Tag: 2 out of 4

Dear Evan Hansen

Have you ever wanted a musical to come to film?
Have you waited for a casting and a release date to announce?
Have you ever jumped so much you could shout?
Like you could sing, and everyone would hear?

Okay, to leave the lyric land. Maybe you also found yourself super pumped because Dear Evan Hansen was being directed by Stephen Chbosky, who also directed Rent, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and more. And you were excited that Ben Platt was reprising the role!

And then you saw the trailer and were like, wait, what, no.

That is a big thing going on for this musical. People really hated the trailer because of how much Ben Platt stuck out in it. He looked so old and uncomfortable. He played a high school senior just two years ago in The Politician and it didn’t look that terrible. Why is it so uncomfortable?

Ehhh, most people would probably blame it on the hair. The very awkward curls to make him seem, I don’t know, younger? But in reality, well, it is definitely the hair and it does not work. But something else seemed amiss too, and it was hard to tell, I had to see it to believe it.

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I already planned on being uncomfortable the whole time

For those who don’t know why this musical, is really awkward, then hold on to your butts. Evan Hansen (Ben Platt), he has a lot of anxiety and depression issues. It is hard for him to talk to anyone. His mom (Julianne Moore) is a nurse working extra hard so they can live an okay life, still kind of poor, and his dad is away and out of the life. His therapist wants him to start writing letters to himself, from himself, about his life so they can help with strategies during sessions.

Well, Evan prints it out in the library and is waiting to get it, when another student, Connor (Colton Ryan) who is addicted to drugs and a little off, signs his cast as an apology for yelling at him earlier. But when Connor sees the letter, and it mentions Zoe (Kaitlyn Dever), Connor’s sister and a girl Evan likes, he takes the note and storms out, assuming Evan was just another student trying to mess with him.

Evan’s big worry is that the note will be posted on the social medias and he will be made fun of. But Connor doesn’t come back to school. Later, Evan is brought to the principal to talk to Connor’s parents (Amy Adams, Danny Pino), where they tell him that Connor killed himself. And the only note he seemed to leave behind was a note to Evan, since it began Dear Evan Hansen and was signed by “Me”.

He originally tries to deny it, but they also see CONNOR written on his cast, and its big and the only name. They must have been friends. He is uncomfortable, but doesn’t want to disappoint these nice people, so he tells some lies about their friendship to help their grieving. But these lies also make Evan feel like he is gaining a family in their grief. And these lies begin to snowball, until eventually, the truth has to come out.

Also starring Amandla Stenberg and Nik Dodani.

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Signing casts are bigger deals than promposals I have heard.

Will you be found enjoying this musical? Maybe. It might depend on your experiences and love of the Broadway version. At least five songs are cut from the musical and reprises of others. And if you ever listened to the musical, you will find it feeling a bit sparse on music already. Or maybe it is just me, since it came out the year after Hamilton which is to the brim with music so it is hard to really compare it. But this movie at 2 hours and 17 minutes feels musical-lite. Most of the songs are slow and sad ones too.

We open with a famous song (different than Broadway) and then it takes almost another 20 minutes before we get another song. Musicals not having enough songs is a big issue. Its the sort of issue some Disney musicals have where they have only like five or six songs and most of them are in the first half. If you are a musical, commit to it, and give more songs, you know? Two of the songs in here are also original, trying to get that Oscar nomination. I appreciate them actually including them instead of just stamping them on the credits at least. But neither might secure a nom either, unfortunately.

Did I cry? Surprisingly only once. It was with Moore singing So Big / So Small, and I honestly figured that would be cut too, since they cut her other song that would have been a duet with Amy Adams.

I knew going into this movie that the plot was all sorts of fucked up, and just like I thought with the musical (Which I hadn’t seen, just heard the songs from and read outlines), I don’t think it really dealt with the consequences enough. It just filters out near the end. Life moves on, that is fair point, but this is a movie and I would like some better closure.

I appreciate the movie/story dealing with some really awkward and uncomfortable circumstances. Usually if things are uncomfortable, there is a clear solution and way to handle it all, but after the ball was rolling it was hard to find both what should be done and what should happen when it starts to fix. And complications in life and film can be a good thing.

Ben Platt was a good idea to still be the lead, but I don’t know why short haired one from the musical and The Politician wouldn’t have seemed to fit in better. Or maybe just casting a lot of other older high schoolers, confuse us that way you know? Halfway through it, I did forget the weirdness of the look, I will say and let the story better consume me. I think it gets better.

And on that note, a better Dear Evan Hansen musical should have existed, and now won’t.

2 out of 4.

Everybody’s Talking About Jaime

In 2011, a short documentary came out of Great Britain. It was called Jaime: Drag Queen at 16. It was about a boy, who by 16, knew he wanted to be a drag queen and went for it, despite living in a conservative place, and not even being an adult yet. He had a mom who helped encouraged him to follow his dreams, and follow his dreams he did, damn it.

And so then they made a British stage musical about it. It has the same name, Everybody’s Talking About Jaime. That one came out in 2017, and I guess it was loved enough, so that only three years later, here we are with a movie version of the stage musical.

A very quick turn around. Great if you love the musical, but also a little bit suspicious. Most musicals put it off as long as they can, because it usually signifies their show is almost over on its long stand, and it will help boost sales or give them an alternative revenue. For a turn around like this, I don’t know what to expect, except I am happy it came out this year. 2021 is the year of musicals, so let’s just pile them on all over me.

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Pictured: Me smothered in musicals (each light is one musical this year). 

Jaime (Max Harwood) is turning 16, and is gay, and everyone knows it. Jaime is proud of himself and isn’t trying to hide it, despite the risk of bullies that exists. But what they don’t know about Jaime is that he also dreams of being famous. Not too surprising a dream for a kid, but Jaime wants to be a famous drag queen. He love’s typical women’s fashion, wants to put on a dress, wear a wig, and lip sync to some diva hit on stage.

But he keeps that a secret. His mom (Sarah Lancashire) knows that about him, and encourages him to go for his interests. His dad (Ralph Ineson) knows he is gay, and honestly, doesn’t like that. He is basically out the door and with another woman this whole time, doesn’t care about his son. Jamie’s best friend, Pritti (Lauren Patel), also knows his dreams, while she herself wants to be a doctor.

But screw it. The year is almost over, Jamie is turning 16, he wants to start being an actual drag queen, full outfit, and he wants to come out as a drag queen at the end of the year prom! While shopping, he finds a mentor (Richard E. Grant) to help guide him on his journey, while he battles bullies (Samuel Bottomley), teachers (Sharon Horgan), and more to live life the way he has always wanted.

Also featuring Shobna Gulati.

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Face it kid, you’re gonna be a drag star.

I will say the same thing I say in a lot of these movies. Representation matters. There aren’t really many movies coming out, even in our modern world, about becoming a drag queen and why that is a perfectly valid lifestyle choice. Shit. In the 1990’s in a two year span, we somehow got both The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar.  I can’t think of many other examples outside of them, but I am sure they exist, they just haven’t reached any level of popularity. So it is fantastic that we have a movie on this topic coming out in a popular-ish way. 

Now on this note, I am definitely saying, this movie isn’t really that great. It should be a 1 out of 4 purely on its own, but I gave bonus points for being about a topic not talked about much.

After the musical, none of the songs were stuck in my head. They have a song called Everybody’s Talking About Jaime, which might be there go to hit I guess, and the only reason it stuck with me more is because they played a different cover of it for the credits. 

Acting is average, but it felt like it could have been a made for TV movie on Freeform at the same time. The “villains” of this film started out reasonable and just turned into strange cartoon characters by the end. The math teacher really made no sense (and I am not just saying this as a math teacher myself). Outside of an art teacher once, and the principal once, she is the only teacher ever shown, and it is over and over, and apparently whatever she says is the main authority of the building.

The final scenes in front of the prom were ridiculous. Why is literally their whole class standing outside of the building instead of going in it. How many times does the teacher have to say “Everybody go inside” before it means everybody? I was confused each time she said it and the students argued with her about Jaime getting to go too, because she literally just said everyone, which should include Jaime. but apparently it doesn’t? And again, why is she this literal gatekeeper to the building and no one else? 

The film can have a great message about accepting yourself and others, but it just feels so dumb at the same time. 

For a year full of musicals, this one is not rising to the top, and it is important to point that out. It presumably couldn’t hack it on Broadway either, and that is why we have the movie now. I assume songs were cut from the musical for the movie, but it feels like it had less than ten songs overall still. Give me more musical in my musicals, damn it. 

2 out of 4.

Joe Bell

Movies that are just the name of someone need to carry some sort of weight. Are they someone famous, like the movie Gandhi? Are they interesting sounding names, like Erin Brockovich? Or are they basic as fuck, like Joe Bell?

Joe Bell, as a film name, holds absolutely no weight. If it is a real person, you likely don’t know his name enough to remember him. If it is a made up person, then why does his name warrant the title of the film and not something more creative?

Well, it turns out the movie has this terrible title because Joe Bell is a real dude. He was a dad who decided he would walk across America, ending at NYC, to speak up and out against bullying. Because his own son committed suicide in high school due to bullying and other factors.

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The other factors being things like Joe Goddamn Randy Macho Man Savage Bell.

Joe Bell (Mark Wahlberg) is a bearded man who likes the sports and the ladies and working hard. He is married (Connie Britton) and has two kids (Reid Miller, Maxwell Jenkins) so he is doing alright. But then his oldest, Jadin, had to come out as gay. Joe said he accepted him and loved him, but you can tell he was still probably annoyed by this news.

After all, they are in a small town, people have their thoughts and opinions, and now Joe Bell might be judged on his own masculinity due to his son. His son being a cheerleader? Oh heck naww.

So Joe ain’t the best, but he is doing that walk thing yeah? Yeah, I guess. But he isn’t the best, and it doesn’t start out too great. He really has to fucking grow up if he is going to make this thing worth his time. Can’t just walk off your guilts.

Also starring Gary Sinise and Morgan Lily.

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You can’t walk off past due speeding tickets either.

I will be honest here, I may have spoiled part of the story. The way it is described to me when I heard about this movie, is that it is that guy who walked across the US due to his son’s suicide. But films need things like that to be a secret I guess. It takes a whole third of the way through the film before they let out the knowledge that his son wasn’t alive anymore, to get a timed and prepared emotional reaction because it was haven’t trouble getting them at other points in the movie.

I am starting off really harsh there, but things like this bug me. The story is due to his son’s suicide, not just because of bullying. And as the movie let’s us know, his home life wasn’t necessarily great at all, and the movie about Joe Bell goes to great lengths to show that Joe Bell the person kind of really sucked.

It turns out there are more secrets and surprises to this story too. I wasn’t prepared for the ending, and it made me tear up as well. The film itself is broken down into flashbacks of home life, including the eventual suicide of the son. I did find the parts about the walk a bit more interesting, as it was dealing with grief, and Joe Bell was so bad at doing these talks and still figuring out how to do the right thing.

Wahlberg’s acting was fine. Britton was once reduced to a role of “wife of main character” and didn’t have a lot to work with there. Miller, as the boy in question was okay, but he was also limited on his screen time.

Honestly, this is one of those situations where you have to wonder where the priorities are at. They want to tell Joe Bell’s story, the dad’s? Not the son’s story? I mean, it gets told here as well, by telling the dad’s, but it still is just another example of making things through a straight white male hetero lens that is pretty damn frustrating for people who want more for their stories.

Joe Bell will leave you sad, aggravated, and not really loving the person Joe Bell.

2 out of 4.

Zola

Do you want to hear the story about how Zola fell out with this white bitch?

Well, good news, you have multiple options now. The first, is the twitter thread from October, 2015. A whole lot of tweets tells the entire story. 148 of them in fact. All in a row, it went viral, I believe they were deleted, but this is the internet and nothing can leave the internet. Here, go for it. This is a compilation on Imgur, you can read the entire screenplay here.

Just kidding, but also not really. As told here is basically the story we get in the movie, the second way to hear the story about Zola and that bitch fell out. A story of sex work, coercion, and a wild ride to Florida between strangers who became besties and anti-besties in a short amount of time.

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Is this the beginning of a new franchise stripper battles?

Depending on who you heard the story from first might cloud your judgement, but lets take it from Zola (Taylour Paige) since she started this whole story off. Zola was a dancer and a waitress at Hooters. She also had a boyfriend (Ari’el Stachel) and was generally okay with life. She knew she looked good, so she made money using her body while she good, just stripping, none of that sex stuff.

Well, while at her waitressing job, she meets Stefani (Riley Keough) and her friend (Colman Domingo). Zola hits it off with Stefani, they do a lot of talking given how they want the waitresses to act at Hooters, and they find out they are both dancers and more and exchange numbers. And then like the next day, Stefani asks if Zola is down to a road trip to Florida to do some dancing. Zola has made good money in Florida dancing in the past, and well, fuck it. Sure let’s go.

Unfortunately, Florida doesn’t feel like a land of sunshine and rainbows on their visit. Zola finds herself in situations where she is expected to sleep with people instead, and with her life and home being threatened by this friend (well, pimp). This is not what she signed up for, and she really doesn’t know who to trust, but Zola is gonna make sure she gets out of this as untouched as possible.

Also starring Nicholas Braun, Nasir Rashim, and Jason Mitchell.

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If there was ever a “bitch you crazy” screenshot, here it is.

Have you read the original tweet thread? Why not, it is worth it, it is interesting, and it is full of emotion. I certainly would recommend it and it is pretty obvious why it took off like it did. And did you know, that the other girl in the story, also posted her own account of this same trip? Here it is on Reddit. They are very, very, very, very different stories. Freakishly differently. Almost nothing is similar, so who is lying?!

I guess we will believe Zola, this is her story, and I think some comment sleuthing on that reddit thread is able to find some arrest records in relation to that story, so it makes Zola the more believable person here. Which is good, because her story is more fantastic.

Like I said earlier, the movie itself is very similar to the tweet thread. We have a few less characters in the film, some names are changed, and not all of the events are used, but most of them to tell the same story. And technically, yes, I would say the tweet thread is better. I know, I have fallen into one of those traps that I try to avoid as a reviewer, not comparing something to the “book” it is based on. The story of Zola is fine as a movie, but based on the hype of the thread and the advertising, I did expect a lot more to happen in that weekend.

The leads do a wonderful job with their characters and the predicament they find themselves in, I will give that to Paige and Keough. The cinematography makes some interesting choices throughout it, which is a surprise given the type of story this tells. And, fun fact, you can see a whole lot of penises in this movie. I think at least five unique dicks, and some butts. This is good news for those who are clamoring more for more dicks in movies.

Zola as a film will serve as a good story to get people invested in what is now a six year old twitter thread with very little updates to worry about. It is a little bit of escapism and a strange funny yet dark tale. It is certainly not a film meant for everyone, however, so clearly watch at your own risk.

2 out of 4.

Occupation: Rainfall

See my interview with the director/writer of the movie here!

A couple of years ago, a film called Occupation released out of Australia. It starred Australian actors, was directed and produced by Australians, and hell, surprisingly, was shot and set in Australia. It was so Australian, a rugby match played a pivotal part of the film. Mmmm, non American sports.

Well, it was hit with relatively big success for an independent film about an alien invasion and a small community coming together to fight the scary aliens away.

And now we have the sequel, set a few years later, starring the same people, and also coming out a few years later. Hey, it is wonderful when that works out like that. Occupation: Rainfall is updating us on the war, years later, with more explosions and pew pews.

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Posing before shooting is the coolest thing you could ever do. 
For real though, aliens invaded, but they aren’t like, that much better than humans. Yes, their guns and ships are better, but they weren’t able to take over the entire world. Last time was saw one community stand up really well on their own against them (and probably had a small force to try and take them out, they weren’t Sydney). But it turns out, a lot of places in the world were able to shoot them and take them down.

So where do we find our heroes now? Well, still in Australia, still working together, but with more tech. And hey, they got some alien deflectors now. They got aliens who are giving them intel and helping them strike back and go for bigger and badder tactics. And they all have responsibilities over larger amounts of people. It is nice they didn’t get fully swept up in the bureaucracy of defending their planet.

Before their issues were about just finding loves ones, but now we have to worry about the survival of the species. And hey, we got some other countries people helping us this time! Will this be the end of the alien scum, will our heroes finally lose, or will neither happen and will we get a third film?

Starring Dan Ewing, Temuera Morrison, Daniel Gillies, Lawrence Makoare, Mark Coles Smith, and Jet Tranter. Also featuring some newer bigger names like Ken Jeong and Jason Isaacs.

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Yep, looks like they got all the lasers and pew pews right here.

The first Occupation film, from my point of view, was surprisingly well done. This was based on my already low expecatations however of an indie film trying to recreate a bigger budget film with clearly not the names or budget behind a normal big budget movie. It was solid, but it did stall out and feel a bit generic in action department by the end. So with the sequel, they are given some bigger names, the same cast and crew, and a lot more money to do the bigger bangs, more aliens, more ships.

And does the sequel deliver on that front? Yes for sure, they amp up everything in this franchise being made from the ground up.

However, with that being said, and with real tactical things being done in the movie, and betrayals and twists and action, it will be great for those who want that in a movie. But I always want something more in my action film and this one doesn’t seem to deliver it to me on that level. It is, unfortunately, chock full of the sort of action that would put me to sleep. The tension created didn’t transfer over to me or put me on the edge of my seat in any way. I did care a little bit about the story elements, and whether some would live or die, but that wasn’t enough for me to fully care about the final results.

I won’t take away the technical achievements this movie has made though. With a bigger budget, it still wasn’t astronomical, and they did a lot with what they had, just like the first film. And the crisp new cameras really help you get immersive in the final polished piece. But from start to finish, I couldn’t tell you after the fact what action scenes happened in this or the first film, and I would describe them all relatively similar because unfortunately none would stick with me.

2 out of 4.

Cruella

I often talk about bias and my attempts to avoid it completely, by avoiding the source material, or you know, letting you know if I have a bias. Like my hatred towards Luc Besson.

With Cruella, ever since it was announced it met me with confusion. But why? Why would anyone want to make a story about the origins of Cruella? The dog killer? I understand they did this same bullshit with Maleficent, someone in the original cartoon who was said to be the biggest evil thing ever, but in Sleeping Beauty, she didn’t do that many bad things. She never attempted to kill puppies. (And, author’s opinion of course, Maleficent was a bad movie, and the sequel was worse, so not worth going down that path too many times).

But in 101 Dalmatians, we can see why she is the bad guy. She wanted to kill dalmatians to make fashion. How the fuck are you gonna redeem that? The only way that could be redeemed would be if you decide to just ignore it…or just say it was a misunderstand and a lie. Neither feel like really strong arguments to run with because there wasn’t really any grey area in 101 Dalmatians for us to see a misunderstanding.

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Based on this hair in the photo, we could have had 101 Cliffords.

Just as a heads up, this shouldn’t be considered a spoiler, as it happens very early on, but this next paragraph has someone people might want to see happen and not know why.

Because this is an origin story, we are going to start with¬† Cruella’s birth, except her name is Estella and she has that black/white hair out of the womb for some reason. Growing up, she was interested in fashion, and getting revenge on bullies. She got into trouble, all of that. Her mom (Emily Beecham) tried to help her out and encourage her dreams, but they were poor. Then one day, at a fancy party which they weren’t invited too, Estella snuck in to find her mom and the host. Some dalmations were chasing her, and sure enough, they actually ended up pushing her mom off a cliff and she died. Oh boy. See. There you have it. There is an angle. Instead of becoming Dalmatian Lady, she set off to kill them all right? Wrong.

Now Estella is an orphan, but she meets two other orphan pick pockets and they end up living together to run the streets. Now years later, Estella (Emma Stone), Jasper (Joel Fry), and Horace (Paul Walter Hauser), do a lot of criming. They steal, they plan crime, they dress up in outfits, and they get by. What fun, what fun. But Estella wants something more. Jasper sees that, and lies on a resume for her to get her an in job at a fashion store!

And well, a lot more happens. But Estella is going to have a rise to power eventually, change her name, and have reasons to take down the head fashionista (Emma Thompson) in London, with a few balls, robberies, and shenanigans along the way.

Also starring Mark Strong, Kayvan Novak, and John McCrea.

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“There’s no way that could be the same woman with the red hair. There is different hair!”

I really wanted to get it out of my head, but the nagging feeling remained throughout. This lady wants to kill dogs eventually. They didn’t try to paint Cruella as the nicest woman around. She obviously still is a criminal, who steals, vandalizes, and is some punkrock incarnation of fashion in London in the 1970’s. Will they get to the dalmatian part at all? Because Maleficent did deal with Aurora growing up and the curse. The answer is no. This film ends before 101 Dalmatians begins, but it introduces us to those characters, which will at least mean in the future, when they inevitably make a sequel, maybe that one will be the film that will explain why Cruella isn’t all that bad and is misunderstood.

But for this film, it doesn’t get there. There is a reference to killing dogs for their fur, but it doesn’t happen in this movie, and again, it all takes place before the one we know about her. This is a bit of a cop out. I would assume most people are going into this movie to see how they can see how trying to kill puppies is redeemable, but we never get that far into the story, and we just get some strange fashion based Oliver Twist story of revenge.

This tale has twists, music, shenanigans, and more, but I continually wanted it to get to the point, and frankly, I feel like it never reached it. Now, it is not like the movie makers said they would explain why Cruella wants to kill puppies for fashion, just her background, so we got a background, and now I have nothing to do with this information. Again, there will likely be a sequel, and the sequel will be the story I am most curious about given the reference information we were all given over the last 50 years of living in a world with 101 Dalmatians.

The film itself is pretty standard. The look and feel is exactly what I would expect based on recent Disney productions. I put this film down as a drama, but I guess it is labeled as a comedy. Honestly, it is all over the place in terms of tone and plot. It was hard figuring out exactly what I was meant to write about in that section. Cruella I am sure will have an audience somewhere, and although not inherently bad, it is still very messy.

And you know. How they gonna try and redeem a would-be puppy killer?

2 out of 4.

Mainstream

Andrew Garfield, is he the best Spider-Man? Honestly, most people would put him at number three, and those people are fine in my book. I do like him as Spider-Man though. I’d put him at three also, but note that everyone was a good Spider-Man in their own way.

I do like Garfield, because out of the Spider-People, he has shown me to be the best and strongest actor of the three overall. Yeah, I am including you Maguire. And Holland hasn’t done enough to really show what he can do.

But Garfield is in the sweet spot, where he has been in serious films, films that are nominated for awards, some of them because of his action.

So when I found out he was going to play a YouTube sensation that was a bit wild and I guess…accurate to modern YouTube stars, I thought it would be a perfect fit for him, because he is young enough to get that energy, and a good actor enough to have potential layers to his act, and not just parody.

And yet still, Mainstream was barely released to theaters, and pulled quickly out of many of them as no one went to see it. I think people likely

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Also, Jim Carrey 30 years ago could have done this role. 

Frankie (Maya Hawke), for the most part, lives on her phone. She is a bartender at a club, but a budding YouTuber. Like, really budding. Barely any views. She tries to make videos and content but no one cares. So she is just bartending, with one of her best friends, Jake (Nat Wolff).

However, while she was off doing regular human things, she ends up seeing Link (Andrew Garfield), in an animal costume, working who knows what promotion. But Link goes on a fun rant about art and society with the public, which she records and posts on the internet. And because this is a movie, you know that one will go slightly viral.

Now, Link, he has no parents, doesn’t like social media, hates cell phones, all of that. They end up seeing each other a couple of times, and she wants to record more of him to get famous and be a producer. But how can she do that with someone so anti-capitalist?

Well, let’s just say, the rise to the top can be very fast, and sometimes people aren’t who they seem on the outside, and maybe everything is just an act.

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“This is the internet and this –” “I know what phones are, bitch.”

Mainstream is destined to be a film that is mostly hated, and that hate it will have a lot of good arguments. The climb to the top is a bit unrealistic, and the YouTube show itself is really…bad. Just bad. It is not how YouTube channels and shows work. They turn it into a gameshow, that has contestants who agree to do bad things for their phones back? It is the type of show that maybe could work once, but not sure how they’d get to have more than a couple episodes without changing things constantly.

And it is edited like modern YouTube celebrities’, with the quick cuts sounds. I know I am an old curmudgeon, but I don’t see how they put out a product that would get people excited and watching to become YouTube famous. Yes, if things are set in the real world, we often hope for some realism in their plot lines.

Now, the saving grace is that Garfield’s character is interesting and mysterious. A little bit diabolical. It is easy to be drawn into his character, but less his character on the screen.

The ending is a big ole what the hell too, but it ends up working really well for me. A powerful creation had been unearthed on our channel, even if didn’t make total sense the journey to that point. It obviously has a lot to say about commercialism, celebrity worship, social media, and fake stars, but it also feels like it never really drives the point home at all.

Mainstream is a messy film about a messy topic. It doesn’t really overstay its welcome, more so it instead just meanders a bit before getting to the grand finale. Garfield is fine though. He should keep doing his thing.

2 out of 4.

Bad Trip

Bad Trip had a bad accident, and that is currently what most people know about the film.

See, it was definitely another casualty of the pandemic, and pushed back for its release this year. However, unlike most other films, an accident occurred. Amazon Prime accidentally uploaded it to its servers (on the day it was supposed to have a theatrical release), and well, once something is on the internet, it stays on the internet. Unless we are talking about my photos of me as a high school DJ. I can’t find them anywhere.

And so the film was pirated despite Amazon fixing the problem quickly, and torrents took over.

But don’t worry. Netflix eventually bought it, despite the issues, and released it for free anyways in March. And holy fuck, I took awhile to release this review.

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“Did you ever find Bugs Bunny attractive when he put on a dress and played a girl bunny?”

Chris (Eric Andre) is a bumbling nobody after school, working odd jobs to get by, but never really finding a purpose in his life. Bud (Lil Rel Howery) is his best friend and doesn’t have much of stable job either. They are just existing in the world.

And then Maria (Michaela Conlin) walks into Chris’ life at one of his jobs. They went to high school together, he had a crush on her, and this is a big surprise. Turns out she became successful and runs her own art gallery in NYC, and as a gesture, tells him if he is up there to stop by anytime. Chris takes that as a sign that he needs to go to NYC and find Maria’s gallery, and profess his love for her. Clearly it is fate.

So he convinces Bud to go with him on a road trip to NYC. They also steal a car that belongs to Bud’s sister, Trina (Tiffany Haddish), because it should be okay, she is in prison. Until she breaks out and has to chase them down for her wheels.

Oh, and this whole movie is actually a hidden camera movie along the way, in order to do large elaborate scenes with real people for shocks and laughs.

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“Long live the King,” – Mufasa / Tiffany Haddish. 

Okay! A prank movie. Those aren’t that common. They are common in TV Shows and YouTube channels. Outside of that Bad Grandpa and Borat movies, I can’t remember that many of these off the top of my head lately. And usually they are low on plot, and focus only on freaking out the normal people.

And surprisingly, I didn’t think this one was that bad. The thing that really kept me watching and excited was how elaborate some of these situations ended up being. The amount of effects they had to plan, for blood or explosion reasons. How many times they got naked. How one joke must have taken a lot of random prep work on a strange to have a photoshopped image of them at their disposal. Shit, did they stalk that guy?

And yeah, it made me chuckle. I can say it provided some good content in there, while also being pretty weak of a story. I basically hated the story overall. But liked individual scenes.

Andre is a master of this improv arts, as we already could tell with his ridiculous late night show. And it works pretty well for this movie also. No one will go into this expecting great art, but it should provide a few chuckles who are acceptable to this level of humor.

2 out of 4.

Breaking News in Yuba County

Turns out Yuba County is a real county, in California, not near the bigger cities, but up North. It assumed it was a made up county, but there are a shit ton of counties out there in the US, so might as well be a Yuba county. Hell, there might be more than one Yuba County, and only the California one do people care about because the other one is in Idatana or somewhere else.

So for Breaking News in Yuba County, it is supposed to feel like some average sized place, with commodities and businesses and a news, but not a big ass city. Just a regular village in the middle of nowhere. 

What kind of news would be Breaking News in a place like this? Cupcake sale? Doggy parade? Maybe 20 dead in a mall shooting?

Who knows, the sky is the limit, and in this movie, characters are going to have to die I guess. 

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“No please, don’t kill Jimmi Simpson, anyone but him!”

Sue Buttons (Allison Janney) is getting old, and her life is stuck in a rut, but it is her birthday, and she is going to enjoy it, damn it. But the people at her work do not remember her birthday. Her husband (Matthew Modine) doesn’t seem to remember her birthday, and runs out on her in the morning, and doesn’t respond to texts to meet up with her for her birthday dinner reservations! Shit. It turns out he was cheating on her. And when she confronts him in the motel room while doing the dirty deed, he seems to have a heart attack, and dies, right then and there.

Well damn. Birthdays. She is shocked, and a bit dumb struck on what to even do. But she doesn’t call the cops to tell them what happened. Nope. She decides to hide his body instead. Then the next day she can report him as missing.

You see, in the news lately, there has been a little girl missing, and the parents have been all over the news, quite famous really, and everyone is caring hard for them. So she is going to report him missing, knowing that he will never be found. Then she can be in the spotlight. She can be famous. People will care for her.

This main plot line is intermingled with quite a few others, including extortion, mafia crimes, news reporters fighting for scoops, and more. 

Also starring Mila Kunis, Regina Hall, Awkwafina, Wanda Sykes, Ellen Barkin, Jimmi Simpson, Keong Sim, Juliette Lewis, Clifton Collins Jr., Samira Wiley, and Bridget Everett

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Step 1: Lie. Step 2: ??????. Step 3: Fame

Who doesn’t love a good dark comedy? A whole lot of people getting offed, in ridiculous ways, while also maintaining a level of humor and plot of quirky individuals. And honestly, a lot of big names in this cast to potentially get whacked. And that is half of the fun in these films.

But I also honestly thing the lead character in this story is so unpleasantly bland that it is hard to fully enjoy this movie. Like many films, the side characters make it work. The strange workings of the very odd plot. The bad decisions people make. Obviously the main character is meant to be bland and having pretty damn superficial goals, and it is a bit rage inducing. 

A movie can intentionally have characters not fun to watch, but can’t also be mad if we think they aren’t fun to watch. Janney is a great actress and really gives it her all to make this person unbearable. And I can’t bear it.

It is a shame because I do like a lot of moments in this film, but it is just one I don’t think I would ever want to revisit despite the fun events. Fuck, Collins Jr. as a ruthless killer for the mob and he is so great at it. Sykes mostly plays her self but she does it so well. Kunis could have been more ruthless in her role as a reporter and someone close to the scene, but they need a few people to not be outrageous I guess.

Breaking News in Yuba County, watch it once, enjoy parts of it, then move on. 

2 out of 4.

Every Breath You Take

I feel like as a society, we should be at a collective point where people realize that the song Every Breath You Take is creepy as fuck. Sting has already said it is sinister and controlling and not a wonderful love song. And yet people still are oblivious and think its beautiful.

It is a creepy phrase and a great name for a movie. Especially if it involves a stalking romance.

Every Breath You Take doesn’t really involve romance (although there is some sexmance, if you will) and stalking. Maybe not the perfect title for this movie. But maybe the perfect title for a Casey Affleck autobiography?

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Of course you can see every breath they take if you are that fucking close to their mouth. 

Philip (Casey Affleck) is a therapist, and maybe a good one, maybe a bad one. Really hard to tell. He did have one patient, Daphne (Emily Alyn Lind), who was really low and sore and couldn’t open up. And to encourage her to open up, he talked about himself. He talked about his wife (Michelle Monaghan) and kid (India Eisley), and his fears and regrets. He wasn’t trying to make her his therapist. He was just trying to be more relatable for her. And it worked! She talked and got better and he started to tell people of his discovery.

Well, then we find out that Daphne goes and dies. You know. Suicide. Shit was this his fault? We all know people will blame him anyways. Makes sense.

Maybe people like James (Sam Claflin), Daphne’s brother. Who ends up having to talk to him about it, for some closure. But then he just…keeps hanging around. He inserts himself into Philip’s life as they do funeral plans and deal with her belongings. He befriends the wife and daughter and show up in their lives when Philip isn’t around. He seems to have…ulterior motives for being there. Can Philip stop this man from stalking them all, when it would be hard to prove, and when he is doing his own shitty things?

Also starring Hiro Kanagawa and Veronica Ferres.

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“Howdy lady, did someone break your car? What a coincidence. I fix cars.”

At times, Every Breath You Take certainly feels like a movie that was forced to be a straight to DVD film. Which times? Well, at least 90% of the time. Not that those movies have to be inherently bad, because this one isn’t shockingly awful or anything like that. It just never rises to any level worth really getting excited about.

Affleck feels like a broody sad version of himself that is in a lot of films. He did it better in Manchester By The Sea, he did it better in even A Ghost Story. So it doesn’t feel new in that regard at all. Claflin plays a wormy, charismatic, clearly evil being. It is frustrating how obvious it all plays out on the screen, because apparently all of the women in this movie are easily cast into his shady as fuck web. Besides that, the rest of the cast are just smaller parts in this film and not given a lot to work with. They don’t feel believable and this really drags the movie down.

And this is frustrating, because given the story, it could have been a wonderful movie overall, but basically every part of it falls flat. The twists are obvious, and then silly. The thrilling scenes near the end don’t thrill but are laughable. There are elements of people trying, but when those elements are few and far between, it is just a disaster of a film.

1 out of 4.