Thursday, January 18, 2018

Isle of Dogs Trailer

A friend told me about this trailer last month and I thought perhaps someone had slipped acid into her concession stand drink or she was describing a Wes Anderson film. It was the latter. Wes Anderson has such a distinctive style and voice that you either instantly recognize one of his films or you insult another writer (director or producer) by saying "Wow that has a Wes Anderson vibe to it".

Isle of Dogs is Anderson"s second animated movie with Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) being the first. I think this looks sweet, sad and quirky which is a combination Anderson handles really well. My only concern? There is second trailer that hints at a "cats are evil" agenda. Cats can be evil of course but they carry it very well.

Isle of Dogs opens March 23rd and includes a star studded cast of voices - Frances McDormand, Scarlett Johansson, Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Billy Murray, Jeff Goldblum and Harvey Keitel.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Breaking In Trailer

It happens all the time. Your a movie villain with a perfectly laid plan but you underestimate the regular folk. Before you know it everything is in tatters, you've lost some of your most accomplished henchmen and you're left with "I would've gotten away with it, if it wasn't for those......."

They may never learn which is perfectly ok because many of these movies are a lot of fun. Breaking In starring Gabrielle Union and Billy Burke premiers May 11th 2018. Uh oh that's just a week after Avengers: Infinity War. That will be a tough week.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Proud Mary - A Movie That Should've Worried About What Could've Been

Proud Mary uses the song on which the title is based very well. The opening credits scene is a rich, colorful and almost sensual nod to classic blaxploitation movies from the 70's. While a slow version of Proud Mary plays in the background, Taraji P. Henson as Mary is donning her "work clothes". The look is all appropriately badass because Mary works as an enforcer and assassin for a Boston crime family that has taken care of her since a childhood gone wrong. I thought "Oh this is promising". Unfortunately, I didn't leave the theater with that same feeling.

Proud Mary drops you into the plot in a way that seems mid story. Mary has killed a bookie that double crossed her bosses and discovered that he has a teen son obliviously playing video games in another room. She sneaks out with him still unaware (because like many a big hearted movie killer before her, She "doesn't do kids"). It turns out she keeps the son's presence a secret and has been using her underworld connections to keep an eye on him. After some domestic disasters and dismal foster homes, Danny (Jahi Di'Allo Winston) is in a similar situation to Mary, working and being taken care of by a rival crime family. When his situation becomes even more dangerous, Mary meets violence with violence and rescues him. However in doing so; she's become a very busy woman. She has to protect Danny, deal with a turf war she started and cover her tracks by lying to her very dangerous "family". Talk about "workin' night and day".

I didn't hide the lead here and let you know upfront I wasn't incredibly happy on the whole with Proud Mary. Just short of an hour and a half, I think this movie was heavily edited. There is certainly nothing wrong with brevity but if you have only left behind skin and bones, people are going to miss the meat of the story. I'm supposed to believe Mary is an evolving person but how do I know that? There isn't enough back story to back that up. The crime family parts of the story could be described as paint by the numbers, cookie cutter or just a bit lazy. Mary also has a supposed romantic back story with Tom (Billy Brown), her bosses son, but he mainly seems constantly irritated with her. Why? I don't know. We are never really told. Why all this rushing of the plot? So we can get to a bullet manufacturer giddy shoot em' up with an obscene number of bodies hitting the floor (but nary a cop in sight).

Positives? There aren't any real acting sins. Taraji P. Henson is well Trajaji P. Henson. From what I can see, this is going to be a bump in the road for her but one she will soon be looking back on from the rearview mirror. I'm unfamiliar with Jahi Di'Allo Winston but look forward to seeing more. Danny Glover as Mary's boss, Benny, is underused. Glover really sells the idea that Buddy's big smiles hid the sharp, dangerous teeth of a predator. Oh and the soundtrack is awesome. Check out the link at the bottom to find it on iTunes. Final verdict? C-.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Red Sparrow Trailer #2

It is not my most original thought to say that when I saw the first Red Sparrow trailer in September of last year (yeah that's right it's 2018), I thought "Why is Jennifer Lawrence playing the Black Widow in a movie called Red Sparrow?". Many a Marvel fan have been asking the same thing. The similarities between Lawrence's character and Black Widow played by Scarlett Johansson in the Marvel movies are unmistakable and fans have been clamoring for a stand alone Black Widow movie.... now they have it but not really.

My worries are actually removed from the whole Black Widow question. I am generally a Jennifer Lawrence fan and Red Sparrow looks like a perfectly decent thriller. However it's not exactly covering any new territory. I don't even have to go for the obvious and bring up the Bourne era. This reminds me too much of Point of No Return (1993 starring Bridget Fonda) which was itself a remake of a 1990 French film called La Femme Nikita. Don't get me started on remakes. Good luck Red Sparrow. I think you might need it.

Monday, January 8, 2018

How to Talk to Girls at Parties - Official Trailer

It's 1977 London and teenagers are obsessed with all things punk. Several of these punk wannabes crash a party and meet a "foreign exchange student" who is from much farther away than they can imaging - let's go as far as to say other worldly.

This trailer caught my attention because it brings together the writing of Neil Gaiman (he wrote the short story this is based on) and the directing style of James Cameron Mitchell. Neil Gaiman became a household name among comic book fans in the early 90's for the iconic Sandman series. A lot of his other works have been adapted for television but movie wise he is best know for Stardust in 2007. James Cameron Mitchell is who you can thank for the the fantastic musical riot Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001). He not only directed but starred as the title character.

Throw in the 1970's punk soundtrack and I think these two will have produced a winner. Ok, a winner that will fly under the radar as an Indie hit, but still a winner. Starring Elle Fanning, Nicole Kidman and Alex Sharp, How to Talk to Girls at Parties will premier in the UK May 2017 with a U.S. release date to still be announced.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Winchester Full Trailer

Music with high pitch crashing chords, blood running down the walls and a dead eyed child creepily singing an otherwise innocent song. These are all the makings of a good horror movie preview. Winchester spins a made up story about a very real person and place. Sarah Winchester, heir to her husband's fortune from the Winchester rifle, began building this house in 1894 and it went on almost continuously until her death in 1922.

As the story goes, she built this rambling confusing house on the advice of a medium who said it could be used to contain ghosts of all those killed by the Winchester rifle. No discernible floor plan, staircases leading to nowhere, false doors - all of these were meant to confuse the ghosts and trap them (and their thirst for vengeance) in the house.

Starring Helen Mirren, Sarah Snook and Jason Clark, Winchester premiers February 2nd.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Flatliners (2017)

In 1990 Flatliners brought together a Brat Pack group of rising stars who played medical students testing the divide between life and death by purposely stopping their hearts and then being revived. Soon they discover that each has a darkness tagging along on the journey back to the living.

Flash forward to 2017 and you have a sequel of sorts with some new students trying the same risky and questionable endeavor. This new group is made of Courtney (Ellen Page), Ray (Diego Luna), Marlo (Nina Dobrev), Jamie (James Norton) and Sophia (Kiersey Clemons). They are a usual mix of the types you would see on any pre packaged ER rip off. You know - belabored, stressed but young enough to still be brilliant and full of sexual tension. Courtney arranges an odd sort of surprise party and invites Jamie and Sophia to join her in the basement of the hospital where they all work. Once there she unveils her real plans - "Surprise, we're going to render me effectively dead and hope you can bring me back before I turn into a vegetable. Sounds like fun, right?" It turns out because of a tragic loss in her earlier life, Courtney is obsessed with near death experiences. With a little bit too little persuasion, Jamie and Sophia are on board. It doesn't go exactly as planned and Ray and Marlo get dragged into it all to save the day. Courtney's experience while scary, has a big impact and gives her a new lease on life (so to speak). The others, except for Ray, all fall in line and have their own flatline experience. Soon it's obvious that there are side effects as scary as any you might hear on a cheerful drug commercial. Mainly dark secrets from the past have followed them back from the other side and the consequences can be deadly.

It pains me to say but this flick is fairly redundant and wastes so many opportunities. Think about it. The premise is so intriguing. A completely dark, edgy, surreal tone could have permeated Flatliners. Instead, it plays out beat for beat almost like the original which was perfectly decent but a bit bland. I generally like all of the actors especially Ellen Page and Diego Luna. The Vampire Diaries was a guilty pleasure for years that filled a Buffy shaped hole in my heart; so I'm sort of a fan of Nina Dobrev. However not a one of them had any real meat in the script to work with. A C effort at best and you should not feel any guilt if you happen to stop and take a look when flipping through your basic cable channels.