Glass

Surprise, its M. Night Shyamalan! He has been on a bit of an upswing lately. After he did The Visit, which was better than expected. And after he did Split, which was really great thanks to acting performances and of course, a surprise sequel.

Now, with Glass, we find ourselves with a trilogy no one would have expected a few years ago. Split works really well as a sequel to Unbreakable, maybe more so because no one expected it to be a sequel.

Unbreakable still holds up today, as a slow origin story and realizing that one might be something greater than everyone else around him. With Glass he has quite a task. Can he fully combine these two films, and bring about some sort of resolution? Because I don’t think anyone is expecting it to continue after Glass, into some just Shyamalan franchise of supers. An update is what we want, not a never ending story.

But hey, I am willing to change my mind should this be awesome.

Door
“Yo lady. Check that door. It’s glass, isn’t it?”

It turns out, that the more I talk about really what goes on in this movie, the more I might accidentally give away in terms of it its plot. As of now, Kevin Crumb and company (James McAvoy) have created the Beast and are causing havok, doing their own thing. Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy) is returning to her regular life, and is in a better home situation.

Dunn (Bruce Willis) runs his own security business, while also spending time looking for people to help, and right now, The Beast. His son (Spencer Treat Clark) is now grown up, but still on his side and his “tech base guy”.

Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) has been in a mental hospital for some time, and his mom (Charlayne Woodard) is still alive! And we also have Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) as a psychiatrist, who has a very specific niche.

Also starring Luke Kirby and Adam David Thompson as workers.

Ceiling
What a climatic battle of super people! Wait

First of all, I think general audiences are going to HATE Glass. We have the potential ending of a franchise, two superhuman forces coming to collide. Is it going to be an epic game of cat and mouse? Is it going to be a huge brawl after huge brawl? How is he going to make it feel realistic like Unbreakable?

No, nothing like that. Instead, most of what I imagine people will suspect is going to happen really quickly, and the other 85% of the movie will be something you did not expect. I know I didn’t, but I didn’t see a trailer and so went in with my own regular expectations.

Now I am not saying where it went was bad, it was just extremely weird and unexpected. Specifically, Paulson’s character I really hated, and yet, we were supposed to hate her. There was just other things off with it. The situation she was in, her conversations, they didn’t feel natural so it took me out of the realism they were going for.

This is a lot more than anyone bargained for. And for a lot of the film, I was still sort of digging it. I didn’t think the direction was bad. But the ending. The ending is a mess of “twists” and what felt like a never ending movie. This movie at 129 minutes feels like its three hours. It is very slow paced, and feels like there are multiple regular ending spots.

McAvoy is still fan-fucking-tastic. What we wanted was to see more of his sides, and I lost count, but I think we get to see the rest of his many faces. We get a lot of long shots of him going between his voices, and it is great to see the many transformations.

Samuel L. Jackson is not utilized enough, Bruce Willis looks great (and old) but is too quiet and also under utilized. We need more updates, damn it. It was great to see Clark and Woodward back after so long, replacing them would have been lame.

And finally, I am pretty sure the timing is really off in the movie. It sounds like they said it took place only 3 weeks after Split. Did it? No idea. But if so, then all this talk of 19 years is bullshit, unless Split took place in the future compared to when it came out. And if Glass is only 3 weeks later, from a few years ago, some of the references made don’t make sense. Damn it, I hate it when timelines are confusing and characters can reference songs that aren’t out yet.

Let’s end the review on this note. Again, Glass is weird, it tries to do something different. It succeeded at being different. And I don’t think people will be happy with that difference.

2 out of 4.

Movie Roundup – Mainstream 2018 Part 1

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 Mainstream 2018 (Part 1)! Basically, the popular movies I had missed, and need to really review, or else.

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.


Mainstream 2018 Part 1

Alpha

In the face of this movie, I expected the worst. I thought this movie had to be a typical January release, something similar to
10,000 BC. But alarmingly, it came out in September, and when I finally got to see the movie it mostly met my expectations. It was surprisingly not amazingly bad, just regularly bad.

Gross CGI landscapes to recreate the before time, and a pretty uninspired storyline about the bringing together a “dog” and a man. The other sad aspect of this movie is that people might watch it and go, “Oh, so that’s how it happened! Domestication!” and take this movie as fact. That would be a shame. And I don’t know if people actually say that, because I barely know people who have seen it, but this straw man stands in my mind. A forgettable film, like most dog films.

1 out of 4.

Alpha
Waiting for Mufasa to show up takes forever.

Crazy Rich Asians

When I first heard this title, I really assumed it was sort of a joke. I didn’t know it was based on a book of the title, or why it was called that, but it just felt off. I thought it would be some sort of exploitative film that was a comedy no one would watch, and hey, it feels good to be wrong. A romance more than anything, this is a film about an outsider being brought into the world of ridiculously rich Asian people in Singapore. So we get all of the wealth, luxury, and snide comments with some back stabbing.

On its whole, it could have been a forgettable romance film. But the lavish sets went all out to display a lifestyle most of us can only dream about, while also bringing in new cultural elements to American cinema. Having the lead be the mom from Fresh Off The Boat was great, and showed she has at least some range. The ending teared me up too. And damn it, it is great in general to see different people on our romance movies. Bring on this wave of Asian-American films, damn it.

3 out of 4.

CRA
Out of the three adjectives in the title, I’d prefer the middle one myself.

Mission Impossible: Fallout

“More Mission Impossible? I thought we were done with those,” said no one really ever. Or at least said people who hadn’t been watching them. I will go on record and say the only one I didn’t get enjoyment out of was the second one, and that one has a lot of stranger things going on. I just didn’t see them until I was already an adult, so it took me awhile to appreciate them. Because lets face it, there isn’t another successful American action franchise that is going into this level of detail and craziness for its stunts. It wants Cruise to do most of the work.

He is never going to be the level of some of our older or past martial artist stars, with the long choreographed fight scenes, but its at least a step in the right direction. This film is still exciting, but overall, it feels uninspired. It just isn’t as good as the last two modern MI movies. The stunts aren’t as sexy, even if they have bigger overall stunts. It doesn’t fill me with as much awe, and the story line just gets excessive as it attempts to continually top itself. The ending also feels really clunky and I never really feel that sense of dread that it is going for. A good attempt at an action movie, I just expect a bit more now from the franchise.

2 out of 4.

MI5
The biggest stunts are helicopters? Eh, I’ve seen helicopters before.

Ocean’s Eight

I am a huge Ocean’s Trilogy fan, and a huge Steven Soderbergh fan, and so even if the director wasn’t really involved, I was hoping to love this one. Heck, the stars are there too, with a lot of big names.

I will say it feels gimmicky, and not equal, to just go the opposite direction and make it an all female cast. It doesn’t feel natural, just like an all male heist would be with the large numbers (which is why technically the two sequels had…one woman in on the heist). In the movie, it does seem to make a lot more sense, given just the nature of the crime and the talents they needed to pull it off, so that is the good news. The biggest issue overall is just that the movie feels forgettable when it finishes. No one person stands out in acting, and the various twists to show how it was pulled off are for the most part guessable, especially thanks to the title.

I still hope they can do more. Go for it. Just lets raise the stakes.

2 out of 4.

O8
Yep, eight people, like most of the advertising, spoiling a twist.

Tag

Finally, a film people maybe thought initially was a joke. A high budgeted comedy (and slightly action?) movie, about people playing tag, that has gone on with very specific rules for decades, and one person who never, ever gets tagged. So many stars, so little time, and such a ridiculous concept (based loosely on a real story). I wanted to enjoy it and was intrigued by the trailer. But like a lot of modern comedies, I think it really just needs a group of people or slight inebriation to really fully enjoy.

I’d prefer a comedy I can find historical alone, and this is clearly one meant for you to enjoy with your own group of friends, which is fine, but limited. Again, with a large cast, no one really feels like a standout, and some people seem to be doing the same sorts of character they are always type casted into. The ending also went a really strange place. Unexpected, sure, but something that feels almost like a complete genre switch.

1 out of 4.

Tag

Mainstream movies may be a broad title, especially when you compare them to the other quick themes I put together, but hey, its my themes suck it. I originally would have done genre, but too many films are multi-genre that I didn’t want to deal with that hassle.

The Post

It is very hard for me to feel unbiased when watching a movie about sexy journalism. Especially if that is a story about real life sexy journalism, not made up who gives a shit journalism (Fake News?). Spotlight was something that felt like a slow burn, but ended so strong, with the good guys (the journalists, always), winning and doing the right thing. All The President´s Men felt very real and told the story about how Watergate was discovered and put into the papers. Another fantastic story.

And now out of nowhere we have The Post. This is a film that didn´t receive hype all year before coming out. It felt like sort of a secret movie, and that is bizarre given that it was directed by Steven Spielberg. Spielberg loves his period pieces, three of his last four films were Lincoln, Bridge of Spies, and War Horse, all of which I have varying opinions on.

Needless to say, given how little I knew about this film (and despite my journalism love), I had very low expectations for this movie. Low yes, despite the people involved. In my eyes, they haven´t necessarily produced the best work over the last few years, and this could be a very mediocre movie overall. (Much like my thoughts of Bridge of Spies).

gROUP
Actual future footage of the cast waiting around to hear Oscar news.

Back in the 1960´s, the US was in a really shitty war in Vietnam. People were dying by alarming numbers, we were not winning the war, it was dreary, miserable, jungles, and what not. It made a lot of people sad and angry, including a point when people began to protest almost constantly the idea of that war.

One man, Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys), was sent over to record and write and determined that a lot of what was going on was lied about to the American public. Not just current administration, but for decades politicians said one thing and did another. He had access to a private report on the war, of which he slowly made copies of over time. And years later, he was starting to strike.

That is when the New York Times, with several months to comb over the report, began giving details from the report, about how the people were lied to, in their paper, causing quite a ruckus in the US. This in 1971, with Nixon still as president. It caused such a ruckus that Nixon decided to get the Attorney General to put a hold on their articles about these leaked documents, until legal matters could be settled, the first time in American history that the executive branch tried to control a press so overtly.

And that is a big deal.

Enter in the team from The Washington Post. Led by their owner/publisher, Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) who has lived her life in her father´s shadow, and husband´s shadow (who took over after her dad), who is never really sure if she is competent to lead a paper. Their main editor, Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) wants to turn their paper into a national paper, to be a leader not a follower of the times, and wants to use this legal battle to fuel their own paper and report on the same report despite what the president says. It is time to stop toeing the line and to start asking the hard questions. The American people deserve that. Can´t stop that first amendment!

Also starring this grand bunch of actors: Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts, Bradley Whitford, Bruce Greenwood, Alison Brie, Carrie Coon, Zach Woods, David Cross, Jesse Plemons, and Pat Healy.

Action SHOT
Don´t worry, we still get sexy shots of people lounging in offices.

On one hand, given my status as a self proclaimed movie buff, I start to assume I k ow directors personally. Since this movie honestly felt like a secret, I assumed it would be a quick piece by Spielberg that doesn’t have a lot of heart around it. But I was pretty wrong.

Now sure, the beginning was a little bit slow, with some necessary Vietnam backstory and death. Spielberg loves his wars. And then we have to introduce the many players at the Post and their conditions at the time. I know I certainly didn’t know they were not a major player in the 1960’s. It is important but it isn’t sexy.

It gdfs sexy eventually, as we see them sort of luck into these documents with a few individuals with some gusto. But really the second half of the film is where the gold was at. As soon as they get the documents, most of the film takes place over the one day as they look for stories, deal with lawyers, have to convince the board and so on. It was incredibly thrilling! Edge of my seat despite knowing the outcome. The heart and soul were there.

On another note, I was originally really angry at Spielberg for having so many passive lame women characters in this movie. Paulson felt wasted! Afterwards, it was still a bit awkward, but it is clear it was done intentionally as a mini theme. In order for Streep’s personal fears to make more sense, Spielberg constructed these roles to really drive home what was still expected of women at this point in history. It is annoying, but on purpose.

Overall, The Post is a very solid film and less obvious piece of history. I cannot wait for them to start adding on to the Investigative Journalism Extended Universe.

3 out of 4.

Rebel in the Rye

Before Rebel in the Rye, what I knew about J.D. Salinger could fit inside of an index card. Along with the first 200 digits of pi, I am sure. I knew he died, I knew he wrote Catcher in the Rye, and that is it.

Well, I also knew that he came out of hiding at some point recently and made the game show Hollywoo Stars and Celebrities: What Do They Know? Do They Know Things?? Let’s Find Out!, but that is a different story, one that this film surprisingly chooses to ignore.

Needless to say, I have never read Catcher in the Rye. Never came up in my schooling and clearly wouldn’t be a book I rush off to read on my own. I like that fantasy stuff. The only reason I rushed to see this movie as a prescreener was due to the Hurricane hitting Houston and having no films in weeks. But hey, if anyone asks, say I said it was for the lead.

Type
And I can get pissed off watching someone write when I have not been writing for the same amount of time.

A long long time ago, when the earth was still green, a young J.D. (Nicholas Hoult) wants to be a writer. He is a wise alack, and from a rich house, and he has gotten kicked out of multiple colleges already for being a dick. But he gets to try again, thanks to privilege and wealth, and heads off to Columbia University. There, besides meeting with young ladies and party goers, he meets Whit Burnett (Kevin Spacey), a professor who gets J.D. to reach his potential and actually write good short stories. He also runs a small short story publication and ends up publishing Salinger’s first work! Hooray! He is a professional writer!

But he wants more. He wants to be published in The New Yorker, the cream of the crop in terms of short stories. And when he finally gets a story good enough for them? Well, they go and offer notes and suggestions. They need his story to have a happy ending, not the dismal one he created. Well, that’s shit.

Other people love the short story though. They enjoy the character he created in that story, and Burnett himself suggests he needs to turn that character into an entire novel. Unfortunately, before that novel can happen, World War II and Pearl Harbor happens, so Salinger instead goes off to war! He sees some shit, he barely survives, and changes as a person. But he kept writing, and after overcoming some PTSD, finally publishes The Catcher in the Rye.

The rest? Well, the rest still isn’t so easy either.

Also featuring Sarah Paulson, Zoey Deutch, Victor Garber, Brian d’Arcy James, and Celeste Arias.

Spacey
Oh the joy of two men just giggling about words on pages.

Rebel in the Rye is the type of movie made for those who really want to know more about the author of a book they love. Salinger was known as a bit of a recluse, so seeing his story and why he became one is a journey on its own. However, without the context of Catcher, a lot of the film was lost of me.

The good news? I kind of want to read The Catcher in the Rye now, so I guess it cane make money off of me that way.

The beginning of the film took a real long while to get going. The whole thing was full of cliches really up until Salinger finally became a published author. It doesn’t stand apart from any generic 1930’s rich elite story. The acting from all of the side characters isn’t anything special.

However, when World War II happened, the film definitely started to turn. I could no longer imagine the lead as Hoult acting, but as a Salinger type person, so the transformation was working. It also became a lot of a better story, especially with the dealings of PTSD. At that point though, it was too little too late to turn this film into something amazing.

2 out of 4.

Carol

As it happens every year, this year I find myself lacking in the Best Actress potential nominee department. Somehow these films with strong lady leads allude me, it is probably cause I am a man.

But damn it, this year I got to see Carol before they announced Oscar nominations. Sure, it might presumptuous for me to assume that it will get nominated for anything, but it literally received two nominations for Best Actress for the Spirit Awards. One film, two spots of the five. That is pretty damn good. I admire that they didn’t try to shoe horn one of their leads into a supporting actress role, like plenty of films attempt depending on how crowded a potential category is. And after all, competing against yourself must feel a bit awkward. But for 40% of the nominees to be for Carol, I’d have to imagine at least one of them be given some love for the Academy Awards.

Not that strong independent women need to be shown anything at all, technically. Fuck, feminism is hard. What do I say? Just start the review? Okay okay.

Shop
See? I am so feminist, I won’t even mention that thing that is on Carol’s head.

Film is called Carol? Fine, I will talk about Therese (Rooney Mara) first then. Therese is young and living in her own apartment in NYC in 1949-51, I couldn’t figure out the year. She works part time at a department store for the Christmas holidays, selling dolls and trains. She has a cheap camera for taking photos, thinking she might be a photographer one day. She is dating a fine young boy, Richard Semco (Jake Lacy), who wants to marry her and taker he on vacations to Europe.

But then she meets Carol (Cate Blanchett). Carol is older and richer and lives out in New Jersey. She has a husband, Harge (Kyle Chandler) but they are getting a divorced, and a young daughter (played by Sadie Heim and Kk Heim. Yes twins, and no, Kk is not her official real name). Why divorce? Well, the love is gone. And Carol might have had “a thing” with the godmother, Abby (Sarah Paulson), Carol’s childhood friend. Yes, a thing means a romantic relationship, when she was already married, to a woman.

Well, due to reasons, Carol and Therese become friends, Therese never really knowing she could find a woman desirable. But this was set 65 years ago and that would not fly. In fact, it is very bad news for Carol’s divorce, as her husband is using her past moral indiscretions as reasons to file for full custody of their daughter, not joint. This wedge is meant to bring her back into the fold, but Carol would rather flee the North east to be away from him, to be herself, until the trial where hopefully it would all just be heresay. But she wants Therese to go with her. Travel west, see the country side. Enjoy each others company. You know. Regular road trip stuff.

Some other guys are in the movie, but they aren’t lesbians, so fuck them. John Magaro, Cory Michael Smith, and Nik Pajic.

Dance
I would be appalled as well dancing with Chandler.
You just know he is constantly whispering “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose” in her ear.

Carol was intricate, intimate, and insanely detailed [Editor’s Note: Yes, that was already covered by intricate.] Carol seems like the type of film that must be based on real events, with the actresses involved recreating the scenes word for word, smile for smile, as it happened in real life. From the first frame, you will begin to feel that old timey movie atmosphere wash over you. It feels like a film that literally came out of the 1950’s, but with the cameras used and credit style. Of course my own viewings of 1950’s cinema is excruciatingly low, so I am not a complete authority on that. But damn it, it still made me feel that way.

Since my rating is already obvious, my only real complaint about this film is that it took me quite a long time to get really involved with it. The beginning is slow, mostly the scenes of Therese without Carol where she is hanging out with her boyfriend and his friends. Yes it is important to establish her life outside of the future romance and not make her a love sick puppy, but they dragged on. Potentially on purpose, to show the boredom that had crept into her life.

But the scenes between Carol and Therese? Everything was golden. Their eyes, their body language, their tones. Fuck, I could stare at Rooney Mara starring at Cate Blanchett all day. It was that real. These two women were complete power houses in their own right. I can see them both being nominated for Best Actress for the Oscars as well, not just Blanchett for playing the titular role.

Carol will probably be in the running for Best Director as well. I think this is a heavy category this year, with Spotlight and The Revenant, but Todd Haynes completely dominated this film. Everything was on spot and meticulously planned. He is the type of guy who has great attention to detail, but isn’t insane about it like Wes Anderson.

Finally, if I wanted to be vague, I could describe this film as “Cate Blanchett has a mid life crisis, leaves her husband, and travels west” and you might think I was talking about Blue Jasmine. What’s that? Blanchett won Best Actress for that film? You don’t say.

3 out of 4.

New Year’s Eve

Haha! Ha ha ha! See what I did there? [Future readers will note the posting date].

Because of the really fucking large cast of New Year’s Eve, I decided that all of my tags will not list the actor name in parenthesis like normal, just tag the character. You can see the name if you hover your mouse though. That will make it at least a small mystery, if you don’t care. Maybe fuck with you a bit. After all, something needs to make it more interesting.

Ryan
Except for Ryan Seacrest. He only plays himself, always and forever. Just like Bloomberg.

YEAH ITS NEW YEAR’S EVE IN NEW YORK CITY. Time to party! Well, maybe. People gotta work, shit is still going down.

Like hospitals! Turns out people still are giving birth. But did you know at this specific NYC hospital, they have decided to give away a $10,000 prize to the couple who birthed the first baby of the new year. One Man/woman couple has been planning this out for months. The other man/woman just found out about it today. Who can push out a baby first? Also, doctors. They are a thing.

The opposite of babies is happening, people are getting old and dying. Like that one old guy. His doctor doesn’t know if he will make it to the new year. He might though, hopefully the daughter will make it in time. But until then, a nurse shall keep him company, despite her own “Date” that night to worry about.

One woman is fed up with the holiday mess. She has a boss who sucks, and wont give her time off despite already promising it. So she quits, and really wants to complete all the resolutions she made last year before the new year. Well, its impossible. But she gets a courier to help her anyways.

The courier’s sister is having problems with her daughter, who really wants to go out to times square for new years. The courier’s friend is jaded about new years, after a bad break up the previous year. He gets stuck on an elevator with an uppity girl, who really needs to get to times square for her job. What job? Back up singer to Jensen, huge celebrity who is performing on the main stage!

Turns out he only agreed to do this job, to get closer to an ex girlfriend of his. She runs a catering business, and demanded that she cater the very fancy party. Pretty sneaky sis. Too bad he also has to deal with very busty fan girls.

One man just watched his last single friend get married. He is the last one! But no worries, he has to go to NYC tonight anyways to do a speech for his work. Good year or something. But last year he met the woman of his dreams, just didn’t get her name. Will she be at the location that she promised to be at a year later? Just who is she?

But lastly, when you think of NYC NYE, you think of the ball drop. Someone has to run that thing, damn it. The woman in charge is on her first year, and is good friends with the head of police too. But there is an issue. The only way to fix it is to call back a fabled old mechanic, who they fired earlier in the year. Whoops. Awkward.

Kutcher
Nothing says a new year, like Ashton Kutcher, right?

I can honestly say that I found basically none of these plot lines that interesting. That seems like a big problem. Unlike Valentine’s Day, which had some storylines that I enjoyed (and still need to review!), this one had nothing for me. Shit, I also have to review New York, I Love You, another similar movie (Except rated R).

The best part of the movie for me is that I got paid $18 to have it. My first copy didn’t work, got it exchanged at Wal-Mart, they messed up the return (Which I pointed out), but laziness occurred, an I profited. Hey, that’d be reason enough to give a 4 out of 4 in my book. More people should give me money to own a movie.

1 out of 4.