Isle of Dogs

Fantastic Mr. Fox came out in 2009. It was not my first Wes Anderson movie, but it was the first Wes Anderson movie I really, really loved. Not saying I hated everything before it, no. In fact, at that time, I only had seen one of his movies which was The Royal Tenebaums. I maybe saw it too young and was not ready for its quirks, and still haven’t seen it for redemption, but I didn’t love it. The fox though? Yes. Every one of his movies since then? Yes.

But this is something different and special. This is 9 years later, and another goddamn animated stop motion movie. Can he recreate the magic of Fantastic Mr. Fox but with Isle of Dogs? More talking animals?!

At least with his last one, it was based on a previous book. But this is a new idea, based on dogs, a culture that isn’t his, and a sort of throwback to a cinema that he loves. I was certainly excited again, especially given how much shit 2017 gave us for the animated category.

Dogs
Can I have all of these doggos? Please tell me no doggos actually die.

Set in the fictional future of some world that is similar to our own, we have to go to Megasaki City to find our story. In this city, the new mayor, Kobayashi (Kunichi Nomura), is from a family with a long hatred of dogs. They are cat people and want to get rid of dogs forever! Well, that is great, because these dogs are gaining some sort of dog virus and snout flu, which has the ability to transfer over to humans! He declares that all dogs in the city must be sent over to Trash Island, in order to quarantine them until a cure can be found. Speaking of cures, Professor Watanabe (Akira Ito) thinks he is really close to getting a cure and hopes everyone will wait. But mobs be mobbin’, yo. And the dogs start getting sent that very night.

And now, a few months later, the island gets a non furry visitor. Atari Kobayashi (Koyu Rankin), a young boy who is ward of the mayor, has crashed a tiny plane in the island, in hopes of finding his old dog Spots (Liev Schreiber) location. Although dogs cannot speak any form of human language, we the viewer are happy to note that the film translates their language into English! Yay!

He finds a group of alpha dogs to help him on his quest. These dogs include Chief (Bryan Cranston), Rex (Edward Norton), King (Bob Balaban), Boss (Bill Murray), and Duke (Jeff Goldbloom).

Can these dogs find the missing dog for this little human boy? Can they also cure the dog flu, and put an end to this corrupt mayor? Well, maybe. I don’t know. Or if I did, I wouldn’t tell you.

Also starring the voices of Courtney B. Vance, Tilda Swinton, Yoko Ono, Ken Watanabe, Akira Takayama, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Scarlett Johansson, Harvey Keitel, and F. Murray Abraham.

Sling
The human has thumbs so he can do some interesting things with them.

I loved, loved, loved Isle of Dogs. A lot, very much so. Before I get into those details, lets talk about the controversy.

You see, there is a lot of talk of white savior complex, cultural appropriation, and more going on with this movie. It is set in a fictional future dystopian-esque Japan, or at least one city in Japan. And coming from a place of white privilege and all of that, I can honestly say I really don’t see it at all. The white savior thing just seems like it would be assumed by people who read a plot outline, not watched the film, because it is no where close to the normal problematic levels. The other issues I just also really can’t see well. I can’t say that they aren’t true, because I certainly don’t speak for Japanese people or their culture, but I can say that I didn’t really get that vibe at any point, and didn’t affect me negatively either for this movie.

Back to the film! Holy shit dogs!

What a totally immersive story. There were little quirks here and there that could remind you of it being a film, especially when it came to the various translation methods, but I just wanted to live there and run around and frolic despite all of the bad things that were going down. The dogs in particular all have their own personality and jokes that surround them, for good quick laughs.

I really enjoyed that I couldn’t understand the entire film. The Japanese characters spoke Japanese, and didn’t always have a reason to be translated or subtitled, and during those times, well, if you knew Japanese you could follow 100%. The audience was required to watch the facial expressions and to hear obvious key words to make sure we could follow. It was great to not get everything super dumbed down.

Isle of Dogs is an interesting adventure, a unique tale, and a story that just seems to have so many tiny perfect details that it would be fun to watch over and over again. Until though, I will just settle for a rewatch of Fantastic Mr. Fox.

4 out of 4.

Goon: Last of the Enforcers

I. Love. Goon.

I did not do a best of list of 2011, but if I did, Goon would have certainly been on in it. It was such a surprise of a film. I don’t except a lot out of hockey movies, nor do I expect a lot out of Seann William Scott films, but something magical came together to give a movie that was hilarious, brutal, but still full of heart at the same time. And it told a different sort of hockey story. A different sort of underdog.

It was the perfect storm.

And then they said there would be a sequel. This time it would be written and directed by Jay Baruchel who wrote the first film. It would be Goon: Last of the Enforcers and it would come out eventually.

So it took six years yes. And Canada had it released in theaters briefly in March with no knowledge of when it would come to America, theatrically, DVD, or otherwise. And at some point it was just here, I saw the Blu-Ray at used movie store. I freaked out, excited, and scared.

As much as I loved Goon, I had big fears that a sequel would just be utter shit, as a lot of comedy sequels tend to do.

Train
Turning the whole thing from a comedy into a romance is a bold choice as well.

Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott) is ready to start a new season as a Halifax Highlander, but with a big change. He is going to be the captain. This upcoming season is a bit of a weird one, as there is a lockout in the NHL, so more and better players are in their league than normal and people are actually noticing them for once, including the media. They have a new owner, Hyrum Cain (Callum Keith Rennie) a former player himself.

During their first game, Glatt gets into a bloody fight with Anders Cain (Wyatt Russell), an up and coming violent winner, and yes, son of their new owner. Glatt gets his ass handed to him and his right arm injured, putting him out potentially for good. His right hand is so messed up, if he fights again, it will quickly get fractured and fuck it up permanently.

So Glatt is ready to retire on that note. Eva (Alison Pill), his now wife, is also pregnant and worried about him, so he gets a steady job in some insurance company. He hangs his skates up for his family, as the Highlanders begin to lose and lose. The owner makes changes that seem to threaten the franchise and the careers of his friends. That is not good. There is no way Glatt could come back, right? Not with an inability to fight. He would just have to be a player mostly. It might be crazy enough to work…

Also returning are basically everyone from before: Marc-Andre Grondlin, Liev Schreiber, Kim Coates, Jay Baruchel, Jonathan Cherry, George Tchortov, Karl Graboshas, Trent Pardy, and Richard Clark. It also brings in Elisha Cuthbert and T.J. Miller!

New Guy
New guy definitely wins the beard game if anything.

A lot of the same happens in the Goon sequel, thankfully. We still have the locker room playful banter that makes up a decent portion of the original. A lot of the skaters are the same. The old captain has retired and is now just a coach, along with the same old coach as well. Just a new owner, a new player, and the same supporting cast.

Pill’s character has changed for the worse. She is worried about her husband, and pregnant, but she really doesn’t get to have a lot of good moments unlike the first film. She rocked originally when she was a hot mess, but I guess it is development. Glatt feels like the same old character, which feels great, although the time between the films is a bit up in the air. I definitely enjoyed seeing Rhea in a roll that felt natural as well.

Unfortunately, Russell’s new antagonist, though threatening, was all over the place. They tried to place it all under just anger issues, but it is really hard to understand him as a person, and feels like he would just do what a writer wants, not like how an actual person might react.

Jokes are still there, they just didn’t hit as hard. Some really funny moments, but I have already forgotten basically every best moment, unlike the best moments from Goon which I have quoted for years.

All in all, it is just an okay film. It won’t tarnish the memory of the first film, but also, it is one I won’t ever need to go back and see again. Oh well. Just don’t make it a trilogy and end it poorly.

2 out of 4.

My Little Pony: The Movie

Over four years ago, I reviewed a film on a whim. I had to drive almost an hour to get to the theater (which meant something pre-Houston days), for the only screen time it was showing. Something like 12:30 pm on a Saturday. A very limited release, I guess you could say.

That movie was My Little Pony: Equestria Girls. It was my first foray into the subject. Oh, I heard about it before on the internet, and heard about bronies, but I never thought about watching the show before. I just went to see the movie because, damn it, I watch everything, so why not that as well? I went in blind. I didn’t have any background on the show.

Now sure, after it I watched a few episodes and thought it was okay. Nothing I would binge watch, but something I could watch occasionally. And now, years later, I have seen tons of episodes over seasons. I understand the characters now. I have made art with the characters. But I am still not up to some obsessed level with the show, because I haven’t seen most of it. Just parts of episodes here and there. The kids have seen a lot more than me.

But I feel qualified (As fuck!) to review My Little Pony: The Movie. New art style, same ponies, music, and fun. I was excited for this. I took my whole family to this. My youngest daughter, who is two? This is now her first movie ever seen in a movie theater.

I was excited and ready to go.

Friendship
I just really wanted to find out if Friendship was still magic.

The story starts us off with Twilight Sparkle (Tara Strong) and Spike (Cathy Weseluck), properly freaking out because there is about to be a Friendship Festival, with all the kingdoms and princess and even goddamn derpy all excited. They need to highlight friendship, so that everyone can be so fucking magical. For whatever reason, the highlight of the festival is a pony, Songbird Serenade (Sia) singing. She feels stressed, but it is okay, because she has her FRIENDS to help her. They got this. Rarity (Tabitha St. German), Applejack, Rainbow Dash (Ashleigh Ball), Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie (Andrea Libman).

Well, turns out friendship can’t do everything, all the time, right away. Because a few storm clouds start to gather, even though Twilight asked for good weather. Maybe she didn’t friend enough of the people?! Inside the storm clouds are some sweet airships, apparently led by Commander Tempest Shadow (Emily Blunt)! With a name like that, of course she is fucking evil. She is a unicorn, with a broken horn. The saddest. With a head minion Grubber (Michael Pena), they work for The Storm King (Liev Shreiber), and Tempest goes and freezes 3 of the princesses! I don’t even have to tell you which one is able to escape.

The last words they heard were to find the Queen of the Hippos. Huh. Okay. Well, if that is the way to save everyone, then that is what they will do. And on the way, they will find a singing cat (Taye Diggs), some bird sky pirates led (Zoe Saldana), some water horse thing (Kristin Chenoweth) and her mom (Uzo Aduba).

Friends
Guys. I think friendship is back on the table.

Like the subtitle suggests, this certainly is a whole movie. 100 minutes long, big adventure, tons of fun, a beautiful heart, that is faithful and strong with…um, kindness. That last bit will only make sense to some of you.

They have about five or six songs, the best one from Rainbow dash about being awesome. A couple of decent ones, and a few forgettable, including Sia’s songs. Which on that note, Sia is my first real dislike of the film. Oh cool, they made a pony that looks like…Sia as a horse. Why couldn’t they have just made a singing pony by Sia be a pony? Kind of just feels shoe horned.

The story and plot is actually pretty good while also still being easy to follow. It isn’t entirely original, but it does some good things. The biggest problem with the story comes from Twilight Sparkle, our main character. The writers just totally seem to disregard her. She acts totally out of character from my point of view. Why? to advance the plot. And that sort of thing can really anger someone.

In a movie one can easily argue about how a character would act. But with 7 seasons behind us, it is easy to figure out what Twilight would do. They could have set it up better to better explain her actions, but she comes across as stupid, shallow, and certainly not the PRINCESS. OF. FRIENDSHIP.

My other biggest gripe? A totally huge disparity when it comes to pony importance. Of course Twilight is the most important, sure. But not too far after her is Pinkie Pie in terms of lines, jokes, and plot advancement. Then not far after, Rainbow Dash. But after that? Much further down, very far down, come our other three ponies. They basically exist as extremely minor characters with an occasional joke or reference. It was odd. Balance the main characters before you add an equal number of characters for celebrity sake.

Fans of the show should still enjoy it, minus the straight up murder of Twlight’s actions. I’m sure I will end up watching it again.

2 out of 4.

Chuck

The show Chuck had a magnificent run of five seasons. It is incredible, because it had piss poor live ratings, despite a thriving fan community. It was a nerdy action comedy, a genre that doesn’t get a whole lot of love, especially on the TV.

I am glad it didn’t end too soon, but it is good to see it finally getting a movie as an add on.

Oh wait, shit. This movie, Chuck, is about something completely unrelated. And it was originally called The Bleeder. Well fuck, that sounds like a better title, and a title that wont get me super pumped up on Zachary Levi first. And it is a true story.

Well, I assume whoever this Chuck guy is, he better not secretly also be a spy.

Bleeder
I wonder why it might have been called The Bleeder.

Chuck Wepner (Liev Schreiber) from Bayonne, New Jersey, was a boxer, but it didn’t pay the bills. He had odd jobs, and selling liquor. But he was still a boxer first, he was known for surviving a long time in fights. He could really take a punch to the head. He was also nicknamed the Bayonne Bleeder, on account of how easy it was for his head to bleed, but he hated that nickname. He had fought against George Foreman and other notables, but he was finally getting on a hot streak.

Another person getting on a hot streak was Muhammad Ali (Pooch Hall), who just won the heavyweight champion title against the odds. And against even more odds, Don King wanted Ali to fight a white man, and Wepner was the highest ranked white heavyweight white man, so he got the gig. He was getting paid a lot less than Ali, but it was a lot of money from a bloke from Jersey, and he finally got to train full time.

But his bout with Ali was just the beginning. After that, he became a pseudo celebrity. And he even had a movie made about him. You may have heard about it? It was called Rocky, don’t cha know.

Ron Perlman played his manager/trainer, Elisabeth Moss was Wepner’s wife, Jim Gaffigan was his best friend, and Naomi Watts was his life. Also Jason Jones as another friend and Morgan Spector as young Sylvester Stallone.

Sly
“Eeyyy yo, Chuckie! I made some money!”

Chuck Wepner seems like a really interesting person. You gotta be built a certain way to just take a lot of punches and he used that to his advantage. He has a good story, and the story we were given broke the mold a bit. Because this is a boxing movie with arguably, not a lot of boxing. The fight with Ali was done with about 2/3 of the movie left to go, and the fight wasn’t done to showcase the excitement of boxing. It was just another part of the film.

No the real story of the movie is his life before and after the fight. And it got a little bit meta feeling, which I understand is the wrong word, when Rocky came out and how that changed Wepner’s life. I mean, we had a guy playing Stallone in this film, the production of Rocky 2 and more. We got to see his hard times, his bad personal life, and more. So it was bio drama first, then boxing movie second.

The first third of the movie was great, if not pretty standard. I will note after the Ali fight the film seemed to drag a bit more and I had no idea where it was going throughout it. Some okay moments, but they harped on a few of them just way too long. But the acting was fine, and they did a good job of trying to make everyone uglier to better represent New Jersey.

And overall, seeing Schreiber in this role felt really good. But what this movie really made me wonder is when the fuck will Goon: Last of the Enforcers come to America?

2 out of 4.

The 5th Wave

The 5th Wave, title alone, already pisses me off. I really wish it was spelled out as Fifth, and not the number. That is a minor complaint.

The title itself just comes with so much weight to it though. We are already on the 5th wave? Man, we just started though. That means four other waves happened and we need to catch the fuck up so we can be prepared for the next one.

I have been told it is decent book. It is a planned trilogy with the last one coming out this year. The producers liked it, one of them being Tobey Maguire, and signed it to a trilogy of films!

And you know what else? This is a quote from a critic. This is what the series should do. It “should do for aliens what Twilight did for vampires.” Oh god. Oh god no.

Love
Love at first scope sight.

Let’s get this done with. Aliens appeared. Circled the globe in a big ship. Then after awhile, all electricity stopped. Anything with a motor, all of it. That was wave #1. The 2nd wave was massive flooding caused by earthquakes. Took out most coastal cities and lakes also boiled over. The 3rd wave was a modified avian flu that took out tons of people. Most people who caught it died. The 4th wave involved the aliens taking over human bodies like parasites. Apparently they still look and act human but you don’t know who is out to get you!

Our hero is Casey (Chloe Grace Moretz) who used to be a normal high school girl. She had her crush on Ben (Nick Robinson), a BFF Liz (Gabriela Lopez, who I will say is barely in this movie, but I can’t imagine her not coming back eventually and I want to say I called it by tagging her in this review), loving parents (Ron Livingston, Maggie Siff) and little brother Sam (Zackary Arthur).

Eventually, shit goes bad, and Casey is alone. Her brother Sam was saved by the army, thankfully. That Colonel Vosch (Liev Schreiber) sure is a swell guy. Of course he is taking the kids to train them into soldiers to battle the Others (aliens!), where the 5th Wave is allegedly a full on attack. Oh boy.

Thankfully Casey runs into Evan Walker (Alex Roe) Mr. Farm Boy dream man, who saves her from dying alone on the highway. Turns out she is allergic to bullets. He has a thing for her, so he wants to help her get to the army base and reconvene with her brother. They just have to make it 60 miles on foot with alien snipers everywhere.

Also starring Maria Bello as an army person, and Maika Monroe as a fellow child soldier who would have bad ass tattooed on her actual ass if it wasn’t sexist.

Triangle
Is it? Can it be? Can it be a…LOVE TRIANGLE!?

The 5th Wave wasn’t very good. It could have been good. It had an interesting premise. I won’t say it was ruined only by teenage angst. No, there were a lot of issues, and teenage angst on its own is not an issue.

Plot wise, so many things occurred in the film due to poor decisions or badly explained reasons. How did Casey get separated from her parent and brother? Because of shit plot. Specifically when she was separated from Sam, it was one of the most badly done things I have ever seen. So much that it didn’t even make sense for her to get left behind. Aliens involved or not, the way they filmed it couldn’t have been more ridiculous.

After the introduction, we have two main plots. Casey on her own, and the training facility for kids. That is where we get to see high school crush Ben and her brother. Almost everything involved with the army base is cringe worthy. I think part of it is supposed to be, because they aren’t real soldiers, just kids. But it comes off as just awkward and stays that way. Only half the scenes with Casey are cringey, and unfortunately it is all of romantic interactions between her and Evan. Now, as a straight adult male, I can definitely see why Alex Roe was picked for Evan. He is dreamy and has facial hair and a somewhat slightly athletic build. But the chemistry between them is just awful.

A lot of the plot happens off screen it feels like. Like the 60 miles of traveling that the two apparently hiked through the woods relatively quickly. Or even worse, one aspect of the finale involving bombs. One of our characters apparently puts on a God Mode cheat and they become an invincible plot changing character, doing all these amazing things with ease, just to end the current conflict. The bad guys don’t even act bad in this film. Everyone is all talk and nothing terrible seems to happen, outside of the one “shocking” moment early on. All the twists are obvious and the film ends at an okay point, but not with a whole lot resolved.

They did have tsunamis in this film though. You remember the 2nd wave. They looked pretty realistic though, it was appropriately scary and cool, so I liked that. Bello’s random character had a lot of intensity to it, so she also surprised me. But everything else about this new teenager sci-fi/fantasy romance film series is forgettable. We all make mistakes sometimes, Moretz.

1 out of 4.

Pawn Sacrifice

Chess movies? CHESS MOVIES?! Who the heck makes chess movies?

Sure, there was a documentary about middle schoolers playing chess, Brooklyn Castles. But that’s different.

And Pawn had nothing to do with chess! Clearly because its title wasn’t sinister enough. Pawn Sacrifice? Totally a chess movie. You can tell, because it involves death in the title. And you know that the title has a double meaning, it just has to. Why? Because movies about Chess should be smart! Hell, I bet the title has four meanings, but we won’t even figure out the final meaning for another 30 years because it would be a reference to an event that hasn’t occurred yet. That is what I currently expect for movies that deal with chess. I set the bar high.

Why so high? Because. Chess.

Chess
Look look! They are playing chess! CHESS IN A MOVIE! Is this The Seventh Seal?!

You can’t just make a vague movie about chess, this chess movie needs a purpose and a real story to tell. So why not the story of Bobby Fischer (Tobey Maguire)? Arguably the greatest ever American Chess player (and some would argue, Earthian Chess Player) ever, and we do love out greats here in America. Especially if they aren’t boring.

And guess what! Bobby. Wasn’t. Boring. Actually, it is a bit sad, because he was very paranoid among his other potential mental disorders. He grew up with only his mom (Lily Rabe), who thought he had problems because all he cared about was chess. But hey, he became the youngest Grandmaster at the time, and went on to do great chess things.

But Fischer had issues. One, with the Jews, because they were clearly controlling the world. Two, with the Russians, who were basically big cheats. They worked together as a collective unit to insure that Fischer couldn’t go for the title against Boris Spassky (Liev Schreiber). Force him to draw and he couldn’t get to the end to beat Spassky. It sucked. He threw hissy fits. He retired from chess and went back to his insane life.

Unfortunately, this was America in the 1960’s. And they couldn’t just let a potential USA vs USSR match up go unnoticed. Especially if they could win said match up! Cold War was really just a lot of small skirmishes, where they competed at events to gain every inch of PR ground. Eventually Fischer was able to do a real challenge against Spassky, in Reykjavík, Iceland. It wouldn’t just be a game, it would be up to 25 games, one a day. They’d gain a point if they won, and 1/2 a point if they drew, and the first to 12.5 would win it all and be World Champion. This was in 1972 and sure enough, televised and watched by all of America, who suddenly became experts at chess.

Also featuring Robin Weigert, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Peter Sarsgaard.

Yell
“I will not lower my voice and I am not yelling!”

Some people complain that Steve Jobs has had so many movies since his death. Well, Fischer died in 2008 and has had now 2 movies and 1 documentary about his life after that. Sure, it has now been 7 years versus the 3 or 4 of Steve, but it is still interesting nonetheless.

Fischer was apparently a very interesting individual, and Maguire did a fine as job as any playing him. He had energy and spunk that we haven’t seen since he danced his way into our hearts in Spider-Man 3.

And you know what else? There were some mighty tense moments in the first six or so games between Fischer and Spassky. That was the highlight of the film. Two great actors staring at chess pieces and freaking out about noise and other small details.

However, I think the scope of the film is too specific. After the film, I went to read about Fischer to get some clarification as to why he wasn’t allowed back in the USA for reasons, and you know what? There is a lot of interesting stuff there. Tons of great details, but they instead focus only on the bouts leading up to and against Spassky. Showing his mental deterioation and fleeing around the world? That would make a good movie. Showing his earlier rise to his level through many tournaments? That would be a great add-on to the movie.

Now yes, a lot of biographies are now avoiding the broad scope and going for specific big events, but the issue with this one is that it was a tad bit boring watching him flip out over minor things before the big Icelandic duel. Should it be enough as per the recent trends? Sure, that is a big one. But it didn’t keep my interest throughout the film in leading up to it. Pawn Sacrifice ends up being just an average movie with above average acting about well above average people.

2 out of 4.

Buy It! – This movie is available now on {Blu-Ray} and {DVD}.

Spotlight

I love journalism movies. You may not know it, but I used to be a journalist. Yes, sure, 99% of my articles were reviews for a few papers, but damn it, I worked in the newsroom, I discussed articles occasionally, and I wrote at least one article on my own about a non movie thing.

But you know what is even sexier than journalism? Investigative journalism! You know, the journalism that requires investigations! Weeks to months to potentially years of digging around, looking for scoops, talking to witnesses, etc. That is like modern detective work, but where the pay is shit and you are only working for the greater good (or whatever).

Movies like All The President’s Men and Shattered Glass are examples of interesting or even great films that go through the real life process. Maybe some dramatization, but damn it, the facts are there! Spotlight is a new film, also about true events, and about the team that brought them to the public.

Work
You can tell they are a real newspaper because they are actually working and not throwing footballs around.

The year is 2001! Don’t worry, September hasn’t happened yet. It is just summer time. You can tell it is a different time and place by the giant ass AOL billboard in the film. In Boston, life is pretty damn normal. People work, people go to church, people get drunk, eyyyyy Bawston. The Boston Globe is like a lot of other papers, they are worried about the internet taking away a lot of their jobs and trying to change things up. So they bring in this single, Jewish guy from Miami, Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber). He is not a Bostonian, however a lot of the paper happens to be from the area. This really gives them a sense of purpose and makes them think they are helping their community, so they are worried about a non Catholic outsider coming in and doing bad things.

And guess what he wants to do? He wants to…make sure the paper matters for the community. Oh okay, that sounds good. But he wants to also do some follow ups on a story he read about. Some priest had apparently been molesting kids for years, but the paper only ran a couple articles on him. He wants follow up and research. So he puts the Spotlight crew on it. A four person team who does the longer projects on it. Lead by Walter ‘Robby’ Robinson (Michael Keaton) who has been with the paper forever, he also has on his team Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams), and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James).

But can they really do that? Can they (what most people would see it as) wage war on the church? They all grew up Catholic and have that culture ingrained in their subconscious? Could it really be a bigger issue and something everyone just turned a blind eye towards?

Also featuring James Sheridan, Billy Crudup, Neal Huff, John Slattery, and Stanley Tucci.

Group
This was definitely not a real scene from the film, but boy is it convenient to showcase the actors.

When the credits began to role, I had the biggest investigative journalism movie boner ever. That shouldn’t sound graphic or surprising, because that is an oddly specific thing to say and thus doesn’t mean a lot.

I wanted to go out, quit my job (hah!) and become a journalist again to save the world from bad people. I wanted to call strangers and find out information. I wanted to jostle notes on a small pad of paper while people talked. Oh okay, I technically already do that during movies, but I want to be able to do it when I can also see the paper well and not in a dark room.

Spotlight is a unique story where everyone knows how it will end, but the journey is so fascinating that it still can keep the tense moments. Sure, we know the article gets published, but you can still let out a small fist bump when everything finally comes together, happy that justice and journalism finally win despite the enormous pressures to fail. This is some of the best acting I’ve seen from Ruffalo, Keaton, and Schreiber. Maybe second best for all three. I think they are better in Infinitely Polar Bear, Birdman, and Goon, respectfully.

If there is any weak point in this film, it has to be Slattery. His character just felt like he was a cartoon, being a weird sometimes foil, sometimes not, maybe bad guy, maybe not. It was frustrating with little to no payout.

But outside of that, go see Spotlight, go see some sexy reporting, and damn it, support your local paper.

4 out of 4.

The Butler

The full title of this movie, for legal reasons, is Lee Daniels’ The Butler, but eh, technicalities.

This film is supposed to be a biographical film of Eugene Allen, a butler who served in The White House for 34 years until he retired in 1984.

I’d say your best possible experience with this movie would be treating it like your average fictional film, set through a back drop of history, almost like Forrest Gump.

Butler
I hope you came here to see pictures of butlers.

Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker) came from very humble beginnings in the 1920s. He was living with his family on a cotton plantation in horrible conditions. After his father gets shot and his mother goes a bit insane, he is trained to work in the house, to serve and to serve properly. Eventually he leaves the plantation, gets a job at a hotel, gets discovered, and finds himself as a butler at The White House.

Yeah, butlering at The White House is probably the sweetest gig out there. Unless you mess up, you have job security for 30-40 years.

While at The White House, Cecil finds himself interacting with decades of presidents. He is there for Dwight D. Eisenhower (Robin Williams, his second time as President), John F. Kennedy (James Marsden) and his wife Jacqueline (Minka Kelly), Lyndon B. Johnson (Liev Schreiber), Richard Nixon (John Cusack), and Ronald Reagan (Alan Rickman) with his wife Nancy (Jane Fonda). For you patriots out there, yes, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter just get kind of skipped.

During these years, Cecil also has to deal with his family life. His wife (Oprah Winfrey) has bouts of alcoholism, and depression due to her husbands long hours at work. Their youngest child, Charles (Elijah Kelley) eventually decides to join the army for the Vietnam War. Their other son, Louis (David Oyelowo) is able to graduate high school and go down to college in Tennessee. There, he meets other “radicals” who want equal rights. He begins to participate in sit ins, protests, becomes a Freedom Rider, a marcher on Washington DC, and a follower of Martin Luther King Jr. (Nelsan Ellis). Basically, he is there for all of the major civil rights events. Well, the ones that don’t involve sitting in the back of the bus.

Most of the movie involves splicing the civil rights movements through the eyes of the son, with the servitude of Cecil at the White House during these nation changing events.

In case you wanted more star power, fellow butlers are played by Cuba Gooding Jr. and Lenny Kravitz, while Terrence Howard plays his wise crackin’, woman lovin’ neighbor.

Williams
I tried to find a picture of each actor as a president. This will do.

Like everything in Hollywood, most of the movie is fictionalized away from the source. Like, Louis, the civil rights activist. He never existed. They only had one son, Charles (who actually did go to the Vietnam War!). So, half the movie right away is fictional. Sure, the events all happened, just the make believe son wasn’t a part of them.

While the butler in question did exist, he also probably didn’t have the small conversations about civil rights with the various Presidents, but they make the film a lot more interesting.

Despite it’s inaccuracies, The Butler is incredible. Over two hours long, it spanned decades of American history and put it in such a powerful context, that it is hard to not feel emotional over it.

All of it is very dramatic and very sad at times, but as you learn by the end of the film, the journey is totally worth it.

The acting is phenomenal on all parts. I am willing to bet Whitaker gets nominated for Best Actor in this film, and Oprah potentially Best Supporting Actress. The line up of presidents was hilarious in its own right. All of these big name actors getting to play a US president, but only for a small part in a movie. Heck, they had a British actor playing Reagan, even better!

I think The Butler is going to be one of the few stand out movies of the year when it comes for Best Picture consideration. Its treatment of racism in the United States is spot on and informative. I am most excited for Forest Whitaker though, who has been in some less than great roles recently. Hopefully this gets him back on the right path again, like when he did The Last King Of Scotland.

4 out of 4.

Movie 43

The thing I love most about Movie 43 is how easy it will be to review.

I mean, part of the point is not knowing much about the movie ahead of time before you see it. So I don’t have describe all the skits, just the main plot that tries to hold it all together.

Shit yeah! Oh, and so many tags. I am gonna tag the shit out of this movie.

Nozzle
I don’t have any obligation to tell you what Halle Berry is going to do with that Turkey Baster!

So here is the basic story, which is a piece of shit excuse to give you this movie. Sorry, that sounds negative. The point of this movie is a series of short skits all put together, that is all. Trying to put a plot behind them all? Probably won’t work well, but it technically gets to be the movie plot.

A crazy asshole (Dennis Quaid) is having a meeting with some big movie executive (Greg Kinnear). Why? You know fucking why, to sell a movie of course. Greg doesn’t like it, the movie is vulgar and bad, but when a gun is brought into the equation, maybe he will listen. Also featuring Will Sasso and Common.

What vulgar skits? We got Hugh Jackman and Kate Winslet on a blind date, where Hugh is basically perfect. Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts are homeschooling their kid, Jeremy Allen White, and trying to give him the realest depressing experience ever.

Anna Faris wants Chris Pratt to poop on her. Kieran Culkin and Emma Stone are awkward.

Richard Gere doesn’t understand why people are sticking their dicks in the iBabe, nor does Jack McBrayer the scientist. Only person who gets it is Kate Bosworth.

There is a speed dating convention in the DC universe, with Justin Long, Jason Sudeikis, Uma Thurman, Bobby Cannavale, Kristen Bell, and Leslie Bibb all playing parts.

Jimmy Bennett is on a “Date” with Chloe Grace Moretz, who gets her period, and the older brother Christopher Mintz-Plasse freaks out. Seann Williams Scott is mad at his best friend Johnny Knoxville, but to make it up for him, he found a leprechaun (Gerard Butler).

Am I almost done? Fuck no!

Halle Berry and Stephen Merchant are on a blind date playing truth or dare! Terrence Howard says the same joke about black people and basketball over and over!

BUT JUST YOU WAIT. THERE IS ONE MORE SCENE. AFTER THE CREDITS.

I was surprised too. Because this scene didn’t have any previews in the trailers. So I will just say Elizabeth Banks and Josh Duhamel.

Batman!
Just seeing all those links man. It makes me dizzy.

Maybe I talked about the skits too much, maybe I didn’t. But basically all I mentioned was information you can learn in the trailer, which is unfortunately a lot of it. Problem is, some of the better jokes I already knew were coming and it ruined it a bit for me. I knew about most of the Home School scene, but I still thought it was one of the better ones. Poop quest ended up being better than advertised as well. My favorite scene, however, was the Batman based speed dating, but that could just be because I am a comic nerd. Either way, Jason Sudeikis made that scene his bitch, and I want more of that.

The movie started pretty uncomfortably too, with the blind date scene. No one really laughed right away at the sight gag, but eventually they just threw it in our face enough that it became funny.

I understand the movies only purpose is to do outrageous things, without a plot, but I am upset about the main story line. I hated how it ended. Pretty much a cop out. Even more strange is that only the American version features Quaid and company. Apparently international versions star three unknown kids searching the internet for a fabled movie and finding these clips. Pretty dang weird.

Yeah, most of it is dumb ass jokes, but eventually you just have to give in or else you will have a bad time. Easier to accept the laughs than to ignore them.

Unfortunately, it is still a pretty shit film, in the grand scheme of things. So there you go! Maybe watch with the buds eventually, while drinking, when it is rentable. That would be a better idea.

1 out of 4.

Repo Men

I definitively had Repo Men on the shelf for over a year before finally watching it. Why? Because I thought the plot would be obvious. I thought it would be lame action.

I also knew that the Repo! The Genetic Opera had also existed, even though I hadn’t seen it yet. Just didn’t like two movies having similar dystopian futures, despite their (now knowing) very different plots.

But hey. Lets not judge it before we watch it. That’d be horrible.

Bear testies
But the action does look quite shocking.

Jude Law is a repo man! Not really too scary, but he does you know, go collect organs from people who are behind on their payments by a certain time. He is required to ask them if they want an ambulance, but normally doe when they are knocked out. Not that it matters. If they are losing their heart, an ambulance wont really be able to help. His wife, Carice van Houten, wants him to stop (because its kind of mean) and move to sales. Yes, switch to giving the organs (and bad contracts) versus taking them. Pay is worse, but at least hours are stable.

Either way, on his supposed last extract before he was going to switch, a crazy explosion happened and left him badly hurt. So something happens, can you guess? You can totally guess. He gets a new heart from the company. Yet has the same exact guidelines as a normal person, thanks to Liev Schreiber, his boss. This pisses him off, and thinks it is a death sentence. His partner, Forest Whitaker, tries to get him back on the job and collecting, but Jude can’t will himself to kill others anymore.

Knowing his time is up soon, Jude finds himself in a colony of people hiding out with organs. He meets John Leguizamo, who i a surgeon himself, but only takes away the organs from other people. He also meets Alice Braga, a girl who has been on the run forever, and has dozens of expired organs. Once his time is up, needless to say none of his former workmates want to go after him, but in the end it has to be Forest.

What then occurs is their attempts at both escape from the country and clearing their organs from their record book, so they can escape to a foreign beach and live carefree for the rest of their days.

Asskickery
Not to mention some intense ass-kickery.

Despite the kind of obvious turn of events, I was still thinking it was a pretty decent movie. But the last twenty or so minutes? That shit was amazing. The action was intense, the drama was intense. The ending? I was definitely surprised by it, and made the movie much better. It answered all of my questions, and was not at all what I was expecting.

Well done ending. Pretty sure its worthy enough to be the only reason to watch it.

3 out of 4.

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