High Flying Bird

It has been a good long while since I received a Netflix movie early for a screening, not including the Mowgli one, as they played that in theaters for us. When I got a notification about it, I was excited, but I admit, I assumed it would have been Velvet Buzzsaw.

Instead it was for High Flying Bird, which I admit I would have probably ignored on description alone, if not for two reasons. First, obviously, I need to review it if they ask, so they can ask me to review more (makes sense!). And two, it was directed by Steven Soderbergh! As a general rule of thumb, I should watch everything that this man creates, as I will like or love them more often than not.

Now I do recall that he said before after doing Unsane that he will film all of his future movies with iPhones, or something to that regard, which did give me hesitation. It gives it a unique feel, that sort of fit with Unsane, but might not work for everything.

Fist
We will get to the issue of him doing a movie about race politics as a white dude, later.

Ray (André Holland), not Ray Ray, is sports manager/agent/pr man for namely basketball players, at a hard time to be an agent. Because there is an NBA lockout going on, and if most of their clients aren’t getting paid, then they aren’t getting paid. This isn’t great for job security, morale, or anything, and the lockout has been going on for months.

Ray’s newest client is Erick (Melvin Gregg), who was recently drafted number one overall! However, being drafted doesn’t mean shit. HE hasn’t received a paycheck yet, despite needing to move and figure out how to pay for bills and promises he didn’t expect to worry about. He is getting into trouble, and is in a weird spot with his own job. He has signed a contract, but it hasn’t been able to get processed. He has a team, but he really doesn’t have a team. Grey area can suck.

Ray wants to end the lock out, and decides on a strange plan, involving his unsigned yet signed talent. It is something that can put his own job, his player’s job, and a lot of people out of business. But is it crazy enough to work and get these men back to playing ball?

Also starring Zazie Beetz, Zachary Quinto, Sonja Sohn, Bill Duke, and Kyle MacLachlan.

dinner
This restaurant is so fancy, they even look whiter just by being in here.

Some of the topics in this movie deal with slavery, and how modern things can be attributed to past slavery notions in the USA. It also has a majority black cast, all done by a white director. It is however written by Tarell Alvin McCraney, who wrote Moonlight, and is clearly not white. It sounds to me like the idea for a story was met, and they just brought in a director who wanted to just do all of his filming with phones, let him do his directing/cinematography thing, while giving pretty important input that he couldn’t possibly fully understand.

And that is probably fine. A team of white people didn’t put this movie together. It is a story that is set in a realistic setting, with realistic people, circumstances, and realistic conclusions. It is sort of a fantasy in terms of how quickly it all concludes at the end, I honestly thought there would be at least 15 more minutes.

Overall, the film is under 90 minutes if we don’t include the credits, and has a lot more set up than the conclusion really deserves. It is rushed, and despite all of the set up, we still don’t get a set up to fully explain Ray’s idea, or elaborate on how things will go down. The ending plays off like we were watching a heist movie, and we have to see how Ray did it, but of course on a much smaller scale than a heist.

Not enough gets to actually happen in the film for me to love it, but the ideas are there. The acting is believable. The camera work is unnecessarily weird and I never really get fully immersed in that choice. High Flying Bird as a movie just is unable to reach as high as its title would imply.

2 out of 4.

Movie Roundup – Online Releases 2018

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

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


Online Releases 2018

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

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

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

3 out of 4.

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

The Kissing Booth

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

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

0 out of 4.

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

My Dinner with Hervé

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

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

2 out of 4.

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

Slice

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

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

1 out of 4.

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

The Tale

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

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

3 out of 4.

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

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

Geostorm

I am a goddamn geophysicist, and it took me until almost half of a year later to watch goddamn Geostorm.

IT IS ABOUT EXTREME WEATHER. AND THE EARTH. AND I AM A GEOPHYSICIST.

It would have been unacceptable for me to watch San Andreas way late, like I did with Geostorm.

And hell, I have been relatively kind to natural disaster films on this site. I liked Into The Storm, and you already forgot it existed! Bring on the disaster, especially if it is fun.

Ice
Are those ice zombies? What are those soldiers going to do to those poor popsicles?

The Climate is fucked. After the storms started getting worse and worse, these extreme weather events began to get out of hand. Heatwaves killing thousands in an afternoon. Parts of NYC getting flooded. It just needed to stop. So the world finally came together. They couldn’t stop the climate change. But they could try to curb it.

With all nations actually working together, they developed technology, and put satellites into the orbit. Using science or whatever, these satellites around the globe can disrupt big weather events and counter act them through…I dunno, science/technology stuff. Just trust us, it works.

Hurricanes be gone, droughts be gone, whatever. The world is now a happy and prosperous place. The main creator Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler) was taken from his design though, because he was hard to work with. The US Government wasn’t a fan, especially because he wanted it to be perfect enough for the technology to be controlled by the UN, not the USA. Once he is kicked out, and his brother (Jim Sturgess) is put in charge, he feels like it is still fine, but nope. Time for exile.

He is just going to be needed years later, when the satellites begin to malfunction. Now these big storm events are starting to occur, people are dying, and bad things are happening. If these storms continue, they will start to cause other storms, until they get big enough that the whole world will be under weather advisory. A Geostorm.

Also starring a lot of other people: Like Abbie Cornish, Alexandra Maria Lara, Daniel Wu, Eugenio Derbez, Amr Waked, Adepero Oduye, Andy Garcia, Ed Harris, Richard Schiff, Robert Sheehan, Zazie Beetz, and Mare Winningham.

Space
Surprise! Half of this film takes place not even on the geo!

Goddamn it. I wanted to watch a terrible nature disaster movie. But Geostorm isn’t really a terrible disaster movie. It is really just a terrible political thriller, that has climate disaster consequences.

Fuck that.

I mean, if it was a good political thriller and about climate change, it would be one thing. But it is terrible at explaining the disasters, and a terrible thriller, with terrible action. Everything about it is terrible!

Well then why isn’t it a zero? You know, if I hated it, and the acting was bad, and the plot was bad, and the disasters were bad?

Well, they called the satellite program the Dutch boy. You know, referencing the fable about him sticking his finger in a dyke. That makes me chuckle. That is a solid nickname. That is worth a slight price of admission.

And unfortunately, Butler is a scientist in this movie, and mostly in space. So we don’t get to see him fighting a tornado or anything cool. Very disappointing.

1 out of 4.

Deadpool 2

Before any of you take my words too seriously, let it be known that I gave the original Deadpool a 2 out of 4. Why? Some people were quite angry with me back then! They called it a fresh sight for sore superhero eyes.

And I called it sort of boring. We start with a good intro, but then when we get the flashback, it takes forever to get to the point where we get Deadpool power again. A seriously long time, that is humerous, but less funny, and just….slow. The other main issue was the weak villains. It was a very ground film, but I watch superhero films so that superheroes can fight challenges, not just generic strong people.

Either way, with the sequel, I was more excited. It was going to have a wider cast of characters, it clearly didn’t have to get bogged down in backstory for our main character. It also was going to give us Cable for the first time in modern cinema, so Deadpool 2 had something unique going on for it. And honestly, just, it needed a second try for me. This time I was already given two amazing superhero films in Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War, so it had a bit of a hill to climb to get to their levels.

Ass
More ass is a nice touch though, I guess.

Deadpool 2 takes place after the events of Deadpool. I know that might sound shocking, but time is usually linear.

Unless a movie has a time travel device. Oh hey there is a time travel plot? Fuck. This movie has Cable (Josh Brolin) in it! Oh no! He is from the future, and he has a kid (Julian Dennison) to kill. If he kills the kid, his future is better for him at least. So why not?

Well, there are a lot of reasons why not. And Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) might have to protect them, although it doesn’t sound very Deadpool-y. Speaking of Deadpool-y, this plot outline is really vague, isn’t it? Yeah, because honestly, the less you know, the better.

Also starring Morena Baccarin, Zazie Beetz, Brianna Hildebrand, Bill Skarsgård, T.J. Miller, Terry Crews, Lewis Tan, Eddie Marsan, Jack Kesy, Shioli Kutsuna, Leslie Uggams, Stefan Kapicic, and Karan Soni.

And Rob Delaney as Peter.

Peter
And Peter guys, come on.

If you only had to read one statement about the film to confirm your beastly desires, then let it be this one: I think Deadpool 2 is better than Deadpool. So if you loved Deadpool, this might an even more crazy experience.

There is more action, there is more gore, there are a lot, lot more surprises, and an infinite amount more Celine Dion. It will shock you early on, throughout, and through the end. Both in terms of just how far it goes and the themes it will explore. It has probably one of the best credit scenes of all time.

And yet, it actually put me to sleep early on. Getting plot heavy isn’t a problem, but when the plot is sort of going all over the place, and it is just filled with streams of meta or lame jokes, it is easy to lose disinterest. Sure, it picks up in the second half. And yet as a full film it is just lacking again.

I do find myself more willing to re-watch this one than the first film. And future films too, given that they probably won’t have any T.J. Miller after the incidents.

Also, Peter!

2 out of 4.