We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)

DailyView: Day 275, Movie 385

Whoa, this one was tough.

I found this on Amazon Prime a few days ago and added it to my Watchlist mainly because I like Tilda Swinton and I found the description to be intriguing. Little did I know how hard this movie would hit.

Swinton played Eva, the mother of a strange boy Kevin who seemed to have a lot of resentment and anger toward her. Any time his father, Frank (John C. Reilly) was around, Kevin seemed to be a normal boy. However, his behaviors began to escalate over the years and caused stress and anxiety for his mother.

There are flashes ahead showing something terrible that had occurred, but the film kept the mystery of what was about to happen close to the vest.

Kevin was played by several actors, but the two that really stood out was the teenage Kevin, Ezra Miller, and the younger boy Kevin, Jasper Newell. Both Newell and Miller do a wonderful job bringing a sinister performance of the clearly psychotic Kevin, creating a portrait of a mentally unstable child who wound up committing a horrendous atrocity.

The beginning of the film was confusing. I had some trouble following the story as Eva was all over the place. However, as it progressed the story, the plot became more clear and became more intense. John C. Reilly’s character was blind to the issues his son was having and the manipulation that he was pulling. There were not many characters to really root for, because even Eva had plenty of negativity to her. She was not a great mother.

There is a coldness in the film, which is obviously intentional. That tone carries through the entire film and, I have to tell you, the end of the movie was a real kick in the gut. The film does not try and sugar coat anything. It is not an enjoyable movie, but it is a fascinating one.

Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)

DailyView: Day 274, Movie 384

This has been referred to as Shawn of the Dead meets La La Land, but I got a lot more of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s musical episode, Once More with Feeling, vibes during the Christmas zombie musical, Anna and the Apocalypse.

Yes, I said “Christmas zombie musical.”

This is quite the mashup film, with the three genres slammed together. I enjoyed this film and it was more than a straight comedy. There were some great emotional moments for our main characters and all while singing.

With the arrival of a zombie apocalypse in the small town of Little Haven during Christmastime, Anna (Ella Hunt), a brash young woman who had just told her father (Mark Benton) that she was not going to college, but was going to travel, and friends had to struggle to try and survive. While many things were played for comedy, there were distinctive moments of pain and anguish facing our characters, and they all had to deal with the dangers of the new world.

And, of course, do it while singing.

The music was entertaining and fun. Again, some of the songs really had a Buffy the Vampire Slayer flare to them. One of the teachers at the school, Mr. Savage (Paul Kaye) found himself freed by the chaos in the school and became a epic villain in the film. He was not a zombie, just a man who had found that the zombie apocalypse had made him into a worse image of himself. Much like the Walking Dead, the most dangerous villains on that show were the humans, much like Savage.

Like all entries in the zombie genre, there are sad moments when some of our favorite characters are revealed to have been or are shown being bitten. There are a few moments like this in Anna and the Apocalypse and they pull on all the proper heart strings.

And, by the way, they did it while singing.

Have you got that yet?

I thought this was great and gave us the best moments of all of the mishmash of film genres in one. Anna and the Apocalypse was one that was not on my radar and a film I never would have seen without the DailyView, so I am very pleased that this binge has been such a success.

March of the Penguins (2005)

DailyView: Day 273, Movie 383

This was the film that made everyone wish that Morgan Freeman would narrate their lives.

The iconic documentary about the emperor penguin and their journey across the frozen tundra of Antarctica and the process of the family unit that the penguins undertake. The harrowing adventure is narrated with the ever smooth voice of Morgan Freeman, and the uncanny direction of French director Luc Jacquet.

Apparently, the film was first shot as a French film, with a different narrator and featured dialogue from the penguins and a pop music soundtrack, according to IMDB. This feels like a much better idea than that.

The part I liked the most about this documentary is that, unlike a lot of the Disney nature documentaries, they avoid the personification of the animals they are following. They do not give them cute little names or assign them an inner monologue designed to entertain the little children. Instead, it treats these animals as animals, following their behaviors and the nature of the animals. They keep the personification to a minimum.

And, of course, Freeman is gold. He is clearly the reason this documentary became such a smash hit, including an Academy Award for Best Documentary, feature.

The imagery is astounding and the shots of the penguins range from amazing to ridiculously adorable. It does not shy away from the real world consequences faced by the penguins on their dangerous journey.

This is a fantastic documentary and deserving of the status it holds.

Only (2019)

DailyView: Day 272, Movie 382

Carl!!!!

So I watched Only on Netflix because of the thumbnail on the streaming service of Chandler Riggs, who played Carl on The Walking Dead. Of course, he ONLY had about five minutes in this movie. Hardly worth even putting on a resume.

So, that was working against the movie… if ONLY that was the ONLY problem I had with ONLY, I would get by. Unfortunately, ONLY has plenty of issues as a film.

ONLY is a film that deals with a comet that brought a virus to earth that began killing all the women on the planet. Virus movies are a little shaky at this point in humanity because of what we all have gone through the last two years. I could get by with the idea of a killer virus, if it had been done well.

Another major problem was the story structure as it was told in a non-linear fashion that simply did not work. The flashbacks were confusing and did not provide specifics to the tale. These scenes simply muddied the water of the tale and made it less cohesive of a story.

Leslie Odom Jr. starred as Will who was trying to protect his girlfriend Eva, played by Frieda Pinto, from the virus. One moment we see the pair trying to quarantine themselves in an apartment and the next they are traveling the countryside and she is sick.

Frieda Pinto was trying to make herself look like a male, but she is a strikingly lovely woman and tucking her long hair under a stocking cap and rubbing some ash on her face to make it look like stubble simply did not make her look like a man. That whole situation destroyed any suspension of disbelief I had in ONLY.

We also saw some scenes in the flashbacks that made me just dislike Eva, and I found her terribly stupid and completely selfish. These flashbacks did not help me feel for her, even a little bit. It did not help that I found the scenes horribly overacted by Pinto. She was much better in other parts of the film, but there were some scenes that were practically unwatchable.

Odom Jr. carried the film. He was very solid in what he had to do. There were dumb things tossed at them to cause conflict (as if his girlfriend, sick with a killer virus wasn’t enough of a conflict). The entire bit with Chandler Riggs could have been left on the cutting room floor. Maybe it should have been left there. It presented nothing to the overall story.

In fact, neither did the story of all the women of the world dying or being taken to harvest their eggs in an attempt to be able to repopulate the species. This was, at best, background noise.

I had some hope that this might be a hidden gem on the Netflix queue, but, unfortunately, this died quickly.

Tell Me Who I Am (2019)

DailyView: Day 271, Movie 381

Some documentaries tell a story that is so amazing that it is hard to believe that it is real, that it actually happened. Docs such as Three Identical Strangers, Tickled, The Imposter each told a tale that proves the old cliché true: Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. The 2019 Netflix documentary Tell Me Who I Am falls right in to that category.

Tell Me Who I Am started off with a terrible motorcycle accident that caused 18-year old Alex Lewis, twin brother of Marcus, to lose his memory. He remembered nothing, but he knew his twin. The connection between them was still there despite the amnesia.

Marcus began to help his brother by showing him photos and filling in the missing gaps in Alex’s memory of their childhood and his missing life. For fourteen years, this was they way their relationship went, with Marcus helping to create new memories of the old events.

However, when their mother died, a dark secret came out causing Alex to question everything that he had been told.

The entire film was basically Alex and Marcus speaking to the camera about their different lives developed and how the amnesia affected each other.

Most importantly, without revealing any details, you can see and feel the love these two men have for one another despite being separated with knowledge for years.

The doc was shot beautifully, adding to the tone and mood of the film. Director Ed Perkins creates a must see documentary that has some deeply painful information. If you like docs, this one is a worthy watch.

My Best Friend Is a Vampire (1987)

DailyView: Day 270, Movie 380

I found a film on the “leaving HBO Max this month” list called My Best Friend is a Vampire and it was from the 1980s and I thought… how could this go wrong? I had a feeling about the type of film this was going to be and I felt in the mood for one of those silly, 80s vampire flicks. That was exactly what it was.

Jeremy (Robert Sean Leonard) is a teenage delivery boy who found himself at an old mansion with a beautiful woman who wants the boy in a sexual manner. During the encounter, she bit him on the neck. It is revealed that she was a vampire and he was turned into one too.

There was a professor (David Warner) with an aide (Paul Wilson) chasing after Jeremy (actually, Jeremy’s friend played by Evan Mirand) to kill him because they were trying to kill all vampires. René Auberjonois showed up as a friendly vampire to help Jeremy along. There is a girl (Cheryl Pollak) that Jeremy had a dream about and now is interested in. Fannie Flagg is here too.

This was such a stupid movie, but it had its fun times as well. The acting was not good and the story was just as ridiculous as you would imagine. Some of the adjustments they made to the vampire mythos were cool,

The first half hour or so things were decent but the longer the film continued , the worse it got.

Not much else to say. It was a decent time watching a stupid movie.

The Departed (2006)

DailyView: Day 270, Movie 379

The crime films have never been my favorite genre, so I have missed out on several of the big name films in that style. The Martin Scorsese directed film The Departed was a little different because I have seen the ending of the movie, but had never seen the bulk of it. I am not sure how that happened, but it did. It has been on my queue at HBO Max for awhile now, and I decided to finally watch it for the DailyView.

This was a tense, violent thriller with some awesome acting and a bunch of characters that were lowlifes and scumballs. That was on either side of the law.

South Boston police were waging a war against the criminal underworld of the city, led by Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). The police recruited a young cop out of the academy with some shady background, Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) to go undercover in a complex set up, to try and bring Costello down. However, there was a mole working for Costello inside the Boston police, Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon). Both of them attempted to uncover the undercovers as Costello continued his reign of terror and bad behavior.

Extremely bloody. Violent. There are some shocking moments throughout. As I said, I knew of the shocking ending, which would have been unbelievable if I had not have known about it prior.

The cast, besides our three main (Nicholson, DiCaprio and Damon) was stellar. It included Vera Farmiga, Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen, Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Anderson, Ray Winstone, Mark Rolston, and Kevin Corrigan.

The film strings you along as you are never quite sure what is going to happen next. It makes you feel as if you could not trust anybody because they all may have been involved.

Jack Nicholson was crazy good as this moral-less criminal who believed that he was untouchable. Nicholson gave off an evil as this character that made you want to see him brought down, although it was a tad underwhelming when his fate was revealed.

The film was beautifully directed, the imagery framed perfectly. Scorsese won an Academy Award for his work on The Departed, and the film was the Academy Award winner for the Best Movie. This is a film that had a lot going for it and it was worth the wait to finally see.

The Right Stuff (1983)

DailyView: Day 270, Movie 378

Once again, we are going back to the very beginning of the DailyView and the first list of films that I wanted to include in this binge. Honestly, I had intended to watch The Right Stuff early in the binge, but the runtime of 3 hours and 13 minutes kept me from watching it. I carved out the time this morning to schedule the final viewing of the astronaut film.

I have to say, I was somewhat disappointed.

Don’t misunderstand me, I liked parts of the film, and I appreciated it, but I just did not find the movie that engaging.

The Right Stuff tells the true story about a group of pilots to become the first astronauts to be sent into space. Some of the classic astronauts that were included were John Glenn (Ed Harris), Alan Shepard (Scott Glenn), Gordon Cooper (Dennis Quaid), Gus Grissom (Fred Ward) and Deke Slayton (Scott Paulin). There was also a big part of the film dedicated to Chuck Yeager, played by the Oscar nominated Sam Shepard.

There were moments that I enjoyed in The Right Stuff. I enjoyed how the seven main characters were so connected with each other that they supported each other no matter what came up. The film did not feel the need to toss in some convoluted conflict just to create some kind of drama. Another thing I loved was how much John Glenn loved and supported his wife, who was embarrassed by her stuttering issues, no matter what. There was a scene involving Vice-President LBJ (Donald Moffat) that was tremendous.

However, it was very long and several of the bits of the film felt disjointed. Performances were excellent, but there was just too many moments that did not feel vital or succinct enough. Lots of the film felt repetitive or did not fit in with the overall film.

I was thinking that this was going to be a great but it turned out to be a little over average for me. I was disappointed that The Right Stuff did not hit home with me as much as it could have.

Son of Bigfoot (2017)

DailyView: Day 269, Movie 377

Last year on Netflix, there was an animated movie called Bigfoot Family, and I was interested because I have always been a fan of the Bigfoot. I did not like the movie that much, unfortunately. It was during the writing of the movie review that I discovered that the film I was watching was actually a sequel. Wild. I could not find the original anywhere though, and, of course, since I did not like the film that much, I did not give too much effort to find it.

The original film, called Son of Bigfoot, went on the DailyView list way back at the beginning, but I was still having issues finding it. It was low priority so I kept going. Nine months into the DailyView, I found Son of Bigfoot on Vudu. And do you know what? This was much better than the sequel.

Adam is a bit of an outcast at his school, especially since his hair has seemed to suddenly be growing out of control. Despite this, he has gone about his life with his mom, living together. He had never known his father. However, one day, Adam discovered a bunch of letters that were written to his mom by his dad, who was very much still alive.

Adam became very mad at his mother’s lies and he ran away in an attempt to find his absentee father. Little did Adam know, there was a bigger secret that his father had been hiding from him. So when Adam’s efforts led him to the middle of the forest, he found himself in danger. He was rescued by a bigfoot, who turned out to be his father.

HairCo was a multimillion dollar company that had been pursuing Adam’s father and who he was hiding out from, but with the new publicity, head of HairCo Wallace Eastman resumed his search for Bigfoot.

The voice acting was solid here, despite not having any recognizable voices. In fact, that may be why it was good. There were a bunch of voice over actors who had experience with voicing animation working on the film and doing quality work. The animation was really good too, as well as the designs of Bigfoot and Adam.

The story was fun, if not difficult to believe. I felt more of a connection with Adam than I did anytime in Bigfoot Family. The secondary animal characters were enjoyable and added to the comedy of the film.

Wallace Eastman was a menacing villain and does some terrible things to try and get the DNA of Bigfoot so they could master the ability to regrow hair quickly.

This film is light weight for sure, but I enjoyed watching it. It provided a strong father-son story/relationship and some engaging action sequences and funny moments.

Riders of Justice (2020)

DailyView: Day 269, Movie 376

I was watching Fatman Beyond with Kevin Smith and Marc Bernardin this week and Kevin told Marc that he was grateful for a movie recommendation that even his wife loved and she told him to call Marc and thank him. Then he talked about Riders of Justice on Hulu, a Danish speaking film starring Mads Mikkelsen. I have done some other foreign language films for the DailyView so I went to Hulu for the revenge flick.

After a tragic accident on a subway, Markus (Mads Mikkelsen) returned from his military assignment to be with his daughter Mathilde (Andrea Heick Gadeberg) after his wife/her mother died. When mathematics geeks show up with a theory that it was not an accident and that a group called the Riders of Justice were responsible, Markus decided to kill them all.

There is more to this movie than just a regular revenge movie though. Part of the difference is the side characters, played by Lars Brygmann, Nicolas Bro, and Nikolaj Lie Kaas, are so eccentric that they are almost cartoonish. They add a weird tone to the film, but they are more than just comedy. There is a depth to each of them that comes through the longer they are in the film. At first, they felt like something that was not going to work, but as the film continued, I grew to enjoy them more.

There is also a great twist in the film that I will obviously not spoil, but the storyline turned out to be more than just The Punisher in Danish.

However, there is a bit at the very end that I never like. It was something that kind of messed up the ending of The Peanut Butter Falcon for me as well. It is a misdirection that I dislike and it made the ending of the film, which was looking to be a solid end, lesser in my opinion. Again, no spoiling, but I did not like that trope.

Mads Mikkelsen is fantastic as always. He brings a lot of depth to this soldier who has plenty of anger issues. Mikkelsen holds the entire film together and is the heartbeat of the plot.

This was a excellent revenge film that was unlike most revenge films. It worked very well and I enjoyed the film. It goes to show how great foreign films can be and, just because you have to read the captions, you should not skip it.

City of Ember (2008)

DailyView: Day 269, Movie 375

City of Ember is one of the many young adult novels that was adapted into a movie, but never became a big hit despite a strong cast and interesting setting.

The human race built a city below ground when the world was ending and they set up a way to leave in 200 years when they hoped that the earth would be in a better situation. The secret was passed along to the mayors over the years until one of the mayors died unexpectedly.

Decades later, Lina Mayfleet (Saoirse Ronan) was discovering what her job was destined to be (although she apparently could easily switch it with another so it wasn’t that much of a destiny). She ended up being a messenger. Her friend Doon Harrow (Harry Treadaway) wound up working in the pipes.

Lina discovered the box with the escape instructions and she started to try and figure out what had happened and her father tied into the history of the box.

I was shocked to see Bill Murray show up as the Mayor, and he is always great, but the character did not feel like a character that fit for Bill Murray. Toby Jones was there too as the Mayor’s henchman, which felt more concise of a role than the Mayor.

Tim Robbins was Loris Harrow, Doon’s father, but he was not given much to do in the story. He felt shoehorned into the plot and he was terribly underused.

The plot of the movie was dumb. The whole idea of the builders setting up this way to escape from the underground city centuries ago and expected it to still be fine and work. The worst part was how they got a message to the underground city afterwards. It was so ridiculous and improbable that it tainted the remainder of story.

Saoirse Ronan showed that she would be a top line actor with this early work. She was very solid for what she had to work with in City of Ember. She was certainly the highlight.

This was watchable. It would fall right into the category of other YA films with Divergent, The Host, Maze Runner, The Giver, Jumper etc. Nothing special, but nothing horrendous either.

Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)

DailyView: Day 268, Movie 374

This evening, I took a trip into the world of street art and found a documentary that was one of the oddest documentaries that you will ever see,

It started out with French immigrant in LA, store owner and amateur filmmaker Thierry Guetta, running around trying to record street artists and their work. He started with his cousin, who happened to be street artist Invader, and worked his way to the mysterious Banksy, who was the director of this documentary. Oh, it gets weirder.

Guetta followed Banksy around, in order to create a film about the street artist, a man who goes out of his way to hide his identity. When the final film was brought to Banksy, he was shocked at how unwatchable it was. Banksy realized that the footage of the street art was valuable and so he decide that he would make his own film, following Guetta. He then suggested to Guetta that he put together his own “little’ art show.

Guetta went wildly all out, creating a massive show, featuring his own brand of art that certainly was influenced by the art of Banksy.

Guetta was an unbelievable character that was about as eccentric as they come, and this includes a director shown in shadow to protect his identity. There has been some speculation that this entire documentary was staged and that Guetta was just created by Banksy.

The doc was funny, not only by the oddball lead character, but also with the lines of dialogue. It is visually attractive and has excellent pace. Some of the scenes were shockingly bizarre and hard to believe, which is why, I am sure, some think it is not real.

Worth the watch for sure.

10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

DailyView: Day 267, Movie 373

I was watching 10 Things I Hate About You on Disney + and I was about half way into it when I made a realization… this movie was basically William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. I have never actually read the play, but I have seen other adaptations over the years (especially Moonlighting’s Atomic Shakespeare) and I recognized the story.

I was unsure about this movie. I liked the beginning of it, but it felt like it was going to end in ways that I really did not. However, I think the film nailed the ending without damaging the female characters, which was something that I was worried about. Julia Stiles’s Kat Stratford and Larisa Oleynik’s Bianca Stratford came out looking strong and anything but weaklings.

Bianca cannot go out with anyone until her older sister Kat does. This is the rule placed on them by their overprotective father Walter (Larry Miller). New student Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has fallen for Bianca, and he sets a plan in motion to have rebel Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger) to try and date Kat so Bianca could be free to date whom she wanted.

Of course, there are a lot of issues that mess the plan up, but when Patrick and Kat start to hit it off, you start to root for them as a couple.

There are funny moments, but the best aspects of 10 Things I Hate About You is the relationships between the characters. Are there ridiculous things that happen? Of course. But I have to say that I think that this is one of my favorite rom-coms around. Heath Ledger is great and charming. He and Julia Stiles had chemistry for miles. Joseph Gordon-Levitt may have gotten away with his role in the action without any real consequence. Larisa Oleynik showed so much more depth than it looked as if she was going to have.

I found this fun and was happy I got a chance to add it to the DailyView.

The Fundamentals of Caring (2016)

DailyView: Day 266, Movie 372

Paul Rudd is really a treasure.

He is the star of the 2016 film The Fundamentals of Caring which is just fabulous. Is it sentimental and pull on your heart strings? Absolutely. However, it is so charming and warm that it completely feels sincere and deserved.

Paul Rudd played Ben Benjamin, who was a retired writer trying to get over a personal tragedy. Ben applied for a job as a caretaker for a teen boy named Trevor (Craig Roberts), who was wheelchair bound because of Duchenne muscular dystrophy and was a handful of attitude.

Ben was able to throw attitude back at Trevor as well and is able to convince Trevor’s mom (Jennifer Ehle) to let him take Trevor on a road trip to the Deepest Pit. Along the way, they pick up Dot (Selena Gomez), a teenager on her way to Denver, and a pregnant woman name Peaches (Megan Ferguson) who was going back to her parents home after her husband was deployed back to Afghanistan.

Yes, there are contrived moments that you would expect in this type of movie. We’ve seen it before, but it is so good because of the chemistry with Paul Rudd and Craig Roberts, as well as Selena Gomez. The interactions with these characters, especially during the road trip are what makes this a special movie.

Paul Rudd is exceptional in this movie. He brings every ounce of charm and warmth that he has, as well as a serious dose of shenanigans. He is a major reason to watch this movie.

The film avoids the major trap doors that a movie like this could fall into and is just an enjoyable piece of entertainment.

The Sit Downers (1937)

DailyView: Day 265, Movie 371

So I decided to watch another short from the early days of movies tonight for a specific reason. I found the Three Stooges in a short called The Sit Downers from the year 1937. The reason I chose this was because of the year 1937. I had not seen a movie in that year for the DailyView yet. With that year now checked off, I have watched at least one movie from every year from 1929-2020. There are only four more years remaining (all in the 1920s) and I will have seen a film from 1915-2020. Those final four years are a goal for the final 100 days of this binge.

Anyway, this is the first time I used The Three Stooges in the DailyView. I have seen Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Laurel & Hardy, Abbot & Costello, The Marx Brothers, but Larry, Moe and Curly had not made the cut. Until tonight that is.

This film was very funny, filled with Stooge-y humor, slapstick and plenty of “nyuck, nyucks”.

Larry, Moe and Curly wanted to get married to three sisters, but the sister’s father refused to give permission. So the Stooges staged a sit in protest in order to change the father’s mind. After weeks of sit downing, and plenty of support from fans across the country, the father gave in.

So they got married, but they discovered that the free house they thought was donated to them had to be constructed by them before the honeymoon. Weird premise, I know, but it was really funny. I think every slapstick crew has done the construction gags, but this one worked well. The Stooges had great comedic timing and made the unavoidable accidents very funny.

Some of this film is believed to have been inspired by Buster Keaton’s film, One Week, which was one of the DailyView films watched.

The Stooges worked well together and I laughed several times during the film. It was an easy watch and a fun time.