Tag: Paul Giamatti

The Little Prince

I have never read or heard The Little Prince book before, but that because I had an empty childhood. Just kidding, I had Pokemon and that was enough for me.

I did, however, play a board game The Little Prince: Make Me A Planet before though. Only once. And like, three years ago. But it apparently stuck with me, so that many elements present in the game I was able to remember and notice in the actual film version of The Little Prince.

But let’s get to the issue. This took way too long to get released in America. It was released in the summer of 2015 last summer in France! Agh! Not America! It was supposed to be released by Paramount in March in America, but a week before release they suddenly decided to drop it from their schedule as well. No news on distribution or eventually released. Sometime later, the pros at Netflix said they would handle it and gave it a nice worldwide release, finally in America and other countries. All hail Netflix, bringer of tales, singer of stories.

Prince Prince
They took one long look at the script and declared the crazy old writer to be a genius!

As you would have guessed from the title, The Little Prince is a story about a girl. The Little Girl (Mackenzie Foy) is being pressured by her mom (Rachel McAdams) to get into a very good school for kids. The interview does not go well, so they decide to move into a house in the school’s neighborhood, getting in by proxy. The girl’s whole life is scheduled by the mom, to ensure future academic and financial success.

The reason they were able to get the house is because it was next to a shoddy house. In the house lived an old man, an aviator (Jeff Bridges). He was constantly fiddling with his plane and making a racket. Eventually The girl goes and talks to him, finds out he also is an artist. Over time, he tells her the story of his encounter with The Little Prince (Riley Osborne), a boy who lived on a planet barely big enough for a single person.

The aviator learns of his travels around the galaxy, learns some life lessons and so on. And you know what? The little girl is going to learn some lessons of her own.

Also featuring the voice work of Marion Cotillard, Paul Rudd, James Franco, Benicio Del Toro, Ricky Gervais, Bud Cort, Paul Giamatti, and Albert Brooks.

“Trust me little girl, I’ve got a beard!”

The Little Prince was unlike most other animated films. Yes, it is accessible to families and kids of all ages, but it seems like something an adult would learn more from than their kids. We have a story within a story, where the inner story is the normal The Little Prince story. The added elements of the overworked girl are completely original and the entire last third act is all about her and her own adventure.

I was worried that it would be too complex for kids but a 5 and 6 year old seemed to enjoy it throughout, despite the slower beginning. The layered stories kept me interested, but the ending wasn’t as good as the beginning and middle.

The animation was different for the different story parts as well, with the animation for The Little Prince segment being unique and fantastic. The rest of the animation is pretty standard CGI and a bit uninspiring. It makes sense for the animation to be different, but one would hope that the animation for the majority of the film was just standard.

The Little Prince is still worth your time, although book elitists may get annoyed at the extra material. My only real annoyance was that the new material wasn’t as interesting in the very end and that the animation was a bit uninspiring in an otherwise inspiring story.

3 out of 4.

Love & Mercy

For the most part, I tend to avoid films that begin with the word Love. I did a theme week a few years ago watching a whole lot of films that began with Love, and for the most part I was disappointed. Here’s a snapshot of those films and review ratings as simple reminder. Basically, since I watched Love and Other Drugs, no other Love film got close. A few strange ones did a good job, but for the most part, they were all meh, bad, or shit.

But new movies keep coming out, and occasionally they start with love. I still don’t mean that in a story telling sense. As I review new movies, I will of course still watch them, but I won’t actively seek out a film with this strange specification. Regardless, I was slightly interested to see Love & Mercy.

That is because this bad boy is about the “greatest rock album” of the 20th century, Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys Brian Wilson!

Less surfing, more strange sounds and a journey through one’s mind.
So… mind surfing.

In the mid-1960’s, The Beach Boys were everywhere. In 4 years they had already released 10 albums, a lot of them about surfing. They were world famous, tours, money, all that fun stuff. But Brian Wilson (Paul Dano) wanted something more. None of them actually ever surfed, it all felt fake. He was a composer at heart and had a sound in his head that he needed to record and let the world hear!

So he didn’t tour with the group to focus on their next album. He pulled out all the strings, getting great orchaestra players to figure out the tunes and sounds without any words for most of the music yet. And he did what he always wanted to do, to make what would become the Pet Sounds album, despite all the naysayers.

Also, it is the mid-1980’s. Brian Wilson (John Cusack) is mostly alone, on a lot of drugs, and under the guidance of a caregiver Dr. Landy (Paul Giamatti). He cannot see his kids, he is under constant watch and other people make all of his main decisions in life.

His life sucks. His life might have always sucked. But there is some hope, in Melinda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks), a cars saleswoman he meets one day. They start to date and she starts to see how bad his situation is. She wants to get him help because she is starting to like Wilson, who seems to only be a shell of a person at this time.

Oh and I guess some other Beach Boys are in this movie. Played by Kenny Wormald, Graham Rogers, Jake Abel and Brett Davern. They have various speaking parts in this movie and some of them butt heads with Brian when they hear his album concept. And of course, Bill Camp gets to play the dad of the Wilson kids and former manager and not former mean person.

Sometimes you just wake up in the morning and think, “Fuck, even my art is beach themed.”

What is this, the year of the musical biopic? A lot of them tend to be terrible VH1 Behind the Music level films that tell a story we have all heard before with some sweet tunes. But 2015 has given us Love & Mercy, which you know I will call amazing, and Straight Outta Compton, which was definitely amazing. I would like to thank Get On Up from August 2014 for this. It was a good musical biopic, not on the level of the above films, but better than average. It seems like the genre can do no wrong!

Why is this one fantastic? Thankfully it is for multiple reasons. First off, the acting from Dano and Cusack is incredible, yet very very different. Yes, they play the same man about twenty years apart, but they are very different times in his life where he has a very different psyche. In Dano, you can see the artistic genius at show but also see how he starts to crack and fall apart despite the currently good events in his life. For Cusack, he plays a more typical drugged up/mentally ill person trying to make his way in the world. While a good performance, from an acting stand point it didn’t seem to be breaking new ground like it did for Dano.

Again, Cusack was actually really good in this, but to me he was overshadowed by Dano who was really really good in this. And besides, it was a bit hard to imagine Cusack as anyone other than just a bit more out of touch Cusack.

But that is just the first reason! The other reason comes from the plot and accuracy. I, like a lot of people, would love it if the bio films were more all encompassing instead of focusing on a few events. But they picked great (read: sad) times in Wilson’s life to really tell the story of what he has overcome and what he has accomplished. But to tell a coherent parallel story always takes some gusto. This is the first major movie directed by Bill Pohlad, who has produced a lot of great films. It is a very impressive first outing, an incredible work for him and the writers who pieced together this movie.

God Only Knows what we would have done without the Pet Sounds album and eventually this film.

4 out of 4.

Straight Outta Compton

I started talking about Straight Outta Compton with my review of Dope, because I am super white and ignorant.

Basically, I don’t know jack shit about this album, nor do I know a lot about the artists who made up N.W.A. I do know the phrase before the internet meme sensation came out, but that is probably only due to the fact that Weird Al made a similar joke almost ten years ago. Weird Al continues to give me most of my music knowledge about what is hip and cool in the world.

Despite not being able to name even one song from the album, I would probably consider myself an expert on late 80’s and early 90’s rap music. As you already know, I have seen and reviewed the movie Notorious! Yeah, because rap on the west coast and rap on the east coast were basically the same thing. That sounds like something I heard once.

Press Bitches
They find my joke hilarious, because I am so white and don’t know any better.

Lives used to suck for black people back in the day. I can keep that sentence vague, because in America is has basically always been true. Back in the day could be yesterday, technically. But in this case I mean 1980’s, where apparently everyone was free and equal under the law, and the law wanted to put the black youth in their place. Arrested for being black was a common occurrence, but also drugs, gang violence, and more. N.W.A. was a rap super group from Compton, California, composed of five members with various talent.

We had Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson Jr.), who was just in high school but a great lyricist. He wasn’t a thug, but he sure got harassed by the police. Dr. Dre, or Andre (Corey Hawkins) was hoping to be a DJ and produce music, not sit in a cubicle all day. There was Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell), who had money and some clout in the music business and would help set them up if they had a good idea. But then he was forced to rap, and hey, he could do it well. And then there was MC Ren (Aldis Hodge) and Dj Yella (Neil Brown Jr.) were also in the group, but this film was a lot less about them and more about the other three. They wrote some rhymes and DJ’d too, I guess. I don’t know shit about them.

They are the two on the left so they don’t complain to me about under-representation. Now I can ignore them the rest of this review.

Either way, their first single Boyz-N-The-Hood was an instant success. Their whole city and area loved it, and it spread like wildfire. They weren’t being soft with their words and they were telling the street truth about their lives. It was gangster rap. They were quickly signed by Jerry Heller (Paul Giamatti) as their manager, because he does sleazy well, and he was able to get them to produce a few more hits to create their first album. Straight Outta Compton! They were signed by the same record company who was getting big off of the California Raisins and wanted to branch out, and next thing you know, they are touring around the United States to sold our concert arenas carrying a strong message. You know, Fuck The Police and all that.

This of course led to the arrest for being black and speaking out, and other shenanigans. The group was now super famous, but thanks to contract disputes and managers screwing people over, they also had to go their separate ways. First Ice Cube left, causing a big rift and song battles, then Dr. Dre founded his own company with Suge Knight (R. Marcos Taylor) (Don’t fuck with Suge Knight. He will secretly give you aids, kill Tupac and Biggie and get away with it all).

And uhh. More stuff happens I guess. Shit. I can’t tell you about everything. I can’t tell you about Rodney King. I should let something be a surprise.

Other artists name dropped in the film include The D.O.C., Tupac, and Snoop Dogg. Actors aren’t even important in there. However, some of the women who would go on to be wives and lovers of the big three are played by Carra Patterson, Alexandra Shipp, and Elena Goode.

You can tell the band members apart by what their favorite teams are: All from California, surprisingly!

Not many people get to play their own dad in a movie about their life. First you need a famous father. Then you have to be the right age at the right time. You also need to look a lot like him. So O’Shea Jackson Jr. got to play his dad, Ice Cube, which is awesome. He is like the kid in Notorious, who played his dad for like one small age group in that film.

In particular, I thought Jackson Jr. and Hawkins did a phenomenal job playing Cube and Dre, which also happen to be the people I know more about thanks to how big they both got. But their stories, and Eazy-E’s story was a fantastic thing for almost anyone to hear and , despite it being over 20 years ago, oddly relevant to today still. Things don’t change that quickly, regardless of the size of computer chips. However, nothing made me cry! There were three scenes where they were going to attempt to bring out the tears, but I was able to resist them all. The last two would have totally gotten me if they just made those scenes a little bit longer, but when your film is already pushing 2.5 hours, it is understandable to make a few cuts.

Seriously, this movie was intense, dramatic, entertaining, a bit funny, extremely informative, and an all around fantastic film for just about everybody. Maybe not your kids, leave them at home for awhile. Honestly, this is now my second favorite music group biographical film, and I don’t even care about most of the music in this one! It will be hard for something to beat The Temptations, honestly, unless we eventually get a gritty Weird Al movie. Two references in one review, solid.

4 out of 4.

San Andreas

Get out of the way, motherfuckers. We got a GEOLOGY MOVIE to talk about. YEAHHH.

Sure, as a professional (in the case that I make fat stacks of cash), geo-scientists, I could use these movies to bemoan the lack of good science in film and to talk about everything that they got wrong. But in reality, Geologists don’t give a fuck and love the shitty geoscience movies. (Honestly, this could be true for most scientists, but I am not them so I don’t know). We haven’t had a decent CGI science fest in awhile though, mostly stuck with crappy intentionally bad movies which aren’t as fun.

BUT EARTHQUAKES ARE CLEARLY MUCH COOLER. So in San Andreas we should get shit breaking apart, people freaking out, presumably parts of California drifting off to sea. I can only hope. This is a geo-nightmare! One I am fully ready to embrace.

And if you came in here expecting a GTA movie, then get the fuck out of here right now.

We don’t have time for any more wise cracks.

In California, if your life is in danger, there is only one man you want to save your life. Ray (Dwayne Johnson) and his helicopter crew met and flew together in Afghanistan and now work for the LA Fire Department and rescue people everywhere all the time like the polished rocks they are.

But not everything is smooth in his life. No, cracks are forming in his personal life. His wife, Emma (Carla Gugino) wants a divorce. Their lives haven’t been the same since they lost a daughter in a drowning accident. At least they still have one more, their family bubble not completely eroded, in Blake (Alexandra Daddario). Emma is about to move in with Daniel (Ioan Gruffudd) who has a much more solid foundation. A famous architecht, rich.

But fuck all that. Earthquakes. The team at CalTech, lead by of course seismologist Dr. Lawrence (Paul Giamatti) and Dr. Kim Park (Will Yun Lee) have been testing out a hypothesis that will allow them to predict earthquakes. Thankfully in Nevada there has been a series of miniquakes to hopefully test their theory out and hey, it works! Just in time, or not just in time, because it looks like all of their recent work stress is about to be tested when the earth’s stress gets released. All along the San Anreas fault. Through small towns, close to LA and right smack dab through San Francisco .

Also featuring a few British folks from up the river. Namely, Hugo Johnstone-Burt as an engineer looking for a job, Art Parkinson his younger brother, and KYLIE MINOGUE as a small role that totally wouldn’t normally be noted but it is Kylie Minogue people.

Hide! Kylie doesn’t like it when you call her roles small!

It has been awhile since there has been an earthquake movie released. The last two I can remember are Aftershock and Aftershock. And when I compare all three, I would put this a step below Aftershock, but one step above Aftershock.

That’s right. I liked a disaster movie. And I will only briefly talk about the science.

From my knowledge, the whole magnetic pulse to predict earthquakes thing is a solid hypothesis running around the community and relatively new. So that is fine. I think they made up a big fault that doesn’t exist as part of the main San Andreas fault having it go through Nevada, but honestly, I don’t know. But my biggest complaint science wise is the Tsunami. Part of the climax involves a tsunami post all the big earthquakes hitting the city. Buuuuuut, that seems silly. Do giant ass earthquakes cause giant ass Tsunamis? Sure! But not at the same place the earthquake hit. See, the giant displacement event would cause the water to shift away from the epicenter, not towards. A giant ass tsunami would totally head towards Asia/Australia, but it didn’t make sense for it to hit San Francisco.

Back to the earthquakes! I cried. I legit cried near the end of this movie. Because overall, this is a story about a man trying to save his family. A man who tries to save everyone but couldn’t save his daughter those years ago. A man who is a rock in real life, facing a force that literally breaks rocks.

I was surprised at the amount of action this movie provided. They went high with their Earhtquake and aftershock count and had the damage affect at least 3 cities separately, plus tsunami, so there was tons of near death (and death?!) scenarios. Shit, the body count on this movie is so incredibly high. Millions and millions of people die thanks to tall buildings falling over and streets ripping apart. It’d be a bloodbath if it was just rated R and we could show all the bodies in the flood.

There was also disappointment when douche looking Ioan Gruffudd ended up being exactly that, a douche. I was really hoping he would be a good guy, despite being the “new rich man” in their lives, and make it a bit more complicated of a love dynamic. But alas, if it looks like a douche…

San Andreas has everything I’d want in a disaster movie. Some extremely ridiculous scenes of survival. Some crazy deaths. Trillions of dollars of damage done to infrastructure. Ample cleavage because you have to have that in movies about geology for pun reasons. Not completely terrible CGI. Some actual factual science. Some extreme cringe worthy dialogue (including the most obvious ending dialogue to end the movie. Much cliche). And of course, last but not least, Paul Giamatti’s face representing my literal profession.


3 out of 4.

Buy it now from Amazon now on Blu-Ray or DVD.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is technically the first big budget movie of the summer, because April doesn’t count as summer. Take that, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. And what a packed summer it is! Or at least this month, in which we see two Marvel franchises, neither currently owned by Marvel.

Either way, the first one I thought was a good reboot. I was still shocked like everyone else when they announced that there would be at least four movies in this franchise, one released every two years. So you can look forward to The Amazing Spider-Man 4 in 2018. It also will have two spinoffs at least, Venom and Sinister Six, presumably in the off years. Although they will just feel like more of the same I assume.

I have absolutely nothing to follow that informative, yet boring intro.

Spider-Man! It is a few years after the first film, now time for graduation. Peter (Andrew Garfield) is conflicted over his love for Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). He promised to not get her involved, it could hurt her. Sure, at the end of the first movie he didn’t care, but apparently now he does.

So, a yearish after that, he is still saving the day, but now in college. I assume a community college or something, maybe online classes, because you never really see him doing work for it. Some would say he is wasting his potential, but those people don’t know he is Spider-Man.

Either way, his old friend from middle school or so, Harry Osborne (Dane DeHaan) has returned home. His father, Norman (Chris Cooper) is dying of a genetic disease, so Harry is going to get it too probably. That isn’t Harry’s only problem. He is also now head of Oscorp, the board hates that and wants to get him ousted as soon as possible.

Lot of shit going down. Not to mention a poor nobody Max Dillion (Jamie Foxx) is killed while working at Oscorp, his body being electrified in a horrible accident. Oh what’s that? Electro. And he has a beef with Spider-Man and the city too. Oh hamburgers.

Also starring again Sally Field as Aunt May, Campbell Scott as Peter’s dad, and Paul Giamatti as a Russian criminal turned Rhino.

Action Though
I think I actually got shocked during this fight scene. 3D Effects are amazing.

Just like the previous film, this franchise just seems to “Get it”. They get what it means to be Spider-Man, how cool it is, and the entire strength of his character. This is mostly portrayed in two points of the film.

Point one: His wit. Spider-Man talks with the public and the bad guys as he swings around, offering the quick joke or two and not taking life too seriously until it gets dire.

Point two: The fights. Holy crap the fights. The action in this movie is just so fucking incredibly Spider-Man. So good, so good. We get to see Spider-Man use his agility and webs to maximize his chances of victory, against stronger and slower foes, and against quick foes too. He has to use his brain to develop strategies for beating enemies. He uses Science! We get to see his Spider Senses help determine his plan in a combat. It is just so gleeful. Maybe worth the price of admission.

But this movie has a lot of faults too. The plot is a lot thinner than I would have hoped. Too much of the movie is Peter moping around, not being awesome. We just had the origin story, the sequel is supposed to allow for a lot more action and awesome. Since it is over two hours, having two big villains shouldn’t be an issue, as it is closer to the comics that way anyways. But still the ending villain fights feel a bit rushed.

I knew how the ending would go I guess, and man, it still rocked me. I thought it was a well done interpretation. That is all I will say on that note. The movie feels a lot like a comic too, and I don’t know how to describe that better. But the plot also moves sometimes at strange paces. Somehow Peter finds out a secret laboratory that his father had made. But the clues that lead to it seemed completely random, and they didn’t really have a good way of explaining how he made those leaps of logic.

Oh well. The action? Really really fucking good. The plot? Ehhh. I do like how they started the Electro character. That way feels pretty new. The Goblin could have used a bit more work and time I think.

2 out of 4.

Romeo and Juliet


Fuck Romeo and Juliet.

There, I said it.

The story is terrible. People think it is a romance, and a story about eternal love, when it is a dang tragedy. So then people overly romantisize it. Then we get the fiftieth movie version of it. And…and…and for SOME REASON. ALL OF THE MOVIE VERSIONS ARE THE SAME.

Well. Most of them. Some take the basic tale and put a unique spin on it. Thank you, Romeo + Juliet, West Side Story, and Warm Bodies.

Everything else just feels like the same dang thing every time, and this remake is abso-fucking-lutely no exception. Shit, even Gnomeo and Juliet tried to do something different.

100% of this is all the same and boring at this point.

When I first heard they were doing this new new new version (which no one gave enough shits about to even let it go to most theaters before getting its DVD/Blu-Ray release), a blurb described it as “The Romeo and Juliet for the Twilight generation!”

What?! Oh god no.

That means it for sure would be heavily romanticized, with like, darker filters to make them seem so dang tormented. But I had hope with that description. I had hope that it would mean that this movie is slightly different. Maybe it won’t take the actual Shakespear script, and just have people talk normal? Maybe it will put it in a more modern setting and relate to the kids of today.

Haha. Hahaha. That’s another big fat nope. This is just another dang Romeo and Juliet, same dialogue, same plot, just slightly different production value. Nothing new or redeeming.

Hailee Steinfeld plays Juliet and Douglas Booth plays Romeo. Paul Giamatti the friar!

We got a Tybalt (Ed Westwick), a Mercutio (Christian Cooke), and a Nurse (Lesley Manville).

We got the Capulets (Damian Lewis, Natascha McElhone) and the Montagues (Tomas Arana, Laura Morante). We even have a Benvolio (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and I definitely don’t remember his importance.

Shit, even Paul Giamatti looking creepy is still the same.

Dang it, Hailee Steinfeld. You were so so good in True Grit. You were. Then you did this movie. And 3 Days To Kill. And a pointless role in Ender’s Game. You are probably one bad movie away from losing any of your acting cred.

To everyone else involved with the making of this movie, fuck you guys. Seriously. You are who people are talking about when they say Hollywood has run out of ideas and try to defend you guys. This shit is unacceptable. All of it.

And yet it is still a 1 out of 4. Why? Because despite my outrage towards its existence, I still realize it isn’t bottom of the barrel stuff, it is just entirely pointless stuff. The acting wasn’t super bad, it was mostly just indifferent. I can’t complain about the plot, because its Shakespeare. I can say however that it is worthy of being avoided just for contributing nothing new to society.

This might read as a big rant, but I won’t even edit this one. I am done with this damn movie.

1 out of 4.

Saving Mr. Banks

Before this week, I had never seen Mary Poppins. Classic movie sure, and I of course knew songs and scenes from it, but I never watched it in its entirety. Blame the parents. While watching the movie as an adult, I did find it very odd. The message was clear: money is evil, family is great, but why they chose to enforce that message in the 1960s was beyond me.

That was my main goal for watching Saving Mr. Banks: to figure out what the money and banks ever did to the Mary Poppins author. Oh, and to figure out why she was behaving like a huge bitch.

Dat Face Doe
I didn’t think anyone could be mean to a face like that.

Saving Mr. Banks is supposed to tell the true-ish story of Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) acquiring the rights to a film version of Mary Poppins, from the author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson). Of course because it is a Disney movie about the creator of Disney, don’t expect that much actual truth in the movie.

The one thing that does appear to be truthful is that Travers was very very hard to work with. She was granted script rights, and she used the heck out of them. She didn’t want animation, didn’t want music, didn’t want Dick Van Dyke, didn’t want a lot of things. She was very peculiar over her character, and didn’t want Disney to mess it up.

Everything else that occurred in the film is whatever they wanted to say, presumably to rewrite history. For instance, Disney was a chronic smoker and he never hated it, despite it leading to his death. They made a few tiny references in the movie (a cough every once in awhile) but made sure they never showed him doing the deed. In fact, he had a line calling it a disgusting habit and one he was trying to quit. Riiiiight…

The movie is spliced with the tale of Travers’ early life, when she moved to the middle of no where with her family. She lived in a small house, but had a loving (yet alcoholic) father (Colin Farrell), and a quite annoyed mother (Ruth Wilson). Her stories were based on an actual nanny sent to clean up their home, after a few unfortunate events leaving it in disarray.

It should be obvious that most of her complaints with the original script, end up getting included in the final project. So something has to change by the end of the movie, but is it change that all parties actually agree on?

Also featuring Paul Giamatti as an optimistic driver (strange role for him), Bradley Whitford as the writer, and B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman as the song writers.

The Past
What? You didn’t want a farm story during a Mary Poppins movie movie? Too bad!

After watching the movie, I am unsure how much of it is true, and how much of it is just revisionist history. I mentioned a few discrepancies above, but I also don’t know if the back story on Travers’ early life is accurate. I loved the back story, loved it far more than the other part of the film. It was sweet and it was tragic. It made Mary Poppins make a heck of a lot more sense and give it a more powerful meaning. But given all the other changes, I can only doubt that the past problems are somewhat fabricated as well.

This film is also meant to be a pseudo-biopic for Walt Disney, but since it is such a small part of his wildly successful life, and full of inaccuracies, I wouldn’t be willing to label it as such.

My favorite actor from the movie is surprisingly Colin Farrell, playing the “real” Mr. Banks who needs saving. His performance was incredible, despite being a minor role. But hey, he has impressed me a lot over the last few years with a few of his role choices.

What this film taught me is that the real Travers was indeed really hard to work with, for potentially tragic yet inexcusable reasons. If our current pop culture network existed back then, there would have been tons of negative press thrown her way, with hardly any sympathizers.

Saving Mr. Banks itself will probably mostly just apeal to those who grew up with Mary Poppins in their lives and want to relive the magic in a completely different way.

Part of me was hoping at the end of the movie, when they did the premier of Mary Poppins, that they would show the entire film. You know, secretly turn it into a Double Feature. That would have been truly surprising. But Saving Mr. Banks on its own plays a relatively safe story: one that is very powerful, but also full of deceit.

2 out of 4.

12 Years A Slave

I try to not go into movies biased, but with going to a lot of movies, I am forced to see a lot of previews. Mother fucking movie previews bias the crap out of me. I miss the days where I could watch most of my movies without knowing a lot about it before hand.

The good news is, I never saw the trailer for 12 Years A Slave, nor did I know what it was about. I mean, I can guess, with a title like that. But I don’t know the real plot details. That is awesome.

However, I did know a lot of hype from my reviewer friends. Every single damn one of them loved this movie and there is much talk of Oscar buzz. I guess I should make note: that type of stuff biases too. Whoops. Oh well.

Fancy Dining
Oh man. Enjoy that dinner guy. It is all about to suck for you after this.

Soloman Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is a free man. He lives in Saratoga Springs, New York, with his wife and two children. They are pretty well off too, living in a nice home, fine clothes, and instruments! Soloman plays the violin, and he is quite good at it. Performs at very exquisite dancing balls.

Well, his wife and children go on a trip that will take them away for about three weeks, leaving Soloman all alone. Later that day, in town, he meets two gentlemen, performers, who offer to bring Soloman on trip to Washington and back, overall two weeks. They need a man to play music for them and their other acts, a fancy circus of some sorts. He agrees, given his current free time, and hey, good money is good money.

Then, after a night of drinking in Washington, he finds himself in chains. Hmm. This must be some misunderstanding. A pretty serious and unforgiving misunderstanding. There is only so much you can do in chains however, and when people with whips say otherwise, you must listen.

And so began the unfortunate story of Soloman, a free educated and wealthy black man, kidnapped into slavery for, you guessed it, 12 years of his life. Away from his family, friends, and any sensible human being. There is a huge cast of characters in this film, including: Michael Fassbender and Benedict Cumberbatch as slave owners, Paul Giamatti as a slave trader, Brad Pitt a Canadian sympathizer, Paul Dano as an overseer, Lupita Nyong’o a hardworking female slave that becomes an obsession of her master, and Adepero Oduye a woman who becomes separated from her children.


So gritty and unforgiving, and so true. The film is adapted from a book of the same name, written in the 1850s by Soloman Northup. The book gives a first hand experience of years of being a slave, by a man educated enough to accurately recall the events and get them written down. A vague book, that not a lot of people are aware of, but a book that will have sales boosted exponentially due to this movie. Shit, the book was even verified later as being very factual and accurate on all the accounts that could be fact checked.

But it being a true story shouldn’t affect the rating of it as a movie.

Thankfully, it doesn’t even matter, as this movie was incredible in every way. It was emotionally draining, as bad event after bad event occurred to our hero. Yeah, we know he obviously eventually gets out of his predicament, or else how could he write the book? That fact doesn’t change any amount of agony that the watchers and character feel during the events in the story, and it is very eye opening.

I am super stoked this movie isn’t political in nature or trying to change anything (because how could it? It already stopped), but instead focuses only on telling a full, accurate and strong story.

Chiwetel Ejiofor was stupidly good in this movie. The emotion he carried with his eyes alone made everything seem so believable. I already mentioned Fassbender, who had an almost equally powerful performance, enough to make me hate his real life self.

I will warn that there is some graphic stuff in here. I am talking whip scenes, rape scenes, just general beatings, and an incredibly long and well shot hanging scene. You might have to look away, and you might feel squeamish. “12 Years A Slave” is probably the current front runner for Best Picture this year in my book, with only 1.5 months left to go int he year. Shits good. Slavery is bad. I am sad.

4 out of 4.


Honestly, when I was first told about the movie Parkland, I just had to wonder why.

Why do we need a movie about the death of John F. Kennedy? There are a few out there, some of them considered classics. Some tell the true story, some focus on conspiracies, but they all get the same point across. It was a tragic event, that people alive then remember where they were. Everyone was confused. Cold war, Russia, Nuclear Bombs, Vietnam. All this shit was happening or on the horizon, so the last thing we really needed was a dead president to shock our country.

But hey, why not Parkland. Why not another movie? Fuck it. We got about a thousand on Lincoln as well.

Besides, where else can we get these two young actors as brilliant doctors?

This movie is based on a book, which tells a story of the day President Kennedy (Brett Stimely) goes to Texas and a few days after. Johnny does Dallas, so to speak. For instance, we got the story of Abraham Zapruder (Paul Giamatti), a man who was happy to see his president, he filmed the event, including The Event. His footage was quickly taken custody by the FBI, used in the capture of Mr. Oswald, and then later made as a way to get mad moneys to survive.

We learn of the doctors on duty at the Parkland hospital (Zaf Efron, Colin Hanks), who tried their best to save the president, but found the task impossible. These gentlemen were later given the task to try and save Lee Harvey Oswald after he was gunned down, and, you know, that is sort of fucked up.

We get the story of James Hosty (Ron Livingston), who realized after Lee was picked up as the shooter that he was supposed to investigate him a year earlier and found him clean. We look at Robert Oswald (James Badge Dale), the brother of the shooter, who had no idea what was going to happen and someone who would refuse to run. There is also a look into the presidents security team, their presumed failures, and Lyndon B. Johnson taking over the presidency.

Also in this movie are Billy Bob Thornton, David Harbour, Mark Duplass, and Marcia Gay Harden.

No, I don’t find Paul Giamatti behind this camera creepy at all.

Can we all just take a moment to acknowledge Brett Stimely? He got to play the president, and you probably never heard of him. Sure, most of the scenes are actual footage taken by that dude, or him just lying on the table. Never his face. But he got to play the president! Actually, this is the fourth time he has played John F. Kennedy. He also played him in Watchmen, Kill the Dictator, and Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

What? Why the hell has this random guy played JFK four fucking times in film?

That is besides the point.

I learned a shit ton from this film. From what I could tell, it didn’t really bias a damn thing, just showed people being emotional, and getting sad, and doing things from their sadness.

That sounds dumb. But it is not. First off, I never felt emotional about the death of JFK before. Why would I? I wasn’t alive. But this film did a good job of conveying the emotions people felt and passing them on to the viewer. Secondly, it gave so many sides and showed so many people affected, it just really opened up my eyes to the whole situation. A lot of stuff went down, it was a big investigation, and you know what? I want to watch more. Bring on the JFK. Bring on the conspiracy shit. Bring it all on. I am sorry for claiming there was too many movies about this subject.

3 out of 4.


Turbo is the latest example of a kids movie following a very standard formula. Let’s take some sort of entity and either a) give them an impossible dream (and reach it!), or b) give them some ridiculous flaw (and overcome it!). Like a bird who doesn’t know how to fly. Or a plane that is afraid of heights (and wants to race). Or an overweight comedian who wants to box. Or a snail who wants to race in the Indy 500. Oh wait, that one is Turbo!

Fuck. Let’s get this over with.
Turbo (Ryan Reynolds) is a snail! He has big dreams. He wants to go fast, and is the fastest snail he knows. In fact, he just did the yard in 17 minutes, a new personal record. He dreams of entering the Indy 500, thanks to words of advice from his hero Guy Gagne (Bill Hader), who claims that no dream is too big. His brother Chet (Paul Giamatti) thinks his dream is stupid, rightfully so.

Well, eventually Turbo falls into a car engine and gets coated with NOS, transforming his DNA and giving him incredible speed! This also somehow turns him partially into a car, with headlights, radio, rear review lights and stuff. Not sure how that second part happened. Even more eventually, Chet and Turbo find themself caught by Tito (Michael Pena), a down on his luck Taco maker. He works for his older brother (Luis Guzman) and their business is not doing well. Why did Turbo decide to not run away as soon as they were captured? No idea. But he could have.

Luckily, Tito is all into snail racing. Turns out Turbo is stupid fast and he wants to use Turbo to get more business. A very noble cause. So they set off to enter him into the Indy 500, for exposure. Nowadays kids would just make a YouTube video and become famous that way.

Oh yeah, Turbo has his own snail crew to back him up now. There is Whiplash (Samuel L. Jackson), Smoove Move (Snoop Dogg), Burn (Maya Rudolph), Skidmark (Ben Schwartz), and White Shadow (Mike Bell). Of course Ken Jeong voices a tiny Asian nail technician.

This movie is about to get fucked. Seriously. No mercy. Cover your eyes if you don’t like violent imagery.
Let’s start with some factual errors. Why? Because they matter to me. I am a Masters Geophysics Student, and the sloppiness bugged me. Basically I am going to be super critical.

Turbo made a big deal about getting a yard in 17 minutes. I know it was a yard, because they showed the measuring stick briefly. However, 36 inches in 17 minutes is really slow. Like, really really slow. That is why I went over to WolframAlpha to convert it. Seriously check the link.

WolframAlpha is so amazing it compared the velocity calculated to the the velocity of a garden snail automatically and it is about 33% the speed of the actual garden snail. Great, we have a snail that is statistically slower than most garden snails. Let’s say that factual error can be ignored, fine. Unfortunately, almost every other point in the movie (pre-genetic manipulation), Turbo and other snails are still shown with greater velocities than his trial. Unless it was important to the plot that is (see: the tomato/lawn mower scene).

Come on now, consistency.

[Editor’s note: Apparently IRL and F1 are different things, but similar vehicles. I just know them as “Not NASCAR”. Point still stands, basically.]
The ending bugged me a lot as well. As it is a car race, it involved a pile up of cars real close to the finish. At this point, Turbo and Guy go into a “foot race” type of situation for the finish like, similar to Talladega Nights.  But according to official Formula 1 racing rules (here and here specifically), none of it would count and the whole thing feels pointless.

Let’s get to the most important part of the movie. This plot is inherently stupid and bad. I didn’t read the full rules for the Formula 1 racing, so I can’t confirm if there is no rule that would disallow a snail. However, the concept behind it can only be described as cheating and a snail would never be allowed to race in such an event. They have very specific standards for the size of the vehicles, type of protection they need, everything you can possibly imagine. The snail’s dimensions do not match a car’s dimensions. For an extreme example, it’d be like using a Ferrari. Or like doping.

At one point during the race, the announcer screams that he can’t believe Turbo is passing a car from below. I am fine with his reaction, because Turbo is basically cheating. But the announcer is surprised instead that he could fit, even though Formula 1 cars have about 4.5 inches of room underneath them, while a garden snail is at most 1.5 inches tall.

If you hadn’t figured out by now, Guy is the villain of this movie, but only because he wants to win the race too. Just like the other 30ish humans in the race, all doing it without cheating.

I laughed I think a total of two times. The laziness of the plot, the laziness of the details, and the laziness of the character development ruined this movie for me. To quote Eleanor Roosevelt. “America is all about speed. Hot, nasty, bad-ass speed.” Turbo would not have lived up to the former First Lady’s opinions on America or Racing.


1 out of 4.