Tag: Tim Blake Nelson

Nightmare Alley

The last time we got a Guillermo del Toro film is when he directed the one about fucking a fish.

Will someone fuck a different creature in Nightmare Alley? Hard to say based on the title alone. I did not know until a little bit before hand that Nightmare Alley was an older book, and also an older movie from 1947. So we are getting a remake. And honestly, this is the exact reason for remakes in my mind. Often remakes are made for successful film that they just want to try again because people liked the first one. They should do more remakes either based on films that failed, or at least just more unknown work to give them a new fresh light.

Not to insult those of you who know and love the original Nightmare Alley film, but honestly, it isn’t super well known now, regardless of how big it may have been in the past.

This new version promised to be closer to the book. Alright, whatever, I am just hear for the movies. Specifically, Guillermo del Toro movies.

carnyNo, this isn’t a screengrab from the next Indiana Jones flick…
Who is that mysterious stranger, Stan Carlisle (Bradley Cooper)? The one with the smooth outfit, the clean face, the twinkle in his eyes, the hat? The one who burned down that house for some reason and is willing to just…drift.

Stan finds himself at a traveling show, a carnival, full of lies and deceit. But he sees a geek show, and agrees to help load up for the night for a small payment. And then he gets offered a job to stay along more, because he looks like someone who just needs to be there.

So he stays, he listens, and he learns. Quickly. He learns the tools of the trade. He has plans and ambitions. He has been kept quiet and hidden for so long, he thinks he can take some of these skills and become famous. A celebrity. But if he becomes a man who deals with deceit, eventually, he will be deceited right in the ass.

Also starring Cate Blanchett, Clifton Collins Jr., David Strathairn, Holt McCallany, Mary Steenburgen, Richard Jenkins, Ron Perlman, Rooney Mara, Tim Blake Nelson, Toni Collette, and Willem Dafoe.

blindI bet his eyes aren’t even closed under there. He is using those eyes and his blindfold eye. He is a phony!

Nightmare Alley is so damn aesthetically pleasing to look at. It is polished (some would even say, polished as fuck). I know it is getting harder and harder to really tell how much of a movie is made in front of green screens, but it feels as if this film was mostly main in real places and scenes, using fine cameras to make everything pop. That is what I truly hope and believe, especially since I know del Toro is a fan of using as many practical effects as possible, generally. But maybe most of it is CGI’d, who knows. It looks wonderful.

The big cast works really together. Some in much smaller roles than expected, but still bringing in their all to tell this strange story. It was good to see Perlman get some work in a non straight to video film. Blanchett is in particular quite a force, basically stealing the movie away from Cooper’s character after she walks into it. She is given a really strong role and one that is hard to top. Cooper also does a wonderful job. It takes awhile before his character starts to talk. I wondered if he would be a silent protagonist for the whole film (like Cage was recently in Wally’s Wonderland) but once he started to actual talk, getting him to stop was the harder part.

The actual story for the film is also a pretty good one, if not slightly familiar in some ways. The ending is the type of thing you can see miles away, because they foreshadow everything really hard. However, it is okay knowing how it ends up, because finding out the lengths someone can fall and also rise is often the most exciting part of a film.

Nightmare Alley, shockingly, has no puppet animals, or strange creatures, or any non humans getting fucked. Is this growth? Nah. That was a one time thing for del Toro. Until it isn’t.

3 out of 4.

National Champions

College Athletes should be paid for their game times and their practice times.

That is it. People who do work should get benefits and protections from said work. That shouldn’t be controversial.

But every time this conversation comes up, people will talk about how they get a scholarship at a nice college during that time, and that is their payment. Bullshit. Plenty of people get scholarships to college. But they don’t have to give up most of their time to do it. They can still accept gifts from people. They can still get a job to earn money. Athletes get fucked over, and bring in money for their schools, all so they can just exist there for free? It is nice when the slave master provides a place to sleep, I guess.

Ahem. I am passionate about this subject. I have seen a few documentaries on it. And still very little changes. It really sucks for those involved. Most of them don’t become elite players in their sport to make money. Most get used up and spit out and hopefully can get a job somewhere, assuming their body hasn’t betrayed them by then.

All of this to say, I am excited to see National Champions. A film that is going to tackle that very subject, in a fictional manner.

Pictured: Me glaring at the “BuT tHeIr ScHoLaRsHiP” crowd.

Here we are, the NCAA College Football championship game. The best two college football teams playing for all the marbles. None of those silly Bowls, this is the top spot, where anyone would want to be. This is the biggest stage a lot of these students will reach, given how few people actually make it into the NFL. But who knows, a great show here might mean getting drafted, or even, the highest draft position.

So let’s talk about LeMarcus James (Stephan James). He is the elite quarterback who helped lead his team to an undefeated season. He has a great enough relationship with his coach (J.K. Simmons) and people seem to like him. And now he is planning on boycotting the final game in just three days. He refuses to play, until his demands are met. What demands? Honestly, he wants important ones. He wants all NCAA athletes to be considered employees, so they can earn money from their schools. He wants them to get cuts of pay from their ticket sales and things with their image or name attached. He wants insurance protection for players during college, that ensure their scholarship won’t go away and they will have the best care even after the season is over.

You know, he doesn’t want student athletes to be treated as slaves as the conference owners and coaches get richer and richer. And James is likely going number 1 overall in the draft, he already has a big day coming his way. He is trying to protect all the other athletes.

This causes quite a hubbub. A lot of people pick sides. A lot of drama will happen. And a lot of secrets will come out, or maybe come out.

Also starring Alexander Ludwig, Andrew Bachelor, David Koechner, Jeffrey Donovan, Kristin Chenoweth, Lil Rel Howery, Tim Blake Nelson, Timothy Olyphant, and Uzo Aduba.

I think we can all make inferences about what this looks like. 

Hey! A movie about a topic I am invested in! And honestly, my main points of detraction are that it didn’t stay as invested in that story as I would like, and filled it with fictional stuff. Which makes sense, because it is fictional…

Obviously if these people are playing these characters they have things in their past, and that makes the escalation of events by the end build up due to all of the secrets. But like…what if there wasn’t a big build up of secrets? What if there was nothing worth blackmailing, like I assume a majority of people out there would have? That is the fictional film I would like to see technically. But yeah, we need drama or whatever in these movies. And the secrets, some of them are quite juicy. In terms of entertainment and the stakes, they do get really high, so we have some good tense boardroom level scenes with high power dealers.

But damn, my interest in this topic just wishes it played it straight. But then it would be a documentary, and fuck, we already have like 50 of them on this topic.

Okay, so aside from that, I did like the movie. It had a little confusion early on though. It took me a bit of time to really understand what the hell was going on with Ludwig’s character, as in, his characters role in the movie and with the star quarterback. Was he a player? Was he some buff political person controlling him? It was a bit odd. I thought James and Simmons gave exceptional performances in their roles, although the finish for both of them with the plot was a bit of a unexceptional ending.

Clearly I wanted just a movie where the players on both sides agreed, and everyone got what they wanted from the strike, and we all moved on as a country, but that is less believable than magic. It is important to recognize my own biases in where I wanted the plot to go, versus what happened. In terms of escalation, it was nice, and tense. It had some wonderful speeches. It still got important information out there. And I think it can be a nice fictional sports movie not about sports. Like Draft Day. A tense movie about a fake draft so sure, it can be made really damn tense.

3 out of 4.

Movie Roundup – Online Releases 2018

Welcome to a Movie Roundup! A movie roundup features a few films that I didn’t feel like making full reviews for, but needed to get basic reviews out there for completionist reasons. It also helps me deal with my backlog. It may have a theme, and today’s theme is Online Releases 2018! Basically, things that started out on the internet, ideally a streaming website, because it is a loose theme, and I will take it.

Being on a movie round up doesn’t mean a movie is inherently bad, or good, or meh. I can feature any rating on here! So don’t assume the worst! I will also just post the reviews in alphabetical order.

Online Releases 2018

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Can we go wrong with the Coen brothers? Yes, we totally can. But I can’t help but feel something wonderful when they continually try to do something different, or make the normal a lot more eccentric. This time, they went back to the former, while also going back to some of those old timey western roots, which are arguably their best movies. Except this time, it is straight to Netflix, and an Anthology movie with six short films instead. The only connection? Western.

This ends up working really well, even if I can say I didn’t love every part of the anthology. Unfortunately, the best and most fun was the first of the stories, and probably me least favorite was number two. I really enjoyed the one about the prospectors and the woman with her not dog too. When it works, it really works, and when it doesn’t work, it is still well made and a bit beautiful, if not full of fuckery. This is not a happy movie, and it can easily be watched in parts, and deserves praise for its individual shorts that work out amazingly well.

3 out of 4.

None of these people share a scene with the others.

The Kissing Booth

On the other hand, Netflix has made it clear its strategy isn’t to appeal to just the best movie ever, but to instead go for all the demographics so that they all have something to watch, which is fair. Netflix having a shit movie doesn’t mean that Netflix is bad, I just don’t have to watch it…if I am a normal movie goer.

But this movie is something else, and it has crawled out of the pits of hell thanks to some teenage girl. Yeah, it is based on a book, written by a teenage girl, on some website, and now its a movie. An uninspired romance movie, that seems to rely on the kissing booth as a feature, despite not being featured too heavily in the grand scope. It features a love interest who is super controlling, threatening, and uses his fists to solve problems. Ah, what good values to instill in our youth.

0 out of 4.

Help, help, I’m trapped in a 90s movie.

My Dinner with Hervé

Over on HBO, they also like to do movies, and shows, and documentaries. In this one, we have dudes as the stars, with one of them being one of their biggest stars of their biggest show. Makes sense. Peter Dinklage playing a biographical role, of possibly the most famous little person in history (before Peter Dinklage and Verne Troyer), Hervé Villechaize. Made famous for being in Fantasy Island and The Man With The Golden Gun.

Now, this is all according to a journalist, but it is based on the night out on the town with Hervé, where he also recounts his whole life story leading up to the point, his rises, and his many many downfalls. Dinklage does an amazing job of transforming himself, or what I know about himself, and this is an extremely touching tale of a childhood of abuse and sadness, while still trying to make something about it. It never seems to go deep enough into the sadder parts though, and probably skirts around important details. I just knew that it started off way better than it eventually ended.

2 out of 4.

And that is also true about life, I suppose.


Slice might not technically fit this theme, because it came out on VOD, but hey, my themes are loose, and I want it in this post. Slice is the type of movie that is just so out there, it is hard to believe that it even exists. Vampires, werewolves, zombies, ghosts, murder mystery, pizza store, witches, and such a strange plot and concept. It is the type of movie that when describing it you know will have a cult following and probably LARPing in the future.

But in all honestly, it just doesn’t work out well. The only redeeming factor is that it definitely feels original. It just is a weird mash of ideas that aren’t fully explained because it isn’t fully thought through. It is cool, it is weird, but it is definitely not good.

1 out of 4.

Although, it made me want pizza, so good job there.

The Tale

Finally, another HBO movie (sorry Hulu), that I didn’t even know came out this last summer. I would have never known it existed if it didn’t get nominated for a Spirit award. I mean, it has a big name in it, and it is about sexual abuse when someone was a child. Sure, a fictional tale, but a tale that resonates due to how often similar “tales” have been told by other girls in relation to their coaches while growing up. Hell, the gymnastics scandal was in 2018, maybe even going on after this movie. It is very relevant.

Dern plays someone very vulnerable and stubborn at the same time. It doesn’t end with fireworks, but plays it in a more realistic way. More importantly, the girl who plays the younger version is amazing at her role. Her acting, in normal kid way, amplifies the creepiness of everything. It puts the viewer in a dark place and really helps bring the hate towards these sexual predators.

3 out of 4.

These two adults are now on my despise list, well done!

Overall, steaming platforms put out a lot of duds, and some successes. And especially Netflix, because I will never catch up on on their new releases. Or, maybe I will, if I just keep the review format like this and not larger. But these ones caught my eye for some reason or another and I chose them to watch to review, and never got around to actually writing.

Deidra & Laney Rob A Train

Finally, I am getting into some obscure titles that a lot of people probably have missed out on. Oh, I skipped a lot of non-obscure titles to get here, but those were at my home, this was on my phone in a parking lot.

Deidra & Laney Rob A Train is not too long of a movie, going for an audience that is not an adult male who criticizes films. The perfect thing to watch and write about.

This is another Netflix original, just not one they advertised. Again, a different demographic, gotta make money somehow, and gotta do it by making content that appeals to every different sect they can imagine.

Stoop Kids are afraid to leave their stoop!

The sect that this film was made for was teenage girls or families who don’t want to think about what they are watching.

Deidra (Ashleigh Murray) is a senior in high school and she has worked her whole life to be in a good position for college. She is the top of her class, she has dreams and aspirations of getting out of her small town or whatever life, far away and become someone great. She has a younger sister, Laney (Rachel Crow), who is somewhere in the high school age range, and Jet (Lance Gray) who is probably middle school aged but treated like a 3 year old.

Their dad (David Sullivan) is out of the picture, because he had a drug and criminal past, but he lives nearby. Their mom (Danielle Nicolet), has been working hard to give them some level of existence, but she has gone surprisingly berserk at her job, breaking TVs and gets arrested. Arrested?! Yes, arrested.

For whatever reason, CPS is totally cool with the kids living on their own (Deidra is 18), as long as an adult is at home with kids at all time and they have food and pay the bills. Long story short, shit is hard, it affects their school, and eventually decide to start robbing items from the local trains that come through their town. They make some money, pay some bills, work on bail, and work on saving through college.

Ah, to now live a stress free lifestyle. Featuring Tim Blake Nelson as a railroad cop, Sasheer Zamata as a guidance counselor, Arturo Castro as a cop, and Missi Pyle, Brooke Markham, and Kinna McInroe.

I couldn’t find a picture to cram even more side characters in one shot.

Deidra & Laney Rob A Train, looks, feels, sounds, and smells like a made for TV ABC Family (Or FreeForm, whatever the fuck that is) movie. Somehow even the camera work seems specific to that channel. And I am not speaking entirely out of my ass, I have reviewed made for TV movies on ABC Family. With that mantle, it delivers exactly as I would have expected: safe, bubbly, yawns.

D&L is just a bore. We have a single interesting character, Deidra, who has to make hard decisions. However the details on her life in this film are really weird. The Guidance Counselor talks about how most of the kids at the school suck and don’t achieve, because it is an inner city school. Yet they show it as a small rural town, and straight up everyone in it outside of our leads are super white, upper middle class to upper class looking kids.

It also has a very strange subplot about a Miss Idaho teen pageant that Laney gets involved with. It appears she is in an actual class at her school to prepare her for this pageant, and honestly, the plot barely goes anywhere and is just a distraction to get the running time up.

Nelson is just a cartoon villain in this movie. There are no real consequences for our characters, and even the one sob scene moment just doesn’t really seem to connect. It explains why the mom goes berserk, but it does not fix the problems that are still caused by the acts. And again, robbing trains is totally the right and best choice by the time the movie ends.

Sigh, to be young and pointless, like this movie.

1 out of 4.


Colossal is one of those films that I knew I couldn’t wait to see from the first trailer and concept leak. The idea sounded original, and originality in films is a rarity.

But it also had two of my favorite people! Anne Hathaway, who has been making a lot of stronger choices lately in her career, and Jason Sudeikis, who is normally pushed off as a side character and still rarely given his chance to shine.

So why not shine with giant monsters attacking South Korea? Who is excited? Just me?

This guy is totally excited!

Gloria’s (Anne Hathaway) life is shit. She got out of her small town to live in a big city, but she lost her sweet writing job and hasn’t found work in a year. She has been living with her boyfriend, Tim (Dan Stevens) who has had a stable job and a stable life. But Gloria has decided to spend most of her days sleeping, because she is up all night with some friends drinking, getting nothing done. Thanks to her lack of willingness to change and lies, she gets kicked out of the apartment and finds herself broke and alone.

So of course she heads back to her old home town, that she left so long ago. She can stay at her parents old place, because they still own it and it is empty. But hey, she will get an inflatable mattress and figure it out.

It doesn’t take long for her to run into an old friend, Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), who gives her a place to hang out (his bar), some house supplies, and a part time job. Heck, she gets some new friends in “crazy man” Garth (Tim Blake Nelson) and Joel (Austin Stowell).

And after a night of drinking and sleeping all morning, she wakes up to find that Seoul, South Korea got totally fucked up by a giant monster. And after few nights of attacks, she starts to notice that its mannerisms seem familiar. Could…could she be controlling the monster? But why? How? Those hundreds of dead people…

It is hard to reconcile your emotions when you know you wiped out hundreds, but no idea how.

If you watch a trailer for Colossal, it will look like a Comedy with some Sci-Fi elements, but it is so much more than that. As far as I can tell and hope, no trailer really just spoils the whole thing, but they all give the same sort of vibe.

Apparently this is the year of genre-bending films blowing me away, as this is only my 4th 4 out of 4 on the website from 2017 films, and 3 of them don’t get easily defined by one genre. Split, Get Out, and now this, all have multiple elements and tonal shifts that keep you on your feet and help reflect a grander film experience. Some would dock points off of Colossal for that, by being “scatterbrained” but that is only an issue if the film does not succeed on the multiple levels it tries to reach. But Colossal handles the later film drama extremely well, and the early film comedy/awkwardness/mystery elements.

Acting is top notch for our leads of Hathaway and Sudeikis. Hathaway made me hate her character, until it didn’t anymore (growth!), but I always hated her hair. Sudeikis had a lot more subtle great moments early on, before rising up to a level I have not seen before with him by the end.

Colossal is a film that is better the less you know about it, and I ensure you, I barely talked about any of the many intricacies of the plot. But spoilers be out there, so go out and swiftly see this film which deals with important subject matters in a rather unique way.

4 out of 4.

Fantastic Four

Is there a more universally hated super hero franchise right now than Fantastic Four? Specifically films with more than one movie. Catwoman, Elektra, Green Lantern are all bad but at least they stopped, and Daredevil redeemed itself with the Netflix series.

But Fantastic Four had two very mediocre films with big name actors, so they had to reboot it many years later or else they would lose the movie rights. Not unlike how the 1994 Fantastic Four movie came to existence. As expected, because people were already angry, the internet did not give Fantastic Four a chance. Every casting decision was scrutinized (The Human Torch being the most famous example), every time they didn’t appear at a con was noted, and when they finally came to a few, they were criticized for their trailer or being later.

It is a sad fate that no matter how good or bad this movie is, it is almost determined to fail because the internet has decided to hate it before giving it a chance. A lot like what happened to The Lone Ranger movie of a few years ago.

“What, do they not know what to do with their arms? This movie sucks based on a picture!” – The Internet

Sometimes when you are a kid, you have a dream for when you get older and it actually comes true. Like when Reed was in 5th grade (in 2007. Yes, the math works out and it indeed was that long ago), he wanted to be the first person to teleport and was already working on a device! He also befriended the slower Ben through his elementary experiments. Now, 7 years later, for his senior year science project, Reed (Miles Teller) has successfully built the device and is able to teleport something away and back! He doesn’t know where, but darn it, it works! And Ben (Jamie Bell) is still there, helping out by lifting things or buying supplies or something.

Needless to say, it draws at least some interest, namely from Dr. Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey), who wants to offer Reed (yes just reed) a full scholarship to NYC as part of the Baxter foundation. A giant building where he can school, do science, and live. Yay! Apparently Reed had solved an issue they were having for years, so Franklin gets his old team back together, including Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell), who is a bit chaotic. He also adds in his adopted daughter Sue (Kate Mara) who will build suits for them and his son Johnny (Michael B. Jordan) who has gotten into some trouble and can “build anything.” This is all important, because what Reed has actually done is created a portal to another dimension and another world!

They should totally try to go there. That’d be fun. Hopefully nothing would go wrong, affecting the structural DNA of any of these right out of high school aged individuals. That would be terrible. Also Tim Blake Nelson as our government bad guy, because you need one when science is involved.

“And knowing is half the battle.” – Cobra Commander or whoever is in this picture.

I won’t say the hate on the internet for this film is justified, because most of it came before anyone had a chance to see it. However, they ended up being correct in that the final product was anything but fantastic.

Don’t want to get into source material comparisons, so I will still note that I am bit disappointed that they used a lot of the “Negative Zone” but called it Planet Zero or something, and not by its comic name.

As for the characters, the entire team seemed to lack any real personality. Before the specifics, I should note that I really like Teller and Jordan in most of their movies and Mara was great in House of Cards and Happythankyoumoreplease.

However, for The Human Torch they made him whiny, even having him utter “I’m an adult, I’m old enough to make my own decisions!” to his dad. The few times The Thing/Ben was on the screen, it felt like he was just awkwardly standing off to the side, never understanding what was going on. Reasons to bring him along on the trip were silly and the friendship that was supposed to exist between him and Reed didn’t show up well in the film. Additionally, his voice when he was full on The Thing didn’t seem to fit his mouth well and always seemed jarring.

It feels like they forgot to do anything with The Invisible Girl, outside of having her like music and patterns with some cringe inducing scenes. And Reed never felt like the genius he was hyped up to be, just a kid with lame powers and lame motivations. Dr. Doom himself was rushed near the end. The fight didn’t make a whole lot of sense, because the film had a problem explaining anything that occurred, hoping the audience wouldn’t think too hard by rushing through all the science talk.

The only real chemistry I found believable was between Johnny and Sue storm as adopted brother and sister, which is probably the hardest thing to pull off. Makes one wonder if they forgot about everything else and focused just on their relationship. Somewhat related, their dad also called Victor and Reed “son” at various points in the movie, so at some point he just became everyone’s daddy.

Stretching out this review with a third picture, much like how Miles Teller can stretch out a conversation with witty retort.

The film can be broken down into three parts. A long introduction, which includes getting the powers and training (which also almost put me to sleep). One scene that is more akin to a horror film. Then a short rushed final CGI fueled fight.

Outside of the weak characters, the biggest problem seems to come from the tone. The Fantastic Four group is inherently cheesy. My favorite story about them is actually a short Norm MacDonald sketch talking about how ridiculous their names are. But the tone of the film is going for a darker more serious approach that is popular nowadays. However it never feels dark, it just forced. It is still cheesy outside of the “horror” scene with none of the grittiness seeming to work. It doesn’t help that the film is almost void of any action until the final fight scene, leaving just poor character development science montages to pick up the majority of the run time.

The Fantastic Four reboot might have actually been what we all feared, a cheap and quick film to maintain film rights. I maintain that if they had just brought in Zac Efron as Dr. Doom, this could have been better as a spiritual successor to That Awkward Moment.

0 out of 4.

Buy It! – This movie is available now on {Blu-Ray} and {DVD}.

As I Lay Dying

I first heard about As I Lay Dying a few months ago. I mean both this movie, and the book version. Don’t think I ever heard of the book, despite being on a list of best American books of all time.

No, I first heard about because James Franco directing it became a pretty big deal. I thought it was his first directed thing too, but turns out this guy has directed a shit ton, mostly shorts, but there are movies in there too. Go figure. What a secretly passionate man, that Franco.

Dat passion.

As I Lay Dying is a sad movie. You might be able to figure it out from the title. Or by reading the book.

Addie Bundren (Beth Grant) is dying, and her wishes are to be buried in Jefferson, a town nearby, but one that requires some travel.

Her husband, Anse (Tim Blake Nelson) tries to take care of her, while the eldest son, Cash (Jim Parrack), builds the coffin. The other two sons, Jewel (Logan Marshall-Green) and Darl (James Franco) continue with their job, but of course, she dies almost as soon as they leave.

It is their only wagon, so it sets their journey back a few days already. The daughter Dewey (Ahna O’Reilly) also joins the trip to Jefferson. Basically, everyone who goes has selfish and non selfish reasons, and enough shit hits the fan that it is basically a modern Odyssey. Also, Danny McBride is in this movie as a small role, and is no way comedic.

Split Screen
Also, split screen. This split this movie in half time wise I think.

The movie was supposed to come out to theaters sometime this fall, but I guess they changed their mind and went straight to DVD. Poor Franco.

I also found out this book was written as a steam of consciousness thing, with about fifteen or so narrators, often switching between them without a moments notice. That means you constantly get different points of views and don’t have to guess the true intentions of any single character. Which brings me to my main point: this movie was shot in a really weird way. You see that split screen? A lot of the film is in split screen, and I think it is to represent the constant different point of views represented in the book. To see multiple reactions after the same event. To tell the story in a better way.

Shit, that was really smart. Well done Franco. And creative.

I will say this story took a long time for me to really get into it. A lot of fucked up things happen by the end, a lot of which I did not see coming and definitely kept my interest. But the first half is what killed me. I hate it when a film doesn’t keep it interesting the whole time.

All of the people in this movie acted great though, which is a shame. I wonder how it would have fared if it got a theatrical release versus just a straight to DVD situation. I can’t say whether or not the movie follows the book closely or not. If it does, then the book must be pretty boring early on, and if it doesn’t then I guess it is Franco’s fault.

Probably best watched by people who love the book, and want to see it visually. Shit, if you have read the book, let me know how it compares. I know I won’t ever read it.

2 out of 4.


Hooray for movies about the dead presidents of our past. I mean, Steven Spielberg is going for a hot ticket president in Lincoln, who just had another movie which you all might recall. Technically, both of them are biographies, I guess.

But hey, if anyone should do a good movie on the man, it is probably going to be Spielberg. Especially if they can get a person to look just like him. Which they succeeded quite insanely.

Look at how fucking Lincoln he is.

Well, if you wanted a full Lincoln backstory, too bad. This movie takes place entirely in the last five months of his life, from Dec 1864 to April 1865. For those Lincoln historians out there, you know that is way after his Gettysburg Address! Don’t worry, you still get to hear it, just not out of his own mouth.

Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis) has recently been reelected as President, which he took as a sign saying that the people like what he is doing. They wan’t slavery to be illegal! So he pushes to have the 13th Amendement passed, just needs the House to vote on it. It would make slavery illegal, yet there is a lot of concern. Most of the republicans love it, the conservative Republicans are a bit weary though. Most of the Democrats are violently against it though. That will make the war last forever. No way will the South surrender then!

But a lot of them are losing their jobs. Maybe, just maybe, they will change their vote because of it? Especially if they can get some sweet government jobs…

Basically it is really fucking hard to get this shit passed. He may have even had to do things behind the back of his Secretary of State William Seward (David Strathairn). Like allowing one of the conservative Republicans set up a meeting with the South to end the war (Featuring Jackie Earle Haley as “VP” Alexander Stephens). He also has some men hired to help convince the democrats to change their vote (James Spader, Tim Blake Nelson) without bribes.

Our major Republican players are James Ashley (David Costabile) who brought forth the bill, and Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones), a revolutionist who actually believes all men area created equal! Joseph Gordon-Levitt is his son returned from school, and Sally Fields is his wife, super distraught and crazy in the eyes of others.

I mean, honestly. You know the 13th Amendement passes, and you know what happens in April of 1965. But somehow that doesn’t matter, it is still a captivating tale.

Here is Lincoln on a horse motherfucker. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

I’ll say it again, Daniel Day-Lewis is Abraham Fucking Lincoln. Did you see that picture? Look at it long and hard, but that is so much Lincoln and so little Daniel Day-Lewis that I am actually scared. From his voice to his mannerisms, you will love the portrayal you see in this film. Basically everything I found captivating. My biggest smidgen of concern comes from the House of Reps. While watching it is like “Ooh, debating between Republicans and Democrats and Tommy Lee Jones in a time machine!”. He can’t help it, he is too famous. I had a had time picturing the actor outside of the character. I recognized a lot of the other faces, just not at Tommy Lee Jones levels.

Lincoln seems like a pretty kick ass guy to hang around with. One of the features they highlight is his love of telling stories, and they are just so well done. That is really all I can say. The movie is super well done.

Again, you know what happens, and its only five months in time, but it doesn’t seem to matter. If you hate Dramas with mostly just talking, you might not like this one. But I hope more Presidents get this treatment (albeit if they do less famous ones, maybe a longer bit of their life). I even like the questionable way they chose to end it, setting up a scene in a way I just didn’t imagine.

A lot of this could be dramatized for the film, but if it is, we need more dramatization. It makes life better.

4 out of 4.


There is a good chance I would never have heard about the film Detachment, unless it wasn’t suggested to me by a reader. Well, I might have seen it on my own if I was stalking Christina Hendrick‘s imdb page and watching whatever she was in. But I doubt that would have happened either.

So hooray for people telling me about movies. You know, unless they suck. And all I was told about this movie was that it was a bit “sad”. Alright, I can handle sadness.

young girl
Oh, also potential sexy time with a clearly underage girl.

Substitute teaching. For people not good enough to be teachers? Or is it for people who are afraid of getting close to others, and want to move around a lot. Based on the title, you can probably guess about Henry Barthes (Adrien Brody). He is put into a shitty school in NYC that is losing money for bad test grades every year, and teachers who have stopped caring. One teacher goes on and quits, so Henry is brought in to sub the English class for a month before a permanent teacher is found.

Lots of teachers here with their own problems. The Principal (Marcia Gay Harden) pretty much knows she is done at the end of the year, the guidance counselor (Lucy Liu) is tired of kids not caring about their futures and throwing their lives away, one teacher has given up and feels invisible (Tim Blake Nelson). But there are some teachers that still manage to carry on, such as Mr. Seaboldt (James Caan) who uses his own form of comedy to get through and enjoy the day. Ms. Madison (Hendricks) seems like a competent teacher who believes, but might be a bit too rule nit picky.

Sorry for that awkward paragraph explaining most of the minor characters. Had to fit them in!

But also because I don’t want to give too much away. Over the three weeks, he changes the lives of a few students, including Meredith (Betty Kaye) who gets picked on for weight and from a rough home. He also befriends Erika (Sami Gayle), who isn’t a student, but a very young prostitute living on the street, who he lets into his home to help get her back on her feet. Definitely not sketch.

But that is all you get, damn it!

I was also told she was a twat in this movie.

So is this movie sad? No. It’s fucking depressing. I was shocked at how early on I was captivated by the film, wondering where it was going and what would happen to all the characters. About a half hour into it, I accidentally saw how much time was passed and assumed I had been watching the movie for at least an hour. I mean that in the best way since it could be taken bad.

Although I kind of saw what was going to happen with the ending before it did, it still left me with questions about the future of some members. I guess it ended on a little bit of a good note, but barely given the inevitableness of the plot.

This movie made it hard for me to look away and affected my emotions so well, it is either the result of great acting / directing, or just manipulative music. I am willing to bet the former. Definitely a great addition to a drama collection.

4 out of 4.

Big Miracle

Big Miracle? Some whale movie?

Originally I wasn’t going to watch Big Miracle, but then I remembered I watch everything. “Oh yeah! Might as well watch it asap then,” I thinks to myself.2

This is the best intro I have wrote for a movie.

Bitches love whales?

Based off of actual events in the 80s (and thus I don’t know about it), this takes place in a very Northern Alaskan village. Yes, that means Eskimos. For whatever reason, Adam Carlson (John Krasinski) is a reporter in their town reporting on random shit, for the main Alaskan news. People love him there, overall nice guy. He finds one extra report before leaving though, thinking people will love it. Turns out three California Gray Whales are trapped under the ice! The vast water froze quicker this winter, and three whales are sharing a small hole, miles away from the ocean to breath from. Damn, that is sad.

This story gets LOTS of attention. Wildfire amounts. The director of Greenpeace Rachel Kramer (Drew Barrymore) is already around protesting the selling of territory for oil, and of course the guy who bought the land for Oil (Ted Danson). Also tons of media shows up, including Jill Jerard (Kristen Bell) who is willing to take any story to get a leg up. The head reporter at their department (John Michael Higgins) thinks it is silly though.

Fuck, even the government gets involved! Cold War is still looming, and the government gets a Russian ship nearby, made for cracking ice to help. Because they have no idea how to help these things. Initial tries are failing. Even bring in some boys from Minnesota with ice melting technology meant for rinks to try and speed up the process. Eventually they get the only idea that might work. To constantly make holes in the ice a few meters apart, big enough for the whales to come up for breath, and lead them to the ocean, hoping that they follow said holes.

Sounds crazy? Well because it is. All the locals and news reporters end up helping, including Tim Blake Nelson playing some guy from Alaska! The main kid in the movie is played by Ahmaogak Sweeney, as they had a lot of real locals play the appropriate parts. But will the Whales follow? Will the Russians save the day? Will anyone die along the way!?

Big whales
Hopefully none of them decide to jump on the ice. That would suck.

So, in terms of Family movies involving saving animals, this one is actually quite refreshing. True stories can be annoying like in Dolphin Tale, where the just poop on everything that matters and give a random inspirational tale nothing like the real events. But this stuff seems to be a bit more spot on.

First off, the main kid in the movie isn’t even the main character? Everyone seems to play an important role, and it isn’t from a kids point of view, like most “family movies”. That is cool.

Secondly, the oil people arent the bad guys. Literally everyone helps out in this movie. And people don’t even need convincing, all sides actively work together and want to save the whales. Sure, some also enjoy the positive PR, but damn it, there is no one stopping them and reluctantly letting it happen. No, it just happens.

I will note I found it weird that everyone seemed to be against letting the locals kill the whales for meat. Kind of rude. Their logic was sound, and would supply them food for quite awhile. Oh well, we love guilting other cultures into living like us.

But yeah, this touching story actually was a good watch, with mostly believable characters. Had some normal family jokes you would have guessed, but overall was pretty decent.

3 out of 4.


I wrote this review in June, 2012, the summer before I moved to Iowa. I lived in North Carolina at the time, and Blockbuster I worked at was already closed. So I had even more free time for films, and watched anything I could.

In Iowa, I met my now wife in the summer of 2013. Days after I met her she had to fly out to Alaska to go to the funeral for her uncle, Randy Roosdett. Why is any of this relevant? Well, he apparently was an extra in this film as an oil man. And that is kind of neat.