Oscar Nominations 2019

 

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The 91st Academy Awards will be telecast live on February 24, 2019 on ABC.

Best Picture

BlacKkKlansman

Black Panther                                      Image result for black panther

Bohemian Rhapsody

The Favourite

Green Book

Roma

A Star Is Born

Vice

Best Director

Alfonso Cuarón – Roma

Spike Lee – BlacKkKlansman

Pawel Pawlikowski – Cold War

Yorgos Lanthimos – The Favourite

Adam McKay – Vice

Best Actress                                                                                          Image result for lady gaga star is born

Yalitza Aparicio – Roma

Glenn Close – The Wife

Olivia Colman – The Favourite

Lady Gaga – A Star Is Born

Melissa McCarthy – Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Related imageBest Actor

Christian Bale – Vice

Bradley Cooper – A Star Is Born

Willen Dafoe – At Eternity’s Gate

Rami Malek – Bohemian Rhapsody

Viggo Mortensen – Green Book

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams – Vice

Marina de Tavira – Roma

Regina King – If Beale Street Could Talk

Emma Stone – The Favourite

Rachel Weisz – The Favourite

Best Supporting ActorRelated image

Mahershala Ali – Green Book

Adam Driver – BlacKkKlansman

Sam Elliott – A Star Is Born

Richard E. Grant – Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Sam Rockwell – Vice

Best Animated FeatureImage result for spiderman into the spider verse

Incredibles 2

Isle of Dogs

Mirai

Ralph Breaks the Internet

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Best Original Screenplay

The Favourite – Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara

First Reformed – Paul Schrader

Green Book – Nic Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly

Vice – Adam McKay

Roma – Alfonso Cuaron

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs – Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

BlacKkKlansman – Charlie Wachtel & David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott & Spike Lee

If Beale Street Could Talk – Barry Jenkins

Can You Ever Forgive Me? – Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty

A Star Is Born – Eric Roth and Bradley Cooper and Will Fetters

Best Film Editing

BlacKkKlansmanImage result for blackkklansman

Bohemian Rhapsody

The Favourite

Green Book

Vice

Best Cinematography

Cold War

The Favourite

Never Look Away

Roma

A Star Is Born

Best Original Score

Black Panther

BlacKkKlansman

If Beale Street Could Talk

Isle of Dogs

Mary Poppins Returns

Best Original Song

“All the Stars” – Black Panther

“I’ll Fight” – RBG

“The Place Where Lost Things Go” – Mary Poppins Returns

“Shallow” – A Star Is Born

“When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” – The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Best Production Design

Black Panther

The Favourite

First Man

Mary Poppins Returns

Roma

Best Costume Design                  Image result for ballad of buster scruggs

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Black Panther

The Favourite

Mary Poppins Returns

Mary Queen of Scots

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Border

Mary Queen of Scots

Vice

Best Visual EffectsImage result for thanos

Avengers: Infinity War

Christopher Robin

First Man

Ready Player One

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Best Sound Editing

Black Panther

Bohemian Rhapsody

First Man

A Quiet Place

Roma

Best Sound Mixing

Black Panther

Bohemian Rhapsody

First Man

Roma

A Star Is Born

Best Documentary FeatureImage result for rbg

Free Solo

Hale County, This Morning This Evening

Minding the Gap

Of Fathers and Sons

RBG

Best Documentary Short Subject

Black Sheep

End Game

Lifeboat

A Night at the Garden

Period. End of Sentence.

Best Foreign Language Film                Related image

Capernaum – Lebanon

Cold War – Poland

Never Look Away – Germany

Roma – Mexico

Shoplifters – Japan

Best Short Film – Live Action

Detainment

Fauve

Marguerite

Mother

Skin

Best Animated Short Film

Animal Behavior

Bao

Late Afternoon

One Small Step

Weekends

I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

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The last of the Second Chance/First Impression Binge this weekend before the football game is from the creators of Scream.  I Know What You Did Las Summer takes the tropes of the slasher movie and the kids in jeopardy and makes a movie that I saw once and did not remember much about.

I knew that Buffy the Vampire Slayer was in it (aka Sarah Michelle Geller) and her future husband Freddie Prinze, Jr.  I found it hard to see Sarah running from this fisherman with a hook character as I kept wanting her to turn to him as Buffy and kick his ass.  Unfortunately, that was not to be.

Four kids, out for a summer night of drinking and sex on the beach, wind up running down a man on their way home.  Instead of calling the police, they decide to dispose of the body and pretend like it never happened.

Of course, that kind of secret has a way of coming back, but not usually in the form of a psychotic fisherman looking for revenge.

There are some big old plot holes in the story and the fisherman sure seemed to be able to be anywhere in a flash of a second.  Plus, Barry (Ryan Phillippe), the football kid and boyfriend of Buffy, was a real dick.  As an entitled rich kid, you almost did not mind the fisherman chopping him up for chum.

The film is pretty fun at times watching these four pretty people suffer for their crime while hoping that, at least some of them, make it out alive.  It overcome most of the problems to give us a poor man’s Scream.

The biggest issue I had was “how did the killer get around, get those bodies out of there so quickly and efficiently, and still be in the right place at the right time?”  It was a major distraction and made the killer seem supernatural even though, spoilers, he wasn’t.

Still, it is not the worst film I have seen in the genre and it provided some dumb fun.

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Perfect Bid:The Contestant Who Knew Too Much (2018)

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This one is a bit of a palate cleanser.

I needed one after the first four movies in the Second Chance/First Impression Binge this weekend.  The Land of the Lost nearly broke me.  So I found this documentary on Amazon Prime from last year called Perfect Bid: The Contestant That Knew Too Much which focused on the man (or perhaps the man behind the man) who made a perfect, to the dollar, bid on The Price is Right.

Theodore Slauson was a teacher and he was a fan of the television game show The Price is Right.  So much so he started plotting out the prices of prizes shown on the show so that he would know how much something would cost.  It gave him a distinct advantage if he were ever to get on the stage.

He attended multiple tapings and, since the crowd is encouraged to yell out prices to help contestants, Theodore would become a bit of a known commodity.

Ironically, when Theodore made it to the stage himself, the Wheel round knocked him out of contention.

It wasn’t until years later that Theodore returned to help Terry Kniess, the contestant who bid the exact amount on the show’s Showcase Showdown.  Kniess has never admitted that he had any sort of help from Theodore for the bid.

However, most of the documentary focuses on Theodore and his years in the audience of the show.  We get interviews with Bob Barker, long time show producer Roger Dobkowitz, Drew Carey and others to help punctuate the moment, but the scandal of the perfect bid is really not the main aspect of the film.

In fact, it is downplayed as a scandal at all.  It just indicates that Theodore is excellent at his homework on the show, going as far as to show his chart of prize costs.  There is a bunch of clips from the game show revealing Theodore yelling out exact price numbers to other contestants.

This documentary is fine, but it does not feel to have much weight to it.  To define the perfect bid itself as a scandal is stretching somewhat.  It was an enjoyable watch, and I am grateful for the cleansing of the palate that I needed for the other bad films that I have been binging this weekend.

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Land of the Lost (2009)

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The Second Chance/First Impression Binge continue this morning with an adaptation of a late 1970s, early 1980s kid show from Sid and Marty Krofft called Land of the Lost.  The film starred Will Farrell.

I have seen parts of the film before and did not like it at all, so second chance certainly fits here.  I watched the Land of the Lost TV show as a youth and always enjoyed it.  Then, when it came out on DVD, I purchased the entire series as a lark.  It was nostalgia, but I discovered something surprising.  The TV series was way better than I remembered.  In fact, I would go on and say that Land of the Lost was one of the best science fiction series of all time, certainly ahead of its time.  Of course, the biggest issue it faced was the budget and having dinosaurs and other such looked cheap.  That lack of ability to create the proper look caused Land of the Lost to not be taken as seriously as it could have been.  However, go back and watch the show for the stories, they are outstanding.

Unfortunately, whoever made the movie did not have the same love of the show as I did because they made a travesty, taking some of the best parts of the show and warping it into something unrecognizable and downright insulting.

I am not a Will Farrell fan, but the first five minutes or so of the movie gave me some hope.  I enjoyed the weird interaction with Matt Lauer and saw potential in the way they were setting up the story.  Then, Will Farrell and his idiotic comedy took over and the film took a nose dive into T-Rex poop.

Anna Friel played Holly and Danny McBride played Will, taking both of those characters in a completely different direction than the show.  There was no connection between them and Rick Marshall (Farrell). The way they entered the Land of the Lost was silly and everything afterwards was inconsistent and just a waste of a great concept.

The movie lost the heart that the series had and never found anything even close to it.  It took the characters and settings of the show and warped them into an unrecognizable mess that was simple a name of a character.

This is the third out of four movies during this binge that is terrible and I may be rethinking the theme of Second Chance/First Impression Binge.

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On the Basis of Sex (2018)

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Here is another of those limited 2018 release movies that I don’t get a chance to see until 2019.  This one is a biopic on the life, in particular a section of the life, of current Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

I must say that, while I enjoyed this movie, it was not as enjoyable for me as RBG, the documentary about Ruth Bader Ginsberg from last year.  Fact is though that I learned more about RBG last year and it contributed to my watching of this movie.

Film kicks off with Ruth at Harvard, one of the few women in her class, and dealing with the expectations of being a woman in society at the time.  The film rapidly progressed through this period to a landmark case of sexual discrimination that Ginsberg took on where a male was being discriminated against as a caretaker by tax code.  Ginsberg used this case to help propel her fights to battle against discrimination against women.

Felicity Jones was great as Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Armie Hammer was the perfect support for her as Ruth’s husband Martin.  One of those facts that RBG the documentary told me was that Martin was always a supporter of and an advocate for his wife and Armie Hammer showed that beautifully.

The film itself does feel fairly formulaic and typical for a biopic, but the strength of the story and the main performances really bring more to the film.

I thought the relationship shown us between Ruth and her daughter Jane (Cailee Spaeny) were some of the strongest scenes in the movie.  There was one scene in particular in the rain that I thought really brought some wonderful moments to the movie.

Unfortunately, some of the best parts of the third act court case were shown in the trailer instead of being saved for the film, which irritates me.

Kathy Bates was great here in a small role as famous lawyer Dorothy Kenyan.  Every scene Bates was in was worth the time.

On the whole, this was a fine movie, but it was not the grand slam that it could have been.  The typical beats of a biopic were hit and that minimized the emotional wallop at the end of the picture.  Last year’s documentary was much better and more impactful for me, but On the Basis of Sex was still a good watch.

3.5 stars

Glass

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There were a lot of critics who did not like or downright hated the third movie in the “Unbreakable” universe, Glass.  And I do not understand why because I thought this was awesome.

After Split revealed David Dunn (Bruce Willis) was in their shared universe, people became very excited about the final installment as did I.

Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) is studying those people who have a delusion that they are super heroes and she has come to the psychological institution where Elijah Price (Sam Jackson) is being held in an attempt to “cure” him.  After a confrontation between David Dunn, “The Overseer” (Bruce Willis) and The Horde (James McAvoy), they end up in her care as well at the same psych ward.  It soon becomes apparent that Elijah, aka Mr. Glass, has other plans.

It is difficult to talk too much about what happens in Glass without spoiling it, so I am going to do my best.  Let’s start with the great performance given by James McAvoy once again.  His creation of the multiple personalities of this character is such strong work that he is dominant in most every scene he is in.

The film starts with a great action sequence between David Dunn and the Horde and had me completely engaged.  I enjoyed the Bruce Willis work here more than most Bruce Willis performances recently.  I think that goes with the idea that the character of David Dunn is very much laid back as Bruce Willis is.

The middle of the film does drag a bit, as all three of the main characters are at the mental institution, however, as the film heads to the third act, it takes off big time and I loved the ending.

I do not think the film goes where people expect it to go and that might be why some people have not liked it.  I actually thought that was part of the film’s real strength.  It took your typical comic book movie and subverted expectations and norms, even while calling your attention to the fact that it understands the comic book norms that it is subverting.

Some people claimed that Samuel L. Jackson is not in the movie enough and that since it is called Glass, that is a problem.  I never thought that for one minute.  I guess I felt the idea and presence of Mr. Glass throughout the film and I did not need to have Sam Jackson on screen constantly for that to happen.

It is now mid-January and I have disagreed with the critics on two wide release movies (the other being The Upside).  I wonder if this is a trend for 2019?  I loved Glass and thought it was a fantastic film that took Unbreakable and Split and wrapped up the story in an entertaining and intelligent way.

4 stars 

Mars Attacks! (1996)

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Well, the snow has ended.

So the Winter Storm part of the weekend binge-a-thon is done too.  Now, we are just down to the Second Chance/First Impression Binge and this is the first second chance we have to offer.

Mars Attacks! was a comedy alien invasion spoof film from the mind of Tim Burton that came during the mid 90s and I disliked it quite a bit the first and only time that I saw it on VHS.  Finding it now on Amazon Prime, I decided that this would be the next installment in the binge.

And I did find it more entertaining than I did on the first viewing.

There are a ton of actors appearing in here and most of the big names do not last for too long.  There are a bunch of storylines that really make little to no sense.  It is just a fun movie where a bunch of little green jerks from Mars came to the planet earth and tried to take it over.

Jack Nicholson was the President of the United States (and a weird second role of a Vegas businessman that really had no reason).  Glenn Close was the vapid FLOTUS.  A group of actors (Michael J. Fox, Pierce Brosnan, Danny DeVito, Martin Short, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jack Black) are here basically to see how the Martians kill them.

The main heroes of the piece is Jim Brown, Tom Jones (playing himself), Lukas Haas and Sylvia Sidney.  Not exactly the group of names when matched up with the other actors in this movie.

That was probably the idea here and Mars Attacks! made these deaths funny a lot of the time.  The Martians themselves were fairly ridiculous too.

Certainly, one of the standout performances was Lisa Marie as “Martian Girl” who is able to infiltrate the White House with horny chief of staff Martin Short.  Her weird way of moving created the most memorable of all the characters involved.

While this is nothing unbelievable, I found it more entertaining this time around and the first film of this binge that is going to receive a positive review.  One out of three so far.

Getting out this afternoon for Glass.  Binge will continue later this weekend.

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Terminator Salvation (2009)

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Well, the snow is still falling.

And I am 0-2.

The Second Chance/First Impression Winter Storm Binge continued with Terminator Salvation.  A 2009 movie that I had never seen and has been called the worst film of the Terminator franchise.

Unfortunately, that may not be too far from the truth.

This was so boring.  It seemed that all this movie had was explosions, machine gunfire, another explosion, and surprisingly poor CGI.

Oh, and a weird voice from Christian Bale.

There was a great cast starting with Bale and following with Sam Worthington, Helena Bonham Carter, Anton Yelchin, Common, and Bryce Dallas Howard.  Yet, it felt like the film was full of people who could not act at all.

The film was dark, literally, and that made it difficult to watch.  It was hard to tell many times exactly what was going on in many of the action scenes.  The film wanted me to connect with the human characters, but I did not.

This is the last film before I go to bed tonight and hopefully two things will happen.  One, the Winter Storm will be over when I start the next film and two, maybe I will find a film that I do not dislike so much.  Maybe it is time to search for a second chance film.

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Cool poster though….

The Happening (2008)

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We are currently in a snow storm which should be going for at least tomorrow some time.  So I decided that this would be a good time to do another of the EYG Binge-a-thons.  I have been planning the next binge.  This time, the concept is Second Chance/First Impression Winter Storm Binge.  The idea is that I am going to choose from two types of films.  Either films that I saw once before and did not like or movies that I have not seen because I have heard others say negative things.

I mean, the only time I ever watched Se7en was in the theater and I did not like it much, but when I rewatched it last year, I found it much better. The same could be said for Sicario.  You never know how your opinions or tastes may change over the years.

I started compiling possible lists when I came across this movie.  With Glass coming out this weekend (and me yet having to see it, despite some negative reviews I have heard), I thought this would be the perfect film with which to kick off the Second Chance/First Impression Winter Storm Binge.  M. Night Shyamalan’s notoriously bad movie starring Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel called The Happening.

“What? Noooooooooooo”

I just saw some discussion of this on Movie Fights Live this past Thursday, where they had a whole Shyamalan-themed episode.  It also shares a lot of ideas with the recent Netflix hit Bird Box.  What better to do for a First Impression (as I have never seen this).

My first impression… this is crap.

I was not angry watching this like I was during Movie 43 or Holmes and Watson.  This was more like watching Birdemic: Shock and Terror or Manos: Hands of Fate.  You know that at some point, the RiffTrax Live guys will get there hands on this and it will be hilarious.  Heck, there were parts of this movie that were damn funny as it was (even though that was not what was intended).

Mark Wahlberg has had some bad movies before (Transformers: The Last Knight, Planet of the Apes, Collateral) but this one is right near the top of stinkers.  He is terrible as a science teacher named Elliot Moore.  He seemed void of any real emotional reactions and his acting is wooden as can be.

Yes, the trees and the wind were trying to kill them, and, after watching the film and their acting, how could you honestly blame them.

The dialogue was ridiculous.  The story was horrendous.  There was no sense being made and M. Night tried to bash you over the head with a message.

I laughed more here than anything else.  There were no tension or scares.  I can’t imagine why they made some of the choices that they made.

This one did not get the Second Chance/First Impression Winter Storm Binge off to a good start.  I hope I can find some diamonds in the rough during this binge or I might have to move over to the Punisher.

*Please let Glass be better than this*

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Invaders #1

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Invaders #1

War Ghosts

Writer:  Chip Zdarsky

Artist:  Carlos Magno with Butch Guice

Cover Art:  Butch Guise & Romulo Fajardo Jr.

Captain Amercia.  Namor.  Bucky/Winter Soldier.  Jim Hammond the Human Torch.

The Invaders.  Marvel’s premiere World War II super hero team is back, facing a huge problem within the Marvel Universe.  Namor is preparing his forces of Atlantis to launch an assault on the surface world and Cap and Jim hope that the can find the way to bring him back to the side of the heroes.

I enjoyed this issue quite a bit.  It was told in a couple of different manners, including flashbacks back to the war that showed a connection with Namor that we may not have known or understood.  It also followed Jim Hammond, the android who was once the Human Torch, trying to write a book about the days of the Invaders and uncovering some mysterious truths of Namor and his years of wandering the earth.  And how does Charles Xavier fit into the story?

I am compelled to see what will happen.  These characters have literal centuries of interactions and development to mine from and that means this series can go in many possible directions.  Captain America is conflicted.  It certainly wasn’t that long ago when he was the public enemy #1, so he may understand Namor.  But Namor appears to have taken a turn toward the insane.

I have to say that I do not love the art.  It is fine, but it does not blow my socks off.  I would say that the art is the only current part that is even slightly negative with the new Invaders series.

ReadIt

 

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Top 10 Revenge Films

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This week, John and Matt dropped their Top 10 Movies of 2018.  I have recently posted my top films of the year, so I hoped that the classic episode on the Patreon would be one that I could do.  And it turned out to be Top 10 Revenge Movies, which I have never done.  This was going to work well.

Then I started doing the research and I found a list of a lot of movies.  However, there were no major standout films for me.  Number one was tough to choose, and there are some movies I liked that did not make the list.  There is at least movie that I love so much and it is one that I never considered a revenge film, but it was on a bunch of the lists so I am including it.

 

Image result for wrath of khan#10.  Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.  Ricardo Montalban comes back to Star Trek as one of the great villains of all time, Khan.  And this is the greatest Star Trek movie ever made. The final scene between Kirk and Spock is as emotional as any film you are ever going to see.

 

 

Image result for inigo montoya#9.  The Princess Bride.  Here is the film that I had not ever considered a revenge film, but it was on several lists that I saw during research and The Princess Bride is my absolute favorite movie.  I placed it at number 9 only because the revenge is only part of this epic movie.  “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya…you killed my father… prepare to die.”  Inigo lets us know as well that the reason he works for Vizzini is that there is not a lot of money in revenge.  And yet, he found that villainous Count Rugen and his six fingers on his right hand and took care of business.  This is my favorite film on this list, but, since it was only partially a revenge film, I dropped it down.

 

Related image#8.  The Crow.  The Crow is a fantastic film featuring the final appearance of Brandon Lee, as he was accidentally killed during the filming of this movie.  This has some wonderful violence and, unfortunately, was unable to ever recapture the magic after the loss of Lee.  Still, I loved this heroic vigilante.

 

 

Image result for django unchained#7.  Django Unchained.  Quentin Tarantino created this wonderful western with the most brutal racial tone and imagery filled with violence and blood.  The film has a ton of brilliant performances from Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Don Johnson.  Django is as compelling of a film as Tarantino has ever done.

 

Image result for cape fear#6.  Cape Fear.  Another film that features the antagonist as the person who is seeking revenge, Robert De Niro is just amazing as the ex-con Max Cady, who has returned to seek retribution from his lawyer, Sam Bowden, played by Nick Nolte, for his failure to get him off years before.  And this goes crazy.  The final confrontation on the boat is just tense as can be and features some of the best work from these actors.  Throw in the great Jessica Lange and we got an awesome movie.  Director Martin Scorsese brought us this remake of a film from 1962 and truly created some magic.

 

Image result for sweeney todd#5.  Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.  Johnny Depp appears as the crazy barber who returns to London after being railroaded to Australia for a crime he did not commit, by the evil Judge Turpin.  Turpin’s lust for Benjamin Barker’s wife, Lucy, drove the judge’s decisions.  When Barker returned under the guise of Sweeney Todd, he set out to find his revenge and maybe meet his daughter Johanna.  However, the daughter is not really what Sweeney Todd is interested in.  What better way to seek revenge than to bake your enemies into a meat pie?  Great music.  Great tone.  Very suspenseful.

 

Image result for taken#4.  Taken.  Liam Neeson is not the dad you want to piss off.  And when he tells you on the phone that you had better give him his daughter back, you had better give him his daughter back.  This was a fantastic movie that has, admittedly, been tarnished by the terrible Taken 2 and Taken 3.  Still, Taken has one of the most iconic moments in any revenge movie with that phone call scene. I found it extremely brutal and very fun.

 

Image result for V for vendetta#3.  V for Vendetta.  This film was based on the classic graphic novel by Alan Moore of the same name, despite the fact that Moore was a huge critic of the movie version of his work.  V for Vendetta is the story of a future society in England trying to avoid seeing its population riot and overthrow the government.  The push is lead by V, a man who was turned into a monster by the very government in a project.  V has a list and he works on filling that list for the whole movie.  Remember, Remember the Fifth of November…

 

Related image#2.  John Wick.  I mean, they killed his dog.  John Wick was such a surprise and a renaissance for Keanu Reeves.  John wick just wanted to be left alone.  He was out of the life and did not need to kill anyone any more, but, after his wife dies of cancer, the world he left behind pulled him back in.  They killed his dog!  One of my favorite lines in this movie is when the head bad guy discovered that the car that his dimwit son had stolen once belonged to John Wick and he was completely in shock.  His simple response of “Oh” told you all you needed to know about who John Wick was and what was about to be unleashed.

 

 

Related image#1.  Unforgiven.  The Clint Eastwood Oscar winning western featuring Eastwood as a killer trying to not kill again, but having the people around him not leaving him to his retirement.  In this case, there is a prostitute who has been disfigured by a john and has come to William Munny for help.  Unable to resist, Munny tries to do what needed to be done without becoming the monster he used to be.  Unforgiven also stars Gene Hackman as the wicked Little Bill Daggett, the sheriff who has abused his power for years, and who is looking to prevent the spread of vigilantism in his land.  Unforgiven is one of the best westerns I have seen and is probably the best Clint Eastwood movie made.

 

Honorable Mentions.  There are a bunch of these.  Kill Bill Vol 1 and 2 are films that I have only seen once, years ago, but I remember liking them.  They just did not make the list.  Payback from Mel Gibson is a great film.  Christopher Nolan’s creative film, Memento, is another good addition, but another movie that I have not seen in years.  The Revenant is the film that the classic Top 10 show was honoring this week.  The bear scene was one of the best in the film.  All I really remember in Inglorious Basterds is the ending with Hitler and Brad Pitt’s hilarious I-talian accent.  The remake and original versions of True Grit are top notch, starring John Wayne and Jeff bridges respectably.  Gladiator and Braveheart are “historical” revenge stories that could always make a list like this.  They were both on Matt and John’s list.  Stephen King’s original Carrie found that you had better not drop pig’s blood onto a powerful telekinetic if you want to survive prom.  Darkman is another hero/vigilante film that was fun to watch.

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The Death of Superman (2018)/Reign of the Supermen (2019)

The Death of Superman + Reign of the Supermen Double Feature

Fathom Events today provided two DC Animated movies that showed that it is possible to make a compelling and interesting film focusing on Superman.

The Death of Superman was a direct-to-DVD from last year and told the story from the iconic DC Comics comic book from 1993, Superman #75.  This was one of the comics that Batman v. Superman took and crammed together for their story arc.  This is evidence proving that the choice to rush through the storyline in the live action films was a huge mistake.  At the end of the animated version, when Superman sacrificed his life to save Lois Lane from the rampaging Doomsday, I was feeling the emotions.  There were some tears in my eyes whereas I felt nothing during the whole BvS mess.

They followed this up with a new release of Reign of the Supermen, which continued the storyline from the comics where a group of “new” Supermen (a clone Superboy, The Eradicator, Steel and Cyborg Superman) stepped forward in the absence of Kal-El to stand in his stead.

Quick takes on these two animated films.  I thought The Death of Superman was fantastic from start to finish.  Loved just about everything about it.  Reign of the Supermen dragged a bit for me at the start, but the last half of the film was just excellent.

Once again, as I stated with my review of Justice League: Gods and Monsters, maybe it is time that Warner Brothers divvy up some cash so these DC Animated movies can get some better animation.  There is no doubt that the animation on these films are below average, if not downright cheap looking and that is a damn shame because the storytelling is top-notch.  WB should take some of that Aquaman moolah and see if they couldn’t come up with the next Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse-style film using the wealth of wonderful characters that DC has.

Back to the double feature, I found the pay off to be strongly done once again.  Not only did we get the best representation of Superman we have gotten since Christopher Reeve (or maybe Superman: The Animated Series), but we got the Justice League cameos as well.  Both Flash (Christopher Gorham) and Green Lantern (Nathan Fillion) stole the show.  Rosario Dawson’s Wonder Woman was another highlight.

The voice cast was solid.  Jerry O’Connell as Superman.  Rebecca Romojn as Lois Lane.  Rainn Wilson as Lex Luthor.  All three stood out as great castings.

Being able to watch the two films together in one event was an awesome treat and it really helped the second film.  I feel that if it hadn’t had that strong intro, the relatively weaker beginning of the second film would have stood out more.  As it is, it just felt like a slower bit necessary in the story.

This is what the DCEU should have worked toward instead of throwing away Superman’s death as a moment in a movie that did not need it.  This is so much more compelling and emotional than the Superman death in BvS that it showed what could have been.

The Death of Superman is…

vintage

While Reign of the Supermen is…

goodstuff

The Death of Superman + Reign of the Supermen Double Feature

The Upside

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The Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer on this film is at 39%, which made me think that I was in store for a January movie.  However, I like both Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston, and honestly the trailers looked decent so I was ready to give this a chance.

I really enjoyed this film.  I wondered why so many other reviews had this as rotten.  Listening to Jeremy Jahns on YouTube helped me to maybe find what the answer to that question was.  Apparently, The Upside is a remake of a beloved French movie called The Intouchables, which I have never seen.  This fact makes me wonder if these critics are judging the movie versus this other movie instead of judging it as a film on its own.

I can certainly understand that.  If there was a perfectly competent remake of a movie I loved like Raiders of the Lost ArkBack to the Future or Die Hard, but that perfectly competent remake did not capture the same magic of the original, I would most likely find that it colored my perceptions of it too.  Since that did not happen here, I can look at The Upside through clear lenses. (And to be fair, I did not go through all the reviews to determine if the “rotten” ones were for that reason.  I am simply speculating.)

Dell (Kevin Hart) is an ex-con who is trying to get through life, struggle to repair a relationship with his son and get a job.  Out of necessity, he replies to a job for a janitor, but winds up in the wrong place, interviewing with a wealthy quadriplegic Phillip Lacasse (Bryan Cranston) as a caregiver.  Depressed and lacking care for himself, Phillip hired the clearly unqualified Dell instead of a crew of qualified candidates.

Dell and Phillip have a genuine friendship and a connection develop during their working relationship that shows the strength of both actors.

Honestly, this is the best performance I have seen from Kevin Hart in a long time.  He was in control and contained instead of the “Kevin Hart”-type character that he always plays, loud, boisterous and chaotic.  I found it to be a very welcomed change, proving to me that he was an actor.  Understand, I have always liked Kevin Hart, but I think he is one of those comedic actors (Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, Adam Sandler etc) who find themselves typecast and playing the same form of character in every film.  This change is important for his career.

Bryan Cranston is his typically fine self, always giving a professional and well thought out performance.  His expressions were outstanding here, as he was unable to use his body in any other manner.

The film was funny and warm and the relationship between Hart and Cranston was clearly at the center of everything the film did.  Some of the scenes between them were outstanding and was the major reason to see the movie.

Nicole Kidman played Phillip’s assistant Yvonne and she was great as she always is.

I really enjoyed The Upside. I did not have a beloved favorite movie to compare it to so I did not have that blinding me to this movie’s charm as I fear many critics may have done.

3.8 stars

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

Image result for indiana jones and the kingdom of the crystal skull movie poster

So last weekend I watched the three great (okay two great and one okay) Indiana Jones movies and I made a smart aleck remark about the fourth film not really existing.  Of course, we know that the infamous fourth film of this franchise did indeed exist and it was also on NetFlix.  So, in spirit of completion and in second chances, I decided to give Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull a second look.

It was absolutely as bad as I remembered.

Now, I told myself at the beginning that I would specifically look for parts that I liked, because there had to be some, and, in fact, I did find some parts of the movie that was directed by Steven Spielberg and written by George Lucas that I liked.

What I liked:

  • Harrison Ford is always fun, even if he was way too old for this.
  • The early part of the film’s motorcycle chase.
  • During that chase scene, there was a moment where Mutt (Shia LaBeouf) looked at Indy with a “look what I did” look and Indy looked back with an unimpressed glare that was taken directly from The Last Crusade.  It was meant to hearken back to the relationship between Indy and his father (Sean Connery).  That was cute.
  • There were some classic Indy lines and banter
  • Cate Blanchett.  You’ve got to respect her as she always throws herself into the role, even with a terrible Russian accent.

Unfortunately, that is where the “What I liked” ended.

What I did not like/hated:

  • Mutt.  He was really forced, and yet, in the third act, he disappeared.
  • Almost everything in the jungle chase.
  • The “Call it a rope, not a snake” gag.
  • Marion Ravenwood did not fit in this film and forcing her in just did not work.
  • All the peripheral characters (Oxley, Mac, Dean Stanford) took away from what should have been the focus of the film, the relationship between Indy and Mutt.
  • Mac, in particular… the “triple agent”?
  • The sci-fi ending was just stupid.
  • Why can’t Russians hit anything with a machine gun?
  • The monkeys.
  • Oh… I nearly forgot… “Nuking the Fridge.”  All of that. And groundhogs.
  • The FBI hating on Indy only to drop out of the story completely after the first act.
  • Most of the comedy was over-the-top and missed badly.
  • The story was confusing and you could not connect to any of it.

 

In the end, this was one of the most disappointing film going experiences I had had.  I remember walking out of the film with my friends in shock.  We turned to each other and we all just admitted that Kingdom of the Crystal Skull sucked.  Nothing about the rewatch or second chance made me change that opinion.

stale

Image result for indiana jones and the kingdom of the crystal skull movie poster

If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)

Image result for if beale street could talk movie poster

Every year, there are several movies that are released in 2018, limited, that never come around to my neck of the woods until January.  So a couple of years ago, I decided that these would not be on my 2019 list of best movies because they were released in 2018.  The first one of those films is the second film from Barry Jenkins, whose first film, Moonlight, won an Academy Award.

This is a wonderful story as well, but I am not sure that it is as wonderful as Moonlight was.

This is the story of young love separated by the law.  Tish (Kiki Layne) and Fonny (Stephan James) were childhood friends, close as could be, who developed into a romantic relationship as young adults.  However, despite his innocence, Fonny was arrested for rape and sent to jail, separating the pair.  Tish then discovered that she was pregnant.

The film looked at the love story between the two in flashbacks, focused on Tish and her family, and the battle to try and get Fonny a fair trial despite being railroaded by a seemingly racist cop (Ed Skrein).

Standing out was Regina King, whose performance has drawn people to hope for an Oscar nomination.  She was powerful in her screen time, but, with the amount of buzz I had heard about her, I expected more time on screen for her.  When she was there, King was tremendous.

Kiki Layne was beautiful and had a presence on-screen that demanded attention as well.  I think she is a future superstar as well.

There was some stretches of the film that dragged a bit for me, particularly in the middle and I feel as if some plot points were left to dangle, and the ending was not satisfactory, however, none of these criticisms hurt the film too badly.

That is because the most important part of the film was the relationship with Tish and Fonny, and that worked beautifully.  You rooted for them. You hoped they could make it.  You loved watching them together and how they were able to complete the other.

Plus, there is the social justice aspect as well, with the way Fonny was taken down despite having a solid alibi and being in a place that he could not have gotten to and still committed the rape.

Yet, the performance from the rape victim (Emily Rios) was breathtaking as well and gave Regina King the best material to play off of in the entire film.

If Beale Street Could Talk was adapted for the screen from a novel from James Baldwin of the same title.  It provided a richness unlike many other source materials.

The film is a beautifully made film and highlights some top notch performances.  Barry Jenkins cemented himself as one of the best new directors in movies today.

3.75 stars