Atomic Blonde (R)

Directed by stuntman-turned-director David Leitch (Deadpool 2) and starring Charlize Theron and James McAvoy, Atomic Blond hits theaters today.  Based on Antony Johnson’s graphic novel “The Coldest City,” undercover MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton (Theron) is sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents with the help of Berlin operative David Percival (McAvoy).

I’ve been waiting on this movie for what seems like forever.  I’m sure I’ve probably mentioned this previously, but I never, ever watch movie trailers because they ruin the movie for me by showing the best parts. I do my very best to completely miss coming attractions when I go to see a movie. And if I should find myself sitting through them, I am busying myself with my phone and ignoring whatever is happening on the screen. For some reason I did watch the trailer for Atomic Blonde some months ago, and while it certainly made me believe this was going to be a must-see movie, it also showed most of the best parts of the film. Lesson learned.

So, since this movie is directed by Leitch one would expect the choreography of the fight scenes and stunts to be mind-blowingly awesome, and it was. Theron gets her ass kicked almost as much as she kicks ass – oh, and testicles. Yep. There are plenty of ball-kicks in there.  (Those poor guys.)  Car chases, shoot outs, hand to hand combat; you name it. It’s all here. I was nearly (notice I say, “nearly”) gripping my seat from the blows, but for me, while the action was plentiful, it wasn’t plentiful enough and it was nothing I’ve not seen before. I just haven’t seen Charlize Theron do it while so impeccably dressed. (So impeccably that you will mourn the senseless destruction of her fabulous ensembles.)  There is one epic scene with a couple of KGB agents that stands out which is so splendid, so perfectly done in every way, you will never forget it.

Theron’s character recounts what happened in Berlin in a debriefing and from there the film flips back and forth to the events of the past which took place in Berlin to the debriefing room. The scenes where we return to the debriefing room, while informative and entertaining at times, take the air out of the action sequences. I do understand that a basis for the story needs to be established and there needs to be some introduction to these characters, but I don’t believe the debriefing was the most effective way to accomplish that on film. I’ve never read the graphic novel and I don’t know if the movie was attempting to follow the format of the book, but if that is the case, similarly to the mistake made with The Girl on the Train (although not as catastrophically) (see my review here), it doesn’t really work. The fast pace is interrupted by the debriefing and the action never quite gains proper momentum to fully satisfy the viewer. At least I wasn’t satisfied.

We’ve heard better sound in other movies this year. I wasn’t blown away by the soundtrack although it was decent enough. The cinematography and camerawork are a compelling thing of beauty – particularly during action sequences. The wardrobe crew did a super-outstanding job of outfitting Charlize while we watched her do a whooooole lot of walking, or shall we say strutting, in black and white outfits with the most incredible shoes through the streets of Berlin. Her black and white outfits become a character in the movie because they were so lovely and she wore them all so well. Stilettos, cobblestone and secret missions don’t mix well and would never work for me (particularly if you add in the vodka this woman drank), but Charlize makes it look totally doable.

I have to address the lesbian scenes.  These are in the movie for a purpose which is to punctuate Lorraine’s ambiguity in all things.  The symbolism is found in her wardrobe, in her drink, in her emotional attachment and detachment, and in her sexuality.  So for this particular movie the character’s sexuality served a purpose and was not gratuitous.

The acting is good but I wasn’t “wowed.” Charlize’s performance is fine, but it left me wanting. Wanting to watch The Long Kiss Good Night so I could enjoy Geena Davis as kick ass Charly Baltimore… I don’t mean to compare movies or blondes but sometimes these things cannot be helped. (Perhaps it was the ass kicking, drinking, smoking and heavy eyeliner that beg the comparison to be drawn. And I really am going to watch The Long Kiss Good Night again if it rains this weekend.) James McAvoy is becoming “that dude” for me. Having last seen him in Split (here’s my review), perhaps he’s spoiled me for anything else he does. I enjoy watching him because he picks such diverse roles, and excels at them. I cannot wait to see what and/or who he will be or become next and I want to go back and watch every role he has ever played. (By the way, the first thing I ever saw him in was the original UK version of Shameless. If you’ve never watched Shameless or have only seen the American version, stream it.) If you can’t tell, I really like this guy. But here, while he is effortless in the role I wanted to see him push through and give me more. Again, I just wasn’t satisfied.

Atomic Blonde earned 6.5 out of 10 bloops. It’s not bad, but certainly could have been better.  It is worth seeing but I would stop short of saying that it is “good” because I cannot recommend you pay to see it in a theater.  (Definitely not full price! Perhaps a matinee.) This could be a set up for a series if the box office goes well, but this wasn’t the greatest introduction to these characters, unfortunately. I didn’t feel the sense of fun and adventure that I look for in an action movie. (And I mean… what type of weak-ass signature drink is that for a femme fatale anyway?)  Even when lives hang in the balance and there is so much at stake I want to feel like I am there; invested and going on the adventure with these characters.  I want to feel the suspense and the urgency. Other than through the actual setting, I just wasn’t transported to spy/double agent infested 1989 Berlin. I was just a girl watching a movie enjoying the occasional car chase, shoot out, fight scene or stunt… It wasn’t terrible, but somehow this one missed the mark and I wasn’t moved.  Definitely stream it when it becomes available.

Thank you for reading. You can scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page, enter your email address, follow me and never miss a review!

Bloops:

1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

Welcome message

What I’m seeing this week…

Detroit
The Black Prince
The Dark Tower

Previous Reviews

Good Time
Dunkirk
Girls Trip
Spider-Man: Homecoming
The Big Sick
Baby Driver
All Eyez on Me
It Comes at Night
The Wedding Plan
Wonder Woman
Everything, everything
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Raw

Kong: Skull Island
Logan
The Girl with All the Gifts
A Cure for Wellness
Get Out

Hidden Figures
Fences
Moonlight
Hell or High Water
Loving
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Nocturnal Animals
Captain Fantastic
Elle
Jackie
Florence Foster Jenkins
I Am Not Your Negro

 

Dunkirk (PG-13)

Based on a true story, written and directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Fionn Whitehead, Dunkirk is about allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire and France who are surrounded by the German army and need to evacuate or die during a fierce, very one-sided battle on the beaches of Dunkirk, France during World War II.

Mr. Nolan picked a perfect battle (poor choice of words when we’re talking about war, I know – but you know what I mean) to adapt into a film because Dunkirk features excitement in the air as well as on the ground.  Dunkirk is well written, suspenseful (even though you can tell pretty much how it all turns out) and totally engrossing. The writing is tight. There is not one ounce of fluff or junk or side story that distracts from the story telling at hand. It is powerful, because it depicts the atrocities of war in a succinct and disturbingly violent way that is not overly-graphic. There are bombs dropping and shots being fired throughout the entire movie. There could have been body parts flying and gore galore. Instead, Nolan decided it was more important to pay attention to the story – not all the “effects” of it all, and it pays off. There is absolutely enough violence in the movie without seeing detached limbs, intestines, etc. There wasn’t even much blood as the blood and gore aren’t necessary here. Not having seen the original Dunkirk (1958) I cannot say how the two films compare. Nolan’s version makes me want to watch that version, and I always consider being motivated to learn more a good thing.

The entire cast did an outstanding job. Mark Rylance is just one of those effortless professionals that I enjoy, and any time I get to watch him do what he does is a good time for me. The cast is filled with many characters who you must get to know very quickly. You develop attachment to and affection for them despite the fact that they don’t have time to be too richly developed. I mean, we know who the “good guys” and the “bad guys” were/are here, so you want the good guys to make it through the battle. The suspense lies in not knowing who will make it through alive and who will not and when are those bomber planes coming back around!

The cinematography, costumes, makeup, set design, scenery, editing, and sound are all impeccable. I cannot imagine how much time these dudes spent in the water while filming. OH! And there were even a couple of soldiers of color there! I’m willing to bet you the 1958 version didn’t show any of them! Any takers? I didn’t think so… They didn’t have any lines, but they were there, and it’s nice to see events accurately portrayed and people of color represented for a change of pace.  (As Arabs and Berbers did fight with the Brits. And I’m not trying to act like I knew that off the top of my head because I did not. Anyone can google and learn!).

Admittedly, Dunkirk is one of those movies I had to think through for a while after I saw it before realizing exactly how good it is, or at least how good I believe it is. I just now worked it all out while writing about it. Before writing, a coworker asked me how it was and I was like “Meh…” There is nothing “meh” about this movie. It really is quite good.

Dunkirk earned 9 out of 10 bloops. It is an excellent movie that is violent but not gory, well-acted, well written… I can’t think of one bad thing to say about it honestly. I do, however, reserve the right to stop short of calling a “masterpiece,” and giving it that elusive 10th bloop. If you enjoy war movies this is for you.

Bloops:

1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

Welcome message

What I’m seeing this week…

A Ghost Story
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Past Reviews:

Good Time
Atomic Blonde
Girls Trip
Spider-Man: Homecoming
The Big Sick
Baby Driver
All Eyez on Me
It Comes at Night
The Wedding Plan
Wonder Woman

Everything, everything
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Raw

Kong: Skull Island
Logan
The Girl with All the Gifts
A Cure for Wellness
Get Out
Hidden Figures
Fences
Moonlight
Hell or High Water
Loving
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Nocturnal Animals
Captain Fantastic
Elle
Jackie
Florence Foster Jenkins
I Am Not Your Negro

 

Girls Trip (R)

Directed by Malcom D. Lee (Spike Lee’s cousin who also directed The Best Man, The Best Man Holiday and the upcoming The Best Man Wedding) and starring Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Tiffany Haddish and Jada Pinkett-Smith, Girls Trip has finally hit the big screen.

This is one of the more interesting movies about women and friendships that I’ve seen in a while.  All these personalities, and their personal woes; the all-too-human reflex to pass judgment and then the withdrawal of that judgment that leads to acceptance of life choices because… that woman is your friend above all else and you love her.  She’s your girl!  These women work through past problems while going through current problems, talk/yell/cry all the problems out, then hug it out; the way true friendships should be.

Over a girl’s weekend/business trip for Hall’s character, four girlfriends reconnect in New Orleans during the annual Essence Festival.  This setting provides the perfect backdrop for the debauchery which ensues.  There is free-flowing liquor, lots of eye candy, good music and cameos galore.

Girls Trip was written by Kenya Barris (Black-ish/co-creator of America’s Next Top Model), Karen McCullah (10 Things I Hate About You and the screenplay for Legally Blonde), Erica Rivinoja (South Park) and Tracy Oliver, so I was expecting some smart writing and Girls Trip mostly delivers.  The characters are easy to relate to and the events that take place are plausible.  It is well written in that there are different levels, layers and dynamics to each friendship between each and among this group of women; like any group of friends in real life.

The writing is also also quite predictable.  You might not mind this so much because the story manages to keep you interested with Haddish’s wild and well-played character driving the majority of the jokes, the raunchiness and the fun.  She is the wild card here.  You will want to see more of her, because there is no way to predict what she will do next.

Tiffany Haddish is definitely the show stopper/scene stealer here.  The woman is fearless with her comedy and her ghetto fabulousness.  As wild as her character is, she is the type of “bestie” every girl should have; a party starter with whom it’s all love until she’s ready to hurt someone for hurting you. Regina Hall does a great job as well.  You will feel as though all of these women have actually known one another since college.  It will remind you of good times (and bad) with long-time, dear girlfriends; the women who know you best.

Girls Trip earned 7.5 out of 10 bloops.  It’s a good movie that is a lot of fun and a bit raunchy (it might be a bit “too much” for your taste so proceed with caution.  There’s one scene I am sure some people will be über-offended by for certain so keep in mind that the movie is rated R for a reason), but still manages to keep the characters likeable and maintain a level of sweetness.  I feel a sequel in the works if the box office is kind.

Bloops:

1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

Welcome message

What I’m seeing this week…

A Ghost Story
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Past Reviews:

Good Time
Atomic Blonde
Dunkirk
Spider-Man: Homecoming
The Big Sick
Baby Driver
All Eyez on Me
It Comes at Night
The Wedding Plan
Wonder Woman
Everything, everything
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Raw

Kong: Skull Island
Logan
The Girl with All the Gifts
A Cure for Wellness
Get Out
Hidden Figures
Fences
Moonlight
Hell or High Water
Loving
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Nocturnal Animals
Captain Fantastic
Elle
Jackie
Florence Foster Jenkins
I Am Not Your Negro

 

Spider-Man: Homecoming (PG-13)

Starring Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., and a host of others, Spiderman: Homecoming takes place several months after the events which took place in Captain America: Civil War.  Peter Parker is attempting to balance his life as an ordinary high school student with fighting crime as an aspiring Avenger, as a sinister threat (the Vulture) emerges.

Spider-Man gets an update with a modern setting, modern technology and a multicultural cast.  This high school story is typical and familiar.  As Peter Parker, a nerd with hottie potential, Peter navigates through those tumultuous teen years, doing typical teen things (secretly crushing on a girl, trying to fit in, school activities, being the butt of jokes at times, and the like), while secretly fighting crime.  Peter Parker has this restlessness about him that Tony Stark unsuccessfully attempts to contain, but you cannot contain youth!  Peter is super smart in school but easily distracted and bored at times.  He is the brunt of bullying, and lacks confidence like many young people his age.  But in his superhero life, the bullies are the bad guys and they are slinging more than mean words and insults.  Here, Peter (as Spider-Man) is overly confident and has much to learn.  So… he’s really not excelling, nor is he failing in either area; but rather, he is “feeling his way through.”  In each of these two areas Peter/Spiderman exhibits great potential and this means there are lots of possibilities for how a sequel may play out – and this makes us look forward to a sequel that we are not obviously and deliberately led to it.  Brilliant!

The acting is very good in this movie.  Although he is actually 21, Tom Holland provides the intended youthful exuberance in this film.  You will believe he is a 15 year old kid.  Michael Keaton does exactly what he always does; deliver a spot on performance.  Jacob Batalon as Peter’s best friend is so funny and endearing, you’ll just want to hug him.

The writing is superb in that there is never a dull moment.  The film holds your attention from start to finish.  Newer, supporting characters are fleshed out enough so you get to know them.  The veterans get their screen time.  And we get to know this new, younger version of Spider-Man.  There is a lot of humor, some suspense and a surprise or two.  Spider-Man is very smartly written and takes advantage of the multicultural cast and utilizes them with purpose.

Spider-Man: Homecoming earned 9 out of 10 bloops.  It’s good, clean family fun that won’t make an adult want to take a nap, drop the kids off and go do something else or pull out their hair.  It appeals to all ages.  This movie is fun!

Bloops:

1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

Welcome message

What I’m seeing this week…

A Ghost Story
13 Minutes
The Confessions
The Exception

Past Reviews:

Atomic Blonde
The Big Sick
Baby Driver
All Eyez on Me
It Comes at Night
The Wedding Plan
Wonder Woman
Everything, everything
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
The Belko Experiment
Beauty and the Beast
Raw

Kong: Skull Island
Logan
Bitter Harvest
The Girl with All the Gifts
A Cure for Wellness
Get Out
Hidden Figures
Fences
Moonlight
Hell or High Water
Loving
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Nocturnal Animals
Captain Fantastic
Elle
Jackie
Florence Foster Jenkins
I Am Not Your Negro

The Big Sick (R)

Written by and starring Kamail Nanjiani and Emily V. GordonThe Big Sick is the story of a couple dealing with cultural differences and their own feelings as their relationship evolves and life throws them quite a few curves. This cross-cultural (Pakistani/American and someone who is quite obviously not Pakistani/American) love story is based on true events and pumps some much needed life into the otherwise nearly dead rom-com genre.

This is not a predictable story, neither is it run-of-the-mill Hollywood fare.  It is a story that runs on authentic, relatable emotions.  There is humor where you will laugh out loud.  There is sweetness that will touch you; but it isn’t syrupy sweet. There is sorrow that will cause you to well up (alright, I cried damn it).  There is even pain as Kumail and Emily’s parents (played by Ray Romano and Holly Hunter) advocate for her medical care.  I won’t say more than that, but if you have ever had to advocate for a family member and make what could have been life or death decisions, this movie hits close to home and captures the uncertainty and fear of the process absolutely perfectly.

The writing is strong, as we weave in and out of different aspects and situations in Kamail’s life – his parents, Emily, her parents, their relationship issues, their cultural differences and issues, Emily’s health issues, Kamail’s budding career in stand-up and his friends.  So, what we wind up with is a detailed look at a young man’s life and the relationships he holds dearest, while he struggles to achieve his dream.

The fact that we already know Kamail has become a successful stand-up comedian doesn’t make this film any less interesting.  In fact, although he has been around for a while and I’ve seen him in a few things, I didn’t really know much about him until now and had never heard of his wife.  This was a very nice introduction.

The acting here is great.  I have to admit, I may be biased because I love (and I do not use the word lightly – when I say I love him I mean it) Ray Romano.  (Everybody Loves Raymond is one of my favorite sitcoms of all time.  I can watch it every day and never, ever get sick of it.)  Holly Hunter absolutely steals the show doing a superb job in her role.  Zenobia Shroff as Kamail’s mother is also quite notable.

The Big Sick covers so many aspects of Kamail’s life and the many, many relationships he is handling all at once, at times it feels a bit “choppy.”  But if that’s how the story goes…there’s really nothing to be done about that I suppose.  While these different facets of life are true-to-life, things can become chaotic.  The way this film is written, shot and edited captures that chaos well.

The Big Sick earned 8.5 out of 10 bloops.  It’s a great movie worth seeing.  Because the story is original, diverse, suspenseful, relatable and authentic, it is better than good.  It would make a cute date movie or a girls night out flick (if you all like to go out and sniffle and cry together, that is).  If you don’t want to pay for the movie make sure to catch it when it is released on DVD/Blu Ray or streaming.  I recommend viewing with a pint of your favorite snacks, while in pajamas on a rainy day, if possible.  It just feels that familiar, which is nice.

Thank you for reading. You can scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page, enter your email address, follow me and never miss a review!

Bloops:

1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

Welcome message

What I’m seeing this week…

Detroit
The Black Prince
The Dark Tower

Previous Reviews

Good Time
Atomic Blonde
Dunkirk
Girls Trip
Spider-Man: Homecoming
The Big Sick
Baby Driver
All Eyez on Me 
It Comes at Night 
The Wedding Plan 
Wonder Woman
Everything, everything
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Raw

Kong: Skull Island
Logan
The Girl with All the Gifts
A Cure for Wellness 
Get Out

Hidden Figures
Fences
Moonlight
Hell or High Water
Loving
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Nocturnal Animals
Captain Fantastic
Elle
Jackie
Florence Foster Jenkins
I Am Not Your Negro