First Man

When I first heard about First Man, I didn’t realize it was a biopic on Neil Armstrong. I thought it was just a space movie with cool visuals, and would be about the first man on Mars or something like that.

The poster is just really sexy like that.

Despite not knowing the real topic, I knew I was really excited. Damien Chazelle has yet to disappoint, with his first two big breaks being, well, big breaks. Whiplash was breath of fresh abuse, and La La Land is goddamn La La Land, my favorite movie of that year.

So yeah, let’s try a real person story about a space man!

A bunch of men that totally want to break out into dance, but can’t in this movie.

In the 1960’s, Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) became an Astronaut for the NASA program. He was already a test pilot for other companies as an engineer, not a military man, and he needed to get a new start. His daughter, Karen, had died when she was two, of some cancer. That sucks. That sucks a lot. He needed to get away.

Not just from the fact that his daughter died. But other friends as well. When doing science in the sky, and reaching the upper parts of the atmosphere, things can go wrong. They HAVE gone wrong for Armstrong, but he generally keeps a clear head on these sorts of things and lucks his way into not dying.

Is he afraid of dying? Is he ready to die? Is he afraid if he gets too close to people, he will become a wreck should they die in an accident? His wife (Claire Foy) loves him, and is helping raise their family, and is fully aware of the many risks of space travel. But she supports him, even when he is hard to reach. Physically, and emotionally.

And of course, eventually, Armstrong does some pretty impressive historical stuff.

Also starring a whole lot of white people. Most of them playing real white people too, I assume! Played by Pablo Schreiber, Christopher Abbot, Ethan Embry, CiarĂ¡n Hinds, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Shea Whigham, Olivia Hamilton, and Corey Stoll playing the Buzz Aldrin.

I assume this dance is not my tempo.

Chazelle started us out on his film trajectory by giving us people who wanted to achieve stardom at all costs. The next film also involved achieving stardom, but in a city full of stars, people who already made their life successful. And now, in this film, we still have that achievement desire behind the scenes, but instead of reaching a city of stars, it is a whole sky full of stars. An interesting path and one that is keeping Chazelle fresh by clearly trying very different things.

The most interesting aspect of this movie, to me, is that it isn’t really about the moon landing. It is called First Man. Why? Because it is about the First Man on the moon, not the successful events, just the person himself. Neil. Armstrong.

That might sound like a normal biographic movie, but I assure you, this one feels different. We see things from his point of view and mindset, without having to actually go into first person point of view. It is easy to feel the claustrophobic nature of the capsules. Of viewing the edge of space for the first time. To walking on the moon, to losing a child or friend, to having to make life saving decisions despite not knowing the right answer.

It is so damn personal and at the same time it is hard to connect to him. Armstrong comes across a very distant person, dealing with a lot on the inside and less likely to talk about his feelings or actually deal with the reality his job is creating. He is a humble person and a quiet person, not looking for fame, but looking for something else hard to pinpoint.

First Man is a great film, with terrific acting, and is likely to be a lock for several nominations, especially in the sound mixing areas this upcoming Oscars.

3 out of 4.

Kong: Skull Island

I find it very odd to see a lot of hype for the movie Kong: Skull Island. King Kong has happened over and over in film’s history, and given everything I know about the internet, they hate reboots, reimaginings, and remakes of other films, so they shouldn’t care about this one.

But alas, here we are. I don’t have too many fucks to give about it of course, after King Kong 11 years ago. Overly long and it didn’t really do anything different.

I guess this one is bringing in some hardcore CGI and bigger acting names. Maybe that is it. Or people are freaking out over the potential of a Godzilla and Kong showdown in the future. Needless to say, if this film doesn’t do anything different, I will probably be mostly annoyed.

I don’t care about context, these two people are not dirty enough.

Kong: Skull Island makes sure you get to see a giant ape really early in the film, when two crashed World War II pilots land on the island, start to fight, and then he shows up. But this isn’t set during that war, this is actually set in 1973, during the end of the Vietnam war.

Bill Randa (John Goodman) is some sort of scientist, who believes there is a lot to discover on this skull island they have found in the South Pacific. Ancient civilizations have talked about it, there are constant storms that surround it, but he wants a mission to explore what has never been explored. Let’s call it a geologic mapping mission. With a military escort.

He is able to gather a team. He has his own crew, a geologist (Corey Hawkins) and a biologist (Tian Jing), along with some extra scientists from another company (John Ortiz, Marc Evan Jackson). They have a legendary British explorer to help explore the jungles, James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), who is in it for some money. A prize winning photojournalist, Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), who helped show the truth about Vietnam to the public. And of course a helicopter team lead by LTC Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) and Captain Jack Chapman (Toby Kebbell), straight out of ‘Nam.

Most of them assume it is just a real exploratory mission. But really, Randa has an agenda and believes to be giant monsters on this island, and he wants to bring an end to them. They’ve got weapons of many sizes. Unfortunately, when setting off seismic blasts to detect the crust, they wake up these beasts on the island, and they do not like having explosions all over the place. Spread out over the island, the crew has three days to make it to the north side before they can be rescued.

Also featuring John C. Reilly, and a whole lot of soldiers: Jason Mitchell, Shea Whigham, Thomas Mann, and Eugene Cordero.

Turns out this Kong film has a lot of Japanese influence.

At its heart, Kong: Skull Island is an action adventure flick that wants to show us giant animals fighting some dudes with bombs. Which on its own could be enough for most of the people who want to see it. I will say there are some scenes that look a bit awkward based on CGI usage. It doesn’t always mesh well. But the more pure CGI scenes like Kong fighting with the giant lizards look amazing.

The film also doesn’t pussy foot around Kong. We get to see him in the first few minutes. Within 15 more we are on the island and Kong totally fucks up the helicopters putting our characters in a perilous situation. We get a lot of Kong and they don’t tease him out.

You know what we don’t get a lot of? Character development. Basically every character in this movie is weak on that level. There is no gain. They don’t change. Well, some of them die. We have exactly one character who people will care about and does change and that man is played by John C. Reilly. His character is wonderful, an amazing addition to the film, and worthy of praise.

But Kong: Skull Island is just going to be a interesting film that could have been a lot better. With its post credit scene trying its best to imitate The Avengers it leaves some hope for the future. But have to hope they improve the scripts first.

2 out of 4.

Cop Car

I have beard envy. So one of the main reasons I find myself willing to watch a movie is if a main character, male or female, has excellent facial hair. I barely know how to shave, let alone make my beard grow to any great and professional level.

It is why I wanted to even see Mortdecai, damn it.

So if you show me a movie poster of Cop Car with Kevin Bacon‘s head, with the most glorious of stereotypical cop mustaches, I will drop whatever I am doing (no not my baby) and see it as soon as I can. Plot, other actors, director be damned. I just want to see the mustache.

Aww, they gave the mustache little aviators, a badge, and everything.

You have never seen two kids more badass than Travis (James Freedson-Jackson) and Harrison (Hays Wellford). They are just 10, but they ran away from home. Even have some beef jerky in order to have food for their trip. Shit, they’ve been gone for hours, saying curse words, they are probably 50 miles away from home now.

And then they find a fucking cop car! How badass! They are brave enough to throw rocks at it and touch it. But no one comes to yell at them. Strange. Shit, it is unlocked too. And the keys are inside. Should they? No… Then they’d get in real trouble.

BUT WAIT! They have already ran away from home. So fuck it. Who cares if they don’t know what all the buttons do. Who cares if they don’t know to drive. Once they get to the road, there are no limits. They can do anything. There are even guns in the vehicle. GUNS! YEAH! GUNS!

Of course, the car belongs to an actual cop. Sheriff Kretzer (Bacon). He was out in the middle of nowhere for a reason. Not a good, honest to goodness cop reason. And he needs to rectify the situation immediately, no matter who gets hurt along the way.

Also featuring Shea Whigham as a dude and Camryn Manheim as a woman.

Kids and guns
“GUNS! YEAH! GUNS!” – Me, 10 seconds ago.

For a movie about a guy trying to murder a couple of kids, it was overall pretty tame. It isn’t that long (86 minutes) because it doesn’t have a lot of anything to work with. I expected our cop to be a bit more crazier and a lot more vicious. I mean. Cocaine was involved? Where is the kiddy torture? I don’t condone kids getting tortured, I just expect movies with simple plots to go to the expected dark areas!

Just like there isn’t a ton of plot to talk about, there isn’t a lot more to say about the film. The kids are stupid and probably act just like 10 year olds. The cop is pretty damn smart, I am surprised he found a way to find the kids at all given how big the world can be.

But the film just didn’t give enough. It was tame when a viewer would want more. More shenanigans!

More. Shenanigans.

2 out of 4.

Take Shelter

Take Shelter is a…well it is a weird movie. Crazy shit happens, but only kind of. Crazy people happen, but only kind of, as well.

What a nonsensical thing to say!

Ahh birds!

Michael Shannon is just a normal individual. Has a wife (Jessica Chastain) and kid (Tova Stewart), and he works in a construction company. Sure, his kid is deaf and they are trying to learn sign language, but hey.

And sure, he is having some sleepless nights. Having very vivid dreams, with birds flying in weird formations, being attacked and grabbed by strangers, dogs biting him, and other giant ass scary storms! This changes his behavior unfortunately and doesn’t tell anyone about the dreams.

He secretly does make an appointment with a psychiatrist, after doing his own researching, trying to determine if he had some form of schizophrenia. Oh, and he takes it on his own time to borrow company equipment to turn his small storm shelter for tornadoes into a larger, more secure building with lots of food and gas masks and everything!

Eventually he does has to confront these dreams and decisions with his wife, but only after also losing his job and spending a lot of their necessary money.

But when a big storm does hit, who will have the last laugh?

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

Writing this review bugs me because it is one of those that I want to spoil the whole thing for. So feel free to ask me later, hah. The climax was pretty powerful, and the final scene questionable. The film is about 2 hours but moves very slow. Like super slow. That is probably what would prevent me from ever re-watching. This could have been an epic 40 minute movie, which is a weird thing to say. Sometimes the long scenes help, but other times just doesn’t feel as much.

The acting though from Michael Shannon’s character is off the charts. Watching him become more and more paranoid, yelling, having the fear of the outside world once he is in the shelter. All because of some dreams? I mean, everyone knows but him that he is being ridiculous. He has to be crazy? Right? Right?

Shea Whigham and Katy Mixon are also in this movie, supporting roles, not as important.

So although the acting is so damn good, and deserves many accolades, the overall slowness of the movie really ruins it for me.

2 out of 4.

Catch .44

Catch .44 is obviously going for some clever title, where instead of 22, there is instead a gun reference. That way you know “Hey! There be guns in dem dare movie!” It also flashes Bruce Willis on the cover, but his role is definitely not as some of the others in the movie.

Willis Catch .44 Robe
Dude couldn’t even be bothered to put on some pants!

This film is a harder one to go over the plot for. The director/writer has only done like, one other movie before, and in this one he CLEARLY wants to be Quentin Tarantino. The movie is told out of order, has a Mexican standoff, some uncomfortably long scenes, cursin’ and talkin’ about pop culture, and kind of spoils the ending near the beginning. But hey, people like that sort of thing. So here is an attempt.

Three ladies, Tes, Dawn, and and Kara (played by Malin Akerman, Deborah Ann Woll, and Nikki Reed respectfully). If you are keeping track of names, that is Silk Spectre II from Watchmen, and a girl from True Blood, and one from Twilight. Way to capture the demographics right there.

Anyways, they are part of a drug syndicate lead by Bruce Willis. Their mission is to get to a location where a drug hand off is going down, stop it, and recover the drugs. Hopefully without taking on any casulties. There is also “mysterious” Forest Whitaker, who may be following them, killing some people, and sounding super Cajun. Also, Shea Whigham has an important role as well. He also works in the organization.

Quent T Cafe
Because every movie Tarantino-ish needs a “conversation” at a diner, or cafe, or whatever.

Its hard to say what I like about the movie. It is an obvious rip off like thing. But I thought the acting for what it was, was decent. Camera work was nice. Parts in the beginning annoyed me, mostly due to confusion on when things took place, but eventually my questions were answered. Whitaker was super creepy to me the whole movie, could never tell just what was up with his character. But after all of that, it was surprisingly decent.

2 out of 4.