Logan Lucky

Steven Soderbergh is a sunuvabitch. And I mean that in a loving way. After finishing strong with Side Effects and Behind The Candelabra, he said he was retiring from directing, and the world was sad. Sure, he gave us some of The Knick, but it wasn’t the same.

And then I saw a trailer for Logan Lucky. Soderbergh. Was. Back. He didn’t last long in retirement, a project pulled him out, described as a sort of redneck Ocean’s Eleven.

I didn’t need to see the trailer multiple times. I didn’t have to look at the cast list with glee. They just had to tell me that SS was at the helm and I knew I would not be missing that film.

Speedway
Also, add in one of the greatest known actors to man, then you are just asking for Oscars.

In West Virginia, part of the Blue Ridge mountains, with the Shenandoah River, bunch of country roads that are basically heaven for the inhabitants, live the Logans. A family that some individuals think are cursed or unlucky. There is Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum), the one who was going to be a big football star, but got a leg injury leaving him with a limp before he could make it big. He also was fired recently as a construction worker in NC, so there is that. His brother is Clyde Logan (Adam Driver), soft spoken, ended up going to the Army after his brother’s accident, and in Iraq, he lost his hand and part of an arm. Now he is a bartender. Their extended family has some issues too, but their younger sister, Mellie Logan (Riley Keough), has been relatively unfazed and is a hairdresser.

Anyways, Jimmy has a family. Notably, a daughter, (Farrah Mackenzie) and an ex-wife (Katie Holmes), and he just wants to do right by them. But getting fired, not being rich, these are big problems. So he has had it. He wants to steal from a vault. He needs a giant payday, and from his construction, he knows how the money is moved at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina. He has a big plan and everything to get the money and out without people knowing about it. Heck, he is even going to pick a small weekend where there is little security and not a big monetary loss to the company. They aren’t bad people, they are just…unlucky and in hard times.

They just need some help. And they want to enlist Joe Bang (Daniel Craig), a man from that area who is knowledgeable about getting into vaults. But he is also in jail. So they need to break him out, do a heist, and break him back into jail without knowing he was gone. Ah yes, good times.

And rednecks. Good times with rednecks.

Also starring Seth MacFarlane, Sebastian Stan, Brian Gleeson, David Denman, Jack Quaid, Jim O’Heir, Katherine Waterston, Hilary Swank, and Dwight Yoakam as the warden.

Incarcareted
No touching!

This film was very hard for me to review. Days later it still has resonated with me, one touching scene in particular. It has brought me closer to John Denver more so than any other film before it. You know how these movies work. Have a dad, have a relationship with his daughter, have touching moments, and you will have me there in the theater crying.

I love the cast. I love how into the characters everyone was, no matter how big or small. I loved how everyone played it straight. They weren’t mocking southerners, they were embracing the culture. Sure it was amusing, but it was still handled with a lot of class. They were just people trying to do something for their families and not trying to hurt anyone along the way. They were good people in somewhat extreme circumstances. And everyone was just so good at their roles. Even the people who were dicks.

Before I forget, this film also featured the BEST Game of Thrones reference ever in a film. It was something that made me cackle with glee. To be honest, the list of “films with Game of Thrones references” is probably pretty short, but no way could anything before have topped this one.

BUT YET THERE IS SOMETHING THAT IS HARD TO DESCRIBE. There are slower moments. There are things rushed. There is confusion at just how far away they live from Charlotte. I have to assume like 3-4 hours, which makes the timing of this film a bit awkward and harder to grasp. The later reveals of heist didn’t feel as extravagant as I had hoped. And the ending just sort of ending.

It isn’t the perfect film that my mind has made it out to be. I still can love it, I can accept its faults, but that makes me put an honest rating. You know, a brain rating and not just a rating in my heart.

If my heart was rating this film, it would maybe be a 5 out of 4.

3 out of 4.

Alien: Covenant

I have never been one of those geeks super into the Alien franchise. After all, that shit is scary, and I didn’t watch horror for the longest time.

I can understand the appeal, but after Alien and Aliens, the only other film in that series I have seen was Prometheus, so there is that. Allusions and references will mean nothing to me.

So I am not excited to go into this film, but I am a bit excited it isn’t just “Prometheus 2” or anything. Because I want my scientists to be smart and not watch the opposite of that. I do want nice scares as well. But mostly, I want a shit ton of Danny McBride.

Monster
I hope this isn’t Danny McBride.

Alien: Covenant is set about ten years after the events of Prometheus, aboard the ship named Covenant. It is a colony ship, with a ship ton of bodies on board while asleep. There are also hundreds of embryos frozen and about 15 or so crew members to run the thing if problems arise or when they get close to the new planet. Lastly, they have a lovely robot helper to run their ship while they sleep in Walter (Michael Fassbender), who is totally different than David from Prometheus!

Sure enough, some bad stuff happens, their voyage gets stopped, they have to make repairs, and their captain dies! Oh no! Now Oram (Billy Crudup) is in charge, and he wants them to get back on schedule asap before more bad stuff happens. Daniels (Katherine Waterston) is the new second in command, and she was also in a relationship with the captain so she is pretty upset. Tennessee (Danny McBride) is their pilot/tech guy or something and Lope (Demián Bichir) is some sort of head of security, maybe.

While doing repairs, they received a faded distress beacon from a place not too far away, and according to scanners it is ALSO a perfect planet for them to live at. They decide it is their duty to check it out, saving them 7 years on a different awesome planet would be sweet. Once they get there though, spores, aliens, a lot of problems. But hey, they also meet David, so we get to find out what happened after Prometheus. Ain’t that swell?

And here is a bunch of the crew actors! Alexander England, Benjamin Rigby, Uli Latukefu, Tess Haubrich, Carmen Ejogo, Jussie Smollett, Callie Hernandez, Amy Seimetz, and Nathaniel Dean. With maybe, MAYBE, about 2 minutes of screen time for James Franco.

Birth
Front chest bursting is so 30 years ago.

Alien: Covenant is a film that wants to explore some pretty deep questions in a hypothetical setting. It wants to talk about Rogue AI. It wants to talk about where we came from (like Prometheus before it). It wants to talk about the next stages of evolution for beings. It wants to talk about what it means to be a creator of life, a mother, without necessarily giving birth in the traditional sense. It wants to play on human emotions at the loss of a loved one (because straight up every crew member is apparently in a relationship with another crew member). A lot of good discussions and themes can arise from this film, some of which is subtle and some of which is blasted across the screen into your faceholes.

But you know what Alien: Covenant does not feel like? An Alien movie. Oh, we get a least one Xenomorph in this film, but it kind of sucks. It is defeated easily, with the smaller aliens seemingly posing a bigger challenge. And this movie isn’t scary. We got some gross scenes? Yeah, a bit, but I have seen a lot worse. We have some people flipping their shit of course. And we have a lot of crew members make terrible decisions over and over again, a big problem with Prometheus. But I never really felt scared. I never really felt the tension.

The best elements from Covenant would fall under the Drama Genre, which would be fine if that was the goal of this film, to make it a drama. This is a franchise known for changing its genre between films, and it could have really fucking worked (although, admittedly, people would probably still be disappointed). But it still tries to hype up its action and horror moments which for the most part just fall flat.

The best part of the movie is Fassbender and Fassbender, including the best scenes where he has to act with himself. I probably said something similar in the last movie about the “best parts”. But the twists feel obvious, McBride isn’t even used as a comic relief, it is setting up for a future movie (which I will note I have no idea where it really wants go with), and above all, just not as good as most people would have hoped.

But hey, Ridley Scott wants to make like, six more of these, and he is super old, so I guess that is what will happen.

2 out of 4.

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

It has been five years since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 hit our theater screens and ended the Snape is great series. Seven books, eight films, and honestly, it ended it a bit lamer thanks to the split in my mind. But I am over there.

But what if there were more books out there to milk the franchise? I remember when I was a kid when the books were only four volumes deep. My parent gave me Christmas presents, and in them included Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them and Quidditch Through The Ages. Two strange Harry Potter spin off books, one basically just talking about made up creatures, the other talking about a made up sports history. I read them, forgot about them, and moved on with my life.

And now look. Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them is now a movie, a movie based on a book of just made up creatures with no plot whatsoever. Not only that, but it will be FIVE films. And I am okay with it. Mostly because it basically can be whatever it wants to be without getting in anyone’s way. People who read the bestiary won’t get angry that it doesn’t match the book, because there is nothing to match. We can get more magic, without going about it in a weird way, and not involving Potter at all. Awesome. Well done.

Beasts
Ah, there is a beast right there! I found it!

FBaWtFT is set in the mid 1920’s and in America! Yay America! Our hero is Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), a slightly weird looking wizard with a weirder suitcase. It keeps coming undone, has a broken lock, and of course it is magical. Inside that briefcase he has a large collections of, well, fantastic beasts. They are creatures he has saved or is studying. He has gotten to America in order to bring one of his biggest specimens to Arizona, for its wide open skies and climate.

But things immediately go wrong when one of his creatures gets out. This leads him to bumping into Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), a Non-Maj (non magic user, american wizard term for muggle). A guy who just wants to get a loan to become a baker. Their suitcases get mixed up, and Kowalski unknowingly lets some more beasts into NYC. They are followed by Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterson), a government magic employee who wants to bring Scamander in for his suitcase and for being undocumented. Needless to say in the mix up, she ends up helping Scamander and Kowalski get the beasts back, along with her sister Queenie (Alison Sudol).

While all this is happening? There is a bad wizard out there, Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) and causing problems. There is also a magical bad creature wrecking havoc occasionally on NYC, who the magic president (Carmen Ejogo) is going to go and blame on Scamander too.

There is also a relevant plot of a anti-witch woman (Samantha Morton) who is using her orphans or real kids (not sure) to spread witch hysteria. She is also mean to the kids, including the oldest and most emo looking (Ezra Miller). Also there is a littler girl who is important (Faith Wood-Blagrove).

Also featuring Colin Farrell and a heavily CGI’d Ron Perlman!

Suitcase
Heavily CGI’d because Ron Perlman plays that suitcase!

Fantastic Beasts has a lot riding on it. It is the first film of a franchise they want to start, and if it bombs or fails to set up the world they aren’t going to get filthy rich! Also, thankfully, Harry Potter fans eat up anything world related regardless of quality, which is why some shitty book like Harry Potter and the Cursed Child* can somehow win best fantasy book on Goodreads.

With that introduction, Fantastic Beasts wasn’t terrible, it just wasn’t amazing either.

The cast was eclectic, but also felt over stuffed. We had four protagonists really, of which Queenie didn’t seem to do a whole lot. Our Non-Maj was funny, but even he didn’t help with the final encounter (despite a conversation with Queenie about how they were all in it together). They didn’t even show him at the same scene, so I am not sure what the point was. Tina was a character that had her backstory eluded to and explained, but she really had the personality of a wet noodle. It isn’t a bunch of exciting leads like it was with Harry Potter.

In terms of twists, there are technically two of them. The one more important to the plot I didn’t see coming, but the other one by the end felt extremely obvious from one of the first real scenes. It was an annoying reveal, given the circumstances. The ending had a few deus ex machina moments, and was extremely rushed given the overall pace of the film. Editing was surely an issue, given that it was over two hours but still felt like it didn’t give all the important details.

On all of those notes, I did enjoy Redmayne as the lead. His character felt different but not over the top. The beasts shown were diverse and fantastic looking. But I don’t appreciate that the answer to “where to find them” is apparently in his brief case. There is no hunting of beasts in their natural habitat at all. Well, maybe one. The visuals were fun, the briefcase gag was used well, and there were a few cute moments.

Overall, I have no idea where this franchise is going, but I am certain soon it will eventually give us a young Dumbledore, so that is fun.

2 out of 4.

* – I haven’t read this one yet. I am assuming it is bad though. Judging a book by its cover. I can do that for books, just never movies!

Steve Jobs

Few people are lucky enough to have a film be made on their life. For the most part, they have to wait til they are both dead and a decade or so after they kick the bucket. Obviously, some people wait hundreds of years, because they are old famous people and movies weren’t a thing in the 1600s.

Steve Jobs is a luckier than most men (outside of the being dead from Cancer thing). He had two movies about his life in the last two years! And he only died four years ago! Not only does he have Jobs and now Steve Jobs, he also had quite a few documentaries.

It is clear that Steve was a living legend who had tons of stories about him. It is true that he was a flawed character with a lot of issues, problems, and broken friendships. But he also did a lot of good things, so this makes him an interesting character for people to want to see.

Now, this movie was delayed for awhile. Blame Ashton Kutcher. But at a time, this was supposed to be directed by David Fincher and starring Christian Bale. The script was always Aaron Sorkin I believe.

Fwends
I believe that Seth Rogen can play a character who doesn’t get high at all. I believe it so much.

1984. 1988. 1998. These 3 years were some of the most pivotal in Steve Jobs’ (Michael Fassbender) life. There were tons of big moments before and after of course. Before that he helped build a computer with Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen) and helped create Apple into a powerhouse corporation. There was the failed computer the Lisa. After 1998 he introduce the iPod and the iPhone, crazy popular Apple products in our current era.

But in 1984 he was about to introduce the Macintosh computer, after the best Super Bowl Ad ever. Sure he came to the team late, but he is a visionary damn it. In 1988 he was going to release the NEXT computer, a perfect cube, away from Apple due to the falling out after the Macintosh. And in 1998, his triumphant return to Apple, about to release the iMac computer. He wanted to make the products sexy again. That may have been a line from Jobs, whoops.

Each setting of the film, each roughly the same length in time, takes place the the minutes before his press conference, with all the drama and tension of his life coming together to fuck with him. That includes Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterston), a former lover who always needs more money from him, to take care of the daughter he originally doesn’t claim to be his. It also involves an Apple CEO, John Sculley (Jeff Daniels). There is Andy Hertzfeld (Michael Stuhlbarg), one of the better computer engineers, and Avie Tevanian (Adam Shapiro) a different engineer. His ever faithful assistant/planner Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet), a tech reporter (John Ortiz), and of course his daughter, Lisa (Makenzie Moss, Ripley Sobo, Perla Haney-Jardine).

I didn’t remention Wozniak, but he is totally hanging around each time too. But I kept the above vague so you could hear the major players but not the many of their plot lines. Because I care and I am not an asshole CEO, like some people.

Vision
“How big is my metaphorical penis you ask?”

I am a big fan of Sorkin’s writing. The dialogue between characters is often quick and forces me to stay on my toes. Several times in the film, standing on my toes didn’t seem to be good enough. The conversations at point were so rapid fire that I practically had to dance to avoid the bullets from striking my legs, like a western stereotype. I think that metaphor works, if not, re-read it and think harder. The best way to describe some of these scenes would be an intense action fight, with words as bullets. I rarely feel that tense during a drama, let alone a biography.

The acting was definitely on point in this film. This is some of Rogen’s best work. Daniels had one majorly great scene with Fassbender. Stuhlbarg? I don’t know anything about Stuhlbarg, but he did a great job. I didn’t even recognize Winslet the whole film, that’s how in character and different she was. And of course, Fassbender. Early on, it just looked like Fassbender acting in a film, but somehow during the movie, he transformed so fully into Steve Jobs that I couldn’t remember who was the main actor. Of course by the end he looks so much like Jobs that it is easy, but I am talking before that, when he still had longer hair. He nailed the shit out of the role.

For comparison sakes, Kutcher did a great job as Jobs too. He had a walk, he went fully into character, but I usually thought it was still just Kutcher. But Fassbender still did a better job. And besides, I saw Fassbender’s penis in that one movie, so for most comparisons he is sure to win.

A lot of this is highly fabricated. The plot lines are real, but there is no way the timing worked for most of this. Regardless, where it excelled was how true to life they made his character. Jobs was egotistical, a know-it-all-, an asshole and a dick. He wasn’t the most pleasant person to work with and that all came across in the film. This wasn’t some fluff piece. This just tried to present the man behind the myth, flaws and perfections and everything in between.

One final comparison: This is not as good as The Social Network. Sorkin is the common link between the two, and the fact that they are both based on real people. I am not saying Fincher is the reason and that Danny Boyle could not pull off a better movie. It was fine, and even if Fincher directed this it probably wouldn’t have been as good. Just don’t go in expecting that and you should enjoy the show.

4 out of 4.

Inherent Vice

I was excited to watch Inherent Vice, because the internet told me to be excited about Inherent Vice. It was some sleek 1970s-esque drama/mystery, complete with Private Eye and missing people. It had a sexy poster and a lot of famous people in it.

I honestly didn’t see too much advertising outside of the internet, but it was also by a well respected director. Paul Thomas Anderson has made quite a few good films, all of them well acted, very well loved.

So despite it taking me, I dunno, two or so months after it first started coming out to theaters, I have finally gotten around to seeing it!

And then, uh, I saw it and left quite disappointed.

Prude
I am probably just a prude like this lady here.

Here is what I pieced together.

Larry “Doc” Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) is a private investigator, a man with sideburns, and someone who loves women, drugs, and other hippie behavior. His ex lady Shasta Fay Hepworth (Katherine Waterston) is now sleeping with a real estate mogul Michael Z. Wolfmann (Eric Roberts). His wife doesn’t like the affair and might be planning something drastic.

Also, unrelated, Tariq Khalil (Michael Kenneth Williams) wants Doc to find his friend, a member of an Aryan gang. The man who also is a bodyguard of Mr. Wolfmann. Oh man. The plot thickens.

Either way, these two inquiries lead Doc on a strange and drug fueled path, featuring death, framing, cunnilingus, sex, more drugs, and more drugs again. Also featuring Hong Chau, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Martin Short, Josh Brolin, Maya Rudolph and Benicio Del Toro.

Shock
My face when I found out the side burns had their own place in the credits.

I think the main point of Inherent Vice is to tell a decade appropriate story with a decade appropriate amount of drugs and hazy memory. The story feels disjointed because of how messed up the characters actually are. I’d say it is like an unreliable narrator, but I am not even sure who the narrator was, just a woman.

And I hated it. I don’t care how accurate the experience is, it just makes me feel uncomfortable. Which again, is probably the point. But these are feelings I don’t want to feel, the feelings of confusion.

The set is fine. The acting is fine. The music is good. But the story I found impossible to get into. For the most part it just felt like two characters talking to each other and uhh then the next scene. I like dramas, I like talking, I just could do absolutely nothing with this one.

1 out of 4.

The Babysitters

I feel like just by having the title The Babysitters (and knowing that it is R) is enough of a reason to make some of the readers instantly interested in this movie.

Pervs, how dare you!

I however knew the basic plot before I saw this one (and is why I saw it, I guess). So jokes back on me, hah!

Club
And it features a club of the babysitters. Sort of like that other movie/book series.

The reason I wanted to watch this movie was of course because John Leguizamo was in it and NOT doing a weird voice. What? That has only happened like, once before, and during that movie he had to fight tree pollen.

But instead, at the beginning of this movie he gets into an affair. Yes, even with a wife and two kids at home. With his babysitter, Shirley (Katherine Waterston), a junior in high school. Oh yeah, so she is underage. And it is from her point of view, not his.

Happening on a whim, she finds that the increased money in her possession is a good thing, and does it a few more times with him. Eventually he has a “Friend” who would also like babysitting, so she gets her friend Melissa (Lauren Birkell) to join in, getting a percentage of her take for setting it up, of course. But then they get more business, and have to get their other friend Brenda (Louisa Krause), who gets her sister in. And then some other girls. And other clients. But you see where this is going.

Of course any proper brothel like ring won’t happen without the normal problems. Such as ladies trying to leave to start their own business, or men who tell too many people, or men who are too aggressive. These are all problems that must be dealt with. You know, by teenage girls. Also, John Leguizamo is kind of falling in love with Shirley. He also didn’t like her babysitting for other guys.

Seduction Eyes
These are her seduction eyes.

I should note that I was actually surprised that in a movie of this caliber that there would be nudity, but it happened. After all, they are “teens”. But hey, you know.

Clearly this movie questions a lot of morals, and even has a twist of some sort at the end to try and put it all in perspective. But I feel like it doesn’t do enough. There is not a real defining moment in the movie when a character mentions how bad all of this is, and tries to end it. Nor is the emotional damage afflicted on either side of the line dealt with in any real way.

In fact, the ending kind of sweeps it all under the rug, and ignores some things. The acting isn’t the best either, except surprisingly John Leguizamo does do a good job. Again, this is using his normal John voice, no impressions, so that might be a first. I didn’t like the ending or the twist. The only reason it gets a decent rating is that the story did captivate me from beginning to end, it just could have been so much better.

2 out of 4.