BlacKkKlansman

I am by no means a Spike Lee expert. I haven’t seen the majority of his work, let alone the stuff that made him famous. I was only a child then.

The last movie of his I saw before he made BlacKkKlansman was Chi-Raq, which ended up being a film that I really loved. It made my top of the year list. I knew I had to give him more of a chance, since the only other films I had seen were Inside Man and He Got Game.

And then, I didn’t I was still too busy. Apparently he has had a few smaller films come out since Chi-Raq and this one, and I hadn’t even noticed. They were small, little advertising, maybe didn’t even make it to the big screen. Regardless, he clearly has a big work ethic, churning out films on topics he cares about, and has been doing it for decades to help raise awareness.

ID
And with a fun name like this one, it is sure to be a hoot.

Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) is just a brother who wants to make a difference in the world. He finds himself in Colorado, and they seem to want black cops, so he applies, and he gets to be a detective! Hooray, diversity!

Now strangely enough this isn’t in the 1950’s or 60’s, but 1979, and Colorado Springs was apparently still lacking on having black applicants and police officers. Either way, he gets the job, is put undercover quickly to infiltrate a potential black power rally. You know, he has to find out information if they are going to do anything illegal or go to war with the cops.

While doing that assignment, he gets the undercover itch, and decides to try and find out about the local klans group in town. He talks to the owner on the phone, and gets an invite. But of course, he isn’t white. So he has to enlist a partner, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), who happens to also be Jewish (not good for the klan either), to pretend to be him in person and infiltrate their group, while Flip is him in person.

Things can easily go wrong of course when dealing with white extremists. And they often do. But hopefully this undercover assignment can lead to them getting news about potential cross burnings or worse before they happen, in order to make the world a better place.

Also starring Ashlie Atkinson, Jasper Pääkkönen, Laura Harrier, Paul Walter Hauser, Ryan Eggold, and Topher Grace as David Duke.

Power
With so much black power on one screen, I was ready to raise my fists as well.

BlacKkKlansman, unlike my review of this film, is incredibly timely and relevant to our modern world. It had its wide release the same weekend as the one year anniversary of the marches in Charlottesville, Virginia, which of course had Nazi and Klansmen rhetoric going on with them. It wasn’t subtle about its connections either, with this film ending with footage from these few days of events and from the politicians who spoke out or famously did not speak out against it.

It is well acted by Washington, who has not had many roles, and is definitely the son of Denzel. It had great shots, a good story, and a nail biting finale that lasted a good while and kept the tensions really high.

It also made sure to try and keep things realistic, as it was based on a true story. Some liberties were taken of course, but all of the characters felt real and never turned into a cartoon. It didn’t try to do anything silly, like sympathize with any of the klansmen, because fuck them.

Overall, it is a powerful film, a relevant story, and a message about how far people can get with a little bit of can do attitude despite working against systematic racism.

3 out of 4.

War Machine

I know that War Machine has been a term for a long time. I mean, Black Sabbath sang the song War Pigs which uses that term, so it had to exist probably at least since the 1960’s as a sort of protest term maybe during Vietnam? Normally, I might look that up, but I am just spitballing here.

Clearly the Netflix original film War Machine is referring to it in this way, about modern conflicts and maybe war profiteers.

But as you all are aware, there is War Machine of the Iron Man/Marvel movies, and he is probably big enough to have taken over that title. Maybe they picked the title to just piggy back off of that Marvel money. That Disney money.

Like war profiteers.

Face
The face you make when you have been a heartthrob for decades and now have to play a role with gray hair.

General Glen McMahon (Brad Pitt) is a leader in the United States Armed Forces, and has dedicated his life to his career. He was born on an army base, coming from several soldiers. He graduated from West Point, like all eventual war leaders, and so on. He likes to get shit done, he has his close crew of soldiers he can trust, and he doesn’t appreciate things getting in his way.

This is set a few years ago, with Obama still as president, and he wants to end the war in Afghanistan. They are now dealing with insurgents, making it an impossible to win fight, but damn it, he was put in charge and he will put it to a close. He has to make assessments and come up with a plan of attack, everyone in the government is hoping for the best. But McMahon doesn’t do what is heavily suggested, he is going to do what he knows is right to defeat the bad guys and save our troops.

However, as command of the troops, he is finding a lot more of the job involves not warring, but instead dealing with incompetent or annoying world leaders, including his own. The politics of war is unnerving and getting to him, preventing him from doing his job. It seems like he is put into that place entirely to be targeted by newspapers, the media, other countries, protesters, blaming him for a war he didn’t start and is just trying to finish.

And as it is a war movie, there are a shit ton of people involved, so here a lot of of the more important ones. Alan Ruck, Anthony Hayes, Anthony Michael Hall, Aymen Hamdouchi, Ben Kingsley, Daniel Betts, Emory Cohen, John Magaro, Josh Stewart, Meg Tilly, RJ Cyler, Scoot McNairy, Tilda Swinton, Topher Grace, and Russell Crowe.

Leaders
Photo ops allow people to dress up fancy, show their medals, wear cool hats, and apparently drink tea.

Satire films are hard to pull off, especially if you want to avoid the now ugly valley called parody. War Machine does a decent job of maintaining its satire status without dipping down to any sort of parody territory. What it doesn’t do a good job of is being an amazing satire film.

For satire to work, everyone has to be able to get it, understand the real world events and how the art is flipping it on its head. It would be hard for someone to not know about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but the film does go into a level of detail that would require more than the layman’s knowledge. Not a whole lot, just some, so that could be considered a negative to a lot of viewers.

I loved Pitt in our leading role here. He gave such an honest performance and was fully in that character. It never felt like the character was intentionally trying to be the butt of a joke, always very serious in ways that became amusing just to an outsider perspective. It just had a lot of truth to it, a wonderful thing for Pitt to have accomplished in this movie.

I wouldn’t say this is a perfect or extraordinary film. It was a decent watch, one I won’t probably ever go running for again. I will also like to point out how amazing Swinton was in this film. She had only one scene and her character is named German Politician, so someone you would assume is just a dumb cameo, but she killed it and added a lot of gravity to the general’s situation.

3 out of 4.

American Ultra

I don’t know a lot about American Ultra. I do know that it has some nice buzz words to get more butts in the seats though.

A lot of big movies have American in the title now. American Sniper destroyed the box office, so people really love American shit. Then we have American Beauty, American Psycho, American Pie, you name it! American to start off your movie is like a golden ticket.

And then of course whe have Ultra. That puts it at the top tier, and it sounds a lot like Ultron. Maybe they want people who love America and love the Avengers to see their film. If they can bring in those two demographics, they would be walking their way over to the billionaire club.

Again, knowing nothing about the movie, this has to be their plan right?

Freeze
“And bring in an established couple from other movies! Like those kids from Adventureland!” – Movie Exec

Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) is a small town, do nothing, stoner. He has never left his West Virginian town and any time he attempts to leave he ends up having a panic idea. The thought of going places just freaks him the fuck out.

Thankfully he has weed. And the love of his life, Phoebe Larson (Kristen Stewart). She is basically perfect and deserves someone way better than him, as he is a constant screw up. But for whatever reason, she loves him back. Even when he kills two men outside of the convenience store that he works.

Shit. Shit shit fuck. He didn’t even know he could kill a man, and technically they attacked him first. He already has enough trouble with the law, weed smoker and all. It has something to do with the strange lady (Connie Britton) who came to his shop and basically said just gibberish. Next thing Mike knows, other strangers are trying to assassinate him and wouldn’t you know it? He can fight back! Magical Stoner Powers activate! Sometimes it can be good to be a government sleeper agent.

Also starring Tony Hale as a CIA employee, Topher Grace as a mean CIA dude, Walton Goggins as a hitman, John Leguizamo as a dealer, Stuart Greer as a sheriff and Bill Pullman as “mysterious CIA man.”

Leguizamo
To John Leguizamo, Thanks For The Drugs, Jesse Eisenberg.

One exciting fact about American Ultra is that it written by Max Landis, who also wrote Chronicle. Huh. Chronicle. The great movie that was directed by Josh Trank, who recently directed a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Fantastic Four movie as his next main project. So weird that two guys who worked on an indie movie both got much bigger movies that were released in the same month three years later.

One thing I hate as a movie watcher is hearing other people echo commonly held complaints that they just regurgitate from the internet, without realizing they never gave it any thought. For example, a very popular “opinion” is that Stewart is terrible and cannot show emotion. People of course got confused with her real self and playing a hated character. For those that think that, they will be happy to know that Stewart shows a lot of emotion in this film: fear, sadness, extreme happiness. She is all over the place. And she also does a fine job.

As for the rest of the movie, American Ultra is a very strange film. Not fully comedy, not fully action, and not really a normal action comedy. And don’t even think it, because it is definitely not a stoner action comedy either, like Pineapple Express. It is a strange mash of all of these genres, and not in a normal or bad way. It reminds me of Red State. Red State was a hard movie to describe, clashing together different genres and keeping you on your toes. This film is of course nothing like the actual Red State, but I think you get my meaning.

American Ultra almost perfectly embodies the 2 out of 4 rating on this website. It is an enjoyable movie yes. Sometimes the jokes work really really well, thanks in a lot to the chaotic nature of a few scenes. And sometimes the movie feels like it drags and you just want to get to the next scene. We call that pacing issues in the biz, and it can make or break or apparently average out a film. But it did have some nice acting from our leads and some pretty slick shots at the same time. It can be worth a watch eventually. I think the people who love it are going to just really love it.

2 out of 4.

Interstellar

The Interstellar hype train is so hot right now, you could light a candle off of its ass. That might not make a lot of sense, but it sounds like something Matthew McConaughey could say really sweet in his voice, so I ran with it.

But seriously. Christopher Nolan is one of the more well liked directors today. The movie has had wonderful trailers. It has the capability of being as beautiful as last years Gravity, especially in an IMAX 3D setting.

But wait. Controversy! It turns out Nolan doesn’t like the fancy IMAX digital camera nonsense. No, that man likes himself good old fashioned film and filmed a lot of movie that way. Most filmmakers prefer digital cameras, as they are actually cheaper and easier to get 3D/CGI stuff with them. But a few others think that digital film making makes the movie lose a certain artistic touch.

So it turns out Nolan has released his film in two ways. In an actual film reel, which a lot of theaters have gone away with, and digitally. Not only can you watch the film in 35 MM like normal, but he also has a 70 MM version meant for IMAX screens. Nolan wanted that reel touch to his movie, given some of the themes in it, so I can tell you the movie version I watched was film. Just didn’t get to see the film IMAX version.

Space People
Enough talk about specifications, let’s talk about space people!

This film is set in the future, where things are not looking so great. The Earth has gotten kind of pissy with the wastefulness of its citizens. Tech went too hard too fast and well, a lot of people died. Now most of their crops don’t work due to diseases, all they have left is corn.

In fact, some tech people are now looked down in disdain. They don’t need fighter pilots, they need farmers and mostly farmers. So NASA has been working in secret, looking for other planets to move to, because Earth kind of sucks. And it has been going poorly. But thanks to worm holes and higher tech, they have 3 planets to check out. They just need a sweet ass pilot.

Oh hey, Cooper (Matthew McConaughey). Now a good farmer, used to be a pilot and all, before the tech haters happened. And well, he is the only guy for the job. He is just going to be gone for a few years, not a high chance of survival, not a high chance of success either. Kind of intense odds. But he has to. But does he?

He does, after all, have family. A son and daughter (Mackenzie Foy, yes she is more important than brother enough to tag). Can he leave them behind? Or can he help save humanity?

Also starring a lot of people! Anne Hathaway, Wes Bentley, Jessica Chastain, Matt Damon, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck, Topher Grace, David Gyasi, and John Lithgow.

Surfers
Oh sweet, and they go surfing. Every movie needs a surfing scene.

Intestellar, if anything, is definitely a visionary achievement. The scope is grand and intense with this movie. It is about 2 hours and 45 minutes long, leaving a lot of room for plot, exploration, and some hopefully good acting.

And there is some good acting! From McConaughey. And from Mackenzie Foy and Jessica Chastain. And uhh. After that it seems to get a bit muddled from what I can tell. Because unfortunately, I had some issues with Interstellar too.

Without going into big details, the last 25 or 30 percent of the movie felt rushed, despite the long run time. The ending was full of explanations, almost pounding your head in the wall to make sure you understood things instead of letting the movie tell the story naturally. Some extremely awkwardly acted moments came out of no where. One conflict scene came near the end seemingly out of nowhere on Earth. A character died in the laziest and most “wat? really?” way possible.

Just a bunch of minor things that ruined a little bit this very very excellent film.

Now, these are the type of minor things that one can probably normally ignore, but only in that I saw so many of them, it just made it a bigger issue. It is a beautiful film, and probably even prettier in IMAX. It tackles some complex subjects in the science field and has nice allusions to the Dust Bowl. It was certainly entertaining. It just wasn’t perfect film for me.

3 out of 4.

The Big Wedding

The Big Wedding. Oh goodness me.

The trailer tells the story pretty clear.

The filmmakers are a bunch of racists.

What? How did I get that out of the trailer? Well, the plot is about a family who adopted a kid, who is finally about to get married. His mom is coming to visit, but his adopted family is divorced, and she wouldn’t be able to understand that because she is super Catholic. So they just have to pretend to be married!

The trailer then shows off the giant cast and tells us who everyone is, except for said guy getting married. WHAT? So here’s to you, Ben Barnes. You get a spot up top, and the first picture.

Who is that
But you have to share it with Amanda Seyfried, because these are my rules, damn it.

Ah shit, I just explained the plot in like, two sentences. Whoops. Well the good news is, the divorce wasn’t bad. Sure, Don (Robert De Niro) might have cheated on Elle (Diane Keaton), but they agreed it was for the best, still raised wonderful kids, and still loved each other. Sure, it was Elle’s best friend who did it too, Bebe (Susan Sarandon), and that they have been together for over a decade, but it isn’t weird.

But hey, Alejandro (Ben Barnes) isn’t the only child causing problems. They have two actual children of their own, Lyla (Katherine Heigl) and Jared (Topher Grace). The former, a lawyer in Chicago, going through a tough time with her long term boyfriend, hates her dad for cheating, and can’t have kids. Jared, a baby doctor, who is still a virgin to save himself from marriage, but totally willing to lose it should the right woman arrive.

Yeah, basically a giant shit storm. That isn’t the half of it. I just don’t want to spoil it all. Robin Williams plays the priest, because why not, and Ana Ayora gets naked. These are important things to note, because you know, it is rated R.

Nero

Rated R you say? Yeah, Robert does R rated films a lot! So that isn’t surprising. This isn’t your daddy’s wedding movie. Unless you are 2-3 years old, then it is likely that your dad is the target audience. Also, get off this website, there is fucking language and talk of naked ladies.

Here comes the shock of the century week. I enjoyed this movie. Like, a decent amount. I laughed, I loved the twists, it didn’t feel forced, and the chemistry between this giant group of actors was great. Shit, everyone seemed to be having such a great time with the movie, and weren’t disappointed to be stuck with some lame new movie about marriage. Obviously, yes, it looks like shit, but I think it has a lot of heart.

This isn’t the kind of movie I could watch again and again, but I am pleased with how it all turned out and think worth a gander. Well, depends on what a gander is. I think some sort of bird.

3 out of 4.

The Double

The Double is another surprise movie I didn’t know I was going to watch. But hey, apparently it was about to come out, so why not watch it. While watching it took me forever to figure it out.

I think it just refers to a Double Agent. Because one of the good or bad guys happens to be one. But which one??

Jail Double
This guy in jail looks pretty shady.

I have been told the trailer gives away one of the major plot points. After only about 30 minutes, you will already know about the killer.

Movie begins with Richard Gere at a little league game, even though he has no children playing in it. After a certain age (and are retired), that no longer is deemed creepy, but charming. But when he gets home, bam, Martin Sheen, head of the CIA is waiting for him. I pretended he was the POTUS for the film though. No idea why.

Turns out a senator got his throat slashed. This throat slashing imitates a bunch of killings that occurred 20 years prior! Gere claims that the killer, Cassius, is dead, and it is just a copycat. But Topher Grace, young FBI operate claims other wise! Dude wrote his thesis on the Cassius killer and knows everything possible about him. Well, except for motives.

Apparently the cuts are the same way. Aka start from the middle of the neck and work their way to the sides, not from one side to the other.

Early on Cassius is actually discovered, but bringing him down is another option. Why did Cassius do these killings? Why is Topher Graces wife (Odette Annable) so trusting and hot, while working at a library? Why does each operative want to bring him down? How many people could possibly have ulterior motives?

Gere Grace
Is this the most efficient way to stand for them to talk?

Much like Trespass, this film falls into the hole of too many twists. Pretty much no one in the film is what you expect them to be. Knowing that you might think “Hey, that is exciting. I HATE trusting fictional characters anyways!” Well too bad. The very large plot holes are way more distracting than the pretty bad plot.

The ending feels like a cop out, and the last twists just don’t make any sense. So much so that when you watch the ending your only way of walking out from this will disappointment.

1 out of 4.

Predators

Looking at all of the tags, I know you are thinking the same thing. How the hell does a movie called Predators not also include Chris Hanson?

Chris Hanson
Because he’d catch them all too quickly and make them have a seat.

The movie begins with Adrien Brody falling in the sky. He is strapped to the chair and flipping out, cause he is falling through the sky. He kinda gets a parachute off, allowing him to note die, but also, only kinda. I generally don’t expect to see Brody as a big action star, but he pulled it off pretty convincingly in the jungle.

Who else fell from the sky? A bunch of soldiers and criminals I tell ya! Alice Braga, the only woman, Danny Trejo, Walton Goggins (Rapist like guy who is in prison jump suit) and Topher Grace. Topher Grace?! Yeah. He is just a doctor. Awkward.

Also, later they meet a past survivor. One Laurence Fishburne, kicking ass, and taking names.

So why are they out in the middle of no where? Eventually they find out that they are prey, for some type of aliens war games. Humans who speak English tend to call them Predators, which is good to know! I am sure their alien name is something like Graafbbfzx. These Predators only tend to kill bad humans though, not innocent ones. So, the title makes more sense when you realize that even the prey are “predators” in their own right. We see what you did there, movie people.

But an alien that only prededates on other predators? So it is like an army of strong, alien, highly technological, Dexters.

Predators
I can kind of see the resemblance too.

What can you expect from a movie based on some 80s movies? A pretty decent action movie, actually. By making all the humans bad people, I have no problem with a force running around killing humans. Usually I think Humans > All Aliens, but hey, if they are bad people, who cares right? So I can enjoy the (many) deaths that occur, and the tactics the humans use to try and survive and kill them first.

Thankfully the plot didn’t have much going for it. A very easy thing to imagine, since we already have to imagine aliens with great technology, we can easily imagine they can have a planet where humans can live, and teleport them from Earth to this place, and you know, death. Also there was a samurai sword fight scene out of no where. These Predators at heart at just warriors, and duelists. They give humans a fair fight, and I like that too. What is the fun in massive slaughter?

2 out of 4.

Take Me Home Tonight

Maybe I missed it, but I don’t think I heard the title song at all in the movie, except for the menu screen. Most of the times they make the title screen after the movie though. This could be one time where they said fuck it, who will notice not having Take Me Home Tonight in the movie Take Me Home Tonight?

Executives
So we all agree, no more Eddie Money References?”

The movie becomes entirely way too predictable, so it is pretty easy to guess everything that will happen. Doesn’t mean a bad thing, as it allows you to focus on the moment and laugh, not worrying about the future. Right?

It is interesting seeing Topher Grace being in an 80s based movie. Maybe the dude is actually a time traveling actor, and hates the present. He probably is just mad he missed out in all the fun the previous decades had to give, so he wants to relive them anyway possible. Maybe soon he will be able to graduate into the 90s, and soon catch up with present day. I am intentionally ignoring In Good Company, because I don’t like that present. That is a sad present.

I also enjoyed seeing Chris Pratt in here, from Parks and Rec. Dude is a funny guy, and he should be given a bigger role in one of these comedies. Oh well, one day maybe? Oh, and of course Anna Faris, rocking out her new fake boobs.

ScaJo
Oh come on. I couldn’t mention a ScaJo movie (In Good Company) and the word boobs in the same review, and not show a picture.

2 out of 4.