Tag: Comedy

Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes

Sometimes I don’t even know how I get screeners. I have a few sources, they are usually the same as the ones that invite me to the theater to see movies ahead of time. But I can get on other press lists accidentally, from lesser known companies, and hey, I appreciate it. Sure, let me see your movies I might have never heard of without this email.

And I do try to watch most of these movies, because they asked me to, but I will say sometimes these foreign movies I ignore if it doesn’t pique my interest.

Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes is a Japanese movie that DEFINITELY piqued my interest. A one-shot take film that involves time travel? Fuuuuuuuuuuucking sign me up right goddamn now.

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The future is wild and it has answers, damn it!

Kato (Kazunari Tosa) is a café owner/worker in Japan, who also happens to live in an apartment right over the shop. It is very convenient, and I believe this is common in Japan. To have various businesses/shops on the ground level, and apartment/homes on the floors above it. Not everyone gets to work and live in the same exact building though, so he is lucky.

Speaking of luck, while he is in his room looking for his guitar pick, he looks on his TV and sees something strange. It is himself, but it is not a reflection, as it has the inside of the café as the background. What?

The man on the TV, you know, himself, has a message for Kato. There is a time delay between the monitors, and he is two minutes in the future. They have a quick back and forth before Kato urges himself to quickly get downstairs so he can do the same conversation, but now with his past self. And that is just the start of these strange two minute delay messages. Talking to yourself from the future, and then talking to yourself from the past. When more people get involved, they wonder if there is a way to make money off of this, and if they can go even further into the future.

Also starring Masashi Suwa, Yoshifumi Sakai, Takashi Sumita, Haruki Nakagawa, Munenori Nagano, Chikara Honda, Gôta Ishida, Riko Fujitani, and Aki Asakura.

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Two minutes. What can be done in two minutes?!
Goddamn it, this movie is an experience and a wonder. How? And how? are some of the questions I had while watching. I didn’t have to ask “What is going on?” because they did a fantastic job of explaining the set up, and showing the set up, and building it up gradually in order for the viewers to understand it along with the characters experiencing this phenomenon.

The first similar film from recent years that came to mind was One Cut of the Dead, and while looking up more information for this movie, I saw a lot of other reviewers making the same comparison, so I know it is a universal comparison amongst those who have seen both and that is a good film to be compared to. I would say Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes is a film with the most ingenuity and audacity to attempt something so amazing.

Look. It is a one-take film. But also, it has to have the actors talking to themselves. That means they did pre-record scenes to play on monitors, but they had to pre-record both sides of the scenes, and then make sure the one-shot version didn’t have any mess ups in the conversation. Because if the dialogue or the delivery is different, we would be able to notice that in the film, as we already saw the dialogue once. In other one-shot take films, they can have some improv or mistakes, but this didn’t really allow that.

And to keep the time consistent? Such a short window to pick, it made this film feel very tense as the characters themselves also feel trapped and predetermined to take certain actions. It has a good run time, around 70 minutes, just enough to tell the interesting story, have it grow, and give us some amazing moments. The final confrontation and walk up to it was so great and again, unbelievable in terms of how they planned this whole thing.

I can’t talk enough about just how wonderfully this film was crafted, how much planning went into it, and how I cannot fathom how they got the idea or even pulled the damn thing. It is mind blowing and it will remain mind blowing.

I don’t know when this movie would be released in America, or how. But whenever that happens, do yourself a favor and set aside a time for your mind to be blown.

4 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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

The Kissing Booth 3

Here we go, here we go, here we go.

First of all, I apologize for never writing out my review of The Kissing Booth 2. I had a lot to rant about and did it live in person a few times, but never got it all down on a review, and that made it worse since it made my worst film of the year last year.

So I knew with the final (better be) film I would make sure to jot it all down. The Kissing Booth 3, a movie that seemingly exists just to make it a trilogy, because they damn well could have finished the storylines established at the end of the 2nd film, but left it with a cliffhanger because they think resolving any aspect of a movie is pointless, I guess.

I am mostly fine with cliffhanger endings in general, in a planned series, but I also would demand that the film tells a complete story. Avengers: Infinity War ends with a sour note, kind of a cliffhanger (because the bad guy wins?) but it also tells a complete story and no one should leave unfulfilled. The second movie ended with a single decision to make and just suddenly decides to not do it.

Fuck that.

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Fuck this.
As you know, of course, the last time we left off, Elle (Joey King) not knowing where to go college. Harvard, or Berkeley. Because of course if she goes to Berkeley, which she has talked to going for years with her best friend Lee (Joel Courtney) and was their dream. But her boyfriend, Lee’s older brother, Noah (Jacob Elordi) is a year older and in Harvard. If she chooses to go there, she will pick her love life, her future, and you know, it is Harvard. Should she care about a promise to a best friend? Well, she is already lying to both of them saying she is wait listed on both, so she can take her time.

After a few weeks of travel with them and Lee’s girlfriend (Meganne Young), they still have a lot of summer left, and decide to go to Lee and Noah’s family beach house. But oh no! Their parents (Molly Ringwald, Morné Visser ) are going to sell the place after this summer! The kids somehow convince the parents to just let them live there the rest of the summer then, and they promise to clean it up and get it ready for the market. This is where Elle finds an old Beach Bucket list that she made with Lee. They decide to make it the best summer ever, especially since Elle has decided to go to Harvard.

But that isn’t all the plot! For example, her dad (Stephen Jennings) is maybe finding love after all these years, someone to help raise the much younger son (Carson White). And Elle hates it.

But that isn’t all the plot! Marco (Taylor Zakhar Perez) is still around, making Lee jealous. And Chloe (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) is still around, not making Elle jealous. Also Lee has to deal with the fact that he will be in a long term relationship with a girl he already has problems remembering, because he is a goddamn man-child. And Elle has to come to terms with the fact that she is in a relationship with Noah, who keeps having emotional bursts of jealousy (usually for good reasons), but also because he is a goddamn man-child. And Elle has to come to terms with her own shiftiness, because she is a goddamn womanchild.

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Wow, good pristine condition after 8-10 years. 

How does one start to talk about a movie, nay, a franchise, like The Kissing Booth. Something written by a teenager, and every aspect of that fact is obvious through every scene, decision, and dialogue choice.

The fact that it is called The Kissing Booth isn’t even an issue. It is, for all intents and purposes, a minor part of the first film and still fine to be a dialogue. The dialogue choices from the narrator to overhype the minor part, and constantly try to bring it back through relevance, is really what hurts. Because in the second movie, it has even less of a point on the plot, and of course, in the last movie, is just once again unnecessarily brought back up in the epilogue, six years in the future, because apparently that is where several characters need to meet up at and pretend they never really stayed in communication the times before that.  This aspect of the movie makes more sense if the movie was set in the 1920’s, where maybe there was never a kissing booth beside it, because then we could all understand the strange hype and obsession with it.

The main character Elle is a terrible person. And role model, in case anyone looks up to her for that. You can have movies about bad people, but usually those people have some sort of consequence for their action, or a really hard choice that they will live with for regret to get to their power. Important things to show that those who hurt are hurt in return. But Elle? The girl who actively cheated on her boyfriend while he was away at college, both physically and mentally, and kissed another boy publicly. The one who demanded all the free time of her best friend so much that he literally forgot about her girlfriend who for some reason stuck it with him.

So what does she do this movie? Well, she is more trusting of her boyfriend that he won’t cheat on her, which is great, because he never did. And she decides that means she can hang out and plan things with someone she did cheat on him with, who made it obvious he wants to still win her over? She also decides to get upset with her best friend who wants to do so many things with her, when it was both her idea to make him feel better for it (after lying for over a month) and she did the same thing last year with no care for repercussions?

Let’s be clear on the things that happen to Elle negatively this film. One, her dad is dating a woman and Elle gets mad at her, and lashes out cause of her other shit, over one of the worst board games ever made (Monopoly), and still doesn’t care, until her dad calls her out on her bullshit and makes her feel bad. Second bad thing that happens to her is her boyfriend broke up with her over her bullshit.

Wow. Well let us make it obvious. She has a lot of bullshit and keeps making mistakes and never learning from them. He should have never been with her over the events of The Kissing Booth 2.  But even more importantly, SHE SHOULD HAVE NEVER BEEN WITH HIM DUE TO THE EVENTS OF THE MOVIE THE KISSING BOOTH. Where he was shown to be emotionally abusive, and threatened other guys to leave her alone for years while he was on his own path of getting experience before trying out her. He is shown to not handle any really conversation or argument well time and time again, which is why he runs off and does dumb shit all the time. And so does she. They are both really bad people, which doesn’t make it a good fit for them. Nor does it warrant spending three movies to talk about this relationship.

The problem with this movie is the impressions it leaves on people. Since there is almost no real consequences for any of the characters being terrible, it just helps reinforce that being terrible is a great thing for people to be. After all, look at all the fun they are having. Did you see those costumes? [Editor’s Important Note: Why the fuck does the go-kart track at a water park have stands for people to watch. Do people just sit there all day and look for exciting basic races? It was more than just a parent sitting area.]

I could talk so much about the other technical problems with the movie. Like how all over the place it is in time. When was it set? When did they make the beach bucket list? Why is going to Berkeley on a beach bucket list? Why would they hide it in a hidden time box if the goal was to actually complete it, and they went to the beach every summer? Why does the box have a Super Nintendo Mario Kart design, as if it was set in the 90’s? That goes with my earlier question about time. Because things on the list don’t make sense for various age groups they would have written it.

This is a trilogy that trivializes high school, relationships, proper communication, and the ability to fucking apologize.

0 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.

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.

Benny Loves You

Another killer doll. Why do dolls love to kill? Because they are given to children who might be rough with them. We all know that is the right answer. That is why we got Toy Story 3, right? 

The real answer is because it is fun to take something known for being cute and put it in non-cute situations. Like killing. That is appealing. It is jarring. It stands out.

Well, it used to stand out. It has been done a lot, so there needs to be a great reason for another killer toy to come to life without just feeling like another copy cat iteration. Technically it doesn’t have to prove its existence in order to be made. That sounds mean. But it does have to prove it is a worthy addition to cinema by my own snooty little standards. If it feels like more of the same thing, why should I bother.

Benny Loves You? That’s good to hear. I would hate it if Benny was completely apathetic to my existence. 

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“Okay, Benny Loves You. But do you give a flying fuck about Benny?” – A Night At The Roxbury…ish

Dolls can be evil. But we will get to that. Instead we will focus on Jack (Karl Holt), who still lives at the same house with his famous. He thinks it is okay. Free rent. His job doesn’t pay well, he helps design toys, but he isn’t that great at it. At home, his parents still treat him like a kid, and he basically acts like one too. But in his 30’s, on his birthday, he finally gets the house to himself! You know, after his parents both die in a freak accident. 

It isn’t even a year later that his house is now decrepit and falling apart, because he doesn’t know how to function as an adult. He is behind on all bills, he doesn’t clean well, he is about to lose his job. But then he finds Benny packed away. A toy from his youth. Well, he doesn’t need that anymore.

Trying to get rid of Benny turns out to be something harder than expected. Benny has a mind of his own. He wants to protect Jack from anything that might hurt him, or anything that might try to replace Benny. Anything that Jack seemingly loves, or anything that is a threat to Jack, Benny will try to end, with extreme accuracy. Not a good time to finally find a lady, nor is it a good time to grow up, it seems!

Also starring Anthony Styles, Claire Cartwright, Darren Benedict, George Collie, Greg Barnett, and James Parsons

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Bunny isn’t a killer. That knife clearly cut something like a lasagna. 

The beginning of this review might sound a little bit bitter, but that isn’t the goal there. It is just to note what I am looking for in another killer doll story. Is there any originality?

Well, this movie is directed, written, and stars Karl Holt, who is a first time director from the UK who had this idea and put it on himself  with some other actors. It is ambitious for anyone to do something like this, let alone a first time director. And in that scope, it isn’t that bad. Maybe a little bit better than you’d expect from someone on their first attempts. But in the grand scheme of cinema, this was hard for me to enjoy. 

It feels like its been awhile since I saw the movie before I was finally able to write it. But I feel like a few scenes early on really feel disconnected from the rest of the narrative. The death of his parents did come out of nowhere and was quite gruesome, but that ended up being the highlight of the movie for me. It is just another situation of trying to do a comedy/horror film that doesn’t seem to excel in either genre, despite its best attempts.

The main character is hard to care about and so are the side characters. Live, die, whatever. Doll wins or loses doesn’t matter to me by the end, because I became indifferent to the whole picture. It is just such a hard line to balance that comedy/horror genre. But I know I can leave double disappointed if nothing scares me and nothing makes me laugh. Again, outside of the ridiculous parents death scene, which shocked me. Just nothing could surpass it, leaving me disappointed for most of the rest of the film. 

1 out of 4.