The Best of Enemies

True stories are sometimes fun. Sometimes they are true…ish and give us a topic like Green Book, which is barely about the actual Green Book and pretty damn disappointing.

Other times we get true stories that are like The Favourite, which are probably extremely fictionalized but based on real events and well acted so we let it pass.

And then we get something like The Best of Enemies. Another true story that seems to actually be based on real people and events, without making things offensive or skirting the issues that are important to the subject. Wait, this shows a Klansman in a favorable light? Alright, maybe not completely inoffensive.

Papers
And I got the tweets all ready to prove it.

Ann Atwater (Taraji P. Henson) is a single mother and an activist living in Durham, NC. She runs Operation Breakthrough, which is to help poor black folks not get completely fucked over by the white man. And it is always a battle. Fighting for good homes to live in, fighting for decency, fighting for better schools. It is a full time job and one she will proudly take until it is fixed.

And then we have C.P. Ellis (Sam Rockwell), a poor white man who also happens to be the leader of the Durham chapter of the KKK. I should probably mention that this takes place in 1971, after the Civil Rights Act was passed and desegregation occurred. It had not occurred everywhere. For example, Durham! They still had white schools and black schools. And shockingly to no one, the black schools were older, overcrowded, with old supplies and not enough money compared to the white schools.

Well, one of the main elementary schools gets damaged in a fire, with most of it being unusable except a few classes. Clearly now they need to segregate, it is only fair. Nope. Council says to use those 8 classes and make them go to schools in shifts instead of disrupt another school.

The cowards that be in charge above that, when a lawsuit from the NAACP appears, decide to organize a “charette”. A term made by Bill Riddick (Babou Ceesay), where he comes in to organize the community to discuss the issues for a few weeks and have a senate vote on resolutions. Anything they overall decide to do, Durham will do. Even if that means segregation. And Riddick wants to make sure this is real and worthwhile, so he decides that Ann and C.P. should be the co-chairs of this event, overhear everything and give each side equal ground. Surely, this will lead to peace and harmony.

Also starring Wes Bentley, Gilbert Glenn Brown, Anne Heche, Bruce McGill, John Gallagher Jr., and Nicholas Logan.

Convo
This could get nominated for costume given the body suit Henson had to put on for this look.

Ack. Where to begin.

Well, Rockwell is being typecasted as a racist turned racist we can not hate fully at this point. From Three Billboards, to this, to…Vice (Kanye West says so). That’s not something he should continue.

I was worried about this film because from the title and looks of it, it almost made it seem like it is going to imply that people of these people are important and should be heard. And uhh, one of them is a racist KKK leader. The other is fighting for survival. That is the sort of story that puts a bad taste in your mouth before it gets started, so it is a hard thing for people to just accept and want to see. But yes, by the end, [SPOILERS] the guy saw the light in real life and did the right thing and helped schools segregate, turning his back on the KKK. He should be celebrated for that, but most of the film is putting him in a slightly positive light before the moment, as the change occurs and again, it feel uncomfortable.

Technically, this movie has a white savior problem. And that is hard to avoid when given the real story, a white guy did save the situation. It is a hard thing to balance, when it has to fully embrace the white savior as part of the real narrative.

Honestly, trying to accept this film as a story is hard, and only works and can be acceptable because it is real. If this was fiction, it would be a complete shitshow of a plot. This makes it hard to talk about as a reviewer, from purely a movie standpoint.

So let’s just finish by comparing it to Green Book. The acting in Green Book is better. The camera work in Green Book is crisper. But the plot is so far from reality and insulting, it does not get a pass for its story and its actual true bits are not worthy of praise. While The Best of Enemies is rougher around the edges, it at least sticks to the facts and is pretty informative of a story on this topic. It is one that likely would have been better done as a documentary though, to really get the feel for these people and not put us in the middle of this awkward narrative.

2 out of 4.

Paddleton

I am at the point where I will probably watch anything with Ray Romano in it. Anything, except for that show that made him super famous, because now its old and there is no way I can enjoy that show format. No way.

But older Romano? He has been kicking butt since he was Autistic in Parenthood.

Then he nailed it with The Big Sick. He is doing these fantastic drama/comedies that make us feel. So sure, tell me he is in a Netflix only film that is about death, drama, and comedy. I know I am going to see Paddleton as soon as I could.

Serve
Paddleton, where they use paddles a ton.

Michael (Mark Duplass) and Andy (Ray Romano) are best friends. By circumstance though. You see, they are neighbors as part of a duplex home scenario. Andy lives upstairs above Michael. And despite their age difference, it turns out that they are destined to be great pals.

They both love Kung Fu, home made pizza, and playing made up versions of Racquetball. There is a nice abandoned wall outdoors they can play against each other. They have a love for the same Kung Fu movie too, that not many people appreciate.

And then Michael got a diagnosis. He’s got cancer. Terminal stomach cancer. He could do some fighting to make himself last longer, but he realizes he will be miserable. So he wants to go out on his own terms. He knows there is medication he can take that will let himself die, sort of legally. Just apparently unethical so he will have to travel to get it.

Michael just wants to have one great time with his friend, before he is too weak. He wants to play their game, eat some pizza, watch Kung Fu, and then have his friend be there with him when he drugs himself to death. A pretty swell experience for Andy, I tell you what.

Also starring Kadeem Hardison and Alexandra Billings.

Couch
When they punch together, the enemy will surely vanquish.

Paddleton wrecked me. This is just a movie about two friends, wanting to be best buds forever, and realizing they can’t. The realization of one of them dying, the younger of the two, was something they never expected, certainly not this early in their lives.

The difference between them, as one has accepted his own death while the other can’t handle the responsibility and emotion that will come with losing his best bud, while also being the arm that metaphorically pulls the trigger.

And so we get laughs, and we get tears. We get quite a few powerful scenes discussing the idea of mortality and letting go, while also still finding parts of it amusing enough to laugh at. I couldn’t look away at the end. I knew what I wanted to happen at the end, and it went in my mind, the right direction.

This is a film that will stay in my mind for many years, and also be one I can rewatch and still connect to on an emotional level after several views. Like Steve Jobs!

4 out of 4.

Triple Frontier

Triple. Frontier. Triple the normal amounts of frontier. What designates multiple frontiers?

Like, in the USA, we only really have one frontier I think, and that is one way to describe the West.

Are they just going into three different big areas? Is this a metaphor meaning three times the number of normal plot twists?

All I really know is that I hate spelling frontier. My natural instinct is to spell it as fronteir, and this movie may be my downfall.

TAble
Five people, maybe they will split into three groups?

South America apparently has a lot of drug lords, as movies like bringing this to our attention. And thanks to Santiago ‘Pope’ Garcia (Oscar Isaac), one of them might finally get taken down. Gabriel Martin Lorea (Reynaldo Gallegos) has been wrecking havoc for years, and Pope has been working the area trying to get him. And finally, he is in his reach. He has found his compound, he has scouted it, they are ready.

But he needs a team. Sure he works for the military already as special ops, but the pay is shit and the danger is high. He wants his team to be his old team, who all retired and are struggling. His old team (Ben Affleck, Charlie Hunnam, Pedro Pascal, and Garrett Hedlund) have all moved on, but why would they risk their lives again? Apparently, the government will give them a percentage of the cash they recover, assuming they also take down Lorea.

That will pay for college. That will pay for lots of things. That is worth the chance.

But a simple heist of a drug lord will of course cause a lot of issues, maybe some death, and maybe some twists. How much is actually worth the cost?

Also starring Adria Arjona.

Guns
Just a couple of bad ass mercenaries, trying to harass the locals.

Triple Frontier is actually a film by J.C. Chandor, who brought us Margin Call and A Most Violent Year, the former that I loved a lot and the latter which was highly praised. I was excited to see him constantly changing his style and genre, to see what he could bring to the action genre.

This film is a bit of a messy one, but I found it still to be highly entertaining. I love it when Affleck gets to play more asshole characters, we know it was his bread and butter back in the day with Mallrats. I think the whole team worked really well, and Hedlund was my surprise standout. They gave him a lot of personality for someone who was probably the lowest billing of the group. Isaac also kicked butt and I appreciated the effort he gave to the project.

I still don’t understand the title. But I appreciate the scenery and the struggles the group went through. They all felt like a real team, not stereotypes, but people trying to get by who also happen to be great at shooting guns. A strong and unique film in this genre type.

3 out of 4.

Greta

Halo, ich heiße Greta. Ja ja ja. I totally know german. I mean, ich spreche Deutsch.

Greta isn’t even about a German! But, I of course think of Hansel and Greta, who may not have been German either, but it is something I like to pretend.

Greta is a movie I knew nothing about going into, expect that it would probably be creepy.

“Creepy like a Greta on a Wednesday afternoon,” Hannibal, probably.

Stare
Ah yes, let’s stare at each other. That’s totally being Greta.

Frances McCullen (Chloë Grace Moretz), who is not Greta, is a Bostonian pretending to be a New Yorker. She is supposed to have a good spirit, trust people, be all loving. You know, not a typical New Yorker (or person from Boston. Should have made her from the Midwest). She is living in a loft with her friend, Erica Penn (Maika Monroe), whose family is rich and pays for the place.

Still though, New York is an experience. No real goals, just to get a job, see where life takes her.

And then she finds a bag on the train. A nice bag, with a wallet, some money, some random pills and shit. And so being the nice girl that she is, she finds the address and returns it in person to one Greta Hideg (Isabelle Huppert), which is of course an anagram for Egghead Rit.

She is old, lonely, but friendly, and Frances feels bad for her. So they share information, she helps her get a dog, and before she knows it, they are now having dinner dates and walks because they enjoy each others company. But Frances will quickly find out that Greta isn’t what she is claiming to be, and she might have other plans for Frances.

Floor
Typical stuff, like cleaning floors with your body.

Greta is not like normal villains. She is older, she is frail, and she is able to hold a lot in to herself. We see so much of her personality come out when she is doing the bad stuff, when she can fight through pain, when she dances around the house in a chaotic situation, her just sheer insanity.

Greta is a slower moving film, but it draws you in by having Moretz’s character determine something weird is going on really early and trying to avoid Greta as a lot of the film’s action. The ending gets a bit wild too, when we fully see what Greta is doing, has been doing, and more.

The ending is a bit of a crowd pleaser and goes a bit by the numbers, however. I thought it was a bit uninspired based on the rest of the film. It also does move at a relatively slow pace overall. I mean, we don’t have a high body count, and Greta isn’t very physical throughout most of it, so it is the creepiness of smaller actions that has to entertain the viewer. I personally felt myself battling with falling asleep in the middle of the movie, until certain events really picked things up.

Greta is still a good change of pace, and hopefully a good direction for thrillers in the future.

2 out of 4.

Fighting With My Family

Fighting With My Family is a topic that combines a few things: real life story, wrestling, and British people doing silly things. We haven’t had a title like this in awhile.

Directed by Stephen Merchant, who I had the pleasure of interviewing after the movie and you can read the interview here, it is the story of wrestler Paige. How she grew up in bumfuck England and somehow made it to the WWE, despite not being their typical female wrestler.

I can’t imagine if we had any actual bio films actually based on wrestlers. Documentaries, sure, but like a young Hulk Hogan movie? A young Rock? A young Macho Man Randy Savage? It is relatively interesting that the first one to get one is a woman wrestler named Paige, who is probably only big in the wrestling circuits.

Dreams
This is what dreams are made of.

Saraya Knight (Florence Pugh) did not have dreams of growing up to be a wrestling super star, she was indifferent to it. Sure she trained for it like every regular kid. Wait, what?

Oh, her parents are “professional” wrestlers. Her dad (Nick Frost) and mom (Lena Headey) run a very small wrestling company in their small community. Helps them stay clean off of drugs and violence. They train people, they put on shows, they have a good time. Saraya’s older brother, Zak (Jack Lowden), did have the dream his whole life. And thanks to a video, they both are going to have a chance to audition for the WWE!

And then they are going to have to deal with the fact that Saraya, who is going by Paige, made it to the next round of training, and Zak is still stuck at home. She took his dream. And the dream and training in America is going to be tough, lonely and destroy their whole dynamic.

But can she make it? (she can, we know that). And if she can make it, can she be a star? (also yes.) But what does she have to accomplish first? (okay good question).

Also starring Dwayne Johnson and Vince Vaughn.

ring
“First we kick each others ass, then we kick all of the other asses.”

Fighting With The Family is an enjoyable film but very much by the numbers. A long shot trains, gets betters, and does the unthinkable, and people love her. Along the way were hardships, that made her want to change, quit, and more, but she conquered them. Hooray!

So you aren’t getting anything new from the plot, just the setting. Wrestlers, British trailer trash, and Vince Vaughn playing himself as a talent coordinator.

However, it is clear the actors are really going all in for it. No one is trying to half ass this movie, there is high energy, especially from Headey/Frost. It is great to see The Rock be the Rock again and go all Rocky with it.

Pugh carries a lot of the film as well, and does a really good job for a young actress.

I think this film suffers a bit from trying to put too much story into a short amount of time. Things are rushed, and her struggles don’t seem super apparent. A lot of problems are more obvious communication issues so the audience just has to struggle until she gets her shit together.

But overall, not the worst movie about a WWE star that I have never heard about before.

2 out of 4.

Donnybrook

I was initially intrigued by Donnybrook a few months ago, solely on the title alone. It is a rarely used term for a brawl, and at this point, most used occasionally in a hockey game when the announcers are feeling frisky.

Now, in retrospect, this could just be a sequel/reboot of the movie Fighting, since its title isn’t really different. A movie about kicking the crap out of people, is that what I need to look forward to nowadays?

I know parts of the cast, I didn’t know the director, and I wasn’t sure where it might go. But theoretically, it could surprise me and go the way of Warrior, a film I probably watch at least once a year. Only time will tell!

kid punch
Teach a kid to punch, and he will never be hungry for life.

Out there in the woods, somewhere, there is a yearly brawl. One that people come from all over to watch, to bet on, and to compete in. It is of course popular. Why? Well one, you get to watch people beat the crap out of each other in a cage. No boxing gloves, not many rules (outside of no killing), and a lot of people getting the shit knocked out of them. Oh and there is a $100,000 prize.

That’s life changing money, but not any fool can enter. It also has a significant entry fee, that way only people are serious about probably just getting wrecked.

People come for various reasons, revenge, to save their family, debt, whatever. A few people are going to make there way to the fight, some leaving destruction in their path, some relatively easily. Who wins? Who dies? Who just comes close and falters? We shall see.

Starring Frank Grillo, Margaret Qualley, Jamie Bell, James Badge Dale, Chris Browning, and Pat Healy.

grillmaster
Barbed wire adds a little more of an unnecessary danger. Yay!

Donnybrook is an action movie, but it is also a drama. In fact, it is more drama than action. A lot slower of a movie than one would expect with the title, with bouts of extreme violence to shock you along the way.

And I just didn’t get it. It never drew me in. I didn’t care about the characters. I didn’t care who won, or even if there would be a final fight, to be honest. It dragged and felt too violent without the payoff.

I guess it is sort of like life. It sucks, bad things can happen, unexplainable bad things, and people can get hurt along the way, their dreams crushed. But it didn’t feel like a message that I needed that hadn’t been given before.

Those who want to see the violence and some extremes might enjoy it, but I think this movie would have a hard time finding an audience.

1 out of 4.

High Flying Bird

It has been a good long while since I received a Netflix movie early for a screening, not including the Mowgli one, as they played that in theaters for us. When I got a notification about it, I was excited, but I admit, I assumed it would have been Velvet Buzzsaw.

Instead it was for High Flying Bird, which I admit I would have probably ignored on description alone, if not for two reasons. First, obviously, I need to review it if they ask, so they can ask me to review more (makes sense!). And two, it was directed by Steven Soderbergh! As a general rule of thumb, I should watch everything that this man creates, as I will like or love them more often than not.

Now I do recall that he said before after doing Unsane that he will film all of his future movies with iPhones, or something to that regard, which did give me hesitation. It gives it a unique feel, that sort of fit with Unsane, but might not work for everything.

Fist
We will get to the issue of him doing a movie about race politics as a white dude, later.

Ray (André Holland), not Ray Ray, is sports manager/agent/pr man for namely basketball players, at a hard time to be an agent. Because there is an NBA lockout going on, and if most of their clients aren’t getting paid, then they aren’t getting paid. This isn’t great for job security, morale, or anything, and the lockout has been going on for months.

Ray’s newest client is Erick (Melvin Gregg), who was recently drafted number one overall! However, being drafted doesn’t mean shit. HE hasn’t received a paycheck yet, despite needing to move and figure out how to pay for bills and promises he didn’t expect to worry about. He is getting into trouble, and is in a weird spot with his own job. He has signed a contract, but it hasn’t been able to get processed. He has a team, but he really doesn’t have a team. Grey area can suck.

Ray wants to end the lock out, and decides on a strange plan, involving his unsigned yet signed talent. It is something that can put his own job, his player’s job, and a lot of people out of business. But is it crazy enough to work and get these men back to playing ball?

Also starring Zazie Beetz, Zachary Quinto, Sonja Sohn, Bill Duke, and Kyle MacLachlan.

dinner
This restaurant is so fancy, they even look whiter just by being in here.

Some of the topics in this movie deal with slavery, and how modern things can be attributed to past slavery notions in the USA. It also has a majority black cast, all done by a white director. It is however written by Tarell Alvin McCraney, who wrote Moonlight, and is clearly not white. It sounds to me like the idea for a story was met, and they just brought in a director who wanted to just do all of his filming with phones, let him do his directing/cinematography thing, while giving pretty important input that he couldn’t possibly fully understand.

And that is probably fine. A team of white people didn’t put this movie together. It is a story that is set in a realistic setting, with realistic people, circumstances, and realistic conclusions. It is sort of a fantasy in terms of how quickly it all concludes at the end, I honestly thought there would be at least 15 more minutes.

Overall, the film is under 90 minutes if we don’t include the credits, and has a lot more set up than the conclusion really deserves. It is rushed, and despite all of the set up, we still don’t get a set up to fully explain Ray’s idea, or elaborate on how things will go down. The ending plays off like we were watching a heist movie, and we have to see how Ray did it, but of course on a much smaller scale than a heist.

Not enough gets to actually happen in the film for me to love it, but the ideas are there. The acting is believable. The camera work is unnecessarily weird and I never really get fully immersed in that choice. High Flying Bird as a movie just is unable to reach as high as its title would imply.

2 out of 4.

Miss Bala

January being known as a dumping ground for films, so does that include February 1st? I mean, that is barely out of the month, most of the previous week is there!

Miss Bala is actually not an original film, but a remake of a 2011 film of the same name from Mexico. It looks like from casting and rough plot that they aren’t trying to change much, given the lead. This is what I would say is potentially a good example of a time to remake a foreign film. Why? Because I had not heard of the original.

Not that I, Gorgon Reviews, is the final say of what can be made in movies, but remaking something that was met with a lot of critical acclaim and famous is silly. If it is already great and well known, why bother? The things we should be remaking are the films that didn’t do well, or didn’t have a strong word of mouth. Because that means something may have actually gone wrong, and it could be improved on with a new version.

It is a smart way to not worry about comparisons. But for some reason, companies rarely do this, as they’d rather just rely on name recognition to make that money, good or bad. Oh well.

Also, the original Miss Bala did actually reach critical acclaim, but it just wasn’t seen by most of the world.

Pose
This doesn’t look like its in the middle of action, it looks incredibly posed.

This is not a movie about a girl named Bala, but instead a girl named Gloria (Gina Rodriguez), just like that other movie, Gloria. She works in LA as a make up artist, for models and sometimes celebrities, so she is pretty good. And she uses her talents for her friends, like her friend Suzu ( Cristina Rodlo). Suzu lives in Tijuana, which Gloria used to live in for a bit, but always feels a bit weird there. Judged for being an American and not perfect at Spanish.

Suzu is going into a pageant show for Miss Baja California (I have to assume Mexico pronounces it as Bala… and that is where the title comes from. Or its a Spanish pun that doesn’t translate to this film, who the hell knows), and Gloria is going to make her look good.

Unfortunately, the night before auditions really begin, they go to a nightclub to try to get an in with the owner and some dudes with guns bust in looking to kill. Gloria loses sight of her friend when running to safety, and has to spend the night worrying about her safety, since she cant seem to find her any hospitals. And when Gloria goes for help, she ends up getting kidnapped by the gun men who did the shooting, putting her life, her body, and her friend potentially at risk. But…are they really the bad guys?

Also starring Damián Alcázar, Ricardo Abarca, Ismael Cruz Cordova, and Anthony Mackie.

Money
They are trying to sell this movie on sex and dollars, yo.

Miss Bala is a film with a lot of twists and decisions for the main character. Sometimes too many twists can make a film feel annoying, because at a certain point, you don’t believe the twists any more and you just want it to get to the end to be done. One way to combat the twist fatigue is to have only two outcomes overall, so each twist just makes the viewer change sides. That way you cannot get overwhelmed, which seems to be the strategy with this movie. However, the twists feel extra pointless, because with only two sides, the stakes are low and it is still relatively easy to guess how the whole thing ends up.

If I had to say something nice, I liked that it featured a setting not traditionally given to women led films. It was definitely HER movie and her making a lot of decisions. Now, from these decisions, the audience can get quite annoyed with them and maybe even think they are poor, but they do seem to match the character and make sense for her. For the most part. It also didn’t solve all of its problems with violence. There was some smart moves in there, and a lot of panicked thinking. But this is not a gun toting heroine who is going to rid Tijuana of the cartel influence.

Despite all of that, this film doesn’t go too many new places. All of the side characters are still cardboard cutouts for the eventual resolution of the plot to unfold.

The ending itself is pretty silly and seemingly tries to set up something that no one would want, in a situation that would not happen. Overall, Miss Bala will probably easily find an American audience that loves it, but it still feels rather January.

2 out of 4.

Movie Roundup – Indies 2018 Part 1

Welcome to a Movie Roundup! A movie roundup features a few films that I didn’t feel like making full reviews for, but needed to get basic reviews out there for completionist reasons. It also helps me deal with my backlog. It may have a theme, and today’s theme is Indies 2018 (Part 1)! Basically, the indie movies I had missed, and need to really review, or else. Are these all really indie movies? Heck if I know. Some certainly are. Go with it.

Being on a movie round up doesn’t mean a movie is inherently bad, or good, or meh. I can feature any rating on here! So don’t assume the worst! I will also just post the reviews in alphabetical order.


Indies 2018 Part 1

Arizona

Arizona is a weird movie to talk about, because it is a dark comedy. A lot of dark comedies go into just such strange corners of the room. And you know, are funny, but usually involve death, or extreme “edgy” jokes. It could easily just go into some crude territory that is a poor taste and lose its viewers. Arizona is a lot more grounded in reality and about one person who is clearly losing his marbles, and using his size and gun skills to try and fix things.

I was shocked by Arizona, surprised, and I couldn’t believe no on was talking about. Dark comedies are almost always a hard sell, but this one was a great one compared to other similar movies in recent years. Our leads were believable, the setting was something easily relatable (an empty residential community after the 2008 housing collapse), that is also a bit unsettling. Yes, some aspects of this are a bit terrifying. And hilarious.

Arizona I think really works and it is a shame that it had almost no push for visibility.

3 out of 4.

Arizona

Bad Samaritan

Bad Samaritan is an example of a film that I really liked the idea about, but did not execute great.

We have a thief breaking in to steal and while there, they found someone clearly held captive. What do they do? A similar plot line was used in Don’t Breathe and used a bit better in that film. Instead, a majority of the movie takes place after the initial find and is more of a cat and mouse battle between our thief and the evil guy, played by David Tennant.

And the cat and mouse game is lame. The villain doesn’t seem smart, it seems ridiculous. He is flawed with a god complex without showing us why he even warrants a god complex. It goes completely ridiculous, moves away from a more grounded in reality movie, and doesn’t really give us the moral quandaries that the plot line suggests.

Forgettable film on every level, unfortunately.

1 out of 4.

bad

Eighth Grade

Eighth Grade is an example of a pretty well known film, and one you’d be more surprised to see that I did not have a full review upon. It was an immediate success, and had all the praise, and has spirit award nominations!

And yet, that’s why I have the round up. Things happen.

Eighth Grade is a pretty great and uncomfortable film. I cannot say that this is an accurate portrayal of what middle school girls are thinking and go through, because I am not one of them. It seems very accurate, and our lead does a wonderful job of riding that awkwardness and navigating through her school life. Bo Burnham‘s transition from comedy musician to director/writer seems to go flawlessly, and I wonder if he just had a lot of smart people on his side to make this work.

Eighth Grade is uncomfortable, awwkard, completely modern and set in the now, and probably something that a lot of people will want to read.

3 out of 4.

8th grade

Izzy Gets The Fuck Across Town

What drew me to Izzy Gets The Fuck Across Town is the title. Of course. I mean if you are going to be bold and swear at me, I think you need to bring it. It made me think of older films like Igby Goes Down, about these run down people with strange I names.

And hey, it had Mackenzie Davis, an actress who I think hasn’t gotten her fair shake yet. Haven’t you seen Tully? She is great! And despite how great she may be, this movie felt like a chore to get through. We have have movies about miserable people and they can be great movies, but this is one where I just wanted it to hurry and get to the final point. And once it did, it was lackluster.

I don’t remember much about this movie, but I do remember that it had no hype for a reason. The fuck did not give it notoriety.

1 out of 4.

Izzy

Summer of 84

Finally, we are going to talk about a movie that I think we average, for most of the film. Set in the ’80s with a group of kids, trying to solve a mystery of missing kids. They think it could be the local, single middle aged cop. Maybe he is taking kids and killing them? No, that can’t be.

Well, I won’t say if it was, or was not, of course. But the story the story is not unique. However…the ending was pretty damn good. It amped up the intensity, it went places I didn’t expect, and it left me with a little bit of dread. It is not a common way to end a film, and leaves it open ended in a good way. It turned a middling film into a film that I wanted to talk to people about, just to see if they saw it for the ending.

3 out of 4.

Summer

Overall, this is a really good list of indie films to check with. At least three of them I rated highly, and two of them I did not. Indie seem to have a better chance of giving me quality, you just have to take a dive and go into them knowing that they have a lot less hype around them on average.

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.

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