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Darkest Hour (2017)


Darkest Hour (2017)

I have to admit that prior to seeing this film, my history knowledge of Winston Churchill was a little fuzzy.

Gary Oldman is a wizard when it comes to his ability to become whoever he is supposed to be portraying on screen.  I became more interested in seeing Darkest Hour after I found out that Oldman was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar, even though I am fed up with the Academy Awards.

Darkest Hour is based on the true story of when British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill was forced to decide whether or not to negotiate with Adolf Hitler when all of Western Europe was being threatened by the Nazis in 1940.

The movie was directed by Joe Wright and the noteworthy cast includes Gary Oldman, Ben Mendelsohn, Lily James, Kristin Scott Thomas, Stephen Dillane, Nicholas Jones, and David Strathairn.

Gary Oldman successfully transformed into Winston Churchill.  He was a mumbling, bumbling, blabbering, grumpy old man.  It is hard to believe that anyone else could have done half as good a job as he did in his role.

The U.K. in the 1940s was duplicated convincingly and artistically in Darkest Hour.  Watching the movie, it was very easy to be pulled into that time and place.  It was as if you were there witnessing Winston Churchill make history.

It is always interesting to me how movies with similar subjects get made around the same time.  It is no accident that Dunkirk (2017) came out the same year as Darkest Hour.  Hollywood likes to capitalize on one concept by showcasing similar movies in the same year.  I guess that they assume that if one movie does well, everyone will be curious about the other movie of the same type and will go to see it while the idea is still fresh.

Darkest Hour is about what is going on behind the scenes while Dunkirk is happening.  In this case, the two movies do make good companion pieces to each other.

The problem with Darkest Hour is that everyone in the movie besides Gary Oldman felt like an afterthought.  His character development improved as the movie went on, but there was not much care placed on the other characters.

The other main thing that was wrong with the film is that it just felt like it took way too long to make its point.  It probably could have been 30 minutes shorter.  I think that this would have made it more enjoyable.

It felt historically accurate and Oldman’s performance was superb.  Without him, this movie would have really struggled.

The film felt a little bit like The King’s Speech (2010).  This is not one of those movies that you will want to watch over and over again.  It was tasteful and informative, but I will be OK with only seeing it once.

Darkest Hour is a well put together World War II period piece.  It is a good depiction of some historical events, however it is overly drawn out and therefore falls a little short.

I rate this movie an 8 on a scale of 1-10.

 

If you liked this film then you might also enjoy:

 

Dunkirk (2017)

The King’s Speech (2010)

Lincoln (2012)

Leon: The Professional (1994)

True Romance (1993)

Schindler’s List (1993)

The Pianist (2002)

The Imitation Game (2014)

The Aviator (2004)

Cinderella Man (2005)

J. Edgar (2011)

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A Quiet Place (2018)


A Quiet Place (2018)

Before seeing this film, I thought right away that it looked like an M. Night Shyamalan movie.  Perhaps it would be reminiscent of Signs (2002).  I assumed that Shyamalan was the director until I saw that it was directed by, produced by, and stars John Krasinski.

I am really picky when it comes to horror movies that I get excited about.  This one sparked my interest.  I saw this on opening night, but I did not get to review it until now.

A Quiet Place takes place in the not so distant future where people are being hunted by vicious creatures that attack when they hear sound.  The film follows one particular family that is trying to survive.

The movie was directed by John Krasinski and the noteworthy cast includes John Krasinski, Emily Blunt (Krasinski’s wife), Millicent Simmons, Noah Jupe, and Cade Woodward.

Krasinski has come a long way from his days of selling paper in The Office (2005).  I really only started taking him seriously after seeing 13 Hours (2016).  I think that he has successfully transitioned from comedy to more serious acting and this movie is further proof.

A Quiet Place was way better than Signs.

The chemistry between Blunt and Krasinski felt very genuine.  Such a simple thing like that is easy when it is a real life couple onscreen.  However, that connection can make all of the difference.

This is not a bloodbath horror movie.  That is what I especially enjoyed about A Quiet Place.  The film keeps you in suspense throughout basically the entire movie.  It is edge-of-your seat excitement with enough jumpy scenes to make it worth your while.

The film is unique because it really does not contain a lot of dialogue.  I feel like this adds to the suspense.  The theater that I was in was eerily a quiet place.  Our eyes were glued to the screen, and the hair on the back of our necks stood up as we were desperately wanting to know what was going to happen next.

A Quiet Place was a breath of fresh air for the horror genre.  It is a reminder that a good spooky story meticulously executed is all that it takes to be a quality scary movie.  It seems like such a simple concept, but most horror movies these days have trouble achieving this.  There really was nothing wrong with this film.  It was chilling from start to finish.  Alfred Hitchcock would be proud.

I rate this movie a 9 on a scale of 1-10.

 

If you liked this film then you might also enjoy:

 

The Conjuring (2013)

High Tension (2003)

House on Haunted Hill (1959)

The Purge (2013)

Sinister (2012)

The Others (2001)

Signs (2002)

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Looper (2012)

13 Hours (2016)

Ready Player One (2018)


Ready Player One (2018)

Some aspects of this film intrigued me prior to seeing it, while other things about the movie worried me.

It interested me that a lot of characters and parts from famous films would be scattered throughout Ready Player One.  However, I was concerned that every aspect of the movie would be overdone.

Why would I worry that a big budget film might be overcooked and therefore tasteless?

Hollywood has become obsessed with gathering together big budget group movies.  It started with superhero movies and those superhero movies had to keep getting bigger and fuller.  It is no longer just Batman or Superman, or even just Spiderman anymore.  Batman vs. Superman also was not even good enough (of course, we knew it wouldn’t be).  It is now The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Justice League, Suicide Squad, and X-Men, to name a few.  Hollywood will take a concept that worked once and bleed it dry for everything that it is worth.  It will be purged of all entertainment value.  All that will be left behind is an overdone, and overblown metastasized mess that should be cut off because it is destroying the host that is the superhero genre.

What does this have to do with Ready Player One?

Because Hollywood has to keep trying to outdo itself, it keeps adding too many ingredients, and we no longer recognize what we are being fed.  The trailer for Ready Player One had me worried that the movie would just be too much.

Ready Player One is about a future where a virtual reality videogame world called “The Oasis” is better than the real world.  The creator of “The Oasis” has hidden secrets inside of his game.  The world has become obsessed with finding those secrets and taking control of “The Oasis” and the trillions of dollars that it is worth.

The movie was directed by Steven Spielberg and the noteworthy cast includes Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Mark Rylance, Simon Pegg, Lena Waithe, Ralph Ineson, Susan Lynch, Clare Higgins, and Laurence Spellman.

I got to enjoy this film in 3D and I believe that greatly improved my movie watching experience.  The special effects are firing on all cylinders in this one.

To say that I was pleasantly surprised by this movie would be an understatement.  Were things overdone at times?  Yes.  But, let’s say they were tastefully overdone.

If you grew up playing videogames, then you will likely enjoy this movie more than someone who did not play video games, as a child.  In other words, if you are in your fifties or older, you might not get much out of this movie.

Some of the characters and places that were recreated from other films in this movie were nothing short of incredible.

Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, and Ben Mendelsohn all did a great job in this movie.

I enjoyed how Spielberg walked the line of videogame and reality in Ready Player One.  The videogame world created inside of the film feels just like the real world inside of the movie.  In a lot of ways, Ready Player One is like nothing we have ever seen on screen.  However, you can bet that the concept in this film will return again soon to a theater near you.

Overall, Ready Player One was peppered with nostalgia.  Characters and icons from our childhoods were brought back to life with a vengeance.  It was an exciting and epic Steven Spielberg story of good vs. evil in a fight to save the fictional world.

I rate this movie a 9 on a scale of 1-10.

 

If you liked this film then you might also enjoy:

 

Back to the Future (1985)

The Shining (1980)

Mud (2012)

Thoroughbreds (2017)

The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)

Trailer for Tag (2018)


Tag (2018)

Tag is a comedy movie about a group of friends who have been playing an elaborate game of tag for 30 years.  They take the game to the extreme.

Definitely in the dumb comedy genre.  This movie looks like it will be good for a few laughs.  The great cast look like they had a lot of fun during the making of the movie and my guess is that will show on screen.  Sometimes you just need stupid humor.

The film was directed by Jeff Tomsic and the noteworthy cast includes Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Isla Fisher, Ed Helms, Jake Johnson, Leslie Bibb, Annabelle Wallis, Rashida Jones, Hannibal Buress, and Brian Dennehy.

The film is set to release on June 15th, 2018.

Trailer for Hereditary (2018)


Trailer for Hereditary (2018)

Here you go.  Let this trailer keep you up at night, creepy soundtrack and all.

Like horror movies of old, Hereditary looks quite eerie.  I do not often get excited to see a scary movie, but I am looking forward to this one.

Storyline: After a mother dies, the rest of her family that she left behind begins to feel her presence around them and then bad things start happening.

The film was written and directed Ari Asher and the noteworthy cast includes Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, and Alex Wolff.

The movie is currently set to be released on June 8th, 2018.

The Book of Henry (2017)


The Book of Henry (2017)

With the popularity of the film Wonder (2017) and Room (2015), it seems like Jacob Tremblay is starting to pop up all over the place.  However, this time around in The Book of Henry, Tremblay is not the main young actor in the film.  It is Jaeden Lieberher in the starring role.  Lieberher got a lot more recognition in his boost to fame part in the movie It (2017).  Excluding the kids from the renowned Netflix Original TV Series, Stranger Things (2016), Tremblay and Lieberher are probably the most popular child actors right now.  With Naomi Watts playing their mother in The Book of Henry, this movie looked entertaining.

The Book of Henry is about a genius 11-year-old boy who works together with his mother to try to stop the child abuse of their next door neighbor girl.

The movie was directed by Colin Trevorrow and the noteworthy cast includes Jaeden Lieberher, Naomi Watts, Jacob Tremblay, Dean Norris, Sarah Silverman, Lee Pace, Maddie Ziegler, Bobby Moynihan, Geraldine Hughes, Joel Marsh Garland, and Wass Stevens.

After you get past the fact that the premise of this movie is super farfetched, it is enjoyable enough.  The story is all too convenient, but yet tastefully done.  Many complications in the storyline were solved all too easily and in a very formulaic fashion.

I fault the writing for everything that is wrong with The Book of Henry.  The filmmaking was good enough overall, but the story was just really lacking.

For their age, the young actors in this film are superb.  Lieberher is the standout in the movie.  I definitely expect to see these to young actors continuing to have successful careers.

I usually really like Watts as an actress, but did not care for her much in this film.  I am not sure if it was because I did not like her or her character.  She was dumbed-down so much for this movie that it almost seemed like she was miscast.

The irresponsibility and stupidity of Watt’s character is not believable when you see just how much of a mastermind her oldest son is supposed to be.  He is so beyond crazy smart at 11 years old that it seems impossible to fathom.  Get past that and The Book of Henry is average.  It is a drama with some unexpected twists and turns.  Some ideas about the story really worked, while others just did not.

I rate this movie a 5.5 on a scale of 1-10.

 

 

If you liked this film then you might also enjoy:

 

Wonder (2017)

Room (2015)

The Window (1949)

It (2017)

Stand By Me (1986)

St. Vincent (2014)

The Impossible (2012)

Stranger Things (2016)

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

The Goonies (1985)

Trailer for Replicas (2018)


Trailer for Replicas (2018)

Replicas is a film about a scientist who becomes obsessed with bringing his family back from the dead after they died in a car accident.

Keanu Reeves continues to make excellent choices in the movies that he decides to make.  This appears like it will be a fun and dark Sci-Fi thriller.  It looks like a sort of new-age Frankenstein.  It is hard to go wrong with Keanu because he is usually likable in whatever film he decides to make.  I am looking forward to this one.

The film was directed by Jeffrey Nachmanoff and the noteworthy cast includes Keanu Reeves, Alice Eve, Thomas Middleditch, John Ortiz, Emily Alyn Lind, and Emjay Anthony.

The movie is currently set to release on August 24th, 2018.

The Disaster Artist (2017)


The Disaster Artist (2017)

When I first saw the trailer for this film, I thought it was just going to be just another James Franco and Seth Rogen disaster of a movie.  I feel like James Franco is a very talented actor who has made many terrible choices when it comes to the films that he decides to be a part of.  I think that he has this need to want to be funny all of the time, when in reality, he is a much better serious actor than comedic actor.  He seems to not take his career very seriously.

I blame Seth Rogen for James Franco’s often wasted talent.  The two are best friends and it seems like Rogen has sucked Franco into the world of stupid and crude humor.  Sometimes it works for them, but usually it does not.  Either way, James Franco belongs in films opposite heavy hitting actors like Robert De Niro and Frances McDormand, like he was in City by the Sea (2002).  He rises to the occasion and does his best work when he is surrounded by talent.  His skillset is dumbed way down when he tries to be funny and is the most talented person in the room.

James Franco’s little brother Dave Franco has followed in his big brother’s footprints.  Dave got his break in comedy and often, seems more believable than James when it comes to crude and stupid humor.  Dave is likable, but is only famous because of his older bro.  Dave lacks the acting gift that his brother continues to take for granted.

Needless to say, I waited to see The Disaster Artist on DVD.

The movie is based on a true story about two unlikely friends who move to Hollywood to try to become big movie stars.  After they fail desperately, they decide to make their own movie together to try to get famous even though they are in hopelessly over their heads.  The Disaster Artist is the story of Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero and how they came to make the movie The Room (2003).

The movie was directed by James Franco and the noteworthy cast includes James Franco, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, Alison Brie, Ari Graynor, Paul Scheer, Jacki Weaver, Zac Efron, Josh Hutcherson, June Diane Raphael, Megan Mullally, Jason Mantzoukas, Melanie Griffith, Bob Odenkirk, and Tom Franco.

It is almost as if James Franco and Seth Rogen were sitting around one day, likely smoking pot, and they thought as a joke, it would be funny to make a movie about the worst movie ever made.  Then, they went ahead and did it.

The movie The Room, The Disaster Artist is about the making of, has become a cult classic and apparently, widely known as one of the worst movies ever made.  Ironically, The Disaster Artist won some awards for mimicking one of the worst movies ever made.  James Franco won a Golden Globe for his role in the film.  Let that sink in for a moment.

James Franco likely would have been nominated for an Academy Award for The Disaster Artist, but has had some bad publicity about sexual misconduct, as of late.  This is easily why the Academy left him out.

Like the title suggests, The Disaster Artist is a true disaster.  James Franco’s character is unusually bizarre and humorous, and has a dreadfully annoying voice with a terribly bogus accent.  However, after a while, the voice is pretty comical.  He played his senseless character very well.  I am not sure that is saying much though.  James Franco delivers a grand performance of being awful.

It is a tiny bit weird seeing the Franco brothers acting opposite each other, but also likable.  Because of their dumb characters, it was just stupid overall.

The fact that James Franco directed did not mean a whole lot in this movie.  I think it just says more about how he does not even try to be good anymore.

The film was cheap because it was trying to be cheap.  But, it was still cheap and less than B-rated cheap.

Zac Efron and Josh Hutcherson both had fun cameos.

When Seth Rogen tries to be serious, it does not work.  Serious is out of his league and his desperate attempt to mask this, bleeds through.  This makes his character less believable and therefore takes away from the film.

It is worth noting that Dave Franco and Seth Rogen have been in 5 movies together and James Franco and Seth Rogen have made 6 movies together, excluding television and documentaries.  This is not similar to Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn getting cast together often because it works.  This is more like Adam Sandler getting his buddies together to make a comedy to pay the bills.  It gets old and worn out.  Still, I think it would be fun to watch the Franco Brothers get together and make a serious movie as a way to try again.

Once again, for James Franco, the talent is there, but he just does not channel it into the right work.  The Disaster Artist is in fact, a misadventure full of squandered talent and wasted time.  Is it skill to duplicate a train wreck and the whole process of a train wreck?  Not in my book.  It is entertaining at times, however.

I rate this movie a 3 on a scale of 1-10.

 

Here is a list movies that I recommend that are better than this one:

 

Ed Wood (1994)

Bowfinger (1999)

City by the Sea (2002)

Neighbors (2014)

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (2016)

127 Hours (2010)

Tropic Thunder (2008)

Get Shorty (1995)

The Aviator (2004)

Thoroughbreds (2017)


Thoroughbreds (2017)

Initially, the main reason that I wanted to see this film was because of Anton Yelchin, may he rest in peace.  This is his last movie to be released in theaters.  He passed away in 2016.  This movie was completed in 2017 and finally released last weekend, almost 2 years after his death.

This is a limited release film that sort of fell through the cracks.

Thoroughbreds is about two upper-class teenage girls who find themselves plotting and scheming to get what they want in their troubled home-life.

The movie was written and directed by Cory Finley and the noteworthy cast includes Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy, Anton Yelchin, and Paul Spark.

Thoroughbreds is a unique movie in a lot of ways.  It is a well-written, dialogue driven thriller.  There is a naturally chilling pace to the story.  Everything seems relevant.  It does not try too hard to impress and therefore, is impressive.  The story is just told with precise timing.  Even the cinematography was tactful and articulate in an almost, but not quite, Hitchcockian manner.  This movie did not just go through the motions.  It was premeditated and executed beautifully.

The soundtrack, although odd at times, matched the disturbing nature of the story.

Thoroughbreds was an opportunity for a couple of mostly small screen, lesser known actors to show their worth and carry a film themselves.  They all showed that they were up to that task.  I feel like they were quite successful in making the transition from small screen to big screen right before our very eyes.  Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Paul Sparks were all superb.  Olivia Cooke’s performance especially stood out.  I guarantee that all three of these actors will start popping up all over the place in the near future.

I think that it is an odd coincidence that Anton Yelchin plays a troubled character in each of his last three films before he died.  I also still think it was quite suspicious the way that he died.

I always enjoyed Anton as an actor and it seemed as if he had a very bright future ahead of him.  It is a shame to see such a nice personality lost to this world, far too soon at the young age of 27.  He had been acting for 16 years.  He successfully bridged the gap from kid actor to adult actor and had the potential for so much more.  He will be missed.

Thoroughbreds would probably have been more successful if it were released years ago.  Today’s audiences do not have the attention span for real filmmaking anymore, it seems.  This is the unfortunate truth.  The depth of this movie will likely not be appreciated by many for what it actually is, a diamond in the rough.

I rate this movie an 8 on a scale of 1-10.

 

If you liked this film then you might also enjoy:

Violet & Daisy (2011)

Heathers (1988)

A Perfect Murder (1998)

Dial M for Murder (1954)

Bully (2001)

The Polka King (2017)


The Polka King (2017)

I was not sure what to expect before watching this movie.  I initially scoffed and rolled my eyes when I first watched the trailer.  It looked goofy, but it also looked like Jack Black could pull off his polish character.  He can be funny when he wants to be.

The Polka King is based on a true story that details the rise and fall of Polka God, Jan Lewan.  He was a big polka star before he became a criminal.

The movie was written and directed by Maya Forbes and the noteworthy cast includes Jack Black, Jenny Slate, Jason Schwartzman, J.B. Smoove, Jacki Weaver, Willie Garson, Vanessa Bayer, and Kati Salowsky

Unless you are a Polka Enthusiast, here is a true story that I am sure not very many people are aware of.  I know that I wasn’t.

This movie makes fun of itself and that is what I liked about it.  Jack Black’s botched Polish accent and awful haircut makes his character hilarious.  It quickly reminds you not to take it too seriously and just enjoy it for what it is.

Schwartzman and Smoove are both entertaining supporting characters in the film.

The movie was good, but not great.  It is one of the more entertaining Netflix Original movies.  Often, the Netflix Original TV shows are big cable network like quality, while Netflix Original movies have mostly fallen short.  Little, by little Netflix Original movies are improving and The Polka King is an example of that.

I used to wonder how Netflix could turn a profit with as much money as they spend on their original content.  As it turns out, they are billions of dollars in the hole.  They have seemed to follow the path of Walmart and Amazon.  They have operated at a loss for years with a plan to recoup the money overtime.  With all of the streaming competition, Netflix plans to have at least 50% original content within a few years.  That way, if you want to watch their shows, you will have to pay for it because you will not find them anywhere else.

The Polka King is a smart, yet very stupid comedy that you do not have to take too seriously.  The movie is just fun.  It is one of the best Netflix Original movies, though that is not saying much, at least at this point in time.

I rate this movie a 6 on a scale of 1-10.

 

If you liked this film then you might also enjoy:

 

High Fidelity (2000)

Bernie (2011)

Naked (2017)

Envy (2004)

Borat: The Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006)

The Big Year (2011)

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)