Monday, April 29, 2019

Someone Great Is A Charming Ode To Love Lost And The Friends We Made Along The Way

New Yorker Jenny Young (Gina Rodriguez), the lead character of Someone Great, just had the worst break-up. After nearly a decade of dating Nate Davis (Lakeith Stanfield), the two have split up after he refused to try a long-distance relationship with Jenny once she moves to Los Angeles for her new job at Rolling Stone. Emotionally distraught, it's time for Jenny's two best friends, Erin (DeWanda Wise) and Blair (Brittany Snow), to help their best friend get out of her post-breakup funk. How will they plan to do this? By going to a splashy concert, tickets to which are extremely hard to come by. Tracking down those tickets will take the trio on an adventure that will keep reminding Jenny of the relationship she just lost as well as the great friendships she still has.


Sunday, April 28, 2019

Destroyer Channels Green Room and Mikey & Nicky In Its Exquisitely Crafted Dark Tone

"We may be through with the past, but the past is not through with us", so goes one of the most memorable lines from Magnolia and Destroyer is a crime thriller about a human being whose present-day circumstances are tormented by the past. Such a set-up, unsurprisingly, results in a grim movie that has little time for levity or hope, this is a bleak examination of a person not looking for redemption so much as a way to make the emotional pain stop, even for a moment. Such a pervasively mirthless affair won't be to everyone's liking, but me? I absolutely adored Destroyer, it's an absorbing movie that executes its dark tone with exquisite filmmaking that echoes the harrowing rawness found in Elaine May's Mikey & Nicky or Jeremy Saulnier's Green Room.


Opening Weekend Records Crumble As Avengers: Endgame Amasses Staggering $350 Million Opening Weekend

An image from the climax of Avengers: Endgame
Before May 2002, no movie in American history had opened to $100 million over its opening weekend.


Saturday, April 27, 2019

Crouching Tiger: Hidden Dragon Is Full of Surprises and Beautifully-Realized Fight Scenes

You know what's nifty about Ang Lee as a filmmaker? Just how many different genres he's explored in his directorial efforts! Much like fellow eclectic director Steven Soderbergh, Ang Lee has spent his twenty-plus years as a filmmaker transversing across several different genres from superhero fare (Hulk) to period piece romantic dramas (Sense & Sensibility) and even to a martial arts motion picture entitled Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon that defies easy genre categorization. It's a mixture of an action movie, a romantic feature, a character-driven drama and so much more. Lee's flexibility as a filmmaker in terms of what genres he explores seeps into Crouching Tiger: Hidden Dragon and allows this particular singular story to inhabit all sorts of different genres much to the betterment of the movie as a whole!


Friday, April 26, 2019

If You've Been Holding Out For A Hero, Then Avengers: Endgame Delivers

Spoilers for the ending of Avengers: Infinity War follow but absolutely no spoilers for Avengers: Endgame are contained within this review.

On paper, Avengers: Endgame is a proposition that really should be laughable rather than something you can pull off. Continuing off the cliffhanger ending of Avengers: Infinity War, a fun movie that did have a bad habit of throwing away characterization at the expense of spectacle, that saw so many beloved superheroes perish after Thanos (Josh Brolin) used the Infinity Gauntlet to snap half of the universe out of existence, Avengers: Endgame decides to expand its scope even wider Infinity War's already expansive storytelling canvas. This should result in excess to the nth degree, but instead, Avengers: Endgame winds up as something extraordinary, a blockbuster movie that can touch your heart so profoundly and also make you giggle with giddy glee at what fun is transpiring on-screen. As someone who frequently enjoys these Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, this fan-service heavy entry is aimed squarely at me, and there's plenty of moments in the film that made the nerdy side of me break out into convulsions of joy for sure.


Thursday, April 25, 2019

Observe and Report Is an Imperfect But Ambitious Dark Deconstruction of Typical Man-Children Comedies

CW: DISCUSSIONS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT 
SPOILERS AHEAD

In his time as a comedic leading man, Seth Rogen has demonstrated an admirable ambitious streak. The films rarely turn out to be all-time classics (though at least none of Seth Rogen's vehicles have turned out as badly as modern Will Ferrell or Adam Sandler features) but movies like The Interview or This is the End tend to be centered on more high-concept unorthodox comedic premises that see Rogen and company demonstrating bolder creative aspirations. This quality could be found as early as less than two years after Knocked Up cemented Seth Rogen as a viable leading man with the black comedy Observe and Report, which hews closer to Taxi Driver than fellow 2009 mall cop movie Paul Blart: Mall Cop.


Sullivan's Travels Does Charming Banter and More Grim Sequences With Equal Levels of Craftsmanship

Rather than serve as a modern-day adaptation of the classic Gulliver's Travels novel or a prequel to a 2010 "comedy" that cost Emily Blunt the chance to be Black Widow, Sullivan's Travels is actually an original story written and directed by Preston Sturges. Like that classic novel though, it is a yarn that spans all kinds of different adventures and takes one man on an extensive journey that reshapes his whole life. This means those looking for only a movie featuring miniature humans will be gravely disappointed. For everyone else, the satisfying comedy and dynamite lead performances of Sullivan's Travels will more than suffice!


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

In Laman's Terms: Looking Back On A Decade of Cinematic Universes

In Laman's Terms is a weekly editorial column where Douglas Laman rambles on about certain topics or ideas that have been on his mind lately. Sometimes he's got serious subjects to discuss, other times he's just got some silly stuff to shoot the breeze about. Either way, you know he's gonna talk about something In Laman's Terms!

With Avengers: Endgame now just two days away (and even less than that if you plan on attending one of those Thursday night screenings), anticipation couldn't be higher for this widely talked about title, one that serves as a culmination of the first eleven years of the expansive cinematic universe storytelling Marvel Studios pioneered over the last decade of American cinema. Though today the cinematic universe is an expected part of the worldwide pop culture scene, it wasn't so long ago that it was a concept that seemed foolish for Marvel Studios to chase. Much in the same way that tablets like the iPad have quickly become so commonplace that today's babies find magazines to be broken versions of tablets, so too have cinematic universes established their own assured presence in pop culture in a short period of time.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Body Heat Knows Classic Film Noirs Well But It Also Knows How To Subvert Their Norms

Though the classic film noirs of the 1940s were known for their grim nature, the Hayes Code that ruled American cinema with an iron fist prevented the genre from embracing its darkest tendencies in several departments. For one thing, nudity was out of the question as was language harsher than the occasional "damn!" But the time 1981 rolled around, the Hayes Code had been abolished for sixteen years and features nudity and strong language were now commonplace in then-modern-day R-rated fare. Lawrence Kasdan's Body Heat, released in that exact year, decided to take a classic film noir set-up and wrap it up in a screenplay that fully embraced all the raunchy elements Hayes Code era noirs could never even dream of touching.


Monday, April 22, 2019

Native Son Updates A Classic Novel To The Modern Era With Solid Results

Native Son is an adaptation of a 1940 novel by Richard Wright, and like many seminal works of literature from the mid-20th century, Native Son has had its fair share of adaptations into other mediums of artistic expression. A stage play version of the story was performed only a year after the book was published while two feature films adaptations have been released in this past. This newest cinematic incarnation (which was an A24-financed production released on HBO) of Native Son arrives from screenwriter Suzan-Lori Parks and director Rashid Johnson and brings the story from its original 1930's backdrop to the modern era of 2019.


Sunday, April 21, 2019

The Curse of La Llorona Has Eggs-elent Easter Weekend Box Office Debut, Breakthrough Chills Out And Penguins Gets Frozen Out

Warner Bros./New Line Cinema keep on finding box office success by releasing low-budget horror fare produced by James Wan. The newest example of this trend was The Curse of La Llorona, which opened to a great $26.5 million, up 25% from the opening of Lights Out and nearly double its $15 million budget. Taking a well-known mythological figure like La Llorona and filtering it through the style of horror popularized by those Conjuring movies sounded like a can't-miss proposition on paper and the strong marketing campaign from Warner Bros./New Line Cinema ensured that it would fulfill its potential. Even if this one ends up being frontloaded, it's hard to imagine it closing its domestic run under $60 million, four times its budget. Chalk up another success for a James Wan produced horror film.


Saturday, April 20, 2019

Long Shot Is More Agreeable Than Memorable But At Least It's Frequently Funny

Though they usually have enough gross-out gags to fill out an army of Seann William Scott starring vehicles, comedic vehicles for Seth Rogen and his fellow cohorts like Judd Apatow have always had a penchant for treating romantic subplots with surprising levels of seriousness. Starting with The 40-Year-Old Virgin back in 2005, these types of films seemed to make a promise to viewers to keep the jokes about male genitalia coming at a steady rate but also to treat romance as something with actual weight and heart. Trying to balance raunch with heart has had varying degrees of success, but it is an element that separates it from, say, Happy Madison or recent Will Ferrell vehicles where heartfelt moments feel obligatory rather than affecting.


Friday, April 19, 2019

The Prince of Egypt Is An Outlier In DreamWorks Animations Filmography Very Much For The Better

Today, DreamWorks Animation is known for one thing and one thing only: computer-animated movies with pop culture references and pop songs a-plenty. That's a touch unfair to their entire catalog of the studio that also includes deviations from that norm like How to Train Your Dragon or Kung Fu Panda, but there's also no denying that it's an apt summarization of most of their output. The trailer for their newest film, Abominable, feels like a microcosm of all the stereotypes associated with DreamWorks Animation, from an extended belching joke to the closing gag of a yeti dancing around to the tune of Shake It Off by Taylor Swift. That's a DreamWorks Animation movie right there, through and through.


Thursday, April 18, 2019

Strangers on a Train See's Chilling Chaos Emerge From Murderous Conversations

Murder is usually afoot in an Alfred Hitchcock movie and Strangers on a Train is no exception. The murder here starts out as merely a conversation between tennis player Guy Haines (Farley Granger) and an obsessive fan by the name of Bruno Atony (Robert Walker), one that occurs by total chance on a train ride the two men are sharing. While they exchange low-key chit-chat, Bruno brings up this idea he's had of a pair of people deciding who in their lives they'd most want to see murdered and then have the other person commit that murder. That way, nobody would suspect the actual culprit of these grisly crimes! Guy brushes it off as just quirky talk from a quirky man but he quickly realizes it's far more than that when his estranged wife, Miriam (Laura Elliot), turns up dead at an amusement park.


O.G. Doesn't Shy Away From Confronting Weighty Material And Is All The Better For It

Director Madeleine Sackler has not shied away from tackling heady material in her works as a documentary director and that commitment to confronting pressing issues in modern society continues with O.G., her first foray into conventional narrative filmmaking. This time around, the weighty issue she's exploring revolves around the personal experiences of a man serving the last few weeks of a prolonged prison sentence for killing another human being. Certainly, this is not meant to be fluffy feel-good entertainment that would be found in an Illumination movie, but in its best moments, O.G. (which is now streaming on the HBO GO app) explores challenging material in a truly thought-provoking manner.


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Devil In A Blue Dress Finds Exciting New Creative Directions to Take The Film Noir Genre

By the time the mid-1990's rolled around, American cinema had seen plenty of new takes on the classic film noir genre, whether they be serious neo-noirs like Blade Runner or more comedic takes on the same genre like Carl Reiner's Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid. But in adapting a 1990 Walter Mosley novel of the same name, writer/director Carl Franklin's Devil in a Blue Dress managed to make a motion picture that certainly stood out among a massive pack of noir homages. This would be the rare neo-noir to feature a cast predominately comprised of people of color as well as centering on a story that touched on elements like interracial relationships that were previously forbidden from being discussed in film noirs made in the era when the Hayes Code reigned supreme.


In Laman's Terms: Summer 2019 Box Office Predictions (Part Two)

In Laman's Terms is a weekly editorial column where Douglas Laman rambles on about certain topics or ideas that have been on his mind lately. Sometimes he's got serious subjects to discuss, other times he's just got some silly stuff to shoot the breeze about. Either way, you know he's gonna talk about something In Laman's Terms!

OK, it's time for the second part of my Summer 2019 Box Office Predictions. While the first part of this column saw me predicting what would be the ten biggest movies of the summer, this go-around I'll look at every single movie scheduled to open in wide release this summer and place them into one of three columns: Likely Hits, a place for films whose box office success seems assured, Wild Cards, a place for films whose box office future seems cloudy, and Potential Misfires, a place for films likely to underperform at the box office.

Let's kick things off with a look at Summer 2019's...

Monday, April 15, 2019

Final Score Is A Better Than Expected Take On The Die Hard Formula

There is a moment in the British action film Final Score where a reckless arrogant law enforcement officer refers to the sport of football as soccer only to be hit over the head by one of the non-Dave Bautista protagonists who staunchly informs him "It's called football!" It's one of the big crowdpleaser moments of Final Score that's clearly designed to elicit a big cheer from the audience. If that sounds too ridiculous to you, this isn't your movie. If you're like me and the mere concept of that moment sounded like a delight to you, right this way folks, Final Score is gonna be your cup of tea.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Cleo from 5 to 7 Is Yet Another Quietly Powerful Triumph For Director Agnes Varda

If Spike Lee's 25th Hour was about peoples present being impacted by events from one person's past, Agnes Varda's Cleo from 5 to 7 is a story about how the uncertain future of one individual impacts the present-day lives of other individuals. Whose future turns out to have such an immense ripple effect? That would be Cleo (Corrine Marchand), a woman who we are introduced to as getting her future getting told to her by way of a fortune teller and her tarot cards. What kind of future do these objects foretell for Cleo? Not a good one, which, despite attempts by the fortune teller to twist what the cards have said into something more positive, sends Cleo into a spiral of despair.

Shazam! Tops The Box Office Again As Little Has Solid Medium-Sized Bow, Hellboy Flames Out, After Exceeds Expectations And Missing Link Gets Lost

The pre-Easter weekend is usually a little busier than it is this year, though the impending release of mega-juggernaut Avengers: Endgame is likely keeping films at bay (though next weekend is a touch busier than usual pre-Avengers weekends). The lack of massive new releases allowed Shazam! to top the domestic box office again as it grossed another $25.1 million, a 53% drop from last weekend. That's a smaller than usual second-weekend decline for a superhero movie (they usually fall in the 56-59% range) and is the second-biggest second-weekend hold for a DC Extended Universe film, only Wonder Woman held better. After ten days of domestic release, Shazam! has grossed a stupendous $94.9 million.


Saturday, April 13, 2019

Tragedies of the Past Fascinatingly Impact the Present in 25th Hour

For a filmmaker as immersed in New York City as Spike Lee, there was no way the tragic events of 9/11 wouldn't impact his work in some profound way. So it was that his 2002 film 25th Hour, his first directorial effort in the wake of 9/11, has this event looming over the proceedings like a dark storm cloud. From the opening credits set over footage of that famous pair of beams of light meant to represent the now gone Twin Towers, the influence 9/11 will have on what's to come in 25th Hour is apparent. Though this isn't a story explicitly about 9/11, it is a tale about how one harrowing event changes numerous New Yorkers life and over the course of one evening, explores how these individuals have responded to that event.


Friday, April 12, 2019

Hellboy Is So Bad That It Doesn't Even Deserve A Fun Hell-Based Pun

Hellboy can now join esteemed company like Spider-Man and Batman in being one of the rare superheroes to headline both a great movie and a truly awful movie. While Hellboy II: The Golden Army rose to become one of the best superhero features back in 2008, the new 2019 Hellboy movie is rancid trash. It's a stunningly inept exercise that dumbfounds me in how they messed up a can't miss premise like this. A big red guy fighting fantasy monsters should be a can't-miss proposition for making an entertaining motion picture but much like The Amazing Spider-Man 2 or Batman v. Superman managed to utilize their own previously fun characters for garbage filmmaking, Hellboy finds so many ways to screw up its own basic premise and squander a top-notch cast in the process.


Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Lady From Shanghai Is Utterly Ludicrous, Which Is A Compliment

There are some things mankind is destined to never truly understand. Among such impossible to fully grasp matters is the Irish accent Orson Welles chose to adorn for the lead role of his 1948 directorial effort The Lady From Shanghai. One of a number of forays into film noir that Welles would pursue both as a performer and as a director, Welles gives his performance as this film's central protagonist a pervasive thick Irish accent that, thanks to opening voice-over narration (this is a classic film noir after all) begins the film on a note of ludicrousness. There's plenty more where that came from, of course, and the wicked peculiar streak of The Lady from Shanghai is what makes it a lot of fun to watch.


Julianne Moore Shines In The Delightfully Low-Key Gloria Bell

Though she has an upbeat attitude, Gloria Bell (Julianne Moore), the titular lead character of Gloria Bell, is not a person whose life is devoid of turmoil. Both her life and the movie she stars in have darkness hiding in the margins, whether it's the deeply troubled upstairs neighbor that keeps Gloria up at night, her struggles to keep herself fully immersed in the lives of her now grown-up kids or all kinds of angst at her job. But Gloria still keeps on facing each new day with a touch of optimism and a car radio blaring upbeat disco-era tunes and both of those attributes help her out immensely. After all, there are plenty of things to be cheerful about, like a new man, Arnold (John Turturro), Gloria has started seeing.


Sometimes Dead Is Better And Maybe That's The Place The Pet Sematary Series Should Have Been Left In

The Creed family (unfortunately, not the Creech family) needs a change of pace. Boston is just too busy, so they've decided to move to an isolated house in Ludlow, Maine. There, Louis Creed (Jason Clarke), Rachel Creed (Amy Seimetz) and their two children, Ellie (Jete Laurence) and Gage (Hugo Lavoie & Lucas Lovie), plus their cat Church, can slow down and take some time to smell the roses. But the discovery of a local pet cemetery in the vast forest on their property puts the family on edge, as does the death of Church. If only there was some way to bring their cat back from the dead. If only neighbor Jud Crandell (John Lithgow) knew of some spot where dead things could be buried and then come back to life. If only that spot could bring Church back to life and start a series of tragic events for the family surrounding an inability to cope with death. Oh if only...


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

In Laman's Terms: Summer 2019 Box Office Predictions (Part One)

In Laman's Terms is a weekly editorial column where Douglas Laman rambles on about certain topics or ideas that have been on his mind lately. Sometimes he's got serious subjects to discuss, other times he's just got some silly stuff to shoot the breeze about. Either way, you know he's gonna talk about something In Laman's Terms!

Here we are again. It is time for another summer moviegoing season, which means it's time for yours truly to deliver their annual summer box office predictions. This is an annual two-part column that begins with me predicting the top ten biggest movies of the summer at the domestic box office and ends with a second part seeing me analyzing the box office prospects of every wide release on the docket for release in the summer of 2019.

Let's begin this exercise with my projected top ten movies of summer 2019...

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Missing Link Is Mostly Agreeable But It's Also A Step Down From Past LAIKA Films

Missing Link is a very traditional sort of family movie, a stark contrast to many animated American family movies that pride themselves on constant wink-winks and self-referential nods to the audience. That's not the angle Missing Link wants to go down, no siree, instead, it's a classical globe-trotting adventure story with flashes of a Western and an old-timey slapstick comedy (think Laurel & Hardy) thrown in for good measure. All of these old Hollywood influences result in writer/director Chris Butler making a movie that tries to stick to just the basics, but it does that job too well, resulting in a film that far too often registers as passably agreeable rather than exceptionally memorable.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Brick Is An Excellent Neo-Noir In Touch With The Past And The Present

The most prominent shared trait across Rian Johnson's eclectic group of feature film directorial efforts is that he loves to take traditional film genres and subvert expectations audiences have of those genres. The Brothers Bloom take heist movies into a quirky direction, Looper was a more methodical time travel action movie and The Last Jedi brought an intimate angle to the Star Wars mythos. Johnson constantly upends conventional genre norms in his motion pictures but he does so with clearly evident love and knowledge of the genres or franchises he's tackling. This prominent feature of his work as an artist was alive and well in his first directorial effort, Brick.


Sunday, April 7, 2019

Brie Larson's Directorial Debut Unicorn Store Is A Totally Unique Delight

Unicorn Store is all about Kit (Brie Larson), a young artist who is struggling with the whole conventional grown-up routine. Her relationship with her parents, Gladys (Joan Cusack) and Gene (Bradley Whitford), is a bit strained, her art is constantly looked down upon and she feels like she's not living up to what her peers have accomplished. Seeking to correct this, she receives a job making copies of old magazines at a standard advertising agency. It's the kind of normal grown-up job she's typically avoided, but Kit has decided now is the time to put away childish things. At least, that's what she thinks until she gets told by The Salesman (Samuel L. Jackson) that she has the chance to own her very own unicorn.


Shazam! Is The Word At The Domestic Box Office While Pet Semetary Comes Alive And The Best of Enemies Doesn't Make Many Friends

It's the first or second weekend of a month, so you know what that means. It's time for a superhero movie tentpole and this time around it was Shazam!, which opened to $53 million. That's the lowest-grossing opening weekend for a live-action movie based on either a Marvel Comics or DC Comics property since Fantastic Four/Fant4stic in August 2015, but luckily, Shazam! only cost $90-100 million to make, significantly less than the usual comic book movie (Aquaman cost $200 million, for example), so it didn't need to bring home a massive Avengers: Infinity War-sized opening to be successful.


Saturday, April 6, 2019

The Highwaymen Is One of The Most Tedious Movies I've Seen In A Good Long While

The other day, I was going through the twenty-two 2019 movies I'd seen up to that point and trying to rank them all from best to worst (for the record, the best so far was Us). While going through this list, I discovered something I hadn't realized before: The Highwaymen is my least favorite movie of 2019 so far. Considering we've only just now reached April 2019, that statement doesn't really have much weight to it, goodness knows that The Highwaymen isn't anywhere near as bad as all-time worst films like God's Not Dead. But of the small crop of movies I've seen from 2019, The Highwaymen is easily the most disposable and tedious film of the bunch.


Friday, April 5, 2019

Pee-wee's Big Adventure Is A Wacky & Hysterical Romp

It's old hat to describe a film as like a child playing with their toys, but that truly is what Pee-wee's Big Adventure feels like at times as its titular lead character gets into all sorts of antics without much care for how or why they're happening. It's all a bunch of reckless lunacy that would make Bugs Bunny proud and like so many of those Bugs Bunny cartoons, the antics of Pee-wee Herman are utterly hilarious. Serving as the directorial debut for Tim Burton, Pee-wee's Big Adventure is an outlandish hoot that managed to turn a total Pee-wee Herman newbie like myself into a total convert, I can totally see why this character is so widely beloved now.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Despite Some Quality Production Design And Amy Adam Acting, Big Eyes Is Less Than Stellar

I once ate at a Tex-Mex eatery that delivered the best quesadillas, they were just scrumptious and filled with chicken that had been grilled just right. They were a delight to chow down on and left me with a delightful aftertaste that constantly reminded my tastebuds of what a glorious meal we'd just consumed. Alas, a few hours later these quesadillas ended up giving me stomach trouble something fierce, I had difficulty even sleeping that night because of how upset my stomach was. Tim Burton's Big Eyes is kind of like those fateful quesadillas that betrayed my insides, pleasant to experience but it ends up making your stomach churn afterwards.

The Beach Bum Is Oddly Hokey For A Matthew McConaughey Stoner Comedy

Moondog (Matthew McConaughey), the titular lead character of The Beach Bum, used to be quite the poet. He still does pen down his thoughts in the form of poetry from time to time, but mostly he spends the present just engaging in loose sex, drinking a whole lot and injecting whatever drugs he can get his hands on. Moondog is basically just living the dream down in Miami, especially since he's got a wealthy loving wife, Minnie (Isla Fisher), who can help foot the bill and make sure the easy-going duo don't have a care in the world. A life of excess and no worries get ground to a halt when a personal tragedy sends Moondog down to rock bottom and staring down the possibility of rehab. Is Moondog gonna have to change his ways or will he continue to live his life in his own laidback way?


The 1988 Hairspray Feature Is A Groovy Time Full of Brilliantly Unique Humor

I've grown up with the 2007 version of Hairspray, meaning the version of Hairspray I'm so familiar with is full of musical numbers and James Marsden. Having watched that feature countless times over the years, it was fascinating to watch the original Hairspray and see how it compared to the 2007 remake. For the first half of this 1988 take on Hairspray, directed by incomparable icon John Waters, the plot remains similar to the musical remake, it's still the story of Tracy Turnblad (here played by Ricki Lake), a girl living in 1960's Baltimore who loves The Corny Collins Show. She eventually gets a chance to audition for the program and manages to surprise everyone, including her mother Edna (Divine) by actually getting onto the show.


Is Southland Tales A Mess? Wildly Entertaining? Perhaps Both?

MASSIVE SPOILERS FOLLOW

Donnie Darko seemed to signal that newbie director Richard Kelly was someone to watch out for. The film was so unique in its exploration of one troubled High Schooler's life that it not only put its main actor, Jake Gyllenhaal, on everyone's radar as a leading man, but also seemed to be the emergence of a new interesting filmmaking voice in Richard Kelly. In the two decades since Donnie Darko, Kelly has only directed two films and has directed nothing since the November 2009 release of his film The Box. What exactly happened here? Well, part of it may be the divisive reception of his follow-up to Donnie Darko, Southland Tales, a 2007 political satire so weird that it makes Donnie Darko and its giant rabbit look a mundane Max Keeble's Big Move by comparison.


Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Apollo 11 Shows That Flying To The Moon Isn't As Easy As Frank Sinatra Made It Sound

"How did they do that?" is one of the best thoughts one can have while watching a movie. When a film so dumbfounds the senses that you're left agape at how they could have possibly achieved a certain image or explored a certain theme to such a thoughtful level, it's just a rush of an experience as a viewer. Apollo 11, a new documentary about the very first manned mission to the Moon, is one such film that got me repeatedly thinking "How did they do that?", particularly in terms of me being befuddled on how people were able to capture certain moments in this historic voyage on camera. I'm still in the dark on how certain shots were achieved but I am far more certain that such shots help make Apollo 11 a worthy cinematic ode to a great achievement in the history of mankind.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Inside Man See's Spike Lee Excelling In The Confines of A Hostage Thriller

Spike Lee has done a lot in his distinguished filmmaking career, but in 2006, twenty years after his first directorial effort was released, he got to try out helming a mid-budget Hollywood heist movie for the first time. Easily the most expensive and commercial endeavor of his career, the feature would end up being Inside Man, and thankfully, Lee wouldn't be sacrificing his own unique traits as an artist to make this motion picture. For instance, though he's not credited with the screenplay penned solely by Russell Gerwitz, a lot of traits in the Inside Man script, namely an emphasis on extensive dialogue, feel akin to what one might find in a typical Lee screenplay. This project certainly feels like it's been fitted for Lee's sensibilities and that results in an extremely entertaining heist thriller.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Very Little In Daisies Makes Any Sense And That's Why It's So Funny

Of all the things I expected Daises to be, a precursor to The Eric Andre Show was not one of them. Though this hallmark of 1960's Czech cinema lacks Hannibal Buress, numerous other hallmarks of that Adult Swim TV program, like random outbursts of graphic violence, disorienting editing, generating comedy by way unwitting civilians reacting to all kinds of depraved mayhem. All of these elements are around in abundance in Daisies, an off-the-wall 1966 directorial effort from iconic filmmaker Vera Chytilov√°. Another trait Daisies shares with The Eric Andre Show? It’s absolutely hysterical.