This is one of the many reviews that have come out of WorldFest in Houston. Check the WorldFest tag to see them all!

Opening the festival was Blaze. Now, last year the opening film was LBJ and about a famous person I actually heard about before, with bigger names attached, and a goddamn amazing director.

This one is about a vague country star who never reached his full famous potential, died pretty young, and is directed by Ethan Hawke, who has not done a lot of directing.

This is a good film for a biography, because I would rather learn a shit ton about someone who I haven´t heard everything before. Biographies should actually teach us about new people things. That is, assuming their story is actually worth hearing. I´m looking at you boring biographies about famous people that are just…well, shit.

Oh cute, matching outfits with no one around to say its cute.

Blaze Foley (Ben Dickey), or Michael if you knew him before he was trying to become a famous singer, had a soul that was built for telling stories. These stories were generally musical in nature, which made it a good thing that he also could play that guitar. He had a life of growing up with song, thanks to his family being part of a traveling family band.

The story that we hear about in Blaze is his whole adult life’s tale. About how he met his future wife, Sybil (Alia Shawkat), a Jewish actress who appreciated the woods as much as this large cowboy. In fact, they lived in a shack in the woods for several years rent free, living off the land and no electricity.

We get to see him moving to the big cities with the intention of selling his tunes and making it famous in the country music scene. Including leaving his wife behind to tour with a friend (Josh Hamilton) in an old truck down the south. And also their move to the bigger city of Chicago to tackle the blues crowd, since he figured his music was sort of country and the blues, given how sad they all were. We also get to see him get a record contract, and coincidentally, let that all go to shit as well.

This is all juxtaposed with his final concert, which was recorded life, the day before he was shot and killed protecting a friend.

Also starring Wyatt Russell, Sam Rockwell, Charlie Sexton, Steve Zahn, and Kris Kristofferson.

Life is like being on the back of a truck. You know, fast and no seat belts.

Blaze is a slow burn, which is not what the title implies. Blaze implies a film where everything happens quickly and maybe even burns out, well before it should have. Which is a good metaphor for Blaze the person. But is it a metaphor if its his name? I don´t know how hyperboles work.

The film telling the story interlaced among big moments, early moments, and still ending with the natural ending was a great choice. Getting to hear his ¨friends¨ tell stories about his life provided a great tool for exposition, and the fact that the rest was presumably based on his wife´s book of his life gave it a very personal touch.

As a music fan, I can say it was a bit of a low point for me. I never was really engaged in the many songs sung, as they were all so slow and soulful, and felt more akin to background music while the stories unfolded. Hard to change the music if it is based on a real source though.

Overall the story just felt okay to me. The reason it ended with such a high rating though was due to the acting, especially from Dickey and Shawkat. I don´t actually know Dickey from anything else, but he transformed into this Blaze character, along with all of his imperfections. It never felt like an actor, it just felt like this artist I was completely unaware of.

Blaze is well acted, and tells the story of someone you also likely don´t know. It is debatable if it is a story that needs to be told, but hey, they told it anyways.

3 out of 4.

Patti Cake$

I have been to New Jersey, I have seen people free style, but I have never, ever, been in a drive by.

There is my bad intro joke to talk about Patti Cake$. After I saw the trailer for this film, I assumed it would be culturally insensitive. I figured it would be a cliche coming of age story or a film about a group of misfits succeeding against all odds.

And yeah, it is definitely a little bit of both. Whoops.

Oh shit, did we get an Ali G cameo?!

Patti aka Patti Cakes$ aka Killa P aka…a lot of other nicknames (Danielle Macdonald), is a woman living with her mom (Bridget Everett) and her grandmother (Cathy Moriarty) in a small, poor community in Jersey. She has small part time jobs, but a lot of her money goes to paying bills for her family and medicine for her nana.

Patti’s mom was going to be a big singer in the 1980’s, everyone loved her, but then she got pregnant. Now she is basically nothing, getting wasted on karaoke night, spending more time in the bathroom than on the stand. And Patti? Well, she is a big rapper.

I mean physically, because she certainly isn’t famous. She can freestyle, she can spit the lyrics out, but she is still a bit afraid to perform, and no one takes her seriously, because she is fat and white. The only person who believes in her is Jheri (Siddharth Dhananjay), a pharmacist, who wants to be a producer. They are often looking for ways to break out, and Patti thinks there future lies in Basterd (Mamoudou Athie), an anarchist who lives in the woods alone and who, yes, can also create some sick tunes.

Also starring McCaul Lombardi and Patrick Brana.

Mix Tape
Oh yeah, the last missing piece of their group was Nana.

Dealing with the cultural insensitivity of this film is a hard one. A lot of people don’t take Patti seriously, because she is a white girl trying to rap, and it is not in her culture to do so. Yes she is poor, living in a very small house that is abusive, where music is a big part of her upbringing, and she has way too many responsibilities for her age, but she is still a white chick. Stories where a white person tries something that is technically part of a desensitized race in America, and then flourishes? Yeah, that is all sorts of fucked up. A character uses the term Culture Vulture in this film to describe her, which paints a perfect picture of how it looks to the outside world.

The good news is that she doesn’t bust into the rap game and change the world. She is given a lot of shit and rightfully so. She has had a shit life, but it doesn’t mean she should automatically go and win all the prizes and take what was not originally hers. I enjoyed that it wasn’t a standard film in that regard.

The music of course I have no interest in hearing, but the relationships between the characters is where it mattered most. This ends up being a story about a girl and her mom, their inability to see eye to eye about anything. The relationship between her and her best friend didn’t feel natural. The relationship between her and Basterd was very interesting, but again, something that just seemed forced.

Patti Cake$ has some interesting moments throughout it, but a laughable premise with quite a bit unexplained reasons for why she and her friends can stand each other. However, I saw this movie over a month ago, and I can still remember parts of their main song. So if anything, it has a catchy hook to it.

2 out of 4.

Baby Driver

At the time of writing this introduction, Baby Driver was listed on Wikipedia as a British-American action crime comedy jukebox musical film, and when I first read that my heart skipped several beats. I am now dead. [Editor’s note: I have gotten better, and the Wikipedia article has since been shortened.]

Those genre’s together just seemed too good to be true, and it was. Because a jukebox musical means, 1) It is a musical, and 2) That the songs that the character sing already exist and come from the charts. But I knew this wasn’t a musical, just a film that really, really, really, loved music. Music that yes, at different times, may have hit the charts. And even if the main character sings some of them, they still don’t qualify it as a musical.

Which is sad, but I am mostly certain no one will turn a plot like this one into an actual musical. Or at least, not for film, but you never know with Broadway turning out 2 or more “Movie title, the musical!” films a year.

“Elevator, the musical!” is coming up and down this fall.

Baby (Ansel Elgort) loves music. It is a major part of his identity, there are always earbuds in his ears with an iPod playing a song to help the situation. When Baby was a kid, his parents got into a car accident with him in the back seat. They died, he survived, and he gained an ever persistent noise in his ears that won’t go away. The music helps dull it out.

Baby unfortunately got into some trouble. He became very good at cars, being one of the best drivers around despite his young age. But one day, he messed with the wrong man, Doc (Kevin Spacey), and lost a lot of his merchandise. And now, to pay Doc back, Baby has been the driver for several bank robberies in the greater Atlanta area, with his share always going towards his payment. But as soon as he pays off Doc, he wants out. He just wants to drive and be free, he definitely doesn’t want to hurt anyone.

Baby works with criminals, however. And criminals can be erratic and put his family in danger. His family being his foster dad (CJ Jones), who is now in a wheel chair, deaf, and needs a lot of attention. And Deborah (Lily James), a waitress at a diner he frequents who shares his passion of music and is generally a free spirit. So when the criminals start doing bad things, it is Baby’s duty to get out of it while protecting those he cares about.

We have quite a few criminals played by actors like Jon Hamm, Jon Bernthal, Jamie Foxx, Eiza González, Flea, and Lanny Joon. Also featuring Sky Ferreira and Hal Whiteside.

Everyone knows that diners are the best place to go for music and pie.

Baby Driver, from start to finish, will keep you on the edge of your seat and the edge of your car seat as well when you are heading home. Don’t watch this movie during the day, because you will want the roads empty so you can blast music and drive (responsibly) maybe a little bit faster. It will take over you, especially if you are a movie goer with varied music tastes.

Elgort has been in quite a few teenage romance / young adult films. The Fault in our Stars, Paper Towns, Divergent, even the Carrie remake. But Baby Driver is finally his jumping off point into something greater than all of his parts before combined. He is now part of a cinematic masterpiece, playing a role unlike his other characters, and hopefully will lead him to a lot of better roles in the future. Elgort might be a star, especially lucky after he didn’t get the Star Wars gig.

The cinematography, the action, the variety of characters, the dialogue, and of course, the music, make Baby Driver a must see film. I especially appreciate at how diverse the music ends up being, from all sorts of decades and genres. In addition to that, having the action FIT the music is an incredible achievement and allowed me to sit in my seat in awe.

I can’t talk enough about how wonderful an experience Baby Driver was. It is a film that I want to see again in theaters and will pick up on Blu-Ray day one of its release.

4 out of 4.


Sing is the last animated film I need to review that is a major US release!

I will be honest that I wasn’t really looking forward to Sing at all. It is the fourth anthropomorphic animals major release this YEAR (After Kung Fu Panda 3, Zootopia, and The Angry Birds Movie), in a year where we also had regular talking animal movies as well (Finding Dory, Storks, Ice Age: Collision Course, Norm of the North, The Secret Life of Pets). Fuck.

Basically everything is about talking animals this year. Moana and Kubo and the Two Strings aren’t fully about that, and that might be why they are my favorite two of the year. The only really big animated films I can think of are Trolls (talking magic things) and Sausage Party (talking food). 2016 wasn’t the most creative film year, and it is sort of a huge let down for animated films.

Oh but wait! This isn’t a talking animal movie! This is a singing animal movie. With a lot of popular songs being sung by animals, reminding me of recent very bad animated jukebox musicals. Please be better to me 2017.

The face you make when your realize Cars 3 is coming out in 2017.

Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) is a koala bear who fell in love with the theater as a kid. With the help of his father, he earned enough money to buy the theater and produce shows for hundreds more to fall in love with! But now, years later, he is far in the red, unable to pay his crew, or the bills, or his loans. He is friends with Eddie (John C. Reilly), a lamb son of a rich family, but even they won’t bail him out now.

But he has an idea! Singing competitions are all the rage, so he wants to host a local one, only featuring regular people that they all know and want to show off their talents. He will give the winner a $1,000 prize and hopefully get enough money to get back in the black. But his assistant (Garth Jennings) accidentally puts a $100,000 prize, putting the whole town into a frenzy and driving up expectations through the roof.

And our contestants are of course all over the map. There is Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), a stay at home pig mom of 25 kids with a husband who is overworked. Johnny (Taron Egerton), a gorilla from a crime family who doesn’t really want to steal. Meena (Tori Kelly), a young elephant who has extreme stage fright. Mike (Seth MacFarlane), a old timey street musician mouse who just wants money and fame. Ash (Scarlett Johansson) and Lance (Beck Bennett), a hedgehog teenage rock duo, but Lance doesn’t want to share the singing spotlight. And of course Gunter (Nick Kroll), a German pig who has no fears when it comes to his body.

Who will win? Who will get screwed over? Who will die?!

Also featuring the voices of Nick Offerman, Peter Serafinowicz, and Rhea Perlman.

Pigs are people too, and are tired of being dance shamed.

Sing is the type of film that will give you exactly what you expect. Animals, being human like, and singing pop songs. And if that is all you need to go on to enjoy a film, then you will be in for a treat. If you want something with a bit of more substance to its plot, you will be saddened and only a little bit toe-tappy.

The lessons of the film tell us to follow our dreams, no matter how many bills you wrack up, loved ones you hurt, and lives you ruin. It will all hopefully work out in the end.

McConaughey’s character seems to be a sort of more family friendly and desperate version of his character in Magic Mike. MacFarlane plays a rat who is so annoying right off the bat that I have no remorse for his character at any point in the movie. On top of that, they never resolve that characters plot line at the end. I assumed it would be an after credits scene but we were left with nothing.

Johansson as a hedgehog, Witherspoon as a pig, and Egerton as a gorilla all worked (but it took me awhile to accept the last one, because the gorilla look and clothing just felt off). I was most surprised by Egerton’s singing voice, but it isn’t the first time he impressed me this year.

Music wise, it didn’t seem to click or work until the end. And it damn well better by that point, when they put on their show and resolve all of their issues through the power of singing in public. Everyone feels like a winner. At the same time, I wonder what the entire purpose of the film was. A small story, no real steaks or issues to worry about, Sing becomes an easy movie to make on account of how easy it can merchandise.

A few of the trailers really gave away most of the bigger moments. I am most annoyed by the teaser trailer though, that decided to showcase a ton of different animals singing different songs. That is basically directly out of the film, with little editing and no more substance. We only get to see a lot of diversity for a little amount of time. And the worst part about that scene, the try outs, is they didn’t even try to make it seem realistic by having different people sing the songs. Instead it was jut playing the actual songs over their quick and quirky cast. What a let down.

If you give me an animal singing song, I want a unique voice singing that song, damn it. If I wanted to actually hear the song, I could always just use the internet myself. No amount of scantly dressed rabbit will make up for it.

2 out of 4.


You can’t spell controversy without an ‘s’ and you can’t spell Nina Simone without an ‘s; as well! There must be something deeper there.

If you are like a lot of movie watchers, you probably watched What Happened, Miss Simone? last year. It is free on Netflix and was nominated for an Oscar, so that is really all I should have to say on the matter. It was about the troubling life of Musician and Activist from the 1940’s to the 1970’s. She won a shit ton of Grammys, so you should know her name at least, even if you didn’t know anything about her.

But there is another film about her life. Not a documentary, but a nice musical bio film, just named Nina. It was originally supposed to star Mary J. Blige in the title role, which makes sense. She is a singer and somewhat an activist. But she had to drop out and they replaced her with Zoe Saldana which led to some issues.

Nina Simone grew up in a time where she wasn’t expected to succeed, she was a very dark woman and had a very distinct face, while Saldana was much lighter skinned, very pretty and is not known for her singing. In particular they had a problem with the skin color because Simone was SUPER active in the Black Power movement and it felt like a form of white washing, since Saldana is Hispanic. That, and they also colored Simone’s skin darker. Is it Blackface if the person doing it is not White? Eh, probably.

Because of all this and more, this film took a long time to come out. It was being filmed in the end of 2012, so it took years to release, possibly waiting for all the controversy to die down and maybe finally out thanks to the successful documentary. However, it seems like the distributors still wanted to bury it, with a very limited release and instant VOD.

Sad Simone/Saldana doesn’t like the controversy.

Nina Simone (Zoe Saldana) grew up like a normal black kid in a southern town. But some old white lady liked her and taught her how to play piano. She got really good at classical music and had a dream of playing at the Carnegie Hall and totally did as the first Black Jazz musician. She also went to Julliard. She made a lot of albums, mixing Jazz with Rock and Roll and Gospel and protest songs. She worked with Martin Luther King and a whole lot of other famous activists. She had an abusive husband/manager and a daughter.

Then, eventually, she left America to Paris to play, because America was too racist. And everything in the above paragraph was basically the first five minutes of the movie, told through newspaper headlines, and this film takes place all after that. Like, in the 1980’s, after she had already been out of America for a long time. She was put in a psychiatric hospital for a day in LA after threatening a lawyer with a gun, where she met Clifton Henderson (David Oyelowo), an orderly. She liked that he tried to help her, so she hired him as her assistant and took him back to France.

So she is a drunk and a jerk to him while he tries to help. She forces him to help her get one nigh stands and makes his life hell. But hey, he eventually gets her back into the US for a concert, despite no one wanting to work with her. Yay biography movie!

Also featuring Kevin Mambo, Ronald Guttman, Mike Epps, and Chuma Gault.

But Simone/Saldana loves that booze apparently!

I don’t plan on talking any more about the controversy. I mean, I’d say just let Saldana be her self with the fake nose and not go all out. The entire skin experience just felt distracting for the most part, because I recognized Saldana, except she was “off” the entire time. Just a distraction, just like the controversy.

But let’s focus on this trainwreck of a film. Simone has been the focus of several documentaries and part of a few more, but never a biography of her life. Out of people who deserve their own Hollywood bio film, Simone is definitely up there on the list. For whatever terrible reason, they focus on the late 80’s and early 90’s and none of the “good stuff” in her life.

Fuck. She was a domestic abuse victim for years and couldn’t get out of it. She made so many great songs and led amazing protests. She had a ton of achievements. And I only know any of this thanks to the documentary about her entire life. Most people in the current generations don’t know anything about her and will only learn this stuff through theatrical films. And they pick her lamest and a very unimportant part of her life. They ignore so many important points in her life and focus on such a small frame it just seems disrespectful.

It seems like the people who made this film hated Nina Simone and didn’t know how to hide it. They showed her as a terrible person and ignored how she got to the lowest point in her life. It is misleading and just…just so bizarre.

Watching Nina, I can only see huge amounts of wasted potential. Even if I didn’t see the documentary, this movie wouldn’t have excited me in any way. I would be left wondering what the heck happened. Why did this person get a movie? Why did Paris matter?

Nina is a mess of a film, and one of the worst biographical movies I have ever seen.

0 out of 4.

We Are Your Friends

Gorgon Reviews – Watching Shitty (Terrible) Movies So You Don’t Have To. My long standing tagline and life philosophy. But for the most part, lately, my movies have just been everything in theaters. Some shitty, some not.

This is not a strange indie film. We Are Your Friends a film that was released throughout the US, but no one saw it. Almost no one. At the time of its release, it had the third worse opening for any film with over 2000 theaters showing it. It was the worst for live action movies.

Since it came out, Jem and the Holograms somehow decided to beat its box office records.

So We Are Your Friends only got to live in notoriety for about two months. Now it is second fiddle and now it won’t even be remembered for being never seen.

It may be remembered for having the same name as a famous Justice song though.
(Sweet music video alert)

Cole (Zac Efron) wants to be a great DJ. He is a small time guy, working the local clubs. He thinks he will be big one day. He just needs the perfect first song and the perfect opportunity. He definitely understands DJing though. He knows how to work a crowd, get them moving, and make the optimal BPMs .

He has three friends, Squirrel (Alex Shaffer), Ollie (Shiloh Fernandez), and Mason (Jonny Weston).

They need cash to make their dreams come true. But also, they like to party.

And party they do. They party a lot. And get ladies and stuff. Starring Jon Bernthal as a scummy dude, Wes Bentley as a pompous dude, and Emily Ratajkowski as a woman who doesn’t just want to be there for her looks.

Putting my hands on my head is the only way I know how to dance.

Who doesn’t love Zac Efron? He has successfully turned himself around from pretty boy Disney child into a guy who does what he wants. For the most part, he wants to do risque comedies. He did That Awkward Moment and Neighbors. And he is going to be in the Baywatch movie, which will hopefully be as good as the 21 Jump Street franchise.

But this isn’t risque or really a comedy. I mean, it is supposed to be, but it feels like a terrible drama the whole time. Having attractive women, even ones that show their boobies, does not make it really risque either.

We Are Your Friends has a boring plot, the kind you can figure out within the first fifteen minutes. Any surprises are actually completely random, and most of them serve little to no purpose. The same old romance things happen in this film that happen in all shitty romance movies.

And guess what? Spoilers. He does the song by the end. He makes people dance.

Hip hip fucking hooray. Some good music as the soundtrack though, but literally it felt about 20% of the film was saved for party montages.

1 out of 4.

Straight Outta Compton

I started talking about Straight Outta Compton with my review of Dope, because I am super white and ignorant.

Basically, I don’t know jack shit about this album, nor do I know a lot about the artists who made up N.W.A. I do know the phrase before the internet meme sensation came out, but that is probably only due to the fact that Weird Al made a similar joke almost ten years ago. Weird Al continues to give me most of my music knowledge about what is hip and cool in the world.

Despite not being able to name even one song from the album, I would probably consider myself an expert on late 80’s and early 90’s rap music. As you already know, I have seen and reviewed the movie Notorious! Yeah, because rap on the west coast and rap on the east coast were basically the same thing. That sounds like something I heard once.

Press Bitches
They find my joke hilarious, because I am so white and don’t know any better.

Lives used to suck for black people back in the day. I can keep that sentence vague, because in America is has basically always been true. Back in the day could be yesterday, technically. But in this case I mean 1980’s, where apparently everyone was free and equal under the law, and the law wanted to put the black youth in their place. Arrested for being black was a common occurrence, but also drugs, gang violence, and more. N.W.A. was a rap super group from Compton, California, composed of five members with various talent.

We had Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson Jr.), who was just in high school but a great lyricist. He wasn’t a thug, but he sure got harassed by the police. Dr. Dre, or Andre (Corey Hawkins) was hoping to be a DJ and produce music, not sit in a cubicle all day. There was Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell), who had money and some clout in the music business and would help set them up if they had a good idea. But then he was forced to rap, and hey, he could do it well. And then there was MC Ren (Aldis Hodge) and Dj Yella (Neil Brown Jr.) were also in the group, but this film was a lot less about them and more about the other three. They wrote some rhymes and DJ’d too, I guess. I don’t know shit about them.

They are the two on the left so they don’t complain to me about under-representation. Now I can ignore them the rest of this review.

Either way, their first single Boyz-N-The-Hood was an instant success. Their whole city and area loved it, and it spread like wildfire. They weren’t being soft with their words and they were telling the street truth about their lives. It was gangster rap. They were quickly signed by Jerry Heller (Paul Giamatti) as their manager, because he does sleazy well, and he was able to get them to produce a few more hits to create their first album. Straight Outta Compton! They were signed by the same record company who was getting big off of the California Raisins and wanted to branch out, and next thing you know, they are touring around the United States to sold our concert arenas carrying a strong message. You know, Fuck The Police and all that.

This of course led to the arrest for being black and speaking out, and other shenanigans. The group was now super famous, but thanks to contract disputes and managers screwing people over, they also had to go their separate ways. First Ice Cube left, causing a big rift and song battles, then Dr. Dre founded his own company with Suge Knight (R. Marcos Taylor) (Don’t fuck with Suge Knight. He will secretly give you aids, kill Tupac and Biggie and get away with it all).

And uhh. More stuff happens I guess. Shit. I can’t tell you about everything. I can’t tell you about Rodney King. I should let something be a surprise.

Other artists name dropped in the film include The D.O.C., Tupac, and Snoop Dogg. Actors aren’t even important in there. However, some of the women who would go on to be wives and lovers of the big three are played by Carra Patterson, Alexandra Shipp, and Elena Goode.

You can tell the band members apart by what their favorite teams are: All from California, surprisingly!

Not many people get to play their own dad in a movie about their life. First you need a famous father. Then you have to be the right age at the right time. You also need to look a lot like him. So O’Shea Jackson Jr. got to play his dad, Ice Cube, which is awesome. He is like the kid in Notorious, who played his dad for like one small age group in that film.

In particular, I thought Jackson Jr. and Hawkins did a phenomenal job playing Cube and Dre, which also happen to be the people I know more about thanks to how big they both got. But their stories, and Eazy-E’s story was a fantastic thing for almost anyone to hear and , despite it being over 20 years ago, oddly relevant to today still. Things don’t change that quickly, regardless of the size of computer chips. However, nothing made me cry! There were three scenes where they were going to attempt to bring out the tears, but I was able to resist them all. The last two would have totally gotten me if they just made those scenes a little bit longer, but when your film is already pushing 2.5 hours, it is understandable to make a few cuts.

Seriously, this movie was intense, dramatic, entertaining, a bit funny, extremely informative, and an all around fantastic film for just about everybody. Maybe not your kids, leave them at home for awhile. Honestly, this is now my second favorite music group biographical film, and I don’t even care about most of the music in this one! It will be hard for something to beat The Temptations, honestly, unless we eventually get a gritty Weird Al movie. Two references in one review, solid.

4 out of 4.

Danny Collins

Danny Collins is a movie that sort of just sneaked into theaters. It wasn’t heavily advertised, it didn’t have more than 1 screening, and I honestly had never heard of it.

I might have even watched it when it came out, if it didn’t come out against Insurgent. Come on. Teen high school dystopian dramas > everything, am I right?

My biggest concern for this movie is actually Al Pacino, once a great actor, now a guy in a lot of bad movies, like Jack and Jill and Stand Up Guys. He is becoming a bit of a box office turn off for me, just like Robert De Niro. For the most part, they seem to be just showing up to do their scenes and not putting any heart to it, getting their easy pay checks. That is the one thing I will mostly look for in this film. Can Pacino try harder?

This guy fucks.

Danny Collins (Pacino) used to be a big star. He was wildly famous in the 70s, with lyrics that compared to John Lennon and he was on top of the world. Now, 40 years later, he is still rich and famous and touring, but playing all of his old hits to old fans and kind of just going with the motions and never giving it his all. Huh, sounds a lot like something I talked about not to long ago.

Either way, his long time manager Frank (Christopher Plummer) let’s him know for his birthday that he found a 40 year old letter, written to him by John Lennon that never made it to him. A letter that basically would have changed his life and told him that money and fame aren’t everything. Well fuck, now he is old and feels useless. But there is still a chance. He should just leave his young cheating wife (Katarina Cas), check himself into a hotel and no longer worry about music but instead worry about his life.

So he is going to live in a Hilton hotel, to constantly hit on their manager (Annette Bening), and try to hook up the main receptionist (Melissa Benoist, who is in everything now) and the main valet (Josh Peck). But that isn’t his main goal, no of course not! He actually has a son, Tom (Bobby Cannavale, who is in everything now), whom he has a rocky relationship with. So he wants to fix that up real soon before someone dies and ruins it all. This means he also will have to befriend his wife (Jennifer Garner) and finally meet his granddaughter (Giselle Eisenberg).

Good. A man with a mission. A man who might go back to money fame drugs and playing for old people if he can’t fix his real life before it is too late. Also featuring Brian Smith as a booty call, and Nick Offerman, who has like, a minute of screen time only at the start, but looks cool enough to mention in this review.

At least the casting department got something right. Cannavale could totally be Pacino’s son.

There you go Al Pacino! If you play a part that in some way mirrors your own career for the last five years, you might put some effort into it!

From Pacino I saw passion and I saw an actor who cared about playing his character. Great! And his own enthusiasm made me enjoy the performance and overall, enjoy the movie.

I thought the relationship aspects between Collins and his family felt realistic and avoided tons of cliches. The most unfortunate part about the family was Jennifer Garner though, who had a character that didn’t do a whole lot in the film, so it felt odd for someone of her talent to be used in such a way. This happens a lot with the mom role in films, for whatever reason, but since they had her, one would guess her role would be more substantial.

I was also very impressed with Bening, playing a hotel manager or something. She was able to pull off the professional/dealing with a huge celebrity/not caring about said celebrity really well. And of course, Cannavale was great for many reasons as well.

Danny Collins, a movie that I was afraid would be a bad VH1 made for TV movie, ended up having quite a few strong characters and a unique enough plot to really enjoy. Based loosely off of a real story, but I don’t care about that story, so I didn’t feel like talking about it.

3 out of 4.

Backstreet Boys: Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of

I don’t care who you are. Where you’re from. What you did. You know the fucking Backstreet Boys.

The biggest boy band technically of all time. Not by number of members, but by album sales. Yeah, bigger than N’Sync, even though some of their members may be more successful now. And some of them branched out into other fields.

Hell, the Backstreet Boys have been making music since their decline from fame. Sometimes as four people, but now back again as the original five. Now they are making their own music, making their own decisions, not being owned and operated by a label. Backstreet Boys: Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of is about their renunion, their past, prepping for a 20th anniversary as a band, and more. They are showing us all they have to give. They are showing us when they were larger than life and when they were an unknown group of kids.

But now, Backstreet’s back.


Technically I wasn’t super interested in a Backstreet Boys documentary. It seems strange to come out so late after the fame, but maybe their contracts and stuff wouldn’t allow them to be frank about anything. For most of these recent musician/tour documentaries, they aren’t very different. Mostly happy moments of the artists with fans, filled with concert performances in between behinds the scene footage. Usually a token sad moment or two to make you cry (The Katy Perry one was legit super sad). But they are all marketing by the record companies to increase sales for the movie, for concerts, and for CDs.

Is that what this one is? Sure. Kind of. If people realize they have newer music, they might seek it out. But at the same time, they opened up a level at a level I have never seen before in a concert based documentary. The members speak like real people and argue and multiple F-bombs are thrown around. They also go to all of their home times to tell stories of their lives before the band and see old teachers/friends. Some members have to deal with not being up to par with their younger selves.

They also get to talk openly about their starts in the band, the good and the bad. The bad is public knowledge, sure, thanks to lawsuits and bad contracts, but it seemed refreshing to talk about how shitty their label and managers were, and how manufactured they were early on.

This documentary also doesn’t have a lot of filler of just the band performing songs on their 20th anniversary concert. They have some at the end, during the credits. And sure, we get some very old footage of singing and footage of them making songs for their latest album. But a lot more of this documentary is spent dealing with the five individuals and just them, for the most part. No Aaron Carter.

Comparing this documentary to the other music based ones, I would say this one is better. Yeah. I want it that way. And it was definitely a step up from a VH1 music documentary. I was worried it would feel like Behind The Music, but again, way better.

Fuck N’Sync and fuck Justin Timberlake for leaving them.

4 out of 4.


It feels good to be out of my weeks of Oscar/award related movies. Now I can watch anything I want! Shitty comedies, shitty sex comedies, shitty sex romance movies, shitty dramas. Literally, the sky is wide open.

So many shitty movies I had to ignore for weeks!

But instead I watch Rudderless because it was requested of me. Sure, I saw the cover once and wanted to watch it. Why not do that before the shit storm.

The only thing that can scream out “indie” more than this scene would be a couple of gay cowboys.

Sam (Billy Crudup) has hit rock bottom. He has been living on a boat, a drunken mess, for the last two years. You see, his son (Miles Heizer) died as a result of a campus shooting, and his life kind of crumbled.

But things change a little bit, just a bit, when he is given a lot of his son’s journals and cds. Turns out he was writing songs and recording demos of his feelings. The material was really good, emotional, dark, and all sorts of just real.

Looking to get over his death, or honor it in some way, Sam plays one of his songs at an opec mic night. It is met with mixed reviews. But Quentin (Anton Yelchin) loved it. He worshiped Sam and his song writing playing and wanted him to do even more and put more out there. He kind of wanted him to start a band.

But that is weird. Sam is old and living on a boat. He can’t start a band with young kids. His life is a wreck. Even if he has a full notebook of material. I am uncomfortable.

Also with Selena Gomez, Kate Micucci, William H. Macy, Laurence Fishburne, and Ryan Dean.

Don’t worry, she only has like, two scenes max. Completely forgettable.

Another movie I can’t describe well without giving it all away or making it sound like shit. My bad.

Because in all honesty, I friggan loved it. All of the music, all of it (except maybe the last song) was enjoyable. The bringing together of the band and creating a sound, it was great as well.

I can’t say normally I am a fan of Crudup’s work, but he was tolerable as the lead in this film. Yelchin was really good, but I always enjoy him. Also, this might be Fishburne’s best role in years and he was just a side character.

William H. Macy did a fantastic job his first time directing a film. He told a powerful story, full of good music and good conflict, about a hard to discuss subject. Reminds me a bit of Beautiful Boy, but of course more music.

4 out of 4.

1 2