The Sisters Brothers

When is the last time we got a good western?

Oh, you mean like, every year over the last decade? Hells yeah.

Since Westerns went out of style, we get a lot less of them, and they end up being a lot higher quality. Not when we were oversaturated with the westerns decades ago. They were like the superhero movies of their time.

Needless to say, this year we already had a western Damsel, that I for sure did not see. But I saw The Sisters Brothers, which has a chance to be the western of 2018. And if not, then sure, Damsel.

Gyllenhaal
Damsel probably doesn’t have a bearded Gyllenhaal though, sooooo…

Set somewhere in the 1800’s, the brothers Eli (John C. Reilly) and Christian Sisters (Joaquin Phoenix) are good at killing and a bit proud of it. They can take out a whole group and walk away unscathed. Some say it is thanks to their dad being a straight up killer madman as well. And some people say…well, they only say that one thing.

They work for The Commodore, a man who runs a large area with his wealth and outlaws. If someone steals or messes with him, they end up dead. And now the brothers have to try and catch up with a prospector (Riz Ahmed) who stole something from the Commodore. Trying to catch up to someone before they make it many states away can be quite the burden, especially if they don’t exactly know where he will be.

Thankfully, another worker of The Commodore, John Morris (Jake Gyllenhaal), has been following the prospector and keeping notes along the way for the brothers to follow. He is a writer, not a killer, so he couldn’t do anything that could cause a person that much pain. Even though it would make things simpler.

But when the prospector and the author start to develop a friendship, with dreams of making it big, then anything can change.

Also starring Carol Kane, Rebecca Root, and Rutger Hauer.

Brothers
“If there is a place you need to go, I’m the one you need to know, I’m the map!”

Let me just say, before I get really into the movie, that this film had the most infuriating credits intro I have ever seen. Apparently a lot of companies were behind this one, and so they had to show them all at the start, you know, for legal reasons. And it started with one at the bottom of the screen in a strange shimmer color font.Then the next one appeared directly on top of it. And so on. And some lines had more than one group. Overall, it was 7 rows of words stacked on top of each other, filling in the black screen, and for whatever reason, it made me angry.

Making me read down to up? Just filling things up and not fading anything away? I was mad.

And the film really didn’t make me happy. It is not a comedy or anything, a serious drama, with the occasional jokes. About two brothers, overall, who are good at killing people and have to go around killing a lot of people. And it is also a lot about the prospector and Gyllenhaal’s character.

The Sisters Brothers is about a few characters. It is definitely not about the story. The plot is pretty poor. It feels really long and drawn out, not to showcase great shots, because the shots are just okay. The acting is decent, it has some moments that are cool to see. But we also have night scenes with not great lighting, because they are going for realistic, and that is a shame if those things are big events, like the introduction or when main characters get hurt.

I was disappointed with The Sisters Brothers. This is not a knock on Reilly, Phoenix, Gyllenhaal, or Ahmed, who all acted wonderfully. But the film put me to sleep and felt like it was going nowhere fast.

1 out of 4.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

I wrote a shit ton for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Like, 1300 words or so. I had to explain my history with Star Wars, my avoidance of hype, and the film itself, so it was a lot to say. Overall, I enjoyed it, but it had its issues. I won’t reharp on any of that here.

I will instead just talk about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and spin-offs. When they announced the new episodes and the spin-offs, I was honestly more excited about spin-offs. Finally, stand alone stories that don’t involve a Skywalker. Of course then they announced a Han Solo prequel, which eh, whatever I guess. And I will sound hypocritical when I say I sincerely hope one of these movies ends up being a solo Obi-Wan Kenobi film, because I loved Ewan McGregor in that role.

The first spin-off makes sense. It is something giving us a whole lot of new characters, while also keeping it relevant to the main story line. It is a safe beginning, while also allowing them to show new characters for merchandising. Erm, for diversity. That is what I meant to say.

Yen
Oh please tell me I can have a Donnie Yen action figure now?!

Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) is a brilliant scientist, and unfortunately with that, great at building weapons. He was working for the Empire, but felt pretty bad, went off grid to live with his wife and daughter as a farmer. But then, Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) finds them and forces Galen to head back to the Empire to work on this Death Star thingy. This leaves his daughter alone, parentless, and pissed off.

Now older, Jyn (Felicity Jones) is a bit of a rebel. Not a Rebel, just a rebel. And then she gets taken up by some Rebels, including Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and his sarcastic strategy robot, K-2SO (Alan Tudyk). She gets pushed into a plan by the Rebel Alliance, wanting to use her to get to her father, Galen, before the Death Star is completed to put a dent into those dirty Empire scums.

And along the way they meet the blind Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen) who loves him some force, his friend Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang) who looks like Mickey Rourke in Iron Man 2 sort of, Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) a pilot who wants some redemption. Also featuring Forest Whitaker, Alistair Petrie, Genevieve O’Reilly, and returning Jimmy Smits and James Earl Jones.

Girl
Oh yeah, and a strong female lead above this giant group of male characters.

Despite an over 2 hour run time, Rogue One flew by like a sweet, enjoyable breeze. The new characters were all three dimensional and most importantly, I cared about them. Even the one who ended up being sort of a recurring dick.

Jyn was a complex character and not just someone who seemed naturally good at every situation. I loved, loved, loved, Yen as Chirrut and happy to see him included in such a big movie. And K-2SO was a robot for my own heart. He wasn’t as amazing as HK-47 from KOTOR, but gosh darn it, he must be my favorite droid after him.

Despite knowing how the film has to end (right into Episode IV‘s lap), the journey becomes a thing of beauty. There is danger at every turn and there is a real feel that at any point, a character might not make it. If this dealt with any character from the original trilogy, then you would know they can make it through to tell their story. But these are new people, unknowns, they are expendable. And it was refreshing to see.

There are a lot of call backs to the original movies of course. This film is almost like a giant wink to those extreme fan boys out there, and I admit that I wrote down the parts where people laughed and clapped that I didn’t understand. Don’t worry, I asked them afterwards for each reference.

Rouge One is certainly a step in the right direction and will be a wonder for Star Wars fans and regular movie goers alike. But at the end of the day, this film doesn’t offer a lot of completely new elements to the franchise just yet. Like I already said, it was a good safe story to tell, keeping us in familiar territory. Once Star Wars gets away from the Skywalkers, Solos, and Death Stars, when it can tell a truly original story set in their universe, then it might truly reach a new greatness.

But until then, this is a good great stepping stone between the trilogies, with strong characters, and a film many will enjoy.

3 out of 4.

Jason Bourne

The Bourne series of films are not my overall cup of tea. The original trilogy got worse with each additional movie for me, with less realism, and overall just less interest. They got really close to Luc Besson Euro-Trash level of films.

But The Bourne Legacy I did enjoy, most since Identity, because it at least gave me something different. I was mostly alone with these thoughts and people were angry at Jeremy Renner and wanted their Matt Damon on. In fact, they never even considered having Renner involved. Pretty crazy.

So now we have Jason Bourne. A return to Jason Bourne the character. Apparently we know his name. Apparently this is what we want and need. And yes, I hate the title of this, the fifth film. Makes it feel like a reboot.

Boxer
I honestly can’t hype up shirtless Matt Damon like I can other actors.

In this time line, Jason (Damon) is minding his own business, kicking ass in gambling fighting rings and keeping to himself. But you know who isn’t keeping to herself? Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), a member of their same program who also has gone rogue. But she is a hacker or something, so she goes to Reykjavík to access the CIA database and steal a lot of files. The CIA of course finds out and tries to tack her. But not before Nicky can contact Jason to let him know that he NEEDS to know more.

Like that Jason’s dad (Gregg Henry) is involved in all of this, or was, back in the day. That he may have been considered for the program before he volunteered to sign up. That he could have been watched for a long time. Oh no! Time to get some classic Bourne revenge. Once he can get out of Athens and the political riots existing for reasons. Probably the economy. Dunno.

His revenge is going to be against CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones), who has been there for awhile even though this is the first time you have heard about him. He has a new head of technology or something, Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander), who is going to use her sweet computer skills to find Bourne and Parsons. There is also a CIA agent who we only know as Asset (Vincent Cassel) who would love to get some Bourne revenge and Riz Ahmed playing the creator of some sort of website/social networking thing that people really love for not spying on its users.

Also starring Ato Essandoh, Scott Shepherd, and Bill Camp.

Awkward
There has to be a way for this still to not make everyone look like uncomfortable mannequins.

Bourne Bourne Bourne. I might be doing some revisionist history here, but I feel like what I remember about The Bourne Identity is that it helped kill James Bond and also introduced us to shaky-cam for action movies. It added some realism to the fights making them more chaotic. I don’t remember them being that bad, but it has also been many years since I saw that film.

Jason Bourne goes to some EXTREMES with the shaky cam aspect. It goes to more extremes than Billy Joel. And it isn’t just shaky cams. We get quick cuts all over the place, and the camera zooming in quickly into peoples faces. Zooming in, cut, cut, shake, zoom. The hacking scenes early on felt EXTREMELY HECTIC and it just never stopped. We had shaky cam for people just walking into hotels and restaurants, completely chill situations, but there is no time to relax.

About a third of the way through the movie, I had a headache, and yes, it stuck with me for the rest of the film. At least with Hardcore Henry I barely got a headache and it offered something original. In this movie, it is Bourne finds out new secret information about the government program some how and gets revenge. Like every Bourne film before that (I think, I forget).

The ending has an extremely long and disaster filled car chase, but it is so over the top, any level of previous realism the franchise had is just thrown out of the window. It wasn’t enjoyable, it just dragged. Not to mention understanding just what is happening during it is a battle in itself. You know why. The constant cuts and shakes. It wasn’t Getaway bad, but it was damn near close.

For Jason Bourne, the stakes just aren’t there. The Asset is an interesting character at least, someone who Bourne did screw over. So I could not find myself cheering his eventual demise because of other plot reasons. This film wants to launch more Bourne films, it leaves it way too open with more secrets to find out. And they will be made but I will not be happy to see them if they keep up this repetitive plot line and refuse to change it up for once. Or maybe, just maybe, make the damn thing watchable.

1 out of 4.

Nightcrawler

Nightcrawler is everyone’s favorite X-Men, right? I mean, after Wolverine, Deadpool, Magneto, Cable, Bishop, The Phoenix, Gambit, Professor X, 1990s Cartoon Rogue, Longshot, Iceman, The Juggernaut, Apocalypse, and that pterodactyl dude, right?

Just kidding. Nightcrawler is pretty cool up there. Transporting around, being all blue and sneaky and shit. Give him a dagger and he is better than any thief in any roleplaying game. So it is about time Fox branched out on its solo movies, away from their Wolverine jerk fest,

Wait, what? It isn’t an X-Men movie? But that would mean we only got sweet Nightcrawler action in X2, and I am super tired of that movie (too much Wolverine Origin story).

Apparently Nightcrawler (outside of worm teminology), can also describe someone who usually is more social and comes out at night. Ah okay. So maybe a movie about a well liked party animal.

Camera
“Wrong again, fuckface!” – Nightcrawler director

Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a dirty rotten scoundrel. Or at least he seems that way, when he beats up a security guard (steals his watch) and steals some material to sell under the table for spare parts. Dude is just trying to get by and make a living. Something is clearly off about him. Kind of scrawny. Talks in a funny way. Always looking at people with those deep eyes, rarely blinking.

No one wants to hire a thief either, so he tends to work on his own, at whatever he does, doing some internet researching and jumping head first into his tasks.

So, when he sees a car crash, he is surprised to find a news crew really quickly on the scene. Apparently these guys just listen to police scanners, try to get great footage of crime, either in progress or with people hurt, and sell it to news stations for some quick cash. After all, these news stations want to have the most exclusive footage and first to get the better ratings!

Sounds cool. Louis should get into that business. Just needs a camera, a police scanner, and an ability to haggle just how hard could it be? Anyone can do it, right? Even that dude from American Psycho could pull it off. Also starring Bill Paxton, Rene Russo, and Riz Ahmed.

Face
I will admit I only said that because of the resemblance in the picture, despite the fact that I still haven’t seen it (shh).

Trust me, this is one of those shitty reviews where I describe the plot in a terrible, vague way. That is just because I need filler and don’t want to really spoil anything that happens.

Nightcrawler is that good. I went in knowing close to nothing and boy was I surprised in so many ways imaginable. I heard that Jake was supposed to be the second prince in Into the Woods with Chris Pine, but had to cancel because he was doing this movie. That made me upset. I want to see Jake singing in agony, damn it!

But I am incredibly happy, in retrospect, that he went the Nightcrawler route instead. Gyllenhaal dropped over 30 pounds for this role, making himself a creepy skinny dude with big bulging eyes. Nothing like his ripped Prince of Persia self. BUT HE WAS SO GOOD IN THIS ROLE.

Shit. I thought this would be a lame drama. But it was captivating, tense, somewhat scary, good, and it didn’t go the ways I thought it would. Louis Bloom is a despicable character and creation, but I want to see him do a lot of things. I don’t want a sequel, that’d be weird. But maybe just side stories or something. I think I am just describing shitty fanfiction. Bloom is probably the best bad guy of 2014. And honestly, I feel like this film came completely out of nowhere.

Nightcrawler is just continuing the trend of great Gyllenhaal movies coming out. I feel like the only reason he has a bad rap at all is due to Bubble Boy, which is silly, because Bubble Boy rocks.

4 out of 4.