Tag: Drama

Cha Cha Real Smooth

If there is one thing we like here at Gorgon Reviews, it is a good title. And I certainly refused to look up anything about the movie, Cha Cha Real Smooth, once a poster and description was released, because I didn’t care. I just wanted to see the movie on its own, with no knowledge at all going in.

Now, for everyone else, here is some knowledge going in after the fact.

Like that the director, writer, and main star is the same guy, Cooper Raiff, and this is his third film. His first film was Madeline & Cooper, but it isn’t even an hour long, and his second film is Shithouse. Yes, both of them are also directed, written, and starring him.

For whatever reason in Raiff’s life, he found himself in the position to be able to make movies and star in them, so good on him. You know, assuming they don’t suck. And I am trying to manifest positive energy that this title isn’t wasted on a poor film.

meat sticks
Mmmmm. Meat Sticks.

Back when Andrew (Cooper Raiff) was a kid, at a Bar Mitzvah, he was in love. It was with a party starter. A person employed by the parents of the party to successfully get individuals to be dancing and make sure everyone had a good time. She was everything to Andrew. And she turned him down, you know, age difference.

Now, years later, Andrew is an adult! He has finished college and has a job at a local fast food joint and moved back in with his parents. He wants to go to another country, to chase the woman he loves, but he is broke. Instead, he finds himself at another Bar Mitzvah party to chaperone his little brother (Evan Assante), and hang out with another girl (Odeya Rush) he knows. For reasons, and alcohol, Andrew finds himself the life of the party! He makes sure everyone has a great time and now finds himself potentially landing into his own business as a party starter during this busy Bar/Bat Mitzvah season.

Also at that party, he meets Domino (Dakota Johnson), a woman who seems far too young to have a kid at this party. But yep, she has a kid, Lola (Vanessa Burghardt), who was older than the others, and autistic, and hard to actually get to dance and let go. So Andrew makes that one of his missions. It doesn’t hurt that he likes Domino too. Even if she has a fiance.

Cha Cha Real Smooth is about a man finished with college, constantly falling in love with women older than him, who is having a hard time accepting his home life, his social life, and trying to find an eventual direction moving forward.

Also starring Brad Garrett, Leslie Mann, and Raúl Castillo.

headphones
Why do we even test for Autism, when we all know that headphones is the main giveaway?

I want to get one thing noted right away. Did you know that the girl playing our Autistic character is actually Autistic? It was apparently a big concern of the filmmakers, to make sure we had some good representation here, and not some gross minstrel show of offensive stereotypes. I don’t even think it was something that was hard for them to accomplish. I am starting to think Sia didn’t even try for the movie Music. I am thinking she lied to us!

Raiff is entirely charismatic and adorable in this film. He has a Ben Wyatt like smile and glow to him when he is excited. He seems to really care about his brother and mother, even if he is still overall drifting. I think it would be awfully hard to not be invested in his story, even when he is making obviously poor choices and going down uncomfortable paths.

The story itself is relatively strong, piecing together the subplots in a nice way to coincide with our main story of a young adult drifter. The dialogue itself is also well thought out. The family bonds felt believable. The tough situations for many characters didn’t always have easy answers, even if the morals were technically easy to sort through as a viewer.

This is a comedy/drama that does a good balance of both. It made me sad, it made me guffaw, and it made me feel. Unrelated, I did go back and see Shithouse because of how much I liked Cha Cha Real Smooth. I definitely didn’t like it as much as this one, but it still had great emotional scenes so it was a good building block to his third directed film for sure. I look forward to Raiff’s next film, and I hope he keeps directing and writing them!

4 out of 4.

Top Gun: Maverick

Danger Zone? Take My Breath Away? Great Balls of Fire and You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling? (Technically)

The original Top Gun had a pretty stacked soundtrack, especially when it had at least two very famous songs that were made for the movie. The latter two already existed, but damn it, we had pilots singing them, so they were memorable too.

I personally hadn’t seen the original Top Gun until a couple of weeks ago. And yet, I knew everything about what happened in the movie. I knew how it would end, I knew who would die (spoilers?), I knew how the volleyball would game. Top Gun has been completely culturally osmosised, which I am going to count as a word here. But really I wanted to finally watch it to make jokes like they do in Flight of the Conchords, how everything is like Top Gun.

Like a lot of people, I went in expecting the sequel film, Top Gun: Maverick, to be utter shit. Sequels several decades later, based on a movie that had a very weak plot, aren’t usually allowed to be good, let alone better. But I guess everyone agrees, Maverick is a better film than the original.

running
Never get into a four way with jets. Unlike, I guess, you are a jet too?

Remember how Top Gun ended? Maverick (Tom Cruise) said he wanted to stay at Top Gun and teach pilots? Well, apparently that didn’t last long, because he became a test pilot instead, so he can fly experimental new aircraft. He has a need for speed. And for putting his life on the line. But its modern day, and he has to get on with the fact that most of the planes are going to be drones now, and they are wasting money on new pilot planes. Apparently Iceman (Val Kilmer) being one of the main admirals is the only reason he is still on the payroll.

But now he has to go to one final outpost. He has to go back to Top Gun, because he needs to train former Top Gun graduates, most of which are firsts in their class. The best of the best. Even though he crashed and burned as a teacher, he is the only one who they have available left to teach them, as the only one who has similar experience flying under these conditions. It is a complicated plan, to take out a nuclear bomb facility before it is turned online. It involves going fast and low, twists and turns, avoiding anti-aircraft missiles, and some tight up and down maneuvers at the end. Also they have to have two different direct hits on the target, with basically only two shots overall to get both hits. Great.

Maverick, reluctantly agrees, because he also doesn’t want to quit flying, not yet. And he can still have fun with this. But things will sour and overcomplicate when he finds out one of the pilots in the program is Rooster (Miles Teller), son of Goose, whom Maverick still feels responsible for his death even though he was cleared of wrong doing. And for sure, Rooster hates Maverick, and thinks he is going to not go on the mission, even if he has earned it, if Maverick pulls him for guilt.

Lives are on the line, guilt is in full force, and a 60 year old man is going to have to prove he can make some hard decisions this time.

Also starring Ed Harris, Glen Powell, Greg Tarzan Davis, Jay Ellis, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Lewis Pullman, and Monica Barbaro.

panic
Still legally obligated to post a mustache picture if they show up.

Is Top Gun: Maverick better than Top Gun? Yes. But you have to understand, and this will be hard for a lot of people. Top Gun is not a great movie. It can be memorable, and exciting for the time, but it technically wasn’t even a great movie in the 1980’s even if it made a lot of money. It was a propaganda tool, with a cool soundtrack, and a really, really, dumb plot.

So Top Gun: Maverick should be easily a better film. Does it rely on nostalgia? Yes, it starts off with Danger Zone again. I was worried all the main hits would be replayed, but they only did half of them. One of its issues was taking its time dealing with the fact that the first film ended with him going into teaching, and the sequel clearly not wanting that to be the case, so that he could come back decades later. They had to have him fail and run away, and some other suspicious backstory they crammed in with new actors/actresses over the run time of this film.

I will say, him becoming a test pilot definitely feels a lot more true to his character, so I will give the sequel that. Having to deal with the complicated decision of sending his former best friend’s son to his potential death, or refusing to let him go even if he earned it, was a great decision to grapple with. It did carry a lot more weight than I was expecting for this sequel film.

And yet, some of the decisions in the sequel feel hollow. After all, having a whole film where he is told he needs to know when to let go and to move on, when to let someone else to take the controls and fly, and his character struggling with that acceptance the whole film? Again, makes sense. Buuut, if they throw it all away for One Last Mission™ then did it really matter? It reminded me of the last Bad Boys movie, making something actually interesting with Martin Lawrence being a pacifist, just to get rid of it when convenient and make a generic action film.

Again, Top Gun: Maverick is better than its predecessor. The fight scenes are actually watchable, the maneuvers are exciting, and it is overall more entertaining. That does not make it a top tier film, just an okay entertainment flick.

2 out of 4.

Men

Alex Garland has been around for awhile in the movie business, but at this point with Men, he has only directed three films. The first two are Ex Machina and Annihilation. But he was a writer before that, writing all of his own movies, but also classics like 28 Days Later… and Never Let Me Go (which was based on a book already).

And yeah, people love him. I was a decent fan of his first movie, and Annihilation didn’t win me over as much as others, but it was definitely creepy. With Men, this will be my first time seeing one of his movies in actual theaters, before I can already hear the hype (or anti-hype as it may be) from others. A fresh new experience! I love it.

As someone who identifies as a man, I am excited that this writer/director has decided to make a movie honoring and praising the life of people like me. Finally. It has been so long since we had any film cater to men, am I right fellas?

panic
Is this the titular Man? No, there has to be more of them.

Harper Marlowe (Jessie Buckley) just needs to get away. She used to live in the city, and used to be married. But things sure did go south with her husband, James (Paapa Essiedu), and she needed a huge change of scenery.

So she rented a fancy, fancy, old school cottage in the middle of nowhere. I am not sure if it is an Air BNB type deal, or just some British thing, but she has this wonderfully large house with a lot of land, so she can unwind and chill.

The owner Geoffrey (Rory Kinnear) lives a little bit away, and he can head over if there is any issues, but he expects it to be quiet and lovely time for her. And it is! She goes on a walk, frolics through the fields, and even finds a cool tunnel that has some sweet echo capabilities. And while she is having a grand old British time, a figure appears at the very end of the tunnel. And it starts to come after her.

Now, some people might think a naked grime covered man in your yard is a good time, some may not. Harper was definitely not okay with this, and it was just the start of her very bad experience in the country.

Also starring Gayle Rankin as friend on the phone!

forest
Who decided to make walks in the woods a scary deal? Assholes, probably. 

If there is something Alex has been able to for sure do in his recent films, it is to make a wooded area pretty darn unsettling. It isn’t even a giant part of the film, because hey, the church, the village, the people, they are all unsettling as well in different ways. Just an unsettling small village with a lot of maybe evil in store for our poor heroine.

Buckley is a strong lead here. The entire movie’s weight and emotional turns are on her shoulders, and a lot of that is while she is alone and dealing with the unknown. I do love Kinnear as well, and I love him a lot more after the fact because I realized how dense I was. Kinnear actually plays every man in the village who is important to the plot. All of them. I didn’t realize that the whole movie, it is technically probably obvious in it, but I am a dense motherfucker. I just honestly didn’t realize it, so his performance is even more impressive, and it totally works for the themes of the movie.

Men deals with abuse — abuse that is often performed by men against women. Both physically and mentally/emotionally. At some points it is subtle, and sometimes it is right there on the nose. Once again, it really fits strongly with the themes of the movie.

The ending is a different matter. It goes balls to the wall, wild stuff there. Horror tropes and just weird shit. It was glorious and ugly (or even Filthy Gorgeous). It is a very creative film, and one that tells me I shouldn’t go out and rent a country side mansion by myself for a few weeks if I am a woman in Great Britain. Yep.

3 out of 4.
T

The Northman

Hey kids, do you love Spider-Man?

Then why not check out The Northman!? He does whatever the…cold North can? Hmm. Nope. This is not a super hero movie. This is just a movie about Vikings!

We don’t really get a lot of Viking movies. A lot of them are trash, remember Pathfinder? I unfortunately do. I wish I could forget. We are luck that the How to Train Your Dragons films are technically Viking inspired. But they are animated and they don’t do a super lot with the Vikings religion and atmosphere. They are cute, they are good, but they aren’t what you think about when you hear a Vikings movie.

We also very recently had the new Assassin’s Creed Valhalla game, to get people in the spirit. I don’t know if the God of War reboot counts as a Viking game, but it does deal with Norse mythology, so close enough. Not to mention we had several seasons of a Vikings show, which probably disappointed a lot of people without going too hardcore with it.

All of this to say, that time for something like The Northman to come out has been building up for a few years. And I know I was ready.

panic
This was me screaming like a giddy little school girl.

Set sometime before the year 1000, we start off in some Viking kingdom. The king of this land is King Aurvandil War-Raven (Ethan Hawke) and he is a mighty warrior. His village often gets loot and slaves and plunder from their conquests. His son, Amleth (Oscar Novak), looks up to his father despite rarely seeing him. His wife, Queen Gudrún (Nicole Kidman) is loyal and true. And his brother, Fjölnir The Brotherless (Claes Bang), well…Let’s just say that he earned that title by betraying the King and killing him to take his kingdom. Damn Auvandil, sorry to see you go.

Luckily, Amleth is able to escape by boat. He promises to enact vengeance for the life of his father and rescue his mother, who was taken by Fjölnir. He just has to grow up and get strong. So, several years later, Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård) does just that. He was found as an orphan by another tribe, and eventually joined their elite wolf fighter unit, and he was a mighty warrior. But thanks to a prophecy, he was eventually told about how he could find Fjölnir and finally complete his vows.

He just now has to journey to Iceland. He pretends to be a slave. A big strong man like him? Yeah. He just does what Clark Kent does. He hunches his shoulders and looks down a lot. But this gets him to Iceland, so he can find Fjölnir, complete his promise, and fulfill his destiny.

Also starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Gustav Lindh, Elliott Rose, Willem Dafoe, Eldar Skar, and Björk!

running
The face you make when you need this little weakling to avenge your future death. 

I think I need to talk about Robert Eggers. Outside of a few video shorts, Eggers has now directed three motion pictures. I think most people who have seen his work would agree he is hitting all of the right notes. The Witch was terrifying, unique, and really felt accurate to the area, which was a nice surprise. It helped introduce the world to Anya Taylor-Joy. The Lighthouse was an strong follow up, an impressive visual film with excellent performances from the leads. I didn’t love it as much as The Witch, but I recognized its ambitiousness. 

The Northman however just takes the ball that is already knocked out of the park, and he knocks it into another park. The Northman is a lot of things, except for boring. This is a film that the trailer does justice for, while still giving you very little of the story. It is a revenge flick. It is kind of like Hamlet. It is not just a straight action fantasy film, it has a lot of deeper and slower moments. The film is tense, and intense at various points. 

Honestly, I was surprised at so many moments of the plot. Big strong Amleth finds his uncle pretty early on in the film, I was assuming that it would be over fast. But the set backs that occur are not expected. They do make sense, and it just helps build up some of the bigger events, while still allowing teases along the way.

The Northman is just such a visually stunning film. It is gorgeous, and we get to see many different scenes and locations. There are some battles and scenes that take place in night, with unfortunate authentic lighting, but it isn’t a majority of the film. It is a film that wants to be seen. 

All of this build up from Viking properties have given me what, frankly, is probably the best movie about Vikings ever made. I don’t think Eggers can keep up this pace. He might have to retire before Marvel has him make a film where he has no control in the output. 

4 out of 4.

Father Stu

From the poster of Father Stu, it seems like a movie that definitely deals with religion, but is probably not a religious film. Like, it won’t have a lot of plot lines where the true believers get what they want, and cheesy sappy music. But good humor. And even though it will be set in church settings, and not necessarily poking “fun” at a religion, it will still acknowledge some of those weird things.

I did not know how much of a personal project this was for Mark Wahlberg, the lead. Father Stu was a real person, that Wahlberg might not have even met. But he heard about his story, and thought it was inspirational and it touched him, so he wanted to get that story out there.

And apparently that too was a struggle. Hard to get financing, people didn’t want to make this movie. But Wahlberg did, and this movie now exists, because he had to personally finance large portions of it. Why is that? Mel Gibson apparently convinced him to do it. To “bet on himself”, where Gibson was said to have spent $30 million of his own money on The Passion of the Christ. So Wahlberg said if Gibson can do it, then he could do it, I guess.

Gibson
Gibson is not really the person that Wahlberg should be emulating in his private life though.

Stuart (Mark Wahlberg) does not have a whole lot going good in his life. His brother died when he was young. His father (Mel Gibson) was a drunk and left the family to work in another state, abandoning them. His mom (Jacki Weaver) is helpful and cares about him, but she is more out of it for the same reasons listed above. But now Stuart is a boxer! He is relatively good at it. But it has led to more problems with his health. Not normal problems that boxers face. Clearly, it must be changed, though.

He figured out the perfect job. He is going to move to Hollywood and become an actor! That is where his dad lives, but it is not about him. It is about Stuart becoming a big celebrity actor. And working at a grocery store until he can get a job. But while at the store, he meets Carmen (Teresa Ruiz), a person shopping who definitely doesn’t care about Stuart. However, he decides to stalk and harass her until he can meet her at her Catholic Church, despite being raised atheist.

So sure, his new goal is to woo her over, and become baptized, and Catholic. Yadda yadda yadda, this somehow leads to him deciding to become a Father himself. Yep, this is where his life really should be headed. And that ends up leading to even more issues it turns out.

Also starring Malcolm McDowell, Aaron Moten, and Cody Fern.

panic
Oh hey, Mark, you got some stuff on your forehead. Did you know that? 

I guess on one note, the movie is exactly what I expected based on my earlier guesses. On a different note, I didn’t realize how awkward the story and movie choices would be.

For example, Gibson is a terrible person and I have been trying to avoid his movies, for obvious reasons. So to have him be an emotionally distant father, and known atheist to our main character feels intentional. The one notably non-religious character is a bad character and father. And they also give him a redemption arc at the end. It felt like the movie was doing that more for Gibson, than the character. “See, people can get better.” Sorry, just because they can get better doesn’t mean I need to watch them acting.

As for Stuart? I also don’t like his character. Notably, he is meant to come from a rough past, and a rough middle, to lead to his eventual conversion and holy days. You know, to be a Father who knows how to talk to the community and is okay with swear words. But…I don’t like him for being a scum bag. So the real life Stu stalked a woman whom he met at his job, when she just wanted to shop, and let him know that she had no interest in him. He went to her church to start going, and being awkward the entire time, to suddenly convert for her. That just feels like months of harassment. Especially when, after a series of events, he convinces her finally to break her vow of chastity for sex because she now feels like they will be together forever.

Just to then go and say he wants to be a pastor, who cannot marry or have sex, after taking something that she personally held dear. What the fuck, man.

Then the character became a father, and eventually died. But the movie does take liberties with the story. It adds a lot of setbacks into his graduating into a full Father, given his deteriorating physical condition. But in real life, that didn’t seem to be an issue at all, and is just another strange set back instead of telling his actual story, which is what they set out to do. That is why the ending is so vague with how long he was practicing before he eventually died. Because the movie makes it imply like, a year or two maybe. And not quite a few years.

Father Stu takes a troublesome actor,  to give him a redemptive arc for…reasons. Father Stu is about a troublesome real life person, who eventually did good, while glossing over exactly how troublesome his life was. And playing harassment for laughs.

And yet at the same time, it still seems to go a lot more religious than I initially expected. Father Stu is a lot of things, including amusing occasionally, but a good movie is not one of those things.

1 out of 4.

Everything Everywhere All At Once

I knew I wanted to see Everything Everywhere All At Once when I saw the poster for it. It is full, vibrant, and wild. I didn’t care what the plot was. The title was good. The poster was good. Harry Shum Jr. from Glee was in it. Let’s go, I’m sold, let’s do it.

But then I saw that it was directed by The Daniels (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert). They have only directed one feature film together before this one, and it was Swiss Army Man.

Swiss Army Man was easily one of my favorite films of the year it came out, and was in my top 50 of the decade. It was wholly unique, unlike anything else I had seen before. It took a ridiculous topic and made it WORK. It should be talked about more in cinema circles, honestly.

If that is what they could do on their first try, I was damn near giddy to see what they would do with an ambitious title like Everything Everywhere All At Once.

EYES
The third eye really brings up the extra levels of power.

Everything. A lot is happening to Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh). She is trying to run a laundromat. She is trying to have a Chinese New Year party for the surrounding area and community. Probably an idea to help their laundromat which isn’t doing great. And they are being audited by the IRS and have an important meeting today to show their receipts and prove their business expenses. Her father (James Hong) is here visiting and judges her family and everything about her.

Her husband (Ke Huy Quan) is a nice guy, but he seems a bit bumbling and she has to be the serious one to solve the problems in her eyes. Her daughter (Stephanie Hsu) is struggling with feeling accepted. She has come out as gay and Evelyn has said she is fine with, but refuses to tell the grandpa because she may be secretly ashamed. Evenlyn is also constantly nagging on her daughter, to fix things that aren’t actually big issues.

Things seem to be imploding on Evelyn today. And things get more intense at the IRS building. Because at some point she finds herself in a closet, suddenly an instantly. Her consciousness going between the Evelyn at the desk and the Evelyn in the closet. It seems like it is her husband talking to her, but he claims he isn’t her husband. He says she is needed to help save the universe. Shit is getting bad, and she might be the last hope.

Oh well, just pile that onto Evelyn’s plate why don’t you.

Also starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Jenny Slate, Harry Shum Jr., Brian Le, and Andy Le.

hot dog fingers what about them
I will not be taking questions at this time over this image.

I put off writing this review for so long. Not because I didn’t like it, because I loved it, I did. But because I knew I wouldn’t have the words to do it justice. I didn’t even know how I would go about describing the plot, because I didn’t want to give that much away. I decided to watch the trailer and base it on that, and still told a lot less information than the trailer, so I am comfortable on that front.

Everything Everywhere All At Once is a masterpiece of cinema, that about sums it up. It is an incredible DENSE film for the subject matter, and it doesn’t hold anything back. A common complaint I give for films is when they “don’t go hard enough” and this movie goes hard enough. It goes off the deep end real early on, and gets the viewer to catch up along the way, not boring us with exposition to explain things necessarily before they happen. The actual beginning feels like it is going to be a stressful movie similar to Uncut Gems, but when it gets supernatural, the stress levels are amped up significantly.

It switches between so many time lines and events, and molds things into one that if you don’t pay attention you will be lost. And I love that. I love that the film rewards the audience for paying attention, for looking for clues, and for treating us like we are capable humans of following a narrative.

I can’t say I understand every movie, or that I even fully understand this one, but I get enough of it to love it and want to see it more than once. It is not going to be a movie for everybody, and likely the weirdest film I will see this entire year. It is a shame it is coming out so close to Dr. Strange 2, which will also go for some similar multi-verse themes. But I think Everything Everywhere All At Once will stand up on its own, and it will likely go a lot farther than a Disney backed super hero movie.

Finally, Yeoh is the main character of this film, and she does an amazing job, a character unlike one she ever really plays in my eyes. But Quan and Hsu are a big part of the heart and soul of the film. Because in the end, it is still a very touching family film, and like lots of other films recently, dealing with generational trauma and overcoming the sins of our ancestors. I hope to see big things from Quan especially in the future.

4 out of 4.

Infinite Storm

Naomi Watts sure likes getting into some shit and coming out alive. Even though we all thought it was impossible, she survived the tsunami in The Impossible. Even though she was miles away, she was able to get a lot of information on a school shooting, recently in The Desperate Hour (which I liked). And now, it looks like she is going to have to survive a giant snow storm on a mountain? Goddamn lady. Stay home, the world is out to get you.

Infinite Storm is an exciting title though. Is it some storm that goes on forever? Like the one on Jupiter?

It is all encompassing storm over all and everything in the world, a long reach like infinity?

Or is it just a cool sounding name for what is a regular blizzard? Who knows!

gaze
This is the look of someone who has seen some disasters, and is sick of their shit.

Pam Bales (Naomi Watts) likes mountains. A lot. She climbs them because it helps clear her head, and reflect on life. She knows about all of the skills on the hiking of the mountains. She heard about some storm stuff, but whatever, it is a nice day. And then sure enough, we get some fun blizzard action, whoops.

For awhile, Pam is just struggling to leave the mountain on her own. Does she hear faint screams in the wind and snow? Who knows. She almost gets trapped herself. But then she eventually stumbles across footsteps. Uh oh. That means someone else is out there, in the storm, possibly struggling to survive. It turns out that Pam is so into this mountain climbing, that she is also an official search and rescue climber. So she feels it is her duty to not just escape to safety, but to find that person stuck up there with her, and get them both down safely.

Also starring Billy Howle, Denis O’Hare, Eliot Sumner, Joshua Rollins, and Parker Sawyers.

trees
See? Even when the storm is less stormy, it still looks…well, miserable out there.

This is a real hard movie to like or care about. You know? Like. If the main character went up on the mountain, with the intent of helping out dumber climbers. I know the real issue is that this movie wanted to get the facts right because this is a true story. But when you spend almost the whole movie assuming the main character is a confusing dumbass for her decision making.

I don’t care for her struggles on the mountain, when she could have just not gone on the mountain. I don’t even remember if we ever learn why the other guy went up the mountain. It is hard to care for him as well. This could have been an easy horror movie of man vs nature, and we could have just cheered on the ice storm.

I will admit that I did like one aspect. I didn’t expect that we would have more movie after they made it off of the mountain. I really didn’t. If so, it would have only been a few minutes, if I had to guess. But it was probably a whole third of the film, just her dealing with her life after the traumatic events. And that unexpected ending is what gives it a slight bump in the ratings. It is certainly not a movie I will watch again, but it almost felt like regular straight to DVD trash.

1 out of 4.

The Outfit

I do love me some double meaning titles in movies. They literally carry me through life. Without them, I would be a lost little shell of a man, who has no friends, no family, no love, and of course, no double meaning titles.

Last year we got CODA, which was brilliant, and already this year we now have The Outfit. The Outfit is a nickname given to the Chicago mafia specifically, and it is pretty well known. And this movie is also going to involve a tailor? A suit maker? Someone who literally designs outfits?

Sign me up. But only if the movie includes actual tailoring and suit crafting knowledge and teaching. I don’t want it to be about someone who looks like they are faking it, or the movie doesn’t know the subject matter. Teach me, or else I riot.

shot
No, get out of here with your guns. I want to learn about tailoring and suit making!

Leonard (Mark Rylance) is an older gentleman, who runs his own suit shop. By appointment only, he will design all of the way a fresh suit for whoever will buy one, and it will be of the highest quality. But he is NOT a tailor. That is just a bitch who can sew. He is a cutter. He is a trained cutter. He demands that title respect too. He also has a receptionist (Zoey Deutch) who dreams of traveling the world some day, and collects snow globes to put in their shop window.

And sometimes, when he is working, with or without customers, men in suits come in to put envelopes in a lock box in the back room. Very suspicious. Leonard ignores them. And apparently at the end of the day, two mobsters (Dylan O’Brien, Johnny Flynn) go to the lockbox to retrieve the envelopes, and go back off into the night.

Looks like Leonard is a safe house for the mob, but he tries to not get involved in their antics. Does he do it for protection? For survival? Is he a former mobster? Who knows!

But once a note gets out that there is a rat in the organization, it turns out his closed shop is going to be almost ground zero for betrayal, backstabbing, and just regular amounts of death.

Also starring Simon Russell Beale, Nikki Amuka-Bird, and Alan Mehdizadeh.

tailors
Yessss, this is the content I have come here for.

Did I learn how to be a tailor cutter? No, not really. But I did learn a little bit about it, which is more than I have ever assumed I would in my life, so that is a plus. Rylance’s narration reminded me a bit about Michael Caine‘s narration in The Prestige. No, I won’t go into specifics, for potential spoiler reasons, but they seemed to have the same overall goal. Also, Caine’s name in The Prestige was actually Cutter. Is that a coincidence? Yes, probably.

I loved The Outfit for sure. The entire thing takes place inside of the shop, which is wonderful. I love it when movies get Bottle Episode-y.

There were twists and turns in the film, some expected, some not. I certainly wasn’t sure the entirety of who the rat was by the end. I wasn’t sure who would live or die either. It was very slow moving at points, but the sitting and waiting really helped make me feel more uncomfortable, which is a good thing. I don’t want a mystery to feel pointless. You don’t want a mystery to feel pointless.

I think all of the actors involved did a swell job, but extra shoutout to Johnny Flynn. First, he is the actor with the most mobster like name in real life. But I was really impressed with his attitude, and accent, for being the fourth biggest name on the main cast list. I don’t know anything about him, but his character was magnificent.

The Outfit won’t likely do well in the box office, but from this critics mouth, it was a great movie, and one I can imagine watching even more than once.

4 out of 4.

Master

Immediately hearing about a movie named Master, I get a little bit of unease. I think that is the goal. It certainly harkens up slavery in America’s past, especially given the main poster for this film.

Actually going into this movie, I have no clue what it is about. It could have been a period piece, a horror, a drama, or it could be a very surprising comedy, honestly. Lacking a better introduction, I am going on to the review.

glare
Don’t glare at me, I don’t research every movie coming out, I swear.

Let’s go to college! Namely, Ancaster College! Does it sound like a really white college? That is what we are going for here. A really white old historic college somewhere in the northeast. You know, what of those type of colleges. An Ivy league.

Jasmine (Zoe Renee) is a new freshman, ready to learn and live and laugh and love. But she is getting a lot of stares. She sticks out. For obvious reasons. Plus, people keep talking about her room. It is a cursed room some say. It is where a girl killed herself in the past. Not fun at all.

Jasmine has to deal with the normal college pressures, while also, apparently, being one of the only black people on campus. There are a few black teachers around though. Gail Bishop (Regina Hall) and Sascha (Kara Young), the latter who is a faculty member trying to go for tenure, and one of Jasmine’s teachers.

Things start getting more controversial, when Jasmine is failing her essay, about race issues no less, and she starts to get more and more vivid nightmares on this campus.

Maybe…this campus, is really just a big cult? Who knows. If so, the College Board should be informed.

running
When going out for a run, it is important to bring a buddy, because racists are out there, yo. 

It was hard to tell what Master was going for, in its run time. Is it going for a real supernatural horror, causing the events of the film? Or at the events of the film just metaphors, for what the characters experience, with micro- and macro-aggressions against them? Or maybe some level of in between?

Now, I will keep the truth to that question a secret of course. But I will say I was disappointed with the direction it ended up taking. It told a fine spooky movie of sorts, but I don’t think it really delved enough into the actual problems going on in the movie. They were alluded to, and I feel for a lot of people it will just go right over their heads. I am not saying that being subtle is bad, no. It is just that it isn’t really subtle either. It just seems to bring things up, and then ignore them later.

This is a movie that really feels like it was made to be streamed, where it might find an audience. But it lacked a lot of things that could have made it really stand out, as some sort of horror themed Dear White People. But we just got a pretty tame movie overall, with some fine acting and okay plot. This is one now doomed to go to streaming and be forgotten in a few days.

2 out of 4.

Cyrano

Like a lot of people my age, I first learned about Cyrano from one specific location. You know, the dog. Wishbone. Specifically the episode Cyranose, which was early on in the shows run. Have I ever read the book Cyrano de Bergerac? Heck no. No need to. I saw the wishbone episode. It gave me a great summary, and related the events in that book to a modern story involving teenagers and their dog. What more could I ask for?

I guess. I could ask for, eventually, a movie version of the events. But even better? Let’s make it a musical. Apparently this movie isn’t an original musical, it was based on a stage musical that came out a few years ago, starring Peter Dinklage and music by members of The National. Whew, I was worried for a second when I first saw advertisements that the people who made the movie had somehow came up with songs all on their own for a movie. But alas, its an adaptation of an adaptation.

On another note, it is directed by Joe Wright, a man who certainly knows how to make a period piece. Darkest Hour, Atonement, Pride and Prejudice, and Anna Karenina. We just won’t talk about The Woman in the Window and Pan, and point out that Wright knows how to make the past look good.

cyrano
This is likely the sexiest version of Cyrano ever on a film screen.

Cyrano (Peter Dinklage) is relatively wealthy, he is witty, is romantic, and he knows how to fight. What he doesn’t have, is looks. In the books, he is described as various forms of ugly, including an unfortunate nose and a hunch backed, but this film took it in a very different direction. Cyrano is also in love! Oh what misfortune.

Roxanne (Haley Bennett) is some level of aristocrat, from the same village as Cyrano originally. Her house hold is losing prestige though, and money, and she will likely be poor sometime soon. Her house keeper Marie (Monica Dolan) is trying to keep her safe, and get her to marry the some rich count (Ben Mendelsohn). But she doesn’t want him. He is boring, and probably mean. She wants love damn it. And she thinks she has finally found it.

That’s right. A random guard, new to the city, Christian (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), who is in Cyrano’s regiment. Time to rekindle with her old friend to ask for a favor. Get this guard to write to her. He must be smart to go with those looks. Cyrano, heart broken, yet in love, agrees to get Christian to write to her. But it turns out Christian ISN’T witty, and the knowledge of that will disappoint Roxanne. What is a noble to do? Guess Cyrano will just have to write the letters for Christian, to help their love, built entirely on deceit.

Also starring Bashir Salahuddin, Anjana Vasan, and Joshua James.

guard
Can’t express love nicely with words? Well, you could always hire a giant dance team and do choreography.

I know Cyrano is meant to be witty, but goddamn, they picked Peter Dinklage, who now has a history of playing smart and charismatic characters. Regardless of size differences, it is hard to imagine someone not immediately falling at his feet throughout this film. He basically seems to be someone who has everything. Roxanne was just someone who was blinded, and probably shitty as well.

Cyrano is a really strong acted and beautifully shot movie. The music is meant to feel a bit more natural. I believe it was filmed with the actors singing live on camera, and not lip sync’d for more professional sounding songs. That sounds like it could be a good idea, like Les Miserables, and some songs in other modern musicals. However, that also meant that at points it was extremely hard to actually hear the lyrics. Over the actual song sound and other noise. That was disappointing, but it is still a big experiment to do this in movies with live singing. It wanted to translate the live stage experience as much as possible, I guess, to have the same natural feeling that most of the songs take.

And honestly, the natural feeling is such a huge positive. Wherever I Fall part 1 is an incredible song. It is sad, it is painful, it is beautiful, and it is sung by three characters who I assume don’t even have real character names (confirmed, Guard #1, Guard #2, and Guard #3). Other songs are beautiful, and a lot of them have similarities in tone. It lacks diversity, for the sake of a common sound. It isn’t going for a series of ballads that people will sing along with and argue about. It wants that cohesion, which is an interesting strategy.

Acting wise, the big three are all strong. Bennett’s character almost feels like overacting at points, but that matches the general attitude and romanticizing that the character necessitates. Harrison Jr. has had a strong last few years in film (see Waves, my favorite film of 2019), and he now can sing too. And as I already mentioned, Dinklage is incredible in this role, and seems to bring a lot of emotional baggage to the role.

Cyrano is incredible, and honestly, we should be angry at its ridiculously long release date for a “2021” movie. I get the move back to Valentine’s Day, but then shifting it to late February? It can’t make my best of the year list if I can’t see it until February, and if it wanted to throw away any attempt at awards, it should have just actually came out in 2022.

4 out of 4.