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.

It Comes At Night

Every year, the world is seemingly blown away by a new art-house horror film that really drives into our subconcious. Every year there are arguments about this new art-house film actually being a horror film, or some sort of thriller drama instead. And every year, I write a review of one of these films, and have to talk about the films of the previous years that fit that bill.

But I will save you some time. Last year we had The Witch and I LOVED The Witch. It felt evil to the core, it felt authentic, and it drove the genre to new places.

And now, It Comes At Night is hoping to be the new art-house horror that everyone is talking about. So what do you think? Do you think it will truly be a horror, or more of a dramatic thriller? Do you think it will have a lot of critical acclaim but no one will watch it? Will the meaning behind the whole thing cause internet debates for a long time?

Yeah, probably.

Ah cool, a mask man and some duct tape. Horror staples, for sure.

Set in a year that is like our own, in the future or the past, lives a family, on the edge of disaster. The world is different now, there isn’t any technology that is not battery powered. And the family is about to bury the grandfather (David Pendleton). Paul (Joel Edgerton), his wife Sarah (Carmen Ejogo), and their 17 year old son Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) are survivors in a world with not a lot of people. Their grandfather has the disease, so he has to be put down, burned, and buried to protect their lives.

They live in a boarded up house in the woods with a lot of strict rules, and their dog, Stanley. But soon after the death, a stranger comes to their door in the middle of the night. His name is Will (Christopher Abbott), who claims he was only doing it thinking the home was abandoned. He needs water for his wife (Riley Keough) and child (Griffin Robert Faulkner), who are many miles away, waiting for his return. And Will says they have food, animals for eggs and milk, to trade for water.

Or it is all a lie, and he wants to kill them. Who knows.

Sarah wants to bring the family to their house, have more people to defend the place, live in harmony. It is a big trust exercise. What with the virus, the creepiness at night time, and people who just make their world a brutal place to live in.

Travis just wants to stop having nightmares and waking up in the middle of the night.

Sometimes they call the entrance to their house L Street.

Oh I feel so terrible, so dead, on the inside. I rarely due this, but here is an exact quote for what I put on my comment card. They have us fill out quick thoughts so the studios can get initial reactions before longer reviews come out.

“I feel so empty inside 🙁
Great acting, great story, and a never ending sense of dread. Fuck”

And that is still how I feel, days later writing this review. Are there scary moments? Yeah, a few. But most of the horror comes from a personal level, deep deep down inside of you. You know what is PROBABLY going to happen, so there isn’t a lot of surprises. But still, to watch it unfold in front of you just builds the tension and of course, the dread.

Dread is this movie’s official review word. If you don’t want to feel dread for prolonged periods of times, then don’t watch this movie. If you want an emotional experience that will rock you to your core? Then watch It Comes At Night.

4 out of 4.

The Discovery

Netflix has decided to go hardcore with 2017. They are releasing movies every week. New shows. A fucking comedy special every week. New content all the time, and new fodder for me to review with relative ease.

Had I ever seen a poster or trailer or anything for The Discovery? Fuck no. But it is new, has people I like in it, and was available for me to watch while laying down in my bed. Thank you technology.

As long as they keep churning out original content that will interest me, I will keep on reviewing them. Most recently I checked out I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore, and I am sure I missed at least 2-3 other films since then.

Netflix is not paying me for this introduction.

Wires and Wires
But they did threaten to steal my brain energies if I don’t visit them daily.

Set in the not so distant future, in this world, science has made a major discovery. Thomas Harbor (Robert Redford) has discovered with near certainty with science and shit that there IS an afterlife. He didn’t figure out what kind of afterlife, but that some part of the conscious moves on to another plane. It could be terrible, it could be amazing, it could be boring as fuck. No one knows, but we do now know that SOMETHING is out there.

And unfortunately that news has hit the world hard, and suicide rates over the last year have skyrocketed. Now that people know they will go somewhere, they are more likely to end it all and take the quick release. The world is a sadder place, more funerals and so much shit.

Will (Jason Segel) is on a ferry to his home, where he meets Isla (Rooney Mara). They have their different opinions on what the research means, but it is really all that anyone talks about now. Turns out Will is the son of the scientist, and he doesn’t like what it has done and does’t trust it. Isla is just a woman about to commit suicide, who he saves.

The doctor is about to announce a new discovery though. One that adds on to his previous discovery, hopefully able to answer specifically where the subconscious goes.

Also starring Jesse Plemons and Riley Keough.

Beach Love
The beach almost has enough screen time to be a cast member as well.

The Discovery was a slower film, but one with a great concept. Add in some high tier actors, and you got a low budget film with quite a story to tell. An exciting story, but still one that doesn’t push the afterlife or religion certainty in your face.

Segel and Mara are strong in this film. Segel continues to give very strong dramatic performances when you never expect it, like The End of the Tour and Jeff, Who Lives At Home. Mara is rarely ever off of her dramatic game, so that comes to no surprise here either. Redford doesn’t have as much to work with, but does okay in his role.

The middle is long and drawn out, and it takes awhile to figure out just where the story is going. And because of that, the ending feels a bit rushed. Which is a shame, because the ending reveals are quite wonderful. The ideas presented are definitely science fiction in nature, but an exciting idea and one that doesn’t get explored enough in a serious tone.

I personally really enjoyed the film, despite its faults. I hope it leads to more serious sci-fi films on Netflix. And no, it is nowhere close to being as good as Arrival.

3 out of 4.

American Honey

I never wanted to see American Honey, that much I will tell you. For one reason, I am tired of movies that are American ________. I think I said that much in my American Pastoral review this year.

But from the images I have seen, to the cast list, it just did not look appealing. I didn’t see a real trailer for it or anything, just these few things and they turned me off.

Then I found out about its length. For films in 2016, surprisingly, there aren’t a lot of extremely long films. A few years ago it felt like half the Best Picture potential films were at 3 hours, everything else over 2.5. This year has been decent. But American Honey is 2:45, the longest major film this year outside of Silence I believe, which is also right around that length.

That is a lot of time to invest in a film that doesn’t interest me. But then it had to go and get nominated for six spirit awards, so here I am…

And here they are!

This film is about a girl named Star (Sasha Lane). We begin the film with her dumpster diving, grabbing not too old chickens and other food. She has two younger kids with her. They live with an older gentleman, who presumably gives them a roof over the head, in exchange for favors from Star. But then Star meets a group of people in a big white van going into a K-Mart. They look fun, they are partying, and one of them, Jake (Shia LaBeouf), offers her a job.

A job?! Just like that? Sure. She just has to meet them at a motel in the morning, and they will drive up to Kansas City. They sell magazines to rich people, live freely and unashamed. And after an uncomfortable time back at her house, she takes the two kids to sneak out of the house to leave them with a friend, hits the road, leaving her old life behind.

Ahh, free spirits. Hanging out in hotels, having sex with friends, and ripping off rich people with lies. And maybe discovering yourself along the way? Fuck if I know.

Featuring a bunch of people you haven’t heard of, like McCaul Lombardi, Arielle Holmes, Crystal Ice, Veronica Ezell, Chad Cox, Garry Howell, Kenneth Kory Tucker, Raymond Coalson, Isaiah Stone, and one more you might have heard before, Riley Keough.

And this is when LaBeouf discovered he is really an assman.

Sigh. American Honey. One of the longest movies of the year and one of the biggest wastes of time.

Here is what it shows well. Free spirited teenagers being free and uh, carefree, and living life. The conversation seems natural, I am sure a lot of the film was not scripted, hey might have even went into real people’s houses for all I know.

But in terms of enjoyment? There is little. The story is pathetic, the acting is just act natural. And it takes 2 hours and 40 goddamn minutes to tell the little story it has.

It is like an extreme example of an indie movie stereotype. It is in badly need of an editor or something to help move the story along. And of course in that long amount of time, it fails to still really give any sort of ending.

God damn stereotypes. I can’t see why it got nominated for six awards.

1 out of 4.

Mad Max: Fury Road

Day 5 of Yay Women Week! Wait, what. This is about MAD MAX. And how FURY the ROAD is. That doesn’t sound go power women ya ya ya at all. But hey, what do you know. You probably haven’t even seen it yet.

After all, early reports about Mad Max: Fury Road is that it actually passes the Bechdel test. So take that haters. Let’s say it fits the theme.

I admit my experience with Mad Max is slim to none. I haven’t been able to see any of the previous three movies (and apparently they don’t matter to this one either).

No, my experience with the franchise are the obvious pop culture quotes, and the NES video game. It involved driving around a barren landscape, looking for gas I think, and getting shot at by cars. In reality, it was about me playing it for like, a minute and dying and stopping. That game was hard.

“Calm down, viewer! Now’s not the time for fear. That comes later.”

Max (Tom Hardy) is pretty crazy. Mad you might say. A loner, roaming the Australian barren plains on his own just trying to survive. He lost everyone close to him. His only care in the world is his survival. You see, the world sucks now. Oil became scarce. Wars, environment, all of that collapsed society. Shit, even water is hard to find.

But you don’t need to know a lot about Max. You just need to know that he has been captured by King Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) and his army of skin head pale War Boys. He has his own huge water supply, so he rules the world. The only reason Max is able to escape is thanks to Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron). She has decided to do the right thing and smuggle the Five Wives (Zoe Kravitz, Riley Keough, Abbey Lee, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Courtney Eaton) away from Joe, who wants to breed future war leaders.

And that’s all you need to know! Women get stolen, Max and Furiosa on the run throughout a wasteland, trying to get the ladies and themselves to safety. On their tail is several large war bands, with guns, flame throwers, bombs, and crazed thugs who are basically all suicide bombers. Here you might find some high octane dudes, like, Nicholas Hoult, Josh Heman, and Nathan Jones.

Mask 2
Metal as fuck.

Fuck fuck fuck fuck. The hype train is real. The. Hype. Is. Real.

I didn’t believe it and I didn’t want to believe it. This was my second choice to see this week after Pitch Perfect 2, and if I didn’t go to a screening I would have waited until DVD release. But I am glad I saw it on a giant screen. It helped blow my mind. Here is the thing. The acting? It is pretty darn good. Hardy and Theron were excellent as always and they were completely believable in their roles. Hoult was like an entirely different person and I would have never expected him to do so much. And hell, some of the actresses I saw associated with the film, namely the Five Wives, I felt very questionable towards but even they did a good job. It turns out that with a majority of our escape party being women, this actually fits the theme pretty well.

The plot also is a very decent one. Miller does a fantastic job at world building and creating so many unique elements to really make you realize how much effort went into this movie.

And the action. Hot damn. Most of the action of course takes place on dusty roads with armored dudes chasing each other on cars, but it doesn’t ever feel repetitive. The final chase/action sequence goes on for so long, it is probably longer than the final train scene in The Lone Ranger. And it just keeps on coming at you. Action, explosions, fighting, great choreography. I was amazed. Don’t worry, the film isn’t 100% action, there are quieter times. So let’s just say 85% action. When the action is going, it is going to 11.

I can’t even describe that enough. This is so far the best action movie of the year and one of the best of the last few years. I would say in terms of pure action, The Raid 2 is better, but in terms of extreme brutal violence, Mad Max: Fury Road is miles ahead of the competition. Man, all this bro talk, I feel like the dudes on Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle. I’m gonna go listen to Wilson Phillips.

4 out of 4.

The Runaways

The Runaways is a movie I could have watched about a year and a half ago, maybe.

But at that point I thought “Man, why would I want to watch the origins of a band that gave me Joan Jett? I don’t like Joan Jett.” Blah blah, woman power and etc, but man, I really don’t like Joan Jett.

Giant picture, to cover up my biases.

But first, some introductions.

Cherrie Currie (Dakota Fanning) wants to be a rock star and loves David Bowie. She apparently likes singing, despite the fact that early on, she is inaudible and hard to hear. She also has an alcoholic father, and a sister (Riley Keough) who would love to get away from home as well.

Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart) likes guitars and wearing “men clothes!” (leather jacket?!) and meets Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon), a guy who agrees, there should be an all girl rock band! They get Jett, and a drummer, and try to find a “hot blonde singer”. Cherrie Currie is found and auditions with a lame song, so they make a new song that becomes their new number one hit.

They also gain Lita Ford (Scout Taylor-Compton) and Robin*.

They become world famous, drugs happen, and crazy Japanese fangirls. They also start to hate each other, mostly Lita hating Cherrie. Eventually she quits the band, ruins the Runaways, and goes back home to live a lame life. Joan Jett just makes her new band and becomes famous. Lita Ford does her Lita Ford things. Robin* dies in a planecrash.

Robin et all
Never to be seen again…

So yeah, teens doing sex things and drugs and touring. The 70s were crazy, man.
* – There is no Robin. She is a fictional character in the band because Jackie Fox did not allow usage of her name.

Why? Probably because Jackie Fox has nothing to do with this movie. Instead of focusing on the whole band (I don’t even know the drummer (middle girls) name), it was Jett/Currie. The manager guy who eventually tried to screw them over had more of a screen presence than Ford, Robin, and the drummer.

I didn’t hate the performances of the characters though. Felt weird to see Dakota Fanning in a role like that, which is why I am sure she did it. ( “Fuck Typecasting” – Dakota Fanning) The music wasn’t that bad either, mostly sure I have never heard of a song by The Runaways before, and it was decent.

Would be glad to never hear Cherry Bomb again though, felt like that song was played too much in one movie.

But I didn’t like (obviously) how one sided it all felt. Surely there was more going on than the lead singer doing drugs, failing at life, and then not being a big star for the rest of her life? I think it is why a lot of people disliked The Temptations, because it felt more like The Temptations – In Otis Williams mind. He had the advantage of being the only one left alive though, so why not?

I can’t confirm this, but I am sure the rest of the band is still alive. So of course I just looked it up, not the drummer. I guess that explains why I can’t even remember her name?

2 out of 4.