Nobody Knows I’m Here

Nobody Knows I'm Here (2020) - IMDb

I love the TV show LOST so much.  I’ve written about that before.  I also love the character of Hugo “Hurley” Reyes and the actor Jorge Garcia, who portrayed the Oceanic 815 survivor.  When I saw that he was the lead of a new Netflix film, I was excited to see it.

At first, it was in dubbed English and I gave it a try in that way, but Jorge Garcia’s voice was not his own and I knew that was going to be distracting for me.  I do not like dubbed voices over a film anyway, but hearing a different voice coming out of Garcia’s body was just not going to work.  Thankfully, I was able to find a way to change back to the Spanish language with English subtitles.

Jorge Garcia played a man named Memo who was living with his uncle on an isolated Chilean sheep farm.  Memo rarely spoke and just went about his isolated life, showing a proclivity for a sparkly design.  However, he had a secret from his childhood.

Memo was a child singer, but when his father (Alejandro Goic) took Memo to an agent, they decided that Memo did not have the look they were looking for.  Instead, they had Memo be a ghost singer for Angelo (young Angelo- Vicente Alvarez, older Angelo-Gastón Pauls), a blonde-haired, blue eyed pretty young boy.  Memo had a bad reaction to what was going on.

As an adult Memo hid out with his uncle, a woman named Marta (Millaray Lobos) met Memo and started to get through his walls.  This would lead to a developing problem.

I was really impressed with the acting performance from Jorge Garcia.  He had a difficult job to do here as his amount of dialogue was going to be limited.  A lot of his emotions had to come from his face and his actions.  And he had a pretty good singing voice too.

The early part of the movie slowly built to the reveal of why Memo was where he was and why he was doing what he was doing.  The character of Memo is simple but broken.  There are some deep seeded issues inside of him making him more complex than you think.

There are some satisfying moments in the third act, but there feels like I wanted more than what they tell me.

This is a small story of a broken man whose past has affected his life and people around him.  Jorge Reyes is great in this movie, very impressive with his acting skills.  He takes it past Hurley, dude.

3.8 stars

 

 

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga Movie Poster Image

I considered skipping this.  I am not much of a fan of Will Farrell comedies.  They all are pretty much repetitive and unfunny.

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is, unfortunately, not an exception.

Lars (Will Farrell) and Sigrit (Rachel McAdams) are childhood friends, who grew up together in Iceland with one dream:  to win the Eurovision Song Contest.

Forget the fact that Will Farrell looks 15 years older than Rachel McAdams, despite the characters supposedly being the same age, and how there is a ridiculous conspiracy theory part of the story to prevent Iceland from winning the contest, this movie does not know what it is supposed to be.  There are some scenes that are played totally for comedy but also some scenes that are played straight out of Pitch Perfect.  It this meant to be a satire of these types of music contests or are they celebrating them?

There were some good parts to the film.  Dan Stevens is great as the Russian competitor Alexander Lemtov.  He is easily the best part, standing out every moment he gets on screen.  Rachel McAdams is always good.

Some of the music is fun too.

Other than that… not much here.

The movie is over two hours long and absolutely does not need to be.  This is at least 25 minutes too long.  The extra time is not used effectively.

Pierce Brosnan’s character, Lars’ father, is poorly constructed and makes a total flip at a point in the narrative that makes no sense at all.  Brosnan is always charming, but this character has no redeeming value.

As a Netflix original, I’ve seen worse.  There are a few moments of fun.  Of course, there are also boat explosions, Icelandic elves, shots at America tourists, insane driving, and an oversized hamster wheel.  So much idiocy and not enough laughs from it.  If you are a fan of Will Farrell, you’ll probably like this because the framework of the film is basically the same.

2.4 stars 

Irresistible

Irresistible Poster Has Jon Stewart Sending in the Clowns | Collider

Former host of the Daily Show, Jon Stewart, has written and directed a new movie dealing with the way in which the country handles elections.

It is a comedy starring Steve Carell and it focuses in on a mayoral race in a small Wisconsin town that draws the attention of Washington, D.C. insider/campaign manager Gary Zimmer (Carell).  Gary brings his political techniques to the town in an attempt to get Colonel Jack Hastings (Chris Cooper) elected as a new style of Democrat.

His attempts to rebrand the election is noticed by Republican strategist and campaign manager Faith Brewster (Rose Byrne), who immediately sets up opposite Gary in an attempt to stop him from winning the election.

This is a political satire that is hardly subtle.  It has a message and it is hammering that message home throughout the movie.  I can see this being fairly polarizing of a film despite the fact that the film does not specifically pick a side.  It presents the system as problematic, not necessarily the parties.

Steve Carell is fine here, but none of the characters involved in this movie are really very deep.  They are surface level characters without a lot of deep motivations.  Again, he is speaking against the entire political structure, especially the involvement of money in the system.

There were some funny moments, but I do not think that there was enough big time laughs to help out the film.  The portrayal of the media is another shot that the film takes and they are equally handled.

The ending is difficult to accept and, although it is legally possible, it is hard to buy the actual situation playing out as it does.

I do love Jon Stewart, but this was not to the level I had expected.

2.6 stars 

My Spy

My Spy - Authentic Original 27x39 Rolled Movie Poster at Amazon's ...

I have been waiting to see this movie for a long time.  Not as long as The New Mutants, mind you, but for a bit.  I had always liked the trailers and so when I heard that Amazon had purchased the rights to the film, I was excited and yet impatiently waiting.

My Spy finally came out on Prime today, and it was about what I thought it would be like.

JJ (Dave Bautista) is a former soldier, now trying to transition into CIA Intelligence.  However, his violent tendencies did not quite work in the situations he was finding himself in.

So JJ and the tech agent Bobbi (Kristen Schaal) are assigned on a surveillance mission of a young nurse Kate (Parisa Fitz-Henley) and her little daughter Sophie (Chloe Coleman) in Chicago, whose uncle is involved in international terrorism.

Sophie is a smart, but lonely little girl and having trouble making any connections as the new kid at school.  She discovers JJ and Kate while they are surveying them.  She blackmails JJ into helping her out of certain situations.

This film is nothing spectacular.  The story and things that happen are basic and predictable.  There are a ton of storyline bits that stretch credibility.

However, I am going to say that I liked the movie.  The main part that I enjoyed was Dave Bautista, who does a fantastic job with this character.  He has a solid comedic timing and he is just likable.  Then, Chloe Coleman does a great job as well.  The relationship and the connection between these two characters are absolutely what gives this movie a pass.  They are funny together.  They have a very natural feel between them even when they are involved in a plot situation that makes little sense.

I have to say that I got some Kindergarten Cop vibe from the film.  Much of the story is very similar to that Schwarzenegger flick.  Dave Bautista carries the film, showing some absolute star quality.

Streaming this, I believe, will make this more successful.  It probably does not work in a theater, but the strengths of the movie come through better online than a lot of other movies.

3.1 stars 

 

7500

7500 Poster - TV Fanatic

Found another new film starting up on Amazon Prime today.  It is a thriller starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt called 7500.

The emergency code that pilots use when their plane is being hijacked is 7500, thus the title of this new thriller.  The film takes place nearly exclusively inside the cockpit of a plane flying from Germany to France.  These kind of films are intended to have a claustrophobic feel to it, and this one certainly has that.

Tobias Ellis (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is the co-pilot on a jet flying from Berlin to Paris.  When a group of men storm the cockpit, Tobias is able to secure one of the hijackers and lock himself in the cockpit.  Unfortunately, the pilot Captain Michael Lutzmann (Carlo Kitzlinger) is killed, leaving Tobias alone and in control of the plane.  The other hijackers pound on the cockpit door, trying to bust in, and, when that does not work, they wind up killing hostages to get Tobias to open the door.

A pilot cannot open a door and allow his plane to be overtaken by hijackers, so even when the terrorists grabbed flight attendant and Tobias’ love and the mother of his son, he could not open the door.

There was some serious tension in the film, in particular in the first and second act.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt works extremely hard here and it shows. He is what this movie is depending on and he delivers a difficult performance.  You can feel his worry, his anguish, his anger and his humanity.

The film also features 18 year-old hijacker Vedat (Omid Memar), who winds up one-on-one with Tobias for much of the third act.  This character is very emotional and conflicted about what was happening.  Honestly, I found this character a bit off-putting.

The storyline is very basic.  We do not really know what the purpose of the hijacking is.  Part of my problem was most likely the fact that a chunk of the dialogue was in German and I had trouble reading the small print of the subtitles which probably led to some of my uncertainty with the hijackers motives.  That is not the film’s fault, but it was a difficulty for me.

I have to say that I was not as much of a fan of the conclusion of the film.  The third act with the one-on-one with Tobias and Vedat did not help me feel for Vedat like, I think, it was supposed to do.  I am not sure that I enjoyed the end result.

Overall, the film was fairly tense and anxiety-filled for parts of it.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt was excellent.  There was a good tone with the one setting.  7500 was worth the watch.

3.4 stars

The King of Staten Island

The King of Staten Island Movie Poster - IMP Awards

Judd Apatow has released his latest movie on demand this weekend and it is very much a Judd Apatow movie.

Apatow has had a bunch of movies in his career that I would consider to be similar to The King of Staten Island.  Films such as This is 40, Trainwreck, Funny People, Knocked Up appear in his oeuvre.  They tend to be heavily reliant on dialogue, focus on characters over plot and tend to be fairly long.

I think those descriptors work well to describe The King of Staten Island.  The film starred Pete Davidson as Scott, a 24-year old high school dropout who lives with his mother Margie (Marisa Tomei) and smokes weed.  He wants to be a tattoo artist and practices on his friend, but he has not been very good at it.

Scott’s father was a fireman who died in the line of duty when Scott was seven years old and this loss affected him dramatically.  So when his mother starts dating another fireman Ray (Bill Burr), Scott does not respond well.

The performances are all very solid in the film, which, of course, is desperately important for a film like this one.  Pete Davidson gives his second strong performance in a film this year, the first being Big Time Adolescence on Hulu.  Davidson has shown some range here as the material hinges on the character.

Davidson has to dive into the complicated history of his father and how his relationship with his mother and his sister (Maude Apatow) were affected from his father’s death.  The film looks into the choices made by Scott as well.  He did things that made him a serious pain in the butt, but everybody seemed to understand why he did it.  He was not the most likable character ever, but the charming portrayal made it easier to support him.

Bill Burr was excellent too.  This is another character who you are never quite sure of and who showed you several of his figurative warts.  Yet, as the film progresses, Ray gives us reasons why he was more than what you first see.

Yes, there is not that much of a plot involved in the movie.  It was more like a series of events strung together in a larger narrative.  Still, the style does work for this type of film.  It may have been a tad over long and could have used a shorter run time, but the time is taken to really show the audience whom these characters were.

The King of Staten Island is a strong film that leans more toward the drama than you might expect.  There are funny moments, but they are more like the situational humor than anything else. It is a little long, but you don’t realize that for much of the film.  Pete Davidson shows his charisma here and exceeds the expectations.

3.8 stars  

Da 5 Bloods

Rotten Tomatoes on Twitter: "Spike Lee has announced his latest ...

I’m not sure there could have been a more effective or relevant movie to be dropped on Netflix today than Spike Lee’s next film, Da 5 Bloods.

Beautiful.  Painful.  Poignant.  Shocking.  Pertinent.

Four African-American Vietnam veterans, Paul (Delroy Lindo), Otis (Clarke Peters), Eddie (Norm Lewis), and Melvin (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.), returned to Vietnam in search of gold that they had buried during the war and for the remains of their friend and squad leader Norman (Chadwick Boseman) who had died during the war.

The years since returning from ‘Nam was difficult on the men and this movie takes its time to show us their struggles and challenges.  In particular, the film dives into the pain of Paul who had trouble leaving the pain of the war behind him.  Ghosts of the past had colored his perception of the world and drove him to deep anger.

Delroy Lindo’s performance is brilliant.  He shows every last bit of anger and frustration from the past and how it has turned him into the man that he is now.  His relationship with his son Davis (Jonathan Majors) was complex and complicated.  It felt real.  It was the challenges that someone may face who was struggling with mental illness brought on from PTSD or deep seeded trauma.

Spike Lee does a tremendous job of interweaving black history into the story, with allusions to major black events and human figures from the years.  Showing the distinct contributions made from the African-American culture to the history of America made the struggles of these men even more significant.

Violence is not hidden.  This is every bit a war film, though it deals with messages that transcends the gunfire and the explosions.  There are moments that are completely shocking and caught me off-guard.  Da 5 Bloods masterfully portrays the feeling of chaos that comes from war.  It also deals with the brotherhood of comrades and what might shatter that connection whether it be betrayal or death or greed.

Da 5 Bloods feels as if the film was made after the events of the nation over the last few weeks, even though I know that cannot be possible.  Spike Lee created a film that totally capsulizes the passion of a movement.  Black lives do matter and the power of that statement is not lost in this film.

Truly a masterful outing from everyone involved.  It is a tough watch, but one that is extremely important.

5 stars

Artemis Fowl

Amazon.com : ARTEMIS FOWL MOVIE POSTER 2 Sided ORIGINAL INTL ...

Artemis Fowl has been scheduled for theatrical release for while now.  It got pushed back once because of the competition and then a second time because of COVID-19, eventually finding its way onto Disney +.  I have been anticipating the release of the film for some time because I like the idea and I felt as if the trailers looked better than most people claimed.  There was negativity surrounding Artemis Fowl, but I was still excited to see it.

Do you know that old phrase, “Be careful what you wish for?”

Based on the young adult book series by Eoin Colfer, this was one of the biggest misfires in many years.  Artemis Fowl is like if Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings combined, but without any sense or any form of magic.

Having said that, I did not hate watching this.  I did not find myself wishing that this was over.  I actually had a decent time watching the movie.  It reminds me of staring at the car crash.  You know you shouldn’t do it, but you can’t help yourself.

Artemis Fowl (Ferdia Shaw) is the namesake of his infamous father (Colin Farrell), a well-known master thief.  His father has been kidnapped by the villain with a flashlight who contacts young Artemis and demands a trade… his father for The Aculos, this film’s MacGuffin that has some kind of magical power of the Fairies world.

Oh, did I forget to mention that there were fairies?  Yes, they, along with goblins, trolls and dwarves, live in an underground world inside the earth.  Holly Short (Lara McDonnell) was one of the fairy patrol (or whatever they were called… it is called the LEPRecon)) and her father was supposedly a traitor and involved in stealing the Aculos.  She gets deeply involved despite a penchant for not following the rules.

Then we meet Commander Root (Judi Dench).  What can I say about Commander Root?  I love Judi Dench, but good lord.  The last time we saw Judi, she was dressed as a giant cat named Old Deuteronomy in the bizarre musical Cats.  Now she is a high ranking leader of the LEPRecons, dressed in green with pointy Spock ears, and a gravelly voice.  Ironically, she is an Academy Award winner.

There is also a dwarf named Mulch Diggums (Josh Gad) who we meet immediately as he is used as the narrator for parts of the movie.  When we see him narrating, he has been arrested by someone and he is, for some reason, in black and white.  Mulch is a thief/pickpocket and is apparently a giant dwarf.  Picture Hagrid but smaller and with less charm.  Oh, and a gravelly voice too.

Domovoi Butler (Nonso Anozie) is the Fowl’s manservant/butler, but apparently, as the film tells us, you should never call him that.  Why?  We never find out, nor do we see it happen.  When something like that is dropped, usually that sets up a scene where that very thing happens.  Nope.  Not here.  He brings in is little sister Juliet (Tamara Smart) who really does nothing but blend into the scenery.

I will say that this movie flew by.  Perhaps that is because they shoved so much into the first half of the movie, it never gave you a chance to be bored.  In fact, I had paused the film at one point and saw that it was over half done, which shocked me.  This 90 minute film probably should have been something like 3 or 4 episodes of television to properly introduce everything that it did in the first 45 minutes.

So many things happen that make no sense whatsoever.  Artemis has his crew capture Holly and he locks her up in a cage in Fowl Manor.  They interact, all negatively, until Artemis needs her help.  He asks her “Do you trust me?” and I am like….why would she?  The entire scope of this relationship is antagonistic.  If I remember correctly, she had threatened to kill him once. But now that the plot needs them to be friends, they are seemingly tight as thieves.

There is a plot thread of a crooked, power hungry member of the LEPRecons, but that is neither developed or returned to in the film.  It is just completely dropped.

Artemis Fowl cost $125 million dollars to make, but it is difficult to find where that money may have gone.  There are some moments of CGI that are as bad as we’ve seen in years.  In fact, there are times when you may think you are watching an old 1980/1990 film.

As I said, this is easily one of the worst movies of the year, but I did get a strange satisfaction from watching it.  This could fall into the category of so bad it is good, but that might be too good for it.  I was entertained by the train wreck though.  I laughed a few times and stared at amazement that anyone green lit this.  Kenneth Branagh directed it, which is a shocking fact.

1.2 stars

The Night Clerk

The Night Clerk (DVD) – 101 Films Store

There is a great cast in this movie.  Makes you wonder why the movie itself is such a boring sludge.

Tye Sheridan stars as Bart, a night clerk at a motel, who is a high performing individual on the Autism Spectrum and a tech wizard.  Bart uses his tech savvy to set up cameras to watch the guests in order to “study” humans.  When a guest is murdered, police Detective Espada (John Leguizamo) believes that Bart had a hand in it.  Meanwhile, a new guest, Andrea (Ana de Armas) shows up and develops a bond with Bart.

Not much makes sense here and the film appears to be at cross purposes.  Is it a sweet love story or a brutal murder mystery?  Or is it a story of a plucky underdog overcoming the odds to find love or is it a sexual deviant unable to form a true bond with anyone?

Meanwhile… what the hell is wrong with the cop?  His line of questioning is so dumb and nonsensical that the entire story arc of the death is unreasonable and stupid.  I hate it when supposedly intelligent people do such idiotic things.

Ana de Armas, who was absolutely wonderful in Knives Out, is nowhere near as transcendent here as she was in that film.  She felt miscast in this role, not taking advantage of her natural charisma and her easiness of performance.  This movie does not take advantage of her natural skills.

It is an unsatisfying film with a great cast that does not get to really sink their teeth into anything worthy of their talents.  Tye Sheridan is fine.  Helen Hunt, as Bart’s mother, gets a couple of scenes of enabling.  John Leguizamo is given a character far below him.  Ana de Armas makes no sense and does not take advantage of her “it” factor.

The best part of the movie is that is is only around 90 minutes.

1.8 stars 

Shirley

Movie Review - Shirley (2020)

Shirley Jackson was a real-life horror writer, author of two novels and hundreds of short stories, including the most well known The Lottery.  However, this film, Shirley, would not be considered a biopic.  The film is a fictional story involving characters from her life.

Shirley Jackson (Elisabeth Moss) is shown as a withdrawn and reclusive figure, married to a college professor Stanley Hyman (Michael Stuhlbarg), and she was struggling to write her next book.  Along the way, a young newlywed couple, Rose (Odessa Young) and Fred (Logan Lerman), arrive at their home.  Stanley and Shirley begin playing with them like a cat plays with a mouse.

There is a lot of atmosphere in this film.  The film is not a horror film, but it certainly has an uneasy feeling about it as the time passes with the games going on.  Eventually, Rose becomes a sort of muse for Shirley and her new story.

Elisabeth Moss is amazing in this role.  She is completely engaged in every scene and creates a world of uncertainty with her own mental state and that of everyone around her.  Her quirkiness and unsettling tendencies make the audience feel shaky.

The relationships in this movie are unlike most and are looked at in great detail.  However, there are dream-like moments when you are just not sure what exactly is happening.  How much of what is going on is actually happening and what parts of this are just the imagination of the talented and morose author?

No part of the film better encapsulates that better than the ending sequence.  I won’t spoil it, but the ending involves a lot of ambiguity.  What happened?  There are plenty of possibilities in play here, but those who like to have a definitive end to a film may wind up disappointed.

Elisabeth Moss does a brilliant job, but so does Michael Stuhlbarg as her philandering husband.  These two are shown to be clearly a perfect match for one another.  The movie is not afraid to place two of the main characters front and center as arrogant, superior and mean spirited jerks.  Their snipping toward the young couple is displayed in full detail by both of the two.  At times, you get the feeling they are doing it simply because they could.  They are like the real life trolls on the internet.

Shirley is a moody and morose film, taking its cue from the author that the film is based upon.  It is a masterful group of performances from the talented cast within a narrative that creates an ambiance of anxiety.

3.5 stars 

Becky

Becky': Bearded Kevin James and Bloodied Lulu Wilson Square Off on ...

Kevin James?  Who knew you had this in ya?

Becky is a new film that appeared on VUDU this weekend featuring the former King of Queens star in a role that was a complete 180 degree turn for the actor.

Becky (Lulu Wilson) was on the way to a weekend getaway with her father Jeff (Joel McHale).  The was tension and troubles since her mother passed away and this weekend was meant to help get their relationship back on track.  However, there was more than just that on the agenda.  Jeff had brought Becky to tell her that he was going to marry Kayla (Amanda Brugel).  Becky reacted poorly to the news and ran off to hide out.

While this was going on, a group of killers, led by Dominick (Kevin James), escaped from custody and were making their way to the same lake house.

This was an extremely violent and gory survival film with some scenes that were very gross.  Becky took things to a definite level of viciousness that you would not expect from a teenage girl.  Driven by anger and vengeance, Becky a much more brutal version of Kevin McCallister from Home Alone.

There was also a good turn of acting from former WWE superstar Kurrgan, Robert Maillet, as the giant who was beginning to regret his actions.

As the group of villains, they were good, but I would have liked to have known more about them than what the film gave us.  They were certainly effectively evil, but their motivations were in question.

In particular, the group was after a key that Becky had found, but we never found out exactly why.  It feels like it is nothing more than a MacGuffin presented as a reason to get everyone at the lake house, but I did not know why this was such an important object.  Again, there were moments when the key is referenced or implied about, but the film totally leaves us wondering about it.  While that can be effective, in this case, there needs to be something more to let us understand what value the key holds.

Despite that, Lulu Wilson is completely savage in this movie and I would have liked a little more explanation on why she went so barbaric right away.  The actress is excellent in the role and I totally believed that she was crazed, but I just wanted a little more character here.

Still, it was very easy to root for Becky as she battled to survive and escape from this situation.

Though Becky could have used more development of the characters and maybe a touch more on the key, the movie is a tension-filled gorefest that actually had me looking away at least once.  Lulu Wilson and Kevin James are outstanding in their individual roles with James, perhaps, reinventing his career.

3.4 stars 

Agatha Christine: Next Door Spy

ACNextDoorSpy

Encyclopedia Brown.  Frank and Joe Hardy.  Nancy Drew.  Timmy Failure.  Ruby Redfort.  The Baudelaire orphans.  Artemis Fowl.

These are just some of the lead characters from detective/mystery stories written for younger children, many of which have had their own adaptations to live-action/animated movies or TV shows.  You can add another name to the list:  Agatha Christine.

This animated movie is a lot of fun, focusing on the young girl, Agatha, who sometimes went by AC, in her attempt to become a successful detective so she could save money to get a dog.  Her goal is put to the test when she and her family moved to a new home.

Along with Agatha, there is her mother, the police officer, her older sister Sarah, and her toddler brother Kevin.  The three of them are trying to get a fresh start.  However, Agatha remains interested in her detective work.

Soon, Agatha gets her first case, trying to discover who was stealing from the local store.  She has a time line to solve the case, but she is distracted by another mystery with the next door neighbor Vincent, a boy with bags in his eyes.

This reminded me a lot of the Timmy Failure: Mistakes were Made film from Disney +.  Young kid wants to be a detective, has an active imagination and works cases.  Much like that film, this is very family friendly and actually has a nice little mystery that develops over the course of the narrative.  Then, Timmy Failure has a polar bear, Agatha has an animal in her life too.  This was the strangest part of this entire film.

We see that Agatha had found an egg and she was taking care of it.  The egg hatched, revealing a young Varanen, a monitor lizard.  Thing was that this animal talked.  The inclusion of this monitor lizard was bizarre.  The lizard seemed to be very verbally abusive toward Agatha, tying to convince her to get focused back on her robbery case.  He was also always hungry and, as he rapidly grew, he provided me with several moments where I thought he might actually be a danger.  Specifically, there were at least two occasions that I thought he had eaten the little boy, Kevin.  The use of this character was truly the oddest piece of this film.  He did create anxiety in me though as I was just not sure if this film would go to that extreme.

Everything, story-wise, fit together nicely at the end (although the whole monitor lizard thing dangled a bit) and everything worked very well.

I enjoyed the animation here for a change.  It was a different style that we have not seen before.  It was definitely a cartoon style that was simple, but worked very well with what the movie was trying to do.  The times when Agatha went into her daydreams or imagination the animation changed into black and white and really was striking.  Character design was nicely done as well, with the little touches adding traits to each of the characters.

I did have fun with this movie and I think families, kids in particular, will enjoy this movie quite a bit.  Little kids may not make the connections with the carnivorous monitor lizard that I did and may not have been as creeped out by it as I was.  They may not wonder if that lizard had eaten poor Kevin.

3.5 stars 

The Last Days of American Crime

The Last Days of American Crime (2020) - IMDb

This feels like the wrong time for this film to come out.

But beyond the timing, there are plenty of other issues with this overlong mess of a movie.  It is not sure what it wants to be.  Is it a heist film?  Is it a revenge film? Is it supposed to be a science fiction film?  Does it take elements of all of these?  None of them were done well.

It was based on a Rick Remender graphic novel of the same title.  I loved Rick Remender so I am very sad that this heap of garbage could come from something that he created.  Not having seen the graphic novel it was based on, I can only assume that they took the story and wrecked it.

This is like a bad Purge movie combined with Hardcore Henry and Minority Report, only without any of the creativity.  Graham Bricke (Edgar Ramirez) had his brother murdered, though it was supposed to be a suicide, and Kevin Cash (Michael C. Pitt), the son of an infamous gangster, and black market hacker Shelby Dupree (Anna Brewster), approach Bricke with a plan to steal millions and cross the Canadian border before the government activates a signal, called the American Peace Initiative,  that will lead to people being incapable of committing any crime.

The story is a mess.  The acting is basic, without anyone standing out.  The action is dumb and wasteful.  Very little makes sense and it staggers around for a really long 148 minutes.  It feels even longer.

Of course, with the real world outside, perhaps this was not the best time to release this film.  The fascist messaging and creation of this dystopian world seems like poor taste at the best.  There is no escapism here.

No characters that make sense.  The world is not given enough time to understand what it is like (a sad state for such a long freaking movie).  Sharlto Copley is here too as a character that is totally extraneous and wasted.

Directed by Olivier Megaton, whose previous films included the horrid Taken 2 and Taken 3, The Last Days of American Crime is just a brain dead dump.

1 star

The Vast of Night

The Vast of Night” Poster and Trailer are Here! – Craig Zablo

I found a new film that appeared on Amazon Prime today called The Vast of Night.  That was a title that was intriguing and I was not sure what it meant.

It is the 1950’s in a small town in New Mexico.  The young teenager Fay (Sierra McCormick) went to her job at the telephone switchboard, walking with local radio DJ Everett (Jake Horowitz) on the way.  As she was switching calls, Fay hears a strange noise come across the radio.  This same sound came across the phone lines.  Curious, she called Everett at the radio station and they began an investigation into the mysterious sound.

I was really engaged in the story.  There was not a lot of action, so there are going to be people who think it is boring.  However, I found the dialogue and the monologues spoken by the characters to be compelling and thoroughly entertaining.  The monologues are delivered with a remarkable mood that creates a wonderfully creepy tone.

The film has an independent feel that, while may make the third act revelation a tad cheap looking, work for most of this movie.  The low budget look adds to the aura of the film and gives us the tone of the 1950’s movies.

Performances are solid from a group of actors who I had never seen before.  Jake Horowitz was a standout as the DJ.  These actors delivered strong performances and created their specific and developed characters mostly through their dialogue.

There was also a fascinating framing mechanism used in the film where the film made it look like it was a Twilight Zone-like show.  The use of the old fashion TV screen as a transition technique helped make this feel like that anthology show.  It fed right into the mood of the film.

If you are into old time movies and are nostalgic for the old sci-fi films of the 1950’s, you’ll probably get a kick out of this.  It is a slow burn, but it is worth the time.

4 stars 

The Wretched

Movie Review - The Wretched (2020)

This is the number one movie in the U.S. Box Office this week.

Strange, I know.  This is a horror movie that is being shown in a few of the drive-in theaters and the handful theaters of brick and mortar that are open.  I heard about this film being top of the box office from Dam Murrell’s YouTube show Charts with Dan.

Now, of course, we are not talking about massive amounts of money here.  Most of the theaters in the country are still closed down.  According to the last Box Office Mojo website, last week The Wretched made $216, 000.

Then, I found the film on Vudu and I rented it.

In The Wretched, a troubled teen Ben (John-Paul Howard) goes with his father Liam (Jamison Jones).  His parents were getting a divorce and it was causing serious problems for him.  However, it is not long after when he realizes that something strange was happening at their neighbor’s house.  There is a 1000-year old witch posing as the mother next door and making people forget about children.

I liked this movie for the most part.  The young actors are all solid and there is a tension in the plot that creates a anxiety in the viewers minds.  They play upon the uncertainty of what was happening and the creepiness of the witch.

There are some horror tropes that are in heavy use here.  One is the father who does not believe his child.  I can understand why he may not, but it is something that happens regularly in horror.  Now, to be fair, Liam actually comes around pretty quickly after Ben tells him about the witch, and, at least, there have not been a ton of mysterious things happening that the father just ignores.  Still, it is something that happens regularly.

I was very disappointed with the ending of the film too.  The last scene of the film truly takes the film off its rails and wastes everything that came before it.  Again, the twist end is a horror trope that this film applies.  I did not like the ending.

The rest of the film was pretty decent.  I have seen better horror movies, but for a small film, this is much better than many horror movies.  Despite the by the numbers plot, if you can find it, it is worth a watch, especially if you enjoy horror.

3.1 stars