Tag: Drama

The Marksman

For my (checks notes) second film of 2021, I was given a movie called The Marksman. I guess it would be about a guy who is good at shooting, or fond of shooting, or one who shoots occasionally?

Oh shit, it is a Liam Neeson action movie! That definitely has a bad track record from me. Ever since the first Taken, it has been either bad or ignored from my website. I can’t handle the cuts, the bad staging, any of that. I can have Liam Neeson as a serious star, I just can’t even have him as a serious action star, not anymore.

And honestly, I knew nothing going into this movie, so it didn’t surprise me that it was a January release.

little gun
Give a boy a gun, and he’ll gun for a day. Teach a boy to gun, and he will gun at least for a day.

Jim Hanson (Liam Neeson), former US Marine and current old dude, is living in Arizona near the Mexico border. He has been mostly working at a Ranch of his own the last few years with his wife. But when she got sick, the ranch didn’t do as well, the bills piled up, and then he eventually lost the light of his life. Now those foreclosing son-of-a-guns are going to take his house, and then what? Probably nothing great!

He is a pretty dark place in his life, unable to get extra work either, when he happens upon Rosa (Teresa Ruiz) and her son, Miguel (Jacob Perez) literally right after they crawl through a hole in the border fence. He wants to call it in, because Rosa was hurt, but after doing so, a few cartel members start firing on him, and now suddenly he is in jeopardy!

Jim is able to get out of there, but not able to save Rosa, and is now left not sure what to do with the kid. They were heading up to Chicago where there is family, and some bad dudes are apparently after him. Can he help the kid, or let the authorities just send him back to Mexico?

Also starring Katheryn Winnick and Juan Pablo Raba.

big gun
This gun is way bigger than the last gun, why did you not teach the boy this gun?

The Marksmen is not a classic, straight up Neeson action movie. No, it has dramatic components, and a plot here. A guy trying to get this kid to Chicago, with some people who want to kill him and take him back, for some reason. Occasionally they get close to stopping them, and then they get really close to stopping him, and then eventually it ends. By the way, the problems resolved at the end of the movie involve the kid, not the crimes committed, or the ranch money problems, but hey, that was just intro movie problems I guess.

Neeson’s acting is pretty average for what he has done lately. He has to play a stern older gentlemen technically way above his head, but also, with a certain set of skills that might help him out. He is kind of a dick for large parts of the movie, and I wouldn’t say that changes much by the end. It is like this movie was made for Clint Eastwood, but he didn’t feel like it.

I’m not sure what the overall message of the film is after seeing it, except that there isn’t one. Life can be difficult and strange some times, but you have to follow your heart? Hard to tell. I just know that if you want to see this movie for action, you will be disappointed. If you want to see it for a great story and acting, you will be disappointed.

However, if you want to see it for a quick shout out to Sierra Vista, Arizona (A city I lived in once before), you might get some glee out of it.

1 out of 4.

One Night In Miami

A lot of people like to go to Miami as a place to let go, its a place with the bass and the sunset low.
You know, a place where everyday is like mardi gras, everybody party all day, no work, all play, okay?

Can you feel me? Miami has all ages and races, with real sweet faces.
Every different nation, Spanish, Hatian, Indian, Jamaican.
Black, White, Cuban, and Asian.

But this movie isn’t about regular Miami, that parties all day and all night apparently (When they aren’t dealing with every mob organization on the planet), but specifically just One Night in Miami. A fictionalized night in which, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, and Sam Cooke gathered to celebrate and to discuss current events, their lives, and their futures.

And it basically is a party too. A party of ideals, friendship, and togetherness.

bar
Ain’t no party like a friendship party, because a friendship party can probably do magic.

February 25, 1964 was definitely a real date in the past, and not some simulation. And on that night Cassius Clay (Eli Goree) defeated Sunny Liston in a boxing match surprising a lot of people, and it was a pretty big deal. Cassius Clay was an up and coming boxer, and not sure what to do in regards to topics like war or even his own faith. He believed he would join the movement to become Muslim, but he also knew that it had to help capitalize the movement, to help spread equality, and black power.

That is where his friend Malcom X (Kingsley Ben-Adir) comes in. And other friends, like singer Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.), and NFL player Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge).

The four gentlemen spend a night talking about religion, their lives, racism in America, what they can do to help, and what they can do to help each other. With alcohol and the stresses in all of their lives, things do become tense, but the honest keeps them real, and the struggle keeps them (mostly) focused.

Also starring Beau Bridges, Christian Magby, Derek Roberts, Joaquina Kalukango, Lance Reddick, Lawrence Gilliard Jr, Michael Imperioli, and Nicolette Robinson.

sing
I’ve seen enough movies to recognize the Copa.

This is one of those movies that I watched without knowing it was actually based on a play beforehand. And I didn’t realize that fact either while watching it. A lot of movies you can tell were likely plays before a film from watching it. But now that I have found out that fact, it totally makes sense when looking back and reflecting on the film as a whole. For sure, a play, about four famous men talking and getting deep, that makes perfect sense. The play came out in 2013, so relatively modern, but this film version was directed by Regina King, her first time at the director’s helm, and she definitely makes sure this story is brought on screens to life.

Ben-Adir, Goree, Hodge, and Odom Jr. could talk all night and I’d want to listen. Okay, that is technically the point of the movie. Fine, they can talk all week. They have wonderful chemistry together, each bringing so much personality to their characters, making them feel unique and respectful to the real men they are playing. Honestly, I didn’t even realize it was Odom Jr. until writing this review (unlike it very obviously being him in something like Harriet), so it is great to really see him grow into these roles and become someone else.

The topics talked about where conversations I never even considered along with some more obvious and important ones as well. It was just so easy to get lost in the story, after the introductions.

One very powerful scene that spoke out to me involved the Sam Cooke character telling a story about a concert gone wrong due to some artist interference, and yes, it involves music, those scenes are my favorite. It was chilling and really crept into the feels.

One Night in Miami is a movie that made me discover not just a play but a modern playwright who has some goddamn great writing chops under him, and I cant wait to see more from him in the future.

4 out of 4.

Sound of Metal

Screeching, loud, the most awful noises you have often heard, that is likely the Sound of Metal. Oh, this movie means metal music? Fine.

Screeching, loud, the most awful noises you have often heard. Har har har. Okay, I don’t like Metal, but in reality, I just don’t like screamo-metal, it does nothing to me, but it does put me to sleep which is strange given how intense it is.

In this film, the Sound of Metal it turns out will mean more than one thing as well, but I won’t get into that fact. I will say that it definitely feels like a combination of The Sound of Music and The Sound of Silence, which are famous “sound of” things. I think by the end of all of this, Sound of Metal will and should be as famous as those two as well.

drum
The sound of drums go buhbuhbuhbam.

Ruben (Riz Ahmed) is a metal man, not a robot, just a guy who plays metal. He is a drummer, he goes into clubs, he plays it loud. He is in a band with his girlfriend (Olivia Cooke) of a few years. They live their life in an RV, traveling the US, playing gigs, getting money, and moving on. They are working on making a big name for themselves, and eventually, it might work.

But one day, Ruben wakes up with ear problems that don’t seem to go away. He can’t hear well. He tries to perform a gig, and it goes like shit, and so he sees a doctor. Apparently his hearing loss is so bad, and getting worse, they suggest he quits rock altogether. He needs to rest his ears before they can properly diagnose it, and stop it from going even lower, before even considering things like cochlear implants.

Another note about Ruben? He is a former addict. Basically all drugs were his drugs, and he has been clean for four years, but this is the type of thing that will cause a man to break, and his normal sponsor can’t do much if he can’t really hear. So he gets set up in this little out of nowhere place, for addicts, who yes, also happen to be deaf. Joe (Paul Raci) takes him in, to start his process into the deaf community, to learn sign language, even though Ruben doesn’t want any aspect of it. He wants the implants. He wants to continue his rock journey with his love (who cannot stay with him for these weeks).

What is a potential rock star to do? Also starring Mathieu Amalric.

sing
Congrats to the make up team for making Olivia Cooke look extremely homeless.

Sound of Metal is incredible. It gives us a story that isn’t done much, if at all, and really drives into the implications of the events around it. Obviously one person losing their hearing, and trying to cope with it, doesn’t affect a lot of people besides their band mates and friends/family, but there is a lot going on in Ruben’s life and lifestyle that is being uplifted. It is a scary situation for anyone to be in, despite the deaf community being very open and loving community.

In the deaf community, things like cochlear implants have a lot of divisiveness amongst it members, for plenty of fine reasons. This movie doesn’t say one choice is good and the other is bad, because that is clearly up to individuals, but the discussions are still heard and the problems that arise from these decisions are still important.

Ahmed gives a wonderful performance, wearing a lot on his face. We still get to hear him speak, but going through his trauma and potentially career ending injury, either caused by his career or something genetic, can change a lot of people. I also enjoyed Cooke, in the limited screen time she was given, and watching her own transformation. Raci was wonderful, and was a great person to lead the commune given his own real life experiences and deaf traits.

I also have to give it up to the sound editing/mixing teams. They let us go through Ahmed’s journey with him, more or less, and I love that for the most part sign language when used was not given subtitles.

Sound of Metal is hardcore, well acted, and surely one of the better movies of this year.

4 out of 4.

The Wolf of Snow Hollow

Despite loving the crap out of it, I never ended up reviewing Thunder Road for my website. In fact, I am re-watching it now to get an overall sense for it and how the director/writer/star has evolved.

Let’s back up. Jim Cummings created a movie called Thunder Road, and it was way better than I imagined an indie movie directed, written, and starring the same person could be. Especially if it is someone I hadn’t know at all. Cummings has dealt with a lot of shorts before this film, and has been a producer on various works, and apparently did a movie eight years prior, but this is the first one that likely anyone saw.

It was good, and we wanted more. Apparently the more we get was two years later, with The Wolf of Snow Hollow.


And cops? Is this another cop movie Jim?

John Marshall (Jim Cummings) is a cop. Yes you read that right. A cop. This time in a small resort town somewhere in Northern USA, that does good tourism during the ski season, and is quiet as heck when it ain’t. John is going to be the head Sheriff someday, he has been groomed for it, because his dad (Robert Forster) is the current sheriff, and about to retire. John is a bit more fiery, but he has the heart and spirit to get it done.

And then a woman dies. Not only does she die, but she dies horrifically, with her genitalia ripped out. Oh no. That is graphic. The boyfriend (Jimmy Tatro) reported hearing wolves during that time, and also noted that some local dudes in a bar got feisty towards them, but that is all he knows.

And the town things it was a werewolf. There are people who say they see a two legged wolf running around, and future deaths to more women seem to add more to the mythos. Some in his department believe it, but John does not, and he needs to put an end to this circus quick before the national news jumps on this and makes their town a laughing stock. He also wants to protect his daughter (Chloe East).

With his second in command (Riki Lindhome), John needs to prove that werewolves are not real despite overwhelming evidence, putting his own career and the lives of many on the line in the process.

Also starring Daniel Fenton Anderson, Skyler Bible, Demetrius Daniels, and Kevin Changaris.


Blood is hard to get out of various substances and snow is definitely one of them.

Thunder Road is about a cop having a nervous breakdown on life because he is losing everything he knows and loves: He has lost his mom to death, his wife to divorce, his daughter to divorce, and his job and friends due to his bad ways of dealing with his grief. One breakdown after another.

The Wolf of Snow Hallow is about a cop having a nervous breakdown because of the stresses of the job. He also happens to be a single parent, and close to losing a parent, and lashes out in anger at many things with his rage problems. So there are similarities, but sure, they are different, because the stress of being a cop really didn’t play into Thunder Road, while it clearly did in this movie.

I am weary of someone making roughly the same film over. Jim. Why are you playing a cop again? Do you love cops? Now is not an okay time to love cops. Which they do bring up in this movie too, so it is at least topical in that regard.

But in all honesty, The Wolf of Snow Hollow has a lot going on for it. It gets real stressful, we get long scenes of great dialogue, we get some good montages in this one, especially when it came to a crime happening and the cops investigating the same crime. Jim did grow as a visionary director here and had his movie try new things out.

The story itself is fine, it has twists and turns, but I wouldn’t say it was easy to guess or anything the conclusion towards. Sort of came out of nowhere for me, so I wonder how obvious it was or if I missed anything.

Also if Jim is a cop in the next movie he writes and directs I am going to be pretty sus with him, but still watch the shit out of it.

4 out of 4.

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Sorkin Sorkin Sorkin Sorkin Sorkin!

WE HAVEN’T HAD A NEW SORKIN MOVIE SINCE 2017. And that was Molly’s Game, and was a little weird, because it was also directed by him. BUT THE LAST ONE JUST WRITTEN BY HIM WAS IN 2015. That was Steve Jobs, and if you don’t know about Steve Jobs, well, it was my favorite movie of the last decade, so I kind of love it. Hell, The Social Network, also written by him, also made the top ten list, and was a lot of people’s favorite of the decade.

I am a pretty big fan, I guess you can say.

So I have been waiting patiently for The Trial of Chicago 7. And it took a lot out of me to not rush to go see it in theaters, because honestly, I am not ready for that. Thankfully it was destined for Netflix and I was given the opportunity to check it out along with the rest of the world relatively soon after theaters. This one is his second directorial attempt, and I really hope it it takes the best parts of Molly’s Game and goes a bit further.

I am sure I can remain unbiased in my review.


Alright there are five people here. Are they most of the Chicago 7?

In 1968, there was a presidential election. Lyndon B. Johnson had dropped out, so a new person would sit at the head of our government, and for the Republicans it was looking like Richard Nixon. The democrats were likely to elect Hubert Humphrey, a boring choice really, and one who didn’t push enough values. A lot of people had problems with that, so a lot of people decided to go to Chicago during the Democratic National Convention and protest. A lot of groups, a lot of big ones, and small ones, and some shit went down.

Did the protestors star the riots? Did the police? A lot of evidence one way or another. But after Nixon won, his AG was sent to investigate and was charging several individuals with felonies to invite riots across state laws, and they were all being tried at the same time. So what kind of trial is this? Some sort of political trial? Is the right to protest on trial?

On trial we have Tom Hayden (Eddie Redmayne) and Rennie Davis (Alex Sharp) were there as part of a national organization they made to help end the war in Vietnam. Abbie Hoffman (Sacha Baron Cohen) and Jerry Rubin (Jeremy Strong) were leaders from the Yippie organization, a youth group who did not like most of the things the US government stood for. There was David Dellinger (John Carroll Lynch) was a conscientious objector during World War II and went as a protestor to encourage a lack of riots and peaceful demonstrations. Bobby Seale (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) was a Black Panther leader and not from the Chicago area, but went there to make a speech and was there for only a little bit of the time.

And those are most of our key players, outside of judges, lawyers, other people on trial, friends, and etc.

Oh them? Here are the actors involved. Frank Langella, Danny Flaherty, Noah Robbins, Michael Keaton, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Caitlin FitzGerald, Mark Rylance, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Shenkman, and J.C. MacKenzie.


Here are two more. Let’s assume this is the complete set.

It is important to note I watched this film before writing the review. I mean, that is always true, sorry. I watched this film twice before writing this review. Because I didn’t see it in theaters (as I would have had this review a month ago), I waited until it was on Netflix like the plebian I was. And I will be honest, I liked it the first time, but I never got fully immersed because I kept having to stop it, or go back, due to things going on around me. You know, Netflix problems. So I declared a better time to watch it, so I could watch it again with fewer interruptions, maybe some breaks, but less overall noise around me.

And again, despite liking it the first time, the second time was even better. Normally it’d probably be frowned upon to do a second watch before reviews, because if something is nonsensical on the first watch, I’d want to be able to talk about it. And I will say the choice of a first calm scene in the DA’s office is very odd given the little we know at that point, and it takes maybe too long to pay off, but it still does feel nice by the end.

The film spends a lot of time with exposition of news at the start to get us on the right track, and then does a quick job of introducing the main players, while also taking a real long time to explain the “Chicago 7” vs 8 people on trial part. Which again, when it does in its time, is satisfying and suspenseful.

The acting and writing is clearly the place where this movie would shine the most. I don’t even have to talk about the writing really in a Sorkin movie, but I think he tried to be more subtle in parts when he normally would hammer it along. This is shown a lot in the conversations between Cohen and Redmayne.

Cohen, Abdul-Mateen, and Rylance are the most likely to give oscar nominated performances. Rylance has never been better (on the limited films I have seen). Abdul-Mateen has to give a physical and emotional performance with limited scene time available to him compared to the rest. And Cohen, jeez, it is likely his most normal sounding character role ever and it is just nailed out of the park.

I don’t think Sorkin has mastered the art of directing just yet. But this is a step up from his directing in Molly’s Game. Still some awkward moments and weird decisions here, especially when near the end some of the characters acted like background noise and cartoons during an impactful moment that took away a bit from that impact. Based on what we learned about the judge, he would have been a lot more furious.

The Trial of Chicago 7 is fucking fantastic.

4 out of 4.

Synchronic

Synchronic has probably one of the best movie posters I have seen of this year. Check it out. I don’t know anything about this movie going into it, but it captivates a lot of imagery. Is it about time travel? It is probably about time travel. Maybe.

The film is directed by Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson, who have worked together before, but got relatively famous in the indie community for directing The Endless a couple of years ago. That was a film I wanted more out of, and probably need to give a second chance viewing.

But they love dealing with the mysterious, and the drama, and the fantasy, so I am sure, sure…that this movie is about time travel. Probably.

OH ALSO! The directors care about safety, and don’t actually want you to go to theaters if it isn’t safe enough. That is pretty awesome and will hurt their line and maybe their status in the business, but hey, they have morals damn it.

night
Well, there’s no proof of time travel in this picture. Unless they time travel to night time of the same day.

Steve (Anthony Mackie) and Dennis (Jamie Dornan) are paramedics down in New Orleans, and this movie has nothing to do with Katrina (yay!). It is just a setting. A lot of their job unfortunately is working with people hurt and dying of drug overdoses, given the location of their city. Nothing against people with addictions, it is just a same to see so many young lives lost and stuck.

Steve has his own worries going on, about his future career, and about his life, after being a bachelor for so long. His partner has a wife (Katie Aselton) and kids, the oldest Brianna (Ally Ioannides) is turning 18 and wants to move away for college. What the hell is Steve doing with his life?

Well, at the same time, a new designer drug hits their area, named Synchronic. Nice name. It gets a real unique feeling but has side effects, of course. Shit starts getting wild around them, like, their world changes. Sometimes people feel like they are going to a completely different part of the world in a different time. Like…time travel. But sometimes, young people don’t return for some reason.

And sure enough, Brianna goes missing. Did she take the drug? Is it time for experiment drug taking to save a life?

day
Okay, this also isn’t time travel. This is just normal day time, booo.

As I already stated, I did see their first film The Endless. And despite not getting fully entrenched in that film, I can say visually it is obvious these are the same directors. A lot of it stylistically feels the same, despite having a higher budget this time around for better equipment (and the low equipment was likely part of the appeal of The Endless). It still contains that ominous air of mystery and music around the situation, asking us to wonder how much of it is real and where is the story going?

Mackie absolutely slays in the lead of this film. He feels so emotional and real. We get all about his business and this entire film feels personal to him. I don’t remember if we have ever seen this side of him before, but Mackie does have a lot of smaller films to his name, they aren’t all just Avengers an cop movies, so I can’t say I’ve seen them all.

The drug is relatively unique and I love, LOVE, the rules associated with it and the methodology put into it by the characters to discover just how things worked. It didn’t answer all the questions, but enough to get the job done.

This is a film about finding your purpose in life, whether you are read for it or not. Accepting a destiny that is hard to fathom until the moment really shows itself. How can you better yourself or your surroundings when so much shit is falling apart in front of your eyes?

Synchronic has some great visuals that are limited in nature, you have to wait for them and earn them (outside of the opening scene). It doesn’t overwhelm you with special effects constantly, it is a lot more grounded in reality. It is a fresh and unique film and one that is worth at least one gander, if not two.

3 out of 4.

The Opening Act

I have only been to a stand up comic show in the standard variety once. You know, a place that sells some sort of appetizers and drinks, with drink minimums. People all crammed in there to see one person, and they have to see other people before that who they likely don’t know, but are there to hype up the crowd so the main performer can absolutely slay.

Yeah. Just once. I have seen comedians in bigger auditoriums, and they have a different feel than the comedy clubs. I have seen them in more open mic settings which are very very different feels, because of the short set.

But that build up. It is very interesting. Are the people getting funnier as they come out, or is it just because you are getting happier over time, with more material time to work with, or even…drunker?

Either way, the formula works. And in The Opening Act, it takes a realistic look at the first guy in the line up, who has the least amount of time, who has little experience in dealing with hecklers. Can he succeed? Or will he wilt away like so many before him.


First thing you need to be able to do as a stand up comic? Stand up. Check!

Will O’Brien (Jimmy O. Yang) has grown up on stand up comedy. He lost his mom early on, but his dad was a big fan of stand up comics, so Will was a big fan of stand up comics. It was there way of bonding, it was their way of getting through grief.

Now Will is a man! An adult male man. He has a job that pays bills, a girlfriend who is supportive, and sometimes he gets to do stand up at open mic nights. But the only club he can get gigs at requires him to bring in paid customers to see him, and it is getting harder and harder for him to find people he knows who are willing to pay to watch him. He is at a point where his future in this career he wants to have is in question.

But then he gets an opportunity. To go out to another city and be the opening act (that’s the name of the movie!) and mc for real big time comedians! Multiple nights in a row to do his own material and get exposure and meet legends.

Can he do it? Can he break from his norm? Or will his dream go up in flames?

Also starring a wide variety of comics you might have heard of before! Like Cedric the Entertainer, Debby Ryan, Ken Jeong, Bill Burr, Neal Brennan, Alex Moffat, Russell Peters, Jermaine Fowler, and Simon Rhee.


Second thing you need to know? Where to find the good food in cities everywhere.
I have seen movies about the hardships of being a stand up comic, you know, Funny People is sort of one of them. But they still are usually dealing with someone who has more success than failures. Sure there are pitfalls, but they usually exist further in the career and not at the humble beginnings.

In this movie, our lead is starting out as a regular insurance worker, who can sometimes tell some jokes. Getting to MC an event is a huge stepping stone for them. It isn’t hour long sets on Comedy Central, but that is far in the future. This is where many find out that they are not cut out and go back to their day job. It is PAINFUL at times to watch this film, but it feels so realistic that we accept it anyways.

A lot of the film seems to be based on personal anecdotes from the films director, Steve Byrne, who is not just trying to tell his story and humble beginnings, but the beginnings for most comics.

I have only seen Yang before in Silicon Valley, so I was definitely surprised with his voice (he goes very English as a Second Language in the show), and he carried himself well as a lead. It feels like it is also his story.

The movie has a wonderful cast of secondary characters, all of them have their own personality despite limited screen time, and again, just feel like real people. One of the biggest surprises was the girlfriend, because the whole film she is supportive and understanding and hopeful. There is no added in relationship drama to pile on to our main character, which is an all too common thing to do in film.

If you want the experience of standing up on a stage and being unable to function while people judge you, this film probably gives you one of the closest experiences you will get outside of VR.

3 out of 4.

Girl

On the second night of Fantastic Fest my screeners gave to me, a film with a non-descript title!

Girl premiered on Friday, September 25, the second night of Fantastic Fest, but the review is coming late (despite me watching it early) because I wanted to also be able to link a review with the director. That interview is here.

Girl is unique in that out of all the movies coming out this week for the festival, it already has a publisher (out in November) and actually has some actors your are likely to recognize! And that probably makes it the most hyped up film of the festival.


This is the most non-descript Thorne has ever looked. 
Girl (Bella Thorne) travels home. Girl has letter. Girl mad at someone? Girl mad at daddy. Girl want kill daddy!

Girl in small town. Girl don’t remember others. Girl go to house. Girl can’t find daddy. Girl eventually find daddy. Daddy dead! No! Girl want kill daddy! Daddy already dead. 🙁

Girl tell cop (Mickey Rourke). Girl tell others. Girl fend off Charmer (Chad Faust). Girl sleuth. Girl figure out mystery. Girl find daddy killer.

Also starring Lanette Ware, Glen Gould, and Elizabeth Saunders.


A lot of zoomed in faces, what is this, Les Miserables?
Girl gives off a real small town vibe in a few ways. One, small amount of locations. Two, the locations used are run down. And three small amount of characters.

Speaking of characters, they all are not given names that are given to us, but referred to by other things like Girl, or Charmer. It gives a unique “everywhere” feel to the film, and lets you insert your own character names into the roles if you’d like. It also makes the IMDB page for these actors look like they did when they first were getting roles in tv and film.

The story for this movie is really simple, but one that has emotional weight. This is all mostly due to Thorne in the lead role. I know she has a lot of flack lately for various reasons, but she does nail this role.

Given the simplistic nature, I did want something a bit more overall still. I personally could never feel attached to the store and only maintained a small interest in its resolution. I needed some other hook to really go hard with the emotional journey they went on.

It definitely is a film with promise and does a lot with its presumed limited resources at the disposal. And worth it for those fans of Thorne.

2 out of 4.

The Argument

Sometimes partners argue. It can be over what color the linens need to be, or it could be what color the sheets need to be. It could be over the color of the shower curtain or even the color of a new carpet. I believe couples only argue over colors, if I am not mistaken. I can say that because I don’t fight with my wife.

The Argument film is a straight to VOD picture directed by Robert Schwartzman, who is definitely the brother of Jason. This is actually his third film, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that some famous people joined it, but also, he is from a pretty famous family and probably has tons of clout. I haven’t seen his other films, but one is about a unicorn or threesomes or something.

Anyways, this intro is definitely going nowhere fast, except to this picture right now!

love
Aw, these cute little love birds are going to argue? I don’t see an reason why.

Jack (Dan Fogler) and Lisa (Emma Bell) have been in a relationship for three whole years now. They sometimes fight, but they usually reconcile, but generally there always has to be a winner. Jack is in love and wants to propose to her, in front of their great friends, in a special night in their home. Lisa just finished her role as Constanze in a run of Amadeus, her biggest role as an actress. Jack is a writer, who has written a script for one whole movie!

And after Jack’s friend (and agent) and his partner get to their home (Danny Pudi/Maggie Q), Jack is ready for a quiet and fun evening. But oh no! Another couple shows up. Paul (Tyler James Williams) and his girlfriend (Cleopatra Coleman). Paul was also in the Amadeus play as the lead, and did a lot of flirting with Lisa from their characters, and this makes Jack uneasy.

One thing leads to another, discussions and dancing and drinking, and an incident happens at the end of the night that neither feels they are responsible for. So they are going to create the night, with the help of their friends, to figure out who is actually right, and the other arguments that branch from the festivities as well.

Also starring Karan Brar, Mark Ryder, Marielle Scott, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, and Charlotte McKinney.

couch
“i’m glad you joined me tonight for a recreation of a recreation again and again.”

When I heard the description of this film, I just thought it would be a strange remake of Rashômon. You know, the classic Japanese film where people retell the story from their point of view and they are all different. That is my effective, yet bad description of Rashômon! Anyways, it made sense that this one would be the same way, but with six people at a small party.

And I was wrong! First of all, which is both bad and good. It is bad, because what they actually did wasn’t great. The main character tries to literally create the night and conversations with the same people, doing the same food prep, without anyone telling his goal first. It is completely ludicrous. The only reason there is buy in from the others is due to their own arguments and trying to work it out together. And again, it is really dumb seeing this apparently night after night after night. That part feels more ridiculous than anything else.

However, it did finally surprise me for the final night of the argument. It changed things up, and it did it in a fun way. I really loved the ending, making the movie go from an average (to bad with the way things were going) to a pretty good one overall. If they could have made the middle part a bit better, we could have had an excellent film. Why even have someone with a “photographic memory” if they are going to barely use the feature?

I especially liked the extras which I kept vague for a reason. Maggie Q and Cleopatra Coleman were some of the better characters from my point of view, and I also really enjoyed Karan Brar, who grew up from some Disney shows apparently.

3 out of 4.

Words on Bathroom Walls

Oh my goodness, some more theaters are opening up and things are getting “national releases” at this point, depending on where you are in the country.

Words on Bathroom Walls was scheduled to come out in late July, but never really moved when the rest of the exoduses began to happen, and then just creeped back barely a month, to find a time it can come out and be appreciated at a social distance.

So this review was written quite awhile ago, is what I am getting at.

Words on Bathroom Walls is a book from the last decade, about high schoolers dealing with issues. That isn’t specific. I think I have noticed a bigger trend lately on high school literature is that they might be able someone who has a maybe misunderstood illness, to give these protagonists a better shake on how their lives run and understanding. Sure, these things have been done before, but they were often not well researched, or went extremely basic with the issues, becoming offensive on their own.

That is one of the main things I will look for with this movie. Does it explain things beyond the stereotype? Does it feel fair? Does it educate and still tell a good story? Has the research been done?

dance
And of course, most importantly, will there be a prom?

Adam (Charlie Plummer) is a senior in high school, and he has now had a real big old panic attack. It happened in Chemistry. It causes a friend of his to get hurt. He started hearing and seeing things that were not there, it was very frightening, and all of his classmates were witness to his meltdown.

You see, it turns out that Adam has schizophrenia, and it all sort of just hit him at once. He can see and hear three main different people in his life. There is Rebecca (AnnaSophia Robb), a free spirited girl, there is Joaquin (Devon Bostick), a horny friend from a 90’s film, and there is a bodyguard (Lobo Sebastian), an intimidating person who is just trying to protect him. And there is a fourth darker voice that he can hear occasionally, and is especially dreadful.

But this isn’t the only thing going on in Adama’s life. He is a senior in high school, and would still like to graduate on time. So he has to start at a new private school. His mom (Molly Parker) was raising him on his own for a long time, so Adam became a good cook to help their family unit out, and eventually she got a new spouse to help out (Walton Goggins), but Adam doesn’t like or trust him.

Adam’s biggest worries are trying to ignore these voices, to appear normal to his new friends and classmates, and survive until graduation. Then he can go to culinary school and be happy. He also has to deal with experimental medication that can clear the voices but might effect him in different ways. And he also has to deal with Maya (Taylor Russell), the smartest girl in school who has taken an interest in him and him to her.

Eventually Adam will realize everyone has baggage, and his just might be harder to cope with.

Also starring Andy Garcia, as a priest,

graduate
oh, I also need my teenage fiction to include a graduation ceremony.

Okay, a movie dealing with schizophrenia, at the high school level, with a cast of characters that include different/voices in a characters head (and appearing around him from his mind) to offer advice throughout it. My immediate thought is, oh no, this is going to be wacky, and they will be a constant source of shenanigans or voices, and this feels stereotypical schizophrenia.

But! They are not throughout the film. Because he is taking trial drugs to help deal with the voices, so they do in fact leave for large chunks and it still can tell a compelling story about living with schizophrenia by making it also a film about dealing with the need to use a drug to better function (and the side effects those drugs can bring). I feel like the schizophrenia was handled with a large amount of respect. When I researched if the author researched enough for their book, I found no complaints by any schizophrenia organizations. So if it is schizophrenia approved, I have to assume it got things right and avoided potential offense, great job team.

Watching this movie actually made me want to read the book, and I still plan on it if I can find a local copy (I do not want to use Amazon to buy it). The book is written from the point of view of Adam telling about his life and stories to a therapist, and so you take the role as the therapist in the book. They do acknowledge that in the movie, and have a few therapist scenes where Adam is talking to the camera instead, to get that same feel, but I am sure it is not as strong as the book, because we get to actually see events.

I thought Plummer was a really good lead for this film and Russell was a great co-lead, with her own problems to deal with, and their relationship felt like it grew at a realistic pace, with realistic pitfalls.

Another shout out goes to Parker, for being a great mom dealing with all of this, and also Goggins, playing an extremely normal role based on what he has done in the past. That of a step-father trying to be supportive of his step-son and doing the right thing, without being able to get really close.

Honestly, this movie packed a lot of punches in the right spots for me emotionally. It told a good story, about schizophrenia, without also only being about schizophrenia. It was relatable for other reasons, and hit me emotionally. I don’t think my high rating is just because of the lack of good films this summer, I hope not, but I definitely fully recommend people giving this movie a chance. Maybe not in theaters, depending on your safety concerns, but whenever it is available at home.

4 out of 4.