Tuesday, August 28, 2018

If Beale Street Could Talk Teaser Trailer

Back from a brief hiatus, I'm here to talk about the teaser trailer for If Beale Street Could Talk, directed by Barry Jenkins who is best known for the celebrated and infamous (ouch! that Oscars mix up) movie Moonlight. Light on plot details but heavy with atmosphere, I found this to be an excellently made trailer. Noticing how quiet the theater had gone, I looked around quickly to realize that everyone had their eyes locked on the screen. I think, like me, they were drawn in by the intense scenes of direct eye contact with the characters. After it was over, I wanted to stand up and say "Excuse me everybody but can we give Regina King an award of some sort right now?".

If Beale Street Could Talk based on the novel by James Baldwin and starring Kiki Layne, Stephen James, Regina King and Teyonah Parris will open on November 30th.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

On the Basis of Sex First Preview

I have a deep interest in politics but don't worry, you will not find that on this blog very often but there are times they intersect. This is a small intersection. On the Basis of Sex is the story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and an early case that launched her on a career that would end up with her a Supreme Court justice. It's not a full bio-pic of sorts but seems to focus on a specific and ground breaking gender discrimination case with a twist.

In our current political climate, the release of this movie seems perfectly timed. Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been enjoying a popularity that brings together hot button issues and pop culture. There is currently a documentary about her legal career, she has her own Funko bobble head, an action figure and (my favorite) The Notorious R.G.B. on everything from T-shirts to coffee mugs.

On the Basis of Sex starring Felicity Jones, Armie Hammer, Justin Theroux and Kathy Bates will plead it's case to the audience on December 25th.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Sorry to Bother You Rreview

Sorry to Bother You was a movie that I fully intended to watch when it became available to rent because it just didn't seem a theater movie by my definition of such things. However, I have a MoviePass membership that seems intent on throwing itself into a death spiral every few days. So, I am determined to use it until it burst into flames and goes the way of the dinosaurs. With that in mind I set out to see Sorry to Bother You this week. So what's up with with this movie that appears to be biting satire of our modern age?

Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfiled, the "get out!" guy from Get Out), a guy full of ideas and deep thoughts with a slight absence of get up and go, is on hard times. He's living in his uncle's garage and has to elaborately fake his resume for job interviews. I can already hear the more judgmental of you say "oh those millennials". Through a friend he gets a prospect in a dismal telemarketing call center. He easily lands the job because they are only looking for people to take up space, sell and most importantly "stick to the script". It's all an utter failure until a fellow coworker introduces him to the "white voice" which sells like gold. It's the voice that white people believe they sound like. At this point, you'll realize you are watching a satire set in a world that is just slightly off sync from our own. The white voice works like gangbusters for Cassius and soon he is catching the eyes of the higher ups and offered a job in an elite sales team called "Power Callers". I'm going to abandon plot description here and just say that Cassius quickly finds himself in some ethical delimnas that are way above even his new high pay grade.

For a little over half of Sorry to Bother the satire and teasing of capitalism, poverty, politics and the 9th circle of hell known as the telemarketing call center flows easily with great laugh out loud moments and some more subtle "oh I see what you did there" jokes. At that point there is a twist that goes straight into sci-fi/fantasy territory. Absurd, grotesque and a little more than just scary comes to mind. I held on for the full ride and was glad to do so although the build up to the end dragged a bit. Frankly some viewers might have a WTF! moment that they never full recover from and others will see the politics of this movie as just too liberal. I give it strong, solid B though and think it's a worthy effort to inspire thought through an askew lens.

Oh wait don't go yet. I wrote this whole piece and failed to give a shout out to some really great performances. Sorry to Bother You also stars Tessa Thompson (the deceptively soothing voice of Dear White People), Steven Yen (RIP Glen you are forever missed), Armie Hammer (playing the face of evil capitalism all prettied up) and every odd ball character actor in the call center scenes.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Shazam! Trailer

DC continues its extended universe of movies, rolling out two new trailers recently including this one for a definite light-hearted and whimsical take on the character of Shazam. It follows the story of teen orphan Billy Batson who gains amazing super powers after an encounter with the ancient wizard Shazam. He transforms into an adult version of himself and can use his powers by bringing down the lightning and uttering the words "Shazam!". It's worth noting that the character was originally called Captain Marvel but some legal wrangling solved that conflict and as we all know, Marvel movies have grand future plans for their Captain Marvel character.

I'm really feeling this except for the costume. My reaction was immediate and negative with flashbacks to The Greatest American Hero from the 80's. I promise I do not suffer from DC Derangement Syndrome and (how shall I put it) am not Mystified by All Things Marvel. It was my honest first reaction. I'm not a nitpicking buzz-kill that would let something like that ruin a fun movie though; so we shall see how this works out as we discover more about Shazam!.

Shazam! starring Zachary Levu, Jack Dylan Grazer and Asher Angel will strike theaters in April 2019.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Skyscaper Review -

I guess you can go back to the story of the Tower of Babel to know that humans love to build higher and higher into the heavens. Just like in that story, the cinematic gods have met that hubris in the movies by knocking us back down Earth on numerous occasions. Ok that sounds a bit deep for a movie like Skyscraper; so let me just throw out how much I love 1974's Towering Inferno.

Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson), a former FBI agent and war veteran, experienced a horrible and career ending event. He's now started his own business and has been invited to Hong Kong by a former colleague (Pablo Schreiber) to asses security for a skyscraper to end all skyscrapers - called The Pearl. In tow are his wife, Sarah (Neve Campbell) and two children. If you've watched the trailer or are maybe just familiar with Dwayne Johnson movies, you will know this is not going to be an idyllic family vacation. Some very nasty people set an inferno of a fire at The Peal and essentially trap Will's family and the owner of the building (Chin Han) in The Pearl. Will battles to rescue his family and find out what the big bad guys (and one particularly lethal lady) want.

Every summer there is talk of when the dumb outweighs the fun in a "dumb summer blockbuster" and I get it. For example is Skyscaper just an updated Die Hard rip off? Sure that's a bit valid. Are some of the bigger stunts impossible to believe? Why yes they are. There's one particular scene that rivals Bruce Willis jumping a car Duke of Hazard style into a helicopter (thank you for that Die Hard or Live Free). All of the boxes are checked for a sit back and just enjoy type of summer movie and I don't think that Skyscraper inched to close to the dumb versus fun divide. During the movie it seems everyone is either fighting fire, running from fire or dangling over fire. Totally fine with me because I sat in the through the movie 2012 and came out with my intelligence mostly intact. One surprising aspect of Skyscraper? Neve Campbell. Her character, Sarah is given a genuine backstory that is actually used during the movie, making her intelligent, observant and physically capable. I had several flashbacks of "You go Sidney" (No I'm not a senile old man quite yet. That's a Scream reference).
I'm giving Skyscraper a B and say go enjoy it.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Mary Queen of Scots First Preview

First and foremost I am a huge Saoirse Ronan fan, second I love costume drenched dramas even if they skimp on the historical accuracy and third I am an unabashed Anglophile. Someone might as well drop me off at the theater right now.

Mary Queen of Scots starring Margot Robbie, Saoirse Ronan, Guy Pearce, David Tennant and just about everybody with an accent (or can fake one) opens December 7th.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Ideal Home Review

I'm here to today to talk about a Paul Rudd movie but not the one you're thinking of because that movie doesn't need any help. The one I am talking about is Ideal Home starring Steve Coogan and Paul Rudd who is sporting what I must say is a very sexy beard.

Coogan and Rudd play Erasmus Brumble and his partner in life and career, Paul. If you know much about Steve Coogan, I should not have to point out that he carries the absurdly delightful Harry Potter-esque name. He is a celebrity chef and cookbook author while Paul produces his popular Tex-Mex show called Ideal Home. If being sarcastic and snarky are high on your list of relationship goals, you will find Erasmus and Paul quite familiar. Most of the bickering originates with he fact that Erasmus is a convoluted bundle of bravado, rampant insecurities and childish behavior. There's some real affection underneath though and good night of partying with friends seems to soothe out the edges. Their antics could be fun to watch for a while but this is a movie; so some conflict is needed.

One evening while Erasmus is assailing his guests with foodie snob stories, a young kid shows up with a letter explaining he is Erasmus' grandson and he needs someone to take care of him for a while. It turns out Erasmus experimented a bit in the 80's and this resulted in a son who has not exactly gone far from the tree. He's constantly in trouble with the law and in some last minute desperation has sent his son, Bill (Jack Gore), to stay with Erasmus. So here we are with two adult male children taking care of a real adolescent who has an attitude and refuses to eat anything but Taco Bell.

Ideal Home really works for me mostly because of Coogan and Rudd. They play well off of each other and the chemistry (funny or explosive) is a lot of fun. I have always especially loved Steve Coogan. He's played this type of part a couple of times, most successfully for me in Hamlet 2. if you've seen that movie and loved it (don't even talk to me if you didn't) then you will instantly know what I am talking about. He goes all in physically and emotionally as a person just slightly divorced from the reality the rest of us live in. For a real person that can be really annoying but for onscreen laughs it is comic gold. There is some late plotting that explores all the ways that Erasmus' and Paul's relationship is not working and that sucks some air out of the fun balloon. However it's ok because they recover and tug at the heartstrings while supplying the LOLZ.

Everything is ok but not perfect in the end and you are left with a nice but not heavy handed message about the diversity of families. If that is ok with you then I say check out this B+ movie. If it's not then you probably aren't reading this and don't care about my opinion anyway. Ideal Home is in limited theatrical release but available to rent on iTunes and Amazon video.