“When the Devil creeps in, you need someone to see the truth, even when you don’t.”
“Why’d ya spill your beans?”
“You’re hiding something. What is it?”
"The El Royale: No Place For A Priest!"
"I recognize you from your mother."
"There's an air of quiet death in this house."
"This ain't put an end to shit you fuckin' retard --this is just a fuckin' start. Why don't you put that on your Good Morning Missouri Fucking Wakeup broadcast? Bitch!"
Behold as Two Stars are Born: Production Designer-turned-Writer/ Director, Robert Eggers, making his stunning feature debut and Lead Actress Ana Taylor-Joy, in a star-making role, who plays 'Thomasin.' Notice how the word "sin" is attached to her character's name? (I did not until I typed it just now). But that is just the level of detail Mr. Eggers puts into this work. The whole film doesn't feel fabricated or constructed at all. It feels like a glimpse into the past. As if Mr. Eggers and his crew took a time machine back to 17th Century New England and documented what they saw. Although distributor A24 sold the film as a Horror movie, it is actually more of a Psychodrama with genre-leaning horror elements. I feel the film is more metaphor than literal, which is solidified by the ending scene. While it can be argued that the film could in fact be categorized as a "Glorified Short," the world in which the story takes place is just too rich in detail and authenticity to be dismissed. The tone, structure and pacing are too strong not to be sucked in. That coupled with Miss Taylor-Joy's absolutely riveting, fearless and unselfconscious performance makes this a feature debut for the ages.
While technically Writer/ Director, Jeremy Saulnier's 3rd feature film (MURDER PARTY being his first), this is his follow-up to his 4 Bones masterpiece, BLUE RUIN. And wow what a ride. Not only is this film as brilliantly constructed and impeccably directed as his last one, it is also astounding that after the success of his previous film, Mr. Saulnier chose to make this as his next project. It truly shows his loyalty and integrity to his ideas and vision, as I am sure he could have probably made something a bit more ambitious or grand in scale and scope. Instead, he chose to make a tightly constructed, taut, single-location suspense thriller that not only creates convincingly real characters and situations but also shows the audience for the first time since Quentin Tarantino just how casual, mundane and swift violence really is. That is what is so striking and what stays with you long since you have left the theater. While one of the late Anton Yelchin's final performances, the real star and scene-stealer of the show is ingenue Imogen Poots, who goes completely unrecognizable and fully inhabits her character to the point that I was sure I was watching a locally-casted Oregon discovery. Imagine my surprise during the end credits when I saw her name and it suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks.
ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY
I have to admit that I was hooked off of the very first teaser: "What will you do when they catch you? What will you do if they break you? If you continue to fight what will you become?" With Forest Whitaker dialed into 11? Still gives me chills whenever I watch it. I can say with complete confidence that there is nothing like this film in the entire STAR WARS canon and I highly doubt there ever will be again. I have even heard rumors that after this, there will never be anymore "standalone" spinoff films. Luckily, the only one we got turned out to be absolutely stunning. I knew I was "in" the moment Diego Luna's character killed that 'Panicky Rebel Spy' in cold blood. And the fact that they delivered on FINALLY showing us Darth Vader just killing Rebels left and right was the cherry on top. However, I felt the casting of Felicity Jones was too derivative/ similar to Daisy Ridley's casting in EPISODE VII. Felt 'Jyn Erso' should have been a person of color and that her team should of had at least 1-2 more female characters (although I loved Donnie Yen & Wen Jiang, who stole the show). I also felt strongly that the opening prologue should have been scrapped and instead should have opened up with Riz Ahmed's character defecting. Not only would that have given the story more urgency and excitement, it also would have given Riz Ahmed more to do as he is just too good an actor not to be utilized correctly. The brilliance of this film is with its ending, which from what I understand, all came about because Kathleen Kennedy called in Tony Gilory for some help after having issues with original director, Gareth Edwards, who I believe mainly focused on the VFX once Mr. Gilroy came aboard.
FILMS THAT DIDN'T MAKE THE LIST:
10 CLOVERFIELD LANE (Misfire)
20TH CENTURY WOMEN (Flat or Tone-Deaf)
ALLIED (Not Yet Reviewed)
AMERICAN HONEY (Glorified Short)
AMERICAN PASTORAL (Flat or Tone-Deaf)
ARRIVAL (Glorified Short)
THE BFG (Inert)
BILLY FLYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK (Misfire)
THE BIRTH OF A NATION (Not Yet Reviewed)
BLOOD FATHER (MOW)
CAPTAIN FANTASTIC (Self-Indulgent)
DEEPWATER HORIZON (Portentous)
THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN (Clunky)
ELLE (Not Yet Reviewed)
FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS (Flat or Tone-Deaf)
THE FOUNDER (MOW)
HACKSAW RIDGE (Flat or Tone-Deaf)
HAIL, CAESAR! (Flat or Tone-Deaf)
THE HANDMAIDEN (Not Yet Reviewed)
HELL OR HIGH WATER (Overrated)
HIDDEN FIGURES (MOW)
HIGH-RISE (Flat or Tone-Deaf)
JANE GOT A GUN (Not Yet Reviewed)
KNIGHT OF CUPS (Pretentious)
LA LA LAND (Overrated)
THE LEGEND OF TARZAN (Misfire)
THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS (Not Yet Reviewed)
LION (Not Yet Reviewed)
LIVE BY NIGHT (Flat or Tone-Deaf)
THE LOBSTER (Glorified Short)
LOVING (Not Yet Reviewed)
MAN DOWN (Glorified Short)
MANCHESTER BY THE SEA (Portentous)
MIDNIGHT SPECIAL (Glorified Short)
MOONLIGHT (Glorified Short)
THE NEON DEMON (Insufferable)
THE NICE GUYS (Flat or Tone-Deaf)
NOCTURNAL ANIMALS (Pretentious)
PATRIOT’S DAY (Portentous)
RULES DON’T APPLY (Flat or Tone-Deaf)
THE SHALLOWS (Glorified Short)
SUICIDE SQUAD (Misfire)
SWISS ARMY MAN (Glorified Short)
TRIPLE 9 (Misfire)
WAR DOGS (Flat or Tone-Deaf)
THE WAVE (Glorified Short)
ZOOLANDER 2 (Misfire)
"Survival is victory."
"You know what my mother used to call me? Dangerous. You're a dangerous girl. She was right. I am dangerous."
1. A SERIOUS MAN ('09)
2. RAISING ARIZONA ('87)
3. MILLER'S CROSSING ('90)
4. BARTON FINK ('91)
5. FARGO ('96)
"Gentlemen, I hope you appreciate the situation. Things have gone south. No doubt. Now. Whatever you saw or did is no longer my concern. But let's be clear: it won't end well."
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
Epic stunt driving taken to its logical conclusion. All the more impressive that Dr. Miller was able to do it all on location in the Namibian Desert with the likes of his two leads, no less. Only two issues to take note of are the fact that there is only one and only 'Mad Max' and that is the one and only mad Mel Gibson. Tom Hardy’s character should have been the adult version of ‘The Feral Kid’ from THE ROAD WARRIOR. Also, the opening chase sequence that closes Act I should have been the titled Fury Road –like a shortcut Max suggests to all of them in order to beat 'Immortan Joe' and his marauders back to the Citadel. Because the film/ climax is never able to top that opening scene number.
A film brought to life not so much by its dazzling music video direction but by its electric cast of Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart who are full of palpable chemistry. Likewise Connie Britton and Topher Grace, who accentuated just the right amount of realish meets cartoonish, which oddly created the eclectic amount of relatable tension. Walton Goggins is also a revelation in proving how much he can do with so little given to him. His commitment and intensity was just another bright spot to the stew that keeps you stirring. The first and so far only Max Landis script done well, where it was a perfect marriage of possibilities, most of which were executed well within target range.
THE HATEFUL EIGHT
Road Show version. Meaning the one with the overture and intermission, which ultimately hurt the climax/ ending of the film. Just absolutely sucks all the air out of all the tension its built and earned up to then. A true crestfallen letdown disappointment. Granted, it is hard not to enjoy soaking up the overture as you get settled into your seat, especially with that Oscar-winning score. Again, Walton Goggins steals the show. The true hero and glue that holds the film together. Even without the intermission the film is just too long for its own good. Although there is something to be said of Mr. Tarantino shooting an intimate chamber room drama in 70mm. Like the intermission, the one segment that almost derails the entire film is the celebrity cameo flashback showing the actual 'Minnie' and her Haberdashery. Wow. Felt like that was from a bad parody film universe movie. And even if Mr. Tarantino had pulled it off --it still would have been superfluous. The film should have also ended on a button with some other hapless traveler arriving just after the carnage ended and saying, "Fuck this! I don't care how good her coffee is!" as he rides back out into the snow.
FILMS THAT DIDN'T MAKE THE LIST:
ANOMALISA (Not Yet Reviewed)
BEASTS OF NO NATION (Not Yet Reviewed)
THE BIG SHORT (Flat or Tone-Deaf)
BLACK HAT (Not Yet Reviewed)
BLACK MASS (Not Yet Reviewed)
BONE TOMAHAWK (Portentous)
BRIDGE OF SPIES (Flat or Tone-Deaf)
BROOKLYN (Not Yet Reviewed)
CAROL (Not Yet Reviewed)
CARTEL LAND (Glorified Short)
CREED (Not Yet Reviewed)
CRIMSON PEAK (Portentous)
THE DANISH GIRL (Not Yet Reviewed)
DOPE (Not Yet Reviewed)
THE END OF THE TOUR (Not Yet Reviewed)
EX MACHINA (Glorified Short)
GOODNIGHT MOMMY (Not Yet Reviewed)
THE GIFT (Not Yet Reviewed)
INSIDE OUT (Not Yet Reviewed)
IT FOLLOWS (Glorified Short)
JOY (Not Yet Reviewed)
JURASSIC WORLD (Misfire)
THE LOOK OF SILENCE (Not Yet Reviewed)
LEGEND (Not Yet Reviewed)
THE MAN FROM UNCLE (Not Yet Reviewed)
THE MARTIAN (Insufferable)
THE REVENANT (Glorified Short)
ROOM (Not Yet Reviewed)
SICARIO (Glorified Short)
SON OF SAUL (Not Yet Reviewed)
SPECTRE (Flat or Tone-Deaf)
SPOTLIGHT (Not Yet Reviewed)
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (Misfire)
STEVE JOBS (MOW)
STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON (MOW)
"So why not...join us? Join us at the high-rise."
1. JAWS ('75)
2. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND ('77)
3. E.T. ('82)
4. RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK ('81)
5. JURASSIC PARK ('93)
"There's evil in the wood."
Best film of 2014. Rock solid feature debut. Tour de force performances from both Jake Gllyenhaal and Rene Russo. Also, British actor, Riz Ahmed is pretty endearing too. Brilliant writing, cinematography, editing, sound desin and yes –even score. I know a lot of people weren’t a fan of it but I saw it 4 times in one weekend and let me tell you something –the score is what makes it glide by so effortlessly upon repeated viewings. It makesre-experiencing it all the more enjoyable and smooth for all its rough and edgy corners.
One of the most tight, taught, thrilling, films of recent memory. James Saulnier is a master of suspense and visual storytelling. Like the Coens meets Hitchcock. Such a film of economy too. No shot is wasted. Every single scene, every line, pushes the story forward towards it’s ultimate conclusion. Such an amazing cast. This film is so fully realized and perfectly executed. It has such honest moments like when Macon Blair has lunch with this sister and right when he tells her something important some random diner asks if they have ketchup on their table? Completely interrupting the moment and
Epic. Operatic. Hard sci-fi. Michael Caine reading poetry. Matthaw McConnaughy pushing it to the limit. Loved everything about this film with one notable exception: the stunt casting cameo. It wasn’t just the actor –but the character—that cheapened the film. It was totally/ tonally superfleous. Like from a different movie. But Chrisopher Nolan man. That cat delivers. Even when his sound mix is purposely unintelligellable. He’s a big thinker. A big artist. And he takes big risks on a big canvas. And his output is so consistent that I always know I’ll have something to get excited about no matter how long the wait.
America –meet British actor Dan Stevens, who stars as the title character. If I’m Ryan Gosling, Mr. Stevens is officially keeping me up at night. Another fine collaboration between collabotors, Adam Winegard and Simon Barret. I’m an even bigger fan of their previous film, YOU’RE NEXT, which not only set the bar high with it’s witty, fresh, entertaining, subversive ways but is the bar as far as I’m concerned. All that being said, the film kinda unravels as it goes along but the first hour alone makes it worthy of repeated viewings. Although there is something to be said in the way certain characters are dispatched.
FILMS THAT DIDN'T MAKE THE LIST:
A MOST VIOLENT YEAR (Portentous)
A MOST WANTED MAN (Not Yet Reviewed)
AMERICAN SNIPER (Not Yet Reviewed)
BIG EYES (Not Yet Reviewed)
BOYHOOD (Not Yet Reviewed)
COLD IN JULY (Not Yet Reviewed)
ENEMY (Glorified Short)
FOXCATCHER (Not Yet Reviewed)
GONE GIRL (Tone-Deaf)
THE ROVER (Glorified Short)
INHERENT VICE (Incomprehensible)
JAMIE MARKS IS DEAD (Not Yet Reviewed)
LISTEN UP PHILLIP (Not Yet Reviewed)
LOCKE (Glorified Short)
NIGHT MOVES (Misfire)
ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE (Not Yet Reviewed)
SELMA (Not Yet Reviewed)
STARRED UP (Glorified Short)
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (Self-Indulgent)
UNDER THE SKIN (Glorified Short)
WHIPLASH (Glorified Short)