Showing posts from August, 2018

Requiem for a Dream (2000) Review

"Anyway, I'm not really hooked..." -Marion Silver

Requiem for a Dream follows the story of four people as they deal with drug addiction.  Harry Goldfarb (Jared Leto) and his best friend, Tyrone Love (Marlon Wayans), start selling heroin so they can make something of themselves and help Harry's girlfriend, Marion Silver (Jennifer Connely), open a dress shop, but all three become addicted to heroin themselves and their lives spiral out of control.  At the same time, Harry's mother, Sara (Ellen Burstyn), starts a diet, but when she discovers she doesn't have the will-power to stick with it, she sees a doctor who gives her weight-loss amphetamines, but Sara quickly starts to abuse them and her life starts to parallel that of her son's.

What Works:
This film should be shown in every high school health class.  Requiem for a Dream is a far more effective way to prevent drug use than D. A. R. E. will ever be.  The way this film is shot and edited along with the gr…

REC 4: Apocalypse (2015)

"This is game over, gentlemen." -Dr. Ricarte

Picking up just after the second film ends, REC 4: Apocalypse follows a team of Army Special Forces soldiers that enter the apartment with the objective to blow it up.  Two of the team members, Guzmán (Paco Manzanedo) and Lucas (Críspulo Cabezas) manage to make it out alive along with reporter, Ángela Vidal (Manuela Velasco).  The three of them are taken to a medical center and research facility located on a ship out at sea, as is Anciana (María Alfonsa Rosso), an older woman and the only survivor of the wedding from the 3rd film.  After they are tested and cleared from the infection, they learn that the doctors running the operation are testing vaccinations to cure the infection on monkeys, but one of the monkeys is set free by someone onboard.  Is it Ángela, who last we saw was possessed by the same spirit that caused the infections, or is someone else now the host?

What Works:
REC 4 returns to the same tone the first two movies …

Ex Machina (2015) Review

"Isn't it strange, to create something that hates you?" -Ava

Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson) is a programer at the world's dominant search engine company, Blue Book.  He wins a lottery to spend a week at the remote and luxurious home of the company's CEO, Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac).  Nathan's home turns out to be a research facility and only he and a servant live there.  Nathan requests Caleb's help.  Nathan has created a humanoid robot, Ava (Alicia Vikander), and wants Caleb to test her to see if she indeed has artificial intelligence.  Ava and Caleb bond, but she tells him not to trust Nathan, and Caleb discovers that there is something much more nefarious going on than he was led to believe.

What Works:
I have to start with the performances, which really carry this film.  There are only a handful of characters in this movie and both Gleeson and Vikander do an excellent job.  Best of all is Oscar Issac.  His character is a super-genius, but comes off a…

REC 3: Genesis (2012) Review

"This is my day!" -Clara

Taking place during the events of the first two films, REC 3: Genesis occurs during the wedding day of Clara (Leticia Dolera) and Koldo (Diego Martín).  Koldo's Uncle is a veterinarian who was recently bitten by a dog that lived in the apartments from the previous films.  His health deteriorates over the course of the wedding and eventually he attacks some party guests.  As more of the infected invade the wedding reception, which is in a huge mansion, Clara and Koldo are separated.  Now they have to find each other and escape the mansion with their lives.

What Works:
The blood and gore in this film is top notch.  Most of this movie isn't found footage, so we get a great look at most of the deaths.  There are some really brutal, bloody, and memorable kills.  Clara even uses a chainsaw to kill some of the infected and you will never catch me complaining about that.
The cinematography is excellent and the visuals are very smooth and fluid.  It a…

Searching (2018) Review

"I didn't know my daughter." -David Kim

Still recovering from the death of his wife two years earlier, David Kim (John Cho) has some trouble connecting with his 16-year old daughter, Margot Kim (Michelle La).  After Margot doesn't come home from a study session and won't answer her phone, David realizes his daughter is missing and gets the police involved.  Detective Rosemary Vick (Debra Messing) has David look into Margot's friends and social life through her computer, but as time runs out, David comes to the realization that he doesn't know his daughter as well as he thought.

What Works:
Like the movie Unfriended, Searching utilizes its premise well.  We watch the entire film through various computer screens and it works the majority of the time.  The director, Aneesh Chaganty, does a great job of telling us the story through this medium and it's fun to see David using various programs.  He even boots up Windows XP, which triggered some flashbacks f…

The Happytime Murders (2018) Review

"I don't take compliments well, but I get them all the time." -Ronovan Scargle

In a world where puppets and humans live together, the cast members of a popular 90's TV show start getting murdered.  Ex-cop turned private eye, Phil Phillips (Bill Barretta), is forced to team to up with his old partner, Detective Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy), who helped get him fired from the force.  Phillips and Edwards have to dive into the seedy underworld of Los Angeles to put a stop to the killings as fast as possible because both Phil's brother and his ex-girlfriend were stars on the show.  Can Phil save them before the killer strikes again?

What Works:
I gotta say, the puppets looked great and are the highlights of the film.  There are a lot of really creative designs and wacky characters.  The filmmakers got to go nuts with these puppets and they were a lot of fun to watch in action.
There are about 5 or 6 jokes throughout the film that are really funny.  Like top-tier …

Fargo: Season 3 Episode 7 "The Law of Inevitability" Review

"You mash a potato, you know what you get?  Mashed potatoes?" -Moe Dammick

The seventh episode of Fargo's third season follows Nikki Swango (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) getting arrested for Ray Stussy's (Ewan McGregor) death.  Nikki asks for a lawyer and refuses to give any information to the police.
Both Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon) and Winnie Lopez (Olivia Sandoval) are reprimanded by their superiors with Lopez ordered to go back to her assigned duties and Gloria's job threatened.  Unperturbed, Gloria has Winnie deliver the news of Ray's death to Emmit Stussy (Ewan McGregor) to gage his reaction.  He acts very strangely when he hears the news, but Sy Feltz (Michael Stuhlbarg) blames it on the alcohol.  Winnie decides to question Ruby Goldfarb (Mary McDonnell), who Emmit and Sy were meeting with, while Sy gives Emmit a ride home.  The two of them have a brief fight with Emmit accusing Sy of working with Ray, but Sy quickly assures him that isn't happening. …

Stir of Echoes (1999) Review

"Does it hurt to be dead?" -Jake Witzky

Blue-collar, no-nonsense Tom Witzky (Kevin Bacon) gets drunk at a party and dares his superstitious sister-in-law, Lisa (Illeana Douglas), to hypnotize him because he doesn't believe anything will happen.  Tom is wrong and starts seeing violent and disturbing visions involving his house, his family, and people in hie neighborhood.  Tom starts to become more and more disturbed and obsessed with figuring out the truth behind his visions.  His wife, Maggie (Kathryn Erbe) wants to dismiss the visions, but can't because their son, Jake (Zachary David Cope), is having them as well.  As the family starts to fall apart, Tom comes closer and closer to discovering the awful truth hidden in their seemingly wholesome neighborhood.

What Works:
This movie is 100% carried by Kevin Bacon.  He gives one hell of a performance as he goes more and more nutty.  He absolutely sells it in every scene.  I am a huge Kevin Bacon fans and this is a stron…

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) Review

"Constantly talking isn't necessarily communicating." -Joel Barish

Before I get into this film, I just need to say I knew nothing about this movie going into it besides the fact it was sort of a romantic-comedy.  That's literally it and I'm glad I didn't know anything else about it.  So unless you've seen this movie already, stop reading now!  Drop what you're doing and go watch it.  I give it my highest recommendation and implore everyone to check this movie out.  Go in with as little information as possible and enjoy the ride.  SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!!!

Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) discovers his ex-girlfriend, Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet), who he is still in love with, has undergone a procedure to have all of her memories involving Joel erased.  Now Joel is a complete stranger to her.  Devastated, Joel decides to undergo the same procedure and have all of his memories of Clementine erased.  That night, as the technicians erase his memories, Joel is …

Fargo: Season 3 Episode 6 "The Lord of No Mercy" Review

"A shark in a suit is still a shark." -Nikki Swango

The 6th episode of Fargo's 3rd season picks up with Ray Stussy (Ewan McGregor) caring for the badly injured Nikki Swango (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).  They plot their revenge and discover V. M. Varga's (David Thewlis) hideout in a semi truck parked in one of Emmit's (Ewan McGregor) parking lots.  Before they can do much more, police officers Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon) and Winnie Lopez (Olivia Sandoval) stop by their apartment.  Ray and Nikki flee and hide out at a motel.

Varga starts Stussy Lots down a path of aggressive expansion and gets Emmit on board.  When Gloria and Winnie stop by to question Emmit, Varga plays interference, preventing Emmit from giving away too much information.  When Varga looks into Gloria's case, he can't find any information on her and discovers her police station is entirely off-line.  He sends Yuri Gurka (Goran Bogdan) to get the physical file from the station.  Varga than h…

The Warriors (1979) Review

"Warriors!  Come out to pla-ay!" -Luther

The streets of New York City are run by hundreds of street gangs constantly squabbling over turf.  However, a truce is enacted by Cyrus (Roger Hill), the leader of the Riffs, the most powerful gang in New York.  Cyrus invites a hundred gangs to a meeting to propose an alliance between them all so they can take over the city.  Luther (David Patrick Kelly), the leader of the Rogues, shoots and kills Cyrus and blames it on a gang from Coney Island called the Warriors.  As the police raid the meeting, the Warriors flee, but their leader, Cleon (Dorsey Wright) is killed by the Riffs, who put out a bounty on the Warriors.  With every gang in the city hunting them, the remaining Warriors face a dangerous 30-mile trek through the city.  Unarmed and outnumbered, they have no one but each other to rely on to make it back to Coney Island.

What Works:
I love the premise for this film and most of the time it works.  It's one long chase movie a…

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) Review

"You will be investigating thieves, misers, bullies.  The most detestable collection of people that you will ever family." -Henrik Vanger

Journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) loses a libel case against him wiping out his life savings and forcing him to resign his job.  Mikael is approached by the extremely wealthy Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) who promises him a shot at revenge against the man who sued him.  In exchange Mikael investigates the disappearance and possible murder of Henrik's niece Harriet (Joely Richardson), which occurred 40 years earlier.  Mikael teams up with private investigator Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) to look into the case, but what they discover is much darker and more horrible than they can imagine.

What Works:
I can't help but compare this film to the original Swedish version.  In some ways the original is superior.  In other ways this one is.  To start with, both Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara are excellent.  Their bo…

Cry Wolf (2005) Review

"Avoid suspicion, manipulate your friends, and eliminate your enemies." -Dodger Allen

Owen Matthews (Julian Morris) is a new student at Westlake Preparatory Academy.  On his first day, he meets a pretty and alluring student, Dodger Allen (Lindy Booth) and that night he is invited to sneak out of the dorms to play a game called Cry Wolf (similar to Mafia) with her and her friends.  After Owen easily wins the game, Dodger comes up with an idea to expand the game.  With the recent murder of a local girl on everyone's mind, Owen, Dodger, and the others mess with everyone by creating a fictional serial killer called The Wolf and try to convince that the any of the students could be his next victim.  But, Owen starts receiving messages from someone claiming to be The Wolf.  Is it one of the others messing with him or is the real killer out there waiting to strike?

What Works:
I actually genuinely enjoyed the first act of the movie when the characters were all playing Cry Wolf.…

The Snubby Awards: 2018 Oscars

It's that time again: The Snubby Awards.  For those of you who don't know, the Snubby Awards take a look at all of the Best Picture nominees from a given year and determined if the correct film won or if one was subbed.  If that's the case, they win the coveted Snubby Award!

This time, we'll be looking at the 2018 Oscars.  The Best Picture nominees were: Call Me by Your Name, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, Phantom Thread, The Post, The Shape of Water, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.  The winner was The Shape of Water.  Did it deserve to win or did another film get snubbed?  Let's take a look!

#9. Darkest Hour

Darkest Hour follows Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) as he becomes the Prime Minister of Great Britain and must lead the country through one of its most difficult times.  Even though it's a really good movie, Darkest Hour comes in last place.  The film has a very slow start and the ending with Winston Churchill in the Underground i…