Sometimes the films I chose for the Movie Of The week can be totally random like this week’s film or planned from the start like last week’s film. Nonetheless, I have grown to become a huge fan of independent films due to the creative and artistic freedom that they possess. I had heard a lot of buzz surrounding this week’s film Ingrid Goes West and the fact that it starred Aubrey Plaza (Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates) made it easier to choose. Ingrid Thorburn (Plaza) is not your normal everyday girl who does your normal everyday stuff. You see she has a problem and that is as soon as someone likes or responds to her on Instagram, she becomes instantly obsessed with that person. In fact after a Instagram star (Elizabeth Olsen) responded to her, Ingrid packed up and moved west, but will the Instagram star figure it out or will Ingrid be able to slide right in to her friends list? The film also stars O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Straight Outta Compton) as Dan Pinto, Wyatt Russell (Everybody Wants Some!!) as Ezra, Billy Magnussen (The Big Short) as Nicky, Pom Klementieff (Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2) as Harley Chung, Meredith Hagner (Veep) as Charlotte, Hannah Pearl Utt (Eat Prey) as Nicole, and the film was directed by Matt Spicer (It’s Not You It’s Me).
Ingrid Goes West is able to take the classic obsession genre of films like Single White Female and it’s able to make it current with the social media aspect. While I believe that everyone in the film did a wonderful job as far as the acting was concerned, I feel that Aubrey Plaza stepped it up big time in this film. She was able to play this vulnerable woman who just wants to be accepted, but can’t help that there is something seriously wrong with her. O’Shea Jackson Jr. is another actor in the film that definitely deserves some props as he went from playing the rough and tough Ice Cube role in Straight Outta Compton to playing this lovable, cool dude who just happens to be obsessed with Batman. It was definitely a role flip for him and I love that because he challenged himself. The film features a bright young cast that could be giving us a preview of the future, maybe? Even if it doesn’t mean that, you still should check out this film because it has so much to offer from the black comedy aspects to the cinematography which is pretty good as well. I thought the ending was going to be pretty dark as it seemed like it was going to end on such a horrific note very reminiscent to what happens today, but luckily we get some sort of a happy ending. The film could be considered to be social commentary on the way things are today and maybe we should look at social media differently. Anyways, I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.
Halloween is long behind us so I figured it was time to reintroduce the Movie Of The Week post while we wait on a decision for the future. There are a lot of great movies on the horizon and I want to cover them for this blog. This week’s film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is one of those films that peaked my interest for it’s unique title and for the caliber of the cast contained within the film. Frances McDormand (Fargo) plays Mildred, a mother who is not happy whatsoever with the local authorities for not solving her daughters murder case. So to get on their case and get them moving, she decides to take out ads on three billboards outside her town that will challenge the law to get off their behinds and solve case. The film also stars Woody Harrelson (No Country For Old Men) as Chief Willoughby, Sam Rockwell (The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy) as Dixon, Caleb Landry Jones (Get Out) as Red Wellby, Kerry Condon (Avengers: Age Of Ultron) as Pamela, Darrell Britt-Gibson (Keanu) as Jerome, Abbie Cornish (Sucker Punch) as Anne, Lucas Hedges (Manchester By The Sea) as Robbie, Zeljko Ivanek (Argo) as Cedric, Peter Dinklage (Game Of Thrones) as James, Brendan Sexton III (Empire Records) as Crop-Haired Guy, and the film was directed by Martin McDonagh (In Bruges).
This was an excellent film that just had so many emotions to it and just had so many talking points. First of all, the acting was absolutely superb from way too many people to list in this blog, but you already know that you get amazing performances from McDormand, Harrelson, Rockwell, and Dinklage to name a few. Frances McDormand had the uneasy task of balancing out a character who is tough and a bad ass, but she is also vulnerable because all she wants is for them to solve the case. Sam Rockwell does a terrific job playing your typical backwater cop from a small southern-esque town who doesn’t know any better until something (I can’t tell you what) shows him the way. The second thing that was amazing about the film was the writing because this story kicked ass. You think that it’s going the way you would want it to go until it throws you a curve ball that takes the story in a darker place. There were so many glimmers of hope in the film that were just taken to a completely different place that I was amazed that it worked. The third thing that I loved about the film were the dynamic of the characters and the overall themes because each one was so unique to the story in how it progressed into a moral of no matter how dark things get, sometimes the people you are going against can turn out to be the ones you need. That was the constant theme of the film was redemption because it’s a learning experience for sure. The last thing is the cinematography which was just masterful from shot to shot. This is definitely a film worth checking out if you are a fan of great stories, actors, etc. I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.
Before I get into the film that I chose for this week’s Movie Of The Week, I do want to remind people that just because it says movie of the week does not mean that I loved the film. I like to think that I am an amateur film critic who is going to be critical of films that I do watch. With that being said, it’s now time to get down to business because this week was an interesting week in the theaters after last week’s record breaking numbers for IT. This week we are checking out a film from award winning director Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan) called Mother!. After his house burns down, Him (Javier Bardem) is looking to rebuild his life with his new wife Mother (Jennifer Lawrence) and he is trying to write a new book, but the inspiration is just not there until a couple (Michelle Pfeiffer and Ed Harris) come by and stir things up which provide him with the all the inspiration that he needs. The only problem is how is Mother going to handle all this chaos that has now come into her life? The film also stars Domhnall Gleeson (The Revenant) as Oldest son, Brian Gleeson (Snow White and The Huntsman) as youngest son, and Stephen McHattie (Watchmen) as Zealot.
If you do not know anything about the film other than what you see in the trailer then you are in for a night of confusion because I went in thinking that this was going to be a Rosemary’s Baby kind of film and boy was I wrong. I left the theater so confused because I did not know at the time what I had just viewed. The whole time I was trying to figure out where the horror was and what in the hell was the point of all these people continuously showing up. The more people showed up, the more chaos that ensued in the film. Now there are two ways that you can look at this film and I chose one of them because it made more sense to me. So, I am going to give you the spoiler alert warning so turn around and leave if you do not want to know anymore. Javier Bardem is an author or poet so he is known as the creator and his home represents the garden of Eden. He hasn’t been able to write a book in a while so the first one is known as the old testament and this new one that he has unleashed on to the world is the new testament. I believe Jennifer Lawrence plays Mary where she is very fragile, virtuous while Michelle Pfeiffer and Ed Harris play Adam & Eve and the Gleesons play Kane & Able. You see the Zealot who plays mankind that in Aronofsky’s opinion has taken the word of Him and has spun it to his control over the people. The baby that the couple have represents Jesus who Him gives away to the people only to have them kill his only son.
Does this all sound a little familiar to you now? Well after hearing this, I finally understood what the film represented and you have to love the directors use of semiotics. This film was the perfect example of that, but shame on me for not realizing this in the theaters. As I said above, I was expecting Rosemary’s Baby, but instead I got a study in anti-religious semantics. That was definitely not what I was looking for in the film. One of my biggest complaints of the film was the camera work only because it bothered the hell out of me when it followed and copied her every movement as the camera shook up and down as she walked. I loved the look of the film because it had that earthy, grainy kind of look to it especially with the colors and the tones (reminded me of The Witch). Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer were absolutely awesome in the film as well as Bardem and Lawrence, but they were the highlight because as soon as they showed up that is when all chaos ensues. As far as my overall opinion of the film goes, I am not a huge fan of the agendas of directors so I feel as though that I was mislead by the trailer, but I have to give him credit for stumping me. Besides the camera work, the film was done very well and his use of semantics was on point in this film. That is why I am going to give the film an B+ for a final grade.
The challenge may be long gone and in the rear view mirror, but that doesn’t mean that us cinema fanatics cannot enjoy some movies in the meantime. While we debate doing a second challenge, I decided to do the Movie Of The Week where we view a new film and for this week we have chosen The Lost City Of Z. I have always been a fan of films that are based off of true stories and this one definitely peaked my interest, but it didn’t last very long in my local theater. The film follows a British soldier by the name of Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) who is fighting every day to restore the family name that was put in limbo by his father. While on a mapping expedition in the Amazon, Percy makes a huge discovery that there may have been a civilization in the Amazon that predates everyone. The only problem is that the journey is not an easy one and he faces many obstacles on his journey to try and discover the lost city he calls Z. The film also stars Sienna Miller (Factory Girl) as Nina Fawcett, Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Homecoming) as Jack Fawcett, Robert Pattinson (The Twilight Saga) as Henry Costin, Edward Ashley (In The Heart Of The Sea) as Arthur Manley, Angus Macfadyen (We Bought A Zoo) as James Murray, Ian McDiarmid (Star Wars: Episode VI-Return Of The Jedi) as Sir George Goldie, and the film was directed by James Gray (We Own The Night).
What was surprising about the film wasn’t necessarily the story itself or the way the presented it, but the acting in my opinion is the highlight. Robert Pattinson in particular was a highlight for me as the mysterious, drunk, but loyal Mr. Costin who had accompanied Fawcett on some of the journeys. The actors did such an amazing job of conveying the torture they had been going through on the journey with the sicknesses and the lack of provisions. They did an amazing job as portraying how difficult the Amazon itself was and how things were drastically different there then where they had been. The movie isn’t perfect in any way shape or form, but it’s kind of a cool adventure to be on for the two plus hours that you’re watching. I liked Charlie Hunnam’s performance, but I think too many people stole the show on him on too many occasions. Whether it be Pattinson or Angus Macfayden who plays someone who is not what they are expected to be. I thought the sets and costumes were amazing as it felt like you were really there in the Amazon in 1912 or so. The ending of the film definitely tries it’s best to not speculate on what exactly happened to Fawcett and his son despite all the different theories that there are out there. It’s sad to read online that his other son was never interested in the truth, but rather the revenue over the speculation of his death. Check out the film for yourself, I am going to give it an B+ for a final grade.
With only three days left in the challenge, I have to choose my films wisely and watch films that I have always wanted to see. I remember when today’s film came out that I wasn’t allowed to watch it. For some strange reason, I just never bothered to watch Basic Instinct, but I did for today. Detective Nick Curran (Michael Douglas) is a cop with a little bit of a troubled history. When a big time former Rock star gets murdered with an ice pick while having sex gets Nick signed on to the case to investigate. The only problem is that when he begins to investigate the only suspect in author Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone) things begin to get dark as he uncovers the truth behind the murder. The film also stars George Dzundza (The Deer Hunter) as Gus, Jeanne Tripplehorn (The Firm) as Dr. Beth Garner, Denis Arndt (Metro) as Lieutenant Walker, Leilani Sarelle (Days Of Thunder) as Roxy, Bruce A. Young (Jurassic Park III) as Andrews, Chelcie Ross (Trouble With The Curve) as Captain Talcott, Wayne Knight (Jurassic Park) as John Corelli, Dorothy Malone (The Big Sleep) as Hazel Dobkins, Daniel Von Bargen (Super Troopers) as Lieutenant Nilsen, Stephen Tobolowsky (Mississippi Burning) as Dr. Lamott, Jack McGee (Crash) as Sheriff, and the film was directed by Paul Verhoeven (RoboCop).
This was one intense film that I can definitely see why my mother didn’t want me to see it. There are so many sex scenes in this film or at least scenes involving nudity whether it be Sharon Stone or Jeanne Tripplehorn. It’s crazy, but that fact definitely does not overshadow the fact that the story is very interesting to begin with. The whole entire film, I was thinking I knew who the person that did it was, but then it tricks me into thinking that it was a different person to only leave me with a cliffhanger of sorts at the end of the film. The film’s story definitely leaves you wanting more when it is all said and done. I want to commend Michael Douglas, Tripplehorn, and Stone for putting on some great performances in the film If it wasn’t for them, I don’t know if this film would have been the same and Sharon was perfect for the role. She was mysterious, seductrive, and smart which was made her very sexy and desirable in my opinion. The cinematography was pretty good, but the car chase scenes were a little weak in my opinion. Other than that, it was a solid film and I really enjoyed it. I highly reccommend the film to anyone that loves sexy mystery thrillers and its definitely NSFW (Not Safe For Work). I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.
There are movies for this challenge that I promised myself that I was going to watch before it was over and today’s film is one of those said films. One of the greatest composers of the 18TH century was the virtuoso Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and for today’s film I decided to watch the 1984 film Amadeus. Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham) likes to believe that he is a great composer and writer of classical music, but he had to work hard for it. Unlike his counterpart Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce) who was born with a natural talent and ability that it drives Salieri mad with jealousy. The film is Salieri’s take on what drove him to the point that he would actually murder the young prodigy. The film also stars Elizabeth Berridge (The Funhouse) as Constanze Mozart, Roy Dotrice (Hellboy II: The Golden Army) as Leopold Mozart, Christine Ebersole (The Wolf Of Wall Street) as Katerina Cavalieri, Jeffrey Jones (The Crucible) as Emperor Joseph II, Kenneth McMillan (Dune) as Michael Schlumberg, Charles Kay (Henry V) as Count Orsini-Rosenberg, Cynthia Nixon (Sex And The City) as Lorl, Kenny Baker (Star Wars: Episode IV- A New Hope) as Parody Commendatore, Simon Callow (James And The Giant Peach) as Emanuel Schikaneder, and the film was directed by Milos Forman (The People Vs Larry Flynt).
I just want to warn all of you with short attention spans that this film is a little over three hours long so if you can handle it then proceed. Amadeus is definitely one of those films that they went all out for because it has an amazing score, amazing set designs, amazing costumes, and most importantly great acting that makes it complete. The soundtrack features so much as far as amazing 18TH century classical music and amazing opera music that should satisfy any fan of that genre. The set designs and costumes were so amazing that it actually makes you feel like you are walking and living in 18TH Century Austria which is what a time period piece is supposed to do in the first place. One thing I do know is that this is actually a fictionalized look at the life of Mozart or at least the idea of Salieri killing Mozart. Mozart died of an illness that is often debated as to what it was exactly. When he was working on his Requiem, it said that he dictated in bed to one of his proteges and not Salieri (although this is not proven either). F. Murray Abraham was absolutely brilliant in his portrayal of a man driven with jealousy and hatred toward God and Mozart. Tom Hulce is brilliant as the virtuoso who if he was a lead singer he would have had LSD (Lead Singers Disease). He knew he was amazing and he wasn’t afraid to show it. I was a little skeptical of Jeffrey Jones playing an Austrian Emperor, but he does a pretty good job at it. You really have to love classical music and Mozart to want to watch this film, but I am a fan of music so I loved it. I am going to give the film an A for a final grade.
I just wanted to start by wishing all of you movie lovers out there a very safe and Merry Christmas. To get into the spirit of Christmas, I wanted to to watch a film that had to do with the very holiday itself so I chose to watch Miracle On 34 Street (the 1947 version). Doris Walker (Maureen O’Hara) is the special events coordinator for Macy’s who has discovered a problem thanks to an old man (Edmund Gwenn). Her Santa Claus for the Thanksgiving Day Parade is drunk and unable to continue. So, she hires the old man to be Santa and after he does a great job, he is then hired to be the Macy’s store Santa. The only problem is that the old man claims to be Kris Kringle himself, but there are people that do not believe him. The film also stars Natalie Wood (Rebel Without A Cause) as Susan Walker, John Payne (The Razor’s Edge) as Fred Gailey, Gene Lockhart (His Girl Friday) as Judge Henry X. Harper, Porter Hall (Mr. Smith Goes To Washington) as Granville Sawyer, William Frawley (I Love Lucy) as Charlie Halloran, Jerome Cowan (The Maltese Falcon) as Dist. Atty. Thomas Mara, Philip Tonge (Witness For The Prosecution) as Julian, and the film was directed by George Seaton (Airport).
This is the very last Sunday at the Classics as far as this challenge is concerned, but I just may keep it going after the challenge is over. I have seen some great films for Sunday at the Classics, but this is by far one of my favorite ones. The film features some amazing performances from the likes of John Payne, Edmund Gwenn, and even little Natalie Wood who would go on to be even more famous for her role in Rebel Without A Cause. The story of the film is just as amazing because it was a well written tale and a different kind of take on Christmas. It was a tale of believing in something not because people tell you to, but because it feels right to you. The trial scenes were amazing and you have to love the judge who constantly looks to his campaign advisor for advice on how to judge the case. The cinematography was pretty good as well and I had the chance to see the colorized version, but I chose to go old school for my first go around. This was an all around great film that featured great writing, actors, costumes, the sets, and even the cinematography. You have to do yourself a favor and check this film out for yourself before you watch the remake (which I also haven’t seen). I am going to give the film an A+ for a final grade.
The finish line is so close at this point and I can see it which is super exciting as the challenge comes to a close soon. When I saw the trailer for today’s film Passengers, I thought that this film could either be a 2001: A Space Odyssey rip off or it could carve it’s own way into the annals of Sci-Fi greatness. Nevertheless, I chose to watch it for today’s film cause it features a couple of superstars in my opinion. There are always issues that are raised with the planet Earth like pollution or over population that we are always imagining if we could inhabit other worlds. That is why the Starship Avalon is on a 120 year journey through space to inhabit a new world known as Homestead II and all of it’s passengers are in a deep hibernation sleep. That is until Chris Pratt (Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2) who plays passenger Jim Preston is woken up 90 years too early. With 90 years ahead of you what are you to do, well you try to enjoy it and that is what he attempts to do with fellow awoken passenger Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence) until problems with the shop become evident which could derail the journey all together. The film also stars Michael Sheen (Nocturnal Animals) as Arthur, Laurence Fishburne (Mystic River) as Gus Mancuso, and the film was directed by Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game).
Spoiler Alert: There is going to be some information leaked in this paragraph that could give away some details or all the details in the film. So either proceed with caution or do not read any further, but you were warned. You are probably why I didn’t list a lot of actors above and that is because while the film does list Andy Garcia, Julee Cerda, and some others, they are merely just cameo appearances compared to the work that Pratt, Sheen, Lawrence, and Fishburne put in. As I said above, I thought this was going to be the modern day 2001: A Space Odyssey, but it really wasn’t because it was it’s own film. If you are alone on a ship and you have 90 years to go before you land on a new planet (which you obviously won’t be alive to see), what are you going to do with the time? That is the exact question that Chris Pratt’s character is faced with and he makes a very difficult and selfish decision, but it creates one of the big turning point conflicts in the script besides the ship’s problems. The ending of the film is very cliche in how it ends which is my only complaint. It’s one of those endings that you are hoping for something different, but they give you the one you expected all along. Otherwise, the acting was great in where two actors were really able to hold your attention for the whole film which can be just as difficult as only one. Check this one in theaters now, I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.
One of the greatest actors to come out of the 1990’s is Denzel Washington (Malcolm X) who is money when it comes to his films. He has a movie called Fences coming out on Christmas which is gaining a lot of critical acclaim, but to celebrate his career, I decided to check out He Got Game. Jake Shuttlesworth (Denzel)has been in jail for six years after the death of his wife which has forced his son Jesus Shuttlesworth (NBA Legend Ray Allen) to be the man of the house. You see Jesus is also an unbelievable basketball player for his high school who hasn’t made a decision as to where he wants to go or do after high school. Jake is given a chance to exit jail to try and convince his son to go to a certain school so that his sentence can be cut short. The film also stars Milla Jovovich (Zoolander 2) as Dakota Burns, Rosario Dawson (Justice League: Throne Of Atlantis) as Lala, Hill Harper (CSI: NY) as Booger, Zelda Harris (The Baby-Sitters Club) as Mary Shuttlesworth, Ned Beatty (Deliverance) as Warden Wyatt, Jim Brown (Mars Attacks) as Spivey, Joseph Lyle Taylor (The Dark Knight Rises) as Crudup, Bill Nunn (Spider-Man 3) as Uncle Bubba, John Turturro (The Color Of Money) as Coach Sunday, Roger Guenveur Smith (American Gangster) as Big Time Willie, and the film was written and directed by Spike Lee (Malcolm X).
This was one of those films that you are kind of glad they only made one just because one of the main actors was kind of awful. The film’s story is actually a very good story that kind of takes a look into what happens when someone from a poor area has some talent and has to deal with vultures trying to get theirs. But as I said before, Ray Allen is kind of an awful actor who has his moments in the film, but is also one of those guys who shouldn’t have transitioned into films.Now Denzel on the other hand puts on one heck of a performance as he always does as a man who is desperate to get his son to sign, but he is also enjoying his time out of prison. He also touches other peoples lives to wake them up to realize their potentials or what they are missing out on. His interaction with Milla Jovovich are awesome as she plays a prostitute that he feels bad for in a way. The film features some gritty moments and plenty of T&A as one college tries to persuade him to come to their school. I can imagine that those things happened in real life and I am kind of mad I never took sport serious enough in high school. The ending of the film to me is a little rushed and it sort of doesn’t make sense to me in a way while in a way it does. It just seems a little too quick that he spends years hating his father, but forgives him what seems quick. It was a decent film that any basketball fan may enjoy. I am going to give a B+ only because Allen and some other performances bothered me a little. Enjoy the cameos in the film from NBA coaches and players like Dean Smith, Lute Olson, John Chaney, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Shaq, etc.
I was looking around for a film to watch today and I wanted to look for a comedy because I was in that kind of a mood. So, when I logged on to my Netflix account I saw that I had an interesting film to watch on my Queue called The Late Bloomer. Peter Newmans (Johnny Simmons) is a successful sex therapist who is preaching that life is about abstinence to better yourself. What Peter doesn’t realize is that he has never in his life gone through puberty. Peter never knew that he had a tumor that has pressed against his pituitary gland and when he is operated on, his life changes completely including the fact that he has feelings for his neighbor and friend Michelle (Brittany Snow). Now what is he going to do about all of this? The film also stars J.K. Simmons (Zootopia) as James Newmans, Maria Bello (Lights Out) as Brenda Newmans, Kumail Nanjiani (Central Intelligence) as Rich, Beck Bennett (Zoolander 2) as Luke, Paul Wesley (The Vampire Diaries) as Charlie, Jane Lynch (Mascots) as Caroline Chambers, Charlotte McKinney (Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser) as Attractive Woman, Blake Cooper (The Maze Runner) as Josh, Diana Lyubenova (Conan The Barbarian) as Marilyn, and the film was directed by Kevin Pollak (Vamped Out).
I honestly went into this film with an open mind because I wasn’t expecting much out of it, but when I realized the people that starred in this film I was a little more intrigued. The film has some great actors like J.K. Simmons and Maria Bello and it was directed by the awesome Kevin Pollak who is a great actor himself who was directing his first feature length film with this one. So one argument for the film that I saw online was that it was kind of like The 40 Year Old Virgin, but with a guy who isn’t really socially awkward like Steve Carell was and I beg to differ a little bit. While I loved The 40 Year Old Virgin, I definitely really enjoyed this one because it took the idea and it ran with it in a totally different direction. The funny connection between the two really is the fact that Jane Lynch starred in both films. This one has it’s raunchy moments and friends like the other one, but in a different way. Kumail Nanjiani was given the green light to be as nasty as he wanted to be and he succeeded because he and Beck Bennett made a great combo in this film like Rudd and Rogen. Alright, so I can’t really come up with too many differences because there is a crap ton of similarities in the structure of the story. You can’t knock the formula cause it worked and there were some real funny moments in this one. You also get treated to some T&A in the film which is definitely a plus. I am going to give the film a B+ only because it’s not completely original and not as completely funny as The 40 Year Old Virgin.