Velvet Buzzsaw

Before Velvet Buzzsaw, Dan Gilroy has directed only two movies, and he is the writer of both of those films. The first one was Nightcrawler, a genius film and clearly one of the best of the year. It is haunting, and Jake Gyllenhaal gives one of his best performances of his life.

The second one was Roman J. Israel, Esq., which people like to ignore. I mean, Denzel Washington was nominated for acting from it, but it didn’t have Gyleenhaal so no one cared. It was not was well received as his first film.

This brings us back to Velvet Buzzsaw, which Gilroy again wrote and directed on his own. And because it is more horror based and has Gyllenhaal in it, people were notably excited and declared it would be just as good as Nightcrawler! Being released on Netflix isn’t an issue, because Netflix movies can be good!

People like to hype, I guess I am saying.

Art
Nothing scarier than hearing I would have to analyze and judge pieces of art.

It is really hard to pick a main character to really talk about in this movie, but they want us to focus on Gyllenhaal with advertising, so I will. Morf Vandewalt (Gyllenhaal), probably a fake name, is an art critic in LA, one of the most famous and prestigious. He does fine work, people like him, he knows how to describe things like any elitist art man.

One of the galleries he tends to review at has a young fledgling art dealer, Josephina (Zawe Ashton), who is having a stressful time in life. To top it all off, some man dies in her apartment, she finds the body, it makes her late for work and she is demoted. After finding out that all of his items are to be destroyed per his wishes, she checks on his cat and finds hundreds to thousands of pieces of art, all originals, all haunting and powerful.

This? This could be her chance. You know, to deceive some people, act like it is her client, sell his art, get big in the community. Everyone is instantly amazed by the art, including her boss (Rene Russo), they want in on the action, want a piece of that huge jackpot of money they are about to create.

But as soon as more research goes into the now deceased artist, they find he had a troubled past, and has a good reason to have wanted all of the artwork to be destroyed.

Also starring Billy Magnussen, Daveed Diggs, Toni Collette, John Malkovich, Natalia Dyer, and Tom Sturridge.

STare
Everyone uses the same Gyllenhaal staring picture in their reviews,
I WANT A DIFFERENT ONE OKAY?

Velvet Buzzsaw, both the title, and the premise, is one that is able to draw you in slowly. It is set in a world that most of us are not a part of, dealing, making, selling art and making it a focal point of their lives. The rich, the elite. And that makes it a good film to have people die in.

Too many horror films are killing off our teenagers at record numbers. What about these rich people? The snobby elites? Why not watch them die in creative art fueled ways?

The concept is fine, but it definitely lacks the creep factor. It doesn’t seem to fully embrace the thoughts of horrors, and instead we get a strange drama/horror hybrid, where enough people definitely die, but never in ways that really seem exciting to talk about. The final death was a bit wicked, but other than that, it is mostly generic crazy death things.

It would be more memorable if it just went harder in the genre, but this movie plays it safe. We don’t have enough horrors set in museums, which are clearly some of the creepiest places to be. This adds to the list, but doesn’t top that list.

2 out of 4.

Deepwater Horizon

I am so disappointed in myself for taking so long to see Deepwater Horizon. I am a goddamn geophysicist. And teacher. And movie reviewer. But geophysicist first.

And you know what? The BP oil spill in the Gulf was bad, it was terrible, but at the same time, certain aspects were completely overblown, public opinion was driven from emotions and not from science, and blame was thrown around all over the place.

But reality isn’t simple, a lot of people were involved, and a lot of processes and safe guards went wrong or were ignored to allow it to happen. And yeah, it sucked. But still, it happened only six years ago and doesn’t seem like the type of film to warrant a movie at all. Some shit went wrong, and some environment got fucked up.

Are they going to celebrate it? Fear monger it? What is the message? These are the questions I will ask myself and why I want to even see the movie.

Drill
I can confirm from my many years as an alive person that this is indeed a drill.

The day began like every other day for Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg). Hours of passionate love making with his wife (Kate Hudson) and sausages for breakfast.

Just kidding, he woke up, talked to his kid, heard a report on oil drilling, then left to go to his job for the next three weeks. He is on a crew on the Deepwater Horizon which is working on a borehole in the Gulf of Mexico. His boss is Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell), head of safety supervisor guy, and he is angry when they land, as the Schlumberger crew is apparently heading home early. They didn’t do all the safety tests!

Apparently because they are behind schedule, BP is getting impatient, and the people they sent to check things out (John Malkovich and James DuMont) are getting antsy. Needless to say, things get rushed, bad things happen, and a few people die in the process.

Also featuring Jason Pine, Jason Kirkpatrick, Gina Rodriguez, Ethan Suplee, David Maldonado, Dylan O’Brien, Douglas M. Griffin, and Brad Leland.

Anger
Not to mention they get about 10% more dirty than normal.

It turns out that this movie had a few things they wanted to cover. That people died during this accident, and to honor them with this film. Also that the main crews who were working were not to blame and the entire thing is BP’s fault.

And there is where some of the major fault for this film lands. It is hard to not have biases against films based on real life, and this one decides to run with the bias that the average American has taken. It is not using the film to right wrongs or tell actual true events. It is just telling us events based on what people want to hear.

Unfortunately, those biases cannot get out of my head and the film ends up taking a ding for that.

On its own, the first half of the film is interesting enough. The beginning is a bit corny, but the lead up to the events, the characters, they felt like a bunch of real people not just potential victims. They had their own voices. It is what really helps sell the whole film.

Things start to fall apart in the film when things start to fall apart. The explosions, the saving, the pain, the people jumping into the sea and the rescue? They all just felt like noise, like filler. Given how recent the events were it felt like the film was almost celebrating the disaster by making it take half of the film.

Deepwater Horizon is a strange event to make a movie about, has its moments, but also has its biases and excessive flair.

2 out of 4.

Penguins of Madagascar

With the Penguins of Madagascar, every major animated release in the US in 2014 should now be reviewed on Gorgon Reviews. Hooray! Exciting!

Unfortunately it is the sequel/spinoff series to Madagascar, which I found to be very mediocre or bad. However, this one at least also had a TV show before it came out, so there is a lot of back stories with these characters and their adventures that I am wildly unaware of.

Bring on the penguins! They are cute I guess.

Octo
Holy, shit, we also get an Octopus? I am now ecstatic.

Skipper (Tom McGrath), Kowalski (Chris Miller), Rico (Conrad Vernon), and Private (Christopher Knights) are all penguins who make up a pretty unique fighting team. Or at least they think they are. Going on adventures, using code words, what have you. Recognize the voice actors? Exactly, because this movie isn’t sold on celebrities, it is sold on characters and people who are real voice actors, damn it.

Either way, while celebrating the 10th birthday of Private, directly after the events of Madagascar 3. While getting some sweet ass Cheezy Dibbles, they get kidnapped by Dave (John Malkovich, bring on the celebrities now!), an Octopus! Apparently Dave has had a shitty life of living in zoos all around the world, where he is always second fiddle and ignored thanks to cute animals like the penguins. PENGUINS.

So he wants to get rid of them all. Or make them ugly. Something like that. ALL THE PENGUINS MUST BE PUNISHED.

That should be enough plot for you. Spy movie guys. Lot of things happen. There is also another agent group, the North Force (Benedict Cumberbatch, Ken Jeong, Annet Mahendru, and Peter Stormare).

NF
I will let you decide which voice should go with which character.

Shit, if you like Octopuses in movies, you are going to love this movie. Yes, Octopuses, mother fucker. It is the right way. They all reminded me of Octodad a little bit, especially since the main octopus is wearing a human costume sometimes.

In all reality, it was just an okay movie. I am glad that the penguins all had personality, but they didn’t really make me laugh all that much. I thought North Force was underutilized and the big bad guy plot was pretty lame as well.

There was one ongoing joke throughout the film, involving celebrity names and puns. They were fantastic and clever. Well done on that department.

But comparing it to other animated movies, the quality is definitely lower (although in line with the Madagascar animation, so at least they are consistent). It probably feels like an extended episode of the penguin TV show, so if you like the show, you will probably like the movie.

It could have been worse. It could have featured Firework over and over.

2 out of 4.

Cesar Chavez

Cesar Chavez is one of those indie movies that kind of just never came out near where I lived, so I never really got a chance to watch it. It came out on DVD a few weeks ago (or if I delay this review by a few weeks, a month or more ago!) so at that point it just came down to finding a time to throw it up on my website. Only doing five reviews a week has its perks and its disadvantages. It is good that all of my free time isn’t looking for movies or writing reviews, yes. But those two reviews a week less than I am used to means a lot of indie or weird movies that my website is none for is pushed to the side if a week has a lot of big titles coming out.

Oh well. Cesar Chavez. A biographical movie with some subtitles and a comedic actor playing a serious role. My body is ready.

Nazi?
And I am sure they will do everything in their power to make sure they don’t make him look like Hitler.

Cesar Chavez (Michael Pena) is already a polarizing figure in the US. A farm worker in California, during the 1950s to the 1970s he became political, organizing the farm workers of California into labor groups to fight for better rates and conditions.

At this point, most of the farm workers were braceros, temporary workers from Mexico permitted to live in the US to work on these farms. Should they ever stop, they’d be forced back to Mexico. But the conditions were terrible and wages low, so it felt like a form of slavery.

With the help of others, Cesar organized boycotts, marches, and created a labor union, while also encouraging Mexican Americans to register and vote on elections to help swing results towards their side.

And uh, you know, I guess that is all the movie is really about? America Ferrera plays Mrs. Chavez, and Rosario Dawson and Yancey Arias are also on their side. In terms of white people to get in the way / help, we have John Malkovich, Michael Cudlitz, Wes Bentley, and Gabriel Mann.

Corn FIeld
You can tell he is an activist based on the number of scarves he is wearing.

After watching this pseudo-biopic, I don’t think I have a lot to say about Cesar or the film itself. From what I remember, he went in a hunger strike that lasted a long time, did some marching, and did a nice boycott.

And well, that was it? The movie was kind of short for bio standards, only dealt with a few events and didn’t seem to show many sides to the character. I am sure Cesar was a complicated individual, since everyone is complicated. I just didn’t get any sense of that.

Besides the potential bias issue, I found the movie kind of…boring. I could never really get into it, despite any parallels that may exist in our own time. It lacked an entertainment quality that I would hope to see in a film about an activist. There were a few tense moments only in dealings with anti-protesters.

On top of that? Acting was only okay. Nothing great. One cool scene sticks out from America Ferrera, and the rest is forgettable.

1 out of 4.

Red 2

When it was released, Red received pretty decent reviews from critics but didn’t do amazing at the box office. It made up for it in DVD/Blu-Ray sales though, gaining a small cult following, which is why they green-lit the sequel, surprisingly named Red 2.

The main notable difference between the two is that this one doesn’t have Morgan Freeman. For shame.

Malko
Although, as you can see from the picture, it has a lot of John Malkovich being very very John Malkovichy.

The movie begins with Frank (Bruce Willis) and Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) trying to build a home together. Frank is retired (and still extremely dangerous) but he wants to put his past behind him. Too bad Marvin (John Malkovich) comes prancing in, warning him that he thinks someone is trying to kill them.

Well, it turns out there actually are people trying to kill them! Reports have surfaced that they are nuclear terrorists, who are trying to take out Russia. In fact, the CIA are trying to take them in, including their main man Jack Horton (Neal McDonough, who looks like the white Robert Ri’chard), who has hired the world’s best assassin Han Cho Bai (Byung-hun Lee). The MI6 are sending their old friend Victoria (Helen Mirren), and Russia has Frank’s former fling, Katja (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Sarah doesn’t like Katja.

So Frank, Sarah, and Marvin have to work together and find Dr. Bailey (Anthony Hopkins), a brilliant war scientist who has been kept in the loony bin for over thirty years. Together, they hope to clear their name, and possibly stop a nuclear bomb from taking out a huge populatio of the world.

Gun
I decided to not talk about John Malkovich with my second image.

I don’t think you need to see Red in order to understand Red 2. All you have to know is that Frank and Sarah met in the first film, and everyone else has a huge history with everyone else. If you had to only pick one to watch, go with the original.

Red 2 isn’t bad per say, but it just doesn’t seem to care too much. Sure, it is entertaining, and funny at times, but not a lot happens overall. They are framed fugitives being hunted by the top governments around the world, yet they still have time to walk around Paris and go shopping. It just seemed odd and ruined the flow of the movie for me. The ending chase scene ended up being really predictable as well.

Red 2, just like R.I.P.D. had its enjoyable moments and was entertaining, just not something I would ever recommend to see more than once. I think Red 2 is not really based on the graphic novel like the first movie. Instead it is based on whatever the writer felt like. I usually don’t care how close a movie is to its source material, but I think in this case, they really didn’t know what to do with their characters. Because of that, it just felt like a mess.

John Malkovich is brilliant as always, and a bit more insane than normal. Malkovich is the main reason to see Red 2, and the only real reason.

2 out of 4.

Warm Bodies

Warm Bodies, Warm Bodies.

Unfortunately, due to hearing that title said twice in a row, I really can’t stop doing it. It adds effect. It makes it creepy. I like creepy.

I kind of hate zombie based fan ficiton. More specifically, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a terrible book, seriously read it. It is P&P with another guy throwing in some zombie fight scenes and changing some words. But his writing style is so different than Jane Austin’s style that it is painfully obvious. But that was Zombies and Romance. How about Zombies WITH Romance?

Angsty
You see the whole thing is a metaphor. A metaphor, for uhh, to be emo is to be dead.

R (Nicholas Hoult) is a zombie. Not much to talk else to mention about his life, he is a damn zombie. He doesn’t remember his old life, or his old name or anything. He has a “Friend” in M (Rob Corddry), but that means they sometimes go out on hunts together for food and grunt some.

On one of those faithful hunting missions, they run into a group of survivors looking for meds. That is where he meets Julie (Teresa Palmer). But something is different, something has changed. He doesn’t want to eat her body. Well, not in the traditional sense.

Could this be love? Necrophiliac love? Analeigh Tipton plays her best friend, Dave Franco her boyfriend, and John Malkovich her dad.

Warsss
This is also a metaphor. A metaphor, for uhh, war. War is bad.

From what I can tell, the movie has differences from the book, but the author of the book is fine with it. He saw the movie and likes it, so I definitely won’t judge the two apart (not that I ever do that anyways). But I can say that after watching the movie, I want to read the book. Already ordered it online, can’t wait. The only other movie that I did that with was The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Which, I might add, I liked the book as well and there were differences.

I thought the intro the movie was pretty dang hilarious. It begins with a nice monologue from R, as he shuffles about his normal zombie life, and we learn the ins and outs of his mind and actions. It just felt brilliant.

Rob Corddry stole the show with his zombie, but he was given the funnier lines, because he wasn’t currently in love with a living woman.

The movie has obvious references to a famous love story, which I figured out halfway through. I am glad they kept it somewhat subtle, I was afraid they would smash it over your head at the end, but thankfully they didn’t.

Shit, the only thing I really disliked would be that the change happening the zombies could have been more gradual and obvious. For R, it was slow and the signs of him getting better were clear, but for the rest of the zombies it felt rushed.

Fuck it. I loved this movie. Here is a high ass rating.

4 out of 4.

The Great Buck Howard

The Great Buck Howard is definitely one of the movies I bought just because of the cast list on the front, and not really knowing anything about it.

I can definitely say I have heard zero things about this movie ahead of time, which means I can ruin that moment for you if you watch it with this review. Hooray!

clap for me
Kind of like ruining a mentalists act. The claps will fade :(.

Turns out, this movie is actually about Troy Gable (Colin Hanks). He doesn’t like his place in life. Law School just is not fun. It sucks. His dad (Tom Hanks, yep) forced him to pick this path though. So he says enough is enough, walks out of law school, and time to find his calling.

Maybe a writer? Sure, but it doesn’t pay. So he needs a job for bills while he thinks about writing. Why not the stage manager of the Great Buck Howard (John Malkovich), a mentalist who he has never heard of. Sure, he has apparently been on Johnny Carson 61 times, but that is old.

Now he just travels from small town to small town, with a loyal fan base who love his acts and cheesiness. Troy quickly learns what to do from Alan (Adam Scott), the soon to be former tour manager, who eventually quits and leaves in a rage. Okay, so apparently Buck is not really so great, but more of a dick. But its a job, and why not stick around?

Well, he gets to see a struggling mentalist make it through life, without missing a beat. Just takes it all out on Troy. He even has an amazing act, where he has audience members hide his “fee” for the night, while he and his staff is away, and without fail he can find it every time. If he cant, it gets donated back to the town.

Even the build up of his new trick, putting a record number of people to sleep at a time. The problem is, shit keeps going wrong. His press person is out of town, so he is stuck with a rookie girl (Emily Blunt), has crazy drivers (Steve Zahn), and a generally apathetic manager (Ricky Jay).

Fan hit the shit
Here is a look as shit hits the fan. Pretty hard.

I was worried about this film, just because it was John Malkovich in a PG setting. But what the fuck was I thinking? This is John Malkovich! He does things awesomely, and you can’t help but watch.

His character of Buck Howard was definitely an interesting one to watch, and clearly the most important part of the movie, despite it being a journey of discovery for Colin Hanks’ character. He is based on the The Amazing Kreskin , who was known for finding his fee pretty much every time (but nine, oddly enough).

Did I mention Malkovich kicked ass as this character? The rest of the cast was pretty decent as well. Especially the outrageous locals at some of the shows. It is hard to describe why this film is so great, but the only word I can think of is charming, I guess. The cast works well together, and it is strangely interesting despite the subject matter. Give it a chance, and maybe you will love it.

3 out of 4.

Disgrace

“Uh oh, it is a John Malkovich movie. Better not try to multi-task this movie.”

That is an exact quote from me before watching Disgrace. Disgrace being a novel about post-Apartheid South Africa (or the Best South Africa in my book!). I mean, the author actually received a Nobel Prize in Literature a few years after writing this. I didn’t even know they had one of those, because hey, I barely know what books are.

Who would have thought so much love would be given to a professor who had a relationship with one of his students?

Zero Fucks
This is the walk of a man who is giving zero fucks about his situation.

Shit, I might have given away most of the plot I can tell already.

Professor David Lurie (Malkovich) is a Professor (shut up) in South Africa (said that already). But what you didn’t know is that he teaches English! Romantic poems and stuff. Through flirtatious glances and the such, he develops a relationship with Soraya (Natalie Becker) even though she has a boyfriend and is in his class. Oh well, she’s hot, sex hooray! No way he could be taking advantage of her in this situation, right?

Well, word gets out and the university doesn’t like it. He is brought before a board, admits to everything, and is promptly dismissed. He doesn’t care though. He just wants to live his life, now that he is in his 50s and divorced and miserable. So he leaves his South African city and goes to a different South African place, to live with his daughter Lucy (Jessica Haines) who is a simple farmer, living in a small community, and a lesbian.

David volunteers at a local pet clinic, but the job is a pretty sad one. Mostly getting rid of unwanted dogs. He starts a relationship with the clinic owner. Lucy is in a business relationship with Petrus (Eriq Ebouaney), a black farmer who shares the land. But while he goes away on a business trip, a horrible event happens. Three younger gentlemen go to their farm, rob them, assault them, and Lucy is raped.

Not the most ideal situation, but David is even more shocked when Lucy refuses to persecute the criminals (post-Apartheid is a weird time in South Africa. Race relations unstable) and not be a bother to the community. She also becomes pregnant.

Will David realize the power others can actually hold over others based on their position? Will he change at all? What the hell South Africa?

It Wasnt Me
“Hey now, this time it wasn’t me. I’m white!”

I know, I know this is going to sound weird. But this plot didn’t interest me at all. It had lots of things a good drama needed, but I never could get attached to the main characters and it all bounced right off of me. The rubber effect. Too bad I couldn’t have been an emotional glue.

This is an example of a film where I could recognize the good acting and work to make the film, but still not give a damn either way. The worst reviews for me to write, because I can never really give a good reasoning behind it. I mean, maybe it was just too slow? I don’t know. But some how a wall was put up, and I guess I won’t watch it again.

2 out of 4.

Changeling

Can’t say I knew much about Changeling, heck I didn’t even really hear about it, despite award nominations, and being another Clint Eastwood directed movie.

Heck, even the cover is pretty vague.

trials
But someone is probably going to jail for it.

Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie) is a single mom and a working mom. It is the late 1920s and she basically runs an operator center. Heck, might even has a promotion to Beverly Hills coming soon.

But one day, after work, going to pick up her kid and she cant find him. He is missing. He has wandered off or someone has taken him. Uber freak out, but gotta wait 24 hours first, then file the police report. Either way, super upset.

Well the good news is months later, her kid is reportedly found. Even Captain J.J. Jones (Jeffrey Donovan) of the police force is on deck for the reunion. The LAPD hasn’t had many successes over the years. And when the kid arrives, it is totally not her son. They say that in the few months of grief he has changed, but that is TOTALLY him and take him home, it will sink in.

Nope. Nope nope nope. So not him. He is shorter! Son says he is definitely the son though. They even sent a specialist to “examine him thoroughly”, and or just confirm the police findings. But she says nope, she wants it to be known it is not her son so they can actually continue to look for her damn son!

So with the help of a local reverend (John Malkovich) trying to show how corrupt the LAPD is, and testimonies from the teachers, and dentist (different mouth structure shit), she goes to the press to get her story out with proof that the LAPD refuses to accept that the son is not her own.

Or she is crazy. Which is what the LAPD is willing to believe, throwing her in the Asylum. Huh. Well maybe she is.

And maybe the Canadian child who was apprehended from Gordon Northcott’s (Jason Butler Harner) farm by Detective Lester Ybarra (Michael Kelly) has some secrets he needs to get off his chest.

Notdamomma
No I will not make another call me maybe reference here….
Even though they just found him, and she might be crazy, but Mr. Cop Man, that ain’t her baby.

Boo, why did Jeffrey Donovan have to be such a bad guy? I like Burn Notice, damn it.

Angelina Jolie knocked her role out of the park. I was attempting to multi task a bit during this movie, packing up some stuff, but I can tell you very little packing ended up getting done. I was wondering where the story would go, and afraid of most of the outcomes. This is based off of real events in the end of the 1920s, so the LAPD really has always been a piece of shit police organization. Shows about corrupt cops, they actually are probably accurate. Damn.

I can’t tell if I like it more because its a good movie, or because Angelina Jolie has now done multiple movies where I have thought she has been excellent in. Hmm. Hopefully this isn’t a shocked rating. But hey, this movie has it all, corrupt cops, women’s rights, and murderers. Very exciting.

3 out of 4.

Jonah Hex

As a general rule of thumb, I say hooray to all movies based off of graphic novels. As a rule of my pinky, I usually say “Oh damn it, a movie with Megan Fox.”
Thus the overall rule of my hand is that I had no emotion towards Jonah Hex, except one telling me to continue to put it off until I get bored enough to watch it.

Megan Fox
She is why we can’t have nice things.

Josh Brolin plays Jonah Hex, also known as the guy who can’t really die. They tried to kill him, but apparently some nice Indian folk brought him back to life. So he also, having spent time being dead, can now talk to the dead. That’s nice. With his touch, the dead come back until he lets go, and its good for interrogating. For some reason its easier to bring back people who have been dead for a longer time.

He was killed for turning his back on former Confederate leader Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich), so Turnbull and his assistant, Michael Fassbender, killed his family, scarred his face and killed him. Or so he thought! Then Hex killed him back, or so he thought!

Later he is a bounty hunter, living on the DL. Sometimes screwing Megan Fox. But the US government wants to hire him, because Turnbull is assembling a great weapon designed by Eli Whitney, that can destroy a nation on the 100th anniversary of America. Aidan Quinn plays President Grant and Will Arnett a high ranking officer (hah!).

Hex hex
Trick is to not look him in the mouth.

So this movie has a lot of negative stigma behind it. I guess bad acting mostly being why. And it is true, casting choices didn’t make sense. Why is Will Arnett in a “serious” action movie? Or Malkovich. He was the oddest casting for me, as main bad guy. I don’t think it worked at all. The only decent role would be Brolin as Hex. I’d say Quinn as President, but he really didn’t have many scenes.

But interestingly enough I actually found a lot of the action early on great. It didn’t bog me down with a lot of back story at the beginning, but gradually showed it throughout the movie. Was great to get you right into the story. Unfortunately the action by the end was a lot less interesting than the beginning. So poor ending, poor acting. That is a poor movie.

1 out of 4.

1 2