Lady and the Tramp

I was wrong! Recently I released reviews for all of the Disney remakes this year (2019 for you future folk), all together instead of spaced out throughout the week. It was Dumbo, The Lion King, and Aladdin.

Silly me, it looked like only three remakes would occur from Disney in this year. But as Yoda says, there is another.

Lady and the Tramp was probably meant to go to theaters at some point, but they realized it didn´t have as big of a draw as other remakes, and instead decided to just put it out on Disney+ as an opening day movie.

Heck, I saw it up there and for some days just assumed that it was a TV series. Well its out, and here is a damn rushed review.

walk
Aww, look at the little puppy. Someone pet her right now!

Jim Dear (Thomas Mann) and Darling (Kiersey Clemons) are an American rich couple living in a nice house/city in the early 1900´s. If I had to guess, I´d say 1920´s or 30´s based on the cars at the time, and no talk of war. No one finds this weird, so let us move on! They also recently got a puppy that they named Lady (Tessa Thompson).

Well Lady has lived a privileged life, hanging with her neighbor dogs (Sam Elliott, Ashley Jensen), getting collars, and nice food. But her owners are pregnant and a baby is on the way. A scrappy dog named Tramp (Justin Theroux) warns her that babies mean bad news for doggies.

Sure enough, it does, because the owners are overwhelmed. Thanks to a trip and some cats and some confusion, Lady finds herself collar-less, and in the big city, having to rely on Tramp to save her from the dogcatcher (Adrian Martinez). This is also where she will learn that even the scrappiest of dogs have good hearts. Just not cats, they suck.

Also starring Yvette Nicole Brown, and the voices of Janelle Monae and Benedict Wong.

meatball
Let´s face it, this is the only reason you are here. 

In the original Lady and the Tramp, not a lot happens. It is a product of its time, no one is really too evil. We have a dog catcher, some cats, and a rat. And that is very much true here as well.

There are not many changes from the source material. Jock is now voiced by a woman, whatever. The couple is interracial and the town very diverse, really weird for the time, but again, whatever. They changed the Siamese cats, which makes sense, to two regular cats and they have a very different song. If they had to change one thing, that is the big one. Oh, and there is no Beaver.

So what we have is basically just a regular remake. Nothing fundamentally different, nothing new to offer, just showing it in a new way. And honestly, it looks really great. The CGI pets are all really well done, and the voice acting is not as jarring as it was for The Lion King.

The spaghetti scene was cute and the songs were fine.

I am giving this movie an average review, basically because of how nice it looks. It is not going to blow you away, it does not change the game, and it is not going to get an serious consideration for watching in my own household. But if they had to remake something and not completely make it worse, this is a good way to go about it.

2 out of 4.

Last Christmas

After the (lame) success of Bohemian Rhapsody, and then Rocketman, I figured that we might get a George Michael movie also at some point. I mean, he is also British and famous from the 80’s and 90’s.

I just didn’t think it would be like…this.

Last Christmas is a RomCom that is inspired by a George Michael song and also other George Michael things? So it is not a story about George Michael. But I do find it sad that a gay man’s song has been turned into a heterosexual romance movie. But that is what happens when you die. People do whatever they want with your legacy.

kiss
Ew, kissing. 
Life is not going well for Kate (Emilia Clarke). She is technically homeless, in that she crashes on the couches of her friends until they get sick of her. Which is often, as she is klutzy, she likes getting drunk, and she brings strange men to their apartments without permission.

She could live with her mother (Emma Thompson) and father (Boris Isakovic), but since they moved to London from Yugoslavia during the war, they have been too extra. Distant and worrisome. Overbearing. And her sister (Lydia Leonard) hates her as well.

So Kate lives her life couch to couch, working full time at a Christmas store for Santa (Michelle Yeoh), and badly auditioning for musicals with her heart not being fully into it. She loves singing, she wants it as a career, but she can’t get her life together.

And then she meets a man, a Tom man (Henry Golding) who is incredibly weird. He wants her to see the world around her and take things…slow? What the hell is this?

group
Santa’s made up, so Santa can be an Asian old lady too.

Last Christmas has some positives! Like Thompson, who is incredibly delightful as an older Eastern European worrisome mother. She is fantastic and completely wasted in this role for the movie. She is one of the main saviors from making this a 0.

I also enjoyed Golding, another one of the leads. I have seen him in a few roles, but in this one he really struck for me. He was a really good ideal dream hunk.

Unfortunately, the rest of the movie exists, and what we got on the screen is not worth watching unless you are on the Hallmark channel working on a Christmas movie marathon. We all know that is where this one is destined to be.

Clarke is playing the lead in an anime with her level of klutz, and her transformation doesn’t stick in my eyes. As I thought the movie was building up to be something more endearing, the ending happened and it totally ruined my evening. I won’t go into more details there, but it literally went too dumb.

Also, it clearly didn’t go enough into George Michael. Kate is obsessed with him, and sings like, one of his songs? They went out of their way to say this took place in London, 2017, so we had a setting. You’d think they’d also go out of their way to talk about his death in that same location the year prior. Just seems weird.

1 out of 4.

Midsommar

When Midsommar was announced, it became one of my top anticipated films of 2019.

Sure sure, a big part of that has to do with the theme. A horror movie, set mostly in daylight, and in Sweden? That is unique in itself, even if the plot ends up being weak. Location can mean everything.

The other big reason is that the director, Ari Aster, was ready to follow up his smashing success of Hereditary. Not only was it on my top of the year list, but it was the best horror of last year and had some best acting performances in my book. Clearly I would run towards any second movie he had to offer after that glorious first picture.

And also, Swedish people!

vacation
None of these people are Swedish. Well, one is. But can you tell he is Swedish?

Dani (Florence Pugh) and Christian (Jack Raynor) are having some problems with their relationship. They have been dating for awhile now, but they might be drifting. Dani’s family has been having a lot of personal drama, so Christian feels like it is never a good time for a breakup. And then, a bigger tragedy occurs, and sure, guess they need to keep this romance going.

Unrelated to their romance, Christian was invited to go to Sweden for a few weeks. Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), a Swedish friend at their University, has invited his new friends to come see a festival in the commune where he grew up. They have yearly festivals around the middle of the summer, but this is the most special one that occurs only every 90 years. Also coming along are Josh (William Jackson Harper), who is working on a thesis about various cultures summer celebrations, Mark (Will Poulter), who is looking to score with some hot Swedish babes, and of course Dani, because she just needs something to distract her.

Now of course, this middle of nowhere, super northern, Swedish village far away from the main roads is going to be a bit weirder. And, given the time of year and location, they barely even have darkness. What a fun time to celebrate and frolic with the flowers. With this culture, their customs may seem strange to visitors. But they have done them for hundreds of years, so who is to say they are wrong?

Also starring a lot of Swedish people, including Liv Mjönes and Anna Åström.

scream
Ah yes, frolicking with the flowers.

Midsommar is definitely a movie, and one that took me awhile to be able to write about. Not weeks, just a few days. I wrote parts of the review right away, but I knew I needed to sit on my analysis.

First important note to point out is the film’s length. Very few horror films ever break 2 hours, and the ones that do end up being extremely successful or reach cult status. Midsommar is 2 hours and 20 minutes, almost unheard of for a horror (but not unheard of in terms of average movie length that seems to keep creeping upwards). Despite the length, I never once felt bored throughout the film, and mostly sat in awe of the beautiful cinematography, long shots, and colors.

In comparison to Hereditary, this is not as scary as his first film. It is definitely still unnerving/creepy, but for pure horror it lacks. It builds up its shocks and goes to an expected place by the end, but it is still satisfying and makes sense to get to that point.

Above all else, this is a film about a couple going through hard times and eventually going to have a break up. We know it, they know it, their friends know it. It just so happens that this break up is done in a unique and gory way.

Aster’s second major film is another win for him in terms of creativity, gorgeousness, and great acting performances. I cannot confirm yet if this is the case for sure, but you get to see a lot of Jack Raynor’s penis for those who have a check off list. It is probably actually him and not some CGI dick.

4 out of 4.

Movie Roundup – Online Releases 2018

Welcome to a Movie Roundup! A movie roundup features a few films that I didn’t feel like making full reviews for, but needed to get basic reviews out there for completionist reasons. It also helps me deal with my backlog. It may have a theme, and today’s theme is Online Releases 2018! Basically, things that started out on the internet, ideally a streaming website, because it is a loose theme, and I will take it.

Being on a movie round up doesn’t mean a movie is inherently bad, or good, or meh. I can feature any rating on here! So don’t assume the worst! I will also just post the reviews in alphabetical order.


Online Releases 2018

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Can we go wrong with the Coen brothers? Yes, we totally can. But I can’t help but feel something wonderful when they continually try to do something different, or make the normal a lot more eccentric. This time, they went back to the former, while also going back to some of those old timey western roots, which are arguably their best movies. Except this time, it is straight to Netflix, and an Anthology movie with six short films instead. The only connection? Western.

This ends up working really well, even if I can say I didn’t love every part of the anthology. Unfortunately, the best and most fun was the first of the stories, and probably me least favorite was number two. I really enjoyed the one about the prospectors and the woman with her not dog too. When it works, it really works, and when it doesn’t work, it is still well made and a bit beautiful, if not full of fuckery. This is not a happy movie, and it can easily be watched in parts, and deserves praise for its individual shorts that work out amazingly well.

3 out of 4.

Ballad
None of these people share a scene with the others.

The Kissing Booth

On the other hand, Netflix has made it clear its strategy isn’t to appeal to just the best movie ever, but to instead go for all the demographics so that they all have something to watch, which is fair. Netflix having a shit movie doesn’t mean that Netflix is bad, I just don’t have to watch it…if I am a normal movie goer.

But this movie is something else, and it has crawled out of the pits of hell thanks to some teenage girl. Yeah, it is based on a book, written by a teenage girl, on some website, and now its a movie. An uninspired romance movie, that seems to rely on the kissing booth as a feature, despite not being featured too heavily in the grand scope. It features a love interest who is super controlling, threatening, and uses his fists to solve problems. Ah, what good values to instill in our youth.

0 out of 4.

Kissing
Help, help, I’m trapped in a 90s movie.

My Dinner with Hervé

Over on HBO, they also like to do movies, and shows, and documentaries. In this one, we have dudes as the stars, with one of them being one of their biggest stars of their biggest show. Makes sense. Peter Dinklage playing a biographical role, of possibly the most famous little person in history (before Peter Dinklage and Verne Troyer), Hervé Villechaize. Made famous for being in Fantasy Island and The Man With The Golden Gun.

Now, this is all according to a journalist, but it is based on the night out on the town with Hervé, where he also recounts his whole life story leading up to the point, his rises, and his many many downfalls. Dinklage does an amazing job of transforming himself, or what I know about himself, and this is an extremely touching tale of a childhood of abuse and sadness, while still trying to make something about it. It never seems to go deep enough into the sadder parts though, and probably skirts around important details. I just knew that it started off way better than it eventually ended.

2 out of 4.

DINNer
And that is also true about life, I suppose.

Slice

Slice might not technically fit this theme, because it came out on VOD, but hey, my themes are loose, and I want it in this post. Slice is the type of movie that is just so out there, it is hard to believe that it even exists. Vampires, werewolves, zombies, ghosts, murder mystery, pizza store, witches, and such a strange plot and concept. It is the type of movie that when describing it you know will have a cult following and probably LARPing in the future.

But in all honestly, it just doesn’t work out well. The only redeeming factor is that it definitely feels original. It just is a weird mash of ideas that aren’t fully explained because it isn’t fully thought through. It is cool, it is weird, but it is definitely not good.

1 out of 4.

sLIce
Although, it made me want pizza, so good job there.

The Tale

Finally, another HBO movie (sorry Hulu), that I didn’t even know came out this last summer. I would have never known it existed if it didn’t get nominated for a Spirit award. I mean, it has a big name in it, and it is about sexual abuse when someone was a child. Sure, a fictional tale, but a tale that resonates due to how often similar “tales” have been told by other girls in relation to their coaches while growing up. Hell, the gymnastics scandal was in 2018, maybe even going on after this movie. It is very relevant.

Dern plays someone very vulnerable and stubborn at the same time. It doesn’t end with fireworks, but plays it in a more realistic way. More importantly, the girl who plays the younger version is amazing at her role. Her acting, in normal kid way, amplifies the creepiness of everything. It puts the viewer in a dark place and really helps bring the hate towards these sexual predators.

3 out of 4.

tale
These two adults are now on my despise list, well done!

Overall, steaming platforms put out a lot of duds, and some successes. And especially Netflix, because I will never catch up on on their new releases. Or, maybe I will, if I just keep the review format like this and not larger. But these ones caught my eye for some reason or another and I chose them to watch to review, and never got around to actually writing.

The Favourite

At this point in my career as a movie reviewer, I can no longer say I am unfamiliar with Yorgos Lanthimos‘ work. Now, his first few things? Sure. But I have reviews of The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, and now, The Favourite, so that is a clear majority of his movies. I can still suck as a person for not seeing the things that got him famous that are apparently great in their own rights, but I am familiar with his work.

Lobster was absurd and social commentary. Deer was creepy and made me panic. And The Favourite would turn out to be just as different as the last two.

The one thing I was most curious about this movie going into it is that it was listed as a “Biography” on IMDB before hand, having never seen the trailers or anything. This…this is a real story? Or at least based on one? That is certainly nothing like Lanthimos’ previous work, so it is good to see him go in strange directions.

Wait
Waiting rooms with no magazines got me like

Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) is in pain and sad. She lost her husband, she has aches and hurts and she doesn’t want to rule England. She wants people to fix things and for her land to be in peace and to hang out with bunnies. Thankfully she has Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) by her side. Sarah has ambitions and smarts and wealth and is married to the main general. She wants what is best for Anne and best for England. She helps the Queen in every thing, including decision making, and is brutally honest with her. They might even be in love. That would explain all the sex stuff at least.

Things are going well enough, the two political parties disagree about things, and it is all terribly confusing, but whatever.

On the other side, there is Abigail (Emma Stone), who used to be a lady, but had some big problems with her family kind of ruining everything. But she is cousins with Sarah, so she wants to go to their castle and find protection. She is given a job as a very low level maid, not what she is used to, but it is better than nothing. However, she quickly finds that her talents can be better used and makes herself extremely valuable, with the goal of rising up the ranks.

Maybe even winning over the love of the Queen, and screwing over her cousin, who is definitely a b word.

Also starring Nicholas Hoult and Joe Alwyn.

Bow
But we are here for the ladies ya’ll, even if Hoult has magical hair.

Going into a Lanthimos film you will never really know what to expect. This film seemed to be an experiment in camera work, from wide angled to fish. Amazing camera work at that. Given a film that will have most people talking about the costumes and acting, it is very important to realize how sexy everything felt. It wasn’t like normal impressive cinematography, it had strange side effects, and there were a lot or risks with it. It helped explain the complex feelings going on in the kingdom at the time and the complexity of these characters.

Okay, now the acting. Stone. Weiss. Colman. All extravagant and showcasing some of the best acting of the year. Apparently Stone/Weiss are both going for supporting roles and will be nominated together in a lot of shows, while they are giving Colman the top acting role and you could argue for all three that they deserve some form of main actress. The men are secondary in this film, they are schemers, they are distractions, but it is about two women who both want power and will do a lot to make sure they maintain their power.

I laughed so much throughout this film, while cringing and hiding at other parts. It really goes to extremes in all levels, never super graphic, but a few intense scenes regardless.

What surprised me was how “accurate” it was to history. Now I am willing to bet none of these conversations are close, and I don’t even think Abigail was real. But we have the same queen, bad health a lot of her life, lady Sarah, changing political allegiances, war, and it had the number of miscarriages correct (which during the movie just seemed like an absurd/uncomfortable joke). Again, I put accurate in quotation marks. It is clearly not accurate, but it is also very much inspired and not drawn out of thin air.

Basically, everything that The Favourite tries, it accomplishes with gold and blue ribbons. Even the jarring and uncomfortable ending makes a lot of sense for this movie. The Favourite came out of nowhere for me, and I could never have guessed it to be so brutal and enjoyable. One of my must see films of the year, and certainly one of the top.

4 out of 4.

The Seagull

There has been a long history of movies being named after animal. I don’t want to give a lot of examples, so I will instead just pick a recent one, The Lobster.

The Lobster was surreal and weird. Is The Seagull going to be just as surreal and weird? Will it explore different concepts? Will it be about birds at all?

Or, as I realized later on, will it just be a remake of a very famous Anton Chekhov play from over a 100 years ago? Yeah, it is that one. And this is my only time to point out that the play has had many adaptations, modern versions, some movie, some references in TV shows. But most importantly a few years ago was a modern play version called Stupid Fucking Bird.

I want to watch Stupid Fucking Bird the movie.

Face
Instead I am stuck with this arguably not stupid fucking face.

Set mostly in the early 1900’s, close to Moscow, on a small lake estate, The Seagull is about a wealthy-ish family and their issues. I say wealthy-ish, because they have servants, but also apparently they are too poor to leave the area or better there lives in other ways.

The main patron of the estate is Sorin (Brian Dennehy), whom is getting ill and would rather live in the city. His sister, Irina (Annette Bening), is an aging actress who is living in Moscow mostly but she returns to the estate in the summer. Irina’s son, Konstantin (Billy Howle), is a modernist, who fancies himself a poet and a playwright, hoping to the way plays are told and to become famous himself. Konstantin is madly in love with a local farm girl and his muse, Nina (Saoirse Ronan), who dreams of being a famous actress. And finally we have Boris Trigorin (Corey Stoll), a relatively young author who is very famous in Moscow, whom Irina has been seeing for some time as a celebrity couple.

Also Elisabeth Moss is hanging around during this time, but I couldn’t possibly tell you what her actual job or purpose is. Maybe beloved neighbor.

Most of the story takes place a few weeks over the summer. A lot of the main characters are jealous or infatuated with other ones, even if they are in other relationships. Some of these relationships are out of prestige, out of love, out of settling.

A lot of sex starved people, who might have parent issues, who can orgasm seemingly after a couple of forbidden kisses.

Also starring Glenn Fleshler, Brian Dennehy, Mare Winningham, Jon Tenney, and Michael Zegen.

Boat
Only bad things can happen on a boat.

The Seagull is about a small group of people who all want to fuck a different person. Not everyone will leave disappointed either! Some will succeed, some will be left to pick up the scraps, and that is life.

The ideas behind this story in 2018 don´t feel original at all, but if it was originally scripted in the late 1800s it was probably original as hell at the time of release. It may have inspired most of the similar stories for the last 100 years.

And yet, it doesn´t matter, as I am here just to judge a film.

The film does has really fine acting of course. Bening is a star, and Stoll does a lot more than I expected from him based on most of his previous roles. Moss provides some good comedic relief, and Ronan is fine as usual. I did find Howle a little bit strange though. It really felt like he was meant to be played by Eddie Redmayne, but he canceled or was too expensive so they settled.

The story though is just okay. It has some chuckles. It has a pointless intro flashforward. And really, I do not know why the cast wasn´t speaking with Russian accents or anything. It was just lot of clearly American people talking occasionally about Moscow and it kept throwing me off.

2 out of 4.

Anything

I can’t remember the last film that had as much casting controversy as Anything. In fact, this controversy is probably why it took a long time to come out, in an extremely limited release, waiting specifically for everyone to forget about it. Maybe the last movie with this much controversy was The Last Airbender. But I am sure something else was controversial between then and now. Who knows.

Anything is controversial, because Matt Bomer is playing a transgender woman. Why couldn’t they have just cast an actual transgender woman? After all, A Fantastic Woman was able to do it and it kicked butt.

The controversy is a fine point. Another point is that the woman is a sex worker, and that is just a really a stereotype that these women can’t get out of. So having it a focal point of the film is pretty much just more lazy writing.

And again, I can’t really argue with these points, but I will still try to judge this film on its overall film quality and not the controversy.

Bomer
Although in this case, it is important to teach the controversy.

Early Landry (John Carroll Lynch) is not having a lot of fun at the current stage of his life. His wife died, and now he is alone. He loved his wife and didn’t really have friends, nor was he super close with his other family. He was hoping to live many many more years with her, but a car accident happened, and now he is left with nothing.
So he tried to kill himself. And it was unsuccessful, but the attempt still happened. Now he is living with his sister (Maura Tierney) and her family, but it is obviously awkward. Once he sells his old house, he has plenty of money to live anywhere, and he wants to live in…Hollywood.

A cheap place of course, he doesn’t need a big place, just a living room, a kitchen, and a bed room. So he lives in a rougher part of the city, but he wants to try something different. He needs change, or else he will just repeat previous actions.

And he immediately meets Frida (Matt Bomer), his neighbor, who expands his world view on what it means to be a nice or decent person. She is crude, she is a sex worker, and she is still for whatever reason willing to talk to this old southern cracker.

Also starring Tanner Buchanan.

Family
And his sister is pretty much not cool with any of this.

It took awhile for Frida to appear. In fact, I assumed she might have been a really minor role, and this whole thing was a bit more overblown. But once she appeared, she really didn’t go away. Well, once, and that was for plot reasons. But she was a major player, basically a costar.

The problems with Frida is that she is basically fulfilling the “Magical Negro” trope. Instead, she is the magical trans person that introduces our regular old man to a different way of accepting people. He doesn’t go in hating and mad at this change, but welcomes it, but it is still a struggle, because she is a different person than any person he is used to. But she is there to fix his life more so than he is there to fix her life.

Basically, this is a movie about a character moving on with his life after his wife’s death, and this lady is his way to find a new purpose. So she feels more like a tool than a character, to fix him, and it feels worse given that they decided for this tool to be a transgender woman sex worker.

In other words, it is a lazy plot device, used badly, and is used as a way of building this false sort of representation. You know, without real representation. So this is certainly a movie that is skippable by most measures.

HOWEVER, I will have to point out, that Lynch is great in this role. He is very strong overall and it does a good job of showing off his skill set. It is just the other stuff that majorly brings it down.

1 out of 4.

Disobedience

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

WorldFest isn’t known for its big releases. No, it is an independent movie festival, so seeing one of those giant movies that is going to win an Oscars would probably be very rare.

On that note, for the film Disobedience, it is probably the first time I heard of a movie months before I knew it would be at WorldFest. It was directed by Sebastián Lelio, who directed Gloria a few years ago (haven’t seen yet still, but a remake soon with him still at the helm for America), and A Fantastic Woman, which just won best foreign film.

Needless to say, I was excited about his next film. Hell, very provocative posters for this film have gone up and maybe that is why it is famous (okay, that is the reason). Let’s bring on the sexy times.

Group
Nothing sexier than candles, flames, beards, and dark clothing.

The story opens up with Rav Krushka (Anton Lesser) is giving a sermon about the differences between Man, Angels, and Beasts, and the idea of choice. Oh, this is totally a synagogue as well, very very conservative Jewish. Somewhere in Great Britain, a little local community. The women sitting on the second story only. And then he goes and dies.

His one and only daughter, Ronit Krushka (Rachel Weisz) is living in NYC. She left the community she grew up in, abandoned her family, to live alone. She is a bit of disgrace. No one talks to her anymore. But someone sent a message through the grapevine that her father was dead, their Rabbi and spiritual leader, so she heads back over ready to face her past and her peers.

The ceremonies take place at the home of Dovid Kuperman (Alessandro Nivola), Rav’s spiritual son, whom he took in when he was in his teen years to begin his devout training, so sort of a brother to Ronit. He is now married to Esti (Rachel McAdams), a big shocker to Ronit. They invite her to stay in their guest room while she deals with her father’s loss and the annoyance from the community.

We learn of course that some members of the group had an intense past. This past is why Ronit ended up leaving their community, seemingly never to return. How dare she mess that up, right?

Kiss
Rachel and Rachel standing on a street. R-A-C-H-E-L-I-N-G.

Setting this in a conservative Jewish community with very little out of it first took me awhile to figure out where this film was set. It is a modern film, it just took until the last 20-30 minutes before someone pulled out a cell phone for any reason. It could have been in the 60’s/70’s, or it could have been modern, given their conservative nature, who knows!

The three main leads give really good acting performances. Weisz is the powerhouse here, Nivola has his moments at the end, and for the most part McAdams is a quiet force building over time. They all feel very vulnerable and real in their roles, giving an extra umph to the story.

It just took forever for the story to really grow and move forward. It was definitely boring. I am fine with a slow burn story, but it was hard to keep my eyes open early on and even by the end there was still some struggles.

I like that we got an in depth look at a community that is old dealing with “modern issues”, and it seems to be something that the director is playing with lately. It is something worth being told, but the payout doesn’t feel necessarily worth it.

2 out of 4.

Basmati Blues

I first heard about Basmati Blues at least 2 and a half years ago. I tend to rather frequently look up the Wikipedia List of Musical Films By Year. It is always good to know what is coming up, because damn it, I like musicals. Just like how I waited for almost two years for The Greatest Showman.

But this was different. This one had the star of Room , which was wildly popular at the time, and it was a goddamn musical. It just took forever to come out, with delays, and then eventually a quiet VOD and even quieter DVD release.

This is a film they tried to bury, instead of riding off of her coattails. Can it be that bad?

Dance
Foreigner learning to do local dance scene? Check.

Rice 9 is amazing! It gives more protein, more rice per yield, less waste, and blah blah blah. It has been genetically modified to be the very best rice there is and can do a lot for hunger and poverty!

The designers of this crop are the father daughter team of Eric (Scott Bakula) and Linda (Brie Larson), although Linda did most of the legwork despite her younger age. She is passionate about helping save the world and happy that she works for a company that is trying to get things rolling. However, there is a problem. Their rep that was supposed to go to India to sell the plant to a small group of farmers to prove its effectiveness got into some really bad trouble. He wouldn’t be welcome in those parts.

The heads (Donald Sutherland, Tyne Daly) need to find someone new to send over stat. Someone who is passionate, kind, and believes in their product. And although she is just a scientist, they think Linda is just the girl for the task.

Now we have a girl going to a country she has never been, to peddle a product she loves, to farmers who are mostly resistant to change. And because she is alone, why not throw in some love complications as well? Oh yeah, also, the corporation is bad.

Also starring Utkarsh Ambudkar as our love interest / competitor, Saahil Sehgal, and Lakshmi Manchu.

Musical
Corporation revealing their evil ways in a plan with office workers? Check

No, I wouldn’t say it is that bad. But it is is that forgettable. There were definitely songs and it was definitely musical songs. I imagined this could be a movie where the songs came out naturally and realistically, like Begin Again or so. These songs however are mostly the show stopper type films, breaking the ordinary, music playing in the background. I have no hate for these type, I love them!

Just this one didn’t have too many and they weren’t too spectacular (spectacular). I can’t remember really any of the songs, just maybe 1-2 seconds. None of the tunes stuck in my head and maybe only a few made me smile.

The plot and the story is relatively weak. I am happy it was anti-corrupt corporations and not anti-genetically modified food, which is where I thought it would go. They are totally fine with genetically modified food, just not fine with dick companies who lie.

It was strange to set a musical in India and not go harder for the actual Bollywood feel. We had a Bollywood ending number, and the rest was just standard fare. The cinematography during the songs is incredibly low key, and just felt like a movie that was filmed in about a week.

Basmati Blues is the thankfully not the only musical to come out this year. Check out Hearts Beat Loud for my current number one if you need something to get you moving.

1 out of 4.

Love, Simon

Love, Simon is an upcoming movie based on the book. That book was called Simon vs. The Homo Sapien Agenda.

I don’t know anything about this film going into it, but I wish, wish, wish, it had the same title as the book. That is such an exciting title! And one that would probably turn off a lot of potential viewers. Heck, it makes me think of Scott Pilgrim vs The World. Who doesn’t want to be associated with that masterpiece?

Oh well. Sometimes you have to make the money decision instead of the fun, original, cool decision.

Friends
Best friends until the very end, no secrets between them, none whatsoever.

Simon (Nick Robinson) is your typical high school teenage senior. He has regular parents (Jennifer Garner, Josh Duhamel), who might be a bit rich sure, and a younger sister (Talitha Eliana Bateman) who wants to be a chef. He has some BFFs for most of his life in Leah (Katherine Langford) and Nick (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.), including a new girl to their group Abby (Alexandra Shipp).

Oh, an he is gay too. Totally loves the dudes. Just hasn’t told anyone despite knowing it for years.

But then something changes. Their school/community have their own little Post Secret group that still is in use, where people can post rumors, or comments about their lives. And it turns out that someone else in their school is gay. Well, secretly gay.

So Simon decides to email him and set up a correspondence with this Blue fellow to share their feelings. In secret of course. This email turns into a bit of a fascination for Simon. He longs to hear back from his secret friend, and even finds himself falling in love with his words.

Unfortunately, the longer he obsesses over his email, the more likely he is to screw up with these emails and accidentally let his secret out.

Also starring Logan Miller, Keiynan Lonsdale, Miles Heizer, and Tony Hale.

Friends Friends
What a diverse group of totally normal friends!

If I had to describe Love, Simon in the least amount of words, I would just tell you “Never Been Kissed, but gay.” For those of you familiar with that movie it should be pretty obvious. A person in school has a secret, the secret is found out, and it ends with romance! A lot of movies have similar plots, but this one really drives home these aspects.

And after saying all of that, that is not a negative on Love, Simon. I loved Love, Simon. It was cute, it felt real, it was modern and topical. Robinson as a lead had a constant look on his face to show he was hurting on the inside, unsure of how to express his feelings that are giving him so much angst. The pressure builds on him throughout the movie, once his secret starts spreading without his knowledge and consent. And finally, by the end, the acceptance of his fate, his character has different body movements and an aura about him. It is a wonderful change to process.

I hated the people that were dicks, I loved his circle of friends, and the consequences of his lies and actions went completely believable ways. This is just a nice feel good romance teenage coming of age story. I cried several times, from both being upset and sad, to happiness. It was good amount of feels. An appropriate, non groping amount of feels.

And unsurprisingly, this feels like a film I could easily watch again and again for years to come.

4 out of 4.

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