Us

I just think we need to be apart for a bit. I think there is a disconnect, a dethering, if you will. But overall, I want to make it clear, it’s not you, it’s…Us.

That was me talking to all the other movies I could have watched recently, but knew that nothing was going to stop be from seeing Us. The second movie directed/written/produced by Jordan Peele, who gave us the wildly great and successful Get Out two years prior.

This sequel is incredibly different with its theme, and probably “subtle messages”, and that is wonderful. It can be hard for directors to try new things, and Peele is ready to branch out right away. For example, Us looks a lot more like a horror film than Get Out did, so I expect to be much more of a bitch while watching it, and hiding from the screen in front of me.

us
This is me ready to face the scares of the movie (If the movie was the staircase).

Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o) and her family are relatively successful in life, and able to enjoy some of the finer things. Her husband (Winston Duke) is very outgoing and funny, her daughter (Shahadi Wright Joseph) is in track, and her youngest boy (Evan Alex), sort of a weird one, likes magic and masks and playing jokes. They are at least wealthy enough to go on vacations to a summer home that they also own on a lake. Okay yeah, that is pretty wealthy. Two homes? Like, one they don’t even rent out because they have a lot of personal belongings there that they can just leave all year. Really nice.

Well, Adelaide doesn’t like that area. The lake is fine. But in a nearby city, she had an incident in her childhood that changed her life forever. It scared her. Made her sheltered. All because she just wandered off.

And why did they have a vacation home near a place she fears? Eh, friend pressure probably.

Regardless. That night, some goddamn people in red bodysuit outfits show up outside of their residence. And they are mean, they look crazy, they have weapons and large sharp scissors. And they look just like them.

Also starring Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, and Madison Curry.

baddies
Twinsies!

So much going on in Us, so little place to discuss. First of all, this is the sort of film that will invoke better discussion once it is seen and can be freely talked about without a care for spoilers. So any of that cannot take place in this review. Trying to throw out what everything means or represents, which I have already seen and heard a lot of theories. Some bat shit, some not. That is great for any movie.

Instead, lets focus on other things. Namely, the score. Holy shit, there was some good music in this movie. Haunting, pulls you in, and really fills you with that sense of dread. Getting stabbed with scissors can be scary, but they made those scissors extra scary. The camera work was top notch, we were able to see a lot despite most most of the “action” taking place at night. They didn’t hide what was going on. Well, they did hide a lot of the gore that they could have showed. We got blood splatter, and off camera kills that are left to the audience to fill in some of the gorier blanks.

I loved loved loved Nyong’o in this. She had a lot of power and works really well in the horror genre. Duke, who has been in like, three movies now and a small role in Modern Family, has a big screen presence and does a lot to both lighten the mood and protect his family the best he can. I also think the two kid actors did great. Shoutout to Moss for being in her second doppleganger film as well.

Overall, I do think the story gets a little bit muddled at times. I think the direction goes more places than one would expect, and so it can’t focus on a few aspects to make itself truly great. This is scarier than Get Out, but not as deep. It is still a solid film. Some people hate the ending, and I admit, I didn’t love it for various reasons, but I think it didn’t detract from the movie as a whole.

3 out of 4.

Greta

Halo, ich heiße Greta. Ja ja ja. I totally know german. I mean, ich spreche Deutsch.

Greta isn’t even about a German! But, I of course think of Hansel and Greta, who may not have been German either, but it is something I like to pretend.

Greta is a movie I knew nothing about going into, expect that it would probably be creepy.

“Creepy like a Greta on a Wednesday afternoon,” Hannibal, probably.

Stare
Ah yes, let’s stare at each other. That’s totally being Greta.

Frances McCullen (Chloë Grace Moretz), who is not Greta, is a Bostonian pretending to be a New Yorker. She is supposed to have a good spirit, trust people, be all loving. You know, not a typical New Yorker (or person from Boston. Should have made her from the Midwest). She is living in a loft with her friend, Erica Penn (Maika Monroe), whose family is rich and pays for the place.

Still though, New York is an experience. No real goals, just to get a job, see where life takes her.

And then she finds a bag on the train. A nice bag, with a wallet, some money, some random pills and shit. And so being the nice girl that she is, she finds the address and returns it in person to one Greta Hideg (Isabelle Huppert), which is of course an anagram for Egghead Rit.

She is old, lonely, but friendly, and Frances feels bad for her. So they share information, she helps her get a dog, and before she knows it, they are now having dinner dates and walks because they enjoy each others company. But Frances will quickly find out that Greta isn’t what she is claiming to be, and she might have other plans for Frances.

Floor
Typical stuff, like cleaning floors with your body.

Greta is not like normal villains. She is older, she is frail, and she is able to hold a lot in to herself. We see so much of her personality come out when she is doing the bad stuff, when she can fight through pain, when she dances around the house in a chaotic situation, her just sheer insanity.

Greta is a slower moving film, but it draws you in by having Moretz’s character determine something weird is going on really early and trying to avoid Greta as a lot of the film’s action. The ending gets a bit wild too, when we fully see what Greta is doing, has been doing, and more.

The ending is a bit of a crowd pleaser and goes a bit by the numbers, however. I thought it was a bit uninspired based on the rest of the film. It also does move at a relatively slow pace overall. I mean, we don’t have a high body count, and Greta isn’t very physical throughout most of it, so it is the creepiness of smaller actions that has to entertain the viewer. I personally felt myself battling with falling asleep in the middle of the movie, until certain events really picked things up.

Greta is still a good change of pace, and hopefully a good direction for thrillers in the future.

2 out of 4.

Donnybrook

I was initially intrigued by Donnybrook a few months ago, solely on the title alone. It is a rarely used term for a brawl, and at this point, most used occasionally in a hockey game when the announcers are feeling frisky.

Now, in retrospect, this could just be a sequel/reboot of the movie Fighting, since its title isn’t really different. A movie about kicking the crap out of people, is that what I need to look forward to nowadays?

I know parts of the cast, I didn’t know the director, and I wasn’t sure where it might go. But theoretically, it could surprise me and go the way of Warrior, a film I probably watch at least once a year. Only time will tell!

kid punch
Teach a kid to punch, and he will never be hungry for life.

Out there in the woods, somewhere, there is a yearly brawl. One that people come from all over to watch, to bet on, and to compete in. It is of course popular. Why? Well one, you get to watch people beat the crap out of each other in a cage. No boxing gloves, not many rules (outside of no killing), and a lot of people getting the shit knocked out of them. Oh and there is a $100,000 prize.

That’s life changing money, but not any fool can enter. It also has a significant entry fee, that way only people are serious about probably just getting wrecked.

People come for various reasons, revenge, to save their family, debt, whatever. A few people are going to make there way to the fight, some leaving destruction in their path, some relatively easily. Who wins? Who dies? Who just comes close and falters? We shall see.

Starring Frank Grillo, Margaret Qualley, Jamie Bell, James Badge Dale, Chris Browning, and Pat Healy.

grillmaster
Barbed wire adds a little more of an unnecessary danger. Yay!

Donnybrook is an action movie, but it is also a drama. In fact, it is more drama than action. A lot slower of a movie than one would expect with the title, with bouts of extreme violence to shock you along the way.

And I just didn’t get it. It never drew me in. I didn’t care about the characters. I didn’t care who won, or even if there would be a final fight, to be honest. It dragged and felt too violent without the payoff.

I guess it is sort of like life. It sucks, bad things can happen, unexplainable bad things, and people can get hurt along the way, their dreams crushed. But it didn’t feel like a message that I needed that hadn’t been given before.

Those who want to see the violence and some extremes might enjoy it, but I think this movie would have a hard time finding an audience.

1 out of 4.

Velvet Buzzsaw

Before Velvet Buzzsaw, Dan Gilroy has directed only two movies, and he is the writer of both of those films. The first one was Nightcrawler, a genius film and clearly one of the best of the year. It is haunting, and Jake Gyllenhaal gives one of his best performances of his life.

The second one was Roman J. Israel, Esq., which people like to ignore. I mean, Denzel Washington was nominated for acting from it, but it didn’t have Gyleenhaal so no one cared. It was not was well received as his first film.

This brings us back to Velvet Buzzsaw, which Gilroy again wrote and directed on his own. And because it is more horror based and has Gyllenhaal in it, people were notably excited and declared it would be just as good as Nightcrawler! Being released on Netflix isn’t an issue, because Netflix movies can be good!

People like to hype, I guess I am saying.

Art
Nothing scarier than hearing I would have to analyze and judge pieces of art.

It is really hard to pick a main character to really talk about in this movie, but they want us to focus on Gyllenhaal with advertising, so I will. Morf Vandewalt (Gyllenhaal), probably a fake name, is an art critic in LA, one of the most famous and prestigious. He does fine work, people like him, he knows how to describe things like any elitist art man.

One of the galleries he tends to review at has a young fledgling art dealer, Josephina (Zawe Ashton), who is having a stressful time in life. To top it all off, some man dies in her apartment, she finds the body, it makes her late for work and she is demoted. After finding out that all of his items are to be destroyed per his wishes, she checks on his cat and finds hundreds to thousands of pieces of art, all originals, all haunting and powerful.

This? This could be her chance. You know, to deceive some people, act like it is her client, sell his art, get big in the community. Everyone is instantly amazed by the art, including her boss (Rene Russo), they want in on the action, want a piece of that huge jackpot of money they are about to create.

But as soon as more research goes into the now deceased artist, they find he had a troubled past, and has a good reason to have wanted all of the artwork to be destroyed.

Also starring Billy Magnussen, Daveed Diggs, Toni Collette, John Malkovich, Natalia Dyer, and Tom Sturridge.

STare
Everyone uses the same Gyllenhaal staring picture in their reviews,
I WANT A DIFFERENT ONE OKAY?

Velvet Buzzsaw, both the title, and the premise, is one that is able to draw you in slowly. It is set in a world that most of us are not a part of, dealing, making, selling art and making it a focal point of their lives. The rich, the elite. And that makes it a good film to have people die in.

Too many horror films are killing off our teenagers at record numbers. What about these rich people? The snobby elites? Why not watch them die in creative art fueled ways?

The concept is fine, but it definitely lacks the creep factor. It doesn’t seem to fully embrace the thoughts of horrors, and instead we get a strange drama/horror hybrid, where enough people definitely die, but never in ways that really seem exciting to talk about. The final death was a bit wicked, but other than that, it is mostly generic crazy death things.

It would be more memorable if it just went harder in the genre, but this movie plays it safe. We don’t have enough horrors set in museums, which are clearly some of the creepiest places to be. This adds to the list, but doesn’t top that list.

2 out of 4.

Miss Bala

January being known as a dumping ground for films, so does that include February 1st? I mean, that is barely out of the month, most of the previous week is there!

Miss Bala is actually not an original film, but a remake of a 2011 film of the same name from Mexico. It looks like from casting and rough plot that they aren’t trying to change much, given the lead. This is what I would say is potentially a good example of a time to remake a foreign film. Why? Because I had not heard of the original.

Not that I, Gorgon Reviews, is the final say of what can be made in movies, but remaking something that was met with a lot of critical acclaim and famous is silly. If it is already great and well known, why bother? The things we should be remaking are the films that didn’t do well, or didn’t have a strong word of mouth. Because that means something may have actually gone wrong, and it could be improved on with a new version.

It is a smart way to not worry about comparisons. But for some reason, companies rarely do this, as they’d rather just rely on name recognition to make that money, good or bad. Oh well.

Also, the original Miss Bala did actually reach critical acclaim, but it just wasn’t seen by most of the world.

Pose
This doesn’t look like its in the middle of action, it looks incredibly posed.

This is not a movie about a girl named Bala, but instead a girl named Gloria (Gina Rodriguez), just like that other movie, Gloria. She works in LA as a make up artist, for models and sometimes celebrities, so she is pretty good. And she uses her talents for her friends, like her friend Suzu ( Cristina Rodlo). Suzu lives in Tijuana, which Gloria used to live in for a bit, but always feels a bit weird there. Judged for being an American and not perfect at Spanish.

Suzu is going into a pageant show for Miss Baja California (I have to assume Mexico pronounces it as Bala… and that is where the title comes from. Or its a Spanish pun that doesn’t translate to this film, who the hell knows), and Gloria is going to make her look good.

Unfortunately, the night before auditions really begin, they go to a nightclub to try to get an in with the owner and some dudes with guns bust in looking to kill. Gloria loses sight of her friend when running to safety, and has to spend the night worrying about her safety, since she cant seem to find her any hospitals. And when Gloria goes for help, she ends up getting kidnapped by the gun men who did the shooting, putting her life, her body, and her friend potentially at risk. But…are they really the bad guys?

Also starring Damián Alcázar, Ricardo Abarca, Ismael Cruz Cordova, and Anthony Mackie.

Money
They are trying to sell this movie on sex and dollars, yo.

Miss Bala is a film with a lot of twists and decisions for the main character. Sometimes too many twists can make a film feel annoying, because at a certain point, you don’t believe the twists any more and you just want it to get to the end to be done. One way to combat the twist fatigue is to have only two outcomes overall, so each twist just makes the viewer change sides. That way you cannot get overwhelmed, which seems to be the strategy with this movie. However, the twists feel extra pointless, because with only two sides, the stakes are low and it is still relatively easy to guess how the whole thing ends up.

If I had to say something nice, I liked that it featured a setting not traditionally given to women led films. It was definitely HER movie and her making a lot of decisions. Now, from these decisions, the audience can get quite annoyed with them and maybe even think they are poor, but they do seem to match the character and make sense for her. For the most part. It also didn’t solve all of its problems with violence. There was some smart moves in there, and a lot of panicked thinking. But this is not a gun toting heroine who is going to rid Tijuana of the cartel influence.

Despite all of that, this film doesn’t go too many new places. All of the side characters are still cardboard cutouts for the eventual resolution of the plot to unfold.

The ending itself is pretty silly and seemingly tries to set up something that no one would want, in a situation that would not happen. Overall, Miss Bala will probably easily find an American audience that loves it, but it still feels rather January.

2 out of 4.

Movie Roundup – Indies 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 Indies 2018 (Part 1)! Basically, the indie movies I had missed, and need to really review, or else. Are these all really indie movies? Heck if I know. Some certainly are. Go with 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.


Indies 2018 Part 1

Arizona

Arizona is a weird movie to talk about, because it is a dark comedy. A lot of dark comedies go into just such strange corners of the room. And you know, are funny, but usually involve death, or extreme “edgy” jokes. It could easily just go into some crude territory that is a poor taste and lose its viewers. Arizona is a lot more grounded in reality and about one person who is clearly losing his marbles, and using his size and gun skills to try and fix things.

I was shocked by Arizona, surprised, and I couldn’t believe no on was talking about. Dark comedies are almost always a hard sell, but this one was a great one compared to other similar movies in recent years. Our leads were believable, the setting was something easily relatable (an empty residential community after the 2008 housing collapse), that is also a bit unsettling. Yes, some aspects of this are a bit terrifying. And hilarious.

Arizona I think really works and it is a shame that it had almost no push for visibility.

3 out of 4.

Arizona

Bad Samaritan

Bad Samaritan is an example of a film that I really liked the idea about, but did not execute great.

We have a thief breaking in to steal and while there, they found someone clearly held captive. What do they do? A similar plot line was used in Don’t Breathe and used a bit better in that film. Instead, a majority of the movie takes place after the initial find and is more of a cat and mouse battle between our thief and the evil guy, played by David Tennant.

And the cat and mouse game is lame. The villain doesn’t seem smart, it seems ridiculous. He is flawed with a god complex without showing us why he even warrants a god complex. It goes completely ridiculous, moves away from a more grounded in reality movie, and doesn’t really give us the moral quandaries that the plot line suggests.

Forgettable film on every level, unfortunately.

1 out of 4.

bad

Eighth Grade

Eighth Grade is an example of a pretty well known film, and one you’d be more surprised to see that I did not have a full review upon. It was an immediate success, and had all the praise, and has spirit award nominations!

And yet, that’s why I have the round up. Things happen.

Eighth Grade is a pretty great and uncomfortable film. I cannot say that this is an accurate portrayal of what middle school girls are thinking and go through, because I am not one of them. It seems very accurate, and our lead does a wonderful job of riding that awkwardness and navigating through her school life. Bo Burnham‘s transition from comedy musician to director/writer seems to go flawlessly, and I wonder if he just had a lot of smart people on his side to make this work.

Eighth Grade is uncomfortable, awwkard, completely modern and set in the now, and probably something that a lot of people will want to read.

3 out of 4.

8th grade

Izzy Gets The Fuck Across Town

What drew me to Izzy Gets The Fuck Across Town is the title. Of course. I mean if you are going to be bold and swear at me, I think you need to bring it. It made me think of older films like Igby Goes Down, about these run down people with strange I names.

And hey, it had Mackenzie Davis, an actress who I think hasn’t gotten her fair shake yet. Haven’t you seen Tully? She is great! And despite how great she may be, this movie felt like a chore to get through. We have have movies about miserable people and they can be great movies, but this is one where I just wanted it to hurry and get to the final point. And once it did, it was lackluster.

I don’t remember much about this movie, but I do remember that it had no hype for a reason. The fuck did not give it notoriety.

1 out of 4.

Izzy

Summer of 84

Finally, we are going to talk about a movie that I think we average, for most of the film. Set in the ’80s with a group of kids, trying to solve a mystery of missing kids. They think it could be the local, single middle aged cop. Maybe he is taking kids and killing them? No, that can’t be.

Well, I won’t say if it was, or was not, of course. But the story the story is not unique. However…the ending was pretty damn good. It amped up the intensity, it went places I didn’t expect, and it left me with a little bit of dread. It is not a common way to end a film, and leaves it open ended in a good way. It turned a middling film into a film that I wanted to talk to people about, just to see if they saw it for the ending.

3 out of 4.

Summer

Overall, this is a really good list of indie films to check with. At least three of them I rated highly, and two of them I did not. Indie seem to have a better chance of giving me quality, you just have to take a dive and go into them knowing that they have a lot less hype around them on average.

Burning

I have been really behind on my foreign films this year. I can’t even think of what I have seen with mostly subtitles this year. Not including the beginning of the year when I was hitting up last years Oscar nominees. Basically, it would have been during WorldFest, when I was in a theater with them, and that was in April. I legit haven’t watched a foreign film since April, and that kind of blows my mind.

I know there has been opportunities, but a lot of it comes from my inability to cross stitch while watching a foreign film, lest I don’t really get anything out of it. But I took an exception to Burning for a few reasons. One, a lot of people were talking about it and I wanted to talk about it. Two, it seemed like one of those foregone conclusions of definitely an award winning film. And three, Steven Yeun.

Yes, don’t let star power be a bad factor. Yeun was on The Walking Dead, I liked him on that show, and now I want to see him in a purely non American film. What’s the harm in that?

Field
Burning is a metaphor for his feelings. Inside.

Lee Jong-su (Ah-In Yoo) is a young man, trying to just live his life. He works odd jobs mostly, and would like to be a writer, he is just having a hard time writing. His dad is in prison and could get out if he was nicer and apologized, but he is holding firm. So Jong-su has to watch over the farm, their one animal, and just make sure life doesn’t fall to pieces, while trying to get his own life back on track.

And then he meets Shin Hae-mi (Jong-seo Jeon). Well, re-meets technically. Apparently Hae-mi knew him when he was a child, but he mostly ignored her. They have a past that Jong-su just doesn’t remember a lot of, and if Hae-mi’s story is true, then it totally makes sense. He ignored her, he might have been mean, and she got some plastic surgery.

Needless to say, they hit it off! And she is about to go away and needs someone to feed her cat. Oh. Sure. Because she is attractive, likes him(?), and he has only the other major things going on in his life. When she gets back, they might start a relationship.

Except she comes back…with him. His name is Ben (Steven Yeun), he is rich, mysterious, totally cool. A “Great gatsby” character in South Korea. And she has fallen for him. But Ben has secrets, secrets that Jong-su is going to investigate, or else bad things might happen. Maybe even Burning things might happen.

Group
I don’t know, they just kind of look like best friends here.

Burning is a (heh) slow burn of a film, coming in at about 2.5 hours. It is very slow moving, and its direction can seem to be all over the place. But if you focus the film on just Jong’su’s point of view and trying to understand the strange world around him, the mysteries and suspense add up.

It is a gorgeous movie with very notable camera work. It isn’t displaying the sexy parts of South Korea, but regular fields and cities, but it has extreme attention to detail and really draws the viewer into the movie.

The ending very much ends at a climax, a climax that people will feel like might never come. Because unfortunately, some mysteries remain mysteries by the films end. And that is likely to trouble some viewers, given what we saw from Lost backlash some time ago. No actual spoilers though here.

Ah-In Yoo is a great lead, while still keeping that passive unsure nature. Yeun was fine in this movie, but I don’t think it required a lot of hard work on his part. This is Jeon’s only movie, and she plays the free spirited and weird quite well, and hopefully gains an acting feature after this film.

Overall, Burning won’t be for everyone. You have to want subtitles and be okay with not everything spelled out for you. It will likely make waves from the foreign film market, and will still likely lose to Roma for Oscars.

3 out of 4.

Widows

Being a Widow must suck. You know, getting married, being in love maybe, marriage for decades possibly! And then your spouse dies. I also learned recently that the term widow only refers to a woman who lost their partner. I guess that is good, because then I never have to be a widow. And you know, I just talked about how that must suck.

Widows is a movie brought to us by Steve McQueen, who has not been too busy since he had a movie win best picture. He famously directed 12 Years A Slave for a 2012 release, and since then this is his first theater film. Someone clever might say 6 Years NotInTheSpotlight for McQueen. Does this mean that Widows is going to be 3 times as good as 12 Years A Slave (because 12 Years came out 2 years after his previous film)? Yes. It has to mean that.

You can’t argue with science.

Funeral
Having the funeral really cements in the widow status.

Veronica (Viola Davis) is wealthy, giving, and in love with her husband (Liam Neeson). He might be into some corrupt shit, working with political campaigns an doing jobs, but she doesn’t know the specifics and it does put her life in a good place. And then? Well, a job goes poorly, and he gets killed dead along with three other men, leaving her to feel quite sad, notably poorer, and alone.

But she isn’t given time to grieve. It turns out in this final job, her husband stole from some powerful people, and they know who robbed them. So they have to now harass Veronica, to look into their savings accounts or whatever to pay it back. Or else.

Unfortunately, nothing like that really exists, as far as she knows. She does end up finding a notebook, with plans on robbing an even bigger fortune. If she can pull off this heist, she will be able to pay off the goons and have a lot left over to live comfortable and worry free after that. She just needs a team, and she isn’t the type to know about this sort of stuff.

There is an idea for a team though. She wants to find the other women who just lost their husbands. They are probably hurt and need funds as well. Maybe they are all desperate enough to join her.

Starring Michelle Rodriguez, Carrie Coon, Elizabeth Debicki, and Cynthia Erivo. Also starring Colin Farrell, Brian Tyree Henry, Daniel Kaluuya, Molly Kunz, Jon Bernthal, and Robert Duvall.

Gang
It is impossible for the guy in purple to be a Widow. We talked about this.

If you are thinking about 12 Years A Slave still, which scene do you think about? It is likely the one where the main character is being hanged by his neck for a few minutes, with kids playing in the background, him struggling to breath, and of course, eventually not dying. It was scary, and intense, and the camera did not move away.

I love a long scene that doesn’t cut, and there is one very exciting scene in Widows that is similar. It doesn’t show violence, and it isn’t scary, but it is just a long cut of a very short car ride in Chicago, showing how quickly it takes for one to go from a poor to a rich district. During this scene is a conversation as well, and it would be one of the best scenes of 2018, if we got to see the characters talking as the drive occurred. The camera didn’t focus on them, just on the scenery, so it is most likely that they did the conversation later and just edited it on top. But it is still a great scene and shows that McQueen has a lot of tricks up his sleeve.

Davis is the star of this film and has to carry a lot of it with her face and eyes. There is no doubt she is a great actress and does a fantastic job in this one. I do want to point out another actress though, because it was a surprise. Debicki, who has been in plenty of films, and never been the one reason you want to see it. Her character had a lot more going on than her normal characters, and by golly, she felt like a real actress and not just a model who is in a bunch of movies. Hell, she could have a best supporting from this for all I know. It was also great to see Erivo in this film, who was one of the best parts of Bad Times At El Royale. She is having a great year and she came out of nowhere.

To highlight one male actor, I will point out that Kaluuya was scary. He felt like a wildcard in the realest sense of the word, and I loved seeing him on the screen.

Widows is suspenseful, with a few twists that I didn’t fully expect. It hits hard and is not afraid to throw any punches. It could have been better, but the over two hour film just flew by and it was good enough for me to just love.

4 out of 4.

Bad Times At The El Royale

I have never had a bad time at a place called an El Royale. Just saying, for some sort of context. I haven’t been to any El Royales as far as I know. So neither good nor bad times have been had at any El Royales. I am an El Royale virgin. Or at least, I was before I saw this movie, Bad Times At the El Royale.

Alright, now that the nonsensical first paragraph, overall this felt like a movie that would be really enjoyable. I didn’t know what to expect, but I liked the cast of characters and thought it could have some really fun and interesting scenes.

After seeing so many duds lately, and great films, I needed something that would just be entertaining. I really wanted this to fill that genre gap in my movie watching schedule.

Dancing
It did fill a Hemsworth sized whole in my heart. And that is a very large whole.

At the El Royale? Well, it used to be a happening spot. Lively nights, plenty of guests, and a lot of raunchy shenanigans. This hotel is on the border of Nevada and California. So it has a more expensive and classy side and a gambling side. A side for all the types who may want to visit. Now the hotel is almost in rambles. The front desk is basically just one person (Lewis Pullman), who also is the cleaning man, the bartender, and everything. A one man show.

And tonight? There will be some guests. We have Darlene Sweet (Cynthia Erivo), a potential singing star who has a secret. We have Father Daniel Flynn (Jeff Bridges), who seems to be losing his mind, and a man with a secret. There is (Jon Hamm), someone who really wants the Honeymoon suite, because he has a secret. There is the vulgar and unfriendly (Dakota Johnson), who clearly has a secret.

A lot of secrets, and a lot of bad stuff coming together. How are Chris Hemsworth, Cailee Spaeny, and Nick Offerman involved in the plot? Well, that’s a secret.

Raining
I’M SORRY. DID YOU THINK THIS PICTURE SPACE WOULD BE GIVEN TO SOMETHING THAT IS NOT SHIRTLESS?

Did you know that Bad Times at the El Royale is over 140 minutes long? Shit, this might as well be a Marvel movie at this point. Now of course if a movie is engaging and fantastic, the time doesn’t matter. BT at the ER is in fact entertaining with some cool scenes. It has nice songs/soundtracks to encompass the scenes. It is told out of order from multiple perspectives to help unravel the mysteries and keep things fresh. It is really impossible to guess where it is going and how it will end. And yet, it also feels way too long.

Sure, different perspectives is fun, but that does mean we have to see some scenes multiple times. And there is a lot of backstory at times that are cool for building characters, and at the same time, not always necessary.

I really enjoyed Hamm in this film. He was a combination of some of his previous roles and it was definitely a good fit for him. Potentially it can be used as an audition for an eventual super hero! Johnson was acting like someone completely different in this film and it was refreshing. Erivo knocked it out of the park for me in the film, she was the real star, in so many talented ways. And hey, Pullman was interesting as the, well, lobby boy. I actually thought it was maybe Tom Holland pushing some boundaries for most of the movie.

BT at the ER is a fun film, a different film, a Quentin Tarantino lite film, and one that will please a lot of fans. Especially those of Hemsworth. It just needed a lot more editing and maybe a more focused outcome by the end.

2 out of 4.

The Predator

I don’t think I saw the first Predator movie, nor did I see the next one. I did see both Alien vs Predator films though, and of course, Predators, from a handful of years ago.

I think I would enjoy the first Predator movie, it sounds like it is really well made and will have high levels of tension, especially in the end. I will put it on my list. I still know roughly the events of these films, because hey, geek and movie culture.

But to continue the string of very nondescript movie titles. this one is going to be called The Predator, because I guess there is only going to be one. That is some Highlander stealing shit right there. And since it is directed by Shane Black, I can only assume that it will take place during Christmas.

Pred1
Time to hang up the people stockings.

Let’s all head to Mexico! Where there are drug deals, of course! Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) is an asshole, but he is our asshole. He is also a good soldier and sniper. Sure it basically cost him his marriage, being all soldier-y and out a lot, but he is still a good soldier. And during a mission, a space ship crashes nearby with a scary creature with invisible capabilities.

So he does what any hard working American would do in that case. He steals some of the monster’s equipment and mails it to his P.O. Box at his home city. Thanks to plot though, they go to his home, so his young autistic son (Jacob Tremblay) can find it and mess with alien stuff.

Through other plot, the alien gets captured by secret space force people. We got a real mean dickhead (Sterling K. Brown, who seems to be getting younger in his roles) who wants to unlock their potential. We got an alien biologist (Olivia Munn) who is surprisingly good at shooting things with various weapons. Hell, we have a whole bus load of “crazy” PTSD soldiers that they are hiding away who are going to be dealing with this thing.

But most importantly, this will end up taking place over Halloween. Damn Shane Black, way to trick us.

Also starring Yvonne Strahovski, Trevante Rhodes, Thomas Jane, Keegan-Michael Key, Jake Busey, Augusto Aguilera, and Alfie Allen.

Pred2
Well I guess instead of hanging stockings, they are just hanging Halloween decorations. Makes more sense.

The Predator is basically a trash movie. A movie that feels like an incredible waste of time, and did not live up to any of the expectations that I went in with. And honestly, I didn’t have many.

People tried to talk about what the trailer implied, but I didn’t see it, so I didn’t know where they were coming from. Instead, I just know it is a crap film. Why? Well, this film is basically a comedy. It is very much almost a slapstick comedy. Because we have this group of men with zany personalities (because of mental disturbances) they all have quips and one liners. This means everyone, starting with the guy who is supposed to be the joke maker, all the way down to the more serious characters. It is like they wanted to make The Avengers, but you know, PTSD army folks.

Gosh, the humor was so annoying. At no point could a viewer feel threatened or scared by the predators. When everything is a goddamn joke, it is hard for anything to really draw the viewer in. Tense moments are wasted by jokes and by extremely bad cut jobs. This film moves all over the place, and it is hard to judge how time works. We quickly go from a night scene to an early morning scene, a literal night and day difference, in the final action sequences. If there were a lot of practical effects (/people in suits) it is wasted by the other CGI effects. The kills aren’t too great. And the predator v predator fight is not worth any amount of hype.

AND HOW THE HELL ARE THEY GOING TO HAVE A FILM CALLED THE PREDATOR WITH MORE THAN ONE PREDATOR.

This cannot be the movie people were hoping to get. Somewhere a better film might exist, but really, it needs a plot upheaval and most of it to be re-shot with a different cast. Yeah, we just need a different movie.

1 out of 4.

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