Tag: Melonie Diaz


Gringo had something funny occur with their PR screening ahead of time. Our screening wasn’t until the week of release, like normal, but they actually sent out the real invite for it over a month early. Now, normally, these invites are a week to two max early. If any earlier, we get save the date notes or whatever to let you know it is coming up, but this was just the regular invite to respond to for RSVP purposes.

So of course I accepted, and the only reason it is much later a review is because I was sick that day, couldn’t go, and had to watch it weeks later in the theaters. I wanted to see Gringo, it looked fun, and sure, it had a plug on The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale. Let that be a lesson for you, advertising can work. Why else would I still be using old spice body wash every day?

Gringo has an interesting name, given what I think I know what it means, and that we had a film awhile ago called Get The Gringo, which was also a bit better than anticipated. I had high hopes for Gringo given it setting, its very fun looking cast, and of course, because of Mr. Copley adding his own weird style.

WHich One
Which one is the gringo though, really?

Our story is about Harold Soyinka (David Oyelowo), a man who never can catch a break. He has a high job in a pharmaceutical company,but he isn’t rolling in the dough like the people in the higher levels. His wife (Thandie Newton) is an interior decorator, but only has one client and is bleeding their money. His boss (Joel Edgerton), is a hardass, a dickwad, and all of the body parts between those two. But he makes that money, he is good friends with Harold, and he got him the job in the first place.

Harold has to work and travel to Mexico frequently for their job, where they have the pharmaceutical factory set up. They are making a weed pill, so to speak, so that when America starts lifting those bans, they will have the product and infrastructure in place to take advantage of the now open market.

Because we are talking about drugs and Mexico, it should be obvious that the Cartel is also involved. Harold doesn’t know about that of course, he is a good guy, but when dealing with his boss’s mistakes, he is about to see how little he matters in the grand scheme of events.

Also starring Carlos Corona, Alan Ruck, Kenneth Choi, Sharlto Copley, Charlize Theron, Melonie Diaz, Amanda Seyfried, Harry Treadaway, and Yul Vazquez.

Ooooh, looks like they finally GOT THE GRINGO! Oh, wrong movie. Sorry.

Gringo is an example of a story with a lot of separate plot lines amongst the characters, where no one character is sure of what is actually going on, and all the chaos that occurs from these miscommunications and lies. But also, with death, violence, and comedy. So yeah, going for a Taratino film feel.

Out of all the many cast members, the only one to really shine is our star, Oyelowo, who seems to have perfected that scream freak out look that he gets to do over and over in the film as he continues to get shit upon. Because that is the movie. Bad things happening to his character, despite being a relatively good guy, and him never getting out of his situation.

If you hate crazy plot lines, you still might enjoy it for Oyelowo’s performance, where he seemed to show a different side of him. A more excited side, compared to more of his very serious roles recently.

The movie did feel quite long, given the twists and turns along the way. And hey, I didn’t know where it was going most of the time. So it was a surprising thrill ride that did still have me on the edge of my seat. A lot of bad people in this one, and one guy to root for. A good classic film position to be in.

Give Gringo a shot, at least just once.

3 out of 4.

The Belko Experiment

The Belko Experiment trailer seemed to come out of nowhere, and it honestly got me really excited.

A Battle Royale experience, with regular office workers, in a potential psychological horror film with difficult moral decisions? That sounds like an amazing film, one that would quickly become a cult film and something that would top my end of the 2017 list!

And to top it all off, it was written by James Gunn, who has been kicking ass lately. Not directed, just written, but he is a pop culture junkie and someone who can really get to the heart of issues with, yes, excessive violence.

But really, the hype was real on this side. Fictional people killing people with office equipment.

Office equipment, like guns!

Head on down to Bogotá, Columbia, where the sun is always shining and everyone is so happy! And it is also the location of Belko Indutries, a very large office building seemingly in the middle of nowhere. They help hire foreign workers for American companies, or something like that. Hard to say, doesn’t matter, they have sweet government contracts, so life is sweet.

Weird things are afoot today. All of the local workers are being sent home. There is a larger security force than normal, checking cars and looking intimidating. But hey, it is still a work day, so even with some missing people they have meetings and phones to call.

And then, a voice (Gregg Henry) comes over the loudspeaker, that they didn’t even know existed in their building. It said that most of them would die, and that if in the next 30 minutes two people were not killed, then there would be consequences. Ha ha. Must be a prank. And then the office building straight up closes entirely around them, windows, doors, all covered in large metal panels. Fuck! Well, of course no one kills anyone, so then four people die from sudden head explosions. Head explosions! Each person had a GPS tracking device put into their head, in case of kidnappings, because Columbia. Turns out they are bombs and now everyone is even more fucked.

Of course it gets worse. Now they know it is serious. And now they know that with 76 people left in the building, they now have 2 hours to kill 30 people. Or else overall 60 will be killed, randomly. Now it is time to let your animal instincts out. Now is the time to go wild for survival. And hell, a few of the people have some special forces training before this job. Doesn’t look good for your normal receptionist.

And we have a lot of workers, so here they are: John C. McGinley, John Gallagher Jr., Tony Goldwyn, Adria Arjona, Melonie Diaz, Michael Rooker, James Earl, and Sean Gunn are some of the bigger players. We also have Brent Sexton, David Dastmalchian, David Del Rio, Gail Bean, Josh Brener, Owain Yeoman, and Rusty Schwimmer.

Blood bath? More like Blood…um. Office. Yes, Blood office.

I wanted so badly for The Belko Experiment to be good.To give me a satisfying psychological horror. To really emphasis the experiment parts, and showcase human spirit and humans in general. And yes, I also wanted it to feature a ton of violence through the use of common office equipment. Things like coffee pots, staplers (of course), paper weights, chairs, paper clips, who knows. And honestly? We maybe got 3. Definitely two that stand out, and of those two, one doesn’t even kill a person, it just injures them.

When it comes to wild and crazy deaths, this film lacks them. It just gives us death. MOST people, out of the 80 starting amount, die from a gun shot wound or from their GPS tracking devices exploding in their head. And I do mean that by most, definitely well over half. We have some knife/cutlery related deaths, a couple accident based ones, and a few explosions, but most of them are just regular violence in what could have been a creative film. The trailer implied a lot different film from the tone given.

A lot of screen time is given to the characters actively trying to escape. Making signs to hang, getting through the metal, taking out their “GPS devices” and so on. Perfectly good rational behavior. And that same behavior is why we never really get the all out blood bath the trailers seemed to imply. We get forced into a situation where a few people with power and guns just start killing off random individuals without the thrill behind it.

Overall, I guess what I am getting at is that the film is too serious. The violence doesn’t lead to the fun deaths which doesn’t lead to a fun movie. But it isn’t serious enough that it makes any point either. It just feels meaningless and hollow.

Sure, we have some interesting characters. Gallagher is our voice of reason. McGinley is a creep. Goldwyn is a typical executive. A lot of people play scared office worker quite convincingly. Surprisingly, Sean Gun, James Gunn’s brother, known basically only for Gilmore Girls, is the most exciting character and his actions are fun to watch, but he can not entertain us enough on his own.

The Belko Experiment seemed like it would be an immediate cult classic, but I doubt even a sequel could save the story it tried to piece together.

1 out of 4.

The Cobbler

When I grow up, I want to be a cobbler. I don’t think anyone has said that in at least 150 years.

But at least it is a funny word.

Times are strange when you find Adam Sandler in a VOD movie with very limited theater release. His movies have practically printed money the last few years with the minimum amount of effort. Sure he sold out, but he can’t hear the complaints due to the hundred dollar bills falling out of his ears. And plus all of his friends get parts in his movies, and he uses the same crew. He is at least a good guy in that regard.

The Cobbler is about magic though. Or something. I dunno. Bring it on.

“‘Bring it on’ Adam said, as he slowly slid the red heels on for the first time.”

Max Simkin (Sandler) lives in modern day New York. He lives a boring life in down town, running the shop that his father (Dustin Hoffman) abandoned. He doesn’t really enjoy it, but he needs money. He also has to take care of his mother (Lynn Cohen), whom he lives with. There are protests lead by Carmen Herrara (Melonie Diaz), trying to protect the residents and store owners from higher rents, driving them from the area and forcing to sell their livelihoods for cash.

You know what. That sounds nice to Max.

But first he has to deal with some rude customers. Like this guy Leon (Method Man) who needs some shoes repaired that day to pick up that night. Well, Max’s main machine breaks. Shit. He finds a manual one hiding in a back and makes it from that. And wouldn’t you know it, eventually he finds out that machine is magical. SPARKLES AND EVERYTHING. Well, no sparkles. But in boredom, Max puts on the guy’s shoes waiting for him, and he transforms into that guy. Aw shit, shape changing powers. After all, Max is the owner of their soles.

How will he use this power? For good? For evil? For sex? To be a super HERO? No. Not the last one. Kind of all in between.

Also featuring Steve Buscemi as the neighbor barber, and a whole lot of other people, like Dan Stevens, Ellen Barkin, and Elena Kampouris.

For a guy who fixes shoes for a living, there are quite a lot of shots of him being shocked at having shoes.

Despite the movies flaws, I don’t think that they are the fault of Mr. Sandler. I know, that may sound crazy, but it is true. The problems must all lie instead with the directing, script, and whoever made decisions behind the scenes. Because honestly, Sandler was fine in this role. Disgruntled Jewish middle aged worker, poor and bored with life. He fit the bill really well. His character also made sense for his new powers. He isn’t a great guy. He uses his power for as many shenanigans as he can figure out, until his shenanigans run away with him.

But despite the decent enough pun/premise, the movie just fell completely flat.

The movie didn’t know what it wanted to be. A comedy, a drama, a dark comedy. Its indecisiveness rested on the main characters indecisiveness. Shit, it feels like a family movie for the most part, outside of some partial nudity, attempted sex, and murder scenes. Basically everything outside of that is extremely family friendly outside of a few moments. Kind of super awkward.

The movie also dragged. It only took 20 or so minutes before we got to both the power and realization of how to get said power, but everything else was extremely slow. Not to mention not really funny. At all.

Damn it! This movie could have gone to so many good places. And everything is just so damn drab and boring about it.

1 out of 4.

Fruitvale Station

Fruitvale Station is the true story of the last day of Oscar Grant’s life in 2009. Who is Oscar Grant and why should you care?

Good question.

This Wikipedia article sums it all up nice and…well in great fucking detail. So much detail. Not an easy read at all.

Basically in an arrest, police officers were being rougher than usual early on New Year’s Day. One of the officer ended up firing a shot into the back of Oscar, killing him later. Thanks to technology, a lot of videos quickly surfaced on the internet, and brought the case to the national spotlight. Then, you know, this movie.

SPOILER. Someone dies in this movie.
Side note, this movie is hard to explain. You know what happens at the ending. Hell, if you didn’t read this review, you know how it ends? Why? Because this is how it starts:

Actual footage of Oscar Grant at the Fruitvale train station. One of the cell phone cams, about a minute long, a brief altercation, and the shot. Then the movie starts.

This is a pseudo-fictionalized last day for Oscar (Michael B. Jordan). December 31st also happens to be his mother’s (Octavia Spencer) birthday, so a lot of the day is prepping for dinner at her house and then plans in the city for midnight.

He recently lost his job as a butcher, and has gotten back into dealing drugs, but he wants to turn his life around. He has been in prison twice before, but just got out again a few months ago. He has a daughter, with his long term girlfriend Sophina (Melonie Diaz). He has a big family and a nice support network.

Shit, what else do I say? I don’t. He had a rough life, then he got shot. Kevin Durand also made a surprise small appearance as a cop. Not the asshole cop, just one of them.

Plenty of imagery to make sure you got the full emotions out of it too.
Some movies are just hard to describe, for sure. And after all, with a movie like this one where you KNOW how it ends, the experience is the entire point. But what kind of point was it trying to make?

Anytime someone dies, it is a tragedy. The death is worse if the age is low (he was 22) and the circumstances unjust (shot in the back during an arrest) and even worsier if it has authority overstepping their bounds. The timing of this movie couldn’t be better, with a different famous death just finishing its trial, with the George Zimmerman / Treyvon Martin case.

This only feels relevant because it is a movie distributed by The Weinstein Company, who are well known for advertising. Aka, the best money spent on advertising is free advertising. Just look at their Bully nonsense.

So I think it is unethical to release this movie around that trial for more money and exposure, but I think the movie itself is worthy of being made on its own merits. I don’t like lumping the two things, because the situations are very very different. I won’t get political, I will end it there.

The movie itself is VERY well acted, especially Michael B. Jordan. Everyone else is fine, but he is the only character basically on the screen 100%. The middle of the film had its boring moments, but that was necessary for the buildup. I think it was strange for them to show the actual footage at the beginning. It really took a lot out for me, since they recreated it at the end of the movie anyways. It seems like it could have been better incorporated somehow. Random scenes had extreme elements of shaky cam, just from walking through a room, or a quick run down a street. Those were annoying, not helpful.

I hope some of the smaller details were actual events. They had nice graphics for every phone call and text he made, all of which are records that could easily be gathered, so it would be nifty if they were the actual texts and phone calls he made that day.

Good movie, sad ending, great acting, some dull parts and questionable advertising. Very excited for Michael B. Jordan to be in more movies, that is for sure, brah.

3 out of 4.

Hamlet 2

Most likely, every time someone heard of the movie Hamlet 2 they did a quick double take, and possibly throw in a “da fuq?” Presumably most of you knew what happened in Hamlet as well, because it helps.

A sequel to Hamlet doesn’t make any sense. And when you find out the movie isn’t even a straight sequel to Hamlet you got even more confused. A high school class putting on a production called Hamlet 2, and involving time travel and bad language? Well uhh.

Then you probably got curious, saw a zany trailer, and got turned off from watching it. I also assume most of you are identical to me, obviously.


Dana Marschz (Steve Coogan) is a going no where drama teacher. He tried to be an actor, but sucked, and is now a recovering alcoholic. But hey, he has a wife! (Catherine Keener) and they have a shitty income, so they take in a person to pay some rent too (David Arquette).

Despite all this, he continues to make shitty plays for the school which tend to be adaptions of Hollywood movies. Marschz finds out from the Principal (Marshall Bell) that at the end of the year, the drama department will be budget cut as well and his job gone. Well fuck that, he sets off to make the most original play he can possible. So why not a Hamlet 2, with time travel to save the characters, and Jesus and other historical figures? Why not?

Well for starters he only has two people who actually care about acting in the class, and they might be racist. Rand (Skylar Astin) and Epiphany (Phoebe Strole) are stoked about it, but how does he get the rest of the class to care? Turns out not too hard with the content material. Ivonne (Melanie Diaz) jumps on board right away, but when Octavio (Joseph Julian Soria) finally gets involved, he even gets to take over the main part.

This pisses off Rand, who takes the script the Principal who immediately tries to shut it down. This causes a big free speech uproar, and Marschz even gets represented by the ACLU (Amy Poehler). But despite all this publicity and uproar, is there even a chance that the play is even good? Also, Elisabeth Shue plays herself, as someone also living in Tuscon, where her dreams went to die.

sexy hesuz
I haven’t even made a reference to how I would describe Jesus in the play.

So uhh, the play was kind of awesome as shit. Which I didn’t see coming. The musical numbers were good, both directly involved in the play and from the helping choir, the plot was a bit touching, and no one really got offended too badly.

The film attempts to be a parody of other inspirational teaching movies, and makes reference to quite a few. Except the teachers are never as inept as the one in this movie, who acts way over the top and makes it quite obvious why no one takes him seriously. The kids all also don’t really want to act at first, and it is almost as if having controversy make them care more about the play, just to fight the bad press.

I really didn’t enjoy the first half of the movie. A lot of the jokes felt forced, even if it was a parody or satire or something. Just wasn’t amusing. The second half was a lot better though, which wheels were in motion and the play occured. Its like the intentionally didn’t improve the quality of the movie until the characters cared more about their own play. Is that clever film making? Or just a coincidence?

But seriously, I loved the play it self and made it worth it to see.

2 out of 4.

Assassination Of A High School President

Why would someone watch a movie called Assassination of a High School President? You mean besides the title? I don’t know. But you sound like a troll for still asking that question.

It’s. Called. Assassination. Of a. High School. President.

How is that not reason enough to watch the movie, right? Right?

There is probably at least one other reason. I just cannot put my finger on it.

The story is about Bobby Funke (Reece Thompson) and wanting to get into a Journalism program for the summer, and he is mostly a sophomore loser. Despite claiming to be a great writer, he has never finished an article for the school newspaper. He gets his “big break” when he gets to do a story on the high school president (Patrick Taylor), because for some reason the editor (Melonie Diaz) thinks it will be a good idea.

Well, he can’t even get an interview. He is bullied by the student council and the VP, Marlon Piazza (Luke Grimes). But when the HSP gets injured in a basketball game, he finally figures he can get an interview! But also that same night all of the SAT tests were stolen from the principals locked safe (Bruce Willis), bringing up an even bigger problem. Francesca (Mischa Barton), the step sister of Marlon, and girlfriend of the HSP begs Bobby to find the culprit and bring him down, because she was feeling “Really good” about her scores.

But when all the clues point to the HSP being the culprit (including a locker full of SATs), Bobby has to find out if there is a deeper problem at the school. Maybe one involving drugs and gambling, and if the HSP is just being set up.

Or is it all simply just a game of beer pong that he has to infiltrate?

This is my first “noir” tag of a review. Celebrate everyone!

Because this film is not your ordinary comedy. Most of it includes a lot of voice overs, and other classic mystery references in order to give it a way different feel. It is some sort of catholic school, with uniforms and all, where everything I guess is just super intense.

I thought the acting was great, and also that Bruce Willis wasn’t just a small role, but all up in this movie. I only expected about two cameos, but his role is huge and hilarious.

But the story didn’t appeal to me that great. I think I want to watch it again, but not for awhile. Definitely interesting enough for a one and done viewing, for sure. New movie experiences are always a plus. Just, didn’t love it as much as I thought I would.

2 out of 4.