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.

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.

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.

Touched With Fire

Just like you, I didn’t know a lot about Touched With Fire before watching it. (Okay, I guess for most of you, you probably haven’t seen it either). Virtually no advertising, a super limited release, and well, that is all that I need to say.

It is of course based on a book, and some people thought the book was good enough to be a movie. [Editor’s note: The movie isn’t the book, they just use the real research book with this title. Check it out!]

According to some article on the internet, this whole movie might be a big fuck you to Scientology from Katie Holmes, some how. So let’s go in with that excitement!

I didn’t read the article. I don’t know how to read.

Carla (Katie Holmes) once ran out into the desert with some friends in college, and forced herself to stare at the sun. This is technically not relevant, but it is a good starting off point. She is a poet, and she is manic depressive. She has been living on her own, but she went off of her meds again and accidentally checked herself into a psychiatric hospital.

But at the hospital, she met Marco/Luna (Luke Kirby), who also finds himself checked in on the same day. Not to make light of his situation, but he is obsessed with the moon and believes he comes from another planet. He is also a poet, but more of a rapper, and he understands that most of the great artists and poets of the last hundred years have been manic.

Needless to say, they fall in love. Kind of. They escalate each others conditions to a point of extreme mania, so they then find themselves separated, depressed, and longing to find each other again.

Carla’s parents are played by Christine Lahti and Bruce Altman, and Marco’s dad is Griffin Dunne. Also Maryann Urbano plays their doctor.

Stars. Moons. And this painting. Alien theory checks out!

When they first introduced Luna, I hated him immediately. I thought the movie was trying too hard. The camera kept moving like someone had just run up a flight of stairs and couldn’t keep it straight. I assume to show his current state of mind, but it just pissed me off and I was hoping he wouldn’t have a big role.

But as the film continued, he grew on me. Carla grew on me. The two embracing their condition, not seeing it as an illness or a crutch, but living their lives without drugs or help. I was right there with them. I was thinking “Man, fuck these doctors. Fuck their parents for trying to ‘help!’ Just let them love each other, damn it!” And thus, the movie had me right where it wanted.

I got caught up in the emotions and was cheering for ill people to not get help. It was a weird position in retrospect to be in, but damn, the acting from Kirby and Holmes came out strong and I was left unprepared. Hell, Kirby reminded me of a young Mark Ruffalo, but I don’t know if that is just his general look or because he was recently bipolar in Infinitely Polar Bear. It was a roller coaster. Because they were manics, they were constantly going to extremes and it perfectly captured everything for the viewer.

And yes, there are some disturbing scenes as well. This is a drama, not a happy comedy.

It is well acted from the leads, a good job from everyone overall.

3 out of 4.

Woman In Gold

I felt a bit bad, reviewing Self/Less, talking about how it was Ryan Reynold‘s forth movie for the year, and realizing that I skipped two of them in the process, only reviewing The Voices.

I’m sorry Ryan. We’re still cool right? I am going to make it up to you by reviewing Woman In Gold right away (whenever this gets posted). For your non-Ryan Reynolds readers out there, yes, I am almost certain Ryan reads these reviews. Don’t be jelly.

Despite the lateness of this review, after watching two disappointing films about a Woman in Black, I am excited to see what one wearing Gold can pull off.

Oh no, she has some black on her as well! Oh nooooo!

Tie your shoes, folks. There are Nazis in this movie.

This film takes place during World War II and during modern times! As you may have heard, the Nazis stole a lot of artwork during the wars. There was a very mediocre movie about protecting that artwork. And at least one Simpsons episode about having stolen artwork! This is about one woman’s true story to get a painting back.

You see, Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren) is from Austria, but when she was a young girl she was played by Tatiana Manslany. Her Aunt was beautiful and also the subject of the very real Woman In Gold painting! Well, to make a long story short, they had to flee the city thanks to the Nazis, some people were killed, and in a will from the Aunt, the painting was donated to an Austrian museum and is now considered a national treasure.

But the will shouldn’t be legal, as it wasn’t the Aunt’s painting to give! And since Maria is the only family left, she wants her dang painting back, because it belongs to her family and it is the right thing to do.

However, she needs help. So she gets some random inexperienced lawyer (Reynolds) to work on their case. And so they have to go back to Austria, then America, then a lot of American courts, then Austrian courts, and eventually hey they win and she gets the painting back the end. This is the only expected outcome, if you didn’t know that this true story would end happy, you are silly.

Also staring Daniel Brühl, Max Irons, and Katie Holmes in the role of “wife to important character that isn’t an important role” that is quite common in…so many damn movies.

In this movie, Reynolds acts as a man with imperfect vision.

Woman In Gold is not everything you’d expect it to be, but actually a bit less. If anything, the trailer makes it looks like it would be an exciting courtroom drama, about freedoms and the right thing happening. About taking down the big bad country lawyers with a small town boy, in a trial worth millions!

Unfortunately, the whole story seems to take a backstage to a few flashbacks in Austria, about love, war, and paintings. Very little characterization is given to the now. Instead it is all set in the past, with characters the viewer will care a lot less about. We already know what more or less happens in Austria at the start of the film. Our main character lands in America, her family has to die for the painting to be taken, and you know, World War II. But at least a third or more of the film takes place in the flashbacks, leaving me bored and ready for excitement.

And excitement I thought I was finally about to get with 40 minutes left! We had a real court scene coming up. Time for witnesses, deliberation, objections, and yelling! Maybe some bribes too. No, none of that. All of the court scenes are incredibly short, dealing with maybe one issue, and then they move on. The reason we get so many court scenes is just because of all the levels of court they have to go through: to the USA Supreme Court then back to Austria.

And it is the dullest of experiences. The real life story probably has some exciting moments, but they go an incredibly safe route with the entire film and instead we get a boring disaster. And the worst part is, Reynolds and Mirren do a fine job acting in this movie. Too bad no one would care by the end.

1 out of 4.

The Giver

Raise your hand if you never read The Giver?

Since I am writing this before you read this, and it is the internet, I can properly assume no one raised their hand when I asked the question. Seriously. This is one of those books that tends to frequent everyone’s elementary or middle school experience. I know for certain I had to read it twice in middle school thanks to moving in between.

I don’t have an issue with them turning a literary classic into a movie like a lot of weird people do. No. I am just annoyed that this introduces biases to my review. I try my hardest to make sure the movie review only takes the movie into account, not to compare it to the book or whatever. The best way to do this is to rarely read books. Hell, a good friend basically demanded I read Ready Player One, but I knew it was becoming a movie, so I had to decline a few times. But damn middle school. Messing up my biases. At least I didn’t love the book, only thought it was okay.

But turning everyone into a wannabe pirate was probably a good change.

In this future world, the world was ruined by something I think they called The Ruin. Now people live in communities and celebrate samness. They all dress the same, have similar households, age at the same time, all that fun stuff. No one gets extra toys or unique anything. Shit, they all get their bikes at 9 years old.

Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) is about to turn 18, and thus find out what his job is going to be for the rest of his life! He has no idea, because he has never really felt like he liked anything in particular. Well, turns out Jonas is fucking special. He gets to be the new Receiver of Memories! Yay!

Yeah, the job title doesn’t sound as cool as nuclear physicist or body builder, but apparently it is one of the highest jobs of a society. After all, his friends Fiona (Odeya Rush) and Asher (Cameron Monaghan) got stuck with nurturer and drone pilot (Wat) respectfully.

The Receiver of Memories is the only person in a community who knows about the world before hand. Who knows about colors, emotions, war, poverty, hunger, love, happiness, grief, warmth. All of this stuff. And Jonas is going to have to experience this all for the first time and become a member of the council to supply a wisdom that everyone else is secluded from. And the guy who previously had the job (Jeff Bridges)? Well, I guess he is The Giver now.

Also, Meryl Streep is the Chief Elder, Alexander Skarsgard, Katie Holmes and Emma Tremblay make up Jonas’ family unit, and Taylor Swift is also lurking around.

Yep! There she is! For her minute or so of screen time!

For all those book lovers, loving this book is not a good reason to see the movie. That’s right. It is very different from the book. Feel free to complain elsewhere on the internet, for I don’t care.

What I do care about is a movie telling a good story, even if it changes from the source material. And you know what? This one doesn’t.

First off, the film is rushed. The movie is 94 minutes with credits. That means it is under an hour an a half, and it has to spend time building up a world/society, having a character learn everything is wrong, and of course, try to change things. That is definitely not enough time. Some people say this movie was finally made because of the recent success of other dystopian teen movies. They have various qualities that make them a success, but they are all also well over two hours in order to tell a complete story.

A lot of this movie feels half assed, especially from Streep and Holmes. Apparently Bridges was trying to get this movie made for decades and I guess he was the best part, but he was surrounded by crap. On an overall spectrum, I wouldn’t even put his performance as great.

Shit, even the editing was bad. I remember a scene with the sister after dancing, she says a line but her mouth doesn’t move, only smiles. That was super awkward.

Fans of the book will hate this movie because it is different enough from the book. In reality, they should hate this movie because it is a shitty movie.

1 out of 4.

The Extra Man

The Extra Man is one of those films I just threw in and said, “NOW ENTERTAIN ME MYSTERIOUS MOVIE!”. I tend to yell at inanimate things. Less feelings are hurt.

What I didn’t know was how weirdly unique everything about this movie would be. Hooray!

Extra Man
Take it all in. Slowly, while everything seems normal.

The movie begins with one Louis (Paul Dano) teaching at a small college literature. Kind of guy who loves the Great Gatsby, and novels from the 20s. Generally loves everything from that period, and wishes he could live there. Even wishes he had nonchalant narrators narrating his life, and often thinks of it. Well, due to downsizing he no longer has his job, and probably has nothing to do with the fact that he was trying on another professors bra.

So a guy has an urge to wear women clothing on occasion, surely that isn’t a big deal? He decides the need to find himself, he answers an add for a room with a cantankerous older gentleman, Henry Harrison (Kevin Kline) who is very proper and sophisticated. He also is an “Extra man”, or someone who accompanies older women on nights out on the town, like a prostitute, without the sex. Speaking of sex, no weird sex stuff goes on his place, it would not be appropriate. He also meets one of the neighbors, Gershon Gruen (John C. Reilly) who helps “lift things” and is very secretive.

Louis ends up getting a job working for an environmentalist magazine, pretending to be very green and environmentally friendly, thanks to the boss man (John Pankow), and is happy to find a very cute vegan coworker (Katie Holmes) who is seeing an activist. Damn it.

But during all this, Louis is learning the city through his roommate, and learning a lot more than he thought possible. He even dreams of one day also being an Extra Man, so that he can experience the lash and luxuries that he just seems so naturally suited for, including seducing one of the richest, Vivian (Marian Seldes) and meeting women of a similar position (Celia Weston).

So can he be a successful gentleman? Or will he continue to explore his fascination with lady garments? Or will he change himself completely for a VEGAN?

He is more human when he sings.

So a lot is going on in this movie, told from the point of view of Louis, despite being a book about the Henry. Hey, whatever, I don’t care ’bout no book.

I was finding it all incredibly interesting, despite not knowing what the heck was the end game. But I thought the film lost a bit of steam as it tried to end. Some plot lines dropped quickly, and I wanted them to be more explored more, damn it. Something about it, just made me a bit disappointed. If the ending was a bit better, it’d be a 3 for sure.

2 out of 4.

Jack and Jill

Generally when you sit down to watch a movie (like Jack and Jill), knowing that it was nominated for the most Razzies of the films that year, you might go in thinking it will be bad. Which is understandable, can’t avoid it. If you haven’t heard of the Razzies, you might have guessed it by the the many commercial previews for it, that looked bad.

Well, yeah. It was. But how bad? A lot of the times bad movies by Hollywood standards are considered rage inducing bad, with people carrying their pitchforks to take down the director, but they are also fueled mostly by people who hadn’t seen the movie. That will always happen, forever, because the general reasoning is “No, why would I want to watch that? Its bad!” The whole reason for this website, pretty much, to fight that behavior.

Jack and jill theater
So let us all go watch supposedly bad movies anyways, just to make sure its not a conspiracy!

So Adam Sandler plays Jack, a sort of successful commercial director/advertisement agency thing. Thanksgiving is coming up, also known as the annual visit from his twin sister, Jill. Why do they look identical minus hair and stuff? No idea, shits impossible. She used to live in the Bronx with their mom, but now that she is dead, it has been only her and her bird. So she is lonely. That is most of the plot really, his twin sister is annoying, but just trying to be less lonely and sad.

Jack’s family involves his wife (Katie Holmes), his daughter (Elodie Tougne), and adopted son (Rohan Chand).

His boss is played by Tim Meadows, and his atheist assistant is Nick Swardson. The big problem they are facing is that Dunken Donuts wants to pull away from their company, their biggest client,if they cannot get Al Pacino to be in their new commercial product line for a “Dunkacino”. But that is Al Pacino, there is no way they could get him to do something so silly. [I think I just got that the commercial is a metaphor for this movie?]

Al Pacino, playing himself, falls in love with Jill, who keeps making excuses to stay around, and eventually Jack realizes he can use Jill to land Al Pacino (Even if she finds him repulsive). Eventually everyone learns to love each other, and yay family.

Pacino and jill
It makes me cry a bit knowing this is a real scene in a real movie.

So, I did find parts of the film funny. The ending with Jack and Pacino watching the commercial and talking about how it must be destroyed, I assume is about the movie, and was funny. The opening and beginning had actual twins talking about their lives (I assume the stories weren’t made up) which was neat. Jack also had some nice lines at his sisters expense early on in the film. Obviously Sandler as Jill was annoying and horrendous. So he pretty much ruined all of his jokes, by having her react to them in the manner that she did.

But besides that,I thought Katie Holmes was the worst part of this movie. She felt so fake, and did just a bad job at appearing concerned and caring. Seriously. Her facial expressions were the worst. Al Pacino as himself also hit a nerve. Sometimes he was amusing, but his deep fascination with Jill, on a level compared to stalking wasn’t as good as his general anger towards other things in Hollywood.

Lot of cameos in this movie, and thought Norm MacDonald‘s was the best.

So worst movie ever? Nah. Bad? Sure, definitely. Would have been the same result if it wasn’t twins and Adam Sandler just played the role of an annoying sister. Well, at least kids will like it.

1 out of 4.

Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark

Before watching, I had no idea that Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark was made by Guillermo del Toro, but finding that information out now makes perfect sense. The visua style, the creatures, and the use of a little girl in danger to make a movie.

Peek a boo
Pan’s Labyrinth is about a long game of Peek-a-Boo, right?

The story begins sometime long in the past, and it is creepy, so lets ignore that. Bailee Madison is moving into this mansion with her dad, Guy Pearce, and his girlfriend, Katie Holmes. Pace is creepy. Belonged to some past lord a long time ago who did paintings and stuff. They currently have it just to try and sell it to people who love that dead dude. I think I got all of that right

But her room is creepy. She even hears voices. The hidden basement and fireplace is where they come from too, and despite the groundkeepers best wishes, they go down there anyways to check it out. Yeah, then shit eventually starts to go down. More or less, these gremlin/goblin like things (that hate light), used to steal teeth from children and leave money. Or something like that. Also they can turn other people into them, if they do please. So they see Bailee and go balls to the walls nuts. They want her bad. But no one will believe her, since they hide!

And then the horror movie happens. Stuff is creepy, people die, and eventually it concludes. Kind of.

Gremlin shit
Kind of like rat creatures from Bone.

This is probably the first Horror movie I watched that actually scared me. Most ended up being kind of a joke, or Scream 4, and going for gore over fear. But I am also a self-admitted coward, so who knows, it might be very tame for others. Only thing I would say is that I wish this had more of a story to go with it, and more of a “just them vs the girl” mentality.

2 out of 4.