Unplanned

Ted Cruz likes this movie, Unplanned. Ted Cruz hyped this movie as it came out in theaters. Ted Cruz talked about how wonderful it was to see this very powerful movie early. Ted Cruz encouraged people to see this movie to see the truth about abortion. Ted Cruz was happy to see its numbers. Ted Cruz hyped the movie again when it came out on DVD.

I think it is certain to say that any movie Ted Cruz decides to talk about is pretty damn bad. In at least the last 3-4 years, I haven’t seen Ted Cruz talk about any movie, at all, ever, as a regular person or a senator. And he obsessed over this one.

Clearly, Ted Cruz was given some financial incentive for this film.

It is also clear that any movie that Ted Cruz likes is likely a colossal waste of time.

operating table
Ted Cruz is just another part of the cog.

You want an abortion movie? Well you got it! This film decides the best thing for it to do is give us part of the ending first, so it can do something graphic, and then give us the long story of her life before then. And in this scene, Abby Johnson (Ashley Bratcher), director of a Planned Parenthood, has to help with an abortion by just holding an Ultrasound. And during the process, she believes the fetus is running away/trying to escape, so she realizes she is terrible and time to quit.

Before that moment though? Abby as a college student always believed in women rights. She actually had two abortions, once from an accident, and the other time from a marriage that ended up not being a good fit and she needed to escape. So she appreciated Planned Parenthood despite apparently everyone in her family being extremely religious and anti-abortion.

So she also decided to volunteer with the company. She walked women from their cars to the doors to not have to deal with the protesters. Eventually she worked her way up, got an official job, then became a counselor to help people decide what to do, and eventually also run the dang facility.

The whole time, her new husband (Brooks Ryan) is incredibly disappointed with her. There is almost never a scene of him just being happy. His religion means that she is wrong and he hates her and is kind of a dick. Not physically. But constantly judging? Definitely a dick.

Oh, and Abby’s boss, who is also climbing up the corporate ladder, Cheryl (Robia Scott) is apparently just driven by profits and loves loves love abortions. But Abby got in this job to help women who need it, but prevent them from getting to the abortion step if possible. You know, the mission of Planned Parenthood. to help women at all costs along the way.

And, spoilers, after the beginning scene, and after all this other mess and being judged, Abby quits her jobs and joins a protest group, deciding to also now shout at those women who leave their cars, but use her position of former director to give more credit to her words.

harassment
A turncoat, if you will.

In this movie, Planned Parenthood is a big boogeyman of a corporation that is driven to make lots of money. They apparently thrive off of abortions, and the more women who get abortions, the more rich they get, and the more powerful they get. They don’t care about women, they care about getting those fetuses out for that paycheck.

They are compared to Big Oil and Pharmacy companies, and driven by huge donors to get this anti-Christian agenda off and running, because of dealing with all of these bad people! And of course the boss character is just a manifestation of all of this. Needs more abortions, needs only loyalty, needs money! And it is ridiculous.

This is all supposed to be a true story. And sure, maybe Abby had a bad boss and attributed things to the whole company? That’s fucked up. But the “disasters” shown in this film, the medical emergencies, and whatever, that seem to make it look terrible, also take place over 9 years I think. If that is the case, then it seems like for the most part a nice ship has been run. All companies have hiccups.

I don’t want to say Abby Johnson is a terrible person. She was driven to this eventually to societal peer pressure. Besides hearing protesters daily for years, her husband was always extremely disappointed with her, and her parents hated her as well. Of course she’d eventually stop and “see the light”. What is messed up is instead of just abandoning it, she tried to use her former authority to convince people it was bad, when really it was just her religious doctrine getting in the way, not her authority and knowledge.

This is an annoying religious film, because 97% of the people who watch it will be those who already are anti-abortion. The other 3% are going to be people who thought it was about something else, or people like me. It won’t change a mind, it is just one of the Christian films where Christians stroke their own egos about how right they are to be Christians. A lot more of them are popping up in big amounts lately, but they are not great films, and Ted Cruz is a goddamn idiot.

Wait. No. He is not an idiot. I don’t fathom he believes all this. He is just motivated to be on this side, politically and financially (most likely), and so he is running with it. He knows it sucks too. He knows.

0 out of 4.

Between The Darkness

Between The Darkness, formerly called Come Save The Night, is a straight to VOD film that deals with another home schooled family in the woods.

These have become popular lately, with our recent films like Captain Fantastic and Leave No Trace. Why not be off the grid and live on your own? Why do we have to conform to society?

Now this is a much more indie film than those other two, which also were really indie. It doesn’t also have big names attached, so it can maybe tell an even more intense and dark story.

But I will say now while watching, that I figured out why I was asked to review the film by the company. And it is a unique reason. This film has the word Gorgon in it. It is used a lot, actually, and referring to the real mythical creature, not some other version of Gorgons like in Small Soldiers. And damn it, if I can’t be the official source of all movies that deal with Gorgons, then what is the point?


I think everyone now is secretly a Gorgon in this film.

Roy Grady (Lew Temple) our man in the woods with his family, lives in the woods! With his family! He has a daughter, Sprout (Nicole Moorea Sherman) and a younger son, Percy (Tate Birchmore). They have a lot of land, legally, but they don’t have phones and the kids never leave the land. Sprout had an older sister, who died within the last few years, and their mom also died years before that. Very sad times.

Now Roy is very weird. He is teaching them about the gods, the Greek mythologies, as their official religion and focus on life. Thus the name of the youngest kid. And because he teachers her about mythology, Sprout starts to believe she can see Gorgons in the woods, and other monsters. They are out to get her, and her dad isn’t buying it.

But it turns out that there are a lot of secrets in those woods, and she will discover them as her life begins to unravel and change at a faster rate.

Also starring Danielle Harris, Daniela Leon, and Max Page.

c
Warrior.

By the end of the film, sure, it got really weird, and took us to a place I didn’t expect at the beginning. Unfortunately, one could easily describe what the ending was about, but the minor levels of interpretation and details are all fuzzy and quick.

We don’t really know why the dad is such a dick. For most people to go and live in the woods and worship ancient Greek gods, you wouldn’t also expect them to be homophobic or anti-liberal while being anti-Christian. So his character is hard to comprehend.

I think this film had a lot of good ideas, but maybe the budget constraints and timing lead to it feeling like it was missing a lot. It wasn’t too short, it just didn’t move the plot along always at a good pace.

I did really enjoy Sprout as the main character and think that she has a lot going on for her, but it just doesn’t add up enough. I root for her, but understand that I am not getting enough of a complete story.

Between The Darkness has a lot of ambition, but is unable to reach its lofty desires in a narratively pleasing way.

2 out of 4.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

Awww snap, its a Richard Linklater movie. Always a must watch. It’s been two years since his last picture, Last Flag Flying, and I always talk about how I must watch his movie.

This time it was put to the test, by going up against a straight comedy and a documentary, both highly regarded genres here on Gorgon Reviews. But the Linklater effect still won.

Now Where’d You Go, Bernadette? is a weird picture for him, because it is based on a relatively popular book, so he is put in the position to adapt it instead of tell his own story. Outside of Bernie, I’m not sure of how much he has had to take a real story / existing story and direct before in the past.

Doesn’t matter. Don’t care. Just give me that Linklater.

hipster
Bernadette looks like someone who would have totally read the book before seeing the movie.

Bernadette Fox (Cate Blanchett), architecture woman star, full of ambitions, desires, and dreams to make her mark and art on the world!

Or at least, she was that at some point in her life. Now? Now she is just a mom. To a wonderful, smart daughter (Emma Nelson), about to go to high school next year, and probably a boarding school far from home! And her husband (Billy Crudup) is wickedly rich and smart, working long hours, making great technology, letting Bernadette do her own thing.

And unfortunately her own thing is mostly staying at home. Taking pills. Developing phobias. Putting all her normal tasks to a virtual assistant. Never restoring the ridiculous house they live in or caring about her property. It pisses off the neighbors, and she don’t care.

And when one thing after another just continues to pile on her life, and everything seems to be going to hell, she decides she has had enough and runs off. She needs to focus on herself. She needs to restore that desire. She needs to prove that she is still somebody.

Also starring Kristen Wiig, Judy Greer, Zoe Chao, and Laurence Fishburne.

work
Wherever this room is, I am not cool enough to be in it with them. 

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? was a work of art, much like its main character. Blanchett won her Oscar for playing the erratic lead in Blue Jasmine. She owned that role and fully became someone else. This is her first role since that reminded me of Blue Jasmine, despite being very different.

Both characters have a lot of baggage, and emotional distress, but they are done in very different ways. They have relationship issues, children issues, friend issues, and yet the characters still manage to have very different views of the world. It is incredible how similar yet different they end up being, both worthy of praise. I would argue against anyone who said the roles were too similar and I would insult them quite unprofessionally.

But besides Blanchett being the best thing since sliced bread, the supporting cast was on fire. Crudup hasn’t been this good in years! This is probably the best I have seen Wiig in a movie. She isn’t here strictly as a comedy support role, but someone who has her own bagged to deal with and way more serious. And of course, Nelson, in her first movie either. She has a lot of charisma and I can’t wait to see her in more films in the future.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? has swell acting, a great story, good message, and a lot of unique and peculiar situations. It is the perfect storm of “things I like” in a movie, and is (at the time of writing), my favorite film that I have seen so far in 2019. Boo yah.

4 out of 4.

Skin

It is going to be very easy to get the movie, Skin, confused with the Oscar winning Short Film, Skin. After all, they both are about tattoos, Nazis, and race relations. They are about indoctrining the youth to hate. They are about revenge. They share a main actress. And they are written/directed by the same guy, Guy Nattiv.

Wait, a short and a film of the same name about similar topics with similar actors from the same person…and they are not the same thing?

Nope! The movie (which this review is for) is based on the TV documentary from 8 years ago called Erasing Hate. So this is a true story. The short is just an idea that they ran with and people really liked. I can’t tell you what was made first, but the short definitely was released first.

And I think this bares repeating. Despite all of the similarities, these stories are in no way related. They are different ideas, the film is not a long version of the short. It is just so bizarre. If it confuses people, it will really only confuse people int he know.

short
NO! That’s a shot from the short film! Not this one! No!
Our story is about a man named Bryon Widner (Jamie Bell), who was a teenager when he was recruited to join the skinheads in the Midwest. He found a place that accepted him, and he went with their ideology, and he helped with counter protests and marches against other races. Pretty much a shit person.

But then he met Julie Price (Danielle Macdonald), a woman with three kids and no man in her life, just trying to raise them right. She isn’t even like a looker, but he liked her personality and wanted to get to know her.

This relationship led to him joining their family and expanding it, while drifting away from the movement that had captivated him for decades. He didn’t really believe any of this nonsense. But he couldn’t get a good job with all these tattoos and mess on his body.

So he removed them. Hour by painfully expensive hour. Thanks to generous anonymous grants and activists groups encouraging people to see the error of their ways and change and have a way to normalcy. But the group doesn’t want him to leave…

Also starring Daniel Henshall, Bill Camp, and Mike Colter.

tats
Oh he just looks like a tamer Zombie Boy.

Now given the theme of this movie, you are probably shocked to see the rating. Does Gorgon Reviews hate people who fix their lives and stop being so racist/xenophobic?

No, he just doesn’t like this movie.

It. Was. So. Boring. Oh my god.

I didn’t feel any of the leads giving a captivating performance, I didn’t care about the man who saw the light and was lucky enough to get to fix it. It felt a lot like white privilege, that he was given a second chance, against so many people of color who barely even get a first chance.

This movie is another case where I feel the real story is better than the fictionalized movie version. I have not seen the documentary it is based on, but I bet the truth is better even if it is more messy. Real accounts and real lives affected. This one could never captivate me and felt like it was an eternity long.

And let’s be clear, there is a person in here more deserving of the movie. Daryle Jenkins (played by Colter), the African American man who started the One People’s Project, to publish information about hate groups and the far right, as warnings and to not let their hate go unnoticed. He is fighting for all of these important things, and was a key person to help Byron. But damn, Byron should just be a part of the greater movie of activist Jenkins. I am ready for that movie right goddamn now.

It is basically Green Book, but not as egregious with its choice of leads.

0 out of 4.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Most reviews for this movie mention fun facts about Quentin Tarantino. And I will spend this time talking about an issue with that. Holy shit, can we all stop going crazy about how many movies he has directed? Let that be his obsession, not ours as reviewers.

Sure, he said he will retire after 10. But plenty of directors have said they would retire and then not.

Outside of a director’s first film, or their second film, I have never seen so many care about their total number after that point. By obsessing over it, we are building up Tarantino to be something bigger than what he really is, and let’s face it, he doesn’t need everyone else stroking his ego.

And with that, let’s talk about Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, his 9th-ish directed movie.

dance
Dance
The year is 1969. Vietnam sucks. Hippies exist. People are famous and rich and Nixon is around as well. We went to the goddamn moon!

But the plot starts in February and ends in August, so most of the film takes place without the moon landing at all. We are talking about aging star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), who was the lead in a Western show for many years in the 50’s and early 60’s, but now is stuck without many job offers and one off appearances in shows as a bad guy who always loses to the hero. It is also about Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), long time friend and stunt man of Dalton’s. Although he isn’t getting as much stunt work, he is still trying and really a personal assistant and friend to Dalton in order to make some money.

The movie is mainly about their struggles, but it is also a little bit about their neighbors, Polanski and Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie). It is also about a lot of hippies living in abandoned studios. It is about what people need to do to get famous, even if it means doing (shudder) European movies.

Also starring Al Pacino, Austin Butler, Bruce Dern, Clifton Collins Jr., Dakota Fanning, Damian Lewis, Damon Herriman, Emile Hirsch, Harley Quinn Smith, Julia Butters, Kurt Russell, Lorenza Izzo, Luke Perry, Margaret Qualley, Mike Moh, Rafal Zawierucha, Scoot McNairy, and Timothy Olyphant.

bar
Most of all business deals are done in bars with cigars.

Around 2006, when information was coming out about this future movie called Iron Man, people were abuzz with casting decisions. Who is playing who!? One of the most exciting aspects of the whole deal was of course Samuel L. Jackson playing Nick Fury. And then not much else was said about him for a while.

Opening night while watching Iron Man, I remember being so excited the whole film to see SLJ as Fury, and getting to the end of the movie and being confused. “No! They said there would be a Nick Fury!” So as the credits started to roll, I told my friends to sit down. There must be something more in the credits. And lo and behold, at the end of the first MCU film, there was another scene, with Fury introducing the concept of Avengers. At that point this wasn’t established, for something at the end of the credits, I just knew it had to be. I needed my Nick Fury, damn it.

So how does this relate to Once Upon A Time in Hollywood? It relates perfectly I’ll have you know in a second, but let me give you some non spoilery analysis.

This movie is gorgeous. It meanders, yes. It could have been slimmed down. Pitt and DeCaprio give wonderful performances and I won’t forget about them soon. The cameos were fun. Robbie felt like a completely different person and did well at this carefree in the moment feeling actress.

So here are the spoilers for the rest of the review.

Did you know that Charles Manson was in this movie? Well, if you read movie articles, you should have known about it. Because about a year and a half ago, info for this movie started coming out and people were in an uproar that Tarantino was about to do a movie about Manson. There was a bit of backpedaling, like letting us know that he was in it but it isn’t about him, it just has him in it as a subplot or something.

And then I guess everyone forgot about it, because suddenly with this movie coming out, there is this strange aura of spoilers like its Avengers: Endgame. What the hell could really be a spoiler for a movie like this? In the theater, while talking to friends, I correctly guessed the ending of the film before hand as a joke, and uhh, it was correct. It was mostly a surprise due to just knowing what happened with Inglorious Bastards and knowing that Manson was in it. Shit, they end up making pretty obvious references to IB early in the film with a fictional Nazi burning movie.

Anyways, I think it is a mistake to try and make this whole thing a secret. I think it is okay to know that Manson murders plotline is involved, because if you don’t know anything about the real life Manson murders, a lot of the buildup won’t make as much sense. I mean, shit. This movie was actually supposed to come out on August 9th originally, which is the 50th anniversary of those murders. But it was pushed two weeks up in this schedule, maybe to make things less obvious, I have no idea.

I appreciate the level of detail that went into those scenes, using actual lines, character names, times, dates, and places. It is something he has thought a lot about, and it makes sense in QT’s “real world movie series” and still helps explain his “in universe film series” as a comparison.

If you are unfamiliar with that period, whether it is real events, the movies of the time, it will feel like a long drag and never really reach a high amount of payout. But as a movie about the place where movies were made, about an event that affected movies since that time, it has a lot of insight and actual information in a fictional film.

Also, DiCaprio and Pitt are really fun in this one.

3 out of 4.

Adolescence

I definitely feel as a movie reviewer I am more of a sell out. Where are all the weird movies? The straight to DVD films? The C class films? I used to review it all, now it is mostly theatrical releases, Netflix releases, and the occasional VOD. At least my documentaries tend to be less famous.

Well, heres a pledge. More VOD films! I will try to do one a week.

Starting with Adolescence! It is recently on VOD and has a few people you may have seen in other films and had a limited festival run. Remember, straight to video doesn’t mean bad.


Ah yes, youth, the future, old dude. Yes.

Adam (Mickey River) is an uncomfortable high school senior. He is good at writing, but he has a bad home life. His parents (Elisabeth Röhm, Michael Milford) argue a lot, over bills, jobs, fixing the bathroom for over a month, and so on. They are poor, but surviving, and this has made his life rather long and arduous. He is relatively smart though, a great writer and an artist as well. But he doesn’t apply himself for college.

He is also inexperienced with the ladies due to his shy and nervous nature. Somehow he has a really outgoing friend in Keith (Romeo Miller) who convinces him to skip school to go out and meet ladies. He is so smooth, he tries to feed him lines, and eventually a line works! Somehow, Alice (India Eisley) finds him enduring. She invites him and Keith to hang/party with friends.

One thing leads to another, and they are hanging out a lot more, and having sex. One thing leads to another, and they are doing hardcore drugs and skipping out on life, school, and friends! Oh no!

Also starring Jere Burns and Tommy Flanagan.


Manic Pixie Dream Girl? Maybe more just Manic Girl in this movie.

Adolescence tells a familiar story, youth has rough life and it becomes rougher thanks to drugs! And unfortunately, it also tells the familiar story in a familiar way.

The more tragic character in this movie is our girl, Alice, and she is used as a plot point for our male lead to realize that drugs are bad, and sometimes people you love need to be cut from your life. Sure. But again, it is nothing new.

The acting is done well from our two leads which is the main saving grace. A lot of nice yelling and shrieking and sad drug filled moments. It is awkward at times because River definitely doesn’t look like a high school senior, he looks damn near 30 and I have no idea his age now. He might just look really old and be closer to age appropriate, but he stands out for this reason.

This film also helped answer one other question. What happens to the artists who had kid rap names? Like Lil’ Romeo? Well, he is now just Romeo Miller, one of the actors in the movie, and doing his own adult movie thing. Aooarently they can just dop the lil part of their name and go on strong!

Also, bonus shout out to the toilet scene. It was really well framed and shot, best in the film.

2 out of 4.

Rocketman

When it comes to musical biopics, I am really all for them. Give me the stories of these icons of our youth and our future. Give me their stories of overcoming the odds, of being famous, of maintaining any level of humbleness. Just give it to me if it is worth being a story.

And I was looking forward to Rocketman, despite the trailers making it seem very unrealistic, because it was going to for theatricality and style instead of just substance.

And no matter what, we have to compare Rocketman to Bohemian Rhapsody. Both about gay icons and music. And Bohemian Rhapsody is very controversial due to its treatment of the main character, who died twenty years ago. Were they respectful? Was it just a standard biopic? all of that? Well, Rocketman has to try and elevate past the noise of the controversy, ideally by not featuring any controversy. We shall see how that unfolds.

devil
Well aren’t you a handsome devil.
Elton Hercules John (Taron Egerton) was a musical icon once he got it big, hit after hit, known for his extravagance, stage shows and more. Sure, he wasn’t the first to do this, but he was unique in his own rights, and helped lead the way to plenty of performers going all out.

Rocketman tells the story of Elton John’s life, from Elton John’s point of view. And more importantly, it is being told during an AA meeting about his past, when his drug and alcohol consumption has reached his breaking point and he realizes he needs help.

Most of the film, besides his rise to fame and increased levels of flamboyance, is his relationship with his mom (Bryce Dallas Howard) which seems to start out somewhat positive while also maintaining a huge level of shame, and his relationship with his best friend/songwriter Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell), who helped create all of his hits, because apparently lyrics are John’s weak point.

And you know, eventually his rise after he kicked all the bad influences out of his life! And if you are hoping to hear some Lion King songs, you have to wait a month for a different film.

Also featuring Matthew Illesley and Kit Connor as little Elton Johns, and Tom Bennett, Gemma Jones, Richard Madden, and Steven Mackintosh.

sunglasses
These are terrible sunglasses, not for the design, but for not blocking any sun.
It is very important to note that Elton John is very much alive right now at the time of this writing and involved in this movie being made, so it is all from his point of view. It isn’t a strict biography of factual events, but more a fun retelling of his life, with important points that he wanted to highlight to define who he is as a person and why he went certain places in his life.

And at the same time, this is a “musical” and biopic, where the focus on around half of the stories are more there for story purposes and less performance pieces. That means we get singing, dancing, choreography, great sets, basically a lot of sweet music videos.  When the first song hit and it was like a standard musical, I was ready to be floored.

I will say that the first half felt overall more exciting than the second. Although some bigger songs are in the second half, they are a lot more standard and less elaborate so that was a bit disappointing. I probably most enjoyed Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting which was probably the second or third song. I will also say they went with very unique choices when it came to song choices, because there were plenty of songs I didn’t know that made the cut with ones I was hoping for barely mentioned. But what do I know, I am not a John fanatic or anything.

More importantly, when compared to Bohemian Rhapsody, I definitely prefer Rocketman. One of my biggest problems with BR was how they treated his sexuality, coming across as filmmakers as very homophobic and anti-Mercury’s lifestyle. And despite this entire movie taking place in some sort of AA meeting with flashbacks, clearly noting problems in John’s lifestyle, it wasn’t blamed on his sexuality. Just good old fashioned poor upbringing and a lack of support structure from those who claimed to be loved ones.

John’s sexuality is important for this movie to exist, as is his non-sexual relationships. And all of them are treated with respect and not a disdain.

Now, I did wish it was a little bit better overall, but it was still a good step in the right direction. Hopefully the next film we get is for David Bowie, and then maybe finish it up with George Michael. Let’s get all alternative sexually up in these theaters.

3 out of 4.

Toy Story 4

Controversially, I did not love Toy Story 3. I thought it was average. I did like it more than Toy Story 2 though, but the first Toy Story was still my favorite.

Oh sure, it made me cry like a sane person, but I didn’t like its main arc with Lotso Bear and it put a damper on the whole thing. But also like everyone else, it felt like a natural end to the series and was happy to see their ending.

Now, then they announced a Toy Story 4. This was terrible news. Not just because of the ending of three, but because Pixar has been splurting out sequels to everything the last few years, very few OC, and they have been average to poor. Toy Story 4 meant the end to their sequels for awhile, but it also felt like it shouldn’t even exist.

The plot had to overcome quite a few hurdles, and couldn’t just be a regular good movie, in order to justify its existence.

forky
Telling a spork about the birds and the bees can take awhile.

The first thing TS4 did was give us a flashback as to what happened to Bo Peep (Annie Potts). Now, in real life, between TS2 and TS3, they just decided to drop Bo Peep because Barbie was on board to lend its brand and that is more powerful. They wanted Barbie for the first movie, and they said no, because why would they give their stuff to an first movie studio?

Anyways, that becomes a very relevant plot to the movie now. Because of course, Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), and gang are with Bonnie, a young girl, who might have different interests than a cowboy. In fact, in her first day of Kindergarten orientation, she makes a new friend out of trash named Forky (Tony Hale). Surprisingly, this trash creation is somehow able to come alive, but he doesn’t identify as a toy, and this causes a lot of conflict.

Woody takes it on his own to make sure that Forky doesn’t try to kill himself, for the betterment of Bonnie. Because damn it, Woody just wants to make his child happy, even if he isn’t actively played with.

This leads them on an adventure, leads us surprisingly back to Bo Peep, and through a lot of weirder places.

Also featuring the returnees of Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Blake Clark, Don Rickles (but barely because he died), Joan Cusack, and Kristen Schaal. But it also features the voices of new toys and people played by Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Kay, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, Ally Maki, Bonnie Hunt, Carl Weathers, and Madeleine McGraw.


Porcelain dolls have really gained their mobility.

Did Toy Story 4 make me cry? Of course it did. Twice! And that surprised me, because reports from friends had them not crying, but I’ve always been an emotional wreck. But remember, just because I cried does not make it a good movie.

Thankfully, Toy Story 4 is a good movie. It “fixed” the issue that I had with the last installment, in that good and bad characters are able to experience growth and change based on their circumstances. Relatively early in the movie you can sort of tell a few things that will happen by the end, and that is totally okay. You can accept the foregone conclusions early enough about a few of them and go on the ride and brace yourself before the end. Knowing where you will end up is fine, if you don’t know how you will get there. And on the journey to the end, it went plenty of unexpected places with surprises along the way.

And honestly, it feels like a great ending. Most people said after 3 that it was the perfect ending and not to mess with it. And a lot of people are saying that after 4. But I disagree, really it feels like the start of a lot of potential adventures on multiple fronts. Because lets face it, in this franchise with a large ensemble cast (that just gets more and more ensemble-y), many many characters were reduced to just a few lines. In fact, some arguably main tier characters had a few moments, but clearly the focus was on Woody and Bo Peep only. Buzz was humorous side character and Jessie had maybe only a few more lines than Slinky Dog.

I will put that there will be money on a Toy Story 5 in the future. Not just side short films for TV like the Toy Story of Terror event. And this time I will look forward to that. Just give me more original movies first Pixar.

3 out of 4.

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.

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