Tag: Drama

Unidentified Objects

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Canada means lumberjacks, that is a fact. 

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

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

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

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

4 out of 4.

Everyone Will Burn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right?

Also starring Rodolfo Sancho.

panic
Mobs are always useful against arsonists.

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 out of 4.

Breaking

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

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

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

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

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

We shall see…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 out of 4.

Anything’s Possible

You know, I think Billy Porter might have some sort of deal with Amazon.

Last year we were given the jukebox musical Cinderella, where he played the fairy godmother. This year, he is directing his very first movie, Anything’s Possible. Both of which were straight to Amazon Prime!

As long as the outcome, is income.

I was going to ignore this one, honestly. But once I read the plot description, I figured Porter would be a pretty good director to tackle this subject, and I was excited to see where he would go with it.

elevator
A romance story, with lots of ups and down. Hyuck hyuck hyuck.

Kelsa (Eva Reign) is a senior in high school, not sure what she wants to do when she graduates. And sure, yes, she is trans. But she just wants to live her life, and at high school, not just be known as the “Trans girl.” She does have a YouTube channel where she goes over problems that happen to her in life, but it isn’t publicly known in her school, just for people on the internet. People on the internet are different, ya know?

Khal (Abubakr Ali) is also not sure what to do next year when he graduates. He wants to do art, his parents want big success for him and a big fancy school. He is on reddit a lot too, and answers love advice for people, while they help him out as well. And it turns out he likes Kelsa.

Her brains and beauty drew him in, but he is afraid of what others might think. Especially when it turns out that one of Kelsa’s friends like’s Khal, and people know that. Ugh, love triangles.

Also starring Kelly Lamor Wilson, Courtnee Carter, and Renée Elise Goldsberry.

lock
Shitty initials though for their coupling. 

I don’t know how many teen romance movies have a trans main character in them. This feels like the first one? Maybe? Or at least first mainstream one. And usually when we get to the first of a kind of a genre, they rely a lot more on stereotypes, because it is easier to be lazy. They are already original because they are the first to do something!

And yet, the best part of this movie is that it does an amazing job of avoiding stereotypes and avoiding the obvious plot lines. I went in highly expecting very specific lines of dialogue and events, and the movie surprised me. So props to the directors, and writers, and everyone involves for not going a basic route.

Now, despite its own originality, the story is still a high school teenage romance story. It falls into normal pitfalls of that genre, making it hard to keep my interest. It also rushes through quite a lot of the regular plot as well, and by the end I was a little bit just lost at who was angry at who and why.

Not to mention, Khal’s plot line is definitely one that has been done before. Someone who wants to go to /art school/ but his parents disapproves, no matter how good they are at art? Seen that a thousands time.

While Anything’s Possible gives me something that is unique to the genre, and avoids pitfalls, it still fails to provide an overall good story at the same time.

2 out of 4.

Don’t Make Me Go

Don’t Make Me Go, by its name, can only be one of two things. Either its some comedy film about an introvert. Or it is a drama film, that is definitely tear jerky in nature.

And sure enough, it is a tear jerking film! And because of that, the title of course makes me think of Never Let Me Go, which is a difference context, about holding on (/not giving up on someone). And that film is incredibly sad and beautiful.

I have the highest expectations for Don’t Make Me Go, and I demand at least three cry events.

drive
Learning to drive? Okay, that one won’t make me cry. I think.

Max Park (John Cho) is doing the best he can. He is a single dad, working a job, trying to date, and trying to make sure his daughter is safe from boys and drugs and parties. Max also went to the hospital recently, and sure enough he has a brain tumor.

(Those aren’t good).

If he doesn’t do surgery, he will die. If he does surgery, he has a good chance still of dying and so that sucks. His daughter (Mia Isaac) has literally no one else to take care of her if he goes…except for…maybe…her mother?

So Max gets the plan to go to his high school reunion, while bringing his daughter along on this road trip. He can teach her things, in case this is his last chance. Like how to drive. And sure, when he gets there, he can introduce his daughter to her mother, who is still alive, but did not want a kid or a family. Maybe this time has been enough. Maybe this will help him pass in peace.

Also starring Kaya Scodelario, Josh Thomson, Jen Van Epps, and Jemaine Clement.

selfie
Holy shit! She put fingers above his head! In the selfie! So that, omgomg, he looks like a bunny rabbit! Holy shit that’s funny ohmga.

I was ready to cry, the plot sounded so sad and emotional. And yet. It never came. The film did a bad job to make me connect at all emotionally with the characters. There were a few close chances of course. But let’s see…

It started with a scene randomly 2/3 of the way through the movie, though no real need to do that for a movie like this. One of the bigger moments was my first almost, a first meeting with the mom. But it didn’t last long enough. And once the information was shared about the tumor? Almost, maybe. But we are so far in the film that I am still surprised at how little I connected.

After all that, unfortunately, we got an ending to the film. The ending was absolutely poop. It took what could have been a strong movie and wanted to go for surprises that it sort of abandoned any hope of being considered a great film. To me, the ending turned this film from an average film to a bad film. I can’t recommend this movie, because I don’t wish the disappointment on anyone.

The acting from Cho and Issac? Great, wonderful, fine. But the story needed a lot more work, and they are wasted because of it.

1 out of 4.

Mr. Malcolm’s List

Who doesn’t love a good period piece about ROMANCE and some spicy aristocrat British drama? Emma came out so long ago. Why did Jane Austen only write a handful of novels for people to adapt?!

Fine. I guess someone else will have to write some. It doesn’t have to be from someone who was living from the time. We know the history of the era, we can add new stories pretty easily.

And that is what Suzanne Allain did. She wrote a book called Mr. Malcom’s List in 2009, and also a screenplay, that took a long time to get going. In fact, once she got some people on board, they still couldn’t finance a film. So they made a short film instead. Except this one isn’t a whole story. It is just like the beginning of a movie, with a note to be continued at the end. To see if there was interest.

And apparently there was interest. A lot of the main cast from the short was signed on to the real film, Gemma Chan was not for whatever reason, and now they hope the fact that people watched a nicely produced intro to a movie on YouTube, that will translate to big bucks at the theaters.

women
Maybe Bridgerton helped? Unless that was just due to the sex. 

Who is Mr. Malcolm (Sope Dirisu) and why does he have a list? Well first, what is the list at all? Is it a mystery? No, it is not a mystery his rumored list. You see, it is a list of traits and qualities in a woman that his potential wives must meet, or else they do not deserve him and his money. Damn, pretty shitty.

The last woman he dated and ended a relationship with is Julia Thistlewaite (Zawe Ashton), potentially because she wasn’t smart enough! Well, that devastated her. And Malcolm’s friend, Lord Cassidy (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) is over it as well. So they devise a plan.

Cassidy learns about the aspects of the list, so that he and Julia can set up Julia’s cousin, Selina Dalton (Freida Pinto), as the perfect woman in Malcolm’s eyes. They will make Malcolm fall in love with her. And when he proposes? She will turn him down! And produce her own list of things that he did not fulfill or live up to.

Hooray! No longer will this man ruin so many ladies in his path, he will know what it feels like. Yep. Fool proof plan.

Also starring Naoko Mori, Divian Ladwa, and Theo James.

men
I think Mr. Malcom’s biggest worry needs to be the tightness of his pants. 

To start off with a good thing, that clearly some assholes will hate, I love the diversity of this cast. This is a made up story, in a real time period sure. But who cares. We got so many people making up this cast from different backgrounds, that it is honestly refreshing to see on the screen. If someone went into this movie wanting historical accuracy when it came to casting, well, I don’t know what to tell you I guess. Get over it.

But lets face it. The people mostly clamoring for the movie (if they are the same people who liked the short), won’t care about that. They want romance and drama. They want witticism in the screenplay. They want to be swooned.

And sure, if that is all that they need for the film, then they will like it, I bet. But this movie doesn’t feel any level of unique. It seems like something I have seen before, in plenty of contexts. Hell, it has similarities to John Tucker Must Die, technically. Nothing in the plot really surprised me, nor did I really feel captivated by the romance. None of the actors did bad, per se, but it was just as expected for the type of movie. I don’t think a single character stood out as someone to really watch for, or any moment that I look back and think “Wow, that was interesting!”

This is a by the numbers Victorian romance film, so don’t expect some new level of art form. The diversity is nice, but not enough for me to care about watching it again.

1 out of 4.

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.