Razzennest

Here is an interview with the director of Razzennests, Johannes Grenzfurthner!

Razzennest is a snazzy title, and something that really makes me crave pizza. Makes me want to seek out that razzle dazzle. That is all of the double z words I can think of in a short span of time, I apologize for not being able to make that introduction joke go longer.

Razzennest might be a German word meaning Rat Nest, or it can be something very different on who you ask.

Regardless of who you ask on translating Razzennest, the film itself is a film that cannot be translated into any other film for comparison. It is a film unique on its own, and we shall see why in a moment.

chicken
This is a cock. 

The Thirty Years War (which lasted about 30 years) took place in Central Europe in the 1600’s. It involved the church, of course, people getting kicked out of windows, and just a lot of religious inspired death. Razzennest is about that war, kind of.

The imagery that starts the movie, landscapes, broken buildings, statues, fill the screen, until we hear a voice. Whose voice? Why Babette Cruickshank (Sophie Kathleen Kozeluh) of course. Because she is introducing us to the director’s film commentary of the film, Razzennest. Strange names aside, you would have been confused (if you didn’t read this description first) and thought there was a mistake, but do not worry, this is intentional. Because while you will see the film Razzennest with your eyes, you will quickly see the real Razzennest was not just the friends we made along the way, but the fake director commentary on top of it.

Because director Manus Oosthuizen (Michael Smulik) is an asshole, and has a vision, and hates dumb questions and mispronounced names. And the beginning of the commentary is full of conflict and angst. But unfortunately, darker forces are afoot in their commentary room, and things will only get weirder and scarier from there.

Also featuring the voices of Roland Gratzer, Joe Dante, Jim Libby, Anne Weiner, and Bob Rose.

cave
This is a hole in the ground. 
Razzennest is a HARD film to talk about, because honestly, just mentioning the type of film it is feels like a spoiler, even though that happens immediately. It almost felt like telling people to “get ready for the fake trailers” in front of Tropic Thunder. Just let it happen. But I also know it would be hard for me to talk about anything else, than the commentary track, since that is 95% of the film.

Yes, it still has visuals. But the visuals were clearly chosen to not be distracting, but aiding instead. Real footage of places in Europe, of old destruction, of old structures, of nature, and former battlegrounds. But there are no characters on that screen. There is not other dialogue, or interactions. It is just scenes spliced together, sometimes aggressively, to enhance the commentary story. It often matches the tone and uncomfortableness in some ways with the commentary, clearly being extremely deliberate with the editing so that it is an enhancer, not a hindrance.

In terms of the dialogue, you know, the 95% of the film, it has a pretty varied cast of characters with distinct enough voices and mannerisms to not confuse the viewer. Without knowing exact amounts, the first 1/3 of the film is meant to just be uncomfortable, awkward, and a bit silly and funny. But there are hints of what to come. And damn it, I can keep at least that part a secret still. After all, this is a Horror Comedy, not just a Comedy.

The film’s goal is to both make fun of the pretentiousness of arthouse award winning indie films, while also, at the same time, being one itself. It is punching across, not down or up. It was done on a shoe string budget, with an idea that Hollywood would never try out, because it would be a hard sell for audiences.

I had to go back into my memory banks, the only experience I had that was similar to this was Sounds Dangerous!, which was a Drew Carey audio show attraction at Disney World. The audience was given headphones, and were mostly in the dark, to experience this audio story telling device, with many sound cues to make the audience get all weird feeling. It was unique, and yet, Razzennest is clearly unique-r.

Razzennest is adding complexity to it, by having visuals, by making it meta, and by both deconstructing a genre while partaking in the genre at the same time. There is really nothing like Razzennest, and I honestly can’t imagine too many things being like Razzennest in the future either. Unless this sort of film starts to take off, like Found Footage films did after The Blair Witch Project.

I fully recommend checking out this movie if it is ever in your vicinity, although I realize that will likely be hard for some time. Because there is nothing else like it available. Until we get Razzennest 2 in twelve years, to tell a similar story, but with water!

3 out of 4.

Unidentified Objects

Here is an interview with the director of Unidentified objects, Juan Felipe Zuleta

Everyone wants to talk about the UFO’s, but what if they aren’t flying? What if they walk? What if they teleport? What if they just sit there like a rock and do nothing?

I guess they would just be called UOs, Unidentified Objects. They are less exciting than UFO’s, but they still are unidentified, so I guess no one knows what they are. They are mysterious.

So for a film that goes by that name, we know it has to involve some aliens, but the walking variety. A welcome change, if I am being honest.

grass
I can confirm, neither of these objects look like they can fly. 

Peter (Matthew Jeffers) lives alone in NYC, and honestly, he prefers it that way. He is angry at the world for many reasons. There is a pandemic, that is one of them, sure. But he is gay, a dwarf, and just in general doesn’t have many friends.

So who knocks on his door? Winona (Sarah Hay), one of his neighbors, whom he doesn’t really talk to ever. But she has an emergency. She needs to go on a small trip, and doesn’t have a way to get there. It is to visit her sister. And she offers to pay him almost $2000 for the trip. He does need the money, so…screw it.

However, it turns out that she did mislead Peter on their destination and the reason. First, they have to go into Canada. Second, it is with a goal of getting to a specific spot at a specific time in order to meet…aliens! She believes in them and has some good information. But they will have to sneak across the border, and meet a lot of interesting individuals along the way. Not that they aren’t interesting individuals themselves.

Also starring Elliot Frances Flynn, Hamish Allan-Headley, Kerry Flanagan, Tara Pacheco, and Roy Abramsohn.

bar
Canada means lumberjacks, that is a fact. 

Unidentified Objects on its own sounds like a story you may have seen over and over again.  A road trip film about unlikely companions, to discover something about the world, and hopefully, themselves. And sure. Yes, this is one of those films. And yet despite that, it feels quite unique in its story telling and it is worth the time.

The strength in the film lies mostly in their leads, who both bring about what feels like real passion and real emotion to their roles. This isn’t a zany road trip film. The people met along the way would normally be the types of characters at the butt of the jokes for our main characters, but everyone met is explored and given room to breathe. Whether that is good or bad for the leads depends on whom they meet along the way, but despite being a film about going to potentially meet aliens, it reminds grounded and it excels in that aspect.

Despite being a realistic film, it does feature quite a few dream sequences, to keep the viewer on their toes, and to help explore the characters better, especially our main lead. They almost always got me too, they mostly flowed well from the regular scene, until they didn’t. One cop scene in particular got very weird, very quickly.

With Unidentified Objects, it is a film that is easy to skip from the description alone, but I was blown away by how much I cared about the characters and their individual journeys before the end of it. Strong acting performances from people who aren’t big names. You love to see it.

4 out of 4.

Everyone Will Burn

I don’t usually like to have my movie titles threaten me, but here we are with Everyone Will Burn. Damn, is that spoiling the movie as well? Haven’t had something like this since John Dies At The End. The journey of this movie better be worth it.

Everyone Will Burn is actually a foreign film from Spain, and I didn’t put the title as Y todos arderán, because they didn’t advertise it to me like that. Everyone Will Burn is premiering at Fantastic Fest this year, which has a lot of both foreign films, and horror/sci-fi/strange movies, this one technically falling into that first category.

Who would have thought a title like Everyone Will Burn would end up being a horror movie!?

fire
Well this is just one person burning. Get to the ending!

María José (Macarena Gómez) is done. She wants it all to end. So, she decides the best plan for her right now is to just jump off a bridge.

But then she shows up. Little Lucia (Sofía García). Whom starts referring to her as mother. And who is also covered with mud and maybe some blood. This is not a place for a little confused girl to be, so María decides, rightfully, she needs to bring her back to town to get her help. That is the right thing to do! But on the way home, she gets pulled over by the cops. The cops see the kid, and question her, and believe her when she calls her mom. Guess María will be in trouble now?

Nope. Lucia uses some mind magic, to have one cop kill the other, then burst into flames! Yay!

Oh, that is terrifying. What? Later in town, they apparently have a prophecy about something like this happening. A girl coming in and bringing about an apocalypse. And sure enough, the towns people gossip about this kid, and some mysterious deaths, and assume the kid has to be killed, or else they are doomed. You know, typical small town gossip. But María has taken a liking to the kid, and this gossip is just ridiculous. Right?

Right?

Also starring Rodolfo Sancho.

panic
Mobs are always useful against arsonists.

Now, I hate to admit it, but I need to steal someone else’s word, but they are accurate and they are more creative than I will ever be. This is like a horror film and a telenovela. We have a a standard story about a kid who might be evil incarnate with magic killing powers in a very religious narrative… and also, a lot of people acting very much like gossip is life. So much gossip. So many expressions. So much judging and assuming.

Nothing like some mysterious murders to really make people turn against each other. And you know, want to murder a child. It is that Christian Charity if anything.

Despite the strangeness of these two genres, it feels like a really fresh and unique molding together. I wasn’t bogged down in silly exorcism level horror, which I am pretty much done with. Instead, I got gossip and drama, so I was happy when more people were getting killed. The type of town in this movie made the backstory of our lead make more and more sense, which made her motives in the main story make sense. It was well crafted drama, and not just drama for dramas sake. It helped and made sense for the plot. It gave me different motives to care about other than “oh demon kid = bad, everyone else = good.”

I really, really, don’t care about exorcism movies at this point in my life. So being able to see a sort of demon kid movie in a religious environment without worrying about those scenes, was just bliss.

In particular, the ending of this film is also very strong, due to the above. I didn’t know where it was going, but it surely hit a satisfactory mark.

Hell, and there is a chance that not everything burned at the end. But I won’t spoil that.

3 out of 4.

See How They Run

A lot of times to start these reviews, I will talk about the title as an effective or ineffective tool, or how people might perceive the movie. This time it isn’t a joke. It is all honesty. See How They Run sounds like a horror film. It just does. Or maybe even a war film.

I would have never guessed a Comedy/Mystery movie. I certainly would never have guessed it was something Agatha Christie adjacent. What does that mean? You will soon find out.

You will also find out why this stacked cast, full of actors I love, did very little for me unfortunately throughout the picture.

cast
This is most of the cast! Not even the biggest names! One or more of these characters might die!

In the 1950’s, there was TV and Movies, but let’s be clear, it wasn’t the top tier stuff we know about now. So what did people do? Well, there wasn’t a war, so they went to plays!

One popular playwright was Agatha Christie, whom you have heard of before. She wrote a lot of murder mystery plays, which had the audience guessing and sworn to secrecy that they wouldn’t spoil the ending of the play. After all, then people wouldn’t come and see them!

One play in particular, The Mouse Trap, was doing very well, and it got a lot of people excited about murder mysteries. It may have been even based on a real story. It is doing so well, a few people have the great idea to turn it into a film. People are watching films now, so why not let a lot more see it on a bigger scale? Great idea!

Until people start dying, who are associated with the film. No, this is not Scream 3. This is See How They Run. Now we have an Inspector (Sam Rockwell) and his rookie assistant (Saoirse Ronan) are going to try and find the killer. While also dealing with apathy and inexperience. And some intrigue, sure.

Also starring Shirley Henderson, Adrien Brody, David Oyelowo, Ruth Wilson, Reece Shearsmith, Charlie Cooper, and Harris Dickinson as a young Richard Attenborough.

running
See, I kept the biggest names hidden. Oh what a mystery that was!

This film is going for some sort of meta look on Agatha Christie plays, by having a murder mystery involved with the making of an Agatha Christie film. A real murder during fake murders! It is something that has been done before, so while feeling like it could be a unique look, it isn’t actually too unique. Now we have to compare it to just meta murder films and plays. At the same time, we have to compare it to actual Agatha Christie plays.

That is a lot of comparisons it needs to overcome. Unfortunately, it fails on those levels.

In terms of positives, I can say this movie is really well shot and costumed. It has a great visual look to it, and it is clearly using some good cameras and interesting scenes. I also think Ronan’s character was interesting, and that this one felt a bit more unique when compared to the majority of her other roles. Again, the spunky new cop who is smart and gets things figured out is not a new archetype either. It is just unique for her own body of work.

In terms of everything else, I am just left disappointed. From the eventual reveal, to the death scenes, to the jokes (this is a comedy, technically), and to even Sam Rockwell. I love Sam Rockwell. But much like his character didn’t want to be there, it felt like he didn’t want to be there either.

See How They Run is just a snooze. The jokes fall as flat as the bodies that eventual hit the floor. Its meta qualities don’t even feel like a unique enough reason to give it a watch out of curiosity.

1 out of 4.

Clerks III

Twenty-eight years ago, Clerks was released into the world, and I would like to think that the world changed a bit. It helped independent films gain some notoriety, right? It certainly helped Harvey Weinstein, but that is a different story. I watched this film years later, somewhere as a teenager, after already seeing Mallrats at the time.

Sixteen years ago, Clerks II was released! I was able to see that movie the day it had came out. We had to drive an hour to see it, my brother and I, and there wasn’t a lot of people in the theaters. It was certainly a good time. The sequel had similarities with the first film, but certainly stood on its own. And plus, they could afford to Rosario Dawson money, who was actually famous!

The release of Clerks III has taken a long time to come. I know at some point, a script was written for a film, but that did not happen. At a different time, it was turned into a screenplay where the goal was to have it performed on stage for some amount of time, and then shown in theaters in some sort of Fathom event. That also did not come to fruition.

It took Kevin Smith almost dying for him to make Jay and Silent Bob Reboot. But using that same influence, he decided to then make Clerks III about his experiences as well. Even though, theoretically, Clerks was about some of his experiences. And well, that means are getting what they call one of them/there Meta films.

 

weed
Damn, the stoners are back to doing drugs. Ain’t that a shame.

 

At the end of Clerks II, Dante (Brian O’Halleran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson) bought the Quick Stop that had burned down with Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob’s (Kevin Smith) movie money. They hired Elias (Trevor Fehrman) as one of their employees. And of course, Dante finally was able to realize what he wanted in a love life with Becky (Rosario Dawson), whom was pregnant with a child and now engaged.

So where are we at the new movie? Well, the same amount of time has passed and everyone is still at the same store, doing the same job. Except the job is more fun. For example, they can play hockey on the roof without it being a big deal, because they are the owners.

Unfortunately, Randal ends up having a heart attack and almost dies. [Hey, like Kevin Smith!…] Well, Randal doesn’t like that. Sure he might have to change some of his lifestyle, but since he almost died, he wants to make sure he leaves some impact on the world. Instead of just sitting around all day watching movies, he wants to make a movie. He must have learned enough about it now to make a good one right? And why not just make it about what he knows best, working a convenience store as a clerk serving the public.

And Elias worships Satan now.

Also starring Marilyn Ghigliotti and Austin Zajur

 

clerks
“This job would be great if it wasn’t for all the goddamn movie critics.” – Kevin Smith, probably.

 

How did Clerks III do? Did it nail the landing? Was it poignant yet funny? Was it sad and finale? Was it just dick and fart jokes? The Before trilogy is wonderful, telling the story of two people every 9 years in their life. Starring the same two actors, and the same director. Is the Clerks trilogy technically doing the same thing, over a longer time frame? Yes. But each part does not feel worthwhile, I am afraid.

There are two very specific moments that I certainly cannot talk about. One found out early on, and one dealing with the film’s climax. The earlier one annoyed me greatly, and changed the context of the film. The latter one made me cry, and yet at the same time, it felt cheap. It felt like something I have seen before. Heck, part of it feels like it was ripped straight out of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Unlike Clerks II, where I cried due to great love on the screen, this film had me crying from sadness, but sadness that did not feel earned, nor did it feel like it was even well respected by the material. A very odd position to be in, given the creator’s closeness to this franchise.

Outside of those two specific spoilery moments, most of the movie was watching these older characters try to film and create, what is essentially, the clerks movie. Using friends of theirs from the past to do similar roles inspired by their own fictional real events. What that means is that we got to see a LOT of cameos from the first film, reprising their same roles, and doing the same scenes. That is pretty interesting. Sure. But at the same time, the hardships that came with filming, and the specific things that popped up, were all real experiences as well. And they are all well known and well documented experiences. Because if there is anything Kevin Smith likes doing, it is telling stories from his life. So I was seeing scenes I have already heard before and read before, making the whole thing lose its edge really quickly. I didn’t care about seeing an episode of SModcast, I wanted to see a new movie. 

There are other elements of the trilogy that this one doesn’t follow. I am not saying it has to, but it does help stylistically set the Clerks movies apart. This film does not take place over a day, it takes place over many many weeks. A small annoyance, but notable nonetheless.

The Elias plot line with his crypto friend was incredibly wasted. I don’t think either made me laugh at all. 

The problems with Clerks III is that instead of telling a good new story, Smith instead chose to tell an old story. And when a lot of your movie is literally rehashed jokes from the first one, it is hard to care. At least in the Jay and Silent Bob Reboot I got closure for Chasing Amy, so it doesn’t need some bad sequel. For this specific series, I should have stopped after it peaked with the interspecies erotica. 

 

1 out of 4.

 

Breaking

Finally, a reboot of Breakin’. We haven’t had a break dancing themed film in awhile. Maybe one of the Step-Up films?

I wish I could begin the review like that honestly. I really would enjoy a film about break dancing, even though I know they won’t try to make it a good story.

Instead, Breaking is about a bank robbery. Or at least, someone who has a bomb in the bank, with a very specific set of demands, and he will not stop until he gets his way. Maybe unless he reaches his…Breaking Point?

fbi
And, it features this handsome fellow in one of his final roles. 

Brian Brown-Easley (John Boyega) has gone through some things. He is a former Marine soldier, but now he is just a regular guy, going through hard times. Including money troubles. We seem looking really beat up at the start of the movie. But over what?

We shall see…

The point of the matter is, that later he goes to the bank to do something really basic. No problems, all good. That is, until he asks for a paper, and writes a note to the teller that he has a bomb.

He allows people to call the cops, and most of them to evacuate. The teller (Selenis Leyvis) and manager (Nicole Beharie) are the only two staying behind. Brian is very apologetic and sorry. He says he won’t be hurting him if he has to let the bomb go. He just needs to make some demands.

What kind of demands? Well. He wants $832. That specific amount. And he doesn’t want it from the bank. He wants his money from the VA that he says was denied to him recently. It is the principle.

Also starring Connie Britton, Jeffrey Donovan, London Covington, Olivia Washington, and Michael Kenneth Williams.

bomb
Bringing a bomb to a bank is a good way to be alliterative. 

One thing you might want to know going into this movie is that it is based on a true story. And because of that, it is limited in really what it can tell in this movie, if it wants to be accurate. From the plot of this film, it looks like it was going for accuracy. I would not recommend looking up the actual events before hand, nor the article that became famous talking about the events. Obviously they are spoilers, but even the title of the article is a spoiler.

This film is dealing with a real, and serious issue. It is dealing with PTSD, and of course, police violence against black people, and their difference responses based on the color of ones skin most of the time. It is serious and worth being talked about.

But at the same time, I am a movie reviewer, and reviewing the movie itself. Once we get to the bank scene, which starts relatively early in the film, it feels like Boyega is giving a sort of impression of Denzel Washington in John Q. At least it made me elicit it. A guy holding up people for a good cause potentially. But there isn’t a lot that happens in this story. Just some talking, and escalations, until the whole thing ends. The true story is a powerful one sure, but the emotions weren’t with me along for the ride. And that was devastating.

Boyega wasn’t acting bad, nor the rest of the cast. Jeffrey Donovan’s character was a little weird in the grand scheme of things. But it didn’t seem to go far about the issues that the movie wanted to talk about. It all felt very surface level. It is really easy to make me cry when a movie has a father doing something “for his daughter” and there are emotional build ups, but this one couldn’t get to me in that level.

I think I would rather have a documentary about this subject, and the greater problems reflected in the film. Because this time keeping the story relatively accurate meant it didn’t have a lot to work with. And for one more note, I really wish it kept its original title, 892. That would have felt more unique.

1 out of 4.

My Old School

If you ask me about my old school, I will need you to be specific, because I went to six schools growing up. Two per standard tier. And I would love to talk to you the most about my second high school because it was a weird experience. And it was very nerdy.

But I doubt my experiences were unique enough to ever think about making a documentary about it.

So what are you doing Jono McLeod? In My Old School, he thinks his high school has a story worth telling. About a mysterious student who joined his high school at 16 years old, and became just an immediate force at his school. People knew him. He was smart. He was kind. He was involved. His name was Brandon Lee. Which was odd, because this was a few months after the actor Brandon Lee died while shooting The Crow.

running
Yep, that looks like a school in the 90s. 

Wait, who is that? Yes, that is Alan Cumming! Oh did Alan go to that school? This is in Britain, after all. Nah, Alan Cumming is actually playing adult Brandon Lee. The Brandon at the school, not the dead one. Brandon was interviewed for this documentary, but for reasons, didn’t want to show his face. We also get to have interviews with other people who were in his and the director’s same class.

I mostly already told the overall plot of the movie. But some mysterious kid with a very specific name comes to this school, and is just so much…better than everyone. Having a gifted student isn’t weird. That isn’t news worthy. So why is it news worthy? Well, that is the surprise, and the reason to watch.

When it comes to the story and if it is worth a documentary, overall I would say yes. It was big in the news at the time, at least in that area, and was about quite a few interesting topics overall. It is a cute story overall too. Partially because it is being told through interviews, and personal stories, from people who knew him. And Brandon when narrating has Alan Cumming just lip syncing his words, to give a face to it. Most of the time however, it has a really standard basic animation to tell and show the story.

My Old School, albeit slow at times, and clearly very strongly an indie story through and through, tells an interesting story, and there can be many worse ways to spend your time.

3 out of 4.

Emergency Declaration

I haven’t had a big chunk of foreign films to review at my disposal this year, but honestly, that is probably my fault. The fact that I haven’t yet seen RRR is a goddamn travesty. I assume that because of what everyone has said about it.

For Emergency Declaration, I was finally given a big foreign release film to review ahead of time! And its a plane disaster film! Great. I am sure subtitles isn’t enough for me to call it uniquely different than other plane movies. I hope the plot really feels different as well. But I don’t think there has been a lot of plane movies either, since the pandemic.

I wonder if the Big Plane industry has been controlling Hollywood, to prevent plane movies from being released. You know, to build up trust in the airlines again after the pandemic and those scares. This conspiracy probably doesn’t have legs because I am sure there have been quite a few plane movies released recently, that I just don’t remember.

rain
Dude its raining. Protect your phone man. The rice thing is a myth. 

Planes can be fun. But they can also be…not fun. In-ho (Song Kang-ho) is a detective! His wife (Woo Mi-Hwa) loves to travel, but In-ho does not and always cancels on planned trips, so she decided to go to Hawaii with her friends. Oh well. But it turns out in this area, there was someone posting a threat to kill people on a plane soon. In-ho found himself investigating these events, and found a really gross and deformed body in the potential terrorist’s house. Including experiments and data on rats, about some biological weapon.

But the terrorist is nowhere to be found! Shit, he is on a plane. And we even get to see him to buy a ticket and get on the plane. He just wants to go somewhere far, with a lot of people on board. Somewhere like Hawaii.

And now, with bioterrorism in the sky, and let lose on the plane, how are they going to help those passengers who don’t have a place to land? How will they navigate the geopolitical landscape when people wouldn’t want to help them if they have an unknown, deadly, and contagious virus on board? How will they find a cure in a small amount of time? And how many will die along the way?

Also starring Lee Byung-hun, Jeon De-yeon, Nam-gil Kim, Si-wan Yim, So-jin Jim, and Park Hae-joon.

pilot
“How do I fly this plane with people bleeding everywhere?”
“That sounds like a real sticky situation you got there.”
It turns out, I loved Emergency Declaration. And it is hard for me to really point out which moment or scene sealed the deal for me.

One notable component about this film is that it is pretty damn long for a plane disaster movie, rocking in at 2 hours 20 minutes. A lot of plane disaster films can’t get a runtime like that, while keeping up the tension. And yet, this film keeps up the tension.

Anything that could go wrong does go wrong in the plot. When there seems like a reasonable out for them to get help, there becomes good plausible reasons for that to not work. When the plane at one point has to turn around to head back home, the look of absolute defeat in the characters eyes as they feel the turn and see the sunset change sides of the plane just really reaches deep into your soul. Speaking of soul, one moment near the end, when plane riders are finally able to get usable signal with their devices to video chat with their loved ones is completely heart wrenching. Did it make this movie reviewer cry? Of course it did.

And honestly, the plot outside of the plane, with our detective discovering initial clues with his fear building up, to the dealings with the Biotech company, and other countries government responses to their plight, along with various types of protests at home, all helped extend the tension in new and wonderful directions.

In terms of how topical this film feels, of course this film would make people think of COVID. People traveling, getting sick from an airborne virus, and people around the world trying to protect themselves from getting this virus as well. Because it is a weapon, it acts very fast, and is pretty deadly, and strangely enough, this film was written and started some level of production before COVID was a thing. So good on them finishing it anyways, even if one would assume it was inspired by recent events.

A lot of the side plots in the film will feel like clichés potentially. But if you have enough of them, and cram them all in, it gives a really compelling picture, with a large interesting cast, of various personalities all trying to do one thing. Survive.

4 out of 4.

Luck

Did John Lasseter fuck around with employees and sexually harass people while working for Disney/Pixar?

Well, most assuredly yes. He even admitted to it and called them missteps. That is pretty poorly worded. What a fuck. So he got booted out of Disney/Pixar, which makes sense. But damn it, he has /talent/ so he can’t not have a job. How will he live off of his previous riches?

So Skydance Animation was made! Okay, it was made before that controversy. But they hired Lasseter to run it, because they wanted a big name I guess. And that is the intro you get to have for their first animated film, Luck! Which is premiering straight to Apple+.

dragon
Oh, but this movie has dragons. Why isn’t it on HBO?

Luck is a story about Sam (Eva Noblezada), whom you might have already guessed, is unlucky. She is clumsy, she is late, her stuff stops working, she falls, she gets pains, but damn it she is 18 now, and about to live life on her own. Her own apartment, her own basic job. Why is that? Oh yeah, because she was also in a foster home. Yep, her unluckiness meant she was also there for years and never got taken in by a “forever family”, and just had to live a sad life alone. Yep, we are going depressing with this real quick.

But leaving the home meant that that Hazel (Adelynn Spoon) is now alone. A newer foster kid in the home. Sam makes sure she should still visit so often, so she won’t be alone, and hopes she has better luck.

Sure enough, she runs into a black cat, who drops a coin (ah, must be a lucky penny), and then Sam has good luck! She blames it on the coin of course, and wants to give it to Hazel so she can be adopted (fuuuck, that’s too depressing for me). But, once again, she is unlucky and loses it after intentionally setting it down.

That is when she runs into the cat again and….well, the rest is history. You know, after she follows it to a secret Luck world where Good Luck is created and fostered, with a polar opposite Bad Luck side that brings bad luck into the world, with a smorgasbord of diverse characters.

Also starring Colin O’Donoghue, Flula Borg, Jane Fonda, Lil Rel Howery, Maurice J. Irvin, Simon Pegg (as the cat!), John Ratzenberger, and Whoopi Goldberg.

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Oh shit, emotions rising. Characters are hugging!

Honestly, this movie made me cry. But it is seriously hard not to. The first ten minutes are extremely sad. I feel so bad, that the took something kind of whimsical like having good or bad luck and equating it to something so serious like having someone fucking adopt you. Normally the stakes for this type of thing are missing a shot in a big sports game, or question in a competition. But sorry, your unusual unluckiness prevented parents from wanting to have you in their life? And often not show up at all for visits? Goddamn, calm down movie people.

Honestly, writing that makes me a bit more annoyed as it all comes together.

For the film itself, it is pretty damn basic. It feels like a lot of other generic kid fantasy films. Go to a magical realm. Have a diverse cast of different characters and magical beasts to look at. Have to go from point to point to collect things, to get closer and closer to a goal. And learn a lesson, that is really obvious from us the viewer. Just a standard, unimaginative story line. Even if it is in a new world we haven’t been before, it doesn’t do anything particular shocking with that world.

Overall, Luck is really lazy. For a child, it might be nicely distracting. But its tone is off, and honestly leaving a bad taste in my mouth to cheapen foster kids and adoption into good and bad luck. Sure the film made me cry, like twice, but it did so by being very manipulative with some real tragedies that didn’t actually matter for a lot of the story.

1 out of 4.

Not Okay

How you feeling? Good? Fine? Adequate? Not Okay?

Not Okay could be a lot worse. It isn’t actually bad, but it is still undesirable as a state of being. It could still be a lot better.

I assume a lot of people out there are in general feeling not okay a large part of the time, but hey, we can still function without crying in stairwells. Or at least crying in them daily?

Not Okay is another film going straight to streaming, this time, Hulu, and features an acting reunion months in the waiting!

 

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Hey look, my favorite thing about French food!

 

Danni Sanders (Zoey Deutch) is not a good writer. She is also, arguably, not a good person. Both of those things will matter. You see Zoey works for a website (Buzzfeed-esque), and wants to make articles for them, but she is not a journalist. She is an art editor. And her writing is bad. So of course her boss isn’t going to let her write for them.

But damn it, she wants to be an influencer. But she doesn’t have a lot of followers either. How can she gain street cred when no one will listen? Well, apparently by going on a vacation trip/retreat to Paris, and taking a lot of cool shots. Except those are exclusive and hard to get into, so fuck it, she will fake it. She took off of work for a week, and hid in her apartment, and took a lot of shots pretending to be in Paris.

And as expected, a terrorist attack happens in an area Danni claimed to be. Now she is getting a lot of traffic on people wondering if she is okay. If she survived. And so now? Well, might as well role with it. Pretend to be a survivor. Get some good press. And starting writing! But how long can she keep up the lie, and who will she hurt along the way?

Also starring Mia Isaac, Dylan O’Brien, Nadia Alexander, Luca De Massis, Dash Perry, Embeth Davidtz, Sarah Yarkin, Brennan Brown, and Karan Soni.

 

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Therapy can really help dealing with trauma. Assuming you have trauma.

 

Surprising cast notes! That long waited reunion I talked about was mostly just a joke, because Deutch and O’Brien worked together on The Outfit from earlier this year. Also another surprising note, Mia Isaac is in here with her second movie role, the first one coming out two weeks ago, Don’t Make Me Go. 

Real early on in the movie I found myself laughing, which is usually a good sign. And honestly, it kept me chuckling about random parts throughout. It did this while still managing to keep the serious parts serious, especially in talking about traumatic events, survivors, PTSD, and coping mechanisms. Isaac was the best part of this movie. Her character was strong and honest. 

This movie also began with a scene out of order, near the end of the movie, so our narrator can tell us how she got to that low point in her life. It is a really boring beginning, but at least it helps you know what will come from her lying on social media. I bring that up now, because I absolutely loved the end of the movie. It was a hard ending to predict. It could have went a lot of ways. And what it left was something powerful and moving. And a little bit sudden by the time the credits rolled. It left the film with a perfect ending, one that I want to see over and again. And it dealt with a lot of real issues in that ending, that I would love to talk about but you know, spoilers.

Not Okay is a film that deals with a strange subject and feels like a movie that will be just regular trash. But it deals with important topics, in the lens of a privileged white lady realizing the world isn’t about her. 

 

3 out of 4.