Tag: 3 out of 4

The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Sometimes the name of a movie is the name of a book as well, especially if it is based on it. That makes sense.

Sometimes the name of the movie is the name of another movie as well, especially if it is a remake. It makes sense. (Or it could just be a popular /generic phrase that has multiple very different movies).

But what if your name is the same as a documentary, about the same subject? That might be notable if it is again, a very specific name, like of a person, or a group. But for The Eyes of Tammy Faye? It was a documentary that came out in 2000 about Tammy Faye Bakker, about her life and what she is up to then dealing with scandals. This movie, of the same name, is just about her and her husbands life. So they are both about Tammy Faye, but it is so weird to specifically name this film the exact same name as the documentary, when the phrase, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, isn’t inherently a specific phrase or meaning.

gag
Oh heck oh golly oh don’t cha know.  

Growing up, Tammy Faye sought religion in her life, because her family went to church and she was banned because her mom (Cherry Jones) was divorced! Oh no. But she was a theatrical little kid, and she went full in, talking in tongues, so she was welcomed as a child of God and given meaning in her little life.

Later on, Tammy Faye (Jessica Chastain) was going to a bible college in Minnesota where she met Jim Bakker (Andrew Garfield). They had so much passion for Jesus, and wanted everyone to praise him so much, that they found each other, got hitched, and then got kicked out of college. That is okay. They are going to take their show on the road, touring the country, praising the Lord, using puppets, whatever. They had big dreams though, dreams of being on television one day, with their own proper Christian talk show, for adults, shows for kids, and more.

Hell. Maybe their own Christian network and satellite. That will show those non-believers!

They want to be rich and famous for Jesus. But where does the money come from? And where is it going? That is the realest question. Oh shit, is that the law coming? Shenanigans!

Also starring a lot of people in various levels of famous roles. People like Fredric Lehne, Gabriel Olds, Louis Cancelmi, Mark Wystrach, Randy Havens, Sam Jaeger, and Vincent D’Onofrio.

friend
We almost never get a transformation like this for actresses. 

Let’s talk Chastain. I think most people would put her into the great actress category. She has been nominated twice for Academy awards (although one of them is from a very ehhh movie), and generally if she stars in flops, it isn’t her fault. But like my joke above says, Chastain has never had to transform her body or looks into a role. Most actresses don’t have to do it. Arguably, neither should actors, but they do happen to do that a lot of the time. Lose or gain weight. Bulk up, whatever.

But Chastain looks nothing like Chastain for 80% of this movie. Her gradual transformation, with more and more makeup and change in hair style just feel so natural and yet so sudden. Outside of the college scene and right at the start of their marriage, this was clearly just a different person. It is a phenomenal change and acting on her part, it is clear she will end up being nominated for this role as well. I can’t say it will be a win, so early still in the year, but the change felt like the level of commitment that Gary Oldman did for Darkest Hour.

In terms of the rest of the movie, it is fine. Garfield plays a second charismatic person in front of camera for the second time this year (and maybe will a third time?). D’Onofrio played Jerry Falwell Sr. very strongly, and felt like a bad guy in a movie where most people are bad guys. Wystrach was only in a couple of scenes, but it felt good seeing him play a country Keanu Reeves.

I really enjoyed the focus on how manipulated Tammy Faye was through big sections of her life. Manipulated by people manipulating religion, or just outright gaslighting, and it was tough to watch and experience. It was interesting to see this point of view of one of the biggest scandals of the 1980’s. You can tell it definitely is one sided on most parts, and there is likely other pieces of the story missing.

This movie is entertaining and well acted, but I did find myself wanting more. It didn’t give me enough. I went out of my way to watch the original documentary on the same day, just to see what else it could have been or focused on. I wonder if the real Tammy Faye is actually a huge part of this scandal and we will never know. WE WILL NEVER KNOW.

See this movie for the acting and the interesting story. Even if some details are muddy and rushed.

3 out of 4.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

And now, presenting, the 25th film in the MCU series, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Of course, definitely the hero you imagined would be in this chain of movies eventually.

For fans of Marvel movies, they should be stoked. We get more representation, a richer group of deep cut heroes, and of course, potentially a fix for the “The Mandarin” plot of Iron Man 3. Fix is a weird word, and I still find it hard to talk about Iron Man 3. The Mandarin twist was terrible for people who like the comics, but it was a great twist from a regular movie going point of view. But still, despite the problematic nature of that villain, it was disappointing that he wouldn’t ever make it into the MCU.

You know, until now, but fixed in the best way they could.

3D
Do movies come out in 3D anymore? Did the Pandemic kill that?

For over a thousand year, the ten-rings have been around at least, giving one man (Tony Leung) immortality and great power in China. He used it for the quest for more power, and building up an organization, and a life without worry. But he wanted more. He wanted to discover the location of a mystical lost city, supposedly blessed by the gods, named Ta Lo. There he met Li (Fala Chen), whom defeated him for the first time, and they fell in love.

The village abandoned, they had two kids, and now, decades later, Shaun (Simu Liu) is living his best life alone in San Francisco, being a parking attendant with his best friend, Katy (Awkwafina). Their high school friends are confused by their relationship, or lack there of, and why they are seemingly wasting their life away. But hey, they are having fun, and that is important.

But what is that? Assassins? After his jade necklace his mom gave him a long time ago? Turns out, much to Katy’s surprise, that Shaun can really fight like an ultimate badass, and he has been hiding it from her. Looks like Shaun is getting dragged back into a past he wanted to escape from and forget.

Also starring Meng’er Zhang, Michelle Yeoh, Wah Yuen, Florian Munteanu, Andy Le, Ben Kingsley, Tim Roth (maybe?), and Benedict Wong.

rings
Orange and blue colors for an action film shot? How original!

Can Marvel still make me care about more and more superheroes? The answer is a resounding yes!

To answer my inquiry above, this is an interesting movie to arguably be a direct sequel to Iron Man 3, but it closes off some of the open stories from that film in an exciting and worthwhile way. By having an artifact for over a thousand years helping shape parts of human history, it had the potential to feel ret-conn-y but it made its limited use seem overall plausible. If the villain gets to be the dad of this story, it feels like it is earned and respected their relationship, and the waves that it has gone through over the decades. That’s right. Another strong Marvel villain.

Liu is a wonderful lead, both in terms of his acting and his physicality that he brings to the role. Awkwafina works extremely well here as well, although just about her character, whereas the sister, played by Zhang, brings a different interesting angle for a powerful woman fighter into this universe.

One minor bug I had, and this is true about every movie that does it, is when they have very specific flashbacks (in this case, 1996), and then come back to present and literally tell us it is the present day. Normally, that is already annoying, because in a few years that makes less and less sense. If it is supposed to be 20 years ago, say it, don’t let it mesh over time. However, this film has to take place in like, 2023 I imagine? Based on everything, it is after Thanos’ snap had been reversed, so it isn’t even present day now.

A bigger complaint is a trope that this film did, that I don’t know the right name for. But if 90% of the film is spent towards trying to prevent this one irreversible bad thing from being happened (door open, something summoned, spell cast, etc), and then it actually happens at the end? Well, it gets resolved very quickly and then we wonder if it actually was worth all this effort this whole time. At least with Infinity War, the bad thing happened, and then it wasn’t fixed for a long time.

This doesn’t take away from the incredible choreography, effects, fighting, and new characters for us to swoon and simp for. I am excited for what he can actually bring to the future of these franchises, and I want more. Give me that diversity. (Also me, I don’t know if Eternals will be my type of film, but that is a later story).

3 out of 4.

Cinderella (2021)

Cinderella, Cinderella, there are so many movies about Cinderella. And books. And plays, I bet. Sometimes I wish things never made it to the public domain so we wouldn’t have to get new versions of the same thing a thousand times.

At the start of Disney’s “let’s make all of our old stuff into live action” phase, Cinderella was one of the first ones. It was pretty, but it was pointless.

So why now? Why another one? Well, this one isn’t Disney, so that is probably a plus. Maybe it will be more edgy. (Checks rating, it is PG). Nope, not that.

Oh, this one is a musical. And not just a musical, but a jukebox musical. It is really easy to make a jukebox musical on the most basic level, but it is pretty hard to make a GOOD jukebox musical. For every Moulin Rouge! there are ten Strange Magics.

toss
And frankly, at this point, this is a toss up.

Plot wise, you know the basics. Ella (Camila Cabello) is living with her step-mother (Idina Menzel) and two step-sisters (Maddie Baillio, Charlotte Spencer), and isn’t having a good time. They aren’t related, they are just in a house of convenience, so she has to do a lot more chores and takes a lot more scorn. She does make dresses though. She wants to have her own dress shop one day, but women can’t own businesses due to the laws of the land. That is horsefuckery.

Prince Robert (Nicholas Galitzine) is a prince who doesn’t really want to be a prince. Fuck the responsibilities and expectations. He wants to just hang with his bros. Have fun. Live his life. He doesn’t want to be forced to be marry, and doesn’t look forward to taking over from his folks (Pierce Brosnan, Minnie Driver) in the future. His younger sister, Gwen (Tallulah Greive) definitely does want to lead, but she is, you know, a ~~woman~~ so she has no seat at the table. That’s a theme, damn it.

Anyways, step mother is going to be mean, there is going to be a ball, there is going to be a fabulous godmother (Billy Porter) and a clock is going to strike midnight. But does Ella or the Prince actually care about love and the old version of a happily ever after?

Also starring Romesh Ranganathan, James Acaster, James Corden, Fra Fee, Doc Brown, Rob Beckett, and Jenet Le Lacheur.

fab
Yes they say godmother damn it, and I am all here for that.

And here we are, shocked as all I can imagine, that I didn’t hate this version of Cinderella. Honestly, random themed jukebox musicals can bug the piss out of me. Even themed ones are usually disappointing. I feel like I hear a lot of the same songs in these musicals over and over again. How many times has Material Girl probably been used in other jukebox musicals? You can tell what songs have cheaper rights than others a lot of the time through this.

Another issue with these things is that the songs usually sound…the same as the originals. You can’t hear the artists actual voice, there is nothing new to it, no tempo, just here is a cover that sounds like the original. Boring. Yawn.

And yet, for Cinderella, for the most part, it seems like they definitely tried to avoid that. I would say at least half of the songs felt relatively unique, whether it be in the sound or the way it was presented. Opening up the musical with a Rhythm Nation / You Gotta Be mash up I would have never expected (but you can tell the makers loved that era of music). I was expecting to roll my eyes at Somebody to Love (I mean, we already had a medieval fantasy film use that, come on!) and then really enjoyed it in the film context for the story. Damn.

Honestly, my biggest issue with the music is unfortunately Cabello at the lead. I don’t know anything about her as a pop artist, I don’t know if I have heard of a song by her before. But a lot of her songs come across as a generic pop sound that was overly produced and autotuned. And that is unfortunate, because other moments seem to let her actual voice come out more (slower numbers with less music behind it) and it detracts from it. Similar to the problems that came across in Beauty and the Beast.

In terms of actual story, Cinderella does attempt to fix some of the problems with the Cinderella story. We don’t have a love at first sight situation between the two anymore. Ella doesn’t just work and be submissive until magic saves her. The step-sisters aren’t bad they just are more afraid of their own mother. The step-mother isn’t the worst (until she does dress stuff) and at least give us a reason for why she is that way (doesn’t redeem her, but hey, a reason). It gives us a happily ever after that came from work, and from years of effort, and not because of getting married.

Brosnan is in this film as the king, and seemingly was picked to be in this musical just because of the backlash to Mamma Mia! singing, just to have a joke about his singing. But as old angry king he is good. Porter as the godmother worked well and gave a decent enough statement to the idea of magic and its existence in this movie. And according Jenet le Lacheur, who plays a court friend of the prince, is likely the first openly trans actor to have been cast in a Hollywood musical film, which is worth noting and celebrating. A lot of these are things Disney wouldn’t have the gall to do.

Overall, I was excited with Cinderella by the time I was done with it. I went in expecting the worst, but a lot of the soundtrack worked, and the cast of characters made it a more enjoyable and worthwhile experience. I am just annoyed more that I can’t listen to the soundtrack until the films actually release date. 2021 is the year of movie musicals.

3 out of 4.

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain

If you were a fan of Anthony Bourdain before his death, you likely knew him from his show Parts Unknown. Somewhat of a cooking and food show. Somewhat of a travel show. A show that Anthony was able to make, thanks to some successful book writing, where he was able to explore and discover the world on his own terms (sort of), and experience life to what he thought would be the fullest.

But was his life just traveling through countries, some peaceful, some war torn? What about his home life. Did he have a stable home life, with a spouse, lover, or kids? Did he have a place where he could unwind and be himself and not be his public persona?

That is what the documentary on his life is set to tell us, Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain, because of his travel heavy life the last decade or more. And maybe it will seek to find naswers to other questions that are on everyone’s mind. Why did he decide to take his own life?

tony
I don’t know where the fuck this was taken, but at least it is pretty. 

Don’t worry, the documentary doesn’t dare make the assumption on why he took his life, but it does talk about his suicide early on and throughout it, so if that is a topic you don’t want to hear, you might not be interested in this documentary. After all, it is filled with family and friends, who talk about their lives together, the good, the bad, their shock at the events, whether it made sense to them or not, if they felt they could have changed it at all. Some heavy topics, interwoven with the life of Bourdain.

I can go and say I knew of Bourdain as a celebrity chef/travel guy, but I had never once seen his show or read his works. The closest I had to watching something of his was his scene in The Big Short where he explains CDO’s. And yet I knew his death would affect a lot of my own friends, who were fans of his work and on their own journey’s through life with their own struggles, and I did have worries it would bring them down.

I think this documentary does a great job of giving a realistic view of his life. It is certainly not glamourous nor is it slanderous. The only drama that comes from it is that apparently some of the dialogue was done by an AI company where he was reading things he wrote, but they didn’t have him say on camera. Honestly, it is not something any of us would have noticed, and doesn’t do much to actually change the documentary in any way, so I don’t care about the controversy. The people close to him can be upset if they weren’t told, but it also actively does no harm in this scenario.

Realistically, this documentary is made for people who knew of Bourdain through the TV or in real life. It is a way that can provide closure. For those who had almost no interaction with him in their sphere, it is fine as a standalone piece, but likely won’t get a full resonation that it is going for.

3 out of 4.

The Tomorrow War

When do you all wanna go? Tomorrow? Sure. Tomorrow will never be here, so that works, I am a fan of procrastinating war.

Unfortunately, The Tomorrow War has nothing to do with procrastination, although it uses something procrastinators wish they have.

See, this is a war that takes place somewhere in the future, not the present. You know, like the concept of tomorrow! So this is a war with time travel, but it shouldn’t be anything like whatever the fuck was going on in Tenet.

Back to procrastinators. Don’t you wish you had a time machine to go back and slap yourself into doing something before a project got overwhelming? Hells yeah.

soldiers
I said slap, not shoot, what the fuck dudes. 

It was a day like any other day. People were doing sports watching on the TV, and then…and then…a large portal appeared from nowhere. A human lady came out and so did a lot of soldiers. They had a message. They were in a war in the future, against aliens. And they were definitely losing that war. A war that was going to kill every remaining soldier. So they needed help, recruits from the past, so that they could have more people for fighting. Oh shit.

Dan Forester (Chris Pratt) is just a science teacher during all this, but sure, he was in the military before. But retired now. The war first asked for the actual armies around the war, and then volunteers, and then sure enough, drafts happened. Not everyone was eligible to go to the future. They had to be scanned and matched with the history of the future, to make sure bringing that person to the future (and them potentially dying) wouldn’t alter the future in a way that ruins everything.

Dan has a wife (Betty Gilpin) and little girl (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) but sure enough, draft bells still came to his doorstep, and he was enlisted. Each term is only meant to be a week long, after about a week of training. If they survive, they get automatically sent back to their time line, richer, and won’t be picked again. But in Dan’s group, everything gets messy. They are sent to the future without full training, so it is up to him and one other to keep his team of mostly untrained people slightly together to help out the best they can, and they are thrown right into the fray.

Can they save the future?…By fixing the past? And stuff?

Also starring Yvonne Strahovski, J.K. Simmons, Sam Richardson, Jasmine Matthews, Edwin Hodge, Keith Powers, Mary Lynn Rajskub, and Mike Mitchel.

ages
It is like we are glancing at the strangest Parks and Rec and Chuck crossover ever.

A sci-fi action movie has a lot of easy potential to just turn into a generic action flick with stranger weapons or people being killed. A lot of films have done it. The movie has to say something, or offer some nice twist. Give me something good to eat, a famous children’s rhyme once said.

To break down this film, I would say I did enjoy the beginning, the first arrival, the draft, the logic, the training. And even when they were first sent to the future. But real quick after that first sort of mission, it went real hard into generic pewpews for me. There were some plot scenes that mattered, but for a film that is 140 minutes, a not so insignificant chunk of it it doesn’t do a lot for me. However, the ending? I did enjoy the ending/final act/set piece of the movie. It took it away from the plot of the rest of the film, settings changed, and it gave me a fresh look on the action and the events and by then, it featured mostly just characters I could care about.

The ending saved the whole thing for me, that was trending pretty average in the middle, almost towards bad. But at this point, I think The Tomorrow War is actually a movie I could imagine watching (shock) a second time!

Pratt has perfected his twist of an action star on us, although I still prefer him to be a bit more goofy. I haven’t seen Strahovski in awhile, and I am bit disappointed that Gilpin was just given a generic house wife role. More importantly, with the time travel element, it never became confusing. The rules were pretty straight forward, and I don’t believe they broke any of them in getting to the end of the story.

We haven’t had a big rush of new sci-fi action films lately, or at least ones that were big enough for people to notice (I saw a few indie sci-fi action duds). Is this thing on par with films like The Thing or Starship Troopers? Nah. But it has a straightforward enough message and is entertaining in its own rights, so it is by far a passable entry into this genre.

3 out of 4.

The Sparks Brothers

WHO ARE THE SPARKS BROTHERS?

A question I had to ask myself, and likely you did too. But it turns out, there are no The Sparks Brothers. There is a band though. It is called Sparks. And yes, the two main members of the band are indeed brothers. But they don’t go by the term The Sparks Brothers, that is some media shit.

Ron Mael and Russell Mael, the real life American brothers, saw The Beatles live in the 1960’s, and the rest was history. A history no one knows about.

Before we get into this story, I want to point out that this documentary is directed by Edgar Wright. Yes, that Edgar Wright. A dude who definitely loves music, we know that from films like Baby Driver, Scott Pilgrim vs The World, and the fact that he has directed music videos before. But this is his first documentary, and it is over two hours long. I can only imagine the reasoning behind this film, not knowing who’s idea it was, had to partially be because Wright loved Sparks and wanted to give them a documentary they deserved based on his own nostalgia or music tastes.

mysterious
Who are these mysterious masked figures?!

The band actually started as Halfnelson and had an album produced by Todd Rundgren, but it did bad. So they changed labels and names, Sparks. It was supposed to be a play on words like the Marx Brothers and the Sparks Brothers, because they liked film and comedy, but the brothers didn’t want brothers in their name, damn it. Whether the media listened to them or not is nothing they can control.

This tells the story of them leaving America to go to Great Britain, to seem like a British Rock Band to be cooler, and it kind of working. To helping lead a synthetic revolution of music, they were one of the trend setters with a very unique sound. They got some amount of famous in the late 70’s and 80’s, changing their genre style a few times. They went into more obscurity for awhile, before coming back in the 90’s with some hits and picking up steam. Then they also did a collaboration album with Franz Ferdinand in the 2000’s, yes, that Franz Ferdinand. No, the band, not the dead guy. The album is called FFS which is a great title. And then bringing us to today, where they are still working on music, and also were working on a musical film that has been their dream from some time, Annette.

Wait, hold the biscuits. Annette? The musical coming out THIS YEAR with Adam Driver was made with music by Sparks? Oh fuck yeah. Is this documentary just another form of advertisement for Annette? Because I was already excited to see Adam Driver in a musical, no question about that.

These dudes have done it all. But this documentary, goes into the details of the ups and downs, their humor plays out as they narrate large chunks. We get to hear from former band members, managers, collaborators. We get to hear from a lot of musical and acting celebrities who liked the band growing up and have a bit to say in it too. There is a huge production behind a band you likely never heard about before, but who helped influence a ton of musicians. How can someone so popular be somehow be forgotten from pop culture consciousness? That is the question…

I never heard about Sparks before, but I like them now, at least as people, if not some of their songs. They definitely have to grow on you. This is a musician documentary I can get behind,

3 out of 4.

Army of the Dead

Zachary Theodore Snyder, you have been in the news a lot lately you have.

What, with your cuts of movies, and your…well, family problems that are very sad and that sucks. But you have been mostly in the news because of other properties that aren’t your actual doing. Sure, Justice League did suck, but don’t worry, the Zack Snyder’s Justice League still wasn’t that great either, and much longer in mediocrity.

What happened to the Zack Snyder I used to know ,the one who did his own work? (Technically, I never knew that Snyder. I learned about him with 300, so I have only known him as someone who adapted graphic novels/comics to film, and I liked them. Heck, I liked Sucker Punch, which was basically his only original film at that time, not based on another property.

So I am here for a chance for Army of the Dead. His own Zombie flick, not a sequel like his Dawn of the Dead, which I most definitely did not ever watch.

gun
Should I go back and watch all the classic zombie films? Nah, let’s just shoot them from my memory.

Shit! Zombies!

They actually use the word in this movie, and that is nice, because a lot of films with zombies don’t. Anyways. Some Area 51 army dudes are transporting secret cargo between facilities, and have a stupid little accident that flips their vehicle and opens it up. And what is inside? A zombie! A smart, strong, fast zombie (Richard Cetrone), who kills the guards, makes a few zombies, and sets his sight for the place with the lights in the middle of the desert, Las Vegas baby!

This film takes place a few weeks after these events, with the city not only completely overrun with Zombies, but thankfully also walled off from the outside. There are communities outside the city, a lot of lost lives, and America might go and just Nuke it to deal with this threat before it gets out.

But one casino owner (Hiroyuki Sanada) wants his money out of there. So he hires a team to get his money, offering them a lot. They just have to go get in, hack a safe, get the money, and repair a helicopter in the city to fly out of there. And he picks Scott (Dave Bautista), a man who survived Vegas already and has shown capabilities. So he gets a team, including his daughter (Ella Purnell) accidentally.

Also starring Tig Notaro, Matthias Schweighöfer, Raúl Castillo, Samantha Win, Huma Qureshi, Garret Dillahunt, Nora Arnezeder, Theo Rossi, Ana de la Reguera, Omari Hardwick, and Michael Cassidy.

zombie queen
Oh you are so lovely, my zombie queen, and so…slightly blurry. 

Army of the Dead has a lot of zombies in it. Not the most zombies I have ever seen in a film. Shit, did you see World War Z? There were a bunch of zombies in that one shot. But we got types of zombies! Regular zombies, dehydrated zombies, smart/armored zombies, maybe robot zombies, shit we got a Tiger Zombie. Zombies for days, and all breeds. I am not some Zombie purist who thinks the only good type of zombie is one that shambles and is brain dead. It doesn’t really matter to me, because zombies are made up so who cares what anyone does with them?

This is a strange opinion for me to take, given the whole film critic thing, but despite having some plot issues and strange edits, the interesting take of zombies in an interesting scenario won me over in the end, as an entertaining flick.

The film has a lot of strange additions to the plot, and hints about what is to come, and not all of them take hold. For example, the piles of zombies who just need rain to be rejuvenated. Does this film feature rain at all? Hell no. And frankly, the ending is extremely insulting, with the sequel set up, purely based on the time the character has during it, compared to what we already know about zombies earlier in the film. It doesn’t make sense in the context of this film, but it could probably make sense with even more backstory or science behind it, which likely future ones would work on doing.

That doesn’t mean things are okay! But also, some of these things are red herrings and mysterious at the same time. The ending is incredibly clunky, and a lot of that is probably attributed to the fact that Tig Notaro replaced Chris D’Elia entirely after the film had been shot, due to his sexual assault/harassment history. I can’t remember exactly what, but it wasn’t that good. Given the problems with that, a lot of this is better than anticipated.

This world created had a lot of potential, and the moments that I enjoyed far outweighed the slower moments, the ending, and any plot awkwardness.

Bring on more smart zombies, I say.

3 out of 4.

Beast Beast

One beast is hard enough to deal with, but two beasts?

For the movie Beast Beast, you will be happy to know that it doesn’t actually have anything to do with a literal beast creature, let alone two of them. It is taken from a brief chant in the movie, that has some context, but has nothing to do with scary, gnawing, creatures on all fours.

Well, the story does involve some scary mammals overall, but they are the ones that stand on two legs and can speak Human languages.

Maybe the beast beast was the friends we made along the way?

theater
No, the beast beast are the people who put their feet on chairs. >:o 

Beast Beast is a story of three individuals, in high school, and recently graduated. Krista (Shirley Chen) is a drama student, who has a flair for the…well, dramatics. She puts her whole heart into their improv activities and cares about acting. She is fine with the rest of the school, but she knows she wants to act in her life.

There is Nito (Jose Angeles), a new senior to the school, who isn’t great at the school thing. He is good at skateboarding, and making videos of himself skateboarding to put on YouTube. His first set of friends also encourage him to skip school and hang out and party, so that is what his life is now like.

And we also have Adam (Will Madden), who has graduated last year, but is going to just live at home with his parents. He is not looking for a job, or college, but he is also getting into YouTube, namely, a channel that is about proper gun use and safety over a large variety of weapons (that his dad has owned and encouraged him to learn about). No zany effects, just the facts.

Beast Beast is all about them navigating a year, trying to live their best life, until these lives all start to intersect, and somehow, bad things happen as a result.

Also starring Courtney Dietz, Daniel Rashid, Anissa Matlock, and Stephen Ruffin.

acting
How does one act? What does one do with one’s hands?

Beast Beast is certainly one of those lower budget, indie movies that you hear about rarely, and then forget about if you never saw it. But these are the ones that can end up being pretty powerful.

I don’t think this will end up being a spoiler, but yes, this movie will deal with some gun violence. It will deal with the castle doctrine/stand your ground. It will deal with some racism and a current culture obsessed with fame on YouTube.

I think it goes over some of these really well. The ending is strong, the whole last act. There are two bigger moment scenes that make sense based on the events before it, and by the end, feels like a justified ending for those who are in that situation.

It does take a long time to get going. I will give it that. And from the three characters, it is unfortunate to say, but Nito’s was the least appealing for me to see what it was going. It was hardest for me to connect with him personally, and his scenes that lead up to the confrontations were the ones I had to wait to get through.

Overall, the movie is still quite powerful in its own way, and a great effort from Danny Madden, who has mostly done short films before and sound editing.

3 out of 4.

Stowaway

I have never been a stowaway before, but I have been a part of a stowaway situation. Kind of.

Once, when I was a young lad, barely in high school, I went on a trip with my older brother and four of his older friends. I was the smallest person, and we had to travel in a small car. I was afraid that they would want me to go into the trunk, being the smallest person, but my brother, the driver, didn’t let it happen. Someone volunteered to go in the trunk and was in there for an entire hour car ride, just to go play some magic cards. And he found a different way home later that night.

So, it was a stowaway situation but we were all aware and knew about it. Most of the time stowaways are secrets from someone. So let’s assume Stowaway the film has some secrets in it as well. 

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In space, no one can hear your secrets. 

Three scientists are on their way to Mars for some science yeahhhh! Most astronauts are scientists, but in reality, this is like one astronaut that is a scientist, and two scientists who are now astronauts. Marina Barnett (Toni Collette) is the leader of the crew, this is not her first rodeo, she knows how to get things done. Our other two crew members, David Kim (Daniel Dae Kim) and Zoe Levenson (Anna Kendrick) put in proposals for research and got accepted, trained and are excited to be there!

And sure, during blast off, more fuel got used than expected. A little weird, but not unheard of in the exact science of space travel.

It doesn’t take long before they find out what went wrong. Turns out there is an extra person on board, and he is hurt. Once they get him healed and talking, Michael Adams (Shamier Anderson) is shocked and freaking out. Just an engineer who worked for the space company, an accident knocked him out and on board, and things are going to get weird.

It could have been “fine” overall. They had food and supplies and he would pull his weight. But that same accident seems to have damaged a CO2 converter. You know, one that makes Oxygen. And if they can’t make enough Oxygen for the journey for four people, then some really hard decisions are going to have to be made. 

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This is a great time for an emergency meeting. 

When I first saw the description, I laughed. What do they mean running out of oxygen? I am pretty sure space stations have so many extra reserves of things and supplies, so they can take five times as long at least to keep things safe. The Martian taught us that. How could one man ruin that? Well, the film goes out of its way to explain all of these things. The reason oxygen is low, why they can’t easily get more, and their attempts at plan B and plan C to make it work.

But the whole point of this movie is like a very expensive trolley problem. Can they kill one or two people to save the rest, or should they risk it to save them all or none of them? (Note, they know the science and know that the risk can’t possibly work out either). 

And who is it to die? The stowaway who technically caused the issue, but is not his fault. Or one of the crew members who signed up knowing the risks that they would face. Could they live knowing they let someone die for them? 

I liked the questions posed in this slow space drama, and it gave me a slight ever tiny cry near the end. The effects are fine, but the acting is stellar. I expect a lot out of Kendrick, Kim, and Collette in a film like this, and barely have seen Anderson in anything else, but they all deliver. They are believable, they are different, and they are smart. This is a no dummy space flight. And it is annoying I have to mention that, given how many space movies send morons out into space apparently. 

Stowaway wanted to ask a hard question, and it gave some hard answers. I appreciate it telling the story it told. 

3 out of 4.

Profile

When I wrote my review of Searching, I already did a recap of all of the “From a computer screen” based films of the last few years, and how most of them were flops, except for some TV show examples.

Well, now we have Profile, another of those films, and I don’t think this “gimmick” has been played out if it is done right. Since Searching came out, we also had Host, which seemed to finally do a bit better on the horror version of these films (although Searching has plenty of tense moments).

While on the subject of Searching, should be noted that Profile was not made years later than Searching. It actually was in film festivals in 2018, same year as Searching, it just didn’t get released for three years, maybe to distance itself from Searching. I really can’t tell, couldn’t find news articles about it, and the title of ‘Profile’ doesn’t really help with searches either.

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How do you say I Love You in Skype?

This is a movie about Amy Whittaker (Valene Kane), a British journalist, hoping to get a more secure job at her news station. Someone with a salary and less freelancing. She gets the idea to pose as a recent convert to Islam, and get noticed by members of ISIS. There have been reports of them recruiting through social media, and stories of Islamic converts being brought into Syria to be brides, with really, really, bad outcomes.

So she gets a scarf to put over her head, hides her tattoos with some foundation, and makes a new Facebook profile. She finds other converts to Islam there, and begins to like and share their posts and videos, hoping to be noticed by an ISIS recruiter or soldier. And she is!

With the help of her news stations IT staff, her goal is to catfish an ISIS soldier, having actual video conferences with him, to document their talks. They want to see their methods and report on them so people can watch out for them. And also how they handle the transportation of these girls to Syria without being noticed or traced.

However, Amy is having a hard time balancing this new fake life with her real life. And there might be actual benefits to heading to Syria and leaving it all behind, because Abu Bilel Al-Britani (Shazad Latif) raises some good points, is attractive, and seems to have a good reason for doing what he does. Fuuuuu.

Also starring Christine Adams, Amir Rahimzadeh, Emma Cater, and Morgan Watkins.

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Don’t fuck up the headpiece, that will give it all away Amy. 

Profile is based on a true story, about a French journalist who did…you know, this sort of thing. It is called In the Skin of a Jihadist, and I am sure won awards and hopefully helped some people out.  Like real life people. I don’t know how this story compares to the book.

I first thought this movie was more of a real time picture, but it takes place over a few weeks. That isn’t a problem at all, but the film doesn’t always do a good job of showing that time has passed between sessions. I also can’t tell when events are supposed to be live or if some of them are just someone else watching recorded sessions after the fact. The transition tools used seemed to be used for either method and it was jarring as someone just trying to follow along.

But I still did like the movie. It did draw me in, however it still felt rushed. It tried its best in the short time to make us believe that she could really fall in love with this man and consider going to Syria for real, and that is the most disappointing part. He was charismatic, I will give him that.

At this point it is clear that these movies will only be used with macs I guess, due to their tool potential. In these movies a lot of people apparently do face chatting allllll the time. Is this real? I would never imagine doing that with my friends and family. People are quick to call and assume you are free to do it, and that is another awkward thing in this one (and other films).  Does anyone do this in real life at all? Help me out here. I could be out of touch. I don’t have a Mac computer.

3 out of 4.