Peppermint

When is the last time Jennifer Garner was in an action movie? I really don’t know. Quickly glancing, my guess is in 2007 when she was in The Kingdom, but I could have missed something else over the last 11 years.

She has been “mom” in so many movies for so long, it is hard to imagine her doing anything badass. Hell, she is the current voice for the Mama in Llama Llama, a simple as fuck show on Netflix.

I just cannot imagine her kicking butt and doing anything believable. I can imagine her making me cry, sure. I can imagine her caring for her kids. But the lady who made me teary in a Christian movie (a hard task), Miracles from Heaven, has to do a huge shift in momentum for me to imagine her wrecking house.

All I am saying is that Peppermint has a hill to climb from the get go.

Sad
I too may weep when it comes to the family dying scene.

Riley North (Jennifer Garner) is not a porn star name, but a young mother who just wants to do whatever she can to protect her family. That probably doesn’t make it feel less porn star yet.

Their family is struggling a bit, but they are making things work. Her daughter (Cailey Fleming) is having issues with friends. Her husband (Jeff Hephner) is trying to find additional sources of income. Some low life comes to him with an idea, about stealing from a drug dealer in a fool proof plan. He turns it down overall, but apparently the dealer (Juan Pablo Raba) already got word about it, and wants to make sure a message is sent. And that message involves being gunned down in public, taking out the daughter as well but not fully killing Riley.

Riley takes things to trial, clearly pointing out in a line up the culprits, but yet the crime lord has great lawyers, and has the D.A. and judge in his pocket.

So what’s a girl to do? Maybe get some fat stacks of cash, run away around the world, and train for about five years in combat, shooting, whatever, in order to come back for revenge to take down anyway who let this corruption happen.

Also starring John Gallagher Jr., John Ortiz, Annie Ilonzeh, and Method Man.

Gun
Mommy’s got a gun, bad guns on the run, shoot ’em as they come.

In retrospect, Garner is the perfect person for this role. After the last decade of being a mom, in this movie, her extreme mom-ness mattered. She needed to have that loving, do anything for family look, and she has nailed that over the years. She also has some experience with action films and shows before that time, so working with stunt crews, choreography, etc would probably be second nature, even after this time. Peppermint called for a vengeful mom in order to work, and Garner fit the role very well.

Now, the film on its own does do a lot of strange things. It tells the story out of order early on, which mostly feels unnecessary. We get to see all of this build up of the case that she is so angry about, with these players. We especially got a lot of action with their lawyer. And yet when she is doing her revenge killings, we barely see any of the actual people involved getting punished. We get to see the judge get murdered, we see one of the shooters in a quick tussle, but the lawyer is completely ignored. A man who threatens her, has dialogue, is killed off screen and not even shown a death. It doesn’t make sense.

Instead most of her violent vendetta is shown against the gang itself, who sure, were involved with the death of her family. But didn’t actively do the dead or the cover up, just orchestrated it. It was very strange to not give us that initial satisfaction. They also made it way too easy for these initial things, deciding to brush it all over by turning her into some female batman who had some money and some years of training.

The film is still definitely entertaining. There are twists I tried to guess and was surprised with how they turned out. An okay film overall, one that you can reasonable accept and go along with.

And to answer the question you probably had, no, I did not cry when the family died. That probably says a lot about the film, I imagine.

2 out of 4.

BlacKkKlansman

I am by no means a Spike Lee expert. I haven’t seen the majority of his work, let alone the stuff that made him famous. I was only a child then.

The last movie of his I saw before he made BlacKkKlansman was Chi-Raq, which ended up being a film that I really loved. It made my top of the year list. I knew I had to give him more of a chance, since the only other films I had seen were Inside Man and He Got Game.

And then, I didn’t I was still too busy. Apparently he has had a few smaller films come out since Chi-Raq and this one, and I hadn’t even noticed. They were small, little advertising, maybe didn’t even make it to the big screen. Regardless, he clearly has a big work ethic, churning out films on topics he cares about, and has been doing it for decades to help raise awareness.

ID
And with a fun name like this one, it is sure to be a hoot.

Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) is just a brother who wants to make a difference in the world. He finds himself in Colorado, and they seem to want black cops, so he applies, and he gets to be a detective! Hooray, diversity!

Now strangely enough this isn’t in the 1950’s or 60’s, but 1979, and Colorado Springs was apparently still lacking on having black applicants and police officers. Either way, he gets the job, is put undercover quickly to infiltrate a potential black power rally. You know, he has to find out information if they are going to do anything illegal or go to war with the cops.

While doing that assignment, he gets the undercover itch, and decides to try and find out about the local klans group in town. He talks to the owner on the phone, and gets an invite. But of course, he isn’t white. So he has to enlist a partner, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), who happens to also be Jewish (not good for the klan either), to pretend to be him in person and infiltrate their group, while Flip is him in person.

Things can easily go wrong of course when dealing with white extremists. And they often do. But hopefully this undercover assignment can lead to them getting news about potential cross burnings or worse before they happen, in order to make the world a better place.

Also starring Ashlie Atkinson, Jasper Pääkkönen, Laura Harrier, Paul Walter Hauser, Ryan Eggold, and Topher Grace as David Duke.

Power
With so much black power on one screen, I was ready to raise my fists as well.

BlacKkKlansman, unlike my review of this film, is incredibly timely and relevant to our modern world. It had its wide release the same weekend as the one year anniversary of the marches in Charlottesville, Virginia, which of course had Nazi and Klansmen rhetoric going on with them. It wasn’t subtle about its connections either, with this film ending with footage from these few days of events and from the politicians who spoke out or famously did not speak out against it.

It is well acted by Washington, who has not had many roles, and is definitely the son of Denzel. It had great shots, a good story, and a nail biting finale that lasted a good while and kept the tensions really high.

It also made sure to try and keep things realistic, as it was based on a true story. Some liberties were taken of course, but all of the characters felt real and never turned into a cartoon. It didn’t try to do anything silly, like sympathize with any of the klansmen, because fuck them.

Overall, it is a powerful film, a relevant story, and a message about how far people can get with a little bit of can do attitude despite working against systematic racism.

3 out of 4.

Searching

If you have seen my reviews in the past, you might know that I love the concept of the computer screen movie. (If you haven’t seen my reviews in the past, welcome! Read more please?). Not that there is a whole lot of these mind you.

We have Unfriended, Unfriended: Dark Web, an episode of Modern Family, and uhhh…I am sure there are more. Maybe. Maybe I’ve even seen them.

The biggest issues I have had with these things in the past, aside from bad plot or acting, was that they failed at the details. We would have characters start music, and the music would just go away when the movie felt like it. They would be Skyping, and everyone wouldn’t talk at all on Skype while the character had to google something. Just dumb shit like that.

I just want it to be really accurate to a real computer. Every one of us knows what a computer looks like and how they work (mostly). So don’t give us non working computers, damn it. I want Searching to rise above the rest and give me a work of art.

Search1
I want you to have 10 tabs open that you will totally get to eventually.

David Kim (John Cho) and his wife Pam (Sara Sohn) had a little girl, and named her Margot (Michelle La). They introduced her to piano. They recorded videos of her for a digital scrapbook. They have her first days of school, they gave her an account on their old windows machine. And really, Pam was better at all of this.

David is good with computers too, but he worked more, and loved his family, and took more videos, but she was the one who helped Margot fall in love with piano and keep track of their schedules.

And then one day, Pamela finally succumbed to cancer. This of course changed their whole family, and David didn’t really know how to handle it. He still raised his daughter, making sure she had her piano lessons, went to her things, and communicated, but maybe it wasn’t enough.

Because one night, she didn’t come home. He had some missed calls while sleeping. And after a few excuses were checked, she still wasn’t there. And now with the help of his brother (Joseph Lee) and the Detective assigned to his case (Debra Messing), he has to realize how much he didn’t know about his daughter the last couple of years, find her friends, do his own searching (movie title) in order to hopefully find her daughter alive.

Search
“Fucking Millennials, always putting themselves on the camera, allowing them to maybe be found by their parents in the future. ” – Parents of Millennials.

Searching is good, like really really good.

I could go talk about in detail about how I cried three times, including the first 10 minutes (good news for you Up fans). How real Cho felt as the dad. How smart the movie unfolded. How tense I was and how well it flowed together.

But really, I just want to talk about the specific details I mentioned above. We saw Cho open tabs and not read them. Hell yeah. We saw him have to pause music or videos in order to use his face times. Hell, we saw him do this at work too.

And best of all, BEST OF ALL. When a character messages a character, we see that they indeed have talked in the past, and there are past conversations. This keeps happening to quite an annoying level. He had past conversations with his daughter, with other people, and she had them with others as well. His little apple phone app that showed he called people changed throughout the film (because it takes place over almost a week for the most part) changed over time, and looked realistic in that regard.

Oh, and the plot is awesome, Cho is awesome, this was great. All other computer screen films I liked in the past are now shit (which most people agreed with already). This is a gold standard. I can’t wait to see how this genre evolves and of course, quickly becomes shit.

4 out of 4.

Kin

Editor’s note: Since writing this article, which were indeed my first thoughts on the film, unbiased by others, I have read a review of Kin that I can clearly state is better than mine and makes a better point. Read it here at Texas Art & Film. I am almost ashamed because I usually notice issues like this one, but I simply missed it maybe due to the better cinematography and music of the film.

I went into Kin mostly blind. I didn’t really like the name, but I knew nothing about the story, nor did I see any ads anywhere. It felt like a secret release, but hey, I don’t watch a lot of commercials so it is hard to see.

The only thing I knew was two of the main actors listed in the movie. It still was clearly an indie movie, but while watching it, I was surprised at just how many other actors I knew or recognized. It has at least five famous or notable people, none of which are the “lead” in this film. It is surprising given the lower overall budget of the movie.

Sometimes, actors just do lower budget films for less because they like the story or whatever. And James Franco just does it for shits and giggles. I think he wants half of his films to be movies people have never heard about before.

Truck
Half of this photo is new, half of this photo is really old.

In the near future, Detroit is a piece of shit. This is true generally always, in every movie, about the near future Detroit. It is also somewhat true about present Detroit.

Eli Solinski (Myles Truitt) is a kid having problems at school. He is a black kid. He is getting suspended. Turns out his mom died recently. His mom being someone who adopted him, and he has had a hard time adjusting. His dad (Dennis Quaid) is very strict, but supportive, and stuck in his morals. His older adopted brother, Jimmy (Jack Reynor), has been in prison for awhile due to stealing some things, and he has been a bit of a stain upon the family.

Well, Jimmy gets back home, and it is awkward. It is also awkward because he needs some money. He took out a “loan” in prison for protection, so he wouldn’t have to worry about getting shanked. And his loan sharks want their money back right away, which he doesn’t have, his dad doesn’t have, but the job office might have some.

Around this same time, Eli, who has been stealing copper from some of the many abandoned warehouses, stumbles upon a strange sight. A gun. An…alien gun? Something that whirrs and boops and is totally not normal.

Long story short, Eli and his brother are going on a road trip. Some bad people are after them, but they have money, guns, and Eli doesn’t know anything bad is going on at all.

Also starring James Franco, Zoë Kravitz, Carrie Coon, Ian Matthews, and Gavin Fox.

Gun
Alien guns make my favorite gun sound, pew pew pew.

I really did go into this movie thinking it would be shit, only knowing it was some sort of family film and science fiction. But I was surprised at how hard this film tried to be a contender. It didn’t reach its lofty goals, but it had a lot of good going on with it.

The soundtrack behind it is one that is meant to really draw you in, with an electro pulse to keep tension up in non tense moments. The camera lingered over scenes. The film embraced silence without dialogue constantly to catch us up on their emotions and potential growth. It is a slow build and not just a rainstorm of action scenes to keep the viewers excited while things explode in alien gun glory.

No, it is a film about family. It is slow, and there is some crime and sad killing moments.

Now the ending of the film feels very convenient. The clues are there, and it offers at least one surprise, but it also ends the film in a weird note. Too many things are wrapped up without the appropriate fallout one would expect. It sets up a franchise that everyone can tell while watching will never come to fruition.

And honestly, it is too slow. Build is one thing, but this movie didn’t always build, but instead sort of stalled at points. The road trip felt like it would go on forever, and it was frustrating that things weren’t really moving along faster.

This was a good idea for a film, and clearly care was taken into it. It just could have also been a lot better at the same time.

2 out of 4.

Puzzle

Honestly, with a title like Puzzle, I didn’t know what the movie would be about. Certainly some sort of drama. But I could also consider a mystery or thriller. The stars could be in all of the genres!

But more importantly, I didn’t know it was based on a foreign film. Not even until the credits roll was this made obvious to me. It was a 2010 film from Argentina of the same name! Well, but in Spanish.

The other film title was Rompecabezas. What an amazing word. Puzzle itself is a fun and amazing word. But Rompecabezas? Hot damn.

Puzzles
Look at all those Rompecabezas pieces.

Agnes (Kelly Macdonald) has a very unfortunate name, reserved for old ladies, and maybe that is why she in fact seems like a very old lady. She doesn’t have a job of her own, or any real notable hobbies. Her husband (David Denman) owns and works an auto repair shop. He has a crew, he works every day, he works hard. He gets home and supper is on the table. Everything is taken care of at home. Agnes cleans, she prepares, she shops, she goes to church group. She doesn’t need or want that smart phone for her birthday.

But someone got her a gift, a puzzle, a whole thousand pieces. And she decides to try it out. And there goes her time! Hell, she puts it together twice, because why not.

And it turns out she is really quite good at this puzzle thing. When she goes all the way to NYC to a shop to buy and look for more (because that is where the first one was bought), she finds a note that someone is a puzzle champion looking for a partner. A puzzle partner? For competition.

Agnes doesn’t really do things. And this is way out of her way. And it would be with a man (Irrfan Khan). These are not things her husband would be able to understand. Not that it matters, since they have been disagreeing more lately, especially about the direction of their sons (Austin Abrams, Bubba Weiler).

No. Fuck it. It is Agnes time.

Drinks
I am sure her married won’t be tested at all.

Puzzle was a very simple film that had a few weird stretches, but overall gave a wonderful performance by our lead Macdonald.

Well, I guess I will give more details. Both sons played their roles well, as catalysts and having their own personality. Denman seems forever plagued to live in roles of bad husbands and lovers. It just must be that face. (Logan Lucky aside, but he was still clearly a jerk in that relationship).

But Macdonald is a goddamn quiet force in this picture. Her mannerisms, her quirks, her voice, her attitude and face, and her growth throughout the picture. It is clearly her film and her life and we are just passengers along the way. I love, love, love her performance.

And in all honesty, yes, I wish the film would have ended differently than it ended it up going. And it took me over a week to write this review, but I believe it is a great ending for her character and breaks a few cliches. A surprise in that regard.

Who would have thought that a movie about joining a puzzle competition could be so captivating? Probably the same people who made movies about spelling bees.

3 out of 4.

The Darkest Minds

Didn’t you know? Didn’t you know it was time for another young adult dystopian book to transition into movie magic?

Because we need more of these teenage trilogies to copy the success of The Hunger Games. You know, start off strong, and get really terrible and no one care by the time the final film comes around.

I didn’t want to watch the trailer for The Darkest Minds before going into it, but I had to make sure my kid could see it as well. And the trailer is more than enough to know to pass on this film.

Rails
Let’s stand around naturally, yes, yes, good. This is how kids hang.

Set in the future, or not, maybe just some other Earth, kids start dying. They don’t know why, but a long disease with a long acronym is blamed that scientists are trying to stop. Just people under 17, spaz out and die suddenly. Like SIDS on steroids I guess. But not all kids die. In fact, quite coincidentally, the ones who do not die get powers instead.

No, not random powers. Just one of a set of five. They are going to get super smart, levitate items, or create/control electricity, probably. These are the most common and “acceptable” level of powers. They correspond to the colors of green, blue, and yellow. Next is Orange, and it involves memories, mind control, thought shit. Ruby (Amandla Stenberg), our hero, is going to be like this. The government when they start rounding up these rabble rousing kids wants to terminate the oranges on site, because they are scary. And then there is Red. And ooooh boy, apparently Red is so big bad and scary they gotta keep it a secret from us assholes, and they are also on the to be killed level.

Ruby has had these powers for six years in a concentration camp, pretending to be a green, and anyone that would test her or question her she would just mind control them into believing her lie. Good times. Until her secret gets too far out, meaning she has to bust out with some helpful adults. Because this is a dystopian novel, no one really means anything they say they mean. And now Ruby has to run around this world, trusting few, guessing, and getting misinformation and very few details because bad plot reasons.

Also starring Bradley Whitford, Mandy Moore, Gwendoline Christie, Harris Dickinson, Patrick Gibson, Miya Cech, and Skylan Brooks.

Color
Guys, guys, guys. Let’s just not acknowledge color, that will fix things.

Oh goodness, it was worse than I thought. I figured this could be cool if it really played up the X-Men element and less the cookie cutter young adult element. But alas, powers barely seem to matter.

Because they decided to make powers fall neatly into five categories, all nicely color coded based on how the eyes bright up when powers happen. Oh good, it is time for cliques and boring grouping again. Grouping is a common and lazy theme in these novels.

There are a lot of holes and stupid plot points in this movie. I feel like throwing a few out there that I recall, some that could be spoilers. Some of these are things thst can be explored in the book but are happily ignored in the movie.

For example, we have a diseases that kills everyone 17 and under? Not at once but over a time span? And the people who don’t die from it also at the same time get powers, but only one of five specific but very different things? Like, why? Why? This is something that might be explained by book three, but there is certainly no one in the movie even asking the most basic questions right now and that is non sensical.

The powers are so stupid. Smarts, telekinesis, electrical control, okay. Those are the main three? Fine. Orange being mind control and memory things? Fine again. Cool. But to make red seem like an extremely scary thing as well, and story wise keep it a secret also makes no sense. It is supposed to be a big surprise, and I was surprised only on how boring it is. It’s fire. It’s fire everyone. Like shooting fire from mouths specifically. Okay. Why is that worse than lightning? Who the fuck knows.

The movie went the boring exposition route of having the main character be new to the events around her so she is just a passenger. It allows the film to explain all these groups to us and to her but never the full story. Because suspense. That’s now how people talk.

When traitors are revealed it isn’t a surprise, it was obvious from moment zero. There is no reason to trust this person at all, and yet, it happens. When the red powers are finally shown we see them fuck up the place. But, the place is supposed to be used over and over. Why are they blowing shit up now when it should be a normal occurrence? Why did we have a long montage of an abandoned mall that seemed to be only in one store, and then finally an attack? Based on their explanation they would have attacked right away.

Why do powers fluctuate? Why would two people who have the power of being smart argue about a situation that has one right answer? Can someone be more smart from the magical same power? Why do we have an orange make everyone kneel and obey but not the four people who are causing problems and trying to escape? Why is there powr disparities when it is convenient? Lazy writing.

What happens to kids when they are above 17? Do powers go away? Will new kids die or gain powers? Why are so many things based on sound frequency difference of ages when presumably people who were 17 and powers now are 23 and powers and not affected by these measures?

Anyways. I’m done. This film is bad. It is rushed. Things aren’t explained. Effects are whatever. Just a mesh of other things with a non unique approach and a waste of time.

0 out of 4.

Blindspotting

I first saw the trailer for (and heard about) Blindspotting before Upgrade. That is also when I first saw a Sorry To Bother You trailer. A pretty intense set of movies.

From absurd to realistic, they all have similar themes. Okay. Upgrade really doesn’t. But Sorry To Bother You deals with race, acceptance, and fucked up governments. Maybe in a more extreme manner. Blindspotting is aiming to be more realistic.

And I was very excited to see it starting Daveed Diggs. Like most people, I was introduced to him from Hamilton as Lafayette/Jefferson. Since then he has been in a good amount, which is surprising of Broadway actors. He had a role in Wonder, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Black-Ish, and Ferdinand. But these are all straight up comedies, or who cares roles. This is a movie where Diggs should be acting and maybe making us cry.

Hair
He would make me cry if he ever cut that hair off.

Collin (Daveed Diggs) was in jail for two months for a felony charge. It involved a fight, and some fire. After jail, he has a whole year of probation. You know, staying in the county that houses Oakland, California (where he was already living, and his mother lives, thankfully). He has curfew. He can’t be involved in any criminal activity. He has to live at a halfway house as well. Just normal probationary things.

And with three days left on his probation, almost a “free” man (with a glaring felony tag that will follow him throughout his life), while returning home he gets to see a police shooting. Right in front of his work vehicle, a cop firing four shots on a running black man who dies quite unceremoniously. And he has to get home before curfew, but he saw a guy get straight up murdered by the police. Was it because he was black? Was it because of an actual threat to society? Was it because he looked at a gentrifying white hipster the wrong way and get involved in stuff way over his head that escalated beyond any one person’s comprehension levels? Is Collin speaking from experience?

Collin just wants to survive. Survive in the city that he was born and raised that is changing for the worse. A city where he feels like he is being kicked out, or killed out, so that others can take his place and make it “better”. He wants to hang out with his life long friend, Miles (Rafael Casal), but Miles might be considered a bad influence on him. And well, he is white and can probably get away with more.

Collin fears the future. Collin doesn’t know where his life is going, but he knows where he wants to be. Safe, alive, and free.

Also starring Janina Gavankar, Jasmine Cephas Jones (the original Peggy from Hamilton), Tisha Campbell-Martin, Utkarsh Ambudkar, and Ethan Embry.

Friends
Wanna know how I know where he is from?

Blindspotting is an example of a good comedy drama. It has heightened elements of both without feeling jarring. It is funny, like a good comedy, and it is tense and real, like a good drama. One side does not harm the other in the slightest. It just feels realistic and important and realistic and important.

The director, Carlos López Estrada, hasn’t done anything this big before, but what really sells this movie are the leads, Diggs and Casal. It should be noted that these two are actual real life friends, Diggs from Oakland, Casal from Berkley, wrote this script over almost a decade. They wanted to portray the area in a way that was being overlooked. They wanted to highlight the changing identities of that area of California, the problems with police brutality, racism, and of course gentrification, the latter issue which is in no way subtle.

They hit all of these points and they hit them naturally. This film flows so well, it is like a rap song, if I understood rap songs. Part of me is saying that just because rap is heavily influenced in the script and dialogue.

The ending is really what sells this film. The “final” confrontation that was definitely unexpected. There were plenty of good scenes before that as well, especially the phone call, the post party scene, the flashback, and more. But the ending is powerful and one that will be played over and over again once the film gets to that point of internet digestion.

4 out of 4.

A Quiet Place

This review for A Quiet Place has come way later than most of you would expect. But hey, I missed the first screening. And for a movie of this level, I would normally rush off to see it regardless. But I also love my wife.

And this is a movie she wanted to see badly as well. Her wanting to see movies isn’t rare, but she almost never wants to see horror. Her love of the actors involve and the interviews she saw online changed her opinion enough to still want to see it, so I knew my first time seeing it would be with her in our house, once it is on Red Box.

Which was like, a month ago. Vacations yo, they can delay things. And thus even surprising me for when this one finally came out.

Finger1
This is how my students have to walk down the hallway sometimes if they don’t listen to the rules.

We first see our family with the world already ravaged. People are gone and dead. Things have been abandoned. Desolation, ruin, all of the normal signs of an Apocalypse.

Our father (John Krasinski), mother (Emily Blunt), and three kids (Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Cade Woodward) are looking for supplies and no one is speaking. Every time a sound is about to be made, it is stopped and fixed before problems occur.

Based on newspaper articles and television recordings it is clear that some sort of Alien has occupied the planet. They have amazing hearing but poor site. For those who choose to run, play, gossip, they will be quickly found and eaten. A pretty shitty time to be alive.

But this family is doing okay. They have sound proofed most of their belongings. They knew sign language because their oldest, the daughter, is deaf. And the father is spending a lot of time trying to get her an earpiece to let her hear the world.

Needless to say, conflict will be coming to their house. An event, an incredibly loud one normally, is to occur, and they have to find a way to survive the attack that will certainly appear at their door step.

Hush
WE SAID NO TALKING GOD DAMN IT!

What a tense and wonderful film. Directed, starting, and written a little bit by Krasinski, he shows off a powerful movie on his first full feature attempt. Well, first well known movie. Not many people saw The Hollars, despite some nominations [I totally wanted to, I just forgot]. It is at least his first horror picture directing.

A lot of experiences with this film will talk about how amazing it was to quiet an entire theater from any sound, as a joint experience brought on from the films suspense. That didn’t happen in my house, because it is a house with kids, but I still was on the edge of my seat.

A Quiet Place did a great job of explaining the alien back story without feeling stupid. And better yet, we get to stay in the dark like most of the cast about the aliens. We don’t get all of it explained and we don’t need it. The idea of future sequels worries me as they will likely ruin the suspense.

Overall this is a very tense and upsetting movie. As a father, I obviously identified with several of the elements and they struck a bigger nerve but I can see those complaining about not scary enough. Some of the character decisions are incredibly frustrating, and it is another thing to watch kids be dumb. But kids are dumb.

I hope more horror films start going this route. This is an indie horror movie feel that made it mainstream. The more people accept this film then the more they will begin to accept films like It Comes At Night.

3 out of 4.

American Animals

American Animals only came up on my radar because the company sent me a link. I almost didn’t watch it. I accidentally had free time because I didn’t feel like leaving the house to watch Incredible 2.

I didn’t know the cast, the story, or anything.

I just knew the shitty title. I haven’t been a big fan of movies American in the front. There are a ton. At this point it lacks any amount of originality. I am not saying that the title makes me hate the film while watching it, but it does make me annoyed. It makes me lose interest before I even start it, which is why I almost decided to skip this film.

And occasionally, I can forgive the film if the title matters.

Old Men
I cannot even confirm all four of these old men are American! Show me your papers!

This story mainly centers around two individuals, Warren Lipka (Evan Peters) and Spencer Reinhard (Barry Keoghan). We are supposed to believe that these friends have are really different people. Warren is more outgoing and reckless. Spencer is reserved and good-natured. Once Spencer met Warren he got into more trouble, but whatever, they are just kids.

And now Spencer is at college, at Transylvania University, hoping to become an artist some day. And while on tour, he is taken with a crowd to the special rare books department, and he sees The Birds of America by John James Audubon, a large book full of very detailed paintings of, well, American birds. And it is incredibly rare and worth millions. So are other books in this tiny room in a library.

Once he mentions this to Warren, Warren wants to steal it. Why not? They just need to get a buyer ahead of time, and work on a plan. It isn’t a very security heavy area, no one would expect it, they could probably get away with it and get super rich. They have to overall bring in two others, Eric Borsuk (Jared Abrahamson) and Chas Allen (Blake Jenner) as their getaway driver. And then they can work on being infamous. Or at least infamous enough to get a movie made about them.

Also starring Ann Dowd as the rare book collections librarian and Udo Kier as mysterious man. Oh, and the real four thieves, narrating the story and telling their point of views as they recall the events.

Gotyasucker
We know they get caught because we know this story exists.

I loved American Animals. It was captivating, and despite knowing the eventual outcome, it was thrilling nonetheless. And of course, the title technically fit the film, but I can’t help they still chose it because they thought American sounded cool like the other movies.

A lot of the time having the real people involved in the picture means bad news. Did you see Act of Valor or The 15:17 to Paris? Both dreadful. But the real culprits of this act were not acting, they were just telling their story. They added a documentary element to this story, making it a sort of hybrid. Having them tell the story, disagree with each other, changing how the story played out was fun. Also adding in the elements of who can you trust from these various point of views was very well done and added a more ominous tone by the end.

Our actors who played the crew did a very good job, displaying appropriate amounts of angst and fear and young stupidity. I was definitely shocked and a bit afraid during the actual heist, heart pumping and on the edge of my seat.

American Animals took a real story, framed it in a unique way, and created suspense in a story where we already knew the outcome. Needless to say, this film surprised me in all the best ways. It makes since that it was directed by Bart Layton, who has only done documentaries in the past, most famously The Imposter, an amazing documentary.

4 out of 4.

Infinity Chamber

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is going to be a long sentence for Frank.

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

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

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

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

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

1 out of 4.

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