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.

Mary Queen of Scots

As a history major, I tend to love a good historical biopic film, that goes for realism, truth, and has amazing set pieces.

At the same time, my focus was on Ancient History, and I tried to avoid any of that medieval nonsense, mostly because I do not care about British history. I got enough of that growing up. I want old stuff or other cultures. I just don’t want to get bogged down in the King and Queen dramas. It is why I still haven’t seen The Crown.

But Mary Queen of Scots is a famous story, one that I know next to nothing about. It has to be famous, it rings true, but honestly, never looked into who or what it was. Did she behead a lot of people? Did she inspire Braveheart? I don’t know!

I do know that with the leads being several ladies, we still might get some dope gossip though.

Mary
On first glance, this does not answer the Braveheart question.

First of all, this film takes place like 250-300 years after William Wallace, so they are unrelated.

We are going to talk about Mary (Saoirse Ronan) who became Queen of France at 16! Nice. Two years later her husband died, and instead of remarrying and living back in France, she went back home and decided to rule there again. Now, due to some legal loopholes, she has more of a right to the throne of England than her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie).

But Mary cannot just go and waltz in, demand the crown, and everyone is cool with that. So instead, she goes to Scotland, to work with the people there to set up a rule, to be peaceful with their neighbors, and basically bide her time. If Elizabeth cannot get an heir, or dies, it will be Mary’s turn (or her own children), so let’s be civil and wait it out.

It is not civil. There is some warring, some backstabbing, some dead loved ones and imprisoned things. There is a lot of betrayal and a whole lot of politicking that will get you lost.

Hey. As long as you still look noble by the end, right?

Also starring David Tennant, Gemma Chan, Guy Pearce, Jack Lowden, Joe Alwyn, Adrian Lester, Ismael Cruz Cordova, and Simon Russell Beale.

Queen
Royalty is the epitome of being a strong independent woman who don’t need no man, unless you need an heir to keep it strong forever, in which case you are vastly dependent and sad.

When I say get lost in the politicking, I really mean it. This is a dense cast with a lot of characters who have lines and I guess are real people in history. And it is not like the movie pops up with subtitle cards to fully explain everyone’s role and their motives. You have to pay attention, try to gather what matters and what doesn’t and by the end, I still didn’t fully grasp who/why everyone was, why things happened, and the real ramifications.

This might just be a historical movie for those already down with the history. And there is nothing wrong with that, technically, but it does mean it will have issues finding a larger audience. Movies should be made for all sorts of people and a certain level of intelligence can be a requirement. It just means I am left talking about how pretty the movie was and well acted, without being able to comment a lot on the plot.

Needless to say, the movie was very pretty and well acted from our leads. I was especially surprised by the makeup department and their ability to make Robbie look a whole lot less attractive.

For my money though, I could never imagine wanting to watch this movie again. It is 2 hours that feel like 3, no matter how pretty it looks.

2 out of 4.

Dunkirk

The hype surrounding Dunkirk has lasted a little bit over a year. A historical war movie from Christopher Nolan? A war film on IMAX or 70mm screens!

Bombs and sadness!

Because the real life Dunkirk really fucking sucked. A whole lot of Allied soldiers in World War II were surrounded. It was one of the major setbacks of the war and could have lost the entire war if things didn’t slightly work out.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s talk about some war things.

Bridge
Tightly packed, little soldiers, just trying to get home.

War. War never changes. Except for World War 1. That changed a whole lot of things. The number of soldiers to die in this war was far higher than any war before it. They had less swords and horses, instead focusing on technology could kill. And it in World War II, that technology could now fly, dive under water, bomb, and more.

And in the city of Dunkirk, France, the allies were completely fucked. The French and British forces were surrounded on all land sides by the Germans. The sides without Germans had water. Sure, on the other side of that water was Great Britain, but it was far away.

The soldiers could only bunker down and hope they could get rescued, because every day the enemy came closer and took out more of their supplies. But even the water wasn’t safe. The Germans had U-Boats, and of course planes dropping bombs. Soldiers just wanted to get home. If the armies were wiped out, the Allies would have lost the war and there would not have been a second chance to come back and take over.

So how are they going to rescue so many soldiers? And how many aren’t going to make it? Well, either way, people are not getting out of there happy.

Featuring three main plot lines, and a lot of dudes mostly. Aneurin Barnard, Barry Keoghan, Cillian Murphy, Damien Bonnard, Fionn Whitehead, Harry Styles, Jack Lowden, James D’Arcy, Mark Rylance, Tom Glynn-Carney, Tom Hardy, Will Attenborough, and Kenneth Branagh.

Soldiers
French? British? Doesn’t matter. Basically everyone there was whiter than the sand though.

Dunkirk has potentially been one of the more hyped films of 2017. More than the superhero movies, more than whatever Leo DiCaprio might find himself in, more than the return of the NFL (probably not true). It is a summer blockbuster, that is Nolan directed, and probably headed straight for several Oscar nominations despite not waiting until the end of the year.

And yet, here we are, I am giving it a 2 out of 4.

First of all, I will openly acknowledge it is technically a wonderful work of art. The camera use, the cinematography, the explosions and a bit of the thrill.

But the biggest issues I heard about it ahead of time that I blew off came full force and hit me hard. The story just was weak. It relied entirely on tense sequences and not knowing how the different plot liens interacted to build the entire story. It was a good idea for a story, but the big story elements were mostly missing.

It took me weeks to write this review, partly because of how daunting writing the plot summary portion would be. For example (and probably realistically so), we barely hear character names. I remember only one or two after the film, everyone else is just a soldier or citizen doing their best. The rescue is the story, but the rescue is only so strong.

The other reason it took me awhile is because it just took so long to figure out my feelings behind it. I went in expecting a 4 out of 4, figured it would be a 3 out of 4, but then realized that to me it ends up being just a bit more mediocre in the long run. I am shocked, I am confused, and I really just wanted something much, much more.

2 out of 4.

Denial

I won’t deny it, I am writing this review like a month late. The site was down for over a month, I was busy, and honestly, I kept forgetting about the film itself.

That isn’t a good way at all to start talking about the film Denial, because if I can barely remember it after watching it, that isn’t saying a lot. Nor does my visible rating.

I will get into it later, but Denial actually does tell an interesting AND important story. It is worth existing. The execution is just the issue. And people watching it and not telling others about it. Yeah, I am also part of the problem, whoops.

Sweatervest
I am not denying that Denial exists, I am just forgetful sometimes.

Take out your time machine, because we are going way back. Way, way back, to the mid-1990’s! Dr. Deborah Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz) is a historian and Jewish history scholar, focusing of course on the Holocaust. She has written many books about it and believes one should not argue with a Holocaust denier because that gives them some level of credibility and they don’t even deserve that much.

And then David Irving (Timothy Spall), a very famous Holocaust Denier and Hitler scholar started to argue with her. He hijacked one of her lectures. He posted it online to make her seem week. And then he sued her for libel, because she called him a liar and worse in one of her books.

But Irving didn’t sue her for libel in America. Nope, he did it in Britain. See, normally in America, for a libel suit, the party who claims libel has to prove it. In Britain, the party who is being sued has to prove what they said is true instead. An interesting twist.

Well, Lipstadt says fuck that. She won’t settle or retract. She has to prove that not only was Irving as a Holocaust denier wrong, but he intentionally gave incorrect information in order to lie. Aka, prove that he wasn’t stupid, but there was malice and intent in his words. That is a hard thing to do. Especially because if they do it wrong, they are going to be potentially putting the Holocaust itself on trial, which is not a good place to be at. It is disrespectful!

Needless to say, an interest and real case. Also featuring Andrew Scott, Tom Wilkinson, Alex Jennings, Caren Pistorius, and Jack Lowden.

Lawroom
British court of Law is also funny in other ways.

The story for Denial is a good one, yes, sure. It offers a TON of moral questions for the trial. What methodology will they use to prove the Holocaust existed without putting the Holocaust on trial itself? How can they prove he knows the truth and is choosing to lie? Couldn’t they just bring in a bunch of survivors to tell their stories?

No. Apparently no at all to the last one. The lawyers don’t want to put them up on the stand and have a denier heckle them and denounce their harsh experiences. The hardest part for Lipstadt is letting go and trusting in lawyers who know more about British law than her.

Again, a fine story. And fantastic acting. Weisz, Wilkinson, and Spall. Especially Spall! Spall always plays these villain roles, but this one is something else and he has all sorts of mannerisms and ways of speaking that just fill him out completely. And he lost an incredible amount of weight it looks like to, a surprise to see.

The issues I have with this movie is that it feels like it also has an incredible amount of filler. There are a lot of down moments, some solemn given the topic, but just slow and repetitive feeling moments. Add in an ending that almost feels anti-climatic, or a bit too made for TV and the movie just seems to lose a lot of impact.

It could have been a truly great film, but there are too many minor points to keep it from rising to the top.

2 out of 4.