drama

[Mega Movie Review] Catching Up on 2017

13886469_1267046413328617_7042198926381498825_nBusy time of year folks, so apologies to anyone who actually looks forward to my latest reviews. I didn’t want everything I’ve seen to fall by the wayside, so here are some brief thoughts on everything I’ve seen so far in 2017 but haven’t had time to sit down and put full write ups on. Sit back relax and “enjoy” some candid hot takes on these 2017 releases!

Kong: Skull Island – Come for the star studded cast then shove them aside for the awesome creature fights. Kong is visually impressive, but it lacks humanity in a pretty comical way. The characters very much feel like empty shells taking us from one place to another to be bait for the eventual breathtaking spectacle of the Kong fights. In spite of the lack of characters to hang your hat on this was still a pretty tremendous and crowd pleasing theater experience. Rating: B+

Gifted – Sort of let this one get lost in the shuffle. This is a very understated film. There was almost no marketing push and it just sort of appeared in theaters with little to no fanfare. If its still out there though, get out and see it. I could have used a little more closure for some of the relationships and perhaps a little more emotion out of Chris Evans’ character, but this has been the most affective dramas so far this year that also happens to have a pretty delightful sense of humor. Rating: A-

Raw – Coming out of the film festivals the press on this was touting how extreme it was and how it was causing audience members to faint or throw up. When the credits rolled I had one question: What kind of p****** were attending these screenings? I can’t fathom anyone watching this and feeling sick. The sound design is effective, but never to the point that I felt even the slightest bit nauseous. The film looks great, the central performance is quite good and the themes are intriguing…but color me disappointed that this is apparently what gets people worked up these days. Rating: C+

The Blackcoat’s Daughter – I have watched this film at least 4 times now. Each viewing has made it grow on me a little more each time. You’ll want to have been a fan of moody slow burns such as It Follows and The Witch for this one to be in your wheelhouse and if it is you’re in for a treat. Oz Perkins has a knack for creating an uneasy tone and depth to story without over explaining and hammering themes down your throat. Horror fans should quickly familiarize themselves with Perkins…that’s the moral of the story. Rating: B+ (inching ever so close to an A-)

The Devil’s Candy – When The Loved Ones FINALLY came out there was little that would convince me that Sean Byrne wasn’t going to be a horror breakout filmmaker and that his next film wouldn’t be my favorite one of the year. Get Out is going to make it tough for anything else to take that title this year, but even then I still don’t think The Devil’s Candy could pull it off. That being said, it is still pretty great. Byrne’s sophomore flick is tense and totally metal, but could have benefited from a more energetic sense of momentum. Rating: B+

Detour – If you don’t know the name Christopher Smith no one–including me–would blame you. If you haven’t seen any of the movies he’s made, shame on you. The director’s name is so plain that remembering it is understandable, but if you’ve seen and love his movies like I do you’d remember. Detour is just another road of twisty mind games to add to the road map of his career that’s also well worth your time–even if I don’t enjoy the acting chops of Tyr Sheridan. Rating: B+

The Girl With All the Gifts – Those clamorong for a The Last of Us film should know that you kind of already have one–and this is it. The storyline is not the same, but the film has so many aspects that mirror the game that it’s sort of surreal. The emotional resonance is lacking, but the thrills and mythology are more than enough to draw you to this one. It seems as if the creative team involved envisioned something even more ambitious, but budget constraints hold it back at times. Rating: B+

XX – The anthology genre over the years has been cluttered with some singularly focused male visions so it was about time we got some fresh female voices a space to shine. Sure, the final product ends up being about as mixed as most other anthologies, but there is some serious talent on display in each segment in some way shape or form and XX should definitely at the very least be on your radar when it’s released on DVD/Bluray May 23rd. Rating: C+

John Wick: Chapter 2 – The fist installment of the John Wick saga came out of nowhere with its weird comic book hitman universe. The sequel just stacks on the crazy around every corner with some clever set pieces and a sh*tload of headshots. If you don’t walk out ready for Chapter 3 then maybe you just really really hate dumb stylish fun. Rating: B+

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter – The Resident Evil franchise hasn’t been my thing for quite some time now. Each new film seems less connected to the actual video game than the next and instead opts to force in characters and foes from the game with little to no context. The Final Chapter is more of the same and the best part about it–assuming the title is a promise–is that it’s the last time we’ll have to endure any of it. Rating: D- 

A Dark Song – There are a lot of reasons why I don’t practice in the occult. A Dark Song just added one more pretty big reason–it’s friggin hard. Another reason on top of that–it takes a really long friggin time. A brooding character driven horror film that really swings for the fences during the finale which is as divisive as it is emotionally resonant. This is one that most will love or furiously hate. Somehow I was just on the outskirts of love. Rating: B

The Void – As a movie watcher I gravitate toward the horror genre. It’s a world I feel like I know and am comfortable in–in spite of having quite a few gaps in knowledge in the classics. When it comes to horror I’m a sucker for some crazy gore and awesome practical effects, both of which The Void has in spades. However, that’s about all it has. There’s a solid creepy villain near the end, the cult figures are cool looking and the idea is solid. Yet, there’s something lacking in the overall plot and the characters just feel flat. Still, you should probably check it out–at least once–when it hits Netflix this July (2017). Rating: C

Small Crimes – Speaking of Netflix, how about all the original content they’ve been churning out this year? Crazy right? When you tell me the director of Cheap Thrills has a sequel that came out via Netflix I couldn’t hit play fast enough. When it was all said and done, I probably could have waited a little bit and not rearranged my whole schedule to watch it. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s bad, it’s actually quite good. Not as good as Cheap Thrills though. The dark humor and sudden bursts of violence would make this a perfect middle movie for a Netflix Triple feature of Shimmer Lake (scroll down for that ‘review’), Small Crimes and I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore (which is fantastic and there might be a ‘review’ below but as of writing this I haven’t added it to the backlog). Rating: B

Free Fire – After High Rise my stock in Ben Wheatley took a mild dive. Kill List is still a work of bleak art so no one can take that away. Then Free Fire happened. Holy cow, you guys. This movie is a blast. It’s also mostly kind of a one trick pony. It’s a good trick, but the circumstances at which all the mayhem goes down is pretty petty and ultimately uninspired. That doesn’t change the fact that watching things escalate and turn to sh*t wasn’t some of the funnest nonsense I’ve seen this year. Rating: B+

Colossal – I go to the movies to have a good time. Sometimes I go to be moved. Sometimes I go to learn a little about myself. Rarely do I get all three. Colossal isn’t the most profound movie I’ve ever seen, but it’s one of the most unique. I got some chuckles, it has some moving realizations and it more than once made me think about my own actions and words with some reverence. For that it is well worth your time and money, even if it is a little weird for its own good. Rating: B+

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – I was tempted to just link to my review of the first movie and call it a day. Volume 2 is very much just a repackaged version of the original, but with a few more gadgets and upgrades attached. There’s sequences that I could have easily done without near the middle, but the end is enough to tweak everyone with a soft heart in the feels. Also, because it was so much like the original I couldn’t help but feel it wasn’t as fresh and surprising. Rating: B

Wonder Woman – Right in front street, Wonder Woman is hands down the best DC movie of the new batch–aka since the Nolan Batman movies. The bad news is that the bar was not very high–even I could limbo under that rotten stick. However, even that is undermining what WW accomplishes. The action is good, Gal Gadot is great as is her chemistry with Chris Pine on screen. The finale is dogsh*t. It’s so bad and unoriginal that it made me wonder if everything before it had tricked me. I don’t think that’s the case so in the end I think what we got was a genuine attempt at righting the ship at DC even if it forgot to drop some of its dead weight. Rating: B

It Comes at Night – Whenever someone asks me about this movie I always say simply this: good movie, sh*t marketing. Except to call out specifics of the marketing could spoil part of the movie for some, even if it would serve to align their expectations. It Comes at Night is a depressing movie. It’s misery porn at its most basic levels. The performances are great, the idea is solid and the director seems to know that less is more when it comes to making us scared and feeling dirty. However, the film shows us so little and tells us nothing that would make enduring the misery all that profound. Rating: C+

Rough Night – Have you seen Very Bad Things? Well, it’s that, but with a cast of women. The case could be argued that Rough Night is considerably less dark than VBT, but let’s face it, were taking about a comedy with a murder at its center. Once there’s a dead body it is tough to pick back up the funny and lets just say the cast tries very hard to do so with mixed to mediocre results. By mixed I mean mixed decent jokes that are still to easy to be considered that clever. All in all you’re money is best spent grabbing a bag of dick straws and having your own party at home. Rating: D

Shimmer Lake – Shimmer Lake, another in the growing line of Netflix Originals, is a weird little flick that for those patient enough to stick it out should feel at least a minicam of appreciation. For those like me, you’ll get a kick out of it. The film is a botched robbery told in reverse and if you are invested enough to not ask why it’s being told in reverse then you, like me, won’t feel like you guessed what was going on from the beginning. It’s certainly not perfect, but I found myself laughing and impressed by a first time filmmakers grasp on reverse storytelling from beginning to end. Rating: B

I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore – I know, I’m not a fan of long bizarre titles either. But once you watch this movie you probably couldn’t think of a more appropriate title either. Fantastic performances end to end and a near perfect yarn of normal people in over their heads in a mostly realistic scenario. Macon Blair wow’ed everyone his performance in Blue Ruin, might as well let him do it with his directing chops as well. Rating: A

47 Meters Down – You can thank The Shallows for giving hope to the possible theatrical success of this one. Saved last minute from a direct-to-DVD release at zero hour this Mandy Moore vehicle’s most redeeming aspects come in the form of those who have a fear of being trapped underwater with sharks in nearly pitch black conditions. Bad CGI sharks and questionable twists hinder the movie’s ability to be all that effective, making it similarly pulpy when compared to The Shallows. Rating: C+

[Movie Review] ‘Arrival’ Stirs Up All the Emotions

arrivalposter_tgofLife is a beautiful thing. It’s complex, subjectively fulfilling and in various ways, sad. Denis Villeneuve excels in conveying humanity and emotion in the most beautiful and hideous ways. Prisoners, Enemy and Sicario are incredible examples of just how dark the filmmaker views the human condition so it’s only right that with Arrival he introduces extraterrestrials to have a heady and heart-wrenching talk with us humans.

Arrival is high end science fiction. A thinking person’s genre flick. Villeneuve drops a handful of alien spacecrafts into our world and a less discerning movie-goer salivates while waiting for the eye-popping VFX and ariel dogfights. However, when your main character, Louise (Amy Adams), being a linguist and her side kick, Ian (Jeremy Renner), a theoretical physicist, sent to decrypt and analyze alien language to engage in deep conversation there just isn’t room for devastating city-wide explosions and laser beams.  (more…)

TGoF Hangover: Lights Out & The Fantasia Film Festival (Round 1)

Malevolent light sensitive ghosts, evil beds and invisible dads. This edition of the Tall Glass of Film Hangover touches some interesting points on the genre compass, two of which (Bed of the Dead and The Unseen) were screened as part of the 2016 Fantasia Film Festival. So sit back, relax and enjoy some of TGoF’s thoughts on a few upcoming flicks!

Lights Out

I’ve gotta be honest–I don’t think there was a chance in Hell that a three minute short would translate effectively into an 80 minute feature. Sure 80 minutes is lean and mean, but considering the lack of plot in David F. Sandberg’s original short for Lights Out was non-existent it’s reasonable to assume the feature wouldn’t remedy that to a significant degree. Luckily, I’m wrong a lot. Lights Out takes the smart route by setting up a simple story but hanging its success in the shoulders of a stellar cast and a relentless (but constantly recycled) barrage of scares.

Teresa Palmer stars as Rebecca, a concerned sister that has never had to shoulder real responsibility looking to possibly become the legal guardian of her brother, Martin (Gabriel Bateman). Martin hasn’t been sleeping because his mother, Sophie (Maria Bello), is on the verge of a mental break that has invited a dangerous specter, Diana, with deep ties to the family to enter all three of their lives once again. With CPS breathing down her neck Rebecca must find the secret to ridding the threat before it’s too late.  (more…)

Movie Review: Maggie

maggie2015_posterThe most iconic and quotable line of Arnie’s career has been warning us for years- he would be back. Back he most certainly is, or has been, but in Henry Hobson’s debut feature we see The Governator like we’ve never seen him before…tender. The very idea of a soft spoken Schwarzenegger boggles the mind, but sure enough with Maggie, audiences will for the first time see the soft side of one of cinema’s most prolific tough guys. Rather or not its worth everyone’s time, that’s a whole different story.

Maggie takes place in an undisclosed near future where the world’s population has been ravaged by a deadly epidemic. The disease slowly spreads through the body of the infected, before turning them into the undead. Local law enforcement, burdened with keeping the residents safe, are vigilant in keeping tabs on the infected and taking them to quarantine before the final transformation. Wade (Arnold Schwarzenegger), is one of many farmers forced to burn their crops in hopes to slow the spread of the disease. When Wade’s daughter, Maggie (Abigail Breslin), is inflicted with the disease he brings her home in hopes to comfort her in her final weeks. He struggles daily with keeping his daughter safe as her last days quickly approach and what he may have to do to spare her the loneliness and fear of living her last days in quarantine.  (more…)

Movie Review: Predestination

predestination_posterTake a look at the title, PREDESTINATION, it is ripe with possibilities and they all have roots in science fiction. It’s almost a little on the nose that the Spierig brothers decided to go so blatantly sci-fi with it. What’s not nearly as predictable is what they decided to do with the film’s familiar premise. What’s even more exciting about this movie is that with it, Michael and Peter Spierig have skyrocketed to the top or near the top of directors that I- if I had the bankroll- would write a blank check to in order for them to create whatever their heart desires for their next feature. Names like Christopher Nolan and Rian Johnson were the previous names hovering in that top spot, and with PREDESTINATION their work is strikingly similar to those two filmmakers.

Without giving away too much, PREDESTINATION, at its base is a time travel movie. One that begins as an unnamed man (played by Ethan Hawke) travels back in time to catch an elusive terrorist known as, The Fizzle Bomber. It’s eluded to that this man has made several attempts throughout his career as a “temporal agent” to stop the many bombings perpetrated by this bomber and has always come up empty handed. The problem being that The Fizzle Bomber keeps changing the dates of the attacks and his latest is set to claim the lives of over 10,000 people. Hawke’s character decides that he is going to try one last time to stop The Fizzle Bomber before decommissioning his time jump field kit- will he succeed? (more…)

Movie Review: Gone Girl

gonegirl_posterMaybe it’s just me, but the institution of marriage is really taking heavy fire from a cinematic standpoint this year. Or Maybe in previous years I just didn’t watch enough movies about marital relationships. I’ve been witness to a marriage plagued by a serial killer (A GOOD MARRIAGE), newlyweds prey to mysterious forces tearing them apart (HONEYMOON) and a dramedy featuring a marriage falling apart from infidelity and a past miscarriage (THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU). Now there’s GONE GIRL, a thriller from David Fincher featuring a marriage of two people so messed up that they are perfect for each other. Fincher’s film is haunting, tense and depressingly brilliant in how it presents, in extremes, what marriage can do to people and the faces we put on for those watching us.

Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike) are a married couple about to celebrate their 6th wedding anniversary. When Nick comes home in the middle of the afternoon he finds his living room showing signs of a break in and Amy is missing. Amy as it turns out is the inspiration for her mom’s bestselling book series character Amazing Amy which helps to turn the investigation into an over-the-top media circus. Nick increasingly becomes the target of the investigation and villain in the eyes of the media even as he cooperates unflinchingly with the police. The question still remains though; is Nick the concerned husband he seems to be or is he hiding something that could be the key to finding Amy. (more…)