for working with drugs and more. And they all got busted equally. It didn’t drive home the point enough that the War on Drugs in itself is a complete failure, but it makes sense that Robert Mazur wouldn’t mention that in a book where he is the hero.

Pretty good acting and a strong ending. Maybe the film is a bit too long with some cringey moments, but overall it was really enjoyable and a good couple of hours.

3 out of 4.

Kung Fu Panda 3

Animated films can take a long time to make. It takes years to get all of the CGI right, and pretty. It does not take a lot of time to record dialogue, or figure out the plot (Unless you are The Good Dinosaur). But all the technical work making sure every frame is wonderful and all the characters are as you had hoped. Years and hundreds of people at work.

Technically it only takes years if you care about the final product. That is why we had Planes and Planes: Fire & Rescue less than a year apart. The animators didn’t care.

There was a five year gap between Kung Fu Panda 2 and Kung Fu Panda 3. And you know that is not because the voice actors were too busy for lines. Kung Fu Panda 2 in 2011 was the prettiest film of all the CGI movies. Prettier than Rango and Puss In Boots. If they wanted to not just recipricate the second movie but surpass it, you can bet your ass it would take them years of work.

I am rambling. All I am trying to say is I expect this film to shit rainbows and make my eyes bleed in wonder. A sweet villain would also be delightful.

Kai
Creepy and promising! Me likey.

As we know from the end of 2, there is a secret panda village somewhere and Po (Jack Black) doesn’t know about it. He won’t care about it until a mysterious panda, Li (Bryan Cranston) shows up to the valley. He is looking for his lost son. Could it be?! Yes, yes it could be.

Great news! Now Po can show his dad all the cool dragon warrior stuff, and make his Foster Dad, Mr. Ping (James Hong) feel incredibly sad and jealous. Also Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) plans on retiring so he can focus on himself and find his Chi to do even better Kung Fu, leaving Po in charge of training the five (Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Jackie Chan). But he can’t teach.

Even worse? Well, Kai (J.K. Simmons) has escaped from the Spirit Realm! Who? He used to be a friend of Master Oogway (Randall Duk Kim) 500 years ago, even saved his life! But he got jealous of Oogway when he was taught to harness Chi from the mystical Panda village and wanted the power for his own, so he had to be put down in a jealous fury. Well, he eventually figured out how to steal Chi in the spirit realm, defeating all former masters and now he is back to the real world to defeat any and all would be challengers.

Jeez. Now Po has to learn Chi to defeat Kai. But it took Oogway 30 years! And Shifu can’t! Time for Po to go to his homeland. To determine how he can be the most Panda he can be, to learn what he has been missing all his life. To really become the Dragon Warrior.

Also featuring Kate Hudson as a ribbon dancing Panda.

Armor
And of course this rhino panda bird metal hybrid warrior! Don’t forget about him!

This part of the review is actually really hard to write. How many times can I say how beautiful this movie is? I don’t want to look in a thesaurus but I believe everything I say about the CGI and art style will just sound repetitive. Gorgeous, detailed, beautiful, wonderful and wunderbar, eye orgasmic. The best part that this Kung Fu movie is animated is they can show amazing fight scenes and nothing gets lost to blur or shaky camera. We can see every punch and kick. Every fantastic movement. And it is awe inspiring. Just like the previous films, the entire thing isn’t just CGI, they have other art styles to show within back stories which give it more traditional feels.

Fuck its so pretty.

Okay. Sorry. I will stop.

Kung Fu Panda 3 is sadly not perfect. A lot of the early film is wasted. Part of the charm of sequels for action films like this is that we don’t have to waste our time with origin stories. But this film has us sit through Po being bad at teaching, then he is has to do the long Panda training. The Panda training in particular, discovering his family and friends, just takes so much time and makes me lose interest in Po. The twists that show up during the village are also quite obvious, so we don’t even get the benefit of a nice shock.

The villain is awesome, although we don’t get to see enough of him doing bad things. The spirit realm was awesome and allowed the film to add more magical components to the franchise. Making “Chi” the big new thing feels a bit strange. I think KFP2 added that he needed Inner Peace and the Chi concept just feels like the same thing again. I don’t want each film to be Po learning something bigger to defeat a new threat. That isn’t original. Although I don’t know if there will be any more films after this one, given the ending.

Oh well. Pretty franchise. Pretty good. Not perfect.

3 out of 4.

Trumbo

Trumbo! The great white buffalo! Of the main acting awards, this is the final film I needed to see to complete the categories.

I missed it when it came out in November, because, I dunno, I was busy or something. I didn’t care to see it. I figured it wouldn’t get nominated, no matter how much I like Bryan Cranston.

But hey, he did get nominated for best actor. And with a mustache! It is basically what Johnny Depp was doing with Mortdecai. That is the movie in 2015 he wanted to win Best Actor for right? I can’t think of any other film.

Erm. Trumbo! True story! Communists! Time to party! Red Party.

Bribe
That’s a communist joke and damn it, that is probably a communist dress too.

Back to Trumbo, or Dalton Trumbo (Cranston) as everyone everywhere calls him. He lives a good life. He is one of the most successful writers in Hollywood. He has contracts with movie studios to write exclusively for them, meaning that his family can live a nice life. That is of course his wife (Diane Lane), main daughter (eventually Elle Fanning) and two other kids who we don’t care about.

But he has a secret. A very vocal secret. He cares about the rights of the workers. Any workers technically, but specifically the Hollywood workers who don’t make money and should make more instead of the Hollywood fat cats. He is a…a…a…COMMUNIST. And there are a bunch of them too. This is now the late 40s and people are starting to get afraid of the Commies, thanks to the Russians and the coldness of their threats. So they try and round up all the communists in Hollywood and KILL THEM! No, not kill them, but black list them. Refuse to let them work in movies ever again. After all, if they are writing their movies, they could be putting subliminal communist things into mainstream America and fuck us from the inside! That would be terrifying.

And Trumbo is about how this man and his friends decided to try and fight for their first amendment rights. And to work despite the blacklist through aliases, friends, or by boldly ignoring the threats of others. Guess how many Oscars Trumbo won while black listed? Three. He was basically penning the “Fuck The Police” song well before the boys in Straight Outta Compton.

And of course we have more people in this movie: John Goodman and Stephen Root are brothers who make a shit ton of B movies. David James Elliott plays JOHN WAYNE. Louis C.K. is a fellow writer commie, Alan Tudyk is a fellow writer, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is a prison man, and Helen Mirren and Michael Stuhlbarg fuck some shit up.

Press
It is rumored that Cranston was able to grow out the ‘Stashe in just 3 minutes.

Despite my wildly successful movie watching lifestyle, I am super behind on almost everything before 1990. I only barely have the 80’s covered, and everything before that is pitiful. So if I can watch a modern movie telling me about movies back in the day, I consider it a win. I have never seen Roman Holiday or The Brave One, but you bet your ass I have seen Spartacus. Getting to hear behind the scenes stories of how these films were written and what they had to do to hide Trumbo’s name was fascinating. It is probably the sexiest thing I have ever heard of when talking about 1950’s Hollywood writers.

Cranston gave a pretty good performance. I am not willing to call it incredible. I saw a lot of Cranston that I have seen in other roles, and I never really saw someone other than himself. I didn’t feel like he ever fully transformed into the man he was playing, not even when he was sitting in the bathtub. I can say it was my least favorite of the Best Actor nominee performances, and would probably rather someone like Steve Carell or Mark Ruffalo from Infinitely Polar Bear.

C.K. and Lane both did excellent jobs with their supporting characters, although Lane wasn’t given a lot to work with.

Story wise, again, there were a lot of interesting moments, but I will say I got confused a few times at a lot of the extra characters, who they were supposed to be, whose side people were on, and just why they were relevant. There are a lot of extra characters here with important roles, too many to list and name, and yeah. I can’t remember most of them. Thankfully it was only small bits of confusion and I could still easily grasp the main points of the story.

3 out of 4.

Godzilla

Who doesn’t love an older franchise getting a reboot? Well, older Godzilla fans for one. They probably wouldn’t even consider this movie a reboot, just a continuum in the long storied history of the Godzilla franchise. But me? Sure, it is a reboot. We all remember the 1998 Godzilla. Even you in the corner probably remember it. I don’t care how many movies came out since then in Japan, if any. I only know there was a sixteen year gap between this one and the old one, and no characters are the same.

Well, one character is the same, I guess.

But fuck those older movies. This one is newer! With graphics!

Godzilla
State of the art Robot Graphics!

The year? 1999. Probably to mess with the other movie a bit. Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) is working at a nuclear reactor in Japan as a head Engineer, noticing some seismic waves, when holy crap, big disaster occurs! People die, questions are raised, and maybe, the whole thing is covered up.

Fast forward to now! Fifteen years later! Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), Joe’s son is now a grown up, just a lad during the incident. He is in the armed forces, a bomb diffusion-er. I guess you can say he is good at calming high intensity situations. He is just arriving back home to see his wife (Elizabeth Olsen) and kid when he has to go BACK to Japan to get his father out of jail.

He is now a conspiracy junkie and snuck back into the heavily radiated area they had to leave. Well, Ford joins his dad on a mission to go back to the plant, when holy crap, big disaster occurs! People die, questions are raised, and maybe, the whole thing is covered up. Just kidding, video footage gets out, at least one giant monster exists and it is about to fuck up a lot of shit!

But what do these creatures have to do with the mysterious Monarch group, lead by our only major Japanese character Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and his three lined assistant (Sally Hawkins).

Also, the role of Godzilla is played by Brian Posehn.

Destruction
It has often been prophesized that Posehn given enough radiation could cause this must destruction.

I think I have admitted to past to not really caring about the large raging lizard known as Godzilla. I can’t get into those movies, despite having multiple friends who have been raving about them and awaiting this movie for a few years.

However, I am a fan of really well done, exciting and entertaining movies. So, I guess I am a pretty huge damn fan of this movie. Godzilla is only right around two hours and never really has any pacing issues. Do you get to see giant creatures battling in the first thirty minutes? No, of course not, but the build up and the human drama early on really set the tone for what was going to go down. Shit, Bryan Cranston’s role isn’t that big in this movie, but he damn near made me cry with his own intensity.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson has had a pretty good movie career over the last few years, some good movies, some bad ones, but usually solid acting. In this one, he mostly displayed a calming silent attitude when faced with near death situations, but I think it worked out well.

But who cares about HUMANS when we have giant monsters FIGHTING? Were the fights great? Yes. There are fights rhgouhout the movie, although some of them are teased or kept intentionally dark to only give you snippets, but by the end it is definitely worth it. A lot of fan service here for Godzilla junkies along with chances for easily made sequels in the future.

Even more exciting is the science! Obviously it isn’t 100% correct, because we’d probably have Godzilla-esque things now. But for the movie, it seemed to work out pretty well in my mind. Yay reasonable science in a movie!

Looking at the summer schedule, Godzilla is likely to be the best “disaster film” of the next few months.

4 out of 4.

Argo

Ben Affleck. Have you heard of him? He started as an up an coming actor in the 1990s, even won an academy award for writing, but then made a series of bad choices. He followed the Paycheck, got it on with J.Lo and became an easy laughing stock of Hollywood. Basically, he became synonymous with Canada jokes. Something that is joked about to seem cool, basically.

But then something happened. He directed a movie. Gone Baby Gone and The Town were both considered great hits. Now we haveArgo, and if it is any good, it could potentially cement himself as a great director (generally you need at least 3 good movies, in a row preferably).

Argo Fuck Yourself
And if it isn’t good, well then, Argo fuck yourself.

Back in the 1960s, Iran was fucked up. The film does a great explanation to catch you up to the events at hand though. Basically, the USA helped make a military coop, put a leader in charge who was horrible but loyal to the US. Eventually Iran gt their country back and the leader was brought back to US for protection, and was dying of cancer. Iran protested under their new leader, demanding the old one be brought back to be tried for his actions, but the US refused. They rioted at the US Embassy, eventually broke in and took everyone captive. Everyone, but six individuals who were able to escape (Tate Donovan, Scoot McNairy, Rory Cochrane, Kerry Bishe, Clea DuVall, Christopher Denham).

They find themselves in the house of the Canadian Ambassador, Ken Taylor (Victor Garber), and become stowaways. Unfortunately for them, the fact that they escaped puts them in more danger than those who were captured! The whole world is looking at those captured hostages, so Iran knows they cant have them killed. But people who escaped and have been hiding out? They are clearly spies and can be killed. Well, shit.

Two months later, enter the CIA. They are brought in to help extract the individuals from Iran, lead by their best man, Tony Mendez (Affleck). Unfortunately, their best idea is a long shot. He will head to Iran, pretending to be part of a Canadian film crew looking to shoot a new sci-fi movie, called Argo, there. He will teach the captives their roles and they will just leave hopefully. But first they have to make it seem real. With the help of some Hollywood big wigs (John Goodman, Alan Arkin) and the head of the CIA (Bryan Cranston) they attempt a rescue that basically seems like a suicide mission.

Canadadad
Tip 2 on how to be Canadian: Apologize always and often.

One thing people ask me a lot if what is my favorite movie, and every time I say Chasing Amy. Clearly I am a fan of Affleck as an actor usually, I just think he made some bad decisions in his life (the first half decade of 2000, specifically). Most people would agree that he was the bomb in Phantoms as well.

Thankfully, Affleck lived up to his hype and both directed an amazing movie, while also acting the shit out of it. First off, the way the movie set up and explained all the history before the hostage situation was really good. I was worried never hearing of the Canadian Caper before would lessen the movie for me, but they quickly set it up while also making it easy to understand. The entire film puts you into the late 1970s, everything from the looks of the actors, to the language just seems to fit.

Sure, it is true the Canadian involvement is incredible downplayed, but movies aren’t meant to be historically accurate, just entertaining. Historically accurate movies tend to be documentaries.

I think I would call Argo one of my favorite movies of 2012, which is an amazing accomplishment with all of the big movies that have already been released this year.

4 out of 4.

1 2